Category Archives: Stories

Eric the Viking – a restoration in many parts – December 2021

Spend since last report: £294. Total hours labour since last report: 12.2

What is the key upside of our camper vans over motorhomes? The Type 2, from the first split screen, the Bay, the T25/T3/Wedge/Brick, T4, T5 and even the T6. They can all be driven on a car licence, because they are all small enough to be about the same footprint as a standard car. No need for special car parking spaces.

What is the key downside of our little camper vans over motorhomes? Space inside.

Have you ever been a little frustrated at permanently having to move things around? Or finding that the cupboard or drawer has something in front of it or on top? Trying to navigate the tiny floor space past a loved one?

In general, across all models that are termed the Type 2, we have a similar layout. Seating at the front, sometimes that swivels, a seat towards the rear and maybe boot space behind that. In between all of that is about 5 feet or 1.5 metres each way of floor for the living quarters. That gives you maybe a buddy seat, the sink, the fridge, the cooker, the toilet. Perhaps the removable dining table on a pole, or a cupboard but not much else as there simply is not the room.

During an evening conversation with a T5 owning friends, he mused that it would be great if our little vans had a sliding side like the huge expensive motorhomes and so an idea was planted. Fast forward several months, a lot of thinking and some hours experimenting in the garage. The non-sliding door panel can be seen in some models as a traditional sliding door, sliding backwards and called a double slider. Therefore, Volkswagen are happy that this does not impact the strength of the vehicle and that is good enough for me. As noted in the last write up, Eric’s non sliding panel has seen some accident damage and the repair was not great by me a few years ago and was removed. With that composite side panel and sill gone, I added a new outer sill.

Some extra heavy duty kitchen drawer runners were purchased and the original idea of two runners and two roller bearings has now become four runners at the bottom and two at the top. These runners will slide the external panel of the vehicle including the middle window out from the van. To make it secure and weatherproof, new steel will be added to form the floor on top of the runners, sides of the structure and a roof. The entire unit will be on an electric ram and the entire kitchen will be in there.

In summary, the floor space taken up by the fridge, hob, sink and associated cupboards will move away from the van giving back all of that floor to the inside. In addition, with easy access below the sink, the water bottle can then live outside giving more cupboard space inside as well.

An item called a linear actuator was ordered, which is the gas ram that pushes and pulls. Not expensive and then I also got the controller for it… Effectively an in button and an out button and it stops at any point along the way. Sheet steel picked up from the local ironmongery is hopefully big enough and the project started.

The two outermost runners are within an inch of the B post and C post to give strength at the edges. Then a further pair on the van floor between those runners but only six inches apart which means that one is just under the other side of the fridge and the other is just under the corresponding place for the other cupboard. Under the centre of the whole unit will be this actuator to push and pull everything. The slide out tray then received a little box to hold the worm screw of the actuator plus the whole tray had some strengthening lines pressed into it and the sides folded up to attach to the pod sides in due course.

Now we have a working plan. A tray sits on runners and slides out of the van. Attached to that is the outer wall of the van complete with the window. Attached to both of those are vertical sides either side of the window and the whole thing has a roof that will be inclined not flat, to help water run off.

The tray is the easy piece. Finding exactly where it does against the outer wall when the outer wall is not fitted is a little trickier.

Trying to shape the sides as the outer wall is not flat is quite fun, and the sides need a 90 degree flare to attach to the outer panel as well. After much wasted time, I finally made a template from wood of the inside wall and transferred that to the flat sheet steel.

Having four runners means that to get them working they need to be perfectly parallel for the tray to sit on them. Lots of adjustments there, plus making brackets to attach them to the floor and the tray plus clearance for everything to move.

It is not finished by a long way, but the kitchen takes up around five square feet (3.5 feet by 1.5 feet) or half a square metre (1 metre by 0.5 metres). When your floor space is about 25 square feet / 2.25 square metres, you can potentially gain 25%. That’s a lot of floor space.

Next time, I hope to be able to report that the majority of the box is built. Courtesy of eBay, I have an inexpensive fridge already, and I managed to get a three ring new cooker with glass lid as well for a great price too. “All” that I need now is to assemble it all and hope that it glides in and out!

