Category Archives: T1

The original Transporter. What a great idea!

How to apply for the Historic Vehicle tax class

Since April 2014 classic car VED exemption has been rolling from 40 years. This is great news for classic petrol heads and will affect over 10,000 classic car owners each year who currently pay road tax.

What is really heartening is that the government has stated that they regard the classic car industry as an important part of the nation’s historical heritage. To obtain the exemption you have to prove that your car was built before 1st January of 40 calendar years ago. If your car was registered between 1-7 January of the year, the DVLA will let you register it as a historic vehicle since it is highly likely that the car was built in the previous year. Don’t wait till your current tax period expires apply now.
How to apply for the Historic Vehicle tax class You will need to go to your local post office with these documents:

• The V5C Registration Certificate – make sure you list the tax class as Historic Vehicle and sign and date the form
• The V10 Application for a Tax Disc (ignore the section on insurance certificates)
• Valid MOT certificate

The post office will keep the V5C and forward it to the DVLA for them to change the tax class to Historic Vehicle. They will also issue you with a new V5C form. All subsequent V11 Renewal Reminders should have the tax class listed as Historic Vehicle. After your vehicle has been taxed as a Historic Vehicle you will be able to get a refund for each full calendar month left on the tax period. The good news is that you won’t need to apply for the refund as the DVLA will automatically issue a refund when they receive the notification that your vehicle’s tax class has changed to an exempt duty class.

A few things to watch out for

If the vehicle date is incorrectly stated on the V5C form then you need to supply contemporary documentary evidence to verify the actual date of the vehicle. This is quite involved and you’ll need Glass’s Check Books for this. You should contact the DVLA or Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs for more advice. Also, the DVLA state that all vehicles such as buses or goods vehicles which are used commercially are not entitled to apply for the Historic Vehicle tax class. For more information visit the DVLA site and read leaflet INF34 on taxing historic vehicles.

Experiences of overhauling a Volkswagen air-cooled engine

Compiled and written by Nigel A Skeet, previously published in the club magazine.

