Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

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.

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.

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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 Add a 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 Add a Comment

Bus Project Update

I bought my '66 21-window VW Bus way back in April of 2004. I purchased it on eBay minutes after DU Won the National Championship in NCAA Hockey. It was a day I still remember very well. Several weeks later, my Dad and I flew to San Diego to pick it up and drive it back to Denver. It was a great adventure. I remember fondly 2-year old Abbie calling it "Daddy Bus". Jack was still a couple months away from his birthday.

Fast forward 8 years and The Bus is still in the shop. It's been there since July 2008. However, it's closer than ever to being finish. In fact, I drove to Colorado Springs last Thursday and met with Jeremy and Ben to finalize what it'll take to get 'er done. In other words, the end is in sight! It's been a long time coming, but this isn't your normal bus project. Not only are we restoring every nut and bolt, but we're converting it to have have a Porsche infrastructure so it can really get up and go. 911 engine (3.0 SC), Weber 46 IDA carbs, 5-speed 915 transmission, custom air-bag suspension (by Franklin's VW Werks), Porsche wheels, iPads for TVs, Porsche gauges and a sweet sound system.

Looking at the pictures below, it might not look like it's close to being done, but we've got most of the parts and now it's just a matter of time.

Porsche 5-speed Tranny Paint Me Please The '66 is ready to be a '12

Ready for paint!

All the used parts have been found and I'm negotiating with sellers now. The rear suspension has been paid for and it should be done in a few weeks. The interior has been picked out and ordered. 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.

If you live in Colorado and would like to see it at a local event, I plan on showing (and racing!) it at the Colorado Bug-In at Bandimere Speedway. That's on Sunday, July 29th. In the meantime, it's gonna be pretty cool watching it come alive!

Posted in The Bus at Apr 30 2012, 07:59:52 AM MDT Add a Comment

Volkswagens On The Green 2010 and The Bus Project

This weekend, I took Abbie and Jack to the 16th Annual Volkswagens on the Green. I was especially inspired to take them because we've been playing a lot of "Slug Bug" lately and I figured the number of opportunities for points would surely overload their senses. Not only was I right, but this was one of the best VW shows I've been to in Colorado. The venue was great, there were lots of cars and everything was easily accessible.

Personally, the highlight of the show for me was stumbling upon my bus in the midst of the parking lot. Motorworks Restorations hauled it up from the Springs to highlight it as one of their project vehicles. The kids loved seeing it and climbed all over it while I had a conversation with Jeremy (owner of Motorworks) about adding a Porsche suspension and brakes to the mix.

Daddy's Bus

My Bus Restoration Project has been on hold for a couple years and I'm happy to report I'll be starting it again in the next few months. 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.

For more pictures, click on the images below or see my VWs on the Green set on Flickr.

Shiny Beer Bus So Low that Jack is taller Sweet Ghia

Jack's Favorite Car Mmmm, Camping... Rainbow Slug Bug! Similar colors to what I'm planning on.

Posted in The Bus at May 17 2010, 09:02:11 PM MDT Add a Comment

Abbie gets her first tooth and The Bus looks great!

Today was quite the day. First of all, Jack and I took Abbie to A Wild Smile to get a couple front teeth yanked. She has her first adult tooth coming in and her baby teeth weren't getting out of the way. Before and after pictures are below:

Abbie has all her baby teeth 2 got yanked

This afternoon, I drove to Colorado Springs to see The Bus and speak at the Colorado Springs Open Source User Group. The Bus looked great. Motorworks Restorations has done a lot of very detailed work (i.e. replacing corners, stretching the frame, replacing window and door drains) in the last couple of months.

We talked for a good hour about the possibilities in wheels, transmission, engine, suspension, gauges and interior. My favorite topics were the air bags, 6-cylinder 911 engine and safari windows. Click here to see the full set of pictures I took. Quote of the night: "It's going to be better than it was when it was brand new."



After leaving the bus, I delivered my Web Frameworks of the Future Presentation to a bunch of guys (and gals) at a nearby library. It was a fun presentation because I got to meet a lot of folks I had name recognition for, but had never met. All in all, a very good day.

Tomorrow marks my last day of work before I head out on a week's vacation in Munich for Oktoberfest. I have a feeling the days are going to get a lot better from here on out. ;-)

Posted in The Bus at Sep 18 2008, 11:49:49 PM MDT 1 Comment

Pictures of the Bus at MotorWorks Restorations

Jeremy from MotorWorks restorations sent me an e-mail this morning to let me know there's pictures of my bus available on their site. Apparently, they're quite a bit further along than these pictures show. When I talked to Jeremy last week, the bus was at the sandblasters.

Disassembly

This Thursday, I'll be traveling down to The Springs to checkout the bus, as well as speak at The Colorado Springs Open Source Meetup. Should be a fun evening.

Posted in The Bus at Sep 15 2008, 08:39:14 PM MDT 4 Comments

Bus Project Update

Ready to Go! This evening, Jeremy from MotorWorks Restorations stopped by and picked up the bus. It'll be in the shop for around 6 months. It's scheduled to be returned in January of next year with a straight body and a slick yellow and white paint job. The engine, interior and suspension will be up to me at that point.

It's hard to believe I bought it 4 years ago. With any luck, I'll have it completely restored sometime in 2010. You can read more about its history in The Bus category.

Posted in The Bus at Jul 07 2008, 10:06:55 PM MDT Add a Comment

Release Your Inner Hippie With The VW Bus PC

I wonder if I can get one of these in yellow?

Thanks to Jim Head for sending me a link to this.

Posted in The Bus at Jan 26 2008, 10:34:48 AM MST 1 Comment