Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Belle at the beach (Garibaldi). Successful run. Tune up before hand went very, very well and she's torquing out really well. 62 mph at 3500 rpm. Took all the hills at 50 or better. At's My Girl!
Oh, and new license plates on the way: 73VDUB.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ahh. Update time.
As the summer moves on, I'm gearing Belle up for a run to the coast next weekend. Currently having some brake work done at Les Schwab. I've done it before, but frankly, it's the one thing I really want done right. So....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Singing, "Thank you, for a real good time!"

Wow! What a run. We did it! 2,000 miles in one week!
The Gorge run was a hoot. A little bit of everything: hot weather, nice people, silly people, good food, great music, pretty scenes, and the quest for the clean Honey Bucket. The show it self was quite good. I personally feel the set list wasn't quite as strong as the Shorline show, but still some real gems in there.
The photos below help document the trip:

Unlike like Shoreline, where there were only a handful of air-cooleds out, this run had a plethora. We caught up some nice rigs on the first hill. Talk about small world, the orange double-cab lives just down the street from me and Paul!

Once we found a spot, we hoisted the colors. You wouldn't believe how many people thanked us for the landmark. It helped them find their way back to their own sites.

Dona strumming the kind tunes on her new axe:

Heading into the show...somewhere....
The Allman brothers simply kicked butt. The Doobies were good too, but one could argue the Allmans stole the show. Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks ripping it up at the same time? Unreal.

The Crew for the second run: Dona, Paul, Mike, Me, unwashed masses in the background.
Sure is predy out here. :-)
The Core 4 with that Warren guy again. Can't imagine what his fingertips feel like.
Phil with his new bass. He was simply outstanding. Keep the bass Phil!

Ready for the home run.

Well, it wouldn't have been an air-cooled trip without one break-down. This nice splitty stopped to help, but by then we had a handle on it. Thanks to Paul's superior diagnostic skills, we narrowed the problem down to the coil/distributor. My fault really. I knew oil was blowing past the o-ring on the distributor, but didn't carry that to the logical next step of "fix it moron before you ruin your distributor"- so it overheated. Fortunately, I had a spare with me, and after a reasonable delay, we were back at it without a mishap.
Stopped by Stonehenge, you know, because it looks like Stonehenge.
Ahhh Belle. Well done old girl!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Roll Away The Dew......

Wow! One of the best shows in a long, long time.
Not sure where to begin, so I'll just toss some stuff out.
Phenomenal run with no significant mishaps. California roads (for want of a better term) managed to rattle my tail-pipe off!
Couple of facts of figures:
Total miles covered: 1,385.6
Fuel used: 72.9 gallons (running about 19 mpg overall. The mountains trimmed the average down. On open freeway I was getting 24 mpg!)
Avg speed: 45 mph

Didn't see many aircooled VW's out there. Maybe a half-dozen or so. People were wandering by taking pictures of Belle. Mike thinks she's the back-drop in about 20 pictures of so.

I'll let the pictures explain the rest:

Need to lose some weight-

Mike's ready to go!
I always obey the local laws:
The crew on the Shoreline Run:

All Flags Flying..
Always nice to see Further!

This must be the place!My favorite view of California...

Ahh, home. Notice the Cali souvenirs on the windshield. Next... The Gorge!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Updates to follow after the Shoreline show.
Don't know what I did, but I'm getting almost 7 mpg more than I was before all this work. Probably less weight from all the rust I scrapped off and parts I tossed.

BTW: Celebrated 15 years with Belle yesterday!

In the spirit of traveling. one of my favorites:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-Robert Frost

Monday, April 27, 2009

No really, we're almost there!

Heading south in less than two weeks. And she'll be ready! (Fingers crossed; Knock on Wood; 3 Hail Mary's; Salt over the shoulder).

Mechanical work is done. Exhaust leak fixed. Oil leak fixed. Vacuum leak fixed. Interior almost reinstalled (just some woodwork left). Gas gauge fixed (!). Gas pedal fixed. Brakes fixed ($$$). Here are some pictures showing some of the work:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The end in sight!

The final push is nearing. I received notice today that the Shoreline tickets are arriving UPS tomorrow!

