Monday, November 30, 2009

Rear Shock Weld

Most of my repairs have been cosmetic, or easily functional:
-Fuel Pump
-Seat Covers
-Steering Wheel
-Pop Top

All involved simple tools and an obvious process of remove-replace.

Not this time.

A couple of months ago I noticed a small rattle in the rear passenger area. I emptied the closet, tightened things down, checked the roof rack, checked the bolts on the CV joints. Nothing. Then I looked at the shock absorber and noticed that it moved far more than it should.

The shock is held in by a bolt that screws into a welded nut on the back side of the mount, the mount is welded onto one of the long support beams that make up the bus frame. There isn't much room to re-weld that little piece, so the best thing to do was to (eeep!) cut the shock mount off and place the nut back in.

After careful sandblasting and beefing up the weld points (like so)

we added some extra steel strips for strength:

and now have a stronger shock absorber mount.

Bus no longer has that rattle, and the shock absorber actually does what it is designed to do - absorb shocks (as opposed to rattle around in a broken weld).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Fuel Pump Thing

I've been meaning to post this one for a while. So since I'm a little over amped on caffeine, here goes.

I went through four fuel pumps in less than four months. During that time, I found out far more about fuel pumps than I have ever wanted to know, but no matter - here's a short history, and a reason why you want to keep one on hand.

My first pump died after being installed 8 years ago. I was camping, and it just crapped out after so much use. It looked like this:

Fuel Pump #1

So I replaced it while camping - its very easy to do, two screws and two fuel lines. 10 mm bolts and a screw driver. Easy. Less than a month later, it died - apparently the spring installed on the interior was not aligned correctly and the return valve got locked shut by a spring that wouldn't move. I didn't find that out till later.

It looked like this:
Fuel Pump #2

I was near a VW shop when my second fuel pump died, so I replaced it with a used one that came with no promises, and no expectations. It died on the way home from another camp out less than three weeks later. This time I had a replacement that I was expecting to put one when I got home - and here is where I start the cautionary tale.

The fuel pump died on the freeway, I was able to pull over to a safe place and open the engine compartment. As I was removing the fuel lines and clamping them. This piece fell out:

Fuel Pump #3

It fell, I didn't pull on it, it just... dropped. So let's think about that for a moment. If it didn't die, the piece would have just eventually fallen out - giving me the opportunity to make the most of my insurance plan.

I replaced it with another one that looks like my first one(see Number 1 above), but with a few modifications...

So let's walk through fuel pumps. There are three types as show here:

Top to bottom, the three types are post 1971, pre-1971 single-carb (the one in the picture is a cheap copy) and pre-1971 dual carb.
Almost all the fuel pumps these days are made by Brosol - run by two brothers in Brazil, they are the only game in town and to be honest, they don't give a crap about quality (according to three suppliers that I know).

Let's ignore the fact that I don't want an electric fuel pump, move on.

The pre-1971 pumps have more moving parts, they can be repaired, and the repair kits are almost as expensive as the pump itself. See here:

The post 1971 (the brass colored ones) have fewer moving parts, can't be repaired, and don't have the option of a part falling off and allowing fuel to spray all over the inside of a hot engine compartment. Based on that fact alone, I'm going to reccommend that you stick with these "newer' ones.

However: The Brosol company has decided to go even cheaper and the metal pump levers (the single most important moving part) with plastic ones. They break, at random, sometimes before they get out of the mechanics garage. If you buy one, inspect the lever at the bottom. If it is plastic, you have two options - find a metal one, or replace it with your old metal one.

To replace it, you need to hammer out the pin, hammer in the new pin, and then find a way to secure the pin since (sigh) the Brosol company has also decided to remove the extra pin space that was used to allow a circlip to hold the pin in place.

I'd take more pictures to explain further, but I think you get the point.

Here's my best tip - keep a spare fuel pump on you.

Good luck.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Hallows Eve impromptu campout

I got an email from Melissa who wants to scope out a camp ground for our next VW gathering. Its at Bothe Napa State Park, and she isn't too interested in giving out candy to hordes of children, so she's off for a recon mission.

