No salty roads for the Syncro


After all the work that has gone into the drive-train and body of the syncro, at this point I can’t bring myself to drive it on salty roads. I know in some ways it is sad to take the van off the road during winter as it is such a capable vehicle on snowy roads but my thinking is I want it to be around for many years of (mostly summer) trips so… I have canceled the insurance for now and I will sacrifice other vehicles to the salty roads instead.

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Syncro Westfalia with OME Shocks and Springs on Washboard Roads

Last week we went for a short camping trip on Vancouver Island. We ended up at Nitinat Lake which involved driving about 100 kilometres on gravel roads which included some washboard and rough/pot-holed sections.



Forestry campsite at Nitinat Lake – right next to the beach.

This was the first time I drove any distance on a gravel road since rebuilding the westy drivetrain and suspension and I must say I am very happy with how the van drives over both washboard and rough roads (at least when loaded up with 4 people and our bikes and camping gear). I am pretty sure with no load the ride wouldn’t have been quite as smooth.
Nitinat Lake is known for its wind and kite surfers but when we were there the winds were calm so consequently, the beach was super peaceful.


Nitinat Lake: our campsite was right by that very large stump on the beach.

Forestry Campsite near Caycuse on Cowichan Lake

Forestry Campsite near Caycuse on Cowichan Lake

I haven’t gotten around to installing the front mud flaps yet so it will be interesting to see how much difference they make to the amount of dirt/mud that gets splattered all over the sides of the van on roads like this. Only other ‘issue’ was the power steering pump is getting noisier so I’ll have to make time to install the new one I bought a few months ago.


One note: albell (of fame) told me about an app called Canada Maps which lets one download topographical maps for use even when you have no cell service and that really is a great thing to have when exploring back roads. Thanks AB!


Posted in Syncro Stuff, Westy Stuff | 13 Comments

Bostig Zetec in westfalia = Great!

Just got back from a short camping trip to our favourite camping beach (Rathtrevor Provincial Park on Vancouver Island) and even though I hadn’t fired up the westy for months before the trip, all I needed to do was install the new battery, check fluid levels, wash it, load it and go.


The Zetec fired up instantly and ran flawlessly for the trip. That would have been unlikely with the tired old waterboxer. ( I realize a well maintained water boxer could do the same, it is just that ours often didn’t.)

A view of the westy I rarely get, courtesy of BC Ferries:


While in Parksville we just happen to see a really big car show with a huge variety of vehicles, including this ‘oddity’ which we saw again driving down the road in Errington a few days later.


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’46 M16 trip to the big city and update

A couple of weeks ago I took Clem (1946 Studebaker M16 ) from the farm to North Vancouver. This was the first trip of any distance I have taken since bringing the truck to the farm.


Overall the trip went well, other than running out of gas once. Here are some updates to some of my previous posts:

Front suspension low speed shimmy: after replacing the front leaf spring bushings (all 12) and repairing the right front leaf spring mount on the frame there is no more low speed shimmy. I am very happy about this as it was really bad at somewhere around 25 or 30 miles per hour (no speedo so not exactly sure).

Loose throttle shaft: previously the looseness in the throttle shaft bores in the carb body was causing bad drive-ability problems (basically a big vacuum leak causing huge hesitation and sometimes stalling just off idle) so I slathered a bunch of never-seize around the ends of the throttle shaft (from the outside) and after a few minutes this appeared to have got sucked in enough to temporarily seal up the sloppy fit between the throttle shaft and bores. The truck is much much easier to drive now. I don’t know how long this will last but it seems to be a good temporary fix.

Gas tank leaking: I found the source of the gas fumes in the cab – when filled over a certain amount the tank leaks. I am not yet sure from where, but it runs down and the entire bottom of the tank gets wet and a lot of fuel continuously evaporates making the truck stink badly. This is the number one priority to fix. Funny thing is the previous owner had the tank removed and all cleaned up and new lines installed so I guess they just missed something. I plan to fix the fuel gauge at the same time.


Exhaust leak: the truck is noisy! Major exhaust leak sound coming from the manifold area. The only leak I can detect for sure is around the bores in the manifold for the heat riser butterfly valve. I can feel the exhaust blowing out of there with my hand (just after start up when things are relatively cool down there). It is so loud though I wonder if there could be a crack somewhere or maybe a broken gasket. I may have to pull the manifold off to see what is going on. Hopefully I won’t end up breaking off any studs and making my problems worse.

