Live Chat from Jan. 1, 2005

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Capt. Mike

Jan 1, 2005: Happy New Year and best wishes for a safe, prosperous, travel through Westyville.

Continue the 'chat' by using the Reply button, whether you are responding to or starting a new comment. See the site guidelines above; this forum is for miscellaneous thoughts that are temorary in nature and not technical questions or related to the established message boards. "New topics" will be removed; tech topics and other posts that have existing topics will be removed or moved.

This is one forum that contains archives and they are full of good stuff -- spend some time browsing through them.

Please read the site Guidelines; have a great Westy year!

Capt. Mike Tech Writer posted July 01, 2003 08:32 AM

Here's a couple of carry overs to start with -- and some valuable info for new members.

The Bentley

Posted February 03, 2003 06:36 AM:

The "Bentley" is the VW Official Factory Shop Manual and is far & away the best. It is expected if you want to use this site. The site book store sells them at discount, they are available from all VW dealers, and there are numerous other sources. Bentley is the name of the publisher that produces them for VW and they have their own topic in the SUPPLIERS forum.

Although there are used versions out there, I'd suggest you get the latest you can obtain as it will incorporate VW's revisions, updates and tech bulletins. The Bentley for Vanagons was published annually from 1980 through 1991 with those updates for each new model year.

The Bentley assumes a basic knowledge of automobiles & mechanics and a proper set of tools so doesn't contain step-by-step instructions on many common procedures. There are others that may be more user-friendly but accuracy has been a problem with them and they often do not have the important specifications and testing references of the VW.

Happy Birthday,

Posted 28 February 2003 10:46 am.

In commemoration of's 8th anniversary, and as an expression of my appreciation for all I have learned here, I have made a monetary contribution using the "Make A Donation" button which appears on the top of the main pages.

Let's face it, a Westfalia camper van -- of any era or type -- is a bit of an oddball vehicle. And running and maintaining one is an oddball pastime, performed by oddball owners. So the luxury of being able to visit here and converse with other oddballs, learning new things and exchanging tips or just chatting, represents a sense of community I have come to value quite highly.

Upon reflection, it occurs to me just how much I have learned from the likes of Capt. Mike, and how much I appreciate the efforts of site owner John Babiak, and other members here. The advice, the knowledge, the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others, even the humor are things a Westy-owner can find nowhere else.

Even from the perspective of cold, hard cash, I cannot calculate the money I have saved over the years by preventing mechanical breakdowns, and by doing many of my own repairs to avoid expensive shop bills, thanks largely to the advice offered here on If I can return even a modest fraction of that money to the site, to help pay for its operation and maintenance, I will feel I have done at least something to help it continue. And I hope to do so again in the future.

If other members feel the same, if you appreciate the well-organized information, the guidance and advice offered here, please consider making a donation. It is a small price that will go a long way to help "keep those Westies rolling."

A. Cooper

Posted 1 March 2003 09:13 AM.

A. Cooper: Many thanks. I hadn't realized it's been this long. Is it going to be like my old Porsche? The next thing we knew was that we'd become antiques together.

I hope others 'catch the fever' as I'm sure John can use the financial support. Costs of the server (no longer a freebie from his old company), bandwidth and software keep climbing. And I know he's still into his own pocket because he never has any surplus for me! Just kidding; I do this for the love of the hobby. It's my therapy and God knows I need it lately.

Cool idea -- for every dollar you save from the site, donate a small percentage! It'll probably never sell. I still get some that bitch at me because I'm not fast enough, they don't like the answers, and as more than a couple have said, "I don't have time to read the whole site." Ah, the expectations of a "free" Internet solution to everything.

Unhappy first time user . . .

vw lovers Junior Member posted April 27, 2003 05:33 PM

i was upset that my post was removed all because we are just buying our first westy and thought this was the place to talk to other owners and to get some advive as to what to look for and what not to thanks for the help everyone and keep your little club all to your selves because i would never recomend such ingnorant people,,,,very dissapointed with web site and super mike

. . . and a member's response.

zookz Member posted April 28, 2003 03:52 PM

Before trashing Capt Mike, this site, and the entire membership, you might want to consider a few other possibilities about whatever happened to your post:

1) Technical glitch which resulted in an inadvertant deletion of your post;

2) The possibility that your post was moved from one section to a more appropriate section;

3) That your post was not in alignment with site guidelines;

4) Post redundancy. You repeated your post in several sections. The guidelines address this phenomena and the resulting consequences.

