Kristiansand Bus Depot; our rather unexpected 3 week stay… Part 2 Weeks 10, 11, 12 Oct 21st – Nov 8th

Since we embarked on part 2 of our journey we’ve kept our posts “weekly” to break it up rather than trying to squeeze a month of travel in each time! However this post covers our very unexpected, 3 WEEK, stay at the Kristiansand Bus Depot. A lot of days rolled into one but hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze as much as we possibly can in…
WARNING! THIS POST IS VERY MUCH VOLKSWAGEN THEMED!

Still a little unsure what the Depot was really all about we headed towards Kristiansand and spotted the “landmark” given to us (along with directions!) the Depot becoming obvious just seconds later. The numerous T3s that were lined up at the front of the building kind of gave it away…

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As we jumped out of the van an excitable Border Collie called Gunn came bounding towards the van to greet us and her owner; Glenn, soon emerged from amongst the vans.

From then on we were made to feel at home, after a quick introduction we were invited in for “coffee” a coffee that unbeknown to us was the first of many that we would consume over the 3 weeks to follow…

After getting to know one another and clarifying that the Depot was actually a club we proceeded with the oil change. We would have been more than happy to tackle it outside as that’s what we’re used to back home however when Glenn offered us the space in the workshop we thought it would be rude not to take up the offer! We were led through from the club room into what can only be described as an “Aladdin’s Cave”. My jaw dropped as I looked around, a T3 owners paradise : engines, gearboxes, carburettors, drive shafts, doors, panels, grills, lights, interiors…the list goes on! A superb collection of parts that have been saved by the club in a bid to keep these awesome machines rolling!

The roller/shutter door was opened and Charlie Brown rolled in, we dropped the oil fairly promptly however the service took around 2/3 hours to complete as we kept getting distracted;new people arriving and conversations flowed!

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Glenn asked if we wanted to take a ride in his van to see the rest of his “personal collection” as he needed to pop home. He let Tris drive who commented on how tight the handbrake was, to which Glenn replied “then yours probably needs adjusting! We’ll take a look at that tomorrow…”

So you can never have them all, but Glenn’s clearly got most “bases” covered…

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We headed back to the Depot, pizza was ordered by someone (not sure by who to be perfectly honest) and after more chatting we were told that we may as well keep the van inside the workshop for the night to give it a chance to dry out (by then it had started to rain and they were a little shocked at how bad our leak at the back of the van was, our woodwork was soggy!)

Back in the workshop, our aftermarket clear lense indicators somehow got into the conversation, a “modification” that a previous owner had carried out, we’d never liked them, however they worked which was good enough for us! Glenn began to rummage through a box appearing moments later with a pair of standard orange indicators, handing them to Zo he stated “If YOU fit them, they’re free…”

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Jose also set to work, fixing the mess that dangled off of our rear bumper…

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The next morning, we emptied the back of the van to remove the engine lid in order to change the air filter (it isn’t necessary to remove the engine lid on these vehicles to complete an oil change) Glenn arrived a little later, after a coffee the van was “arse up” in the air, wheels removed in order to adjust the handbrake, made sure to watch how it was done, always trying to learn!

Glenn and Jose asked if we’d like the “Grand Tour” of Kristiansand, although it’s Glenn’s hometown and far from Jose’s (In Gran Canaria) Jose “narrated” the tour as it turned out that he had not only been a tour guide in Gran Canaria but in Kristiansand also, we traveled in style in the synchro tour bus! Between them they filled us in with a lot of history of the area, the tour even included complimentary hotdogs…

On our return to the Depot, Glenn said “well as the lid isn’t hiding your engine I may as well take a look!” …

I don’t think we’ll ever forget the face he made as he peered into the engine bay, I mean we knew it wasn’t “ideal” however his reaction of pure horror indicated to us that maybe it was a bit more serious… “how far did you say you’ve driven this bus?!” (A rhetorical question as he knew exactly where we’d been from our blog!)

We were then joined by Jose, whose reaction was of a similar level of horror.