There's nothing else going on, and I like driving through wine country in the autumn, so I pack up, head north, and despite the bay bridge being borken, I'm there in less than two hours.

Joe arrives. He's dressed like this:

It's a short night before, we have a bottle or two of wine, and go to sleep under an almost full moon that turns the tress into a shilouette.

The next morning, Joe leaves early for work, and Melissa and I walk around the campground on fallen leaves, listening to peregrine falcons and hawks battle for vocal supremacy of the trees. The falcons sound like they are winning. The woodpeckers are knocking making for a fun morning symphony.

One more cup of coffee and I'm packed up to go from a perfectly framed site.

The neighbors in the site next door were silent.

It's a short drive to St. Helena through an archway of trees and wine leaves.

And I arrive home in less than two hours. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

Notes about the campground:
-Expensive - $38.00 per site. Damn California state budget.
-Hot showers, porcelin.
-Sites 1-15 can hear the road, but its a slow road, so the noise is barely audible.
-Excellent way to go wine tasting. Camp out, eat breakfast, clean up, hit the wineries at 10:00 am when they open.
-No one there this time of year.
-Chilly, bring gloves and a hat and firewood.

Monday, October 26, 2009

SFgate photos

The Bay Area is filled with VW's, bugs, busses, things, rarities. I suspect that it is only appropriate that this photo set appears at SFgate- the Hearst-owned online arm of the SF Chronicle.

Jason Rehms bus is there, as are several cute bugs.

Granted, there is nothing like the flikr sets available, the bay window one is my favorite, of course, but the general Bus one isn't bad either.

Unrelated: in the neighborhood that I live in, there seems to be a bus on every other corner. I live here, Karl lives here, there's a younger couple that just bought a 1971 adventure wagon. And across the park in the other district, there is one on every block. Eurovans, Syncros, even a couple type 5's. Someone has the Hobie edition bus out by the zoo, and there is another 1970 like mine near 43rd and Noriega.

Anyone up for an east-end bus gathering?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Del valle Campout

Its been a while since my last posting. To be honest, I've been pretty busy with work, but I found some time to go camping this weekend.
Short summary: 8 Busses and one baja bug, 14 bottles of wine, one set of adjusted brakes, one relocation of a fuel pump, one window replacement, and one new camper among us. (Hi Jen with one "n"!)

It starting to get cold, so camping season is weeding out the weak. Those of us with fireplace skills and big tents will be fine.

Johns tent, and Joe and Dick's busses. Gives you an idea of just how big that thing is.

Regis's bus, while Romy and Aaron relocate a fuel pump.

A few more here

Del Valle is great as it is close to the Bay Area, and less than a 2 hour drive for most people attending. One of the kids caught a rainbow trout, the girlscouts camping on the opposite side of the campground went around in costume, and the proximity meant that if we needed anything at the last minute, it wouldn't be difficult to get.

Next one will be on November 20-22 in Bothe Napa.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sacramento Bug O Rama

The longest running bug show in the US is in Sacramento. It's a labor day event (who thought that was a good idea) and includes drag races, and a pretty big vendor area.

I was able to find a few parts that I was missing, and some replacement parts that I wanted.

As usual, Bay Window buses were underrepresented, but there were a couple.

Pics say it all, they are here

Some of my favorites:
Usually the Adventure top makes the Bus look huge, but when compared to other vehicles, it can look almost petite.


Nice Rat rod, I'll post more on this one later.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That Short Bus

It's a piece of art and expression, assuming that you want it to be. There is a reason that the typical depiction of the Bus has the Peace/Love flowery things all over it -there is a big wide canvas on those panels that lets its owner say what they want to say and move it to where they want to say it.

So there is this guy:

His website is here and it is marginally safe for work (he tattoos everywhere except neck and face, if you know what I mean...) Bill has a thing for weird cars.

I could go into great detail about it, but he has a website that says it all.

But in case you don't have time to surf, here are a few more.

