Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Java Champion and Developer Advocate at Okta. developer.okta.com

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10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Hefe 3.5 Has Been Released! 🎉

"Open up the champagne, pop! 🍾" -- Flo Rida, My House

I’m thrilled to announce that Hefe, my 1966 21-Window VW Bus, is finally finished!

It only took 4,342 days, starting on April 17, 2006 and ending just a couple weeks ago (March 7, 2018).

When I last wrote about Hefe, I mentioned he was in the shop getting a better stereo.

For Hefe's stereo, I tried going phone-only for a controller. This turned out to be a bad idea, mostly due to bit Play HD and its terrible mobile app. Also, Hefe is lowered and a bit bumpy in the front, so trying to use a touch screen while driving doesn't work very well. He's in the shop now getting a new deck installed.

My dad and I visited Elevated Audio to pick him up two weeks ago today. I’ve known the owner, Andrew, ever since I hired him to install a sweet system in Stout the Syncro in 2013. Back then, his business was named Andrew’s Installs. Fast forward five years and his business is thriving. For a good reason too, his team and their attention to detail is magnificent.

It sounds fucking incredible.

Having Hefe finished sometimes makes me misty eyed when I drive him.

I was especially pumped to get Hefe back because we’d signed him up to be in Denver’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

That’s where the untold story begins.

Last Friday evening, I washed and polished him to get ready. While cleaning him, I accidentally sprayed a bunch of water on the engine. It’s a no-no to drench a car’s engine when it’s not running. I’d done this to our Syncro six months after we got it and it might’ve contributed to our engine’s untimely death.

Hefe's all dressed up and ready for Denverâs St. Paddy's Parade tomorrow. Hope to see you there! 😍👌🎉

After I finished, I tried to start Hefe. The engine turned over just fine, but it’d barely fire and never catch. I pumped the gas pedal a bunch and eventually gave up thinking I'd flooded the engine. I told myself to revisit the problem in an hour; maybe things would dry out by then.

I didn’t tell Trish about the problem until I’d tried (and failed) to start him an hour later. I took off the distributor cap and dried things out. I wiggled and re-routed some wires. Moving wires around made the spark plugs fire but in the wrong order. I reverted my changes and told Trish the bad news.

We couldn’t be in the parade without a running bus.

I cursed, loudly.

Trish’s high-school friend was flying in from NYC with her family that night. Trish left for the airport to pick them up, suggesting “we could go skiing instead” as she left.

Shortly after, I recognized my lousy attitude and vowed to turn things around.

“Now it’s flooded,” I thought. I knew the wires were correct.

I threw on my University of Denver hockey jersey and went to my living room to finish watching them in a playoff game. They beat the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs 3-2, and I celebrated with a cold Guinness.

Then I strolled outside, sat in Hefe, told him he could do it and started him right up. 💥

Wahoo! He recovered!!

The parade was epic.

Lined up and ready for Denver’s #stpaddysday parade! 🍀

We all felt glorious; cranking the stereo, blowing bubbles out the top, dancing up a storm, and basking in the happiness that is downtown Denver on St. Paddy’s Day. 🍀🤗

Party's all around Bubbles

Yes, there will likely be more to do to Hefe in the coming years. That’s OK. He inspires smiles every time I drive him and providing joy to people is a beautiful experience.

Kudos to all seven Colorado shops that made Hefe possible. I won’t say he’s worth every penny, but he’s pretty darn close! 😍

Posted in The Bus at Mar 21 2018, 02:21:41 PM MDT Add a Comment

The Bus is Home!

The day has finally arrived! The Bus is home 12 years and 3 days after I bought it. I detailed much of the slow and patience-heavy project in 10 years ago today, I bought a VW Bus and When is the bus gonna be done?

It's a glorious day in Raibleland and a real gas to drive. Hello Hefe!

