August 14th 2021 saw the return of RAF Odiham’s Family Day. The club had several vans in attendance as part of the show’s classic car event and members camped for the weekend at a nearby pub. The day involved displays from resident Chinooks, Typhoons and also the Red Arrows, who put on an excellent 40 minute display. This event is getting better and better each year and we are privileged as a club to be invited to attend. Photo credit to David Eaton.
Continuing our 2020 Social Distance Summer Road Trip, we left Wales and headed north to Scotland, but we had to reach the border first and decided to spend a night in the Lake District on our way north to break up the journey. The journey from Wales to the Lake District was long and uneventful. 200 miles in a VW Camper at 55mph is quite a slog, but we are used to long durations on the road and somehow in the camper it never seems as bad as being in a car. Maybe that’s because the camper feels like being at home? At least you can pull over pretty much whenever you like and make a cuppa! On arrival at the Lake District, we hit Windermere. We aren’t staying here, but it’s the starting point for a road through the mountains that I have wanted to drive ever since coming to this location by accident four years ago; the Kirkstone Pass! For those who know the Lake District well enough, you may know there are two places called Troutbeck. One of them is close to Penrith and has a campsite, the other is near to Windermere and doesn’t! Four years ago I drove to the wrong Troutbeck and haven’t been able to live it down. The Kirkstone pass pretty much runs between the two, but we weren’t brave enough to take on the pass last time we visited (first time towing the camping trailer and didn’t know if we would make it!… bearing in mind one of the roads on the pass is called “The Struggle!” and so we took the long way round instead. From the Windermere side of the pass in the south, it’s a long uphill jaunt along harsh mountain roads with tall, threatening, exposed rock faces, narrow sections and tight bends. After what seems like a lifetime with my foot flat on the throttle (I don’t dare back off incase we can’t get going again!) we make it up to the summit of the road, which is surrounded by even taller mountain peaks and rocky landscape
The area is partly submerged in cloud, but there is a cafe at the top and there are bikers gathered (cars too) who have been enjoying the twisty black stuff. The road back down the other side towards the North is very similar; steep, twisty and narrow! One main difference now is the pedal choice. Instead of the right one being hard to the floor, I am covering and pumping the middle one in the hope that we don’t get brake fade! (That’s a story for another day!) The route down treats you to magnificent views over Ullswater in the distance and when you do eventually reach it, the road follows the undulating contours of the shoreline, providing a few places along the way where you can stop and enjoy the views over the water, maybe even have a paddle. We don’t stop as we are keen to get a decent pitch secured for the night and head to our campsite at Troutbeck Head. To get to the site from Ullswater you have to climb the hill at Aira Force waterfall, which is understated at steep. Don’t forget to look in your mirrors to appreciate the stunning views! We have visited Aira Force waterfall in the past. It’s a very popular National Trust attraction and has a sizeable car park, but on a day with decent weather it gets extremely busy. Here’s a top tip: Visit the waterfall on a really rainy day. It will be virtually empty and the falls will be even more spectacular! Just make sure you pack your waterproofs as you will get wet! After checking into the site and enjoying a cuppa, we head back out down to Ullswater and see if we can find a spot to stop on the shoreline to let Ruby (our springer spaniel) have a paddle. It’s rammed. It’s summer, it’s the school holidays and people have been in a covid lockdown for 4 months! We follow the road around Ullswater and up to Penrith to get some supplies. If you’re in the area, this is a great spot to pick up essentials before heading off into the wilderness for a few nights. Within 5 minutes of each other, there is a Morrisons, an Aldi and a Booths! There’s also a Pets At Home and a Go Outdoors. So everyone, including travelling pets, should be well catered for. With stocks of essential supplies and the fridge filled with dog food (should really be cold alcoholic beverages in there), we head back down to Ullswater again and Bingo!.. The crowds and families have now left as it’s tea time, so we park up and head down to the shore. I pack a towel and my swim shorts… just in case.
