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How many air cooled owners do we have?
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onemat
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:01 am    Post subject: How many air cooled owners do we have? Reply with quote

Hi,

I'm curious how many air cooled Vanagon owners we have here. I'm not trying to create division between the air cooled and water cooled people, but it would be nice to develop a list of air cooled vanagon owners, so we could occasonally consult or console each other Smile

Matt
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WestyJP
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been driving my air cooled '83 Westy (one of the last ones I'd assume) for about 7 years and drove an '82 AC West for about 4 years before that. Have put about 80k miles on the current van. Runs and drives great and I love the simplicity and reliability of it.

I'm also curious about how many AC Vanagon drivers are out there and I hope y'all enjoy your rigs too.

Jonathan
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Jeff's Old Volks Home
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm an air cooled fan. I have an awesome 1980... One of my favorite vans. A sweet old girl.
Jeff
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ewalt98
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Throw my name into the AC hat. Have an 82 Westy, which I've had since 93. I've lived in it, daily driven it for years, camped all over the US and Canada in it, and contemplated selling it a few times, but just never could.
I am now overhauling the interior and fixing up some exterior stuff. Lots of little deferred maintenance and upgrades are being addressed right now.
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dejavan
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm here! I love all vw but air cooled is were its at for me. I love the simplicity and nostalgia of air cooled.Im on my 2nd 81, the first I drove to 40 state with no problem, my new one should be on the road this spring! also have a 65 bug with a 1776cc.
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onemat
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is great response so far. I'm adding you all to my buddy list for future use and communication...
Matt
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Microbusdeluxe
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Got an '81 Westy, clean, clean, clean thanks to the p.o. putting too much $$ into it. Had it since 2001. Only problems during these years with trips throughout the western US & Canada: Leaking fuel lines (!), dead alternator, no start in the middle of nowhere that miraculously fixed itself after taking wires off coil and putting them back on, sink pump likes to blow the fuse once a year just because, exploded tire on rough road. I've put my share of dinero into maintenance, improvements & cosmetics.

Had a '82 Joker in Europe and it was a gem, too.
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VWinVT
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have an 81 Westy. We love it! It is my daily driver from late April through October, I garage it for the Vermont winters. Only had it for 1 year, but can't ever see selling it. I was just thinking today, after I dropped my daughter at day care, how nice it will be to be doing that task in the Westy (Stella - and yes its blue!)
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ryecatcher
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Add me to the list. '82 Westy, my first (my parents had a 87 wc bought new back in the day). I too love the relative simplicity of the aircooleds. Less to break = less broken stuff. I'm slowly getting it tip top, but it's nice enough for me right now. Only 1400 miles on it so far, many more to go I hope!
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84Cabby82Westy
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had my '82 Westy since '96. Its been my 18 year hobby keeping it up and upgrading some of the interior stuff. There are a lot of little quirks with an AC van, but that's part of the charm and I can't imagine ever getting rid of it. Only left me stranded once in 18 years - 2 miles from home when it overheated and sucked in a valve. Had the engine rebuilt and its been running great for about 4 years. Added oil pressure and cylinder head temp gauges before I drove across Oklahoma and Texas in 110+ temps a couple of years ago and had absolutely no problems. We brought my daughter home in it last year and am looking forward to our first vacation road trip to Banff and Jasper with her this summer.
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jismay
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just dropped my '80 Westy off to get a heart transplant. Can't wait to finally start using it for real.
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a2d2
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:12 pm    Post subject: Re: How many air cooled owners do we have? Reply with quote

onemat wrote:
so we could occasonally consult or console each other


Why would we need consoling? Laughing

1981 Tintop since 2001, currently converting to partial camper. On the second engine since I've owned it and probably need a top end rebuild in the near future.

It might be a case of "love the one you're with" but I do love my Aircooled... the good times still far outweigh the bad.
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FNGRUVN
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:03 pm    Post subject: Re: How many air cooled owners do we have? Reply with quote

a2d2 wrote:
onemat wrote:
so we could occasonally consult or console each other


Why would we need consoling? Laughing

1981 Tintop since 2001, currently converting to partial camper. On the second engine since I've owned it and probably need a top end rebuild in the near future.

It might be a case of "love the one you're with" but I do love my Aircooled... the good times still far outweigh the bad.


I think "console" is spot on. I have an '80 and I think it would be a great van if I lived in say, northern California, on the coast. Not so much in Colorado, where most camping is done in the mountains around 8,000 feet. These vans were meant to be driven on flat ground with the air temps around 75 degrees. Don't forget these vans were made when the national speed limit was 55 mph.
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rc3
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a 83 and love it.
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WestyJP
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FNGRUVN,

What are the most important of the problems you have with the van in the Rockies? There are a few that are difficult like heat and hill-climbing power, but even those can be improved a lot. For example, tuning the F.I. system for altitude can make a huge difference in power/performance/etc. These vans are still slow on the steep long climbs but are fairly driveable in many mountain situations in my opinion/experience.

Jonathan
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ewalt98
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WestyJP wrote:
FNGRUVN,

What are the most important of the problems you have with the van in the Rockies? There are a few that are difficult like heat and hill-climbing power, but even those can be improved a lot. For example, tuning the F.I. system for altitude can make a huge difference in power/performance/etc. These vans are still slow on the steep long climbs but are fairly driveable in many mountain situations in my opinion/experience.