Sometime in early 1983, our 1973 VW 1600 Type 2’s AD-series engine, developed a major oil leak, which we were unable to trace; leading us to completely dismantle the engine and renew every conceivable oil seal and gasket, plus the steel, pushrod tubes, which were noticeably rusty. Although by that time, I had quite a good selection of tools, including two click-stop torque wrenches, none of them were suitable for removing the 36 mm AF, flywheel gland bolt, which is tightened to a very large torque.
Fortunately, one of my engineering-student colleagues at Cranfield, named Jonathan Wells, loaned me his ¾ inch drive T-bar and 36 mm AF socket tool, which he used for the rear wheel hubs, of his VW based, autocross space frame buggies. Even with this tool, one needed to slide a long steel pipe (being several feet long, it is referred to in some quarters, as a scaffold pole), over the T-bar, in order to produce sufficient torque. When we later refitted the flywheel bolt, we were faced with the problem of how to obtain the correct tightening torque (which is critical for this engine); not having a torque wrench of sufficient capacity. This was finally resolved by weighing myself on the bathroom scales and then standing on the T-bar, pipe extension, the appropriate distance from the socket centre; ensuring that the pipe was horizontal.
Ten years later, in 1993, when we sold the 1600 engine, second-hand, in favour of a VW Type 4 style engine (the virtues of which, Jonathan Wells had extolled to me, in 1983), the buyer recounted a tale of woe, about his supposedly “reconditioned” 1600 exchange engine, whose flywheel bolt had not been adequately tightened. The flywheel subsequently came loose, resulting in a severely damaged engine, which was effectively written off.
On the whole, removing, dismantling, rebuilding and refitting the 1600 engine (my first ever attempt at such things) was child’s play (in many respects, simpler than doing a 200 piece jigsaw puzzle), but removing some of the cover-plates was a nightmare. Many of the cheese-head, slotted M6 screws had rusted in solid and needed to be drilled out very carefully. Noting that the screwdriver slots of conventional and Philips head screws were easily damaged, I later replaced them with 10 mm AF, hex-head M6 bolts, which would withstand higher torque. At a later date, I took the further precaution of coating the screw threads, with anti-seize copper grease. These days, I would also be inclined, to substitute stainless steel bolts and/or Allen socket-head screws, which are what I am using, on my transplanted VW Type 4 style engine.
Many of the cover-plates had corroded where they were exposed to the elements; having been given only a thin coat of paint at the factory. In some places, the steel had become wafer thin, necessitating repair. All the cover-plates were comprehensively treated with D-Rust (a phosphoric acid based rust treatment solution), to etch all the rust out of the pits, and repaired as necessary, by brazing on reinforcement sections, before repainting them with several coats of Finnigan’s Hammerite. When I sold the engine in 1993, these cover-plates were still in excellent overall condition, which I have since sold off piecemeal, during the following years; some as recently as 2010~12!
Removing the old exhaust silencer, proved to be no picnic either, and it was necessary to use a hacksaw and cold chisel, in order to disengage it from the heat exchangers. Had removal of the exhaust silencer not been necessary, it would probably have lasted a few more years. The original exhaust-manifold nuts, incorporated HeliCoil™ thread inserts, which did not rust, but the hexagonal outer portion had corroded badly and no spanner (neither metric nor imperial) would fit them snugly, so “copper exhaust-manifold-nuts”, were purchased as replacements.
We did initially obtain a stainless steel replacement silencer, from the local branch of Qwik Fit Euro, but this would not align correctly (may have been intended for a VW 1200 engine!?), with the cylinder head exhaust ports and/or the heat exchangers, so it was returned to the suppliers. Ultimately, we fitted a Scat ‘Monza’ style silencer, with two integral twin tail pipes, from the USA, purchased from the German Car Company, in Hadleigh, Essex. This lasted well, for nearly 8 years, until Easter 1991, when one of the twin tail pipes dropped off, somewhere on the M40 or M25 motorways. The so-called “copper exhaust-manifold-nuts”, which had been fitted nearly 8 years earlier, proved to be merely copper-plated steel nuts, and had rusted onto the screw studs; one of which sheared off and resulted in the need for an expensive repair to the cylinder head.
I had never been impressed with the standard, single-piece, exhaust-silencer clamps, intended for the VW 1600 Type 2, so instead I used a pair of two-piece, VW Beetle tailpipe clamps, which are more fiddly to fit (see Transporter Talk, Issue 27, February 1997, Pages 24~25), but provide a better seal between the heat exchangers and silencer. To be sure of a gas-tight seal, I also used a liberal quantity of Holts Firegum; a well-known brand of exhaust system sealant.
During the engine strip down, it was discovered that the valve guides were excessively worn, so the cylinder heads were taken to a local engine reconditioning workshop, in Basildon, Essex, for refurbishment. This proved to be yet another encounter with shoddy workmanship, resulting in one of our cylinder heads being consigned to the scrap bin. It was alleged that the damage had arisen, as the result of some earlier bodged attempt at replacing a single valve guide. The workshop manager disclaimed all responsibility, and showed us a cracked exhaust port, together with a rough-hewn valve guide, which had supposedly been removed from it. In our own minds, we were convinced that this was a deliberate falsehood, but could not prove it!
The cylinder head also exhibited deep bruising of the cooling fins, consistent with violent blows from a large ball-peen hammer; marks which we knew had not been present, when we submitted our cylinder heads for refurbishment. As a consequence of this episode, we were obliged to purchase a new, replacement cylinder head, from another supplier. Although this was for a VW 1600 engine, with the same sized valve heads as the original, the exhaust valve stem diameter was 9 mm, rather than 8 mm. I suspect there may have been other, more subtle differences, which were not apparent to my then untrained eye.
Such differences, may have contributed to cylinders 1 & 2, running hotter than cylinders 3 & 4, which I noticed some years later. Since then, I have learned that there are at least nine different VW 1600 ‘twin-port’ cylinder heads, with three different, standard combinations of valve head sizes, plus probably various differences in combustion chamber shape, volume and deck-height (i.e. squish or quench) clearance too. With hindsight, we should have noted the part number, cast into the rocker box of the defunct cylinder head (assuming it was originally ours!), but in those days, we believed there was only one type of VW 1600 cylinder head and were unacquainted with the significance of the suffix letters, in VW part numbers.
Whilst the engine was still out, it was a good opportunity to remove and inspect the petrol tank, which exhibited some corrosion around the fuel outlet, beneath the vehicle. Although there was slight pitting in places, the thickness of the steel had not been significantly compromised, so it was sufficient simply to etch out the rust pits, using D-Rust and repaint the refurbished surface. Other areas of the petrol tank were also showing signs of superficial rusting, which were similarly treated.
Having removed the bulkhead plate to gain access to the petrol tank, it was apparent that this too was rusting in places, so this was also refurbished before repainting. In common with the engine cover plates, the petrol tank and bulkhead plate, had received only a thin coat of paint at the factory, so all items received several coats of Hammerite; paying particular attention to those areas, which previously had rusted.
Prior to painting, I had twenty one, captive M6 nuts (with hindsight, M5 nuts might have been better!), welded onto the back of the bulkhead plate, coinciding with the top, middle and bottom, of the seven vertical ribs; anticipating that at some time in the future, I might wish to fit, electronic ignition and perhaps other accessories, which would need to be mounted in the engine compartment.


