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Fixing up the ol' '82 Diesel Vanagon
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dachary
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:57 pm    Post subject: Fixing up the ol' '82 Diesel Vanagon Reply with quote

We just flew out to Arizona and drove our new acquisition home (if you're curious about the odyssey, it's here: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=570991 . We're happy to discover that it has an upgraded TD engine and upgraded transmission, but now we start the long (expensive!) process of restoring a 31-year-old vehicle. The PO had let a lot of stuff go, and we plan to do some big trips in this vehicle (Americas, around the world) so we want everything to be tip-top before we go.

SO! Having just gotten it home, here are the things that are on our radar to fix so far:

- There's a crack in the windscreen, so we'll be replacing it
- We also failed inspection because there's too much free play in the front right wheel - having Stan's Classic Service look at it (we think it's probably just bearings)
- Hubby insists the brakes are sticking a bit and not releasing right away, so having Stan look at that, too
- Turn signal sockets are so badly rusted that the terminal has broken off on the left signal - I've bodged it for now but we're replacing them - turn signal housing seems to retain water so we'll drill small drain holes in them to let the water out, but the plastic is old and cracked so we've also ordered new housings for both turn signals
- Heater is... basically stuck in the "on" position. We're missing the center console bit, and there is no heater cable attaching the thermostat to the valve thing where the hose comes up out of the floor. We've ordered a new cable but the heater flaps are also hanging loose - we've come up with a bodge of using something like binder clips to clip them closed, but we'll have to dig into the Bentley soon to figure out what we need to do to make it fully functional again. Regardless of which way we flip the valve, hot air still seems to come out of it - this may be normal, we don't know
- Sliding window on the sliding door slides open - we've ordered the "Furry strip kit" and "sliding window latch fix kit" from GoWesty, hoping that the strips, the gasket (which we ordered from either Bus Depot or VanAgain... all my orders are starting to blur together!) or the latch kit will fix the problem
- Drivers side window doesn't roll up anymore. We've currently got a block of wood in the door holding it in the "up" position - we've ordered the plastic part of the window regulator that's known to break from VanAgain, and I hope that'll fix it - otherwise we'll be replacing the window regulator
- Sunroof is badly cracked and leaking. We need to figure out if it's the Westfalia sunroof (we've got an Adventurewagen high top on it) or if it's something else so we can replace the sunroof and gasket
- Exterior handle for the sliding door is missing - we've ordered replacement parts so hopefully we can address that soon
- The PO has removed the stove/sink cover - we have to reinstall it
- The PO has removed the water tank - said it was moldy and she never got around to replacing it - so we'll have to see what we need to do to get the sink functional again, starting with replacing the tank but possibly including the pump, etc.
- Some of the speakers are blown, and the ones that work are on their way out, so we'll replace the speakers
- We can't figure out what's going on with the house battery - the PO says it powers the house lights, but there's a power inverter mounted next to it that won't power our laptop cables, and the power outlet also doesn't seem to have power, so we need to figure out the house wiring and possibly redo some stuff.
- A trim panel above the sliding door is broken and hanging down - we've used a binder clip to hold it in place but we'll likely replace the entire bit
- It's missing a rear bumper end cap so we'll be replacing it
- The doors on the power and the city water hookups are missing/broken, so we're replacing those

Things we plan to do but aren't necessarily "broken" and aren't as high priority:
- Rear seat cushions and cushion that goes over the engine compartment will be reupholstered or replaced
- We're installing wood flooring - probably Pergo
- We're replacing the fridge with one that works better (probably the TF49 AC/DC)
- We'll refinish the cabinets - not terribly keen on the Westy brown and white but we haven't decided what color yet
- We'll probably repaint her but haven't decided what color yet
- We'll do a solar install - haven't finalized the details yet (and that'll probably be the point when we re-do the house wiring)
- I want to install power monitors, etc. when we redo the house wiring/solar setup
- We'll probably replace the curtains either with a new set, or a custom set, depending on what we do with upholstery/interior colors
- We'll install LED house lighting strips (recessed) for some additional house lighting
- Hubby is debating replacing the headliner in the front, but we don't know what we'd do with it yet so it's just a "possible" for now
- We need to find storage solutions for the tabletops (we don't currently have a complete table - we have the metal pole support for the front table but not the tabletop itself, and we have the tabletop for the rear table but we're missing the metal table support)
- Make some sort of nice-looking storage box for the porta-potty
- We want to install a heater
- We'll add sand ladders and some sort of fuel storage tank for extra fuel
- We want to add an awning
- The shocks are really bad, so we'll look into upgrading them - possibly with one of the GoWesty suspension kits

