Month: January 2016

On styrofoam

Forgive me, for I have sinned. Stick with me.

I have wanted to insulate the bus for awhile. It doesn’t have any original insulation (as this wasn’t a westfalia tintop, just a 9-seater) and it is rattley and loud. The new plastic panels look a ton better than the old wood, but they, too, rattle.

So, I went to and got some supplies.


Then, I removed the bench seat:


Go! Sit in the corner!

Note: this bench seat is modified strangely. See those little sharp knives triangular bent pieces of metal on the outer legs? Those are held on with hose clamps and shitty tack welding. I can’t tell where this seat is originally from. I know it’s a VW, but is it the wrong year? Did the PO cut out the floorboard and weld it in backwards by accident, necessitating moving the mounting points? I don’t know.

After the seat, I removed they key interior panels. Not the front doors, as those will come another day, but all of the important ones in the back.





After that, I used two rolls of flashing tape to cover the single-layer sheetmetal areas. This is asphalt/mix tape with a foil backing.





I had some tape left over, and this area is going to be under a bed, so :shrug:



After the dampening tape, the real fun began.






Now, at this point in the story, I fell to temptation. You see, I hate, HATE even touching styrofoam. It gives me the heebie jeebies, and is right up there with “touching my bellybutton” on the Personal Hell and Real Torture (PHaRT) scale.

Those with weak stomachs, small children, or members of the fairer sexes, please leave the tent now. Your ticket price will be refunded in full.









Oh also I used like one half of one sheet of styrofoam so I think I need to return the other two. FUN FACT: the distance from the inside of the cargo door to the back of the front seats is 111″, and the width of the opening flat across the bottom is 47.5″, though it immediately opens up larger once through the door. So you can, in fact, transport 4×8′ sheets of styrofoam/plywood without issue.

On beltlines

Today was one of the big paint days! Armed with five cans of Rustoleum 2x Gloss White, two rolls of duct tape, a roll of painter’s tape, and seven disposable felt blankets, I drove over to my friend’s house and we started.

Not pictured: sanding all of the black paint just one more time to get rid of any residual oil and burrs.

First, taped up the windshield:


Then, the driver’s side windows:


Rear window:


And the passenger side:


Detail shot. From the Barrett Jackson show that started today:


Then I drove it (very carefully) into the garage, and we taped up the blankets:





Yet another timeskip. Three cans of paint later:



(note: imgur name for this picture: “DRRR”)

Aaaaand, the big reveal. Tape and blankets removed!






There are a few spots the painter’s tape wasn’t pushed down, but I”ll touch them up later with a foam brush and some paint. Easy peasy, and it’s not like the rest of the bus is perfect in any way. Some smudges here or there are by far the least of my problems with this paintjob.


While I was waiting for the paint to harden up enough to drive home with, we installed the rear signal marker lights. The LH side one the PO had was old and from a boat or something, and the RH side one was missing entirely, as the entire RH rear corner is a patch panel and Bondo.



We also kinda painted the roof maybe, but the roof wasn’t really high priority. It’s more like we were trying to use up the rest of the can of paint. Don’t think too much of it.






On road rage

Okay, so the horn on the bus has been…lacking at best. One of the reasons for this is VW’s godawful, stupid, mind-bogglingly dense setup for how the horn works. I won’t get into too many details, but the short version is: the entire steering column, from the bottom mount to the top mount, is isolated from the rest of the vehicle. Towards the bottom of the column, there is a riveted/welded on spade connector, and a jumper wire is strung down AROUND the steering junction (that has the gubbin/rubber biscuit, also a part of the isolation system) to a steering box bolt. At the top of the column is the horn ring, and a wire runs UP THROUGH THE CENTER OF THE STEERING SHAFT, coupling to the horn button. Pressing the horn button (which is isolated with 70’s era plastic spacers, mind you) shorts the center wire with the outside of the steering column, which has a second jumper wire that is run down to the horn.

So, the horn is live all of the time, and the ground for the horn takes a convoluted pathway up through the outer steering column, across the horn button, and down the central wire to a bolt on the steering box (around the spinning steering components, as well.) Everything else on the column, like the ignition barrel, wiper switches, and turn signal switches, is isolated from the column itself (because all of those components are grounded) with various bits of 40-year-old plastic. Also the wire that runs down the center (that twists when steering) can rub through the insulation and short on the inside of the column, or the button ring can get dirty, or a previous owner (:argh: PO’s!) could use a self-tapping screw in the wrong spot. The chances for problems with this setup are crazy, and could have been solved with one simple slip ring.

You know that scene/theme in Little Miss Sunshine where the horn starts going off and won’t stop for the entire rest of the road trip? It was funny because buses were ubiquitous in the childhood of adults today (and, well, grandparents today), so their common problems, like the horn, were equally part of the public consciousness.

Well, mine has been off-and-on doing the same thing, along with just plain not working when I wanted it to. I removed the button and cleaned and re-adjusted the spring tension, but nothing was working. The only fixes I find by looking at the diagrams and reading online necessitate removal of the steering box and column, because the column comes out from the bottom.

