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!
Right, first up, I should probably explain who I am. My name is Teddy, and I used to live with some ace people at Homeless Hounds – Dogs in Need who did look after me for a while in this place called kennels. It’s like a hangout for loads of different dogs, and some people come and take you for walks, and to go and visit their houses and stuff if you’re good. I went to visit Danni’s house, who is a friend of Custard, and Danni put some photos of me on her Facebook page, and Custard did fall in love with me (it is only to be expected, I am after all very handsome).
So Rooobarb and Custard did speak to a lady called Emma, then came and took me for a nice walk, and then Emma had to do something called a home check, then that was it, I was off to my new home!
I’m having a really good time here, we go for lots of walks, and do lots of playing, and snuggling, and Mum likes to sit in something called a Beetle and read her books, and I like to sit with her, because I love being outside.
I also get lots of post from my friends, including Loki and Frankie The Fit Dog, who is my Brother from Another Mother. He is a very good blogger, and I would like to be as good at writing as he is one day.
I like to play with my humans, and wrestle them, and generally spend time with them. I am very much a Dog of the People. Custard is writing this right now sitting on the floor in the back yard because I wanted company. We are sitting on a blanket with a big hole in it, because I wanted the blanket out, but I couldn’t work out how to unfold it, so I chewed it a bit instead.
Rooobarb and Custard were very excited this weekend, because they were taking me Camping. I wasn’t sure what camping was, but it involved filling the back of the car with loads of Stuff, and driving to meet someone called Ruby.
Ruby turned out to be this AWESOME VAN that I wanted to climb inside and sit in, and Mum said that that was a good job really, because we were going to be sitting in her for a long time.
I alternated between sticking my head out of the window, and sleeping on Dad’s knee. It was very hot, but I love Dad. Lots of people smiled when they saw me grinning at them out of the window. We stopped a few times at the services so I could have a drink out of my bowl, but I preferred drinking Mum’s Evian out of her hand whilst we were going along. I got quite a lot of it in her lap, and when we stopped the last time, Mum looked like she’d had a wee.
When we arrived it was still too hot, and very busy, so Mum was getting my lead on so that we could go for a walk whilst Dad parked the van. I had other ideas, and jumped out of the van window. Good job Mum had got my lead on me first. We got parked up, and I was too hot to do anything else. I made friends with a nice man in another van nearby and I wanted to sit in his van too. We rested for a bit and Mum and Dad got the awning put up and loads of other practical boring stuff like that.
Then we went up to the show itself so that Mum and Dad could enjoy cider and paella and music and stuff. I decided that I didn’t want to do that, so I barked at some other dogs and got very grumpy, so we went back to the van. During the night there was loads of rain and thunder and lightning. I wasn’t bothered by that at all but in the morning Mum said “Oh bugger,” because the cargo doors had leaked and her’s and Dad’s shoes were all wet. I was ok, I don’t wear shoes.
I also discovered that the doors of the awning aren’t like real doors, and I escaped out of them to find out why the lady next door was screaming. I decided it was probably her chocolate lab’s fault, so I barked at him. Nobody would grab my harness because I’m a Big Vicious Staffy.
I have decided that VW shows aren’t really my thing yet. There are lots of crowds, and noises, and other dogs, and I found it difficult to cope. I did very well and Mum and Dad said I was a Very Good Boy, but I think I would prefer some quieter camping first. We saw some cool veedubs though.
My favourite bit was cuddling and playing with Mum and Dad near our van. And climbing all over them in the middle of the night when they were trying to sleep.
If you are a Human who doesn’t have a Dog in their life, then you need to get in touch with Homeless Hounds. There are loads of PAWSOME dogs like me just waiting to come and make your life better. Tell them I said hi.
Gotta go now, lots of adventures to have, squirrels to chase and rope toys to chew. Laters, homies!
In the first part of this post I recounted the tale of Ruby’s previous ownership and restoration, and I was most pleased when last week I had some comments on the post from Ian:
I know this van. My dad bought her as a panel van way back in the early 70′s from a garage in Coltishall Norfolk.
He cut all of the windows himself. He made a mould from timber to make the elevating roof from fibreglass and got Jeckles of Wroxham (a chandler) to make the PVC parts. He made all of the furniture inside, then resprayed it himself orange and white.
