Saturday, July 23, 2011

Club trip to the 2011 Classic in Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Remind me, why do we drive these things?

For many months, and even more money, we've tried to get our 1958 double door bus on the road. Things were going well, then the day before Oktoberfest we lost a tire about 1/4 from home and parked the bus in the garage and walked away.

February freeze-out rolled around and the bus was all ready for its BPA debut, and lo and behold...shifting doesn't work. We got it back to the garage after a wild 1st gear-trip on State Street, parked it and walked away.

Then, somehow, we got excited again and spent more time and more money. We are road-trip people so when things were going well, we decided to plan a trip to make sure the bus was ready for the Classic in June. We got a nice brand new motor and new master cylinder and brake lines (random you say? read on...) We put 400 miles on the motor. Suddenly, I heater is REALLY hot, that can't be good. I take the bus to my friend Mike Allan and looks like it is at 255 degrees. This is after I took the motor out, changed the generator, and another friend, Aaron, came to help put the motor back in. Well, I was a little bummed, but headed for home as the bus temp was topping out around 255. As I get the bus up to 55 mph on state street, and a white honda civic decides to turn in front of me, I grab for brakes, and there is this horrible metal on metal sound... you guessed it.... brake pedal, meet the floor. Why I didn't do the dual circuit master cylinder I don't know, but I can assure you I am looking to buy one before this bus goes again, but I digress. I was able to change lanes at the last moment (not very easy in a panel, with no brakes, and about .5 seconds of warning), change back, slow to 35 mph and take a turn before another car decides to stop in front of the out-of-control bus. I am really glad the bus is so low, I don't think otherwise I could have made that fast that it went slightly sideways before I could recover and finally get it into my garage without hitting the neighbor kids on skateboards. So... it sits, in my garage, and I'm walking away.

Back to the road-trip. Well, never fear, the Squareback can pull the puck and we'll still have an aircooled adventure. So I get the puck wheels off and it turns out that the only wheels that are similar that fit the right profile are on the East coast, and cost $150 a piece... I need 3. Oh, and they are 2 weeks away even if I wanted to expedite. So the Puck is in my garage, and I'm walking away.

Okay, no bus, no Puck, but we still have ole' reliable, the Squareback. I'll preface by saying, I'm glad it had a dual circuit master cylinder. Coming off the freeway, Maryn was putting all she had into the brake, and it barely made a difference. Long story short, dear Bethany helped me change the master cylinder and the Square is ready, right? No, of course it isn't, why would it be ready? The generator light is flickering. Bethany and I look at all the connections, and the next day I call Mike Allan. We ran by his place, got some new brushes, and put them in. Still got a flickering generator light and we aren't about to take a 1400 mile trip with the luck we've had leading to this point and still have a generator light flickering.

Okay, so, lets recap... no bus, no square, no puck, but 2 days off of work. Lets take the "Crapmobile" (1993 Fox). Okay, sounds great, except on the way home from work, it decides that the radiator fan, or switch, or relay, or fuse, or something else isn't working and it is overheating. At this point, ready to give all of our EVERYTHING VW away, we decide to rent a car.

1400 miles, not one incident, the brakes worked very well, the motor never overheated, the steering box never drug, the defrost worked great, the wipers were spectacular, the seats were comfortable, the XM radio was amazing, we got nearly 35 mpg and were able to travel at 5 mph over the speedlimit through 3 states, 2 countries, 3 snowy mountain passes and 1 west-coast beach.

VW's for sale.... cheap!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Guest Writer

Craig here, writing a post about our European Caravan called the Eriba Puck. Here goes! It is a 1969-titled-as-a-1971-Puck in Idaho. We got it this summer and promptly took it out to camp and loved it!

We've had Vanagon campers and Bay campers, but we also daily drive our ACVW's so hauling 3 tons of camping gear around everyday gets cumbersome. So a friend sold us this Puck and we've started tearing it down as it needs some work. We've got an Oregon Coast trip planned in about a month, so my first focus is to get it road-worthy, then I'll start with the fine-tuning.
We'll be pulling it primarily with our freshly redone (I'm talking the mechanic is doing the final checks today and tomorrow freshly done ) 1958 Double Door Panel with a brand-new 1835cc engine. (It has windows now)

We got this bus on casters last May and have been working very hard to get it done, but that post is for another day, this is about the Puck! We've towed it with our 1969 Squareback, and this is definitely another option if we want the Square experience instead.

