Category Archives: Member’s Stories

Trips, restorations or anything else you think might be of interest

Members motor – Mel Gulliford – Platybus

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

Tales from the driving seat – Wonderful Wales Part 2

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

Reader’s Road Trip – Linda and Stewart Shuttleworth – Driving with Dennis

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

Member’s Motor – Rachel – Skype

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look
at Rachel’s Bay, called “Skye”. This is what she
had to say about it.

We have a blue T2 called Skye. We originally
found her in May 2018 when someone local to us
used to hire her out, so we hired her for a trip to
Scotland. We took the van around the highlands,
including to the Isle of Skye. My husband Kyle
(then boyfriend) proposed to me on the trip,
which was a total surprise, so that trip and the
van had some very special memories for us.
In June 2019 we got married and I was waiting
for my wedding car to pick me up, instead of the
car arriving with my dad in it, Skye the T2 arrived
with our friend as the driver! I was shocked as I
had not seen Skye since we had got engaged
and I thought “How lovely, he’s hired her again as
a surprise”. He had decorated her with wedding
ribbons and bunting inside etc. When I got in the
van (with my dad inside) Keith our friend who
was driving, passed me a note which had the
typical wedding phrase:
Something old: Skye is from 1975.
Something blue: Skye is blue.
Something borrowed: She is borrowed
for the wedding.
Something new: actually she’s not borrowed,
Skye is yours!

Unbeknown to me, the guy who owned
Skye was selling her and Kyle bought her as a
surprise for our wedding day, so that’s how we
came to get her! What a surprise. Since then
we have had a lot of trips away, even in current
circumstances. We took her to Glastonbury 2
weeks after our wedding and then managed to
do the NC500 in September last year, as well as
lots more local weekends to the Lake District and
Northumberland where we got married. We have
a rescue fox terrier called Delilah who loves van
life as much as us 😍

We learnt a valuable lesson in September when
doing the nc500; we broke down in one of the
most northerly areas of Scotland and had to
wait 8 hours for recovery to be towed back to
the campsite, which was so embarrassing. The
problem was a snapped clutch cable, which we
have since learned is quite common and should
have carried a spare!

Typically the day we had to wait for 8 hours at the
side of the road was also the sunniest, warmest
day of our whole NC500 trip and we spent it at
the roadside! By the time we had been recovered
we were just grateful to get back to the campsite
and get it temporarily fixed, celebrating with a
big glass of well deserved wine!
We have been having problems finding someone
decent and reputable in the north east to fix our
van, there’s a few things we needed done and
ideally wanted it done before this summer. We’ve
been trying to find someone since last year, but
no one wants to touch it, so it’s getting a bit
stressful.

Spares by Ian Crawford

Many people will be away and wish they had something with them – here is a list from club member Ian Crawford on spares he packs in his 1971 Bay window that he bought at 1 year old in 1972. I am not sure about corks – leftover wine is not something I really understand!

Parts
• Accelerator Cable
• Aluminium Tube
(To Fit Inside Fuel Hose
If Leaking)
• Battery Earth Strap
• Brake and Clutch Fluid
• Brake Pedal Return
Spring
• Spare Bulbs
• Cable Ties (Various
Lengths)
• Carburettor Return
Spring
• Clutch Cable
• Coil
• Condenser For
Distributor (Make Sure
You Have The Correct
“Bung”!)
• CV Axle Boot Cap
and Grease
• Distilled Water
• Distributor Cap and
Rotor Arm x2
• Distributor Contact
Points
• Dynamo Brushes
• Engine Oil (5 litres)
• Fan Belt x2
• Fuel Hose and Clips
• Various Fuses
• Handbrake Cable
• Rocker Cover Gaskets
x2
• Spark Plug Set
• Starting Relay and
Fuse
• Tyre Valve Cores
• Voltage Regulator
• Walking Boot Laces

Tools
• Allen Keys
• Battery Diagnostic
Tester
• Feeler Gauges
• Hacksaw Blades
• Insulation Tape
• Magnetic Dish Holder
• Magnifying Glass (My
Eyes Are Dimming!)
• Multi Meter and
Spare Battery
• Plastic Wire Cutters
• Pill Pot Containing
Matches, Lighter,
Flints, Water
Purification Tablets,
Sweeteners, Sewing
Kit, Safety Pins and
Buttons.
• Shorting Links
• Stanley Knife
• Tyre Pressure Gauge
• Vaseline
• Wine Corks
• Other Various Tools
Ian has provided a pretty extensive list here,
very cautious!
We would also recommend a timing gun if space
allows, a foot pump, warning triangle, decent jack,
various sockets and spanners and maybe even a fuel
pump! (We even carried a spare carburettor once!)
Thanks to Ian for his submission, hopefully this will
help members when putting a kit together.

