The BugShop: The 700 Mile Parts Run
Yep, all in one day.....

This page last modified- 11/10/01


Well, let's see, about 3 weeks ago a fella posted on the aircooled newsgroup asking if it was proper to post a URL "invite" to a list of "antique" VW parts for sale that he was going to put on a web page for a friend. I replied and said absolutely it was Ok, as long it was aircooled parts and he didn't post every other day. And as long as he gave me the URL first so I could approve it (just kidding). Just a few days later he sent me an e-mail telling me that the site was up and giving me a little more info about the guy selling the parts. So I went to the site and read. There were LOTS of Oval and early 60s stuff listed. Body parts, lights, engines, trannies and A '57 FRONT APRON FOR $15. (some of you know I have been looking for one for my '57 for about a year and a half). Needless to say I called the guy. Actually about 30 minutes before the "please call after.." time listed on the page. He wasn't home, but I spoke to his wife. I told her I was VERY interested in the front apron, and probably some of the other parts. She told me that she would tell him that I wanted the apron and suggested that I call the next evening. I did.

The guy's name is Bill Bower's and he lives in Chadds Ford, PA (about 30 min. from Philadelphia. I only feel authorized to tell where he lives because he lists his address and phone number on the web page). The parts are actually all at his parents house in nearby West Chester PA. He told me all about the stuff he had and I got very interested in seeing his collection firsthand. Seems (as Bill told it to me this afternoon) that when he got married 18 years ago, his wife, well, let's say she "severely restricted" how much time he could spend with his VWs. He told me that he had 10 of them when he got married (maybe he should have hid a few of them). But prior to that, he had been very involved in VWs and had some very nice ones (showed me his photo album). He was involved with the inception of the VVWCA (Vintage Volkswagen Club of America) But all of his "stash" had just been sitting in various "outbuildings" on his parents property for the last 18 yrs. He had decided to organize it a bit and try to sell it off rather than see it rot away. While he wasn't giving anything away, his prices were pretty fair. I got this wild idea to drive down there and back on a weekend day. He agreed to hold some of the stuff I asked about and I said not a word to anyone (on the web) about it. Until now. I just pulled up the driveway with my trailer about 30 minutes ago.

From where I live in Marlboro, MA, best I could tell, it was about 5-6 hours to West Chester each way. So you would have to be pretty serious bug nut to want to attempt that. Factor in that I am married and have 2 young kids and it is less than 2 weeks before Christmas and let's just it didn't come for free. I decided to drive my trusty old Cabrio and pull my little trailer down. I have one of those tiny 4' x 4' department store kit trailers that I built a shallow box on top of. I was considering picking up a spare hood or fenders or door, or who-knew-what (well I-know-what now 'cause I'm on).

Now just Wednesday of this week past, I replaced the Neuspeed springs (all 4) in the Cabrio with some used '84 GTI springs (after determining that the Neuspeeds, fun as they were on the interstate interchanges, weren't designed for New England winter roads). That job went well (the 4th set of springs I have had in the car since July, I'm pretty good at swapping them out now) but in it's course I discovered a torn CV joint boot and managed to snap a rusty emergency brake cable. Neither of those two things really would have prevented the car from making the trip, but I'm just a "can't stand broken things" kind of guy so I had to fix them before Sunday. That and fix that intermittent tweeter on the dash. Can't drive that far with just 6 of the 7 speakers working. And so my thoughtful wife (she'll read this at some point) stopped at the autoparts store while I was at work on Friday to get the parts. Friday night, I replaced the CV joint boot. For those of who don't know this job, you have to remove the whole axle and, if you are anal like me, you have to disassemble the whole joint, clean it out, re-pack it with grease then put the boot back on. I finished at around 10:30 and decided the leave the emergency brake cable till Saturday.

On Saturday I discovered that the new cable was 5" too short and had to go back to the auto parts store and get the right one (sorry I strayed a bit into "watercooled" land). Then I spent some time screwing a bunch of scraps of plywood together to make a cover for the open trailer. I was concerned about "drag" on the long trip and have seen too many of those blue tarps over in the breakdown lane to try that. I threw a hefty selection of tools into a canvas bag, some warm winter clothes, bungees and straps and picked out some CDs I hadn't listened to for a while. I filled up the tank and smeared some grease on the hitch ball.

I left at 7:00am Sunday morning. It was a cold morning, but traffic the whole way down was very light. Even though CT, NY and NJ all have 55mph speed limits, I made it to West Chester, 350 miles, in 5 hours and 45 minutes (you do the math). This including a mandatory MacDonalds breakfast drive through and a tank fill up. From Marlboro, I took 495 south, Mass. Turnpike West, 84 west through Hartford, Waterbury and Danbury to 684 to 287 to 87. Over the Tappan Zee Bridge, down the Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike, across the Penn. Turnpike to rte 202. Lots of tolls. And you know all of the toll roads charge you more if you are towing a trailer. I was aware of this, but in at least 3 toll plazas, the attendant didn't see my tiny trailer and charged me the "car" rate. On the way back over the Tappan Zee, I thrust the $3 "car" rate at the attendant. He leaned out of his booth looking toward the end of my car and said flatly "$7.50.". Oh well.

Sooooo what did I get? Well Bill had brought some of the stuff I asked about out of the sheds and onto the grass. There used to be an old sawmill on his parents property. It was gone, but the storage buildings were (barely) still standing. Bill had taken the time to sort and organize the smaller stuff into boxes which made it much easier for me. But we still went into another shed that he hadn't been into in some time and found some more stuff. Here's what I got:

I think that is all.

So what didn't I buy? Well, I actually had a complete split case tranny with axles and brakes in the "the pile" to go on the trailer, but at the last minute I swapped it for the pair of doors. Bill only wanted $60 for the whole thing, but the face of the tranny bellhousing was pretty badly corroded. He did have some nice empty cases though. Off the top of my head, here's the "memorables":

He has lots of nice "old" stuff. It was nice to go "shop" and not have to sift through piles of '72 fenders and IRS rear suspensions to find the good stuff. It is mostly in fair to good shape, I would say. It has been outdoors for many years, but almost all under cover.

For me, I was surprised that that drive down and back really wasn't that bad. I got there, had a nice lunch at the West Chester Diner and then spent a couple hours at Bill's place. I got home at almost exactly 10:00pm. And to gloat on my Cabrio a bit, I feel like I could drive this car across the country. It rides soooo nice with the GTI springs and Boge Turbo struts. It has 171,817 miles on it right now, I was pulling a 400 or so lb. trailer up hills at 70 in some spots last night. No buzzing, rattling or vibration. Just cruising right along. Somehow, on the way back I missed the turnoff for 684 after the Tappan Zee bridge and ended up taking 95 North through New Haven, then 91 North to Hartford, then on to 84. Looking at the time and mileage though, it was about the same as the other way.

So I got my apron, and some other cool stuff. I'll admit I bought most of it "just to have it". I'm not in any big hurry to sell anything (means I'm not giving anything away) but if you really need something I listed, drop me an e-mail.