Member’s Motor – Phil and Sophie Aldridge – Bluebell – Part 2

Bluebell is a ‘79 Bay Window, Devon Moonraker
conversion with a full side elevating roof.
When we first decided to take the plunge into
campervan ownership, we had our hearts set
on the Moonraker conversion as the interior
space was excellent both in the elevated roof
and the interior build.


We spotted Bluebell on eBay and watched her
sell very quickly, much to our disappointment.
But then, whilst searching further, we noticed
that she had been relisted and jumped at the
chance to investigate. So after a short phone
call confirming some minor details, we were off
on a trip to Frome in Somerset for a viewing.
When viewing we found Bluebell to be in
original condition, apart from some interior
wooden surfaces had been replaced for pine
and the exterior paintwork had changed from
Sand Beige to an unknown Blue. This was
perfect, the bodywork and paint had been
worked on within ten years, keeping it fresh and
clean (with receipts for work). After a test drive
through the countryside, a deposit was paid
and date set for collection.
We had several trips away in the first few months
of ownership and during a trip in Wales had
our first spot of engine trouble, only firing on
3 cylinders. We spent some time investigating
but couldn’t work it out so decided to limp
home (back to the southeast!) and investigated
further. It turns out that we had a burnt valve
and so the start of restoration commenced. We
took the opportunity to give the engine a good
overhaul and carry out required repairs and
paintwork in the engine bay area.

Once these repairs were completed we got
an excellent year of camping from Bluebell,
including a trip back to Wales for a friend’s
wedding and a 20 day trip around the
Southwest during the summer.
Winter came back around and we decided that
Bluebell’s bodywork and paint and needed
attention in a few places, with the white, top
half of the van needing most of the attention
around windows and roof guttering.
After talking to a good friend (who also
happens to be a classic car restorer) we had
set a date to get Bluebell into the workshop to
begin the strip down and repairs.
These repairs included removing all glass,
repairing all window frames, replacing any
scratched or dull glass, removing the elevating
roof (it is huge!), repairing roof areas and
replacing the pop top material.


This work had to be done to keep her looking
fresh and clean, but we really needed to give
the interior some attention as well as the wood
was rotten in places and looking generally
tatty and the original upholstery had also seen
better days. So we took the decision to remove
the interior and started looking for campervan
interior design and build companies.
So with all top half work completed, Bluebell
was sent to The Campershak in Ormskirk to
have a new interior fitted in the same Devon
design, but with some modern and personal
tweaks, including a new overhead side locker.
Work completed on the bodywork and interior
in time for another excellent year of camping.
Winter had arrived again, now phase 2 of the
bodywork and paint was to be done. This time
the work would incorporate the underneath
of the van… this turned out to be around an
extra two months of work!

With all work completed, we have had another
excellent summer of camping and looking
forward to a winter where the work required
on Bluebell is reduced somewhat!
Despite all the hard work and effort, we
wouldn’t change our campervan and the
memories we have with her.
Here’s to more memory making and we
wish our members happy memories in their
vans too!

Daisy has a classic bank holiday

From the archives, this is taken from Issue 143 from November 2016.

From Publicity Manager Derek Leary

With less than a week away from the start
of this year’s August Bank Holiday, a request
popped into my email inbox; “Wanted –
Volkswagen Bay Window Camper Van with
original livery for a photo shoot with 99 other
classic vehicles”. The request was from Practical
Classics Magazine.
Requests such as these are either deleted or
farmed out to a fellow member, however it
was a chance to fly the VWT2OC flag and I was
looking at the bus with the required spec in
my driveway.

