Category Archives: Member’s Stories

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

Member’s Motor – Nigel Came – “Ferrari Mio Ferrari”

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look at Nigel Came’s Late Bay Window as he shares some stories of his early ownership.

My Late Bay T2 Camper (DET 710V) is ‘Ferrari Mio Ferrari’ (Ferrari My Ferrari); this is a word play on ‘Ferrari La Ferrari’ (Ferrari The Ferrari) a £2m hyper car.

The following may sound like a tale of woe but:

  1. Whilst there is a big lesson to learn when it comes to a restoration project, ‘don’t be led by the heart but approach with extreme caution’!
  2. I am the proud owner of an almost new (?) 41.5 year old T2 bay and over the last year, my first year running it, I have had a lot of fun & pleasure using it and a lot of compliments made about it.

Back in the summer of 2018 I had a retirement job working as an onsite driver at the BCA Blackbushe car auctions. Every now and again an unusual vehicle (not an ex-company car or van) turns up for auction, this T2 Bay camper being one of them; from what I could see it was rusty in all the right places! For some while I had been thinking about getting a campervan for my motorsport marshalling trips and from the moment I first saw it, I could see how I wanted it to look once restored; a big mistake!?

The first week going through the auction it did not sell getting nowhere near its reserve of £10K. The second week, the van was up for sale again on Thursday, I told everybody at work that I was not going to put in a bid for it. But on the Wednesday morning I could not help myself and I had to put a bid in. I put in what I thought was a low bid, relative to the reserve, but close to the price offered the previous week. At the end of the day, on Thursday, I found out that for £7k I was the owner of DET 710V.

My initial plan was to restore the van myself. A neighbour was restoring a split screen van and had all the relevant equipment and offered to help me.  [As an aside his van is another story in itself, he bought it from the estate of an acrimonious divorce and the wife had attacked every body panel with an axe!] So, I bought the Haynes VW Bay Transporter Restoration manual (written by Fletcher Gillet) and having read the introduction I knew I was in trouble! I had also discovered a local VW specialist and decided to take the van to them for a restoration estimate. Based on their experience, from restoring vans in similar condition, the owner gave me a pre strip estimate of £20 to £30K. This was within my budget range so in July 2018 I left the van with them.

This VW specialist is a very successful and busy business, there are lots of air-cooled VW’s and early Porsches on site at any one time, and it took just under a year for my van to reach to top of the queue and the work began in June 2019. From then on it was like walking down a slippery slope and I describe the experience of being like ‘peeling the rings off an onion’; the more you exposed the more that need restoring! After a further 18 months, progress being delayed by COVID, 2000 mhrs of labour (plus parts and VAT) I collected my ‘Ferrari Mio Ferrari’ in November 2020. She looked fantastic, the VW specialist had done an excellent job, and it looked exactly as I had envisaged it back in the summer of 2018.

I knew I could expect some teething problems with a fully restored van but did not expect, and I was more than a little disappointed, the first one to occur on the drive home. The steering was almost uncontrollable; to say it was vague and sticky was an understatement. After a couple of short local drives and an exchange of emails, with the VW specialists, I took the van back to them in December 2020. Again, the work was delayed due to COVID but I collected the van in February 2021; with a new steering box and anti-roll bar fitted, the steering was fixed.

My next problem occurred a week later when I took the van to a tyre fitter to get the wheel tracking/alignment sorted; the VW specialist did not have the laser equipment. Firstly, as the van has been lowered, their equipment did not fit and on driving away after a few hundred yards I lost all drive! I was pushed to a safe place and called the VW specialists, the owner said it sounded like a gearbox issue; once again I was more than a little disappointed as the gearbox had been refurbished as part of the restoration.  The van was recovered back to the VW specialist later that day. Fortunately, the loss of drive was not a gearbox issue but was due to the drive shaft bolts working loose! I collected the van in March and it has run like a dream ever since (touch wood) and it has not been back to the VW specialist again.

My marshalling season runs from March to November and during the past 2021 season I have used the camper most weekends covering around 3000 miles visiting race circuits around the country. This year I am planning to go even further afield and drive it to the Spa circuit, in Belgium, and marshal there.

Whilst I will never fully recover from the trauma and expense of the restoration ‘Ferrari Mio Ferrari’ is everything that I wanted for my weekends away marshalling and I am a very proud member of the VW T2 Owners Club. PS: my wife calls the camper ‘my 5* plus hotel’.

Tales from the driving seat – Loch Lomond to Fort William and the Jacobite

The drive from Loch Lomond to Fort William is rather pleasant. Along the way It takes in Glencoe, which is a real reminder of the beauty that Scotland has to offer. It was interesting to see how the landscape changes from pine forests at Loch Lomond to the harsher bare landscape of Glencoe.

