Sunday, May 31, 2009

Breakfast in the Bus

Gato's BreakfastGato had a little breakfast out in the bus. I was trying to get some work done on Wilson (the continuing effort to get ready for 6/5). She screamed at the garage door until I finally let her in. After an hour of sitting in the bus, it was time for her breakfast. I set the plate down and then backed off so she could feast.

There's no doubt Gato thinks this is her bus and she loves it. That’s why her stash of food and treats are always in the cabinet.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Air Intake Boot (Removed & Cleaned)

Wilson at the New Glarus Brewing CompanyAs part of the effort to clear out the engine compartment, I removed and cleaned the Air Intake Boot (S-Boot). It took a little time, but I think it turned out well. Last year I purchased a rubber cleaner called 303 Aerospace Protectant. I used it on the rubber door seals, and the dashboard. It worked like magic on the door seals, so I thought I’d give it a try on the S-Boot.

WOO-HOO! The S-Boot almost looks new.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The new domain is now up and running. (woo-hoo!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wax on, wax off.

It was a great day to be outside, so Cathy finished waxing Wilson while I continued work on the engine compartment. She even started waxing the paint on the interior. We use MOTHERS Carnauba Cleaner Wax and I'm very happy with the results. Check out that reflection! Not too bad for 30 year old paint.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Coming Soon . . . has only been in existence for a short time, but I’m ready to make a few changes. The Blogspot/Blogger site was easy to learn, but I’m switching to WordPress and I’ll begin using my regular web host. WordPress appears to be much more flexible, and I’ll have the benefit of hosting the blog myself. I’m setting up the new page now and hope to have it ready to release in the coming days.

To go along with the new site, I’ve registered the domain name in honor of Wilson, my favorite green Westfalia Campmobile. I spent a few days contemplating which domain name I should select. My first choice was Surprisingly that domain is still available, but after reviewing Volkswagen’s licensing details, they do not allow enthusiast or club sites to use their trademarks in that manner. Actually, I don't think they'd let anyone use their trademark like that. I then spent a couple days thinking of other names until I finally decided on one that described Wilson’s best feature, just being a green Westfalia. I'll post a note when it's ready.

Once goes live, I plan to register the site with Volkswagen as a VW Enthusiast site and request a license to use their VW, Volkswagen, and Campmobile trademarks. It looks like they made the processes simple by releasing the information and electronic form online at .

Wilson's toothbrush

It was another day of cleaning Wilson in anticipation of Colin’s visit 20 days from now. This time I was scrubbing the engine compartment with a sponge and toothbrush. The toothbrush worked out well to get some of the grime out of the nooks and crannies, especially down under the fuel rail on the right side.

I also gave the rear bumper a quick cleaning. I removed it last fall with a plan to sand it down and repaint it. The original owner spray-painted it a pure white instead of the stock Pastel White (L-90D). I haven’t had a chance to prep it, so it’s going back on the bus until I have a little extra time to work on it. Maybe this fall…

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Heat Control Box Dump Pipe (Replaced)

Heat Control Box Dump Pipe - Before...Shortly after I bought Wilson, I noticed a “pipe to nowhere” in the back, near the exhaust. It turned out to be the Heater Control Box Dump Pipe, or so I’m told. It’s used to direct heat away from the bus when the heat is turned off inside. The heat is dumped to the outside and directed toward the back so it doesn’t add to the heat already caused by the exhaust. Unfortunately, the original owner discounted the pipe. I’ll guess the hose was damaged so they just removed it instead of replacing it.

I wasn’t exactly sure what the pipe was called or the proper part number. After measuring the end pipe (about 2”), I found it was a close match to the 50mm aluminum Fresh Air Hose (028129087AS) used on the 1600 engines. I ordered a replacement from BusDepot, but found it was shorter than I expected. It was about 450mm and I thought it would be 1000mm. My fault, I didn’t confirm before ordering, so I only had enough to do one side.

