1977 Campmobile The Sage on 21 Jul 2014
The Project The Sage on 22 Sep 2012
We are in.
VW Sage now owns real estate.
I have yet to build a loft, there isn’t any heat, but all my VW’s are safely in the new building and I am ready to move projects forward. I have welding, painting, and the engine building stations build.
We are planning to build the loft in October, then we insulate the workshop and vola! we are in business.
This is a crazy dream, and one that I keep dumping money and energy into.
With this move I can finish Mrs. Sage’s Squareback, and get the panel 64 camper back on the road.
I ripped open my ankle today on a transmission. Damn, it feels good to be back at it.
The Project The Sage on 15 Jul 2012
Since I began messing with VW’s in 2006 I have paid $10,800 in rent. This reflects payments for over 6 years. I enjoy this hobby, but to not be accruing equity is foolish. So I have purchased a 30 x 40 pole barn and modified it for storage and my hobby.
It will be pretty nice; a heated work area, plenty of storage in a loft I am going to build. When you start to look at this idea, it seems like a great way keep things going.
I am moving all of the stuff in this week. More photos to come.
The Project The Sage on 10 Jun 2012
I’ve been gone a long time. Allow me to explain; I have children. Getting greasy with bruised knuckles and bloody arms is really fun and all, but kids in order to brew properly, need attention.So, what’s been happening in the last two year? The best short explanation: Chat and Facebook. If you are a frequent user of The Samba, you will know that I am on the site daily, and often in the Chat. If you have come into Chat for help with your VW, sorry, we tend to be impolite.Chat is where I met many of the people I know from The Samba. But since Russ Wolfe past away, I haven’t been in there as often. Facebook is getting boring these days too.
So it was time to jump start the hobby. The best way to do this is stabilize my facility and build a more permanent shop. To do this I bought a building. It’s not sexy, but it’s a great size and it’s big enough to house my buses and other VW’s,
So I move my stuff this month, and I get the hobby back on track. The next project is to finish the 64 Camper. I have the body and paint work secured. I am reworking the engine, and now it’s a matter of putting everything back together.
It feels good to be back in my coveralls getting greasy.
The Project The Sage on 04 Jun 2012
I’ve been thinking about the desert. Somewhere in me is a bit of recluse, and it’s ready to burst out. So I posted this on The Samba:
My fellow Sambanistas: I would love your input. I live in a beautiful part of the world, but it has lots of water. Lakes, Rain, Snow etc…
I want to spend a week in the desert here in the US. Can someone give me an off the beaten path place where an old dude can just sit and read some books in the sun?
* I need to eat
* I need to be able to park the bus without hassle
* I would like it to be pretty quiet
* I need a bathroom and a shower
Your thoughts on a cool memorable place would offer you karma beyond imagination.
After a few pages, I get this response:
I don’t know of a desert place off the beaten path where you’ll have a restaurant, bath and shower, except the following.
I made 33 trips to Death Valley before I quit counting. The first one was in July, 1970. I recommend you visit Furnace Creek Ranch. Try to nab one of the few shaded sites at the south end of the visitor center campground nearest the park HQ. The Ranch has a grocery store, restaurant, gas, and showers are available for a small fee at the pool. There are also showers among some cabins south of the store et al. Poke around and you’ll find them. I’ve used them without challenge. The date palm grove near the cmpgnd has a ditch with flowing water around it. I used to go over after dark with my army shovel, scoop out the ditch so I could immerse my dusty body. Please use biodegradeable soap.
Pick up a map of the valley at your AAA office. If you’re not a member, I suggest you join before taking a VW bus into the Valley of Death. Also take extra gas. Fuel is expensive at the Furnace Creek station. I took two 2 ½ gal. cans of gas and planned refueling stops over in Beatty.
You say you want to sit and read, so I’m assuming you’re probably not interested in driving the long dusty road to The Racetrack where rocks move across the dry lake playa. But, please don’t miss the ballet skits performed by Marta Becket at the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley Junction. This gal is a oner! Ask at park HQ for her schedule. Go over early and stroll around the old borax company buildings. It wouldn’t be right if you didn’t also drive down to Badwater, the lowest spot in the Western Hemisphere at -282 ft.
Always be alert for sidewinders.
Take at least five gal. of water in your bus when you’re traveling in desert areas. Drink fluids often, even though you don’t feel thirsty. With ten percent humidity and high heat, you don’t realize how much water you’re losing.