5) That your question required a purely subjective answer; and

6) Any other possibilities that you can imagine which does not include trashing Capt Mike whose selfless dedication to this site has made it the invaluable cost and time saving resource that it is; nor the trashing of an equally generous and knowledgable membership community.

Be advised: this is NOT a little club, nor are the legions of members ignorant, by any stretch of the imagination.

You might think about staying with this site, it might be worth your while, it might even result in a positive attitudinal adjustment.

'87 Westy

Moderator: Or that he violated several of the guidelines in a post already covered in its respective forum AND posted an invalid email so I couldn't tell him!


New member
Well Im a nubee and I just got hooked on VW buses ! Or have one ! Happy new Years and I hope mine is happy too !!! I mean my VW not me !


New member
It has been my experience, Jeff, the more familiar I have become with my Westy the happier we both are! I've had mine for 5 or 6 years now and without fail, every time I take a trip in it I get the fuzzies. Mine is a 90' 2.1 auto
Happy New Year,


New member
Happy New Year, all. My '89 Westy is actually getting better with age, as I repair worn items and upgrade here and there. Just back from 1400 miles to/from California with no problems. I used my new Hella fog lights a lot - don't know how I lived so long without 'em.


New member
yes, judlandis, i think i can identify with what you're saying; i've replaced absolutely everything that i can think of on my 90 and it seems to be getting a bit more dependable. However, that said n' done, it still knows how to climb right up on the back of a tow truck without any help.:&gt

I don't have the fancy Hellas but do have regular amber fog lights .... very useful.

1990 Westy 2.1 auto

Mac William

New member
Well Happy new year everybody!
It is indeed with great delight that I read the pages of this outstanding website.I recently bought a 1990 high top westy near Hamburg (Germany--- In case there happen to be a few of those across the pond--) and am truly hooked on this wonderful vehicle.I find it hard to believe that there should be such a following in the United States and Canada.
Anyway I am French and live in northern Scotland since 1982. These might be boring details, but the fact that I speak french fluently and own a 1.6 td (quite rare in America if I believe the posts) might be of help to somebody on this site one day. Although I am light years away from the sort of knowledge so eloquently presented by the likes of Cpt Mike, I might just be able to provide some information about Scotland or France for those fortunate enough to venture in Europe. And that includes 10 years experience in the malt whisky industry!!
So meanwhile happy westfaling !



New member
Greetings and Best wishes for long and happy trips in Westies for the new year. I look outside in my backyard, at my 'stored' 88 westie and wonder if the snow will cover her soon. It is -8 and clear here in Newfoundland; not exactly camping weather, but good for a brisk walk around the block. Then to the backyard to kick the tires and remember the last great trip to Magdaline Islands in 2003. Well days are getting longer and travel times need to be planned. 2005 is a good year to visit strange places in Canada's Newfoundland & Labrador..


New member
well, i just got our new 1976 pop top westfalia camper! it has a near complete interior, and is running and somewhat driveable, and we got it for only 700 bucks! man oh man, what a steal huh?!

Capt. Mike

Did you see us on the national news? Raleigh NC does it again. We don't get much snow, so when we do, we want to prove to the world that a Redneck and snow are funnier than an old 3 Stooges movie.

We got -- catch this you Yankees from up in places like MN & ME, .8 inches. Yes, the decimal is in the right place. 8/10ths of an inch. Now our illustrious Channel 5 weatherman, trained as they are at NC State where the advanced meteorology course is watching the cows over at the Ag School to see if they are wet so as to forecast rain, carefully studied their 5 computer models and forecast "possibility of flurries". None of them looked out the window -- that would cloud their mind with facts.

Of course this means the DoT plows & sand trucks were safely tucked into their garages where they double as moveable road-blocks for construction work on break. The schools were in full session and naturally everybody was at work looking out the window waiting for the weatherman's next prediction -- it will stop momentarily and there will be no build-up -- to come true.

Wrong! Just like when Hurricane Fran would 'pass well east of Raleigh' while the eye was over my house and the 'flurries' of 1999 turned into 22". Therefore about 3 PM, the cruel master referee fired the starter gun and everybody rushed for the parking lot to get to the grocery store to hoard food or to go 'see how bad it was.' The result? Absolute gridlock.

