Type 2 Detectives Bus Bootcamp

We knew pretty much as soon as we bought a VW that we wanted to learn how to maintain it and how to carry out basic repairs. After the great start motor debacle that started on the way to Camper Jam and carried on pretty much throughout the summer, we had some idea of how to solve one of the many problems that will no doubt beset our aircooled ownership over the years to come, but if anything else was to go wrong, would we know what to do?

That’s where Type 2 Detectives come in. A garage based near Cambridge, they’re renowned for their high quality workmanship and approachability, as well as the range of workshops and help they are prepared to offer to anyone who is thinking of buying, or has just bought a type 2 VW.

We booked our places well before the summer, and by the time the cooler weather of September rolled around, our plan of camping in Custard’s grandparents’ orchard overnight before the bootcamp was starting to look a little less romantic!

After a long, but mainly uneventful drive down, we tucked ourselves up in Ruby on the driveway, with an extension cable and wifi from the grandparents, ready to be up bright and early for the next morning.

After a quick breakfast cooked on the stove (I really don’t think my grandparents were expecting us to be quite so self sufficient!) and an even quicker wander round the orchard to help ourselves to some apples, we set off for Burwell, along some of the bumpiest roads that the fenland had to offer:

Fenland bumpy road

We knew we’d got to the right place – but we didn’t seem to fit in with the colour coordinated parking!

type 2 detectives squareback moon eyes orange

type 2 detectives bay window vw

We arrived to bacon butties and filter coffee, and a good chat with a few people about their buses and where they’d been this summer. After a brief introduction, we split into two groups, one to do the engines session, and one to do electrics.

We started with Paul, looking at electrics. The first piece of essential advice that he gave us was to maintain your VW at a high standard. IT may take some work to get it there in the first place, but it should then be easier to maintain, rather than constantly trying to deal with the myriad of problems that can arise due to poor maintenance. The second piece of advice he gave us was to never be without your probe!

sealey automotive test probe

An electrical probe allows you to test for and isolate all sorts of problems, using power from the battery. The session took us through how to read a VW wiring diagram, which was incredibly useful, and gave us key pointers about wiring colours and codes. We also looked at common electric problems and how to diagnose and fix them, including specific issues that people mentioned they had with their buses.

After this, it was time for a quick coffee break, with wonderful cakes and biscuits (including gluten free treats for me!) provided by The Pudding Bar.

The pudding bar t2d type 2 detectives boot camp

The pudding bar t2d type 2 detectives boot camp

This was another opportunity to talk to fellow owners, to have a look at the vehicles currently in the workshop, and to put our name on a probe to buy at the end of the day (Paul sold it well!)

type 2 detectives boot camp deluxe vw bus

type 2 detectives still life

After the break, it was off to see Andy, who talked all about engines. There was a Type 1 and a Type 4 engine on display, which meant that people with all ages of aircooled vans could learn the specific techniques that applied to them.

type 2 detectives type 1 engine vw bay

type 2 detectives type 4 engine

Andy gave us practical demonstrations of how the aircooled engine works, how to check and change a fanbelt, how to carry out an oil and filter change, how to check valve clearances, change sparkplugs and maintain the ignition. Again, the importance of good maintenance was stressed, especially checking fuel lines and ensuring that all tinware and rubber seals are in place.

After lunch, it was back out into the workshop again, to learn how to safely remove an engine and examine it, and the jobs that can be done whilst the engine is out. Andy then showed the split owners problems that are specific to splitscreen vans, whilst Paul did the same for the bay window owners.

type 2 detectives splitscreen vw bus

type 2 detectives bay window vw bus

We then went through the most common reasons that a van breaks down and how to fix them. After that, there was a final Q&A session, where people could get advice relating to specific situations they find themselves in with their buses. There was also an interesting discussion relating to fire suppression systems. Andy is of the belief that if you keep on top of maintenance and keep your engine and electrics in order, there is no need to have one fitted. In his words “VW didn’t let the vans leave the factory randomly bursting into flames!” But having one fitted adds an extra level of security and peace of mind – supplement it with good quality fuel hoses and clips, make sure your fuel filter is not in the engine bay, and keep on top of maintenance, performing checks before journeys and addressing any small problems before they have the chance to become big ones.