Over the weekend, I repainted Belle (pictures as soon as I get the bumpers finished). Note to self: NEVER use hammerite again! (Major pain to remove). I also resealed the entire bus (mostly) and ordered (drum roll please) a fuel tank sender unit! No more guessing when I'm running out of gas and having to haul an extra 5 gallons in the cargo bin!

Upcoming: Fix accelerator pedal (seeings how it came off in my hand over the weekend. I suppose I could put a friend over the internal engine hatch and have him adjust the throttle by hand as we drive down the road, but that seems tedious); remove old propane system (frankly, it looks a little scary); install recushioned and covered bench seat/bed; install new carpet; bleed the brakes; repack the wheel bearings; a few other cosmetic touches and...done! (I think. It's hard to test how she drives without an accelerator pedal. But she idles real nice). :-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Are we there yet?

Changed all four shocks (destroying 5 lug nuts in the process); sanded and painted the wheel rims; fixed torn boots; re-greased a CVC joint; removed remains of old heater system and plugged the holes; and fixed the front passenger side floor pan (it was starting to look like something from the Flintstones with your feet hanging out and peddling really fast). And with that, other than some minor tweaks and bleeding the brakes, the hardcore mechanical work is done! Now it's on to the painting, carpeting, and interior tweaks. Yeah!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Whoop! Whoop!

Rather a busy weekend! Got the Mike on the sander doing fine work in prep for painting the inside. And...drum roll please... I fixed the oil leak! Had to remove the fan housing (which was a real pain with studs being rusted) to get to the oil cooler (who designed this thing?), but as soon as we pulled the cooler, it was obvious where the leak was coming from. It probably would have been a 2 hour job, but with all the oil that had leaked out and been blown around and sucked through the fan housing (the bottom of which looked like an oil sump), I spent the rest of Saturday cleaning (again!). Sunday I put it all back together and fired her up! No leak! It was really kind of weird. I kept looking underneath to see if the steady "drip, drip, drip" was there. Nope. It seemed really strange to have Belle idling away and not leaving a stain!
This week: continued work on the interior. Recover the bench seat. I think I'm going to rearrange the layout to keep some of this new found room I found when you have an empty bus. Maybe put in a dance floor.
Next weekend: Replace torn CVC boot. Replace torn Ball Joint boot. Remove old heater system. Install new shocks front and back.

Nothing like good union work!

Seat Repair. Before, then recushioned and covered.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This could be a problem. But with a little Lab metal and new paint? Good as new!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Well, how about that...

Busy weekend, but got most of the engine work done. In fact, I thought I was all done, until I discovered where my oil leak is: it appears to be a bad seal on the oil cooler. Good news is it is a straightforward fix, just a matter of taking half the engine apart, changing the seals, and putting it back together. :-)
Oil leak aside, it is now fair to say that Belle has never run this good. I fixed an exhaust leak that, until last weekend, I didn't even know I had. I had no idea my motor could be this quiet! Also installed a battery my father purchased for his boat, but never used. Big deep cycle bugger with tons of cranking amps. Now all I have to do is LOOK at the ignition and she starts right up.
I've also started working weekdays on the interior (saving the long, tool intensive projects for the weekends). Currently, I have Belle completely emptied out down to the bare metal. This week I'll be finishing up repainting the interior (going with a nice Sage Green), and refinishing the seats. Next week will hopefully be the new carpet and the modified sink and refinished stove.
Is it May yet?

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Ah, the sweet, sweet sound of "putt, putt, putt, putt, putt...."
After playing amateur forester on Saturday with Mike (we knocked down some of the trees in the front yard), it was back to work on Belle this Sunday. I got and installed another Pertronix ignition (and wired it right this time!), as well as a Flamethrower coil (Postive on the top, Negative on the bottom the way it's suppose to be). Some minor tweaks on the valves, and voila! Set the timing, adjusted the idle, and she's there! Engine work... done! (Well, mostly. There's always something.) I also repaired the tin cuts done previously to access the top of the fuel tank, adjusted the alternator belt, cleaned up some of the wiring in the engine compartment, and painted the exhaust pipes to prevent any more rusting. There are still a couple of wires coming into the engine compartment that aren't hooked up to anything, and I haven't the foggest idea what they're for. So I'm going to have to follow them back and see what they are connected to.