Living in New England, we'll also do some sort of anti-rust coating on it in the next few weeks before it can get exposed to any road salt.

We're fully expecting to encounter more stuff that needs to be addressed as we get into this. It won't be a cheap project, but it's going to be awesome when we're finished! So I thought it would be fun to start a thread documenting our "fixing up" of our new ride. I'll try to post "before" pictures in the next few days so y'all can see our starting point.

[EDITED TO ADD]
- Addressing the driver's side engine mount/bar under it to eliminate engine vibration/noise (it's poorly mounted and is directly transmitting engine vibration via frame instead of having some sort of damping material absorb some of the vibration)
- Adding an injection pump that has the boost enrichment for extra power
- Adding an oil to air cooler to help keep engine oil temps down
- Adding EGT and boost gauges to keep tabs on TD engine essentials
- Figure out what's going on with temperature gauge - seems to work intermittently, or maybe it just always reads colder than it is

Maybe we can work on the engine-related stuff with the aid of Karl in MD if he has the time? Otherwise, if we end up driving out to Flagstaff for Overland Expo in the spring, I might see if my new friend Andrew can help us out with some of that work... Smile
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was glad to see you made it back safely.

To stop hot air from coming out of the heater you need to turn off the valve in the coolant hose that is above the passenger's left foot.

Post a pic of the sunroof, but if memory serves it is not the Westy version.

Add in addressing that driver's side engine mount/bar under it. That will eliminate a major amount of engine vibration and noise.

Also, I'll PM regarding an injection pump that has the boost enrichment. That will add a fair bit of power.

I would also recommend adding an oil to air cooler. Without an aux cooler the oil temps can be too high.

I would recommend adding EGT and boost gauges. Both of them really help you to keep tabs on TD engine essentials.
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dachary
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew A. Libby wrote:
To stop hot air from coming out of the heater you need to turn off the valve in the coolant hose that is above the passenger's left foot.


I recall that was the instruction, but manually changing the position of the valve slider does not seem to stop the hot air from coming out. Maybe the valve isn't working anymore? We'll have to fiddle around more.

All good suggestions - I'll update the list!
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not immediate. The heat needs to dissipate from the coolant in the heater core. Also, sometimes the valves fail and do not cut the flow to the core.
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joseph928
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:21 pm    Post subject: heater Reply with quote

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2386775#2386775 Blue Bay Bus This is how a lot of us fix the front heater! Great idea. Very Happy
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mappley
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Score on the TD engine and the tranny upgrade. Those are big pluses against the long list of todo's that you have. I'm guessing it's a DK tranny from an 81to83 aircooled vanagon. Is the motor a 1.6 or a 1.nine aaz? You couldn't do any better than having Andrew and Karl on your side.
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djkeev
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your list is nice, it's going to set you back a few dollars as well.

I couldn't help but notice........ Most of your list is either visual or creature comfort oriented.

I guess it will be comforting to be broken down and stranded in some remote location looking really cool!?!

I'm going to hazard a guess here..........
You want a van that is as dependable as possible for long trips to areas without much in the way of parts or service?

First, may I suggest that YOU do these repairs here in the States yourself. Don't just sit and write obscenely huge checks to people.
By YOU making the needed mechanical repairs you will gain priceless experience on how these units work. Having this knowledge will be invaluable when you are in some remote backwater and item X breaks!

You also overlooked some major items to replace, not inspect... Replace.

Aging takes its toll on many components.
Lets list a few.........

