Well, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Denver, or New Mexico, you're in luck, because Vanagons are plentiful in your area. If you live in New England, the South, or Midwest, they're a little less common, and you may need to travel to find your dream van.
The first thing to check when buying a Vanagon is the head gaskets. (This isn't a known problem with EuroVans.) You should be familiar with the head gasket problem, as described in the document 'Vanagon head gasket leaks' elsewhere on this site.
You should also use very handy 'Used Bus Buyer's Guide'. Though this document is currently oriented towards air-cooled busses, it is highly relevant.
A Vanagon Syncro is about 1.2" (3 cm) taller than a standard van.
A Vanagon Syncro is about 1.2" (3 cm) taller than the standard camper. A Vanagon Syncro 16" is about 2.4" (6 cm) taller than the standard camper.
Take a look in the battery compartment under your driver's seat. Many Westy's came from the factory wired to accept an aux battery. Look for a relay (silver or black cube about 1" by 1" by 1" with several electrical terminals). If you have one of these then all you need is the proper battery, a ground strap, and a bit of wire and crimp-on connections. Note that the factory setup for the aux. battery will only supply power to your fridge and cabin light. You'll have to run an additional power line to your dash to power your radio if you want it on aux. power. The fridge will deplete the battery in two or three hours.
Here's what you need to do to connect an auxilliary battery if your bus comes with the relay installed. You should have a few basic electrical skills, if not, get some help from someone who does.
That's it. With this configuration, the aux battery supplies cabin power whenever your engine is not running. When your engine is running, the alternator charges both batteries and supplies cabin power. (Note: To start your engine with the aux battery, you'll have to jump it to the main battery.)
Note that there aren't any heavy-duty batteries that fit well into this space (11"l x 7"w x 6"h). A wheelchair battery fits, and gives you about 33 amp-hours. If anyone knows of any perfect-fit deep-cycle batteries, please send me mail.
Derek Drew has installed a deep-cycle 150 AH battery under the drivers' seat, with the top of the battery 'sticking up' an inch or so. If you want to do this, Derek writes:
Completely remove the tray cover. Trim away the corner of the swivel base for the drivers seat so that seat can still turn without hitting the battery (you trim the right rear corner off the seat with a sawzall or similar device). Spray paint the sawed edge of the swivel base with black paint. Hammer the narrow mounting strip for tray cover into the upright position against the woodwork to the rear.
Optional: buy a pie tin to put over the battery. Cut the front edge of the tin if necessary, and coat with same color grey rug material.
The 'silver socket' is a European-style auto accessory outlet. It was installed in all '74 - '84 Westfalia campers imported into the U.S. According to Ronald Turner, the '74 and '75 Westies came with a small air compressor that used this socket. (The spare in those years came deflated!)
A plug which fits this socket is available from Hella (for about $12.) You can wire this plug into 12 volt accessories that you wish to use with the socket. You can also get a plug for these sockets from BMW motorcycle dealers (for between $10 and $35 - shop around!) They're used on BMW motorcycles to power heated vests.
The Trim Shop (which specializes in selling stuff for type 181 VW Things) has a herd of accessories which plug in to this socket. They're located in Phoenix, Arizona, and their phone number is 800.966.7791.
A quarterly newsletter, began in Dec '95. Usually about a dozen pages. They've done a survey of EV owners seeking out any pattern problems (like the flakey water temp gauge) and suggesting solutions (cold solder joint on the circuit board, then published a how-to on getting into the dash to resolder). Had a blurb once about how it's possible to order the actual dealer's shop manuals ($150 or so), and gave the VW part # to do so - since Bentley still hasn't gotten off their duff.
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