campervan, cars, classic cars, VW, vw camper

Naughty Campervan

I have not had the chance to use my campervan since November (four months ago). This always  brings problems when it comes to springtime. For some reason she (Sybil the campervan) is always reluctant to start a new season. This year doesn’t she seam to want to leave the parish boundary. I have booked her in for a MOT at a test center seven miles from my house on two separate occasions, and both times she’s broken down after less than a mile! The road from our village to the main road is called Huffley Lane. It twists. turns, goes up and down so much that my nephews call it ‘The Rollercoaster Road’. Along the two mile stretch of road there’s a car crash most months , Not the best place to brake down, especially at 8,00 in the morning!

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Sybil at work on a cold November morning.

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The last time that I used her she ran perfectly. I drove her to work for a while whilst my other car was in the garage, with no problems. But now her winter break seams to of caused a running issue. She starts and runs well, but as soon as we’re on the open road, she cuts out. It could only be a block in the fuel, no spark when required or no compression. I hope that I can discount a lack of compression because it was running fine before the winter and does run fine for a while.

This weekend I intend to….

  • Fit a new petrol tank filter,
  • Fit new petrol line
  • New in-line filter,
  • New spark plugs,
  • New HT leads
  • New fuel pump
  • Replace the electronic dizzy and cap
  • Time it with a timing strobe
  • Clean the jets in the carb.

Fingers crossed for Monday’s MOT!!

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campervan, cars, classic cars, Uncategorized, VW, vw camper

Dubfreeze Show 2o17

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Dubfreeze is a VW show in Staffordshire. A large proportion of the stands are for air-cooled bugs and campers although there is a natural progression towards water-cooled stuff as the years go on. Here is some highlights from this year’s show.

There was the usual collection of trade stands and spare parts in the autojumble.

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This bug stood out as being the best in show in my opinion.

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Dubfreeze always signals the start of the season…. Next show Bustypes…

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campervan, classic cars, History, Uncategorized, VW, vw camper

Cars and the Fossil Record

As most palaeontologists will tell you, we don’t have a complete fossil record of the natural world. There appears to be gaps in the full spectrum of plants and animals that are thought to of existed . This could explain more about evolution and diversity of the natural world. These gaps would help to link all elements of the living world together, but without the fossilized evidence this is just an educated guess. Some people use this to bolster their claims of the existence of an overarching deity, a sentient being with a master plan of the direction of life itself. Others can perceive that in order for a plant or animal to become fossilised, they must die within the perfect conditions for fossilisation to take place. This means that a plant or animal that spent most of it’s life in exposed, dry or upland conditions would not have the same probability of getting covered in the protecting sedimentary debris of those in marshy or coastal areas. Therefore we are not fully aware of the biodiversity of periods of time such as the Jurassic age, we only know what elements of this looked like.

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What has this got to do with classic cars?……

Over the years I have attended many classic car shows. Wondering around I marvel at the gleaming automotive exhibits on show. 65% of the cars on display are usually  sports cars or luxury cruisers.  If you were to take this as a cross section of Britain’s automotive history you could easily conclude  that 1960’s and 70’s Britain was full of men in cravats and sporting jackets driving e type Jaguars and MG’s. You could think that very few people drove Austin A35’s and Morris 1100’s. But from memory and photographs I know this not to be true.

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In this typical 1970’s car park picture there are at least seven mini’s but also cars that are very rare now such as an austin farina of which there are only 68 on the UK roads. Three hillman avengers (of which there are 36 still on the road) and a number of austin 1100’s (of which there are now 346 on the road [the 1100 was one of the best selling cars of the 60’s in the UK]), the Triumph GT6 (876 left on the roads) and Jaguar 240/340 (1427 left) are clearly in the minority.

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Above is another photo of an English car park in 1974. It is peppered in the obligatory mini’s, escort’s and 1100’s with hardly any car that could be classed as sporting or exotic.

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1970’s shrewsbury

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Shrewsbury in 2017. Will any of these cars exist in 43 year time?

