May 22, 2012
I realized today that it has been literally YEARS since writing in here. I can’t believe how time flies by. Unfortunately the main reason for not writing is that our beloved Bus hasn’t been flying around anywhere in a long while.
Brian and I were married at the end of September of 2010 and the bus was running great! It even made it’s grand appearance as our wedding weekend vehicle.
But since then a lot has changed. Brian and I bought a house back in February 2011. In the spring we were using the bus still and it came in real handy for trips to Lowes to get our gardening supplies.
However one hot early summer day when we came out of our local Walmart after a brief shopping trip with the kids, she just didn’t want to start back up for us.
And so from then on it has been not much more than a pretty lawn ornament. We miss her dearly. But haven’t been able to find the extra cash to spend on getting her fixed up again since we have a house with lots of projects and things to pay for these days. But mark my words she will be on the road again someday, sooner than later we hope.
September 10, 2010
Ahhh, good old rusty.
She is back from the mechanic, and I think we are lucky to still have her this time.
So remember when we broke down on the 4th of July? That was the alternator. My back is still not real good, so I had a kid from craigslist come out to the house and put in a new alternator. I assumed, and I guess I still believe he did a good job, but some problems started after that. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but pretty much every time I started the car I would get a couple of hic – ups while accelerating. It wasn’t all the time, and I couldn’t figure out why it was happening so I ignored it. Finally the bus bucked and died one time. I pulled into Hanoford and smelled a burnt rubber smell. The bus started up about 5 minutes later, but the battery light was back on. I drove home and parked the bus.
Fortunately I was picking up my winter car that night. I bought a ’98 jetta glx. After last winter and moving so my commute is longer, I decided a car with heat would be nice. The jetta isn’t perfect, but it is a lot of fun to drive.
Back to the bus. It sat for a couple of weeks while I looked for a new mechanic. I finally found one that I could trust and dropped the bus off. I explained the problems and he started looking at it. Apparently there were some major electrical issues. The main load carrying wires from the batter, alternator and starter were totally fried. Electric arcs were jumping off the bare wires and shorting to the frame randomly and causing the bus to hic-up and finally die. It would have been real easy for the something to catch on fire with that kind of uncontrolled electricity.
Mike, the new mechanic replaced all the wires and got the electrical system back up to snuff. He looked the bus over and gave us a couple more things that need to be looked at, future posts I’m sure. The bus is back on the road and driving in time for the wedding.
After seeing the burnt up wires, it’s time to mount the fire extinguisher in the bus. It would be a shame to watch this old girl burn on the side of the road. We plan on having her around a long time.
August 5, 2010
I know, I know, here it is the 5th of August and I am just now getting around to filling you in on our latest breakdown story. We had a fun filled Fourth of July this year staying closer to home as Brian is still recovering from his back injury. We took the kids to see the fireworks show put on at UNH in Durham which is right near where we live now. So, there we are all sitting on a blanket together patiently waiting and entertaining ourselves before the show when Brian exclaims…
“OH NO! I think I left the lights on in the Bus!” We were parked pretty far away and decided that it would be ok and we had our jump charger thing and maybe some nice passer by would shut them off for us. So we tried not to think about it… well that, and the fact that the battery light had been coming on lately as well, hmmm Anyways…
When we get back to the bus after the show and the lights were off, someone must have shut them off or the battery died because Brian was sure he left them on. So, of course we need to jump it. It starts! Phew.
Then as we are sitting there waiting for the line of traffic to move from the parking lot Brian turns on the lights and uh-oh… It dies.
We jump it again. It starts, we start driving around. It dies. So we decided that it must be the alternator not charging up the battery so maybe if we just get it going and then drive in circles around the parking lot it will charge up. WRONG. We only managed to get the police over asking us questions about why we were driving in circles in a VW bus with kids in the back. Hmm… we aren’t suspicious or anything.
So I bounce out and talk to them about the situation. No problems. A guy who seemed to be watching and waiting in his car for someone since we were the last ones in the parking lot seeing as how it was getting to be about 11pm and the event was now long over.. he offered to help us jump it one more time. Meanwhile I start calling AAA and Isabelle is crying her eyes out saying, ” I knew this would happen, we should have taken the car, now we will never get home”. Poor thing was scared sick while Colin was loving the idea of getting a tow truck to take us home.
So with two over tired kids at 11:30 pm in a parking lot we tried to pass the time waiting for the tow truck to come which took 45 minutes so we were doing things like singing and cartwheels in the grass, duck, duck goose etc etc to keep Isabelle’s mind off the fact we were temporarily “stranded”.
