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1971 Westy going to a neophyte
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ccowx
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 3:15 am    Post subject: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

I am selling a 1971 Westfalia to a friend of mine that is an avid road tripper and hiker type, but not particularly mechanically inclined. I am trying to set it up as best as possible for her to enjoy without excessive worries about maintenance or reliability.

Here is my thoughts:

-Electronic ignition
-All thermostat and manifold heat crossover intact to prevent icing and warmup issues.
-Tool kit with the basic tools, plus a few things like the hex wrench for the transaxle fill, large socket for the rear hub nuts, extra belts, basic tools of course, fuses, etc. I am also planning to include the "idiot's guide" and the factory TSM. That way any more mechanical good samritans have the basics of what they need to help.
-Perhaps wire a buzzer like a seat belt warning into the idiot light to warn if there is a broken belt? Short of running it out of oil, this is only real way to kill a vw that I know of.
-Alternator conversion. Is this any more reliable than a generator? I understand more power, but I am most concerned about reliability.

I figure that with all that, she is looking at basically a valve adjustment and full oil change every 3-5,000 miles. Otherwise just keep the oil topped up and good to go. At least for a good 10-20,000 miles!

Thanks!

Chris
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 5:00 am    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

I would replace All fuel lines including filler pipe and vent lines. Also a fire extinguisher for safety in case.
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ccowx
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 8:28 am    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Good point on the fire extinguisher, fuel lines already done!
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busdaddy
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 10:52 am    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Sounds like a job for a Sprinter van.

Who's going to do valve and brake adjustments?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 11:26 am    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Is your buddy interested in learning? If not, it will be a miserable experience for both of you.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 11:40 am    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

I bought my first VW (63 bug) at 16. I learned mechanics out of necessity, want and lack of money. I am 60 and still do all my own work, 71 bus. I have the funds to have someone else work on it but I am my best mechanic. There are better mechanics out there but I believe no one will treat it better with as much attention to detail as I do. Haynes, Chilton's, Bentley, Tom Wilson taught me. Long before TheSamba.com and Utube existed. It's nice to have mentors but they need to have proper skills or you will learn wrong.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 4:08 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

how much do you like this person? Are you prepared to lose a friend when it becomes more trouble than she anticipated? Or, support her when something breaks? They say never to sell a car to someone close to you, especially one with 51 years on it. For example one of my nieces loves VW Buses. I considered giving her this 1977 then decided not to because she is not capable of maintaining it, I am the only mechanic in the family and it is not like you can just take these buses to the local shop anymore. It is even worse if you take payments. The only caveat is if her family has deep pockets and can discard it when she is done playing with it.
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ccowx
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 6:13 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Hear all of you when you say "careful selling it to someone you know/like". That is a large part of the motivation for this post in the first place. Here are my thoughts:

-The vehicle has a new engine, clutch, wiring harness and brakes.
-It is disc brakes, so better and no adjustments.
-With the electronic ignition the timing is basically set it and forget it.
-She is 55 years old herself and while not mechanical, she is pretty self sufficient. She is looking for a tribe and loves outdoor and road trip stuff. Motorcycles did not work, but she gave it a good try and several years of road trips before she decided that setting up tents for an hour is a waste of good wine drinking time!
-My competition for what she would do to solve the tent problem was $85,000 worth of pick up trucks and trailers and they would lose 80% of their value in 5 years if she did not like them. 20% of that got her in a vw with a much better depreciation curve if she needs to bail out.
-She may get into the vw maintenance thing, at least enough to do basics. That is why the van will come with an old copy of David Muir's book, the casual hippy style and simple explanations may get her in.
-I am prepared to support her if need be on this. It will be a good excuse to chat, though there will be some geography since we live in different towns.
-She is planning to come to Whitehorse next april and I will take her on a day trip or overnight to get her used to it on the road. Then she will head off on her own for a week or two worth of road trips, still within rescue distance of me.

Hopefully that intro will keep her enjoying her bus!

Chris
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ccowx
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 6:20 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

So, serious question, which is better for reliability, generator or alternator?

Thanks!

Chris

PS: The young lady in question is 55 years old and she does have the money to make a Westy a casual purchase, within reason. Remember. it is a friend price and my competition is an $85,000 pick up and trailer with a vertical depreciation curve and winter storage nightmare to go with it.

