On the road again….almost

Well, I finally did it. I finally took the time needed to get the Vanagon almost ready to be road worthy.

Lemme tell ya bout the saga.

1- I buy this old VW Vanagon last fall

2- I drug it home, cleaned it up, & had it tuned up
3- It sat through the winter in my Driveway
— About every 2 weeks I went out to it & fired it up to keep things lubed
4- Spring hit
5- I took some time to clean it up again from the winter
— Washed & waxed the exterior
Man did it come clean! Thing looks AWESOME! (Still runs great too)
6- Went junk yard hopping for tires. (boy, that was an experience)
7- Got the tires put on it, bought some wipers, & went to get it inspected.

This is where things got interesting….
You see, the last time this thing had “legal tags” on it was in 1995….yes…really…THAT long ago.

So, I was really concerned how it would do.

Well, I took it to a local shop & they started giving it a physical.
Up it went on the lift & they looked, poked, prodded, pulled off tires, checked the lights, oooo’d & ahhh’d over the fact it was a diesel…lot’s of “Man, I thought I’d seen everything, but I ain’t NEVER seen anything like this!”

I was beaming from ear to ear.

It was funny. All the shop guy’s huddled around the thing to have a look. They couldn’t get enough of her. It was great!

Well, when all was said & done….and I quote..”Well, we’ve looked it over and the only thing we could even come up with is that it probably could use an oil change”…
“How were the struts & tie rods?” I asked…
“Anything else abnormal?”

I did have to take it back home & put the little nicked out taillight back together. In Utah, you can’t have any hole in your taillights. Nothing a little super glue and the old peice that broke out didn’t solve.

So, I took it back, showed em the fix, & headed for the dreaded Emissions place.

I live in Davis County in Utah. They regulate the diesel’s here so if you want to own a diesel in Davis County it has to have an emmissions test done at the local county emissions testing center (oh joy–just what I needed–a bunch of government paid inspectors to flunk the thing–read on).

So, I set up an appointment, got on the freeway (at a max of 60 MPH–remember, the things slow as a goat), & drove to the facility. I was all proud that it’d passed inspection & with the recent tune-up, I was sure it’d pass emissions.


They stuck the tube up it’s tailpipe, threw her on the dyno (yep, they really Dyno tested the old girl), threw it in gear & nailed the gas.

They run two tests in Davis County.
One at 35 MPH and one at Wide Open Throttle.

Well, when they nailed the gas pedal it spewed like a sick cow.
“Looks like we’ve got us a DIRTY BIRD” one of the inspectors said.

To their credit, they did clean out the machine & try again, but fail she did.

The standard in Davis County is 30% Opacity (as in how “cloudy” the smoke can be).

Well, she did great at 35 MPH. Got 3.3 Opacity. But it was the wide open throttle test that killed her. 50 % opaque…DAMN! I was crushed.

How could this thing, with only 65,000 miles on it and a tune up fail the test?

Uhm….it’s easy….read on
You see, I had failed to fix the easiest thing in the world to pass emissions here in Davis County.

1- Change the oil (remember, it’s been sitting for 10 years)
2- Drain the old fuel & put bio in her
3- Change the air filter

In my haste to want to try to get it road worthy again, I failed to do these 3 simple things and I paid dearly for it.

Lessons Learned:
1- Old diesel fuel, as in 10 year old diesel fuel, will flunk a Utah State Davis County Emission test—no matter HOW good an engine is running
2- County inspectors have no mercy.

So, dejected, I drove her home & reparked her. She’ll have to wait until I get another free day (rare anymore) to drain the oil & fuel & refill her with Bio (the ultimate diesel fuel anyway) and then go get her retested.

I’ve gotta do it soon though as I only have 30 day’s to do a retest.

So, while the best laid plans of mice & men sometimes fail, I fell culprit to the easiest trick in the book to make her pass. I failed to change the fuel & the oil.

So, now she sits in my driveway, all safety inspected & everything, but needs her oil changed & some biodiesel in the fuel tank so I can pass the test.

Well, that’ll have to be another day.

For now, she makes a nice conversation peice to customers as they come by.

Back to catching up on all the “undone items” I missed this past week.

The Rabid Biodiesel Nut

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4 comments on “On the road again….almost

  1. It’s almost there!!!
    I’ve got a bunch of parts on order. Got the oil & air filter for her, now I just have to get the time to get it done.

    Oh yeah, & drain the tank & refill it with biodiesel.

  2. Sweet looking VW Vanagon! I love the two tone colour combination. Do you still have the van? If you do, do you have any more photos to show of the van?

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