Fuel lines
Fuel tank grommets
Radiator hoses......All of them.
Heater Hoses......All of them
Heater control valves
Heater core....yes, replace it....both of them.
Radiator....come on! It's 30 years old and rotten! Replace it.

Brakes, every cylinder, every rubber hose, every caliper every rubber boot. Replace or rebuild as needed. Inspect the metal pipes for corrosion, replace if they are.

Accelerator cable
Brake cables,
Wheel bearings, not just the loose one.
Axle boots...... Maybe the CV joints as well.
Transaxle and transmission seals,

All fluids and oils

Window rubber seals, they are dry and cracked
Door seals.....same condition

This will get you started. You need to rebuild the unit, not just fix what is broken. You need to renew major wear components if you expected reliable service.

Van Cafe, Bus Depot and GoWesty are about to become very good friends of yours! KaChing! $$$$$$'s

Dave
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dachary
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

joseph928 wrote:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2386775#2386775 Blue Bay Bus This is how a lot of us fix the front heater! Great idea. Very Happy


That's really helpful - thanks! I think that's probably what's happening with our heater. We've tried sliding the valve manually and waiting a while to see if there's any change - it doesn't seem to have any affect. Like all the other gaskets, seals and things that deteriorate with age, we've probably got some of that going on with the heater. We'll definitely reference this when we get around to hunting it down!

djkeev wrote:
I'm going to hazard a guess here..........
You want a van that is as dependable as possible for long trips to areas without much in the way of parts or service?

First, may I suggest that YOU do these repairs here in the States yourself. Don't just sit and write obscenely huge checks to people.
By YOU making the needed mechanical repairs you will gain priceless experience on how these units work. Having this knowledge will be invaluable when you are in some remote backwater and item X breaks!


Yes, and we fully agree with this in theory. We've done most of the work on our motorcycles the past few years, which are the only vehicles either of us has owned for the past 8 years, and we strongly agree that it does no good to break down in the middle of nowhere with no idea what to do about it. That's why we bought the Bentley, and I've bought some more generic books on servicing autos and engines, and we have one that (hopefully!) pertains to our engine since it's not stock, and we'll be doing as much of the work as is feasible ourselves.

Unfortunately, living in the city proper, we don't have a garage or even a driveway. Any work we do will be parked on the street. So it's not as practical for us to do some of the major work ourselves - or indeed any of the work that would leave it partially disassembled sitting in the street. Otherwise, we'll get fined or towed by the city. That's the reason we're taking it to Stan for the wheel wobble and the brakes - can't just leave the car jacked up and sitting on the street if I get things disassembled and find that I can't do it all in one sitting.

Re: the plastic parts and hoses - we fully expect to replace anything that has deteriorated due to age, including rubber and plastic, seals, gaskets, etc. We expect to encounter a lot of it as we go along with other work (i.e. going to change the lightbulbs in the turn signals and finding that the terminals have completely decayed to flakes of rust and replacing the sockets, replacing the windshield gasket, sliding window gasket, drivers side window gasket, when we work on the glass, going through the heater seals and hoses when we diagnose and fix that, etc.) Anything that doesn't get replaced during the course of our other work, we'll address on its own.

The goal is to have everything renewed so it's in reliable condition when we set off on our "big" trip in May 2015. But we've got plenty of time between now and then, happily, and we intend to finance a lot of the work with the sale of one of our motorcycles (sadly, but we'll be giving up our apartment when we leave so we're going to be downsizing *all* of our stuff). We've spent a lot of time reading through the GoWesty articles and we're starting to put together a long list of items they replace due to aging when they go through and sell a van.

But our first goal is to pass inspection to safely drive in our local area, and then we'll work on the "must do before winter items" (like the heater, dealing with the windows, and undercoating the bottom). After that, we'll take a more leisurely approach to things, and our "nice to have but not broken" list that you say consists mostly of creature comforts will come after the other mechanical and "broken" stuff that we need to address (with the possible exception of the Pergo flooring, which we can do ourselves in an afternoon with minimal cash expenditure, and will make it much easier to live with dogs in this thing. Their fur is already over everything!)

