Saturday, April 23, 2011

WVO Filtration!

Coming soon to a Bus Girl near you!! 
Pressure washed, dried, pressure washed again, and onto the trailer to bring home and set up!!

Stay tuned!


I would like to take a time-out from the normal bus updates to acknowledge the accomplishments of my little sister, Alex.

Despite being sisters, we really are as different as night and day. Walking down the street, you would never guess we are related. We do share a few qualities, however; one of which being that we both work very hard pursuing our dreams.

Alex is graduating from Smith college on May 15th with a double major (I think) in English and French. On top of that, she just got the news that she got her dream job at a publishing company in NYC - WOW!! This has been her dream since I can remember, so I am really proud of her for working so hard, always doing her best, and chasing after her dreams without worrying about the "what ifs" of it all.

I had talked to her on the phone on her birthday (April 19th) this past week, and she had mentioned the job, and how there were so many other better-qualified applicants than herself, but she went ahead and applied anyways.

Success comes in all sizes: it can be an intangible idea, a life-changing email, a letter of acceptance, or a 45' X 8' bus.

Congratulations, Alex! I am so proud of you!!!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Facing my Humanity through Radiator pulling

Alright, I almost didn't post any of this, because I didn't really accomplish much yesterday, I just spent several hours becoming frustrated and so there was nothing really to "say" about the "bus" - which is the POINT of this blog.

But then I thought about it for a second. This is everything to say about the bus, because the point of the bus is not just the END of this journey - you know? It isn't JUST to LIVE in the thing, which is going to be AMAZING, but it is about everything that comes along the way. This bus has only begun to provide the wealth of knowledge and growth and development that I am to obtain through my dedication, patience, and perseverance in working on it. So... why should I skip over these things?

Why should I hide these parts of the story?
I feel like doing so would do a disservice to myself and to my message.

There is no need to conceal the fact that I, just like everyone else in this crazy life, become: scared, angry, overwhelmed, exhausted, lost, confused, terrified, and - at times - utterly hopeless. Why hide the fact that at times I am vulnerable, inexperienced, weak, and in need of help and guidance?

This isn't just me, this is all of us at some time in life, and it is what makes us beautifully human. Sometimes the greatest thing that one can say, is simply, "I don't know" because you open up a world of opportunity for yourself. That statement can be the starting point of a journey of discovery, but it all depends on what direction you take. You can give up and close the door, or you can step forward into the unknown, embrace the challenge, and use it to make yourself a better human.
Really, who would want to "know" all of the time? Would that not make life incredibly boring? Where is the space for growth in that moment?

Yes, there is security in the comfort of knowing, but I encourage you - push the boundaries today to see what you can become!

And now, here are some videos.

So, here I am, beginning the evening. I am super-psyched, ready to pull this darn thing and get out of here and get myself some dinner. It's about 4:30 (I think is what I remember saying?) and I am expecting an hour or so of work before I can throw the radiator in the back of the car, drive it home with me, and check it out and make some calls about getting it re-cored on it Monday morning.

Yeeeaaahhh... not so much.

Here is a video from about two hours later.
I had tried to remove the large tube and a few other rusty pieces from around the engine bay that were blocking the radiator (as I mentioned in the above vid), but I ended up breaking things (ie MASSIVE hose clamp) and being unable to move them, so I tried to approach the problem from a different angle; i.e. the outside door. I discovered that what I thought were rivets holding the screen in place from the outside access door were actually small screws, so I decided to pull off the cover to the outside of the radiator and access it that way. Though there were still quite a few things to detach form the inside still, I had become frustrated from breaking heavily-rusted hose clamps and lacking the proper tools with which to right the situation. The "whiz wheel" that I am referring to in the second video is one of those air-powered cutting discs, which would slice through the thick metal clamp no problem-o.

In this video you can see that I am so frustrated and defeated that I can hardly explain myself!

While I never actually finished the task yesterday (the sun went down and it got too cold and too dark!), I didn't give up (!!!) and eventually, I did get all of those bolts undone and screws removed (or drilled out!) through some creative tool creation. Now all that I have to do is remove a few accessories that are attached to the radiator, and two large bolts at the bottom which attach it to the frame of the bus, and the thing should slide right out through the outside access door.

Lesson learned: I will save another entire day to accomplish this, and I will be armed with the appropriate tools, or at the least, the time to go get them (because, no; 5 on Sunday evening does not fall under that category!).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Two whole years of Bus ownership!

