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Helga - Our 71 Westfalia
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Mberglo
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Location: Huntsville, AL
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 6:09 am    Post subject: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

I thought I'd start one thread for our build, and just keep adding to it over time. I need to back up to March 29, 2018 to start the story.

We found Helga in the same spot she had been for the last 8 years: sitting in a suburban driveway in South Huntsville, AL. She was owned by a VW enthusiast family, but she hadn't seen the road in a very long time. The family was liquidating some assets, and we were lucky enough to rescue Helga.


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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:22 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

The rear brakes were locked up, so that was our first task. We rebuilt the brakes and installed new wheel cylinders.

We had no idea what the condition of the engine was in, but when we installed a new AGM battery, it turned over! That was a good sign. Added a few gallons of gas, and actually got it runnning. It wasn't running great, but I was able to move it under its own power. Decided at this point to drop the engine and do a full tune-up on it while I removed and cleaned the gas tank.

Gas tank wasn't rusty, but had plenty of nasty inside. After researching it, I decided not to have it acid-dipped. The guy at the shop said it would rust if I did that. The best thing would be boiling soapy water to clean it, and some phosphoric acid rust converter to catch anything remaining.
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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:30 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

This bus was equipped with air conditioning. It was complete, but obviously had seen better days. We carefully removed all of the components. I may restore them someday, but they are just in the way at this point. I tried researching, but never really found a condenser / air handler like this one.


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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:34 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

With the AC out of the way, we turned our attention to the transmission. The CV joints on the axles were in pretty rough shape, so we installed new ones. Drained the transmission, and found the fluid to be pretty decent. New fluid pumped in slowly...

It looks like someone has already replaced the coupler.


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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:40 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Tune up of original engine:

Cleaned everything
Rebuilt Solex Pict 34 didn't run too good before, so bought a Repro
Installed Pertronix SVDA distributor
New plugs and wires
New alternator conversion
New muffler (wish I had gotten the stock muffler instead)
Cleaned and painted tins
New oil cooler o-rings
Adjusted valves
New gaskets
New fuel pump



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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:44 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Tuned up engine didn't run any better. It smoked bad. After giving up on it "eventually clearing up", I took compression reading. (I know, should have done that day 1). Cylinder three showed zero.point.zero. Hmm...

The engine comes back out, and we start tearing it down. Pull the jug to find a melted piston. It all starts to make sense why this bus had been sitting...


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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:51 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Time to do weeks of research on TheSamba to determine what type of engine to build. I've built plenty of American V8s, but never had a VW apart. It's amazing that you can increase bore for no additional cost over a stock rebuild. Met a local legend that drag raced Beetles back in the 80s. We talked about my goals (cross country road tripper), and we settled on a 1776 with a W100 cam, running 9.0:1 compression and a rejetted Solex 34 pushing fuel through brand new Brazilian stock heads.


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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 8:00 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Engine install was straightforward, and replaced the rubber mustache bar mounts this time. Forgot to mention before that we installed new clutch and throwout bearing.

Put Lucas brand engine breakin oil in the crankcase, estimated the timing, set the high idle on the carb, put a fan behind the engine and fired her up. 20 minutes of 2000rpm allowed time for the cam and lifters to get to know each other.



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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 10:21 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

My daughter's boyfriend has been helping me do all of this work. After we got the new engine in and running, we wrapped it up one evening, and he said he had something he wanted to ask me. The young man asked my permission to marry my daughter! I thought that was cool. He's a nice kid, and we're looking forward to him joining the family.

I figured all along that the bus would be part of the wedding. What I didn't predict, is that they want a "destination wedding". We live in North Alabama, and they've chosen to get married in Sedona, Arizona in June 2021! Oh boy, how far is that?