I just got a shipment from Germany today! I needed some new Hella taillights and Hella reflectors. I ended up getting two taillights and 25 reflectors, so needless to say, I've got 23 reflectors for sale...Cheap! Notice the large stack of reflectors!

Stuff I'm looking for: Window rubber for all 4 windows and Plastic filler moulding (red). I've also got to do something about the tires...they are the original european tires and I don't trust them more than a few miles, but replacements are nearly impossible to find in a decent amount of time, and I don't want to be stranded on the coast, waiting 2 weeks for tires to ship so I can tow her home...but that's just me.

And now back to our regularly scheduled blogger....

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm no, not at all. Fortunately for me, in this day and age, they'll sell anyone with $129.99 a video camera. This means I can take video everywhere. Even while driving to work.

Craig and I went to Buses by the Bridge in Lake Havasu City, AZ last month. It was all kinds of awesome. I've never seen so many buses in one place before.

Here's a little insight into the kinds of things that amuse Craig and me.Your motivation to watch to the end is that you get to see video of Craig, who is normally less than enthusiastic about being photographed (isn't he cute?)

Here's a real gem. I deeply regret having pointed the camera toward my face and having said anything during the filming of this video. Anyway, the point of the video is that the bus engine is functional! Sorry you can't really see it...just enjoy the noise I guess.

Finally, here's a short one, showing the bus actually on the road, moving. As we understand it, this bus hasn't been road worthy in over 15 years, so we're really happy that she's rollin!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Big Accomplishments

I started school again in January so while I’ve been sitting on my butt all day trying to increase my intelligence, and at the very least, increasing my waistline, Craig has taken complete ownership of the bus project, and he is rocking it.

Big accomplishment #1: the bus is painted. Dove blue—its original color, with grey in the cargo area to match the original grey primer.

Interesting fact—VW didn’t track the exact color codes for their primer, so there’s really no way of knowing exactly what color the primer is on your bus. It’s just grey.

Big accomplishment #2: several months ago, we purchased an 1835cc long-block which had been built and then sat for a few years without ever having been started. We had it torn down and rebuilt, then Craig threw the top end together (it's so easy when someone else is doing it!) I took a 20 minute study break and helped install the engine last weekend. (One thing I love about buses is that all it takes to install an engine is: an engine, a jack, four bolts, and two people…legend has it you can install an engine by yourself…I’m not trying it.)

We very anxiously cranked it and the thing just wasn’t getting spark. Plugs are new, wires are new, so we (meaning Craig) figured it must be the distributor. Ordered up a new distributor which came yesterday. Swapped out distributors, engine was getting spark, and then the battery died. Sigh.

Another interesting fact—Bosch no longer makes replacement distributors for ACVWs. Bummer.

Big accomplishment #3: oh man, this one is HUGE (huger than an engine and paint?) Our bus came with all of the pieces of the front door window assemblies—completely disassembled. We bought all the seals and the whole mess has been sitting on our living room floor for several weeks. I think of it with dread, my blood pressure rises, storm clouds gather, and I pray that they’ll magically assemble themselves. Last night, I got home from class, and Craig had assembled 1.5 of the front door window assemblies! He was all pissed off and tired and all I wanted to do was party, and call all my friends to come see the splendor.

A word to those who don’t know—vent windows are a biiiittch. First, you’ve got the seal that holds the vent window into its casing—which has to be pressed in (Craig used a 6” c-clamp, some pieces of wood, and super human balance to complete the task). Next, is the seal that seals the vent window to the window frame. This thing is a beast. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s about three inches wide by two inches high, with flaps and flanges all over and has to fit into a half inch wide channel. We borrowed a little white plastic pointy flat thingy from a friend, which Craig said made it possible to complete the project.

Look at that felt!

This baby is going to the mechanic on Monday to solve our unsolvable problems (meaning things we’ve tried to resolve and are tired of trying to do). Shifting is sloppy, steering is loose, clutch is wonky, and electrical gremlins plague us (see, that’s what happens when you let me wire a bus).