some clouds have a stainless steel silver lining

Having got the first layer of 5mm plywood to fit the cargo floor area, the second layer should be a little easier to do now that I have a working template to base things off. This second layer however goes in a 90º to the first base layer to help make a more stable final floor finish as well as covering any joints and provide a neater final finish – well that’s the plan at least!

trial fitting of the top layer of Oak faced 5mm WBP ply layer at 90º to the base layer

trial fitting of the top layer of Oak faced 5mm WBP ply layer at 90º to the base layer

With Lornas brilliant assistance, and her two trusty knitting machine tables for support, we managed to get the second set of Oak finished plywood sheets cut to size before transferring the template details over to them. Not wanting to take any chances, I still double checked all measurements just to be sure before making any final cuts – better safe than sorry! Once the cut outs had been made, the sheets could then roughly be positioned in the bus. Although the colour match between the two boards was terrible, the fit was pretty good for a first attempt!

We didn’t get too much time to stand around and admire our work as the weather once again beat us and it began to rain! So we quickly scrambled to get the tools packed away and decided to call it a day and head back home. Unfortunately as I headed out of the car park, my left foot went to the floor and I couldn’t change gear. Doh, snapped clutch cable!

Fortunately the bus was not that far from the Resto Classics garage, so I called the AA (no I don’t have a drink problem, it’s the UK Automobile Association!) recovery service and arranged to get my bus recovered there. Not quite the perfect end to the day, but at least it was nothing too major!

>>Fast forward a couple of days… the new clutch cable (plus a spare that I ordered at the same time… #BePrepared 😉 arrived at Resto Classics and they got me booked in to get it replaced. Whilst the bus was there, I used the opportunity to bring forward a couple of other jobs I had been meaning to do at some point!

To help add the finishing touch to the floor, plus to hide the edge of the plywood sheets, I had previously bought an Auto Craft Engineerings stainless steel Cargo floor edging strip (Part Nº: 211-801-413). However I didn’t realise the stainless steel edging strip for the cargo floor comes in a slightly oversized length that needs both cutting down to size and profile to fit around the cargo door shuts on the split screen bus.

From previous experience of cutting stainless steel with a hacksaw is a painfully slow process :(  and normally involves going through a couple of blades! Fortunately for me, whilst the bus was at Resto Classics, the guys let me borrow their angle grinder with a thin cutting disc on it…

Auto Craft Engineerings stainless steel Cargo floor edging strip (Part Nº: 211-801-413)

Auto Craft Engineerings stainless steel Cargo floor edging strip (Part Nº: 211-801-413)

Having access to the grinder with the cutting disc was brilliant! So once again, with some more careful measuring, double checking, and then double checking the double checking, I managed to get the strip cut to size and with the right end profiling on the stainless steel edging ends to fit around both of the cargo door posts. Happy days! Some clouds really do have a stainless steel silver lining after all then! If it hadn’t been for the broken clutch cable, this job would have been a real pain without the help of the guys at Resto Classics!

notched ends to make the stainless steel cargo floor edging strip fit snuggly in place

notched ends to make the stainless steel cargo floor edging strip fit snuggly in place

Really nice little bit of shiny ‘bling’ to neatly finish off the plywood floor edging! Now we’ve just got to decide what we go for as a floor finish… Danish Wood oil plus wax finish, or get it covered with the more practical option of some lino? #FirstWorldProblems

crisp, clear and cold – a beautiful day for a run out to Rye Harbour

crisp, clear and cold – a beautiful day for a run out to Rye Harbour

Meanwhile it’s great to be back on the road again!

time to get a bit practical and get a floor put in for a new interior

Although it was love at first sight when I first saw my bus, my wife Lorna was a little more sceptical about buying a bus that had no actual usable interior in the back! Where I was seduced by its amazing patina ‘character’ and originality, she was thinking more practicality about actually being able to use the bus for trips, camping, sleeping and cooking in. Clearly I had spoiled her with our last camper with its fully functional Canterbury Pitt interior! 😉

great opportunity to test out our awning

great opportunity to test out our awning

However, I had promised here that we would be able to get, or at least make, a usable interior in the back. So in preparation for getting an interior sorted, first thing first it was time to get a base floor put in the rear cargo area.

