Another wonderful turn-out from the Club! Dressing up and Stone Henge appeared in many of our members’ photos, to celebrate the Summer Solstice, in lieu of our planned Isle of Wight Club Camp. That’s been put off till next year, but you can spend a few enjoyable minutes looking over these photos instead. No ice creams, though, I’m afraid…
By Jonathan Bruton
CAVEAT: brakes are obviously safety-critical components, so only attempt this job if you are confident that you can do so safely! This is a personal account of a process and not an exhaustive set of instructions; the author cannot be held liable for any injury arising from accidents caused by a failure to carry out safety-relevant tasks properly.
Some while ago, in that pre-Covid world in which we could drive places (remember that?), I started to become aware of a tell-tale grinding noise coming from Mortimer’s nearside front wheel. There still seemed to be adequate braking power, nor was the van pulling particularly in either direction when I applied the brakes, so I wasn’t unduly concerned. But I thought I’d take advantage of the lockdown to jack him up, whip off the wheels and take a look at the callipers and brake discs.
The old caliper
You can imagine my horror when I saw that, in the first assembly I looked at on the nearside, the calliper pistons were frozen in such a way that the brake pads must have been forced up against the disc surface. The pistons normally only protrude slightly from the inner surfaces of the calliper, allowing enough space to snugly fit the two pads with a tiny bit of clearance. But as you can see on the picture, the dirt seals – concertina boots that should move in and out with the piston and protect it from contamination – had long since perished and the pistons had accordingly seized up in extended position. On closer inspection, it also became apparent that there was zero friction material left on either pad(!) – what I was hearing was metal on metal. Whatever braking performance there may once have been was obviously a thing of the distant past! The disc surface was as scored and uneven as you would expect under those circumstances, and the disc was obviously beyond redemption. Things were a little better on the other side, with some wear left on the pads – although the fact that van wasn’t pulling to the right suggests that that brake wasn’t functional either. I toyed with the idea of trying a rebuild but, when it became evident that there was no way I was going to get the bleed valves free, I thought I might as well save myself a lot of bother by buying new callipers for both wheels along with two new discs.
The worn brake pad
The first job, of course, was to get the old callipers off so I could remove the discs. This was relatively straightforward. I first had to undo the two 17mm retaining bolts on the inside of the assembly. I then used a pin punch to knock out the two pins that hold the retaining spring in place before tugging out the old pads. It was then a question of pulling out the clip that holds the hose in place and removing the whole assembly from the disc, being careful not to place undue strain on the metal brake pipe that attaches to the calliper. I also needed to bear in mind that the topmost bolt has an unthreaded section on the shank closest to the screw head. The nuts were pretty tight, however, and I needed a torque wrench to get them off. According to the BUSARU guy, the torque is about 110 lbs.
The top bolt
The tricky part in getting the discs off was removing the two button head Allen bolts. Stopping the drum from rotating was an issue until I had the brainwave of clamping the disc to the backing plate. I managed to free up one bolt on each side by conventional means but soon found myself in danger (of course!) of irredeemably rounding off the holes in the other two in my desperate attempts to get them to budge. I even resorted to cutting a groove into one of them (and the surrounding metal) with a grinder to create a slot for a screwdriver. But nothing could persuade it to move! A quick appeal to the Samba revealed a range of opinions on the subject, from just drilling the heads off (the logic being that the thing was securely held in place by the wheel anyway and wasn’t going to go anywhere) to using an impact driver. I like to do things properly if I possibly can, so it was off to eBay to get myself an impact driver (can’t believe I’ve never owned one!). And, hey presto, a couple of whacks on each side got the troublesome little critters out. I took a quick look at the condition of the bearings, which seemed fine and well-greased, so I left them alone. I then fitted the shiny new discs to both sides.
