Monday, August 31, 2009

Drive-by Shootings #6

On the 101 south of San Rafael, CA.

Morning Commute: Southbound on the 101.

Afternoon commute: north of Novato, CA.

Vanagon at Kirby Cove, near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Bus as hippie poster.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Charm of the VW Vanagon

Sometimes, the ho-hum reaction to the Vanagon, AKA the T3, is a little off-putting. They are welcome to Bay Window campouts around here, it seems, because the people are like-minded, and, frankly, there would be about 3 buses there if someone ever tried to organize a Bay Window-only campout.

I came into the VW world through the "Camping door", and my first experience camping in a VW prior owning to was in a Bay Window, so that was the reason we bought Big Blue (beyond his adventurous charm). We did not, in other words, understand the social stratification of the VW bus world, which goes something like this:

Note here, that according to my own quick social labeling, Big Blue falls 4th from the bottom.

But I think that those who put the Vanagon at the bottom of the list are missing the quiet charm of the vehicle. There is something about the early model before VW changed the grill (in 1986, I believe). And the color combinations that they offered represents the optimism of the 1980s. If the Bay Window was at home living in bright reds, yellows and lime greens in the 1970s, then the Vangon found itself with OP-like graphics, faux-wood sides, creamy yellows, and the deep brown of luxury.

And let's face it, The modern comforts of the Vanagon camper - even prior to going water-cooled mid-year in 1983, are obvious. They go faster down the road, have more space, are quieter, have speakers installed from factory, and, I would assume, street-camp with more stealth than a bay window.

When camping friends, uninterested in the "bus lifestyle" ask what I think about them getting a bus to camp in, I almost always tell them if they aren't worried about style, to go with a vanagon. But I think I am selling it short. Just because the Vanagon doesn't seem quite as raw an experience as the Bay Window, and certainly not as much as the Splitty, the Vanagon does have a style.

Perhaps, in due time, the Vanagon will be show it's true colors and come into the mainstream as a classic a little more. And maybe it will get the respect it deserve (and not be lumped into the the chat room on TheSamba with the lowly Eurovan!) I think they are full of charm and personality. Not to mention, it's fun to say. Van-a-gon. Say it!

I'll take this one, please:

For some Vanagon Stories, check these out:
Post at Amy's Garage

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bugorama 64 is September 6th, 2009

Really? Do you have to show a drag car?

Honestly - while I love seeing all the VWs and get all tingly when I am in the parts area of Bugorama - there are some parts of this twice-a-year Sacramento, CA show that aren't part of my scene.

The racing, while interesting, is fun for about 20 minutes. And while I respect the racers and their machines, I still think it would be fantastic to watch 2 stock 1954 bugs race each other down the strip instead.

And my ultimate problem is that it falls on the Sunday of Labor Day. Why on earth it's that day is beyond me. Labor Day weekend allows us that one extra day to enjoy places like Petrolia or Big Sur - not a drag strip outside Sacramento.

Paul tells me I am missing the best part, which is to go up on Saturday and camp out. I guess that would be fun. But I'm not sure I'll ever be in a position to not use Labor Day weekend for a extended camping trip. It marks the beginning of the camping season, after all.

Here is the website for those of you interested: Click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vintage Tuesday! - Man and his son and his Porsche

Man and his son and his Porsche.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Online Carburetor gets a new look...

EP is like a CMS html wizard - and I was inspired to re-do the site a little since she understands all this stuff. My goal is to make the info for Bus City a little more clear - and give people a chance to have access to a calendar of events. Hang with me as I clean it up and figure it out over the next few days.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

PJ Alau's Bus City Photos from Flickr

Please join us May 21st through the 23rd, 2010 for Bus City 2010.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Best Facebook icon ever...

From my friend, Static...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vintage Tuesday! - Bug going to the show.

Bug going to the show.

Monday, August 17, 2009

March 2008, Automobile Magazine - Bay Window Bus!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ideas on summer camping ... Little Blue getting hit! ... Carpet failure and new wood getting close to done ...

Bus City 1967.

