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VW Busses

2002-08-01 17:38:08+00 by ebradway 10 comments

Heidi and I took the bus up to Grandfather Mountain near Boone, NC this past weekend. It was the Sixth Annual High Country Bus Festival. About 150 VW busses and their owners. A scene kind of like a blend between a Dead show, a Rainbow Gathering, and Junkyard Wars...

[ related topics: Photography History Art & Culture Eric's Life Automobiles ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-08-01 18:16:18+00 by: Pete


#Comment made: 2002-08-01 18:37:52+00 by: Diane Reese

People have been telling me for years that teenaged boys thought a lot about cars (hmm... I think it was cars they mentioned...). My 15.5 year old son has started thinking about cars recently, all right, and all of them are VW Busses. He now has his heart set on one; I'll have to show him your photos. (I think he has a wireless nomadic existence in mind.)

First he has to learn to drive a manual transmission, though...

#Comment made: 2002-08-02 16:05:26+00 by: ebradway

You can get them with automatic transmissions - but they are very much underpowered to begin with. Actually, I know of a '79 Westy with an auto transmission in Atlanta,GA that the owner wants $900 for. He says it has an oil leak - but they all do. The bus manual is actually very easy to operate compared to a small car.

There are some big advantages to driving a VW as your first car. First, there's the clubs - lots of friendly people to help you make sure your VW keeps going (there are even AAA style road-rescue groups who list their phone numbers on the web). Second, they are pretty simple and parts aren't terribly expensive. Rebuilding a VW engine is a very doable project for almost any teenager. They experience is invaluable.

Some things to be aware of though, there is no real front-end protection for the driver. In a head-on crash, you are the crumple zone. Fortunately, the bus is big and slow - rarely hit in the front except for deer but even they usually are fast enough to get out of the way...

#Comment made: 2002-08-02 19:51:44+00 by: Mars Saxman

My sister's car is a bug; she rebuilt its engine last year, when she was 20. She had basically no prior mechanical experience. If she can do it...

I tried driving a bus once and found its transmission distinctly odd. I couldn't quite work it - the shift pattern is mushy and sort of diagonal. Maybe it was only confusing because I'm used to the "six pronged H" pattern, though.

#Comment made: 2002-08-03 21:05:53+00 by: Diane Reese

ebradway: After I told him about the clubs you mentioned, he got all excited. "So it's a 'keep the old cars running' movement, I guess?" He's decided he wants the Westy. Then he asked whether they could ship it from Atlanta. (LOL!) I suggested maybe a two-week cross-country sojourn with Mom. He thought for a minute and said, "That would be kind of a hippie thing to do, huh."

I smiled.

#Comment made: 2002-08-05 14:08:07+00 by: ebradway

Mars: The bus, like all vehicles with significant shift linkages (where the shifter is located some distance from the transmission - unlike most modern cars where the stick goes straight into the trans), gets real sloppy with age. The bus actually is worse because of the length of the linkages and number of joints. Add to it a cable-operated clutch (as opposed to hydraulic), and you have the potential for a realy bad experience. However, the bus has alot of mass and a really low first gear. It's easy to get started (the hardest part of learning to drive a stick). The momentum gives you plenty of time to change gears - it's not a sports car, so linger in neutral for a while.

diane: The bus clubs are even more of a keep the old cars going movement - it's actually a subculture - a very different group from the folks who hang out at Sonic in their 50's muscle cars. It's also surprisingly family oriented.

That bus in Atlanta probably would make it most of the way back. You'd have to talk to the guy who has it to decide which parts to take with you. Yes, you'll likely end up on the side of the road, but there's no better way to learn how the vehicle works! And with the camper, you can just stay there until you get it fixed!

#Comment made: 2003-05-29 00:32:22.12007+00 by: -bert

I have a 73 bus,auto/ac with wiring problems (turn signals don't work, wiper circuit cooks fuses). there is a 1500 in the back with a large hole around it.

Does anyone know where a wire harness and related parts for such an animal might be found? -bert

#Comment made: 2003-05-31 22:14:20.360176+00 by: ebradway

Bert - go to Type2.Com and join the mailing list. Other than that, call The Bus Depot. They sell or can find anything you need to get your bus running.

#Comment made: 2003-07-10 16:59:56.401967+00 by: April

Does anyone know where to go for "bus fests" in New England? Where do I find that info? April

#Comment made: 2003-07-11 21:55:58.646087+00 by: ebradway

Check the Full Moon Bus Club and Type2.com for bus campouts.