some original VW wide five steel rims is where it’s at…

It’s funny how times and fashion, even within a niche car ‘scene’ like that associated with vintage VW’s, can change. A few years ago people were all about getting aftermarket alloy wheels for their pride and joy. BRM, EMPI, Sprintstar, Radar etc. were the wide 5 options, and the humble original VW 14″ or 15″ wide five steels were cast aside.

a set of five straight and true original VW 15" steel bus wheels

a set of five straight and true original VW 15″ steel bus wheels

I remember having lots of them myself and no one was really interested in them! Now oh how times have changed! There has been a big resurgence in the benefits and appeal of ‘stock’ VW buses, and now finding decent original 15″ steel wheels has become increasingly difficult!

a set of five original VW 15" steel bus wheels ready for a bit of a clean up

a set of five original VW 15″ steel bus wheels ready for a bit of a clean up

I had been on the look out for a set of five wide five 15″ steels for a while now as a change for my existing nice set of 5 original wide five 14″ steel wheels. Although there are various layers of paint intermingled with rust, the main thing was that the wheel rims were straight and true, and the bolt holes were still circular and not distorted or elliptical in shape. Hopefully they should clean up nicely…

all revved up by the excellent Buttys Bits throttle kit

One of the many great things about the after market parts world of the vintage VW is that there is a fairly extensive network of suppliers of both new and second-hand parts. Because of the size and vibrancy of the vintage Volkswagen market, some of these suppliers are now large organisations, but there are also some smaller innovative independent set-ups that produce great new products. One such supplier is Buttys Bits run by our very own local all round nice guy, Simon Butland!

Buttys Bits excellent throttle upgrade kit

Buttys Bits excellent throttle upgrade kit

Simon produces the excellent Buttys Bits Throttle Kit kit as an upgrade for any old worn out original equipment, or like me, if you just want a much smoother, responsive and more direct feeling throttle cable action. First stage was to simply disconnect and unbolt the original throttle assembly…

original VW accelerator linkage removed…

original VW accelerator linkage removed…

Once removed, it was good to see that my support mount was intact in very good condition, so this should make fitting the new Buttys Bit kit much easier!

Buttys Bits throttle kit fitted and bolted in place…

Buttys Bits throttle kit fitted and bolted in place…

Once the parts were connected and fitted, it was time to bolt everything into place. The kit gives a much smoother pedal action, in part due to the new return spring on the throttle pedal itself, but also because of the integral bearings in the kit. It really is a nicely thought out and engineered kit! The kit also comes with a new floor rubber and a stainless cable tie to hold the return spring in place.

Buttys Bits throttle kit connected and fitted…

Buttys Bits throttle kit connected and fitted…

With the Buttys Bits throttle kit fitted, it was time to get another little ‘upgrade’ fitted that I had been meaning to do for a while. The ‘upgrade’ was to my existing chrome rear view ‘Elephant Ear’ mirrors. One of my ‘Elephant ear’ style wing mirrors had a loose connection on the mirror head, which when at motorway cruising speeds, causes the mirror to vibrate and make it hard to see clearly in it.

new VWOA style (Volkswagen of America) stainless steel ‘Elephant Ear’ mirrors

new VWOA style (Volkswagen of America) stainless steel ‘Elephant Ear’ mirrors

It’s a pretty poor design because unfortunately they can’t be tightened up or be fixed. So this time as a replacement, I’ve upgraded to the Custom and Commercial new replica  VWOA style (Volkswagen of America) stainless steel ‘Elephant Ear’ mirrors a much nicer solution!

It also gives an excuse to play this great song, first up, the original Johnny Nash version…

although I do love the original, how about this as a cover by Hothouse Flowers – I love this version to!

