VW Bus Adventure Journal

This journal is a continuation of the VW Van Adventures Journal.

Tuesday December 12, 2017

So, we had the Westfalia van, Goldie, for over four years. But, after a lot of work and many adventures, we decided to let it go. Why? Well, we were trying to justify having this awesome camper van mainly for luxury weekend camping trips and some sporadic adventurous vacations. Besides the van, we have a little fuel efficient Yaris and a 1959 VW bus that Matt got as a present from his parents when he graduated from college, about fifteen years ago. One commuter vehicle and two money and fuel pit toys. Since we are trying to follow the “do more with less” minimalist route, we felt the need to cut one loose; either the van or the bus had to go.

The van, besides lots of fun, had been such a time consuming and money absorbing project that, once we were done with major repairs and upgrades, we thought about trying to rent it on Outdoorsy. That way, we could make some money and share the fun with others. But, the truth is that the van was manual, a bit tricky to drive, and had no AC, which made it more difficult to rent. Most importantly, you never know how gentle or caring a renter will be. Anyway, we did rent it out twice though. The first time, to a Canadian young fellow, Eric. He was a very cool guy, but did not know what he was doing; he just wanted to impress his girlfriend and meet up with their buddies, who were also road tripping in the US with camper vans. So, pretty much after going over basics with him and taking him for a test drive, both parties agreed on canceling the reservation. The second renters, however, were experienced VW enthusiasts and knew what they were getting into; their trip went great! They had such a wonderful time with the van that on their way back, they told us that they wanted to buy a Westfalia, possibly ours if it was for sale.

End of the story, last week we sold Goldie to the only Outdoorsy renters who took it on  trip! Lauren and Scott live in San Francisco and have a large dog, bigger than Duke from what they said. They bought the van in conjunction with another couple from SF,  Katie and her husband, who have a ten-month old baby. They are going to share it, take turns and use it for weekend trips and family visits.

It was very hard to let the van go. We actually cried when we sent Scott and his friends the decisive message saying “OK. Let’s do it.” We shared so many awesome times and unforgettable stories with the Westfalia! However, Matt and I both kind of felt that it was time to turn the page. It also happened very quickly and felt like a matter of fate. The van moved to San Francisco and is going to make some people very happy. We were not left empty handed, however, we have a consolation prize, a new project: the bus. It is time to take the bus out of the dark and make it shine!

Goodbye van, hello bus!

Since then–it has been less than a week–we have become very excited about making the bus an outdoor-friendly adventure vehicle. It needs a lot of work, but the motor and transmission have already been rebuilt a few years ago and the bus runs great! So, the most important part is done, we just need to work on the interior and some other superficial things. We would like to stay close to the original bus design and colors, which are green and white paint and brown interior. At this moment, the front seat is at Henry’s shop, he will reupholster it in some light brown tweed fabric. We are very excited. If we get the seat before Christmas, we might take out first test camping trip.

The Bus

This is a 1959 mango green and seagull grey pressed bumper standard VW microbus with brown vinyl interiors. As you can see, it does not look green or brown anymore, but if you look closely, under a few other layers of paint, you can still see these two colors on it. Matt’s parents found it while staying at an RV park in Bakersfield; they bought it for around $1500 off of a guy who was staying there and was towing the bus behind his RV. The bus had a “For Sale” sign and still ran. Now, it is probably worth ten times that. In the past few years, Matt has gotten the motor and transmission rebuilt and also restored the window frames with a fresh bath of chrome. The bus drives strong and is a lot of fun already. As a first step in this restoration process, we are getting the front seat reupholstered. Instead of the original brown vinyl, we are going with light brown tweed fabric at the top and light brown vinyl on the sides. We could use this same combination for the door panels in the future. We are also looking into buying a metal back seat frame that turns into a bed and are starting to do some research on flooring. Some all-terrain tires would also be great; they could make off road driving much easier and safer. We will document the restoration process on this journal.

The Journal

Sunday December 10, 2017

For our 10 year anniversary, 12/10/2017, we decided to take the bus to the desert for a test drive. We went to the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, about 35 miles from home. This is a really cool place with an authentic western look, original wood floors, fire pits, a really cool old potbelly wood burning stove, and live music ALL DAY! Matt’s family met us here, we invited them to celebrate this important day with us.

So, the bus’ odometer does not work. It was important to me to know what kind of mpg we can get with the bus, so we downloaded some speedometer/odometer apps on our phones and kept track of the speed and milage the whole way there and back, which was about 70 miles. The bus was doing 65-70 mph in the freeway and did a great job–much better than the van–going uphill! Unfortunately, the gas cap gasket was cracked and we didn’t know this. It wasn’t after 30-40 minutes of being parked on uneven ground that we realized we were loosing gasoline, it was leaking into the dirt ground. So, we lost some gas, but we still got about 17 mpg, so I am hoping that once we buy a new cap gasket and try this test again, we will get better mpg results.

So, we drove a total of 67.6 miles and used 3.9 gallons of gasoline: 17.3 mpg. We do not know how much gas it was lost when the van was tilted and the cracked gasket leaked gasoline, so this mpg number is not very accurate. These are the results from the app:

Thursday January 25, 2018

We got the reupholstered front seat back and it looks fabulous! Henry did a fantastic job and it was very inexpensive too. I had called many shops and asked for quotes and all of them were above $600 up to 1k for the same job. Henry charged us much less and his job is of the best quality. The seat is so comfortable and nice now!

We ordered a new seal for the gasket to fix the gasoline leak. It is supposed to be very easy to replace. Now, we just have to take the bus for another test drive with its new seat and without the leak in the gasoline tank, run another mpg test, and decide what to do next. Maybe, we install laminate floors. We did it in the van and it was pretty simple. New floors will cost less than 100 bucks and can make a big difference. I will post more updates after we have gone for a ride again! I am shooting for this weekend.