12, no 13 years a slave - a westy story

Discussion in 'Show Us Your Ride' started by olnow, May 7, 2017.

  1. Not sure I've ever shared any pictures of my bus, so seeing as I've had it for ages, its about time!

    So where to begin?

    I've been into campervans for ages. My first was a rusty and rare Fiat 850T 'Fargo'. Like a shrunken bay, but with a watercooled engine. Tiny, 'cute' and lethal. Side winds (or a side breeze) would effect an involuntary lane change.
    Slept two, with a novel clip on tent to cover your feet. A nice pet / patio ornament, but so slow.

    margo the fargo_zpsmbirarro.JPG

    Luckily this was soon replaced with a £1000 V reg Devon, with a nice painted 'splitty v' on the front.

    This was a panel van, with a devon roof and combi side windows 'thrown' on. It honestly looked like a tin opener had been used to make the conversion. Still I kept it for 5 years, rebuilding the interior every couple of months, till eventually it got so rotten it was time to restore or get rid, so I got rid. Alas this was pre digital cameras, so no evidence exists.

    This was replaced with a nice Ex German Westy - Artic spec Berlin to be precise. Double glazing, eberspacher, intermittent wipers and a big tupperware box on the front.

    Was once used in a big VW dealership as a 'gate guardian' so was very shiny. Ran well, but needed nothing doing, and being newly single, I was bored so moved it on.

    Here is a terrible photo (early digital cameras were a bit rubbish):


    This made way for another westy - a uber rare SO34, submarine hatch 1200:


    This lasted a year, but was a revelation in driving. It was terrible compared to the previous bays I was used too. Crap brakes, very slow. A lovely van, but I couldn't afford to make it usable, and actually wanted to go camping, so off it went (in 2004 market value for this was under £5K!!!)

    So enter the main villain of the piece, my 1978 LHD westy:
    front right 04_zpstcmudpyt.JPG

    So in 2004, £3750 to spend at Cool Campers in Bournemouth would of got you one of these.

    12 months ticket, original (but very scruffy) Westy Helsinki interior and roof. Original engine and box long gone, but a rev tastic 1700 and 3 rib box. No heating. Recent blow over, no obvious rot. Great chassis.

    Here is the 'character' inside:

    and cab


    I was very pleased. Gary ( at Cool Campers) was a great guy to deal with, and I knew exactly what my money was (and wasn't) getting me.
    It was getting me an accelerator linkage including a bit of rubber pipe however, which on the 175 mile journey home gradually stretched so the last 50 miles were sub 35 mph ( just like the splitty!) .

    So lots of tinkering and cleaning up, transformed the inside to this:




    and it camped:
    right side norfolk 04_zpsvkyx414i.JPG

    The spare wheel box rattled however, and I'm not a great lover of them, so I chopped it off, as seen at Brighton breeze in 2006:

    ftrh breeze 06_zpstjlaf70n.JPG
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
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  2. By now it had also mysteriously attracted some T25 Caravelle alloys, and a much improved accelerator linkage.

    The front panel had been stone chipped ( I assume when in Germany), and having had a 'box ectomy', the deformation panel was in need of replacement, so this happened:
    7 april 010_zpsf5uzgykn.JPG

    to be continued
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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  3. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Cool story. I was hopingyou would let us know it one day :thumbsup:
  4. love the fiat ,cool as...:hattip:
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  5. Merlin Cat

    Merlin Cat Moderator

    Good story and nice vans, keep it coming :)
  6. Thanks for the feedback, I've been meaning to post for about 5years...

    Any how, the 'face off' happened in 2007, so I'll fill in some other bits in pieces to try and keep this ancient history in order.

    The van came with a 'CB' code 1700, which I think was from the early 70s, and the heat exchangers were beyond hope. In 2004 buying a pair from JK netted a pucker VW one, and a less pucker Dasnk. How times change!

    These were attached, and no heat belched forth. Evicting a mouse nest in the main heating pipe finally fixed that ( I recall I had to hammer a broom handle through it - and we worry about breathing in asbestos! nice).

    All was good for a few tens of miles, then I was troubled with a rather high idle speed. This was worn throttle spindles on the OG carbs, which prompted a smashing pair of DRLA 36s, from a nice ~Italian chap on ebay.

    Plug and play? pah.

    All fitted and running ( with a CB cross bar linkage), after months of arsing about getting the fueling sorted ( hint - its all about the needle valve and float set up) , I couldn't fix a weird hissing sound from one carb. Suspected an air leak, so quickly whipped off the manifold, faced and replaced, and BALLS - pulled head stud out.