When we get down there, the views are simply stunning. There are some beautiful and picturesque places in the UK, but this has got to be up there. It is hard to believe that we are still in England, this could easily be the Italian lakes! The sun is shining on the mountains on the other side of Ullswater, which is flat calm and quiet. Ruby needs no persuasion and is straight in the water. I follow in my flip flops… wow! That is seriously cold!! Feeling brave, or possibly just delirious from driving all day, I don my swim shorts and head in. After 5 mins of walking up and down up to my waist with excuses about how it’s too cold and how I will develop hypothermia, I go for the dunk. I’m in. It’s freezing! As I paddle I start to loosen up and feel the refreshing water washing over me. After 5 minutes or so I realise that the water is so cold it is making my skin tingle and I feel bits of me going numb. I carry on a while before making the decision to get out whilst I am not shivering with teeth chattering together like one of those wind up toys! I dried myself off and we headed back to the camper. Ruby got to have her favourite towel dry and we head back to base at the campsite for dinner. We have a short walk in some nearby footpaths before the sun goes down and head to bed in preparation of another long day that will take us further north and across the border into Scotland! Phil Aldridge “Tales From The Driving Seat” is on Instagram @talesfromthedrivingseat and blogspot www.talesfromthedrivingseat.blogspot.com
If you have an air-cooled van and experience the dreaded “click” when trying to start your van, it could be that the original wiring and ignition switch now has a higher resistance than it did back in the 70’s and cannot cope with the current required to turn the engine over using the starter motor. One way to counteract this is to fit a relay that takes the current load and the ignition switch activates the relay. A relay sourced for this application can be purchased from Just Kampers; JK part number J12928. Parts required Suitable cable for wiring the relay – suggest Halfords 12v 17A cable sold in 4m reels Several crimp connectors The relay itself – JK part number J12928 Method It is advisable to always disconnect the vehicle’s battery before carrying out any work on the electrical system.
Mount the relay in a safe place as close to the starter motor as possible.
Take the existing wire from terminal 50 on the solenoid and extend it to reach the relay position.
Connect this extension from terminal 50 on the solenoid to terminal 86 on the relay.
Now connect terminal 85 on the relay to a good earth on the vehicle body/chassis.
Connect terminal 87 of the relay to the live terminal of the vehicle’s battery.
Now connect terminal 30 on the relay back to terminal 50 on the starter solenoid.
Whilst every attempt is made to ensure that these instructions are as accurate and clear as possible, the author or club itself cannot be held responsible for misinterpretation of these instructions or for any subsequent accident or damage caused through mis-fitted parts.
Spend since last report: £427. Total hours labour since last report: 52
Last time I had finished the offside suspension and the brakes were in progress. This time I’ve managed to do rather a lot!
In order: The front suspension and front brake is back together on the offside, the gearbox is out, the underside of the fuel tank was then accessible to get its rust removed.
The steering box has mostly been cleaned up, so has the gearbox and Eric is back on his wheels.
A large chunk of the current work was the cab floor. The driver’s side was pretty ropey and the outer half needed replacing. I chose to remove more good metal than was really necessary to give a straight line of seam weld to reduce the visible change. I was also able to rust proof the tops of the chassis rails at the same time. The passenger side was less rotten and was a smaller patch plus a final rectangle in the middle just behind the handbrake and we have good strong metal all welded in.
Then primer time but my spray gun had a fault and it looked rubbish and will need smoothing before top coat. Nonetheless rather improved!
The next part of the project is going to be interesting! The offside middle panel opposite the sliding door is a fixed panel. Several years ago I replaced the lower part of that panel and the outer sill with a cheat panel that is all joined together. It looks ok but the top of the original panel had been damaged in an accident many years ago and there was a lot of filler. I also cut the edge off the lower replacement panel as it was slightly too large but welding that cut in looked rubbish.
I had bought a replacement lower sliding door panel which is the same on both sides and I picked up a new outer sill at Busfest because otherwise it was £17 for the sill and £7 postage!
Outer sill joins the middle sill which is new metal, so it was quite a quick win. More on this next time as I have a plan so cunning that it could be a fox who has just been made Professor of Cunning at Cambridge University.
Finally, I was on Facebook one evening and someone that I did not know called Jon was asking for more information about this picture. He and I got chatting, and that’s Eric in the picture with Jon’s Grandad at some point in the 80s. That roof was changed to the Paris roof that arrived with Eric, the paintwork had mostly been replaced with primer and rust, and the front grill was missing. The louvre windows I have and the rust hole from the aerial on the roof was quite extensive! I am not currently looking to sell Eric as I want to finish him and then use him, but Jon has first dibs if that day should ever arrive. Talk about a small world – only 15 more owners to find and I will know the whole history.
For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look at Mel’s Bay, called “Platybus”. This is what she had to say about it. Back in 2010, my husband Mark announced one day that he’d always fancied getting an old camper van. This was news to me, but I figured it was just a passing fancy and that he’d soon get over it! Anyway, to cut a long story short, he did some research and after a couple of false starts, eventually found a van that someone in North Wales was selling.
