Thursday, July 29, 2010

Big Blue's nose job - Part One

This project has been the subject of some debate. Nearly 2 years ago, I bought an entire front end of another bus. The idea has always been to completely swap front ends - the new front end taking place of the rusted hole-filled front end Big Blue sports now. Last October, in anticipation of the oncoming rainy season, I did a little bondo work on the front windshield frame. That doesn't look the best, but it kept the rain out and really cleaned up Blue's look.

Last week, when I used Big Blue as a daily driver, I realized the blue duct tape covering the holes left over from the spare mount didn't look so hot. So this week I busted out the bondo again and decided to finish the front end.

I'm no bondo expert, but I've done 2 rounds now and the sanding has gone well. I'm hoping for the best. I hope to finish it this weekend and get it primed and painted. If all goes well, I have a silver VW emblem just beggin' to get put back on there!

Looks like I'm going to have to find a new vent for the front:

Annnnd - What to do with the additional front end since I won't likely be using it to replace Big Blue's nose.... A bar perhaps?? DJ table? ... I'll add that to the list of projects.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some of Big Blue's friends...

Shalin's rig at the Oregon coast.

Katt's bus, Sweat Pea.

Big Blue is a friend of Xavier's bus.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vintage Tuesday! Bug at the campsite.

Bug at the campsite.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Super VW Magazine

This is the cover the VW magazine that I picked up on the recent trip to France - Super VW Magazine. Of course, it's all in French, but the magazine is really good. I'll try to scan some pictures from the inside eventually, but according to this, the VW world is alive and well in France!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hall of Shame: Bug-o-rama XVI

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kicking the cobwebs out of Big Blue...

I'm sad to admit it. This summer, our time in Big Blue seems to have slowed. We normally don't camp much in the summer anyway. Usually the crowds are too big and annoying. And usually, unless it's by the ocean, it's a hot ride in Big Blue.

We've used the bus some. We made 4 camping trips so far in 2010 in Big Blue and several daytrips. Also a few runs to pick up something too big for our car. But the time spent communicating with El Gordo Azul has been little lately.

We've been busy. The year started with a new job. We had a trip to Paris. And with EP being pregnant (can you see it in the photo above?) we have been doing life things like life insurance, a will, a trust, painting the nursery, having a garage sale, painting the nursery, figuring out maternity leave and painting the nursery and on and on. You get the picture. It's been a helluva busy time.

In the middle of all that, I organized Bus City 2010 which turned out awesome despite the campground's attempts to spoil it (we won't be going back).

When I find time to talk VW, I usually tried to do at least one heartfelt or personal entry here a week and then chat VWs on Big Blue's Facebook page. That has been fun - the Facebook page. So many fun and interesting bus folks to interact with and people love sharing their stories as much as I love hearing them.

But the best VW time - and the reason we have Big Blue - is for EP, Big Blue and me (and now "Q" who is minus 16 weeks from popping out) to gather up miles and experiences together. Blue provides the comfort of a backpack on wheels, EP provides the best company one could have for such an adventure and California provides the ever-changing diverse landscape. I've been a lot of places, but NorCal beats them all.

Last weekend, we decided to take Big Blue over to a little hot spring pool just north of Sonoma. When I got in, I found that the gas pedal was wrapped in cobwebs and the battery was dead. It hit me hard. Big Blue is a giant blue reminder of what life is about. And we have been so busy lately I started to forget that. And the reason it scares me a little is that's the exact thing I want to teach to "Q" when "the kid" comes into the world.

I jumped Big Blue and let it sit and warm up for a while. We made the trip to Sonoma. That's where the picture above is from. And it felt good to have the radio up and be cruising down the road at about 45 mph.

I decided to have Little Blue - our '63 bug - stand down for the week as a commuter. I filled Blue with gas and since Monday have put over 180 miles on him - 4-5 CDs worth of road time. It feels good. While grumpy on Monday morning, Blue has since warmed up, the brakes aren't squeaking from lack of use anymore and I've taken a mental lists of a few remaining projects to get going with Big Blue.

So here's what I'm thinking. I can't make any promises to Big Blue as things are just too up in the air right now. But soon, EP, Little Q and I are going to take you north, ol' Blue. Our favorite places along highway one. It will be Little Q's first trip up highway one. Let's show her (I'm pretty sure Q is a "her") what we dig about it. Let's show her why we camp in Big Blue in the first place. Let's show her what this whole thing is about.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

VW Bus as... harvest machine.

I pulled this image from an old Sunset Magazine guide to wine. It was published in the early 70s and had great early pictures of Napa Valley and other California wine areas back when they were family-run wineries. (most outside of Napa still are).

Anyway, this bus may still be running around the backroads of Gilroy. It's nice to think so...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vintage Tuesday: More reader submissions

These photos and stories were sent in by Carol Dykes. I really like these pictures and the stories attached. The white walls, the missing hubcap, the people in the pictures. Big thanks to Carol for sharing these with everyone. It's great to see the old VWs in their original world. The captions are Carol's - so enjoy the details!

Me, helping wash my mother's friend's brand new 59 or 60 VW.

Us on a picnic on a drive in the same car. Left to right, me, my brother, and my mother's friend.

My husband in his band uniform, circa 66-68.

My husband with his first car: 1959 in 1966, first boo boo. Neighbor's '64 Galaxy 500 backed out and hit him.

My mother in my brother's '60 bug. I learned to drive a stick on this car.

My brother and his '59 VW in 1969. He was 23 at the time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

VW bus in the back of the Patagonia catalog...