Since retiring Daisy from camping duties, her
role in life is the classic car scene. So with
picnic, flasks and camping chairs packed,
we set off at some unearthly hour to get to
Millbrook by 10am.
On arrival, the outer car park was filling up
with various “Pride and Joy’s” and Daisy’s
bright bitter-sweet orange colour meant she
did not arrive unnoticed. Christie and I felt a
bit conspicuous parking up against more
subdued coloured classics but were soon
joined by a bright green beetle, not a standard
VW green but defiantly a tone to be noticed.
All mobile phones had to be presented to
security and the camera lenses sealed. NO
PHOTOS inside the facility were allowed,
what a shame, but hey ho go with the flow.
We were then escorted into the facility a few
cars at a time and each vehicle photographed
individually with and without their owners.
Daisy was called to go in with the third
batch just as I had nipped off to inspect the
plumbing…! However Christie got Daisy into
line picking me up on the way. Once that part
of the shoot was over it was picnic time and
the sun came out, adding to the jollity of the
occasion of 99 other classic cars to look round
and their enthusiastic owners to talk to. We
were given an extended lunch break to make
the most of the occasion and were so relaxed
that when we were needed again, the officials
had a job to get us going.

There was one final shoot of the day where
all 100 classics were driven onto the famous
Millbrook test track; a 6 lane super highway
with a velodrome style embankment. Daisy
was near the back of the line up but can be
seen with a magnifying glass as an orange
smudge. Not to worry, we had a wonderful
day out and Daisy had lots of admirers. We
have subsequently been sent a PDF file of
her portrait as a thank you and there is a
chance for any member wishing to buy the
December issue of Practical Classic Magazine
at a discount.

Eric the Viking – a restoration in many parts – August 2021

Spend since last report: £471. Total hours labour since last report: 31.3

Recap

For those who had forgotten and for those who have joined as new members recently, I will start with a recap. My name is Nick, I am 50 and since I was a teenager, I have always wanted to restore an old vehicle. My previous experience and skill until I bought this first project was minor tinkering with renovating a set of brake disks, and replacing an alternator. My wife Lorna bought a 1972 Volkswagen called Poppy back in 2011 and that gave us the bus bug and we joined the committee of this club back in 2016, you may have met us on the club stand at some point.

Six years ago this month, I put in a bid on a 1973 converted panel van online having never seen it and I knew nothing about which is a good one to buy. My offer was accepted and Eric the Viking came to live with us. Named after my comedy hero Eric Morecambe, the panel van came with a plastic full length roof called a Viking roof and the most famous Viking being Eric, it all seemed to work and Eric was born. At that point I owned minimal tools and had never used a welder. I went online, started reading, bought a book on restoring Volkswagen Bay windows and started having a go. If you try woodwork and make a mess of it, you throw it away or glue new bits on. When working with metal, if it goes wrong, you take the angle grinder, chop out the wrong part and have another go. No-one knows! Well they know if you write about it at length in a club magazine.

The more recent story

Apologies for the delay in further work, you may have heard of this COVID thing. I spent the first month of lockdown in the garage every day then I was asked to help dig some footings in the garden. 6 months later, every weekend had been spent building walls, foundations, a sun terrace and a lot of new lawn planted. Winter came, spring came, then more gardening and Eric was left languishing. Finally in July, I decided to get back to the grind (literally).

Pull up your drink of choice and join me on my next journey of discovery about how badly treated Eric was under previous ownership.

Rear brakes

Rear brakes on my Bay are drum, and with Eric spending a lot of time rotting outdoors, they were in a shocking state. The castle nut in the middle of the rear wheel was so rusted to the end of the hub that no amount of leverage would shift it but an hour with an angle grinder got it off in pieces! Then the drum refused to budge until a lot of heat and persuasion on the bench freed it off. Inside looked ok at first but a CV joint bolt was jammed and needed cutting off which meant that I had to chop through the brake back plate to access it!

Rear suspension

The rear offside was dismantled last year, stripped and primed. That left the driveshaft (whatever that is) and the CV joints (vaguely heard of them) attached to the gearbox somehow. In other words, I was vaguely familiar with the concept but that was about it. Everything was filthy covered in rot, rust, grease, grot and generally in need of love.

Front suspension

Waiting on parts deliveries from Just Kampers (don’t forget your club discount), I turned my attention to the front suspension and brakes. Calipers are expensive to replace and generally only need a good clean, reassembly and new rubbers on the ends of the pistons. I did that job 15 or so years ago on my Matra Bagheera as the only job I really did on it. Quite pleased with the bright green caliper paint finish and you can follow 2 articles on how to do it that are on our club web site (thanks Jonathan!) as well.