Hose clamp with VW logo visible after being cleaned upI removed the pipe and cleaned it along with the bolts and clamps. It took a while to get all of the dirt and grease off, but it really cleaned up nicely. I even found a VW logo under the dirt on one of the clamps. As I’m reassembling, I realized the end of the aluminum hose wouldn’t fit over the heater box connection. It fit perfectly over the dump pipe, so they must be slightly different sizes. After about 10 minutes of twisting and turning, I gave up and decided to cut the end of the hose. I cut two slits down the side so it would open wide enough to fit over the heat control box. It then slipped right into place and I tightened the clamps to secure it.

Heat Control Box Dump Pipe - After!With the nuts and bolts clean, I was able to quickly reattach the dump pipe to the frame. I even cleaned the frame a bit to get rid of the dried mud. The aluminum hose is a bit too long, but not enough that I would bother cutting it down. The extra length may even come in handy if I have to remove the dump pipe to get to the valve cover. On a different note, I also noticed a couple rust spots while I was down there. There are a few small spots where rocks must have been kicked up by the rear tires and chipped the paint. Nothing serious and I’ll get that touched up later I the summer, after I cross a few more things off my “to do” list for this old Campmobile.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cleaning Wilson, One Bolt at a Time.

I find a VW logo hidden under the grime
As I work on Wilson, I'm trying to clean him at the same time. (Almost) every piece I remove is cleaned before it is reinstalled. I'm even soaking the nuts and bolts in Liquid Wrench to clean out the threads. The jobs take longer, but it's like night and day when the parts go back together.

I'm doing everything I can to preserve the original Volkswagen and Westfalia parts. It’s amazing how some things will clean up and it’s a good feeling to find a hidden VW logo under the dirt and grease. I like the idea of getting this old Campmobile a little closer to how it looked 20-30 years ago.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Introducing Supermercado Gato

Gato is one of three cats in our family, and the only one that truly loves to travel. She will be the first one to sneak out into the garage and jump into the bus if we aren’t watching. During road trips, it is common for her to sit up front with us, or way in the back so she can look out the window. She loves to yell at the cars as they pass us. They don't seem to mind, but I don't think Gato has realized that yet.

Gato was born in 1997 and has been with us since the age of six weeks. She’s a beautiful blue point, Siamese cat. We got her accustomed to travelling by driving around at a very young age. She was afraid of the first trip, but then she quickly learned to love it. I have never met a more social cat in my life. It is almost like have a little spoiled human baby around the house.

Wilson is now equipped with a special bed and pedestal for Gato. We also have a secret stash of food and litter on hand for the times she comes camping with us. It’s nice to have her with us when we’re away from home.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Introducing Little Kate

She is my wife, my best friend, and my navigator. You'll see her in the co-pilot seat next to me. Without her, I would be driving around in circles. No, without her I probably wouldn’t be driving Wilson. We were able to afford the purchase because of her financial responsibility. She attempts to keep me on track and under budget. I know I don’t always make it easy for her.

I never expected Cathy to enjoy driving around in Wilson as much as she does. She has been working with me to get him ready for the summer. It has been a tremendous help. It is nice to have the company during those hours in the garage. She has also been happy to go out camping in Wilson during our last couple wedding anniversaries. How can you beat that???

She's one of the smartest and kindest people I know. I sure do love this woman and could not imagine my life without her. Undoubtedly, I will write more about her as I document our experiences with Wilson.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Engine Compartment Seal (Removed)

The old engine compartment seal Wilson's engine compartment seal (411 813 225) was disintegrating on touch, so I went ahead and removed it. This is the foam seal that runs along the length of the engine tin. It seals the engine compartment so hot air isn't pulled into the compartment. I am already cleaning up the engine compartment and this will be an important part to replace before I drive again, but I am going to wait until the fuel components are back in place. If I have to pull the tank, I do not want to accidently rip the new seal. I purchaced a replacement seal from and It is just sitting on a shelf, waiting for me to replace it. I should have this job complete by next month.

I am glad I removed the original seal. I found a couple small rust spots where the seal ran around the engine compartment, near the oil (OEL) fill tube. The seal must have trapped in moisture. It disintegrated so much; parts of it are still stuck to the firewall in the back. I'm slowing getting it all cleaned off. Once the compartment is clean, I will sand down the spots and treat them with POR-15 before touching it up with paint. I'll post pictures of the compartment and new seal later this summer. . .