Members Motor – Helen Brown – Delilah

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look at
Helen’s Bay, called “Delilah”. This is what she
had to say about it.
Why would any sane person want to buy, let
alone suffer the ongoing trauma of owning a VW
T2 camper van? Firstly, as well as the initial hit of
buying the thing, they cost a ridiculous amount
of money to keep on the road. They simply do
not go uphill unless they are in 2nd gear and
labouring at 10mph. They break down in the
most embarrassing and inconvenient of places
and no matter how many gaskets and cables and
bits and bobs you carry on board – you never
seem to have the part you need to get them
going again.

Then there is the small matter of hypothermia,
induced as you’re trailing along the road at
22mph. There are indeed two sliding things on
the dash for hot air – a red thing and a green thing

but what do they do? By the time the warm air
gets from the back to the front to warm you up,
it’s gone stone cold anyway and you end up
chugging down the road in a vintage refrigerator
wearing a full ski suit and matching bobble hat.
The exception is when it’s a baking hot day. On
baking hot days, your air-cooled engine serves
as a stifling sauna and even reaching for the air
conditioning that exists in the form of a window
winder, you definitely still get a good sweat
on. Not only that, but on hot days, you have to
pause your journey, not for a coffee or even a
toilet break, but to let your engine cool down!
Generally, this happens about ten miles from
your home! Perhaps these monsters were indeed
designed for travel on the back of a low loader!
The answer is that T2 owners tend to think
‘outside the box’. Perhaps we are slightly insane,
but T2s’ tend to be driven by ‘freedom seeking’
folk with such a sense of adventure and love of
more simplistic times gone by, that even the
hours spent on the side of the motorway waiting
for the low loader to arrive are an experience to
be cherished.

It’s like owning a grown-up’s Mechano set.
Everything on your beloved T2 can be taken apart
with a spanner (or some tool or other) and easily
bolted back together again. Rusty panels can be
cut out, replaced and lovingly repainted to match
the original colour. Everything can be restored
to original. Who would even want to travel at
70mph and be nice and warm, when you can
pootle and be freezing and wave to folk at a top
speed of 45mph? And as an added bonus, when
you do stop, your gorgeous T2 leaves behind it
a gloriously, glossy puddle of oil. Nothing could
be better!


I’ve had the best adventures in Delilah. Delilah is my pride and joy.
I can’t even look at her without grinning maniacally. She is a 1973
Westfalia Continental. Everyone has a story about how they ended
up owning a T2. I ended up single at the tender age of 50 and rather
than trawl through dating websites looking for a new fancy man, I
decided to push the boat out, fulfil my pipe dream and get myself
a VW camper instead. Delilah was being stored in a garage and
although sad and rusty, she was in ok shape for her age and was
fitted out with most of what turned out to be a Westfalia Continental
interior. The interior did have denim and Barbie pink fluffy fabric
glued all over it and it did smell of mould but nothing that couldn’t
be sorted out.
The basic restoration to get her back on the road took around ten
months. I wanted to keep her as original as possible but also needed
her to be reasonably practical and reliable. With that in mind, I had a
new air-cooled engine fitted with the larger twin Weber carbs, jetted
correctly. It gives just that little bit more oomph going uphill and
on motorways I can pootle at around 55-60mph. Everything else
mechanical wise was cleaned up, checked and put back. A must
have, is an oil temperature gauge. It is definitely worth having one.
The needle only ever moves on hot days, but it gives peace of mind!
The bodywork was stripped back, rusty panels replaced and a full
respray and triple Waxoyl underneath had her looking ship shape.
The next step was to get the interior restored and put back. I love
the look of the 1970’s original interiors. Westfalia literally thought of
everything. To have a full-sized double bed, a wardrobe, sofa, cooker,
sink, kitchen cupboard, overhead locker, storage cupboards, a “not
quite a fridge” and an upstairs bedroom with a double bed in such a
tiny space is a remarkable piece of interior design