Now all this seems a bit odd as the van in these images seems to have no windows in it. Perhaps the registration got switched..
I am 52 now, we holidayed around the UK throughout the mid 70′s. I particularly remember touring the country of two weeks in the blisteringly hot summer of 1976.
He sold it at the end of the 70s for… £600!
I had a look back through the DVLA paperwork that I sent off for last summer, and found Kenneth John Fulcher on the photocopied registered keeper page of a logbook – the earliest piece of paperwork I have. This was Ian’s dad – so proves that Ruby was indeed the van that he’d enjoyed childhood holidays in. Glenn mentions that he had removed a Devon pop top and Bay-style windows from the van, hence the confusion over her differing appearance.
Different strokes for different folks.
All I can say is that Dad did a brilliant job in turning a working van into a holiday bus for us kids – although Glenn’s point that she was adulterated maybe today well founded. But then VW panel vans were not as affectionately revered as they are today. You wouldn’t get the same reaction by someone who did it to a Ford transit or Commer of the day… or would you?
Indeed, did anyone foresee the cult status that the splitty would attain today, or the prices that they would command? Will we look back at the mods that people are doing to buses nowadays and be horrified?
The bus gave Ken and his family many happy holidays, as evidenced by these fantastic photographs that he scanned in for us, having to go and buy a slide scanner especially!
LPW 219E before the conversion
LPW 219E converted prior to respray
LPW 219E with Ken, Sylvia and Neil.
LPW 219E with Ian and Sylvia.
LPW 219E with Mum Sylvia
We feel very privileged to be able to see some more of the history of our van, thanks to the photos from Glenn, Marc and now Ian. Thank you so much for sharing some more of Ruby’s history with us!
And arrived to find a very busy showground, but found just enough space to squeeze Ruby into, to get set up in order to enjoy a relaxed evening:
Whilst the show was overcast and breezy for much of the weekend, there were lots of traders with a good variety of clothes, handcrafted goods, autojumble and food to enjoy, and some excellent Volkswagens in the Show and Shine field:
We set off on Sunday shortly before the heavens opened, and Custard managed to drive Ruby back and get her under cover before she got all wet and dirty.
Bank holiday Monday provided ample opportunity for Rooobarb to get down and dirty with Rufus’s rear hubs, which are going to need some different castle nuts in order to fit on properly. Fun and games!
Rooobarb and I decided to have a more formal discussion about the shows were were planning to attend this year.
We’d had a chat back in maybe October or November, and jotted down a few possibles, with the plan to eliminate a few and go camping on our own instead of doing the show thing so much this year. Last year, being our first year of camper ownership, we went a bit crazy with the show attending, and spent lots of money out of the “Repairing old Volkswagens” fund. We said we wouldn’t do as many shows this year.
We got our list out. And ended up adding to it. Whoops.
So our plan for the year looks something like this:
As I took a weekend off from taking photographs at VW Festival, I’ve decided instead to blog our weekend in the style of Caitlin Moran’s Celebrity Watch.
Custard’s Top 10 of VW Festival:
10. (Down) The weather.
It rained. It winded. It made puddles in the awning, it poured down the cargo doors (and ergo, round the cargo doors thanks to crappy seals), it filled up shoes and soaked into jeans. It could not make its mind up what it was doing. The wind also ripped the gutter rail pole for the awning out of my hand on Sunday, meaning it now has a slight kink to it. However, necessity is the mother of invention, so I now know that it is possible to peg the doors of the awning up to stop the rain pouring in, although I wish I hadn’t found that out during a torrential downpour. Also, I got to sit in the van (in my shorts, as I had only taken one pair of long trousers with me; my (sodden) jeans) with a pint and read my book for a couple of hours. Bliss.
9. (Down) Festival toilets.
These are never, ever good, to be honest. As I was heading to the loo on Sunday morning, a camper remarked to her friend “Oh, I really feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t been to the loo yet today!” So I asked if they were that bad. I’ve seen worse, but if the loos had been serviced during the weekend, this might have improved matter slightly. Still, you do know what you’re getting with a festival loo, and at least the proper loos at Harewood House itself were open.
8. (Down) Running out of cash.