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FOR THOSE WHO AREN’T AWARE, just before we left the UK in February our head gaskets had begun to weep/leak antifreeze, to cut a long story short we asked for advice from various mechanics in our area, back in the UK, none of which would entertain the idea of replacing said gaskets due to the “risks” involved i.e. snapping one or even more of the 16 studs that effectively hold the engine together which in fairness can create a bit of an issue, which is why we went to a mechanic to try and have it done… (pardon the sarcasm) sooo everyone advised us that it would be much simpler and potentially cheaper to actually replace our entire engine with a reconditioned unit, but that comes with a price, around £1500 all in (a substantial knock to our European trip budget before we’d even left the UK!)

On more than one occasion it had been suggested that we introduce a sealant product to our coolant to try and stop the leak, after reading articles on many forums, watching videos and asking others, it was clear that opinions were split but everyone agreed that adding a sealant additive came with it’s own risks. Apprehensive about making the problem worse we bought a bottle of “Steel Seal” which we stored in the van before our departure, to only be used if the problem got worse, from then the leaks were intermittent, at times we were topping up water everyday, however at one point we were leak free for about 2000 miles. That aside we had an overheating issue that we overcame by constant use of the heater fan and an override switch for the radiator fan that we installed in Italy. Even light traffic congestion was stressful as we watched the temperature gauge climb, the poor radiator fan doing it’s best to cope!

The overheating issue was less of a problem in our time through Scandinavia, simply due to the lower temperatures, that said when climbing the steeper hills in temperatures no warmer than 5 degrees the radiator fan was still required (which in hindsight is ridiculous) and the water leak was still very much an issue that had to be monitored every other day!

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Sooo… after telling this to Glenn who said he wouldn’t have wanted to drive it from the depot back to where he lives, it got us thinking… Maybe we had been far more lucky than we’d appreciated and were now taking it for granted that Charlie Brown was still plodding along. He said he’d done the job several times, at this point we didn’t go into much detail but it was certainly a more positive response than we’d got back at home…

Later that day Jose worked out why (or at least the major contributor) to why our van was leaking so much when it rained! The rubber seal around the tailgate had completely split, held together by pressure rather than actually connected! Luckily he found a spare one which he kindly fitted (still almost bone dry in here Jose!)

 

That evening after everyone had gone home Zo and I debated, for hours. We’d popped in for a coffee and to change our oil and within 24 hours we were toying with the idea of having fairly major engine work carried out…

The engine had got us so far and was still running, but for how long?!

What if it goes terribly wrong and all of the studs snap when we’re trying to remove the heads?

The engine might last for the rest of the trip… but what if it doesn’t?

Why are we worrying now when for the last 9 months we’ve shrugged it off?!

The debate went on for hours, but it came down to the fact that Glenn was the first person we’d come across in our T3 ownership who clearly had a comprehensive knowledge of the wasserboxer engine and even though we’d only known him for 24 hours or so we completely trusted him, the reason we couldn’t make a final decision that night was that it basically came down to the costs…

The next day we spoke with Glenn in more detail, in all his time taking these engines apart he’d snapped just one of the infamous studs… different visitors to the Depot throughout the day gave their personal views and opinions on the issue, one chap said that if he was us he’d stick our bottle of “Steel Seal” in and hope for the best, which with all due respect didn’t convince us…

Glenn asked if he could take a look at our bottle of sealant that we’d carried with us for the last 20,000 kilometres, after a quick scan of the bottle it was thrown in the direction of the bin…

From there I asked Glenn to go over, step by step, start to finish, what was involved in sorting this issue out properly and what the costs involved were, we agreed on a price and within an hour or so Glenn and Jose had the engine out of the van and sitting on a pallet!

Before the night was up we got the engine onto the engine mount trolley (on which the work would be carried out on) and rolled it outside where I was handed a bottle of industrial degreaser and a pressure washer, I proceeded the messy task of cleaning down the engine whilst the guys fired up the barbecue in the workshop!

That day when we’d made a decision, Jose pointed out that it was going to be fairly difficult to stay in our bus whilst it was up on the ramps so handed us the keys to his centrally heated Transhotel! Better (and definitely warmer) than any other hotel we’d stayed in!

The next day Glenn was at work but had given Jose and I a list of jobs to carry out so that when he finished work he could start the more complicated bit…

Basically our job was to remove as many of the ancillaries as possible.

We began by removing the heatshield to which the header tank is connected..

Next thing was to remove the carburettor..

followed by the exhausts which surprisingly detached without too many issues..

After removing the belt, alternator, bracket and engine bar we removed the rocker covers so they could be cleaned up and given a lick of paint!

