On December 31st 2015 I found and bought the Merridian Brown 1986 Vanagon Wolfsburg Edition Camper with about 98k miles..
The Automatic is now parked across from my Uncle's house in Benicia awaiting attention and likely a tow home..
January 12th the VW is now in San Leandro. Had to put it on a flat bed truck, less than $200, need an idle control valve and some pipes.
Now, almost a month later, I believe it is the wire from the Idle Control Valve to the Computer. Still need to get it smogged. Just to keep this current, now March 23rd 2016, I have replaced the ECU, the AFM, the throttle body, the Idle control valve, the idle control computer behind the rear tail lens, as well as the module in the distributor. This last item seems to be the ticket. The guy that I usually bring my van to is a nice guy from Cambodia that went through Tent City in April of 1976 just before I left Thailand.. anyway, he could use the work and I like the way he cleans everything up. Unfortunately he is not factory trained on either Digijet or Digifant systems. Usually (because I have an engineer/accountants OCD need to know) I go over the plan of attack every time I bring my van there (usually brakes or something easy) with printouts and the Bentley manual. My instructions were abreviated.. "I just bought this van and I need to get it smogged.." and that is where I left it. Well, between mid January and now mid March there has been little to report.. I took home the van after about 5 weeks and parked it in my driveway. And there it sat. I decided to begin at the beginning, because we OCD types are like that.. and what do you know, it seems that he had tried to repair the distributor, something called the Hall Sensor, and in so doing had impingened a wire therein. The result of changing the sensor was very gratifying purr of the engine doing what I love to hear. IT'S ALIVE!!!
1983-1985: The Vanagon was introduced in year model 1983 with a water-cooled “Wasserboxer” or “Waterboxer” (for all of us English-speaking folk) engine in North America. These first water boxer engines were 1900cc and had “Digijet” EFI. The basic design of the Waterboxer is solid. It was the culmination of some 40 years of experience VW had with the horizontally opposed, four-cylinder engine design. The Waterboxer is basically made in the same external dimensions as a VW Type 1 engine, with the internal displacement and main bearing design of the Type 4 engine, and water (instead of air) cooled. The first Waterboxer Vanagons had many problems with the cooling system. First of all, VW didn't realize until about two years into production that there was a problem with the phosphate in the coolant they were using. The wrong coolant formula caused the cylinder heads to corrode rapidly at the area where the water-jacket rubber seal (often incorrectly referred to as the “head gasket”) and cylinder head come into contact. Most engines were leaking coolant within the first couple of years, or about 40,000 miles. This stigma has plagued the Waterboxer design ever since, even though the problem was essentially solved early on. With care given to using a non-phosphate coolant, and regular 2-year flushing of the system, there is absolutely no problem whatsoever. We have seen Waterboxer Vanagons with up to 290,000 miles come into our shop completely original, the engines never having been disassembled. The rest of the problems with the cooling system were solved with the introduction of the 1986 2100cc Vanagon. You can pick up a good used 83-85 Westy for between $5000 and $10,000.
1986-1991: These are the best of the Vanagons. They are easily identified by their rectangular (instead of round) headlights. The ‘86 and ‘87’s had smaller steel bumpers, the ‘88-‘91’s had larger fiberglass bumpers and an added ventilation duct at the rear of each of the rear side windows. Many people think that these Vanagons were better because of the increase in displacement from 1900cc to 2100cc, but in fact this was the least important change. Indeed, the two engines are essentially identical in construction and design, with the exception of a longer stroke crankshaft (74mm instead of 69mm, increasing displacement to 2110cc instead of 1915cc), and an improved #1 main bearing design. The more important changes were: Improved exhaust, ignition, fuel injection (Digifant), brakes, and (most importantly) COOLING systems. The cooling system was COMPLETELY re-worked for 1986 and stayed basically unchanged through the end of 1991 production. The new cooling system had fewer parts, and was much easier to bleed and maintain than the earlier system. Furthermore, the newer engine case with the better #1 main bearing design was also slightly bigger inside enabling the displacement to be increased even further than 2110cc. As a rule of thumb, I tell folks to stay away from Vanagons with round headlights. The price difference between a clean 1985 camper and a 1986 camper is usually small, whereas the later is a much better vehicle indeed. Nice ‘86-‘87 Westy’s run about $12-18k, ‘88-‘89’s run about $14-20k, and ‘90-‘91’s run about $16-24k
About my old 1985 Westfalia.. good and bad news. Actually, it's all good. Alan, the kid that bought the van contacted me to let me know that he found a cure to the lurching/missing at 2700 RPM. He fixed it. Now the van is simply a pleasure to drive. I want my old van back. Alan called it the ECM electronic command module aka the brain was at fault. AAAAAAAAAAAAAArrrrrrrghhh!
About the 1986 Wolfsburg Westfalia Weekender Camper.. the rear bench seat and the jump seat have been recovered with a nice earth tone paisely in heavy duty damask. Matches nicely with the existing Westfalia paneling. I bought 6 yards and it seems it was just enough to cover the back seats with just enough left over to cover the rear mattress. The rear mattress is currently covered in white naugahyde.. easy to clean but not so nice to lay down on. When I use the fold down as a bed, I usually spread a sheet over everything.. sometimes, if I am just taking a break and a little cat nap, I will lay directly on the material. Normally, I would not have spent so much time on the seats, but as I have been working on it.. I find that I enjoy doing it 'my way'. Right now I am 20% of the way done hand stitching the paisely inlay on the drivers seat. Two halves, the back and the seat.. so far it has taken several hours just to hand stitch the drivers seat. I does look good though. If I keep liking (Meri) it, I might change my mind and keep her.
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