Despite needing to wear my post-laser-eye-surgery-grandpa-glasses at all times, I was getting restless to start Westy preparation. One would think after months of working on the Dolphin I'd be happy to sit around aimlessly. Well, my distaste for procrastination and standing idle propelled me into working on some much needed upgrades.
Step one was replacing the ratty old tent. Our '81 Westy was sporting the original single window tent that was riddled with holes and mildew. Jacqui and I had purchased a brand new BusDepot three window tent that was sitting in the box whispering to me at night, "Set me free, set me free!".
I can't speak for later model Westfalias (1985 +) because they have a different tent design, but despite the seemingly simplistic method of installation, this was a painful project. Stretch, tug, cuss, repeat. Stretch, tug, cuss, repeat... for hours. Canvas tents will inevitably stretch with time, so to compensate for this the manufacturer gives you a tent that is something more than a tight fit. Regardless, when I finally got to stare at the new, beautiful, three window tent, it was worth every ounce of effort.
Tent removal and installation
Next up on the task list was prepping the roof for storage. Despite the very sturdy roof racks on the Westy, asking a single human to lift the roof when there's close to 100lbs of kite gear on it is a tall task. Luckily, when Jacqui and I swung through GoWesty on our drive north, we picked up one of their lift-assist systems. Despite my apprehension towards drilling holes in the roof of our new home, this was a surprisingly easy project that yields extremely professional looking results. The hardest part was tracking down a 25/64" drill bit and the best part is that I can now open the roof by myself, even when fully loaded.
Installing the GoWesty lift-assist system
Of course there's no way I could stop working on any vehicle without at least one nightmare project. It's kind of a unspoken rule of mine. This came to fruition when I attempted what would seem to be the easiest task at hand, replacing the leaky faucet. The Westfalia has an electronic faucet that sends power to the water pump as soon as you turn the knob. When I attempted to replace the faucet I found that the previous owner had done some modifications to the wiring. Unfortunately, he'd not only done a poor job wiring it, he'd used speaker wire. This started a domino effect as I searched further and further back in the wiring to find where I could start fresh. I realized the problem went all the way back to another area where our previous owner had volunteered his electrical skills: the secondary battery.
I'd already known for a while that the secondary battery system had been poorly installed. My first inkling had been when I connected the secondary battery and the car wouldn't start in the morning. However, I'd been putting that project off for another day. Unfortunately it became clear that the only way to get the faucet wired properly was to gut the secondary battery system and install my own.
Armed with a test light and no wiring diagrams of any kind, I took to identifying and labeling all of the foreign wires that had been routed under the driver's seat to this secondary battery. After finally putting things as close to stock as possible, I busted out the GoWesty secondary battery kit and began following their instructions with a few of my own modifications.
Due to space and funding restrictions, I found using two very small marine batteries wired in parallel was that best amp-hour to dollar deal. The best part of using the GoWesty kit is that now when the car runs all the batteries are charging, and when the car is off, every electrical component runs off the secondary batteries. In other words, I can run the batteries dead overnight and still start the car in the morning, because no electricity is ever drawn from the engine start battery.
Attempting to make sense of the faucet wiring
Trying to undo all the wiring done by the previous owner before installing a proper secondary battery system.
With these few projects completed, our little Westfalia is that much closer to being a Chile-bound adventure vehicle.