1973 VW 1600 Type 2, removeable fuel-tank compartment bulkhead, with nineteen M6 nuts, welded onto the back of the seven vertical ribs.
Note also, the additional holes in the bodywork, on either side of the bulkhead, for supplementary electrical cables, pipes or hoses, to enter the engine compartment.
Any accessories could then be fitted, using custom made mounting brackets; avoiding any later haphazard drilling of holes in the bulkhead (which might penetrate the petrol tank), to accommodate self-tapping screws. About ten years later, a local VW Type 2 owner of my acquaintance, who sadly lacked this kind of foresight, somehow managed to drill three holes in the forward face of his petrol tank, when fitting secondhand motorcaravan furniture, in his Microbus. Fortunately for him, I had a secondhand petrol tank for sale!

Road trip! Man builds stretch VW camper van that fits 20 people

http://metro.co.uk/2016/01/15/road-trip-man-builds-stretch-vw-camper-van-that-fits-20-people-5624637/

All aboard the love van. An Indonesian mechanic has built the world’s first stretch VW camper van, which can seat around 20 of his mates. Wahyu Pamungkas, from Semarang, Indonesia, spent a year creating the ultimate hippie wagon, which is now 7.6 metres long. He did have a little help from his friends though – around 30 of them. The VW fanatic spent more than £20,000 (400million Indonesian Rupiah) pimping out his stretch Kombi.

He did it by mashing together two normal Kombi vans, altering the chassis , and swapping the 1,500cc engine for a 2,000cc engine so it could cope with the extra weight.

The interiors are fitted out with cream leather and seat around 20 people. (

Naturally, there’s a fully stocked mini-bar.

It brings all the girls to the yard.

There’s even a soft-top for catching a few rays. (Picture: Barcroft)Did someone say road trip?

 

A VW Camper For The Child Who Has Everything

http://www.babatude.com/essentials/baby-and-childrens-toys-and-gifts/bun-van-bed-and-room.html

How much do you think this would set you back?  £800, £1500, £5,000…read on to find out the price.

Bun Van is a bed and room reinvented by CIRCU as the iconic VW camper, ideal for the little hippy adventurer in your life!

The whole bus is a hand made reproduction, with the exterior of this piece made in fibreglass with the use of chrome-plated parts and palisander wood veneers throughout give the Bun Van bed a true retro feel.  And in addition to storage compartments hidden throughout, you’ll also find a flatscreen TV, a mini bar, a sofa and of course a bed inside.

Parents will recognize the inspirations for this piece, one of the most remarkable vehicles ever produced and at the same time, one of the most iconic and magical symbols of fun and freedom!    Few other vehicles have the ability to turn heads and conjure a spirit of freedom, adventure and open roads.

Kids will also recognize another inspiration, one of the most well know characters of the Disney movie “Cars”, Fillmore, the 1960’s hippie bus. This bed is perfect to bring some fun and imagination to rooms!

Measuring 400 x 185 x 220 cm, the Bun Van bed adds a statement to your kids’ living space with impressive artwork and sophisticated furnishings.  A true and genuine piece of art, the bed pays homage to the hippie lifestyle and motoring heritage.

So how much?

Over £30,000 –  you do need to have everything…

bun-van-detail-circu-magical-furniture-01_11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front suspension

Following on from a conversation with one of our members, it is time to talk about harsh rides. Remember that ride comfort is a personal choice!