Finally, it was time to place our orders for any items we wanted for our VW first aid kit, collect our precious Bootcamp bibles and set off on the long journey home into the sunset!

roobarb type 2 splitscreen vw camper

I would heartily recommend the bootcamp to any aircooled VW owner. We’ve already used what we learned to help us successfully diagnose and fix an ignition problem a couple of weeks after the bootcamp. We also now have a basic tool kit with spares to carry around with us, which makes us feel better prepared for any issues which may arise. The bootcamp was a long and information-filled day, which coupled with a long drive there and back, made it fairly intense. However, the information, knowledge and skills that we gained by being there will stand us in good stead for our future years of VW ownership.

T2D also offer a follow up workshop, tailored to your individual requirements and those of your bus, as all buses are slightly different and have their own foibles and oddities. This is certainly something that we are considering for the future to help us better understand how to maintain Ruby and her personal peculiarities!

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VW Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams – Aircooled Exclusive is a new show, organised by Kate of Classic Volks and York Classic VW Owners club. When we booked the show, we didn’t realise that it was its first year, as everything was so slickly organised.

We took a scenic drive along the A59 (apparently causing one of Custard’s old uni friends to play a game of “Follow the Volkswagen” near Skipton – small world!) and arrived at York Racecourse in the late afternoon. The sun was shining, the ground was perfectly flat and firm and the camping was organised brilliantly, with marshalls at the entrance to point you in the right direction, put your wristband on for you and help you line up in your plot neatly. We were given a fab plot, tucked away behind the marshalls’ caravan, under their floodlights, which not only meant we could see to cook in the evening, but also that we felt really safe, if a little bit like teacher’s pets 😉 (Which prompted quite a lot of conversation between us in the manner of Karen Powell, Greg Davies’ favourite student, which was one of those “you had to be there” moments.)

We went for a wander around the campsite and took a few photographs of our neighbours for the weekend:

windsocks fish field of dreams

turquoise splitscreen vw camper field of dreams

grafitti samba vw splitscreen camper 23 window

york racecourse field of dreams

vw bay window blue panel van field of dreams

vw bay window orange camper flower spare tyre field of dreams

spraypaint graffiti vw camper beetle camping field of dreams

vw beetle silver relentless gazebo field of dreams

bay window camper cream red field of dreams pop top

split screen camper red black nose field of dreams

karmann ghia pearlescent paint field of dreams

sky clouds brooding field of dreams

On Saturday we woke up to glorious sunshine, but a bit of a breeze, but we weren’t deterred.

Ruby split screen panel van sunshine red yellow rhubarb custard field of dreams

Whilst eating breakfast, we met Vicki, one of our Twitter friends who came to say hello, and then I got my hippy garb on to go and wander round the show (yes, most people don’t dress up until the evening, but it’s dark then, and there’s no guarantees that I’ll be awake!)

hippy red yellow split screen vw panel camper vanThere was a good variety of autojumble, food, craft, clothing and other unusual stands, as well as entertainment for children, a dog show and shine and a hobby horse race (well, when at the racecourse, you’ve got to, haven’t you?)

brown ratty signwritten vw camper van field of dreams

beetle shell primer field of dreams

autojumble speedometer vintage field of dreams

mirrors autojumble field of dreams

rust splitscreen vw badge ratty patina field of dreams

dog costume show and shine field of dreams

boxer dog field of dreams

bay window camper vans vw field of dreams

split screen deluxe trim camper van vw field of dreams

beetle blue sky field of dreams   vw camper bay van wheel reflection field of dreamsAfter a look around we met up with Vicki, Lesley, Lesley’s mum and Dizzi the dog to enjoy a coffee or two from the Green Bay Cafe whilst watching the hobby horse race.

green bay cafe vw camper van coffee field of dreams

dizzi dog collie field of dreams

 

dizzi dog collie cuddle vicki field of dreams

After grabbing a bite to eat back at the van, we headed back to the show arena to enjoy a pint or two of passionfruit cider and listen to the bands, who were great!

band live music field of dreams

band live music field of dreams

band live music field of dreams evening entertainment

Sunday was a little more overcast and windy, but the rain stayed away, allowing a variety of aircooled splits, bays, beetles and ghias to be displayed in the field. There was a really good turn out, with lots of vehicles to look at, including a few for sale.