The interior all got scraped, cleaned up and put back in. New
cheerful orange canvas completed the pop top. Sadly, the original
mustard upholstery did not survive restoration.
My travel companion is a crazy collie called Dobbie. He likes sitting on
the furniture with muddy paws. Therefore, I took the furniture to be
covered in dog proof pale grey vinyl and I did give strict instructions
to keep the mustard fabric on underneath. The poor lady doing the
stitching job couldn’t cope with the rancid smell of the mould and
removed the mustard fabric….and burned it! I had to agree with
her that it did smell awful! Over the course of the following year, I
acquired a door for the wardrobe, a primitive hand pump, water
tap contraption for the sink and even a table to sit and work at
and eat my beans on toast off. (Martin Dorey would be horrified at
my campervan cookery.) Original Westfalia Continental items are
difficult to find, so I was really chuffed to have been able to source
some of the pieces I was missing via the T2 forum on Facebook.
Finally, just to get it completed, I actually bought a complete interior
and sold on the pieces that I didn’t need.


In 1973 people must have been hardier or perhaps we had warmer
weather back then. I could not cope with the cold journeys. It was
no fun rolling out of the van in a frozen lump at the end of a long
drive. So, after looking at the various options including the diesel
heaters, I finally went for what I felt was the safe option and got a
Propex heater installed in the cupboard under the buddy seat with
a digital thermostat fitted to the back of the wardrobe unit above
the driver seat. It is a real game changer. Pricey to buy, but it doesn’t
seem to be desperately greedy with the Camping Gaz and having
heat when driving and when camping without electric hook up has
made it worth every penny. Even on the coldest of days, the van
is beautifully toasty in a matter of minutes and it keeps everything
onboard dry.
Whilst on the subject of comfort, I like my comforts. I can live without
hot running water in the van but there were a couple of creature
comfort things that I needed to sort out. Sleeping on a bed with
gaping cracks in the mattress where the cushions fit together isn’t
great. Nor is waking up tied up in an impossibly twisted sleeping
bag. The back of my van stores a memory foam mattress topper,
decent pillows and a goose down duvet. I slumber in comfort, all
nicely tucked up between the dog and the spare wheel!

I learned the hard way not to sit up and crack my
head on the overhead locker. I keep my bottle
of gin in the wine rack under the driver seat.
And as for a toilet, I decided that being on my
own, I needed a toilet on board. I very accurately
measured the space between the two front seats
and after some diligent research found that the
smallest chemical toilet that Thetford makes, fits
perfectly. It was the final thing I wanted. Imagine
my joy at finally having onboard toilet facilities
and my despair when I realised that although the
toilet fitted in the space between the two seats,
my backside would not!
Naïve, I was at the beginning. I thought after this
wonderful restoration and new engine, there
would be no further problems and I’d just sail off
into the sunset. This was far from the truth. Delilah
had lots of little problems. One of the rocker
cover gaskets was loose, resulting in oil dripping
onto the exhaust and rancid smoke belching
everywhere. Being a newbie, I thought I was on
fire! Thankfully not! I eventually limped home and
replaced the spring cover with a bolt on one and
by tightening everything up every few journeys,
the oil leaks are a thing of the past. Then she was
pulling to the left. Every little problem takes a bit
of investigating and trial and error to sort out, but
it turned out that the pulling problem was the
brake callipers binding. New brake callipers were
fitted to keep her on the straight and narrow and
new Spax shock absorbers made the ride more
comfortable. Her battery died and no sooner
than I replaced it, her starter motor gave up.
Fortunately, some kind soul pushed me and her
down a hill to bump start and we managed to
get home.
To be honest, I lost confidence in her. I could
never figure out what was wrong with her and
I did consider selling her. Then I realised that my
VW coping mechanism was relying on the RAC.
This was no good! I bought ‘How to Keep Your
VW Alive’, navigated the Haynes manual and got a
genius mechanic to do the impossible and teach
me! To own a T2, you have really got to have some
understanding of the mechanical side. Although
my knowledge is somewhat limited, it has meant
that I now know enough to have confidence in
what needs to be done to keep the old dear on
the road.
I love to hike, so Delilah is a welcome sight for me
and Dobby at the end of a long day of walking.
Somewhere to sit and chill, cook, eat, watch
beautiful sunsets and sleep. You are always
guaranteed to meet other VW owners to chat
to. Just being able to jump in the van on a Friday
night and go on an adventure. What’s not to love
about owning a T2? I’ve had so many absolutely
wonderful adventures in mine that I could write a
book! It keeps me sane