The van had originally been imported from Australia and had eventually ended up in sunny Wales. She’d been converted to run on both petrol and LPG. Bearing in mind that Mark had never driven a camper van before, he persuaded a mate to drive him to Wales and then Mark would drive the van back! As you can imagine, my main concern was that the van would break down on the way back and I would have to go and fetch him from goodness knows where. Fortunately, the van behaved itself and he got safely home, after an epic 5 hour journey. Over the next 3 or 4 years, our family had a couple of trips in it down to Wales and 2 trips to Devon. Despite a couple of hiccups, we got there and back in one piece. Then about 5 years ago, we went to an open day at Just Kampers down in Hampshire. We’d already discussed having a full restoration on the van and we met a chap from a company called Voodoo VW. We duly agreed to take the van down to his workshop in Newbury so we could talk about what we wanted done on the van. We felt totally reassured that they would carry out the work we wanted done and basically left them to get on with it. You know the saying “be careful what you wish for?”.
Well, unfortunately things didn’t pan out the way we wanted them to; the company went bust and we had to fetch the van from down near Newbury and pay someone to fix the bits that hadn’t been done properly. We eventually got the van back and at present it’s sitting on the forecourt of a friend’s garage, waiting for the engine to be taken out to investigate an issue with the hydraulics. We love the van, she’s been brilliant when she works, but it’s like they say, it’s been a labour of love.
She’s called the Platybus, because when we were cleaning out the glove compartment, we found an Australian coin with what we thought had a platypus on it. It transpired that it’s actually a Spiny Anteater, but we decided to stick with Platybus. I really hope that one day soon we can get to go camping again in the bus and that we can iron out all the little niggles we’ve discovered since the van was “restored “. We’ve since discovered that the chap who ran Voodoo VW is back running a company restoring camper vans, after declaring to us that he wanted nothing more to do with the VW scene… ! Hey ho…” Best wishes, Mel
The Club on tour – Just Kampers, Odiham, Hampshire
June 10 to 12 2022
6 members were in the dedicated club field with more coming over to say Hello. 15 new members joined on the day, lots of money raised for charity for the Phyllis Tuckwell hospice. Live music from multiple bands, open air cinema on Friday (Breakdance) and Saturday (Karate kid), a big raffle with prizes worth up to £700 each.
We head into Aberystwyth to pick up some essentials; dog food, milk and petrol! Not wanting to waste the trip into town, we head to the seafront and take a drive along the promenade. We are pleasantly surprised by the lovely Victorian buildings and a funicular cliff railway too! Stocked up with supplies and the tank full to bursting with petrol, we head north and are looking forward to today’s route which will take us on a B road that follows the coast around the southern part of Snowdonia rather than going through it and then into the National Park to camp for the night. The start of the coastal road happens immediately after crossing the river/estuary at Machynlleth via an old stone bridge and then turning left off the main A road and following the river on your left. As roads go, this one is beautiful. The surface is smooth, with a stone wall on one side and a cliff face the other, it undulates over and around the coastal features, giving us amazing views over the river and sea. As we get closer to the coast, the road becomes lined with old oak trees, growing out of the cliff and hanging over the edge. Our first stop on this route is a small seaside town called Aberdovey. There is a golf club, a beach and beach related stuff. We drive through, noticing people pointing and commenting at the camper… this often happens and I sometimes wonder if they are pointing at something falling off! But you get used to it and you soon realise that driving a bright blue camper van with an exhaust that announces your arrival everywhere you go is going to get you attention. The road picks up as it comes out of Aberdovey, but its only a short run before the next small town called Tywyn. On our way in we notice the large amount of static caravans surrounding the area. The town is pleasant and has all the makings of a seaside location, with a decent looking Co-Op if you need supplies! The beach is clean and there is also a narrow gauge steam railway here too.
From Tywyn the road heads inland to avoid another river estuary and make the crossing via a bridge.