I always like to see how VWs turn up in old photos. This spring's Patagonia catalog featured photos from a book called, The Stone Masters, which is a great photo book about early rock climbers in 1970's California. Even if you don't dig the book or Patagonia, you have to love the early black plate bus lingering in the background of the photo below.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

From the Static Files: Frohes Reisen im VW-Kleinbus

Who wouldn't want one?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 1956 - Sports Car Illustrated - Vitality for the VW

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vintage Tuesday - Some Readers' Photos!

This is a photo of my family's 1970 Riviera camper van. The photo was taken in the fall of 1985 when my brother David and his best friend decorated the camper for homecoming. Yes, it did wash off!! Thank goodness! The van originally belonged to my grandfather who bought it new. I have it now, and it's awaiting restoration. Can hardly wait to get it back on the road! - Judith

I found this picture at my fiance's house a little while ago. This is her dad(on the left) her aunt (in the middle) and her uncle (on the right) all standing in front of her aunts old splittie. This picture was taken in 1970 in Bethesda, Maryland. - Thomas

This would have been taken in 1985--that's me leaning out of the passenger window (with the antennae covering half my face) and my dad leaning out the driver's window. -Maryn

Monday, July 12, 2010

I haven't read this. And I'm guessing I never will. Unless someone tells me I'm missing out. I found it and liked the bus in the background. And they roadtrip in a bus. On second thought, perhaps I will read it...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hall of Shame: Christmas in Hawaii - Outlaw buggy

Actually, I dig the bug in the picture, but once again VW Trends goes a little overboard with the model. WHy not just put a girl in jeans and a t-shirt?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The nephews are friends of Big Blue...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Facebook Fan of the Month: d'Ann from SoCal - July 2010


Big Blue's Facebook page, a place where we banter about VWs with good VW folks, has almost 1200 fans of VWs on there. I like it when we make it a little more friendly and get to know some of the people and their buses.

This month, I tracked down d'Ann from Southern California and she agreed to share the story of her bus, Herman, a 1976 Westy.

When and where did you get Herman?
My husband Frank and I have been wanting another VW bus/camper for a while so began looking around, including online: Samba and eBay. We found Herman on eBay in January 2010. We sent many emails back and forth, and many hours on the telephone with the sellers, Mike & Christy Smith (Washington). Mike and Christy were great, answering all our questions and sending hundreds of photographs of the bus, including photos of the entire painting process showing the great condition of the body. We didn’t take possession of him until the end of March 2010, as the seller finished a few “extras” for us. Herman originally came with Montana license plates.

Was Herman your first VW bus?
No. My husband Frank and I have known each other since high school. Our first bus (as a dating couple) was a thirteen-window 1967 split. We also had a 1968 Bay, and then in 1979 we bought a 1967 Westfalia split-window camper without an engine and used the engine from the 1968 bay. We fully restored our 1967 with new canvas on the pop-top, paint, and chromed the bumpers – it was our baby! The interior was in great shape, so it remained stock. We sold it due to a pending move to Upstate NY. Turns out we never moved, and our gorgeous little bus was gone forever. :o( We got busy raising children and didn’t own a bus for a number of years. In about 2006 my husband bought a 1961 single cab and is still busy restoring it. It’s “Gumby” green and white. I call him Gumby, but Frank doesn’t have a name for him.

Herman with d'Ann's husband's '61 single cab.

My husband and son (Michael) have been back into the VW scene here in SoCal for about the last 10 years. I wanted a bus of my own, so we started looking and found Herman! Even though Frank is Herman’s primary driver, Herman is my baby. On June 6, 2010, Herman won 1st place in the “Custom 68 -79” class at the VW Classic in Irvine. I couldn’t go that day, so when I heard that Herman won his first competition and I wasn’t there to see it, I felt stabbed in the heart, like I’d missed my child’s first steps!

Herman won 1st place in the “Custom 68 -79” class at the VW Classic in Irvine.

How did Herman get his name?
Before we took possession of our ’76 Westy, “he was a she” named Bernice. I believe she came with the name when Mike & Christy bought her. They restore VW’s and sell them as a side business. As soon as I saw the bus, it was a “he.” Frank and I went online and looked up “green characters.” We both loved “The Munsters” as kids, so we decided on “Herman.” 

What is it about Herman that is unique?
Herman is a gorgeous 1976 bay window Westy in beautiful condition, and his bright green color draws people to us wherever we go. He has a 2.0 liter rebuilt stock engine/fuel injected, new paint, all original interior, including the original “dealer option” air conditioning – and it works! He comes with an original green Westfalia awning and the original drive-away tent. I think Herman has just about every option available. Other than his fancy new “shoes” (Porsche gas burners) and muffler, Herman is pretty much stock. We just purchased a trailer hitch so we can attach a swing-away bicycle rack on the back for camping and fun!

The most unique thing about Herman, for us, is that he represents time with family and friends (old and new), and fun and relaxation, now and in our future retirement. We plan on taking him camping to many parks and states as a couple, and on trips with our adult children and future grandchildren.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Vintage Tuesday! - Phil and his '66. T-shirt winner!

Phil and his '66.

Thanks to all who sent in vintage VW photos to enter the win a t-shirt. Phil's name was drawn from a hat and is the winner! What a fantastic photo!

I'll let Phil explain:

Well, I never thought one of my bus photos would ever be considered vintage. This one is from 1971 with my '66. I had just gotten it and my now wife and I took it on a trip to Florida... My wife just reminded me that our starter went out and we picked up a used one and that she helped me install it.

- Phil

So, hats off and a t-shirt in the mail to Phil!

Next Tuesday we'll show more photos that were entered in the contest!

Monday, July 5, 2010

June 1961 Motor Trend - The New Volkswagen

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