Washington


jonc

New member
Washington recommendations by AAtransaxel

Louis Foreign Car in Seattle-owner Dan-206-
524-3366.always busy.small
shop.... good honest people...he cares.

The Wagon Shop in Bellevue WA 425-454-1141 straight shooters. (I trained
them all) good people

Quality Foreign Auto in Bothell 425-481-1200 owner Joe- good people also.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Rebuilt standard trannys

jonc Moderator Member # 37 posted 07-01-2000 02:21 AM

I had my 4 speed trans rebuilt in Florida by a dealer and the experiance was disasterous.. In my travels talking to mechanics I kept coming across the name AA Transaxel of Washington state... glowing reports from hard bitten professional mechanics and a 3 year unconditional guarantee parts and labor required a mention.. sorry manual trannys only.

Seattle

Fabian Junior Member # 127 posted 06-26-2000 01:28 PM

I can't recommend PORBUG highly enough. I had a mechanic for my 85 Westphalia for over 12 years. I literally paid them thousands of dollars almost yearly. Finally, in 1998 a friend told me about George, who owned PORBUG in an out of the way location in south Seattle. At the time I was trying to decide if I should put another $1000-$1200 to the $3000 I had already put into it that year (the shop was owned by two german brothers, I thought they were honest). I love my Westphalia, so I took it to George. He took one look and told me that the problem was minor and instead of replacing an engine gasket, a minor repair of $50.00 would fix the problem. I have been sold ever since. A great guy and a great mechanic. His business is limited to Bugs and Porsches. I don't give him enough business to keep him going. He appears to be doing okay and he doesn't look ambitious. Anyway, this is a great tip for Seattle area Westphalia owners. I don't know if he does body or electrical work. When I get a few more bucks ahead I will ask him about it. Which reminds me, I need an oil change.

Boots Junior Member # 782 posted 05-17-2001 08:16 PM

Found another great mechanic who knows his stuff and doesn't charge like a wounded bull. His name is Dean and he's on 21st Ave just off Rainier Ave (you can see his sign ... it says 'Deans' funnily enough. This guy spent three hours with me on my new 72 van and only asked for $30! He's magic!!

86Syncro Member # 1031 posted 07-21-2001 08:55 PM

Following Boots's advise, I stopped by and met Dean and he is truly a great guy. He spent a lot of time with me and my Westy and only asked for $10! He is one of those guys who doesn't mind a ton of questions and explains what he is doing if you are interested. He has low overhead so his hourly is really low but his knowledge seems quite extensive. His shop seems like a great place for the traveller in need of immediate assistance. He has travelled quite a bit in Type IIs and an 87 Westy. He made the time to help me as an unscheduled Saturday drive-in. I think my mechanical search is over.
The only tough part is finding him! Turn East on Massachussetts from Rainier. At the next intersection you'll see DeVac-Chamberlain (SE corner) on a building. Dean is in the fenced lot behind the building- look for the Dean's sign and several retired/wrecked Type IIs.
206-860-5128
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Seattle

In my several trips to AK & NW Canada, I've always used Seattle as a jumping off point. That usually coincides with a 3,000 mile oil change since I'll have just done the ol' cross-country. I've used Univeristy VW in downtown Seattle ever since the one in Bellevue closed (actually they just dropped VW) and have no complaints. They've always been good about fitting me in because of the circumstances and have had no objections to using my parts. (I carry the service replacements for the trip since I never know where I'll be.)

It's been a few years but the last contact info I have is:

(Dawn Sly, Asst. Svc. Mgr.)
4724 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle WA 98145
206-634-3322
fax 206 547-1582
Svc. Dept. 206-634-8210
 

icarus

Moderator
In Bellingham the best game in town is Harmony Mtr works. Mark started out in the gravel driveway doing bugs 30 years ago. Now a full service shop with several wonderful guys. They do all german, swedish cars+subarus. They also have done a number of tiico conversions. Mark is the kind of guy who if his guys can't find the nagging problem, he will drive the car home for days until the problem shows up. Sometimes quite busy, but well worth the wait. My sister drives her 91 mv westy 100 miles to have them work on it. Mark also has a number of westys including 2 syncro westys.They also have a on line parts business, Carmadillo.com. offering european parts way cheaper than any list. I haven't used them yet, but I hear it works great.
 

pablow666

New member
AA Transaxle

Just wanted to add my vote for this quality vendor. My rebuilt tranny is going on 3.5 years now and working very well. Probably about 50K miles on it. He only (?) charged me $1000. Warranty is 3 years. Contact info:
425/788-4070
1-877-377-0773 toll free
AATransaxle

pablo (87 Westy)
 

linus

New member
Rocky Jennings Enterprises
http://www.rockyjennings.com/menu.html
205 E. Beech
Walla Walla WA 99362-2755
Located near the new Walla Walla airport terminal. Second right past terminal, first large building on the left, look for all the VW's.
icon_smile.gif

(509)525-7721

Rocky helped me out when I first bought Sparky (90 Westy) with a leaky gas tank (hence the name). Probably the most VW knowledge/help you'll find in SE Washington. If I didn't move to CA, I'd go back for every repair.
 