Jonathan

Steep climbs are a breeze in these vans...in reverse...I've used reverse to get up to some high altitude mining camps in the rockies Laughing
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FNGRUVN
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WestyJP wrote:
FNGRUVN,

What are the most important of the problems you have with the van in the Rockies? There are a few that are difficult like heat and hill-climbing power, but even those can be improved a lot. For example, tuning the F.I. system for altitude can make a huge difference in power/performance/etc. These vans are still slow on the steep long climbs but are fairly driveable in many mountain situations in my opinion/experience.

Jonathan


Heat! The lack of heat in the cabin and too much heat in the engine. When you're climbing a long, steep, forest service road at 10,000, there's no air to cool the "air-cooled" engine. On the flip side, when you're coming back down this same hill on a cold winter day, there's no heat being generated and the alternator isn't spinning fast enough to push any warm air up front.

With all due respect, I think if the power/heat problems could have been overcome by some tweeking, Volkswagen would have done just that and there wouldn't be page after page of people here on the Samba talking about how to avoid dropping valve seats.
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WestyJP
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FNGRUVN,

Note that I said improved, not overcome.

There are a few items that often need attention on these old vans and that will make a big difference in how they perform. For instance, the fuel injection systems were factory tuned and set and don't have an o2 sensor helping them adjust the air fuel ratio as they wear/age and change altitudes. The timing curves of the distributors can be off causing power issues at different rpms or over advance at high-rpm (if timing set at idle). Addressing these types of tuning issues can make an enormous difference in performance and overheating problems in some cases. I'm sure we've all encountered examples of these old engines that are missing cooling system components, have intake system leaks, etc. and those can all add up to overheating and performance problems as well. Not saying your engine has any of those problems, and I hope it doesn't, but I was curious if there was any "consoling" that could be helpful in your situation.

One setup I've had success with is running a real-time o2 sensor and changing the cht II sensor out for an in-dash adjustable potentiometer. I read about a similar setup here on thesamba. It allows for air-fuel ratio adjustments while driving which give a lot of control over cylinder head temps and even power in some cases and could be really helpful in extreme environments like the Rockies.

Even after all of those types of issues are seen to we still have a low hp engine operating at lower air pressures which is very relevant. There are some smart folks that could probably make further improvements perhaps by installing a low-boost turbo, etc. but that's not what I had in mind or have experience with. In my experience there are a lot of folks driving around with ill-tuned engines that don't realize it and that could see better performance and reliability if they addressed the tuning issues, however mild. In buying and driving lots of these vans over the last few decades none came to me in proper working order.

On the heat side rebuilding the heater boxes and making sure all of the system is in good working order can make a huge difference on vans that had problems in the system. The improvements to be had are smaller (if any) in vans that are in good working order. Beyond getting the heating system up to snuff installing an auxiliary heater goes a long way towards keeping warm on those long down-hills. There are stock examples of these heater helpers and propex/etc. are good compliments to the stock system as well.

Those are not complete solutions but in cases where vans were not well-tuned or had malfunctioning heater systems they would be dramatic improvements. Even for flat-landers there can be a lot of room for improvement with older vans that haven't had a detailed tune-up in years or decades.

In my experience, when all is in order performance becomes acceptable in most scenarios. There are still some extremes that pose problems and if you encounter those a lot then it won't be worth trying to adapt the van. Maybe a water cooled syncro would be a better fit for those folks?

Jonathan
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Azdeadhead
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post idea , I know we are in the minority but was wondering about experiences myself , 1980 westy. Have spent the last year getting road worthy & hope to set out soon
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ewalt98
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WestyJP wrote:
FNGRUVN,
There are a few items that often need attention on these old vans and that will make a big difference in how they perform. For instance, the fuel injection systems were factory tuned and set and don't have an o2 sensor helping them adjust the air fuel ratio as they wear/age and change altitudes. The timing curves of the distributors can be off causing power issues at different rpms or over advance at high-rpm (if timing set at idle). Addressing these types of tuning issues can make an enormous difference in performance and overheating problems in some cases. I'm sure we've all encountered examples of these old engines that are missing cooling system components, have intake system leaks, etc. and those can all add up to overheating and performance problems as well. Not saying your engine has any of those problems, and I hope it doesn't, but I was curious if there was any "consoling" that could be helpful in your situation.


Jonathan


Actually, the California models came with an O2 sensor, and have a different ECU as well.

I think you are right that these old vans tend to be out of tune; besides wear, over the years people will try to modify them for better performance or cooling, which usually results in some tweaking away from factory settings, which can cause them to run too hot. But, they still do run hot when pushed, even when in perfect tune.

However, with good maintenance and awareness, they will last a long time and provide perfectly adequate service. I've run mine over 20 years, and only had to replace the left cylinder head once in that time due to several large strips of tape that got sucked into the cooling system and settled over cylinder #3 during the PO's ownership, that was around 93 or 94. Since then, I've just done normal maintenance.

I used to imagine all sorts of performance upgrades, but now I don't care about that, and instead just use it within its limits, and enjoy all the other features it has to offer.
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