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Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy
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WildIdea
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:58 am    Post subject: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Hello Samba Bay Window Forum, I've been wanting to try my first project thread and with the encouragement of my VW buddies I feel I finally have the desire to start sharing.

This is the story of My 1977 Sage Green Westfalia Campmobile refresh and how its changed my life for the better. Along the way its introduced me to great people and solidified new friendships, made me more mechanically inlined, sharpened my problem solving approaches and refined and matured emotions as well as brought me hours of pleasure conquering small puzzles that add up to major accomplishments. My family has also stood behind the process and I believe caring for this vehicle has served us all well.

I would like to dedicate this project to my two friends Kevin and Brian, both of which have advised, encouraged and sweat for this bus. Two of the greatest of friendships were spawned form this bus project and which I value more then the bus itself.

I wouldn't want to leave out my wife Cathy who really got behind this from the very beginning and to my two children who have suffered a touch as garage orphans Laughing My extended friends, family and my work crew who never once thought this was silly or a waste of time and money.

Last but not least, the several forum threads others have posted that have been a cornerstone to my information mining. Most noteworthy I will say is eche_bus's expertly crafted 76 westy thread that taught me to slow down and take my time. Thank you.

Now on with it!
I think back at how this all started for me, my desire for a bus and how it represents the ultimate vehicle for me. I live in Rapid City, SD at the SE side of the beautify Black Hills. I suppose it being the site of the worlds largest motorcycle rally Sturgis Bike Week really opened my eyes early to the biker counter culture and a few older buddies turned me on early to the Grateful Dead music scene. Busses where everywhere and I wanted one and to start having my own adventures ASAP. I was resigned to live this way everyday of my life. My first car was an older brother hand me down that had to get crashed and I credit this 1969 white Westy as my first car. I was 17 in this photo.

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Man, we had fun in this Bus, I can think of so many episodes that are etched in my mind. Cruising around this Hills, jamming out without a care in the world. An epic road trip to Kansas for a July 4 Dead show that involved a bit of hitchhiking and some creative problem solving to get back home 10 days later. The years where the steam roller of reality really crushes ya, were also the time of my life! This bus was really there for a lot of it. Eventually something happened to it and I traded it for an orange and white bay window transporter that was pretty decent. Things happened and it sat in the back yard until I sold it for a reliable vehicle and just sort of let the bus thing go as I believed they were pretty much all used up by then. This was say 1991-2. How wrong I was!!

Still I always love spotting busses around and thought of them longingly. So the Dead had this 50 year reunion in Chicago in 2015 and after that Dead and Co was formed. I was going to several of these shows and I was really amazed at how many busses where still alive! The Boulder shows that year had a few in each lot around the CU campus and the following week I rode my motorcycle by myself to East Troy WI to see the band play Alpine Vally music theatre. Being by myself, I got to the grounds early and sat in the shade and watched the procession of cars being parked and the parade of buses was awesome! Then walking around the lots talking to folks about them. Its weird, now I can see the foreshadowing here, but the seed started to get watered again. I remember seeing this green and white Double Decker Stretch Limo Bus take a corner in front of me one day in Rapid. I remember raising my fist and Cheering at it with glee!! Very Happy I thought that baby was the best!! So cool it existed and was driving in our town.

Ive been working as a full time tattoo artist since 1995 and Cathy and I have two studios Wild Idea and Thrash's. Were blessed to have some of the tightest folks and artists in the land. Every year our biggest event is the convergence of 500+K enthusiastic Sturgis Bike Rally goers and we work our tails off every August for that event. We've had post Rally parties, but were so exhausted we moved it to pre Rally! Get the guest artists who come for the 3 week period jazzed and meshed with crew before the storm. This is such a great time for us all. So Cathy arranges for a shop meeting and instead of going over business this Limo bus pulls up. Surprise!

Fiona is the Busses name, Kevin owns and operates it. He has an old build thread on her here, check that out its a great read. Fiona is for real and tours regularly. So we all pile in and have a great ol time. Great sound system and the guys just loved it. We stopped to get ice cream and I'm telling Kevin Ive had a bus before and all about it and he says he has several, I could come see them if I wanted to in the coming days....You can bet I will! These are pictures of our tour that day.