On this day in 2009, a wonderful adventure began!

Some days I still can't believe everything that I went through to be where I am right now (which I don't even know where exactly THAT is, or what is next, or where I am going or where the end is!! Ah, the joys of a life of freedom and exploration!).  Amazing things can happen to you and direct you down the most incredible path...


People, you can accomplish ANYTHING.
All it takes is to START.

You don't need to be ready,
you don't need to have all the money,
you don't need to have it all planned and figured out,
you don't need for the time to be perfect.

NOW is perfect.
What do you want?
Go out there and BEGIN!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Recycled fuel! Coming soon to a bus near you!

Quick update:

I did it!!
I had to.
I bought a waste vegetable oil filtration system from a very competent and creative DIY-er from Warwick, RI.

I will be picking it up and bringing it home tomorrow!

More pictures to follow, these are just a few from the Craig's List Ad. I will go into more detail (about how they work, and why I chose to purchase this one, and how I intend to use it) in future posts, but right now, it's 15 minutes past my bedtime.

The Bus Girl

Thursday, March 24, 2011

just to add...

I just had to add to my last post, and also share some pictures. Alright so the 5-year plan is nice, but I think I want to move on this whole "no money" idea a little faster. As soon as the bus is safe and drivable (meaning brakes work, tires are good, engine runs, etc., not finished interior or anything like that) I want to try this plan - for one year. This is one of my many ongoing current goals.

I have noticed that dumpster diving for food when one is a gluten-free vegan is a little trying. Possible, but you can't really "expect" anything. No one can get sued for contaminating your food with wheat products if you are stealing it from their waste.


As it is, I live pretty money-less, in terms of spending. I try not to spend often, mainly because consumerism gets me down. I can't help but think about who is being affected along the line.
"Made in China"
"Made in Taiwan"
What land was subjected to deforestation for that factory, how much petroleum was used to transport these metals, which were probably mined in South Africa, how much profit is this company making by skimping out on health insurance for its workers.... AH!

Even putting fuel in my car, which I haven't done in over a month now because I sold the old Benz and the Rabbit is in storage until possibly the weekend. Actually, I hope to revive the the Rabbit ("Gaia" is her name) this Saturday, so that I can drive down to Warwick, RI to check out a WVO filtration system that some guy (who sounds pretty rad) is selling. I may just check out his design, but it's like... I am not sure that I could just explain to him my life plan and see if he would be willing to donate to the cause (or, even better, exchange for something that I have, or some labor, or whatnot. His son does have a mk2 diesel Jetta, so we'll see!). There are many obstacles that are getting int he way of living for free that I Have to jump over, or avoid all together.

But, if I want to drive the bus, and I want to live without money, then WVO is kind of going to be a necessity. I am not sure how to handle this now, so I promise I'll get back to it.

I have another interesting story about manifesting that involves my website idea and meeting a person this afternoon, but I don't want to jinx it, but I'll just say that I am super in touch with the Universe currently. Rock.

And, as promised, I have a few cool pictures of the current inside of the bus. I am hoping to organize a bus interior-gutting party soon, as well as a bus-frame-painting-party, which can be really all-inclusive. Anyone who can wield a paintbrush can show up to help and earn karmic points that can be redeemed at any point.

This series is fun, because it looks like you're walking up into the bus from behind. (See the picture on the right sidebar where I am standing in the rear doors of the bus! There's one step back even further!) This is looking up from where the engine used to be.

Pardon the scattered ranting... this post brought to you by a brain dump at 16 minutes past my bedtime. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Transmission detach Part 1, + general rambling

Alright, so I have a lot to say today. 
Firstly, I have done a bunch of work to the bus recently, but I am not going to write about it all right now, but rather, try to spread it out a little bit so that my posting is more consistent and less sporadic and brain-dump-like.

Yesterday, I was joined at the machine shop by my dear friend John*, who is a fan of my bus and was psyched to be my second hand for some heavy tasks that I was hoping to accomplish. He also helped me to make this video that I am sharing with you. See, I had hoped to upload and share my random audio brain dumping, but couldn't for the life of me figure it out, (perhaps it is not Mac-compatible??) so I decided to step up my game. 

