The Piano Raft

After seeing a Facebook post from a friend talking about an unusual boat moored outside the Canal View Cafe in Rishton, and then an article in the Lancashire Telegraph about the owner’s search for some 55 gallon plastic drums to keep his boat afloat, we decided to go for a visit.

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Ben is a lovely chap, and his boat is an amazing creation of repurposed drawers and other materials, including a bathtub, and a piano at the rear.

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Ben has plans to use the salvaged windows to build an enclosed glass area on the boat, as well as using at least 10 plastic drums and expanding foam to keep the boat afloat, as the front end has sunk somewhat after he was entertaining some guests. He has a very clear idea of what he needs to do with the barrels to get the boat ship shape, and then he can continue on his journey to London, complete with his piano. He’s been called a ‘nomad’ and compared to Johnny Depp playing Roux in Joanne Harris’ Chocolat.

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If you have access to some 55 gallon plastic drums that you could donate to Ben, he’d love to hear from you. You can phone him on 07957924858 or follow his travels on the Piano Raft blog.

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It was lovely to meet you, Ben, and we hope that you get your drums soon and continue on your journey!

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More VW Love in Northern Cyprus

When we got married in Northern Cyprus in 2013 we saw a few VWs, and again the following year, mainly Beetles, and the odd bay window. As we left from Ercan airport in June 2014, we caught a glimpse of a splitscreen van in a scrapyard, and, more intriguingly, what appeared to be a garage forecourt full of Karmann Ghias on the road from Nicosia towards Ercan.

Fast forward to April 2015 when we visited again, and everyone in our party was on the look out for VWs!

Pa and Ma Custard mad some good spots, including a bay window sliding door panel van, and a splitscreen panel van (the best kind):

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One day, after a visit to St Hilarion Castle and a drive past Buffavento and through the mountains (best bit of road ever, it has to be driven whilst listening to On Days Like These by Matt Monro, as it is a very Italian Job-eqsue experience, without an unfortunate ending in a tunnel) we set off in search of the fabled garage of Ghias that we had spotted on our previous trip.

We drove up and down the road where we had remembered seeing them, and were about to give up looking, when we decided to go a little closer to Nicosia, and we hit the goldmine!

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We spied some very familiar-shaped dusty noses, and pulled up to peep through the fence.

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As we were looking, a guy pulled up in a large Japanese pick up, and we quickly realised that he was the owner of the garage – he’d been driving back from a car rally, had seen us looking and pulled over – what a great coincidence! He let us in to have a better look:

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He mainly imports cars from Japan, and said that all the Ghias could be for sale for the right price, except his own that he was restoring inside one of his garages:

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What a bit of luck we had, being able to get up close and see these fabulous cars. I’d love to see them back on the road and being used. Perhaps if we ever go through with our plan of moving to Northern Cyprus we need to buy one. I can’t see that driving an air-cooled car in a really hot country would cause us any issues at all! 😉

What old beauties have you ever seen stashed away? Is your VW a barn find? Let us know in the comments!

Rebuilding Ruby, Part 2.

So, we’re a month into the Ruby rebuild, and here’s how things stand:

  • The engine case has been sent to a bloke called Andy for him to examine, and ascertain does it need line boring or any other kind of fettling.
  • We need to decide whether it will be rebuilt as a 1641cc, 1776cc or 1835cc – which will involve different heads, different barrels and pistons. A larger engine won’t be under so much strain when cruising at motorway speeds and carrying all our camping gear.
  • When we’ve decided on the engine size, then we can decide on carbs – we’re upgrading to twin carbs for a bit more oomph, and after conversations with the lovely people at Eurocarb,  we’ll be going for Dells or Webers.
  • Gearbox mounts are being replaced – new Rhino mounts going in, and the gearbox oil is being drained and replaced.  The gear selector linkage bushes are to be replaced to make gear changes less like stirring your tea – currently we play a game of gear change roulette at every change!
  • A new clutch kit is to be fitted.
  • The old exhaust has been removed – a stainless steel Vintage Speed tuckaway exhaust is on back-order from VWHeritage – apparently this could take a month, despite them saying that it is a week turnaround on their website.

And at the front end…

  • The steering box and column has gone to Simon (Rusting Hulk on the SSVC). He gave us a possible price range when we contacted him, from best to worst case scenario. Unfortunately, as we suspected, our steering box needs a lot of TLC, including new worm gear and peg, which will be replaced with NOS parts. The case and bracket will also be shot-blasted, and new bushes and seals fitted, and new grease and paint applied.
  • We will also be freshening up the steering with new tie rods, drag link, steering damper, and a new swivel pin kit.