By 5:00 PM they had 400 accidents reported, and that number was probably less than ¼ because the side effect was that the cell-phone services went into overload and shut down. TV showed pictures of 10-car pileups all over -- but at least the helicopter traffic was light.

My Mom, bless her heart, was volunteering at the hospital. She stayed because they "didn't have anyone else to man the IC waiting room." Mom, they do. They're called PAID employees and there's a thousand or so of them in the building at any given time. So she, at 82, is out there driving at 5:00 PM. It took her two hours to get home -- it's at least a mile. She took backroads. Her neighbor, from a building next to the hospital, made it in 3 hours. Her car might make it today -- she parked half-way and walked. Although Mom made it home safe, I threatened to take her car keys away from her if she tried that stunt again. I think that's what they did to me when I was a teenager, anyway.

I was out and our daughter was in school. Not the greatest of choices. They let school out 1½ hours early. Of course the buses didn't show up until their regular time. Our daughter's school is about 5 miles away, it wasn't at its worst yet, and she's one of the first drop offs. The Admiral took 4WD Westy down to meet her at the main road, not knowing the buses didn't match the close school time. She got to sit there for an hour. And then witness our daughter step off the bus and immediately do a double gainer. The 80-lb. bookback the typical teenager carries does make balance on glaze ice a challenge. Nothing broken but pride.

I was at the print shop with a newspaper I edit. I saw the 3r or 4th snowflake stick and headed home. In a 4WD Redneck Pickemup truck. In 4WD. It took an hour for 10 miles. By the time I reached our exit, the 2-lane state road, with several hills and no shoulder to the 10-ft. drop off into the creek bed, was shut down. I could look up to the top of the first hill and see all the people standing outside their cars watching the show. I expected a peanut vendor and cheerleaders. The sad part is they had it so blocked off an ambulance couldn't get through.

I headed the other direction, did some back-road circumnavigation and pulled in about 10 minutes after the wife. We got a roaring fire going in the fireplace and made hot chocolate while turned on the news, prepared to be amazed. We weren't disappointed. People actually pulled off the road to try to pass others on the shoulder or median and then slid off into the guardrails or ditch. One guy in a Mini-Cooper decided he could fit between the two lanes of traffic and proceeded to get stuck and block the road solid. Police and emergency vehicles couldn't get to where they were needed. Some people spent 6 hours going 3 miles.

So if you ever need entertainment, watch a Redneck in a 4WD SUV in the snow.
They still haven't figured out that just because you can 'go', doesn't mean you can stop. Although the accidents tended to be minor, I'm sure heart-attack and other serious medical emergencies were badly delayed. Since both of our snowplows are busy in the Governor's driveway, the rest of the streets usually get plowed by April. They're forecasing another bout with even more snow this weekend, I suppose I better immediately rush out and hoard enough junk food to handle me through the Super Bowl and 'see how bad it is.' After all, we have a reputation to maintain. Just kidding -- I've got several cords of firewood, an emergency generator and a freezer full of bambi. I'll park myself in front of the TV and watch the show.


New member
Wow all that from 0.8"? I takes us at least 1 full inch before people start driving around at 5mph like it was the end of the world. I live in MD and have just stumbled on to this page. I have an '82 diesel westy and love it. I just got back from a 1600+ mile trip out to IL and all was well except that I assumed the fuel I picked up out there would be properly winterized and wouldn't need an additive. Wrong! My oil pan heater did its job but after a night below zero degrees the fuel had gelled. I used a portable propane heater to warm the fuel filter and fuel line and got it started eventually. Then got some fuel treatment. I am in the process of restoring the van and have done a lot and have a lot to do. It is from the south west so it is rustless but it is sun faded. I am glad to find this site. It seems to be a little more serous than others that I have found and people's submissions look more thoughtful. I am looking forward to being a member of this site.

Capt. Mike

See the "Diesel fuel system . . ." topic in the FUEL SYSTEM & IGNITION forum; there is a discussion of gelling and other diesel fuel additives worth reading. One problem with a middle-weather state like MD is they can't decide what fuel to run and may be getting it from distributors leaning towards warmer weather. Winterized fuel (or #1 diesel) are more expensive, but thinner and have less energy. Thus it's not popular except where necessary. Even further north, it's not unusual to find two levels of quality, sometimes the better just called "premium". If you use additives sold to the diesel truck industry like Penray, the cost gets so low you can use it regular or year-round. See the "Penray" topic in SUPPLIERS forum.