Helen Brown

168 – Reader’s Road Trip – John and Ruth Garrett

For this edition, we join John and Ruth and their adventures in Spain.

Back in 2007 my Wife Ruth and I embarked on our
first major foreign jaunt in our Type 2 that we’d
owned since 1993. We had previously visited many
parts of the UK but decided that now was the time
to be more adventurous.
The ‘van had been reliable other than a very
occasional hot start problem, but that always
resolved itself after a few minutes, but we still felt we
needed breakdown cover for this trip abroad. Once
arranged, we booked the Portsmouth-Bilbao ferry
and in mid-July headed off.
We had a fairly loose itinerary but had arranged
to be in Madrid to meet up with Spanish friends
for a couple of days. Having successfully achieved
that, we decided to head to Cuenca, of the famous
‘hanging houses’ and La Ciudad Encantada fame.
We had earmarked a site in advance and found it
readily enough. It was a scorching hot day and so
we parked in the shade of an enormous tree outside
reception, while Ruth walked onto the site to have
a look at the facilities before we committed to stay.
She came back and said it looked good, very good
in fact and so she went back to book us in while I
fired up the van. It wouldn’t start! “Aha” I thought,
I‘ll just leave it for a few minutes and all will be well…
It wasn’t. It refused to offer any signs of life. After
an hour or so of trying, leaving it and trying
again we realised that it was not going to start.
What to do now? We decided that we had to call for
breakdown assistance.


At that time the breakdown cover was with Europ
Assistance, so there was an English speaking
number to call. They passed on our difficulty to a
local garage and a further hour went by before a
flatbed ‘relay’ type truck appeared. Panic. We did
not want the van to be taken away. Ruth speaks
some Spanish and explained as best she could that
we needed the van for our holiday to continue. He
seemed to understand so we relaxed a little.
His first act was to get under the FRONT of the van
before hauling himself out looking a bit sheepish.
Under the back he went, fiddled about, presumably
looking for the starter motor (I wasn’t sure that he
found it) and after several minutes he surfaced and
with a faint smile and went to his cab. He started to
reverse his truck to the van, at which point much
flapping of our arms and shouts of ‘no’ took place.
He stopped just short of the front, raised the flatbed
of the truck and then proceeded to winch our van
onto it.
By now we were beside ourselves but, with a shrug
of the shoulders he clambered up into our van, put
it in gear and let the handbrake off. We looked on in
horror as it very quickly rolled backwards down the
ramp with the tailpipe missing the pebbly ground
by no more than half an inch, before he let up the
clutch and it started. He had been oblivious of how
close to wrecking the engine it had got, but all was
well it seemed. Our van was now running but what
if it happened again?
A brief discussion took place and the gist of it
was that a new starter motor was needed. He
couldn’t provide one and all he could offer was
‘to was always park on a slope’. Now us seasoned
campers know that flat surfaces are best, but for
the rest of that holiday we were the only campers
looking for sloping pitches. Did we have any repeat
performances? Yes we did, but fortunately not too
often. Usually it started when cold without any
difficultly, but petrol stations were an issue as that
would almost always be a stop when the engine
was hot and then it didn’t always want to start. Ruth
became very good at pushing after several such
occasions, much to the amusement of onlookers.
We did however complete our intended holiday and
once back home had a new starter motor fitted.
At this point the van was 34 years old, had done
100k and had the original engine and ancillaries so I
thought I’d write to VW UK and ‘complain’ about the
poor quality components. This was firmly tongue in
cheek and I expected a humorous reply, but to my
disappointment the joke wasn’t spotted.
We still have the van and have since taken it on
several trips through France and Spain.


