Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stuttering Wilson

Original 1978 VW TypeIV 2.0L Fuel Injected EngineWe drove to Rockford IL (hometown of Cheap Trick) yesterday to be with family. On the drive back home, the original VW 2.0L, fuel injected engine hesitated a bit. It happened as I accelerated through the middle of each gear. The bus would momentarily pause like it wasn't getting fuel. It didn’t last long, although it was long enough to make me worry. I asked Wilson to get us home and he could take the rest of the weekend off. The hesitation occurred over 30 seconds, about 45 minutes into the drive, and then the bus ran fine the rest of the way home.

I had something like this happen last fall, but I thought I fixed it. I replaced the fuel pump (Bosch GFP301), rubber (GS 102 Kit) and steel (NLA) fuel lines, filter (133 133 511), and double relay (Bosch 0 332 514 120) earlier this year. I’ve driven the bus about 1,400 miles since the repairs and I was hopeful the problem was long gone. I will read some of the old info from last year, to see what else might cause this. Follow up post to come...

Odometer: 144386

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Westy spotted in Dixon IL

73 VW Westfalia spotted in Dixon ILWe drive out to Dixon IL several times a year to visit family. Earlier this month, we spotted another Westfalia parked near us at Snyder’s Pharmacy on Galena ave. Kate caught a picture of it as we were driving away. I believe it might be a 73. I didn’t notice the New Glarus Brewing Company sticker in the window until just now. Yum!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wilson enjoys Mader's German restaurant

Wilson parked in front of Usinger's in Milwaukee WIOn Saturday, we decided to enjoy the cool weather and take a local drive in the Campmobile. After a lunch time walk along the beaches of Lake Michigan, we drove up to Milwaukee for the afternoon. It was just a little too cold (70F) to sit out by the water. Kate suggested we drive up to Milwaukee (mill-e-wah-que), and stop at Mader's German restaurant (Est. 1902) for appetizers and Spaten on tap. Milwaukee is about an hour north, so it fit perfectly into our schedule.

I aways enjoy visiting Milwaukee. I live about half way between Milwaukee and Chicago, but in my opinion, there is no comparison about which one is a more pleasurable driving experience. Wilson drove flawlessly up highway 94 in Wisconsin. We made our way downtown and after a couple loops around the area, we found a parking spot around the corner from the restaurant.

Mader's is a famous German restaurant that has a history dating back to 1902. They boast a $3,000,000 collection of art, medieval armour, and antiques dating back to the 14th century. What I found more interesting was the photo/autograph collection of celebrity diners that hang on the walls. Many past U.S, Presidents, movie starts, and musicians have all enjoyed a good meal in the old building. My favorite was the note from Curly Howard stating "What a Meal!".

Wilson parked across the street from Mader's German restaurant in MilwaukeeFor the last few weeks, I've been trying to live a meat free life. Unfortunately I broke down and had some meat at Mader's. I couldn't resist, but it made me sad. I tried the beer battered bratwurst and it was pretty damn good. It reminded me of a German corn dog. We spent a lot more money than I expected, but it was worth it. Where else can you get Spaten Oktoberfest on tap all year long??? After Mader's, we pulled the bus around and parked across the streen, in front of Usinger's sausage company, for a quick photoshoot.

Blue VW Riviera spotted in Grayslake ILAs usual, I kept an eye open for any Volkswagens we might pass along the way. I didn't spot any during the entire drive, until I turned onto my own street on the way home. There was a nice blue Riviera, parked just down the street from me. It looked like one of my neighbors was having a party. I walked up to take a closer look. Other than Colin's bus, this is the first VW I've seen in this neighborhood.

Odometer: 144229

The 1978 VW Campmobile...