On leaving Lochearnhead, we swing along the top of the Loch Lomond National Park on the A85. We pass Glen Ogle viewpoint where you can stop to take in the sights of the viaduct and take the opportunity to fill up at Lix petrol station (petrol stations can be few and far between, so it is best to keep topped up, especially when your fuel gauge doesn’t work!).

Continuing along the A85, we reach Ben More and Crianlarich. At this point you can go south towards Loch Lomond on a road that then meanders along its shore, but we head further North passing through Tyndrum, which has lots of opportunities to grab supplies and there is a community woodland with a “Gruffalo Trail”; a woodland walk with large wood carvings from the Gruffalo – a great chance to stretch legs and let dogs have a comfort break too.

As we Continue north, we pass Loch Tulla on the left and as we begin to climb in altitude on the approach to Glencoe there is a decent sized car park and viewpoint to enjoy. Continuing the steady climb, the road passes between Locan na h-Achlaise and Loch Ba, both of which also have layby and viewpoint options for a quick stop to take in this breath taking landscape.

As the steady climb flattens off, the road straightens out and continues in a straight line cutting through the landscape for what seems like forever. The view ahead is stunning. The road eventually bends round the base of the mountains and we pass the Kingshouse Hotel on the righthand side. If you decide to travel this way this is where to make a mental note: the next left hand turn after crossing the river Etive – take it and follow the road for just under 4 miles until you reach a spot that will look familiar if you are a fan of the Bond Film Skyfall. This is the spot where 007 and M stand on the roadside sharing a moment together as Bond reflects on the place where he grew up. We stopped here and took our own version of the infamous shot.

We head back to the main road and continue on through Glencoe towards Fort William. There are several spots here to stop and enjoy the area with a walk, cycle, or even just stop and take it all in. There is a car park (well parking) on the left hand side as the road sweeps round to the left. Stop here and get a picture of the small white house sitting in the shadow of the mountain; apparently it’s the most photographed house in Britain! From here you can also hike the Devil’s Staircase.

Carrying on down the road there is a proper car park that allows a well trodden walk up the mountain and just a little further on from that is Glencoe Waterfall and The Meeting of Three Waters. As the road continues to sweep though the Glen, there are more parking spots and opportunities to enjoy this wonderful place. As the road exits the Glen there is an official Visitors Centre and you are greeted by the shores of Loch Leven. This area also offers several campsites; perfect for spending more time in this area if desired.

We continue on towards Fort William, crossing water where Loch Leven joins Loch Linnhe. It is the shores of Loch Linnhe that play host with our campsite for the night; Bunree Caravan and Motorhome Club Site.

We have stayed here once before in 2019 when we completed the NC500 (I will cover that trip in the future) and so we know that one of the secrets of this site is to book a non-awning pitch (ssshhh don’t tell anyone!) as they are all located on the water’s edge with the best views.

We have a quick cuppa before out to Fort William train station. In 2019 we watched the Jacobite steam train cross Glen Finnan viaduct, as it does in the Harry Potter films and said that we would like to do the route from Fort William to Mallaig.

The route takes in stunning views across lochs, mountain terrain and coastlines that are perfect and unspoilt. Not only that, you also pass Dumbledore’s final resting place, an island in the middle of a Loch where his silver tomb is broken open by Vuldemort. Of course you also cross the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured in several of the Harry Potter films during the train journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

On arrival at Mallaig we had just under 2hrs turnaround to have a look about. We spotted a seafood cafe that had outdoor seating and was dog friendly, so we quickly got over there before the rush from the train… We enjoyed fresh local prawns that were delicious! 

Our return journey to Fort William was just as pleasant, seeing the views from the other direction of travel. 

We headed back to Bunree campsite as the sun was setting, just in time for Ruby to have a quick paddle before settling in the camper for the night and watching the rain roll in across the loch towards us. 

Phil Aldridge

“Tales From The Driving Seat” is on Instagram @talesfromthedrivingseat and on Blogspot

Ask The Mechanic – Fuel problems By Robert Girt

Reports in Transporter Talk Issue 148 of Club Members having blocked fuel lines chimed with us as our 1970 Bay has recently suffered similarly and others may wish to benefit from our experience.

