September 19, 1999

My first camping trip with my new Vanaru!!

September 18th and 19th I took a little road trip, a shake down cruise. Tossed the dog in the bus and went over the coastal hills to Ukiah, then on to Potter Valley and then up into the Mendocino National Forest. I know of a swimming hole in the Eel River up by the Lake Pillsbury dam. Perfect!

The Subaru engine worked as advertised! Easy cruising on the freeway and nice steady power up into the hills. Driving the boulder covered wash out to the swimming hole was easy with a soft touch on the accelerator; no lunging, just nice aggressive power when I needed it. Very smooth and quiet. I do have to keep an eye out for high obstacles on the path because the oil pan and muffler are a bit low.

I had installed a 20 ohm, 1 watt, resistor in the water temperature sending unit wire to lower apparent temperature on the dashboard gauge. The resistor lowered it from indicating 3/4ths hot to dead center on the LED during normal operation. The radiator fan did come on during some of the first gear hill climbing but I had to stay in first gear for a while because the road was so windy, see image above!

Note: I have since been told that the radiator fan is controlled by a thermostat on the radiator and not by the dashboard temp gauge as I originally thought. I still have a lot to learn about the Vanagon.

Anyway, so far, so good. I even got the Dometic refrigerator to light on the first try!

I plan to visit the smog people this coming week and then get the license plates for the bus.

October 14th

I still have not passed smog. I have been having trouble understanding how my check engine light works but I think I finally have a handle on it and plan to take the test later this month.

I am trying to drive like a normal person but every now and then I just have to feel the power! The other day I did a little test. From a dead stop I was up to 60 mph in 15 seconds! Now I am not exactly sure because it is hard to keep an eye on my stop watch, keep another eye on the speedometer, keep my third eye on the road, shift gears and not spill my cafe latte - all at the same time but. Near as I can tell. Yup! 15 seconds!
And that was with the camper water tank half full and my dog in the back!

The dog didn't like my test!

October 25th

Finally, I passed the California Smog test and now have license plates. My new Vanagon is officially mine!!

I had trouble finding a smog station that was willing to do the test. They would take one look at a Subaru residing inside a Vanagon and shake their heads - no way. They told me I would have to go to a referee and get a "bar code" on the engine. Yet, according to Hobert Kennedy, with the CARB (California Air Resources Board) Executive Order I got with the adapter kit, I should not have to go to a referee.

The main trouble seemed to be that most smog stations don't stay current on additions and changes to the rules and regulations.

I finally found a Chevy dealership with a smog testing station east of Sacramento that was not only interested but they called the CARB and got the latest rules and Executive orders sent to them.

Finally my Subaru engine was smog checked and passed with flying colors.

Hydrocarbons measured: 11 Allowable: 173
Carbon dioxide measured: 0.0 Allowable .90
Nitrogen Oxide measured 2 Allowable 1564

A very clean burning engine.

During the run back home from Sacramento, on a straight lonely section of Interstate 5,
I just had to do a little test in the interest of science.

Yup! Sure enough, at 4,500 rpm the bus does 90 mph! I know my Vanagon speedometer reads 10 mph too high so the speed indicated on the speedometer was an even 100 mph!! I also know the Subaru engine doesn't even start to float the valves until over 6,500 rpm so there was more "go" left but... why push my luck!

Just don't tell anyone!

I kicked back and settled down to a steady 70 mph.

Life is good.

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