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Author Archives: Nick Gillott
Member’s Motor – Glenn George – Mavis
In December 2016, Club member Glenn George from
Dartmouth, Devon, alerted us to the fact that his
trusty 1973 Bay Window Devon camper “Mavis”
had been used as a getaway vehicle during the
heist of a security van during a Pirate Festival! This
was not the usual getaway that Glenn was used
to; he preferred the kind that involved camping!
However there was no need for alarm as “Mavis”
was used for filming an episode of BBC1’s
“The Coroner”, now in its second series and
with an episode titled “Pieces of Eight”, “Mavis”
provided the perfect cover for a robbery during
Lighthaven’s Pirate Festival and Glenn has given
an account of his experience below.
It started with a phone call from Adam at AJs
VW in Paignton (where Mavis has been serviced
for 43 years), Adam told me that he had been
asked if any of his customers had an old camper
and were willing to take a couple of days out for
filming in and around Dartmouth. As I work just
a few miles over the river in Brixham I thought
this sounded like an interesting proposition so I
agreed. The next few weeks I spent speculating
what would be involved, as it is BBC policy to not
give too much away. I asked around if anyone
knew of this “Coroner” series, as I must admit I
hadn’t heard of it myself
When the day finally arrived I headed off to
Bantham and was quite impressed with the
military precision that had gone into the
planning of the day. I was sent a list with details
of all 70+ people and where and when they all
had to be. I arrived at 9am and found an assistant
Director who fetched a couple of wardrobe
assistants. I got a bit nervous at this point, but
it wasn’t me they were going to dress up, it was
Mavis! At this point I was concerned with what
they might do to her, but they assured me that
they would clean her up afterwards. She was to
be dressed as a Pirate Van, she looked a bit funny
but they were very gentle.
I was asked to drive Mavis down a very steep hill
to a small sandy cove where there is a beautiful
view of the river and an old boat house. “Drive her
on to the sand a bit” I was told, whilst surveying
the green tinged last few cobbles of the socalled road, I didn’t think this was the best idea
but was persuaded by the crew. So I drove half
on and then reversed a bit to see if she’d get off
again and she wasn’t going anywhere, well and
truly stuck! This was when I realised how friendly
everyone was as they all chipped in with pushing
and pulling to get Mavis back on to firmer
ground. During the rest of the day’s shoot, Mavis
only moved about 3 feet and it took till gone
6pm to wrap the scene which lasts about 90secs
on screen! Once this shoot was finished, we had
to negotiate the very steep hill again, this proved
to be a challenging ascent which was assisted by
the 4×4 Mule usually used to transport lighting
rigs and camera equipment.
The second day of filming was eventful in a
different way, no steep slippery slopes but
filming in the centre of Dartmouth. It was here
that I learnt Mavis’ role was a getaway vehicle and
I also learnt the sense of humour underpinning
the show! When I was told that they would
hi-jack a security van and bundle someone into
the back of Mavis I laughed because I know
that all things T2 happen at their own usual
The first take was in progress when the “Pirate”
tried to quickly open the door, he used a few
nautical phrases that were heard echoing around
the Dart Valley. I offered a solution for myself to
crouch inside the van and persuade the door
to open with my foot as the handle was pulled
down. The director agreed to try this and it was a
successful 2nd take.
Our first experience with the Beeb was very
interesting and fun. I’m not sure we get to see
Mavis at her best, or any of the really fun scenes,
but I will keep my eye out for the out-take shows!
Type 2 T1 Split Screen Buying Guide
We appreciate that most of our members
already own a VW Camper, but not all of our
members have taken the plunge just yet and
some may be looking for an additional project
or a change of scenery.
Over the coming issues, we will take a look
at the Volkswagen T2 in its various forms and
provide some information as a buying guide.
This issue, we start with the Split Screen.
An early VW such as a split will not be the best
motorway vehicle, but if you don’t mind taking
it easy there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be
They can be like an “old bus” with their huge
thin rimmed steering wheel and like a bus,
don’t expect it to handle like a modern
vehicle. It will be slow, use lots of fuel and
will more than likely break down one day,
but that’s the fun of VW Camper ownership (or
so they say!).
Remember also that the split screen buses
have smaller engines than the later models
and will b less powerful than what you
may be used to.
