Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Electrical. How (not) fun

I know its been a few weeks. Like so many folks, time disappears around Thanksgiving and it doesn't really re-appear until after New Years Eve. I've been in that time warp, but I have been thinking bus-y thoughts.

Well, that's Interesting

I've spent a few hours in front of televised football, Bentley wiring diagram in hand, trying to figure out the electrical system. I have this very odd electrical behavior I'm trying to chase down.  It all started again when I put the replacement battery in. I shook something loose, and now, when the running light is on, I can't shut off the engine with the key. Turn the key back to run, shut off the lights and then turn the key? Shuts off. The last time this happened, I removed the ground wire for the rear light from the tab and re-attached it. Problem went away. This time? No such luck. The brake warning system light is also illuminated when the running lights are on, so I figured it had something to do with the rear bulb again. I've removed and replaced the bulb, but no luck. The symptom persists. This brings me to my football, Bentley and head-scratching.

Wiring Mess
In looking at the Bentley, the wiring diagram for the brake warning light is pretty simple, but it connects to a few things I wouldn't have expected, like the generator warning system. I concluded that the brake warning light would be on all the time if it wasn't semi-controlled by the generator, so after some thought, that makes sense. Still, I don't have that generator hooked up, so maybe one end of that wire got itself grounded or something. Knowing the holiday break was coming, I concluded that it was finally time, after 10 years of ownership, to pull the face off the dashboard and clean up the wiring. It's actually very easy, like so many things, to take the dashboard apart. 4 Phillips-head screws (2 on each end) hold it on. Before you start removing them, though, detach the speedometer cable. On the old bus, its a right-hand thread-in type. Vanagons have a different set up.

My bus doesn't have the little plastic tips on the "climate" control levers anymore, so I didn't have to remove those. If you have these little tips, be careful; they break easily. Once the screws are out, the face lifts off. Tilt it towards you, so the top slips under the steering wheel. You can do quite a bit of wiring without having to remove the steering wheel, but first, marvel at the dusty, dirty electrical mess behind that dash. Wow.

Enter Winter Break
My employer likes to shut the offices down for the last 2 weeks of the calendar year. They have concluded that many folks take that time off anyway, so why heat a building that only has a handful of people in it? Makes sense. So, I'm lining up work for the break. I'm starting with the wiring. I've spent a few hours figuring out which wires I don't need anymore because of my different engine. I still haven't figured out the weird short in the tail light, and now I have new electrical demons to chase (see picture). The wiring behind the dash is long overdue for some love, and the fuse-box hasn't been attached to the bus frame since I bought it. Yikes. Add in the tail light, and I've got a bit of work ahead.

Plus, I've been wanting a windshield washer, and I haven't had one since I bought the bus. RAtwell lightly describes a way of installing a more modern washer (from the air-pressure model of the bus), but he has a '79. The washer valve is completely different in a '79, so this becomes a greater engineering challenge. Bring it!

Last, I found some headliner material for cheap. The ceiling of the bus is Baltic Birch that was painted white, and looks awful. I thought the foam/felt could absorb a little ambient noise and make the interior a little nicer looking. We'll see if I have the time.

That's it for today. I have already started some of the engineering work around the washer. I'll post on that progress, as well as all the other things I started sine my last post as we enter the new year. Have a great holiday season, and as always, thanks for following along-

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thinking Big from Thinking Small

It's been a quiet month , postings-wise, but busy out in the world.  Work for both me and Boo has been quite heavy.  So, I've found myself doing much more of the usual domestic stuff while her seemingly endless days of long hours continue.  Additionally, I recently endured another round of legal fun with my ex-, so I have had lots of time force-focused on what I'd call small-ball.  Get through the day stuff.  It helped me recognize that by spending so much time in the deep detail, you really can't get out above it to see the larger picture without some effort.  Today's musings are along those lines.

Small Ball
What is thinking small?  I think that's perhaps the most important question followed by "how do you recognize when you're blocked in by it?"  Thinking small comes in all shapes.  I've had it happen when I'm working on a very fine point on the bus, like fixing the coolant leak.  While that thing plagued me, I couldn't get out of it enough to see the bigger project and plan things out.  As a result, after I fixed the leak I languished for a few weeks trying to figure out what was next.  The past 3 weeks, I've been focused on personal budgets, domestics, day-to-day work and the upcoming legal event.  Each of these presented the opportunity to think both big and small, but the pressure and fatigue had me down in the weeds.  My focus was picking up dishes or running a load of laundry.  Really small stuff.

