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Advice sought: 91 Westy (update: bought it!)
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HackAl
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 10:07 pm    Post subject: Advice sought: 91 Westy (update: bought it!) Reply with quote

Hi Everyone. My first post. Please tell me if I'm in the wrong place.

I have an opportunity to purchase a "very good" condition 91 Westy Camper with 149k miles, "rebuilt" engine, trans. Asking price: $23k. Seller represents top notch.

Looking at it this weekend. At first sight, what should I look for, listen for, smell for? I'm not a mechanic but will ask that a mechanic inspect. Not sure he'll even know. I can look for rust, check rotors, look for obviously leaks. Are there any other "symptoms" or features I can readily check?

The owner seems like a straight-shooter but I'm simply not knowledgeable enough to spot what might seem like obvious issues to the trained-eye.

This won't be my daily driver. Weekend excursions, occasional camping. Just trying to avoid a headache though I know I'm in for some issues (whatever they may be).

Thanks in advance for any good advice.
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campism
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 4:39 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Begin here:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=568164

Plenty of info in the FAQ, where the above link is one small part, so good luck with your inspection and your new van!
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:04 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Welcome to the site!

About to jump in with both feet eh?

It would help us a lot to know where you are. A Van from Arizona or New Mexico will most likely be a different check list than one from Vermont or Maine.
(Ooops Embarassed just saw the Zip Code)

(Feel free to contact me about any questions, I'm West of you in Jersey. PM me, I'll send you my text number if that will help at all. )

Why?
These units are prone to rust.

The rust can be fixed but it's a lot of work and an expensive undertaking.

The unit you mention is at the upper end or "average" pricing norms. To garner that kind of cash this unit must be almost flawless with a solid paper trail of repairs and maintenence to warrant the price.

If it isn't flawless it must have a long list of quality upgrades, modern engine, rebuilt transmission, awnings, roof racks, bumpers etc.

Shop wisely! Do NOT fall in love with a unit until you have discerned it's integrity.

Remember that rust never sleeps so be extra vigilant looking in the rust prone areas, door step (under pad), outboard seat belt bolts, behind the sliding door near the trailing arm shackle, left side behind the kitchen area, any body seam, around all the windows.

If the paint is new, be very very cautious, new paint can hide a multitude of serious flaws beautifully.

Dave
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http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=392473

Vanagon
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6315537#6315537

Beetle
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482968&highlight=74+super+vert


Last edited by djkeev on Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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dhaavers
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:06 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Welcome to Samba! You're already off to great start by joining this community!

Some Q's for you and the seller:

- Manual or auto trans? (just for our reference)

- Who did the rebuilds and what did they cost?

A few rebuilders (Vanistan/tencentlife/Chris Corkins, GoWesty, Rocky Jennings for engines...
AA, Rancho for manual; "German" for auto trans) have a national reputation and help
those vans earn top dollar; local "VW guy" possibly/probably less. If local, contact
rebuilder directly and ask for references.

- How many miles on the rebuilds?

- Where is the van? If you're in Hack, NJ there may be some Samba members near you willing to help,
or recommend a local shop for a PPI...I know I LOVE helping other people spend their money! Laughing

Take pictures & post 'em up...keep in touch!

- Dave
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"The WonderVan"

<EDITED TO PROTECT INNOCENT PIXELS>
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HackAl
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:27 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Thanks everyone. The Westy in question is actually posted in TheSamba Classified in my area. Just not sure I'd be violating any etiquette in linking to it. The seller is a site user and seems like a great guy.

I will ask more questions about the paper trail and rebuilds. Manual trans. No rust at all apparently.

Not any easy decision for me or my family. We want our first experience with this to be a positive one. I'd rather "jump in" now for something relatively solid than be faced with a multitude of successive challenges.

In all honesty, this feels more like buying a second home. Didn't sleep much last night and I'm seeing this vehicle in a couple hours. Need to make coffee and put my poker face on. Eh?


Last edited by HackAl on Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:29 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

If it's the Van that I thnk it is, it's been owned by and well taken care of by the same owner for several years.