 

the bright lights are all switched on

To get the newly transformed amber spot/driving lights correctly installed and the rest of the switches tidied up into a new centralised switch panel, I booked the guys from Car Audio Solutions to pop around to complete the install. These guys are brilliant! They do a fantastic job, all very neatly finished off and checked to ensure everything’s 100% – highly recommended for any auto electrical work!

the three new toggle switches all fitted in place

the three new toggle switches all fitted in place

The new amber spots were wired up and fitted with a suitable relay before getting wired up to the new retro style toggle switches, all neatly housed in the NOS three switch panel with its black wrinkle paint finish…

the illuminated spot/driving light in operation

the illuminated spot/driving light in operation

The illuminated toggle switch for the newly fitted driving/spot lights is even colour coordinated with the yellow amber lights when in use!

amber spot/driving lights looking sweet in the sun

amber spot/driving lights looking sweet in the sun

In the day, the newly fitted amber spots look the business in the sun!

the new front light line up

the new front light line up

The amber/clear/amber line up of the camper front light array looking good as the darkness begins to fall…

55w amber spot/driving lights looking bright at night

55w amber spot/driving lights looking bright at night

…when the 55w amber brilliance can be seen to full effect – happy days (and nights)!

an amber light transformation for my VW camper

OK, I’m aware this is probably to appease the ‘boy racer’ in me, but the 55w BMW ‘New Mini’ style stainless steel bodied driving lights look pretty cool (IMHO) and should not look too out-of-place on my vintage VW camper. Before getting them fitted, I wanted to give them a bit of a retro/Euro look by having the glass lens tinted yellow/amber.

the Wipac new mini stainless steel spotlights ready for their transformation…

the Wipac new mini stainless steel spotlights ready for their transformation…

I looked around at various films and overlays you can get to use to tint your headlights, but in the end, I preferred the idea of using a brush on finish as I thought this would be easier to apply. To do this, I bought some Granville Amber Light headlight lacquer to paint on and transform the current clear lenses.

a bottle of Granville Amber Light headlight lacquer should help transform the lights

a bottle of Granville Amber Light headlight lacquer should help transform the lights

So first step was to disassemble the lights to get to the glass and make sure the lens was nice and clean. Next step was to give them a coat of the Granville Amber light. It’s fairly viscous stuff and was easy to apply with the supplied brush fixed in the lid of the bottle. It dries fairly quickly, so it was important to work fairly quickly when applying it. Once dry, I wanted to give it a couple more additional coats to help intensify the colour and give it a thicker protective coating.

stainless steel driving lights amber lens transformation

stainless steel driving lights amber lens transformation

Once finished, bingo, stainless steel driving lights amber lens transformation! Now all I need to do is get them fitted and wired up!

adding a nice little touch of NOS retro style to my VW Camper

With wanting to tidy up the existing under dash electrics and replace some of the existing inappropriate aftermarket switches, plus add a new additional switch, there was the question of how and where these switches would be accommodated? Rather than do the obvious (and destructive) drilling of holes in the dash, I wanted to look for a slightly less intrusive and slightly more period solution.

old skool 1980’s NOS three switch panel with a black wrinkle finish paint

old skool 1980’s NOS three switch panel with a black wrinkle finish paint

In the end I found a rather cool, retro style, NOS (new old stock) three switch panel with a black paint wrinkle finish that would do the trick of housing the switches nicely without having to drill three large holes in the front of the dash! Instead it can be secured underneath via some self tapping screws.

a couple of illuminated toggle switches plus a momentary on/off toggle switch

a couple of illuminated toggle switches plus a momentary on/off toggle switch

In terms of having a more unified and discreet set of switches, I opted to go for a range of simple metal toggle switches. With the two on/off functionality switches to control the 12v heated front windscreens and the BMW new mini driving lights, I decided to get illuminated switches so that I had a visual reminder of whether or not I had left them on or not! For the 12v windscreen washer pump, I went for a non-illuminated momentary on/off toggle switch that automatically flicks back to the off position when released.