One of my friends had a couple of 8’x4′ (2400mm x 1200mm) 5mm thick sheets of nice Oak faced plywood going spare, great for a top layer finish. I just then needed another couple of sheets of 5mm base hardwood ply to make a two layer ‘floated’ floor with an overall thickness of 10mm. I know it seems a bit excessive, but the cargo floor area is just a bit bigger than you can cover with a single 8’x4′ sheet without lots of cuts and a few unsightly gaps!

cardboard makes a useful template for working out the cuts required around the heater pipe

cardboard makes a useful template for working out the cuts required around the heater pipe

To get the ply to fit around the complications of the rear wheel arches and heater tube, I made up a cardboard template. This allowed me to easily trim and adjust the template to get the best fit before transferring the dimensions to the actual plywood! Much easier to cut cardboard with a knife and scissors without worrying too much about making a mistake!

measure twice, check twice and cut once – measurements and cardboard template guide become real

measure twice, check twice and cut once – measurements and cardboard template guide become real

Once the template dimensions had been transferred over to the plywood sheet, and checked a couple of times, time to get busy with the saw! Always best to measure twice and cut once! Working outside in Lornas studios car park is not idea, but at least it gave us room to work, and who would have thought that knitting machine tables would make decent work trestles to support the ply!

the base layer of 5mm WBP plywood is trial fitted for checking and any tweaking required

the base layer of 5mm WBP plywood is trial fitted for checking and any tweaking required

The plywood sheets were first cut down to their overall length before the cut out sections were removed. It was then a case of trial fitting the cut sheets into the bus cargo area to check the fit. Fortunately the fit was pretty good first off, so my time invested in getting the cardboard template right and double checking all the measurements was time well spent!

cool night time illumination of the Art Deco Architectural marvel that is Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea

cool night-time illumination of the Art Deco Architectural marvel that is Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea

Unfortunately as it’s winter time, the lack of daylight hours got the better of us for the day, but it felt good that we had made a start and got the first 5mm base layer of the plywood floor down and fitted in place! :) Once we had got all the kit packed away, we managed to grab a shot of the illuminated Art Deco Architectural masterpiece that is Marine Court on the way home – so all in all a pretty good day!

get ready, this is not a test, this is real

After all the hard work of getting the new rubbers fitted, there is only one real way of finding out if all the effort was worth it or not? Fortunately this is England… and it’s winter, so it didn’t really take that long before the new rubbers were put to a real world test…

new cab door rubbers fitted and no more leaks inside

new cab door rubbers fitted and no more leaks inside

Happy to say it was worth the effort, the new rubbers from Custom and Commercial were both a great fit and did a great job in terms of helping to weather proof the bus! Always nice to get to the bus in the morning and not find any small pools of water inside!

new tailgate rubbers fitted and no more leaks

new tailgate rubbers fitted and no more leaks

I was amazed at the size of the new rubbers in comparison to the old shrunk and perished rubbers that were removed. It’s not just that the old rubbers were cracked etc. but physically I guess, they had lost the ‘oil’ content in the old dry rubber itself, thus becoming smaller in actual size, and hence a much smaller physical barrier to keep out the rain.

new front window rubbers fitted and working well

new front window rubbers fitted and working well

The new rubbers passed their first test with flying colours :) Another forgotten about benefit that I hadn’t really thought about was even more reduced noise content. I noticed that the air gaps and seals on doors was also much better and it was quieter still when driving. Fewer audible little rattles, no more whistling sounds coming in from the windows in the cab doors – am I still driving a vintage Volkswagen split screen anymore, or is this really just ‘living the dream’?