Bay window maroon devon interior for sale field of dreams

bay window yellow camper van garfield

bay window vw camper red volkswagger cartoonies field of dreams

blue yellow white black beetle shopping trolley leeds united field of dreams

After another wander round to take in the last of the show and chat with friends, it was time to head home over the M62, where we spotted a couple more campers on their travels!

turquoise white bay window camper motorway

red white bay window camper motorway

Field of Dreams did have its teething problems – the camping and show were split up by a walk around the outside of the racecourse due to last minute decisions that were out of the organisers’ hands, which could make the arena feel too spread out and quiet, and also meant a bit of a trek to get to the show, and the wind made life difficult for the traders on Sunday. But, these are things that can’t be helped – Kate, Kevin and the team kept everyone informed of what was going on, were apologetic, friendly, and had everything else superbly organised. I don’t think we’ve been to a show where the camping was so well sorted, or where the loos were serviced every day!

Small local shows are only as good as the people who support them, traders, campers, day visitors and volunteers, and the Classic Volks team are already planning to make Field of Dreams 2014 even better than this year. Make sure you’re part of it!

The Simple Things

Last night I received a picture from Emma at The Gift Shed with a message telling me that I might want to go and buy a copy of The Simple Things Magazine :

The Simple Things Magazine Issue 13 with pictures of Splitscreen Campervan noses.

Issue 13 has a feature on camper vans, and the accompanying photo feature contains one or two very familiar looking noses, including our very own Ruby:

The Simple Things Magazine Issue 13 with pictures of Splitscreen Campervan noses.

Original photograph copyright Tim Gainey/Alamy.

Turns out that when Ruby and other vans from the SSVC were lined up at Stanford Hall, they were immortalised on film.

The article gives a potted history of the VW Transporter, prompted by the news that Brazilian bays will soon no longer be produced and has some nice photos to accompany.

It does suggest that splitty owners are elitist wankers who look down on drivers of newer VWs (this maybe happens a bit, but I will wave to *anyone* in the van, and don’t think we’re better than anyone else just because we have a split, but I personally would rather have a split than any other van, whereas I know people who feel the same way about bays) and that we all sneer at T25s (nope, love me a good Wedge) and Brazilian bays (again, no sneering, but not my cup of tea). But it also explains about Westies and Sambas for those who might not know (which included me 6 months ago!) and that love you end up developing for a large brick-shaped vehicle that uses up all your money.

Yes, we talk to our van. I say goodnight when we’ve put her cover on her. We pat her dashboard when she starts first time, or manages to get up a hill, like a clever puppy, and she will never, ever fail to make me smile, even when we’re jacking her up for the 3rd time in two days to hit her starter motor with a lump hammer. Everyone deserves something that makes them feel like that, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a barndoor, hi-top, samba, bay, wedge, T4 or T5, shiny show winner with lots of windows and chrome or a ratty panel van. Your van will always be the best, because it’s yours.

The Simple Things  issue 13 is available in supermarkets and WHSmith now. Unless you live in East Lancashire, where I would abandon all hope of finding a copy in Asda. Although somehow I walked out with this month’s VW Camper and Bus instead, which is no bad thing.

All opinions are my own. I have not been paid to write about The Simple Things, although if they wanted to give us a copy of that picture of Ruby’s nose for saying nice things, I wouldn’t complain.

Deva Dubs and Rods

We took a day trip to Shrewsbury in the car to look at some dubs. The weather was scorching, and it was a bit expensive for a day ticket given the traders who were there, in my opinion, but a good day was had nonetheless! Gutted that we missed out on Rocky Horror themed partying the night before though.

Lots of lovely Beetles to look at:

Yes, yes you are.

And some that really displayed their owner’s tastes:

The MK. 1 Golf Owners Club had some cars that were very much to Rooobarb’s taste:

As well as some more modern VWs:

And of course a collection of air-cooled vans:




And some special guests made a flying visit!

Yeah!

Stanford Hall 2013

We arrived at the Hall, parked up with the SSVC display and then went for a good look around:

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Starter motors – seen enough of them this weekend!

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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We were blessed with sunshine, and after a wander, went back to the bus for a cheese and ham sandwich (so good!) and a pint of cider:

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We made a few purchases, including an awning to replace the ill-fated gazebo, a purple bay magnet for a friend, a new shiny VW badge keyring and an ammo box and stickers:

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Which has become the new storage container for our food in the van. This weekend was somewhat of an experiment – finding out what worked for us in terms of storage and what we needed to take with us. The first night was a real revelation for us – the van was absolutely packed with stuff and we had nowhere to put it. If we’d had an awning, I think things would have been much easier. Also, the awning would have hopefully been easier to put up, and more resilient than the gazebo. We also decided that modular storage would work better for us than random carrier bags full of food and clothes. Hence the suitcases, the cooler and the ammo box. It looks neater and it’s easier to pack things in the van with less gaps.