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Preparing for the 2009 IAC visit from Colin

Lately I have been trying to prepare Wilson for an upcoming visit from Colin (AKA Amskeptic on the Itinerant Air-Cooled forum). In short, during the summer Colin travels across the United States and helps vintage VW owners learn how to repair and maintain their vehicles. It is an invaluable experience and I would recommend it to any vintage VW owner, no matter what level of mechanical skill you have.

If you're not familiar with Colin, you can check out this link for more information:

At the time I purchased Wilson, I was a complete novice when it came to automobiles. Considering the experience I had with the ACVW mechanic in 2006, I decided to make an appointment with Colin during his 2008 trip around the country. At first, I was reluctant to attempt my own maintenance. I did not have faith that I could do it considering the extent of my automobile experience was limited to changing my own oil. I was wrong. Colin worked with me and took the time to explain what we were doing and why we were doing it. I still consider myself a novice, but I am much more confident and willing to take on the work myself.

If you are interested in reading more about Colin's visit, I wrote about the details on his web site:

As a follow up, here is a list of the things I’ve accomplished since his 2008 visit:

  • Replaced stock muffler and broken muffler strap bolt.
  • Lubricated front axle.
  • Changed gear oil.
  • Changed motor oil, filter and screen.
  • Cleaned bottom of engine.
  • Treated minor rust spots – POR-15 / Touch-up paint.
  • Started the removal of the rubber fuel lines, but stopped when the rusted outlet line was cracked .
  • Tools Purchased: Actron CP7528 Advance timing light, Actron CP7676 digital multimeter, Actron CP7826 compression tester, and Klein spark plug socket.
  • Parts Purchased (not installed): GermanSupply rubber fuel line kit, GermanSupply vapor recovery hose kit, GermanSupply tank outlet steel fuel line, engine seal, rear shocks, fuel tank, dash light bulbs, valve cover gaskets, Valvoline DuraBlend grease.

Now that I am trying to prepare for his return visit in June 2009, I created a list of the things I would like us to work on while he is here this year (in order):

  1. Replace rubber and broken steel fuel lines.
  2. Troubleshoot hesitation while accelerating (
  3. Replace fuel pump.
  4. Replace engine seal.
  5. Inspect front wheels for squeaking at low speeds.
  6. Adjust emergency brake.
  7. Inspect fuel tank.
  8. Inspect BA6 auxiliary heater.
  9. Replace rear shocks.
  10. Replace dash lights.

To prepare for the visit, I am removing the components from the upper part of the engine compartment. This includes anything that is in the way of the firewall. I want to have all of that done so access to the fuel tank isn't blocked. Time permitting, I may also begin to replace the fuel lines before he gets here. More likely I will spend as much time as I can cleaning out the engine compartment and all of the parts I remove. I'm working with 30 years of grease build up and I would like everything to be as clean as possible when it's reassembled.

Colin is scheduled to be here 9am CST on 6/5/2009. I still have a lot of work to do to prepare and a few parts on order, but I expect to be ready in time so we can make the most of his 10 hours here. I'm looking forward to it . . .

Finding an ACVW repair shop

One of the first things I did after buying Wilson in 2006 was to start my search for a local air-cooled Volkswagen shop. This turned out to be a harder task than I expected. Growing up, my family was friends with two very experienced air-cooled mechanics. One died years ago and the other retired and moved down south. In the 90’s, as I browsed through the ads for VW buses, one of them warned me that no one knew how to work on them any longer, especially not the dealerships. I guess I did not take that warning serious. Surely, they were exaggerating.

I had no luck finding a shop on my own. After calling shops around the area without success, I turned to the discussion forums on The Samba for a referral. I received one lead about a shop about an hour from me. They did not have any firsthand experience with the mechanic, but they were told by others that the person was a 30+ year expert on air-cooled VWs, especially working on the Type IV engine my bus had. I quickly called and set up an appointment to bring Wilson in for some maintenance and initial repairs.