This is probably the most important part
of any potential purchase. All classic VWs
suffer terribly with rust and splits are no
exception. If you can find one that is pretty
original and rust free, you’re onto a winner!
But this is highly unlikely due to the age of
the vehicles and that previously there wasn’t
as much interest in these vans, meaning that
a lot of them have been repaired badly. If
possible, you want to avoid putting someone
else’s shortcuts right, but chances are that
most out there for sale has at least one
Rust can and will affect most areas of
bodywork, especially the bottom 6 inches. This
includes the lower front panel, outer sills, rear
corners and wheel arches. Other hotspots are
inner sills, chassis rails, outriggers and jacking
points. It’s worth having a look at the floor,
tailgate, bottom of doors and areas around
If you come across a van that you decide to
take on, repair panels and sections are readily
available from many specialists, but before
handing over the cash, ask yourself whether
you are ready for the commitment that project
Air cooled engines can be reliable when
properly looked after, but the stress put on
them by the extra weight of a van, especially
a fully fitted out camper, can eventually have
an effect. As discussed in the last issue’s
“Don’t Panic, Ask The Mechanic!” feature on oil
temperature, oil is one of the most important
components of the engine, so it is good to see
evidence that the oil has changed regularly.
Oil leaks are common, but some are trickier
than others to repair and may require engine
removal, something worth thinking about
with any potential purchase.
Blue smoke when revved can indicate worn
valve guides, lack of power could be a number
of things but could be a compression problem.
When the engine isn’t running, give the lower
pulley a tug as excessive movement/end float
could mean main bearing wear, resulting in an
Lots of Split Screen vans have been lowered. If
done sympathetically it can improve handling.
This is commonly done using adjusters on the
front beam. If this has been carried out it is
worth checking the quality of the welding and
the adjuster itself. The rear is usually adjusted
by turning the rear spring plates on the torsion
beam or by using adjustable plates, these
should also be checked for condition.
With regards to brakes, there’s not too much
to worry about as everything can be replaced
inexpensively, but to check things are set up
ok, make sure the van pulls up in a straight line
on a test drive.
There have been various companies offering
camper conversions over the years and
generally there’s little to choose between the
different conversions. It’s worth viewing as
many different vans as you can to see which
internal layout works best for you. If you’re a
purist, original condition will be important.
Otherwise, as long as items such as the
sink and cooker are working, the rest of the
interior cabinets and upholstery can be easily
refurbished. Watch out for home conversions,
items such as fridges need to have proper
external ventilation, so make sure these are
What to Pay
As you’re no doubt aware, all bus prices have
gone through the roof in the last few years
which is good news for owners, and rubbish
for anyone interested in buying. Realistically,
you are unlikely to find a split screen bus
in any shape or form for anything less than
£10,000 with the cheapest kombis likely to be
£15k-£20k. Half decent bona fide split campers
that are ready to roll will be anything from
£20,000 right up to £60,000-£70,000.
Buying an import from the US or Australia
might be the best option to avoid bodywork
issues. The key will be to swot up on where
they rust and go into the buying process
with your eyes wide open. If you do buy a
rusty project, rest assured if you are able to do
the work yourself you’ll be sitting on a great
investment. If you propose to pay someone
else, bargain accordingly and bear in mind
there’s always going to be more rust than you
The opinions expressed here are the personal
opinions of the author and do not necessarily
represent the views and opinions of The
Volkswagen Type 2 Owners Club.
Ask The Mechanic – Oil
Oil is one of the most important components
of your engine. Without oil, an engine will
overheat and fail. Many Dubbers keep a close
eye on oil levels and top up as required, but
is this enough? Keeping the oil in your engine
at optimum temperature is as important as
maintaining the correct level.
Monitoring the oil temperature in your classic
VW has always been tricky and normally
requires the fitment of an aftermarket system
that can look out of place, be challenging to
install and leave a large dent in your wallet.
However, there is a simple yet very clever
product called “Save My Bug” that can help
you to monitor the oil temperature without
breaking the bank.
“Save My Bug” is an oil temperature dipstick
that replaces your original dipstick and
connects to the oil pressure switch with an
18” wire included in the kit, allowing you to
monitor the engine oil temperature without
the use of an aftermarket gauge.