The most enjoyable part of the trip was “cruisin” the old neighbourhood in North Van with my brother. He hadn’t been for a ride in the truck so we drove around for about 1/2 an hour on a nice summer evening. Wow, this thing gets more looks and smiles than any vehicle I have ever owned.


back at the farm… (those timbers wouldn’t have fit in my regular pick-up, making for a good excuse to take Clem to North Van where they were stored)



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’46 Studebaker M16 front leaf spring update

I ordered the leaf spring bushings from Studebaker International for a  reasonable $3 each (there are 6 bushings for each front leaf spring assembly) and they arrived fairly quickly.

Changing out the drivers side spring bushings and the rear ones on the front passenger side spring was fairly uneventful – actually I couldn’t believe how easily the fasteners came undone: lots of parts on my westy were more stubborn than anything on the Studebaker so far.

The passenger side front spring perch was another story though: it took a while before I decided the best approach was to get the entire assembly (there are only 2 pieces to it) from the parts truck as not only was there that giant bolt in place of the stud but the part of the perch that was riveted to the truck frame was pretty bent and 1/2 broken off of the frame (one rivet was completely broken and the the other 2 hanging on loosely).

On the parts-truck the spring perch in question was solidly affixed to the frame so I had to grind off the heads of 3 rivets and then drill out 2 of them to get the perch off. That went pretty smoothly.


Removing the already partly-off spring perch on the good truck was a bit more challenging as I had to drill out the “blind” center rivet so I could put a bolt in its place and at some point the rivet started to spin.  Ended up using a small chisel to mangle it enough so it wouldn’t spin anymore and I could finish drilling it out.

You can see how bent the original spring perch was. (I gave the replacement parts a sandblast and paint.)


Now ‘Clem’ (as the previous owner named the truck, named after one of the Studebaker brothers) has brand new front leaf spring bushings and a now solid spring perch so I am very interested to get him out on the road to see if the shaking at around 30 MPH is gone but… I really need to fix the off-idle hesitation as it is bad enough to seriously affect driveability. Plus it would be good to  get the headlights functional too and bleed the brakes before embarking on a trip back to the big city of Vancouver.


One thing I can’t imagine is what sort of accident would have resulted in partly ripping off that spring perch without doing any other apparent damage. Maybe I’ll see if the guy I bought the truck from has the phone number of the farmer in Alberta he got the truck from…

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’46 Studebaker M16 front leaf spring bushings

I am planning to use the old Studebaker truck to move some stuff in the next month or so and I want to deal with the worn front leaf spring bushings first as the truck gets the shakes at around 30 MPH.

I checked Studebaker International and saw that leaf spring bushings for the front of my M16 are available and inexpensive.

Then I had a look at the truck to see if it looked like it was going to be a relatively simple job to change them… or not.

Most of the bushings are so worn they pretty much might as well not be there at all.


It appears that at some point in the past the front passenger side spring mounting hardware broke and somebody (likely the farmer in Alberta who owned the truck for a long time) put a big bolt in place to secure the front of the leaf spring to the mount.

This is the drivers side front spring mount: old but factory original.

This is the same thing on the passenger side: “fixed” with a big old square headed bolt.

Looks like a bit of metal repair will be needed to get that back to stock.

While I was looking at the leaf springs, I noticed that the heavy-duty bumper, which I am planning to replace with an actual Studebaker bumper, is welded to the frame. Oh well, the saga begins…

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Blue westfalia body work and paint complete

I got the westy back from and it is home now.  I am planning on getting it appraised as now with the body work on top of all the mechanical work I did fairly recently (engine swap, rebuilt transaxle and front diff, rebuild suspension, etc.) I have a fair bit of money sunk into this thing. I sure hope I never need an insurance claim but if I do, I want to be prepared.

Anyone know a good appraiser for vangons in the Vancouver or Victoria areas of BC?



Note: I asked Barry (werke1) not to do any work on the bumpers as I wanted to limit the scope of the work to structural rust repairs and nothing solely cosmetic. Hopefully within the next few years I can replace these fibreglass bumpers with new steel ones from Burley Motor Sports. I am very interested to see what his new ones will be like. In the mean time, I did get a quart of bumper paint so maybe this summer I can make the required repairs to the bumpers (fix numerous small dings) and give them a coat of paint so at least the front bumper will match those new looking grilles.

Oh – I said the scope of the job was structural rust repairs but there was a little more to it than that: the DOKA lower grille was broken so I found a replacement and asked Barry to paint both DOKA grilles and figured I might as well get the westy grilles done at the same time. (economy of scale you know 🙂 ) … and the DOKA bumpers were very rusty so Barry had them blasted and powder coated.


DOKA – rusty rear bumper



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