By all accounts it seems like a lovely Van. For the Northeast a BEAUTIFUL Van.

If it is truly rust free (and I think it is) than a price premium pop is well worth it. I Think that it is original paint, a VERY good thing!

Back in '13 a thread was begun based upon his ad which was a high price at the time...... I'm not sure he appreciated the thread.... and I Understand why.....
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=575656&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

He's obviously NOT a flipper..... Or a very patient flipper!

I would go look at his Van with interest if my pockets were deep and I wanted a quality unit at a higher market price because of condition and location.
But alas, my pockets are shallow but I can fix things so a $3000 unit followed me home on a trailer almost four years ago! Shocked

For one who is not mechanical and must pay for repairs, this unit could actually be a best buy over my $3000 treasure!

Keep us updated! Happy shopping!

Dave (PM me)
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Ghia
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http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6315537#6315537

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HackAl
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:34 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Another question I have is how much can I expect to pay in maintenance and repairs over say, the next 5 years, based on the work already done? What's should be scheduled or expected to break?
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:53 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

HackAl wrote:
Another question I have is how much can I expect to pay in maintenance and repairs over say, the next 5 years...


Impossible to predict but, FWIW, I have spent an average of $500 per year over the past 27 years.

Of course that included years where I spent more than $5,000 and many years where I spent less than $50.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:56 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

I spent $5000 the first three years..... In parts and invested untold hours!

I now am basically buying "toys"..... Shocked

Dave
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http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6315537#6315537

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cmayna
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:28 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

HackAl wrote:
Another question I have is how much can I expect to pay in maintenance and repairs over say, the next 5 years, based on the work already done? What's should be scheduled or expected to break?



All I can say is, the more you can do yourself, the more you will save moola but also learn about the rig, so if you have a roadside issue, it might not be too foreign to you.
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:59 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

On the Westy one of the traditional problems is the the water system. Not that id does not work, but over time the plumbing is out of sight and out of mind so any leaks that develop are potentially pooling up and starting to rust from the inside out.
You can see this along the body panel seam between the side panel and the sill on the drivers side between the front and rear wheel. Some of them rot out really bad, but many if caught in time are repairable/cleaning without too much effort.
Another area to look for rust is under the window rubber seals-if you see bubbling of the paint at the edge of the rubber it is an indication of rust under the rubber seal and you will have to remove the window to repair it.
considering it is 25 years old replacing the window rubber is not a bad idea for a winter project. The rust under the window rubber usually turns into a hole so best not to ignore it.
A '91 for 23g's...better jump as you have given away the locality and good price...there are wolves here...
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:05 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

HackAl wrote:
Another question I have is how much can I expect to pay in maintenance and repairs over say, the next 5 years, based on the work already done? What's should be scheduled or expected to break?


That depends. I spent less than $500 per year over 16 years and 100k plus miles on my '85 (rack, assorted cooling bits, tires, brakes, other maintenance). I've had my '90 for two years and just did a $16k engine conversion (but that was expected, 2.1 motors can need replacement at 150 k miles, then you need to decide if you'll do that work on the cheap for $5k or a fancy conversion for $20k).

If you're paying a shop $100 per hour the $$$ add up fast.
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Current: 1990 Westy Camper - Bostig RG4, 2wd, manual trans w/Peloquin, NAHT high-top, Flash Silver, seam rust, bondo, etc., etc.

Past: 1985 Westy Camper - 1.9 wbx, 2wd, manual trans, Merian Brown, (sold after 17 years to Northwesty who converted it to a Syncro).
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HackAl
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:50 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Meeting went well. Seller is a gentleman and the vehicle presents very well. Lot to think about now. Again, thanks for all the help. More to come...
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Merian
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:56 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

rough guess would be $500/year for the 3rd-8th years owned - more in 1st two years

But... the real way to do it is to make an absolutely thorough inspection by a careful and highly experienced vanagon mechanic, the add up those costs.

Next get the long-term maintenance list form GoWesty and add those costs in.

