Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Alice" - The Nosejob, Part 1

Stacey and Bryon's beloved bus "Alice" has been in my garage for a week and a half. Bryon and I have done a number of things to it so far, including:
  • Complete removal of the BA6 gas heater
  • Installation of heat risers and heat control flaps
  • Installation of "accordian tubes" and replacement centre heat tube
  • Adjustment of the shifter to allow the reverse lockout to function again
  • Installation of a ground strap from the battery to the engine (tranny ground strap was missing causing lots of electrical woes)
  • We also plan to adjust the valves, check the tranny fluid, and possibly install his deep cycle battery

During this process the need for repair under the front windshield came up. I offered to help (I'm learning to keep my mouth shut!). Bryon and I visited another VW dude in Grimsby on the weekend to pick up a BusDepot lower windshield replacement set as well as some other bits. Bryon did well, actually, and scored retractable front seat belts among other things.

Anyway, the carnage was exposed on Sunday night when I pulled the windshield and scraped away some of the rotten filler. The captions below detail the process so far:

So I guess this is why the bus was leaking?
Another shot of the rust.

So that's why the paint was bubbling! All the water leaking from the windshield seal would have found its way right behind the turn signals.
A little less on this side.
Bryon also wanted the tire mount removed.
Here I'm scribing the cut line for where the new metal will go.
Ditto for here, but notice it doesn't extend far enough, there's too much rot.

After cleaning the area I planned my attack.
I had a brainwave in Grimsby and had Bryon take the door slider beltline covers from the donor bus. These are easily removed, but have the right curvature (or so I hoped).
After cutting a section that had similar curvature I trial fitted it in place.
Here I've tacked it in place. The top will be trimmed to butt against the upper metal replacement next.
This shot shows the comparison of the old and new metal.
More to come! Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Westy's Dual Battery Setup

Vanessa bought me a deep cycle battery for the bus for Christmas... See the main blog for details... This week I reactivated the 32 year old relay and wiring for the original deep cycle charging system on our Westy. Other than sorting out and reconnecting the wiring, there was little to do to get things working again. I connected the fridge (all that originally ran from the factory deep cycle), the charging system, the Espar heater, and the "camp" side of my camp/drive switch that controls the stereo, tv, dvd, cb, and green lighting. Now we can run these items without fear of discharging the starting battery.

In the foreground is the original relay that controls the charging of the battery. In the background is the battery.Since Canadian Westies never came with the battery charging and fridge control panel, just this simple control, there is no provision for charging the battery while plugged into 120V. I want this since our Espar and electronics will draw amperage and it would be nice to do so without fear of discharging anything, when plugged into 120V. Thus, I permanently wired my 6 amp charger into the system. My multimeter can't even get a reading on the amps draw on the battery when not plugged in, so it shouldn't discharge the battery any. Now, it will automatically charge and power the deep cycle and accessories when the bus is plugged in!

The Westy's Espar Heater Installation

** ORIGINALLY POSTED AT: - check there for updates / discussion **

Even with my close-to-stock (aftermarket heat exchangers, insulated heat tube, more recently a bilge blower) heat hooked up, our end-of-winter trip to Myrtle Beach and Everybus in North Carolina last year was very, very cold. It didn't help that we drove through four record setting days, coldest temperatures for those areas in dates in over 25 years.

This year my interest in replacing the gas heater was piqued. I removed and sold my complete non-working BA6 last year for a very good price on Ebay. I thought about someday getting a more simple BN4. But then I came across Eberspacher's newer heaters, distributed in North America by Espar. Others on this forum have used them with success, as well as some similar modern heaters like the Mikuni and Webasto.

There is lots of info on their website here: and this is an example of what the modern heaters look like:

After finding out how much the gasoline variant of these heaters was new from local dealers I was pretty sure I wouldn't go ahead. The price was over $2000 with the necessary installation kit. The diesel versions are far more popular for obvious reasons - their main market is very hot right now - reducing idling of big rigs by installing their heaters for nightime heating.

I started watching Ebay auctions and found a brand new B3LC 3KW (12,000 BTU) gasoline heater for a reasonable price, including lots of extra installation parts. Apparently it was an R&D project to design a heat system for Bobcat. I had to pay shipping from Texas which is ironic because the Espar dealer is literally a mile away from my office in Mississauga, Ontario. Here's some of what came in the boxes:

Since I have a '76, I wanted to install it where the spare tire is stored, behind the drivers seat, with a duct coming out of the spare tire cover and one coming out under the drivers seat. My wife was dead-set against that and insisted that whatever we do not detract from the functionality or appearance of the bus. In short, she wanted it underneath, in place of the original BA6.

My camera crapped out as I was doing the installation, so I drew up some diagrams of the installation. It is mounted to a steel bracket, bolted into the frame under the bus. A return air supply was drilled under the rear seat and piped with 75mm ducting into the heater. The 90mm outlet was connected into a "Y" piece of sheet metal ducting which was connected into the main heat tube from front to rear. This provides recirculation of air from inside the bus to the front and rear heat outlets, along with the stock heat. To allow use while parked I put a one way dryer flapper in the main heat system to not allow the heat from the gas heater to escape through the engine. I insulated all ducting afterwards.

NOTE: I am not affiliated with German Supply. They are a great supplier and give out handy-dandy note pads, hence their logo below:

The only areas I had to cut the bus were to cut a 3.5" hole under the rear seat for return air (because I had previously removed the BA6 return air connection), and I had to modify the BA6 belly pan to accomodate the support bracket for the B3LC.

On a test drive yesterday, the outside temperature was about 0 Celcius (32 Farenheit) and it was hot enough inside we were sweating and had to dial the heat down to LOW! We are very happy!

One other note - I realized that some of my problem before was a leaky front air intake. My bus had its nose replaced a few years ago by the PO and he didn't properly seal around the intake. Some seam sealer took care of that and now we have no drafts!

The B3LC is hooked into my deep cycle so it can run while camping. It only draws a lot of amperage when it's first starting (because of the glow plug) so it could theroretically run many nights on one charge!

Here are some pictures of the finished installation:

These pics are the return air intake.
This is the 7-day timer/controller - A little overkill, but that's what came with the auction!
Here's the exhaust.
This is all you can see under the bus. The exhaust, combustion air intake, and fuel line. The metering pump is hidden in this picture, but is mounted on the outside of the frame rail.