The oil light on your dash will now not only
operate as an oil pressure warning light, but
will also become an oil temperature warning.
In normal conditions the light will remain
off, if the engine oil temperature starts to
get too hot it will flash, if the light comes
on steady, the engine temperature is
excessively hot (or there is an oil pressure
problem) and you should pull over and stop
the engine immediately.
This has made keeping an eye on oil
temperature whilst driving a doddle and the
installation takes less than 10 minutes for all
levels of ability.
It is available for both the Type-1 engine and
Type-4 engine from most well known aircooled VW specialists for around £30-£40
depending on application
Member’s Motor – Helen and Dave Salisbury
My wife and I had always wanted a Type 2 Bay
after spending a weekend in Newquay in 1993,
we didn’t know it at the time, but the Run To
The Sun festival was on and after spending the
weekend watching Campervans and Beetles
drive around we had been bitten by the
VW bug. However, still being an apprentice
and being on apprentice wages there wasn’t
Fast forward 7 years to November 2000, I had
heard about a van from a lady that I worked
with and she told me that her husband who
was a gardener, had spotted it in a barn at a
large house in the Cotswolds that he had been
working at. When the gardener asked about it,
the owner told him that it had been sat there
for 2 years and that they wanted to sell it.
When I heard about it, I rang the owners and
arranged to go and see it.
It was poking out of the barn with one wheel
arch split through with rust and hanging off,
a damp fusty smell inside of it, some of the
brakes were seized, the engine was running
on 2 cylinders, there was various rust holes in
all the usual places and it generally looked very
sorry for itself. The owner agreed to get it taken
to a local garage on a trailer to let them have a
look and give me an idea of the work required
to get an MOT pass on it. After looking at the
fail MOT sheet, we agreed a price and the van
came home with us.
It was placed on my in-laws’ drive and work
started right away. I spent most of the
weekends that winter welding and replacing
parts with a view to getting the van ready for a
trip to Cornwall the following Easter. After lots
of cold, hard work, 2 weeks before Easter we
got our MOT Pass certificate and had a great
The Mechanic – Brakes
This issue takes a look at a submission from club
member Ian Crawford, who had a problem
with his brakes at MOT time, something we all
want to avoid!
Having owned my Type 2 for 43 years, I have
never had an MOT failure, until September
If failed on the brakes being “unequal” from the
N/S readings compared to the O/S readings
when tested on the rolling road.
The tester said I had 10 days in which to get
the problem sorted and return for a free retest.
I immediately drove to the garage I have used
for 43 years (Francis Tuthill), to see if he could
resolve the problem for me within the 10 day
I showed Francis the above figures and his
immediate response was to say “you probably
don’t use your brakes all that much. I’ve come
across this situation before”.
His response was to jump into my van and
drive it around the village for about 5 minutes
doing numerous “emergency stops” in order to
get the brake linings warmed up. On returning
he said I should go back to the MOT garage
now and get it retested as he couldn’t find
anything wrong with them.
This I did and when retested the brake figures
obtained were now:
My van now passed its MOT. Panic over! So
the moral of all this is if, like me, you don’t drive
all that many miles a year and you tend to
hardly use the brakes “in anger”, make sure you
warm them up before going for your MOT as
you might end up like I did, with a (temporary)
Eric the Viking – a restoration in many parts – December 2021
Spend since last report: £294. Total hours labour since last report: 12.2
What is the key upside of our camper vans over motorhomes? The Type 2, from the first split screen, the Bay, the T25/T3/Wedge/Brick, T4, T5 and even the T6. They can all be driven on a car licence, because they are all small enough to be about the same footprint as a standard car. No need for special car parking spaces.
What is the key downside of our little camper vans over motorhomes? Space inside.
Have you ever been a little frustrated at permanently having to move things around? Or finding that the cupboard or drawer has something in front of it or on top? Trying to navigate the tiny floor space past a loved one?
In general, across all models that are termed the Type 2, we have a similar layout. Seating at the front, sometimes that swivels, a seat towards the rear and maybe boot space behind that. In between all of that is about 5 feet or 1.5 metres each way of floor for the living quarters. That gives you maybe a buddy seat, the sink, the fridge, the cooker, the toilet. Perhaps the removable dining table on a pole, or a cupboard but not much else as there simply is not the room.