Simple rule:
Low = less travel on the suspension = more likely to be a harsh or bumpy ride.
That’s the simple story though!

Anti-roll bars

Some people call them sway bars, but of course they are designed to STOP the swaying as you go around a corner, therefore sway bar is a bit of a misnomer.

As you drive round a corner, the weight moves (Newton’s Laws start to apply) due to conservation of linear momentum and the outside of the van will drop, with the inside edge of the van lifting. To stabilize this, you can attach a bar under the vehicle that restricts both of these movements, leaving the van itself much flatter. Because this is effectively adding stiffness / restriction, going overboard on this bar can make cornering less comfortable.

Above is an anti-roll bar with the graphic borrowed without permission from the Just Kampers web site. Before you head over there with your wallet open, remember that an anti-roll bar is not the answer to the handling question.

Step away from the credit card….

Shock absorber

The shock absorber….erm….absorbs the shocks of the uneven road. It did not take them long to come up with the name I suspect.

It is an oil filled tube with a round disk on a rod in the tube that lets the oil move past it slowly, damping the ability of the tube to expand and contract. One end effectively bolts to the vehicle and one to the wheel (yes, I know that’s a massive simplification, bear with me). As the wheel hits a lump in the road, the oil filled tube contracts and absorbs the impact, expanding again afterwards but not with a jolt.

These are consumable parts and do not last forever. The can deteriorate over both time and usage – just because it has only done 10 miles does not mean that your vehicle does not need them replacing. Do not replace them just for the sake of it though.

Testing

Taking the shock off the vehicle is quite simple. Jack up the front using the front beam and your trolley jack, settle it down on axle stands safely and securely. Remove the wheel. Depending on suspension height and shock length, you may need to shorten the shock to remove it by just removing the bolts at each end.

You are not strong enough to test it like this, so don’t do it. Those of you who did the above, please have a cup of tea and stop called me names.

Approach the vehicle with the shock absorbers still attached. Grab the rain gutter or open the front doors and grab the B post or A post and wobble the van from side to side. Does it stop wobbling pretty much immediately? If it keeps moving for more than about 1 second after letting go, probably old shocks and they need replacing. If it just keeps on wobbling, definitely change them.

Have a test drive on an uneven surface but don’t speed. If pot holes are unpleasant with a crashing or jarring feel, that could also be shocks.

Find someone with the same ride height as you and the same model. Have a go in theirs. If theirs is noticeably smoother, it can be shocks.

Replacing

As above, you remove the wheel safely, unbolt the shock, fit the same length shock from a reputable manufacturer and reassemble in the reverse manner. Only ever replace both left and right at the same time. Expect to pay about £50 per shock plus around an hour labour for the pair. If you buy a cheap pair, expect that you pay for! We bought Sachs Boge heavy duty ones for our Crossover which fixed our crashing ride. Kyb and other manufacturers are available from leading stockists.

Next steps

This should now give you a good ride on bumps and generally. If you also have problems with body roll on bends that makes things a trifle hairy, now start thinking about anti-roll bars.

The “standard” anti-roll bar is around £20 and will make a small difference. The heavy duty anti-roll bar is about six times as expensive but can make a significant difference to the roadholding and stability of a vehicle, especially on corners.

Handling kit

If you prefer a bigger delivery of parts, you can opt for a suspension handling kit which is a new shock absorber in all 4 corners plus front and rear anti-roll bars. This is a LOT more money – last seen over £400 but will transform tired suspension. Remember that this will not address problems with the beam, torsion arms and other standard parts that need reviewing first.

Going off piste

For the ultimate in change, you can remove the front beam, the shock absorbers, steering and replace it all with twin wishbone coilover suspension and rack and pinion steering covering a lot of bases in one brand new kit. This however makes your bank manager cry and means that you have to hide your bank statements for a while. Last seen at £2,800 fitted for a Bay window, £4,000 for a Split screen, and later vehicles work differently so cannot get this option.

Non-standard

If your ride height is not standard, please consult a professional as the above is a guide based primarily on standard ride height vehicles. Lowering a vehicle is something that I want to learn about and will feature in a future article if I complete that little task!

