The Bing has landed, and the brakes are really, really bad. Returning home yesterday I found the car veering sharply off to the left when I applied the brakes, and then it felt like they were not disengaging... I had to accelerate against this huge drag... it sounded horrible. Driving in Guaymas is like a video game- untrained drivers lurch onto the road without looking, without warning, swinging wide into oncoming lanes to make their turns, some drive at 10 miles an hour, others race past in huge SUVs, bus drivers use their size to bully everyone on the road, and then there's me in my 39 year old VW bus with brand new paint and bad brakes, working on an ulcer. At least I had a windshield this time, so I could see the horror in front of me.
Once home I took a hot shower, a pain pill and got in bed. With a vow that the brakes would be the first thing I would do to the Bing the next day.
So today came along like Guaymas at rush hour.
There was my usual Friday morning breakfast meeting at Tequila's. The 1st Mate showed up, and came over to see the Bing.
S and B stopped by to say that B wants to buy the Westy (which is in the bodyshop now) and will have his bank in Scotland wire the money to my account. The money should arrive in a week.
I drove out to the ranch in my pickup to get all the parts that came off the Bing when I started sanding and patching... mirrors, lights, radio antenna, etc. The truck has been acting up... and today it was really bad, stalling every time I made a turn. It was my suspicion that when the fuel was low in the tank and I made a turn, the fuel pump would take a big gulp of air and send that to the fuel injectors and the motor would stall. It would start right up until I made another turn... so my answer to this was to add fuel and the problem disappeared. Except recently it started doing it with over a quarter of a tank on the gauge.
I had a moment of clarity.
What if, I asked myself, the conditions in the truck haven't changed at all, but my information is bad? If the gauge was reading higher than it should, it would explain the symptom. So, I filled up the tank and the problem went away. Bad gauge. Good thinking. Pat self on back.
I got home with the lovely chrome parts, some of which had gray primer on them (blame body man worker #1 in 2003) and no paint remover. I went to the hardware store and they had no paint remover either. Another moment of clarity.. I went to the grocery store and bought a small can of brush-on oven cleaner. It works beautifully. Pat self on back.
I also brought home a pair of saw horses and a 4x8 foot sheet of plywood. This is my work table in the house now, for doing the interior parts of the Bing. I have an industrial walking-foot sewing machine I'll use to do my tucking and rolling. With that set up, I started pulling door panels off, and then remembered my vow...
I jacked the front of the van up and started pulling off the calipers (the 1971 VW van was the first year they used front disk brakes on the bus- cool!). I found the pads were pretty much frozen in place against the disks, and a leaky fluid reservoir. I also found that the hydraulic lines were original equipment (that is, 40 years old) and they almost crumbled in my fingers. My plan is to replace every hydraulic hose and fitting in the bus before I drive it again, unless I get suicidal or something.
The calipers and drums/disks will go to the machine shop for rebuilding, and I will be going to a variety of places to get my hoses, lines, fittings and brackets. And then I'll pull off the rear wheels to check the brake shoes and drums, wheel bearings, etc. I may pop new shocks in there too. There's a LOT of bumps in Mexico's roads.
I discovered that the 1st Mate was sold the wrong tires for the van also. Because of it's design, the Bing needs to have a reinforced sidewall, truck rated tire. Most people don't know this, but the VW bus was rated to carry a one ton payload. That's ten 200 pound guys. More than most pickup trucks.
If the Westy really does sell, I may use part of the proceeds to buy some spiffy alloy wheels and the Continental tires I put on the Westy last year.
So that's it. Turned out to be fun, but I knew it would. It always does.