The rest of this procedure will also be uploaded in video form and put here on the web for your viewing pleasure. And, if you ever wanted to know how to detach an Allison automatic transmission from an 8V92 Detroit Diesel, well then here is an instructional video, just don't hold me liable for my novice (and perhaps improper) tool use, procedure, or safety precautions, thank you very much!!

Yeah, so this is actually kind of embarrassing for me to put myself out there to the world, (I have a hard time watching this video without being like, "Oh dear god!! Is that really me talking!?!") but I think that it is a good step in the right direction. We shouldn't be ashamed of ourselves for who we are, what we look like, what we sound like, how we talk, whatever... but so often, these small, simple insecurities will get in the way of people accomplishing great things and putting themselves out there into the world to share their gifts. Now, I am not saying that this blog is necessarily the greatest gift, but whatever. You can draw from it what you will.

Moving on, I wanted to share a quote that I found on the website, which has been really inspiring to me recently:
“Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. For what the world needs right now is people who have come alive."    -Howard Thurman
In case you haven't guessed, this project makes me feel very, very alive. I wish for all humans to have something like this as a driving force (ha, ha) in their lives. Something that propels them forward, makes them excited to get up in the morning, makes the day go by like NOTHING because the whole day has raced by with daydreaming, planning, enthusiasm, and positive energy. This is how my days have been going recently; how lucky I am!

I have been thinking recently about ways in which I can share this energy with the fulltiming community in a more tangible form, and I think that the answer may perhaps lie in my social networking skills.
I need help making a website! I am kind of in the process of struggling through this one solo right now, and I have found my skills (and finds) to be limited, so if anyone knows of someone with website-development skills who would be willing, then please direct them my way! Thank you. That is enough of that for now.

I would also like to put out there in the Universe that I have a 5-year plan of weaning myself off of the need for money. I know, it sounds really extremist, un-doable, difficult, dangerous, impossible, yeah, yeah, yeah, BUT! It has been done before, and if there is someone else out there doing it, then you bet you're britches that I can do it, too!

Why 5 years, you ask?
Well, I have to get the bus fully prepared and functional. I mean, I am pretty good at manifesting, but manifesting some fresh engine bearings, sleeves, transmission fluid and however many gallons of oil that I need... meh, I don't want to overwear my welcome into the Freeconomy just yet. 

Fully prepared, you ask?

Yes. Well, the bus at least. I think I am ready.

What does that mean?

Fully prepared to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO), keep me warm using wood and WVO, charge my computer (for blogging and running my website, writing for the mag, and making free phone calls, naturally!) with solar energy, compost my humanure, hold air in the airbags, have functional brakes, install some very simple plumbing with human-powered pumps, etc., etc., etc.

I think that's enough rambling on for today.

The Bus Girl & her Urge

*names may have been changed for confidentiality ;)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Get Out Of Your Own Way!

Well, you read the title of this post.

This blog entry is going to have absolutely nothing to do with working on the bus, but EVERYTHING to do with living the dream. So often when I tell people about what I am planning on doing, I have a reaction similar to:
"Oh wow! I wish I could do something like that!"
"Oh, I have always wanted to live my life like that!"
"If I didn't have to [insert lame excuse here, such as 'raise my kids', 'work in an office', 'take care of ___' ... you get the idea] I would be there in a heartbeat!"

When I hear things like that, AND NOT EVEN about bus-living mind you, I only have one response: ONLY YOU ARE HOLDING YOURSELF BACK. (Which leads me to believe that this person must not really want it.) If you truly want it, you can make it happen. Then you think to yourself, "No, I really DO want it! I just can't!"
Obligations, responsibility, the "shoulds" of life ("I should do this, because that is what a good person does!" or "I made a promise to so-and-so, and so I should just sacrifice myself for the rest of my life." etc., though said not quite so sarcastically of course!) All of these perceived obstacles that are nothing more than figments of your own imagination. This goes for bus living, this goes for traveling, this goes for going back to school, starting up your own business, leaving an abusive spouse, you name it!

All that you have to do is listen to your heart, DECIDE that you truly want it, take a chance and put your energy out in the right direction, start working, and not be judgmental about the process! Oh, and most importantly, GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!

The only person putting these restraints on yourself is yourself. We teach other people how to treat us. If we teach people that we are their doormats to use, abuse, and to follow the path of the perfect little person who lets society's morals and standards define for us who we are to be, well... that is no one's fault but your own. Perhaps you can live the rest of your life trying to fit into their beauty standards while you are at it, or the standards of materialism, and spend your days following the bread trail of the ones who seek to control you...