The shiny new disc
The next job was to disconnect the old callipers from the brake lines. Now, as the brakes are safety-critical parts, I’d always shied away from doing anything that would involve having to refill and bleed the fluid. But, having watched a number of YouTube videos on the subject, I concluded that I had nothing to fear but fear itself and went ahead. It would have been a good idea to apply some WD40 to the nuts first, though: on one side, the pipe started to twist with the nut (which should normally spin freely around it), which promptly sheared off. So it was back to Just Kampers for a new 24-cm brake pipe (I swear I’m keeping that company afloat single-handed at the moment!).
Offering the caliper to the disk
With the old units out of the way, it was just a matter of fixing the new ones in place, torqueing up the bolts, and sliding in the new brake pads and backing plates, having first applied some anti-squeal gunk to both sides of the plates. Once they were both in, it was the turn of the retaining spring and the two pins (here I reused the old ones because the new pins supplied with the kits resisted my efforts to tap them into the holes). I used a pin punch and hammer to tap them home.
The new caliper in place
Then it was just a question of bleeding the brakes, replacing the wheels and venturing out for a short road test (keeping an eye out for the police – strange times!). Job done!
Kit acquired for the job:
Front brake kit (discs, pads, fixings) £94.75
Calliper (nearside) £99.75
Calliper (offside) £99.75
Brake disc screws: £21.00
Morris brake fluid (1 litre) £11.00
Front brake pipe £15.00
Impact driver £23.94
Holts brake cleaner £5.25
Ceratec anti-squeal paste £3.30
Starrett pin punch £4.39
Total for job: £378.13
Meet club members Howard and Debbie’s bus “Bertha”. (Restricted to club members only).
Spend since last report: £313.58. Total hours labour since last report: 45.5
When I look back through my photo reel for the last two months, I see plenty of progress on Eric. I also see two weeks holiday in Cornwall, the Just Kampers open weekend, Volksweald in Kent, RAF Odiham and some non VW related stuff too. Yes, periodically we have a life, and somehow I also worked.
Last issue, you may have seen that Eric had his roof replaced. The rear right side corner that was purchased over three years ago could not go on before then and that gets spot welded upwards into the roof. Before that I needed to find the line for the corner, so Eric needed the rear arch and since I have no idea what I am doing, I started on the nearside by the sliding door because the rear corner was in, the inner arch was in and the C post by the sliding door was good following my work on it a few issues ago.
The outer arch is a regular replacement as water collects between the inner and outer arches flicked up by the road wheels, rotting the visible edge next to the wheel. The panels available are of variable quality steel and very varied quality fit. My panel came with Eric four years ago and is an old Klokkenholm one of low quality metal and low quality fit. The new ones are apparently better shape and now are galvanized. It took a while but the original top of that panel was eased off the glued on rubber seal inside, was prepared and the lower edge was set back by a millimetre to allow the new panel to sit flush.
Many clamps later and some minor cutting and hammer tapping, the panel was in and quite close to flush everywhere.
The offside had not fared well and the inner was a mess. After chopping out a lot of it, the old outer was in good enough shape to be used to make a replacement inner. From that panel to the sill on the inside was done with a fabricated section of steel, a great deal of time and a lot of work with the hammers.
Once the inners were finished on both sides they received a great deal of primer! The outer went on easily and showed up the middle panel opposite the sliding door which is now mainly back to bare metal having had a lot of filler. Looks like there was an accident in his past and the bottom twelve inches or so is very dented. Still, I have the new wheel arch panel as a guide line when I get to final prep before painting.
With both arches in, that rear corner has to line up with its wheel arch panel, giving me one line. Getting it on over the D post took a while and some choice words. After about the tenth time, all was lined up and trimmed, clamps were added and that one was welded in too.
Once the inside was welded upwards into the new roof, the top rear corner inside was welded back in and smoothed down. All last little repairs on the inside corners were done and primed as well.
Now the outside was done down both sides and that is a good lift to the spirits.
At the back with both corners in place, the horizontal panels could be offered up that go under the back door and under the engine bay door. The inner panels of both having been replaced or repaired in previous reports. Drilling through good metal and spot welding to good metal is such a lot easier! Again much anti rust paint and thick primer to keep the little rust gremlins at bay for a while.