Anywho, thanks all for the helpful additions - it's raining today so no "before" pics but I'll try to get them up soon! So far the only thing we've got done this weekend is to buy some of the tools we'll need to work on the van (we're buying it it's own socket set to live in the van, because we keep our other sockets for working on the motorcycles on the bikes in case we break down and need to make an emergency repair, plus the van requires some bigger wrenches than we own for the bikes!) and start a list of what we need to do. I actually managed to give myself a minor concussion in the van yesterday - stood up too quickly and I hadn't cleared the bed shelf and OUCH! - and hubby has been trying to catch up on some of the work he didn't get done this past week because we were driving it home from Arizona.

We're taking the van out to Stan on Tuesday night after work for him to look at on Wednesday. We'll update then on what's going on with the brakes/wheel - we may not get it back in time for Transporterfest this coming weekend as Stan says he doesn't keep Vanagon parts on hand and will likely have to order parts. So we might have to come on our motos to drool over all the other vans and get some ideas for our interior rehab!
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

djkeev: Your comments lead me to believe you are lacking perspective in regards to us, and in regards to our intended usage of this vehicle.

Let me try and provide that perspective.

First, with regards to us. We are motorcycle adventurers. This means that for months at a time we will set forth on a device with no protective cage, where a mechanical failures rarely result in you slowly rolling to a stop along the side of the road. Most of the time the result in you being thrown from your vehicle, or having said vehicle come violently out from under you while you go sliding down the road at whatever speed you were traveling. Your options are sliding, rolling, and or bouncing in an uncontrollable fashion, hoping desperately that you won’t be driven over by the vehicles behind you, come to an abrupt stop against a solid object, or fly over the edge of a cliff that frequently has no guard rail. Oh, and we’re connected to the road via a contact patches whose combined total area is roughly the size of your palm.

Now, we take those vehicles to countries where there are either no dealers, or one dealer for the entire country. When we do break down on the side of the road it’s not surprising to find ourselves passed by a family riding on a hand-built cart with wooden wheels pulled by a donkey, and the nearest village looks like this:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


We take mechanical maintenance, and knowing how to do it very seriously.

We do not “…just sit and write obscenely huge checks to people. ” I’m not sure what would make you think that we either have obscene amounts of money to put in checks, or that we prefer to do that to working on our vehicles ourselves. I can assure you that neither is the case. Our Ural, for example, has a ridiculously frequent maintenance schedule that must be adhered to to maintain the warranty. We have done ALL of the work on it religiously. It’s currently sitting outside not being ridden because we need to do the next service on it. We do our valves, we do our timing. We replace tubes. We replaces bolts. We clean our carbs and petcocks. We do our brakes, we check and change the oil, transmission, and gear fluids regularly. We rotate our tires, and we change them before they start affecting our safety. When our bikes need electrical mods, we do those too. We change our own tubes, we carry our own tools to do so at all times. We do not blindly trust our lives to mechanics and hope they’ve done the job right.

But, as Dachary said, what work we do at the moment is done on the side of the street and must be done between sunrise and sunset. So, we do what we can, and we leave the things that require shops and time to those with both. In the meantime we learn as much as we can about the work being done so that we can have a decent shot of replicating it, or instructing an unfamiliar mechanic on how to do it should the problem present itself again. Sometimes, there are things we could do ourselves, in the street, but as we both work full time we don’t have the luxury of taking a day off to do it, and it becomes more important to get it done fast than to get it done ourselves. So, we hire someone.

With regards to “You want a van that is as dependable as possible for long trips to areas without much in the way of parts or service? ” You’re right, but keep in mind that regardless of what we do, it WILL break down. We WILL be stranded somewhere. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when. We must be capable of diagnosing and addressing everything that one could reasonably be expected to. If we don’t know how to address something that breaks, then we need to have the instructional materials that can educate us on how to address it, and the intelligence to follow those materials and get us safely moving again.