Post Covid we hope to be able to do it again, but
probably not this year

Tales from the driving seat – Wonderful Wales Part 1

With the UK’s first Covid lockdown lifted in July
2020 and some travel restrictions relaxed, we
decided to make the best of the situation and use
the time we had booked off for our now cancelled
wedding, to travel some parts of the UK in our ‘79
Bay. You can’t get much more socially distanced
than travelling and sleeping in your own vehicle.
We started our road trip by following the Welsh
coast from the Gower Peninsula in the south, to
the Isle of Anglesey in the north. The countryside
on the Gower is beautiful. Unfortunately we don’t
have long to explore as we have some miles to
cover before our next stopover and other sights
to see on the way but have just enough time
to head to the far point of the Peninsula to a
spot called Rhossili. Rhossili Bay is famous for an
excellent beach and beautiful views over the bay
to Llangennith and Worm’s Head. The beach is
popular for surfing and the surrounding area with
walkers. Rhossili is also famous for sunflower fields
that engulf the area during the summer months.
After a quick stop to appreciate the view, we head
off and make our way to Pembrokeshire. There is
some fantastic countryside here and it reminds me
very much of Devon and Cornwall. Having done
some research, we head to a spot called Martins
Haven in the hope of some seal and dolphin
spotting, maybe even some Puffins.


We walked Ruby (our Springer Spaniel) down to
the seafront, but don’t spot any Seals, or Dolphins,
or Puffins! But the trip wasn’t wasted, on our
way out of the area we spot farmers digging up
Pembrokeshire New Potatoes, also known as
Pembrokeshire Earlies, which are famous for their
distinctive, delicate and almost nutty flavour.
We come across a handwritten sign advertising
them for sale at the side of the road. We like to buy
food for our travels in this way, it’s a great way to
support local business and get an authentic taste
of the area you are visiting. We stash the “earlies”
with a plan to enjoy them with some fresh, local
fish – the search is on!
The next day, we decided to have an early-ish start
and hit the road, setting off on our route up the west
coast of Wales towards Aberystwyth. I had scouted


a few places using Google Maps that I think might
be picturesque but quiet and with somewhere to
park. One such place was Abercastle; a beautiful
bay with fishing boats bobbing on the sea. With
a break in the rain, we headed down to the water
and did some coastal foraging whilst Ruby had the
run of the beach to herself. We didn’t find much to
forage, but Ruby found part of a lobster’s head that
she paraded proudly for a while!
WONDERFUL WALES PART 1
Jumping back in the camper, we continue our
scenic route, climbing higher and higher towards
cliffs where we can see the weather rolling in from
the sea. Our destination is a working lighthouse
at Strumble Head. The lighthouse was erected in
1908 and replaced a light-vessel that moored in
the nearby Cardigan Bay. The tower is 55ft high
and one of the last lighthouses to be built in Britain.
When we arrive at the lighthouse there is one
other Motorhome there that looks like it spent the
night, the rocks under their wheels are a giveaway…
I don’t blame them though!!
The cliffs here are shear but beautiful. We watch
the lighthouse flash for a few moments before
continuing off along the coastal road to Fishguard.
Fishguard has a lovely little Harbour (presumably
the original fishing harbour) in an area called
Lower Town and you are able to drive all the way
along the harbour edge which is lined with pretty
houses and yachts bobbing gently in the water.
We park up and make a cuppa, watching the
surroundings for a while; there are gulls preening
on rocks and a cormorant fishing too. On our way
out of Fishguard, heading towards Cardigan, we
pass a dairy farm that is selling milk direct to the
consumer via vending machine! Another roadside
food purchase, perfect!


We decide to take the back roads between
Fishguard and Cardigan and end up on roads with
grass growing in the middle, the best kind for slow
paced Campervan driving, allowing you time to
appreciate the views and surroundings. On arrival
at Cardigan (and still in search of fresh fish!) we spot
a fish restaurant… closed. Ending up at a nearby
chippy for lunch, our search for fresh fish continues
as we head off from Cardigan to our campsite.
The next leg of our journey takes us further
North along some beautiful coastline and into
Snowdonia. Join us next time with more tales from
the driving seat

Member’s Motor – Kirsteen Creasey – Mou

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look
at Kirsteen’s Bay, called “Mou.” This is what
she had to say about it.