Several of the options that were recommended to me seem pretty cool. Fall is the best time to go. October is traditionally the time when I take a Sabbatical, so this might be the trip. I’d like it to be in the 64 camper. There’s lots to do before we are ready to take that journey.
The Project The Sage on 03 Feb 2011
This is the story about chasing a dream. Not some perfect dream, more like a short sighted dream. In June of 1993 I bought my first VW Bus. In January 2006 I bought my second. One year later, I have owned over 20 VW’s and I am wondering what went wrong.
This is a story dedicated to any fool who was willing to work hard for something that was so stupid, the people you tell about it don’t just laugh at you, they looked worried and stop sending their kids over to play with yours.
Welcome and enjoy,
The Project The Sage on 07 May 2009
It’s one of those horror story situations…
In corner A we have Mike, who has two 79 Westy buses, one with a good 2.0 liter engine, but a so so body, the other; a mint condition Champagne edition, with a crappy 1.8 liter engine with no tin or compression.
The task seems straight forward: Swap the engines.
The Deal: Pull both engines, upgrade the heads, replace the cylinders, rings and pistons, replace the shocks, replace the accelerator cable.
Compensation: The other 79 Westy with a 1.8 liter engine in it, signed title and keys.
The Cast: Mike; The nice guy with a desire to get his bus on the road. Nameless X; The buddy who has been wanting a bus for a while now, and has “skills”. Sage; The idealistic jump before you look champion from 2005 – 2008 consecutively.
The stage: We have excellent working conditions, an old mechanic’s shop with tools lighting and a concrete floor.
Thursday May 7, 2009 10:30am X and I arrive to look at the tasks. Seems straight forward. I have the tremendously valuable Engine Removal in 20 Steps by Ratwell.com ready to go. We review the steps and start in on the OK bus. The 20 steps in engine removal mostly entails the wires, and fuel lines and FI systems. The three last steps include the 4 engine to transmission bolts, and the rear bracket.
We are slow to start; finding the right tools, developing a rhythm and breaking the rusty nuts and bolts takes time. The rear cradle and engine support bar take forever. This is the point that swearing begins.
2:00pm Engine one is free and on a dolly. It is fairly rough looking, but it is free from the body.
As we start on the second engine; the one in the really nice bus, we take care to make sure we are gentle and use plenty of towels so nothing gets scratched. We determine that we do not have enough clamps to close off the gas lines. X is tasked to acquire some from the local Menards. I go to work with steps 1 – 15 of the Ratwell guide. X returns as we approach the bolt removal steps. The only items left on the task sheet are the removal and clamping of the fuel lines, and the disconnect of the throttle linkage (which is vastly different from the manual version of the late bay bus).
I work on the driver side, since we are replacing all the fuel lines, I use the clamp and cut method of fuel line separation. My work is done, X is under the the bus taking forever to remove the fuel return line. More swearing, but to use such language in such a simple removal exercise is really unnecessary.
I am taking the moment in the entry to discuss safety. Since beginning this project, I have dented my car twice, had my trailer detach once, and had some minor bumps and bruises. No serious injuries have occurred. I wear safety glasses, face shield, work gloves and other things that keep me safe. Another safety tool I have is something that stops me mere moments before something really stupid happens. Call it one of the little voices in my head. I have never been to the ER thanks to a Volkswagen project.
At this moment, as I am napping, sorting tools and generally getting impatient with X’s inability to pull a rubber hose off a metal tube, when all of a sudden he dashes out from under the bus, starts swearing more violently, and rips off his safety glasses.
“Fuck” he summarizes “I have gas in my ear”
Immediately, he runs out of the building, and I quickly follow him. My first thought was man, he really knows how to yell. My second thought was to flush the gas out of his ear. We start with a series of flushes from my drink bottle, but this doesn’t seem to have too much effect; so much for Artesian Spring water. My third thought was that it was time to get him to the ER.
We get in his truck and race the 7 miles into Traverse City, all the while he is banging his leg up and down like the drummer in an eighties hair band. I can tell he has real pain, he has his head tilted sideways. Being thoughtful, I start yelling out landmarks along the way. If it doesn’t provide a sense of hope, it should provide a mild enough annoyance that he is distracted from his flaming ear.
Suddenly he picks up his phone and starts dialing. Now I know I enjoy a meager social life, if I wanted to call someone at 3 on a Wednesday, there isn’t anyone I would know to call. If I had gas in my ear making social calls wouldn’t be on the list of things to be doing.
