Thursday, April 26, 2012

Natural-born Amusement

More fun tales from the last 2 weeks.  Its been busy, and the bus is back home and daily-driving again.  The joy of looking out the windscreen of a bus is unlike anything else.  Even when looking at a dreary gray morning through barely caffeinated eyes, it brings deep deep joy. 

Big Ol' Rounder in my Foldin Bed
First things first, I'm fully moved into Boo's place.  My boys and her boys have really gelled, and the few nights a week when we're all home are rowdy and fun.  Its a little crazy come bed-time, though.  the place is small, and wasn't really built for 6 people to sleep in, so its a little crowded.  Between a loft space and a bunk bed, though, everyone has a spot.  Add one more, though, and we'd need a cot in the hallway.

Man Comes By Lookin' For His Hat
One of the challenges of temporarily staying somewhere, is finding your stuff.  Most of my things are in storage, but there are some regular things that need to find homes.  From bills to car keys, basic processes have had to change around from when I had my own place.  A month into it and we're down to the last few things that need a system.  This included where to park and how to best make use of the bus.  For the last 3 weeks, I had been parking the bus at various locations near my old apartment.  I'd move him from one spot to another or from one parking lot to another every other day.  This kept the towing companies away, but it was annoying.  At least the engine was getting started, but it wasn't really even getting warm.  But, it was the system until yesterday.

On the Road Again
Yesterday, Boo grabbed the keys and dashed over to where we'd last parked him: her friend's apartment complex parking lot.  She had never driven him before, but she's driven a bus before.  She got him home and the report wasn't completely rosey: "its hard. I couldn't find 1st or 2nd consistently. He played Alpha (male) on me."  Yeah... that transaxle has been a beast since I bought him.  I know a new one is in order, its just a question of finding $1500 - $1800 plus a core charge.  Regardless, she got him home.  Now, I'll be driving him to work, she'll be driving the Jetta and her 16 year old (K) will be driving her old car.  This leaves an old Mountaineer out of the rotation and back at the stable.  Since it gets about 8mpg, this should save us some money, longer term.  Since the HOA rules for teh condo-complex forbid any work being done on the bus while parked in the lot, I'll be parking on the street for those days when I want to work on something... like fixing the shift linkage... or the cabin lights... :)

Natural-Born Amusement
It felt great to wind-up the bus this morning.  He's as peppy as only the TDI could allow, and I only had a can't-find-the-gear moment once, while trying to down-shift into second as I passed through a busy intersection.  No worries.  As he gets used to being driven, the gears get easier to find.  And there's always that promise of a new gearbox with hopped up gears...  He didn't even get to thermostat-open temp (185*) before I got to work, so I'll have to take longer drives to prove out his real road-readiness.  Camping season approaches!

That's it for today.  Thanks for following along.  Now that I'm driving him every day, I expect to have more relevant adventures to document.  Besides that, camping season is coming, and there are things I'd like to have ready for this Summer of fun.  It should be a fun Spring!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

... and a Stella at the Stube

Today is all about weather, sliding and moving my bus around.  No new work, but I have a couple of codes to chase down.

Spring has Sprung
It is definitely Spring in the Pacific NorthWest.  The temperature has risen into the 50's(F) during the day and we're enjoying that donut-hole of dry weather in the middle of our typical wet season.  If you don't live here, the rumors of our rains are generally true.  The "spring" rains start in February and continue nearly unabated until Independence Day.  There is one exception to this: April.  Since I moved here 20 years ago, a hole in the wet season has appeared covering most of the month of April.  Last week we entered April, and the hole hasn't been as pronounced as other years.  Since Spring Break has ended, and the kids are all back at school, it seems yet another creul joke has been played upon them: Rain for the week they're out of school and the second week back it's in the 60's(F) and dry.

T Birthday? T-line
It was T's birthday early last week, so Boo and I took the whole brood of bears up to Timberline on Sunday as an early celebration.  The conditions were really good.  By this time of year, you start expecting Spring (a euphemism for bad) conditions: slushy, bare patches and generally slow.  Timberline, however, had very good conditions, especially further up the mountain on Magic Mile.  The snow was powdery and there was hardly any wind.  The rest of the mountain was okay, but there were slow spots.  The bigger boys played on the terrain parks, and had great things to say about the jumps.  Across the resort, though, the place was not busy.

... and a Stella at the Stube
riding Pucci lift
Yesterday, neither Boo nor I had our boys, so we took a late run up to the mountain for some afternoon snow.  Unlike the week prior, Magic Mile was the worst snow of the day: heavy winds made getting off the lift almost dangerous.  The granular snow wasn't much fun for sliding either, but it was fast!  We spent most of our time working the slopes feeding into the Jeff Flood and Pucci lifts.  There was a new half-pipe at the top of Pucci that we didn't see until it was our last run, unfortunately, but that will bring us back next week.  Timberline closed the mountain at 4, but we'd only had a few hours of snow-time, so we packed up and drove the 20 minutes to SkiBowl.
Rather than jump right into any "should we slide" decisions, we hit Beer Stube and grabbed a couple Stella's.  We watched fellow snow-lovers work their way down the lower bowl face and the rail-riders in "Jesse' Flight" terrain park from our window seats.  One beer later, and we decided we'd take a couple runs.  We did Random on the Upper Bowl face and discovered a new large jump terrain park at the end of Dog Leg.  I tried the first jump, had bad body position on my board and landed flat on my back.  I finished the run and took 2 more, wanting to conquer the jumps.  Ultimately, those really large jumps are more that I should be starting with.