Starter motor

The starter motor was in the way of getting to the underside of the fuel tank to restore that, so I unbolted it, separated the two cylinders and cleaned them before spraying them black.

Underside

Eric has been on his side now for 20 months and I finally got him ready for the topcoat on his bottom. I chose to use L90D synthetic enamel as I wanted hard wearing and easy to apply since I am a novice.

Front suspension

Attached to the front beam are the front suspension arms. Pressed into the tops of 2 of these on each side of the Bus are the ball joints. I dutifully borrowed a ball joint press, inserted the arm and ball joint but could not work out how to press it out. I tried various options, I made a little jig out of 10mm steel railing, I watched Youtube videos and eventually with the help of friends, I found out the trick. The ball of the ball joint sits in the cup of the joint, if you angle grind the shoulders off the ball joint, you can remove the ball, once that is done, you angle grind from the top, cutting just the top of the ball joint and not the arm holding it.

Once the top of the ball joint is ground through into a hole with the angle grinder, you need to cut it with a hacksaw to split the ball joint cup into 4 pieces being careful not to cut the arm at all. It is back breakingly tiring, hot and dusty. Each one took an hour and I have the other 2 on the other side later this year – if anyone has any faster ideas do please get in touch! FINALLY the 2 ball joints were clear of the arms allowing those to be cleaned up ready for top coat and with their ball joint holes ground back of dirt and rust ready for the new ball joints to be pressed in using the borrowed press.

More another time, hope to see many of you at Busfest!

Member’s Motor – Bex Randall – Florence

I have always dreamed of owning a T2 VW
Campervan, but until last year (2016) I had
never been in a position to do so. Being a
complete novice when it comes to anything
mechanical (I can just about do the tyres and oil
on my car), I soon realised that buying a T2 was
a complete minefield, for which I was woefully
ill equipped. I wanted one that I could drive
and enjoy straight away and not a renovation
project, so it had to be in very good condition,
both mechanically and bodywork wise.
This meant I needed help; Hubbie is not
mechanical either, so luckily my help
came in the shape of a friend’s husband,
who not only is a trained mechanic but owns
his own racing car business (featured on
Dragons’ Den), AB performance Ltd.
So in 2016, the hunt began in earnest and after
several failed missions with Andy telling me
“NO!!” because of rotten bodywork or needing
too much interior work, I spotted Florence. She
was for sale in Gloucestershire, a long way from
home and too far to extend the good will of
Andy to help inspect her.
From the advert and pictures, Florence looked
perfect.
She was born on 01/09/1974 in Australia and
only had one owner whilst over there. She was
originally an 8 seat micro bus, with an 1800
petrol engine but when imported to the UK
in 2005, she had been extensively refurbished
with fresh paintwork and an engine re-build
with new twin Solex carbs. Florence has a no
fuss camping set up, with sink, gas cooker, rock
‘n’ roll bed and 12v leisure battery. There were
only two previous owners in the UK, making me
her fourth proud owner.
In the interest of not wanting to buy a duffer I
decided to use the services of Type 2 Detectives
in Burwell. They acted on my behalf and went
to inspect Florence, carrying out a full external
and internal examination. Paul’s words to me on
the phone were “I’ve never seen such a good
example of a T2 and if you don’t buy her, we
will”. There was some work that needed doing
and bearing that in mind, Paul negotiated a
price at £21,500, £3,500 off the asking price
of £25,000. The owner was very reluctant and
sad to sell her, keeping her in a garage with a
dehumidifier, but needs must. So Florence was
brought back to Suffolk by Type 2 Detectives
on a trailer, where they then did some work on
her. They completed full rust proofing as her
under carriage was perfect, rewired the choke,
fitted new shifter couplings, new front discs and
brake hoses, new clutch conduits and a few
other bits and pieces. Florence has the added

bonus of a roll out canopy, which has proved
invaluable for doggy events!