Other things to consider…

  • Kulh-tek air scoops. Particularly important if we are increasing engine size, to try and keep it as cool as possible.
  • We’ve discussed a fire suppression kit. Although we discussed this at the Type 2 Bootcamp and the general feeling there was that it was not necessary in a well-maintained engine, we both feel that it would be worth it for added peace of mind. We’re considering VW Aircooled Works Fire Extinguisher kit, fuel lines and Fuel Tank cut off solenoid, as we’ve heard good things about it.
  • Uprated brakes. If we’re fitting a bigger lump, it’ll need more to stop it. A servo kit from VW Jim has been suggested to make our drum brakes more effective.

So, that’s how things stand at the moment. It’s a waiting game, and we’re hoping that we’ll have the van back on the road for at least part of the summer!

Are you doing any work on your bus at the moment? Let us know in the comments!

Street Art: Special Edition #8

Here is a post I wrote for Emma at The Gift Shed, as she features a lot of Street Art on her blog. Thank you for inviting me to write for you, Emma!

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This special edition is a guest post by Kat of Adventures in a Campervan, and it’s brilliant – lots of great street art, as well as background information on the area.  Thank you, Kat, for agreeing to write a guest post for me! 

I’ve been travelling to Northern Cyprus for 6 years now, and we tend to spend a day in the capital city, Nicosia, exploring the Turkish side, but also taking the opportunity to cross the border on foot to the Greek part of the capital.

Since 1963, Cyprus has been divided by the Green Line following disputes between Greece and Turkey, with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus only being acknowledged as formally existing by Turkey. The Green Line goes right through the walled city of Nicosia itself, making Nicosia the only remaining divided capital city in the world, following the fall of the Berlin Wall. In…

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Collaborative Blankey Project

A while ago, Custard remarked to some online friends that she really liked this Splitscreen van blanket knitting pattern from Slightly Sheepish, but that she couldn’t knit. Her lovely friends offered to knit it for her, and then collaborated to make something even more amazing – a one of a kind, personalised Rooobarb and Custard themed blanket!

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Each person knitted or crocheted a square or two, and sent them off to Verity aka Blip in Reality, who put them all together and added a border…

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We are very lucky to have such kind and talented friends, and the blankey will look fab in Ruby, or in our newly-arrived Glawning which we shall be blogging about soon!

Rebuilding Ruby, Part 1.

So, as previously mentioned, Ruby is with Accrington Beetles and Campers, having her rear end and undercarriage fettled.

A fortnight in, and things look like this:

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The bumper had just a leeeetle bit of oil on it:

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The engine is off to be rebuilt this week.

Exhaust is off too, and going to be replaced with a Vintage Speed one.

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Then it was off with the front wheels and the steering box:

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Last time I saw a dashboard like this, it was because someone had broken into my Fiat 500 and stolen my airbags and seatbelts, even down to the steering wheel in the footwell…

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So the box and column are now out, ready to be sent down to Simon for refurb:

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Leaving Dave with a footless Ruby to continue fettling.

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Of course, it would have been rude when visiting not to say hello to Carmen and Ringo from Vintage VWs 4 Hire:

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We can rebuild her. We have the technology.

So, today was the day. We picked up Ruby-choo, and drove her to Accrington Beetles and Campers for her engine rebuild and other repairs and improvements.

That makes it sound very straightforward. Let me elucidate:

We drove to the barn where Ruby is stored. We realised that neither of us have the codes for various gates and doors saved anymore, as we have both had new phones since we first stored Ruby. Thankfully, Rooobarb’s memory is even better at retaining random information than we thought.

We took Ruby’s cover off and found that her gutters were full of spiders, and that she had been marking her territory on the floor of the barn. We also found that her battery was completely flat, so attached the booster pack and got her started. We then noticed that her back O/S tyre was flat, so used the compressor on the booster pack to pump it up. Whilst doing this, Rooobarb turned her engine off again. So she needed more booster pack to get her started. During this, Custard found a bar of dark chocolate on the bulkhead that must have been left there during our ill-fated last trip out in September. Result!

We set off, Rooobarb driving and Custard following behind, and Rooobarb announced that he was going to stop for some petrol. Turning the engine off whilst waiting for a man to finish filling his screenwash at the pump meant needing the booster pack again. However now, for whatever reason, the immobiliser, which has been somewhat of a mystery since we bought Ruby, decided now that the battery was being tampered with, and prevented the engine being started. Oh, and the battery seemed to have gone in the immobiliser keyfob. And the garage didn’t have the right size replacement battery for sale.

This meant having to push the van away from the pumps, down a slope, then up a slope into the non-functioning car wash, where it would have to be left whilst we found somewhere that sold a replacement battery. (Lady in garage: “How long are you going to be?” “How long does it take to find a really obscure-sized battery?”) Thankfully, the next garage down the road had one, although the LED on the fob still didn’t seem to be lighting up, and thanks to the traffic, it still took about half an hour to sort.