Spotting It
How do you know you're thinking small?  Consider the time horizon of whatever you're focusing on.  Does it vary?  Or, have you rutted into a fixed and shorter time period?  Consider the scope of the issues you're thinking about.  Are the different things varied in size?  Or, are they all somewhat the same size?  The less the time horizon and scope vary, the more you'll find yourself in a shrinking space.  Without recognizing it and making an adjustment, you'll only be thinking small.  Bigger plans won't come to you inspired.  Instead, you'll be deep focusing on tiny details.  While going deep into details sometimes necessary, being there all the time traps you from greater ideas.

Changing It
Sometimes, the event you're high-centering on has a fixed point-in-time, like my legal hearing.  Once it passes, the Small Ball passes with it.  Other times, the thing you're focused on has to complete before your mind can let it go.  That was the case with my coolant leak problem.  But, can you force yourself out of the deep?  Yes, you can; there are lots of ways.  My favorite is going to a travel website and pretend to plan a trip a few weeks or months out or trolling JamBase for a concert a few weeks out.  By looking that far ahead, you trigger yourself to force your mind into a different time horizon.  Spend at least 15 minutes in this different time horizon.

It was this kind of thinking that got the TDI-into-a-bus project started in the first place.  I had spent so much time deep into the effort of getting my center-mount Weber carb to operate well at or below dew-point that I couldn't see the rest of the bus project.  I poked around for different power ideas, read some bulletin boards, and started to get my mind out of the deep detail.  Then, I totally switched it up and did a bunch of research on cob housing, and that flipped the switch.  I needed to poke around for different power answers first: force the mind to change the scope horizon.  Then, break free of the small with a completely different exploration at a high level, like cheap DIY housing with available-on-premises materials.

While I needed a day to emotionally recover from the hearing, I spent part of the next day researching heating solutions on the bus.  Just like that, I'm able to think big again.  Now, I'm asking myself what could camping season look like next summer?  If I can get a diesel heater integrated into the bus, could camping season start in April?  or even earlier?  What would the interior look like if I put a soft headliner in?  What if all of the seats were covered with the same fabric?  What about the exterior paint?  For some, this is still thinking small, and I totally get that.  For having started so deep, projecting work out beyond the next couple of days... thinking about things that could take a few weeks is a big step.

That's about it for today.  I'll keep stretching to consider bigger targets.  Maybe I'll resurrect that idea about a mountain cabin.  That was often a very effective tool to pull me back out of the weeds and consider life and my place in the world differently.  Thanks for following along, and now that I'm out of the depths, I might have something to post about again before the month is up.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Somehow, I've managed to work my way to 300 posts over the last 7 years.  Rather than a real-content post today, I'm going to reflect back kind of like when TV shows do a "best of" episode.  Frankly, I hate it when TV shows do that, and promptly switch the channel when they do, so my following that model is actually kinda funny.

0 - 100: The Start of Many Things
Ranging from January of 2007 to September of 2009, my first 100 posts ran the gamut of topics.  That's probably true of any cross-section.  In looking at what was happening with the bus, the blog starts with him running the original type4 engine, but I soon started the TDI work.  Early posts ranting on some old air-cooled vehicle abuses like removing the cooling system shifted to engine options and then to solving the install of a water-cooled plant into an air-cooled body.  Deciding on the engine was recorded on April 13th, 2007 (see Engine Decided) and a year later, the engine was still sitting on my garage floor, a failed first attempt on both the fuel tank relining and the engine mount had slowed me.  That winter was spent getting the engine and transaxle to mate for the first time (see first and second attempts).  I broke an adapter plate, and my spirit over that winter.  It took going on the road to see the Dead and starting the separation from my ex-wife to get the project going again in early 2009.  The first 100 posts ended with the new rear engine mount being fabricated, the starter adapter solved (see starter adapter corrected...), the vacuum completed (see what's that soft sucking sound) and the fuel fill set up.