Wilson, the 1978 VW Campmobile P-22 by WestfaliaVolkswagen described the Westfalia Campmobile as "having a cottage that goes anywhere you want to go", and that really is true. Wilson is my home away from home, and I enjoy every chance I can get to take him camping. Even outside of camping, it’s nice to know I always have a place to sleep when I’m traveling. The sink, electric hook-up, and icebox provide the basic amenities for a weekend. The bus sleeps two comfortably with the fold down z-bed. VW claimed 4-5 could sleep in the Campmobile, but that would be a tight squeeze, even with kids. I like the pop-up top because it adds a lot of head room. I'd guess 7' at the tallest point.

The Volkswagen camper has always been a symbol of freedom to me. Freedom to go where you want to go, and stay for as long as you need to stay. Sure, you could get a huge RV and live like royalty, but you can't duplicate the personality and happiness a Volkswagen provides. I receive smiles and waves from complete strangers on almost every trip, not to mention the other VW drivers I see along the way. I wouldn't trade Wilson for any other driving experience.

For the record, here are the specifications and features of the 1978 VW Westfalia Campmobile...

Westfalia Models:

  • Standard (P-21)
    • Pastel White (L90D) Pastel White (L90D), Orange plaid
    • Bench converts to double bed
    • Swing-around front passenger seat
    • Clothes closet with mirror
    • 7 storage areas
    • Large dining room table
    • Sink with running water
    • 5.8 gal water tank
    • Icebox
    • 110-volt external receptacle
    • Curtains
    • Louvered side windows w/screens
    • Read door screen
    • Insulated panelled walls
    • Fluorescent ceiling light
    • Wall to wall loop carpeting
    • Spare tire
  • Pop-Up (P-22)
    • Sage Green (L63H) Sage Green (L63H), Green plaid
    • All of the features of the Standard P-21 model, plus...
      • Fiberglass pop-up top
      • Weather-resistant canvas sides
      • Screened window with zipper flap
      • Double bed with mattress
      • Luggage rack
  • Deluxe Pop-up (P-31)
    • Dakota Beige (L13A) Dakota Beige (L13A), Beige & Brown plaid
    • All of the features of the Standard P-21 model, plus...
      • Fiberglass pop-up top
      • Weather-resistant canvas sides
      • Screened window with zipper flap
      • Double bed with mattress
      • Luggage rack
      • Upholstered storage container
      • 12v refrigerator (replaces icebox)
      • Gas stove
      • Outside water hook-up
      • Snack table

  • Make: Volkswagen (VW)
  • Model: Type2 Transporter (T2)
  • Engine: Air-cooled, rear mounted
  • Cylinders: 4 cylinders
  • Displacement: 1970cc / 2.0L
  • Lifters: hydraulic
  • Net HP: 67 @ 4200 RPM
  • Fuel: Bosch L-Jetronic F.I.
  • Ignition: Coil, Distributor
  • # Speeds: 4 forward, 1 reverse
  • Final Drive: Rear wheel drive
  • Clutch: Single-disc, dry
  • Frame: Unitized body chassis
  • Rim Size: 5-1/2Jx14
  • Tire Size: 185 SR 14
  • Steering: Roller type
  • Wheelbase: 95.5"
  • Length: 177.4"
  • Width: 67.7"
  • Height: 81.0"
  • Ground Clearance: 7.9"
  • Turning Circle: 37.1'
  • Curb Weight: 3,300 lbs
  • MPG: 17-25
  • Top Speed: 75 mph
  • Acceleration: 50 mph 13.9 sec
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.6 gal
  • Engine Oil Capacity w/ Filter: 3.7 qt
  • Engine Oil Capacity w/o Filter: 3.2 qt
  • Manual Transmission Capacity: 3.7 qt
  • Windsheild Washer Capacity; 1.5 qt
  • MSRP (Campmobile): $8,570

Standard Features:
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Front stabilizer
  • Steel belted radial tires
  • Power assisted brakes
  • Front vent windows
  • Dual outside mirrors
  • Padded dashboard
  • Electric fresh air ventilation
  • Auxiliary heater
  • Day/night inside rear view mirror
  • Walk-through aisle
  • Sliding side door
  • Rear window defogger