new window rubbers fitted and doing the job nicely

new window rubbers fitted and doing the job nicely

Great to take the bus out for a bit of a spin as the daylight begins to fade and the rain eases up, always some pretty funky and beautiful cloudscapes living by the sea! Nice to know the bus is pretty much water tight now and such a difference driving along now that the overhead vent also properly seals – no more rain in my lap! Happy days ahead! :)

some pretty funky clouds by the sea today

some pretty funky clouds by the sea today

No let up though, still lots to do, onto sorting out some kind of floor for the back of the bus next…

fixing unseen problems, prevention is always better than cure

So the good news was that most of the side window and tailgate window frames were OK underneath the old perished rubber seals. With just the one that needed looking at, but Phil at Resto Classics soon had that sorted and the glass with new rubber back in place again! Meanwhile I cleaned out the other window frames, the glass edges and got the new rubbers on the remaining removed glass. Like watching any professional in action, Phil made the process of getting the glass with new rubbers back in place again look easy, but that I guess is experience at its best! With the fixed side windows now sorted it was time to look at the front windscreens…

prevention is better than cure, time to bare metal the lower edges of the front window openings

prevention is better than cure, time to bare metal the lower edges of the front window openings

Phil had rightly suspected that there was the start of some rust issues going on under the front screen rubbers on the lower front window frames, and unfortunately he was right! However fortunately it was just the early stages, so nothing too major, but prevention is better than cure, so Phil set about making things good as new again.

bare metalled lower edges of the front window openings getting some Granville Heavy Duty Rust Converter applied

bare metalled lower edges of the front window openings getting some Granville Heavy Duty Rust Converter applied

There were signs that the lower edges had been previously treated for rust prevention, so obviously this must have helped prolong their great condition. To continue this, both the lower sections of the front window frame surrounds were initially carefully cleaned up by being taken back to bare metal…

time to apply some Granville Rust Cure - Heavy Duty Rust Converter

time to apply some Granville Rust Cure – Heavy Duty Rust Converter

…before getting treated with some Granville Rust Cure – Heavy Duty Rust Converter – this should then provide great long-term protection moving forward! It kills old rust and stops new rust forming, nothing like having a bit of future peace of mind!

some rust preventative paint applied prior to fitting new rubbers

some rust preventative paint applied prior to fitting new rubbers

Once the heavy-duty rust converter had dried, it was a case of applying some protective top coat over the rust converter before fitting up the glass with their new rubbers and getting the screens back in place – happy days!

Big thanks to Phil and the guys at Resto Classics, they did a great job and even helped me learn a few new things in the process! For once I can now look forward to taking the bus out in the rain!

old rubbers out, windows out, time to see what lurks beneath…

One of the worries I had when contemplating getting new window rubbers fitted, was what unexpected surprises might be hiding underneath the old perished rubbers? That plus the quintessentially rainy English winter weather! I really did not fancy getting stuck outside with the glass out and the rain pouring in! So it really was a no brainer of a decision to get some professional help from the guys at Resto Classics at this stage! Plus being an extra pair of hands with the work, I might even learn something in the process!

glass out and check to see the condition of the inner window frames

glass out and check to see the condition of the inner window frames

Starting at the back with the tailgate, good news, apart from general dirt and dust that had accumulated over time, the window came out fine and the inside of the frame was in pretty good condition. There were some small spots of surface rust that could easily be treated with some Granville Rust Cure – Heavy Duty Rust Converter – a new product to me that I learnt about from my helping out – see, every days a school day!

