February 21, 2012

Painting the Iltis

Which colour, or color?
Iltises the world over come in a multitude of different colours... all of them green or khaki, none of them the same.  I had no idea how many different military greens, olive drabs, and khakis there were until I tried to get "the right" colour for my Iltis.

German Roots
The original VW Iltis (aka the Type 183) was painted using the German colour standards.  The initial customer for the Iltis in the German military was the Bundeswehr (the "Federal Defence Force")  The colour they were painted before 1984 was RAL 6014 (olive green) and after 1984 as part of the NATO colour scheme they adopted RAL 6031 as a replacement, often used with brown and black to make the appropriate NATO camo pattern.

Type 181 for illustration purposes
The Canadian Bombardier Iltis, to the best of my knoledge, was painted by Bombardier using either a solid NATO green colour or NATO camo pattern.  It is unclear to me if there were different runs of Iltis'es which might have come from the factory already camo painted, or if they were all produced in solid green and later painted at the depot.  The American colour coding scheme is standardized in FS595 "Federal Standard 595C - Colors Used in Government Procurement" revision C is the latest.  
Using that standard, I believe the Canadian military Iltises were painted FS 34094.

What did I buy?
Right colour, wrong vehicle
Through a strange twist of fate, I purchased American Coatings paint in 34052, which is WWII United States Marine Corp Lusterless Forrest Green... it looks *very* close to the original Iltis paint, and in the opinion of the expert from whom I bought the paint, looks like a weathered version of the original.  True or not, I went with it.  Now I plan to paint the entire Iltis in 34052.  The initial eight rims which I had sandblasted and painted professionally look absolutely fantastic.
Willy's Acres
My 1985 Iltis - Current Paint
In you're looking for paint, Willy's Acres is a leading paint vendor and supplier of parts to many hobby restoration enthusiasts across Canada.  Not always the cheapest, but very friendly and capable of helping you repair your Jeep, Iltis, Tank or Artillery... 
Not kidding!

February 19, 2012

Modern Iltis Tire Replacement

Kumho Road Venture KL71
Meet the Kumho Road Venture KL71
After much frustration and searching I have picked a new tire for my Iltis.  I'm going to buy a new set of 5 tires, because I cant find a used set that aren't 10+ years old that the owner doesn't want an arm and a leg for.
I expect I'll have a spare set of Michelin XZLs on hand in case of emergency, but a new tire, made with new rubber, will be far safer, and have much better traction than any antique tire can provide.

I had several criteria that I was trying to match, which were all rather difficult to accommodate.

The original tire is a 6.50R16, which is 29.4" tall.  I wanted a tire close to the same size, so similar performance would be achieved, and the speedo wouldn't be too out of whack.
The replacement tire, to be closest to original, will be a 205/80R16 (28.91" tall)

Big lugs, I expect them to be loud!
I wanted an aggressive tread pattern, to be similar to the military Michelin XCL, XZL or XML; with the hope it would deliver similar off-road/mud.  The XCL and XML are directional tires, the XZL was not.  Unfortunately the KL71 is directional - why do I care?  Well, the spare tire has to be mounted one way, or the other... I have a 50/50 chance of using it in the correct direction, depending which tire blows.  Not the end of the world, especially if I just need to limp back to my mechanic.

I needed to find the tires on the North American continent.  Yes, the continent.  I gave up quickly finding 205/80R16's (or 215/85R16's) in Canada for a reasonable price, so my search spread to the USA quickly.  Even then, there are very few tall narrow tires for sale in North America! 
Australia?  No problem!  
Europe?  No problem!
Why?  I expect it's because Land Rovers the world over use tall thin tires for expeditions in darkest Africa, the Australian outback, or the UK back country .  The North American tire manufacturers sell to big American truck types; nobody uses thin tires around here.

Once you limit your search to aggressive tread + 205/80R16 there isn't much selection.

Quoting from the kumhotyre.co.uk site, here are the features:
  • Extreme mud terrain.
  • The ultimate in mud traction and rock crawling performance.
  • Massive lugs deliver huge reserves of traction in mud and on rock.
  • Tread highly resistant to cutting and chipping.
  • Solid centre blocks for quiet and comfortable on-road driving.
  • Side biters protect the tyre by absorbing external impact.
  • Stone ejectors prevent stone drilling and retention.
  • Gradation groove aids rapid mud drainage providing firm anti-skid support on rocky surfaces.
  • Joint winner of 4x4 Magazines Ultimate Tyre Test
Cross-border-shopping I can get them for ~$90USD ea.  I can't get a better deal in Canada, I'm happy to drive down to Ogdensburg NY to pick them up, and pay the tax on the way back.

February 16, 2012


I just came to the realization that my 1985 Bombardier Iltis, with 75 horses (on a *very* good day, with the wind at my back, going downhill...) has a payload capacity (including passengers) of 500Kg.  Let's hypothesize that I weigh 100Kg (hah) and my passenger weighs 100Kg, that leaves 300Kg.  I'm bringing ~80-100L of fuel (let's say 100Kg).  That leaves 200Kg of camping gear, food, water and beer.  I guess that will have to do! 