Optional Features
  • Air conditioner
  • Fog lamps
  • Bumper overriders
  • Trailer hitch
  • AM/FM/Radio/Tapeplayer
  • Roof carrier
  • Floor mats

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wilson tailgates with Jimmy Buffett

Wilson tailgates with Jimmy BuffettWell, maybe not with Buffett directly, but we still had a good time. I drove the bus out to Toyota Park, in Bridgeview IL, to see a Jimmy Buffett show on 8/15/2009. We met some of Kate's cousins out there to tailgate in the parking lot. This was my first time seeing Jimmy Buffett. It wasn't a Dead show, but we still had a lot of fun wandering around. I didn't see any other VW bus, which kind of surprised me. I expected to to see at least one other Volkswagen somewhere in the lot.

The started off early by packing up Wilson with the gear I intended to use during the trip (chairs, cooler, food, etc). I also filled up the water tank, so we'd be ready in case we wanted to spend the night. Midway airport would be close by and the remote parking lot seemed like a possible destination if it got too late. A quick oil check and I was ready head out.

The plan was to leave a little more than two hours early, so we'd be able to take the back roads. It actually turned out to be a crappy drive. Too hot and too much traffic. We had to divert to the highway so we wouldn't be too late. It ended up taking about two hours and fifteen minutes before we made it.

I didn't plan on going in to see the show, but we picked up a couple tickets right before it started. I got down to the main floor with Cathy and a couple of her cousins. The rest had seats to the side of stage, up in the seats. After a few songs I decided I'd rather go back out to the VW and listen from the parking lot. It actually didn't sound too bad, plus I had a comfortable place to crash.

Unfortunately I missed seeing Joe Perry come onstage to play during Margaritaville. At least I could still hear him play. I laid back in the back, with the top up, just enjoying the cool breeze and music in the background. Eventually everyone found their way back to the bus after the show ended. We were stuck in the parking lot another hour or more until it finally clear out enough to leave. It was late, but we drove home to give one of Kate's cousins a ride.

I found this set list online. It's a lot longer than I remember...
  1. Lage Nom Ai
  2. Stars on the Water
  3. Summzercool
  4. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (w/Mac)
  5. Mañana
  6. Conky Tonkin’ (w/Nadirah)
  7. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
  8. Volcano
  9. Cheeseburger in Paradise
  10. Come Monday (The Beach Band)
  11. Son of a Son of a Sailor
  12. Brown Eyed Girl
  13. One Particular Harbour
  14. A Lot to Drink About (Acoustic)
  15. My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink and I Don’t Love Jesus (Ukulele version)
  16. Pencil Thin Mustache
  17. Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit (The Beach Band)
  18. Last Mango in Paris
  19. Home Again (Ilo Ferreira)
  20. Surfin’ in a Hurricane
  21. Southern Cross
  22. Gypsies in the Palace
  23. A Pirate Looks at Forty (Solo)
  24. Margaritaville (w/Joe Perry of Aerosmith)
  25. Fins
  26. Scarlet Begonias
  27. Yellow Submarine
  28. He Went to Paris (Solo)

Odometer: 144083

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wilson grabs a bite at Bob Chinn's Crab House

Bob Chinn's Crab House in Wheeling ILWhile looking at some old photos, I found this picture of me and my youngest son, taken at Bob Chinn's Crab House in Wheeling IL. It was taken around my birthday in 2007, about six months after I bought Wilson. You can also see Gato looking at us from her seat on the dashboard. We drove the old VW bus up to the famous seafood restaurant. My wife, my mom, my brother and his family joined us for dinner that day. About a year later, my son joined the Air Force and he is now stationed in Montana. It may be a while before I get to have dinner with him again, so it felt good to find this photo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to Blogger

Well, after less than three months, I'm moving back to Blogger. I've been tracking the web stats since moving to my own hosted Wordpress blog and I can't match the traffic Google drives to it's own Blogger service. It's probably double what I get on my own. I guess that's the benefit of of using Google's own product.

