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Dave's 1973 Wild Westerner Project
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:58 am    Post subject: Dave's 1973 Wild Westerner Project Reply with quote

Many of you have seen the Wild Westerner Thread which includes discussion on the history of this weird model.

This thread is for documentation about my efforts to get my newly-acquired Westerner going once again. My plan for this thread is to post about general progress here, and general thoughts/comments/questions/etc here, while creating specific threads for projects on major components (such as the engine!) and linking to them here.

My history with the bus: After finding the Westerner thread, I decided that I would like to have one. I missed out on a killer deal on one last summer, and have been actively looking ever since.

Someone posted in the thread about having one for sale coming up, and I immediately sent him a PM.

He lives in Oregon; I live in Kansas. But I have a friend who lives near Seattle. I talked her into driving down and retrieving it so that I could make the purchase. Some friend, thanks Val!

After it sat at her place for a few weeks, I decided to test the waters on uShip.com. I got a low bid by a guy who just wanted a return load, and had it towed here. The fact that the bus was used as a "Toad" behind the PO's RV, and included a tow bar, made this relatively simple.

Once it was here, I gave it a once-over and a bath.

The verdict is that the body is overall pretty decent though very leaky window rubbers have resulted in what I'd describe as "deep surface rust" under the floor mats in places. Nothing requiring welding, but it will need cleaned up and POR15-ed or something.

There are a few scratches and rock chips throughout, but overall when I get to a good, deep waxing it will look pretty decent, I think. So I'm not quite sure which direction I'll go with that.

The seats are pretty torn up, and the padding is long-dead. I'll need to repad and recover the seats for sure.

Things like the wiring seem nearly unmolested. It appears that the fuses may even be all original! Weird. And nice.

The worst part is that the engine doesn't run, and it has sat for something like 9ish years. The PO told me he thought the cam gear was stripped or something. (It is broken, but that is another thread.)

My very general plan is to get the engine repaired and running (this will be its own thread) and otherwise make it drive-able so I and the family can ride around in it and enjoy it as-is. (That would include dealing with the seats and leaky windows, and stopping the rust under the floor mats.)

Meanwhile, I'll be saving for the components of a TDI conversion on it. Unlike the first go around with my beat up '78 where I wanted to get it driving ASAP, I will spend much more time with planning the conversion with an eye toward total reversibility and no cutting/hacking beyond some screw holes for mounting components.

Further down the road, I may look into a full restore of the body, but that will be awhile. Current body efforts will be centered on halting further rust formation and making the current paint look as good as it can.
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing


Last edited by vwwestyman on Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:41 am; edited 2 times in total
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some pics of what I'm starting with:

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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Step 1) Get the engine running again.

The PO said that he rebuild the engine after buying it in 1989. Paperwork he gave me includes a note that it was rebuilt in 1991. He was very detailed in record-keeping and the records indicate it was rebuilt to 2.0 specs.

He drove it for approximately 10ish years I would guess before it just stopped running. After a little diagnosing, he determined that the cam had broken or the gear had stripped. This must have been around 2002 (based on the end of records and about what he told me).

As you can see, I pulled the motor a couple weeks ago, and finally got the case split last night.

Indeed, the cam did break.

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


And this brings this current thread up to date. For other's searching benefit, I'll be creating another thread specifically to getting the engine going and put a link here, and only make general comments on the engine's progress in this thread.
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As promised:

The engine build thread
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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Bala
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That paint looks awesome! Hope you get it back on the road soon.
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Tcash
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

M-code posted in next post.

Last edited by Tcash on Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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


Thanks for putting that up there. I used a different decoder and it didn't include the Wild Westerner Appearance Package info.

But after looking at it again, I realized that it was picked up by my friend from the PO on its 41st birthday-May 17 2014! (And delivered to me on June 17)

How cool is that? It got a second chance at life on its birthday!
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing


Last edited by vwwestyman on Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tcash
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your welcome.
Saved on it's birthday. That's cool.
Look foreword to the build thread.
Good Luck
Tcash
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I spent the day working on the bus yesterday.

A large portion of the time was spent cleaning up the engine parts, both the case and the tins.

Engine thread (linked above) has been updated.

I also cleaned up the gas tank and fuel sender.

My tank didn't seem to really have rust, rather the remnants of gas that had evaporated away long ago.

Since I had my pressure washer out and hooked up to the water heater's outlet, I used that to blast away the crud. It took awhile and inserting the nozzle from both the sender hole and the filler hole and a lot of peeking with a flashlight, but I got well over 95% of the mess out just fine. A fuel filter changed a couple of times on short intervals should take care of anything that is left.

To help it dry quickly, I blew air into the filler hole with a fan:

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


I splashed a bunch of PB Blaster inside to prevent rusting.

The sender was also really cruddy and needed cleaned up. I popped the cover plate off and cleaned up the contacts, including the spring and needles the float pivots on (not sure if that needs good electrical contact to work or not, but I figured it wouldn't hurt!). The trace from the plug to the wires was corroded thin and broke during the process. So I took a few strands from a wire, twisted them together, and soldered it on. The card with the resistance wire was bowed slightly away in the middle, so I bent the float's contact a bit to give better contact on it.

You can see the cleaned up contacts if you look close.

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


Close up of the repair:

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


I then hooked it up and hooked up the battery charger to the bus, and with the float all the way down, it read on the far left white line, and float all the way up, it read on the far right line. Success!

