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Topic: New VW Bus owner, tips? (Read 1203 times) previous topic - next topic

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New VW Bus owner, tips?
Hello!  My wife and I just purchased a 1976 Riviera, Eleanor AKA: Ellie, that seems to run pretty well (has some major leaky window seals that we found out this weekend while camping at the coast...) but overall in pretty decent shape and got us to and from Nehalem without any issues.  We need to take her in to get her initial "physical" and see that D&M has been suggested previously as a good shop, does this still hold true?  We live on the west side - Bethany Area, so would like something convenient.  What I would really love is a mechanic or someone to walk me through the basics of a bus so I could get familiar with her.  We want to be able to do work on her as needed but have NO experience - we have books and The Samba (of course) but would love if someone knew of a mechanic, or knew of someone willing to give us a walk through of our new girl and could tolerate a ton of questions.  When we do take her in for her physical, are there any questions we should ask or spots that we should ensure they check?
Second, she has some obvious rust around her rear wheel well, and paint bubbling by her rear bumper which makes me fear what is underneath and in spots we haven't identified yet, anybody know of a good and reasonable body shop?  Or garage to DIY?  We can't weld, so when it gets to that point would need someone to do that surgery, but I feel we could at least get her prepped and maybe even painted once done - if we had the space.  Thoughts or suggestions?  I have a feeling I know the answer to this, but what are the overall feelings of the fiberglass patch kits?  Junk or worth it?
Third, any tips we should know?  I've heard that we should always carry a new clutch line in the bus, because *when* that goes out nobody carries it and it takes weeks to get in.  Besides oil, tools, manuals, good feelings, and a sense of adventure, is there anything else you wouldn't leave home without for your travels?

Oh, I guess I do have one more question - boy you are going to regret giving me access to this forum  :wink: - like I said at the beginning we found out in a very unfortunate way that even though the previous owner replaced her rear window seal within the past year and a half it leaks something terrible and we ended up with a pretty neat waterbed and had to cut our camping trip short.  We are planning on replacing those seals (and try to figure out what to do with the other leaky spots we found as well) but I've seen on The Samba that there is some debate about using silicone sealant with the rubber seals and wonder what the general thoughts on this are - I want to do it right and not have to worry about a soggy mattress again, but also know there is such a thing as "too much".  We are home DIYers but have never tackled ANYTHING with a car, would it seem feasible that we could do this on our own?  It seems like a pain, but doable (something with ropes and alignment) - but I don't want to bite off more than we can chew - or have to buy a new rear window if we bust it...

In advance I THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  We are so excited to have this new member of our family and we only want to do right by her and treat her well, but, just like any new parents, need a little coaching and help along the way.


  • BuginU2
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  • Hebmuller
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Re: New VW Bus owner, tips?
Reply #1
Welcome the the site and I compliment you on your choice of vehicle.  Our family owns a 77 Riviera (we are the second owners).  Dave at D&M is a safe bet - he should be able to give your bus a good check-up.

I drove our bus down to Arizona and back last month (2800 miles round trip).  I went through at least a whole case of oil.  Aside from that - I didn't really have any issues.  Of course I carry a full set of tools when I go on trips like that.  Once you've driven it a few thousand miles you'll know how she sounds when happy.  Best part of having a camper bus - if you break down somewhere remote - you have a place to sleep and eat!

Are you sure the seals are leaking and not excessive condensation?  In the Northwest - it can be tricky to tell the difference.

Send me a private message and perhaps we can arrange a time to meet up over coffee or something and exchange notes on how these buses work.

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Re: New VW Bus owner, tips?
Reply #2
Thanks so much!  Although we were surprised by the amount of condensation on the windows, I am 100% positive that it was from the exterior.  I could see the bead of rain run down the window on the outside and as soon as it hit the seal it started to pool on the inside.  By the time we found it, there was a fairly steady stream and we could have wrung our mattress out.  We tried a few things to stop it, but nothing worked so had to break camp and abort.  I'll give Dave a call.  Thanks!!