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From: Pete Albrecht
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: (Off Topic) VW bus?
Date: 22 Aug 1998 15:03:27 GMT

Hi, Perfesser.

>He wants $500.  Anything in particular I should look for, anything I
>should avoid like the plague?

Well, I don't own one. But a friend has one and I'm often called on to help fix
things. (Not that it has any propensity to break; it's just that's what my
friend owns, a 67 crew cab VW pickup...)

The engine -- well, I don't know what a Pinto carb is doing on there. The
engine may have been kludged by one of those self-taught (i.e. books written by
other kludgemeisters) "experts." Look for more warning signs of incompetent
engine rebuild. I once bought a Porsche 356 that had an engine done by these VW
Visigoths. Drove it around the block, decided it was unsafe, and parked it
pending total restoration. Clues to internal vandalism: Weber carburetors
instead of the correct Solexes, an engine oil cooler bolted in front of the fan
shroud intake hole so it took waste heat OUT of the oil and put it right back
INTO the cooling air. Brilliant. Plus all the added oil lines were stuffed
behind the fan and eventually broke the throttle linkage which is why I found
it dead on the road to begin with, with an owner very eager to sell (turns out
the car was a factory lightweight with aluminum panels, but he didn't know or
care about this rarity).

Anyway, at least one other thing comes to mind immediately. Places where they
rust -- right behind front wheels, inside wheel wells, like where the front
tires kick up spray.

My friend's bus/truck has rust inside the doors, in the hinge areas.

Check for rust under floor mats, between nose panel and where it kicks back up
for the wheel arch/seat.

What year is it?

There are some VW newsgroups. Try

Other than that, have to say most parts are readily available (even many body
sheetmetal repair pieces) and comparatively cheap, but how much work do you
want to do?


From: Jon Elson <>
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: (Off Topic) VW bus?
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 00:16:07 -0500

P'rfesser wrote:

> The 88 Taurus SW died on me.  Gotta get something else.  Mostly for a
> 6 mi/day commute, occasional 50-100 mile trips, carrying large model
> rockets.  I was thinking of a pickup.  Then one of my colleagues put
> me on to a fellow who has a VW bus.  I don't know the year yet and
> haven't talked to the fellow yet.  It's got 140K miles.  The fellow
> rebuilt the engine completely about 10K miles ago.  He drove it to
> Wyoming and back (to Kentucky) this year.  Apparently the only major
> problems are:  a somewhat rough body;  runs a bit hot so he's got the
> idle set a little high, and it's got a Pinto carburetor.  (??)

Warning!  These things are firebombs.  If you DO buy it, inspect the
fuel line very closely.  The fuel tank is right next to the engine, and
high.  The fuel lines are those hideous German cloth-webbed rubber
hoses, and years of heat, exposure to pure hydrocarbons and vibration
wears them out.  The difference is that when it breaks, instead of a
small fire from a little spilled fuel, it empties the fuel tank all over
the engine, due to the high location.  A huge fireball ensues, and
the fire department has to use bromine foam to put out the burning
Magnesium crankcase (or is it the transaxle?) before they hit it
with the booster hose.  If they don't knock down the Magnesium
fire first, it can cause a Hydrogen explosion, or just melt a hole in
the street.  (Note that the magnesium grabs the oxygen out of the
water, actually intensifying the fire, if you don't use something to
inert or cool the burning magnesium.  The remaining Hydrogen
can then explode in air.)

Other than that, they do work, but don't get in an accident in one.
They are literally tin cans, a far cry from the established safety
of your Taurus.  My wife has a '91 Taurus wagon with lots of miles
(over 110,000, original owner was a traveling salesman) on it,
we just had the transaxle rebuilt to the tune of $1300.  I think
it was worth it, assuming it doesn't throw a rod next week.
You can expect lots of noise, forget air conditioning (and
probably heat, as well).  Also, if the heat exchangers get holes,
you die of carbon Monoxide.  Security is non-existant, a good
hard pull and some wiggling of the handles often opens locked
doors or vent windows.  Expect a lot of repairs, like blown head
gaskets, brakes, suspension, etc.