Our own fault for not bringing enough with us. Meant that we couldn’t buy coffee on Sunday. Argh! A lot of the traders accepted card payments though, so we didn’t miss out on buying big stuff. Just coffee 😉
7. (Up) A varied collection of stalls, autojumble and displays.
Got to buy some great things, including this lovely necklace from Louis Edwards jewellery:
There was a good range of clothes, VW stuff, food, toys, cleaning gear and autojumble. The displays on both days were amazing – as well as club stands, there was a red, white, blue and black vehicle display on Saturday and a beautiful show and shine on Sunday, with a high standard of vehicle in both.
6. (Up) Sooty’s School Bus.
We have been following the progress of Sooty’s bus on the SSVC forum, so it was great to see it in the flesh! Also, his bus was featured in an article in the Daily Mail about the show, which also featured this fantastic video by Bright Lights Photography which to me, really sums up the feeling of going out in your VW and meeting fellow dub nuts:
5. (Up) The Green Bay Cafe.
Coffee. Real coffee. Also, handily placed in the main camping area, rather than the trade area, which meant less distance to stagger to get our caffeine fix. We love the Green Bay Cafe with their fairtrade, real coffee. Yum.
4. (Up) Gluten free food!
The Two Tarts, Lulabelle and Heck sausages all offered gluten free fayre, ideal for a hungry Custard. I’m used to not being able to sample things at shows, so for there to be lots of things I could eat was a good thing! Still having to carry my own soy milk in a hip flask for my coffee though…
3. (Up) Showing with Volksgirls.
We’ve not entered a show and shine before (although we did show with the SSVC at Stanford Hall as part of their massive line up) so when Volksgirls invited members to show with them, we jumped at the chance. Volksgirls is a friendly club and forum for ladies on the VW scene, and boasted a full stand at VW Festival. We were the only camper on their stand on Saturday, and our first show taught us one or two things;
Make sure that you either put your stuff for making food in the van, or in the awning. Don’t leave half in one, and half in the other. Of you’ll be very annoyed when you realise you can’t make lunch.
The majority of people show their vans with the beds folded up and their tables all set nicely. Our van is hardly period in the style, so it’s very hard to dress. Next year, I’ll be showing it with the bed made up, with nice cushions and things. It may also have a Custard-shaped accessory catching a few zzzz’s in it during the afternoon as…
I don’t do well at getting up early enough to get the van to the arena without the option of an afternoon nap 😉
Mark out the space next to the awning that the van goes in, or someone will park in it before you get back in the afternoon!
Make a sign telling people all about your van, or you’ll find yourself repeating a lot of stuff. We love talking to people about vans, but if they could read it too, that would be nice, and we could put some photos from the resto on the sign too.
2. (Up) Chilled, family friendly atmosphere.
There was a really nice vibe to the show, lots of things for children and adults to do, and everyone was friendly, having a good laugh and up for a chat about VWs, dogs or just life in general! The camping was generally quiet (well, it was where we were anyway!) and people didn’t seem to let the weather get them down.
1. (Up) Good friends.
We finally got to meet some fellow camper owners from the SSVC forum. Dubminx and Custard both tell lies to small children for a living, Roobarb and Carl both love watercooled and aircooled dubs. You know when you meet someone and think – “Yeah, I could camp with these guys and have a whale of a time!”
We’ve enjoyed our first year exploring the VW show scene, but what we’ve found is that, after a while, it all gets a bit same-y if there’s only the two of you, so being able to meet up with like-minded people and have a good chat makes the shows all the more worthwhile, and if you’re lucky, you get to meet someone lovely like Minx, who not only has a beautiful camper called Mabel (with the wonderful period set-dressing that Ruby lacks) but also sent us some bunting for Ruby before she’d ever met us for real. Which just tells you that she’s a nice person, and someone you’re going to enjoy being around.
We would definitely do VW Festival again – it has been one of the best shows we have visited this summer, and wasn’t a long drive for us, which is always a bonus. See you in 2014!
So, after buying Ruby, we asked around on the SSVC forum to see if anyone knew her. After all, there are a finite amount of splitties in the world, so it stood to reason that someone on the forum might have owned her previously. Also, she came with an SSVC sticker in the windscreen, so we knew her previous owners had been members.