I have talked very little here about Little Blue and Big Blue lately. The truth is, we seem to have gotten into the pattern over the last 2 summers, of NOT camping very often.

First of all, reservations are harder than they in the off-season, which is hard enough.

Second thing is that it's hot - like melt vinyl records on your back seat hot - everywhere except the coast, which is exactly where everyone with children head. Don't get me wrong (Regis), I love kids. And when we have them, we will head to the coast during the summer camping season like everyone else. But for now, EP and I use camping to kick back, relax, and enjoy some wine among the quiet - oh so delightfully quiet - outdoors. The exception of course, is camping with the VWs in the area. Then, we appreciate the chaos. But, I digress...

Third thing is I have been crazy - out-of-my-mind-get-home-at-11-at-night crazy at work. We have actually cancelled a few camping trips this summer (and a WILCO concert) due to work. So there's that...

Not to say we haven't been camping here and there. We have been making the journey to some of the more remote places in the '08 Camry and a tent.

So I used some of the downtime for 2 things.

The first was to take Little Blue to Paul at Valley Wagonworks for a check-in / tune-up. Little Blue had gone nearly 11,000 miles since purchase and any real attention other than oil changes and valve adjustment that I did. It turned out there there wasn't anything wrong with Little Blue - new brake pads on the rear, new spark plugs and Paul even took it upon himself to fix the horn - which now works above 30 mph, but not below (???).

We tried to get it aligned because, if I really crank the wheel when parallel parking, there is a slight rub of the tire hitting the inside of the frame. As it turns out, Little Blue was hit! It's almost impossible to tell how or when, but that is what the alignment guy said. At some point Little Blue was hit in the front passenger side. He was able to align it pretty close, but not completely. This may explain the slight crookedness of Little Blue's front bumper...

Little Blue's alignment chart.

While Little Blue was at Paul's, I decided to pay some attention to Big Blue. You may remember that in January (which seems like yesterday), I pulled out the old floor and put a new floor down. Cool carpet, we thought, but it didn't last very long. By Bus City in May, it was coming apart and by mid-summer, the gaps in the carpet squares were way too much:

Carpet failure.

My idea was to get similar carpet from a carpet store - just one big piece instead of the tiles. I tried a place right down the street and it turns out what we want - sisal - is damn expensive. The guy quoted me $600. For 25 square feet. I told him that was 1/3 of what I paid for the bus.

Soooo. We won't be doing that. Not sure what we are going to do. I'm really out of ideas for the moment. But, to keep it going, I decided to keep going on some of the wood replacement.

First up was the panel on the sliding door. Old and rotted, some mildew on the edges...

The old one makes a fine template for...

the new one!

I also wanted to replace the old seat that faces backward behind the driver's seat. The wood was crappy wood and was starting to lose its tight box-like quality. So I made a replica using the old pieces...

And it went in perfectly...

Once I made sure it went it, I took it back out to put the birch "veneer" on...

The Baltic Birch "veneer".

I don't have a picture of the birch done yet, but it is and I must say, it looks good. Really, all I have is the door panels left and all the wood will be replaced (at that point, I'll take everything back out to stain and seal).

Another thing I did - and this is a response to Ludwig's post about keeping the bus clean, and Peter's post about his steering wheel - is I removed the old, leather steering wheel cover. Believe me, it hurt me to do so. Not to sound too odd here, but that piece gave Big Blue a connection to his past, and I wanted to keep it in, but honestly, it was so tired and tattered that it was the shabbiest thing in the cab of the bus. So, with as much fanfare as one can muster while one is alone working on one's auto, I gracefully removed the cover and apologized to Blue...

Steering wheel wrap was looking shabby...

The old steering wrap. Ah, if old pieces of leather could talk...

Wheel uncovered. (You can peek at the wood kick panels as well).

So that's where we are at on the VWs. Little Blue is back and running great. Big Blue is at Paul's getting a new tie-rod (more on that to come). We are a few hours of cutting wood (the doors) from putting in speakers. And speakers mean music. And music, will open up a whole new chapter in Big Blue travel fun!

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