Happy 40th Birthday, Taiga Lily!

3 06 2016

Forty years ago to the day, Taiga Lily started her life on the road! She was first registered on June 3, 1976 to her first owner in West-Berlin. And her M plate reveals that she already was delivered as a sage green and pastel white microbus which she still is today. It also says that she is a 1976 model, but was built already in November 1975 (“planned production date: 25. Nov. 1975”), at the time already for a customer in “Germany, West-Berlin”. Over all forty years her home base kept being Berlin, although she changed hands seven times in those 4 decades: After 2 years she was sold the first time. Owner No. 2 kept her for 21 years and sold her only in 1999. Owners 3 and 4 each kept her for only one year. After almost 27 years on the road, owner no. 5 de-registered her in May 2003. At some point between 2003 and 2010 she was bought by a friend (owner-6) who kept her off the road, took her apart and gave her a fresh paint job (in the original color scheme).

We finally bought her in July 2010, partly disassembled and with an engine in very bad condition, but with a mostly rust-free body. Which was already very rare at the time. It took more than a year until she was fully up and running again and passed her exam as a historic vehicle in Nov. 2011. Her mileage over her first 27 years is lost in time. When we bought her in 2010 the speedometer read 79810 km, but it turned out this was totally meaningless since the whole instrument unit is from April 1979, so is not the original one any more. In the 6 years we have her now, we added only 16.000 km, so she really has an easy life with us. And she spends half of the year in winter storage anyway. Hope you will stay with us for a very long time. Her is to you, Taiga Lily!

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PS: Fotos from last week when we started into a camping weekend. Nice random encounter with another T3 Joker campervan.

 





New Muffler, New Tow-bar, New TUEV!

7 05 2016

Taiga Lily started the new season with some nice updates. Every two years every car in Germany has to pass a technical inspection with the Technical Surveillance Authority, or TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverein). Always a time to get the car up to scratch, which this year involved a new muffler. The old one had several rust holes and started sounding like it last summer. Given that it was manufactured in 1989 (before the German re-unification, still stating “West Germany”!) it had served me and the previous owners well. With the new one came a new exhaust pipe, this time in stainless steel (not much more expensive but will hopefully stay longer in good shape).

Seeing that we plan to borrow a pop-up trailer caravan from a friend for part of this year’s summer vacation, I got a tow-bar installed! It’s a used one from Oris (Type E 55/3) and in very good shape. Manufactured in 1991 in Germany, it’s the heavy duty version that is registered to tow up to 1800 kg. Beetle Clinic added a new socket (13- instead of 7 pins) and attached it to the main frame with the full set of bolts so that the 1800 kg could indeed be towed: Three bolts up into the main frame of the car and two bolts horizontally through the frame, on each side (see photos below). The holes for the horizontal bolts appear to be present in the main frame only from 1977 onwards, so had to be drilled for our 1976 bus. The TÜV examiner was very happy with the installation which makes me happy as well. The tow-bar replaces the two original bumper holders and comes with a solid rectangular bar behind the bumper. This bar closes the gap between bumper and car when you look down on the bumper from above. Taiga Lily’s papers come already with a remark for a maximum tow weight, so the new tow-bar does not need to be added in her papers (Fahrzeugschein). Less administrative hassle. According to her papers she is allowed to pull only 1200 kg, not the 1800 kg the tow-bar would be capable of, but the trailer we are planning to use weighs only 650 kg, so all is good.

Me and wonder daughter used yesterday’s Father’s Day to get the Porta Potti and its box from the attic, kitted up and into the car. Good to have this option for emergencies when you travel with children. So here we are, ready for the summer!

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Our 1976 VW Bus Taiga Lily

 

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Now with new muffler and end pipe, …

 

 

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And a new tow-bar, …

 

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And new TÜV, till May 2018!

 

 

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Awakening!

24 04 2016

Brilliant spring day in Berlin and I finally got Taiga Lily out of her winter sleep! The engine started after a few attempts and then ran smoothly. It was good to finally drive a kombi again. Last October she was put away in a hurry and without a wash, so today I spent two hours getting last years dust off of her and there she is, all shiny again. Now she is ready for the bi-annual road worthy exam (TUEV). And then the summer can come!

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Out of the catacombs…

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… and all clean again.

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Spring time in Berlin.





Head Rests, Part III: Finally Sorted!

31 12 2015

Project “Getting-Head-Rests-Into Taiga-Lily” got finally completed this year. When we bought Taiga Lily in 2010, she came with her original vinyl-covered black front seats. The pattern is called basket weaves (“Korbflecht” in German), and the cross lines on the seat and the backrest mean they are from a “deluxe” or “L bus”. But they do not have headrests which I find a bit frightening. I started hunting on Ebay for seats with head rests, but black ones are rarely on offer. Last year I changed tactics and bought a brown passenger seat with a head rest which, together with an old brown driver’s seat from the Old Lady, formed a matching pair. Brown instead of black, but at least original VW kombi seats and both with the basket weaves patterns. This all went to pot when I wanted to install them and learnt that the driver’s seat (from an 1978 late bay) did not fit into the seat rails in Taiga Lily (a 1976 late bay). Turned out some time in mid-1976 Volkswagen had changed the rails in the car and on the seats. So the outcome was a brown passenger seat with a head rest and a black driver’s seat without. I later spent one afternoon trying to re-built the rails from the earlier driver’s seat to the later seat. But the ends of the rails are part of the the hinges that connect the seat to the backrest, and this connection is not identical between the two seat types. I was frightened I would end up with a “hybrid” seat that was not fully stable and may disintegrate in an accident. So I stopped, gave up with this line of attack and built it all back to the original condition.