“Doctor X please” pauses, while his foot keeps thumping the floor pan. “Hey, it’s X, I just got gas in my ear, and I am on the way to the ER” another pause “I’ll be there shortly”. This guy must visit the ER often. He has memorized the staff and phone numbers…
Traffic is heavy, but with a little weaving we arrive in an efficient manor. We get him checked in, I look like a complete freak, with grease and dirt just about everywhere. I help him with the little forms, and he is told to take a seat.
It then occurs to me that he hadn’t taken the time, while the gas was sizzling in his ear, to actually clamp the gas line. I immediately leave the hospital and head back to the work space, fully expecting to see large clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky from the general direction. There isn’t, and when I get back a slow but steady stream of gas is creating a pool on the floor in the shop. In the center of the vapor lake is the shop light.
Step 1: Unplug
Step 2: Remove light from gas
Step 3: Move the bus
Step 4: Stop the leak
Step 5: Soak up the gas
When the immediacy of the situation comes to a close, I think to call Mrs. Sage to discuss the goings on. She of course already knows, and proceeds to lecture me about things I didn’t do.
X calls me about 4 O’clock. He wants to go back to work on the buses. I tell him that one visit to the ER per day is my limit, and that I will call back later. The doctor tells him to not smoke for a few days. Sage advice.
(More on the project later…)
Road Trips The Sage on 22 Apr 2009
I first became aware of Brian when I received an e-mail from him a few years ago.
Hey Sage, I noticed that you aren’t to far away from me, are you going to the Lansing show? Let me know, my phone number is (616) XXX-XXXX.
I get to Lansing, the show is lame, but I give him a call. He’s at the show. Brian M is pretty chatty, and I don’t know what to think of him the first time we meet. He has a collection of barndoor parts that he bought and he is pleased.
A Barndoor bus is is the original design. Buses are broken down in this way: 1950- Mid 1955 are “Barndoor”
1956 – 1967 are “Split Window”
1968 – 1979 are “Bay Window”
1980 – 1984 are “Vanagons”
All VW’s after this are not consider as part of the vintage community because they have watercooled engines.
Barndoor owners are unique. They tend to have an ultimate respect for VW buses, because these vehicles are finicky, hard to find parts for and usually 3 – 5 times more expensive to purchase, even if they aren’t in good condition. To own one, you make a statement: “I am insane and have a lot of extra time”
Brian owns some of the oldest VW buses in the world. He loves the community very much, and knows more about Barndoors than just about anyone I have met (except the owner of TheSamba.com). I have been giving lip service to visiting him for a while now. On the way home from a recent road trip, I took the time to stop by.
Brian is single, and has a smaller well kept house in Holland Michigan. He greets me with a high energy smile. He’s about 6’2, and lanky, he talks fast. The first thing I notice is the Barndoor Ambulance in the driveway. He is working on it. At first glance, it is worse than my 23 project. The front has a lot of rust, the interior is stripped, there are dents and other things that often plague buses.
“This is the second oldest Ambulance that has been uncovered in the world” he says with a tone of pride. “I am getting it ready to drive to The Classic.”
The Classic is in Orange County California. That’s 2145 miles one way, if you take the direct route. This bus is hammered. I can’t imagine driving it 100 miles. Needless to say; Brian is hardcore.
He gives me the tour, talking about the over priced rear door he purchased in Japan, and some of the other parts he has to complete it. He will rebuild the engine and transmission for the trip.
When he is done showing me the ambulance, he opens the doors to his simple single bay garage. This is when he gets really excited.
“This is the oldest known truck”
Single cabs were not part of the original bus plan for VW. The VW bus was designed as a simple to operate vehicle to carry cargo. It’s design is genius, because these small trucks can carry more cargo than many full sized vans or station wagons. It was the brain child of a Dutch VW Dealer who drew the original design on a napkin. With the engine in the rear, and you sitting up front, it creates a large area in the middle, and a well balanced ride. In 1948 an 1948 VW experimented with the Type 2 design, and they went into production in 1950.
The single cab pick up is something they started to dabble with in 1952, and Brian’s is likely the second oldest survivor. He shows me all the parts he has been pain painstakingly collecting over years that will go into rebuilding this truck. A “B” pillar, and floor pan, the pick bed. All of it original, all of it not cheap.
We get done looking at his collection of stuff here, then he adds that the rest of his collection is at his storage unit. It’s raining hard, and I am done with looking at the two buses he has here, I suggest that we go to the storage unit. It’s a 15 minute drive, and when we arrive, it looks a lot like my barn; filled with parts and unusual stuff that he plans to use for trading or to help out other owners in the future. He also is paying a decent price for the space.