So on 29th June 2016 I became the very
proud owner of Florence, a dream come true!
I purchased her with 54,772 on the clock and
she has averaged 120 miles a month from her
importation date to the UK in 2005. So what do
I use Florence for? I run a Doodle club with two
friends called “Doodles Do Splashes N Dashes”
(any poodle cross). We currently have 345
members and me and my chocolate doodle
PERCI have so much fun! We organise doodle
dashes (walks) and splashes (swims) and also
fundraise at our events for our local hospice “St
Nicholas Hospice” with an aim to raise £1000
this year. Florence is used as our base camp at
these events and we use her as a stall on our
fundraisers. This year we are going to Doodlefest
for 3 nights – a kind of Glastonbury for Doodles!
I just love every minute we spend in her, making
us and lots of other people happy. I have now
finally got her interior exactly as I want her. A
lady in our club Christine Winkless who owns
the Doggy Cookie Company has made all the
doggy accessories, campervan designed dog
bed, leads, collars etc. I feel privileged to be
able to own and thoroughly enjoy a piece of
history. Florence has clearly been cherished for
43/44 years and I will continue to do so. She is
currently having her winter health check with
Mark at M&J servicing and repairs. Mark is a
VW fanatic and air cooled specialist who will
continue to cater for Florence’s needs in my
mechanical ignorance!

Members motor – Phil and Sophie Aldridge – Bluebell – Part 1

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look at
how our Editors’ Bay “Bluebell” played a key
role in their wedding day.
On December 21st 2018 Phil proposed to Sophie
at Chatsworth House, somewhere they had been
visiting traditionally at Christmas for most of their
relationship. So when they were looking for a
wedding venue, it’s no surprise that Chatsworth
won the day and began to plan for their wedding
in August 2020.


With almost two years to plan, they had most
major parts of the day organised by early 2020
and then in March, the world was turned upside
down. The Coronavirus Pandemic hit the UK
and just like that, all social gatherings were off,
including Weddings. As the year progressed, it
became clear that the wedding would need to
be postponed until 2021. With April set as the
new date, 2020 passed and with the situation
still unimproved in January 2021, the date was
postponed again to August 2021.
With plans now underway, it was only right that
Bluebell would be used as the main wedding
car on the day and on 21st August this year,
that is exactly what happened. The wedding
successfully took place.


Bluebell was decorated with flowers from the
Chatsworth estate by the Chatsworth house
florist and then used to drive Sophie and her
Father to the church (on time), driven by one of
Phil’s best men and then Phil and Sophie drove
themselves from the church to their reception.
On arrival Bluebell then took pride of place in the
middle of the courtyard at the Chatsworth House
Stable Block.
Bluebell did Sophie and Phil proud on the
day and they then had a week away after the
wedding camping together in some of their
favourite spots in the UK, still decorated with the
flowers!

Another one in the bag! Club camp completed – BusFest

The Club on tour – Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire

September 9 to 11 2022

Well, we did it! Over 100 club members and their families were in the club field plus a few elsewhere. Burgers, bacon butties, teas, coffees, biscuits.

Over 40 new members and a lot of renewals down at the membership stand.

6 new people onto the newly renamed Management Team.

Everyone seems to have a fabulous time and we handed out bubbly prizes to the winners of “Best van”, “Best van interior” and “Best van story” to club members as voted by club members.