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A few days later we head to Kevins and look at the buses at his house. Theres 3 or 4. I remember a white tin top westy with blue plaid, was neat but spoken for. A few others. Remember, I just met Kevin and were having our first conversations here. He says he has more at a stash by his Dads so we head over there. I really wasn't prepared for what I saw. There was a line of buses. I couldn't believe my eyes. What the heck dude! He's like yeah I find buses and sell parts and fix what I can etc.

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Im thinking that all these buses are really too far gone for me, but that one on your trailer isn't.

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He says ah man, I just got that one a few days ago. I said, well sell it to me and don't even get it off the trailer here and drop it off at my house. He informed me it had a blown motor and has sat since 95 or so and do you know what your getting into, etc. I've rebuild old Harleys and and pretty versed in antiques in general and how to care for old stuff and feel i could take this on. I don't think he really wanted to move it so fast. He said it was the nicest one he found all year and wasn't sure what to price it etc. We spoke at length that night well past dark and ended with a handshake. She was coming home!

Now were starting to get real busy working the Rally, setting up and all is a killer. Im adding this all during the busiest time to my year, and I don't care. We focus on getting the details arranged and in the meantime I take Cat and kids to check it out. Am I crazy and or stupid I ask. Cat says no, Ill help you. The coolest thing she could have ever said. These are pictures of that day. It sprinkled and there was even a Rainbow. Was a great omen and Blessing!!!

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As you can see from the photos, theres a solid bus here, but still has a lot of dirt, rot and repair needed. Don't forget, a seised motor Crying or Very sad

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The interior is pretty shot, steering column disassembled, motor in sad shape, but there is almost zero rust and pretty solid OG paint. From what I can see, not the worst, not the best. Motors can be repaired and interior worked, but I'm not too interested in doing metal and paint so I think this is a great platform and worth stepping up for.

A few days later Kev delivers the bus and we get it backed in the garage. Some of my neighbors walk over with concern saying who's got that green van we saw go by? I do! OH where is it? In my garage, Id never leave it outside, its outside days are over. Several come by to look and make faces like they ate something sour and were pretending it wasn't. Okaaaay they said 'good luck' with that you guys....

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This is a journey of a thousand steps and I don't care how long it really takes, just the promise of a running bus and something to look forward to cruising again. To camp in and and get back to jamming out, cruising the Hills and spotting wildlife and buffalo on days off. Something like 26 years has passed between busses. Thats a lot of growing up, building a family and home, businesses and whatnot. A lot of priorities came first and gratification delayed and now the excitement is alive again and a Bus is back in my life !!!


Last edited by WildIdea on Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:56 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:23 am    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Excellent base for a project, looking forward to updates Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

That stretch limo Bus is awesome. You could change a whole pod of surfers into their wet suits in that thing.

You definitely want to hang out with the guy who can put that together.

Now, how to cross post this and ask if itís a Samba on the Split Forum...
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

yellow pail in that plaid box? lid?
nice solid bus! enjoy
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

alman72 wrote:
yellow pail in that plaid box? lid?
nice solid bus! enjoy


Yeah No Crying or Very sad Buddy Seat was empty. My little Buddy just puts his feet on it as an ottoman while playing video games, for now....
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Welcome back.
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WildIdea
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Right on! Thanks guys. Heck, it's -15 degrees tonight. Dangerous cold and were not going anywhere this New Years Eve so I'll go ahead and post a little more about the bus.

Like I mentioned before, the motor was seised and won't turn. The story was the last previous owner ran the motor dry on oil until she stopped. You'd love to hear Kevin rail on how theres no excuse for that!! Pull over and put anything into her before that happens and plenty of room in a Westy for an extra qt. he was heard saying a few times. Oh well I say. This bus shows 31k miles and if those are original all the better for me she broke as that put her in a time capsule.

Kevin had already been in contact with his pal Brian about reworking the motor before I came into the picture and there was a little chatter about what they thought and asked what my thoughts were going to be on the subject. As much as a motor sounds like important talk, I'm pretty much only thinking about the paperwork at the DMV and the fees and taxes and getting all that behind me.

I will say though right here that from the very onset of this project it was to be a stock-ish rebuild. I wanted to stay original as possible within reason as well as listening to advice from others who have come before me.

Kevin suggested we go ahead and pull the motor while its still on his trailer and he can back his truck right up to it and load it easier. Better than dropping it in my garage on the floor without the proper jacks. I hate to say I was a little uncomfortable with that as I sure would have liked to see it come out, but being slammed at work I just couldn't make it. I resigned to just trust in my new friend and the situation. This pic Kevin sent when he was removing the motor.