NO! Take control of your life! Take control of your own destiny! That which we manifest is before us, and do not let anyone or anything stand in your way! Certainly, do not step on, abuse, or do any harm to others, but first and foremost, be true to YOURSELF and the correct path will follow.

Trust yourself, you are all that you have.
Share yourself, and let others know of your goals.

This just happened to me yesterday, a little side story: one of my blog followers had read that I was in need of a torque wrench capable of handling 250 lb ft, and what do you know! Hand delivered only days after I wrote about it was the tool that I needed! See, you never know what you can create by sharing your passions with the world, and this is only a small example.

Now go out there and be brilliant, damnit!!

The Busgirl and Urge

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Deeper into the depths of confusion

Well, the bearings are currently in a plastic zip lock bag on the floor of my kitchen and every now and then, I will forget that they are there and step on them with bare feet, or trip over them in my slippers, or kick them across the room. It’s pretty good because it’s a reminder to myself that I have to make a decision.
A few things to address here:
1) decision about what?
2) your kitchen floor? Wait, kitchen? …so, you do not live in the bus?

The latter first.
No, I am not currently living in the bus. Whatever. There is currently no floor in the bus because I ripped it out for rust repair, better insulation, and to make trap doors. In fact, here: I will share a picture of the current state of the bus. 

As soon as there is a floor in the bus, I will live in it again. Well, as soon as the engine runs, maybe. I am working in Cambridge, MA right now and the bus is in Pawtucket. Long commute, and I am without a car since my rabbit is still in storage until another few rainstorms get rid of enough salt to keep her rust-free.

The former: decision about what?
Augh. Engine stuff. That’s what. The best way to make one good engine out of two crappy ones. There is a “best” way to do it. There is also a “cheap” way to do it, and I am sure that there is the “cheapest” way to do it, and these 3 ways may have nothing in common with one another, and if you start to throw in more variables, such as “easy” or “according to the manual” or “in the advice of a DD service tech” or “what Joe says is good” or…
All of this information being thrown at me and it is up to my pigeon brain to process it all and make a damn decision one way or the other.

I was actually feeling so scattered that I had to get the information out of my head, but I have been finding it really difficult to write recently. I think that this may be due to the fact that I have decided that I want to become a writer, because I love to write and I do it often, but now suddenly I find myself with a constant case of debilitating writer’s block. Augh! So, as I was riding my bike from Pascale’s in Pawtucket to the coffee shop in Providence where I was meeting up with a friend, I whipped out my voice recorder and started talking and talking and talking and talking and just spewed it all out in verbal form and it felt amazing!! I am contemplating listening to it and writing it down verbatim and then posting it, or figuring out how to make it into a voice clip and posting it here for you to listen to my insanity. The second option may be a little embarrassing for me, because I was talking with only the intention of myself hearing it, but hey; we are all human, and we all sound kind of stupid every now and then, and if you know me personally, then you have witnessed this first-hand and still talk to me, so whatever. I may post it. We’ll see.

But anyways, a friend gave me a couple bunches of collard greens for free from “Food not Bombs” yesterday and I am hungry and I need my calcium, so I am going to eat the big pot of sautéed collard greens that I just made and contemplate this puzzle with a full tummy a little later.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Let me get my bearings...

So, on Saturday I went to spend some time with Urge. I figured it was about time to pull a couple of the bearings out so that I could order some new ones and replace the darn things. After all, the ground is beginning to thaw which means that I can actually stand to be outdoors for more than 10 minutes, and Urge is no longer an icy buscicle coffin waiting for me to freeze to death.

So, anyways.

The crankshaft is kind of hidden behind these two sets of metal plates. I whipped out my manual. "Supports" they are called....

well, duh.
Apparently they play a crucial role in keeping the crank in place since it is so big and heavy. When you remove them, you actually have to make shims before putting the bolts back in place, so a trip to the local hardware store was in order. They didn't have the right size, so a little fab was necessary.

Whoa, I am getting a little ahead of myself.