June 2015 – Mighty Dubfest, Alnwick,
Northumberland… unbeknown to me, my
brother (at the Dubfest with his T4 Autosleeper)
informed Ron (my other half) that “she would
love one of those” – a T2. My parents had owned
a succession of 5 bay windows and a T25 in
the ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s, so I had grown up with
VW Type Twos! My 50th birthday was looming
and we started looking, we thought we would
have to head down south on holiday to be
able to actually view some. However, a chance
conversation at the classic car show at our local
heritage railway and I heard of a van for sale in
Alnwick (5 miles from home). It was RHD with
a pop top – my two must haves – only possible
issue – it had a Subaru Impreza engine! My eldest
son (petrol head) was concerned that as I always
hear a water cooled engine approaching, I might
be disappointed with the van. I decided that
as my daily drivers for 20+ years have been
Subaru Impreza turbos, that wouldn’t be an issue
(can’t imagine where my son gets the petrol
head from!!)
So three weeks later Mou arrived, bought from
the mechanic who had put the Subaru engine
in. She needed lots of TLC inside, her Devon
furniture had seen better days, but we cleaned
and scrubbed her up and used her as she was
for Summer 2015 whilst we decided what we
would like to do with the interior. Externally
she was painted ‘Landrover blue’ – the previous
mechanic owner had done a lot of bodywork
repairs which he then painted with what he had
in his workshop.


In October 2016 we stripped out everything –
furniture, panels, floor, roof bellows, passenger
seat etc and I had a very noisy drive south of
the Tyne to get her re-sprayed back to original –
Orient Blue and Pastel White. We then replaced
the roof bellows, the metal rods needed to be
taken out of the old bellows and slotted into
the new ones, I did this on the living room floor
(the only place in the house big enough) during
my Christmas holiday 2016. I had to cut the new
bellows to put the metal rods in – I measured
many, many times before making the first cut!! I
laid the floor tiles whilst Ron was recovering from
a knee replacement (that meant I could escape
to the garage!) Stephen, my eldest son, as well
as being a petrol head, also likes turning his hand
to anything, he made the cupboards and table (not bad for a scientist!). The cab seats, bed cushions, panels and
headliner were all completed by a local upholsterer and we fitted
them in.


I have taken Mou to a number of local classic car shows, in various
states of completion, people are always interested in what you have
done. We have enjoyed many holidays and weekends away – The
North Coast 500, the Welsh coast, annual visits to the Lake District,
to name a few. Hopefully we will get to Skye in 2021 (postponed
from 2020). We have been to the Mighty Dubfest, Beach Gathering,
Volksfling and Volkspower festivals regularly as they are relatively
local. Tagged on the end of a holiday to East Anglia we went to
Viva Skeg Vegas in 2017. On the end of our holiday around the
Welsh coast we went to Volksfest Wales in 2019 where Mou won
‘Best Bay’. After 17 years of living together, Ron and I got married on
27th August, we were already booked to go to the Budle Bay Beach
Gathering on 28th August for the bank holiday weekend so that
became our ‘campermoon’ obviously!


Whilst looking through photos on Northumberland Transporters
Facebook page I spotted a van for sale that had belonged to
my parents in the ’70s – it wasn’t the original colour anymore
but I recognised the number plate, so not content with owning
one T2, February 2020 I bought a second; but that’s a story for
another time….

Ask The Mechanic – 168 – Replacing the brake master cylinder

For this installment of The mechanic, we welcome a submission from Jonathan Bruton. You may recall his submission for issue TT166 concerning brake overhaul, this is the second chapter of that story.
Not long after I had put my tools away and given
myself a smug pat on the back for having successfully
installed new callipers and discs on the front wheels
of Mortimer Henderson (TT Issue 166), my ’73 Bay, I
happened to see a Facebook post from Nick Gillott
to the effect that the master cylinder also needed
replacing at regular intervals. The master cylinder, as
its name suggests, pushes brake fluid through the
lines to the slave cylinders at the wheels when you
hit the brake pedal, operating the brakes through
hydraulic pressure.
Anyway, I tried to ignore this unwelcome piece of
advice but could no longer do so when it became
obvious that the pedal was getting spongier by the
journey; when I finally got around to checking the
level of the reservoir, it had gone down quite sharply,
and I could see brake fluid dripping out of the hole
in the front pan beneath the pedal assemblies. So,
action was clearly needed.


