Sunday, May 31, 2009
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
WOO-HOO! The S-Boot almost looks new.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
To go along with the new site, I’ve registered the domain name greenwesty.com 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 VWCampmobile.com. 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 GreenWesty.com 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 http://www.vwtrademarks.com .
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
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.
I 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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):
- Replace rubber and broken steel fuel lines.
- Troubleshoot hesitation while accelerating (http://www.itinerant-air-cooled.com/viewtopic.php?t=4605)
- Replace fuel pump.
- Replace engine seal.
- Inspect front wheels for squeaking at low speeds.
- Adjust emergency brake.
- Inspect fuel tank.
- Inspect BA6 auxiliary heater.
- Replace rear shocks.
- 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 . . .
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:
- 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
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.
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.
- French Fries
- Atari 8-bit Computers
- Vintage Video Games
- Animal Rescue
- Bird Watching
- Sock Monkeys
Saturday, May 2, 2009
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...
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 http://www.itinerant-air-cooled.com/). 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.
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.