In here, he has a 52 logoed panel that he hopes to also put back together, plus one barndoor too wasted to restore, but it will be donated to getting the other three on the road.
It’s been a few good hours looking at the collection that many would covet, but few people in Michigan would understand. We have dinner and talk about Holland and how he managed to get to Holland Michigan. That’s another story for another blog.
I have been around vintage car collectors for a while. It is not unusual to see hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on a vintage car that is desirable. These are just like that. What makes the VW hobby so unique is that it is accessible to regular folks. Brian, one of the best collectors, is a machiner. He isn’t very wealthy, but he can be a major player. Most of the VW guys I have met are like this.
I don’t really want a Barndoor myself. To me my next project is all I really want…
Road Trips The Sage on 19 Apr 2009
TedFest was the brain child of a late night Chat room discussion. Teddy Bear is an old school cat who lives in Cincinnati Ohio, and has been around for a long time in the VW community. He’s been in the online community since the Type 2 List was all there was.
Online communities have taken on a different shape with Facebook, and blogs like this one. Time was that everyone would email each other questions about things, and 10 people would reply. This was how Type 2 List started, and Ted was a part of it. He still has a stack of email’s he printed out with good advice.
I met Ted on The Samba. Ted could always be found in the chat room, and he made idle time go faster. When I “Met” him at Everybus, we hit it off and hung out all weekend. Ted was selling Goldie, his mint 71 Westy, and was fairly somber about it. I had a good time having him show me around Everybus.
Last fall, I am on Samba Chat, and Ted starts tell me about the series of health problems he has coming. Heart surgery, possibly cancer, none of it good. He had also purchased a bug, and all these issues were complicating his hobby. Time passes…
Back to Chat in January, post surgery, Ted mentions he has a car load of old VW magazines he wants to get rid of. I have no interest, but one of the other online guys does. A weekend is established to drive from his home in Missouri to Cinci to get the magazines, and a moment of brilliance occurs.
“I need to come down too Ted”
“OK, everyone’s welcome” I don’t know if he really meant it or not, but it only takes one offer for most of us to drive hundreds of miles to sit on some guys couch for a weekend, so TedFest is born. I’d like to take credit for the name.
So my first road trip for 2009 is on…
The route includes one stop; Ed. Ed is a guy just about my age, who I met at Type 3 Invasion 2008. He is a career bachelor, and has an impressive collection of OG metal.
The plan for our trip is to take his newly acquired Porsche 911 Targa from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Cincinnati.
This car is sweet in so many ways. I’m like Ferris Buhler in the passenger seat, except I am much older. 1973 Porsche’s were built for the sole purpose of creating money for Porsche’s racing operation. Way over built, they have a unique blend heavy quality construction, but light weight fast sports car feel to them. Everything about Porsche is logical. I am glad that Porsche logic can be found in VW’s.
I get to Ed’s place at about 2pm on Friday April 16. We had planned to get to Cinci by 4, so we are a little late. We take no time transferring my pack and tools to the small bonnet and we are off. Ed decides to take US 27 through the countryside of Indiana. On a day that breaks 80, it was a fabulous idea. The drive takes us through a series of innocent small towns in Mid-West America. A bank, a grocery store, an auto parts store, and an occasional Wal Mart. People milling about in each.
When we get into Ohio we are practically into Cincinnati. We call Ted at his office and he directs us in. The group of Fest attendees is really a collection of fringe type malcontents. Ted is a Jeweler, Russ is a retired engineer from Des Moines, Rob works on Point of Sale machines on Long Island, Dave is a Federal Employee in Missouri, then there is Ed (who makes drug test kits) and myself. After a tour of Ted’s shop we are all ready for dinner. Traveling long distances often become cause for a meal, and Ted suggests a buffet.
I am not a fan of the buffet concept. Your goal is to cram as much food in so that you feel you are getting your money’s worth. The restaurants goal is to keep you filled up with bread and cheap filler foods. Some where in the middle, you are done eating. It was a straight forward blue collar place. I had roast beef and water.
We head to Ted’s house. It’s a really nice place, in a quiet part of town. Ed and I are staying at a hotel, while the rest are shacking in various locations around the house (lord help his wife).
Friday night is a time for what we call “Live Chat”. See, every one of us talk numerous times a week. It’s like sitting at a bar without the alcohol or the tab. Tonight it is real time face to face, and pure bullshit. Ed’s pouring Jack and Cokes, Russ, Dave, Ted, and Rob no longer drink. I feel that I must keep Ed company to be polite.