The tow truck driver arrived and we could not be more happy to head home. He was quite the talker and wouldn’t stop all the way there which quieted the kids down, only because I think they were afraid of him. Ha. (I was a little too.) Anyways, we made it home safe and sound. The kids got to stay up till midnight and thought that was the coolest thing EVER! In fact so much as to ask us if we can breakdown again the next time we have them with us. Ha… now they think it’s fun.
We didn’t think it was so fun and neither did our wallets as we had to order an alternator and get that put in which took about a week to do all in all and Brian had to rent a car to get to work all week as we don’t conveniently drive the same direction to work as each other anymore.
But alas, the bus is now fixed again and running great… for now…
February 25, 2010
Now, I have always assumed and it has proven to be true thus far. That as a bus owner you have a certain happy-go-lucky way about you. You are friendly to others, especially other BUS owners. Most of those who we have found amongst our travels will go out of their way to stop and chat about busses with you. Share stories and advice and reminisce if they used to own one. Well, that wasn’t the case with the owner of this ’72 beauty we stopped to check out on our way to Hillsborough the other day.
It was located at a little book barn and we thought we would go in and poke around since it looked neat and we figured that the owner was the owner of the bus. And he was. However, when we tried to talk to him about it, he seemed kind of annoyed. I mean there was no one else in the store and yet he was very reluctant to make conversation with us. Then he went as far as to go off and pretty much hide out back somewhere until Brian and I left. Do we stink? What if we wanted to buy a book?
As soon as we went out I saw that he came back up to the front desk. Weird. I have never experienced this before. I hope this is a rare occurrence.
On another note, we made some necessary purchases recently for our bus. We have traded up from the ceramic heater to a bigger more powerful propane heater that seems to work much better for Brian. I just hope he doesn’t blow himself up. We also acquired a battery jump starter thing that comes with a air compressor for filling tires too. Should come in handy when there is no one around to help us jump start. And last but not least. We upgraded our AAA today so that we can get towed up to 100 miles!! I guess we will be all set when May comes to take the Bus down to Virginia for Tim’s Graduation!
January 22, 2010
So here it is, middle of winter and the bus is still running strong. Brian drives it everyday except for the days when it is really really iced up, which have only been few this winter. See, the bus has no heat. The connections to hook up the heat are missing and we just didn’t have the money to get it all hooked up before winter this year. So if we have a snow storm with ice or anything it is really hard to clear off the bus without help from it warming up on the inside. It’s more or less like an ice box on wheels at that point.
Other than those days Brian bundles himself up and with a smile and hat and gloves and all he hops in the bus every chilly morning. He loves it. He says it handles great in the snow too. He even rigged up a ceramic heater thing that hooks up to the battery to run, which provides a small amount of heat for him. Brrrr. He’s crazy. That’s why I love him though. And everyone loves the bus.
November 9, 2009
Two Saturday’s ago we decided to take the bus to go pick up our veggies at the farm. We were riding along on 95 south, the 3 or so exits we had to go when all of a sudden… We lost our gas pedal action… aaahhh it was not getting any gas… so I tell Brian to try to pull over when he can as we are slowing to a snails pace in the middle lane and people are whizzing around us Honking and Beeping and actually Flipping Us Off!!! I couldn’t believe it… I mean who flips off a VW Bus with Peace and Love on the plate… Come On! So we pull over right at one of the exit ramps and try to figure out the issue. After trying a few things we still couldn’t get it to start back up again. So inevitably we had to call a tow truck. (really not in the budget these days)
I took the opportunity to take some photos of a close up of a highway exit sign… I mean how many times in your life will you get the chance to be that close… right?
We shrugged our shoulders and went on our way. Brian thought it might be either the cable that attaches to the gas pedal or the distributer cap or something easy like that. Come to find out he was right… mostly. It took a week of her sitting for us to get one of our trusty mechanics to make a house call. And on Saturday Ron came by and with him and Brian looking at it, they figured out it was the distributer cap and the rotor inside that needed replacing. A mere 12 dollar purchase, however for the time of our mechanic the whole ordeal would cost another 100 dollars for his time.
But the bus is up and running once again. Little by little it feels like we will end up replacing everything and then she will be essentially brand new. haha
Then Sunday we took her out to an art show of a favorite artist of mine Janis Sanders, I work with his wife Vizma and they are both just the loveliest people. When we came out from the show an older woman and her daughter were caught in action taking pictures and gushing over the bus and so we got to chat to them about it and show it off a bit. It always feels so good to have admirers. I remember how treasured my photos of the Busses I have come across are to me and now I just can’t believe that my bus will be in other peoples photographs! I still can’t believe I have a bus sometimes.
It’s just the best thing ever.