The MOT was due 2 weeks before our ferry was booked for a 3 week holiday in France. I cast my eye over everything and found nothing wanting so went off to my friendly testing station with confidence. However, mindful of repeated warnings in Transporter Talk of the fire risk from perished fuel lines I asked Roy, the tester, what his opinion was of my fuel hoses.
All seemed fine, but with the engine running Roy uncovered a small leak between the pump and the carb. It hadn’t been evident to me or Roy when the engine was still and there had been no smell of petrol. I was grateful for Roy’s experience. He replaced all the rubber pipes and the in-line filter (£90!); the MOT was secured and we were set fair for our holiday. Off we sped (?- well 55mph!) down the A1M, but approaching Peterborough we ran into a congestion standstill and discovered that tickover had disappeared. Crawling in thick traffic was a real pain, constantly having to juggle the clutch and the accelerator, but otherwise we could make good progress and we reached our overnight Dover campsite OK.
I took out the slow running jet; that looked clear, but I baulked at taking the carb off, with diminishing daylight and without the resources of my garage at home. We considered soldiering on to France but the prospect of trying to access the ferry without slow running decided me to seek professional help. If I tackled the carb myself we were going to miss our early morning ferry booking anyway.
We phoned our predicament to DFDS Ferries and did a quick internet search on the smartphone which lead us, with Satnav guidance, to a likely garage in Dover. They
could tackle the problem, but only in 3 day’s time and directed us to another garage.
They immediately redirected us to Cowens Motors (Unit 11, Holmestone Road, Coombe
Valley Industrial Estate, CT17 0UF Tel 01304 207743) where we received a warm and
friendly welcome from Ian, the proprietor. He was enthusiastic about tackling our problem, having cut his teeth on Beetles and early Transporters, but he already had a Bay for that day’s work. We killed a day visiting the White Cliffs, very interesting and were back early next morning at Ian’s garage. 2 hours (and £90 later) we were sorted, carb cleaned out and engine retuned; it had never run so sweetly in the 41 years we have owned it! Definitely recommend Ian! Off we raced to get the next available
ferry, an extra £50! and the holiday was really under way.

All went well for the next 1000 miles: the van ran like a Swiss watch! However, leaving Albi and following a slow lorry up a hill with a tail of impatient French cars behind us, the engine suddenly cut out and we kangarooed to a halt.
Initially we had tickover, but nothing more unless I pumped the accelerator jet. Then
tickover disappeared too. We limped in to a lay-by and thankfully the shade of a tree and rang the rescue service. Although they were initially somewhat slow to understand our predicament, they eventually cottoned on and 2 hours later a friendly French mechanic in a rescue truck hauled us off to the yard at Garage Pradelles Roland in Lisle sur Tarn. Language was a bit of a problem as our schoolboy French was not quite their Occitaine dialect. They called in a neighbouring Madame who spoke some English and we got talking. Again they were too busy to start our job until the next day and it was late afternoon by now. We rang to advise the rescue service and they went away to organise a hotel and taxi for us , although the garage kindly said we could camp in their
yard and have a key so we could use their toilets overnight. Communication with the
rescue service became problematic due to our not having registered our trip for voicemail purposes, but before our accommodation needs could be sorted one of the mechanics strolled out of the garage and indicated I should start the engine while he diddled the carb. He raced and raced the engine and eventually, after much dying and starting, it ran on its own, though still not on tickover. He then started fiddling with the points, took them out to reface them and put them back, but to no avail. Finally, he thought of the slow running jet, removed it, declared it “merdoise” (a rude French word we did understand!), dragged an airline from the garage, blasted out the jet and its socket, and “Sacre Bleu”all was well again! He then took us for a hair-raising trial run where the Transporter French Land Speed Record was broken before handing the keys back in to my trembling hands, and relieving me of €89 (say £82). Worth every penny just for the experience!
So we were able to move on and camp nearby that night, much to my wife’s disappointment at missing a night in a posh hotel! And much to our dismay as that night a frightening thunderstorm in the early hours brought down large bits of shading trees all over the campsite, enough to make a small dent in our roof! After that, what else could go wrong? Thankfully nothing did and we were able to enjoy the rest of the holiday on the Loire and Somme, but with some apprehension the carb would block
again: but it hasn’t in a further 1,000 miles. So what lessons to draw?

  1. Check your pipes with the engine running.
  2. Make sure the new pipes are clean inside before fitting them.
  3. Consider cleaning the carb when you fit new pipes.
  4. Sort your voicemail before you venture abroad, BUT don’t be afraid of going: your problems will get sorted and you will meet some really nice people. Well, we’re already planning next year’s trip.
    Robert Girt

Member’s Hack – Ian Crawford’s starting issues

Long time member Ian Crawford had issues with his van that he bought in 1972 at a year old. He still drives it! I should point out the van was a year old, not Ian.

Ian says:

An unusual problem solved the other day. My van would only turn over 2-3 times when
ignition switched on, then it just refused to do anything! I connected my battery charger to the terminals (before switching on) and the lights showed the battery was 20% efficient.
I then switched the charger on and literally within 15 seconds it said 100% charged. I
disconnected and switched off the charger and attempted to start the van.
As before, it only turned over 2-3 times then it wouldn’t do anything. Reconnecting the
charger it again showed only 20%! Once again, charging for around 15 seconds showed the battery 100% charged. Time to retreat and think hard as to what the problem really was and how to solve it. I slept on it and the next day I had a brainwave!
I decided to remove the battery earth strap from where it is bolted to the chassis. Using a steel wool pan scourer, I gave the bare metal a thorough good scrub as well as the underside of the fixing lug of the earth strap. I also smeared Vaseline over both surfaces.
I then refitted the earth strap into the chassis fixing hole and went to start it up. Surprise surprise, it started first time!!
So if you have experienced problems with starting, maybe removing and cleaning the metal around the fixing of the earth strap will solve it.
Hope this gives members some useful tips.