I don’t recall getting to the hotel on Friday night, but the staff is less pleasant to me on Saturday morning, and Ed is wondering where the Porsche is. By 9:30, the Porsche arrives, followed by Dave in his Jetta arrive.
I, as a rule, eat healthy. I travel a lot, and don’t enjoy being fat, so I eat Oatmeal for breakfast as a general rule. The rest of this crew sees a road trip as a means to go “crazy”… This means one thing to them Cracker Barrel . Here is a chain that makes the portly feel right at home. All those filler foods I avoided at the buffet? That’s all they serve here. Pigs are contorted in so many ways in this place, I don’t think they can be called meat any longer. We wander through the gift shop of crap (who puts a gift shop in a comfort food restaurant?) to our table. Any time a career waitress sees 5 nit wits like us be seated in her section, experience tells her a couple of things; this isn’t a simple turn, and I will probably not enjoy myself. She proceeds with delivering a marginal experience. The disappointment comes when I go to order my staple at this place, and they are out of it. How can a restaurant with this much hick in it be out of oatmeal?! I get french toast, without fruit, or whipped cream or cheese or bacon or other unnecessary things. We mail a signed menu to our friend Jon as always, this time certified mail.
I enjoy taking advantage of hospitality as much as the next guy, but Ted has been recently sick. Unbeknownounced to him, the rest of us planned to help him get his project back on track. He needed his engine pulled, and some light body work completed. The one thing everyone there knows is VW’s. We push the bug out of the garage. The engine is out in 22 minutes and stripped down in another 15. The fenders, nerf bars and other things that need addressing come out in a matter of 45 minutes.
All and all a rather productive Saturday. The rest of the day was excellent. Ted pulls out steaks, I manage to find some Bell’s Brown Ale at a beer store and we sit around and shoot the bull some more and look at all of Ted’s stuff. Dave loads all his magazines (the real reason for this endeavor least we forget). Ed and I leave at 11pm with Russ asleep in a chair, Dave already in bed, and Rob playing with his laptop.
Sunday finds us in a nice Omelette Shop, and on to the road home to Fort Wayne and finally Traverse City (with a visit at Brian’s place, but that is another story).
This hobby is something I have enjoyed growing into. 4 years ago I knew how to change oil and fill the gas tank. Now I can do almost anything (not always perfectly). The people who own VW’s are a breed apart I am learning. There is a common glue. I like hanging out with the old guys like Russ and Ted. There is a mutual respect for a common passion. I know if these people lived in my town, I probably would have the privilege to get to know them like I do. As I journey on the death side of 40, this has become a pleasant escape for me away from the social politics and daily reminders and confinement that a small town offers. I can wait until I am on the road again, and next time I will be in my completed Westy
The Project The Sage on 29 Jan 2009
This winter has been a tough one. The snow flew early and that curtails the time I can spend working on VW’s.
We had more snow in December than ever before. January hasn’t been any better. My kids are enjoying the snow days. The picture here show only what hit by mid December, double the height today.
I have focused on other things; work and getting my plans together for next year. 2009 will be the year of the great reduction.
I expect to be cleaned out of most of my non project VW stuff by July. The rest will go to anyone who wants it. I have started listing several things, but in some cases, they won’t be able to be delivered because every thing is snowed in.I have listed a 1963 Squareback for sale at The Samba. This car is once again a mess, and once again pretty rare. I don’t know why we have so many first model year cars up here, but we do.
I need to list a bunch of small parts too. They begin next week.
I have decided that what I really want is to restore the 23 window. The double Cab, and the other splits are cool, but it is time to follow my heart on this one.
It has been interesting to watch the effects of the economic melt down on the VW hobby. I am getting my finances more organized, but in general, my financial strata is unchanged. If anything, my phone is ringing off the hook more than last year. This will mean less time to work on VW’s. It does mean more money for the budget. If I cut it down to just the 23, I might figure out a way to save on rent, but the barn is still a deal and a half.
All this stems from a new interest I have; I want to hike across Michigan. It will be a 235 mile hike in all, using nothing but trails and forest roads. With the loss of Polar, it might be set back a while. I still miss him.
Last year I was glued to the VW forums, this year, not so much. I find myself posting garbage in the “Off Topic” on the Samba, much of which gets deleted.
Maybe this is the end of the chaos portion of some mid life crisis. Now all I have left is the work to get things done. I look at guys like Lou and think how cool it would be to spend the rest of my life just cruising around in a bus with Mrs. Sage. She won’t go for that, but it never hurts to ask.