Time slips by!

Looking back at the date of my last post (Oct. 28, 2020), it’s been a good few months! Where have I been? Well.. lots has happened, personally and in the world, since my last writing. COVID-19 remains to be top of mind with MOST of the world. All international travel has been restricted which means my business travel has stopped. This has enabled me to travel (safely) more locally.

One of our first adventures out was to a community car gathering with the AirCooled Drivers Guild at Aurora Coffee in Atlanta. It was a nice turn out of bugs and vans. Unfortunately, I didn’t go for the cruise with them afterwards! They got some REALLY good pictures in a parking lot with a graffiti wall. I did get a nice long shot of the parking lot we were in prior to the cruise.


Then my son and I were able to wash up our two classics and bring them over to a local school for a photo shoot. I enjoy spending time with my son as well as his passion for the 1967 Squareback! 


Then once he’s clean, you KNOW you must get him dirty! We (son and I) headed up to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to meet up with the Southern Aircooled Group as they were doing a camping weekend. At this point, I still have NOT done a shake down of the van. I did attempt to fill up the water tank with water so I could make coffee on the road. The water tank appears to have a leak in it. (…add that to the work list) I also did a road trip to my father’s house up past Chattanooga, TN. We did a little off-road trail riding and muddy water was leaking in somewhere from the floor. That will have to be investigated as well. None the less, the road trips make for nice scenic pictures! 2020-11-0707-17h-45m-44s-1


From there, I started digging into the vehicle because there seemed to be some gremlins popping up. I knew not everything would be rosy and perfect on a vehicle from 1989 bought sight unseen! With my perfectionist personality, it makes for a dangerous combination! I start having issues with the battery dying. I wasn’t too sure how everything was wired up but I knew that it had 3 automotive batteries in it. It turns out that the starter battery was leaking and not really holding a charge. So, that lead me down the road of starting to rip up the carpeting and seeing how the van was wired. I knew, this as well, would become part of my project list! (It’s growing quickly!)


None the less, it didn’t stop me from picking up a new starter battery and driving it down to Florida to see the in-laws during the winter holiday break! My daughter and I were able to get in some scuba as well as doing a proper road trip with the family.


On the way back from Florida (550 miles one way), we had our first “break down” moment. We were just cruising at 70 MPH in the slow lane when BAM! A puff of white smoke out the back of the van and loss of turbo and power from engine. I freaked because I didn’t know what could really be going on. Ruthie was… well, Ruthie. She’s started cursing at the van and saying how she didn’t trust him not breaking down. I had to have “the conversation” that these vehicles have feelings! You can’t talk about how they’ll break down and such! We pulled off to a gas station, checked fluids, filled gas and all was well.. until it wasn’t again.

Long story short, I frantically searched for a rental car place to get the family on the road while I dealt with the situation at hand. Needless to say, they got home about 15 minutes ahead of me! I just never really engaged the turbo to any degree and it sailed home! (Yep, add this to the work list as well!)

All in all, I’ve got a BIG list carved out! Most of the list are “wants” not needs. My game plan is going to be to pull out the entire interior. With it being bare on the inside, I can address any interior rust on the panels/floor, pull out the plumbing for LPG, convert the night time cabin heater to diesel plumbed into aux fuel tank, upgrade aux batteries to lithium and solar. Yea… that’s a LOT! It’s not going to happen over night! I mean, I’d like it to but then there’s reality (reality’s name is Ruthie… for what it’s worth!) . So, I’ll be trying to document the upgrades along the way. Most of the time, I’m snapping quick pictures and putting them up on Van Diesel’s Instagram.

The current plan of record is to bring it up to Westy Motorwerks in Asheville, NC. I had a “German master mechanic” look at it and let’s just say I didn’t see that partnership of a mechanic going anywhere. So, onto a new one that KNOWS these vehicles! Until next time…

2 Comments on “Time slips by!

  1. I don’t want to rain on your parade because that is a good looking Syncro you bought. But I don’t think it is a genuine factory 16″ Joker (What we in North America call a Westfalia). It is missing the plastic wheel arch covers, VW hacked out the arches to contain the longer 16″ trailing yard arms and then covered up their work with the flares. Have you measured the trailing arms and compared them to another regular syncro? Besides the bigger CVs, brakes, axles VW also welded in extensions on the shock mounts and reinforced body panels. Have you removed the interior cards in the rear bed unit? Do you see welded webbing that adds structural integrity? Is there a welded piece of reinforcement above the B pillar on the passenger’s side?
    Here’s a great website that details the difference between a 14″ and a 16″.

    Anyway enjoy your rig. You should probably ditch that 1600 turbodiesel. Talk you wife into the advantages of a new diesel engine. It’s only $$.


    • Hey James, thanks for the feedback. It’s an original 16″ from Germany (I imported it). It has the additional frame beam which give it that clearance. Additionally, the wheel arches where enlarged to allow for larger tires. The body panels internally are all solid, to your point. It has a 1.9 TDi engine not 1600. Thanks for reading and commenting! Have a good one!


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