101-200: Transitions
Starting in September of 2009, this block of 100 posts carried through late July of 2011.  I started this period sleeping in a spare room at my now ex-wife's house and ended this period completing a divorce and living in a townhouse apartment.  Still, the middle section of 100 posts started with the same urgency which the first 100 had at the end, in terms of bus work.  The fall of 2009 included the fuel tank (see Fuel Tank Solved) shape / vacuum pump issue, buttoning up the turbo, vacuum, starter, CV joints and moving the bus off the mud and onto concrete for winter work.  Over the Winter, the radiator/cooling was addressed (see Radiator test-fitted, shrouded and Installed) and the bus project really started to roll.  The hatch was finished, intake routed, electrical, clearing codes, finishing the coolant routing, primary electrical, etc.  By December of 2010, my ex- and I had decided to call it quits.  I spent January through March staying on my parent's couch trying to get the bus into a will-travel-under-own-power state before the divorce finalized.  I was able to get him running-ish, and had a muffler installed by Meineke (see Exhausted) during that working-remotely period.  By April, I had a townhouse-style apartment with a dedicated garage space and focused a considerable amount of free time into the bus' interior.  I swapped out the fridge for storage, applied more sound killer, installed an accessory battery and fuseblock (see fused) and ended the late July with installing a Riviera pop-top in place of the original ripped-up Westy top.

201 - 300: Moving
Picking up in late July of 2011, the final 300 posts carry us to today (early November 2014).  I started this period as a divorced father of 2 boys and an old bus, and I now conclude this period remarried father of 4 boys and an old bus.  We moved out of the townhouse apartment when they raised my rent past the point I could afford, and into Boo's condo.  From the condo, we moved into the house we've been in for 18 months now.  Frequency of posts dropped during that housing change and life settled into a very different pattern of family play versus self mechanic'ing.  This period, though, marks the time when the bus went from stationary project to daily driver.  In August, we camped in him for the first time in years (see One Small Step for Van).  Later that Fall, we hit the road to Eugene for Furthur but needed a tow home.  Like I've said before, the journey is the destination, and we had to pull the tank to get re-lined.

I returned the original engine harness to service, and struggled with coolant leaks while trying to keep him on the road.  I discovered a new love of snowboarding, and bonded with a new family at Mt. Hood.  The bus underwent more transformations as well.  He has a middle row bench seat (see Vanagon Seat Install, no longer has a grossly underused kitchenette (see Enter Summer, exist posting) and has a rebuilt jalousie window (see parts one and two).  I dropped his engine 3 times in this stretch of posts, twice having to separate the engine and transaxle.  Both of his bumpers have been hammered straight-ish and painted to an almost good-looking state (see front 1,2,3,4 and rear) and he now sports door cards as well as cards for most of the interior.  The ceiling doesn't sag anymore.  This past Summer, we had 3 flawless road trips to Nye Beack on the Oregon coast, Horning's Hideout and to the Black Sheep Family Reunion.

So, What's Next?
I guess that's always the question when you don't draw a map ahead of time.  I honestly don't know.  Frankly, I couldn't have drawn a map to this point and I wouldn't have ended up here if I'd tried to.  I look forward to many sights like the one below, simply driving the posted speed and enjoying the sights out the front windscreen.  As before and always, thanks for following along.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Peanut Butter (no Jelly) Time

No, I won't post that dancing banana video from a few years back, but I will reflect on a valuable use for peanut butter that I didn't expect.

That's Nasty
old pic from 2011 but
check the nasty back-end
When driving along, the air directly behind the vehicle creates a vacuum.  Car designers have worked all kinds of miracles in that area over the years, but with the old loaf-of-bread shaped VW bus, the vacuum is quite significant.  I've heard of water-cooled transplant failures caused because the builder put a radiator where the engine hatch is.  The vacuum made the radiator useless, unless the builder had the fans suck air in from behind, sort of leveraging the vacuum.  Even then, those installs look pretty atrocious and would pull all kinds of crap into the radiator fins, but I digress.  The vacuum grabs up water, road grime, dripping oil... and splats it on the rear bumper, engine hatch and rear hatch.  Over time, it gets pretty grimy.

In my bus' case, it was worse.  I mentioned the transaxle gear oil leak in previous posts.  That was bad.  On top of that, for a few years I was running the original tail lights and the old housings failed.  I was broke, so I held the tail lights on with duct tape.  Yes, the bus looked horribly ghetto.  I scored a pair of new (but not China-crap) housings from the BusDepot when they were on sale a few years ago, and replaced them.  I did not, however, clean up the old duct tape sticky residue left behind by the tape.

