Today, I finished the back bus bench foam and fabric covering, grinding some leftover plasma cut edge (no pokeys!) and built the front bus bench structure – Yay unistrut!!!


Also had to deal with the 12v LED ropelight we ordered, not in stock! and had to call the 1000bulbs.com four times to get the order right. As of right now I am not recommending them, even if they have a good selection, it took them 2.5 days to get back to me that they were out of stock, and then when i told her that i was expecting it to come in the standard 5-7 business days, she said that she couldnt do anything and i ended up paying way to much for shipping…. ok rant over πŸ™‚

Brandon got the pieces for the slider door, and installed them, however we found out that because the door had been falling off for such a long time that the lower groove is worn so it always falls off!! So, we have some welding to do…he also finished the coupler and adapter plate between the electric motor and stock vw manual transmission.

Tomorrow depending on time, we are also:

  • tidy up the welds and make rear floor in the front bus
  • fix the slider
  • sewing top covers for sunroof/pop-top holes
  • exchanging rear suspension/brake parts for the newer style (5×100)
  • mounting tranny for electric motor
  • mounting electric motor
  • painting wheels
  • cutting carpet to fit (not yet ready to permanently install)

Electric Drive Update

Check the photo! The adaptor plate between the electric forklift motor andΒ the VW trans-axle for the rear bus is complete! Now the shaft is being constructed along with a 2 gear only transmission (1st and 2nd) for on-playa use.

Pretty awesome. Russ (of Russ Repair) has been helping with this component of the project. Thanks dad!

Hopefully the electric drive will be complete in time for us to be able to use it on-playa. Still seeking some large solenoids and whatnot for the 36 or 48V system.

More soon!


Much Needed Update

Buszilla II has lost its top! πŸ™‚

Over the past week or two post-SOAK* we have been working like crazy to get the articulated floor/bellows section built. First on the list was to “drop the deck” over the engine compartment area to allow an easier pass-through to the rear bus (the more mods the better…right?) The edges of the floor will be boxed in (allowing for air flow from the vents) about 4-6 inches off the top of the engine. Covering this will be a removable (by screws) panel for serious engine work (removal, serious failures, etc). The regular access hatch will be in the middle/rear of this panel to allow for easy quick access to oil dipstick, filler, and check the fan for debris. We will be removing the rear hatch from the back of the bus, so no more easy access there. πŸ™‚

Once this floor build is complete, we will start spanning the gap with some sort of rotatable/flexible floor and then bellows up and over the sides/top. The bellows will likely have a frame of 1/2 EMT conduit (thank you James Molloy!) to allow it to “mostly” hold its shape while flexing/turning/etc.

Street legal vehicle lighting has been finished on the bus. A 7-pin commercial truck trailer plug/socket was fitted to the rear of the front bus to allow for future “disconnection” in case of need. 7-wire multi-conductor was run to the back and landed on a terminal strip. From there it breaks out to the individual lights/marker lights. Also fitted was two mid-ship lights (amber) which act as both a running light as well as a turn signal indicator. Very slick. The whole side of the bus flashes when turning. Makes it easy to see indicated turns.

After changing out the AFM on the 2.0L, things are running much better. The clutch has started to behave and no longer crashes gears (woo!). The battery is going to be moved mid-ship under seating rather than in the hot engine compartment (which is going to be too small to get it in/out anyway). Β It’s old location will probably be filled by a commercial grade air filter setup that we are fitting in place of the factory paper element filter. The air intake (if even needed on playa) will thus be much higher up (inside the side vent) so hopefully less playa will be ingested.

Rear torsion arms on the back of the front bus need to be bumped up a couple notches. This will bring the ride height back to stock as well as even up the roof lines. The load on the rear axle when not fully loaded with people is similar to a large load of camping gear, so no component should fail with a slightly increased torsion tension. Fully loaded, everything will be smashed to the bump stops anyway.

We considered putting spring shocks (helper shocks) on the middle axle, but after a failure in my 1974 Riviera of the factory shock mount, we decided to avoid that situation and just do it all with the torsions.

Below are some photos of a couple friends of ours that came over and helped cut the project up! Thanks Tony and Nasim! (you can kick me if I spelled that wrong)

Parts we are looking for:

  • Baywindow Bus (later) sliding door parts (upper support and track slider in middle)
  • Baywindow Bus (later…not wide-5) rear brakes setup (need the hub and drums…got some of it).
  • Batteries for the electric drive.
  • Electric Drive Parts (solenoids…controller?…stuff)
  • Help πŸ™‚

That’s all for now folks! Check back in later for more.

On the personal side of the world, Heather and I are moving houses so work on the art vehicle might be a bit sporadic when we can work on them, but we’ll try to keep it updated.


Connection Done, Tested, and Passed!

So for those that weren’t attending SOAK, you totally missed out.

That aside, we got to take Buszilla II for its first shakedown run. Wild Bill and Mary graciously helped put on the finishing touches to get it road-worthy just before connection. Once connected, we checked a few things, threw some stuff in the bus, and hit the freeway for SOAK. πŸ˜€

Along the route the following happened:

Hydraulic Clutch master cylinder lack of return spring wouldn’t allow gears to be shifted smoothly or into any gear while coming to a stop.

Battery was weak so shutting of the engine to put it into gear was not a good idea.

Combination of the above two and being stuck in traffic on the freeway resulted in Buszilla blocking the center lane of I-5 southbound in rush-hour traffic for about 6min while jumper cables, dinking with stuff, etc. was tried until finally Bill and Mary brought Captn. Puget around and gave us a tow off the freeway. Nice bumpers BTW!