Once the pan was removed, the first thing to do
was to locate the cylinder, which I had never looked
for or seen. As you would expect, it is bolted to the
frame beneath the brake pedal assembly, and the
brake pedal rod fits into it through a rubber boot,
which itself fits through a hole in the frame and is
designed to keep out dirt and debris. Two brake lines
lead away from it – one to a T-piece which then feeds
the front wheel brake assemblies, and the other to a
pressure equaliser bolted to the offside edge of the
frame, which feeds the rear brakes.
The main fluid reservoir crouches on it piggyback style and is attached via two nozzles that run
through rubber grommets. Finally, the brake light
switch screws in at the back (on my replacement
cylinder, there were two holes for the switch, and
a video I watched for the same job on an early Bay
showed two brake light switches, for reasons I’m not
clear about).


At first glance it was immediately apparent that all
was indeed not well. The boot was in shreds, and the
assembly was clearly leaking, presumably because
dirt had penetrated the seal. But replacing it looked
pretty straight forward, and I naively anticipated that
it’d be done in a single afternoon! It really needed
to be as well, because we only have one parking
space, which has the charger for our main car, a fully
electric Nissan Leaf, which we can’t use if it’s blocked
by a hulking great immobilised van! This has been a
point of friction between me and my long-suffering
partner in the past, but I blithely assured her that
there would be minimal disruption.
In this optimistic spirit, I ordered the replacement
part from JK and offered it up to make sure it was the
same as the one on the van, which it was. So now it
was a matter of whipping off the two 13 mm nuts
holding it on, unplugging the brake light switch and
undoing the two brake pipes, emptying the fluid
reservoir in the process. Yeah, right!
For some reason best known to themselves, VW had
opted for nuts and bolts rather than studs to hold
the cylinder on. Which would inevitably mean that
the whole bolt would just start rotating. Which both
of them did. With one of them, I could get a wrench
on the bolt head and get the nut off no problem.
The other one, however, was conveniently located
in a recess, making it impossible to access with a
wrench, so there was no way to hold the bolt still. In
the end I had to resort to a mechanical nut splitter to
remove the offending nut. With a bit of persuasion
by hammer, I was then able to loosen the cylinder
and start moving it backwards.
The next issue was with the two brake pipes. When
new, of course, the nut rotates freely around the
pipe. After 47 years of exposure to God knows what,
however, muck and corrosion do their worst, and
the nut sticks fast to the pipe. Once I’d been forced
to buy a new 11 mm wrench (inevitably, the only
wrench missing from my set was the one I needed), I
ended up doing what the guy in the early Bay video
had earnestly warned me I really didn’t want to do,
which was to shear both of the nuts right off. After
a few seconds of panic, however, I realised that both
sections of pipe were relatively short and could
easily be unbolted from the other end: at the abovementioned T-junction and the pressure equaliser.