For the Greatest Shine You Ever Tasted (from the SNL Shimmer skit)
While cleaning out the garage, Boo came out from playing in the garden and started asking about the nasty back end of the bus.  We realized that once the newly painted bumper is put on, it will look even worse.  She ducked inside, and I went back to the garage.  A couple minutes later, she had returned with a fist of paper towels and a teaspoon of peanut butter.  "Hungry?" I asked.  "No, haven't you ever done this before?" she replied, and then proceeded to put a dab of peanut butter on the nasty duct tape.  "uh... what... are.. you..," was as far as I got as a response before I saw one of the 4 tacky squares which had been left behind by the duct tape had disappeared.  In a few minutes, all 4 of the big black marks were gone.  I was converted.  I left the garage in its not-yet-organized state and grabbed some peanut butter.  I polished the whole rear end with that magical stuff.  It acted like a cleanser-wax, cleaning the oil and grime while leaving a shine (presumably from the oils in the peanut butter).  Of course, there are probably lots of little peanut bits in there which would trash an otherwise nice paint job.  For original paint, complete with rust, patina and grease-finger prints, it is magic.

For kicks, I peanut oiled all of the little rust spots I had.  The petina-style rust didn't seem very affected.  Rather than a dull spot, it shined like the paint, but otherwise, it was about the same.  The rust which was a little deeper into the steel, though, did react differently.  The rust closest to the paint was unaffected, but as I moved more than a couple MM away from the paint edge, the rust turned silver.  Trippy.  I'll re-check those spots in a couple of days to see if that lasted or was just because the peanut butter picked up some of the body color and it simply attached to the rust a little bit.  Regardless, the experimenting was fun.

Like so may other times, I didn't take many pictures beforehand, but I do have one here of the back after it was cleaned.  Wow.  And there's a shine to it now.  Yes, the paint is still atrocious, but that's part of the ongoing work-in-progress.  The journey is the destination.

Of course, it rained all night the next night.  It will be interesting to see how long a peanut oil wax job will last in a NorthWest autumn (read: nearly constant rain or mist in the air).  Today, it really looks great.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ceiling Sag No More

Quick post today.

Well, That's Ugly
I recently realized that I've owned this bus for more than 11 years.  Wow.  Where did the time go?  A few years after I bought it, I decided that the 1972 Westy interior was a safety hazard for my (then quite young) boys.  I played this scenario out in my head where we got in a wreck and the boys, while unharmed, couldn't reach the sliding door handle behind the sink/icebox unit.  This lead to removing the sink/icebox, and, eventually, removing the entire early interior, replacing it with one from 1979.  Now, the 1979 interior assumed that the ceiling over the rear section of the bus was flat, whereas the 1972 ceiling was rounded.  Because of the difference, I couldn't install the '79 headbanger closet.  The 1972 storage shelf assumed that the closet was on the right side, so I couldn't reuse that either.  So, the net result was no shelf, and the ceiling was left bare... and unsupported.  Fast forward 5-8 years and the Baltic Birch sheet no longer clings to the upper steel sheet like it used to.  Quite the contrary, it droops pretty badly.

Now, That's Better
The solution was really quite simple: sheet metal screws.  I had put one in the center at the very rear a while ago, but that just held off the inevitable.  I used that as a starting point, running a sheet metal screw up into the ceiling, through the ceiling steel sheet a foot apart, front to back.  I set a screw on either side about a foot to each side as well.  While this isn't a final state either, it no longer sags.

Ideas on Final State
I've thought about what the interior of the bus should look like, and I've trolled around the internet a little bit looking for ideas.  I think it comes down to 2 options: buy automotive headliner material in bulk and install it with epoxy/glue -or- do something custom.  I think by now, you know I'll do something custom, its just a question of what.  To give the headliner a fair shake, though, it is the right material for the job, it's anti-microbial, non-flammable (even flame retardant) and comes in a variety of colors and textures.  My challenge is how it adheres to the Baltic Birch.  If it requires solely epoxy, gravity will be its undoing.  Sending staples through it to help hold it in place will ruin it.  Hmm.. more thought and research needed.

That's all for now.  As always, thanks for following along-

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rear Bumper Clean-up

On the drive to the coast for the family gathering for Independence Day, I realized that something in the drive-train was leaking oil.  Drips would hit the air turbulence under the bus, atomize, and the resulting mist would get caught in the vacuum behind the moving bus.  Within the vacuum, it would splatter against the rear of the bus; especially the rear bumper.  Over the last few posts, I explained how I solved the leaking oil (it was a bad input shaft seal, damaged by a faulty oil slinger, which was either damaged because I didn't have a pilot bearing in my flywheel or because AA transaxle used an old bell-housing).  Now that the oil leak is solved, I can focus on the last thing I wanted done before the Fall (see Setting and Re-setting Expectations): cleaned up and painted rear bumper.  Today's post covers the start of that journey.

