Fitted to our 69′ Weekend Westy and 71′ Bay Adventurewagen
Shocks and Steering Dampers
The first step in sourcing out the problems with your front end in our opinion is making sure you to upgrade your front and rear shocks if you have not already done so. Without good shocks you'll never achieve decent handling in a bus. Keeping in mind that the original shocks weren't designed to last forever it is likely they need to be refurbished. When your bus dives into turns or leans and won't spring back it's because the shocks are compressing with the movement and not returning to proper position for proper road handling characteristics. If a bus has been sitting for several years the shocks can fail even if they look relatively new.
We recommend removing all 4 shocks as well as the the steering damper and testing them in a simple hand compression test. If the shock compresses easily without resistance it needs replacement. Ours were the worst! All the way to the ground and no rebound on compression! We ordered up a set of KYB Gas Shocks for all four corners from our sponsors at Just Kampers and replaced them right away including the steering damper. The steering damper is an integral part of the Bus's steering system. A worn out steering damper may cause bump steer or front end shimmy.
Some people say KYB Shocks ride stiffer than stock shocks but that they offer noticeably improved cornering, handling and wind buffeting characteristics. Since our one bus is a high top we felt these fit the bill and check a lot of needed boxes on the road to better handling. To swap out the shocks, simply jack the bus up via the safe jack point and remove the wheel lugs and tires to get to the shock towers and careful remove old busted shocks and reinstall the new pretty ones making sure to torque everything down for piece of mind on the road.
Track Rods and Drag Links
The purpose of the track rods and drag links is to keep the wheels centered squarely on the road and translate driver input at the steering wheel into smooth predictable motion at the tires. There is typically a drivers side non-adjustable track rod and a passenger side adjustable one which connect to the steering damper the steering drag link and steering box. As these individual pieces wear out steering and handling become more and more vague at the wheel. We noticed slop and worn out boots on our Tie Rods and Drag Links so we opted for some quality replacements from Just Kampers.
Simple hand tools and a pickle fork with a dead blow hammer yielded pretty simple results. The hard part of installing was stopping the non adjustable link from spinning when torquing the nut. Since there was no way to grip the stud and tighten the bolt at the same time we used a long handled screwdriver to wedge against the side of the bolt to keep it from spinning inside the tie rod end. An easy solution that took awhile for us to find on the inter web.
The Steering Drag Link required some proper placement of the pickle fork to get removed but once it was loosened from the joints it was a matter of rotating it to remove towards the front of the vehicle. Installation was the reverse procedure making sure to use grease when reassembling.
Steering Column Coupler
The donut shaped Steering Column Coupler acts as a bushing between the steering column and the steering box and isolates the horn ground so that pressing the horn button grounds the horn wire to the chassis. Not only can this part cause steering issues and failure but also could be a source of issue for your horn if incorrectly installed. We recommend checking the Steering Column Coupler for signs of spider cracks and fatigue and replacing it with a high quality one for years of thought free driving.
It's a bit of a bear to get to under the car but it is doable. It is a simpler task with two people especially if you loosen the steering column to gain access to the top of the coupler when the horn is usually connected. Pay proper attention to when the horn isolates to the couple and steering brackets so that you don't have issues when reassembled…
We love our classic VW Buses but when it comes to interior styling it is a bare bones affair. Looking to satisfy our desire for a more luxurious interior feel we turned again to the good folks over at Just Kampers.
Greeting Bus Junkies! I bought the Single Cab VW pick-up in 2004, and did the restoration and design build with all the added custom details every year since then. You could say I got "infected" by the old air-cooled...
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