There is a ferry that can take you across, but we took the road to save time. Once you cross over the river, the road heads back towards the coast and is it does, starts to climb. As the road meets the coast you are met with one of the most beautiful coastal roads we have driven. There are numerous lay by areas to pull over and appreciate the view, which we did. We followed the coastal road until reaching the larger town of Fairbourne. To continue from here there are a few options; a ferry direct to Barmouth, a modern road bridge several miles inland or an old rickety wooden bridge that resembles a seaside pier… guess which option we went for?! The old wooden bridge at Penmaenpool is a toll bridge, costing 80p for cars and £1 for motorhomes. We are technically driving a Motorhome, despite being car sized, but I don’t mind paying the extra 20p to keep the bridge maintained. The crossing is bumpy as the wooden sections are uneven, but we make it across safely without encountering any trolls who want to eat us for their supper! After crossing the bridge we head into Barmouth. Barmouth is a seaside resort with everything you would expect; amusements, chip shops, sandy beaches and a long promenade. It was busy. Really busy. We stopped for a while on the promenade and watched the crowds but didn’t venture out of our own space inside the camper. From Barmouth we follow the road all the way to the end of the coastal route at Penrhyndeudraeth and make our way up to the campsite which is only 5 minutes up the road. Nearby is the village of Portmeirion; a tourist village, designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the style of an Italian village, which is now owned by a charitable trust. We didn’t visit as we didn’t have any time left in the day, but it’s worth a look if you’re in the area!
In the evening we pop back into Penrhyndeudraeth to look for some dinner and find several takeaway options including a Chinese, Indian, kebab and chippy. What a fantastic selection. We opt for the Indian and head back to the site to rest up in preparation for the next day – Snowdonia!
We set off from our site the next morning heading for Anglesey. It’s a shorter trip today, taking in the sites that Snowdonia has to offer. On the route we pass through Beddgelert, which has an interesting story. The town is home to a legendary site called Gelert’s Grave. In the legend, Llywelyn The Great returns from hunting to find his baby missing, the cradle overturned, and his dog Gelert, with a blood-smeared mouth. Believing the dog had savaged the child, Llywelyn draws his sword and kills Gelert. After the dog’s dying yelp Llywelyn hears the cries of the baby, unharmed under the cradle, along with a dead wolf which had attacked the child and been killed by Gelert. Llywelyn is overcome with remorse and buries the dog with great ceremony, but can still hear its dying yelp. After that day Llywelyn never smiles again. You can park in the village and walk to the site, however the morning has brought much rain with it and so we decide to carry on with a journey.
We follow a road that takes us past a beautiful lake called Llyn Dinas, there are a few spots along the side of the road to stop and if you’re brave enough, take a paddle
The road starts to meander and climb slowly, this becomes more apparent as you come past Llyn Gwynant. There are some tight bends on the climb and I notice views in my mirrors! We eventually come to a small car park which boasts a view of Snowdon. The Peak of Snowdonia and the highest peak in England and Wales at 1085m. We get a few snaps here as the clouds break over the mountain and also take advantage of the ice cream van parked here too… it’s never too cold or wet for an ice cream! We continue our journey through Snowdonia, past Snowdon, and Pen y Pass, where there were many cars being turned away as it was so busy. We climb up and over the pass that flows in the valley on what started as a miners track, down to the village of Llanberis. You can walk Snowdon from here as well and if your legs aren’t up to it, take the train up too! From Llanberis we make our way out of Snowdonia, the landscape changes quickly from Mountains to flat land and trees. We arrive at Bangor, singing the famous song as we do and then travel over to Anglesey on the Brittania Bridge. We notice the large amount of farming and gorgeous rolling countryside. We stop at some beaches at Cemaes in the northern part of the island and on our way to our campsite stop off at a lovely harbour in Amlwch Port. The next part of our journey will see us leaving Wales and heading north towards the Scottish border, stopping over in the Lake District en route. Phil Aldridge “Tales From The Driving Seat” is on Instagram @talesfromthedrivingseat and blogspot www.talesfromthedrvingseat.blogspot.com
The summer is here and that hopefully means that we are experiencing warmer air temperatures. With warmer air temperatures, comes warmer engines. Those using aircooled engines will find it even harder to keep the engine cool during the summer months and we have all seen the odd VW at the side of the motorway! Don’t let that be you (not through overheating anyway!)