The next weekend I pulled up to the shop on a Saturday morning and eagerly went inside. It was small, very dark place with obvious references to air cooled vehicles around the waiting area. Behind the counter, I saw about 30+ years of clutter and greasy residue, obviously focused on function and not beauty. The owner came out from around a corner to greet me. He was a very nice, chatty guy. We talked a bit and then I turned my keys, and Wilson, over to his care.

About a week later, I called to check on Wilson. I spoke to the owner of the shop, but he said they were busy and did not have a chance to work on my bus yet. He told me to call him back in a few days to make sure he was working on the bus. Another week passes and I call back. Again, I am told they have not been able to get to my bus yet. At this point, he said it is the only vehicle he has not worked on yet, but that did not make me feel any better. I wait another week and call again to check on their progress. We are now three weeks after I originally dropped Wilson off, but they still have not even looked at him yet. I am tempted to give up and take my bus back, but I did not have any other shops to turn to. The owner assures me that my bus will be next, so I patiently wait.

I call by midweek for a progress update, about 25 days after leaving Wilson behind, but now they have finally had a chance to work up a quote. Here’s a list of the recommended work:

  • Tune-up
  • Oil change
  • Replace left heater box (used)
  • Weld muffler
  • Replace tail pipe
  • Replace rear brake shoes
  • Replace wheel cylinders
  • Resurface brake drums
  • New gas cap
I authorized the work and the owner said the bus should be ready in about a week. Considering it took them over three weeks to look it, I honestly I did not really expect them to finish the actual work in a week. To my surprise, when I called back in a few days I was told the work was done and I could come by any time. I arranged to pick Wilson up that weekend.

Early Saturday morning I drove up to the shop to be there as soon as they opened. The shop owner took a good amount of time to talk to me about the work he did. I appreciated the information, but I was still disappointed about how long it took them to even look at my bus. I expected to have it back within a week or two. We were now at the four-week point. I do not take it personal; it was just obvious there was no sense of urgency with this guy. Things get done, when they get done. His shop was full of other vintage VWs, so his customers must just accept it or tolerate it. I do not want to wait a month each time I need something done. I realize I must learn how to take care of Wilson myself. I would use his services again, but only if it was something I could not do on my own. I leave the repair shop $914.37 lighter than I arrived.

After driving away with Wilson, my first stop is a tire shop down the road from my house. I have the mechanical work done, but I still have to get the old passenger tires off the bus. I found the only place near my house that sells the Hankook RA08 195R14 tires, and had them in stock. I replaced all four tires and the spare. While I am there, I have them give Wilson an alignment. This all sets me back another $500, but it had to be done. I am out of the tire shop about two or three hours later.

I drive home to pick up my wife so we can take a quick trip to western Illinois for the rest of the weekend. This was my first real road trip in Wilson and it felt great. It was nice slow ride for two hours down the highway to visit relatives. Everything went well and we had a great time enjoying ourselves. On Sunday, we took the trip back home and I retired Wilson for the winter.

Introducing locoqueso

My name is Steve, but I go by the name locoqueso on various VW sites. I chose the name locoqueso because I love cheese, Spanish culture, and more importantly, the name Quesoloco was already taken on ebay. I probably should have selected the name Doublecheese because it's a closer representation of how I live my life, but it's too late now. My best friend is my wife Cathy and we live in northeastern Illinois with our three cats (Gato, Patrick, and Stanley). Gato likes to go with us as we take our three season drives around Illinois and Wisconsin. It's nice to have a wife, and at least one cat, who enjoys riding around in the bus.

In the Beginning:

I was born in Waukegan Illinois and grew up in the area during the 70's and 80's. I quickly began to hate school at an early age. As far as I recall I was the only red headed kid in what could be considered middle to lower middle class school district. No doubt I stood out and was an easy target. I remember the helpless feeling of being pushed down by older kids, unable to get back up as I’m being punched and kicked for no reason at all. Learning to play the violin in second grade didn’t help my situation much either. Take it from me, you don’t blend well being a big, red headed kid walking to school with a violin case.