New member
Happy 2005 to everyone. I'm new to the site. I've just purchased a 1990 Westy and am looking forward to getting it on the road in a few months. I've been reading through some of the forums and there certainly is a wealth of information here. Thanks to those who take the time to post. I have a bit of a niave question to ask and I'm not sure where to post it. It's not really a technical question....On the back seat beside the black release knob there is a red flat switch. I believe it has to do with the auxillary battery and charging. Can someone tell me how it functions? It has two positions, vertical and horizontal....Capt. Mike feel free to move this to the correct posting area.


I guess I never realized the value in the way this site is organized. I may be a a bit biased as I am a (too?) frequent contributor, but I have spend the last few days trying to find some information on Mb gwagons to sort out a webasto heater problem. Thousands of posts, with no organization, no rhyme or reason to the order, no search function. I always assumed that most forums like this one were run similarly. I have never spent much time looking on the web for other info I guess! Kudo's to John for a great site and for Capt. Mike and the others for keeping it organized! The small bit of grief we take when we post wrongly is more than made up for the ability to FIND information.


PS> If anyone can steer me in the direction of wiring diagrams for a Mbenz gwagon I would appreciate it.


New member
Hi y'all. My dad was a hippie and my first memories are of our green and white VW van, where my baby sister's playpen fit perfectly in the center, driving around the countryside in those funny "gumball" rallies! I remember well my mom balling when she sold that van, about the time I was 10 (too many years ago).
Long story short, the karma bus has come round and just as I'm combing the net for small campers to pull around, haven't told a soul I'm doing it, I get a phone call from my mom & different dad and she says, "Hey, would you like to have our VW camper?"

I'm now the proud owner of a '91 Vanagon or Westfalia (is there a difference?)
I'd already been through a fire with my 3 girls in the back, coming home from Mardi Gras in New Orleans...they got that totally redone. They had a new engine put in, which now has maybe 16,000 miles on it. All new tires, everything in excellent condition (treated it like a baby) and even inspection sticker and registration 'till late in '06!

There are a couple of tears in the canvas on the popup and the A/C never worked right, but hey, I've got myself a VW camper now! Woohoo!


New member
sweet, thats great you have a westy! um vanagon is the general model of your van and westy is te more specific model designation.
i got my first westy down in La. in the little town of Lena outside Alexadria

Capt. Mike

tngk: That's a tech question that doesn't belong in CHAT. It's an aftermarket devise installed by a previous owner. Check the factory wiring diagram in your Bentley -- there are no switches there. Guidelines #1-4.

icarus: Many thanks. Most of the time, we think the hard work and organization are not appreciated so it's nice to get a reaffirmation.




You will find this site a great help if you spend some time finding your way around. It is run a bit different than most forums (better, I think.)

You will find multible threads of information in each of the catagories listed. For example you will find information on bike rakes and awings in accsessories. I have a Colorado cutom awning and wouldn't be without it. It was very reasonable, and can be removed if you want, although mine is on all the time.

Spend time reading and learning to navigate this site, and you will find almost anything there is to know about vanagons/westy's.

Good luck,


PS. Rarely information is not where you would expect it, for example you might look for awnings in "exterior" and not find them, but rather near the electrical section in Accessories


New member
Thanks, Icarus. I'm still learning about this van..awning infor and I need all the help I can get, since I'm traveling with 3 young girls, a husband and a dog...I have begun to read the accessory page for my needed information. Good Idea! Thanks again for helping a me learn the ropes.



New member
Althea -

You mentioned awning info. I also travel with my husband, 8 YR old boy, 4 YR old girl and dog. We had an awning and got rid of it - Now we have a side tent that attaches to the bus. We got it at Bus Depot for around $300.00 - We can put it up in about 15 -30 minutes. For us it has been worth every penny. We also have an EZ UP that we use for shade if we need it. Also, Coleman makes a screened room that opens on both sides that works well for around $75.00.

Thought I'd pass on the info.


Ludwig van

New member
The pop top serves both purposes. The older Westies have a single cot "upstairs", but from 1974 on, there's a fold-out double bed up there.

The beauty of the pop top is having room to stand up inside when the top is raised, but avoiding the driveability problems of a permanently raised top.
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