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Pretty crusty, huh. The motor went to his place where we plan on stripping it there as Brian only wants the core.

You know, when I was younger my 69 had a type 1 motor and with the problems I was fiddling with I thought it to be a inferior motor to what we called a 'flat' motor at the time. The guys with those seemed to be going home more predictably and I had some sort of envy of those bus motors at the time. I felt stuck with my choices though and powering through them, but little did I know then what I've learned about the type 4 and how tough its going to be to service.

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Looks like something had burnt on top but not for long. Engine compartment ceiling material was showing signs of a fire. Not so sure yet what was going on but I will verify that in its time. Machines usually leave behind forensic evidence when they fail and hoping it will tell its tale when we get to digging.

With this all taking place I think the first good, easy and obvious thing to do would get this machine on some new rubber that would hold air. Something I can roll her in and out of my garage on. I have a great tire guy and after a few Samba searches I ask him to land me 5 Hankook RA08s.

I'll admit, Im new at this, but the bus has a period owners manual and with its original jack I get the tires off.

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At this point Kevin would like the tires so he has an extra set on hand for when he's towing a bus onto his trailer in the wild. They were OK rollers and probably fine shipping tires, but I go with quality tires in this point of my life having messed with bologne skins enough times to know better.

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My Dad lets me pick up a few jack stands and I use everything I have to stabilize the bus including my wood splitting base I tucked under the front beam and wedged with 2X4s etc. I didn't want it to wiggle at all with kids around. This really made me nervous and when I dropped off the wheels to get powder coated I stressed my situation.

Black Hills Powder Coating guys really got interested when I said what I was working on and showed them some pictures. They said they'd have them taken care of soon. They specialize in custom railing and color and said if they don't jump on the sporadic hot rod pieces they build up, so they strive to just work them right away. Cool! We settled on a color pretty close to the original finish and it was like a day and they called me and I ran them right over to the tire shop where they mounted them for me while I waited. Both the coating guys and the tire shop guys seemed genuinely interested in helping. This was the first time I noticed that folks get a gleam in their eye for a bus and sort of get into the process with you.

I wash the hub caps one night in soapy water and touch of liquid soft scrub. There are a few dents and scratches but the rust spots and film came off. I could replace for sure but I want as many original parts as possible and a little honest wear won't bother me a bit. So Yeah, I want new rubber and weather resistant wheels paired with already dented caps, just for using, which I plan to do.

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Now that the bus has some new skins on hand I realize I can't just put them back in that crusty ol wheel well........OOPs, I scratched a little spot on that undercoating and it just fell off revealing some minty green,,,,,,

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Nice Bus!!! Looks like a great starting point!
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:53 am    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

I think you could be right about 31k miles looking athe body and all original engine. TellK you heed all those FIJ parts though!
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:15 am    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Yeah, so now that the Rally is through were all in hangover mode. The kids are happy because they know were gonna be around a little more. Still, we have to put all those supplies away proper for next rear and the locals start hitting us hard as they've been on hold as we work for all the travelers. Summer is still jamming and with a new bus at home, I'm looking to carve out a bit of time to see what I really have here.

The bus came with a Haines manual and I order the Bently in hardcover on eBay. Around this time I discover the Samba and start exploring the site and set up a user account. Wow!! My mind starting to really open to whats going on here and what I have access to information wise. Ive been pouring through the pages ever since. Thank you everyone for your experience. Just think where would we all be today left alone in our towns before the internet linked everybody. Its an exciting time as its been around long enough for companies to form and establish around the platform. I found several companies right away that look to be selling parts I would be needing soon, but before I get to spending dough on that I have a bus to clean.

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so I normally don't need to be going to the shop until around 10 am, and I usually get up early enough to go jog the neighborhood or something physical and make a solid meal before heading in, but today I decide to check out this wheel well. My little boombot rex clip on speaker usually tags along with me in the morning as it breaks up the silence without waking up folks. I set up with a tasty soundboard recording and set to work scrubbing this part of the beam.

I started by using slices of wooden window shims to scrape out the chunks of caramelized grease and dirt cake. Chipping that away I then hit with a bit of a brass bristle brush and dawn dish soap water and buff it out with rags like a shoe shiner. The rubber boots around the bearings are all cracked, bummer. They don't look easy to swap. But thats not my mission today. The undercoating just basically falls of in places when I scratch it with the dull wooden chisel I made and finishes up with a little thumb nail picking and a bit of sponge work. I don't want to spiderweb the paint, but I like the look of the green showing and after two hours, its time to jump in the shower and head in to work.

