Archive for November, 2011

more bus stuff

Posted on November 29, 2011 by 5 Comments

Since we’ve been hanging out on the avocado farm for a while, I’ve had some time to knock out a few bus projects.

First, I want to mention that several of our replacement parts were supplied by readers while we were back in the US a few weeks ago.  Thanks again to everyone for helping us out – we really appreciate it!

The electronic ignition went in without a hitch. Since we had our mystery problem that killed our ignition back in Quito, we’ve been using points. For some reason, I never threw them away and have amassed a collection. I will whittle this down to just one. Adios platinos.

Speaking of whittle, I had actually whittled a cabinet door handle part so we could open the cabinet under the sink. Now, no more tree branch and we’re back to steel and plastic.

The new door lock cylinder was a hit with Angela. She hasn’t been able to unlock her door since Mexico. Really – you just get used to it. Previously, I’ve had luck just swapping the pins and moving them around until I found a combination that fit my key. It worked again this time, but I still had to sand down the bumpy spots just a little to make it unlock smoother.

My baling wire fix for the carb choke diaphragm thingies were still going strong (as long as the originals lasted?) But, we got new ones from Benito in Santiago, so I figured I’d go ahead and put them in.

Still, as soon as I removed baling wire patches on two places on the bus, I had to pull out the baling wire again.  I was trying to fix the pop-top front catch bit (it didn’t align correctly and had to be pushed in with a long screwdriver each time we closed the top) and managed to break off my spare tire mount.  It was held on by a combination of rubber compression nuts and rivets, but they finally decided to give up.  Now, it’s baling wire. Use what you got.

I changed the oil after about 500 miles on the new piston set and found that my new magnetic drain plug had hair. Scary.

And, while I was down there, I found that my transmission is leaking. I noticed it was getting harder to shift just this week… and now a leak.. I’ve never touched a transmission (heck, the Bentley says that you never even have to change the fluid – what about after 40 years?) and this project doesn’t interest me at all.

Bus projects are starting to get old. Usually, when we meet people, they tell us about all the great places they’ve been. We tell them about all the places we’ve worked on the bus.


Filed Under: Chile

That is the question

Posted on November 28, 2011 by 4 Comments

Neressa promised to teach me everything to not do when beekeeping. Sounded good enough to me.

She had some neglected boxes and we went to check them out. There are about 30 scattered around the farm, so we put on the suits and got to work.

Some boxes were over-crowded, so we added a second story, rearranged some things and added some food.

Some of the boxes had ant problems, so we took care of that the best we could – and painted the legs of the stands with oil to keep them from coming back.

One of her tables was falling apart and sliding down the hill, so we installed a new table and moved 5 boxes. This seems to be one of the best ways to piss off bees – move their house. Key here is plugging the door before you move the box and then get away quickly after setting it down and pulling the plug.

There were a few swarms on the trees – probably fleeing from the overcrowding problem – so we had to go move those guys and put them in their own box.

Of course, we had to collect some honey to bring back to the kids too.

All in a day’s work.

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Filed Under: Chile

Finca de Palta

Posted on November 26, 2011 by 4 Comments

When someone invites you to to come up to visit on their avocado farm… you just say yes.  We headed the wrong direction – north – all the way up to the Elqui Valley.

Our friend Neressa – who we met skiing down in Chillan – has moved her whole family from Alaska to the Chilean desert to grow palta.

We popped the top on the hillside and have been eating guacamole continuously since we arrived.

She needs some help with her bee hives, so I’m all over it – no experience necessary.


bus notes for those interested:

-the loud valve noise was a really loose #2 exhaust valve. I pulled off the rockers and inspected everything one more time.

-compression is 120 psi on all four cylinders

-still have the oil leak

-we had a bad oo9 distributor that I’ve already replaced with my spare. The advance would get stuck in both full and zero advance conditions – no way to predicting what it was doing.

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Filed Under: Chile

Eight hours

Posted on November 22, 2011 by 10 Comments

So, this is how we spent our Sunday…

We headed over to our new friend Ignacio’s family’s house to do some work on the bus. The plan was to drop the engine, break it down, and replace the pistons and cylinders.  We were already on our 3rd set of piston rings, had low compression on #1, and suspected a minor oil leak (already) since the rebuild in Mendoza.  It was the right time and location to swap for a new piston set. Moreover, with our plan of driving south all the way within 1000 km of Antarctica, we figured we should really make sure the engine was ready for the trip.

I think I told Ignacio that I could do all of the the work in a day and be finished in 6 hours – I was wrong and it took about eight. We ended up sleeping in the driveway, but we did manage to leave the next morning.

Everyone was incredibly generous and gracious and we really appreciate their willingness to allow us to invade their home for the day.  Heck, they even fed us lunch and dinner. I don’t now how we continue to get so lucky – thanks everyone!

We’ve put a few miles on the engine since then and have a few early results. There’s a really loud valve slapping noise on the right side of the motor – no clue what’s going on there – I cleaned the heads, but otherwise didn’t touch the valves. I replaced the front main seal, but the oil leak is still there.  Compression?  I’ll check it mañana.