Paul and HC

New member
I have had some good experiences with Helmut's Auto, Bremerton, WA. The owner Tom was entrusted with the shop and carrying the tradition by Helmut from the Vaterland when he retired. He has two sons who work with him. Steve studied electrical engineering at UW, but decided to stay and work in the shop. Just loves working on cars. This family run shop is honest and charges fair prices. He has worked on my '91 Vanagon GL for a number of years. I know of one Subaru Conversion for another customer. They are well-versed in the convesrion and are comfortable maintaining and working on them. I don't think they care much to modify the wiring harness for the swap, though.

Peterson's Automotive in Port Angeles always seems to have some Westies or Vanagons out front. This shop installs the rebuilt/upgraded motors for GoWesty, has done TiiCo conversions, and has stated a willingness to do work on Subaru converions, although I don't know if they will do the Subaru conversions. They frequently have a few Westfalias or Vanagons on consignment. I have seen a caddy for sale, as well as other mostly VW's and Audi, a rare domestic. Mike and his right hand man both drive an Audi 5 cylinder.

I travel the hour and half to go back to Helmut's. The owner of the Subaru-converted-Westy reportedly has put over 20,000 on his beast and it is going strong. Tom is now working on my Syncro DoKa. He has helped me with my '84 GTI, '93 VW Corrado, and my brother's Honda Accord. Helmut's diagnosed a locked front caliper when the other shop called a defective front differential. I had some electrical problems incompletely diagnosed at the PA shop.

Before I met Tom at Helmut's, I had a fair bit of work on my '91 Vanagon GL at Oval's in Federal Way. They appear to be well-versed in Vanagons. Fred Noble himself was driving a Syncro Vanagon at the time. The parts people are great, too.
 

williambeta

New member
I was going to the German Auto Clinic in Seattle before I moved and Jim the owner really knows the vans but it's too far to travel. Any help would be appreciated.

[Moderator note: 'Mechanic wanted' section deleted per forum header.]
 

microbusdeluxe

New member
Harmony Motorsin Bellingham may do good work on wasserboxes but they REFUSE to work on air-cooled VWs. Maybe they have their reasons, but when they wouldn't even look at my noisy brakes because the van is air-cooled I wonder about them.
 

icarus

Moderator
In defence of Harmony Mtr Wks:

Harmony, like many shops won't work on new customers cars that are quite old. I have spoken to many shops about this and the reason being is that in many cases the cost of repairs often exceeds the value of the cars. In the case of Harmony, they have enough work with existing customers that it is hard to take on what is increasingly marginal work. The other problem is that there are fewer technicians that have experiance on the air cooled cars. I know that in Harmony's case, Mark Bender (Owner) is the only one in the shop that does any aircooled work anymore (for current customers). I know that this can and does create hardships for thems that can't get their cars worked on, I would much rather have someone be honest and work only on what they have competence in than the reverse.

I know that Harmony is committed to keeping to running a top notch shop, and their vanagon work is largley a labor of love. I will say that they have been scupuliously honest in every dealing I know of.

Icarus

PS I have no affiliation with Harmony except for being a long time customer.

PPS. There is a shop on McKenzie Ave.,down by the Alaska Ferry teriminal that will still work on aircooled. I know nothing about thier rep.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
If a factory dealer, I would vigorously demand that NO VW dealer should be allowed to refuse to work on an older vehicle. Independents do have the right to define their market as long as they are consistent and clearly advertise as such.

I think Harmony's refusal to work on a non-engine matter for an older model may not be good business sense, but well within their stated policy. It is not reasonable to expect them to do jobs for which they must stock parts, tools or other support needs, but . . .. [I would hope they have the make & models they do work on posted, to avoid customer embarrassment.]

Air-cooled brakes require NO special tools or skills not already in place for the water-cooled Vanagons; OE & OEM parts are readily available from their established suppliers (many are interchangeable); and -- and this is why I say it makes no business sense -- where do they think their next Vanagon customers are going to come from?

"I'll take a look for $X diagnosis fee. If it is something we can do with existing techs & tools, and I can get parts promptly, we'll do the repairs for the additional standard rates. If not, since this is outside our market, I'll recommend a couple of shops." Which approach will get that customer's business when he upgrades to a Vanagon or Eurovan?

On the other hand, how did the customer go in, attitude-wise? "I've got this clunker that looks like it & I want a cheap brake job because the dealer is too expensive?" Or "I'm trying to restore & bring this Type II up to standards and could you look at a brake problem and give me some advice & recommendations?" One will get you "I'm busy"; the other, usually a sympathetic ear.

icarus: I hope you'll pass this on the ther management. Often, it's not the policy, but how it's handled, explained and what exceptions they make. Just "We don't work on air-cooled!" would have me as miffed as microbusdeluxe
 

icarus

Moderator
As with most things, things are not always the way they seem. I had a converstaion with Mark today on this very subject. I am not going to speculate what was or should have been said.