This was a surprise to me because my pickup truck has a virtually unlimited volume of camping cargo - there's no way I can surpass the weight it can haul - unless I packed up a lot of firewood to bring!

Still no regrets; the Iltis is a fantastic go-anywhere vehicle, and it will absolutely bring all my gear camping... I just need to be a little careful regarding weight :)

February 14, 2012

Bombardier Iltis fuel system problems

If you've been following our schizophrenic blog, or have spoken to me for more than 30 seconds, you'll remember I bought a 1985 demilitarized ex-Canadian Forces Bombardier Iltis; primarily as a back-woods-camping-go-everywhere-vehicle.  It's been a learning curve for me, as I'm primarily a soft-handed IT security guy, not a wrenching auto mechanic.  This is my first manual transmission, although I learned on a standard, and it is my first carburated vehicle.  I *am* learning as I accomplish tasks, I should point out - and I'm trying to put some of my IT-troubleshooting skills to good use.
1985 Bombardier Iltis Engine Compartment

The Iltis, since I got it, has been loud, smelly, and the choke/throttle/starting procedure has been temperamental.  As the tail pipe points directly at the ground, I have sooty patches around the driveway on the snow, from the overly rich mixture I've needed to use just to keep the engine running when cold.  None of this has discouraged me, I'm pretty sure it's all adjustments and filters that need changing, then it will be a well oiled machine again.

By documenting the steps I've gone through, perhaps I can give someone else a push in the right direction regarding what to change, or at least what to look at, when problems that are potentially fuel related occur.  At the very least, you can laugh at some of the steps I've gone through.  

The Canadian Forces Bombardier Iltis is significantly different from the German VW Iltis under the hood, this can be seen immediately when looking in the engine compartment.  The Canadian Iltis went from initially using an in-line "barrel" fuel filter, and having the fuel pump at the back of the vehicle(similar to the VW), to having a canister-style diesel fuel filter mounted in the engine compartment, with a 24V fuel pump located right beside it, and a return hose going back to the fuel tank.  From what I read, the change in the style of filter and fuel pump allowed for use of gas that could have particulate in it, it seems the diesel filter they used was able to deal with grit much better.  

Photo Credit: Bluesky, soonet.ca 
Aug 28th, 2009
I also read that the Iltis (and I've been told some tanks) have foam balls in the gas tank, to act as an anti-explosion measure and to reduce "sloshing".  These foam fuel balls are blue/green, and since I had blue/green grit in the in-line filter, I figured they were breaking down, which seemed to corroborate with what others were reporting.

My fuel system came with a clear 5/16th" to 5/16th" in-line fuel filter, allowing me to see the flow through the system.  This was handy, since blue/green particulate was clearly visible stuck in the filter when I got it.  After changing the in-line filter to a 1/4"-1/4" opaque in-line filter, and using Seafoam on the carb, I was unclear as to what was happening, and couldn't see "in" the fuel filter anymore.  To remedy this, I replaced the new in-line filter again for a bigger transparent filter (WIX Brand), as well as replacing the canister fuel filter (WIX Part# 33358).  I'm not seeing particulate accumulation in the filter anymore, but once the weather is a little more comfortable I'm going to pull the balls out of the tank - I'll live with the sloshing!  I'm sure they are going to continue to deteriorate.

With the new fuel filters in place, and a partially cleaned carb (using some carb cleaner and SeaFoam), the vehicle drove ~42Km.  After driving ~21Km I took a 15min break, did some shopping and resumed the drive back; but now it seemed I had less power, or maybe I should characterise it as stuttering power.  Starting up off of 1st seem to have a hard time, and getting into 2nd seemed to bog down too.  Power didn't seem consistent.  3rd and 4th gear seemed pretty stable, unless I dropped the pedal to the floor, then it stuttered.  It got me home, but a seed of doubt was planted that the problem wasn't directly related to the blue balls.

Sunday I was on my way over to Stittsville to visit a buddy of mine and show him the Iltis, on the way over the problem seemed even more pronounced, and starting from any stop was touch and go.  I made it, just barely, and stalled on the way up his driveway (a 3 degree incline).  Clearly the problem had become worse, somehow.  I was now at half a tank of gas, was this a factor?  Not sure.  We brought the Iltis into his garage, and worked in the shelter, cold, but bearable.  We blew out the fuel return hose with air, took out the sending unit (which has no filter, much to my surprise) and it looked fine, removed half a dozen blue balls from the tank, and put it all back together.  We tested the rate at which the fuel was coming out of the hose going to the carb.  We tested what sounds things made when hoses were clamped off, we watched the rate at which the gas was flowing through the in-line filter; we did a lot of poking and proding, but didn't come to any firm conclusions.  The fuel system and filters seem to be working well - the carb might not be.

On the way home the engine seemed to be running better - was it the return line?  Was it a loose connection?  Was a blue ball stuffed under the sending unit blocking the flow of gas?  I'm not sure what we did, but it was better than when I got there.  When I was taking out the sending unit it looked like someone in the past 10 years had done the same.  There was wear on some of the bolts and screws, it looked like it had been removed before.  What if when the sending unit tube was stuck back into the tank the last time, it pinned a blue ball underneath?  It could have partially blocked the straw through which the gas is picked up and sucked to the engine...  Again, no proof, just a hunch.