Fuck. That. Noise.

Make louder, better noise.

I’ve been planning a horn upgrade like I did on the beetle for a long time, and at the same time I’ve been scouring ebay listings. I found two things on the cheap that are going to make my life so much better (or, conversely, get me shot). One of them was a used (but guaranteed functional) Carson HA-100 electronic airhorn amplifier. I wanted to stray away from what I did with the beetle (buy a used siren headunit), because technically installing a siren, even if you don’t use it, is illegal in many states. Also, a siren headunit is large and takes up valuable underdash space. Also, I planned on mounting the amplifier behind the bumper in the crash structure, and it is a lot easier to waterproof (read: fill with silicone) a small amp. Also they are a lot cheaper so if it breaks (and is unrepairable because I have filled it with silicone or sprayed conformal coating on everything) I’m not out bank.


My install is ugly as sin, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one. Also, all pictures are before final wire-tying and grommeting. I want to drive for a day or two to be sure everything stands up to vibration and works before I commit.


While I was down there, I took note about how every new part I’ve put on still looks amazing. Thanks, Arizona!


Along the way, I have become a full convert to Wago Lever-nuts. They are UL listed and approved for junction box use, and they hold onto the wire tighter than anything I have ever seen, while still being re-usable. They are about $.30-50 apiece, which is spendy for home use, but I think it’s worth it in a vibrating automobile.

Ignore the loose wires. Those are unused from the “harness” I ran a few months ago.



“But Geir, what are you going to use for the horn button? You already said the column setup doesn’t work!”

Don’t worry fam, I got u covered

A drill, followed by a razor blade trim, please.


Plus some 3D printed magic (seriously magic, I went from concept to prototype in less than two hours)


(Those are stainless screws)

The purple one is a concept. I’m going to splash some water on it and see where it collects, and modify the .STL file to add a drain hole. Don’t want any water collecting.


Edit: I should add that the shit ground and the blue->black wire change is intentional, before anybody asks. The bus is getting a full re-wire next summer with my Motogadget M-Unit V2 that I’ve had sitting in a box for over a year. And I need to pick up more ring terminals.

On Room-Temperature Vulcanizing compounds

Inspection plate trip report:

Doesn’t leak anymore. Well, it weeps a very tiny bit, but previously it was the largest leak on the bus, so that’s settled. Either way, I’m still trying to track down the rest of the leaks.


1: removed inspection plate, cleaned up silicon O-ring with soap and water, cleaned out inspection hole with brake cleaner, and used ULTRA-BLACK RTV to seal that sucker in there.

2: removed valve covers because, while they aren’t LEAKING like they were, they are still WEEPING SLIGHTLY, as evidenced by a UV flashlight inspection.

3: adjusted valves. Always adjusting valves. One was slightly tight :ohdear:

4: Sanded valve covers and valve cover mounting area down with 150 and then 400 grit paper, to smooth any burrs and remove any traces of old valve cover gasket (40 year old cork gaskets leave so much residue, even though I now use rubber valve cover gaskets)

5: used ULTRA-BLACK RTV to help seal valve covers down. I have spare valve cover gaskets so THIS IS OKAY

6: Saw that a lot of oil was coming from the GODDAMN DIPSTICK BOOT again. You may remember an earlier post detailing how big a pain-in-the-ass it is to replace this boot, as it necessitates removing the entire fan shroud. You may also remember how I made an impromptu boot replacement using multiple nested hoses and tubes, along with a stock rubber boot. The rubber boot has FALLEN APART because it is a CHEAP PIECE OF NON-OIL-RESISTANT SHIT.

7: Say FUCK IT. Clean the remaining tube and bungs with BRAKE CLEANER. Wait for BRAKE CLEANER to dry. Wipe it down and CLEAN IT AGAIN with BRAKE CLEANER. Seal the boot area with ULTRA-BLACK RTV.

8: Took off the OIL-SOAKED TINWARE that I could easily remove. Place OIL-SOAKED TINWARE into DISHWASHER. Wash OIL-SOAKED TINWARE. Remove SURPRISINGLY-RUSTY TINWARE from dishwasher, proceed to get yelled at by :siren:FIANCEE:siren:.

9: While pushing the OIL-DRAINED bus to it’s parking spot for the next two days while I wait for the ULTRA-BLACK RTV to cure, accidentally run over the ULTRA-BLACK RTV tube.

10: Decide to see if ULTRA-BLACK RTV lasts as long as KUMHO TIRE rubber in a spur-of-the-moment experiment.

On inspectors

Inspection plate came in from the UK. Looks like it is aluminum machined on a lathe then anodized. Let’s see this bend!




Plus the new oil temp sender.








Can’t wait to install this to start tracking down where the other oil leaks are, because this is the biggest one.

I also love that the temp sender port is recessed with an air shield. Air cooling of the temp sender is a problem when it’s in the airstream.