The bottom line is that Harmony is a very well equipped shop with 5 very experianced "techs" (I guess we don't call them mechanics anymore!) They work or all german cars, plus most japanese, plus volvo and saab. As time goes on there are fewer and fewer viable Westys on the road. In order to cover the overhead of the shop, including specialty tools, wages, benefits, etc these guys have to stay busy.

As I said before, they will work on any existing customers car forever. One problem is there are a fair number of old busses and bugs around this town, but a considerable number of them are owned and maintained by the John Muir school of ownership. A great many of these people either are unwilling or unable to pay the freight. I do understand the dilema both for the business and the customer. I used to run into this in my construction business. Potential clients would ask for a new bath and kitchen, and perhaps if I could throw in a deck for $10 grand. Occasionaly I found people who genuinly had no clue what things should cost, but often the response was, my neighbor down the street will do it for $10 an hour. No overhead, no insurance, no standing behind the work. "Hire him" I would say "if you realy want the work done."

I also know that Mark and his guys are more than willing to share advice, even tools on occasion.

I don't in anyway want to cast aspersions on microbusdelux, in fact I empathize with him. The two great values in this site are the access to information to do things ourselfs, and the references to those that can help us. In the case of a shop that can't or won't work on a specific car, at least we can try to find one that will. Because one won't work on a particular vintage type 2 does not suspect them for any other work. In fact it is, in my mind a good thing. I have had endless trouble trying to find people to work on my Detroit iron, because most independent shops work on "all vehicles"

Good luck and post any info on any other shops you find.

Icarus
 

Paul and HC

New member
Port Angeles, WA. After living in the area for a while, I have learned that a place trusted by locals for VW service is Bruce's Specialty Auto on Ennis. Further support of this, a tow truck driver told me this shop is requested by the majority of Syncro and VW owners who have needed a tow.
 

aswah

New member
Port Angeles:

So far, out of the millions of shops I have had to get aquainted with owning a Westy, Peterson's Motors has been the best by leaps and bounds.

Lisa, my wife and I, lived in Alaska and drove our crippled VW hundreds of miles thru Alaskan backcountry and Yukon territory down to Mike's shop in Washington. Have yet to find a good mechanic in Alaska, at least where I lived.

They repaired our VW and got it running without another incident for over a year. My only comment would be that there parts prices seemed a little high. I liked their thoroughness and the fact that they really stood behind their work.

360.452.4890
 

microbusdeluxe

New member
Since my rag on Harmony Motors in Bellingham seems to have ignited some discussion I'd like to offer a belated clarification on my encounter with them. Before I begin let me say I appreciate both Icarus' & Capt. Mike's discussion of the matter and agree with what they are both saying.

Bellingham does have a number of hippie vans. However, I in my case I drive a primo, clean 1981 Westy. New paint, interior, shiny gel coat top, Go Westy wheels & tires, it is one sweet rig that always gets compliments & inquiries about buying it. (Not as many inquiries as my old 65 deluxe, but that's another story). Attitude wise I am not aggressive and my inquiry to Harmony was in full expectation of paying a fair price for fixing the problem. They truly shut me off with a prompt curt "We don't work on air-cooled". I said "Yeah those old engines can be tricky, but I thought the brakes were similiar on all vanagons." They repeated, "I'm sorry but we just don't work on any of the old air-cooled buses or vanagons, you might try the dealer". So I don't recommend them, nor do I take my Subaru Outback to them. If they have enough customers, I guess this makes it one of those win-win situations everyone's always talking about.
 
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icarus

Moderator
Since my rag on Harmony Motors in Bellingham seems to have ignited some discussion I'd like to offer a belated clarification on my encounter with them. Before I begin let me say I appreciate both Icarus' & Capt. Mike's discussion of the matter and agree with what they are both saying.

Bellingham does have a number of hippie vans. However, I in my case I drive a primo, clean 1981 Westy. New paint, interior, shiny gel coat top, Go Westy wheels & tires, it is one sweet rig that always gets compliments & inquiries about buying it. (Not as many inquiries as my old 65 deluxe, but that's another story). Attitude wise I am not aggressive and my inquiry to Harmony was in full expectation of paying a fair price for fixing the problem. They truly shut me off with a prompt curt "We don't work on air-cooled". I said "Yeah those old engines can be tricky, but I thought the brakes were similiar on all vanagons." They repeated, "I'm sorry but we just don't work on any of the old air-cooled buses or vanagons, you might try the dealer". So I don't recommend them, nor do I take my Subaru Outback to them. If they have enough customers, I guess this makes it one of those win-win situations everyone's always talking about.

Fair enough. The only thing I would suggest is to have conversation with the owner of the shop and tell them why you won't be patronizing them.

Icarus
 

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