Thursday, March 12, 2009

Transfiguration or the First Rule of the Bus.

Well, I haven't posted for a while, but I've been really busy pumping out a thesis. But now that I finished and am getting caught up on sleep, I'll update.

Over Valentine's day weekend we took our first moderate distance trip in the bus, non-functioning alternator be damned. Turns out the bus is very drafty and will definitely need some new seals at least on the top (most the wind was coming in through the canvas of the pop top). Being Valentine's day it was a VERY cold drive to St. Louis, but we made it (it might have been the first time I haven't passed a single other car). And after stopping and checking the battery we had gone from 12.8 V to 11.9 V.

We went straight to Diane's family shop where we were planning on doing some repair work. The goal of the repair work was to get as much done as possible over the two day period. The shop was definitely a better work place than our cramped cold garage or our living room floor. So I set to work taking off the front disc brakes while Diane and Pat (her dad) began working on the cabinetry.

The brakes were surprisingly simple, although it did take me a long time to pull them off because of some super tight bolts. Once off Pat and I took the pads up to the local parts shop and looked at a picture of some new pads and realized ours still had a lot of pad left. Instead of buying the new pads we just sanded the face of the pad a little bit to remove any deformations and put them back on. After I had finished with the brakes themselves, I had to fix the brake lights. This required replacing a small switch on the master brake cylinder. This only took a few minutes and I was done with the brake job. I probably should have bled the brakes and plan to do this soon, but the brakes work good, the squeal is gone and the brake lights are fully functional.

Diane had already removed most of the old laminate, so she started the day measuring and planning out how to cut the roll of new laminate. After some AutoCAD manipulation she and Pat laid out their plan and began to cut the laminate. The cutting of the laminate went well but took a long time, and once finished Diane began sanding the faces of the wood to prep them for gluing. After sanding and cleaning it was time to glue on the laminate. With the laminate glued on, it was time to trim the edges, which was very easy thanks to Pat's router. We didn't get all the cabinets done, but we made a great start and it looks very nice.

The new laminate on the cooler top.

Some other things we did:

We finally succeeded in removing the air conditioning unit and now the front seats have so much more room. Another added bonus is that I can see and access all the wires much easier, turns out the radio doesn't work because its wires aren't plugged in to anything. With this AC unit out I was able to remove our kick panels, which were torn up anyway and replace some washer fluid tubing. See pictures below:


I also painted the wheels to a classic white, now we just need to turn the tires around to show the white walls. The white looks good with the chrome.

So that was all we really were able to fit in over the weekend as we had to head over to Diane's cousin's bridal shower. After some good family time we had to get on the road because darkness was falling fast. We got on the road at about 4:30, much later than we should have (our original plan was to leave at 3:00). Darkness soon fell and we had to turn on the lights (remember the alternator still isn't functioning). About 45 minutes into the drive, just short of Sullivan, Diane asks if the lights are dimming and we come to a hill. Going up the hill we went from going 65 to 40 in about a quarter mile and had lost all power. The battery was dead.

Pulling off the side of the road, we debate on who to call, Diane's family or friends in Rolla. We decide on Diane's family and start calling, we get a hold of Tommy and he starts on his way down to help us. At this time our plan was to take out the battery and drive somewhere to charge it. Then we get a hold of Pat and he starts on his way down too. So Pat and Tommy both arrive and we use Pat's truck to charge the battery (good thing the bus engine is in the back) and send Tommy home. Once the battery is charged we start on our way again with Pat following close behind. We died twice more on the way home and had to drive through part of Rolla with the lights off to avoid a third time, but we made it successfully home.


NO DRIVING AT NIGHT - when on road trips be at a campsite 1 hour before dark, never leave a campsite before sunrise.

Bus's first trip to campus

I can't figure out why the top is all underlined, oh well. Next up - alternator replacement.


Dave said...

Great update and story. The cabents look tight! I'd say an alternator should definitely be in the next shipment of parts, maybe a seal too.

His 'shoes' look damn fine too!

Rock on,

Jimbo said...

I have a 1976 VW Camper (Westfailia) as well, and a long story to go with it. I'm beginning the remodel of the interior... Where did you find the wood laminate??

Thanks in advance!

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