3rd step - any bodywork needed.
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 2:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Glad it went well...... Do Keep us updated as you dance around the fringes deciding whether to join us in our addictive obsession or not! Shocked

You know how to reach me if I can help at all.........

Dave
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http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6315537#6315537

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Jtanguay
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:22 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Good morning all. Hoping this is the right place for this post. I too search help in a purchase. Found a 1990 2nd owner Westy in the southwest and wondering about some thoughts. 166k miles, $12k from a sweet old lady that has owned it since 1998. Only repairs she calls is doing the water pump twice and normal routine maintenance. Being in Vermont, it is risky to spend the money to travel without some advice. Looks to be in great shape, however she hasn't used the camping gear since purchased and said there as a small rip in the canvas. Any thoughts? Seems like a good deal for a rust free vanagon, but worried with the miles it could need a lot of work soon. Thanks for any advice!!!
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campism
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 4:18 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Jtanguay wrote:
Good morning all. Hoping this is the right place for this post. I too search help in a purchase. Found a 1990 2nd owner Westy in the southwest and wondering about some thoughts. 166k miles, $12k from a sweet old lady that has owned it since 1998. Only repairs she calls is doing the water pump twice and normal routine maintenance. Being in Vermont, it is risky to spend the money to travel without some advice. Looks to be in great shape, however she hasn't used the camping gear since purchased and said there as a small rip in the canvas. Any thoughts? Seems like a good deal for a rust free vanagon, but worried with the miles it could need a lot of work soon. Thanks for any advice!!!

Always a risk, but you could ask her to drop it off at an agreed shop for a pre-purchase inspection, or perhaps someone on Samba could look at it for you.
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:04 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Jtanguay wrote:
Good morning all. Hoping this is the right place for this post. I too search help in a purchase. Found a 1990 2nd owner Westy in the southwest and wondering about some thoughts. 166k miles, $12k from a sweet old lady that has owned it since 1998. Only repairs she calls is doing the water pump twice and normal routine maintenance. Being in Vermont, it is risky to spend the money to travel without some advice. Looks to be in great shape, however she hasn't used the camping gear since purchased and said there as a small rip in the canvas. Any thoughts? Seems like a good deal for a rust free vanagon, but worried with the miles it could need a lot of work soon. Thanks for any advice!!!


Yeah...... Sweet old ladies start out as wild young women!

I agree about a shop evaluation in her area.

166,000 is a lot of miles. A WBX engine is nearing it's "danger" point on rod bolts and head gaskets.

But having a rust free Van in Vermont is a huge plus! It is worth a price premium for sure.

Have the shop check it out, fly down ready to buy but be ready to walk if it is badly misrepresented by the sweet old lady.

Didn't use the camper? Why? Why even buy a camper?

Price wise.... 12 grand for a good solid 90 is a good price!

Dave
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Ghia
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=392473

Vanagon
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6315537#6315537

Beetle
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482968&highlight=74+super+vert
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Jtanguay
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:16 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Dave - thanks for your reply. I have been looking at vans, but seems like rust free ones are goon for over 20k with new motors! My VW mechanic friend said if it has been sitting for a few years it could need a lot of work. Owner used the stove but never used the frig. Do you think I can find a lower mileage one for under 15k? Seems like a lot pop up on sites. Some folks are crazy asking 30k!!
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:18 am    Post subject: Re: Advice sought: 91 Westy Reply with quote

Sitting in the SouthWest is NOTHING like sitting in Vermont!

Sure, the Sun is harsh but without humidity decay isn't really a major problem.

Prices vary widely as does quality. There are only used ones available so buyers must beware.

It is far better to spend money on a solid rust free body that needs mechanical work than on a solid mechanical unit that is rusting away.

PM me, I'll send you my email, send me the Van info (I'm NOT shopping!) and I'll take a look at what you have. There may be obvious things that I might see living in the NE and knowing about rust prone areas.

Dave
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Ghia
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=392473

Vanagon
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6315537#6315537

Beetle
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=482968&highlight=74+super+vert
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