    Learnt about the dark art of helicoils, pulled the head and fixed it. Still hissing.

    Talked myself into needing a new engine (as you do) and got Laurie Petit to build me a 2 litre out of the free 1700 I'd acquired and my engine.

    So 1700 case, best of the 1700 heads, W code 1700 cam and stock 2 litre crank and pistons. Laurie was another great person to deal with, drove to Leicester to collect and deliver the engine, £900 all in (including his petrol money).

    All back together.


    STILL HISSING. Agggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh.

    Peter Baldwin ( the very definition of 'old school') and one of the fastest mini racers eventually solved this for me, and was so intrigued by the problem did it for free!

    It was an air leak ( which I was pleased my original diagnosis was correct), but it was internal to the carb. Ex Alpha carbs have blanked off chokes. Its blindingly obvious that if one of these should stick 'open' it'll cause a buggeration of an air leak, a noise like a dyson on heat and rarther rich mixtures. At least its obvious now!!

    So all emery'd smooth, the wee piston (in the choke mech) behaved and I got 83bhp at the flywheel. Thank you Laurie P and Peter B .

    So here is engine before:

    and after:
    new eng 25_zpso13jlvh4.JPG
    No prizes if you can tell what colour my van used to be in a previous life.

    I also like the oil filler cap in the 'as was ' picture
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
  7. Bored yet? only two years in!

    Curious about the Westy wheel box - here are removal pics :







    'well engineered' . Also an acquired taste
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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  8. The face off was done by a new VW business localish to me called Absolute VW. Simon, whose business it is had done a bay I'd been impressed by in Volksworld, although someone at work gave me his details.

    He did a great job :
    Remove old:
    7 april 010_zpsslgkxhak.JPG

    make good

    7 april 048_zpsj9bekdu6.JPG

    make better:
    7 april 051_zpsgwl0heof.JPG

    prep prep prep

    16 april 012_zpsml2q6dk8.JPG


    27 april 010_zpsnq9tmmij.JPG


    27 april 106_zpsn85x8toh.JPG
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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  9. 2008.
    The beam was next on the hit list, as it rusted through.

    Enter Wayne at Volksheaven. Rust free beam. Simon was busy, so Steve at Johnsons Auto werks stepped in.

    While I admit to getting stuff done (body work, cos I'm not skilled, and the beam cos I'm lazy) much other general faffing has occurred. 2008 also saw the fetching alloys be consigned to history (sorry ebay), and more interior works

    so last hurrah of the alloys:

    and the amusingly name stoner park show (nearly always sunny)

    appledore  stoner may 09 027_zpssg3gzkz1.JPG

    Actually that was 2009, and the doors have been replace with less rusty ones from FBI working (werking?) with Johnsons Autowerks
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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  10. 2009 saw a windscreen washer pipe burst, so I luckily aquired one of these Swedish badboys:


    and some enlightened bodgery to the switch:


    I can now squirt cars far behind me for the win.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
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  11. Fast forwarding via serveral trips to France (far south), Glastonbury, Norfolk, Suffolk, we arrive in 2011, and a long awaited 'slot' with Simon at AbsoluteVW.

    The bus wasn't looking too bad, but the odd lump and bubble had started to show.

    Here it is en France:
    IMG_2233_zpsdm9whe7a (1).JPG

    Not looking too shabby, eh?

    Closer up however:

    wheel arch pap_zpsdjnvpsup.PNG

    bit lumpy...

    So a quick exploration with power tools:





    and some shopping:


    We have new sills (outer and inner) both sides. Rear corners. All four wheel arches. All the jacking points. Battery trays. From memory, £1K in panels
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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  12. Chassis:
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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  13. wheel arch:
    SDC12413_zpsznctru49 (2).JPG
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
  14. Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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  15. I should really of put a fresh MOT on it, and exchanged it for the £12k it was probably worth pre welding., but alas I'd grown attached to it.
    He likes it too :

    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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  16. That camper has the exact same interior mine had...does it have the propane heater mounted in front of the little fridge? And if it does we need to talk!

    Sent from my XT1032 using Tapatalk
  17. It had one once, just a blanked over hole in the floor by time I got it.

    This might help


    Also worth noting is if your van has a UK gas regulator, these are 30mbar, and 70s German ones were 50mbar, so the stove, fridge and heater may not be upto much. You need a 50mbar reg from germany, with a UK adaptor.

    More to follow on that interior soon....
  18. superb story, keep em coming! :)
  19. thanks - don't worry, I've got plenty more!

    so before:


    and after
    then (I think the expression on the painters face is very telling!)


    (interesting how different cameras record the 'redness' )



    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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