so that will be where the leak is from

so that will be where the leak is from

Most of the other fixed side windows came out OK with no hidden nasties lurking underneath which was great. Unfortunately, there was one frame which had a not so good area hidden under the old perished rubber. This would help explain where the main leak had been coming from. Times like this I was very glad I had come to Resto Classics to get the work done! Phil had anticipated this might be the case with some of the window frames. Fortunately it had been caught early enough without having too much damage being done! Whilst I got on with some more menial tasks, Phil set about making the inner window frame good again…

time to bare metal the rust effected area

time to bare metal the rust effected area

Time to break out a mini grinder and get the effected area bare metal treated with some Granville Rust Cure – Heavy Duty Rust Converter. Granville Rust Converter is the rust converter used by the oil and marine industries, the MoD and NATO. It is used to stop corrosion in environments far more severe than my bus will ever see… and by all accounts, it really works! It goes on pale blue but drys to a tough gloss black finish that can then be top coated with most paints. It kills old rust and stops new rust forming. It’s also environmentally and ecologically safe, acid and lead free plus it’s non-flammable. Think I need to have a can of this for future use!

time to apply some Granville Rust Cure - Heavy Duty Rust Converter

time to apply some Granville Rust Cure – Heavy Duty Rust Converter

Painting on the Granville rust converter was something I could do whilst Phil moved on to the next task in hand. Looks like this job might take a little longer than anticipated, but better to get it done right first time than rush it!

a watery elephant in the bus – small things done are better than great things planned

Although I had bought a full set of door and window rubbers to make the bus water tight, there was still a watery elephant in the bus. This was the big hole in the overhead vent box where I had started refurbishing the vintage ‘air con’ system, but not got around to finishing  it off. Having started the refurbishment of my overhead vent (that leaks when it rains!), it makes sense to get that job finished off first. Nothing gives better motivation than getting a wet leg when driving in the rain! :(

new rubbers fitted to the four inside edges of the vent cover plate

new rubbers fitted to the four inside edges of the vent cover plate

The recently bare metalled and re-painted vent cover plate could now be fitted with new rubber seals on the four inside edges. These were glued in place with contact adhesive prior to it being screwed back into place. However, first I needed to fix the initial cause of the rain leak, a missing inner foam seal.

German quality air box inner foam seal glued in place

German quality air box inner foam seal glued in place

One of the main reasons I suspect the overhead vent leaked in the first place was that it was missing this inner foam seal. Replacement parts were possibly harder to get back in the day, and the temporary mastic seal used as a replacement had gone well past the stage of preventing rain getting in! As part of the refurbishment kit I had bought from Custom and Commercial, I made sure to buy a German quality replacement inner foam seal to fit (with some more contact adhesive) in place. The foam seal fits behind the inner vent flap, so that the vent can close up tight against it, creating a weather tight seal when in the closed position.

the new vent flap rubber and new foam seal make a good air/water tight seal

the new vent flap rubber and new foam seal make a good air/water tight seal

With the refurbished, painted inner vent flap with its new rubber seal securely pop riveted in place and the new foam seal fitted, the overhead vent box should now be pretty air and water tight now – no more wet knees from dripping rain water as I drive along! :)

with the vent cover back in place you would not know the work that has been done!

with the vent cover back in place you would not know the work that has been done!

With the original paint vent cover secured back in place, you would never really know the various bits of work that have gone on behind it. However my OCD self will know and that’s what really counts! That plus a happy wife and a dry knee when driving in the rain!

Note to self: Small things done are better than great things planned! :)

there are times when original is not always best…

So 2016 has started off being rather wet thus far, hardly the motivation kick up the backside I sometimes need to get out and get stuff done on the bus! However, some jobs are a bit of a must, even in this weather! Big plans to try to crack on and get an interior sorted for this years Ninove event in Belgium on 13th March, so lots needs to get sorted if this is to happen, first thing being making the bus water tight!

original is not always best – these cab door rubbers are a long way past their use by date

original is not always best – these cab door rubbers are a long way past their use by date

A lot of the original rubbers used on the bus windows, doors, lights etc. are pretty shot now  through a combination of age and exposure to Californian sunshine! Most have dried out, cracked and shrunk over the years!

missing vertical divider bar and rubber on the cab door

missing vertical divider bar and rubber on the cab door

The driver’s side cab door had its vertical divider bar and rubber missing, so it was not hard to see where rain might just find a way inside!

the waterproofing seal of this window rubber has long since past!

the waterproofing seal of this window rubber has long since past!