PPS: She is located near a personal friend who also runs an acvw shop with 30 years experience. Valve adjustments and oil changes can be done there fairly easily. Given the new nature of most of the rest of the vehicle I am hopeful of a good 15-20,000 miles before anything serious needs work. By that time she will either be willing or hate it anyway!Given it's a near rust free 71 Westy, Ia sure she can most or all of her money back from it if she needs to.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 6:50 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

I have had good luck with both a generator or an alternator. Depends on the quality of the part. I have a gen on my 71 since I bought it 10 years ago. No problems. It could be original but I doubt it. The voltage regulator looks like a replacement but not by me. Something on a 50 year old vehicle is going to break. If you want care free reliability buy a new vehicle. Even a 1971 VW in 1971 is not as reliable as the cheapest KIA today, nothing was.

Last edited by bsairhead on Mon Nov 28, 2022 7:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 6:55 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Crazy plan. Any loss of value owning a modern, reliable RV would be well worth it. It gets cold up there
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 7:21 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

ccowx wrote:
Hear all of you when you say "careful selling it to someone you know/like". That is a large part of the motivation for this post in the first place. Here are my thoughts:

-The vehicle has a new engine, clutch, wiring harness and brakes.
-It is disc brakes, so better and no adjustments.
-With the electronic ignition the timing is basically set it and forget it.
-She is 55 years old herself and while not mechanical, she is pretty self sufficient. She is looking for a tribe and loves outdoor and road trip stuff. Motorcycles did not work, but she gave it a good try and several years of road trips before she decided that setting up tents for an hour is a waste of good wine drinking time!
-My competition for what she would do to solve the tent problem was $85,000 worth of pick up trucks and trailers and they would lose 80% of their value in 5 years if she did not like them. 20% of that got her in a vw with a much better depreciation curve if she needs to bail out.
-She may get into the vw maintenance thing, at least enough to do basics. That is why the van will come with an old copy of David Muir's book, the casual hippy style and simple explanations may get her in.
-I am prepared to support her if need be on this. It will be a good excuse to chat, though there will be some geography since we live in different towns.
-She is planning to come to Whitehorse next april and I will take her on a day trip or overnight to get her used to it on the road. Then she will head off on her own for a week or two worth of road trips, still within rescue distance of me.

Hopefully that intro will keep her enjoying her bus!

Chris


Chris

That plan will work. Women make great mechanics if they commit to the leaning curve as they comprehend details better and are more open to learning from ground up..with a decent shop nearby and a friend too, go for it.

No big difference between alternator and generator. The 71 has a 38 Amp generator with a unique pulley, not the same as a 30 amp generator pulley.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 7:26 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Alternator for long term ownership if you are too stupid to look at brushes when the light comes on....

Brakes still need rear adjustment even with front discs, how many "my brakes failed" threads do we see here where some dumbass drives the shit out of it and never touches anything?, "My pedal just went to the floor, the parking brake quit months ago but I thought it was OK". It's a particular sore point for me because I sold a flawless Datsun pickup to a girlfriend's brother years ago, after 6 months I asked how it was doing, he replied "I sent it to the crusher because the brakes failed", arrrrrrgggggghhhh! Never ever sell a car to anyone you know, even if you trust the car.

If she has enough in the bank to buck up for an old VW she can also afford a modern conversion van, I know a few similar women, some even live in their camper and use it as their primary transportation. All of them have late model modern stuff that they have serviced anywhere, none are in any way mechanically inclined yet they survive just fine.

As others have mentioned you risk losing a fiend on this deal, along with the horrible death of a bus you've put some personal time into, I can't see a win coming out of it in any way.
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ccowx
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 8:29 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Busdaddy, sorry to hear about the Datsun pickup. I had two of them and they were fun little vehicles. Drove both of them into the ground, but I did know how to keep the brakes working!

I hear the arguments from both sides. You both have points.

I find it funny that so many people say not to worry about the cost, buy $90k worth of new depreciating vehicles. We have all clearly progressed in life and the price of a good van is obviously elevating us VW guys out of the broke hobbyist phase into grown ups. 20 years ago the suggestion that a $90k depreciating asset was a good idea over a Westy costing a fraction would have got you laughed off the site!

First of all, it's a done deal, so I was really hoping for helpful thoughts on how to lower the maintenance load on a new owner. Telling me what a bad idea it is doesnt upset me, but it doesn't help either.

Laura is not dumb and quite capable. I am hoping for a recruit here, with a realistic bail out plan if it doesn't work. I figure I can have it set up for a year or two of use without any major problems. I figure at that point she will either be as silly as the rest of us or will have moved on.

So, fire extinguisher, good plan! Spare tool kit and a supervised intro to give best chance of the inevitable crisis being minor. Fingers crossed!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 9:23 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Quote:
-With the electronic ignition the timing is basically set it and forget it.