With regards to your comment that “Most of your list is either visual or creature comfort oriented… I guess it will be comforting to be broken down and stranded in some remote location looking really cool!?! ”

Imagine for a moment that in a little over a year you will be moving into something roughly the size of a walk-in closet. For the following two years you will be spending, on average, sixteen or more hours a day in that closet with another human and two dogs. You will work there. You will sleep there, and of course, you will drive it.

Currently, the closet has some old musty cushions, and some similarly musty curtains. When you sit on the cushions years of accumulated dust puffs out. The curtains are made out of something no more light-tight than a piece of burlap, and you don’t have enough to cover all the windows. If you turn on a light within your closet anyone passing by will have a very good idea of what you’re doing even with the curtains drawn. If there’s a streetlight outside of your closet it will be shining through them all night long.

There is a mini-fridge in there, but you can only use it some nights, when you happen to find electricity. There are electrical outlets, but they’re in pretty much the same situation. Many countries simply don’t have “campgrounds”, never-mind ones with electricity and water, and when they do they are both rare, and in tourist spots that have high prices and fake surroundings you want nothing to do with. In short, you won't have any electricity you don't create yourself.

Your rolling closet has a carpeted floor. It’s a somewhat ugly brown, but it’s in decent shape. You, your partner, and your dogs, will be going in and out of the door next to that carpet multiple times a day. All twelve feet will step in sand, mud, dirt, and everything else when you exit the door. The dogs will shed constantly. You do not have a vacuum cleaner. You do not have a broom. You have one hand brush.

Some days it’ll be 100° F outside. Some days it’ll be below freezing. You can, and will, pass between those extremes in a matter of hours.

Now, with that in mind, tell me you’re not going to spend a good deal of effort, and money if you have to, to improve that situation. Tell me that it’s frivolous. Tell me that it’s not worth some very serious consideration.

As for “looking really cool”. You say that as if there’s someone to look cool for. As if we’re trying to renovate this and show it off somewhere. There are no car shows to show it off at, and if we make it too obvious you’ve got a snazzy interior then you increase the likelihood that one of the poverty stricken individuals whose lands you’ll be traveling through will take it upon themselves to “liberate” some of your belongings. The outside will frequently be caked with mud, or dirt, and the wheels will regularly throw rocks up into the undercarriage.

There will be no “looking really cool” at the side of the road. Who looks cool sitting by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere? Who looks cool crawling under their vehicle? There will be “looking greasy” or “looking tired” or “looking like we need help”.

But, when things are working well, we will be in our home. It will be a tiny home, but it will be a home that looks, and works, in a fashion that makes us comfortable and happy.


I appreciate your suggestions of things that should be replaced. Things like hoses will be checked as we look around. Keep in mind that while it’s a 31 year old vehicle, many of the things you’ve mentioned have been replaced during those years. I’d be quite surprised if a vehicle with 275,000 miles on it still had the original brakes, cylinders, etc. “All fluids and oils”… duh.

It’s silly to just start replacing things willy-nilly. You inspect, you triage, you move on. We are not rich. We will not follow a course of blindly replacing thousands of dollars worth of parts just because. That would require writing “obscenely huge cheques to people”. There are lots of items on this vehicle. Some of them are perfectly good. Some of them aren’t. Some have been replaced already. None of them will be replaced, without inspection and consideration.
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djkeev
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dang! I seem to have struck a nerve!

You are mistaken, I believe that I do indeed understand the journeys you plan to take.

I also KNOW that you will be spending a lot of money, if no where else, simply on parts.......it IS a Vanagon is it not?

The OP indicated you are off to a mechanical shop to fix a front wheel bearing. Well, in the mechanical World...... That's child's play.
This statement about the wheel bearing indicated to me that you frequent repair shops which most often equates spending vast amounts of money.

What about the Sticking brakes?......... Another mechanic 101 task being taken to a shop.

I was simply projecting ahead to more involved and complex service tasks using these two simple task as a measuring rod for your skills.

Sorry to offend.

And honestly, why not take a few minutes and re-read the OP's post, it's focused on creature comforts with mention of fixing what is broken. I'm not faulting you on this desire to travel in comfort at all.......but it IS the focus of the post.
The post was edited to include doing some practical suggestions made after the original post.

