Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermont

Moderators: Amskeptic, Sluggo

User avatar
aopisa
Addicted!
Location: Vermont
Status: Offline

Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermont

Post by aopisa » Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:25 pm

Image

My apologies for both the delay and length of this post. After three years, I thought I would try to be a little more thorough on documenting what an Itinerant Air Cooled day is like.

Even if I tried to write up Colin's visit to Vermont immediately upon his departure, I would not remember half of what we did. As we sat in the kitchen after a long (and really fun) day, Colin, my two sons and I had a difficult time recreating the day's timeline. So here are some of the more major points as far as I can recall.

First off a little history. This was my third IAC visit. The weather prediction is generally the same every year. About a week out our weather here is perfect, but the predictions for Colin Day are for cloudy skies with a 50% chance of rain. Then a few days out the predictions are for sunny, clear and warm. And finally the actual day is cloudy, cooler with a slight chance of rain. This held true as Colin and Chloe pulled into the driveway precisely at 9AM.

My two boys, Elliot (16) and Owen (14) really love this bus. They had met Colin briefly last year and really wanted to be a part of the day this year. The morning started with coffee and a bagel and a fairly involved conversation on this year's presidential race. I have to say that my sons held their own much more so than I would have at their age. Then we went over my list which was a combination of working on a nagging issue and continuing my education on VW's and internal combustion vehicles in general. Elliot wants to dig in and help while Owen decides to be the official photographer to document the day.

I had gained some better knowledge and confidence working on my bus over the summer as I tried to diagnose a severe bucking and lurching problem. In the process it got a fairly thorough tune up, valve adjustment, oil change, new fuel lines, cap, rotor wires, etc. I had pretty much solved the issue, but fortunately two days before Colin arrived, the bus started to hesitate randomly under load. So the day mostly revolved around getting it to repeat the problem and fixing it while ticking off the other items on my list.

I wanted Colin to see how the bus starts first thing in the morning which can be a little rough. I also wanted him to see if I had any lingering vacuum leaks. Right off the bat he notices that the connectors to the S boot are not seated properly. So off it comes while he shows me how to run a two small screwdrivers around the connector forcefully yet gently at the same time to get it tightly seated. Sort of like yin and yang at the same time.

Image

While I am trying not to damage my no longer pliable no longer available S boot, my oldest son Elliot is handed the much coveted Porsche spark plug wrench. Elliot removes the plugs and we find that no. 4 appears somewhat black and crusty while the others are white. This perplexes Colin. After explaining to Elliot the dangers of cross threading the plugs all is put back in place. I did finally get the oil breather connector into the S boot and reinstalled it in the engine.

Image

Here is where I tell Elliot to 'misplace' the Porsche spark plug wrench.
Image

And here is where Colin tells Elliot where he is going to shove said wrench if he ever catches him doing that again! Actually he being a very patient teacher showing him how to use the tool properly.
Image

Image

Let's start it up. It fires up and dies immediately. Try it again. Same result. I'm not sure what he is doing back there while I keep trying. I say it sounds like a big vacuum leak to me. Colin is doing something back there, asking me if this has ever happened before, no, and starts ruminating over the no. 4 spark plug. He checks the AAR which seems fine. Eventually he finds that I forgot to hook up one of the hoses to the S Boot causing what but a major vacuum leak. I am correct and an idiot at the same time. More yin and yang.

I think at this point we pull it out of the garage and readjust the timing and idle.

Image

Image

Image

Then Colin jumps behind the wheel and off we go! ...at about 5 miles per hour down my gravel road. Colin impresses upon me to treat my bus gently when driving on these roads and tells me he drives 30 miles into the wilderness the very same way he is driving now. He also asks me if I have a type A personality (somewhat) and if driving this slow makes me want to jump out of my skin appearing to take some small pleasure from my impatience. Once we hit the main road everything changes. Now he is basically abusing the poor thing to assess its various systems while trying to get it to hesitate under load. Extreme acceleration up to 60 mph on a 30 mph road, slamming on the brakes, accelerating to 30 mph then yanking on the parking brake, jamming on the accelerator with his foot firmly on the brake, etc. The bus will not hesitate. However he does not like the slop in the steering.

We head back where he adjusts the AFM to a slightly more lean condition. Now it looks like rain. We check the radar on the computer and yes there is a thin band of rain heading our way. We hop back in and after what seems like an hour crawl down the gravel road out to the main road, the bus will now pretty much hesitate on command. We again crawl back to house (the slow pace allows for some great teaching time and conversation) where he adjusts the AFM several clicks of the big cog richer. Back in the bus. Better, but still hesitates. It starts to rain and passes over after a while. That must have been what we saw on the radar.

I am running with a Petronix unit. So we fiddle with that a while to see if we can change the dwell on it. I have wanted to know how to run with points so Colin decides to show me and also see if this makes a difference in the hesitation issue. Except I do not have a screw to hold the points into the distributor. Colin provides one from his magical drawers. The bigger issue is that I do not have the little bracket that holds the condenser connector to the outside of the distributor. I get excited because now we go into "desert fix" mode looking for something to fashion a bracket from. For as long as I can remember Elliot has been making his own toys and projects out of whatever he could find around the house, cardboard, paper towel tubes, wire, leather, etc. So leave it to Elliot to come out of the house with a Scotch tape dispenser. Colin proclaims that this should work and the two of them go to work on it with the Dremel. After a few tries with Elliot and Colin conferring and me just standing in the shadow of these two improvisational geniuses, it works! We learn how to gap the points and check the dwell. Alas, after another test drive the hesitation continues.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Colin adjusts the AFM a few more clicks richer. We are now out on the main road and I see more rain approaching over the mountains to the west. All of a sudden all hell breaks loose! This must be that narrow band we saw on the radar and it got much meaner in the intervening time. Sheets of rain accompanied by straight line gale force winds pound us and the bus. Colin remains calm exhorting that he has significant experience in high wind driving. Still, this is one of the most violent storms I have experienced in Vermont and I even went through Hurricane Irene last year. Colin puts me on duty to watch for falling trees while he continues to try to insight the bus into repeating it's problem. He is now verbally threatening the bus with it's own anhiliation if it dares to even try to hesitate. All of this is going on while the wind continues to howl and the rain is coming down in buckets and Colin is driving without the wipers on! Somehow even with all the racket and distraction, Colin realizes we are only running on three cylinders. He climbs to the back and opens the internal engine hatch to find the no. 1 wire has popped off the plug. So he puts it back on. We drive another minute and the same thing happens. Eventually it stays in place without further trouble or an explanation as to why this would happen.

Even with the crazy weather and warning the bus of its imminent destruction, we cannot make it hesitate for one second. Now I get to take the wheel in the storm. I can't make it do it either. Problem solved. Hurray!

On the way back, we cover some bus driving tips. I have been double clutching for the past two years so that is not much of a problem. However, Colin does admonish me for not having my foot completely off the clutch before depressing the accelerator.

With the main problem of the day solved we park in the dry garage and quickly tick off the rest of the days tasks. I noticed several problems with my heating system and he shows me what parts to order and what to do to get it to function better.

While we are under the bus he notices the the starter solenoid wires are loose at the big connection and tackles it without much effort. I can't remember what we moved onto next, but he asks me to start the bus. It starts, but now the alternator light is on. More fiddling, more restarts with the light still glowing faintly. He crawls back under the bus and discovers he did not reconnect a wire. All is well after that.

Image

The day's work ends by blocking off the EGR at the intake. Also, I learned how to bleed my brakes and we did a complete brake fluid replacement. We finished up with a small to do list while eating some sandwiches as both lunch and dinner. We went over directions to get him pointed toward Maine. I offered as always a place to stay, do laundry, sleep in a bed, etc., which as always was politely declined. I also offered him all my Diet Cokes. He observed that the fridge handle was loose and commenced to fixing that too! Then with Diet Cokes in hand he was off into the night.

Image

The bus now runs better than ever. It starts great. It is quieter, smoother and faster than I can ever remember. I like running on points. I have ordered an extra set and I am keeping the Pertronix unit as a redundant back up. I will have to see about the richer running condition as it relates to gas mileage. It only got 13 mpg on the last tank, but that included all the crazy test driving, idling and revving in the driveway. And finally, I really enjoy driving at a snail's pace up and down my road.

It was not only the best IAC visit yet, it was also just a throughly enjoyable day. I am proud of all we accomplished and proud of my sons for doing such a great job sticking with it through the entire day. Owen was a very good photographer considering I shoved a professional DSLR in his hands (not on automatic setting) and gave him limited instructions throughout the day.

Colin, I can't thank you enough and look forward to next year.

Image

Image
1977 Westy 2.0L F.I.

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. - Chuang Tzu

User avatar
airkooledchris
IAC Addict!
Location: Eureka, California
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by airkooledchris » Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:55 pm

=D>

Great writeup. Thanks for sharing!

I was doing fine with my clutching until we adjusted it, then I did the same as you and failed to remove my foot before hitting the gas again.
Im still re-learning that part with my properly adjusted clutch pedal.

Owen did great with the camera!