Lastly, the (or I should say, an) oil leak is still there, although it doesn't seem to be nearly as bad as it was before. So I'll probably have to do the pushrod seals on the right side too. I may just have to live with it for a while. Like they say, it's not that the Volkswagen leaks oil, it's marking its territory.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lets see... That wire goes...Hmmm!?!

Well, that was interesting.
With Mike's help I was able to get the gas lines and new fuel pump installed. I assembled the carb and installed that. Made sure the wire spring holding the push-rod tubes in place was set properly (it wasn't), Installed a new oil cleaner screen gasket and put fresh oil in (thanks Mike). Cleaned the oil breather (which I now call the sludge collector). Installed new coil: and there begins the problems! The new coil was a Bosch blue-coil. The old coil was a Standard. On the Standard, the Positive is on the top, and the Negative is on the bottom (the way I like it). On the Bosch, the Negative is on the top (lame) and the Positive is on the bottom (really lame). So installed my distributor with my fancy new electronic igition system instead of points. I looked on the coil to find the Pos and Neg, and then proceeded to wire everything backwards. Keeping the fire-extinguisher handy, I proceeded to turn the bus on....and, being wired backwards...completely fried my electronic ignition. Grrrrr.
I've ordered a new Pertronix unit and will try again when it arrives. In the mean time, I may see if she fire's up using points just to see if the oil leak was fixed. It appears, presently, that it is fixed. After several attempts at starting her, no oil leaked out. But I won't know for sure until she's actually idling.
Oh, and it was raining this weekend and I'm fighting a cold. Grrrr.
Ah well, if it was easy, it wouldn't be a Volkswagen.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Making progress

As you can see, I had help this weekend. Mike provided moral support and tried to work out his on-again-off-again bad VW karma. I think we made progress on that!
I changed out the pushrod seals on the right side and reinstalled the modified heat exchanger. I also pulled all the fuel-lines and began replacing those. Removed firewall to inspect the fuel tank and assorted hoses attached to that (replaced one). Next we will be installing the new fuel pump, distributor and carb and firing her up. If the oil leak was fixed with the pushrod seal change, then we're good. If not, then I'll do the other side. I'm hoping to have most of the engine work done by the end of next weekend so we can start on the mechanical stuff (CVs, Shocks, Brakes, etc).

Friday, February 13, 2009

And We're Off...

So it begins, and immediately plans change. I had hoped to pull the distributor today (Friday) to install the Pertronix electric ignition this evening and install on Saturday. Instead, I pulled the distributor (interestingly, a Volkswagen branded Bosch), the carb (Weber), the coil (POS as it turns out) and all the wires and started CLEANING. After 15 years of oil leaks and dirt, well... you can imagine. So, tomorrow, clean the whole dang engine compartment and everything in it. The idea behind an air cooled engine is the air actually has to GET TO the engine.

Sunday, install and put it all back together. Daylight permitting, I'll work on the push rod seals too.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I finally found out what the heck I have. Although a legit camper, it's not a "Westy" Westphalia. It's a Riviera. These were shipped from Germany and sent to Riviera Motors in Beaverton, then converted to campers in Vancouver, WA., because campers were selling like hot-cakes, and they did not have enough to keep up. So they sent Kombi's to Vancouver to have them converted.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 1 - The work begins

Well, I spent most of the weekend getting ready to start. Finding tools, gathering supplies, ordering parts... etc. However, I did manage to remove the rear bumper, drain the gas tank and the oil. Decided to switch over to an electronic ignition, so ordered that too. My goal by the end of next weekend is to have the "new" carb installed, the cleaned and updated distributor installed, clean all the engine compartment internals, especially the electrical connections, and get started (maybe) on the push rod seals. Aim high, right?
Also, I gave Belle the once over and found some real positives: only 1 cvc boot needs to be replaced; the hoses off the carb are in fine shape; I haven't inspected forward of the rear half of the bus yet, but so far have only found 1 spot of new rust and it's very small; the exhaust system, despite appearances, is also in suprisingly good shape.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Under Construction

Inspired by a friend ( who has a beautiful '71, I decided to make this for me and my '73. Her name is Belle, and this is our 15th anniversary together. After sitting dormant for many a year (life kind of caught up with me... ya know... kids and all) she and I are going to get it together and head to a Dead show in May. So this will involve some work, both mechanical and cosmetic.