Oh well, Wordpress was nice while it lasted...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Changing the Alternator Belt

During a recent drive, I noticed a strange humming noise coming from the engine compartment. I'd describe it almost like the humming of an electric motor. It was most noticeable sitting in the back, with my head leaning over the engine compartment. The problem was, as soon as I opened the lid, the noise from the engine was too loud for me to pinpoint the source of the humming. I received advice on how to identify the cause from the IAC web site. It could be a number of things, but to test the alternator belt, I just had to spray a little WD-40 on it.

I ran back to the bus, applied some WD-40 along the length of the belt, and fired up the engine. The noise was gone, so I ran back inside to order a new belt (068903137D) from the Bus Depot. To save on shipping, I tossed in a couple other items. Within a week, the package arrived and I was ready to change my first fan belt.

Although I have four different repair manuals, I couldn't find instructions with enough details to help me with this process. I found a few posts on TheSamba describing the process of replacing the belt, here's my interpretation (Thanks to Amskeptic for filling in the important details):
  1. Remove the three 10mm bolts that hold the fan cover.
  2. Remove the fan cover and timing scale (behind the fan cover).
  3. 3 = cover plate, 4 = 6mm alternator hex bolt
  4. Carefully pry the plastic alternator cover plate off by using a screwdriver at the top.
  5. Carefully loosen the 6mm hex bolt on the alternator. Do not remove the bolt or the back will fall off.
  6. 5 = 13mm alternator pivot bolt
  7. Loosen the 13mm pivot bolt on the alternator, accessible from under the bus, in line with the oil dipstick. It took me a while to find this bolt until I used a flashlight.
  8. To loosen the belt, move the alternator to the left, pushing by the 6mm hex bolt. I had to carefully use a large screwdriver to apply enough pressure.
  9. Remove the old belt.
  10. Install the new belt. I found it easier to start by placing the belt on the alternator, and then slipping over the air intake fan.
  11. Tighten the belt by moving the alternator back to the right. I had to carefully use a large screwdriver to apply enough pressure. The belt should have 9/16” movement when pushed in the middle with your thumb.
  12. Tighten the 6mm hex bolt to no more than 10 ft. lbs. Do not overtighten this bolt.
  13. Tighten the 13mm pivot on the alternator to 15-20 ft. lbs.
  14. Replace the alternator cover plate.
  15. Replace the timing scale and fan cover, and then tighten the three 10mm bolts that hold the cover. Do not over tighten them or the timing scale or fan cover could crack.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wilson makes a stop at Santa's Village

Santa's VillageOn a trip out to see some family in the western suburbs of Chicago, a strange yet familiar sight caught our eye as we were driving down highway 25. It was the former home of Santa's Village (1959-2006) in Dundee. Where a magical place for the children of Illinois once stood, now a sad and abandoned park almost disappears into the nearby strip malls. The entrance was framed with giant candy canes and multi-colored mushrooms, along with a vintage sign pointing to the way in. We quickly hung a U-turn to take a closer look.

Wilson in a front row parking space at Santa's Village.We pulled into the empty lot and right up to the front gate leading to the "Three Worlds of Fun" (Coney Island, Old McDonald's Farm, and Santa's World). It really was a sad sight. The buildings were neglected and overgrown with weeds. A cold, steel fence surrounded most of the property. It certainly was not the visions I had of Santa's Village when I was a child. In its prime, it probably was not what I envisioned as a child, but it was far worse off now. We stuck around and took a few photographs before driving off.

Mushroom at Santa's Village

Within 5 minutes of driving away, Wilson started bucking and I could not get over 25mph. I pulled over and let the bus rest for about five minutes. The engine fired right up and Wilson drove smooth the rest of the way home. Maybe he was just a little bit sad like I was.

Odometer: 14370