Jose then showed me how to flush out the entire coolant system, the system had been flushed just over a year ago when we’d replaced all of the water pipes however the coolant was a little bit brown which didn’t say a lot for the condition of the infamous engine studs… (the brown being corrosion in the system, the only part that can corrode in there is the studs…)

Glenn finished a little earlier that day but we’d just about finished everything that he’d asked us to!

Jose had invited us to dinner back at his place that evening so Zo went with him to watch an episode of “Jose’s Kitchen”…

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…leaving Glenn and I back at the Depot to carry out the unenviable task of removing the heads from the engine…

Glenn attached a socket to the breaker bar handing it to me, “well it’s your engine!” He exclaimed with a grin on his face.

16 nuts, here goes! I applied pressure to the bar, waiting for something to happen… CRACK! Looking at Glenn for reassurance I get a nod, onto the 2nd CRACK! Now knowing what sound to look out for I carried on, after the 8th nut that meant that one side was successfully released, Glenn reminded me that this was only the halfway point… After a turn of the engine, and 8 more “CRACK!” Sounds, we’d made it to the other side, all studs intact! The suspense was unreal!

We were supposed to be making our way over to Jose’s for dinner but neither of us could resist removing one of the heads to see how bad it really looked, well a picture tells a thousand words and all that…

The morning after a great evening at Jose’s (where we ate until we could eat no more!) we were greeted again at the Depot by him in his Syncro which he kindly drove us in to a place called Biltema (for the English readers, Biltema is basically a motor factor like Halfords, crossed with Screwfix) Glenn had said that it may be worth investing in some stainless steel nuts, bolts and washers for when we reassembled our exhaust system (making it far easier to disassemble in the future) with these and a can of black heatproof paint we were ready to “tune” the exhaust system…

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Once we’d returned to the Depot Jose began to help us “pimp” our engine, we removed the oil filler neck and dipstick tube, cleaning off the grime, lightly sanding and then painted.

The rocker covers and alternator bracket that we’d taken off the day before were also cleaned in diesel before also being treated to a lick of paint!

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Next in line was our rather sporty albeit rusty Empi exhaust silencer. After a light sanding with the wire wheel we applied a few coats of the heat resistant paint.

By which time Glenn had returned from work and we pushed on with fixing the engine, Glenn concentrated on cleaning the head whilst I (accompanied by Jose) was given the task of cleaning out the water jacket itself, full of corrosion and sealant, the airline was a blessing!

I think Jose hit the nail on the head with his comment in this 2nd video!

Once Glenn was happy that the “mating” surfaces were clean enough, the new head gasket kit was fitted, the amount of sealer that we used in comparison to the previous guy was crazy! I could see he’d used too much but the smear that Glenn used was a fraction!

All 8 nuts torqued back up nicely which meant we could move onto the other side…

If you thought our sealant issue was bad on the first side then take a look at this…

Shocking! How any water ever managed its way to the head is a mystery! And in hindsight, so glad that we decided to not add ANOTHER sealant product to the mix!

That evening, Glenn and I pushed on (with emphasis on Glenn) effectively repeating the same process that we’d carried out on the first side, Glenn concentrating on the head whilst I removed the copious amounts of sealant and corrosion from the water jacket before cleaning up the “mating” surface once more, Glenn repeated the gasket replacement before torquing it all back up again, job done “as easy as that!”…

Well the hardest part of the job was done anyway, Jose and I had the task of refitting all the ancillaries the next day in preparation for the rebirth of Charlie Brown!

That evening Glenn and I headed over to Jose’s for a monster dish of his famous “Spanish Meatballs” how his son managed to devour double what I could handle was fairly embarrassing!…

The next day Jose and I cracked on with our list of jobs, attaching everything we could to the engine, carburettor, water pipes, alternator, engine bar, oil breather tower, by which time Glenn was back who reattached the exhaust system (except the silencers) using our new “bling-bling” stainless steel nuts and bolts, along with the distributor and fuel pump, in the end we had to replace both sets of rockers, the first was broken and the other very worn, thankfully Glenn had some spares in the Depot collection… After refitting the newly painted rocker covers the engine could be removed from the engine stand and onto a pallet, ready to go back in the van…

Refitting was fairly painless, again I think it might have had something to do with how many times they’ve done it but even Glenn seemed surprised quite how quickly it fitted back inline with the gearbox!