First of all,
The bolts.
Were huge.
ARE huge. I peered down at my tool options. I had my little craftsman ratcheting wrench in my hand. Erm... I don't think so.
I grabbed my favorite Snap-On breaker bar, placed it over the bolt, and pulled with ALL OF MY STRENGTH!
I then repositioned the angle, and forced all of my weight upon it, letting my feet come off of the floor.
I had just so happened to still have the handle to my aluminum jack handy: laying patiently across the top of the motor, gleaming sparkly blue (I swear that's not the reason that I bought it!) as if to say, "You're gonna neeeeeeeed meeeeeeeee!!!"
Humph. I was gonna need a whole lot more than just that. I would rather break the Craftsman wrench than the Snap-On bar, so the jack handle went over the end of the Craftsman wrench and then I called in for backup! Thankfully, Dave had come with me on this bus trip because he had needed to use the shop to fix some subframe something-or-other on his GTi. When he snapped the bolts loose, they made this wonderful metallic snapping noise! I thought the wrench had broken or something, but nope!

One of the other guys in the shop had turned his head to look over at where the sound had come from. "Wow!" he said. "Now, here's a question, before you take any more off, do you have a torque wrench to put those things back on?"
Hmmm... good question. I didn't even know what the torque spec was. Thankfully, the manual was handy... "250 to 260 foot pounds" Dave read to me from the book. "Holy Moly!" I exclaimed, "that's AMAZING!"

Every time I hang out with this motor, I think that my bus is even more amazing.

Alright, so I got the supports off, time to remove the caps. BUT WAIT! What is the most important thing that you must do first??
(Oh, C'mon, you MUST KNOW by now!)

Labeling!! With metal pieces, you do this with punches, of course. Just like I did on the inside of the heads. As I further inspected the rod caps, though, I noticed something WONDERFUL!

Someone had already done it for me!! Does this mean that the motor had been rebuilt before?? And there were some initials stamped into the tops of the main bearing caps. "AW" hmm... interesting.
I speculated for a bit and then moved on to taking off the caps and removing the lower bearing shells of one main bearing and one rod bearing, to see the size so I would know what to order.

Here they are! Both lower shells in all of their glory - and to my surprise and delight, they are both STD (standard) bore, which means that this engine has not been rebuilt before! I consulted the manual about the procedure for replacing the upper shells with the crank still in place, and I happened to read that the rods, as well as the main caps, came marked from the factory. How awesome! So could be that I am the first one to touch this motor.

Close inspection to my bearings reveals that they are actually not bad at all! I mean, replace them, definitely, but notice the wear... on a stock motor from 1989! Whoa I got my $350 worth and then some!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Read the manual!

Wowee, so whenever I get bummed that things are moving slowly, I just have to come back here and read this blog and remind myself that a little over a month ago, I was just beginning to take apart 8V92 #2. :)

So, where are we now...

This past Saturday was quite eventful! For starters, my heads were returned to me with a clean bill of health, thanks to my buddy Joe over at Pascale's! Thanks, Joe! He had pressure tested them in the big machines over there to make sure that they had no cracks anywhere; which, apparently, is a common problem with old Detriots (especially after such damage as mine was subjected to, the poor dear!!). And I spent the later part of the evening sitting right here:

I really like this picture; it replaces any of the need that I have for actually writing anything, because you can tell exactly what has taken place over the last month of work. (which, can I just quickly add - has been only 3 days total due to significant life changes! whoa!)

Perhaps you can tell the story to yourself. What do you notice here?

I can point out a few things that are significant:
1) My favorite tool, the Snap-On breaker bar. You can tell that I am removing big things with big bolts when I break out this one!

2) My second favorite tool, the orange soft hammer! I have been breaking things free (even after removing their bolts) that have been fused to the side of the engine block with age and neglect.

3) The things that you cannot tear down an engine without: my permanent marker and plastic bags!! I have been doing some labeling of parts!

So in 1-3, you can tell that I have begun to swap things over from one engine to the other. Recall that the accessories from the DDEC are different than the MUI (naturally, such as the engine computer and electronic components, but there is also a larger trans cooler and heat exchanger... erm... "thingy". Observe:


Aww, little ittybitty heat exchanger! Note: You can see the coils in the first picture!! (at the very top)


It's a lot rustier and filthier, but also much bigger!

Back to the observations!