During an evening conversation with a T5 owning friends, he mused that it would be great if our little vans had a sliding side like the huge expensive motorhomes and so an idea was planted. Fast forward several months, a lot of thinking and some hours experimenting in the garage. The non-sliding door panel can be seen in some models as a traditional sliding door, sliding backwards and called a double slider. Therefore, Volkswagen are happy that this does not impact the strength of the vehicle and that is good enough for me. As noted in the last write up, Eric’s non sliding panel has seen some accident damage and the repair was not great by me a few years ago and was removed. With that composite side panel and sill gone, I added a new outer sill.
Some extra heavy duty kitchen drawer runners were purchased and the original idea of two runners and two roller bearings has now become four runners at the bottom and two at the top. These runners will slide the external panel of the vehicle including the middle window out from the van. To make it secure and weatherproof, new steel will be added to form the floor on top of the runners, sides of the structure and a roof. The entire unit will be on an electric ram and the entire kitchen will be in there.
In summary, the floor space taken up by the fridge, hob, sink and associated cupboards will move away from the van giving back all of that floor to the inside. In addition, with easy access below the sink, the water bottle can then live outside giving more cupboard space inside as well.
An item called a linear actuator was ordered, which is the gas ram that pushes and pulls. Not expensive and then I also got the controller for it… Effectively an in button and an out button and it stops at any point along the way. Sheet steel picked up from the local ironmongery is hopefully big enough and the project started.
The two outermost runners are within an inch of the B post and C post to give strength at the edges. Then a further pair on the van floor between those runners but only six inches apart which means that one is just under the other side of the fridge and the other is just under the corresponding place for the other cupboard. Under the centre of the whole unit will be this actuator to push and pull everything. The slide out tray then received a little box to hold the worm screw of the actuator plus the whole tray had some strengthening lines pressed into it and the sides folded up to attach to the pod sides in due course.
Now we have a working plan. A tray sits on runners and slides out of the van. Attached to that is the outer wall of the van complete with the window. Attached to both of those are vertical sides either side of the window and the whole thing has a roof that will be inclined not flat, to help water run off.
The tray is the easy piece. Finding exactly where it does against the outer wall when the outer wall is not fitted is a little trickier.
Trying to shape the sides as the outer wall is not flat is quite fun, and the sides need a 90 degree flare to attach to the outer panel as well. After much wasted time, I finally made a template from wood of the inside wall and transferred that to the flat sheet steel.
Having four runners means that to get them working they need to be perfectly parallel for the tray to sit on them. Lots of adjustments there, plus making brackets to attach them to the floor and the tray plus clearance for everything to move.
It is not finished by a long way, but the kitchen takes up around five square feet (3.5 feet by 1.5 feet) or half a square metre (1 metre by 0.5 metres). When your floor space is about 25 square feet / 2.25 square metres, you can potentially gain 25%. That’s a lot of floor space.
Next time, I hope to be able to report that the majority of the box is built. Courtesy of eBay, I have an inexpensive fridge already, and I managed to get a three ring new cooker with glass lid as well for a great price too. “All” that I need now is to assemble it all and hope that it glides in and out!
Member’s Motor – Phil and Sophie Aldridge – Bluebell – Part 2
Bluebell is a ‘79 Bay Window, Devon Moonraker
conversion with a full side elevating roof.
When we first decided to take the plunge into
campervan ownership, we had our hearts set
on the Moonraker conversion as the interior
space was excellent both in the elevated roof
and the interior build.
We spotted Bluebell on eBay and watched her
sell very quickly, much to our disappointment.
But then, whilst searching further, we noticed
that she had been relisted and jumped at the
chance to investigate. So after a short phone
call confirming some minor details, we were off
on a trip to Frome in Somerset for a viewing.
When viewing we found Bluebell to be in
original condition, apart from some interior
wooden surfaces had been replaced for pine
and the exterior paintwork had changed from
Sand Beige to an unknown Blue. This was
perfect, the bodywork and paint had been
worked on within ten years, keeping it fresh and
clean (with receipts for work). After a test drive
through the countryside, a deposit was paid
and date set for collection.