Member’s Motor – Liam Quinn – Doris

Ever since I was a young boy I have had an
interest in all things automotive and camping.
My uncle used to have a Comer camper which
my mum and dad used to borrow so we could
have a family holiday. These were some of the
best times of my childhood and I first saw a
1976 Westfalia when I was about 7 years old. It
was green with a green Westfalia interior and
was owned by my sister’s friend’s grandparents!
I thought to myself, “When I grow up I would
loved to own one”. I had tried many times over
the years to own one but could not afford one
due to one thing or another. It then came to my
30th birthday and I thought life is it too short to
not follow your dreams, so I set out in the search
for my camper.
I purchased Doris in July 2013. She is a 1972
crossover with day van interior. I had been
searching for a bay for some time and had been
to see quite a few. I stumbled across Doris in
a Piston Heads advert and fell in love with her
straight away. She was painted in the desert
camouflage paint you see today. Situated in
Ipswich, which was a 6 hr drive from where I
live in Skelmersdale, I had to go and see her so
I booked a week off work and called the seller,
driving down the next day. I finally had her in
front of me and she was better in person than
in any pictures, although she needed some
jobs doing. I took a test drive and had a massive
smile on my face, so had to buy her. It was late in
the day so was unable to get the funds until the
next day. I booked a hotel for what seemed like
the longest night I have ever had. I was finally
fulfilling my childhood dream of owning an aircooled camper! The next day I was up early and
it took most of the day for the bank transfer to
go through, but finally she was mine. I set off on
the 7hr trip back up north and it was the best
drive I had ever had. I named her Doris May after
my late grandmother who passed away in 2012
at the age of 100.

Here is a small account of some of the work I
have completed on Doris:
I took out the dash and rear interior and retrimmed this myself with vinyl and laid a
laminate effect floor. I also insulated behind all
the panels and then later added a new leisure
battery and LED lighting with some brown
suede thermal curtains. After driving Doris for a
while I found I needed a little more storage for
camping gear, so then with the help from my
mother, I built a rear buddy seat and trimmed
this to match the rest of the interior. VDO
gauges were added to the cab along with a
rose wood steering wheel, followed by another
re-trim of all the dash panels.
I wanted the classic wheel look for Doris and I
have always loved white wall tyres, so I fitted
a set of Atlas whitewalls which completely
transformed her look. I wanted a full length roof
rack but the cost of them was so high I found
a good used 3 bow instead which helped me
towards the desired look, I might add a 2 bow
to the front in the future. I purchased clear
front indicators, clear and red rear lenses and
refitted the all important VW badge to the front.
Another addition was the air vent ears which
aid to the engine cooling.
Doris came with a 1776cc engine with twin 40
IDF Webber carbs and a custom made exhaust
with a fat boy muffler, which the neighbours
love at 7am in the morning!
Unfortunately the gearbox had a bad second
gear syncro so had to be replaced along with
the shift rods and shifter. I talked to a few people
and decided to upgrade the standard gearbox
to a freeway flyer and changed the lightened
flywheel she came with back to a standard one
with a new clutch for good measure.
In 2014 – 2015 after the show season I left
Doris on my drive over winter under a cover
and then when it came to MOT time she had
developed a few issues. The front brakes had
seized, so the callipers were replaced with a
late bay conversion and the twin carburettors
needed to be rebuilt as they were leaking fuel
into the oil. I also decided to get the ignition
system overhauled and upgraded, so found a
new old stock Brazilian Bosch 009 distributor
and had an electronic ignition fitted with new
plugs, coil and leads at the same time. Other
upgrades were red MST Serpentine pulleys, a
fuel pressure regulator, new rear tinware, EMPI
bolt on rocker covers, a breather box and the
most important thing, an automatic engine
bay fire extinguisher. If I could give any advice,
it would be to fit some sort of fire suppression
system to your engine bay and check your fuel
lines every year as I have heard too many horror
stories of fires destroying peoples’ pride and joy.
The engine and gearbox work was carried out
by a local VW specialist, White Hill Garage in
Chorley, they were great at giving me advice
and sorting out issues with Doris and also gave
me pointers on how to fix things myself, they
certainly know there stuff
Following the issues I had in the past, I set out to
find dry storage for Doris and fortunately came
across a large barn space to rent. This has given
me the opportunity to fit it out with tools so I
can not only keep Doris out of the elements
but keep her looking her best as well. I now also
have the space to tinker and personalise more.