Although it may seem like a small detail, to ensure cooler engine temperatures, it is absolutely vital that the tinware and engine compartment rubber seals are all present and intact. This ensures that there is cool air above the engine and hot air below it. These are known as the cool and warm zones. If tinware parts are missing, or the seals around the front and back of the engine are torn or broken, hot air will be drawn from the cylinder heads and exhaust back into the cool zone around the top of the engine and then sucked in by the cooling fan and re-circulated over the cylinders and heads, causing the engine temperature to rise, potentially to a critical level. This can cause all kinds of problems over time, some of which may not be immediately obvious, from hot starting troubles, to cracked cylinder heads, up to and including a seized engine. If you’ve just bought a car/bus, it is well worth checking the condition of the tinware and seals and also making sure that there are no foreign bodies stuck in the cooling fan (remember to do this with the engine turned off!) If you are fitting a reconditioned or new engine, don’t just rely on refitting the parts that were on the old engine, as they may not be correct either. The thermostat is another vital piece in the cooling system. There is a set of flaps inside the fan shroud, that actually block cooling air when the engine is cold, in order to warm up the engine more quickly. These are opened by the thermostat, located between the cylinder barrels and if this part is defective your engine will very quickly overheat. Check the function of the thermostat and flaps and if required, replace. The alternative is to completely remove the thermostat and flaps, which while it certainly simplifies matters, is not ideal. It means that your engine may never reach the correct operating temperature in cold weather conditions. The last few points to consider are your ignition timing, air leaks and fuelling. Poor ignition timing can cause your engine to run too hot, it’s unlikely to be visible if it’s wrong but you should hear it. Fuel mixture is equally important, so ensure the carburettor jetting is correct for the size of the engine, fuel starvation will raise the engine temperature internally. Your fuel system could be setup perfectly, but if your engine is sucking air in elsewhere through a split hose or a broken gasket, then the whole fuel/air mixture is compromised and the chances of running lean and therefore hot, are increased too. Spraying the intake system with Wd40 whilst running will help to detect this, an air leak will suck the spray in, using it as fuel and changing the engine note at the same time. I hope there are some helpful tips for members to help stay cool this summer.
It was a real treat to head north in Dennis the Dormobile last month. We had three glorious weeks in Scotland in July (despite the roadside Yellow Storm Warnings on route!). We broke journey in Crianlarich and travelled on to Skye the next day. Probably busier than usual, the island was far from overwhelmed and Dennis loved the rolling single track roads. We did notice a huge expansion of motorhome hiring since last year. We were surprised by our 1978 T2 having become a rarity and a conversation piece; several people asked to take his photograph! All of which made the campsites even more sociable than usual. Set up in Glen Brittle, we hiked up onto the rugged Cuillin Ridge and got our only soaking of the trip on the way down. From Dunvegan, we used our bikes to explore a landscape that is still only a generation or two away from the crofting life. There was a whole trail of makers and artists on Skye and we dropped in on a weaving shed and a print and glass gallery.
We had been keen to follow the last stages of Euro 2020 despite being away, which meant listening to a crackly quarter-final radio commentary on the road to Crianlarich (did they just score??) and also the semi-final at Dunvegan (the only pub in the village wasn’t open on a Wednesday…). At the small site near Staffin, we asked about the nearest pub for the Sunday night final and the lovely owners told us that they had a couple of spare TVs and they could lend us one to set up in Dennis. So with a low tech but safe hook-up and a bent wire aerial, we watched the match! A first for us. More hiking and cycling to explore the stunning Trotternish ridge and the coastline, before heading down to Loch Rannoch and a campsite near a remnant of the ancient Caledonian forest and some hot and sunny Munros. The evening midges were repelled successfully with some Miss Haversham-style headnets! Three nights with friends and family around Glasgow and north Ayrshire also gave us the chance to do a washing load (!) before our final week down in Galloway in Scotland’s overlooked southwest. If you get the chance, see if you can book a space at quirky North Rhinns campsite. It’s not many miles from Stranraer, but it’s another world; 12 or 15 pitches tucked among a small wood, well looked after by the enthusiastic and sociable owners, who would love to host a T2 rally sometime!! Linda and Stewart Shuttleworth
The Club on tour – Barnstones Caravan and Camping Park, Banbury, Oxon
May 12th to 16th 2022 saw the Club’s annual AGM, BBQ and Club Camp (ABC camp) in Great Bourton. Convenient for the M40 allowing many people to join us, we had nearly 30 vehicles after some late dropouts due to mechanical trouble. Over 60 people spent the weekend together with a lot of laughter, plenty of burgers and maybe the odd glass of something.
In addition to the AGM and BBQ, we also had the FA cup final televised in one gazebo, Eurovision later in the evening and some singing from our resident jazz singer Lorna.
On the plus side, 5 people joined the Committee. On the minus side, Derek Leary stepped down from the Committee after several decades shaping the Club into what it is today. We’ll miss you Derek (and Christie).