We had several trips away in the first few months
of ownership and during a trip in Wales had
our first spot of engine trouble, only firing on
3 cylinders. We spent some time investigating
but couldn’t work it out so decided to limp
home (back to the southeast!) and investigated
further. It turns out that we had a burnt valve
and so the start of restoration commenced. We
took the opportunity to give the engine a good
overhaul and carry out required repairs and
paintwork in the engine bay area.
Once these repairs were completed we got
an excellent year of camping from Bluebell,
including a trip back to Wales for a friend’s
wedding and a 20 day trip around the
Southwest during the summer.
Winter came back around and we decided that
Bluebell’s bodywork and paint and needed
attention in a few places, with the white, top
half of the van needing most of the attention
around windows and roof guttering.
After talking to a good friend (who also
happens to be a classic car restorer) we had
set a date to get Bluebell into the workshop to
begin the strip down and repairs.
These repairs included removing all glass,
repairing all window frames, replacing any
scratched or dull glass, removing the elevating
roof (it is huge!), repairing roof areas and
replacing the pop top material.
This work had to be done to keep her looking
fresh and clean, but we really needed to give
the interior some attention as well as the wood
was rotten in places and looking generally
tatty and the original upholstery had also seen
better days. So we took the decision to remove
the interior and started looking for campervan
interior design and build companies.
So with all top half work completed, Bluebell
was sent to The Campershak in Ormskirk to
have a new interior fitted in the same Devon
design, but with some modern and personal
tweaks, including a new overhead side locker.
Work completed on the bodywork and interior
in time for another excellent year of camping.
Winter had arrived again, now phase 2 of the
bodywork and paint was to be done. This time
the work would incorporate the underneath
of the van… this turned out to be around an
extra two months of work!
With all work completed, we have had another
excellent summer of camping and looking
forward to a winter where the work required
on Bluebell is reduced somewhat!
Despite all the hard work and effort, we
wouldn’t change our campervan and the
memories we have with her.
Here’s to more memory making and we
wish our members happy memories in their
Ask The Mechanic – Vehicle Security
With classic car vehicle theft on the rise classic
car security systems are more important
The Mechanic has noticed some members
asking some questions on the Club Facebook
page about van security and what different
people use, so has decided to cover some
options for security to help members understand
what products and services are available to keep
your van as safe as possible.
Starting with the basics, your vans already
has some built in security features from the
factory that you should utilise and ensure are
working effectively before even worrying about
additional security measures.
Firstly check that all of the doors lock securely,
including the tailgate or rear doors in later
transporters. Full lock sets can be inexpensive
and a doddle to fit, depending on the model.
If the doors aren’t locking as expected, there is
plenty of adjustability with the striker plates and
latches, don’t be afraid to give it a go.
All van windows, whether they are manual
windup, electric windup, louver or sliding, should
close fully and latch where possible. Anything
short of this is an invite to an opportunistic thief.
All types of Transporter have a standard steering
lock fitted which is activated by turning the
steering wheel with the ignition key removed.
This stops anyone from being able to turn the
steering wheel and drive off without the ignition
key. The ignition key and barrel is another
standard security feature that should be present,
older vehicles can be modified over the years
to work in several ways depending on whether
there have been problems in the past, but the
ignition lock is something extremely basic that
you want to ensure is working.
Some other very basic things to consider are
where you keep your van parked when not
in use. Do you have a secure location such as
a garage or a lockup? Do you use a driveway
or park on the road? If you have a safer place
available to you, use it.
Now we have covered the basics, we can move
on to additional security devices. There are
various additional security devices available for
vehicles and they can be mechanical or electrical
and very affordable or expensive, depending on
the product and the application.
A basic additional security device that many will
have used at some point is the steering wheel
lock/clamp. These are a mechanical device that
fits to the steering wheel to prevent the wheel
from being turned in the event of you vehicle
being stolen. They vary heavily in application
and price and the choice is a personal decision,
but whatever you choose, a steering lock is a
visual deterrent for potential thieves as well as
a physical mechanical hindrance. I personally
always use a steering lock, even if only leaving my
van for a short period of time, it gives me peace
of mind that it would take longer for someone to
steal my van with it fitted than it would without
it, which should help to put off the opportunistic
types. There are many different types of steering
lock on the market, but “Stoplock” has been a
well known name for years.