Hello Hefe

Posted in The Bus at Apr 13 2016, 02:07:22 PM MDT 2 Comments

Life Update: The Bus Project, New Gigs, New House and More

I've written a few Life Update blog posts in the past and it seems appropriate to write another one today. A lot has happened since I wrote about our trip to Syncro Solstice 2015 in Moab. First of all, let's talk about the most exciting one: The Bus Project.

The Bus Project
The last time I wrote about The Bus, it'd just arrived at Sewfine to have the interior installed. From the get-go, I knew this was going to be a good experience. I've been talking with the owners (Carol and Mike) for years about the project. Seeing the knowledge they had about VWs and knowing it was in good hands brought a sense of calmness over me. They estimated it'd take 4-8 weeks to finish and it ended up taking 12. I'm proud to say it left Sewfine yesterday with a completed interior.

Love the color scheme with chrome accents The cockpit

In mid-May, we took The Bus to its first show: VWs on the Green in Littleton. Sewfine had completed the driver's seat and ragtop. I got license plates and insurance and was planning on driving it to the show. However, Mike pointed out that the engine compartment wasn't sealed and the engine might get really hot on the 10-mile drive (because it's an air-cooled engine). I agreed to trailer it instead and rented a car hauler from U-Haul.

[Read More]

Posted in The Bus at Jul 08 2015, 10:14:56 PM MDT 1 Comment

The Bus Arrives at Sewfine

11 years ago yesterday, I bought a '66 21-Window VW Bus using "buy it now" on eBay. 11 years later, it was delivered to Sewfine Interior Products to get the interior installed. When I originally spoke with them last year, they estimated it'd only take two weeks to finish. After seeing how much work needed to be done, they changed that estimate to 4-8 weeks.

After Sewfine, it still needs another week at the body shop to clean it up and install the rear deck lid. After that, I'll probably drive it for a few weeks before taking it to the stereo shop for the sound system.

While finalizing my interior order yesterday, I got to start it for the first time. It sounded like a muscle car. So fricken' sweet! :)

In the first photo below, you'll notice there's two yellow busses. Sewfine had a '62 (the far one) they were just finishing up. It was awesome to see the two together. Sewfine published a whole bunch of pictures of the '62 on Facebook.

Twins! Safari Windows

The paint looks soooo good! I like its smile

My favorite bus... The '62 is a pale yellow in comparison

Air Ride Suspension Power Steering wheel might need to be replaced

If you'd like to learn more about the VW Bus and the Deluxe Samba, see 21 Window & 23 Window Volkswagen Buses.

Posted in The Bus at Apr 11 2015, 11:09:24 AM MDT 2 Comments

THE BUS IS PAINTED!! HOLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT BATMAN!

I asked Jim Verhey at ReinCARnation to stop working on my bus in mid October. I didn't have a client lined up for November and couldn't afford to keep paying for it.

Today, I journeyed to Colorado Springs to talk with Jim. I hoped to convince him to give me a fixed bid to finish the project. When I got there, he surprised me with a finished paint job! You can imagine the look on my face when he opened the door and I saw this beauty!! HOLY SHIT - I LOVE IT SO MUCH!! The colors are perfect and paint job is exquisite!!

Jim said he felt bad for all I’ve been through with this project and finishing it was my Christmas Present. BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!! :-D

THE BUS IS FINALLY PAINTED!

OMG - IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL! I LOVE IT SO MUCH!

EST. DELIVERY DATE: APRIL 1, 2015

DID YOU HEAR THAT?! IT'LL BE DONE IN APRIL!

INTERIOR IN APRIL! DRIVING IN MAY!

JAMES VERHEY - WITH THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!