Improving fuel economy

Following on from last week’s article, this week we are talking about improving fuel economy.

Now that you know how to calculate fuel economy, let’s look at ways to improve it!

Improvements before you start the engine

  • Remove anything in the vehicle that is not required. Lighter vehicles use less fuel. Take it out!
  • Pump up the tyres to the manufacturers recommended pressure. Soft tyres create friction and use more fuel.
  • Ensure that the engine is well maintained and running well. Properly adjusted points / electronic ignition uses the fuel better and wastes less, good carb adjustment uses optimal amounts of fuel. It all adds up!
  • Similarly the drive train / brakes / hubs / wheels can create friction and drag slowing down the vehicle taking fuel to overcome it.
  • Remove the top box or roof rack if you do not need it. Aerodynamics makes a big difference even to a vehicle shaped like a loaf of bread!

Improvements once you are rolling

  • Drive safely and conservatively.
  • Stay within the speed limit.
  • Slower is better – every 10mph above 50mph will reduce your fuel economy by 10% on average. Enjoy the journey!
  • Find a route where there is constant speed – a few miles more around the outside of town with no slowing down is probably less fuel overall than going through the middle with the constant speed changes.
  • Accelerate smoothly without taking the engine to the red line.
  • Try not to accelerate up a hill if it is safe to do so.
  • Accelerate down a hill up to the speed limit if it is safe to do so. Remember being on a bicycle and how you used to get up speed downhill ahead of that big hill? That is the same principle of conserving energy!

Logging

  • Keep a diary of the fills. Monitor how things change through the seasons.
  • Observe any big changes and understand why – does one driver have a “heavier foot”? If so, is your biggest fuel saver asking them to be a passenger?!

If EVERYONE makes just a 1% change to their fuel needs, it will save 10 litres per person per year. 1% sounds like nothing but that is 3 billion litres per year in the US and 7 billion litres per year across Europe.

Helping yourself

If you are spending £1,000 per annum on fuel, a well thought out strategy and a £200 service can actually work out cheaper overall but reducing the fuel used / money spent. Drive sensibly, maintain the vehicle well. Not only are you saving fuel and helping the planet, but you are also keeping the vehicle in better shape, making it last longer and stay in better condition.

Fuel economy explained

You have a vehicle. It does not have “fuel economy”.

You have fuel. It ALSO does not have fuel economy.

Put the two together and you do have fuel economy.

Did you know that electric vehicles actually pre-date petrol / gasoline vehicles? The major downside even a century later is that electric power does not have the same energy density as a gallon of fuel. Your starter battery in your vehicle, whether it is a 2 seater light weight sports car or a large 4WD truck, will be somewhere between 20 to 50 pounds in weight / 10kg to 25kg.

Put that battery into an electric vehicle and even the most modern and lightweight electric vehicle will travel no more than about 6 miles. (Modern vehicles are approaching 150Wh per mile) and that is very optimistic. Take that same SPACE occupied by the battery and a petrol / gasoline engine will travel 40 miles / 60 kilometres conservatively. Take that same WEIGHT of the battery and you will travel far further. A starter battery of 50 pounds in weight (25kg) in a modern petrol car could travel more than 300 miles!

Due to this energy density, oil based vehicles, either petrol or diesel have dominated the market. They are however not overly efficient.

The above diagram of a passenger vehicle using the American EPA Urban cycle definitions shows that only 12% of the energy from the fuel ends up driving the wheels. A massive 62% of the energy is lost as heat.

Checking fuel economy

Fill up your tank as full as possible (initial fill). If you are using a classic vehicle, avoid supermarket fuel as some owners have found reduced fuel economy and other issues. Choose the RON fuel for your engine as applicable. Note the first odometer reading.

Drive normally and at a suitable point – ideally later in the tank not sooner to reduce the error margin, fill up again (second fill). Note the second odometer reading.

For those of you in America, you just filled up in gallons. For those in Europe, if you want to stay in litres then great. To convert to UK gallons, divide the number of litres by 4.56. So 45.6 litres is 10 UK gallons. Gallons are smaller in America!

(Second odometer reading) – (First odometer reading) is the distance travelled between fills. The fuel added in the second fill is how much fuel you needed to travel.

(Distance travelled between fills) / (Second fill) = Fuel economy.

