meeting the relatives… a nice RHD Porsche 911

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!

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