Travesía Panamericana

The Vehicle

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Sandy Roads in Southern Bolivia (See Week 17). This is not off roading, it is a national highway .

A Versatile Interior

This 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Diesel (which we named "Guapo"-see our journal) will be our home and transportation during the next 4-5 months. The idea when picking up an appropriate vehicle for the journey was to have a reliable, practical, and economical vehicle. The brand new 1.9 diesel engine with mechanical fuel injection should provide reliability (through simplicity) and fuel economy, while the Westfalia kit will no doubt prove practical like it has in many occasions for us in the past.

As it is well known, the Westfalia kit includes a full size bed, closets, tables, pop up roof, stove top, sink and water tank. It also comes with a 3-way refrigerator which I took out in order to get rid of some weight and at the same time gain more storage space. The performance of the Dometic unit is greately reduced at extreme temperatures such as the ones that we will encounter throughout most of the trip, anyway. I took away the external inlets for city water, electricity and water tank, partly for compatibility issues in Latin America and partly as a security precaution. I also took out the exterior propane flue vent for the refrigerator. All of the leftover holes were patched with galvanized sheet metal plates and screwed with special sheet metal screws that can only be turned in the adjusting direction. Not pretty, but functional! The overall idea was to have a reliable vehicle with new mechanical components, while at the same time keeping the aged look of an '82 Vanagon.

Room With A View in Panama (See Week 10)

Other improvements done to our Westfalia are:
-BL6 Eberspacher gas heater with thermostatic control
-Brand new fuel injection pump, oil cooler, water pump, hoses, filters, cables, belts, brake rotors, ball joints, suspension bushings, rebuilt alternator, injectors, etc.
-Dual Optima deep cycle battery system with marine switch selector switch for different options.
-Autobahn diesel filter water level indicator
-VDO auxiliary gages
-Metal grilled headlight protectors
-Plastic trim on front windows for rain protection
-New Michelins LTX 195/75/R14
-Reinforced and taller springs from Steve at, new KYB gas shocks.
-Hella "goose neck" map lamps (2)
-Later model Vanagon interior trim and panels, as well as exterior mirrors.
-Air filter snorkel

Despite the many hours I spent working on the vehicle, the end result would have never been the same without the help from Karl Mullendore, Robert Keezer, Marcos Fandino, Springfield German VW shop, the WetWestiesbunch in general, and Joachim Lehrner of Autohaus in Eugene. They all provided technical support and hard work in getting the van ready for the challenge. In the several instances when things got a little frustrating or overwhelming, they provided invaluable and essential support. My thanks to all.

Guapo in the Caribbean (See Week 6)

Working afterhours at Autohaus in Eugene

The Westfalia in our homestate, Oregon (USA)

A Very Functional Interior