Saturday, October 23, 2010

Handwaves and the Libby Bong

There are not too many vehicles where the drivers wave at each other in passing. Bikes are like that. Westfalias too, I'm learning. One of the things that drew me to them was an active online community. The beauty of the web is the shared experience. An example of this is the "Libby Bong".

Vanagons have a cooling system that is notoriously hard to bleed. This has to do with some design choices that put the expansion tank and reservoir in an easily accessible location (the rear engine compartment), but well below the high point in the system (radiator). The official method of bleeding the system requires running the engine at high enough rpm for the water pump to put out enough pressure while you vent the air out of the top of the radiator (in front) and adding coolant to the reservoir (in back). That seems to take more coordination and hands than the average shade tree mechanic has available. Any misstep and you can loose coolant either from the back or the front.

Someone posted an alternate method on line. It requires about $10 worth of hardware and allows a single person to do the job. A PCV pipe allows you to get the level above the radiator. A small tube on the side shows the level, and once filled and bled, siphons the level back down to the correct level without spilling any coolant. The perfect "hack". All you need is an extra set of hands to photograph it in action!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

WetWesties at McBee

We had a warm welcome from our first contact with the WetWestie crew. We joined a small group at a semi-annual gathering at an interesting little campground owned by Hull-Oakes near Alsea.
Fittingly, it was raining. Our makeshift awning made the weather a bit more livable. The campground, Hubert K. McBee Memorial Park, is located within hiking distance of both Alsea Falls and Green Peak Falls.

We hiked over to see Green Peak Falls, which I had never even heard of before. It is as nice as Alsea Falls. There is some amazing old growth along the trail to the falls.

Here is another suitable wet-weather vehicle we spied along the way.

Hard to believe, but another tan 1985 Westy piloted by Linda showed up! Long lost twins reunited? 

We felt warmly welcomed, and enjoyed visiting with everyone. It is nice to know there are others surviving with similar afflictions.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Patrol at Crater Lake, a.k.a. Westy Outing #4

If our previous outings in the Westfalia were "shake down" cruises, we had our first fully crewed, multi-overnight "patrol" to Southern Oregon. It was a late-season trip that only homeschoolers and retirees can manage, and we had a lucky streak of glorious weather to make it all the more special.

We drove down to Crater Lake on the first day, with June and Smitty as escort. It had been a number of years since I had been there, and it was as beautiful as ever. The park was shutting down for the season, which seemed a bit strange in the unseasonable weather, but it was also very uncrowded, which we like.

After cutting our escort loose to do their own exploring, we headed south of the park to find a camp spot. We stumbled upon a gem of a Forest Service camp called Huckleberry Mountain. It was free, and we had it to ourselves, probably due to the fact that it was four miles off the paved road. We did take a wrong turn, and punctured a tire on the rough road, but it was well worth it.

We went back to Crater Lake for a second helping, getting Ann Marie "Junior Rangerized", and staying to watch the moon rise above the lake. We headed back for another night at Huckleberry Mountain, arriving near midnight.

After two nights of primitive camping, we tried the other end of the spectrum and spent $45 for a small patch of grass and warm showers at a KOA in Kalamath Falls. "For just one night?", I asked. "Yes," was the reply. "Hot show = happy campers", I thought. The following day we visited the Kalamath County Museum, and found an even crazier camp site at a hot springs in Ashland. That might need a blog post of its own.

The following morning we drove down to visit the Oregon Caves. The highlight of the tour was when the lights went out, and the tour guide had to hand out extra flashlights to everyone. The guide was quite apologetic, but everyone seemed to enjoy it

For our final night out, we stayed at the closest Forest Service camp to the Oregon Caves called Cave Creek. It was not free, nor did we have it completely to ourselves, but it was peaceful and a welcome reprieve after the last two "commercial" campgrounds.
The fridge gave us fits, despite all the work I've put in on it. The flat tire was irreparable, and cost $90 to replace. The severely under-powered van was also severely under-cooled and required a sense of humor, great patience, and a defroster on full blast to make the long climbs without a complete melt down. Other than that, it was a pretty successful cruise. We were all glad to be home. Running hot water and flushing toilets are quite a miracle!