The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo

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:

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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.”

Here’s another picture of her at Run to the Sun in 1997:

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And more photos with friends’ buses from around 1986-87:

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This picture shows the reason for Ruby’s previous name – The Mambo Bus!

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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.

Before:

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She was in need of some TLC. Well, welding actually. Lots of welding.

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All stripped down and ready for rubbing:

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Rusty parts cut away:

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New parts welded into place:

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In primer:

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Being resprayed:

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Gearbox:

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Steering rack and bits:

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Engine:

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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?

Do you have a bus with an interesting past?

Are you one of Ruby’s former owners?

Let us know in the comments!

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Shining Star

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:

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First of all, jetwash the van to get all the dust and road dirt off.

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Whilst still at the jetwash, use hot shampoo and then rinse again with clean water.

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Then use Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner with some kind of microfibre wash pad to rub each panel down and remove any stubborn dirt.

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Then, using clean water and a clean pad, rinse the shampoo off.

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Once you’ve done that, use a Meguiars Microfibre Drying Towel to dry the van off.

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Then, the fun begins.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A neighbour came out and offered to treat our tyres, and discussed the best way to renovate Ruby’s tired alloys. Watch this space.

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Finally, climb in, go a for a cruise and enjoy all the admiring glances!

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(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.

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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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.

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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.

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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.

Stanford Hall Convoy 2013

After a good night’s sleep, we were woken by SSVC display coordinator Rikki James and his loud hailer, calling out registration numbers and admonishing the occupants of the vans for not getting up!

We were soon up, dressed and ready to join in the convoy:

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Marvin

Marvin

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The convoy was simply amazing to be a part of. Here are two videos which, in my opinion, sum up the experience perfectly:

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The thrum in my chest when everyone around us started their engines – priceless.

A run to the coast

The promised gorgeous weather held, so after the liberal application of Autoglym Interior Shampoo to the seats, we headed off to Blackpool for a drive.

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The trip started with a bit of excitement, as we realised that the key we had left with the garage owner who stores her is the only one that opens the petrol cap. So we had to take a trip back to swap keys. Ruby has many keys, all opening a different door. Whilst stopped at traffic lights in Preston, a guy took Ruby’s photo with a big grin – could she be a Instagram celebrity?

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We started at North Shore and drove down the front. Even off-season, Blackpool was fairly busy with people enjoying the sunshine, and lots of people, particularly children, giving Ruby a big smile and wave. We got lots of smiles and waves, particularly from other VW drivers. We saw a T25 on the front and a couple of T5s in Lytham. On the way home we saw a gorgeous beige Beetle near Lostock Hall, but no other splittys today.

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We parked up in Lytham to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine and take a few photos whilst the light was nice. Cowardy Custard here also took the opportunity to drive Ruby in a very gentle circle of the car park, around an RAC man with a wry grin on his face, who probably  could imagine the conversation going on in Ruby’s cab: “Wow – this steering is something else, isn’t it?!”

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Unfortunately, due to my age, and a hefty insurance claim after vandalism and airbag theft from my Fiat 500 a couple of years ago, I cannot get cover on classic car insurance. Yet. Which means that it is up to Rooobarb to do all the driving, and I get to be in charge of music, refreshments and photography. However, I am going to take the opportunities to drive on empty car parks and campsites when I can, so that when the insurers consider me a risk worth taking, I can hop behind the wheel with a little confidence.

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We finished the trip with another brief stop near Fairhaven Lake to get some photos of Ruby wistfully looking out to sea. Rooobarb reminisced that he has photographs from the same car park of him and a friend kneeling in front of Barney the 1976 Beetle many years ago. He was happy to stay inside the van on this occasion.

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Then, it was back home to load up the last of the camping gear that has been sitting in our dining room all week, a quick trip to the jetwash to blast off the road grime, and then we snuggled Ruby back safe in her garage, to rest for our next adventures.

Happy days!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

On Top of the World!

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been building an epic playlist for our roadtrips. It is now 8 hours long!

You can listen here if you have Spotify.

Here is a preview of the first few tracks:

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I’d be tempted to pop my maracas in the cab so that if I feel the need to do a Bez whilst driving along, I can rock out in the passenger seat. Because driving along in a splitty isn’t attention seeking enough already, clearly!

I decided to post our playlist after this post from TheBigForest who talk about campers, and make very lovely soft toys and things. Well worth a visit!

Ruby

Shortly before Christmas, I needed to post a parcel. I was reluctant to go to Accrington Post Office, as it is always busy anyway, and it being the last posting day before the holidays, I knew it would be hellish. My colleague suggested another Post Office nearby, which was brilliant – no queues, being able to hear the people behind the counter, easy to park. It became my new regular Post Office, as I could nip there in my lunch break and not get caught up.

Having been to the Post Office one lunchtime, I turned into a side street to head back to work and saw the most wonderful sight:

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Meet Ruby. Ruby is a 1967 split screen van, who started life as a purple delivery van. She was lovingly restored a few years ago, given a cream vinyl interior and a “rhubarb and custard” paint job (hence the name). And she is for sale!

She was being sold by Dave of Accrington Beetles and Campers on behalf of a customer who doesn’t have as much time as he would like to give to her anymore, and came with loads of camping gear for a very good price. She seemed to good to be true.

After a couple of visits and a good look round, everything seemed to be in order; sound bodywork, tidy interior and engine looking good. She’ll need a bit of work on her steering and a few other minor bits, but she’s been well looked after and was ready to drive away.

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