Under the edge where back door fits was a bit of a fiddly as it is much thinner metal, had been rusty in places and really rather damaged getting the old spreader plate out between the rear doors. It is now metal and broadly straight, but will need a smidge of filler in due course.
Standing back after sanding and priming the rear deck and trial fitting the boot lid made me feel really good. He looks like a bus once more!
Using paint stripper on the rest of the rear deck I was able to remove the added paint back to the factory white in most places. This was not deliberate as I was aiming for bare metal, but having white instead of brushed black looks better.
With only the window edges to be repaired, everything else behind the front seats is pretty much done. The garage was tidied, swept and Eric was moved backwards into the corner to give me plenty of room to tackle the next part. The front.
Keep using your bus, or working on getting it fixed. Hope to see you in a field soon.
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?
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…
Did you know that for very little money, you can shape metal and the sky is the limit.
Basics – a vice
Get a metalworkers vice – see the heavy duty jaws. Bigger but not thick jaws are for wood. Get the biggest that you can find, car boot sales / second hand shows are often a good place. It should be bolted to a strong surface and will hold metal safely.
Intermediate – a metal folder
To bend metal accurately, you will ultimately need to get a metal folder. It does what it says on the tin and folds the metal along a line. These start around the £50 / $70 area and go up to more than $10,000 each. If you are folding body panel thickness, a “poor man’s metal folder” is less money! Find your local metal working place that sells metal and buy 2 lengths of 25mm (1 inch) angle iron that is 3mm thick (1/8 inch).
Sit both pieces of angle iron in your vice upside down compared to the above picture. Then place your metal to be folded into the newly created wide jaws of your “metal folder”. Now clamp it all together – this takes a little practice to get the metal to the right position without something slipping. Measure twice, cut once as they say – keep moving it slightly until you get it perfectly aligned.
Once in there, push the metal in the direction of the required fold. If you do not need 90 degrees, add something as a guide.
Assistance – a hammer
A little pin hammer / tack hammer / small hammer will cost a few dollars / pounds. Its flat nose means less damage to the metal compared to a normal hammer that has a rounded end. Use the other end and experiment. Remember that you are not looking to shape the metal with a single hit! Slow and steady wins the race.
Once the metal has been folded mainly to shape, finish with the hammer until you get it how you need it.
First clever trick – a roll
If you need a small roll in your metal, open the jaws of your vice to reveal the part that needs to bend / roll. Now take that sharp (ish) edge of the above hammer and tap the metal between the vice jaws. Remember to clamp the metal first!
Tapping it with a hammer will allow you to shape by hand, nice and slowly / carefully. Sometimes that is not smooth enough.
Advanced – a socket
If you need a fold in the metal that is part of a circle, find a socket the size of the fold required. Keep the jaws open to the width required, clamp one side of the metal to one of the jaws. Place the socket on the metal between the jaws and allow the metal to shape itself around the socket with a hammer. Please do not use your best socket and any damage to your equipment is down to you!
My first example
I needed a piece to join the bottom of the wall behind the sliding door on my Bay window, down to the floor. I folded the 90 degree in my metal folder. I sliced a little way along that fold then used my hammer to tap the curved section (no socket used this time) before welding it up. Then I added the end triangle as it was going to be tricky to add later and welded it in.
I was rather pleased with that.
Once in, I was even happier.
I am now a fabricator, you can be one too. The paint was a short term measure to keep the rust at bay and yes, the bottom of the C post still needs work!
My second attempt
From the first picture, you can see that the bottom of the rear wheel arch is missing a common section where it has rusted, been patched badly and is in need of attention. Again, I took some cardboard, made a template, used some Zintec lightly galvanized steel and using just a 4 inch vice, a hammer and a little time, I came up with this:
And here it is zipped in:
Yes, I will sort out the ugly weld in the corner before I top coat the inside!
For VW Microbus enthusiasts, the 23 window Microbus is considered the Holy Grail. Today, we are sharing a very special unicorn: the world’s only 1965 Volkswagen Microbus stretch limousine, complete with 33 windows as well as a ragtop sunroof.