October 7, 2009
So where did we leave off… Ever since the trip to NJ or even a bit before that the bus didn’t really like to start all the time… Well, we did discover that if you bang on the starter a bit with say… a hammer that it would then start up. I guess the starters getting stuck were a common problem on these buses. So at least we didn’t have to push start the bus anymore. The banging seemed to work every time. However, it was still unpleasant for brian to slide under the bus ever time it wouldn’t start up, especially when the ground was wet or something. So, he read and read about changing out a starter. He found that it was pretty easy to do and thought he might give it a try himself ! So we ordered a new starter and solenoid for the bus. He got under there and tried to un-do the three bolts that hold the old starter in and one of them was rusted on super nice so that he couldn’t get it off.
So we had put off changing it for a bit until we could get someone to help us. Well… The other night we were going to the local natural food market and I met brian there on my way home and he was on the phone. He was talking to Brian the mechanic we had first work on the bus about possibly getting the starter changed out soon. Brian the mechanic said he was at his shop now just down the street and we could bring it by after if we wanted. So we did. And he had to break off the old rusted bolt for us and changed the starter for 30 dollars labor. Not bad. He also told us that he has some VW Bus stickers for us that his friend who works for VW gave to him to give us! Everyone loves the bus.
Oh yea and also for Brian’s birthday I bought him this handy book so he can continue to try to learn about working on the bus! It is very humorous too and helpful so far.
Also, Bri is excited that he just ordered a stereo and speakers to get rigged up in the bus so that he will finally be able to listen to some tunes in there!
And, that is the latest and greatest!
September 21, 2009
Here are some shots of the bus on one of our pretty coastal drives near us one evening. Also we found a place near by us that seems to work on lots of VW’s I love finding friends and a good place to take our bus to for some repairs.
September 21, 2009
Okay, so it’s been a while since this event actually took place now but I figured it was high time that I told the tale.
It begins with a last minute trip down to Ocean City, New Jersey to visit Ann (Brian’s Mom) one last time before she flew southwest for winter, back to AZ. So we decided to take a quick weekend road trip and of course that meant taking the BUS. This would be the longest trip we had taken it on yet. It was exciting and a little unnerving that anything could happen but we were prepared for adventure… However, we didn’t expect what would happen to happen. We new from the last time we took it camping that there may be a trouble starting it here and there along the way but it had seemed to be working fine all week for Brian going to work with it.
Brian showed up at my office on Friday afternoon, where everyone came out to see our bus before it’s voyage. Our first stop we made along the way, was off just before CT on Rt. 90. at a rest area to use the loo. This was our first encounter with the bus not starting. So just as we were trying to start it this car of kids pulled up next to us so we asked for a jump and that got it going fine. The next stop was for dinner and gas and we were worried about it starting again but, nothing to fear, it started up fine.
Later that night we pulled off somewhere in NY, just before NJ. There was a sign on the highway for gas. HOWEVER, it was one of those that you get off the exit and travel for like 5 miles first and they don’t tell you that on the highway sign. So, we are in some town, it had been raining for the past few hours of our drive and still was sprinkling, it was about 10-11pm. we get gas and then the bus won’t start. So we get it out of the way of the pump and park over to the side. We look around for someone to help jump us.
This was an uneasy idea this time. Not too many friendly looking people around. We sat and waited and tried to pick our helper carefully. So Brian asked one guy and he was nice and pulled up behind us and we tried to charge the car and jump it but it didn’t seem to work. Brian thought that he wasn’t able to get a good connection to the battery terminals on his car so maybe the next person we will get it. I hoped so, I really didn’t want to camp there for the night. The ironic thing was, sitting in front of us is a VW shop, if we did have to. So… the next guy Bri chose to ask didn’t speak any english at all. And thought we were asking him for drugs or something but we seemed to get through and he pulled up and we were able to get the Bus going!!
On the road again and still far from making it we kept driving. Afraid to turn off the engine at the next gas stop. Which there would inevitably have to be one more before we made it there. So, I took a nap in the back for a while and then we finally pull in to an off the highway station down in NJ about 30 minutes away from our destination. It’s 1:15 am.
As we feared, after getting gas the Bus wouldn’t start again. This time there was no one around but us and the gas attendant. Until out of no where some young guy in a dumpy pick-up truck pulls up behind us to get gas. We tell him our dilemma and ask for a jump, he says, ”sure man”, while chewing on a pretzel stick and as we are letting the car charge with his we chat and find out he is from near where Brian was living in SC and he drives a lot up and down the coast. We try to start it, it doesn’t work. We let it charge longer. Nothing. So… It looks like we try our hand at push starting it!! YIKES! This means Brian, The Truck Guy and The Gas Attendant start pushing it while I, (half asleep still and never have attempted to drive the bus before) am supposed to pop the clutch into second gear and get it started. (no pressure though) They start pushing me and the bus is pretty light and easy to push so I get going fast! Then Brian suddenly realizes that he didn’t give me the key… so he runs up along side of me and tosses it in the window I grab the key put it in, pop the clutch and it starts right up! PHEW! That was scary/so much fun! We thank our helpers and are on our merry way again.