Looking forward to getting these all fitted up and working with the new stainless steel BMW mini style driving lights…

putting my skills to work

I thought some of you following things here might be interested in this. I have recently been busy designing a small exclusive range of vintage VW camper merchandise based around some line drawings I created of a classic 1960’s VW split screen camper.

From this I have produced a range of cool looking bumper stickers featuring these distressed looking line drawing of an iconic 1960’s camper that inspired the spirit of adventure and stirred the souls of many generations of travellers ever since.

These quality bumper stickers are available in a range of colours that will outlast heavy rain, intense sunlight, and the most severe of traffic jams. These bumper stickers would look on cool on your bumper or even your window, toolbox, skateboard, cool box or interior etc.

  • size 280mm x 75mm (11″ x 3″)
  • Made from durable vinyl with a strong adhesive back.
  • Printed with water-resistant ink that won’t fade or run.
  • Available in a range of colours to choose from

First up, one for those like me love to be by the sea!

heading for the beach – available in a range of colours

heading for the beach – available in a range of colours

Then a classic quote from Jack Kerouac, an American novelist and poet of French-Canadian heritage. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation.

nothing behind me, everything ahead of me – available in a range of colours

nothing behind me, everything ahead of me – available in a range of colours

and the classic line you’ve heard when ‘a man in the pub said…’

a porsche engine bolts straight in – available in a range of colours

a Porsche engine bolts straight in – available in a range of colours

then one for the traveller and explorer…

heading for the horizon – available in a range of colours

heading for the horizon – available in a range of colours

and another classic quote from Jack Kerouac…

nowhere to go but everywhere – available in a range of colours

nowhere to go but everywhere – available in a range of colours

Anyway, I hope you like them? To order anything, please go to either vdubxs UK Shop or vdubxs International Shop

We promise 100% satisfaction – if you don’t love it we’ll take it back

Follow and support the adventures of our vintage camper by buying this, or some of our other individually designed, retro inspired goodies!

time for an electrical tidy up and a little upgrade at the same time

When I bought my VW Split screen camper with its Canterbury Pitt interior, I was aware that there were a few small things that needed finishing off or resolving, but this is probably true for most vintage VW’s, in that there is always something to do, that’s part of the attraction for some! Some of these bits that needed tidying up were a couple of the previous electrical items that had been fitted. One of the nice little touches/upgrades the previous owner had installed was a 12v heated front windscreens! These are a real bonus during the winter months in terms of keeping the windscreens clear from misting up.

Unfortunately, the pull switch that had been fitted to control it although functional, was less than desired in terms of being secured and properly located!

pull switch control for the heated front windscreens

pull switch control for the heated front windscreens

Another more common upgrade was the fitting of a 12v water pump for the windscreen washer jets anther than the traditional vacuum pump system. Unfortunately the rocker switch used to control it is a pretty ugly and cumbersome unit, and again had not been properly secured/fitted!

oversized rocker switch to control the windscreen washer jets 12v pump

oversized rocker switch to control the windscreen washer jets 12v pump

Tidying up these two switched connections will not only make things neater and safer under the dash, but also make the switches easier to operate when driving around. Whilst sorting out these two switches, I wanted to take the opportunity to add another switch to the equation, but this would be to control a new upgrade to the campers external lighting… a pair of stainless steel BMW ‘New Mini’ spot/driving lights!

a pair of Wipac stainless steel new mini spot lights

a pair of Wipac stainless steel new mini spot lights

However, before getting them fitted, I have a small aesthetic modification I want to do to the lights before getting them fitted, plus I need to decide on the various switches I want to use as replacements, and how they are going to be fitted.

going that extra mile or two – VW Early Bay meets VW Split screen combo

One of my plans for a upgrade in 2015 was to try and increase the capacity of my VW campers original fuel tank. Although nothing is wrong with the original tank itself, the original capacity is fairly small (40 litres/8.8 gallons), so on a long run or road trip, you end up having to make fairly frequent fuel stops at the petrol station to fill up! There are a couple of companies that make modern upgrade tanks that can be used to increase the capacity by an extra 10 litres to 50 litres, but its a fairly modest increase in capacity for the costs involved, and a modern looking shiny aluminium tank would look a bit odd in my fairly stock Canterbury Pitt camper!

original 1955 to 1967 VW split screen fuel tank painted and looking like new!

original 1955 to 1967 VW split screen fuel tank painted and looking like new!