I guess I think differently than you.........

If I was planning such a journey and I had no way of knowing what the PO did to the unit before it became mine..... I would replace EVERYTHING that can be projected to be possible trouble on the journey.

Your posts indicate that you didn't know what engine it had in it and were surprised by the upgrade. In light of this how can you possibly know what cooling hoses have or have not been upgraded or how many miles the "upgraded" engine actually has on it?

Additionally You don't know about items like brake line age or brake cylinder condition.

Sure, you can indeed ASSUME items have been replaced during a long service span...... But have they been? What items have been? What quality of replacement part was used and what about the quality of the installation procedures?
I've seen way too much "butcher" work done on Automobiles by "professionals"!

Me? I'd spend the coin and start with a known mechanical ground zero to build upon. (Actually, I'm doing this very thing to my 86 Weekender right now) am I throwing out good parts? Yeah... I probably am. The level of confidence this rebuilding is giving to me is immeasurable! To me, It is worth every penny being spent.

You cannot predict a broken transmission gear or a thrown rod. But to head off problems arising from benign neglect of everyday service items? Oh yeah! THAT CAN BE prevented or at least extremely minimized.

I would probably box up some of the old bits and take them on the journey as emergency repair parts in case a root jumps up and rips off a cooling or brake line.

Sorry if I insulted or offended you, I didn't mean to. I was just trying to say "hey, have you considered?".

If money is a concern....... Function over form. Put your cash into flawless dependability first. An interior redecoration, an exterior paint job or bumper cap can all wait a few years. Actually as you said, why make yourself a target? It may be best to Leave the unit looking tired and old as a decoy to potential bandits.

Whatever you do, I wish you the Best!

Dave
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

djkeev wrote:
The OP indicated you are off to a mechanical shop to fix a front wheel bearing. Well, in the mechanical World...... That's child's play.
This statement about the wheel bearing indicated to me that you frequent repair shops which most often equates spending vast amounts of money.

What about the Sticking brakes?......... Another mechanic 101 task being taken to a shop.


I was simply projecting ahead to more involved and complex service tasks using these two simple task as a measuring rod for your skills.


Yes, but you didn't take into account one very critical factor: time. There are two important time factors: 1 getting it inspected. 2 getting it to a safe starting point.

I agree that bearings should be easy, even for me who is clueless about changing car bearings. I've looked up the diagrams, read the instructions and seen what's involved. I also know that it's unrealistic to suggest that I would get to it this weekend. Ditto for the brakes.


Also, it has never been looked at by a mechanic under our employ, other than the one who was focusing solely on the task of getting us back on the road and back to my employer asap. Even if i had zero repair tasks on our plate I would still pay a trained professional to give it a good looking over for safety issues.


Because of the time constraints, and because it was always our intent to take it to a professional familiar with these vehicles as soon as we got it home it makes a lot of sense to just combine the two tasks.


djkeev wrote:
I guess I think differently than you.........

If I was planning such a journey and I had no way of knowing what the PO did to the unit before it became mine..... I would replace EVERYTHING that can be projected to be possible trouble on the journey.

Your posts indicate that you didn't know what engine it had in it and were surprised by the upgrade. In light of this how can you possibly know what cooling hoses have or have not been upgraded or how many miles the "upgraded" engine actually has on it?

Additionally You don't know about items like brake line age or brake cylinder condition.

Sure, you can indeed ASSUME items have been replaced during a long service span...... But have they been? What items have been? What quality of replacement part was used and what about the quality of the installation procedures?



I don't know. I don't assume. Like I said, "You inspect, you triage, you move on". The hoses around the engine appear to be in very good condition. We've already replaced the one from the fuel filter to the engine, not because it was bad but because we liked the advice of having a clear one. We will continue to inspect the hoses as we have the time to go over them. If any look questionable or show any signs of aging, we will replace.


djkeev wrote:
Me? I'd spend the coin and start with a known mechanical ground zero to build upon. (Actually, I'm doing this very thing to my 86 Weekender right now) am I throwing out good parts? Yeah... I probably am. The level of confidence this rebuilding is giving to me is immeasurable! To me, It is worth every penny being spent.