Well, it's about 1600 miles one way. The cool thing is that most of it is along Route 66. Now I can't wait to finish the bus and take this journey with my wife!
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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 10:28 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

We learned about a VW graveyard about 100 miles away, so I made a trip to see if I could find a rear bumper. I met a neat old guy that has been doing VWs since the 70s. All his cars are scattered over a few acres of woods. He let me wander around and collect what I needed. I found a serviceable rear bumper, a good rear apron, the correct rear foam pad, and a nice set of hubcaps. We plan to go back again next weekend to see what else we can find.


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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 10:37 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

My original goal was to make the bus reliably roadworthy. I wanted to restore the mechanicals underneath first.

Rebuilt rear brakes
Installed new rear axles
Serviced Transmission
New shocks on all four corners
New ball joints
New tie rods
New front brake calipers
Adjusted steering box
New shifter bushings
New vacuum booster hoses
New brake soft lines


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Last edited by Mberglo on Mon Aug 31, 2020 10:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 10:39 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Cleaned and painted the original wheels with White Tractor Enamel.


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Then mounted some Grabber Generals. This one didn't want to hold air initially, and had to be reseated. The old wheel had some crud around the bead that needed to be cleaned.


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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 10:45 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Finally able to do a few trips around the block. Each time I go out, I gain a little more confidence in the bus. The shifter still isn't right, so I take it back out to inspect. The floor plate ramp looks pretty worn, and the pin is noticeably grooved. I buy a replacement shifter, and install. I find that I have to install a few washers to raise the shifter a bit so that it rides on the shift plate properly, but it now shifts very nicely. Brakes feel great. Steering is nice. Turn signals don't work.


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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 11:04 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Got some replacement hinges from Wolfsburg West, and installed my engine cover and rear apron.




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Ceckert64
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 12:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Nice bus! I have the same AC unit in my bus. Here is the link to its installation Manual. https://www.thesamba.com/vw/archives/manuals/9_71_campmobile_ac_instructions.php The compressor setup is slightly different than mine, but thanks for posting a picture of the underside of the condenser! Someone hacked mine off so it’s nice to see what it should look like. The bus looks solid, very good starting point for a project. Good work so far, keep it up!

Edit: here are some pictures of mine
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richparker
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2020 8:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Nice to see another ‘71 westy brought back to life, I love that year!!! Enjoy it!

Sedona is sweet, gonna be real hot in June tho. End of September or October brings cooler temps. Route 66 isn’t what it was back in the day, still cool to drive it. I take it as much as I can when traveling.
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Manfred58sc
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:04 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Nice work, replacing the York compressor with a Sandan unit improves AC performance and reduces HP loss.
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Tbob
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 7:18 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

I have one of those evaporator/ air handlers also. They were made for about 1971- 1973 Westys only. I haven't got mine operating yet, but since we both live in the land of perpetual humidity, it's something that is increasingly important, especially as we age. There is a very helpful thread under Bay Window FAQs called "Installing a DPD air conditioner in a bay window" by 69 Bahamayellow that is very informative.
The York compressor belongs in the trash, but keep all the brackets, etc., For possible further adaption. The York compressor uses so much power that it is essentially unserviceable, but a modern Sanden compressor is the solution.
I like your version of the condenser under the bus with the fans at the end, it tucks up better, more ground clearance. It may benefit to a change to a modern parallel flow condenser.There are those who know a lot better than me, and Gilmore enterprises gets good reviews about their air conditioning prowess here.
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1973 Westfalia, owned since 1983
1980 Westfalia, watercooled conversion
1985 Westfalia, stock!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 10:56 am    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Nice work!
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Mberglo
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Helga - Our 71 Westfalia Reply with quote

Troubleshot the turn signals and found that the wiring doesn't quite match up with the diagram. The 71 diagram shows five wires going to one of those "cable connectors". On mine, the black/grn/wht power wire has it's own cable connector, and it was loose/disconnected. I plugged it in tight and my turn signals now flash. I was surprised to see both arrows light up at the same time, but a review of the wiring diagram and verification on TheSamba shows that "VW figured if you were smart enough to buy a Volkswagen, that you could figure out which way you moved the lever". Nice.
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