The Missing and the Modesty Skirt
scrub clean first
Like the bolts holding the front bumper on, the square-lock bolts holding the rear bumper are in pretty bad shape.  Rusty.  Painted over with what looks like interior paint.  Missing.  I'll need at least 3 replacements when I'm all done.  At some point during the engine swap project, I removed the splash pans from either end of the rear bumper.  I'm sure that was a good idea at the time, and it gave me the opportunity to troll through my garage looking for them in my boxes of parts.  Like a trip down memory lane, it took longer than it should have, but I found them.  I set them aside and removed the modesty skirt from the bottom of the bumper.  I don't know why the bus has one of these; and I don't see any on the handful of buses I regularly see.  Maybe 1972 was an especially shy year for cars.  Anyway, I hammered it semi-straight-ish.  Then, I taped the front, bottom and sides and put it with the splash pans.  On a sunny day, I spray painted the pans and the unmasked front of the modesty skirt with rubberized undercoating.  Once dry, I removed the tape from the modesty skirt so rest of it could be painted white like the main bumper.

Sanding and Banging
Unlike the front bumper which had 3 distinct pieces, the rear bumper is a long stretch of curved steel.  The curves run top to bottom as well as curl in on the ends.  This made banging it straight more challenging.  Again, like with the front bumper, I aimed for 'good enough for camping kwality' in my bodywork.  Unlike the front bumper, the rear had a couple of very old bumper stickers on it and when they were removed, they took a couple coats of crappy paint with them.  This led to some unwelcome contours I tried to solve with 150-grit sand paper.  I learned along the way that the sand paper could help me identify minor dings by bringing up a lower level of paint around an area.  It was with this technique that I discovered that the bolt holes were centered on dimples the size of US quarters.  Some more banging with the hammer got them flat.

Paint, Wet Sand
Once I declared "good enough" on the cyclical sand, hammer, sand process, I pulled out the white Rustoleum I used on the front bumper.  It's been about a year since I did that front bumper, so its time to review how it is holding up.  To be fair, the bus hasn't seen many miles (probably less than a thousand) since it was done, but it has been outside in my driveway where the kids are playing when it wasn't driving to music festivals.  The bumper looks good, and I mean really good.  No rust staining, no blemishes, no cracks or chips.  I applied straight Rustoleum with a foam brush inside and out and set it to dry.  The next morning, it was totally dry.  Total drying time was over 12 hours, but some ranters on the interweb claim it takes forever for this paint to dry.  False.  Just apply it properly: spread a thin coat always keeping a wet edge by brushing into the already painted surface.

After the paint set up, I could see large sections where the paint underneath had been pulled away by bumper stickers.  In a real body shop, they'd probably strip the whole bumper down.  I thought about that.  In a cheap-o body shop, they'd fill with Bondo.  I thought I could experiment with spackle, since that was what I had, and see how it behaves over time.  Worst case, it looks like crap and I strip the bumper down later.  Big deal.  First, I wet-sanded the paint.  I needed to do it anyway, and I figured that would give some teeth for the spackle.  So, with a basic putty knife and a small tub of spackle, I smeared paste over the bigger spots, and some small ones.  I slipped inside and watched some football for a couple hours while it dried and then cuffed the spackle down with 150-grit sandpaper.

More Paint
Once smooth, I wiped the bumper down with a damp paper towel and applied a second coat of white Rustoleum.  Same method, similar results.  This time, though, you could tell where the spackle spots were because the white paint wasn't shiny in those spots.  At this point, I figured I probably should have done something else, but I just plowed ahead: wet sand with 320 grit, another coat of paint, more 320 grit wet sanding.  This time, you really can't tell where the spackle is, but I wasn't 100% sold.  SO, I decided to wait a week and look again next weekend to see if another coat of paint would be needed, would help, or if I'd just be throwing product at a bad idea.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Back Together, Test Drive

In my last posts, I covered the hazardous re-assembly of the engine-to-transaxle and the install of the combined unit at 15*.  Today, completes that journey.  In order to do the re-assembly as quickly as possible, I tried doing it a little differently.  I usually do system by system.  This time, I did it based on where I was and did everything I could before I moved.  I'm not sure I'll do that again, but it was interesting.  I cleaned every part with brake cleaner before installing it.  It made a world of difference, and I'll do that every time now.  Handling a clean part is just so much better than the oily, greasy alternative.