TDI Codes
So, with all the fun snow out of the way, I mentioned the shift linkage in my last post.  The linkage is still held together with a zip-tie.  I'm only driving the bus around 200' every other day lately, though, so it isn't a big deal.  I'll explain the 200' thing another day.  Today, let's hit the Check Engine Light (CEL) codes that are being thrown by the computer.
First, I'm getting a P1403 which decodes to "Exhaust Gas Recirculation System 17-00 Control Difference Readiness: N/A".  Since I blocked off my EGR system (its a '72, so no smog test, the EGR clogs the intake with goop and I run B10, so my emissions are still better than the old '72 engine was), this code should be expected.  I can get a computer modification (aka tune) that deletes the EGR, but that's money, or I can ignore it.
Second, I'm getting a P0380 which decodes to "Glow Plug/heater Malfunction".  Yeah, I've seen this one before.  Either the glow-plug harness has become unwired again or some other wire bit has broken free.  Regardless, neither are a big deal, especially as Spring approaches and glow plugs aren't really going to be useful for a while.

Friday, April 6, 2012

When in doubt, over-estimate

In my last post, I thought that I'd be finishing the apartment move that day.  Well, I was wrong.  Again.  So, today, I will remind myself how important it is to be fair to both myself and whatever project I am working on and over-estimate the effort.

On Saturday, I did move a bunch of stuff: an extra bed from one friend's place to another's and everything I could carry down to the garage from the upper levels.  The big things I mentioned in that last post were moved... on Sunday.  And, I loaded the bus a few times on both days.  Sunday ended with me loading the bus to the gills with stuff, but running out of time to get to the storage place before they closed.

Tax Man Snow Therapy
Mt Hood at Sunset
from atop SkiBowl
Monday, I had to pay the piper, and have my taxes done.  As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I divorced last fiscal year, but with my withholdings not adjusted until mid-year, I hadn't had enough pulled out.  So, I owe a big chunk o' change to Uncle Sam.  Grr..  My tax preparer is in Gresham, and I kinda knew it was gonna be bad.  So, I prepared for the worst by loading my snow gear into my car before heading East.  Once I saw the amount due, I knew snow therapy was in order.  On the side, here, is a picture I took from the top of the upper bowl at SkiBowl before taking the plunge down "Radical".... my first run down a black on the upper bowl face.  The snow was crusty on top, requiring jump-turns rather than edge-to-edge transitions, but it was fun.  Ultimately, I slid on different trails for about 2 1/2 hours and then drove home.  It didn't reduce the bill, but it sure got me "right" with it.  My advice to a reader who may be heading for divorce: change your withholdings early and over-estimate your potential tax burden.

One Screw Short of a Linkage
linkage drawing
courtesy of Bus-Boys
On Sunday, the shift linkage failed on the way out of the storage facility.  It was the only run my brother went on, and the first time he rode in the bus since the drive to Furthur.  So, I'm not saying he's a jinx, but everything was fine, until.. :)  At the front (FIF) of the 002 transaxle, a rod sticks out.  On the end of the rod is a small square cage-looking thing (see picture) that is attached with a screw (part "R"), which is then wired in place.  This cage mates with the linkage running back from the front of the bus in a true VW way.  The cage has a plastic block on either side.  Each plastic block has a round hole in the center of it.  Through this hole, a metal sleeve is threaded, and through a round hole in the rear-end of the main linkage.  This sleeve handles the stress of the shift manipulation, resisted by the transaxle through those plastic blocks.  The sleeve has these indentations which act like a nut so when a screw so threaded through, it is held together.

On Sunday, it became un-screwed.  Or should I say, the screw worked its way free at some point and the sleeve broke-free, dropping one of the plastic blocks on the ground and making shifting impossible.  The screw was no where to be found.  My brother and I were able to find both plastic blocks and the sleeve though.  In rooting through the rock'n'roll bed, I found a zip-tie.  I mashed the plastic blocks and sleeve together in the linkage and threaded the zip-tie through the sleeve.  Zip-zip, we have linkage.  I've driven the bus this way a few times (to storage and back), and its worked fine.  I intend to find a bolt and lock-nut so it can't work its way apart again.  Again: over-estimate your bus' ability to work parts free and make use of lock-tite and locking washers and nuts.

Okay, so that was pretty long.  I guess its been a busy week.  On top of all that, there's work issues, I'm looking at places to live more permanently and continuing to move stuff.  The moving is about done, and the apt gets cleaned next.  This time, I'll estimate the effort to take the better part of a day rather than assume a couple of hours :-D

Thanks for following along...