Back to the van, push to pumps, finally put some fuel in, attach booster pack, fiddle with immobiliser, get van started. We finally hopped on the motorway and cruised up to Accrington at a heady 55mph with the sun shining, to arrive with Dave and discuss our plans.

On Monday the engine will come out and be examined, we will see how much of our current engine can be used, what needs to be replaced, and start drawing up a plan for replacing other parts, such as the exhaust, clutch, gear linkage, and steering box. Fun and games!

Accrington Beetles and Campers

Custard has been a busy bee!

As you may well be aware from previous posts, Dave at Accrington Beetles and Campers is a good friend to Ruby and Rufus (and to Rooobarb and Custard!) and keeps them maintained, fixes them when they go wrong and is only ever a phone call or text away when we need a bit of advice.

Unfortunately, at the end of last year, Dave’s website was hacked and had to be shut down. As he was very busy with moving to a fab new unit and doing lots of restorations, Custard stepped in and built a nice shiny new website for him.

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Please go and have a read and a look at the photos and the stories there – there will be lots of updates from the new bigger unit, including lots of work on Ruby, as 2015 is The Year of The New Engine.

You can also keep up to date with Accrington Beetles and Campers on Facebook.

Please let us know what you think of the new site in the comments below!

I have not been paid to promote Dave’s new website. I have created it for him in exchange for spannering hours on our dubs. Bartering is good. Play to your strengths – I’m better with words than I am with tools!

The Evolution of Van, aka, How Custard spent her half term!

Remember last year, when I said I fancied doing The Evolution of Van for my pumpkins this year?

Next time I have an idea like that, tell me no. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may have noticed a tiny bit of whinging at my own idiocy that led to me have seven pumpkins to carve.

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Unusually for me (not) I decided to leave carving to the last minute, although I had been organised enough to draw out my designs on them a few days earlier:

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Halloween came, and I decided that I’d best get carving. I put the pumpkins on the floor whilst I wrapped my dining room table in polythene sheeting (you can take the teacher out of the classroom…) and Teddington Bear decided to help by chewing on their stalks…

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I decided to start off with the splitty, as so many of my friends have suggested that I carve a split over the past couple of years. After a few minutes, my helper had conked out, and I’d found out just how sharp my knife was!

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It was soon completed, but I decided that attempting to do a barndoor Samba was a daft idea, as all the windows had affected the structural integrity of the pumpkin and it was very wobbly.

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As was proved the following day, when the weight of the roof had just got too much for the spindly window frames:

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I’ll be honest, the fiddly and time-consuming nature of the splitty got me down, but with Rooobarb on the scene to help with scooping out, I moved onto the No Worries badge. I was really pleased with how it turned out!

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The last part of the project was the Evolution of Van, that I had decided on last year.

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I tried to recreate the line up of the original VW ad,

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but I think it might have looked more effective with 3D style drawings like the slammed Beetle pumpkin of last year. Now to start planning for next year!

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Long see, no time…

Life has got in the way of posting. Generally, life involving work, dogs, and broken down VWs. But here’s what you’ve missed:

  • We went to Tatton Park. It was good fun and we met up with some friends. Teddy decided that he’s really not a fan of VW shows, especially those with music, crowds and other dogs. That’s all of them then.

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  • We revisited our mis-spent youth with a weekend at Coniston Hall, which generally involved swimming, sunbathing and messing about. For once, we were in the nicest splitty on the campsite (er, ok, the only splitty…)

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  • We went to VWFestival. Again, friends, cider, crowds, cool dubs, staffy generally behaving like a bit of an ASBO dog. Including chewing through his lead whilst Custard was distracted by cider. Ruby appeared on Look North (Rooobarb and Custard we both having a bit of a nap at this point though…)

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  • We bought a roofrack for the van, started off to go and collect it, and turned round and came back thanks to an engine bay full of oil. Meh.
  • We pooled our birthday spends and bought a frontier stove for camping. The next step with be a Glawning because they’re just too cool for words.

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  • Operation Car Port is pretty much finished. Hurrah! Photos to follow soon.
  • After six weeks of running like a dream, Rufus decided to give up on starting again. A new starter motor bush sorted that though, and after some fettling once again to rear hubs, he got an MOT certificate. Big up to Dave at Accrington Beetles and Campers for once again taming our errant child.

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So, what next? The beetle needs some more little jobs doing, and sadly we’ve had to admit to ourselves that the ride height is causing more problems than it solves, so Rufus will be going (slightly) up in the world. Ruby needs a bloody good service, and probably an engine rebuild.

And finally, last weekend, Rooobarb and Custard decided to lob themselves out of a plane for charity! So the normal quiet life here at Hooligan’s Island then…