One of the best memories I have was camping
near Stratford upon Avon. My mum and dad
went down to stay in a cottage and invited
me down to join them, but I wanted to camp
in Doris so I decided to pack her up and set
off down there too. The drive down was great
despite being on my own and it was great
seeing all the people passing, smiling and
waving. Once there, I set about finding a camp
site to stay for a few days. The site I found was a
great, cheap little site next to a pub. I was only
going to stay for a few days but decided to stay
for a week! It was fun to just get out in her and
drive round all the little B roads, it’s just what
she is made for and the best trips are always the
ones where you have not booked anywhere
and just turn up.
The best thing so far with owning Doris is the
VW community, or family that comes with
it. Being a shy and anxious person I found it
hard to meet and talk to new people. I went
to my first big camp out at Busfest in 2015 and
camped in the VWT2OC area where I met some
great people who made me feel so welcome
and at home and I have made some friends
for life and this has given me the confidence
to talk and interact with new people. I was also
fortunate to win top 3 bay windows at 2015 Bus
types show and shine.
It’s not just the vehicle you buy into, it’s the
lifestyle and the feeling you get seeing others
when you pass, smile and wave. I am sure this
will now be a passion for life and the main thing
before any upgrades in 2017 is to get out in
Doris more by going to more shows and get
out there camping.
We spotted Doris on Instagram when Liam
tagged the Club’s new Instagram page with
one of his pictures and we fell in love with her
We hope to meet Liam and Doris at a show
sometime in the future and will be sure to give
you a wave if we see a camouflage Bay rolling
down the road.

Poppy’s Adventures in France

We live near Oxford so Calais was not practical
as we wanted to hit Bordeaux, so we went
Portsmouth to Caen and Le Havre to Portsmouth
as the return due to pricing and availability. We got
a good rate through the camping and caravanning
club discounts that more than paid for this year’s
membership fee. We also took out AA European
cover, although it was about £80 a week on top of
the annual cover charge, expensive but reassuring!
In theory every town in France has a mechanic
and they are all the older fashioned mechanics
who know our simpler engines extremely well,
chances are this extra insurance would have
been unnecessary.
Prior to setting off, we had been having some
engine issues and multiple mechanics locally had
looked at it, most recently a half day that resulted
in a cable tie forcing the air filter to always run with
warm air intake not cold. A very expensive cable tie!
Our latest tank of petrol showed running figures of
just 18mpg which wasn’t good either. We decided
that actually the real issue was the carb and since
we have a second van and that one has the same
original carb, we could swap them over and see
what happens. One quick read of the Haynes
manual and a bit of Internet research and the swap
took around 10 minutes! What a transformation!
Poppy had more power, better idling, no cutting
out, no holding back and the problem was solved
just before the trip. Following the advice from
our illustrious President Malcolm at a recent AGM
weekend, we also bought a split charge relay and
fitted it, total price £7 and that charges the leisure
battery when the engine is running, the solar panel
keeping it going when parked.
Other prep work for a big long trip was to make
sure that on board were the bits that we might
need. Spares – Rocker cover gaskets, throttle and
clutch cables, set of plugs, points, condenser and
coil. Some wire and termination plugs, electric
tester (even the screw driver with the light bulb
from the pound shop), set of bulbs, some fuses
and a fan belt. We also took 2 litres of oil, checked it
each day and in fact only used about 300ml across
the whole trip. Then we packed the tools – Set of
sockets, adjustable spanner, screw drivers, feeler
gauges and of course a cork screw! Other useful
stuff – torch, you need a high-vis jacket per person
and they fit under the passenger seat along with
a cheapo (we paid £2) plastic triangle also under
there as they need to be accessible from the cab
area. We didn’t bother with the breathalyser, you
are supposed to have two but there is no fine for
not having one. If you wear reading glasses, you
are supposed to have a spare pair in reach of the
driver too. We took the log book, MOT, insurance
doc and a photograph of each one just in case and
we needed them to get out of the UK as a lot of
stolen vans used to get driven out of the country.
We also kept our passports with us at all times
even when out for a walk, just in case. The Michelin
2017 map of France and a sat-nav for those times
when the map just doesn’t do it were essential.
We stayed at the camping and caravanning
recommended site on the Saturday night in