Perhaps this kind of damage is more consequential
in an early Bay. Whatever, I then relaxed and let the
brake fluid drain out through the fractured pipe ends
into a handy receptacle below. My advice would be
to assume that these pipes are going to be toast and
simply order replacements when you order a new
cylinder; it’s no big deal.
So, having broken both pipes and removed the
retaining bolts, I took the cap off the brake light
switch and pulled the cylinder out, complete with
fluid reservoir. Now, this is attached to the secondary
reservoir in the cab by a length of plastic pipe held
in with two plastic hose clips, themselves secured by
two tiny cross-headed screws. These are a bit pesky
to reach, but I got the lower one out easily enough,
assuming I wouldn’t need to move the uppermost
one, and removed the whole assembly.
The reservoir plugs into the cylinder in two places, as
I said above, and it’s a very tight fit – which it needs
to be – so I had to use a screwdriver to exert some
leverage to get it off. No problem there. It was in
good nick, with no cracks or splits, so I could simply
reuse it. The new cylinder comes with the sealing
grommets, so you just have to use some elbow
grease to push the reservoir on. Just make sure you
get it the right way round! Once it was all in place,
I bolted the cylinder in place, having replaced both
nuts and bolts.
Annoyingly, I missed the delivery driver when he
came with the new brake pipes the following day.
That day being Friday, it meant that the van would
have to sit on the space until at least Monday. I
averted a charging-related roasting by offering to
take the Leaf up to the nearest charging station,
so harmony was restored. Monday came and
the eagerly awaited pipes with it. As they have a
diameter of 3/16 “, they’re very easy to bend without
kinking. The only issue here was that the length of
pipe that went to the pressure equaliser was only
just long enough, meaning that I had to carefully
plan the shortest possible distance.
Having removed the old pipes, it was then something
of an epic task to get the nuts to engage with the
threads at both ends – I would get one in place, only
to find that the other end simply wouldn’t oblige. In
the end, I had to loosen the cylinder body again, and,
after rather a lot of swearing, the nuts were finally in
place, and I could reattach the cylinder to the frame
and reinsert the brake pedal rod into the boot.
Surely it would now just be a simple matter of
reattaching the plastic pipe to the bottom reservoir,
refilling it with fresh fluid, and bleeding the brakes.
Ahem. Not quite.
To start with, there was the second hole for the
missing brake light switch. Not much point putting
fluid in for it simply to run out again through a
great big hole. As automotive bolt threads seem to

be narrower than their DIY counterparts, my local
hardware store was unable to provide a suitable
blank. Happily, they directed me to a garage round
the corner, and the chap there fished around until
he found a bolt with a nipple, which looked like it
came from a carburettor assembly, that had the right
thread and would do the job. Now, it would surely
all work.
With great lightness of heart, I tightened everything
up and started to refill the cab reservoir – only
to discover that the fluid was dripping out at the
bottom almost as fast as it was going in! Yes – it
was the hose. Leaking at both ends. Meaning that,
to investigate, I’d also have to undo the topmost
clamp, which was virtually impossible to reach
from underneath. Filing that away as a problem for
later, I replaced the pathetic little plastic clip at the
bottom end of the hose – where it joined the lower
reservoir – with a proper jubilee clip and tightened
it nice and snug. I then had the blindingly obvious
realisation that it would surely be possible to undo
the reservoir in the cab and lift it out to get access
to the clamp immediately below it. But I couldn’t see
how to release the reservoir. Fortunately, the Samba
came to the rescue, and I was soon undoing the two
little screws that held it in, which enabled me to lift
up the reservoir and shed light on the problem.
Sure enough, the hose at the top end was split, so I
trimmed it and replaced the plastic clip with another
metal pipe clamp. I also realised that the nozzle (I
can’t think of the proper word for the protruding part
the clamp attaches to!) and was supposed to have a
plastic sleeve around it to aid the seal, but this sleeve
was missing from both ends, so all I could do was
make sure the clamps were located on the slight
bulge in the nozzle and done up nice and tight.
And then – glory be! – the leak was finally sorted!
I filled her up and fetched my handy little Draper oneman bleeding kit, which is a bottle with a one-way
plastic hose that fits snugly over the bleed nipple
and doesn’t permit any backflow. When you’re lying
under the van, you can operate the brake pedal from
underneath and watch as the air bubbles shoot out
of the bleed nipple and disappear into the bottle,
to be replaced by a lovely golden bar of brake fluid,
which is a fine sight.
So, there it was. All done. Except that I couldn’t find
the cab fluid reservoir cap. Anywhere. I’m sure many
of you will know what it’s like not to be able to find
the tool you’ve just put down and to have to spend
ten minutes searching for it until you find it in your
pocket or somewhere. Anyway, as my frustration
and incredulity increased, I resorted to rummaging
through the recycling until I found the top of a
squash bottle which could be made to fit. Better
than nothing! Anyway, I could finally triumphantly
drive the bus off the parking space and swap it for
the Leaf, which I plugged in, thereby ensuring that
domestic harmony would continue without a ripple.
And then, there was the reservoir cap. Perched
on top of a wheelie bin, where I’d left it. Laughing
at me.
Jonathan Bruton