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9/12/20 10:30 a.m.
artur1808 said:

Working our way through Nebraska now. No issues to report, but a few oddities:

1. trans temp seems suspiciously low. Like 125F. But it's cool out and I guess it makes sense that it won't build too much cruising along at 70mph. Has plenty of fluid and the fluid is a good color. Should I be alarmed?

2. Front wheels are getting a lot of rust colored dust on them. Noticed it after driving in the rain for a few hours. Van rolls fine, everything is cool to the touch, nothing seems to be dragging. I'll keep an eye on it as we keep going, but I'm going to assume it's fine. Pads are new, rotors look great, I inspected the wheel bearings when I was doing the brakes and they felt good with plenty of grease in there. 

I too am surprised you've kept the seats this long, but that's more because they're probably so packed with fast food farts and degraded bolstering.

The rust-colored dust could be the areas; I live in this region and our soil is full of clay and with the rain it's possible it's just getting everywhere. Not sure on the trans temps; did the prior company add a trans cooler that you know of? They might have.

Love seeing this thing, really makes me wanna buy back my old squad too.

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/13/20 8:20 a.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

I keep an eye out for seats every time I go to the junkyard, but from what I've seen of the vans there my seats are actually in reasonably good shape. Only one small tear in the drivers cushion bolster. Definitely plenty of farts soaked in there though. 


first night of camping in the van was a success! Loved being able to hang out inside and make coffee/breakfast inside. Caught the sunrise on the peak to peak scenic highway between Nederland and Estes Park this morning. 


heading into Rocky Mountain National Park now!

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/13/20 5:56 p.m.

Made it to the highest point on the road at 12,183ft, no issues to report! 

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/14/20 2:31 p.m.

At the alpine visitor center in Rocky Mountain NP they have the biggest snowblower I've ever seen in person:


Anyway, we have been working out way south of out of the park and, heading to Breckenridge today. I am learning that I definitely need to insulate the the rear doors on the van, but otherwise it's been going well.


dragged the hitch pretty good on the way into our campsite last night. 


Headed towards Breckenridge tonight to hopefully summit my first 14er tomorrow!

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/14/20 6:04 p.m.

Okay, first real issue to report:

The drivers side parking brake apparently decided to disassemble itself at some point. This eventually lead to a piece of it jamming inside the rotor in such a way that it locked up the rear wheel. Luckily we were only doing about 10mph on a gravel road. This is what I saw when I took off the rotor

so I removed what was left and put it all back together with no parking brake. 


10/10 breakdown. Easy fix, beautiful setting

logdog (Forum Supporter)
logdog (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/14/20 6:48 p.m.

Easy fixes are the best fixes!


java230 UberDork
9/15/20 12:54 p.m.

At least it wasn't on the highway!

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
9/15/20 1:19 p.m.

Wow! That's impressive. 

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/16/20 1:02 p.m.


I just can't get enough of the views out here. The van has been an absolute champ, the only time it struggled to start was a cold start at our campsite this morning at 11,400ft. Just needed to cycle the glow plugs a second time and it fired up. And what a campsite it was!

also, we managed to make our way to the top of Mt.Democrat yesterday! First 14er for us and it was incredible!

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/24/20 2:56 p.m.

Quick comparison because I don't feel like going outside and working on the van

as purchased



artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/28/20 7:11 a.m.

Our main source of heat in the van once the engine was off was using the small camp stove to cook something or make tea/coffee. I intend to spend some time in the van on ski/snowboard trips this winter (fingers crossed), so having a more consistent source of heat is a must. 

I picked up one of these "chinese diesel heaters" off of Amazon but unfortunately didn't have time to get it installed prior to leaving for Colorado. 



But now that we are back, I've finished up the install so we can have a reliable source of dry heat in the van. I settled on mounting it in the rear corner of the van because these heaters require intake/exhaust to pass through the floor and outside the cabin and this spot makes that easy because there's nothing below the floor all the way back here. (the wires have since been routed out of sight)


I had originally thought of plumbing it into the existing diesel lines under the van, but have heard of many cases where people have issues with carbon buildup in these heaters when run on a low setting for a long period of time on Diesel, so I'm going to be using the supplied 10L tank and running it on Kerosene - which is supposed to burn cleaner and not have issues with buildup. 

The other potential issue with these heaters is that the fuel inlet is very close to the hot exhaust, so I made a small heat shield:


This is what it looks like under the floor of the van:


The fuel pump is mounted to an existing hole in the frame rail, and then the muffler was welded right to the frame. Took another picture to show that there is actually some space between the exhaust and fuel supply

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/28/20 7:20 a.m.

Interesting.  I've read mixed things about the Chinese Webesto copies on the Sportsmobile forums.  Honestly, I don't know if I want the kerosene tank right next to my bed.  At least after my experiences with kerosene over the years (smelly).   I suspect you may end up hanging a jerry can off the back of the van and plumbing that to the heater filter/pump. 

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/28/20 7:25 a.m.

In reply to Ian F (Forum Supporter) :

The thought definitely crossed my mind as well. It seems to be sealed up well and I haven't noticed any smells from it, but I'll definitely be reconsidering the placement if I notice any odors.

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/30/20 2:18 p.m.