Currently I spend my days as an Instructional Developer, creating Web Based Training (WBT) and overseeing a Learning Management System (LMS). I enjoy my job and the e-learning industry, but I never expected my career would take me in this direction. In 1994 I graduated from the American Academy of Art in Chicago and originally planned to be an Animator. Shortly after graduation, I started an apprenticeship as a tattoo artist in Wisconsin. It had always been a dream of mine to learn the art of tattooing. It didn't take long for me to realize tattooing wasn't as glamourous as I thought. Within a year I found a job in Texas as an animator for a flight simulation company and I've been in the training and e-learning industry ever since.


As far as Volkswagens go, I've loved them since I was a kid. My dad had a blue Beetle in the early 70's and I've always wanted a Campmobile. Unfortunately for me, when I purchased my first air-cooled VW in 2006, I had absolutely no idea how to properly take care of it. Up to that point, changing oil was the extent of my mechanical experience. I simply expected to find a local air-cooled VW mechanic to work on it for me. Little did I know that wouldn't be as easy as I thought. Let's just say I'm slowly learning how to take care of things myself, or at least with the support of other VW owners.

Other interests:
  • Coffee
  • Cheese
  • French Fries
  • Atari 8-bit Computers
  • Vintage Video Games
  • Animal Rescue
  • Bird Watching
  • Sock Monkeys

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Introducing Wilson

Wilson is a fine example of an un-restored 1978 Volkswagen Campmobile, with a stock 2.0 FI Type4 engine. He is a (P-22) Pop-Top Campmobile conversion by Westfalia with a Sage Green (L-63H) exterior and green & yellow plaid on the interior. Wilson isn’t perfect, but you can tell the original owner really tried to take good care of him.

I was very excited to find an un-restored VW bus in such good condition. At the time he had about 138,000 miles. It took me a little while to get the courage to make the purchase, but it was the best example of a bus I had ever seen (at least in person). Spending his entire life in Petoskey Michigan, I would have expected Wilson to be a pile of rust by now. Thankfully he's never seen snow or the road salt of the Midwest.

Below are some of the pictures that caught my eye in September 2006...

Passenger side with pop-top open
Driver side
Passenger side door
Interior sink and cabinets

Interior z-bed and rear storage

Since my purchase on 9/12/2006, I've added about 4,000 miles driving around Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. I've had him into an air-cooled mechanic for a general inspection, minor repairs and maintenance. In addition, I've also begun my quest to learn how to take care of Wilson on my own (with the help of Colin and others at I plan to write all of this, along with our future experiences, as I continue to learn what Wilson wants in order to live a long and healthy life.

How it all began . . .

I grew up in Waukegan Illinois in the 70’s, and from about the age of 10 I have wanted a VW camper. My family was friends with the head mechanic at the local Volkswagen dealership. My dad would take me there on occasion to visit his friend and I would find myself wandering around the lot. I remember seeing the campers lined up on display. The pop-tops were up and the slider doors open. I would dream of hitting the road on high adventure in my home on wheels.

As an adult, I considered buying an older used bus, but for financial reasons I never really looked into it seriously. In the 90’s I would scan the classified ads and a couple times, I arranged for a test drive (my apologies for wasting anybody’s time). One of the bits of advice our VW mechanic friend told me was that I did not want to deal with a bus that had rust. I kept that bit of advice in mind. I knew it would be helpful one day.

I purchased Wilson, an unrestored 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia Campmobile, in September 2006 from the original owner in Petoskey Michigan. The bus was garage kept over the winters and primarily used for summer vacations down south. They covered the inside with blankets on vacation, so the interior is in excellent condition. Wilson's exterior shows some wear from use, but still in great shape for his age with the original paint. The mileage was at about 138,000 when he rolled off the auto hauler.

This blog is a way for me to write about my experiences with Wilson and any work I do to keep him road worthy. I have owned him for two and a half years now, and I am as happy as I was the day he arrived from Michigan. Actually, I am happier now. I do not regret the decision to purchase him one bit. My wife may sometimes regret it, but I know she enjoys the spring and fall drives around Illinois and Wisconsin. Our cat Gato loves to ride in him too, so I think Wilson is here to stay.