Talking about a Volkswagen transporter, the older vehicles will be towards the 15 miles per UK gallon (12 miles per US gallon) or 1.6 miles per litre. More modern vehicles can get towards 50mpg (40mpg in the US or 11 miles per litre) and custom engines can make a big dent in this figure!

Some modern calculations are litres per 100 km / 60 miles. This is also valid but for this, the lower this number, the more efficient! MPG means a higher number is better.

Next week, we will be discussing improvements in fuel economy.

Air cooled heating – adjusting

Following on from last week’s article about air cooled heating, let’s get on with adjusting it.

Tools and parts

  • Items similar to – scissors, wire cutters, Stanley knife, pliers and other cutting, pulling and squashing devices
  • Axle stands or other way of lifting the vehicle enough to get underneath safely
  • 6mm spanner or socket
  • Screwdriver
  • A friend, they won’t get dirty or need to roll underneath
  • Protective items for clothing, gloves, goggles / safety glasses

Checking

Get the vehicle far enough and safely enough in the air that you can crawl underneath and still safely operate tools.

Disconnect the battery. This is optional but safe.

Take ALL of the tools with you otherwise you end up doing a lot of sit ups going to fetch the above items.

Between the rear wheels at the back of the Y shaped J tube and heading into the heat exchangers, you will see two flaps, one on either side. These control the hot air coming forwards from the engine into the J tube and up to the front of the vehicle. If required, have your friend sit in the front and move the red levers up and down – look for movement underneath!

When both levers are moving, you should see a thin metal cable moving a flap that is about 50mm long and there should be a spring and a bolt. The arm should be moving freely forwards and backwards. Most commonly the cable is either missing or jammed.

If the cable is missing, get a new set! If the cable is jammed, get some lubricant on it and try again later. Manually move the bolt using pliers and see if the cable is free but the bolt is jammed. If required, detach the cable and verify which piece is jammed. Once all is moving, check that the control arm is as far forward as it can go when the cable has the slack taken up and the level on the dash is fully open. Similarly the level at the other extreme on the dashboard should allow the bolt to fully close the flap.

Adjust the slack on the cable using the 6mm spanner / socket, release the bolt, use pliers to take up the tension and tighten again. This actually needs doing regularly.

Thank your friend kindly and let them get on with something less interesting than fixing the heating on your vehicle.

As you are under there, don’t forget to wire brush and the loose dirt, muck and other unwanted bits then paint and underseal, especially on the heating pipes.

Follow all along from the front of the heat exchangers, along the J tube, the main tube in the middle, up and over the beam and up to the totem pole. Look for holes, leaks and missing insulation. Fix them all.

Crawl out from under the vehicle, stretch, curse if required, dust yourself down, get the axle stands off, reconnect the battery and celebrate by moving the levers on the dash of your working heating.

Remove the socks from the air vents on the dash (a popular way of stopping the draughts in the 90s), start the engine and feel more heat than before. If it is still not HOT once the engine is up to temperature then you still have air leaks in between the heat exchangers and the cab. Troubleshoot every join, seal every incorrect hole and check every flap. Come along to a club meeting and we can all take a look together!

 

Air cooled heating – explained

This article will help those with an air cooled vehicle from a Split screen through to the early T25. If you bought a water cooled engine, then it does not apply!

Do you own a VW that you cannot use in colder weather without travelling in a big coat, bobble hat, thick socks and blue fingers? It is a great and effective system but with 39 years since they stopped producing the late Bay and nearly 60 years since the introduction of the Split screen, inevitably there will have been a small amount of wear and tear.

In this article, we are going to cover some of the important parts of getting some of the lovely heat from the engine up to the people at the front. That’s you.

Basics

The engine produces heat and a lot of it goes out of the exhaust system. Part of that exhaust system is the “heat exchangers” and that literally means a sleeve around part of the exhaust pipe that heats up the outside air. Once that air is warm it can warm you but it is currently underneath the engine at the back of the vehicle. We need to move it from there up to you without losing much of it.