All this applies to the MicroBus, some of the newer generations are
more advanced.  I couldn't tell what era of bus you were
talking about.  I DID have experience with the MicroBus in the
early '70s, and don't have any desire to go back.  But, when I
see a MicroBus with smoke coming out of the back, I always
park a block away and walk back, getting there about the time
the fire department arrives, to watch the show.


From: Pete Albrecht
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Conclusion:  VW bus
Date: 6 Sep 1998 20:04:06 GMT

>No wonder people are crazy about VWs.  Already I've had the gearshift
>pop out of its socket.  More than a little nervous, I took off two
>bolts.  Hey, there's hardly anything there!  I can understand this
>thing, not like today's "cars".  A little cleaning and grease and it's
>back in place and shifting smoother than before.

By George, I think he's got it!!!  Just about everything on those old cars (and
to a certain extent even American cars of that era) is simple to understand,
simple to repair, even simple to reproduce if parts aren't made anymore.
Barring accidents and legislation to keep us from driving, these old cars will
be running long after the modern injection-molded, computer-controlled stuff
has gone to the scrap heap because it costs too much to find parts ten years
down the road...


From: Pete Albrecht
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: (Off Topic) VW bus?
Date: 8 Sep 1998 05:15:59 GMT

Drivnhazrd wrote

>VW had a gasoline fueled heater which supposedly cured many of the problems
>mentioned by van Dam.  It was supposed to be very efficient and could make
>anyone feel positively toasty.

Yeah, the urban legend is that it's a tiny little gasoline bomb you can put in
your car.

They were also optional in Porsches. It was the Ebersp├Ącher BN4 gas heater.
Very rare. I think there's a guy in Colorado who specializes in repairing (or
perhaps disarming) them.

I don't know of any firsthand accounts of how dangerous they are. Maybe just a

They turn up at swap meets fairly frequently. Figure several hundred bucks.


From: Pete Albrecht
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Conclusion:  VW bus
Date: 9 Sep 1998 19:10:03 GMT

>Perhaps someone can answer a question for me.  Why do VW bus owners insist
>on driving 45 MPH in the fast lane of the freeway?

Most likely fried neurons from their tour of duty as Flower Children. They
can't handle sensory inputs at a higher rate.

> When I pass them, I can
>always hear the owner say, "It's got the same engine as a Porsche!"  :-)

Lies/wishful thinking/ego stroking/brain damage/all of the above (your choice).
Virtually none (at least, none of the parts you're gonna need) of the VW parts
interchange with any but the very earliest (1950-mid 50s?) Porsche parts.
At the back of the book "Porsche 356: Driving in its purest Form" is a Porsche
factory document listing all the parts bought in from VW in the 1960-63
Porsches. It's mostly stuff like rubber grommets, bushings, clamps, lock
washers. The most expensive items are the rear axle and the ring and pinion.

I have three 356s and about the only VW stuff that will work are the ignition
coil and the wires. The Porsche has about 2-3 times the horsepower. You can do
that when you have completely different heads and dual carbs. Around the car,
there are a few VW parts that fit. The rear axle boots (sometimes). Some wheel
bearings. Some bushings. Window cranks (but they look different). My favorite
mechanic put a Porsche 356 engine into his 1957 VW Transporter pickup, and it
cruises at 80 mph. (This is also the type of person who put a Porsche Turbo
engine and suspension into a 356... goes 160 he says and damned if I know how
they keep it on the ground). A decent Porsche engine rebuild will cost about
$4000, depending on parts needed. You can buy several VWs for that price.


From: Pete Albrecht
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Conclusion:  VW bus
Date: 10 Sep 1998 02:21:43 GMT

>I thought the last of the "bay-window" buses had Porche engines
>(at least, that's what VW's literature said). That would have
>been in the late '70s, just before the Vanagon came out.

Porsche DID help with the design of the engines but they were built entirely by
VW. My old department at Porsche had a few contracts for the water-cooled VW
bus engines.

There was a few Porsche-built all-wheel-drive Vanagons or whatever they were
called, about 1985ish, with 3.2 liter Carrera engines in them. They were built
as toys for Porsche management.


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