4) A block of wood wedged against the crankshaft?? Huh??
Oh yeah, maybe that one deserves an explanation!
So, for those of you who read my article in Bus Conversions Magazine, you know of my experience with the lovely humans at Connecticut Detroit Diesel. Well, anyhow, I had been told that the camshafts were different, and so even though I didn't trust him, I thought it best to remove them and compare the two between the two engines. I decided to set about this work on Monday, the day after a winter autocross that I had helped to plan and put on. At the autocross I had mistakenly poisoned myself with wheat (I am a Celiac!) whilst munching on some corn chips that someone else had offered me. (Who would've thought corn chips? Eh, oh well...) So this day, I was still feeling lousy, foggy-headed, and just plain out-of-it. WHAT A BETTER TIME TO DO SOME ENGINE REBUILDING, YEEAAHHH!!


Anyways, so there I was, after removing my Turbocharger and Supercharger (this was the same as the other engine, so it went smooth as clockwork!) and the heads, of course, trying to figure out how the heck to get those darn camshafts out without removing the flywheel bellhousing. Not only is the bellhousing huge and probably weighs as much as I do, but it is attached to the engine stand that is keeping my engine in the air... There was no way I was gonna detach that! So... what to do, what to do!

I was standing there puzzled when my friends Jason and Cheryl came into the shop to visit. They had driven up all the way from New York to drive in the Autocross, and so they had stayed some extra days just to hang with us. They hadn't seen Urge since his engine had been removed, so they were excited to see the bigness. Jason had just rebuilt the motor in his VW golf TDi, so I decided to explain my predicament, hoping that he would have some insight. ...maybe I have to put jack stands under it and actually remove the bellhousing... Jason and I were contemplating, talking and looking things over. But it was Cheryl who noticed my two huge volumes of bus manual that were sitting patiently in the corner, waiting for me to notice them. "Whoa look at the size of the manuals!" she exclaimed in awe, "I bet the answer is in here!"

Lo and Behold! It was. Which leads me to observation #5:

5) The manual is OPEN! And to the proper page! These things were written for a reason. :/

and, perhaps most importantly:
6) The engine is... ON ITS SIDE?? What's that all about? Well, if a picture was worth all of those words, then what is a movie worth?

Let's find out, shall we?

So, you get the idea! Now I am onto the next step of engine rebuilding: the bottom end! Thankfully, with an engine as huge as this, there are ways of removing and reinstalling the bearing shells without removing the crankshaft, which is what I am planning to do!

One more thing to mention before I sign off: all of that work to free the camshafts, and it turns out that I actually don't need to swap them, because they are the exact same camshaft. WOOHOO! This is fabulous news.

Alright, that's all for now!
Until next time,
Anja & Urge

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Motorhead Magazine

Urge and I are famous!

I walked into Tasca Ford on Friday to deliver something, and was overwhelmed by the service advisers exclaiming, "It's the Motorhead girl!" and asked me for my autograph... it was really cute. If only Urge had been there, too! He would have beamed with pride.

Motorhead is a local Rhode Island car enthusiast magazine. One of he owners came into the machine shop where I work to talk to us about some advertising, and he took a liking to the bus outside and the enormous engines inside. I did a little explaining about what was going on, and he thought it was good enough for a story in his mag, apparently! :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fire and Hammer!


Wow, 8 inches out there and it is still falling! Go Rhode Island! Dave and I are one of the few who have decided to brave the streets and leave our homes in a car, let alone drive the car to work and actually do something! (and we're driving down to Jamestown tonight... mostly all via back roads! Hooray for studded snow tires! Hooray for diesel Mercedes RWD power!!!)

Not too much good it does to have the Service Manager in the shop today (that would be MOI!) because no one's calling, that's for sure! And every time I try to order parts, the suppliers are all closed! The only thing that I ordered today came from Texas! (and the guy was really cute on the phone, he kept on calling me "ma'am")

Anyhow, after writing up some quotes and making tea, I have started messing around with the bus engines again. The heads from the DDEC motor are going to be pressure-tested by a friend of mine, Joe, who works at a local truck and trailer repair place that has all of this wonderful equipment. Our pressure-testing machine is awesome, but is ... *sigh* alas! Too small.

The heads are all clean and waiting patiently for Joe to come by tomorrow evening. Hoorah!

So.. Jee... what should the next step be?
Take apart the second motor, I suppose! Remove those heads, start pulling stuff off and comparing. I will use the best parts of what I have, and make sure to switch over anything that is different. The guy from CT Detroit Diesel told me that the camshafts were different. DO I believe him? Well... meh. I will see for myself!

Undo the bolts for the turbo... check!
Remove the huge pipes from the turbo... erm... hmm... harder than I expected.

