Lots of questions from a newbie...

Hello!
I'm the current guardian of a 1973 bay window Westfalia, and I was hoping for some advice on how to look after it. It's my first VW and I'm
no mechanic, but in the 6 months that we've had the van I've successfully replaced the shift rod coupling and renewed the accelerator cable. I'd like to continue to learn about the vehicle by performing as much DIY maintainance as possible. To that end, I'm hoping someone has the patience to help me with the following:
I'm due an oil change (I think! We've done about 3000 miles since the last one). When we got the van, we had a mechanic change the oil, and he also replaced the little copper washer that seals the sump. Do I need to fit a new washer with every oil change?
When going downhill under engine braking, the engine pops and splutters a bit. Is this normal?
When starting cold, the engine splutters and pops quite a lot. It also shakes around quite a bit until it's warm. To my novice mind, it seems like some of the cylinders aren't firing properly. It runs fine when it's warm. Is this normal?
When cornering (turning left), the front left wheel squeaks slightly. The squeaking is stopped by touching the brakes. Could there be a problem with the brakes?
Is it safe to simply top-up the brake fluid reservoir, or do I need to drain and refil the whole system? I've no idea how full it was when I got it, but it seems very low now (under a quarter full). I only checked it when I noticed the squeaking... What do I top it up with? How/where do I check for leaks in the system?
The previous owner (of 15 years) disconnected the cables from the dash controls for the heating, leaving the hot air permanently on. He advised me not to reconnect them, claiming the engine would overheat. The mechanic who serviced it when we got it suggested that the heat exchangers weren't properly set up, which explains the strong smell of fumes in the cab. What exactly do the heat exchangers do? Is there a good reason to leave the heating on all the time? Is a smelly cab something I should put up with?
I'd also add that I'm currently living in northern Spain, but because I don't really speak Spanish, I don't know where to start looking for a garage that could help me with the vehicle. Anyone have any suggestions?
Thanks!
Leo
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Leo wrote:

Welcome! Sorry, but I am also a newb so can't give any advice. There are a lot of very knowledgeable guys here and also on www.thesamba.com with a forum dedicated to buses.
Remco
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Leo wrote:

Find out which engine is in there. In Europe, they could be found with either the 1600cc Type 1 engine or the 1800cc Type 4 engine. Look for the engine serial number which will include a 2-letter Code.
Get a Shop Manual! Haynes had 2 versions, one for each style engine. ISBN 0 85696 660 6 ISBN o 85696 614 2
Maybe on eBay or at Amazon.com
The pops and splutters may be from a tiny exhaust leak. Low on the list. Turn off the heat! Even without the controls hooked up, it should be possible to shut the heater box outlet(s) under the car. Correct the exhaust leaks (sometime) to prevent fumes getting in.
Refill the brake fluid, but keep an eye on the level. If it's going down there may be a leak in the Master Cylindre into the vacuum booster or at a wheel cylinder/caliper.
The squeak on cornering may be due to slight looseness in the frt wheel bearing. That will allow the brake rotor to drag slightly. Or it may be nothing at all.
BOOKMARK: http://www.type2.com / http://www.thesamba.com/vw / http://www.tactical-bus.info/buscasings.html http://www.ratwell.com/technical/FAQ/FAQContent.html http://www.vwbusstop.demon.nl/bushistory/index.html http://www.vintagebus.com/techinfo / http://www.ahschofield.co.uk/main.asp
A UK forum which has a lot of Type 2 owners and good info: http://www.volkszone.com/VZi/index.php
Speedy Jim http://www.nls.net/mp/volks /
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Speedy Jim wrote:

Many thanks for the hints. Apologies for not providing enough detail. The van was originally sold in North America and has a 1700 CA engine. Would the Haynes manual be the one you recommend, and is ISBN 0 85696 614 2 the correct one for my van?
Leo
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Leo wrote:

Yes, that's the correct Haynes #. There is also a Bentley Official Manual for '68 thru '79 Type 2 Bus which is excellent if you can find it there. ISBN 0-8376-0094-4
Jim
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Speedy,
Sorry for misspelling you name...I only noticed it now
Joo
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joao snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

LOL All is forgiven :-)
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Hi Leo,
Welcome! Where are you exactly living in Spain? (Vigo Bilbao S.Sebastian) I live in Portugal so it's not very far away. I agree with Speed, you must have a leak on the exhaust. Usually the leak is on the end of the heat exchanger on it connects to the muffler. I also don't believe you can survive on summer with the heat always on ;-)
Joo
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joao snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

I'm in Gijon, which is not as close as Vigo, but only a few hours drive away...assuming nothing breaks :) We drove from Scotland through Belgium and down the East coast of France to get here in August, and it was pretty hot most of the time - you get used to having the windows open... Having quarter lights that open is a definate advantage :)
I'll take a good look at the exhaust and see if I can find a leak. How small/big a leak am I looking for?
Cheers
Leo
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Hi Leo,
The hole can only have 2mm. On my case it was on top of the exhauster tube and hard to see. If we see dark it is due of the exhauster gases and the leak will be near it. I had two leaks; One on the heat exchanger and other on the manifold heater riser.
Joo
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Leo:
I was the newbie of the year a couple years ago. The list of boneheaded questions I asked would fill a book. I was taken to task more times than I can count for not thinking things through. The stuff I still don't know would fill a much larger book. The mistakes I made were laughable and I'm still the butt of jokes around here for one or two of them. Hang in there, read a lot, get some tools, and most of all, expect that you will learn more than you may have bargained for. The fellows here are excellent resources and usually patient. Some may sound a little condescending or grumpy but the fact that they are even responding to your questions demonstrates that, underneath it all, they want to help.
--

Mike "Rocket J Squirrel" Elliott
71 Type 2: the Wonderbus
  Click to see the full signature.
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