Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Losses and gains - what's in it for me this time?

Egad! It's been nearly a month since I updated the old b-log. And what an unfortunately eventful month it's been.

I'm not going to beat around the bush. The Vanagon is dead. Well, "mostly dead" anyway, to steal a line from Billy Crystal. As per my last post, I was having suspected oil pressure problems. I plumbed in a gauge and drove it locally a bit. Everything seemed more or less OK. I even attempted to install a tachometer:

The results of the second oil pressure test with the tach installed were inconclusive, due to poor quality aftermarket gauges. So, I decided to drive a little more locally to test the van. I was planning a trip to New Jersey, which should have happened this past weekend, and wanted a few more local miles under my belt before I took a long trip in the van. So, a week and a half ago, I decided to take the Vanagon to Transporterfest, a VW bus show at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA.

The van handled the first part of the trip OK, but as it really heated up at highway speed, the oil pressure began to drop. By the time I got there, the light was going off intermittently. Not a good sign. So, I enjoyed the show, and when it was over, I decided to head home. It was a 40 mile trip there and back. Well... I didn't make it back. Actually, not true. I did make it back home, but with the help of AAA and a ride from my wife:

Long story short, the van will probably start, but a scant 300 miles or less since I completed all the work, and the engine is pretty much dead. As I don't have the money to fix it (yet), I de-registered it, de-insured it, and am preparing to get it into the garage for long-term storage.

Bottom line, I don't want to sell the van. I don't need to, and in its current mechanical condition, it probably wouldn't sell for much. So, I'm a bit sad. After almost eight and a half years, the van is no longer usable. But, this is where we get to the point of this particular blog post.

In the past, every time I've had major car problems, I've learned something or otherwise gained from the experience. Conscious of that trend, I'm trying to take as many positives out of this experience as possible.

Most of all, I'm going to use this to complete a long-time goal of mine and learn how to swap a Subaru engine into the van. Once I can save enough money for the conversion parts, I'll be dropping in a Subaru EJ22 engine, just like in my Legacy. I know the engine very well - even better than I know the Vanagon's engine at this point. Putting one in a Vanagon, though... that's going to be a learning experience.

But, it'll be a long while before I have the money for the project. So, in the meantime, I'm going back to working on the Mercedes 220D project. I dug it out this past weekend:

It hasn't even been started since April, 2010. I'm hoping to have it running again this weekend so I can get it out of the garage and clear up that space for the Vanagon. I'll be resuming work on the Mercedes outdoors. As much as I didn't want to work outdoors in the winter again, I'd prefer to do that rather than leave the VW outside. When it's done, I do plan to enjoy it a bit, but will eventually sell the Mercedes to help fund the Vanagon engine swap.

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