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Little Package Archive : vanagon

In October 2013 I bought a 1983 water-cooled Westfalia and named him Chief Pete.

Chief Pete goes almost everywhere with me because he’s my home.

Concerned about the future of Chief Pete? Help him out with some GoBucks! GoWesty has quite a few parts we always want/need, but can never quite afford at the moment.

New flooring for Chief Pete

In March, I undertook installing the 9-piece Vanagon carpet set I purchased from Sew Fine in January. Even though new carpet was a must for sanitary and health reasons, I was really nervous about this change for a few reasons. I was scared of what I would find under the carpet, and I was not sure how well the carpet would fit. Also, I was disappointed with the quality of the carpet when it arrived. I almost returned it because it felt cheap and I can’t see it lasting in a vehicle application. As I’ve seen stated elsewhere on the Internet, the replacement carpet available for Vanagons is nowhere as nice as the original. I’ve also heard it said by install pros who use Sew Fine that it takes a ton of patience, fussing, and glue to get this carpet installed.

Sew Fine states that the carpet is a direct… continue reading

Westfalia front end werk

This summer while a friend was driving my van through Yosemite to fetch me on the West side, my blower fan seized. He said he almost had a heart attack as my dash smoked and threatened to catch fire. (A reminder why all drivers should carry fire extinguishers.)

“It’s ok. No big deal. It’s a cheap part,” I reassured him.

But I knew the truth. The time has finally come for the dreaded Vanagon dash removal. The only way to replace the heater fan is to remove the entire dash, which means disconnecting all the wiring, removing the steering wheel, and worse, somehow opening the stubborn clam of a heater box. No big deal. Once my friend returned home to the Midwest I took on the project. It was actually a good thing because it meant I could finally also tackle the windshield leak. Might as well put in… continue reading

french spring trail flowers

Little Update

I aborted my big Spring thru hike because of weather and taxes. Meh.

Instead, I finished a solo tour of old mines in the Inyo mountain range of central California west of Death Valley. The “Lonesome Miner Trail” — what the late Wendell Moyer* called it — is 40-50 miles of rough, hard-to-follow disused trail involving somewhere near 17,000 vertical feet of elevation gain/loss.

Chief pete the Westfalia

Still in Love with the Van

I haven’t written about my van Chief Pete in almost a year so I thought it important to announce that yes! I still have him and yes! I’m still very much in love with him and no! There are no plans to part ways.

Here are some things I did with him this year, besides driving. I saved a lot of money by doing all the work myself, but still, it’s obvious I still spend what little money I do have on this Vanagon. Hey! He’s my home!

Painting projects Repack passenger front wheel bearings

Where are my pictures for this? I mostly wish I had a picture of how I rode my mountain bike 10 miles with the rotor in my backpack so that they could help me remove the old bearings at Les Schwab. They certainly loved seeing me pull the big, heavy rotor out of a backpack… continue reading

Chief Pete Comeback

When I got my water-cooled 1.9L Vanagon last fall, the prior owner (PO) said repeatedly, ominously, “These vans take a lot of work,” and “I don’t know how long this van will run, could be days, could be years.”

As I drove it down to Mexico and back this Spring, I suffered so much anxiety over every noise and flashing light. And yet, despite some minor problems (like the wheel coming off after exiting I-10 East of Los Angeles and ill-timed bouts of heat soak), Chief Pete somehow made it back to Portland after a LOT of driving and good times.

And failed DEQ.

I won’t even go into how badly he failed. Really bad. Bad Chief Pete!

Thus began my month-long repair project, encompassing two new cylinder heads and push rod tubes, a new oil pump, new water pump, refurbished fuel injectors, many… continue reading

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