The intrepid van became my full-time home for a time, inhabiting rest areas and parking garages until I was offered a comfortable basement room in the home of some very kind and gracious friends. Westly no longer has quiet, secure off street parking and was even egged a few nights ago (really - people still do that??) but he's adapting well.
One of the worst aspects of the situation is that Van Kid is no longer "allowed" to go camping with me. Hopefully we can work that out in the future but camping without him is kind of dull and now that school has started weekends are the only time I see him, so outings have been greatly curtailed. One of the more memorable though was a day hike to Talapus and Olallie lakes. Van Kid traversed the entire eight miles with no complaining, carrying his own pack. Way to go Kid!
|Van Kid at Talapus Lake|
Too cold to swim but we had fun watching crayfish along the shore
|Taking a break along the trail|
Photo by Van Kid
Gawd I'm looking old!
|Redwood's dad - the Pilot Poet|
Physically grounded but mentally soaring
|View from inside the cool dark hanger to 100 deg f bright sunshine outside|
That's one serious garage door!
The grassy area beyond is a runway
|Piloting the skiff on Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake|
By the way, I was reading recently that incorporating too many parenthetical statements was a sign of poor writing. Well ok...guilty!
|Green Mamba- bite 90% fatal, can slither up to 15 mph (yikes!)|
Or maybe it was the African Bush Viper, but the Mamba is just way more interesting
Westly performed flawlessly, if ponderously most of the summer except for a period where he petulantly refused to start, particularly after sitting alone all night. Some mornings he would start right up with vim and vigor, other mornings just an abject clicking or worse - no response at all.
The diesel engine is an utter power hog during starting. First the glow plug circuit is activated - essentially four heating elements that glow red hot to get the combustion party started. Then, the starter motor which must overcome 22.5:1 compression (some 2 to 3 times that of a standard gas engine) to turn the engine over. Once it's going though, because a diesel has no coil or spark plugs (and in one of this vintage, no computerized anything) it has virtually no electrical load - just a small fuel solenoid that could operate on a 9-volt battery if necessary. In fact, here is a keen trick I learned. You can wire up a 9-volt battery (we used to call them transistor radio batteries back in the day) to a pigtail that connects to ground and the solenoid wire. Then if the van battery it totally dead, you can attach this small battery to open the fuel solenoid and push start the van.
|Portable jumper battery under the back seat, wired through an Anderson Power Pole connector |
directly to the starter and ground. Makes jump-starting sooo much easier and quickly
detaches for other uses
650 cold cranking amps
This is the battery you want for the Vanagon diesel
This effectively solved the starting problem but then a couple of months later the charge indicator light stubbornly refused to go out. The voltmeter showed no charging action at all and the drive belt was tight so I called my favorite local parts store and ordered an alternator which arrived within the hour. I had trouble removing the alternator from the mounting bracket, so unbolted the entire assembly and brought it in. The helpful folk at Auto Sports Imports in Seatac, WA got them separated and swapped the pulley from the core to the new alternator for me at no additional cost. I love you guys - if you had a website, I would include a link to it here!
|Rear view of the Bosch AL33X alternator with "W' terminal |
that sends the signal to the tachometer
On another day I replaced the bushing that supports the sliding door handle as mine was missing, allowing water and dust in and making the outside handle all floppy feeling. The little knob that locks and unlocks the door from the inside had fallen off and gotten lost on some bumpy dirt road so I made a replacement from an extra front door lock knob I had scavenged from a parts van. While the inside door panel was off I tightened and lubed the lock and connections.
Now Westly's charging system, engine, tires, and doors are all operating smoothly.
Hoping my life will smooth out as well...