Original artwork by Matthew Koons!
A family of three drives an old VW bus from San Francisco to the tip of South America.
Original artwork by Matthew Koons!
It was our last day in town, and we had surprise visitors!
We met Wendi and Steve about 4 years ago at a campground in Mexico. They had pulled a trailer with an SUV all the way down from Canada for the winter – just like all the other snowbirds. These guys were different, though. And, we stayed in touch. Not long after we got going, they headed back to Canada and bought a VW bus – Pumper. They drove it south as far as Ecuador, then did a re-set and shipped it home and then to Europe. After doing a loop, they almost sold it in the UK to an eager buyer… but just couldn’t do it. They shipped it home again, but decided to stop traveling and resume a ‘normal’ life in Canada. It lasted 6 weeks. Now, they’re on the move south again and probably in Mexico by now.
The list is dwindling and the bus repair updates should be slowing down and getting replaced with travel updates very soon. This might even be the last one for a while.
I installed a new floor. New sub-flooring too. We went with commercial grade vinyl tile squares – the same kind you’ll find in the local high school cafeteria. Previously, our wood flooring looked really nice, but just didn’t stand up to the continuous wear and tear. And, it was rotting from underneath. These should do the trick.
New door panels too. I went with a double dose of plastic sheeting on both the panels and the door frame. On every ACVW I’ve ever owned, the door panels get wet and rot out. Hopefully, this will keep them solid a little longer than average.
Everything has taken longer than I thought, but we’re just about there. Every little project tended to involve shearing off a bolt and extra trips to the hardware store. I’ve accumulated a little set of metric taps – not a bad investment.
Adding the undercoating was a big task – mostly the required preparation, since I don’t have a lift. But, totally worth it.
New tires. Check.
I’ve also been doing some wiring and added some more lighting. I now have a total 400W of illumination on the front. Maybe a bit much for someone who tries to never drive at night. But, if we get cold in the mountains we can probably just turn on all the lights and stand in front of the bus.
We’re clearing out and making sure that everything we own fits in the bus.
This stuff needs to go to a good home…
Dual-diode battery isolator. Two batteries, one easy solution. Works great. If you are considering adding an extra battery, this is the simplest way to do it. We used it for 4 years sin problema. We’re changing to a more complicated system. Price: free. Claim it – send me your address – and I’ll send a PayPal invoice for the actual shipping costs.
Those dual-Weber ICT carbs. My excellent sales pitch the first time didn’t work. But, they need to go. We’re simplifying and there’s no room for these.
Comes with all linkage and new filters. 1 good carb, 1 bad carb. You figure it out. Make me an offer.
Custom zip-out screen for pop-top. Improved with high-density high-durability mesh. Hand made in Montevideo, Uruguay. If you have a zip-out rectangular screen, this probably fits. Freebie. Pay for shipping and it’s yours.
My old 90 amp Bosch alternator. Good gen gone bad. Use for rebuild or for core. Free – just pay shipping and it’s yours. Seems like a waste to throw it in the garbage.
Door handles. Bought the top one in Mexico and is identical to the current aftermarket repro. No key, but easy to re-key (we did). And, a second bonus handle with no tumbler – I think this is the one we started the trip with. Needs a good home. Hate to trash – say the word and it’s yours.
Retractable seat belts! Our bus originally came with limp lap belts – not this fancy upgrade. Works great. We have these in our front seats and one in the back. Perfect substitute for your old bus belts. I think I got these from a Jetta. Nice price – free. Just shipping cost to wherever you are.
We’ve been ridiculously busy trying to get ready to drive north. We hope to be on the road by the end of this week.
So, lot’s of little projects to wrap up and others that we might have to postpone. As Angela says, “now you can’t just pick the one you want to work on.” No help there…
The good news is that the bus is rolling and on the road. The bad news is that I’ve hardly had time for the mechanical and electric stuff. That’s this week.
Is it just me, or do none of the reproduction rear side markers fit properly?
I’ve had 4 – and all 4 require wedging a screw into the back plastic thingy to force it stay put.
And, we’ve got some electrical Gremlins. When I put on the right blinker, the brake emergency light comes on and there’s no blinking. When I put on the left blinker, nothing happens and the bulbs go dark. The problem? A bad ground between the right taillight housing and the bulb holder. I rigged it with a screw and some copper wife and am hoping for the best.
Also, nearly all of the spade lugs on my rear taillights have broken off over the years and I’ve just soldered the wires directly to the nub. It works.
When I parked it, it had no leaks. I drove it 5 miles from my brother’s shop to my dad’s place and it’s now leaking oil.
My brother’s garage is like the Twilight Zone (still no takers on the carbs). So, I pulled the engine and had to change the oil cooler seals. I probably should have waited to install the new alternator (thanks again, Mark!)
One of those things on many overlander’s fear lists is corrupt cops swiping your license plate until paying a bribe.
It never happened to us (and I’ve never heard of it actually happening), but now I finally got around to finding some of those anti-theft screws and putting them on. Now, our license plate and a men’s room stall have something in common.
New muffler. Stock German. First time I’ve had one. I’m embarrassed to admit, I had to look up a photo online to figure out how the tailpipe went on. I guess I got it right. But, I had to pull out the grinder and knock down part of the engine mount so there was clearance to clamp it one the heater boxes. Both sides. This was always an issue with other mufflers too – maybe my heater boxes hang too low?
Of all of the various stickers we’ve put on the bus over the past 4 years, we’ve been able to preserve most them – the ones on the glass, at least. The actual bumper stickers – not so much. Now, the bumpers are getting stripped and re-painted. I didn’t really notice how mangled up they were until I repainted.
They’re called bumpers because they’re bumpy, right?
Hey Big Blue – your sticker stuck across the entire Americas – time for a refill!
It ran when I parked it. Promise.
That’s what the ads on the internet always say when the car is a huge piece of shit.
Well, it actually happened.
Seriously, I drove it here. It ran. Now, not so much. It took a while, but I figured out that the left carb simply wouldn’t idle and was full of white gooey stuff. Rusty colored stuff too. The right one was fine, but the left one was now junk.
I cleaned it. Bought the carb dip. Poked all of the orifices thoroughly. It wouldn’t idle. The accelerator pump works, but no fuel at idle.
What I learned from this exercise is that I never want to mess with the Weber ICTs ever again. Connecting the #3 spark plug wire 5 times in one day – kill me now.
I now have a set of dual Webers for sale. One clean one that won’t idle and one dirty one that works fine. Price negotiable. It ran when I parked it.
Those janky Kadrons that I carried wrapped in plastic on top of the bus for the past year? I bolted them on and they were still dialed in perfectly.