Still not yet in our stars to drive south...
The last few days have been spent mostly under the bus...but we're getting closer.
It took a day of trying everything but i was eventually able to get the bus up and running again. As is probably clear to everyone now, we are still learning to diagnose and solve bus problems, so while the fix might have been immediately apparent to a seasoned vw guru- it took us hours of checking cables, plugs, fuel lines. etc before finally nailing the problem. Turns out it was nothing more than the points going out- luckily we had a spare on hand. With the bus at least running we turned our attention back to the larger problem, our broken valve adjuster.
We started out researching where we could order a replacement for the one our mechanic broke, but ended up learning way more about rocker arm geometry than i ever thought i wanted to know. Apparently the "american adjusters" are actually german, and like most parts of our bus they weren't original. Several people wrote to let me know they had problems with these aftermarket adjusters breaking and that we should replace them with the stock adjusters available locally.
Sounded like a big project, but meant we wouldn't have to sit around for a month trying to get a delivery from the states/germany and we could potentially continue on! After posting a few photos of the work by our mechanic, the vw community also urged me to do the work myself rather than leaving it in his hands…so the research began. We even had one generous blog follower offer to send us a complete valve box setup with rocker arms from his parts bus in germany to make sure we could continue on our way. The complete generosity of strangers never ceases to overwhelm us and we look forward to the day we're in a similar position to help out a needy traveller as well. Thanks again for the offer Frank!
We didn't trust ourselves to fix things if we should do more damage so we checked every possible site, skyped with experts and sought the advice of friends…but everything seemed to tell us to do the swap. Now able to speak post-project, the confidence building guys online were correct and this project was totally within our skill level. A few hours under the bus on the side of the road with karma watching and jen playing mechanic's apprentice and manning the shade umbrella and we were back on our way. A new set of adjusters and E sounded way better than before we started. Our kind of project. So the bus starts, valve adjusters are replaced and we are back in the same condition we were a month ago on this same beach…trying to decide whether to head to central america running on primarily 2 cylinders. According to almost every mechanic we've seen in the past few months we need to return to the states for a new carb... but that doesn't really fit the trip plan.
I'll take another day or two to see if we can get it running and if not, we'll head south (possibly with a carb swap from another part donor) away from zipolite's hot, arid beach. Apparently we aren't quite as taken with this place as we were before karma's battle with Erlichia. It's still breathtakingly beautiful, but we've spent enough time here for this portion of our trip. I think it served it's purpose. It was an impossibly peaceful beach on which we could relax, recharge and gain the fuel needed to continue on our journey. Now we just want to move on and the same beautiful beach seems to be holding us as though were stuck in the sand.
Luckily, it gets too hot to work at one point in the day and darkness comes too- so in between bus research and mechanical work we have still managed to have a bit of fun. Mostly, we check karma for ticks. This was a common occurrence before but now we're more thorough/obsessive. Since karma has no idea whats happening, it turns into a bit of a game. Much like jen dumping water on her to help keep her cool, which really looks more like jen chasing karma around in circles with a bucket. After pointing out that tick-bourne disease can also infect humans we are following the instruction of our parents and have begun nightly full body checks of each other. I know this sounds like fun but its really done for health purposes only, i promise.
We still get in the occasional walk on the beach, sunset and grilled dinner from our favorite local establishment. Not that you could tell it from this particular blog post - but if all we wanted to do was bus mechanics, we would have just taken a class and saved ourselves the 15000km drive =)