The Survival Bus – 1979 Westfalia

Here’s a guy in the U.S. who has gone to great lengths to document his “survival bus” which could also be described as a “bug out vehicle.”  If you have to leave home in a hurry in case of disaster you’ll probably want to have something like this. Check out his videos below or his Web site: http://survivalbus.com/ I like all the details, who wouldn’t want to be self contained when camping, also the way you can do it on a budget in a VW camper.  At last count he had 17 videos on Youtube, one shows how he bypassed the stock propane tank and connected a small cylinder. Looks like he’s got a Weber 2 barrel carb on the motor which would have been fuel injected from the factory.  I seriously considered a Weber but was talked out of it, they’re easy to service for the layman but idle poorly, get bad gas mileage and have been known to ice up.  In the end I rebuilt my stock solex carbs and I’m happy with that.  The Weber may not be for everyone, however I understand the need for simplicity in some applications.  So for the Survival Bus this makes sense.  Enjoy the videos, click on the image below and watch the playlist on Youtube.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Journeys, Video, Volkswagen camper, Volkswagen van trips, Westfalia

8 Comments on “The Survival Bus – 1979 Westfalia”


  1. Yes the 2 barrel weber is horrible im looking into changing it

    Nate
    Survival Bus


  2. Hey Nate: A mechanic I really trust told me dual Dellorto or dual Webers are best for the later engines 1700 – 2000 (they have to be jetted of course.) Also, that there was a reason they went to dual carbs with the bigger motors, they needed them. I like the new bumper you found. Survival Bus “Trailer Hitch installed” http://www.survivalbus.com/articles/the-bus/125.html

  3. Bob Thomas Says:

    seems like he changedd up the website, but his info is still there. Been following it for a while. Part of the reason I got my 71 westy. Deff. a good bug-out vehicle (pun intended!).


  4. […] I also noticed in the engine bay an after market single carburetor, most likely a Weber. I have mixed feelings about those, heard reports of problems including engine damage. However, maybe if tweaked properly they might […]

  5. joeaverager Says:

    The Weber is probably okay if the intake manifold is heated b/c the one’s I’ve worked on all had icing problems – even in summer if the humidity was high enough. If you look at the center mount carbs VW always used – they have a pipe that heats the intake with exhaust heat. See the Beetle intakes. Then there is the fact that certain distributors play nicer with a carb like that than other distributors. The bus I’m think of here had bad flat spots right off of idle that could not be tuned out easily. And the fuel economy was miserable. Like 16 mpg miserable compared to my 1978 VW Westy that got as high as 23 mpg with the stock fuel injection going over the TN mtns over the years. The owner of the 16 mpg bus didn’t want to spend the cash to make the carb right – if it couldn’t be fixed with a screwdriver and adjustments – then they were going to live with it and buy alot of gasoline instead. That frame of mind also described many other aspects of that bus and so there was more wrong about that bus than right. It wasn’t reliable at all. You never knew when it was going to start or not, stall in traffic, etc. Stock works if everything is in good condition.

    The Weber used in the center mount kits was a favorite of the European four cylinder OEM car manufacturers and very common but it needs to be rejetted/adjusted to work best with the VW Type 4 engines. Based on the ones that I have worked on – they seem to need to be rejetted or more. It is as if the aftermarket VW catalog kits just rebox a carb better suited to a 70s Ford or Fiat without tuning it up for a VW. Maybe that is not always the case but it has been true for the Weber buses people have brought me over the years.

    I’ve adapted junkyard Dellorto 36MM DRLA carbs to the Type 4 engine and they work very well but just about everything needs to be done to them – new venturi, new jets, air correction jets, linkage, etc. Then they need aircleaners and the K&N setup cost about $60-$80 back in the 90s as I recall. That isn’t cheap all together. I’m sure the dual Webers are equally good if set up correctly. I also see folks putting big Dells and Webers (~45mm) on stock engines and this is pointless. I have an engine book which uses the bore/stroke/intake valve sizes to give a target venturi size and the 36mm Dell with a 32mm venturi (as I remember it) was about right. I got ~25 mpg in my Type IV powered Beetle towing a second economy car from VA to TN…

    If you look at all the Type IV engines and Corvairs and Porsche engines – they all came stock with either fuel injection (not Corvair) or dual carbs mounted to the heads directly. No center mounts on these engines for reasons easier to solve with dual carbs.

    My suggestion: fix the OEM VW carbs correctly. You’ll already have something that works right by design and includes the correct linkage, air cleaners, and other details. They are sized well too. Very few of the buses I have worked on which are owned by shadetree mechanics went through the trouble to really properly install the “other brand” carbs. They end up with hose clamps holding things on or zip ties or bailing wire. I remember one friend’s Beetle which had the carburetor literally fall off when he was a long way from home. Fortunately I was there so he had a tow car to get him somewhere where we could work on it. We had to go find a hardware store and buy bolts and nuts to replace his hose clamps and random sized hardware.

    If your original single throat dual carbs are worn out and you can’t find a good rebuilt set online, buy single throat dual Webers or something similar. Do some reading and studying of books that discuss the topics (CB Performance had some great books) and get it right. It took me 2-3 weeks to learn how to tune the dual carbs the first time. I tried to bolt them on and they ran terrible. Went back and studied and realized that they needed to be rejetted/new venturis. Back and forth until I got it right.

    One tow truck bill (~$250) buys alot of carburetor parts.


    • Hi joaverager: You make many very good points. VW chose the twin solex carbs for that motor, there must have been a reason(s.) One of the issues for the single Weber, as you touched on, is heat. The long aftermarket intake manifold can cause poor fuel flow resulting in the engine running too rich, especially at idle. If this situation persists you can blow your motor. I came across one parts bus that fell victim to engine failure while running the Weber. Agreed, they should be jetted properly. Take care.


  6. […] I have to mention this trick that is shown here by SurvivalBusDotCom on Youtube. Simply take a small hobby magnet, place it inside the spark plug socket where the tip will fit in and it will help keep the spark plug from falling out and into the tin on your Volkswagen flat-four. Things can be tight when working on these engines, but with a few tricks and good technique to feel your way around you’ll be tuning up your bus with less stress and more confidence. This has been an invaluable help for me at tune-up time. You’ll also need several extensions to get down to the plugs, I even find I need to use a different combination of extensions on certain cylinders due to the configuration of the engine. If memory serves I think it’s number 2, but number 3 is generally recognized as the tricky one, but not impossible. Don’t worry, with a little patience it can be done. Some people like to remove the air cleaner for extra access (’73-79.) There is no upper hatch for the first year of the flat-four in 1972. Recommended spark plug change is 10,000 miles, but I suspect many owners like me put in new ones more frequently. For more on the Survival Bus check this post. […]


  7. I got a new bus for Survival Bus……oh the joys of owning a bus


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