View original topic: Fork in the road Page: 1, 2  Next
radar5667 Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:13 pm

Hello Samba. Iím at a fork in the road. I got my Westy in May and Iíve spent time getting to know her and fixing the easy stuff. Not too many highly regarded Syncro mechanics in my neck of the woods so itís been me and van sorting things out. Everything works, but I would like the entire cooling system done, CVs, solar, house battery system, truck fridge and propex heater installed. Itís a fair amount of work and I suppose if I am serious about traveling in my van I should man up and do it all myself. I have the Bentley and I have tools and a small shop. Now is time to get to the meat and potatoes. Did you learn everything about your van by doing it all yourself? Did you hire someone to do the work for you? It is almost winter and I have a choice to make. Leave the van safely tucked in my shop for duration of the winter (like until April 2021) and do what work I can. Or leave in my van shortly, traveling south before the big freeze into much warmer climate and deal with whatever happens on the journey. I have 10 weeks off of work starting in November which is very unusual for me. Not likely to have this amount of time off again without a major lifestyle change. So whatís it gonna be? Winter in the shop? Or hit the road runnin?

AZ Landshaper Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:48 pm

50/50. I learned a lot as a 20 something exploring the open highways and byways of N America. That said I was a lot more easy going and willing to spend a night on. The side of a busy highway while I figured out how to adjust valves, grind a valve seat and rebuild a set of dual soles carbs.
Since then Iíve spent mucho horas in the garage turning a wrench.
I now feel ready for just about what ever comes along if itís small Iíll repair it. If not Iíll get towed to Barstow or some other hot desert town to work out the issues. I now have a bit more money than time. Back then it was the opposite. There were also dubs in the junk yards. Not today.

My advice is. Lifeís short. Pay for the AAA plus and hit the road. Find a good lady to balance your energy and give the samba members a hollaí when the Time comes u need us. I always answer the call when needed. Hit me up if on the side of the road in dusty Tucson.
Live life now so the memories are there later.

Ps nice looking rig.

fxr Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:49 pm

radar5667 wrote: Did you learn everything about your van by doing it all yourself?
Yes... except for: Quote: Did you hire someone to do the work for you? Having a Subaru engine installed (Buslab).
Get the tools, buy the bits, read up on here on all the gotchas, and enjoy. :)

Oh - and hit the road!

SyncroHead Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:07 pm

I learned by doing it myself, but also LOVE having a local mechanic to do all the stuff that's a pain or really best done on a lift.

I'd say fix only what you need to make the van reliable and start on your trip. You may not have this opportunity and you can save the upgrades for later. Also, by travelling in your van now, you'll get a good appreciation for what upgrades you prioritize.


Jim Davis

4Gears4Tires Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:07 pm

If you've put a few thousand miles on it since May without issue, hit the road.

AZ Landshaper Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:12 pm

Bam. 100%. Make run for it Lifeís too short. Donít hang around till your too old or tied down w responsibilities.

Zeitgeist 13 Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:18 pm

Just slap that Heinkel on the back and hit the road. What could go wrong?

kublerwagen Sat Oct 24, 2020 9:50 pm

Well, covid cases are spiking and hospitals are starting to run out of beds in more places across the country. May not be an ideal year to go all on the road.

Multiman mv Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:40 am

Perfect time to go check out Americaís wilderness areas (the ones that arent shut down due to covid.) dont surround yourself with people, take the road less travelled and roll the dice. Sounds like you are mechanically inclined. Amass a small arsenal of parts that may cause issues. Sounds like cv/axles may be nice to at least have on hand. Throw in an ignition switch, belts and come up with any other parts that seem worn and at the end of their life and hit the road. Maybe take the time to install the propex before you leave. Even in warmer latitudes, aux heat is nice to have. You might want to consider a gas espar. You never have to worry about fuel as long as you have gas in the tank. I guess this would also require the aux battery and solar so maybe not that quick and easy and would bite into your travel time. My diesel espar is one of my favorite upgrades. Well worth the time it took to install. Good luck and have fun.

Abscate Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:25 am

The stars are aligned for the road trip.

Start every day by lifting the lid and looking for trouble, coolant level, oil level, wet spots, just like Dave.

3000 miles is two months daily driving. Bring a bike , drive and enjoy.

If you are from WI you wonít need a heater in TX

Oh, and when you come to a fork in the road, take it.