This year I found a brown driver’s seat on Ebay that was explicitly advertised as fitting only to early bay window buses and to the earlier versions of late bays. Yes! Draw back was that the pattern was not basket weaves but some strange brown textile material. But I bought it, took the cover off and built it up again with the basket weaves cover from the driver’s seat from the Old lady.

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Before…

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… and after.

While at it, I also threw away the worn-out pads and replaced them with a new pad for the back rest (bought a while ago on Ebay, original VW part 211 881 775 G) and a new seat pad (repro purchased new from Bus-OK.de, OK60121). Turned out one of the wire springs of the seat was broken. I fixed it by stealing the corresponding spring from the seat of the Old Lady. So the original driver’s seat from the Old Lady is now in a bit of a sorrow state, stripped of its brown cover and lacking one wire of the springs in the seat area.

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Original black seat (left), newly purchased seat with early bay base (middle), seat with late bay base (from 1978 late bay, right).

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I noticed only at the end of re-assembly that this new seat is actually not from a T2a or T2b but probably from a T3 (explains the non-T2 brown textile cover and the plastic cover of one of the hinges), and  the previous owner had swapped the rails and sliding mechanism to those from an early late bay window seat. When pulled, the sliding mechanism squeezes a bit into the base plate as the corresponding opening in the base plate is missing (red circle in photo below). But well, it is working for the time being.

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Base plate and slider mechanism of an earlier late bay kombi.

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“Hybrid” seat with late bay (or T3) base plate and early bay slider. Missing indentation indicated in red.

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Base plate and sliders of a later T2b (and T3) kombi.

Will add some more photos below which show the different steps of the disassembly and reassembly of the seat. The covers for back rest and seat both have a 1-cm-wide cardboard rim sewn to the lower ends. This folds around a metal rim of the seat and back rest. Disassembly starts with carefully lifting this out with a flat screw driver.

 

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Porta Potti Box 2.0

29 12 2015

Our kombi season 2015 was a very short one. With the arrival of our second child in May, the summer raced by in a blur of busy days and sleep-deprived nights. But I got at least two small projects with Taiga Lily completed. The front seats now both have head rests (will post on this soon) and I upholstered the Porta Potti box in the back to match the plaid pattern of the rock-and-roll bed which I had completed last year. I still had enough of the very nice and strong green-and-yellow plaid material from BUS-OK.de (Item no. OK60072). I had built the box in about 2007 for our first kombi. When the Old Lady was retired in 2010, I borrowed the box for Taiga Lily and fixed it more thoroughly to the base plate. In the meantime I have added an aluminum frame along one edge to protect it from clashes with the pram which is now regularly being shoved in between the box and the back bench. Also, I added two snap lockers to make sure that if the bus tumbles over in an accident, the box is firmly closed and the Porta Potti will not start flying through the van. The foam cushion is 4 cm thick and was bought from the same mattress shop in Berlin where I got the cushions for the back bench. I cut and sewed the material to form a sleeve that slides over the lid and the foam cushion from the front, has the appropriate slits for the snap lockers on each side, and is closed by Velcro in the rear (see the sketch below). Worked out nicely!

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Winter sleep

31 10 2015

Taiga Lily’s winter sleep started already end of September this year. Not much time to wash and polish her this year, with two little girls at home and lots of things to finish at work before parental leave started a few days later. So the tank was filled a last time, then she went into here winter garage. Battery disconnected, two packages of dehumidifying salt placed into the interior and that was it. The big wash and tidying up will come next spring when she wakes up again.

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Got a bit nostalgic (again) when looking by our old kombi in the same garage. Filled her tires up with a little compressor, checked oil and turned the engine over. See you both again next year!

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Getting ready for the summer!

31 07 2015

In preparation for the summer trips to come Taiga Lily got kitted out: The bike rack and roof rack re-emerged from the cellar and went onto the van. With the spare wheel now on the roof, my beloved roof box with stickers from former camping trips does not fit there anymore. So this year I tried something new and fixed it to the bike rack on the rear. A first ride in Berlin showed that this added some annoying new noise to the cacophony that is traveling in such an old and very badly noise-insulated car. The box apparently reflects some engine noise back towards the car. But a day later, when the space behind the back bench was packed top to bottom with luggage, additional mattresses and bedding, the regular engine noise and the new vibration were all nicely quietened down.

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Fully packed, at a break on the Autobahn.

Fully packed, at a break on the Autobahn.