Sage Green Berlin Westfalia Camper

30 04 2016

We are back in Germany, so no more Australian Soprus or Sunliners. Westfalia is again the dominant camper van conversion, if you lucky to see a bay window bus on the road at all. Here is a particularly beautiful example, spotted last October in Berlin, when walking wonder-daughter home from Kindergarden. It comes with a Late Bay Westfalia fold-up roof with an additional roof rack on the top. FIAMMA Carry Bike bike rack on the rear door, same we have for our Taiga Lily. Beautiful fresh paint job in authentic 1970ies sage green (Taiga Grün, L63H). Advertising for “” (German for Bus Stop Berlin) – look at this, another VW bus specialist garage in Berlin! Beautiful green Westfalia plaid seat covers on all seats and benches. Original-looking Westfalia kitchen block. