VW Bus Buying Advice

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tommu
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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by tommu » Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:29 am

If you're still out there omacdon2 - This looks perfect. I'd take a look myself if I wasn't on the other side if the country:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds ... id=2273860

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omacdon2
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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by omacdon2 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:01 pm

tommu wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:29 am
If you're still out there omacdon2 - This looks perfect. I'd take a look myself if I wasn't on the other side if the country:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds ... id=2273860
I'm still out there and still searching around haha thank you. I saw that bus too and shot the seller a message right away. Looks perfect to me too and will go down, test drive, and buy it if everything checks out and nobody buys it first. The second week of May when I plan to go and into the whole summer, I will be off so I will be fully dedicated to VW bus buying no matter the location.

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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by omacdon2 » Tue May 14, 2019 6:04 pm

Alright guys...you're never going to believe it but I finally bought a bus!! Saw it on Craigslist and went to check it out. It has a 96 Subaru engine so it can get up to 70mph. Almost no rust and mechanically pretty solid except it needs head gasket replacing because it's leaking some coolant. What do you suggest..I attempt to take apart the engine and replace it myself or bring it to a shop?
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tommu
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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by tommu » Tue May 14, 2019 9:54 pm

Congrats. We need more, better Pics!
Can you describe that coolant leakage some more? How are you sure it's the head gasket? You're going to need to understand how that thing was put together yourself some time. No time like the present.

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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by omacdon2 » Tue May 14, 2019 10:08 pm

tommu wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 9:54 pm
Congrats. We need more, better Pics!
Can you describe that coolant leakage some more? How are you sure it's the head gasket? You're going to need to understand how that thing was put together yourself some time. No time like the present.
Thanks I'm in love with it! I have the whole summer to focus every day on this and can't wait. Here's some more pics and I'll take some more tomorrow! Well about the coolant leakage, whenever its driven or after and still running, the coolant spurts up. The owner rebuilt the motor himself and he's a mechanic, so he said it needs a head gasket replacement. It's a common problem in Subarus..
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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by TrollFromDownBelow » Sun May 19, 2019 12:56 pm

Congrats! Definitely need more pics.

As for the head gasket, I would normally suggest taking it to a mechanic, as this is a pretty big job for a newbie (I'm assuming you are a newbie from your previous posts). You may also want to set aside some extra money in case the heads need to be machined / decked. Many times head gaskets fail because the car was overheated and the heads warped.

That said, you may have trouble finding a mechanic that will tackle a frankenstein motor swap - may have no choice but to do it yourself.
1976 VW Bus aka tripod
FI ...8 completely solid lifters.... now it's both kinda noisy and leaky, but she sure runs good!
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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by omacdon2 » Tue May 21, 2019 1:28 pm

TrollFromDownBelow wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 12:56 pm
Congrats! Definitely need more pics.

As for the head gasket, I would normally suggest taking it to a mechanic, as this is a pretty big job for a newbie (I'm assuming you are a newbie from your previous posts). You may also want to set aside some extra money in case the heads need to be machined / decked. Many times head gaskets fail because the car was overheated and the heads warped.

That said, you may have trouble finding a mechanic that will tackle a frankenstein motor swap - may have no choice but to do it yourself.
Thank you! I'm loving it :) I've talked to Subaru gurus and they said to just check for overheating, which my gauge doesn't indicate. I found a guy about an hour away that specializes in Subaru engines in VW buses, but would just need to take breaks and check coolant to get up there. If I can get it up there, he said he would teach me everything mechanical I need to know for free. If not the head gaskets, I might just need to replace the radiator cap or it might be a tube leak. It's about 50/50 on what people told me about doing the head gaskets: myself or bring to a shop. It also came with a spare Subaru motor and the original motor, though I don't have them with me because they're still in Vermont with the owner, ready to pick up when I can find a way to transport them. Let the adventure begin! I tried adding more pics, but it says the files are too big, gotta figure out a way to solve that

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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by TrollFromDownBelow » Tue May 21, 2019 6:16 pm

omacdon2 wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 1:28 pm
... If not the head gaskets, I might just need to replace the radiator cap or it might be a tube leak.
If the PO was a mechanic, and a good enough one to do the swap, chances are it is not as simple as a radiator cap. Can't believe I'm posting this on an A/C VW site but here goes... basic checks of a water cooled system:

- Is the fluid low? Check the over flow tank for proper level (I'm assuming it has one). Top it off and keep an eye on it. If coolant leaks on the ground, you found your culprit. Or, if you can smell coolant out the tailpipe, or if it's billowing white smoke, then it's a head gasket.
- Is there milk shake like substance either in the coolant reservoir or on the dipstick? This wIll indicate mixture of oil and coolant...definite sign of a head gasket issue.
- do you have the right ratio of coolant to H2O? Buy one of those little tools that tell you (they are pretty cheap) and check it. It doesn't have to be spot-on, but it s/be close. IIRC, s/be good down to -40 degrees F.
- If there is air in the system it will also make the car run hot. Many modern (I use the term 'modern' loosely... I'd say mid 90's and up) have a bleeder port for the coolant system. Google your year engine and see if it has one. If it does, stick a small funnel in the port, turn on the car and let it run. Once the thermostat opens up, you will see bubbles out the top of the funnel (if there is air). Once it is done bubbling, all the air is out. turn off the car, put the screw back in the port, and top up the fluids to the appropriate level.
- If all of the above checks out, then the next thing I would do is replace the thermostat and radiator cap - don't skimp on the quality - get quality parts for these. Yes, you can run tests, but these parts are pretty cheap (even for quality ones) and bring peace of mind.
- Can you get a good look inside the radiator? Is it clean, or does it have a lot of scaley barnacles inside? If so, you need a new radiator.
- Next I would check for plumbing hack's/wonkiness to retrofit into the bus, as well as good airflow around the radiator as well as an electric fan that is operating properly.
- At this point, you may want to get it pressure tested; that can (I say can vs. will, as sometimes they don't detect the issue) determine if it has an internal leak..most likely head gasket, but some cars can also leak coolant around the intake manifold...I'm not familiar enough with Subbies to know if this is an issue or not.
-If the radiator checks out, the next thing I would check is the waterpump. If it is external, look for coolant weepage, that is a tell tale sign the pump is bad. If it is internal, then you may just want to replace it; internal ones are typically a PITA to replace (a good 3-4 hour job) and if you are going to spend that much time digging into it, you might as well spend the $75 to replace and have peace of mind.

EDIT HEY ADMIN: May want to move the thread from this point forward? We've segued from buyin' to fixin'
1976 VW Bus aka tripod
FI ...8 completely solid lifters.... now it's both kinda noisy and leaky, but she sure runs good!
hambone wrote: There are those out there with no other aim but to bunch panties. It's like arguing with a pretzel.
::troll2::

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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by omacdon2 » Wed May 22, 2019 5:17 pm

TrollFromDownBelow wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 6:16 pm
omacdon2 wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 1:28 pm
... If not the head gaskets, I might just need to replace the radiator cap or it might be a tube leak.
If the PO was a mechanic, and a good enough one to do the swap, chances are it is not as simple as a radiator cap. Can't believe I'm posting this on an A/C VW site but here goes... basic checks of a water cooled system:

- Is the fluid low? Check the over flow tank for proper level (I'm assuming it has one). Top it off and keep an eye on it. If coolant leaks on the ground, you found your culprit. Or, if you can smell coolant out the tailpipe, or if it's billowing white smoke, then it's a head gasket.
- Is there milk shake like substance either in the coolant reservoir or on the dipstick? This wIll indicate mixture of oil and coolant...definite sign of a head gasket issue.
- do you have the right ratio of coolant to H2O? Buy one of those little tools that tell you (they are pretty cheap) and check it. It doesn't have to be spot-on, but it s/be close. IIRC, s/be good down to -40 degrees F.
- If there is air in the system it will also make the car run hot. Many modern (I use the term 'modern' loosely... I'd say mid 90's and up) have a bleeder port for the coolant system. Google your year engine and see if it has one. If it does, stick a small funnel in the port, turn on the car and let it run. Once the thermostat opens up, you will see bubbles out the top of the funnel (if there is air). Once it is done bubbling, all the air is out. turn off the car, put the screw back in the port, and top up the fluids to the appropriate level.
- If all of the above checks out, then the next thing I would do is replace the thermostat and radiator cap - don't skimp on the quality - get quality parts for these. Yes, you can run tests, but these parts are pretty cheap (even for quality ones) and bring peace of mind.
- Can you get a good look inside the radiator? Is it clean, or does it have a lot of scaley barnacles inside? If so, you need a new radiator.
- Next I would check for plumbing hack's/wonkiness to retrofit into the bus, as well as good airflow around the radiator as well as an electric fan that is operating properly.
- At this point, you may want to get it pressure tested; that can (I say can vs. will, as sometimes they don't detect the issue) determine if it has an internal leak..most likely head gasket, but some cars can also leak coolant around the intake manifold...I'm not familiar enough with Subbies to know if this is an issue or not.
-If the radiator checks out, the next thing I would check is the waterpump. If it is external, look for coolant weepage, that is a tell tale sign the pump is bad. If it is internal, then you may just want to replace it; internal ones are typically a PITA to replace (a good 3-4 hour job) and if you are going to spend that much time digging into it, you might as well spend the $75 to replace and have peace of mind.

EDIT HEY ADMIN: May want to move the thread from this point forward? We've segued from buyin' to fixin'

Thank you! I really appreciate the detailed advice. I just bought the coolant tester and only one ball was floating on top so that might be contributing to the problem. I think my next step tomorrow will be to drain the coolant and replace it with a 50/50 blend that's a Subaru-specific coolant, not the unblended one that says it's good for any car, which he included in the car. Sorry the picture is flipped even though it's correct on my desktop.
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TrollFromDownBelow
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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by TrollFromDownBelow » Wed May 22, 2019 6:29 pm

Don't get all anal on the type of coolant..if it sez it's for all cars and that it doesn't void any warranties, all is good (psst...I use the "good for all" coolant in my BMW). I'd use what he gave you...probably will get exchanged out in the near future anyways.

My steps were laid out to be more or less sequential. My first five or so is to be sure that the existing coolant system is working to its existing potential. Once that is confirmed, then we start to look for flaws. After my first five steps, one could argue (rightly) that some of the next steps I suggest could be swapped around.
1976 VW Bus aka tripod
FI ...8 completely solid lifters.... now it's both kinda noisy and leaky, but she sure runs good!
hambone wrote: There are those out there with no other aim but to bunch panties. It's like arguing with a pretzel.
::troll2::

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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by omacdon2 » Sun May 26, 2019 9:44 am

Ok I'm back. I did the coolant flush two days ago and drove it around today for about half an hour. NO LEEKAGE at all!!! Thank you so much Troll for your advice.

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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by TrollFromDownBelow » Sun May 26, 2019 2:00 pm

Glad to hear it isn't leaking.

Does it have a temp gauge? If so, are the temps holding steady?

If it does not have a temp gauge, I would definitely want to install one. Doing an engine swap from a front engine design, to a rear engine there will have been significant changes to the design of the cooling system.
1976 VW Bus aka tripod
FI ...8 completely solid lifters.... now it's both kinda noisy and leaky, but she sure runs good!
hambone wrote: There are those out there with no other aim but to bunch panties. It's like arguing with a pretzel.
::troll2::

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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by omacdon2 » Sun May 26, 2019 4:10 pm

TrollFromDownBelow wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 2:00 pm
Glad to hear it isn't leaking.

Does it have a temp gauge? If so, are the temps holding steady?

If it does not have a temp gauge, I would definitely want to install one. Doing an engine swap from a front engine design, to a rear engine there will have been significant changes to the design of the cooling system.
Yep it does and it doesn't indicate overheating and before, it didn't either. Everything seems good! I guess the 50/50 coolant did the trick. Next on the list is to sand down the rust spots, put putty/some filler, and repaint the entire bus. I have a local Automotive Sherman Williams store that might match the paint color (it has to stay white because Massachusetts has additional fees for repainting a different color). Any rust fixing or painting tips are welcome

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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by TrollFromDownBelow » Tue May 28, 2019 6:36 pm

omacdon2 wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 4:10 pm
I have a local Automotive Sherman Williams store that might match the paint color (it has to stay white because Massachusetts has additional fees for repainting a different color).
Interesting. Was the original color white as well? What if a car was originally sage green, someone painted it white, but you wanted to return it to its original color. Would there be extra fees in that situation?

Colin may argue with this, but living in the midwest, the only rust repairs I have done that have been successful (e.g. did not come back) included a combination of media blasting to get rid of all, or nearly all of the rust, followed by several thin applications of rust converter (turns the metal purple/black). 90% of the work is body prep. Don't kid yourself that the paint will 'hide it'. Paint does the opposite - it amplifies any body work flaws.

Invest $60 in an electrical DA. Although once the velcro wears out (which it typically does after the first project) switch to using contact cement to adhere the sanding discs. I have painted about a dozen full cars plus many partials over 30 years.... I've only worn out 2 electrical DA's.

I would invest in a fairly inexpensive 20 gallon oil-less compressor. You can get them for about $200. I bought my first one thinking I would only use it to spray paint with. You'd be surprised how many uses they have. I rebuilt the first one and then when I wore it out again, I rebuilt it from a second one that was given to me. I had a nice 30 gallon (oiled) gifted to me about 15 years ago that runs off of a regular 20 amp 110 circuit. Have yet to find a job it could not do. Point is, start off with something relatively inexpensive if you plan on shooting it yourself, and then upgrade if you find that you use it a lot. I normally advocate to buy the best tools that you can afford, however, in this case, that could be overkill if you don't use an air compressor a lot, however, if you choose to spray the bus yourself, the tools will more than pay for themselves in one use.

Remove as much trim as you can vs. masking it off. You get a better paint job, as the flow of the paint is not interrupted, and although there is some time savings in masking vs removing, it's not much when looking at the total hours.

There is a bit of a technique to spraying, but you-tube it I'm sure they have videos.
1976 VW Bus aka tripod
FI ...8 completely solid lifters.... now it's both kinda noisy and leaky, but she sure runs good!
hambone wrote: There are those out there with no other aim but to bunch panties. It's like arguing with a pretzel.
::troll2::

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omacdon2
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Re: VW Bus Buying Advice

Post by omacdon2 » Fri May 31, 2019 8:39 am

TrollFromDownBelow wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 6:36 pm
omacdon2 wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 4:10 pm
I have a local Automotive Sherman Williams store that might match the paint color (it has to stay white because Massachusetts has additional fees for repainting a different color).
Interesting. Was the original color white as well? What if a car was originally sage green, someone painted it white, but you wanted to return it to its original color. Would there be extra fees in that situation?

Colin may argue with this, but living in the midwest, the only rust repairs I have done that have been successful (e.g. did not come back) included a combination of media blasting to get rid of all, or nearly all of the rust, followed by several thin applications of rust converter (turns the metal purple/black). 90% of the work is body prep. Don't kid yourself that the paint will 'hide it'. Paint does the opposite - it amplifies any body work flaws.

Invest $60 in an electrical DA. Although once the velcro wears out (which it typically does after the first project) switch to using contact cement to adhere the sanding discs. I have painted about a dozen full cars plus many partials over 30 years.... I've only worn out 2 electrical DA's.

I would invest in a fairly inexpensive 20 gallon oil-less compressor. You can get them for about $200. I bought my first one thinking I would only use it to spray paint with. You'd be surprised how many uses they have. I rebuilt the first one and then when I wore it out again, I rebuilt it from a second one that was given to me. I had a nice 30 gallon (oiled) gifted to me about 15 years ago that runs off of a regular 20 amp 110 circuit. Have yet to find a job it could not do. Point is, start off with something relatively inexpensive if you plan on shooting it yourself, and then upgrade if you find that you use it a lot. I normally advocate to buy the best tools that you can afford, however, in this case, that could be overkill if you don't use an air compressor a lot, however, if you choose to spray the bus yourself, the tools will more than pay for themselves in one use.

Remove as much trim as you can vs. masking it off. You get a better paint job, as the flow of the paint is not interrupted, and although there is some time savings in masking vs removing, it's not much when looking at the total hours.

There is a bit of a technique to spraying, but you-tube it I'm sure they have videos.
Thank you sooo much for your detailed response again. You have no idea how much it helps me! Yes there are extra fees for repainting any different color, but good thing the color was originally pastel white on the bus so it'll look neater if the inside and outside are the same color in my opinion. I also found this video super helpful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-mGoUzHeUk and bought the round electrical sander, plus the other materials he mentioned. I'll send some pics when I finish sanding and repainting!

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