Member’s motor – Paul and Vicki McManus – Beryl

For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look
at Paul and Vikki McManus’ recent purchase
of Beryl, their 1973 Early Bay Window.
I’m Paul, I work as a designer in the civil service
and Vikki works in HR with the NHS. We have 3
children: Ella 20, Dylan 18, Jonah 15 and Buxton,
our 3 year old Cockapoo.
I have always wanted to own a classic vehicle.
My dad was an engineering fitter by trade and
a talented mechanic. I have fond memories of
watching him work on the family cars and he took
myself and my siblings to the annual Steam Rally
at Shanes Castle in my native Northern Ireland.
My love of classic cars was nurtured there and a
favourite family photograph shows me sitting on
my Dads Citroen DS Safari! Vikki’s first car was a
VW Beetle which her mum christened, Baldrick!
We decided that we wanted to buy a VW camper
whilst we were walking Buxton in the grounds of
the local cricket club, when a gentleman pulled
up in his late bay.
The brief conversation we had with him
continued as we walked, and a seed was planted.
I tend to research things fairly thoroughly before
committing. It was important the van suited our
lifestyle and it was something we were both
keen on. My research led me to Westfalias, which
I understand were one of the few companies
that purchased mini buses to convert, others
opting to buy panel vans and cut their own
windows. I particularly liked the interior styling of
the Westfalias. It was then the question anyone
who’s bought a classic vehicle has to answer
what condition and how much?! We did consider
a project, but as we looked further, we came to
the conclusion that a fully restored Westfalia Bay
was what we wanted.
Our search criteria was fairly specific and I
was able to locate a few options online and
discovered our van on Facebook; it’s a 1973
Westfalia Continental, first registered in 1974.


I contacted Adam, who had restored the van and
was very impressed by his knowledge and the
work he’d done. I asked if it was possible for him
to send me a video and he and his partner Alex
kindly did so a few days later.
I kept Vikki fully informed on the vans I’d found
and we both agreed Adams van was one we
wanted to go and view ourselves. We set off
to Doncaster in August 2021 and met up with
Adam, one of the pictures shows Vikki standing
next to the driver’s door and her smile says it all.
It was love at first sight!
I had a slight concern that Vikki might find driving
a classic off putting, but it brought back lovely
memories of her Beetle and she was hooked.
The van looked even better in real life too, Alex,
Adam’s partner, had chosen the upholstery and
we loved the nod to the plaid interiors of the late
70’s bays and how it toned with the overall colour
scheme. The interior is completely original aside
from the upholstery, the floor and the fridge.
I agreed a price with Adam subject to an
independent review, but was somewhat
embarrassed to get a second opinion, as to
my untrained eye it appeared to be a stunning
restoration. Adam was more than happy to have
someone review his work however and Nick, an
aircooled specialist in Doncaster, put the van on
the ramp and inspected it thoroughly.
Nick was so impressed by the van that he refused
to take any payment for the review, saying he
was delighted to find someone with Adam’s
expertise locally and reviewing such a van had
been an absolute pleasure. This was my first taste
of the special bunch of people that VW owners
are. Nick runs a Splitty and his mate has a show
winning bay. Nick said Adam’s van would provide
stiff competition for his mate’s van, so I was more
than happy!

Some of the work carried out during the restoration includes:
‹ Paintwork taken back to a bare shell.
‹ Welding repairs to body and chassis.
‹ Running gear and steering overhauled with
new parts where necessary.
‹ Braking system has had a full replacement of
all hydraulic and friction components.
‹ Engine stripped down to bare casings,
cleaned, inspected, and rebuilt with all new
bearings, seals, refurbished cylinders and
pistons, reconditioned genuine cylinder
heads and finished off with a genuine
Ernst exhaust.
‹ The original Solex carburettor has benefited
from a strip, clean, and rebuild.
‹ The fuel pump has been upgraded to an
electric version with safety cut off.
‹ The ignition has been replaced with an
electric item to eliminate the constant and
often problematic maintenance of the
points and condenser.
‹ A large, fully functioning fridge is in place of
the old cool box.
‹ Underslung fresh water storage tank twice
the size of the original has been fitted.
‹ 240v mains hook up with the addition of a
leisure battery for off-site camping.
‹ All seating has been recovered and the
rear bench seat has been fitted with three
seat belts.
‹ 12v socket for charging of phones etc
and an iPod compatible stereo.
‹ New pop top canvas with side
opening windows