Caen as the ferry docked around 9.30pm and
it was literally half a mile from the ferry port but
expensive at £26 per night. The morning was
bright, the sky looked promising and the van was
running well, our ultimate aim was Bordeaux but
given the breakdowns of recent years, we were
just going to enjoy what fate brought us. Maybe
Sunday would see us stay over in Nantes? Well the
motorways are for fast cars and you can pootle
along in your van on free roads and they are all
deserted, beautiful countryside and clean villages
and towns. Nantes came and went before we
stopped at the supermarket for bread and cheese
and by late afternoon we arrived on the west coast
at a village called Jard sur Mer about 200 miles
from Caen, Poppy running better than ever, the
site found in the Aires book was six euros per night
and was right by the sea, a little village for strolling
and they had an ice cream shop too. Monday
morning waking up hearing the ocean and we
still had no plans or sites booked for the rest of the
trip. We bought a book from Amazon of the Aires
Camping Car Europe version, there are signposts
all over too of big camper vans signposting a place
to stay – often a car park in town but most are
free, pretty, clean and have CDP and fresh water,
although some charge for the water. That evening
we were in St Emilion, on a vineyard having a BBQ
and drinking wine made from the grapes that
surrounded us on all sides.
We had never done the exciting bit of setting off
with no booking for the night and just looked at
the map each night for where to head the next
day. Sometimes the Aire that we aimed for just
didn’t cut the mustard, often we found something
better on the way, vineyards being our favourites
and along the way we stayed by the Dordogne,
the Charantes, on vineyards, distilleries and in
pretty villages. Sum total cost apart from the
first night was twelve euros site fees and we
came back with a lot of wine bought from the
people who make it. We visited Bordeaux, Bourg,
Cognac, Bergerac, Monbassilac and other places
making wines plus cultural places like Oradour sur
Glane (a village retained as it looked after a 1944
massacre) and Arromanches les Bains (scene of
the Normandy landings) amongst others. Day
time exploring towns, villages, medieval chateaux
places of interest.
As usual, at each fill we log the fuel consumption as
we have done since purchase and we managed to
get up to 29.7mpg averaging 26mpg across a 1,400
mile round trip which alone saved us £100 on
petrol. Since June 15th this year your mobile works
in Europe on your UK mobile contract so there are
no extra charges which meant we were online and
able to make and receive calls without worry. The
overnight ferry from Le Havre meant a full day of
fun and exploring (and ice cream) before getting
on the ferry as it took us home. Docking at 6.30am,
we zoomed through the English countryside and
were home by 8.30 just before the locals started
heading off for their Saturday shopping trips.
What would we do differently? Well for sure we
loved it so much that we want to go back soon.
We would know that on Bastille Day the shops
shut at lunchtime making our last afternoon’s trip
to the Hypermarket to fill the van before getting
on the ferry a fruitless venture! We’d go for longer
and spend more time practicing French before
heading off. What a fabulous time was had by
all. There were a great deal of campers sharing
their experiences, one from a Dutch couple who
annually drive their modern van down to Italy, take
the ferry to Greece and have 3 weeks wild camping
on deserted beaches. Maybe once we retire that
will be possible! There were no flights involved, no
hotels, we did eat out quite a few times but plat
du jour gives you great quality food with lovely
ingredients for a set price meaning that the whole
trip was really very inexpensive and we arrived
home with 20 bottles and a whole lot of memories.
Anyone know the nearest place I can get moules
et frites?

Member’s Motor – Paul and Suzanne Dunstan – Lola

Sitting by the log burner one cold winter’s
eve, my wife Suzanne and I had a very
uncomfortable chat with decisions to be
made just after Christmas last year; Delilah
our 1970 Early Bay had become the problem
child all VW parents hope won’t happen. After
several years of happy times, forgetting all
the damp nights from the leaky pop top and
refusals to start after a weekend away, the
steady drip of cash to keep her going turned
into a deluge when we found out her engine
problems, whilst not terminal, were not good
news. Our soul searching kept coming around
to the inevitable; we’d have to let her go, listen
to our heads and not our hearts. We’d toyed
with the idea of getting a T4 a few years ago
but air-cooled was always the previous winner.
Who couldn’t fail to love the look, the sound
and the feel of the old Bays and Splitties?…
Only the hopeless romantics and the ones
with deep pockets!
Everything happened in a whirlwind shortly
after the New Year. Delilah advertised and sold
within a matter of days to a wonderful fellow
from Kent who would have the time and
expertise to return her to her glory and just
days after and several viewings of vans in all
conditions and specs, we picked up a T4 2.5TDi
SWB short nose, new conversion from Will at
Coast Campers near Bognor. Will had turned
around an extremely sound, low mileage work
van, fitted her out with a ¾ rock n roll bed,
swivelling double passenger seat, Dometic
twin burner and sink, 240v/12v fridge, split
charger, hook-up and plenty of storage by Evo.
Suzanne soon had her named Lola (think The
Kinks / trans-porter) and we began adding the
personal touches. We are Pagans and into our
Nordic heritage and culture, so we set about
sourcing decals to make Lola look that little bit
different to your average camper. It’s surprising
how much you can save by not looking at
camper/vehicle stickers and decals and look at
interior decorating instead!
We traded in our Skoda estate and downsized
to a Fiat 500 and I immediately began using
Lola as a day runner, something I’d never even
contemplated with Delilah, and as soon as the
weather picked up we started to get away for
weekends and day trips. So far, we’ve travelled
the Hampshire countryside, done Dorset and
Wiltshire, and sailed over the Solent for a long,
long weekend at the Isle of Wight Festival.
Our first weekend away was to Eype/West Bay
near Bridport; Highlands End campsite is on
the cliff tops and has excellent facilities to suit
all needs and pockets. We love Dorset as it’s so

