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Category Archive1969 Westfalia



My big mouth.

In my previous post, I was complaining about going from a main seal replacement to a more robust renovation. Well… I am now $700 into the project, but the engine is in excellent condition.

Getting the bus back on the road was a bigger chore than I thought.

This is not the real SageChallenge One: I assemble the long block. This required tracing all the threads on the block, and taping out 3 that had snapped off screws in them. For the most part, the long block went together well. I learned how to install cylinders on the rings, the wrist pins went in without much trouble, and I torqued everything down. It was later discovered that I have forgotten the tin that goes between the pushrod tubes and the cylinders. It took an extra 67 minutes to pull the heads and install those. We noticed that the push rods were really straining on the rockers. I had to move the rockers back quite a bit.

Challenge two: Building up from the long block to the complete engine was pretty easy, but we installed a few things out of order, so when it was time to put the intake and carb on, we realized that the generator should have been the last thing to place. It also took some extra time to paint the tin, and sandblast everything clean.

Challenge three: Engine installation. This was the hardest part. Mostly because we had to fabricate so much stuff. I had removed the metal spacers from between the case and cylinders, which made the exhaust off set by 4 mm. Now we are trying to drill out cast iron… We got the holes opened up enough so the silencer fit the exhaust holes on the heads.

According to Russ Wolfe the 1969 bus is one of the hardest VW’s to reinstall the engine. It uses the4 bolt system like all older buses, but because it has the newer transmission, it requires a crossbrace at the rear of the engine. This leaves about 4 inches in which you have to work to install the engine, so that you are above the engine mount ears on the bus, yet below the engine area deck so you don’t scrap the tin. It took use 90 minutes to get everything in. Then I start hooking up the engine. I discover that the accelerator cable is lodged between the transmission bell housing and the engine, that I just finished bolting together. AHHHHHH SHIT. It took two hours to undo and redo the engine from the transmission again.

What I have learned: I learned that I must spend a few hours making exactly sure of what parts I need and order them all a once. I have learned to know how the tin goes together before starting to rebuild the engine. I have learned that the accerlator cable likes to be a pain in the ass. I have learned that you triple the time you think it should take, then double that. You should also do this with the cost. I have no learned to walk away from VW’s, and to answer Hazet’s question to me, I have not yet learned whether I’m stupid or an idiot, but I am leaning toward idiot.

Totals: Cost $690.77, Hours: 42, Blood: Less than a pint, Damage: Scratches on thumb, bump on head, grease embedded in hands.

Nothing is ever easy part 1332

This sucksIt was to be a simple day. An hour to remove the engine from the compartment, another to replace the throw out bearing and main seal. I even allowed an hour and a half for re-installation.

But simple days aren’t part of this adventure. No, this is a project when 3 wheels on a car that has been sitting for 30 years will spin easily…. Then the last is locked so tight, you have to melt the shoes off after cutting open the backplate with a torch.

This sucks So I pull the engine, it took twice the time thanks to the hack job someone did on securing the heater flaps to the cables. I get the engine out, and the main seal (the reason for this situation) was as dry as a bone. However, oil was leaking from the cylinders at the block, the cylinders at the heads, the intake manifold was leaking, as was the oil pump nuts…

In 5 minutes it went from a 3 and a half hour job, to two weeks, and $200. Now I am replacing every seal, the clutch, the oil cooler, and all the rusted out tin. Since I have the time, I am also having Keith in Houston redo the carb, which was monkeed with by Ebert March. Ebert isn’t worth mentioning much, except it always seems VW’s that have his magic touch, are available for sale, usually not running.

This sucks I have order the parts. Russ came into some Tin, Bus Depot helped me out of $137.50 and now I clean the engine, the compartment, and anything else I can access while I wait for everything to arrive… At least she will run like a clock when I get it back together.

Vic’s Bus

69 WestyTwo significant things happened in April of 1969. Likely the first thing was this Bus was manufactured in Wolfsburg. Later, I was born.

In August of 69 a young bookstore owner and his wife purchased this bus new from the dealer in Traverse City.

He took care of this bus. It carried he, has wife and child across the US down the coast of California, and the Trans Canada. To say there is a bit of Vic’s soul in this bus isn’t an understatement.

37 years pass. Trips to Canada, trips around Michigan and the mid-west. The bus lasted past leaving of his daughter to college and marriage, and grand children. It was there when his beloved wife pasted away.

When I started this project, a few people hear about it. Vic was one of them. These days, he drives a Euro Van Weekender. He has a new wife, and a son adopted from Guatemala who attends the same school that my kids do.

Vic isn’t a chatty guy, starting a conversation with him sometimes strikes me as an invasion of his privacy. But he is very nice, and he likes to talk about his bus.

I first asked about it a while ago. Just in passing. A hint was dropped about selling or buying, I don’t remember which, but after a few months I got up the nerve to ask about it.

“Joesph loves that bus, he wouldn’t want to see it go.” he says. OK

Then out of the blue, I see him and he starts the conversation.

“I want to see the bus, but I will only sell it to someone who knows how to fix it. It needs some work, and I wouldn’t want to sell it to someone who doesn’t know how to fix it.”

We talk, and after another six months, I show up to his house and we take a test drive. The bus pulls to the right, he uses a paint stick to keep it running while it warms up. The interior is emaculate, the exterior has been repainted, and it seems to have been done fairly well.

He is uneasy when I tell him I will buy the bus. The money and title are exchanged, and I am off to do some washing and polishing. Since purchasing it I

  • Rebuild the Brakes
  • Sandblasted and paint the wheels and bumper
  • Sandblast the frame and underbody and paint with Por15
  • Replace the hubcaps, and a number of other things
  • Fix the Oil Bath, breather tube and a number of other things in the engine area.
  • Re-weld the bumper brackets and repair the front valence.
  • Clean the interior

This happens all summer of 2007. In October, I decide I have been off the road too long and I need to do a road trip. The plan (outlined in another entry) is to drive out to Colorado, then back home via the Trans Canada Highway, a road this bus has driven before.

As a result of this trip I replaced the Distributor, wires, points, plugs and condenser. Now she has sprung a leak of oil somewhere…but it is a sweet bus.