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The next morning I finished it out. I don't have a full photo of that but I like what is happening and the factory printing was revealed etc. It occurred to me then how nice and practical it was to have the break line solid/soft juncture right there where you could get to it. But yeah, I'm looking at shocks, breaks, boots, you name it, thats all gotta come in the future.

I feel better with that wheel on, but I now have 3 more wheel wells tapping my shoulder. My traps scream working overhead like that and Im about good for 2 hours of that at a time.

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When you buy a vehicle, you want to get under it as thats where most of the problems lurk. These are a few of the underside I took when I bought it. Not really knowing what Im seeing it appears covered in an aging tar based undercoating in varying states of decay.

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I don't know what to do with all that, I'm sure its gonna get in my eyes.

The next few days I got after the front passenger side and after that ordeal I decided to just put the rear tires on and get it off the jack stands and rolling again. Plenty of time to do those. Kevin giving a little jazzing about cleaning the wells but they look good I think.

The inside looks brutal and now that I have a weekend day off I'm gonna tackle the heavy dirt and mouse turds and see whats in these cabinets.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Abscate wrote:
I think you could be right about 31k miles looking athe body and all original engine. TellK you heed all those FIJ parts though!
It looks very good, but I'm more willing to bet on 131k. And the undercoating, if it's anything like what was on my '71, saved a lot of metal on your bus. Wild idea, I hear you about the -15 weather. I played a dive bar gig for NYE and my bus hauls my gear. With no choke Kadrons on there starting it was a time consuming task....
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Wow, that bus is dreamy dry w/no rust or corrosion. Many folks dream of finding a rust free bus like that one!

It looks like it found a great new owner is recognizes it's worth and originality. What's your plan on the engine rebuild? Stock rebuild keeping the fuel injection in place?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Some serious vacuuming has taken place. Looks like a dog had lived in the bus and someone left a lot of beer cans in the spare tire wheel well. Bits and pieces like half used match books, candles and fly swatters, etc. Another set of keys and, extra headlight, a few bucks in change and a nice city power extension cord. Also a few cans of old touch up paint and wood stain. There was a box with a tan canvas from Bus Depot and all the rubber seals was in a box. That had a receipt from just a few years ago, so I'm thinking someone was considering a refresh themselves.

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There was a load of original receipts and services. Theres a lot of neat addresses on them from service stations to park passes. A few bill of sales...

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Nothing really seems that trashed. Just real dry and laminate sprung...

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Kevin said he'd would have liked to have had time to clean it but I said he would have gotten the change! I always say, if you want to really, really know something, clean it.

I want to be able to sit in the cockpit without getting all dirty and breathing any of the dust, so this in next.

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Just a light wipe down at first with warm water to start softening up the heavy stuff. I think that the heavy particles can scratch your surfaces so I get those up first. Then I get a little soap going, like drop of Dawn to degrease then wipe down with a clean rag each time changing my water a lot. Then, when I think I have it clean, it dries and I can see more dirt and do it all over a few more times. I got turned onto Back to Black conditioner and liberal applications really make that dash look sweet!

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This is several hours of cleaning and its pretty addictive when you see the results before your eyes. I just rub till my fingers are trashed and need a shower. The paper glove box was torn beyond repair and the toe kicks seemed pretty ratty, but I saved then anyway until I see whats out there...

Im pretty disappointed in the dash though. Its surface is really ratty and a cleaning didn't do the transformation I was hoping for Sad . It just looks so bad tilted right at me when I walk by and I started to obsess about it. There doesn't seem like a straightforward way to remove it either so I just leave it alone and clean all around it the best I can.

The front glass is cracked from what looks like something fell hard on the nose right at the belt line and dented that too. Kevin jumped in the passenger seat and put his feet on the inside of the windshield and said 'catch this' and just pushed it out with his feet! Wow, who would have thought it'd come out that easy? He said he had to figure it out with all the windows Fiona had and saying he didn't have the money at the time to pay anyone to install them all, asked some glass guys to take pity on him and show him a few things. So that info transferred onto me right away. He has already sold me a new windscreen and it' just sitting on my floor in the basement and being the best place for that would be in the bus, I start thinking about this area wholeheartedly.

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The drip line starting to show surface rust.........