I installed the return spring in a parking lot after a couple failed bleeding attempts and got it mostly working. Drove another 30 miles and then the oil filler plastic part fell off and started spraying the engine compartment/fan/engine down with oil. We figured it was just burning off some oil on break-in…but turns out it pumped a quart of oil through the fan and all over the engine block. Yummy….

Found that problem in Salem…pulled into a gas station and let the oil drain out of the fan housing. Hot oil burns ensued. Threw in another quart of oil and started motoring on. This time much more successfully. All the while the AFM (dirty and worn out) causing the bus to shake/buck at mid/low RPM’s on cruise. Yay! Brought one to swap in for the ride home. πŸ™‚

Once we FINALLY arrived, parked the bus and had some beers. Then the weekend of testing started. πŸ™‚

At various occasions through the weekend, the bus was loaded to 8-10 persons (no seating installed yet or pass-through built) and it worked quite well (although required some goosing to get up the hills at SOAK!). Nothing broke/fell off…and for flat ground the 2.0L engine has PLENTY of power with passengers and cargo. Drives very nice!

At one point we actually jumped the bus uphill off a small hill along side the road with some passengers. Very fun. Very strong!

We obviously have to do some trimming on the body parts to make everything happy and work together but the main structural component is there and operation. w00t!

Now it is time to start the articulating section build out and also start investigating lighting. We will most likely bump the rear torsion springs up and possibly pick up some spring type shocks to help the center section stay somewhat happy while lightly loaded. Fully loaded it is expected that the vehicle will just ride on the bump stops (at 10MPH or less).

Need to do some lighting connections and whatnot…but overall VERY happy with the installation and looking forward to finishing up the interior and starting on the exterior!

Thanks for checking in!

Connection…coming soon!

Well hopefully tonight we’ll have complete connection of the front and rear bus. Yay! The rear of the front bus (other than some plating and finish welding) is ready to rock and roll. The front of the rear bus is ready for some steel and make the head of the setup to hold the hiem joint.

There are a few sneak peek photos as you can see which shows the setup (the hiem is not bolted in place yet). We are using a fine thread 3/4″ bolt to allow the use of misalignment bushings to be used on the joint itself (allow more between-body-rotation). The shank of the joint is fine thread 1 1/4″. This will be screwed into a welded collar and then a jam nut affixed.

As you can see from the limited steel photos…the welds are VERY nice (thanks Justin!) and the steel is very thick. We pulled out all the stops and are going to make this bad boy impossible to break. πŸ™‚

Not much time to elaborate…but some additional work going on is pictured. Heather, Michelle, and Jessi worked on getting some carpet into both of the front and rear bus. This allows for a somewhat comfortable seating arrangement until we can finish the interior design. The front bus was driven around PDX for a shakedown run and things went well (other than a bolt falling out of the home-brew clutch master cylinder setup…needed a nut!) The bottom end sounds good on the 2.0L engine. Good power.

Wheels are painted and dropped off at the tire vendor awaiting some Nanking 14″ high load rated tires. The last two wheels will be chosen/painted/fitted with tires once we determine if we can source the bits we need to swap the rear end of the bus over to narrow 5 instead of wide 5.

We still have to do a little repair on the battery tray…source a battery…and do some zip ties under the body.

Bus leaves tomorrow evening for SOAK (regional burning man event!)


Check the photos:

It Is Alive!

Well after a long weekend of work, the ’78 front bus is a running, licensed, driving VW Bus. πŸ™‚

The clutch was bled so many times I lost track, finally getting the last of the air out. The brakes are working nicely (ready for an adjustment). Engine runs like a TOP but required a different coil/points/condenser possibly because we were using a coil from a VW with factor electronic ignition (or the condenser may have failed). Either way. It runs sweet (thanks dad!). I made a home-brew exhaust from a few vanagon pieces and a weird tip. It sounds sweet.

Drive train is working nicely. The shift linkage still needs some fine tuning but it is getting close (now have reverse and all forward gears without weird acting lockout! yay!). We drove it around last night and then I took it to DMV this morning to get licensed and registered. Sweeeeet cruiser. Bottom end is awesome. The vanagon tinned engine with the large heater fan on the alternator sounds interesting in a baywindow πŸ™‚

SO now the mutant is legal with the state of Oregon. Time to start cutting and welding!

I picked up the hiem joint this morning from a friend that builds 4×4 suspensions and whatnot. Β 1 1/4 shank with a 1″ bolt hole through the eye. Massive! Russ is going to construct some high angle components for it so we can get it fabbed up and installed.

Lots of action with the stick welder on site from Kelly (www.industriousdog.com). That helped weld up the rear engine mounts and now the tube steel stock for the rest of the frame.

I mounted and plumbed up the aftermarket fuel tank inside the passeger compartment. It is a tank within a tank (the tank itself if stainless steel!) so it should have no problems outliving the mutant. Compression fittings with 3/8″ truck air brake line brings the fuel lines (return and supply) to the engine area. Some adaptors transfer it over to stock black push-on fuel line (using clamps everywhere!). It works very nicely. I think capacity should be around 18-20 gallons. Perfect!. We can always add more later as these will be under the seats.

With a large hammer, some wood, and a bunch of work by Heather and I we freed the front drivers seat from its death bed (heavily rusted into place…very worn out…see photo). We replaced it with an old dog chewed up vanagon seat but put a pillow and a cover on it temporarily (probably reupholster it soon). Nice work Heather!

All lights except reverse lights work (hook those up soon) although it won’t matter soon because the “back” won’t be the actual back! Haha!

Check the photos…I put a video too!

Video (yes I stalled it…the clutch still had air!)