The last camping trip with the bus in September 2008.
Its been just about one year exactly since the bus moved out of the driveway in front of our garage. The last trip we took with it was to Humbolt Redwoods State Park in northern California last labor day weekend when my mom visited (in 2008). After that trip, the Illinois registration was expiring, so we decided to move ahead with our plan of getting it registered in California, so we can continue driving it, legally. After much researching about what exactly was required to get it to pass smog, we realized it would be a HUGE P.I.T.A. Since the bus is a '77, we are required to pass smog every two years or so, plus it had to have all the original engine components current with at least 1977. That sucks! We bought the bus in Montana, and it was originally sold in Washington, so it was never a California bus, meaning that to bring it into Cali, we'd have to do some serious work getting it to pass the standards for smog. When we bought it, the engine was carbureted, but it originally had fuel injection. So before we could do anything, we had to install fuel injection back on. The hunt began for a FI system, which lasted many many months, searching on craigslist, etc for components. Buying the parts brand new would have been extremely expensive, so we found a few components here and there until we finally got two systems together. Romy installed them, but since the FI systems were from old busses which may or may not have been running (who knows) we weren't sure if it would work right away. And of course, it didn't! Then came many more months of careful troubleshooting, and we even tossing in an engine swap! Finally in September of 2009, one year later (almost to the day - isn't that freaky?) the engine finally runs!!!
Sadly, this isn't the end of the story. We've been driving it without a catalytic converter, but of course, to pass smog, we need one. The only exhaust system that we have which has a cat on it we pulled off of a bus that was in an accident, and we suspect that oil must have gotten into the exhaust because it smokes like crazy when that exhaust is on. Other than getting another exhaust, I guess we will just have to let the oil inside 'burn off,' which is kinda gross, but oh well.
On a lighter note, we still have the rest of this month to drive it around as much as possible to break in the new engine before the Illinois registration expires and we have to go smog it. Our first trip with the bus was to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, near Fresno. I am posting some pictures that we took during the trip:
Camping with the top up in Sequoia National Forest near Kings Canyon National Park.
We bought this screen door snap-on thing at a VW parts swap meet for $15. Its great because you can sleep with the back hatch open, but keep the bugs out!
Sunset at our campsite in Sequoia National Forest.