User avatar
aopisa
Addicted!
Location: Vermont
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by aopisa » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:59 pm

airkooledchris wrote:=D>

Great writeup. Thanks for sharing!

I was doing fine with my clutching until we adjusted it, then I did the same as you and failed to remove my foot before hitting the gas again.
Im still re-learning that part with my properly adjusted clutch pedal.

Owen did great with the camera!
Thanks. So much happens in a day with Colin that is difficult to get it all down.

Yes, Owen did a great job and it is nice to have more than the three pictures I usually get. It's hard to reach for the camera once we are off and running.
1977 Westy 2.0L F.I.

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. - Chuang Tzu

User avatar
Amskeptic
IAC "Help Desk"
IAC "Help Desk"
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by Amskeptic » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:17 am

aopisa wrote:So much happens in a day with Colin that is difficult to get it all down.
Owen did a great job and it is nice to have more than the three pictures I usually get.
Wow, PaparazzOwen and ElliotImprov and you all did a great job documenting our day.

Glad to hear that the bus took my warning "I *will* put valve grinding paste down your oil filler" to heart. That freakish windstorm blew detritus all over the roads all the way to Maine, I drove back into the storm a few hours after I trundled out of your interminable lovely meditation time gravel driveway.

You all get out into the country with that VW and maybe we can hook up somewhere. It was cool to see iwantmybustorun in Connecticut, then hang out at the LuckyLab in Portland OR.
Be sure to vote, kids!!! It's your future!
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 111,155 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,820 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 108,000 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,885 miles

User avatar
aopisa
Addicted!
Location: Vermont
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by aopisa » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:36 am

Amskeptic wrote:
aopisa wrote:So much happens in a day with Colin that is difficult to get it all down.
Owen did a great job and it is nice to have more than the three pictures I usually get.
Wow, PaparazzOwen and ElliotImprov and you all did a great job documenting our day.

Glad to hear that the bus took my warning "I *will* put valve grinding paste down your oil filler" to heart. That freakish windstorm blew detritus all over the roads all the way to Maine, I drove back into the storm a few hours after I trundled out of your interminable lovely meditation time gravel driveway.

You all get out into the country with that VW and maybe we can hook up somewhere. It was cool to see iwantmybustorun in Connecticut, then hang out at the LuckyLab in Portland OR.
Be sure to vote, kids!!! It's your future!
Colin
I am pretty sure I will try to get out of here sometime this winter. I really can't take staying around in the cold for months on end anymore. If I can dodge the snowstorms perhaps we will meet up somewhere in the desert if that is where you might be. That is unless you'll be holed up in an apartment somewhere working on your book.

The plan is also to get this thing packed up and on the road for an adventure next summer with Elliot and Owen. I'll try to make sure that our paths cross at that point at least.

While driving last night, I noticed that the alternator light glowed faintly on and off when I had the turn signals on. It glowed a little brighter when I depressed the brakes. Should I be concerned? What do I need to do to remedy it?
1977 Westy 2.0L F.I.

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. - Chuang Tzu

User avatar
Amskeptic
IAC "Help Desk"
IAC "Help Desk"
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by Amskeptic » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:55 am

aopisa wrote:
Amskeptic wrote:
aopisa wrote:So much happens in a day with Colin that is difficult to get it all down.
Owen did a great job and it is nice to have more than the three pictures I usually get.
Wow, PaparazzOwen and ElliotImprov and you all did a great job documenting our day.

Glad to hear that the bus took my warning "I *will* put valve grinding paste down your oil filler" to heart. That freakish windstorm blew detritus all over the roads all the way to Maine, I drove back into the storm a few hours after I trundled out of your interminable lovely meditation time gravel driveway.

You all get out into the country with that VW and maybe we can hook up somewhere. It was cool to see iwantmybustorun in Connecticut, then hang out at the LuckyLab in Portland OR.
Be sure to vote, kids!!! It's your future!
Colin
I am pretty sure I will try to get out of here sometime this winter. I really can't take staying around in the cold for months on end anymore. If I can dodge the snowstorms perhaps we will meet up somewhere in the desert if that is where you might be. That is unless you'll be holed up in an apartment somewhere working on your book.

The plan is also to get this thing packed up and on the road for an adventure next summer with Elliot and Owen. I'll try to make sure that our paths cross at that point at least.