Filed Under: Chile


Posted on November 17, 2011 by 6 Comments

We’re still working on some projects and getting prepared to spend our summer in Patagonia – and taking our own sweet time. While we try to make some progress, here’s a random BodesWell sighting…


Really… Mumsense.

I’m sure most of you have a subscription (UK) and have already seen it (pg 52-53), but this was the special ‘Education Issue’ and I’m really not sure how we earned our space.

We appreciate the attention*, but if you are looking for tips on educating you child, we suggest that you may not want to take advice from some bums living in a VW bus!


And, if you received a BodesWell sticker, send us a photo of where you stuck it for a future blog post!

* Seriously, thanks for including us, Alice! Great article!

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Filed Under: Chile

What’s Next?

Posted on November 14, 2011 by 39 Comments

This is the question that we heard 100 times over the past few weeks in the U.S. Plenty of folks reminded us that it was supposed to be a one-year trip.

The answer? Well, it seemed to vary each time we were asked. Our general response was something along the lines of “we’re just going to keep going as long as we’re having fun.” That’s a plan, right?

Realistically, I think we could spend up to another year in South America. Zig-zagging through Patagonia and the Lakes District down to Ushuaia, and then driving up the Atlantic coast through Brazil. Suriname? Guyana? It’s a long way and there’s lots to see. And, I drive slow.

Of course, I’d love to drive all the way around the globe, too – that’s been an unofficial goal from the start, but we’re taking it one continent at a time.

Much of southern Africa seems doable, and it’s really not too far from Brazil. Loop up to Kenya, then ship to India, do a southeast Asia circuit and swing up to Japan before heading home via Alaska.

Europe would be expensive, but easy and fun. Drive every country in Europe – that would be a cool. Angela has always wanted to live in Italy. Then, figure out a way home across Asia.

Australia seems like it could be a bureaucratic mess with our bus, but who knows. I’ve always wanted to go. Despite all the worries in the rest of the world, some say Australia is the most dangerous (poisonous?) place on Earth.

Heck, I also have a Caribbean sailing adventure floating around somewhere in the back of my mind too. Hitting every island would be an interesting goal. I literally know nothing about boats. Angela has zero interest. Last week, I picked up a sailing magazine in the airport and was bored to tears. Still, the idea of lazily floating around in warm turquoise water has it’s appeal. The back of the mind is there for a reason.

In line with our normal planning, We’ve done very little research with any of these options. We’ll just wing it.

But, everything with us is a 3-body problem. It’s a bitch to solve. One thing we know for sure is that once one of us is done, we’re all done.  Ending a trip/lifestyle like this is a pretty permanent thing. Why stop unless you have to? Why think small?  Besides, there’s always the chance that I’ll end up in an office cubicle somewhere without any planning or dreaming at all. I don’t even want to think about that option.

Anyway, “living the dream” can’t last forever, can it? What’s it going to cost to do all that stuff above and how do we fund it? You can’t keep washing your clothes in a motel bathtub your whole life, right? Shouldn’t Bode go to school like all the other kids in the U.S.? Shouldn’t we be working hard and saving for our Golden Years? Lot’s to think about, if we wanted to think about it.

Regardless, a Random Tuesday could change our lives forever and render it all moot. It could all end tomorrow.

So, until we figure it out, we’ll just stick with our answer. We’ll keep going as long as we’re having fun.

So, why ramble on about not knowing what we’re doing? Well, it’s honest. That’s where we’re at.

I got an email from a reader a while back with lots of questions about our trip and I had a hard time answering some of them. Moreover, he indicated that we weren’t writing about the things that he was interested in hearing – and I see his point.

It’s pretty easy to write about what we did and where we went. There’s a big pelican on the rock in front of me – really – that’s pretty easy to write. Border crossing logistics – simple. Writing about our motivation to leave the comforts of home and how our trip has affected our lives takes a little more time and thought.

So anyway, we’ll try to include a little more insight into our clouded minds whenever we can. If you have any questions you need answered, just drop us line. If we can come up with a good answer – and even if we can’t – we’ll put it here for everyone else to read too.


Filed Under: Chile

Creatures of Habit

Posted on November 11, 2011 by 4 Comments

We had a long day of traveling that included a plane change due to a ‘strange smell’.  It wasn’t me.

After finally arriving in Santiago, we were a little surprised by a $140 USD (per person) reciprocity fee for entering the country at the airport (good for the life of the passport). It seems that most countries have something like this now – all thanks to the US doing the same to their citizens. But, it’s still free to drive into the country. Obviously, we recommend it.

Then, it was just a quick taxi ride to see our friend Marisol and fetch the bus (they even washed it). Then, to see Benito with our piston kit order (and a nice Kleinbus Club discount). Then, it was finally time to rest.

Driving an hour and a half to the coast and back to El Quisco was a no-brainer.


Also, our buddy Kjell in Norway published an article about our camping trip with the Kleinbus Club in his newsletter. The Chile-Norway connection is complete. Our work is done here.


Filed Under: Chile

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