Last edited by WildIdea on Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Nice find!
It could be low mileage, those pedal pads don't have much wear, but the shifter is awful shiny. The feel of the shift linkage and front end will tell the full story.

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The paint on door sill isn't worn off either, could potentially be as low miles as they say.

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Long ago when that bus lived in a garage or carport it must have parked next to a 72 Eldorado or some other behemoth with 500 lb doors, those door dings on the fender are outstanding, it took some real inertia to make a mark like that Shocked

Great looking bus, cleaning is easy compared to rust repair, nice score!
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

wcfvw69 wrote:
Wow, that bus is dreamy dry w/no rust or corrosion. Many folks dream of finding a rust free bus like that one!

It looks like it found a great new owner is recognizes it's worth and originality. What's your plan on the engine rebuild? Stock rebuild keeping the fuel injection in place?


Thanks!!

Ive got a lot of homework before I decide. I can tell from reading here that the FI parts are scarce so I haven't bailed on any of them. Some of them are burnt. There are no emissions testing in South Dakota so I guess I have some options, regardless if I use them or not they'll stay with the bus. I don't think I'm qualified to decide at this point.
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orwell84
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Wow. Really clean, rust free bus. That is one great find. Congratulations.
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timvw7476
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

Somebody loved that one.
Maybe ball joint boots next. The four 'difficult' ones behind the front wheel/tires)
Then brake fluid color check, flush it all if it's too yellow or already orange.
Should try your best to keep the F.I. system intact. You mention burnt stuff?
You should be able to piece it all back together with Samba classified help.
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WildIdea
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:24 am    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

I think its fair to say that a lot of what I'm showing you folks has already happened months ago and I'm just now finding the time to post. This bus has already come along some and I'm building this thread with a commentary so I have more than just a long camera roll about it. Along the way I whipped out my phone as much as possible (filthy hands even) but I wish I had done more so. Things Ive found and learned and certain trials. There are 1500 photos on my phone that directly relate to this project. Most of them as reference to how to put things back together that I disassembled and rather boring.

By all means I appreciate feedback and free advice.

I want to tell its story in its proper order and at this point its time to get together at Kevin's and pull the tin off and strip down the motor. Get a little greasy and see what's up there. This guy Brian sounds like a competent motor man and machinist from what Ive heard but at this point I haven't met him yet. Sounds like there are several projects ahead of mine and not a huge hurry, but until then I figure I can get the motor off Kevin's floor and back into my hands.

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Its looks like the FI harness wire harness were melted on top and few other crusted bits. The Tin has some stripped screws and needed some Blaster and cussing but came off pretty decent. Cracked in a few places. I stupidly said can we just get rid of this tin? Oh heck no, they said thats what cools your motor. My bike doesn't have any tin round it, and that got a laugh, your bike motor isn't in the back of a bus! Ok, got it.

None of these guys are a fan of the FI but I'm just listening for now. In a box it goes. Lets see what the motor man has to say.

I did some searching on my own and found you just can't order up a type 4 from anybody just sitting on a shelf, besides this company called GEX. I even brought it up and they all said NO. Do some searches on the subject.....

Ok! Scratch that, so how about getting a sit down with Brian and get a game plan then.....

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The Tin and Heaters come home with me to get cleaned and worked over. One of the heaters looks like it had an oil leak dripping onto it for a while. I wonder how this will clean up.

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I got a few holes welded up myself. They look like they were sandblasted through from road dirt in a few exposed spots.

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Off to the powder coaters they go. They said they didn't want to coat then because of the heat involved, but went ahead and sandblasted them for me.

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They had the tin too.

I went with a gloss black with the logic being it would show and oil that gets on it he best. I could go with more of a matte finish sometime on a future build, but that what I did here.

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In the basement they go!
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pilottangocharlie
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:40 am    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

A great looking bus. I will join the group in following along, even as I am working on my Type 1 project.
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Bleyseng
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Hell In A Bucket! WildIdea's 1977 Sage Green Westy Reply with quote

You can buy a Camper Special type 4 kit from the Type4store.com

Keep the FI as it is much more drivable than dual carbs
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70 Ghia Black convert-9/69 build date-stock w/133k 1600 SP-barn find now with a rebuilt tranny and engine
77 Westy 2.0L w/Ljet, Camper Special engine-95hp and with LSD!
76 Porsche 914 2.1L L20c, 120hp Djet
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