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Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon
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The Pilch
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 7:31 pm    Post subject: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Hello all!

We hope you are all well and staying safe in this crazy time.

A couple of weeks ago, me and wifey finally found our Vanagon. Since we sold our '71 bay in 2019, she's been "Vanagon spotting", and expressing her desire for one - which completely rubbed off on me of course. Our bay was great, just a little small for us to camp in.

As most of us probably do, we see one on the road, or parked up in someones drive and yell "Vanagon!!!!" at each other like a pair of lunatics..... well finally after such a long time we came across a little gem on the local classifieds here in Utah. Off we went to look at it...

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It's an '85 GL Weekender Package, which we are told, consists of a fold out bed, two seats that fold flat, and the large cushion over the rear deck lid. It is originally an Idaho vehicle, and has been meticulously maintained, all the way back to its first oil change, as written by the PO in a little booklet...

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Of course, there's some things that need attention. The body, although mostly solid, has a couple spots we need to repair, and as you can see in the pics, rock chips and paint peel all over the van. It also has a small power steering fluid leak from the rack...

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We chatted with the owner and test drove it. It drove better than any old VW I've had. We loved it immediately, so we went home and tried to decide what to offer, and what we could afford.


Last edited by The Pilch on Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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The Pilch
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 7:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

After an agonizing week, the owner decided he liked us better than the other people, and let us know the van was ours! So we were particularly excited to go and pick it up...

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We were both very happy, as you can see. Wifey was super happy and I love her smile, it makes everything better! We arrived home after a faultless drive back, and slotted him into his carport.


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The exciting bit, where you get to dig around and find stuff ensued...

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we didn't find many trinkets, as the interior was definitely its best feature. And the engine. It runs like a dream.

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The Pilch
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 7:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

The first chance we got, we went out and cleaned the Vanagon (now affectionately known as Freddie) interior, a very deep clean and spent the day marveling at Freddie's very comfortable seats, bed, and still working A/C unit.


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We ended up going to a VW show, which had a small swap-meet. We found the missing rubber strip for Freddie's front bumper...
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...and also a hitch so we can take our mountain bikes with us...

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The Pilch
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Tires.

I've had two bays, both with car tires installed. I hated the handling and the sketchy below-par load rating, so I have used Hankook RA08's and absolutely loved them. Well, as with most things I love, the Hankooks are no longer available. Neither, it seems, are the RA12's which seem a little overkill anyways. I'm not sure I want the General Grabbers and there's no real reason for that other than I'm not sure I want the look. So wifey talked to Tire Busters and we ordered a set of Nexen Roadian CT8. Of course, due to "Covid" they took an age to arrive but since Freddie is not registered, we took his wheels off and drove them to Tire Busters...

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and before we knew it, he was load rated and safe...

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We had a charity event this weekend, in which we had to use Freddie as a van. He was loaded to the brim with gear. I have checked his fuel lines, but not replaced them yet, and it was his maiden voyage I suppose...a baptism by fire, but luckily no fire! He served us magnificently and was a key part of our charity event. Some will say I'm foolish to use the van like that without replacing the fuel lines, although in my defense I checked them all and they appear to be relatively new. I also have not had time to get that job done before the event and using Freddie was a must - still, he was a warrior and no harm done.

To treat him, we spent a couple of hours on him...

These wheels look particularly haggard. We are frugal people and will only spend the big money when absolutely necessary, so it was time to make these old bangers, into real smashers!

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an old trick I learned years ago. We lightly sanded and degreased the rims before using the old playing card trick..

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...then wifey got painting. I just love it when we can get out and work on things together...

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She did a sterling job!

As you can see, I am particularly happy with my two rims as well

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Then we got busy with my favored Nevr Dull wadding polish, on Freddie's nice smooth hubcaps...

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Et voila!!!

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Fresh looking wheels for a couple of hours of our time and an $8.99 can of white Rustoleum.
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The Pilch
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Sunday evening, Freddie is starting to look very handsome.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

You two are adorable. Loving the fun of this thread Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 11:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

A new-to-you van is always so super fun! Congrats! Looking better and better! Wish I had those front seats.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 11:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Awesome! Looks like Freddie got a well deserved home. Enjoy & have fun!
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 11:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Great find. Looks like your having a blast!

The Pilch wrote:
Sunday evening, Freddie is starting to look very handsome.

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I’m hearing the old patina is the new look Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:00 am    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Nice find!

If this is going to be used primarily for camping and day trips for just the two of you, you may find that center seat cumbersome.

Remove it and you've opened up a world of interior space alternatives!
Room to move around inside, room for ice chests, room for food, room for cooking and eating supplies, room for clothing, room for life on that rainy day when you're stuck in the Van, room for.........

Go to NAPA auto parts web site and order their $99 awning.
It will make camping so much more pleasant!

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=756151

Oh..... you are aware of it but do replace your fuel lines sooner rather than later!
Don't want to see your new toy go up in smoke.

