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The Lazarus Project: Raising Nelly from the Dead

By February 25, 2015January 25th, 2019restoration, the bus

Coming in a close second to redoing the entire suspension, raising Nelly from the dead and getting her running and driving again was a huge task.

For the 1.0 version of The ShutterBus we’ll be running the stock drivetrain, but version 2.0 is coming soon when we’ll be fully converting the powerplant and transmission to a dependable, powerful Subaru setup through The ShutterBus’s sister business, The Modern Bay Co.¬†we’re excited about that(!!) but for now…here’s the story on getting Nelly driving down the road again.

As it is, the engine was in sorry shape. It didn’t run; it didn’t even try to run. The one thing it had going for it was that the engine bay hadn’t been hacked up or messed with to any real extent, like so many buses have. That made things a bit easier on us to start with, but that’s not to say it was easy. We had a long way to go from sitting-for-a-decade-since-it-actually-ran-regularly to get-in-turn-the-key-and-drive mode.

I’m happy to talk more details if you want to get in touch, however here’s the brief version of what was done to get Nelly’s heart up and running again. As I mentioned previously, I’m an ASE certified mechanic so the work done was quality, done right, with nothing short-cutted or hacked.

  • Fuel. Fuel fuel fuel. All of it that was left in the entire fuel injection system had long ago turned to rock-hard crystallized gel-like substance, if that makes any sense. Take a look at the cut-open fuel filter for an example. This meant we had to redo…WAY more than we had anticipated to get the bus up and running. I dropped the engine and pulled the tank, replacing it with a pristine one. I replaced all fuel hoses, the fuel pump and filter, and sent off all the fuel injectors to Cruzin Performance in California to have them totally rebuilt as-new. I also replaced the TSII, the Double Relay, and calibrated the AFM.
  • Full tune up. Spark plugs, wires, distributor cap, points, condenser, set timing to spec…oh, and I removed a copious amount of rat-nest stuffed into every crevice in the tinwork around the heads. So much fun there (hah). I also replaced all vacuum hoses, the battery, and removed the useless heat equipment from the engine bay (fan, hoses, etc).
  • Valve adjustment. It has hydraulic lifters, but they still need to be adjusted, albeit much less than solid-lifters. Once they pumped up they seemed to work OK and quiet down a great deal.
  • Replaced the transmission fluid properly with GL4, adjusted the shifter, replaced the clutch cable, adjusted the clutch.
  • There are about 783 miscellaneous things in between these items, but suffice it to say, that’s the gist!

Thankfully, after much too much time working on all the above, Nelly fired right up and we made the maiden voyage!! We’ve had a bit of tweaking and tuning in the meantime, but as my friend Jef would say, she’s ‘dialed’.

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