We soon had a message from Glenn, who bought her in 1994:
He told us: “I bought the van in 94 from Spencer Ballis, it had suffered from a 70’s camper conversion complete with devon pop top and long bay window style windows, so that lot was first on the list to go, Spencer kindly had the gear box with the reduction boxes re-built before I bought it, I bolted up a Kadron equipped 1641, lowered it on polished Porsche Fuchs and tooled around it it for the next few years.”
And more photos with friends’ buses from around 1986-87:
This picture shows the reason for Ruby’s previous name – The Mambo Bus!
Ruby with pop top, and the owners of the bus behind her also came and said hello in our thread.
As well as asking on the forum, I also wrote a letter to Marc, who restored the bus and sold her to Pat who we bought her from. We were made up to get a reply from Marc and Nikki, who sent us some brilliant photos of her restoration.
She was in need of some TLC. Well, welding actually. Lots of welding.
All stripped down and ready for rubbing:
Rusty parts cut away:
New parts welded into place:
Steering rack and bits:
So, wow! In some ways she has changed so much, but in other ways, she is recognisable straight away as the same bus. We’d love to see photographs of her in her earlier days. We’ve contacted the DVLA to see what other information we can find about her. We know from her M Plate that she was due to roll off the factory line on 14th February 1967, was light gray and was destined for Ramsgate. She was first registered in the UK in March 1967. I wonder what she did before she became a camper?
Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned starter motor issues, we didn’t get to shine Ruby up the way we’d hoped. However, when we got back from Stanford Hall on the Bank Holiday Monday, we had a few hours before she needed to be back in the garage, during which Rooobarb got handy with a range of Autoglym products and some muscle.
Rooobarb’s guide to making a shiny:
First of all, jetwash the van to get all the dust and road dirt off.
Whilst still at the jetwash, use hot shampoo and then rinse again with clean water.
Apply a coat of Autoglym Resin Polish, following the instructions on the back of the bottle carefully; start with small circles and finish with longer straight lines to prevent swirl marks. Leave to dry and then buff off with a microfibre cloth. Do this twice.
Now, using Autoglym Extra Gloss Protection and a microfibre applicator pad, apply the sealant to each panel and allow to dry (which takes about 30 minutes, weather dependent). Buff off, using another clean cloth.
Next – to the windows! Apply Autoglym Fast Glass with a microfibre cloth or kitchen towel, allow to dry for a few moments and take off with a clean cloth. Do this both inside and out. If you and your camper buddy do this at the same time, you can also amuse yourselves by pulling faces through the windows, and spot bits that the other person has missed. Don’t forget to do your mirrors too.
There are many products out there that are designed for cleaning car interiors. Custard is a big fan of Pledge Wipes as you don’t have to wash a duster out afterwards, and they smell very nice. Ruby smells lovely inside whenever you get in her, thanks to Custard’s overzealous wiping of every flat surface.
For upholstery, we both recommend Autoglym Interior Shampoo, applied with a nail brush, then wiped away with another microfibre cloth. Ruby’s vinyl came up a lovely bright cream after a bit of attention with a nailbrush, and the cloths came away filthy as it brought out years of camping grime.
A neighbour came out and offered to treat our tyres, and discussed the best way to renovate Ruby’s tired alloys. Watch this space.
Finally, climb in, go a for a cruise and enjoy all the admiring glances!
(Warning, your shiny van may now attract people who want to kiss it, as it is so gorgeous.)
Retailers have apparently reported a marked increase in the amount of car detailing products sold over the past two years, with Halfords noting a 70% increase the amount of specialised cleaning products they sell. Some of this is put down to people keeping their cars for longer, so wanting to keep them looking good, as well as wider availability of specialist products online.
This clip from You and Yours, originally broadcast on Radio 4 on 20th May 2013, explores the world of car detailing and meets some of the people who love to keep their cars looking like they’re about to enter a Show and Shine.
How do you get your van looking shiny? Let us know in the comments!
All opinions are my own. I was not paid for any mentions of products. I just really like Autoglym, Meguiars and Pledge Wipes. Clean freak.
We arrived at the Hall, parked up with the SSVC display and then went for a good look around:
Starter motors – seen enough of them this weekend!
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.