At best, some rubbers appeared to be more just keeping the glass in place, although surprisingly most still retained a degree of water tightness!

some of the old rubbers have gone way past their best by date and will need replacing…

some of the old rubbers have gone way past their best by date and will need replacing…

Although with this weather and not having a nice large dry garage to work in, it was not a job I really want to attempt outside, just in case I run into any unforeseen issues, so looks like I need to make myself best friends with the guys at Resto Classics to see if I can get the work booked in at their nice dry workshop!

a year in the life of my vintage VW camper journey…

First up, a very Happy New Year to you all! 2016 is upon us and I for one am looking forward to it being a great one! 2015 has been quite an eventful year for me to say the least, so I thought I’d try to create a photographic summary of it, one photo for each month of 2015 charting the various up and downs of the year!

One of the great things about vintage Volkswagen ownership, is they can sometimes go beyond being just a machine, a mere form of transportation. They have a weird and inexplicable ability to create an emotional bond with their owners. This bond is often strong and long-lasting, creating lasting memories and stories for their owners. So invariably whenever I park up or stop, I’m approached by someone who wants to share their experience or story from their ownership or love of a classic VW camper or Beetle. The company name ‘Volkswagen’ translates as ‘People’s Automobile’ which is really apt, as it really is all about different people’s stories about their cars and their memory making experiences with them.

So here is a summary of my memory making experiences from 2015…

January – OK, the excitement of going to Ninove, Belgium has kicked in and helped me focus on getting various bits an pieces finished off. Really happy that I got my classic new mini style stainless steel spot lights fitted, with the hand tinted amber yellow lenses. A bit of an ‘image thing’ to do, but I really loved the look and an extra bit of light on the road is always going to be a good thing!

55w amber spot/driving lights looking bright at night

55w amber spot/driving lights looking bright at night

February – exciting times as I finally managed to source a decent set of original VW wide five 15″ steel wheels! They were a bit rusty, but importantly they were straight and the fixing holes were not elongated or distorted. So I had these blasted back to bare metal and then painted the factory correct L82 Silver White, quite a transformation from their original state! These would really look the business with some cool retro looking white band tyres on them…

the 15" steel rims back from the painters looking sharp in L82 Silver White

the 15″ steel rims back from the painters looking sharp in L82 Silver White

March – using the upcoming trip to Ninove as a motivational deadline, I had managed to get a whole bunch of jobs finished off. The most important of these was the refurbishment of the original Canterbury Pitt table! For my wife Lorna and I, this was the crowning glory of the camper interior. To finally have a beautiful Oak finished table to sit around and use for eating or have a tea etc. made it really feel like our mini home when out an about :)

Canterbury Pitt table top with a touch of retro inspired Americana added

Canterbury Pitt table top with a touch of retro inspired Americana added

April – OK, so this is the worst photo I have ever taken! My much looked forward to european road trip following on from the fun of the Ninove Freddy Files event, comes to a dramatic end when my beautiful vintage Canterbury Pitt camper gets destroyed in a terrible engine fire incident at a petrol station in the south of France. Words cannot express how utterly devastated I was! :(

the worst photo I have ever taken

the worst photo I have ever taken

May – the bus is dead… long live the bus! A weird numb time of dealing with insurance details, digging through receipts and looking at an array of potential different VW buses from all over the world. It was really hard to come to terms with losing my bus in the fire, but it was surprisingly hard to find a possible replacement that ticked various boxes for me and fitted within my fixed budget. I knew it could never be a like for like replacement, but eventually after much looking and searching online, I think I finally found the right replacement bus for me…

say hello to my ‘new’ 1964 VW original paint bus!

say hello to my ‘new’ 1964 VW original paint bus!