We were also foiled by the weather – I packed for cold – jumpers and DMs, and ended up in a vest top and flip flops – with sunburn. So I think next time I would pack for all eventualities, but not so much. Did I need three jumpers? Probably not. Did I need suncream? YES.

2013-05-05 18.58.45

Since Stanford, our awning has arrived, which will make storage and cooking much easier. The rain and wind on Friday night and Saturday morning meant that we didn’t cook – as we don’t want to cook inside the van and make it greasy and smelly. This meant that we were both very hungry and grumpy! Also, getting changed inside the van was possible, but did require some acts of contortion, and taking it in turns.

2013-05-18 13.11.23

New awning!

The awning seems massive – but hopefully when in a field rather than a school hall, perhaps not so much. Since Stanford, Ruby has also had her rightful start motor refitted, and new window seals from Custom and Commercial, which will with any luck mean that the rain stays outside where it belongs!

Alas, our campervantures over the next few weeks will be sadly limited – Rooobarb has just had his cruciate ligament reconstructed – so no driving or camping for him for a while. Hopefully though, the sunshine will manage to overcome the inclement weather (I got hailstoned on during the school summer term charity jog for goodness sake!) and this summer will be one of sunshine, good tunes, sunny evenings, cooking outdoors and, of course, cider.

VW love in Northern Cyprus

Sorry the blog has been a bit quiet of late, Rooobarb and I are now officially Mr and Mrs Crumble (thanks to DubMinx from the SSVC for that excellent moniker!) and wedding stuff has got in the way of important stuff, like VWs.

Except, whilst in Northern Cyprus, getting hitched and having a honeymoon and stuff, we kept our eyes peeled for VWs. We saw quite a few Beetles being driven around (especially bright yellow ones, oddly enough!) and even found one for sale:

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We saw a couple of bay windows in need of some TLC (and parts) parked near to the main road to Ercan airport, but I thought I’d hit the jackpot as we were driving near Alsancak, and yelled the familiar refrain “SPLIT!”:

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Or maybe, just a bay that’s had a nose job…

Dub Freeze February 2013

Due to lots of other commitments, we’d said that we wouldn’t be going veedubbing during February. However, last Sunday, the sun was shining, Rooobarb was raring to go, Custard had only had about 4 hours sleep after her hen do, so it seemed like the perfect time to drive down to Stafford!

Dub Freeze happens twice a year, in February and November at Stafford Show Ground. There’s overnight camping on the Saturday night, and the main show is on Sunday. Inside the hall are traders, autojumble and the Show and Shine vehicles, and outside are lots of lovely vehicles, some for sale, and some just to have a really good look at and admire!

Volkswagen Beetle YYY 148M

Beetle

VW High top Split Screen Van.

High-top van. This made the most amazing noise.

VW Caddy F851 MJU

You can’t have a Volkswagen without swag.

Polly's Parlour ice cream van

Polly Stoker’s ice cream van, Florence, which won first place in the modified air-cooled category, and also ‘most unusual/inspiring’.

http://www.pollys-parlour.co.uk/

VW splitscreen camper van

I loved this van. Little details on it made me smile!

Beer can centre caps!

Lost your centre caps for your Empis? (We have.) No problem!

Light detailing.

Light detailing.

A daily driver.

A daily driver.

 

Betty Blue

Martin Aylett’s Betty Blue won first prize in the stock air-cooled category.

Betty Blue

As you can see, the van is still stock, with a lot of attention to period detail (such as her first tax disc) that set her apart as a cut above.

Betty Blue

Such a pretty van, and deserving of first place.

Green VW Scirocco KCH 114N

Marshall Foulds’ mint Mk.1 Scirocco came 1st in the stock water-cooled category..

Rat look VW bus

I am more and more drawn to the rat look. I’ve always loved rusty bits of metal and abandoned buildings, so cars with patina are, naturally, right up my street!

The Sick Bay camper VW Maltese Ambulance

This Maltese ambulance is, naturally, called The Sick Bay.

The Sick Bay

Gorgeous interior, tidy, light and airy, with character. Perfect.

BusFest Big VW picture

I’m a real fan of these pictures made at BusFest (formerly known as VanFest) and seeing as this year’s will fall on Rooobarb and I’s birthday weekend (6th -8th September – mine is the day before, his the day after!) and I’m 30 this year… we may well attend!

http://www.busfest.org/

Split screen campervan nail art

Susie, Membership Renewals Secretary of the Split Screen Van Club had gone above and beyond with her attention to detail (and I’m always a sucker for a bit of nail art!)