As soon as Nick confirmed the van was indeed
the superb restoration we believed it was, we
paid the deposit and I began clearing the garage
to ensure she had a new home. We drove over to
Doncaster again in late August 2021 and I drove
the van home over the M62, which I understand
is the highest motorway in England.
I have to admit, I was slightly nervous, having
only had a brief test drive up to that point, but
she never missed a beat and coped with the hills
without issue!
Strangely enough, I saw 3 other cars at the
roadside that day with overheated engines and
another on fire!
Since getting her home we have named
her Beryl. She is painted Beryl Green and Lotus
White, so ‘Beryl’ seemed like a good fit. I have
installed a period VW Stereo and the batteries
are linked to a Noco Genius 2 x 2 to keep them
in tip top condition.
We bought Beryl at the end of the season but
have managed a day trip to see Vikki’s parents
in Thornton Cleveleys and an overnight stay
with Buxton our Cockapoo at Bolton Abbey in
Yorkshire. We loved staying in Beryl and look
forward to many more trips and shows in the
coming years, perhaps we will meet a few of you
along the way.
Paul and Vikki

Tales from the driving seat – Wonderful Wales Part 3

Continuing our 2020 Social Distance Summer
Road Trip, we left Wales and headed north to
Scotland, but we had to reach the border first
and decided to spend a night in the Lake District
on our way north to break up the journey.
The journey from Wales to the Lake District was
long and uneventful. 200 miles in a VW Camper
at 55mph is quite a slog, but we are used to
long durations on the road and somehow in
the camper it never seems as bad as being in a
car. Maybe that’s because the camper feels like
being at home? At least you can pull over pretty
much whenever you like and make a cuppa!
On arrival at the Lake District, we hit
Windermere. We aren’t staying here, but it’s the
starting point for a road through the mountains
that I have wanted to drive ever since coming
to this location by accident four years ago; the
Kirkstone Pass!
For those who know the Lake District well
enough, you may know there are two places
called Troutbeck.
One of them is close to Penrith and has a
campsite, the other is near to Windermere and
doesn’t! Four years ago I drove to the wrong
Troutbeck and haven’t been able to live it down.
The Kirkstone pass pretty much runs between
the two, but we weren’t brave enough to take
on the pass last time we visited (first time towing
the camping trailer and didn’t know if we would
make it!… bearing in mind one of the roads on
the pass is called “The Struggle!” and so we took
the long way round instead.
From the Windermere side of the pass in
the south, it’s a long uphill jaunt along harsh
mountain roads with tall, threatening, exposed
rock faces, narrow sections and tight bends.
After what seems like a lifetime with my foot
flat on the throttle (I don’t dare back off incase
we can’t get going again!) we make it up to the
summit of the road, which is surrounded by
even taller mountain peaks and rocky landscape

The area is partly submerged in cloud, but there
is a cafe at the top and there are bikers gathered
(cars too) who have been enjoying the twisty
black stuff.
The road back down the other side towards the
North is very similar; steep, twisty and narrow!
One main difference now is the pedal choice.
Instead of the right one being hard to the floor,
I am covering and pumping the middle one in
the hope that we don’t get brake fade! (That’s
a story for another day!) The route down treats
you to magnificent views over Ullswater in the
distance and when you do eventually reach it,
the road follows the undulating contours of the
shoreline, providing a few places along the way
where you can stop and enjoy the views over
the water, maybe even have a paddle.
We don’t stop as we are keen to get a decent
pitch secured for the night and head to our
campsite at Troutbeck Head. To get to the site
from Ullswater you have to climb the hill at Aira
Force waterfall, which is understated at steep.
Don’t forget to look in your mirrors to appreciate
the stunning views!
We have visited Aira Force waterfall in the past.
It’s a very popular National Trust attraction and
has a sizeable car park, but on a day with decent
weather it gets extremely busy.
Here’s a top tip: Visit the waterfall on a really rainy
day. It will be virtually empty and the falls will be
even more spectacular! Just make sure you pack
your waterproofs as you will get wet!
After checking into the site and enjoying a
cuppa, we head back out down to Ullswater and
see if we can find a spot to stop on the shoreline
to let Ruby (our springer spaniel) have a paddle.
It’s rammed. It’s summer, it’s the school holidays
and people have been in a covid lockdown for
4 months!
We follow the road around Ullswater and
up to Penrith to get some supplies. If you’re in
the area, this is a great spot to pick up essentials
before heading off into the wilderness for a few
nights. Within 5 minutes of each other, there
is a Morrisons, an Aldi and a Booths! There’s
also a Pets At Home and a Go Outdoors. So
everyone, including travelling pets, should be
well catered for.
With stocks of essential supplies and the fridge
filled with dog food (should really be cold
alcoholic beverages in there), we head back
down to Ullswater again and Bingo!.. The crowds
and families have now left as it’s tea time, so we
park up and head down to the shore. I pack a
towel and my swim shorts… just in case.