Fortunately there is another option! As is often the way with vintage VW campers, there was a one year only option (August 1971>) VW Early Bay fuel tank that both had a larger capacity (65 litres/14.3 gallons) and would fit into the available space behind the engine without major modifications!

clean space above the engine bay where the fuel tank fits

clean space above the engine bay where the fuel tank fits

The trouble with ‘one year only’ options is by their nature, they are few and far between so pretty difficult to get hold of! But after posting a few wanted adverts on a variety of VW website/forums such as the Split screen van club (SSVC) and the Early Bay forum, I eventually managed to initially identify the right type of tank I was after, and then eventually track one down!

dusty old August 1971 VW Early Bay fuel tank

dusty old August 1971 VW Early Bay fuel tank

The August 1971 VW Early Bay fuel tank itself was a bit grubby externally, with some evidence of ‘surface rust’ underneath (apparently a common issue from the location of the tank and the Early Bay construction). Inside, the tank was in great shape, so hopefully it would just need media blasting on the outside to clean it all up and then get it prepped for painting before getting fitted and connected in my camper.

August 1971 VW Early Bay fuel tank with some evidence of ‘surface rust’ underneath

August 1971 VW Early Bay fuel tank with some evidence of ‘surface rust’ underneath

Apart from extending the original split screen fuel tank holding straps and adding additional pipework to join the tank to the filler neck, there will be a few other extras that will be needed to complete the crossover transformation, such as a new fuel tank to body seal, a new fuel valve kit and filter.

parts list diagram for an August 1971 VW Early Bay fuel tank (top pic)

parts list diagram for an August 1971 VW Early Bay fuel tank (top pic)

I can get these bits ordered whilst the tank gets sent off to get media blasted and cleaned up ready for painting…

starting the New Year as I mean to carry on… out in the VW Camper!

It almost seems a bit too late now to wish everyone a Happy New Year, but nevertheless, wherever your reading this from, I hope you all have a great 2015 with lots to look forward to and enjoy! After a few days of house bound captivity, I really needed to take off for a run in the camper come New Years Day and get some fresh air into my system, so where better to head off to than the Old Lighthouse in Dungeness in Kent!

a bleak New Years day 2015 at the Old Lighthouse at Dungeness

a bleak New Years day 2015 at the Old Lighthouse in Dungeness

I always find the barren landscape, abandoned machinery and simple architecture fascinating and inspiring at the same time, although I do get that for some it might be a bit of a Marmite location! However, I love it and find it a great place to just wander around on the beach and really just clear my head.

abandoned wooded fishing boat

abandoned wooded fishing boat

I should really start a bit of a 2015 ‘to-do list’ as it is looking to be a busy year with a few road trips in the pipeline such as a possible winter Architectural solo tour of France/Spain, then hooking up with my friend Ollie again for a repeat trip to ‘Freddy Files’ event in Ninove in Belgium again. Brighton Breeze will be another event I’ll want to be going to again later on in the year as well!

Then we’ve also got tickets to see Seasick Steve in the UK…

…and I have booked a ferry for a long-awaited road trip holiday to Ireland with my wife to see the Foo Fighters at Slane Castle which I’m really looking forward to, we’ve been meaning to visit Ireland for years, so glad we’ve finally got that booked in!