You cannot predict a broken transmission gear or a thrown rod. But to head off problems arising from benign neglect of everyday service items? Oh yeah! THAT CAN BE prevented or at least extremely minimized.

I would probably box up some of the old bits and take them on the journey as emergency repair parts in case a root jumps up and rips off a cooling or brake line.


It's a sound strategy. It's also an expensive one. I try for a more balanced approach in things. I mean, seriously, if our goal was to get a totally reliable vehicle that could handle whatever we threw at it, and we were willing to spend money that wasn't necessary, we wouldn't have bought a 31 year old van. We'd have bought a relatively new Land Rover or something and outfitted it with a roof tent.

djkeev wrote:
Sorry if I insulted or offended you, I didn't mean to. I was just trying to say "hey, have you considered?".

If money is a concern....... Function over form. Put your cash into flawless dependability first. An interior redecoration, an exterior paint job or bumper cap can all wait a few years. Actually as you said, why make yourself a target? It may be best to Leave the unit looking tired and old as a decoy to potential bandits.


It's not that simple. Yes, the paint job could wait, but the paint's starting to crack and I'd like a little more rust protection peace of mind if I can get it. As for the interior: It's not that simple. Little things are highly magnified when you're limited to such a small space. There are serious psychological effects to something as simple as a constantly dirty carpet you can't keep clean and harbors moisture, spills, dropped food, and smells when you have to live on/beside that carpet 16 hours a day. Imagine what the effects of living with that, and a dark brown color, and cabinets that keep flying open, and need refinishing, and and and ALL day EVERY day, when you have no-where else to go. No other room to escape to. No office to go away to. Just that.... every day... with another person and two dogs.

Ignoring the interior could easily end a marriage. I'm not suggesting that ours is that fragile. I'm suggesting that the psychological effects of such a situation are tremendous. Adventures like the ones we take kill relationships regularly (or make them stronger). My point is that being on the road like that has a serious amount of psychological hurdles all to itself. Compounding it with the issues that come with living in a cramped space with another human, and then the issues of living in a space with issues... you're just asking for trouble.

I get your point about taking care of foundational mechanical priorities first. That is very important. That being said, I don't think you really understand the psychological aspects of the proposed living situation and how severely they can affect people. If you don't take care of those as well, then it won't matter if the vehicle runs or not. After a few months (or less) you won't want to be anywhere near it.


djkeev wrote:

Whatever you do, I wish you the Best!


thanks. We do appreciate what you're trying to convey.
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dachary
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh. The hubby just said most of what I wanted to say, but more concisely and before I could finish typing it up. Darn you, concussion! (Yes, I gave myself a concussion in the van. Maybe I should add "putting soft, protective foam over every surface I might potentially stand up too quickly and bang my head on" to the list!)

I'll just add from the response I was typing...

As far as “focused on creature comforts with mention of fixing what is being broken” - yes, I specifically say that “these are the things that are broken that we intend to fix” and “these are the mods we intend to make down the road” because we intend to give up our home here in Boston and live in the vehicle as we travel around the world. These are the items we know about that we intend to do, regardless of what comes up that we don’t know about at this time.

Am I expecting to do nothing else to the van? Heck no. It’s a 31-year-old vehicle! We expect to replace cables/hoses/rubber/plastic parts as we encounter them, and anything that we don’t end up replacing during the course of our other projects will get attention by itself. (i.e. the windshield gasket - the glass place that will be replacing the windscreen said they would reuse the gasket, but we’re not about to let them do that when as far as we know it’s a 31-year-old piece of rubber - so we’re replacing it in the course of doing the windscreen. And could we do that work ourselves? Sure, but again I want to do the immediate service items to pass state inspection quickly, which won’t happen if we do it in our spare time parked on the street.)

Did I intend for the initial post to be exhaustive? Nope. It’s our starting point. We’re happy to add items as they’re suggested by the knowledgeable folk here at TheSamba. That’s why I’ve started stalking these forums - y’all are an exhaustive source of pretty much any problem we’re likely to encounter, and I very much appreciate the resource! The Bentley is a good starting point, but we’ve already encountered areas where it doesn’t provide adequate coverage, and y’all here have the answer, better documentation, better pics, etc.