With the engine back in, all that was required was to connect up the remainder of the water pipes, fuel lines and then refill all the necessary liquids (e.g. Oil and coolant) however things are never that simple, thankfully we identified that one of the heater hoses was badly damaged a few inches from the end which meant the hose needed to be shortened and a new piece joined to the end to make up the lost length, I’d also forgotten to reattach the oil filler neck and dip stick tube before the engine went back into the van… big mistake! Eventually refitted them but I won’t make that mistake again!

Once the oil was in we started to refill the coolant system, I’d never seen how to bleed the coolant system, I had let the local mechanic at home do this as I’d heard how complicated it could be and that many had failed due to not parking the vehicle at the “appropriate angle” (apologies for the sarcasm) all of which theories were proven wrong or at least unnecessary as I watched how it was done, again very painlessly on level ground!

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All that was needed now was to sort out the engine timing but Glenn suggested that maybe we should take a break from the garage for the weekend…

Glenn picked us up early Saturday morning for a day trip to Denmark, trusty “Rusty” pulled the car trailer that was loaded up with yet another T3 this one however was owned by his Danish friend called Soren. We’d been told not to bother with breakfast, the reason becoming clear on the ferry as Glenn escorted us to the restaurant where we were treated!

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We left the ferry feeling rather full however “Rusty” ate up the flat Danish roads, it was the first time we’d been to the North of Denmark and we commented on how similar it was to our home region of East Anglia back in the UK! We eventually arrived at our destination, it was clear that like the guys at the Depot Soren was a bit of a collector of the T3 too…

Soren was even good enough to donate a couple of bits to Charlie Brown…

Much appreciated dude!

Glenn had mentioned that it was possible to (legally) drive along the beaches on the west coast, so with the T3 safely delivered and the rig a little lighter we ventured off to the beach to have some lunch…

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After a fun filled day we made our way back to Hirschel to catch the ferry back to Norway. The fun that weekend wasn’t yet over though!

The next day we took a trip with Sead and Glenn to pickup ANOTHER T3 this one was actually for Sead. It was a fairly long drive, Norwegian roads slowing things down a little but picturesque all the same!

This T3 had sat so long that the steering lock had unfortunately seized on…

The next day Glenn sorted out our ignition timing (as planned) as he predicted it was definitely incorrect when we’d arrived as however hard I now try, backfires are now impossible! The bus has never run better!

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With the engine work complete it was decided that Zo should have a lesson in welding (the running joke in the depot is how rusty our van is…)

Whilst this was going on, Mateo set to work “detailing” our plastic trims as Jose spray painted our front grills, this left me at a bit of a loose end so they let me onto a secret that Coca Cola would clean up our chrome bumpers perfectly!

Where the rest of our time at the Depot went too we’ll never know! We made trips in the van accompanied by Glenn and Gunn to the park in Kristiansand as well as “Quarantine Island”…

To the “Southernmost point” of Norway, Lidesnes…

Had another barbecue in the garage, many Gin and Tonics along with plenty of other meals…

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Zo had walked Gunn almost everyday and I accompanied them now that the van was alive once more (we’ve completely fallen in love with that dog!)

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We changed our setup on the roof, trading our pretty but not practical roof rack for a few roof bars (which will eventually carry a kayak we hope!)

 

We spent many hours chatting with all the guys down at the Depot, we were in the club room almost every evening trying to pick up a little bit of Norwegian!

We really cannot thank these guys enough for what they have done for us, we both had such a great time with everyone, learning lots and hope that if they ever travel to the UK we can at least try to match their hospitality!

Kristiansand Bus Depot, Norway. Our 2nd home, see you all soon!

Tusen Takk for Maten! 😉

2 thoughts on “Kristiansand Bus Depot; our rather unexpected 3 week stay… Part 2 Weeks 10, 11, 12 Oct 21st – Nov 8th

  1. I saw you as you left the ferry in Hirtshals. It looked like you had problems. Hope you made it back without any further ado. I know both Glenn and Jose, always helpful. I have an 1983 Westfalia 1,9 WB myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Ah yeah was an odd sound that we heard so pulled over but turned out to be another vehicle as we never heard it again luckily! Ah they are good guys – worked wonders on our bus! Oh very nice! Do you use yours regularly :)?

      Like

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