Then there are various things I need to finish off with the camper like the Canterbury Pitt table renovation! Yes, that is still in progress, but oh so very nearly there now! The longest table renovation in history!

abandoned winch machinery

abandoned winch machinery

There are a few little upgrades and mods that I want to get done to the camper this year…

eroded steel rivet detail

eroded steel rivet detail

…like getting some of this years Christmas VW camper related ‘presents’ fitted and working!

amazing surface texture

amazing surface texture

Then there are some stock VW upgrades that I want to get fitted to improve the overall driving experience of the Splitty…

rusted metal and weathered timber

rusted metal and weathered timber

…plus maybe a few other non-stock items to help personalise my VW Canterbury Pitt camper? Yep, it’s going to be a busy and fun 2015!

Then I might also get a chance to try to design a few more vintage VW related t-shirts to go along with the current VW Camper/Jack Kerouac inspired range?

VW Camper/Jack Kerouac inspired T-Shirt – nowhere to go but everywhere, just choose your colour… To the beach is where we are heading! A distressed looking line drawing of an iconic 1960’s camper that inspired the spirit of adventure and stirred the souls of many generations of travellers ever since VW Camper/Jack Kerouac inspired mug – nothing behind me everything ahead of me, just choose your colour… das ist gut – A distressed looking line drawing of an iconic 1960’s camper that inspired the spirit of adventure and stirred the souls of many generations of travellers ever since VW Camper/Jack Kerouac inspired mug – nowhere to go but everywhere, just choose your colour… revolution… but with a twist! Designed distressed typography to start a revolution, right here, right now! VW Camper/Jack Kerouac inspired T-Shirt – nowhere to go but everywhere, just choose your colour… VW Camper/Jack Kerouac inspired T-Shirt – nothing behind me everything ahead of me, just choose your colour… VW Camper/Jack Kerouac inspired bumper sticker – nowhere to go but everywhere, just choose your colour… VW Camper/Jack Kerouac inspired bumper sticker – nothing behind me everything ahead of me, just choose your colour… the number of the beast… well almost T-Shirt the number of the beast… well almost Bumper Sticker the number of the beast… well almost Mug gone schwimin’ T-Shirt gone schwimin’ Bumper Sticker gone schwimin’ Mug

Have you got yours yet? To order anything, please go to either the vdubxs UK shop or if you are outside the UK, then visit the vdubxs International shop and get yours now…

We promise 100% satisfaction – if you don’t love it we’ll take it back!

far better to be safe than sorry, check your fuel hoses!

It’s always nice when plans come together. I was browsing a VW forum recently and was reading about the risks of engine bay fires, often caused by out of date fuel hoses that do not meet current safety standards. It just so happened that Machine 7 happened to be running a great bundle deal on an essential kit to replace older style cloth braided fuel hose with the safer modern SAE J30 R9 grade, plus fuel filter and 10 correct hose clips for this hose. The bundle contains 3 metres of hose, which should be sufficient to replace all of the flexible hose normally found on all air-cooled models

Machine 7 have a great modern fuel hose replacement kit for your vintage VW

Machine 7 have a great modern fuel hose replacement kit for your vintage VW

Over recent years, fuel at the pump has been replaced with a grade referred to as E5. It contains a 5% mix of Ethanol. The Ethanol mix is better for the environment, but unfortunately degrades rubber fuel hoses. There are current government proposals to change unleaded fuels to E10, with 10% Ethanol. SAE J30 R9 fuel hose is designed to withstand the level of Ethanol in E5 and E10 fuels.

Fuel hoses should be checked every few months, and replaced, if there are any signs of degradation. We believe that anybody using the old style cloth (or stainless) braided should now upgrade to the more modern higher specification. It is far better to be safe than sorry! The hose has a 5.6mm internal bore, which is ideal for all standard installations as well as most twin carburettor set-ups, so perfect for my twin Dellorto carb set-up.

Once ordered online, Machine 7’s now famous prompt delivery service took care of the rest. Now all I need to do is fit the new hoses to upgrade my fuel pipes in the engine bay… the trouble is, once you start thinking of upgrades in the engine bay, other ideas also start springing to mind…