VW Repair 101

We return in the morning with parts and alternator in tow eager for whatever the day holds, but no longer in (as much of) a hurry to leave oceanside…

We hope that this work only takes a day, but have decided to relax a bit and simply see what kind of timeline evolves. I start pulling out some tools while the marks offer what they know we don't have and begin taking apart at least the things that we put back together the evening before. Mark2 is great at continuing on his rebuild and checking in from time to time to make sure we are at least headed in the right direction. We get the old alternator out at what I'm sure is 5x the normal removal time, receive some help from Mark2 and the pneumatic gun to exchange the fan from old alternator to new- and start putting things back together. This is fun work (other than a few cuts and bandaids for superjen), and we are so grateful for both the space and the oversight to make sure we are doing things right.

By the end of the day jen and i both have permagrin from our accomplishment and we also have a new alternator (as well as a spare that needs new bearings). We fire up the engine and who knew…it actually worked. We opened up our engine with our own hands and nothing exploded, died or required a professional to fix after. It might even be better than when we started this morning!

Now as Mark1 likes to say "back to draining the swamp, before all those alligators got in the way". We refocus on the solar, put the batteries back in the compartment, wire things up and replace the giant cable we have going from our house/solar batteries to the isolator. Mark is convinced that the size of the cable is so large that it was draining the starter battery in an attempt to fill the solar batteries. He pulls out the appropriate cords and connectors and in no time we have finally connected the systems through the alternator without killing the batteries in the process. While we haven't really changed anything about the solar setup…we have ensured that theres a backup. Now when we drive the alternator (yes, the very one we just replaced) will top off the batteries and ensure that our frig and other amenities keep running.

I think I've spent a collective month wiring, rewiring, researching and talking with others about how to get the system to run effectively and not draw down the batteries as a result…and Mark has things together in well under an hour- yet for some reason refuses to call himself a guru. Im wondering what kind of electrical magician that title is reserved for.

We thank again and again the Marks before headed south..this time not in a hurry for the border, simply for the beach and the long overdue jump in the ocean. We find a camping spot in Carlsbad on the ocean, play in the waves (and watch a pod of dolphins do a swim-by for all the surfers) and celebrate our day, our newfound friends and knowledge…and most importantly... the fact that we actually feel like we've earned the right to be called VW owners for the first time.