The brief test ride of the Westy proved that it is a dangerous machine in current form. The steering had about 20 degrees of arc before anything happened at the wheels. Scary to say the least!! After checking the tie rods and linkage, it was obvious that a big chunk of the problem was the drag link. Both tie rod ends were easily movable by hand. Not good. The replacement had locknuts rather than castle nuts and instantly fixed the issue.
1975 VW Westfalia
where to begin? Cleaning of the upholstery produced surprisingly good results. The passenger side mirror is properly secured, some POR-15 is applied to a few select areas to arrest the development of rust. Two new e-brake cables are installed and the bus can now stay put when asked. Some vacuum lines are replaced, A number of wires are removed, or properly insulated. The front grill air intake is cleaned out. The idle speed is adjusted. The roof mechanism is adjusted so that it stays closed. I could go on and on...
The Westy adds a new dimension to a vehicle in that it has two batteries. One for driving, and one for the “house” . The driving battery is old and suspect. The house battery is missing. The good news is that this allows some planning around solar. A deep cycle unit is selected that will match up well to the existing inverter I have and the solar panel planned. The goal is that this vehicle will be able to go boon docking for a bit. More on this in an upcoming post.
The tough initial work is replacing the bad sheet metal. Rocker panels, and the bottom of the cargo door, and the main battery tray. Wolfsburg West had everything needed and a large order was placed. It arrives surprisingly quickly in a nice big white box. How symbolic.
Part of the appeal of a mid 1970s vehicle is that the fashion and taste of that era is right there in your face. Love it or hate it. The blue/green plaid interior is not original to the bus, but it is correct for the year. As usual, the rear seat and bunk area is in good shape, but the driver and passenger seats are not so much. In fact, the driver seat is just cloth over springs! To save the original fabric, the seats need to be addressed right away. Sheep skins were a common solution, and great if you are in Canada, but we are not. New covers and pads are available but pricey. The existing skins are in ok shape, but have wear and tear in key places. The padding and internals show evidence of multiple DIY attempts, and the headrests need new zippers, so I hand them over to my local upholstery wizard. Given the plans for this bus, a refurbishing may look better than new product. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
The legend of the VW Bus is centered around its ability to travel (slowly), and become a mobile home. The ultimate expression of that is the Westfalia model. VW sent a Kombi buses to the Westfalia company, who converted them into a camper complete with furniture, sink, cooktop, and a popup tent on top. A Bus has many different potential areas of concern, and a Westy adds new concerns to the existing 40+ year old areas. This bus has some rust along the rockers, rear quarters, and a few areas of the floor, but overall it is in good shape. The body looks deceivingly good from some angles. The popup tent is new, and the interior is surprisingly good. Wiring looks to be a mess. The discovery phase will tell the real story….