Thursday, October 30, 2008

1980 vanagons!

Once again, my dad has come through with some interesting VW items. He sent me this Vanagon Camper brochure a few months ago. I find it interesting for 3 reasons.

1. The bus (van?) is actually starting to look like a RV at this point
2. The colors offered are awesome.
3. It's about the worst font choice you could make for a brochure now, but back then, it seems to work well.

As always, you can click on the images to make them bigger...

This is my favorite color combination:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

VW newspaper article from American Press in Louisiana... (part 2)

Here is another newspaper that the in-laws sent me. Apparently, they are doing a series about VWs in the local paper in Louisiana. Here is the one from a few weeks back.

You can click on the image of the newspaper to read it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vintage photo of an old splitty

I found this picture online and had to post it. I wish there was a way we could get this type of color in photos today.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

VWs getting a little respect...

I grew up with copies of Hemmings Motor News laying around. And there was a certain, snooty-ness to the magazine back in those days. Like people in Australia who were considering buying a Duesenberg were reading it. Of course, I read it as a very young person to see what the Mustangs were going for (before I knew better).

With that in mind, I was surprised and excited to see that they covered a VW event last month. Actually, they have been good about covering VWs for the last few years, but it's good to see a VW show getting some solid respect and coverage...

As always, you can click on the images to make them bigger...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mom and dad meet Big Blue...

With Big Blue still in the shop to have the engine overhauled, my parents were not able to go on a "beach run" as we would have liked. I did stop by The Garage with them to introduce them to an engine-less Big Blue (and talk to Marty, who is overseeing the repairs).

My dad is used to my enthusiasm for hunks of junk (ever since a bad investment in a 1970s-era "Space Age" camper that I bought in Chicago) and I think he was a little scared of what he might see. I believe his fears were calmed and he enjoyed meeting the bus that has taken EP and me on many adventures in our area of the nation... My mom fell in love with a little green bug from the mid-seventies that was parked at the shop. All was well...

Mom and dad and Big Blue.

EP hadn't seen Blue in a while, so she was happy to say hello as well.

Friday, October 24, 2008

VW toys!

I am not one to generally be drawn to collecting toys. They seem overpriced and, frankly, I don't know which are valuable and which are not. I passed up about 5 different VW toys the last time EP and I were at the Alameda Antique Show and I didn't really regret it. But I came across this guy last week while my parents were here and just fell in love with it...

The EMPI Love Bug at the antique shop.

I bought it and took it home and it turns out that there were about 500 of these produced and they were given to the EMPI distributors. The bug is supposed to be a 1970 modeled after the Inch Pincher, a famous VW drag car put together by the fellas at EMPI.

It is supposed to light up and move (I think), but I put batteries in and nothing happened. Great! Another project...

Notice the "7" and the "o" worked into the paint job.

So, while I was at it, later that day, at a different antique shop, I saw this and figured I had to have it. It's made by Tekno of Denmark from early 1960s.

Note that the bumper is broken.

They will take their place above my work desk next to this cool toy PJAlau gave me. Mmmm.... Perhaps I am drawn to toys.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little Blue on Google's Street View

Little Blue at the previous owner's house on street view.

I am obsessed with Google Maps, especially now that there is the "street view" option. I had a thought the other day, that I had never looked up the address we bought Little Blue at. So I did and sure enough, there she was! Sitting waiting for us to find it in Cupertino!

Just because I think it hilarious, and has something to do with this post because it is a VW and it's on street view, I had to post a picture of the all-time classic street view VW shot...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My dad meeting Little Blue...

My parents were in town last week for the first time since we bought the bus and the bug. Here is a picture of my father meeting Little Blue.

Monday, October 20, 2008

VW Bus crossovers...

After seeing a Vanagon with a BMW grill (see it here) last week, and seeing this bus on the street yesterday, I am beginning to wonder that perhaps VW had some help with their production in the 80s...

Auto Union Vanagon

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A visit from Valentina.

Valentina arriving in Petaluma.

On Thursday night, we had a visit from Valentina and Valentina's driver, Marc. For those of you unfamiliar, Marc and his girlfriend, Eliana (who stayed at a friend's in the East Bay since she was not feeling well), have been traveling America for the past four months in their 1978 VW Westy, Valentina, which they bought on Valentine's Day last spring. After about 2 months of work, they set out from Florida, headed to Alaska, made it, and are now headed down the West Coast. An impressive journey to say the least. You can read about it here.