The one-of-a-kind Microbus was custom built by a VW-only restoration garage in Southern California (where else?) and took two years to complete. The result is stunning: the India Ivory-on-Tropical Turquoise bus features safari windows, front and rear; 14 side pop-out windows with large spoon latches; chrome front door frames; polished trim pieces on beltline and bumpers; and original 15-inch “crows foot” wheels in a white powdercoat.
Underneath the skin is a 2074cc VW engine that has been completely rebuilt. In fact, the engine, transmission, and gear reduction boxes have all been completely disassembled and rebuilt using only brand-new authentic components. Additional mechanical upgrades include front disc brakes, Gene Berg performance shifter, Vintage Speed exhaust system, and Blaze-Cut auto fire suppression system. The restored stretch Microbus also features LED headlights, custom LED taillights, as well as an LED third-brake light.
The cabin is undoubtedly the VW’s party piece. The Volkswagen Microbus stretch limo features two-tone brown benches with white piping and hidden pleats, which seat up to 12 passengers. The Microbus also boasts a custom wood floor, wood interior, and a high-end sound system featuring 6 JBL speakers, an Alpine amp, and Alpine head unit. RGBW LED light strips run across the entire length of the interior of the bus and can change to any color!
Following the extensive two-year restoration, the stretch Microbus finally arrived to Maui, Hawaii (where else?), to enjoy its new life as a special VIP limo for Endless Summer Limousine. Maui is long known as a popular wedding and tourism location with over 7,000 weddings booked every year.
Unfortunately, a sudden family emergency will require the owner and operator of Endless Summer Limousine to relocate, which means leaving the Microbus, the business, and the island behind. According to the eBay listing, the beautiful Microbus sold for $220,000. Despite the astronomical price, we’re sure it is money well spent for the right owner.
Who wants a princess bed when you can have an awesome VW camper van replica to lay your head down in?
Reddit user inexplorata, aka the world’s number one dad, built his daughter this incredible bed-cum-playhouse for her third birthday after he saw an ad on Craigslist for free VW Beetle parts – namely, a bumper, hubcaps, and some interior door pieces.
After picking up a $30 bunk bed, also on Craigslist, the enterprising dad set to work.
The construction, as detailed on his blog, took him four months.
He did have the occasional extra pair of hands.
The build cost him a total of $100, or £65 (much cheaper than those custom-made kids’ furniture places charge we’re guessing).
The camper bed has working headlights and a horn that makes driving sound effects.
It also has a colourful 60s style decor, as befits the iconic van’s hippy heritage.
As well as a hammock. Obviously.
And one careful owner.
Excellent work dad.
In fact, she said, people have been “open and kind and welcoming” everywhere
they’ve gone on this odyssey. “You hear bad things in the news, but overall
people are willing to help. They’ll drop everything they’re doing and invite you
Vought was quick to ascribe their cordial reception to the vehicle. “It’s the
bus,” he said. “People in all countries seem to love the VW bus. They’re already
kind of looking at you anyway, and when they see the bus, it’s like instant
smiles and instant friends.”
The bus at “Mano de Desierto,” a large sculpture of a hand in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
Dillon Vought and Tessa Ely didn’t know each other when they attended Service
High School at the same time. Big school, different classes, different crowds.
You know how it goes.
But they’re plenty familiar with each other now. For the past year, they have
traveled 26,000 miles throughout the Western Hemisphere in a Volkswagen
Westfalia pop-top camper bus.
“We just got the idea that we wanted to do some long-term travel,” said Vought.
“We did a few road trips around Alaska and it sort of evolved into this.”
The Alaska Dispatch News contacted the couple in Tierra del Fuego, the
southernmost part of South America. Ely said the place felt a little like
“There’s free camping everywhere,” she said. “It’s very safe. And everyone’s
Vought, 29, got a degree in marketing at a college in Reno, Nevada, before
moving back to Anchorage, where he has worked in logistical support for the oil
industry. Ely, 27, studied at UAA and became a special-education teacher with
the Anchorage School District. Of course, for the last 13 months they’ve been on
what can only be described as an extended leave of absence.