Pair of VW camper vans

I really enjoyed looking across to the camping field, where some vans were being moved, and it looked like a herd of VWs gambolling free in the early morning sunshine. You have to remember I’d not had a lot of sleep!

Karmann Ghia Convertible light blue

This Karmann Ghia was attracting a lot of admiring looks, and quite rightly so.

Type 2 Bay Window Volkswagen Camper XUX 214S

If the owners of this Bay don’t call her Peppermint Patty, they should do. She’s proper lovely!

KCK 124F Type 3 squareback Volkswagen

Type 3 Squareback. Rooobarb is lusting after a Fastback now – he’s well and truly been bitten by the VW bug!

963 XUC VW transporter split screen van rat look

Rat look with cyclops light. I like cyclops lights too – gotta have the right bus to suit though!

BDE 134B VW transporter split screen van

And finally, there’s a funny story to go with this one. Last week, Rooobarb gave me a lift to work, as I was going on a residential trip and didn’t want to leave my car outside school for two days. As we came off the motorway, this van was a couple of cars ahead of us, and Rooobarb pulled up alongside and we both grinned madly at the driver. He had an SSVC sticker in the back window, so I posted on their Split Screens Seen forum to say hello, but got no response.

As we’re about to go back into the hall after a late lunch, a bus drives past me, I smile at the driver automatically, and then realise it’s the same bus. I chased across the grass like a nutter to try to go and say hello, as he was sitting in traffic that was leaving the show, but I don’t get across in time, and assume he’s left for the day. Returning to where we’d parked an hour or so later, I see the bus parked up in the camping area and finally get a photo. Still didn’t get to meet the driver though! (I’ll be honest, would he want to meet a slightly deranged lady who runs after his bus at VW shows? Thought not…)

So, we had a great experience at our first VW show, and we’re looking forward to lots more. What shows will you be going to this year? Post in the comments and let us know, and if you see us at a show, come and say hello!

Inspiration: Junkaholique

Much of my precious spare time recently has been spent googling for campervan stuff. I decided that when we get the van, I would like some fairy lights inside, to make it all nice and cosy looking in the evenings. I googled “campervan fairy lights” and this lovely blog post came up in the search results: Junkaholique

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAphotograph of Lewes the campervan copyright (c) Junkaholique, used without permission

Junkaholique is the blog of Artemis Russell, her vintage finds, handmade projects, her family and their gorgeous bay window bus Lewes (pictured). Her blog is well worth a visit to see how Lewes has been transformed, and to see lovely photographs of their camping trips. My dreams these past few nights have been of blue skies, bright sunshine and the seaside, all enjoyed from within a camper of our very own.

Adventures in a Campervan

Greetings and salutations, welcome to our camper! Grab a seat in the back, kettle’s on. My name is Custard (obviously not my real name) and yon blokey behind the wheel there is Rooobarb (again, not what his mother calls him).

Let me tell you a story:

In 2011, Rooobarb and I went to see a show by Laura Mugridge called Running on Air. The show had been brought to the North West by our friends at Spot On Rural Touring, who have never given us a duff show yet, so when they mentioned a one woman show with an audience of five that takes place in the back of a campervan, we were in!

We drove to Mawdsley, and met the stars of the show; Laura, and her lovely orange bay window camper called Joni. The show was wonderful, a life-affirming journey around the UK with laughs and tears, all whilst sitting in the back of Joni outside a farm shop. Laura sparked an idea in our heads; when her and her husband Tom had got married, they had asked people to choose a part of a campervan to buy, and when they got a camper, they would name the parts after the people who bought them. I was sitting on a bench seat who was an uncle. You get the picture.

We thought that this was a marvellous idea, and so, when in October 2012 we decided that a 15 year long engagement was probably long enough, and that we should do something about it, we shamelessly stole the idea for our wedding gift list:

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We get married in 9 weeks time, and already have been pledged three rear view mirrors, one wing mirror, a fuel gauge, a fire extinguisher, a gearbox and a radiator (which could be interesting in an air-cooled engine, I blame a tired Custard googling for lists of car parts for gift lists late at night…). The lovely Rob and Sue at Spot On have also promised us an unused camping toilet. Which will make an interesting focal piece on the gift table at the reception!

So that was the start of our campervan adventures, and in the future we’re hoping to go wherever our flat-four engine will take us.