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Date:         Fri, 14 Jul 2006 18:53:59 -0400
Reply-To:     Kragen Sitaker <kragen@POBOX.COM>
Sender:       Vanagon Mailing List <>
From:         Kragen Sitaker <kragen@POBOX.COM>
Subject:      magic bus is dead; want parts?
In-Reply-To:  <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

So our air-cooled 1982 Vanagon has a cracked head, and all of our attempts to find a new head over the last two weeks have failed. And we've run out of time to find parts, so we have to sell it, either whole or in parts.

It's currently in the Twin Cities, north of Minneapolis.

There are a bunch of photos of it online, e.g.

A complete list of all the online photos is at but many of those unfortunately show various parts of it in various stages of disassembly.

Most of these photos are sharp enough that you can see very fine details if you go to the "original size" view.

It has been a very comfortable place to live over the last two months (minus the last couple of weeks). It was originally a Vanagon L (non-camper model); a company in Oakland did a camper conversion on it that makes it look remarkably Westfalia-like, although the pop-top design is more spacious and the front seats don't turn around.

It has an extra deep-cycle marine cell, an upstairs bunk, one screened window (plus the ones in the pop-top), a three-gallon propane tank, a Dometic propane refrigerator, a propane stove, a drinking-water tank, a sink, a folding awning off the side, a top-carrying rack, and some extra storage space on top in the front.

This is the California version of the 1982 Vanagon, with the extra emission-control equipment, including an idle control unit, a catalytic converter (newly replaced!), and an EGR filter.

We paid $4300 for it three months and about 5000 miles ago, and since then, we've fixed the following: - clogged catalytic converter (replaced) - three leaks in fuel-injection lines (replaced, although someone should really replace the remaining couple) - loose connection on alternator caused battery to charge intermittently - totally shot spare tire (replaced with new tire) - unusable fridge knobs (made new ones) - broken window crank knob (made a new one) - awning was mildewy - floppy side mirrors wouldn't hold position (tightened) - dead wiper blades (replaced with new ones and Rain-Xed windshield) - passenger sun visor was too tight (loosened) - dirty air filter (replaced)

The major problem is that the engine overheated, cracked a head, melted a piston and started on a second, and scored a couple of cylinders, one badly. We do have a crankcase that appears good, plus two pistons, two cylinders, and a head that appear good; and we just received a new engine gasket set and four new pistons and cylinders. Unfortunately none of this helps us without a new head, and we've been looking for one of those for two weeks.

The minor problems are as follows:

- odometer doesn't work - gasoline leak from top of fuel tank (hoses need replacing) - heater doesn't work - one pop-top joint missing its bolt and standoff - leaking clutch fluid from both cylinders; fluid doesn't look low. They might need rebuilding. - broken knobs on Dometic propane refrigeration system (my makeshift replacements work reasonably well) - lots of play in the gearshift (takes some practice to distinguish first from third gear) - small tears in pop-top screens need sewing up - noisy transmission bearing - noisy in general; replace foam? - radio doesn't work - turn signals don't cancel - some of the snaps on the pop-top flaps are broken - lousy gas mileage last time we drove it; but now we have a new catalytic converter, which might help - stinky exhaust; new catalytic converter might help here too, as might a new engine - I'm not sure the dual-battery system is hooked up correctly to prevent the RV appliances from draining the starter battery - one of the side lights in the interior doesn't light up; probably dead bulb - radio antenna is loose - speedometer reads low because of oversized wheels - rear bumper extensions are missing (i.e. only the metal part of the bumper is present) - passenger door window fell down (it's working now, but might fall down again) - the top layer of some of the paint is peeling

So, who finds this exciting?

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