Virtual Coffee Morning brings people together by Events Manager Lorna Williamson
In these strange times, it’s easy to feel lonely. Even the passion you feel for your VW Campervan is not always enough on its own, let alone the frustration of knowing that the open road is still out there, waiting…
Enter stage right the VW Type 2 Owners Club. This British Club decided to create a feeling of togetherness when people can’t actually get together, with a simple event built around the joy that only a VW Campervan can bring.
Using the Club’s Facebook and Instagram pages plus good old email, the VWT2OC encouraged its members to take their Sunday morning coffee out to their van, and get a picture.
“Nick and I had been joking for weeks about camping out on the driveway,” said Events organiser Lorna, “…we always sleep better in Poppy! Combined with input from a member who wanted to feel connected, and the fact that you can never have too many photos of vans, we came up with the virtual coffee format. We’ll be trying something similar on VE Day!”
Not everyone had access to their van – some being in storage, in the workshop, at home while people were away caring for relatives, or simply not available on the oil rig where the member was based! But people valiantly entered the spirit of the thing, with well over 100 photos shared, and these are some of the results…
Yes, it is that time again. Hurray! Finally, after the long winter in our non-mobile houses, we can get out our beloved vehicles.
Hopefully you all followed the article Time for bed/ to help put your vehicle to bed for the winter. Now that spring is in the air and we are starting to think about getting out and communing in nature, this is a key time to get things ready.
Doors locks – there’s nothing more annoying than a failed lock. get it fixed now before the season really gets going. Door lock issues can be very straight forward but a simple lubrication can be key. Pun intended. A non residue lubricant is best to move the dirt away as WD40 can leave enough gunk to create issues. We favour silicon spray. A little into each lock.
Windscreen wipers – did they perish in the cold winter freezing them to the windscreen. Inspect and replace now.
Water – check the radiator if you have one. Ensure that the bottles that you emptied in the Autumn / fall have no mice, carefully hidden Christmas presents or mildew. Clean with a weak Milton solution if it is drinking water or food related.
Batteries – check the charge on each battery with a good meter. A flat battery can indicate an earth leak. A failed battery needs careful investigation.
Carburettor – Or equivalent. Check for good operation, no stuck flaps or other deterioration over winter. If you are a professional, this will be straight forward. If you are an amateur, a test drive very close to home will highlight problems! But only after the other checks.
Brakes – your vehicle should roll easily, otherwise this can indicate jammed brakes. Parking in gear for long periods of time can be better for your brake health than a jammed set of brakes. Check the brakes for operation. Check the brake fluid level. If it has been more than 5 years, change the brake fluid as it is hygroscopic and slurps up water incredibly quickly. Water is not a good fluid for applying the brake pads to the disks.
Seals – inspect all door seals for any signs of damage, water ingress or other problems and sort them out now. Glue any loose bits back down with the correct glue.
Windows – ensure that they all open and close fully. Or at least as fully as they did last year if applicable!
Ignition – Once you are feeling confident, get in to your pride and joy and turn on the ignition to number 2. Look at the lights on the dashboard. Check there ARE lights! Are they what you expect / are used to seeing? Have you got fuel (for those with a working fuel gauge)?
Crank it over – don’t expect it to start immediately but things should kick into life within a few seconds.
A little test drive on your driveway will allow you to test the brakes, maybe the steering and other important parts. Softly, softly.
Stay local, take your phone with you and warm clothing. Just in case!
Once you get home, assuming that you have a big smile on your face, make a list of snags, get indoors, put the kettle on and start planning for your summer.
Check out the events page and come and see us at a meeting soon!
Anyone with a vehicle knows that fuel is really rather flammable. This is why you do not smoke at a fuel station. Anyone owning or driving an old vehicle should be equally careful with the state of the fuel “line”.
From the tank to the engine, the fuel is permanently sitting in metal pipe, plastic pipe and rubber pipe. There is no off switch, so if this ruptures, you are dumping the entire contents onto the ground, so from a financial point of view it is a sensible idea to ensure this is all in good order. From a heartache perspective, it is imperative as well.
You do not want your pride and joy catching fire due to a leaking pipe spraying fuel onto something very hot in the engine bay.
Taking the Type 1 engine as an example, there are multiple systems in place as primitive fuel emissions systems.
The U shaped pipe number 9 is the one that you can see on the roof of the engine bay in a Bay window just above the number plate.
Red pipe numbered 24 needs a long arm and can be reached by putting your left hand up past the rear light cluster up the side of the bus and is quite a tricky little one to replace. If you can smell fuel always, especially if you sniff the air intake on the left side, that is often missing or perished.
The ones next to the fuel tank in the picture by green 24 are all behind the fuel tank firewall and need the engine to be removed.