June – it’s all about the originality! The faded paint, factory fit panels, rust free underneath, un-messed with, blank canvas, unwelded and unprepared, yeah, this was the new replacement bus for me! Strangely, after hunting high and low in Europe and America, this beauty turned out to be living an hour and a half up the road from me having been recently imported in from California! It was all there expect any kind of interior in the back, that bit was the hard bit to convince my wife Lorna about! I convinced her about the faded vintage exterior because of how solid and original it was, but I promised her we could get a nice sorted interior sorted for it at some point…

beauty is in the eye of the beholder – original VW factory panel gaps

beauty is in the eye of the beholder – original VW factory panel gaps

July – in the interests of both safety, and to satisfy my OCD nature, it was a case of getting the bus back home and getting the guys at Resto Classics to give it a thorough going through to make sure mechanically it was all sorted. They really loved it, one of the most original and ‘clean’ buses they had in to work on!

refurbished ‘patina’ style speedo

refurbished ‘patina’ style speedo

August – with the bus mechanically checked over and running nicely, it was now over to me and the blank canvas interior. I had convinced Lorna that a lot of this stage, we could do ourselves, it could even be a bonding experience! So with out blank canvas interior in the back, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity by getting it all acoustically and thermally insulated, once I had cleaned up the inside panels first!

with a scraper and plenty of elbow grease, the old adhesive gradually gets removed…

with a scraper and plenty of elbow grease, the old adhesive gradually gets removed…

September – so whilst the exterior remained largely untouched, slowly the interior transformation began! Turning the reverberating vintage tin can on wheels into a sound deadened interior so you could hear yourself speak when driving along!

sound insulation fitted over the rear engine bulkhead area, very Star Wars Darth Vader esq.

sound insulation fitted over the rear engine bulkhead area, very Star Wars Darth Vader esq.

October – one bitten, twice shy! Having lost my camper to fire a few months earlier, there was no way I ever wanted to go through that experience again! Having done my research, I contacted Peter at VW Aircooled Works to get a full fire suppression kit fitted to my bus along with fuel cut off solenoid and intelligent split charge relay system fitted. I also had the hard lines changed to Kunifer pipe and all flexible rubbers to 100% Bio-fuel hose at the same time. Always better to be safe than sorry!

VW Aircooled Works clean gas automatic engine bay fire suppression system

VW Aircooled Works clean gas automatic engine bay fire suppression system

November – although it was still pretty mild, winter was coming, so it was time to press on with rear interior updates in the form of adding some thermal insulation to the bus. I had managed to get some funky spaced aged Triso Super 10 plus insulation which should really help transform the bus in both winter and summer!

sorted – the roof is now fully insulated with the Triso Super 10 plus insulation

sorted – the roof is now fully insulated with the Triso Super 10 plus insulation

December – although I didn’t managed to get away for any longer road trip adventures during the year, we still did get out and about locally whilst working on the bus – night time street life in St Leonards-on-Sea outside the stunning Art Deco Architectural masterpiece that is Marine Court…

outside the famous Art Deco Architecture of Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea

outside the famous Art Deco Architecture of Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea

So like a Phoenix from the ashes, one chapter sadly closed :( but a new chapter has now begun! We made a lot of progress on getting the bus to where we wanted, but it’s not quite there yet. Hopefully some big changes are going to me made in the next couple of weeks and then really looking forward to seeing what 2016 holds in store…

meeting the relatives… a nice RHD Porsche 911

meeting the relatives… a nice RHD Porsche 911

Thanks for the support and for reading my ramblings! Wherever your journey takes you, enjoy the ride in 2016!

Wishing everyone a Wunderbar Christmas and New Year!

I just wanted to wish all the readers of my ongoing VW inspired adventures a really Wunderbar Christmas and a fantastic New Year! Whatever you’re doing, have fun and I’ll catch up with you all soon…

Wishing everyone a Wunderbar Christmas and New Year!

Wishing everyone a Wunderbar Christmas and New Year!