Beautifying Taiga Lily

15 06 2014

Couple of details fixed in mid-May in our 1976 VW microbus Taiga Lily: Worn out inner door handle of the passenger door replaced with an original part found on Ebay (guess they are still being produced in Brazil). Heater tubing system under the dash board finally put back in (never got around to do that after buying the bus in 2010 and replacing a broken windscreen in 2011). Aged black plastic covers for the air vents on the dashboard replaced by new parts (from bus-ok.de, part numbers OK17099 and OK17086). And a pair of in-sets in the warm air channels through the dividing wall behind front seats finally put in. I had re-discovered these parts only after I had already assembled the air channels in 2012.

Worn out door handle.

Worn out door handle.

New original part.

New original part.

Original air vent cover (lower section) and new repro part.

Original air vent cover (lower section) and new repro part.

New air vent cover in place.

New air vent cover in place.

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Taiga Lily on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Taiga Lily on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

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1977 Australian Sopru Campervan

27 04 2014

Here comes a VW campervan conversion I haven’t seen before: Spotted at last weekend’s National VW Club Bug-In in Geelong, Australia, this one is from a company called Sopru from Adelaide in South Australia. The owner told me they still existed and that at the time they were one of the campervan converters officially approved by Volkswagen. This one comes with the less usual automatic gear box and the 2L CJ engine. The pop-up roof looks like a Devon conversion, but differs in detail. Kitchen set-up with fridge and cooker behind the passenger seat, similar to the Westfalia Helsinki set-up (here is a web site with more photos of the interior of a similar 1972 Sopru conversion). Aussie roo bar with spare wheel at the front, and a rain water drain tube attached to the roof rack, as practical solution for tent poles etc. Cool “VW Campmobile” label at the rear lid, and 1970ies color strip along the sides, probably both from the original Sopru conversion. What a great campervan!

PS: Thanks to Earth Jive for setting me on the right track with Sopru, not Sapru! Had that wrong in the first version of this post.

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Beautiful VW Campervan Ad

28 01 2014

Stumbled over this beautiful new VW ad some days ago. Nicely playing with the glorious past to promote the latest model, the T5 California. I guess it’s from around 2012. For a very informative review on the many pluses and few cons of the California, have a look at this post by Wild About Scotland.





New Front Seats!

6 10 2013

Well, not really new, second hand from Ebay. And not in brilliant condition either, but importantly with head rests, which Taiga Lily’s original seats do not have. Both seats are from late bay buses (1974-79). The brown one is for the passenger side and hooks into eyes at the panel separating the driver’s cabin and back section. It should fit directly. I already have the corresponding driver’s seat, same brown and with head rest. I also bought replacements for the inner horse hair paddings, two new ones for the two seat sections (bus-ok.de) and an old one in good condition for one of the back rests (Ebay). Once built in, this brown pair of seats would be original VW and from the right period, but not in black as the “leatherette” vinyl that Taiga Lily was delivered with. But for the sake of finally having head rests, they will do.
The green driver’s seat from a Westfalia camper comes with green-yellow-orange plaid similar to the material I am using for the mattress cushions in the back. I got the material as reproduction from Bus-ok.de. Below is a snapshot showing how it fits to the original pattern. Not really sure yet what I will do with this seat, but it may be a template and starting point for a restoration of two seats with this repro plaid. So all more the beginning of a new project, to be started after the next winter break.

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Rock and Roll Bed, Part 5: Safety Features

25 07 2013

Picking up the thread on building the rock and roll bed in the back of my kombi: Last summer I got the basics done in time for last year’s Berlin Bus Festival. Here is the complete thread. Last September I added a safety mechanism, a locking mechanism that prevents the bench from opening. Important when you roll the car in an accident and you don’t want all your tools flying around and into your head. Never thought much about this, but with a baby daughter now as the main passenger in the back, I found myself looking into safety more seriously. The mechanism seems to be around for a long time already and can still be bought via the German campervan specialist Reimo (German “Sitzbankverriegelung”, Reimo part number 58060). The detailed technical drawings that came with the Reimo Rock and Roll Bed hinges actually show already where exactly this bolting mechanism has to be attached to the bench seat and front panel. A catch behind the front panel locks into a hook that is bolted through the bench seat panel. The catch can be released by pulling a knob on the front of the front panel, see the photos below.

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While I was at it, I also added a second small fire extinguisher under the bench. It complements a first fire extinguisher I had installed under the dashboard when I bought the van. The idea being that the front one is at hand when the engine catches fire while the back one is for when one manages to set the curtains on fire when cooking in the kitchen. Historically, a lot of buses were apparently lost due to engine fires. Zero-to-sixty-eventually just recently posted on good quality fuel lines and a fuel shut off valve as precautions to prevent engine fires in Volkswagen buses – check out his blog post and links therein. I had added the bench lock mechanism and the second fire extinguisher already last September. All became very suddenly very relevant four days ago when I drove Taiga Lily on the Autobahn on a very hot Sunday afternoon and a little Seat hatchback caught fire five cars ahead of me. I stopped and emptied the 2 kg front fire extinguisher into the engine bay, but could not stop the fire fully. Two lessons learnt: Place under bench not good for easy reach when seat cannot be folded up quickly, due to heavy baby seat on top of it. And: Two kilograms of powder are gone really quickly. Today I bought the replacement for the empty front extinguisher, and a second two-kilogramm extinguisher as more serious backup than the one-kilogramm one under the back bench.

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Child’s Bunk Bed

6 07 2013

I finally got around installing the bunk bed above the driver’s and passenger seat. This reproduction from JustKampers is probably pretty close to the original which came with Westfalia campers in the sixties and seventies. The bed arrived with brackets, screws and the required drill bit. The four holding brackets have to be attached to the A and B columns, each with two screws. And voila, there is an extra children’s bed! Yesterday it passed the first critical inspection by its target person, our little wonder girl. In three weeks comes the real thing – the 6th Berlin VW Bus Festival where the little one will hopefully sleep happily and peacefully in the new bed.

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The end user testing the final product.

End user testing the final product.

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Attachment bracket in left A column.

Attachment bracket in left A column.

Attachment bracket in right B column.

Attachment bracket in right B column.





A Middle Bench!

27 06 2013

Look what I found! Officially Taiga Lily is an eight-seater, but the middle bench was missing when we bought her. Some weeks ago I found one on Ebay and last weekend we drove to Hamburg to pick it up. Turns out this one was taken out of a 1976 VW bus in 1986, put into the attic and forgotten. 27 years later I picked it up from the very same attic. The color is not yet right, gray leatherette instead of black as Taiga Lily’s front seats and the back bench. I will have to buy a new black cover and get the bench upholstered. I also still have to think about how I will fix it to the floor, now that I have covered the fixation points thoroughly with my nice floor plate. I guess all this will have to wait for a while, but it is good to have the piece now.

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Taiga Lily's original back bench, black leatherette.

Taiga Lily’s original back bench, black leatherette.