Another basic, internal fitting mechanical device
is a pedal lock. These are not as common as
steering locks as some people find them fiddly
to fit and not as quick as simply fitting a steering
lock. These are more common when leaving
a van for a longer period of time and work by
locking the three driving pedals together. These
are more expensive than steering locks and
obviously need to be tailored to the application.
There are several available on the market such
as the “Safe-T Pedal” and “Clutch Claw” that we
looked at in the last issue of Transporter Talk.
These are less visual than a steering lock, but
if someone gets into your van and sees one
of these fitted, there’s a good chance they will
decide to leave it or will need to make noise
and spend time removing it in order to get your
That’s not all for internal mechanical locks as you
can also buy devices that lock the gearstick to
prevent any gear changes. On some VW models
you can buy gear sticks and surrounds that have
locks built in. Or you can find devices that lock
the gearstick into position using a part of the
interior, such as seats or steering wheels.
Much like the steering wheel lock and pedal
locks, these are a visual deterrent and will also
slow down any thieves if they’re intent on taking
Use of these mechanical devices may be time
consuming, but can prove to be a very effective
and wallet friendly means of adding security to
your pride and joy.
Another simple mechanical locking device is the
use of an external wheel clamp. If you use your
van on a daily basis then this could prove to be
an annoyance, but if you use the van on the odd
occasion then using a wheel clamp is a cheap
and effective means of additional security. There
are various designs and styles of clamp available
and they vary in price, but the main thing is that
this extra security device is another problem that
any would be thieves need to break through in
order to get what they want.
With mechanical devices covered, we can now
move on to the electronic advancements that
can help to keep your van in your hands. Some
more modern vehicles already have electronic
devices fitted as standard, but those with older
transporter models will be lacking in this area.
Immobilisers are fitted to modern vehicles as
standard and are fitted to prevent the engine of
a vehicle from running unless the correct key or
chip is present. Those who have ever owned a
car that has an aftermarket immobiliser with
problems will tell you how eff ective they are!
Immobiliser kits can be purchased and DIY
fi tted fairly cheaply these days and there are
companies out there that off er fi tting and after
sales services too.
As well as immobilisers, alarms are also now fi tted
to most modern vehicles and these can now be
added to older vehicles as an additional security
measure. Alarms can be much more complicated
than immobiliser kits as there are more areas for
problems, such as doors and movement sensors.
It is highly recommended that alarms are fi tted
by a qualifi ed alarm fi tter and ensure that you get
some kind of warranty too.
Another excellent and worthy purchase in
the category of electronic security devices is a
A GPS tracker is a location device that will track
your vehicle if it’s taken without your permission.
This is the best way of locating your vehicle
quickly to have it recovered and so reducing the
chance of damage or loss.
There are several types of GPS Tracker on the
market, some are standalone devices that are
completely user operated and some utilise
a subscription service where a company will
monitor the tracker and can off er diff erent
levels of service. One such GPS Tracker service
is Skytag, which has been covered elsewhere in
this issue and now off ers VWT2OC member’s a
discount on their tracker service.
Other methods of additional security could
include kill switches or battery isolators, these
are cheap to acquire and simple to fi t for most.
These are best used when leaving the vehicle
for longer periods and can be operated with a
key. One problem with this is that if you have
a vehicle tracker fi tted, the battery isolator will
likely disable the tracker.
Some other diff erent and interesting ideas include
fi tting an electronic fuel pump that has a hidden
switch somewhere inside the van, no fuel, no
running engine! Or you could go very extreme
and remove the steering wheel from your vehicle
for longer periods of storage and would be much
easier on earlier transporter models.
Others have suggested removing the rotor arm
from the distributor as this disables the engines
ignition system, but again is probably best used
for longer periods of storage. To aid with tracking,
some also suggest fi tting a number plate to the
roof so that the vehicle can be identifi ed from
above in the event of it being stolen.
Hopefully some of these hints are useful to
members for helping to think about security
options, but remember that the most important
thing is to keep the basics working.
Without these, any other additional security
device loses eff ectiveness
The next club magazine is on its way
It should be arriving through your door soon! If you are enjoying the club magazine and have a story about a trip, an upgrade, a restoration or just a tip, send a contribution to our Editor at email@example.com.