I caught up with Marc from a thread on and from when they visited Ludwig and Ludwig's family en route. I sent an email offering a place to sleep and clean up if needed when they were coming down through the San Francisco area. It worked out that, most of all, Marc needed some space to work and a timing light. Since I have done the timing a few times on my VWs, I offered help.

Valentina has been having a history of trouble with lurching while at the top of the RPMs in each gear. A symptom many followers suspect has something to do with the advance on the distributor. After a good cleaning in Seattle, the bus was able to go a while without trouble, but soon the problem returned. Marc and I were to clean the distributor in the hopes that the problem was dirt deeper in the mechanism. After that, reinstall the distributor, set the timing and off he'd go. Should be easy...

Marc showed up in the afternoon and we got started pretty quickly, moving Valentina around to in front of the neighbor's garage and pulling the distributor out. This was my first time working on the later-style engine, so things were pretty unfamiliar (especially the fuel injection part of the set up) but very interesting. Valentina's a full 11 years newer than Big Blue, and while many things are the same, almost everything is slightly different.

Marc getting the distributor out.

The cool thing about an engine hatch is that it makes for an interesting, "from the engine's view" perspective.

Marc, working in my "office" on his distributor.

The beast in question. Notice the Pertronix in place of the traditional points.

We cleaned the distributor as best we could without taking the entire thing apart. Marc has a Pertronix installed, and we got down to the point where the next step would have been taking the Pertronix piece off the shaft of the distributor (the black, round piece on the shaft in the photo above). We stopped there, giving the dizzy a dousing of cleaner (which, really, did not seem that dirty) and then put lubrication in. We checked the vacuum advance which seemed to be fine and checked the mechanical advance and everything seemed to work fine. I also took 2 of the 3 sections of vacuum tube off and checked them for leaks and blockage and they seemed to be fine. The vacuum system seemed really odd to me (to have a T joint in a vacuum line, see photo below) but I referenced the Bentley manual and it's correct.

An odd t-joint in the vacuum line.

The tools used in the cleaning and lubrication.

After some problems getting the distributor to set back in correctly (during this procedure, Marc actually got shocked. I'm not sure how), we finally got it in and then went to set the timing. We hooked up the timing light, turned the engine to fire the #1 plug, turned the key on, and the light stayed on the entire time (it should only come on at the point in the rotation that the plug would fire, thus you would get the light "coming on" at a point, vs what we were getting).

Knowing this was wrong, we walked through the steps and then, after about 15 minutes, Marc and I broke through a little bit of a communication barrier. The entire time he was referring to a timing light, he was talking about a strobe light. I was thinking he was talking about a static timing light (a test light) (to tell the entire story here, at this point my dad agreed with Marc that I am using a "testing light" and that a "timing light" is a strobe light.) Potato, potato. Anyway, my garage is void of a strobe light. I haven't set the timing on a car that way since timing my 1971 Toyota Landcruiser back in high school.

And, it seemed, there was no way to use a static timing light with the Pertronix installed. We broke for a rushed dinner (thanks again, EP!), sent out a urgent call for ideas on TheSamba, Marc made a call to the driver of Ludwig, who suggested using the strobe, and then we took Little Blue down to the Kragen and found the cheapest strobe they had.

Marc in Little Blue.

Marc at our local Kragen.

The tool we need!

Back home and working in the dark now, Marc fired up Valentina while I held the strobe light and adjusted the distributor so his marks matched. It's amazing how quick and easy it is to do something when you have the correct tool. Hook up the strobe, turn on the bus, twist the distributor. With the timing set and the distributor tightened, we took Valentina out on a shake down run. Marc ran her through the gears, backing off a higher gear to put Valentina in the top of each lower gear and the bucking problem existed no more. We checked the timing again after the run and all seemed fine. Job done.

It was good to met Marc and I was happy to have a chance to learn some things about the later VW engines. After getting everything done, we sat down in the garage for another 45 minutes and talked about VWs and travels and what not. It was good to meet him and I wish him and Eliana safe travels. It's a good bus and I hope the worst of the road problems are behind them.

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