Monday, May 30, 2011

tear it up

As I hoped, I was able to hit it hard this weekend. I mean hit... it... hard. Some 3-day weekends can be a mis-spent Saturday and then 2 Sundays - nothing gets done, and you laze around. This wasn't one of them. This was more like a Saturday sandwich with a mini-Sunday in the middle. I did too much to cover in one post, so I'll spread it out over a couple.

So I said how the battery was dead on Friday. After slow-cha
rging (2A setting) all night, it was still half-dead, so I let it be and switched to
r things.
Now, first on the list was adjusting the clutch. Of course, that slid right off the list for the weekend. hahaha... so much for priorities. Well, hear me out now... I figured I couldn't really get the electrical done until I straightened up the wires I ran from back to front. That meant pulling the driver-side cabinets out, but first, I had to empty it of all the parts I jammed in there for the move. Yeah, when I said I didn't unpack the garage, that included the bus. So, anyway, I yanked all the crap out and then set to pulling the stove/sink unit and the refer out.

Interior Removal
The late-70's units are not held in by much. I kinda forgot from when I installed it. There are 2 Phillip's head screws behind the driver's seat passing through the partition into the stove/sink cabinet.
One of the screws that holds the top on the refer feeds through into the side of the stove/sink cabinet. The only other thing holding it down (other than weight and gravity) is a bolt through the floor inside the left cabinet door near the hinge. Now, out the backside there's the gray water vent and down through the floor there's the waste-water outlet. Of course, if the propane and city water are hooked up, they're in the way too. The only way to remove the cabinet and not break or scratch things is to slightly tilt it forward so the vent clears and then lift it straight up. Its heavy, so get a friend to help you or you'll feel it the next day - like I did :)

The refer is held down by even less. Like the stove/sink, nothing is holding it to the side.
There's at least one (may be 2) screws again from the refer going into the rear closet. Like the sink/stove, if you're gonna remove it (and not the bed first) without scratching it, you need to lift it straight up. It's heavier than it looks with the fridge stuff in there. Then, the fun started.

Insulation Rip-Out
Behind the cabinets I had put in some cellulose-based insulation. Not a good plan. That stuff absorbs water and can foster mold. Surprisingly, after 4 years of nearly constant rain, and very little fresh air to dry the bus out, the insulation was not in any way compromised. I don't think it even got damp, much less wet. Still, I plan of keeping this thing, and I don't want to take chances.
So, I pulled it all out, scraped the fuzz off the interior and shop-vac'd. The little bits I couldn't get off had to be dealt with. I still had a can of rubberized undercoating, so I shot the walls with that.

That was Saturday. I'll post the rest of the weekend at some point this week. It's a short week, though. I've got the boys tomorrow night (yes!), and I'll be watching the Bruin/Canucks Stanley Cup Final game 1 on Wednesday (stop by if you're local. should be a great game). Before we know it, the weekend will be here again.

top - after refer removed, insulation taken out
upper middle - after sink/stove tipped onto its front, insulation taken out
lower middle - after interior shot with rubberized undercoating
bottom - after interior shot with rubberized undercoating

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Where'd May Go?

I'm probably not the only one asking that this weekend. All those great plans we made over beers during Cinco-de-Mayo turned into timing conflicts and over-scheduling, resulting in less than planned getting done. At least that's my story. My last post was almost 4 weeks ago, and I apologize for not sharing along the way. I'll bring you up to date on things. We still have almost a week of May left, and this weekend is open, so let's get crackin!

Boys and Beaverton
The pattern of the boys being with me on Tuesdays and every other weekend has worked pretty well. With school nearing a close for the Summer, schedules rotate a bit and I'll have them every other week instead of this night, that weekend as it has been. We'll go back to that when school re-starts. Between lacrosse practices and games, our time together just hanging out has been constrained. We still have lots of fun though. They've really settled into it, and I still greatly enjoy hearing their voices whenever they're here. I think in some respects we're actually closer than we were before.

Harnessing the Electrical Demons
Even though settling into this new place has taken twice as long as I expected, I was able to attack the engine harness problem. After unwrapping nearly all of the harness tape, and checking the connectivity on about a third of the wires prior to that (before finding a breach), I found the problem. It seems that when the engine was removed from the donor, Jason (the guy I bought the engine from in GA) pulled a little too hard on the harness when it got caught on something. Within the taped up wires, there was a crimp that cover-bared a few wires and cut through a couple. Ah Ha! This was a simple fix, once found: strip, twist together, tape heavily and tightly. Since 80% of the cloth tape was removed to expose the broken wires, I re-taped it - this time with blue cloth tape It'll kinda match the final paint color now.

