Vanagon Sunset

Vanagon Sunset

Monday, August 29, 2016

Welcome to Vanagon Geek!

Welcome to the new Vanagon Geek blog, where I will do my best to post pertinent info, product reviews, links, repairs, and pics about Vanagons and their nuances.   I don't claim to be an expert on these wonderful creatures, but I've owned a few (3 Vanagons and Split-window) and am learning more each day. Together with my mechanic/nephew Trent (and his Subaru powered Bay window project), we'll be tackling various Vanagon topics and I'll post some trials and tribulations along the way.

My passion for these quirky vehicles began when I was just a few days old... so I'm told.  An early model bay-window bus (1969) was the first vehicle I ever rode in as my parents brought me home from the hospital after entering the world.  We camped and traveled around in this bus for quite a few years growing up, most of which I don't remember.  As I grew, my father got involved with customizing vans, mostly Ford and Dodge, but it gave me some insight into how the interior of a box on wheels can be turned into a home and rolling sanctuary.  It intrigued me and I began to really appreciate the potential of a "van".

Many years later, I joined the Navy and at some point, began to obsess over VW busses.  I saved my money and one month after I was honorable discharged, I purchase my first bus, a 1967 21-window, nearly all original and beautiful.  I loved that bus and drove it everywhere as my daily driver and even to this day, still get a little emotional over it.  A few years later, I made the silly decision to sell it off (for profit of course) to get something that would get me up into the hills quickly for hiking, biking and recreation.  I purchased a Landcruiser and started down of a path of obsession over those creatures as well, however I never lost my lust for the bus.

In 2012, I began to re-obsess over the VW line of cars, in particular the Vanagon.  I wanted one, and I wanted one bad.   I sold my incredibly reliable Honda Element and purchased "Blanca", a 1986 Weekender Westy from a dealer in the Bay Area.  She was beautiful and nearly completely rebuilt and clean.  She cost me a pretty penny, and I took her a bit further by adding trick little add-ons, upgrades and niceties.  Not long after that, I experienced a financial hardship as I was forced to close my business that I'd operated for 8 years.  At this point, I had no "plan B" for a while, so I simply just lived the Vanagon lifestyle and we traveled and used it frequently.  My wife and I discussed many career options, and I eventually decided on a career as a professional mariner and I needed to sell my van to pay for schooling.  It was heartbreak, but the short-term loss would lead to a long-term gain. 

So, off I went to a 2-year school out of town and landed a Coast Guard license which would allow me to drive tugboats on the West Coast (see my other blog on that career change).

Anyhow, I have now completed the needed schooling to be a licensed Mariner and am picking up where I left off with regards to my passion for Vanagons and VW's in general.

During the 2 years in school,  I purchased a 1984 Westy with the intention of keeping it and fixing it up, but then flipped it for some more school money.

About 3 months ago, I did some trading and picked up "Ferdinand", a 1982 Diesel Westfalia that needed a ton of work, but had great potential.  He is my current project and he will most likely be the focus of my blog, but I'll be working on some other Vanagons over time and will highlight those repairs and modifications as well.

Ferdinand is up and running (before and current pics below), but he is far from being finished.  Future plans include suspension upgrade, interior mods and engine swap as well as many other add-ons and upgrades.
June 2016
August 2016

I will also be committing a fair amount of my blog time to doing product reviews, Vanagon hacks, tips, tricks and modifications.  I love to tinker and my job allows me huge chunks of home time in between work trips to get big projects completed.

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