We make it to NJ. Brian spends the bulk of saturday reading up in the manual of the bus and trying to figure out what our problem is. By the time we try to go home. It is starting right up again. No problem. So strange… so we head for home after a good weekend visit, a little afraid of what might lay ahead.
On the way home we went for longer stretches without stopping the bus. When I had to go to the bathroom we kept it running. For lunch we did stop and it started up fine. Then went we filled her up at the gas station we kept it running as well. We were going through all the rolling hills of Rt. 84 in CT when it happened…
All of a sudden going up one hill we lost all of our UMPFH… I didn’t think we would make it to the top of the hill. We pulled off an exit and coasted slowly into a truck stop area we opened up the back and the engine was really hot. We thought maybe it just needed a long rest and to cool off. As we waited a bit we noticed it was leaking some fluid from under by where the clutch and transmission was. Not sure if it was motor oil or transmission fluid. Either way. Not good. It was getting to be evening time and we needed to make it home for work on Monday. We waited a while and brian tried to clean up the under neath as it cooled and sat the leaking seemed to slow. But when we tried to drive it around the parking lot we still didn’t really have the power we should to get back going on the highway. We decided maybe it was just the lower gears and it was hard to tell so we gave it a whirl and tried to get back on the road. We didn’t make it far. So then there we were on the side of 84 in somewhere CT calling AAA. Bummer.
Since my AAA only covered a few miles towing… (needed to upgrade) we towed it to a garage in mansfield CT. Where we were stuck for the night until the garage opened in the morning to fix us and get us hopefully back on the road. We went to this pizza restaurant down the road and ate and called work and our parents etc and then camped out in the bus in the garage parking lot for the night. First thing in the morning we crawled out and got it looked at. The first thing the guy said was, ” I feel like I am in a time warp.” He really didn’t want to work on the bus, but told us that what was going to be needed, was a new clutch and that there was a VW Specialist garage further into town so we called AAA again and got towed to the next place. Spending our day riding our long boards to the gas station up the street where there was a Dunkin Donuts and a rack of trashy magazines for entertainment. And praying for the mechanic to fix us and that it wouldn’t be too costly and we could get home. However you need to order parts etc. So it looked like they couldn’t work on it until Wed. We would have to abandon the bus in CT for a couple of days.
We thought of renting a car or having someone pick us up. Thank goodness for my dad and the sad fact that he is out of work with not much to do right now so he came to our rescue and we waited for his arrival to bring us home. Meaning we would have to come back down again and make another 5 hour trip to pick up the bus. But at least it was in the right hands. We were lucky to have a VW Specialist looking at it and the fact that there was one there in this small town was great. It was among other VW friends there.
We went back down after work, on what ended up being Thursday because they had to also order seals for it. And when we arrived around 8pm we are told that we would have to wait. Because he was still working on it trying to get it started. Seems that on our way down, he had tried to get it started up and it would only fire up for a few seconds then shut off. UGGGHH… We sat and waited in the tiny garage while he worked on it until 10pm listening to him trying to start it up and getting hopeful every time but it wasn’t looking good. I felt bad he was staying so late to help us and I am sure he felt bad it didn’t work. He finally got it! It was something to do with the fuel injection thingy… haha i’m so mechanical. But regardless. With a new clutch and my pockets empty we finally took her home.
It had been a long week. But we still love her.
August 27, 2009
So last night, we took the bus on a ride up the coast to go to dinner and a movie and we spotted another bus parked by the ocean and so we stopped and got to chat for a while with an owner of a ’71 that looked much like ours. It was fun to compare restoration, history and stories with them. I love that this vehicle is going to allow for us to meet some pretty cool people along our travels with it.
Today, Brian found some fun old advertisements and a brochure for our particular Westy. I thought I would share here. Also this evening he will attempt his first oil change in the bus and we will see how that goes. It needs a good change for sure and we will be taking it on yet another road trip this weekend. We are bound for the Jersey shore to say goodbye to Brian’s mom before she heads back to AZ. It will be an interesting trip. I am crossing my fingers that we make it ok with no troubles but that is the thing with the bus… it is always an adventure, you never know what will happen.
We had the kids last weekend and went camping in it and we stopped at a store real quick, came back out and the thing wouldn’t start up… but we didn’t think it was the battery. Thankfully someone walked by and asked about what year it was and we asked him to help give us a jump start and thankfully it worked… and continued to ever since…. so we will see I will let you know how the road trip goes. ’till next time… Peace and Luv
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