The large rubber filler pipe looked nice, and didn't show any signs of cracking when squeezed, etc. So I will reuse it.

I just need to get some new fuel lines and an o-ring for the sender and I can reinstall the tank.

Anything special about the o-ring, or can I just find one at a FLAPS?
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A previous owner painted the engine compartment flat black. It is kind of dreary in there!

On the tip of a poster around here, I tried scrubbing with carb cleaner.

I had a can of O'Reily's brand, and a can of Gumout brand.

Both seem to soften the paint to allow it to be scrubbed off, however the Gumout seems to be more effective. An old cleaning sponge with the green scrubby side seems to be working pretty good for scrubbing it off, but also rags with texture (such as old polo shirts I cut up) also work ok.

I haven't tried it, but I bet a light sanding would help the carb cleaner soak in and be more effective.

The problem is, the fumes also concentrate in there! Shocked So that is kinda sucky. I may try some other things that I've seen recommended too.

I don't think I'm going to bother to get every bit out of every nook and cranny, but the overall goal is to bring the majority of the green back into view, and brighten up the compartment in the process.

I haven't done anything on the passenger side, so this is essentially a "before" pic:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


And "after" some scrubbing:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I do plan to scrub it more from here, but that is a pretty good start to show that it is working.
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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Tcash
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Removing aftermarket paint to get OG paint
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used aircraft stripper. It was nasty and the fumes do build up on you back in that box. You get to blame a previous owner. I just wanted to go give my past self a swift kick in the nuts.

Scrub, scrape, grumble..."why the hell did I spray this crap in here?"
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just wanting to throw out my thoughts on the engine situation. I figure this is more appropriate in this thread, but the engine rebuild/repair thread is in my sig.

As I see it, there are a few ways I can go about getting the bus on the road. I keep going back and forth on how to do it.

Rebuild my current engine. I suppose I really need to sit down and make a shopping list to assess the total cost. But it could be anywhere between a few hundred bucks and a few thousand bucks!

The other thing I'm considering is some kind of engine conversion. After getting the TDI going fairly well in my '78 (a few issues to work out still) I'm confident I could do an engine conversion in this bus and learn from the first in order to make it go well.

For simplicity's sake, and overall cost, if I went the conversion route I'd probably go with a 1.8 watercooled motor for a conversion, utilizing the Mexican bellhousing and bits on my transmission. Those engines are about a dime a dozen and pretty bulletproof. I am working on a possible source for getting the parts.

Other thoughts include finding a running aircooled motor, or maybe a more powerful watercooled Vanagon motor.

Anyway, thoughts?

For the record, if I do some kind of engine conversion, I will be very careful to not make any changes that aren't easily reversible. IE, no cutting big chunks or holes anywhere, etc.
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a good thread about 'rebuilding your sender for $1' or some such thing....and I would keep the original engine design, no conversion...cost to rebuild your current engine ignored.

Great save!
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just made a deal to buy an engine and transmission!

It looks like the drivetrain from an aircooled Vanagon but I understand that with a few mods, the engine will go in the WW which will get me going down the road with less overall expense and effort than rebuilding the engine.

Later on, I can rebuild the engine that came with it and/or decide where to go from there.

Nice.
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vwwestyman wrote:
It looks like the drivetrain from an aircooled Vanagon


So that explains the old thread coming alive. Very Happy

In the past, I put an air cooled vanagon motor in our '74 but ended up pulling it out again due to a bad head. If I recall correctly you will need -

- a pair of 1979 federal heater boxes (they are basically bay window boxes with the square port for the exhaust ports on the vanagon head.)

- use the baywindow motor mounts and brackets but you'll need to get new bolts to match the size on the vanagon case.

- the dipstick on the vanagon motor comes out a different location. You can plug it and use the bay window oil fill tube or plug the bay window dipstick tube (I'd do the first one).
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info. (Here and here.)

The price is roughly close to what just an 091 transmission would go for, typically.

If I do go ahead and one day convert it to some other type of motor, the 091 will be a better transmission candidate too.

I'm thinking I'll swap the nose cone and install the whole package into the bus. (I believe the 002 nosecone will go on the early 091, will have to double check.) Then I'll store the other motor and trans for later use.

Hopefully this will get the bus driving down the road sooner.
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woohoo! Get back to it. I just started driving mine again. 90 something hp and fuel injection sooooooo smooth. I procrastinated my summer away. Time to go enjoy it.

Keep bangin away.
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vwwestyman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The new engine has been sitting at my house for a couple weeks now. I got packages with oil seals, the foam seal, and all that kind of stuff.

I'm cautiously optimistic that if the carb rebuild kit arrives on time, and things go well, I might actually have the engine installed this weekend!

So, because a VIN inspection is required for out of state vehicles, and the guy isn't there on Fridays, I towed the Lime Pickle to the courthouse, paid the retired Highway Patrolman $20 to walk out and look at the vin (what a racket that is!) and got it tagged.

Just in case I actually am successful at getting it running, I want to be able to take it for a legal test drive this weekend!
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Dave Cook

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
I'm gonna punch vwwestyman then shake his hand when I meet him.

notchboy wrote:
Ill just punch you in the face. Wink


1978 Champagne Edition Westy, repowered to '97 Jetta TDI
1973 Wild Westerner
My Thing
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secretsubmariner
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice!

Beautiful bus, man. Enjoy it!

Do you have any interior pictures?
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