mojave returns

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Jul 082021
Rebuilt high-compression, 2-liter motor from South Africa

Our Westfalia engine replacement was completed on May 21st, so I flew down to southern Cal, got to Victorville, and drove Mojave home with her new heart. And therein lies a story of serendipity and further adventure.

To start with, I missed my flight to Ontario because of a gate change that got screwed up. They kindly rebooked me onto a flight to Palm Springs, a 2-hour drive from Victorville, sigh. Then a miracle occurred…the flight could not land in Palm Springs because of high winds, and after three attempts, headed over to in Ontario. Honestly pilot, it’s not my fault!

Looking for a Lyft to Victorville, I was expecting a long wait for the 45-minute trip out into the desert. To my surprise and delight, a driver showed up in 5 minutes. Just so happens, she lives out next to Victorville, and was delighted to get a paying fare on her way home for the day. So I arrived at the shop around 11am, not much later than I had hoped when I drove to the airport before sunrise.

Mojave (the new name for our Westy) was complete and ready to go, and after a post-mortem discussion of the dead engine, paying my bill, and collecting a large bin of extra parts, I grabbed a big lunch and hit the road mid-afternoon. There are a couple of issues that I didn’t have time to resolve: the exhaust on the replacement engine had a crack (making us sound like a large truck) and the exhaust manifold on the new engine was sticking down way too far, scraping on the ground if I go over a bump.

By early evening, I’m over Tehachapi pass, through Bakersfield, and gassed up in Shafter. After droning up I-5 and I-580, I am crossing the Richmond Bridge into San Rafael, almost home, when the engine starts misfiring. Shit! What could be wrong? Stumbling along, I make it off the bridge and pull onto the frontage road, where the engine dies. Then I notice the gas tank is empty. We used to get a reliable 320+ miles out of a full tank of gas, however blasting up I-5 at 80 mph with the new engine, we are bone dry after 284 miles. It’s a relief that nothing is broken 🙂 I’m only 9 miles from home, so I call and wake Jen, who cheerfully and kindly drives over with our spare gas container. I finally arrive home just before midnight, tired and happy.

Now it’s a few weeks later, and I’ve gotten the exhaust system fixed. Johnny Franklin Muffler in San Rafael is a solid business that’s been around since I was in high school. They cut off the part of the manifold that was sticking down, removed the rest of the system, and fabricated a free-flow system that makes her sound like a sports car. The deep, throaty exhaust is quite alien for a vehicle like a Vanagon, but Jen and I both enjoy her new character. Plus I swear there is more power!

Exhaust system with the cracked and protruding parts cut out
Skillful fabrication of the free-flow system