Care and Feeding for Walden

I finally got Walden in and out of the shop. It took them three days. As it turned out, there was a lot to do. Plus, once I realized I had access to a mechanic, there were lots of little things that I remembered he needed.

The fuel pump got replaced, which I hope will resolve the intermittent death syndrome. I’d been suspicious of that fuel pump since the breakdown in Montgomery. I wish I’d bought one and replaced it myself months ago. It’s an easy enough job that even I could do it.

The header from the front two cylinders (that’s #1 and #3) had a hole which was causing hot exhaust to blow on the cooling system. Hopefully this explains why the car was prone to overheating when traveling slowly. It seems to be running a little bit cooler. Of course it was rusted so much that a bolt broke, which required another $175 for that little job.

I got the gas tank resealed. Hopefully this will mean that less gas will be evaporating into the air. People have commented that Walden smells like gas, so hopefully this will resolve that. The notes from the people that sold me the seals say that if gas dumps on the ground when you fill the tank, you need this kit. I got the kit; paid $270 to have it installed (it requires at least mostly removing the gas tank), but last time I bought gas, it still dumped gas on the ground before the pump clicked off. I think it might smell less like gas, though.

The windshield washer has never worked. I thought that it might just be out of fluid, and last time I tried to fill it, fluid started dumping on the ground immediately, leading me to believe that the tank was broken. The guy at the shop told me that there is an overflow that causes an overfull tank to dump on the ground rather than inside the car where the filler is. It turns out that it was the pump that was bad, not the tank. This is good news since it’s much easier to find a pump than a tank. I can now clean my windshield by pulling a lever. This is good news since the bike rack straps make using a squeegee awkward.

I told them that I was having trouble with the auxiliary battery charging. I turned out that the bozo who had installed the ground strap (that would be me) did a crappy job and it wasn’t properly grounded. I ran the radio almost all last night and let the heater run for a good while without the battery voltage dropping below 11.5 volts, so that’s a big improvement. I really need to replace it with a proper deep cycle battery. If Tom Hundt is in San Francisco when I get there, maybe I’ll enlist his help to combine four UB12220’s like a guy did on The Samba. The other thing that lots of people do is get a fancy battery that almost fits and cut the posts of the top. That seems like a drag. I’m still tempted by GoWesty’s Solar Panel kit. I’m tempted to try to do it myself for less money, but it’s worth something to get a kit that comes with all the pieces rather than trying to fabricate stuff, especially when it means poking holes in the camper top.

And there was an oil leak. I know what you’re saying. “Really, Jay, your 25 year old Volkswagen has an oil leak?” It turned out that someone, I suspect my friends at MF Automotive, drilled holes into a push rod tube trying to get to some drain for the coolant system. They knew they’d done it, as they’d tried to fix it with silicone sealant.

The front brake pads were getting thin, so that’s done too. They weren’t that bad, but I think Walden might be stopping a little faster than he was before.

I can’t quite read all Larry’s writing, but I think that’s it. All in all, I’m pretty happy with my experience at Blazer Automotive, in Englewood, CO.


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1 Response to Care and Feeding for Walden

  1. lauren says:

    ah man…all things I could encounter. Uh, and thanks for worrying me about MF. they’ve had my vanagon for 2.5 wks.

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