The process

The big fan above the engine cools the engine (air cooled – the clue is in the name) and there are two big ducts / funnels, one of either side in the engine bay. These go through the metal tray around the engine, underneath, into the heat exchangers and can then enter the heating system. From there, a control flap can be opened to funnel that heat along a 90mm / nearly 4 inch tube along the middle of the vehicle from the gearbox up to the front wheel line. From there is jumps over the front beam in a squashed tube then turns up at the front at the totem pole for those of you with that funny looking piece of metal.

The first place to look – the end game

If you can get heat into the van, you want to keep it there. Windows need to be able to close fully, doors need to close with no draughts, door seals need to be good. Any original flaps, sliders and other ways of getting air into the van need to be able to seal, otherwise that good, warm air will leave very rapidly. these are all visible and easy to track down. Make sure that the roof has similarly no big holes for heat to leave.

Now focus on the insulation. If you have zero insulation in the walls, the heat is going to leave really quickly – not only when you are travelling along but also in the evenings when you are sitting quietly, drinking wine and playing scrabble. Other excitement is available. Remove the wall panels and insulate – that is an article for another day, just don’t use rockwool which absorbs moisture in something that you squash into cavities pressed against metal bodywork. You may as well just drop the whole vehicle in the sea and let the salt water rust your pride and joy!

For evenings, consider curtains which will help insulate too.

Start at the start

That big doghouse fan noted above. Does it turn freely, helping to cool your engine? Ensure all is good in there otherwise you will have a hot engine and cold passengers. From there on both sides are holes about 3 inches / 70mm diameter – check they are not rusted and letting out that precious heat. From there, they warm air goes into stretchy concertina plastic tubes that pass through the tin tray around the engine and underneath. These should be tightly attached to the fan at the top using good jubilee clips – these are inexpensive and will really help.

Now get under the vehicle, safely (disconnect the battery, use axle stands, tie back long hair and loose clothing, your health and safety officer should be standing by and so on). At the bottom of those two concertina tubes they should connect to the heat exchangers, these are boxes on either side of the engine forming part of the exhaust system and do not touch them if the engine is warm. Again, the connection from one to the other should be free or rust, rot and holes and should be sealed well by the jubilee clips.

Then the heat itself

The air from the engine has now flowed underneath the vehicle and has been pushed past the exhaust, getting hot. Both heat exchangers flow the air into a Y shaped tube, curiously called a J tube, although replacement parts may mean this works slightly differently. From there, that lovely hot air enters the tube running along the middle of the vehicle. Once again, the join from the J tube or similar into the middle heating pipe needs to be sealed and not allowing the air out.

That big tube running along the middle of the vehicle needs to be free from holes. Originally from the factory, it is a heavy steel pipe with a jacket around it. that jacket is often missing or otherwise less than perfect. Check it, refit it, replace it. Even a heavy coat of underseal will give you some thermal help as well as reducing the air loss due to holes.

Just in front of the B posts (between the front doors and the sliding door) that tube joins a flattened pip section that jumps over the front beam and up to the front of the vehicle. That can have holes and is tricky to fix. From there you are almost up into the cab area and once inside, there are usually few issues.

Opening the system

The levers on the dashboard that are red are for the warm air. The green or blue ones are for the cool air. Next week, see how to get the red ones operating as they were designed.

More brake work

Following on from last week’s post about brake shoes and drums, this week is about hydraulics. They sound scary, but are less so once you know a little about it.

The brake cylinder is the….erm….cylinder at the top.

Is it leaking or otherwise not in good shape? It is bolted through the back of the hub with a 13mm bolt. Inspect the hose as well, they need replacing after a while, especially if you see any lumps, bumps, bulges or splits. These are replaced by undoing the 11mm nuts, remembering that you will need to plug the rest of the system to stop all of the brake fluid from dropping on the floor and that stuff is slippery. I normally use a plastic golf tee pushed into the hole then cling film / food wrap over that and the pipe / bracket and some insulation tape to hold it all in place. You won’t keep the air out totally and will need to bleed the brakes at the end.

If you change the cylinder, it attaches with that same bolt. If you change the brake pipe, just do up the nuts. Paint the metal, copper grease / anti-seize anything that isn’t the drum and shoe and reassemble as noted in last week’s article (link is at the top of this one). The more attention you spend now on greasing and anti-seizing the nuts, bolts, holes, springs and so on is going to save time in the future, let it all last a lot longer and reduce the chances of problems.

Don’t forget to do the other rear wheel too!