While driving last night, I noticed that the alternator light glowed faintly on and off when I had the turn signals on. It glowed a little brighter when I depressed the brakes. Should I be concerned? What do I need to do to remedy it?
Normal. But use your anxiety to make sure all ground paths are beyootiful.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 111,155 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,820 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 108,000 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,885 miles

User avatar
brotha bran
I'm New!
Location: Maine and Washington
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by brotha bran » Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:25 pm

As a professional photographer by trade, these are the photos I had envisioned taking of my own IAC visit, so I'd say Owen did great with the camera. I'll try and document it next year as well as you guys did here. Good post!

I heard about your storm driving experience a few days later when Colin showed up at my house here in Maine. It sounded like a heck of a time :thumbleft:

User avatar
aopisa
Addicted!
Location: Vermont
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by aopisa » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:03 pm

brotha bran wrote:As a professional photographer by trade, these are the photos I had envisioned taking of my own IAC visit, so I'd say Owen did great with the camera. I'll try and document it next year as well as you guys did here. Good post!

I heard about your storm driving experience a few days later when Colin showed up at my house here in Maine. It sounded like a heck of a time :thumbleft:
Thank you. I am a professional photographer as well so he has had a few pointers. Still, there is no denying he has a good eye and I think he has a real knack for taking candid shots. I couldn't have done it without him.

And yes, that was one wild ride.
1977 Westy 2.0L F.I.

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. - Chuang Tzu

User avatar
Bleyseng
IAC Addict!
Location: Seattle again
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by Bleyseng » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:31 am

Nice write up! Yep, the glowing red alt light when you have the turn signals on is normal but you can always polish the grounds to help out the electric system.
Geoff
77 Sage Green Westy- CS 2.0L-160,000 miles
70 Ghia vert, black, stock 1600SP,- 139,000 miles,
76 914 2.1L-Nepal Orange- 160,000+ miles
http://bleysengaway.blogspot.com/

User avatar
aopisa
Addicted!
Location: Vermont
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by aopisa » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:48 am

Bleyseng wrote:Nice write up! Yep, the glowing red alt light when you have the turn signals on is normal but you can always polish the grounds to help out the electric system.
I never noticed it before. It's probably because Colin was working on the connections to the alternator.
1977 Westy 2.0L F.I.

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. - Chuang Tzu

luftvagon
Old School!
Location: Little Rock, AR
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by luftvagon » Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:21 pm

good read
1981 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia - air-cooled Type4 1970cc CV (hydraulic lifters, 42x36 valves, stock cam, microSquirt FI with wasted spark ignition)
1993 Ford F-250 XL LWB Extended Cab 7.3L IDI

User avatar
whc03grady
IAC Addict!
Location: Livingston Montana
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by whc03grady » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:21 am

aopisa wrote:Image
...and here we have the photo of the author for the inside back cover of The Book.
Ludwig--1974 Westfalia, 2.0L (GD035193), Solex 34PDSIT-2/3 carburetors.
Gertie--1971 Squareback, 1600cc with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection from a '72 (E brain).
Read about their adventures:
http://www.ludwigandgertie.blogspot.com

User avatar
Amskeptic
IAC "Help Desk"
IAC "Help Desk"
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by Amskeptic » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:44 am

whc03grady wrote: ...and here we have the photo of the author for the inside back cover of The Book.
. . . and here's the blurb:

"started in 2006, this book was completed post-diagnosis for environmentally-induced Alzheimers in 2018, Colin no longer knows what a distributor is, much less that it is he holding one in this photograph taken at one of his last lucid appointments. Due primarily to the great (and touching) loyalty amongst his customer base, he managed to fill appointments for several years after he could no longer reliably find his way to his customers' houses at the correct time on the correct day. Colin currently spends his time at a nice residential facility vandalizing the walls and floors with facsimilies of "perforated vinyl headliner dots" as found on long ago air-cooled Volkswagens. Only because of an idiot savant precision is he allowed to continue to do so. Colin is frequently heard mumbling, "I was supposed to be there on the 10th?""
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 111,155 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,820 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 108,000 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,885 miles

User avatar
zabo
Old School!
Location: earth
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by zabo » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:15 pm

Amskeptic wrote: "started in 2006, this book was completed post-diagnosis for environmentally-induced Alzheimers in 2018
and by environmentally-induced you mean gum out exposure?
60 beetle
78 bus

User avatar
glasseye
IAC Addict!
Location: Kootenays, BC
Status: Offline

Re: Greenhorn in the Green Mountains lll, Colin visits Vermo

Post by glasseye » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:23 pm

aopisa wrote:Elliot wants to dig in and help while Owen decides to be the official photographer to document the day
And a heck of a job he did, too. Superb work, Owen. Keep on shooting!

Oh. And that Colin guy? He's pretty good, too.
"This war will pay for itself."
Paul Wolfowitz, speaking of Iraq.

Post Reply