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This is what you typically see at classic car meets now.  This is nice, but it does rather misrepresent the era. Sometimes, without the protective embrace of a dry garage and the foresight of their owners, the once commonly  mundane can become the rarest and most interesting. .

The same ‘rose tinted’ views could be said for most cultural aspects of 60’s and 70’s .Britain. When talking to people who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s they will tell you that crime levels were nonexistent, the summers were warm and long and everyone was happy. We know this is not really the case. The Beatles, Stones and Kinks did not solely dominate the charts in the 60’s….  Frank  Ifield and Rolf Harris had hits too!  I believe that we have been very fortunate to have lived through a period of relative economic and civil stability over the last 30 years and therefore we have become disenfranchised from the real issues that are important in this world such as equality and peace. Society now feels hard done by because as humans we have a tendency to only remember the good things from our past. Therefore we need the Austin 1100 and Moskvich 412 to keep the automotive fossil records alive and to remind us how life really was. It’s ok that everyone is not driving a Porsche or an Aston Martin now. The mundane is as much part of normal life now as it was in the 60’s, only with aircon and electric windows!

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campervan, motoring and cars, VW, vw camper

A Colourful Past

Air-cooled VW culture is universal appealing. Over the years VW Campervans  have come to symbolise freedom, peace, surfing, hippies and good times. Camper T shirts are warn by people of all ages and economic status. Millions of bags, mugs and posters with VW campers on are sold every year. All this from a commercial vehicle that was born out of the rubble of  Nazi Germany, and was based on a car commissioned my Hitler!  This has got to be the best re branding exercise ever.

As vans started to get older and more affordable it became a cultural statement  for the baby boomer generation to paint their vans in vivid colours. People adorned their vans in flowers and ban the bomb symbols as an act of rebellion. A very powerful way of informing the establishment that ‘the times were a’changin’. All types of vehicles we used, but early  VW’s were relatively reliable and lasted the longest. Therefore people have become to associate them with the whole movement.

art_bus A 60’s van

I’m one of millions of people that have been drawn into T2  (VW van) ownership. My Stepbrother owned several campers before I got mine.  He had tales of being helped out by friendly villagers whist stranded in Mexico, exploring Sweden and driving to Spain in campers. All of this sounded really exciting and I was soon sucked into the world of the VW Camper.

The cheapest and most practical way to get a VW campervan was, and still is to buy a T25. (Known as a Vanagon or T3 in other parts of the world) In my opinion these vans are not the most stylish, but they are practical with a good range of engines. The only van I could afford was a 2,0 air-cooled panel van. This cost me £450,  but I did have to do a lot of engine work.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The van was peppered in rust so I gave it a quick coat of white paint.

The novelty of having a plain white van soon wore off and I started to think about changing the colour.  It doesn’t show in the picture above, but I hadn’t managed to achieve the best quality paint job. This left me with a blank canvas and very little funds.

I started to think about the iconic ‘Flower power’ vans of the 60’s and 70’s.  My friends and I had a website called Nightmonkey, so that seamed like a good word to paint on the van! As the van was built in Wolfsburg, it seemed fun to write this in German. We therefore sprayed ‘Nacht der Affe’ down the side of the van. At the time these vans were only just accepted into the air-cooled VW world and were still widely commercially used, so it didn’t seem too much of a sacrilege to have a bit of fun with the paintwork.

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This was a laugh, but it wasn’t in the best taste so I toned it down (a bit!)

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By this time the van had adopted the name Veggie. Friends still ask after Veggie as if the van was also an old friend.

After a few years of ownership I was on a roll of bad taste spray jobs and I had my favourite band’s (The Levellers) logo sprayed on the van. This looked great for a while, but then started to peel.

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All of these incarnations cost very little.

After a couple of years of messing around with the van, I finally paid for a better spray job that was more befitting of an ageing vw.

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I loved the final red spray job. The van stood out, but now for the right reasons!