Installing the harness was something I was concerned about. The last time I wrestled an engine harness into this bus, the coolant temperature sensor was such a bear to connect. I did it wrong a few times back then, and even ended up with the coolant sensor not fully seated at one point. Removing Justin's borrowed harness was surprisingly easy, simply threading or peeling the harness out back to the cabin pass-thru. Installing the original (now blue) harness wasn't nearly as much trouble as I expected. Working from the end (oil pressure sensor), through the 10-pin plug to the coolant sensor was a snap. I needed to think a bit about the coolant sensor, and cram my arm under/around the intake, but it snapped into place with a satisfying "click". Routing the rest was easy now. In fact, with the custom intake, it needed a different route than was originally there, and different from the good-enough-for-now placement we did with Justin's harness.

Charging along
When I moved in, there was a lot of chaos. During that chaos, I didn't turn the key all the way off after parking the bus. So, the battery ran down to empty. Doh! Adding insult to injury, I misplaced my battery charger in the move too. This did give me the opportunity to dig through all my garage boxes, underscoring the need to unpack in there. I need shelving first. Sigh. The fun never ends. Anyway, it turns out that my kids' mom lent my charger to a neighbor before I moved, which is why I couldn't find it. Now that I have it back, I'll be charging the battery this weekend. I also need to fix the cab-to-engine-bay starter switch. For some reason, it didn't work on moving day, and I had to use the remote starter switch.

So, for today...
In an earlier post, I made a punch list of all the things I need to do to have the bus "complete". Clearly, I won't get all that done before camping season starts. I need to get the electrical working reliably, and get the clutch adjusted so I can test-fly. If I can, I'll attack the strip / clean / re-install of the interior too, but even living on my own there are limits to how much time I can create for this work. After I post this, I'll be heading for the garage for the day. With good fortune, I may have a lot to report later this weekend. Thanks for following along-

top - harness surgery. lots of tools, reference material. most important: kitchen table
middle - the "crimp" where the broken wires were found
bottom - harness ready for install, sitting a-top my other VW's hood.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Life Rhythm finding a Beat

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. I've moved, and started getting settled in. I've gone from seeing my boys every couple of days for a few hours at a time to actually having them stay overnight. This new-ish life is starting to take a shape, though I can't tell exactly what shape it is yet. I'll try to be brief on the chronology.

I got the keys on the 12th, and started moving in the flotsam from my folks place by the car load. I had the boys that evening, so we had a pizza-picnic on the carpet. They tried and approved of the pool. Great start.

Moving Day
The following weekend I moved the big stuff. I scheduled the move weekend without considering work impacts (not wise, but that was the available day). So, while moving things out of the garage, I got a call from work about some kinds of problems. Perfect. I got through the U-Haul rental stuff in record time, and then I was sidelined with a firefight. boo. Fortunately, by the time my helpers arrived, the panic at work had passed and we were back on track. Big thanks to my brothers and my folks for helping out. Before noon, we had the truck loaded and the bus on the tow dolly. 30 minutes of caravan-ing later, we're in an office park across the street from the new place. I dropped the bus there (and the tow-dolly), so we could empty the truck. By 2:30, the truck was empty, and the bus was snuggled into his new shelter. eye-witnesses tell me there was a good 5 inches of clearance above his roof as I backed him in. That gives me the room for bigger rims and the Riviera poptop... maybe.

Life Rhythm finding a Beat
The 14' truck carried a small subset of what's needed to create a home. That's where my sister-in-law jumped in. While I was returning the truck, she and Tim (a friend helping on the move) hit Ross and created an insta-home with dishes and decorations and stuff. Crazy. I was totally floored. We truly are measured by the depths of our relations, not by the content of our bank accounts.

Still, I didn't have the things needed to host my boys, so for the next 2 weeks, I saw very little of them. As much as I wanted to be enjoying the new-space creation, I missed them so terribly, it was very hard to. Work was chaotic, with a major release looming and budget cuts rumored. I was in a very negative emotional space. I pressed forward, though, locating the final items to host the boys, and finally having them for a sleepover this past weekend.

It is hard to describe the emotion of hearing them together in the morning when I got up. I can't tell you what exactly they were talking about, but it doesn't really matter. From the top of the stairs, I could hear quiet voices and giggling.... made my heart leap. It really felt like home. The morning of cereal and hanging out topped a weekend that included C shooting a hat-trick at his lacrosse game and a family get-together (uncles, aunts, cousins, grand-parents) to celebrate T's 13th birthday. Dropping them off was extremely hard, so I worked it out at the gym, like I used to. I'll have them over on Tuesday for the first week-night sleep over. It will be interesting to see how that morning goes. Now that it's started, though, I can make it through those days without them.

Thanks for following along. I don't have the boys this next weekend, so I may start looking at the bus as soon as Saturday. We'll see. Then, you just might hear about that progress again :)

top - my helpers taking a break by the truck
upper middle - bus on the dolly
lower middle - bus and car in their new home
bottom - T hanging out (mostly) in the pool