There's still more work to be done before it's street legal. However, Jim did give me a fixed-bid price to finish it. If I can afford it, the bus will be done on April 1, 2015. Then it's off to the stereo shop (1 week) and the interior shop (2 weeks). That means I could be driving it in May! YIPPEEE!! Thanks Jim - you are an awesome human being. :)

Posted in The Bus at Dec 21 2014, 05:33:46 PM MST 4 Comments

Syncro Solstice 2014

Our Camping Crew I like to think I've been part of the VW Community for many years. In reality, I've been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the restoration of my '66 to finish. When we bought our Syncro last year, I became an active participant again. Last Thursday, we took full advantage of this wonderful community - joining a bunch of folks in Moab for Syncro Solstice.

The Syncro Solstice is an annual Volkswagen Transporter Jamboree produced by enthusiasts in the Intermountain area. The event hosts both 2WD and 4WD vehicles in an off-road desert-style family-camp-and-expedition Jamboree, held late spring in Moab, Utah. Our Eurovan, Bus, Doka and Microbus friends are a hit and also very welcome.

My parents joined us for this camping extravaganza, as did our "we love to go camping" border collies. The people were great, the vans were inspiring and the views, mesmerizing. We love Moab and the weather was gorgeous the entire time.

VW Sunset

Syncro Camp B Sunset

[Read More]

Posted in The Bus at May 21 2014, 10:21:11 AM MDT Add a Comment

10 years ago today, I bought a VW Bus

10 years ago today, I bought a 1966 21-Window Volkswagen Bus. Restoring a VW Bus had been a dream of mine since high school, when I attempted to restore a '69 VW Bug. In October 2005, the restoration project began. Since then, it's been through many shops and had quite a few folks work on it. You can read all about it in When is the bus gonna be done?

Since many long-time readers of this blog are familiar with The Bus Project, it seems fitting to give y'all a detailed update on where things sit today.

[Read More]

Posted in The Bus at Apr 10 2014, 07:11:14 PM MDT Add a Comment

The Syncro Rescue Road Trip

Last Thursday, Trish and I met in Boise, Idaho to begin our Syncro Rescue Road Trip. You might remember we bought a ski bus a couple months ago. After Devoxx and Thanksgiving, we finally had time to pick up our new rig. We rented a car from Boise and drove to Bruce's (the owner) house near Sun Valley. We arrived at Bruce's house, met his family and were introduced to our new Volkswagen. We spent the next hour learning about its engine, suspension, beds, captains (swivel) seats, propane system, RV hookups, fridge, stove and roof tent. It was impressive and I couldn't wait to drive it!

Looking back, after reading all the receipts, it's obvious that Bruce did great things for this vehicle. When he bought it in 2004, he worked with Small Car to convert the engine to a 3.3L Subaru SVX. He also installed a 2" lift kit, disc brakes, and better gearing. It was a cool car before Bruce bought it; he turned it into a mean machine. I thought it'd be small like my '66, but it's more like a tank, that you have to crawl into. We like it more every time we drive it.

After spending the night in their cozy guest bed, we enjoyed some good coffee and got on the road.

Let the VW adventures begin!

I was immediately impressed with the Syncro's acceleration. [Read More]

Posted in The Bus at Dec 10 2013, 11:47:46 PM MST Add a Comment

We Bought a Ski Bus!

This summer while vacationing in Montana, I gave my Cadillac Escalade to my parents. My reason was simple - it'd been molested too many times in the big city. We did enjoy catching the criminals (busted two would-be-thieves in the act in 2010), but we were ready for a new car.

We started looking for one shortly after arriving home from our honeymoon - from the Nissan Armada to the Tesla. But none of them really appealed to me. Then I found a rig that made my heart leap, the VW Syncro Westfalia, aka The Greatest Car Ever Built.

Everyone from pro snowboarder Jussi Oksanen to Maverick’s surfing legend Grant Washburn to actor Tom Hanks, who calls his Syncro addiction "a rare dementia," has succumbed to the Vanagon. The only drawback: production ceased in 1992, and there are only so many of these babies left (maybe as few as 5,000), so the vehicles are appreciating in value.