Dave
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:24 am    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Thank you for all your kind responses guys! We sure do appreciate it. I’ll reply in greater detail later but for now, the story of Freddie goes….

On September 5th, me and wifey and her daughter watched the movie Bohemian Rhapsody which completely changed our lives musically with regards to Queen and Freddie Mercury. That same day was the day the owner told us that he wanted to let us buy the vanagon. In a very strange twist of fate, Sept 5th just happens to be Freddie Mercury’s birthday.

There was no other name anywhere near as appropriate. Welcome to the family Freddie.

To celebrate, I made a batch of reflective stickers at work, from this image we found on google…

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https://youtu.be/TS5fVaTBpmU

That’s how Freddie came to be. He has already brought us peace and excitement.

Thanks guys.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 3:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

djkeev wrote:
Nice find!
If this is going to be used primarily for camping and day trips for just the two of you, you may find that center seat cumbersome.
Remove it and you've opened up a world of interior space alternatives!
Room to move around inside, room for ice chests, room for food, room for cooking and eating supplies, room for clothing, room for life on that rainy day when you're stuck in the Van, room for.........

Welcome to the group. This^^^^

Also if you lose the middle seat, keep an eye out for weekender swing up table. I use mine all the time. Note there in a stout and hard-to-remove hidden framing structure built deep inside the wall (connecting to the floor and the bottom of the window frame) that you will need to get to do it right. I also ditched my rear facing jump seat to maximize my usable floor area, using a camp chair there when needed.

Or do it DIY: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=8685419&highlight=#8685419

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 4:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

The Pilch wrote:


Of course, there's some things that need attention. The body, although mostly solid, has a couple spots we need to repair, and as you can see in the pics, rock chips and paint peel all over the van. It also has a small power steering fluid leak from the rack...

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



welcome

i would probably go thru that van with a fine tooth comb and get those radius arm bushings replaced before they kill you.

seriously, ditch the gingerbread....air fresheners and bike racks and go over that van.

i wouldn't drive it around the block with those bushings and i'm willing to bet you will uncover all sorts of deferred maintenance.

that said, once you get it sorted you REALLY won't believe how nice they drive.

go over the mechanicals and get to enjoying it Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 4:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Great story!

I really appreciate the joy of having a vanbus in the driveway mines at a shop for the first time in a long time and my house looks sad without it.

Anyway good eye on the bushing skills I drove my van once not knowing the problem was my bushing had exited and it did indeed feel like it was trying to kill me. I found the bushing pretty easy to replace but the OP has some more rust than my van does.

So glad you’re keeping this van rolling!
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 8:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

sanchius wrote:
djkeev wrote:
Nice find!
If this is going to be used primarily for camping and day trips for just the two of you, you may find that center seat cumbersome.
Remove it and you've opened up a world of interior space alternatives!
Room to move around inside, room for ice chests, room for food, room for cooking and eating supplies, room for clothing, room for life on that rainy day when you're stuck in the Van, room for.........

Welcome to the group. This^^^^

Also if you lose the middle seat, keep an eye out for weekender swing up table. I use mine all the time. Note there in a stout and hard-to-remove hidden framing structure built deep inside the wall (connecting to the floor and the bottom of the window frame) that you will need to get to do it right. I also ditched my rear facing jump seat to maximize my usable floor area, using a camp chair there when needed.

Or do it DIY: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=8685419&highlight=#8685419

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This is really easy to do and inexpensive. The below pics show my table. It's a piece of ˝" plywood covered in JoAnn vinyl. There are two barrel bolts at the top corners which go into wire clips. It's supported by a dowel with a nail with the head cut off that goes into a blind hole in the underside of the ply. The other end of the dowel has a sharpened headless nail which engages in the carpet and so can't inadvertently be kicked out. To remove it you slide one of the barrel bolts back and then that side comes out. You then slide the table away from the other clip and done. 10 seconds. The dowel lives behind the table down near the carpet out of the way--not shown.

Ignore all the other mods. These were the only pics I could find which show it.

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Dave and others are right. Floor space is what it's all about. Set the double middle seat up in the garage and have a beer and sit in it while admiring your new beastie.

Have fun.

Duncan
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 6:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

This is all great advice fella's thank you! We are excited to get into fixing Freddie up the right way.

We love sharing Freddie with you and are grateful you all took the time to read and comment. Thank you!

With that, here's a quick off-topic set of photos, of some of the project VW's that have been in our lives...

65 Java Green bug:

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67 Bug custom resto:

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(wish I never sold this one)

73 Squareback rescue

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71 Bay repair and freshen:

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72 Bay repair, renovate, loved this bus:

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76 Bug chassis shortened in the hope of making a buggy. Got this far. Got divorced. Sold everything.

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BACK ON TOPIC!!!... as you can see, we are definitely not NOOBS, but our experience shows us that nobody knows everything, so we are SUPER GRATEFUL for everyones input, thanks again you guys are the best! We have already learned so much about Vanagons from these forums. We are probably going to do the table thing as suggested by djkeev and sanchius and Duncan, definitely doing fuel lines, and a full suspension overhall too. Oh, and I feel a shifter bushing kit in our future too.

