We've been doing a lot of work on the bus, so here's an update of what we've found. It's pretty clear that the guy we bought it from didn't do any work on it other than to keep it running. The more we dig, the more work we find. So it's pretty much a normal VW bus.
Step one was to replace all the fuel lines with Gates Barricade fuel line from O'Reilly auto, because it is resistant to the ethanol in modern fuels. I'm not sure on the specifics, but faulty (old, cracked) fuel lines are notorious for causing these buses to go up in flames (in Kyle's words, when the lines crack, "they spray fuel over the engine, which has a multitude of sparky things"). In doing that, Kyle found some OEM fuel lines on the bus, and some aftermarket fuel lines that cracked when he pulled them off. Comforting.
Kyle sent out the fuel injectors to be tested, cleaned and rebuilt, and he cleaned the seat belts.
We washed and waxed her, and therefore got to know all the little nicks and dings in the paint.
The sliding door was sticking, so we unstuck it. It is still hanging up a little bit but it's functional, and I'm sure more use will make it easier.
Kyle replaced the heat exchangers and added an exhaust pipe. It's now functional, although there might still be a couple leaks in the exhaust system. This was a pretty big project that deserves more than the two sentences I'm giving it, but I wasn't really involved in this and also we don't have photos.
We took it on the first real drive - from my parents house to the apartment. About a mile down the road it died, but we (Kyle) quickly diagnosed a loose wire on the fuel pump. Later on that drive, the passenger mirror fell off. We were able to retrieve the fixture but the glass was, of course, shattered. It had been loose and my dad tightened it up, but the threads were stripped so it had loosened again.
There was a braking issue. Most obnoxiously, an extremely loud squeal. But more concerning, when braking hard, one of the tires would lock up and the bus would pull hard to the left. So one Saturday we pulled the tires off and poked around. We bought replacement pads, but the pads were still good. The driver's side was missing a pin - you can see where there should be a second pin in the photo below - so we fashioned a new one and replaced that - it was all we could see that was wrong with the system. However, the problem persisted. Some excellent help from the samba leads us to believe we have a collapsed brake line, so we'll be replacing the front brake lines soon.
We discovered an issue with the headlights the first time we drove her a little after dusk - they seemed to point straight up. So I started investigating the headlights, and we found that they were both installed upside down. The bracket for the license plate is also installed upside down. These are the most minor of annoyances caused by an ignorant painter. The really scary one is below.
Kyle worked on the wiring. He found a ground that wasn't attached, and after he fixed that we were practically street legal (up to that point, the right turn signal didn't work). The left signal still flashes at 2x speed, but is working in both the front and the rear so that still needs some work.
Does anyone have a spare tire they want to sell us?
Lastly, Kyle discovered that the windshield was not properly installed after the bus was painted. It was basically just sitting in front of the bus, not really attached to anything. This was truly horrifying because we had hauled the bus from Milwaukee and drove it at least 40 additional miles by this point. I guess the worst case scenario is that it would have fallen out while driving, but since there is a huge crack in the windshield it already needs to be replaced. Kyle has written up a great tutorial on how to install these windshields, because it's known for being difficult but the method he researched made it pretty easy. I think he will post that in a couple days (as time allows). I don't really have a good photo of the cracks, but you can see it a little here.