Don't forget to tell her that she will need a premier AAA membership. The "set it and forget it" mentality is just plain stupid. Nothing on these 50 year old cars is set it and forget it.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 9:29 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Question. And I think this is fair.

Where she will be traveling, will she have cell service and AAA to come rescue her? Have you ever been stranded? I have. Dreams can turn into nightmares quickly. Iím picturing the Yukon. Doesnít seem too safe to me in an old bus that can break down easily and not be close to help. Maybe Iím wrong. I hope youíre not wrong
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 9:39 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Aeromech,

I do appreciate your points and concerns, and you are not wrong. The yukon can be remote, but not stupidly so where she will be. You can lose cell service, but for the most part there will be traffic on the roads, though you might spend a bit of time waiting. I am also not picturing any winter road trips, certainly not up here at -40. I would do one in a heart beat, but I am A) stupid and B) far more familiar with old vws and their repair. I CAN fix it!

On a personal note, I have indeed been stranded, like most of us. Driving one for 20+ years daily and doing any number of road trips, it is inevitable. I have repaired generators with a match stick, driven 1000 miles with no clutch, replaced a clutch at roadside and all the rest!

There is inherently a risk with any old vehicle, though I will point out that they seemed fine in 1971, we are just spoiled now. With everything new on it, I am hopeful of decent results. Laura is resourceful, I have some faith that it will go long enough without a major failure that she will be charmed before she is turned off. Mind you, that describes my dating life too and I was single until 30, so perhaps I am not a good authority here!

Thanks again, guys!

Chris
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 9:53 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Hereís a story.

My customer is about 70. Sheís a multimillionaire and her bus is a beautiful 1971 tin top camper. She called me from the road, broken down. Barely running just off the freeway in Southern California. Iím 90 miles away.

I told her to find a safe place and call me back. She tells me the symptoms. I told her to check the coil wires. She doesnít know what the coil looks like.

She calls me back. The AAA guy found the loose wire and she was back on the road. Once she finished her camping trip at the nudist resort, she made it back home to Long Beach and took her bus to her local mechanic.

So, she had me to call. She had AAA. She had mild climate. She had money. She had support. Plus a huge set of tits
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Boeing 727,737-200-300-400,757,767
Airbus A319,320,321
DC9/MD80
BAe146
Fokker F28/F100
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aeromech
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 10:24 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

Okay, looks like your mind is made up.

I suggest you spend at least 10 hours with her teaching her mechanical things. You could be selling her a $40k bus and thereís always something thatís going to break. Knowing tools and knowing how things work would be on top of my list. She can carry tons of spare parts but chances are something will go wrong. Thatís why I suggested a newer RV. Fewer things to go wrong plus better support when it does.
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Licensed Pilot (Single engine Land)
Boeing 727,737-200-300-400,757,767
Airbus A319,320,321
DC9/MD80
BAe146
Fokker F28/F100
VW type 1 1962,63,65,69,72
VW Type 2 1971 (3 ea.) 1978, 1969
VW Jetta
VW Passat
Capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound
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ccowx
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2022 11:00 pm    Post subject: Re: 1971 Westy going to a neophyte Reply with quote

What you have described is prettymuch Laura too. Self made lady in a male field, put herself through school tree planting, single mothered a kid with some educational challenges into college and generally done the school of hard knocks in life but still doing ok. I have hopes that she would be much like your friend and I know I am on call.

My reasoning on the tool kit is that whether it is her or some good samaritan, many a rescue attempt has fallen flat on the fact that no one has metric tools, or knows how to fix points, or has a fuse for an old vehicle. VW's tend to create roadside attractions and often someone that knows what they are doing shows up. I figure that either Laura can figure it out for herself with the Muir book or the good samaritan will have a leg up with actual tools and a few basic parts. Even a local mechanic will be that much further ahead if he has a TSM and some essential bits. And you may make a friend and you may have an adventure BECAUSE you broke down.

That's my hope. I have faith in her, if she gets caught up in the zen of a good vw road trip. If not, it can go on sale with her motorcycle! At what I sold it to her for, she won't have too much trouble selling it.

Chris

PS: Agreed on the spoending a bit of time teaching. I would like her to know how to get a belt on it at the least. Of all the things that can stop you and kill an engine, that is it! That and keeping on top of the oil and making sure it is not low. I had an on again off again girlfriend that destroyed the engine in a super beetle convertible by not watching the oil.
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