When we get down there, the views are
simply stunning. There are some beautiful and
picturesque places in the UK, but this has got
to be up there. It is hard to believe that we are
still in England, this could easily be the Italian
lakes! The sun is shining on the mountains on
the other side of Ullswater, which is flat calm and
quiet. Ruby needs no persuasion and is straight
in the water. I follow in my flip flops… wow! That
is seriously cold!!
Feeling brave, or possibly just delirious from
driving all day, I don my swim shorts and head
in. After 5 mins of walking up and down up to
my waist with excuses about how it’s too cold
and how I will develop hypothermia, I go for the
dunk. I’m in. It’s freezing! As I paddle I start to
loosen up and feel the refreshing water washing
over me. After 5 minutes or so I realise that the
water is so cold it is making my skin tingle and
I feel bits of me going numb. I carry on a while
before making the decision to get out whilst I
am not shivering with teeth chattering together
like one of those wind up toys!
I dried myself off and we headed back to the
camper. Ruby got to have her favourite towel
dry and we head back to base at the campsite
for dinner. We have a short walk in some nearby
footpaths before the sun goes down and head
to bed in preparation of another long day that
will take us further north and across the border
into Scotland!
Phil Aldridge
“Tales From The Driving Seat” is on Instagram
@talesfromthedrivingseat and blogspot
www.talesfromthedrivingseat.blogspot.com

Eric the Viking – a restoration in many parts – October 2021

Spend since last report: £427. Total hours labour since last report: 52

Last time I had finished the offside suspension and the brakes were in progress. This time I’ve managed to do rather a lot!

In order: The front suspension and front brake is back together on the offside, the gearbox is out, the underside of the fuel tank was then accessible to get its rust removed.


The steering box has mostly been cleaned up, so has the gearbox and Eric is back on his wheels.

A large chunk of the current work was the cab floor. The driver’s side was pretty ropey and the outer half needed replacing. I chose to remove more good metal than was really necessary to give a straight line of seam weld to reduce the visible change. I was also able to rust proof the tops of the chassis rails at the same time. The passenger side was less rotten and was a smaller patch plus a final rectangle in the middle just behind the handbrake and we have good strong metal all welded in.

Then primer time but my spray gun had a fault and it looked rubbish and will need smoothing before top coat. Nonetheless rather improved!

The next part of the project is going to be interesting! The offside middle panel opposite the sliding door is a fixed panel. Several years ago I replaced the lower part of that panel and the outer sill with a cheat panel that is all joined together. It looks ok but the top of the original panel had been damaged in an accident many years ago and there was a lot of filler. I also cut the edge off the lower replacement panel as it was slightly too large but welding that cut in looked rubbish.

I had bought a replacement lower sliding door panel which is the same on both sides and I picked up a new outer sill at Busfest because otherwise it was £17 for the sill and £7 postage!

Outer sill joins the middle sill which is new metal, so it was quite a quick win. More on this next time as I have a plan so cunning that it could be a fox who has just been made Professor of Cunning at Cambridge University.

Finally, I was on Facebook one evening and someone that I did not know called Jon was asking for more information about this picture. He and I got chatting, and that’s Eric in the picture with Jon’s Grandad at some point in the 80s. That roof was changed to the Paris roof that arrived with Eric, the paintwork had mostly been replaced with primer and rust, and the front grill was missing. The louvre windows I have and the rust hole from the aerial on the roof was quite extensive! I am not currently looking to sell Eric as I want to finish him and then use him, but Jon has first dibs if that day should ever arrive. Talk about a small world – only 15 more owners to find and I will know the whole history.