When I got home, I broke out some metal polish called "Peek" (Available at Costco in Ottawa) which looks like a hair mousse product.  From my previous experience with Seafoam, I know a "foaming" cleaner will stick to the insides of the venturi and inside of the carb, and from my use of Peek on other metals, I know it leaves a fantastic polish, and a slight residue to prevent oxidation.  I had guessed I could use it on the carb, but wanted to put it to the test.  Well, I put a liberal amount in, tweaked the throttle revving the engine, repeated several times, and washed it all down with a liberal squirt of carb cleaner.  The engine bogged at idle just as it had done with the Seafoam, poked the throttle, revved the engine, sucking more of the foam in, along with air, and kept it from stalling.  The last squirts of carb cleaner were a cleanse palate, and left the throat of the carb clear of any residue foam.  SO, did I ruin my carb?  No, I didn't.  I took it out for a spin late last night and it worked better than ever - clearly something we did in the afternoon to the fuel system helped, but foaming up the carb helped in a different way.

I have a carb rebuild kit coming in from the UK for the Pierburg Solex 36 Model 1B1 which is in the Iltis, and I bought a spare (used) carb for cheap - so I don't need to remove the working one off the working vehicle until I absolutely need to.  I'll rebuild the "new" one and swap once I'm satisfied I haven't ruined it during the rebuild :)

These are the best comments I was able to dig up from people discussing fuel problems as they related to the blue balls and fuel systems in general.

"The issue of the break down of the foam balls in the gas tank and the collecting of junk in the fuel filters is also well known. DND replaced the Facet fuel pump from under the body (near the gas tank) and used higher PSI pump in the engine bay with a recirculating filter system (actually a diesel filter) with a drain. This fix seemed to get rid of the junk in the carb float chamber." -Iltis85, expeditionportal.com http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/71918-Belgium-Iltis-Belgium-to-Japan-rijstkorrel-be

"The SaFoam material used in the Iltis is not stable some of today's fuels. And I imagine this will only increase as time goes on.

There is a wide disparity in Fuels on the market today (especially in Eastern Canada) and the formulations and additives can vary greatly from brand to brand and region to region, Anti-knock additives Ethanol content (ethanol is also used as an antiknock additive) Combustion modifiers, Oxygenates, Lead replacement additives (yes it is still used in some formulations) Water emulsifiers, deposit control additives, corrosion inhibiters ,metal deactivators, antioxidants and the list goes on.

These additives can vary greatly from brand to brand and region to region. And not all are compatible with the SaFoam balls in the tank of the Iltis. In the U.S fuel Formulation can vary immensely from state to state depending on the that particular states requirements for these additives. Some states have some pretty nasty stuff they try to pass off as gasoline.

The same is true in Eastern Canada as good portion of the Fuel consumed in Eastern Canada is refined in the U.S. And with the way fuel is brokered nowadays you are never sure exactly where that fuel came from or what is in it. Just cause it is from a Petro Can, Shell or Esso Station there is no guarantee it is thier own refined fuel in their holding tanks.

But such is less likely to be the case on the prairies, Where 99.9% of the fuel consumed there is refined there. And their are only a few refiners. All the fuel refined in the prairies is done by either Petro Canada, Esso, Shell, Husky or Co-op. The prairies also ship raw fuel (no additives) states side.

In B.C Fuel Is imported from the U.S (lower main land and the Island) imported from the prairies or refined locally by Chevron or Husky.

The suggestion of adding a Clear fuel Filter in front of the cartridge filter on the fender is an excellent Idea. As soon as you start to see that green dust in it is time to yank the SaFoam out of the tank. But the SaFoam Balls probably should come out as a preventative measure any way.

The choice to spend the dollars to replace them with a fuel stable equivalent is strictly a matter of personal preference, they ARE NOT required for the service most all of us have these units in." -Matthew (iltis@yahoogroups.com forum) 

"Pull the gas tank, and scoop out all the little anti-slosh foam balls. They break down with time, and jam up the fuel system, and are the root cause of 90% of Iltis fuel system troubles." -RecceDG (army.ca)

These are the specs for the canister fuel filter that I used, and from what I understand all CF Iltises used the same spin-on filter.


Part Number:    33358
UPC Number:     765809333581
Principal Application:  Case, Cummins, Deutz, Perkins, Volvo (10
Micron) If drain is needed use 33472
       All Applications
Style:  Spin-On Fuel Filter
Service:        Fuel
Media:  Paper
Height:         4.709
Outer Diameter Top:     3.015
Outer Diameter Bottom:  Closed
Thread Size:    16X1.5 MM
Beta Ratio:     2/20=3/20
Burst Pressure-PSI:     300
Max Flow Rate:  6-8 GPM
Nominal Micron Rating:  10

Gasket Diameters
Number  O.D.    I.D.    Thk.
Attached        2.740   2.370   0.275
Packed  0.871   0.595   0.143