close and it offers everything for a weekend as
relaxing or active as you’d want. We even took
Alfie the pug with us but the pesky rabbits
occupying the campsite on the clifftops kept
him alert all through the small hours with their
thumping and such. The luxury of having a
van that was guaranteed not to leak helped
with the relaxation but missed having a pop
top, meaning we had to bend double or kneel
down to cook. The ease of shifting a lever and
pulling out the bed was fantastic, especially
putting it away again in the morning rather
than the near IKEA building process we
needed with Delilah’s bed. I’d never got around
to finishing the hook up on Delilah either
so having power to the van took away that
modern day first world anxiety of smartphone
battery watching and also meant we could
take an electric kettle with us for that lifesaving
morning cuppa just that little bit quicker.
Soon after the Dorset trip, we were off to
the Stonehenge Camping site at Berwick
St. James. What a wonderful site, with big
communal fire pits, small but spotless facilities
and only a 4 mile walk from the hallowed
stones themselves. They even have VW only
pitches! We’re already looking to book there
for next year’s Summer Solstice so we can fully
appreciate the atmosphere and meet up with
other like-minded V-Dubbers.
6 months in and Lola has given us back our
freedom to get away when we want and know
we’ll get back without the worries we all have
when on the road in a 47-year-old air-cooled.
We just did the VDub at the Pub festival at
Wimborne with friends who hired a T6 camper
(we’re in the process of getting friends hooked
on campervans). It’s a great little family
friendly weekend and there was every type
of VW under the sun there. As always you get
to wander around the campsite and arena
being nosy and chatting to other owners
(shout out to Steve and Dee with Matilda)
comparing interiors, engines, colour schemes
and everything in-between and always come
away with ideas for the next addition or
modification. When time and money allows,
ours will be to get Lola a pop top to save our
aching backs and knees.
I know we’ve lost some of the kudos and
glamour we used to have but in their own way,
T4’s have character and can be whatever you
want. Reliable and versatile, Lola will hopefully
last as long as the originals with the same
amount of dedication and TLC and will give
us many years happy ‘vanning in the future.
We’ve already got the next weekend sorted,
Somerset with our latest campervan convert
friends (keep it quiet though, they’ve got a
Renault – we tried!

Camper hunting – Keith Bolton

It all probably began when I was at university
back in the seventies and my supervisor had
an early 60’s Split Screen in which he drove
most of his students on course visits. I was the
proud owner of a black and chrome Honda
SS50Z motorbike, which I would take along and I
used to race the VW back from our trips. The result
was always the same: I easily out-accelerated
it, but then on the long straights it gradually
hauled me in with its 60mph top speed. Once
it was ahead I hung on in the slipstream until
gradual asphyxiation forced me to fall back to
watch helplessly as the speeding Kombi slowly
slipped away, laying smoke like a WW2 destroyer.
It was in those days that a love was kindled, and
it lay unrequited through many dalliances with
big Citroens, British sports cars and assorted
Land Rovers.
Then a couple of years ago, my Defender betrayed
my trust one more time. I knew instinctively that
it was over and what I had to do and that was to
seek out my first love: My wife, Jenny (different
sort of first love) and I decided we would look for a
Camper. We knew we could offer it a good home
because we had already had a garage able to
accommodate the Defender. Jenny, for different
reasons, was equally keen to enjoy a break. Not
long ago I had to drive a borrowed and stricken
T25 at night in rural South Africa and met lots of
friendly people every time I stopped, the problem
being that I couldn’t persuade them ever to get
back out again! We knew we would forgive an
old Camper for breaking down because we knew
that’s what they do and also because everyone
says it’s how you make new friends.
So here are some experiences and tips we picked
up on the way. I hope not ALL of it is obvious.
First was to go to shows and flatter owners into
showing us round their Campers, asking to
see their best welding repairs. Then I turned to
websites where I found most on Car and Classic,
Auto Trader and eBay. Split Screens were out of
range, so as is so often the case, I went for a younger
model and was easily seduced by the softer lines
and less expensive tastes of Bays, especially early
ones. So began the long phone-calls and longer,
fruitless trips from which, to summarise, I learnt
to be very suspicious of: anything selling near a
canal, anyone poor at maths or grammar (body
110%, drives excellent, etc.), anything just painted,
anything wet and trader jargon (got to be right,
good clean motor, first to see will buy, etc).
Now for some hopefully practical tips, especially if
like me, you are not mechanically talented :