“It’s more like two years,” Vought said. But during the first year of the
adventure, the bus didn’t go anywhere as they rebuilt it.
They bought the broken-down 1975 Westfalia for $500. “It was the only one for
sale two years ago,” he said. They found it slowly weathering away in Hope. It
took a year of busted knuckles and “a lot of duct tape” before the thing was
ready to roll. In the process they added insulation, an RV furnace and changed
the horrible orange paint to a classic green and white two-tone.
Most important, they replaced the old air-cooled engine, a 1960s design, with a
modern Subaru Boxer 2.2 water-cooled engine. The original could churn up 66
horsepower and was famously underpowered, particularly on hills. The Boxer
produces 100 horsepower or better and is more fuel efficient than the vintage
It was time well spent, Vought said. “It’s really a blessing that we rebuilt the
entire thing, because now we know what’s going on with it. We can do most of the
fixes ourselves. You don’t need to worry about finding a good mechanic.”
They had considered taking a year to drive around Asia, but decided South
America would be easier, more right-in-the-neighborhood. “Tessa knew some
Spanish,” Vought said. “It was a more reachable trip.”
The journey began with a long drive down the West Coast. “We were hoping to ski
quite a bit,” Vought said. “But it was a bad year for skiing all over. We didn’t
actually get out and do anything until we got to Vancouver Island. And then it
was surfing. In February.”
They did manage to find snow in Montana. Then they joined a couple of other VW
buses for a mini-caravan drive down the Baja Peninsula, where they spent a
month. From there, the couple ferried the bus to the mainland, headed down the
west coast of Mexico, cut over to the Yucatan and proceeded through Central
America, surfing and camping on beaches as they went.
The Panama Canal brought a gap in road travel. The bus was shipped to Colombia
and the travelers followed by sail. After another month in Colombia, they
continued into the Andes, traveling through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
The southern terminus of the trip came at the end of the Pan American Highway,
just past Ushuaia, Argentina, latitude 54 degrees and change. It’s sometimes
referred to as “the end of the world.”
“We considered going further by boat to Antarctica,” Vought said. But “the
cheapest tour would still have been $5,000.”
Though the trip has been decidedly frugal, it hasn’t been free. The travelers
are already contemplating their return to home and jobs.
“We’ll cruise around Patagonia for a few months, then ship the bus to Florida
from Buenos Aires,” Ely said. While the bus is on the boat she’ll come back to
Alaska to work and Vought will backpack. They’ll reconnect with their trusty
transport in mid-June and drive through the U.S. and Canada “and see how long we
can make our money last,” she said.
The last logical leg will come after they return to Alaska, a run up the Dalton
Highway to Prudhoe Bay.
“I think we’re going to do a photo book,” Vought said. “But we probably won’t
actually complete it until we’re back in Anchorage.”
They’ll come home with a log-book of white-knuckle experiences. “Bolivia has the
worst roads,” Vought said. “We came out there with suspension issues. I’ve had
to replace the shocks and replace the clutch cable five times now.”
“And we’ve gotten a few bouts of stomach illness,” he continued. “Times when you
have to hole up in a hotel for a while and just pray you’re going to get
“I was getting pretty sick in El Salvador,” Ely said. “Dealing with hospitals
and the language barrier is something I don’t want to relive again.”
“The good part is that the local medical care people know how to treat the
common ailments in the area,” said Vought. “They can help you get well, even if
it seems like the most horrible thing.”
The payoff has been the people, Vought said. That goal was at the top of their
reasons for making the trip.
“We wanted to get more engulfed into the culture, go places that the tourists
don’t go, talk to the locals,” he said. “It’s been great. Every time we have a
question or a loss, you don’t hesitate to ask anyone because everyone is so
willing to help. You ask someone for directions and they ask you to stay at
One question they get asked a lot is whether they want to sell the bus. The
answer is always no. “It’s our baby!” said Ely.
“Besides, if we have kids, they’re going to see pictures of this trip and
pictures of the bus,” said Vought. “And if we don’t still have it, they’ll kill
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