Friday, August 21, 2009

That Gnome Van

... has rapidly risen up in the ranks of my flickr photos. And for good reason - it's just damn cool. When I was a child in the 1970's, the cool thing to have was a van with over the top airbrushed images, usually of partially clothed women, a sword of some sort, and if a lightning bolt could be slipped in somewhere, all the better. They were mostly Frank Frazetta inspired if I recall correctly.

Now, we associate overly painted vans with minimal windows with... well, shall we say "lesser elements" of society. But I still can't help but be amazed at this kind of attention to detail, and patience.

I know nothing about the owner, if he is here, please announce yourself and tell us a bit about your work of art.

Pics posted here for posterity.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vallejo Bus Fest

It's been a while since I had any time to do VW stuff. Travel and work have been killing me, and I've been trying fix a few things on the house. So I finally took some time to go to the Vallejo Bus fest and marvel a a few beauties.

The pics are all posted here, but a few to whet your appetite are here:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cassini Ranch Redux

I haven't been doing too much on the car recently as I have been focusing on some work issues. During my last flight to Seattle, I flew over California while the coast was not covered in fog and got this picture of the Russian River. Below you will see Cassini Ranch, Duncan Mills, and the Russian river as it ends at the Pacific.

Excellent place for a campout out if you ask me. :)

Click here for the full version.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lakeport VW show

You can go a lot of north in California before reaching not-California. And you have a lot of east-west room to do it. I-5 is a theoretical median that dissects the state tip to tail, until you reach LA, and then it's all coastal-ish.

But back to north. Head outside of San Francisco, and just a little east, and you start driving through wine-country. Napa, Sonoma, Alexander valley - all places of vines and vintages. Once you get out of wine country, you start to reach very dry and very hot areas of California.

People find all sorts of ways to stay cool up there, one of the most common ways is to live near a lake. There are a few lakes to chose from - Berryessa, Clearlake, and farther north there is Whiskeytown and Shasta.

The town of Lakeport sits right on Clearlake, and is home to about 5000 people. It has a cute main street with old pioneer style buildings, most of the old banks have been converted to antique shops or restaurants.

The Norcal Aircooled VW club hosts a show and campout there every year. I've never hung out with these guys, but hey, it's a VW show, and more importantly, a good excuse for a motorcycle ride. So Joe and I suit up last Saturday morning, get caffinated, and head the 100 or so miles to Lakeport to check out the scene.

We take 101 north for a full sprint, and once we reach the little town of Hopland, we turn right on 175 for one of the windiest roads in California. The views, when you have time to look at them are classically wine country.

It's 15 miles of twists and turns, signs that require trucks over 38 feet to turn around, manzanita, dry grass, and a feint hint of sage coming through the helmet. You don't notice too much on a motorcycle as you are paying attention to the road, but you do notice smells. This is the smell of my childhood in Redding, and I can't help but think of my grandparents and their old Studebaker Hawk. But back to Lakeport.

The NAG group has blocked off a one block area for the show. It's small, but not without a few gems. For instance, this pillow:

There's this splittie with the cool front bar, and the center headlight.

A hacked but nice bugtruck

This jeep-bug-kit-thing:

The ever-present peace bug:

This flawless convertible:

John La Torre was there, fresh back from Maupin, and representing as usual.

Here's a bumpersticker that pretty much says what I keep tryingto say, but the other driver can't hear me.

And finally, one of these things is not like the other:

The rest of the pictures are on my flickr site.

Joe and I do a quick walk through the town, and head out in mid afternoon. It's 101 degrees, and the hot air is seriously affecting our mood. An air-conditioned subway, and an afternoon starbucks keep us sane.

We get back to the bay area around 5:00pm, and the bay air drops the temperature by 15 degrees. One of the reasons I live here is the temperature is agreeable. My theory is that I can always put more clothes on, but I can't get more naked. cold is tolerable, heat is repressive.

I'll be camping with the wife next weekend - seriously looking forward to spending time with here along the coast. Happy driving. If anyone cares to join us, we'll be at Ocean Cove north of Jenner on Thursday and Friday.

Introducing, The Squirrel

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