My local VW mechanic recommends replacing all of the rubber components at least every 3 years and last time , we found that blue 24 in the middle of the picture on the pipe heading to the right was actually disconnected, causing fuel to spill over the top of the tank when turning right with a full tank! We had a clean section of tank and a lucky escape.
In summary. Ensure that your fuel system is inspected regularly by a competent mechanic and relevant parts are changed. The new fuels have either Biodiesel or Ethanol in them, which are not good on modern rubber pipes.
Prompted by a member called Robert who was asking, sharing in case it helps anyone else.
Robert had an issue with his starter battery and wanted to replace it but of course is space constrained in an older vehicle. His 72Ah battery was the right size, but how many Amp Hours do you need?
A standard 1.6 litre air cooled engine requires a starter motor such as the Power Lite one from JK. That one is a 1.4 kilowatt starter. Converting kilowatts to amps you need to change 1.4KW to 1,400 watts and then divide it by the voltage, in our case 12 volts.
1,400 / 12 = Around 120 amps.
For two litre engines, you will need a little more. For a customised engine, who knows?!
If you know that you never use more than a minute on the starter motor to get the engine into life, that is 1/60th of an hour. Running that 120 amp starter motor for an hour would be 120 amp hours, so 1/60th of that is 2 amp hours.
As long as you have no current leaks and are not sitting in your vehicle draining the battery with a stereo, a fridge, lighting or other circuits on the starter motor, as you can see, a minute to start the engine on a 1.6 litre air cooled engine will drain 2 amp hours out of your battery. Even the smallest and cheapest car batteries will cope with that, but for peace of mind, don’t buy the cheapest battery in the shop!
German camper van converter SpaceCamper offers some of the most versatile, well-packaged Volkswagen Transporter campers we’ve happened across. Its also built one of the fastest camper vans on the planet. Now it’s expanded its lineup with the LightOpen, spreading the camping equipment around the cabin for an even lighter, more versatile recreational vehicle layout. The LightOpen can haul the family to and from work, school and sports practice, go camping, and work as a mobile office, all with little to no conversion in between.
SpaceCamper already offers Light and Open models, and now it mashes them together, creating the LightOpen van. We’ve seen a lot of multiple personality vans that work as campers, everyday people haulers and/or cargo vans, including the recent Pössl Campster, but the LightOpen does it more effortlessly than most.
Like the SpaceCamper ClassicOpen, the LightOpen includes sliding doors on both sides for easy loading and indoor/outdoor access to key equipment. Like the SpaceCamper Light, the LightOpen offers exceptional flexibility for use as a camper, everyday commuter, cargo hauler and rolling office.
Key to the LightOpen’s flexible, spacious design, SpaceCamper breaks down and shrinks what might otherwise be a large, space-devouring kitchen block, moving food prep amenities around the van cabin. A 25-L compressor fridge creates a different type of center console, giving the driver and front passenger access to cool drinks and snacks, a feature that could prove handy well beyond camping, to road trips, kids’ soccer games, hiking or mountain biking trips, and countless other uses. This refrigerator can also slide back into the main cabin, giving all passengers access.
In another twist on the camper van kitchen, SpaceCamper integrates the two-burner cooktop into the removable folding table, providing meal preparation and dining space. The table can be used inside or out, and without a kitchen block limiting its size and placement, it is larger than tables in other camper vans. It also doubles as a desk when work, not food, is what’s on the menu.
Another interesting feature of the LightOpen is the housing of both a flip-out side table/outdoor worktop and a sink in a console next to the rear bench. The compact sink slides out for indoor/outdoor use and slides away when not needed, saving space. A similar console on the other side has storage space and its own side table/worktop.
In the end, SpaceCamper has taken all the standard amenities of a camper van kitchen – cooktop, counters, sink and refrigerator – and spread them around the cabin to create a freer, more functional space with seating for five people. This setup is also an advantage when it’s time to sleep because the folding mattress stretches the width of the rear cabin, creating a 5 x 6.6-ft (1.55 x 2-m) bed, versus the 4.3 x 6.6-ft (1.3 x 2-m) bed in SpaceCamper models with more traditional kitchen blocks. A pop-up roof adds a second bed, making the LightOpen a good option for families.
The LightOpen’s equipment is compact and spread out enough to make the van a practical everyday driver for five people. The rear bench and under-bench storage drawers can also be removed easily, turning it into an open cargo van.
The SpaceCamper LightOpen prices in around €69,000 (approx. US$77,250) built atop the VW T6 Transporter Caravelle Comfortline with 148-hp 2.0-liter TDI engine and including standard equipment and options with the pop-up, sleep-in roof and the layout described above.
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!
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.
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.
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.