Meet the newest member of the ditchwerks family: Neil Cassady, our 1978 VW bus.
Our plan was to find a bus when we got to the northwest. From what we have trolled on the internet it is easy to find antique cars out there with no rot. We still needed a way to transport the contents of our shop from the Atlantic coast the the Pacific.
"If only we could find a bus before we left. That would fit everything!" I said to Sherman a couple weeks ago. The stars must have been aligned right because he found a rot free 1978 type 2 that day.
The next morning we woke up at 5 am and drove two hours to give it a test drive. Only 50,000 original miles! A little surface rust, but no rot. What a find!
Neil ran fine, but was a little stiff to shift. Neither of us complained about the $16 to fix the shift linkage or the spare change to replace a couple gaskets. The front emblem was missing, so I painted that sucker on! It was a team effort to draw, cut and spray the large logos on each side - though Sherman did the actual spraying since I'm pretty sure he uses Jedi powers to spray cars so professionally with a can.
The starter had trouble after sitting for a while. He was great running errands all day, but the first start of the morning was tough- it involved me in the driver's seat to turn the key while Sherm lied underneath and tapped the starter with wrench. Luckily, Sherm had a new starter overnighted and showed me how to put it in in our friend's gravel driveway. His morning start up is still a little quirky, but he pulls through every day!
After a few test runs around town, Sherm noticed the alternator belt was loose. When I met up with him he showed me a handful broken metal, "This piece broke at one point and someone just welded it together. When I took the belt off it broke off." I just stared at him, then he turns to the work bench "...so I made a new one."
Neil still had some electrical quirks. The tachometer stop working when the head lights are turned on and the dash lights didn't work at all. We got a set of two LED lights that plug into the cigarette lighter- too bad there are three gauges. Later that day, after putting in the radio, Sherm noticed there was a ground wire not attached to anything; when he grounded it, that tachometer lit up and stayed functioning even with the lights on!
With a USB capible radio, a lit dash, working starting and smooth shift linkage we took off May 18th.
- Bernadette Mae