VW Restore ("SEN"-91 Westy) A Vehicle worth saving!
SEN as I've called my '91 WESTY is a solid GL model that I looked long and hard for. He needed some immediate attention after purchase in July of 2009 and a long list of items was devised, some that could wait until money and time allowed. The name SEN comes from the abbreviated letters of the date that I took possession. Sen spent most of his life in Japan from what I can gather so I have chosen the Japanese translation of SEN="Wizard" as the true meaning of the name. There are several meanings to the word SEN so Wizard seems to be the most fitting. I think he has some sort of Wizardly power to have avoided virtually any serious rust since her conception in 1991. Although the Vanagon is the farthest thing from it I think SHINKANSEN (Japanese Bullet train) is a worthy long version of the name SEN...
Alright, it’s finally time for some local camping trips. My first of the season has me excited to try out the newly installed three window pop-up tent.
So I usually start prepping my van for a camp trip by plugging in AC power and pre-cooling the fridge. When I tried that this year, I kept blowing the GFCI breaker on my outside AC outlet. I tried more than one extension cord as I first thought it was an issue with my original US model Vanagon external cord. …Nope, it now looks like the GFCI outlet box in the Van is the faulty culprit. When I went to test the GFCI in the small cupboard by the bench seat, the test button is solidly stuck. With this issue, I can’t hook up “shore power”. I’ll be buying a new GFCI outlet this week and replacing that 23 year old receptacle.
Ok, so lets try lighting the fridge, as I’ve had a ton of work done in the past on my fridge and it should light right away as long as my igniter fires; …Well, the igniter does fire and flame lights but within a few seconds it dies. I’ll add that I had my regulator setting adjusted a few years ago to the recommended output pressure of (can’t remember for sure), 9psi?! So, I have propane in the tank, I have an assumed proper pressure output and I have ignition but flame is not staying lit, even with safety button depressed for a long time. I’ve tried different temp settings but nothing works. As I load the van, I try a relight every once in a while as well as once I’m set up at the campground. Sometimes my igniter doesn’t even fire, other times it’s ready and willing to get the action started. Can’t quite figure that one out as the exciter unit was replaced shortly after I had the regulator adjusted and should be 100%. All wires solid and good battery on board! As for the flame problem, I will have to figure out a way to clean out the possible cobb webs out of the exhaust stack(s). I can only assume that I have an oxygen issue. ...Ok, fridge out of service until further notice. We now have to pack a cooler with a couple bags of ice.
Now we are set up and camping as happy as we can be with a water filled cooler. Here for a good time, not a long time right!?
A couple of nights in camp and now we get ready to go home; I use a bucket for grey water below the sink and as I’m dumping that into the local outhouse I notice a drowned mouse in the water. Ok, more than a year and a half ago I had two mice find their way in during the night and cause havoc with the junk food in the cupboard. Back at that time, I set up some traps in all the wrong places and never did catch either mouse and never saw any sign of them again so they must have escaped on their own. As I continue to tear-down camp this time, I look into the glove compartment and am shocked to see that overnight a mouse has found a napkin and has shredded it to make a nest in there! Bugger, how the hell did he get in!? I can only assume that there are openings large enough in the front grill in and around the heater core, etc.
Well, the new three window tent is pretty awesome and my original 2.1L Wasserboxer is running well. Already planning next trip for later this month but must do some serious thinking about that fridge. Maybe I’ll be pulling it out again for the (4th?) time for an inspection and cleaning.
Paint and bodywork to fully restore body: $12,444.00 Under a spray can paint job, there was lots of bondo hiding panel damage and holes in the metal that required welding. This work was done by the very professional Walter at Continental Auto Body in Calgary, AB. Swiss expertise and German paints!
A long time VW fan and now you could say, an addict (of renos and modifications more so than vws themselves). My '91 was showing it's age but was still in remarkable condition when I purchased it in July 2009. Lots of immediate things to work on and some that can wait...