  1. Find a local specialist you can trust. I was
    extremely lucky to come across Jez and Lou
    at Dubtricks near my home in Harrogate, who
    actually spent ages humouring me and looking
    at photos of possible purchases which I took
    to show them, even though I wasn’t even a
    customer. They were just really prepared to take
    an interest and offer advice – though I suppose
    they might have reasoned that if I turned
    up one day with a basket-case, I might try to
    persuade them to work on it!
  2. Best tip – Take a camera with a powerful flash
    and photograph every inch of the underside of
    as possible. Holes appear through Waxoyl as if
    by magic when you get the pictures onto your
    computer and I could easily have bought a
    lovely looking late Bay from its confident owner
    if my photos hadn’t shown it to have a chassis
    with a LOT of extra ventilation – holes show
    as jet black against the reflected wax surface
    and weld lines show up like a relief map of the
    Yorkshire Dales.
  3. Take a WEAK magnet, like a fridge magnet. A
    professional-looking heavy magnet has expert
    pose value but it’s more like a metal detector
    and will find metal deep beneath, whereas a
    fridge magnet will fall off if there is filler under
    the glossy paint. Also take a powerful led torch.
    Used at an angle, paint texture changes
    and panel ripples show immediately.
  1. VW in the sixties and seventies had OCD and
    plastered their vehicles with ID plates. The
    Camper we bought has to date revealed plates
    next to the windscreen, behind the driver’s seat
    and deep under the carbon on the floor of the
    engine bay. It is good if these match and even
    better if you check it all out on the internet from
    the m-plate codes behind the driver’s seat (on
    our U.S.A. import). It is also fun because of what
    else you find. I dug up from under the front
    seats an anti-Vietnam war badge, something
    to do with a rabies clinic, a strange-looking
    cigarette end and a scary looking dead spider.
  2. Documents – Ideally import documents and UK
    log book which all match up. Historic vehicle
    status is great for forty year-olds and apart from
    free road tax you should still be allowed into
    London freely once new emission zone rules
    come into force in 2020. This could spread to
    other cities, so it’s a thought.
  3. Choose your van based on the seller and where
    the vehicle lives, as well as the Camper itself.
    Ours had lived in a big garage in a big house
    in the country with a Porsche and the owner’s
    kids all loved it, so maximum points there. I
    should add that my wife does say I am easily
  4. Beware the prices of spares. Ours had a broken
    jalousie window from a break-in attempt and
    it took me six months to find another and
    that basic-looking little Westy folding table
    top will set you back around £200 on eBay in
    mint condition. I thought I might need a new
    front-hinged roof as mine was warped into a
    pagoda impersonation (I wondered at first if
    it was a rare Japanese import) and they seem
    totally unavailable. Luckily Jez and Lou with
    a combination of a super hot day, probable
    extensive sunbathing lying on top of the roof,
    lots of leverage and remarkable skill, have
    returned it to shape without it cracking. I still
    don’t know how they did that, but it saved me
    over £2000 on a non-original replacement.
  5. In my view, don’t worry about left-hand drive or
    right-hand drive. There seems to be a premium
    for right-hand, but you are never remotely
    going to overtake anyone so it’s just not an
    issue. I’m OK with my German VW having
    German left-hand drive (OK it’s American, but
    same point, sort of).
  6. Lastly, to come back to the beginning, it’s really
    all about rust. European vans will probably have
    been restored, but a recent paint job will stop
    you knowing how well, despite photos – I am
    a photographer and can make ANYTHING look
    good! USAs, South Africans and Australians
    may be rust free, but may not if they lived near
    the coasts (most South African ones) or in salty
    winter cities (lots of USA ones). Conversely,
    European interiors are more likely to be in good
    condition, but at least you can readily see if the
    hot climate ones have baked themselves to
    biscuits and dust.
    So, after it all, we have a lovely Early Bay Westfalia
    Campmobile, with an original interior in amazing
    condition. It has never had any welding and it’s
    recently been to Dubtricks for a new engine,
    clutch, dynamo (though it’s ended up with an
    alternator as the Hella recon dynamo was faulty),
    replacement fuel lines, rewires to make it less likely
    to immolate itself and some UK headlights (despite
    passing its last mot with USA lights!) The thing
    is all this is incidental to having good bodywork
    and a good interior, everything mechanical can
    be fixed and there are clearly specialists out there
    who are enthusiastic, expert and a pleasure to
    work with. There are also excellent parts suppliers,
    such as NLA, Just Kampers and VW Heritage with
    prices for moving bits reasonable, far less than
    for modern vehicles, though if anyone knows
    of a LHD early bay steering box for less than the
    average mortgage, do please let me know! We
    can’t wait to get it back on the road.