I spoke too soon. Noticed a tiny leak but a very distinct odor. I've got the tank out of there now and am seriously considering just putting a "T" into the diesel supply line for the engine and running a small line to the pump for this heater.

DrBoost MegaDork
9/30/20 2:38 p.m.

Full disclosure: I work for Webasto. 
those chinese heaters are truly junk. Some work, but few work for very long. Many people have found....are you ready for this....porous heat exchangers!  Leaking carbon monoxide into the vehicle. The headache and other symptoms made them pull the heater out. They ended up tossing it. Exhaust pipes last a season or two, as opposed to a decade or two. 
see, the Chinese didn't find a better way to manufacture them for cheaper. They just found a cheaper way to make them. Namely, use cheap parts and low quality control. 
I wouldn't sleep with it running unless you leave some windows open. 

java230 UberDork
9/30/20 2:45 p.m.

In reply to artur1808 :

Check your tank, its right on the verge of years they started doing it, but may have a extra fuel pickup.

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/1/20 7:52 a.m.

In reply to DrBoost :

Wow, I didn't realize they were so bad. Honestly, most of the recent reviews I've read of them people seem to generally be pretty happy with them. Frankly, if the prices were even remotely similar I'd very seriously consider the Webasto, but I could replace this unit 8 times before I reach the cost of a Webasto. Luckily mine seems to be working well and I've got a carbon monoxide alarm in the van, so I guess fingers crossed!

In reply to java230 :

Ooh, that's good to know. I imagine a dedicated fuel pickup is better than splicing into the supply line pre-pump. I'll look into it.

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/4/20 4:47 p.m.

I wanted to test out the heater, so for now (at least) I fixed the little leak the kerosene tank had and put in a piece of ducting to try it out. I had done a bench test, but not in the van



our rallycross for this weekend was cancelled, so I decided to take the van up to northern Michigan to do a bit of chairlift-assisted mountain biking before the season ends. Ended up with a beautiful campsite right on Lake Michigan:


it was about 40 degrees with some rain overnight, and I'm happy to report that the heater worked flawlessly. At nearly its lowest setting it kept the van very comfortable and was virtually silent. 14 hours of use and it didn't leak a drip, used maybe 20% of the kerosene. At this point I'm guessing I could survive one full weekend (2 nights) on a single 10 liter tank once it gets into snowboard season. 

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/12/20 12:50 p.m.

Another weekend, another trip in the vanbulance. Went up to northern Michigan again to see the colors as the leaves change. 



at one point we were cruising at about 20-30mph down a narrow road lined with trees and with the windows down, I could hear a distinct rattle coming from the back of the van somewhere when we hit bumps. Still trying to track it down, but it sounds fairly light. Maybe exhaust is hitting something a bit? Need to get under it and take a look.


also, unrelated to the van, I tried my hand at a bit of night photography. This was from our campsite Saturday night, trees lit up by the campfire:

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
10/13/20 3:08 p.m.

I'm cleaning out the overhead compartment in the passenger area, this is where the relays and whatnot for the ambulance were housed. As I was pulling stuff out, I came across this crazy contraption that I'd never seen before and thought someone on here might get a kick out of it:

this is what it was plugged into:


I assume it's some sort of relay, but just thought it was neat

stylngle2003 GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/13/20 4:31 p.m.

looks very similar to a Volvo bulb-out indicator relay.  but then i see it switches between 120 and 277v, so it can't be that.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/13/20 4:37 p.m.

It's a 3-pole, double-throw, 10A relay with a 12V coil.  My WAG is it was used to turn off 120V power to certain devices if the engine isn't running.

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/5/20 8:29 a.m.

It's been starting to cool off here in Michigan, so I've been keeping an eye on how this old girl starts up in the cold. I noticed that after sitting a few days in 30 degree weather that it was cranking a bit slower than usual. Still fired up on the first try, but I suspect one of the starting batteries is tired. 

the one under the hood had a 2018 date stamp, but the one on the frame rail was an old Motorcraft unit. If I was reading the markings correctly, it's from 2012. Not wanting to risk being stranded when camping in the winter, I decided to replace the old battery. 


If nothing else, it gives me some peace of mind. But now that I've got the new battery the forecast says it'll be in the high 60's for the next several days, so it'll be a while before I get to really put it to the test.

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/14/20 11:00 a.m.

I wish I'd taken a before picture of the sway bar bushings, but they were so ovaled out that you could see daylight between the sway bar and the bushing. Could easily move it up and down within the hole by hand. 

went over to a buddies house to borrow his air hammer and knock them out, then we pressed in these new polyurethane ones. Seems to have helped the front end feel a bit less "floaty"


Also had the first experience with a sort of cold start. Van hadn't been started in a few days and it was 30 degrees this morning. Hadn't been plugged in or anything and fired up on the first try. I think replacing that second battery was the right call and I have some more confidence in winter camping now. We'll see though, still have a ways to go before it gets truly cold out here. 

artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/19/20 3:53 p.m.

In an effort to improve my visibility driving at night, and specifically in the snow, I wanted to add some yellow light to the van. 

took a few quick measurements and found that a cheap amazon light bar fits perfectly into an existing hole in the bumper. Couldn't quite get a drill in that opening to use a nut and bolt, so I just welded it to the bumper. 

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