In the end, we are not a bottomless money pit, but we do intend to have a reliable and trip-worthy vehicle before we set out. I believe we have a reasonable budget for this (and it’s higher than the budget the hubby seems to think we need - I’m a bit more of a realist). If we find out that we’ve underestimated the costs, though, we’ll just postpone our start date and work longer to make sure we have the van in the shape it needs to be, and have the cash reserve I need to have in order to feel comfortable setting out on a trip of this nature. It won’t be an “either/or” situation - where we have to compromise on “creature comforts” for the sake of making the van mechanically reliable. It'll be all of the above.

My intent in starting this thread was to document that process for us. Is it the same as someone else would do? I doubt it very much - we're all different, with different priorities, budgets, etc. I am fully expecting to dig into some of these projects and go "oh, shit, this other thing needs to be done now!" and hopefully that information will be useful for other people. And I'm fully expecting to add to the list as I continue to stalk TheSamba and other resources (GoWesty has some great articles!) and figure out other stuff we need to deal with.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't want to chime into the what's to fix when discussion - you'll figure that out by yourself BUT please post some pictures of your new van. I'm so curious what you've got for your money Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew A. Libby wrote:
Add in addressing that driver's side engine mount/bar under it. That will eliminate a major amount of engine vibration and noise .


What is this fix?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

srmpf wrote:
I don't want to chime into the what's to fix when discussion - you'll figure that out by yourself BUT please post some pictures of your new van. I'm so curious what you've got for your money Smile


Yeah! I know I'm keeping my thoughts on this to myself now! Wink

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:16 am    Post subject: New van Reply with quote

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=1502387 If you would like to see it here it is! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:19 am    Post subject: Re: New van Reply with quote

joseph928 wrote:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=1502387 If you would like to see it here it is! Very Happy


Nice. I was drooling over that van a couple months ago. Liked the diesel/AW set up.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jimeg wrote:
Andrew A. Libby wrote:
Add in addressing that driver's side engine mount/bar under it. That will eliminate a major amount of engine vibration and noise .


What is this fix?


The 1.6TD with the K14 fitted to the golf/jetta exhaust manifold results in a fairly extreme driver's side mount bracket interference. In order to eliminate that interference, whoever did the install welded metal onto the carrier bar in order to move the mount down lower. The way it sits, the perimeter of the mount is resting on the bar that goes between the two carrier bars and so the engine is basically solidly mounted to the vehicle frame without an rubber isolation. A kluge to say the least, tho as is the engine won't fall out. Fixing it so there is clearance between the mount and the bar that joins the two carrier bars would eliminate a major amount of engine vibration.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, guys, if we came across as not open to comments/suggestions - we definitely do welcome suggestions from y'all who have been here already with your own vans!

Re: pics - I took some with my phone on Monday but they all came out really dark and you can't see much. I need to try again with the interior lights on. Alas, at the moment the van is at a shop - I promise we'll get pics up once we have it back! (And thanks for posting the link to the ad - that'll give you a general idea what we're working with!)

So hubby dropped the van off at Stan's before he opened today, and called around 3:30 to check on it. Apparently Stan says he lacks the resources to address what he suspects is wrong with it, as he says he rarely works on Vanagons these days. I don't know exactly what that means - hubby talked to him. But Stan suggested we take it to Greg, about a mile down the road. So hubby called Greg, who I gather asked "Is this a vehicle worth putting money into?" Obviously it is for us - not sure what he means by that but hubby said he wasn't terribly interested in hearing about the symptoms. A little apprehensive about how he led with that question, but hubby is riding his motorcycle out in the morning to drive the van the mile from Stan's shop to Greg's shop. So hopefully tomorrow we'll have an official diagnosis for the inspection-related stuff.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With all due respect, it almost sounds as though the search for a good VW mechanic isn't over.

That's a question that never should have been asked by the cognoscenti...
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