A long time ago, Bob Hoover (no, not that one) needed a way to get home after delivering a car, and negotiations happened, and he bought a VW Microbus (sight unseen) with the idea of fixing it up and driving it home.

Things went badly downhill from there*.

But he ended up driving it home**.

What feels like a long time ago, we bought a T4 kombi in Slovenia, abused it hauling bricks and tiles and planks and stuff from Varaždin and other places, drove it to Prague and back and then to Budapest and back (7l/100km all the way!) and parked it for a few months at the end of that holiday. Said few months turned into two years and quite a bit of change. Armed with temporary plates and jumper leads, we went to get it… and it started up immediately, no jumpers needed.

Things went badly downhill from there.

You see, Bob’s Grendel had a badly seized back brake drum after being parked in a field for a number of years. He had a hella time getting that sorted out.

Our Grendel had developed a bad case of completely rusted and seized back brake disks while being parked in a dry barn for a couple years. I have no idea why. What I do know is it took a rather long pipe and some delicate (hah! Surely I jest) hammer-and-chisel just to get the wheelnuts off, and a lot more hammer work to remove the calipers.

And the driver’s side (this is Europe), up against the wall where a dog couldn’t piss on it even, was worse. So that wasn’t it. Also the resident dog is female. And the barn was locked.

So I got onto the interwebs and found a “local” website, being — .si is Slovenia, right? Nope, they’re in Germany and the parts get dispatched from Poland. My order placed on the fifth eventually landed on the twelfth. The internet is a lie.

Anyway, parts arrived — calipers, disks and pads — for a total of  149.81 Euro (buying new calipers was easier than buying a caliper windback tool or doing it with a G-clamp and a vice grip, both of which I would have had to buy in any case).

Fitted those, much swearing and abuse of tools specifically bought to solve the problem at hand (six point sockets and a breaker bar) and I had the new brakes fitted, and the kombi was on the road.

Unlike Bob’s tale, our story takes a downhill turn from here. We drove back to Ljutomer and left the kombi with Boštjan Kralj at the local (Renault) service station. Problem is by now we had less than a week left in the country, and in addition to re-doing the front brakes and replacing the exhaust pipe, they also reckoned that we would need to replace all the metal brake pipe lines under the chassis. All stuff that I can do, easily, but by now I had learned that parts take a week to 10 days to arrive, this was Monday, and our tickets were for Friday.

Combine that with also needing a place to park the kombi*** until Pieter returns next year (assuming no further Covid crazy) and it made sense to sell the kombi to one of the dudes at the garage. He got a damn good deal out of it, but there’s going to be a lot of soaking stuff in WD-40 and maybe even applying the blue-tip wrench here and there.

It was good while it lasted. Farewell, PartyBus.

* Go here, fast forward to page 212, spend a few days reading. Or read all of it. Bob wrote well.

** And the fsck up to Alaska the next year. It’s all in the Sermons. Go. Read.

***There happens to be one garage for sale in Ljutomer. They want 6000 Euro. That’s about 2000 Euro more than it’s worth, i.e. not a good investment.