Lower Right Rear
Starting below the right side of the engine, there are a few things to do, starting with the CV joint.  I place a jack under the lower shock-absorber mount and lift until the tire just barely leaves the ground.  Then, with 6 new Allen-head bolts (one striped last time), attach the CV joint to the side of the transaxle and drop the tire back onto the ground.  At the front of the transaxle on the right side, is the ground strap.  It requires a 13mm socket.  Install the starter.  It requires a 17mm socket (need to verify) for the 2 bolts plus a 13mm for the B+ cable from the battery.  Plug in the trigger signal wire to the starter.  Connect the B+ wire to the Atlernator and plug in the sensor wires.  Double check all the other visible sensor wires (like on the cooling system) are plugged in.  Last, zip-tie the cooling pipes up out of the way from the axle.

Put in the rear support bar.  Don't forget to put the rear bumper mounts back in when you do the bar; they use the same bolts.  Install the support tower and the rear engine-frame mount.  If you get this far and the mount isn't lining up, check the support bar install.  If the mount and tower are on different angles, you probably mated the engine to the transaxle at something other than 15*.  Go back one posting :)  Once the rear mount is in, hook up the exhaust.  The muffler pipe has a hook that fits onto the rubber mount which is hanging off the right side of the rear support bar.  Once hanging, it should fit with enough room to maneuver the rest of the pipe without it hitting the ground nor the bus and no jacking required.

The exhaust-to-turbo mating has a gasket and 3 13mm nut/bolts.  One mount is a stud coming out of the turbo.  Because of the design, at least one of the 13mm needs to be tightened with a wrench instead of a socket.  Next comes the intake system.  Start with the non-charged air pipe from the air cleaner to the turbo.  This is held on with 10mm bolts, and most of the work is from above rather than through the rear hatch.  Next, the charged-air plumbing with the intercooler is most easily installed as a unit.  Slide the turbo-end on first, then set the intercooler and complete the system to the intake last.  The pipe clamps are a combination of slotted-screwdriver and 10mm socket.  The intercooler is held in place with bailing wire (yes, bailing wire) looped between the mounting hole on the intercooler and the open loop in the engine mount attached to the engine.  This allows for the vibration of the entire system to resonate as one.  Route the vacuum to the turbo and snap it into the channels on the plastic tubes.

Lower Left Rear
Shifting back under the bus, repeat the CV joint process for the left side.  Verify what's been done thus far from the new perspective: the turbo plumbing, the air system, the vacuum.  Hook up the bowden tube and the clutch cable to the clutch activation arm.  If you run out of adjustment threads, you need some head-washers (I used 4) between the bowden tube and the mount it slides into.  That mount is held on with 2 13mm bolts.

Lower Middle
Mount the nose of the transaxle.  Plug in the reverse wires for the reverse light switch.  Don't brain yourself on the radiator.  Thread the short hollow tube to connect the gear selector at the front of the transaxle to the long gear shift tube coming from the front of the bus.  Zip-tie the tube into place.  I'm sure that last line will upset some purists (as if the whole project hasn't already), but the original bolt/nut solution falls out; the zip-tie doesn't.

From Above
There's little left now.  Mount the coolant overflow bottle, verifing the top coolant line runs where it's suppoed to.  Plug the sensor into the bottle.  Note the coolant level, and come back and check again if its not spot-on.  Verify the vacuum bulb is set and tight.  Put the fuel filter into it's mount and tighten it down, making sure that the lines run properly.  I have a cheap $1 clear filter in front of the spendy stock filter to extend its life, but it also shows me that fuel is getting that far.  I check that for a fuel level at this point.

All Over
Last, the battery is hooked back up.  Before that, all of the electrical connections, including all sensor plugs should be double checked.  This is where the "do everything you can see" model falls apart.  By doing it one system at a time, you know everything was done.  By working zonally, you don't really know for sure without checking system by system.  At that point, you may as well have just done it that way.

This is the part everyone wants to jump to: grabbing the keys and giving a test fire.  The first time I tried this time around, I got nothing: I'd failed to hook up the battery.  Once resolved, he started right up.  I applied the clutch and shifted through the gears.  Nice and smooth.  Seatbelt on, and on the road to test.  There was less noise than I remembered.  The gears shifted easily up through 3rd (never got to  4th), and the bus felt peppy.  Overall, it was a great, albeit short, drive.  I declare the bus road-worthy again.  By the way, there wasn't a single drop of oil on the transaxle nor engine after the test drive and cool-down.  Success!

Thanks for following along.  Next time, I look at the ceiling of the bus and/or knocking the dents out of and painting the rear bumper.