I sold Veggie for £1700 in 2012 to fund my bay window camper project which was always my goal. I saw ‘him’ a few years later on eBay  with a nice camper interior fitted for £4500. I sometimes wish i’d kept the van. But in order to explore other vehicles, sometimes you have to let a few go.

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motoring and cars, Uncategorized, vw camper

Why classic cars?

I have always loved cars. Much to my parent’s dismay, my first word was not Mummy or Daddy, it was Mini. Toy cars became my favourite things to play with. Even as a small child the motorcar represented freedom and adventure.

It would appear that cars made during and before the 1970’s often displayed many human characteristics. They could be temperamental, unreliable and unrefined. The construction of cars also appeared to done largely by hand. Nuts and bolts were not concealed behind plastic trim and the bare shell was clearly visible from inside which gave them a down to earth feel. Like humans, for no apparent reason car seamed to have their off days and sometimes faults would rectify themselves without any mechanical intervention.

In an old car your senses are often stimulated in a way that the modern Eurobox fails to do. Smells of oil, petrol, wood, leather or leatherette helps to give the car a personally. Poor fitting panels bring in drafts and smells from the outside. Noise and vibrations coming from the engine and drivetrain let you know the car is working. These are traits that the modern motor manufacture has tried to eliminate over years of development. Producers respond to costumer expectations of owning a silently operating, reliable, draft-free  form of transportation. But this often curates an artificial perception of speed, control and invincibility.

In the 1970’s, car’s often became to feel like part of the family. This was certainly true is my family’s case. My father’s first car was a 1967 Morris Traveller which he brought after my younger sister was born in 1975. My father called ‘him’ Denis, after a footballer called Denis Law. Denis (the car) had come out of the factory as a tortoise coloured Morris, but by the time my father had brought it (from a vicar apparently) the rust had started to set in. My father painted the wings with red oxide paint in a vain attempt to halt the rust process. After many years of ownership Denis failed the MOT. My father didn’t part with the car (maybe due to my demands?) and parked ‘him’ in a yard at the back of a friends house. For a year or so we took regular trips to visit Denis as if he was an elderly family member in a retirement home. After a while my father reluctantly sold the car for spares. I still remember going to say goodbye. I still own the chrome hub caps and ornamental bonnet handle, which I have on display in my living room.

a1 Me at the wheel of  Denis c 1977

Over time both my father and my stepfather had various cars that won my affection. At one point stepfather had three Renault 4’s (two for spares) and an very rusty Austin Healey  Sprite. I used to play for hours in these partly dismantled vehicles, pretending to drive for miles. Growing up in a very rural part of Shropshire, this was the best playground for miles. (possibly the best playground in the country!) For years my father had an 850cc Austin mini with the reg YUK 226M. Yuk became as much part of the family as Denis and took all over the country. After this family motoring became very boring, with exception of a Morris minor  convertible  my parents brought a predictably dull series of metros and montegos. leading me to conclude  that anything produced after 1979, particularly if it was British, is soulless, dull and uninteresting

thumbnail_img_20170122_192044409 Me and my mate Jim with YUK

jr26 My dad’s brand new metro  in 1984. He looks like a proud man…. It was the city x model after all!!!

As the years have past and I too had own a series of predictably dull euroboxes. After many conversations with friends I became nostalgic about past motoring icons. In 2001 my friend Chris, who owned many old vehicles convinced me to buy myself a classic car. After reading countless classic car mags I opted to by a Triumph Spitfire 1500. I will write about this at a later date  but needless to say it expanded my mechanical knowledge and highlighted how extremely fortunate I am to have such a supportive and dear group of friend around me who enabled me to experience the ups and downs of classic motoring on a shoestring budget.

joel-spitfire2 A quick engine swap in 2004

Since 2001 I have owned a few spitfires and a number of VW campervans. At home my drive is currently full of vehicles owned by myself and my girlfriend that are in various states of repair. All of which I intend to write about in the future.

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