Fire, and a BIG HAMMER!

Always fun!

Now, on a total side note: for those of you who know me, you know that I hate cats. HATE THEM! They make my eyes itch and nose run and skin get red and swollen... I am allergic to cats. Some more than others.


Urge doesn't mind cats at all. In fact, he likes them! Urge has 2 faithful watch cats. I panicked the other day (I do this a lot about my bus) when I realized that I hadn't put mouse traps in my bus and feared that there was bound to be a rodent infestation! However, when I went to survey the damage, I noticed that there was nothing: no signs of vermon! No droppings, no smell, no stuffing stolen from the couch... NADA! No mice.

Maybe I don't hate cats so much anymore.

I saw their prints in the snow all around my bus, and it made me happy.
Doesn't mean that I'll ever get a cat, or start liking cats, but maybe now... I am neutral. :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Bigness.

So, I have begun to feel very overwhelmed with the BIGNESS of this project.


I said it.

I got about 2.5 hours of sleep last night. I was in bed by 9:30pm, exhausted and worn-out by a long night in the shop, waiting for a customer who never showed and working on a set of the bus's heads. But yet for some reason, the sleep wouldn't come. I tossed about in my crumpled blankets until almost 4am, wondering what the hell I am going to do. The alarm went off at 6:30 reminding me it was time to get to the shop to face my battle once more. Nothing worse sometimes than being in the same room with the motor - the elephant - and not being able to touch it. Not during a busy work day.

It sat there, ominously, taunting me.

Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself with that picture. I'll start from the beginning: vacuum testing.
So, a quick and simply vacuum test is a great way to check if your valves are good and seating properly and whatnot. There were a few valves that seemed a bit depressed into the head and needed to be checked out.

First, the valves were removed from their keepers and springs:

With a little bit of creativity, and a lot of help from Dave, the bus's right head was mounted onto the Rottler.


kind of...



A little tapping on the valves and the vacuum would spike a bit and then fall back down... augh.

A little inspection of the valves revealed... blech! Pitting and nastiness. Some of these valves are no good... but HOW un-good are they?
Well, they have to sit down in the seats all nice to create a nice seal. Dave gave me a quick lesson on how to "lap" the valves.

It goes like this:

1: clean the valves.

2: apply the lapping compound.

3: suction the tool thingy to the head of the valve and rub your hands back and forth like you're trying to start a fire, and put a significant amount of downward pressure onto the tool.
Here's a video so you can see what I'm doing. Yes, it was pretty cold, even indoors and I am wearing like 3 winter jackets. Yes, it made it kind of difficult to move my arms!

4: repeat with all of the valves in question.

Then what?
Do the test again and see if anything changed.
Things changed, but not quite enough. And honestly, the pitting on the valves was lousy enough that I decided that I didn't want to use those valves anyways. Thus, the sad faces on the tops of the valve surfaces.
They need replacing.

I mean, I am all for doing it right - I mean, do it once, do it right, no matter what. The struggle is the financial burden. This is part of the reason why I couldn't sleep last night. I currently have a little under $1,500.00 to my name. Not bad for a young female with minimal responsibilities, a cheap apartment, fuel-efficient car, and no cell phone bill. BUT!! How about a girl trying to get across the country in a bus?


That's not going to do it.

Not with diesel being $3.30 a gallon, my bus getting 6-8 miles per gallon, and 3,000 miles to go. It's just not happening.

Let's say that the fuel prices go up more.
Let's say ~$4.00
Let's assume the worst.
Let's say Urge will get 6 mpgs.
Let's say that I get lost more than twice,
So let's estimate that it will take 3,500 miles.
_ _
3,500mi / 6mi/gal = 583.3gal X $4/gal = $2,333.3

So, it will take more money to drive to Oregon than I currently possess. HOWEVER, I will be selling my Mercedes in the spring when the salt is no longer poisoning the roads and I can drive my Rabbit on the road once more.

That's $1,200 to add to that.
Well, no (let's make it less to be on the safe side) $1,000 for the Benz.
That's $1,500 + $1,000 = $2,500, which will be enough for diesel.