DuncanS Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:47 am

Multiman mirrors my thoughts. I have modified tons of boats and various buses/vans/181 things and houses over the years. I started out back in the Cretaceous by making everything perfect before the first cruise. I've learned it is far better--for me--to modify just the immediately obvious--like and an indoor/outdoor temp gauge and hit the road. The first night out I discover the bed idea I had would interfere with ....... and the light on the overhead I planned should really be on the other side. What happens is you wind up with fabulous experiences on the road/water and the exact vehicle/boat you want for what you actually do with it. I guarantee it will be different than what you dreamed you would do with it.

I had a friend who acquired a '46 Cris Craft runabout the same time I got a cruising sailboat. Both needed work. He took 8 years before he was satisfied with the perfect resto with 72 coats of varnish before the first ride. I went cruising every summer slowly correcting and modifying as I went along. My log books are something I treasure as they tell about both the process and the amazing things which happened to me an my family during the following years. I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world and now have a boat I am proud of and others tell me they think is beautiful. And my car? Well I think she is doing exactly what works for me.

My friend was disappointed in the power, speed and ride and sold it shortly thereafter. Would you buy a fixer upper house and rent an apartment for 10 years while fixing the kitchen, wallpaper and lighting?

Good luck and most importantly, have fun and great experiences.


DuncanS Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:54 am

For example, if you need your Bentley when on the road, try this page. Great coffee and pastries.

djkeev Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:15 am

kublerwagen wrote: Well, covid cases are spiking and hospitals are starting to run out of beds in more places across the country. May not be an ideal year to go all on the road.

Stay self contained.
Be careful when you must venture indoors.
Do all your own cooking and food prep.

You'll be fine.

happy2CU Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:08 am

if you've done a few miles without much issues, pack a toolbox and hit the road south. The worst that can happen is breakin' down in the middle of nowhere but hey you've got a place to stay...

Steve M. Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:22 am

Take the spoon so you don't miss a drop!

Ditto on buying the AAA Club towing package, a fire extinguisher or two, tools, spare wheel bearing, ignition switch, throttle cable, CV Boots and do the road trip.

Bring a camera and post your adventure.

syncro surf Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:39 am


campism Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:57 am

syncro surf wrote: Go.
What he said. We got our van early in the week and took it on a successful shakedown trip the following weekend, and after surviving that the next weekend we departed an already-planned 10-day 2,000 mile drive to the St. Lawrence River and back by way of southern New England.

^ That stuff is about the van. Regarding what you should do for you, my advice is: If you want to be talked out of it, don't talk to me.

You'll have plenty of time to work on the van later.

fishgo Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:56 am

If you've put a long trip in already, go on the 10 week vacation. Bring spares like hoses, oil, water tank water pump, etc. You'll never get a pocket of time like this again, so take it. There's tool supply and auto supply stores in every town in the country.

I like some of the other recommendations: AAA membership for towing. Extra tools. Stay as much self-contained as possible. Learn to cook in the van.

And don't overdo or overthink the modifications you'll make to the van; your ideas of the "perfect" location for a light or modification will change when you spend time in the van. My "perfect" setups that I dreamed about all winter with the van in the garage lasted about 10 minutes of actual use before I made a change.

I've just returned from a 17 day swing south form NC and SC and Kentucky. From that I'm taking the van south for the entire winter and not garaging it this year. Trip south to family late November for a few weeks (fly home for a month). Trip to the Everglades in January (fly home for a month). Trip to the panhandle and NO in March, bring the van back to Wisconsin. Salt roads be damned, I'll wash it good before I go but while it is a treasured car, the memories are more precious than potential rust.

deadaheadub Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:59 am

You've satisfactorily gotten a few miles on her already. I say put a tool collection together with your Bentley, re-up your AAA, and map out where you think you'll be heading- research some good vw mechanics on your route, Synchro- knowledgeable, if possible, so if you end up in great need of mechanical assistance beyond your capability, you know who to turn to on the trip.

Schustie Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:16 am

I agree with the consensus.
Go for it! Get your essentials together as everyone has already stated, and hit the road.

Not much more I can add except perhaps add the APP Van Alert. They have a directory of "driveway Camp hosts" as well as hosts with tools and repair help, etc., sorted geographically. Build your database of potential help resources.

Have a great time!

"I like to see a day's travel in front of me and a day's travel behind me."

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