The first one I found stood out because it fixed the problem that many VW Busses have - crappy engines. Rather than a powerless ol' VW engine, it had a Subaru SVX H6 3.3L (240HP). I found a maroon syncro that was similar to the aforementioned one, but ended up buying the blue one after I asked the owner why his was better. He replied with a 12-item list and a closing paragraph that sealed the deal for me.

Any van you end up with will have its own eccentricities, personality traits, faults and virtues. Owning one, especially a Syncro is a labor of love, not necessarily a good investment purely in terms of money but man, I've racked-up more memories in that Syncro over the past 10 years than with anything else in my life. I've owned Syncros for years and will continue to do so, it gets in your blood and there's no cure.

Trish has always wanted an RV for photography, and I've longed for a VW Bus that runs. With our plan of skiing all over Colorado this year (Abbie gets free days at every resort), it should be a heckuva ski season!

Right 3/4

I can't wait to go and rescue it in December with my Dad. We figured it'd be fun since we did our first bus rescue in 2004. For more pictures, see my 1990 Syncro Westy SVX Full Camper set on Flickr or the original listing.

As for my '66 Porsche Bus, that's progressing nicely. It should be starting and drivable (though not street legal) in the next couple weeks.

Update: Dad is out, Trish is in for the Syncro Rescue Road Trip. She wasn't about to let us have all the fun. ;)

Posted in The Bus at Oct 22 2013, 11:47:18 AM MDT 1 Comment

When is the bus gonna be done?

When I meet up with friends these days, the most common question I'm asked is "when is the bus gonna be done?" I've often replied "in a few months" and I've been wrong every single time. However, this time, I really do believe it's gonna happen.

... says the guy who thought his kitchen would take 1 month to remodel (it's going on 4 months) and his deck a couple weeks to build (it took around 6 months).

The difference this time is that the last part we're waiting on has shipped. The part is the custom-built rear suspension from Franklin's VW Werks. You can see some pictures of them building it here. When this arrives, Motorworks Restorations can finally start putting all the pieces together.

Even with this good news, history has taught me that in a few months is not gonna happen. Here's a timeline of events since I bought the bus back in 2004 (4 months before Jack was born).

  • April 10, 2004 - [VW Bus] Could this be the one?: "Hmmm, if I could buy my dream car today and DU wins the National Championship tonight..."
  • June 09, 2004 - Pictures from "Bus Rescue" Road Trip: "1500 Miles, 4 days, 4 quarts of oil used. Pretty damn good for a Volkswagen."
  • October 15, 2005 - The Bus Project Begins: "With any luck, I'll have the bus in Mike's shop by December. Estimated time to complete body work and paint: 6 months to a year."
  • April 17, 2006 - Off to The Shop!: "Estimated time at the shop: 6 months to a year."
  • November 11, 2006 - Bus Project Update: "I'd like to be driving it around next summer, hopefully it'll be done by then."
  • June 08, 2007 Bus Project Update: "I doubt it'll be done this summer, but I'm still hopeful."

Project Reset: first guy went out of business and ended up costing me 5K for his work and 10K to fix his work at the next shop.

  • January 19, 2008 - Bus Project Update: "To start with, I'm going to have Motorworks do paint and body, and possibly suspension. Jeremy said they could probably take it out of my hands in March and have it back to me 2-3 months later."
  • July 07, 2008 - Bus Project Update: "With any luck, I'll have it completely restored sometime in 2010."
  • May 17, 2010 - Volkswagens On The Green 2010 and The Bus Project: "I don't know if we'll finish it this year, but there's a really good chance we'll be driving it to a lot of Colorado VW Shows next year."
  • April 30, 2012 - Bus Project Update: "With any luck, I'll have a kick-ass new ride arriving sometime in June. In July, I hope to drive it in the Swan Valley 4th of July parade."

So yeah, I have no idea when it's gonna be done. I'm hopeful it'll be in a few months. ;)

Posted in The Bus at Oct 26 2012, 11:00:07 AM MDT 1 Comment