But let's not forget that I need some new valves, and that I also need some new guides. Let's also not forget that I need to have some travel money for campsites as I drive across the U.S., that I won't be working in that time period, and will need a stash of savings to feed myself and provide the basic necessities... so that, plus however much it is going to take to get the bus in safe running condition. I definitely need some replacement valves to fix the leak in my air system, as well as a new gauge on the cluster that leaks, may need brakes, definitely need new batteries, both an engine bank and a house bank, need electrical components, need rust-inhibiting paint to finish the floor install, insulation, and flooring material, stainless steel plates to fasten above the rear wheel wells of the bus, a water tank or two (gray water and clean water - I already have a black water), a wood stove and fittings, and some plumbing materials to install my sink and the in-line shower heater (though the electric heater can come later) and the foot pumps to operate the sink and shower water... who knows what else... the broken windshield wiper and missing wiper motor... who knows how many other engine components (gaskets that I don't yet have, pistons, bearings, o-rings, etc.) I will need to do the job "properly" and (oops - almost forgot, sorry mom!) can't forget a carbon monoxide detector for above the wood stove... heh.

And no, I am not going joy-riding, I have an absolute NEED. I !!MUST!! get out of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and all of these East Coast states... I need to get home, to Portland, Oregon, where my soul is free and my spirit is satiated!!

Oof. So this is the conclusion that I came to after hours of processing and talking it over with a friend: the most that I can save each month to dedicate to the bus would be $1,000.
I make $400 a week, cash in hand.
That's 4 X $400 = $1,600 a month.
There are only 2 unwaivering expenses that I have each month, $200 for rent and $50 for the minimum payment on my student loans. $1,600 - $250 = $1,350

Now, I set aside the $1,000 per month, and now I have $350 a month to spend on food, fuel for my Mercedes, and whatever other necessities are needed in that time span, be it toothpaste or toilet paper or one of those things that you need that life would be very difficult without it.

Doable? For me? Absolutely.
It just means giving up a few luxuries that I, like many other people, indulge in. This would be the cup of coffee that I get out every now and then, kombucha tea in the bottles, buying everything organic, and some specialty gluten-free vegan foods that are nichey and really expensive. I mean, I don't want for much; I hate shopping, I get almost all of my clothes as hand-me-downs (or that I buy with store credit that I get from trading in all of those leftover hand-me-downs), don't go to movies, don't drink beer at the bar (and I don't like gluten-free beer), don't get my hair cut or my nails done or whatever else people spend their money on... movies, video games, I don't know. Nothing I spend it on.

I can do this.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Bus's Heads

Well, I finally pulled the heads off of the first motor (the original, the DDEC) after much struggle. All of the hoses had been rusted miserably together to form unbreakable bonds. A day of soaking in PB Blaster and I managed to break a few free, and only damaging one, which thankfully I have a backup for on the other motor. Whew.
After detaching the electrical injectors, breaking all of the enormous head bolts free and labeling everything obsessively, I ended up asking for a hand from a strong friend to muscle them onto a wheelie cart for me, then into (and back out of,) the washing machine.

Mmmm... Downy fresh heads!!

After they were clean, I learned how to Vacuum Test the heads. 3 out of the 4 cylinders held vacuum, which means that the cylinder that doesn't... needs a valve job! Augh. Well, not too bad, because I've been interested in learning how to do one of those. The problem is now to figure out: do the one bad one, or do them all? If one is bad... then are the others going? Or is this just the case of damage from my internal issue, and all of the damage that will be done, has been done?

But cost, too. I am dead broke. I could do the one cylinder, and it would save me in time and money... and the others ARE fine.

Oooohhhhh the decisions! DECISIONS! Input, anyone??

Here, I will include some more pictures of my motor for fun!!
(note: objects in pictures are larger than they appear!)

The heads, freshly removed from the block.

Thank goodness to rebuilding the VW engine first! Priceless things that you learn: LABEL EVERYTHING!!! No, don't even THINK about it, there is NO WAYYYYY that you will remember where that bolt goes in a month from now, I don't care how obvious it looks today!!! Label it!

I guess now you could say I am a bit obsessive about the labeling... BUT it will save my butt when I go to put the thing back together. I also stamped into the heads "R" and "L" and the numbers of the cylinders so that the labels on the injectors make sense. *sigh* I am such an overachiever...

HERE! Thoroughly cleaned heads, ready for the next step.

OH! And as promised, here is a neat picture of the intake.

Yes! That's right! The intakes are on the bottom of the cylinders. Tell me that's not awesome! Silly 2-strokes...
I love old things and outdated technology!

Now, speaking of, perhaps its time to go write some letters on my typewriter...