All in good time, though, we need some bread (as John Muir calls cash) to move forward. We still don't have the title so Freddie can't go anywhere anyways.

Glad to make friends with you all!

Gary & Christina x


Last edited by The Pilch on Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 4:13 am    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

I totally get the funding concerns.

It is important to be ready for the road when the title arrives.

Besides the fuel lines there are things that can be made ready on a tight budget.

Front wheel bearings, if you are lucky it will cost you grease and two inner wheel seals.
You might want to consider springing for the Mercedes Benz front axle nuts instead of using the stupid VW dent the nut system.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=8518905


Rear wheel bearings. Again, grease and four wheel seals. A needle grease nozzle could be handy to have if you don’t remove them from the bearing carrier.

On both of these maintenance items you will get to inspect and repair the wheel brakes.

Next is CV joints. Not difficult but messy beyond belief!
Remove both axles and disassemble each CV joint. DO NOT MIX COMPONENTS OF CV’s WITH OTHER CV’s
But again for the price of grease and a roll of paper towels, it is done!
The need for boots or new boots will drive the price up, be picky about what boots you install, a lot of early failures on many boots.

Engine oil change, transaxle oil change, new belts, tune up bits…….

A lot of items to be done and can be done inexpensively to not only get you on the road, but more importantly……. get you home again.

Dave
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 5:58 am    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

Ah, the square back. Had two. Dead Red, the parts car and Mean Green the daily driver until the engine seized when the Mrs. lugged up a Vermont mountain on a really hot day. There is a lot to be said about air cooled as John Muir helped us non mechanics through that period. No throttle body, no idle speed control,, no closed loop issues and so on for several pages. I'll bet in all those cars the right window went up at the same speed as the left.

You are definitely a VW nut like most of the rest of us but perhaps a bit more serious about it. Can sympathize with the divorce, but you certainly have the right woman in your life now.

A rear bumper, some banging out of the tin and a rattle can paint job and you will have a beauty. Many would love to have your curtains.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:58 am    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

djkeev wrote:
I totally get the funding concerns.

It is important to be ready for the road when the title arrives.

Besides the fuel lines there are things that can be made ready on a tight budget.

Front wheel bearings, if you are lucky it will cost you grease and two inner wheel seals.
You might want to consider springing for the Mercedes Benz front axle nuts instead of using the stupid VW dent the nut system.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=8518905


Rear wheel bearings. Again, grease and four wheel seals. A needle grease nozzle could be handy to have if you don’t remove them from the bearing carrier.

On both of these maintenance items you will get to inspect and repair the wheel brakes.

Next is CV joints. Not difficult but messy beyond belief!
Remove both axles and disassemble each CV joint. DO NOT MIX COMPONENTS OF CV’s WITH OTHER CV’s
But again for the price of grease and a roll of paper towels, it is done!
The need for boots or new boots will drive the price up, be picky about what boots you install, a lot of early failures on many boots.

Engine oil change, transaxle oil change, new belts, tune up bits…….

A lot of items to be done and can be done inexpensively to not only get you on the road, but more importantly……. get you home again.

Dave


This is great Dave thank you. You’re right, most things can be done with a little time and a tight budget. The PO has done a few of the “must do” services and recorded it in our little booklet - suffice to say, I won’t just take his word for it, I’ll have a good gander at what’s there and make the decision upon sight. It’s great that you listed all this above, we can use it as a check-off list. Cheers man!! I want to replace all the coolant lines and replace what’s in there with non phosphate coolant too.
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The Pilch
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:07 am    Post subject: Re: Our '85 fix-up-and-enjoy Vanagon Reply with quote

DuncanS wrote:
Ah, the square back. Had two. Dead Red, the parts car and Mean Green the daily driver until the engine seized when the Mrs. lugged up a Vermont mountain on a really hot day. There is a lot to be said about air cooled as John Muir helped us non mechanics through that period. No throttle body, no idle speed control,, no closed loop issues and so on for several pages. I'll bet in all those cars the right window went up at the same speed as the left.

You are definitely a VW nut like most of the rest of us but perhaps a bit more serious about it. Can sympathize with the divorce, but you certainly have the right woman in your life now.

A rear bumper, some banging out of the tin and a rattle can paint job and you will have a beauty. Many would love to have your curtains.


Squareback are awesome, I agree. I really loved working on my Squareback. It was driving really good and was ready for paint when I came to selling it. I never finished it which I’m sad about but I guess these cars are never really ever finished. Im sorry to hear you had an engine seize in one of yours. Dang that hurts.

You’re right about the woman… she’s the kindest person I’ve ever met in my long 45 years of being alive. I’m blessed that she loves what I love and knows what I know.

The curtain shades are kinda cool, but totally exposing at night with a light on inside the van. They do a great job of blocking heat which is half the battle!

Thanks for your input Duncan we sure do appreciate you and everyone here.
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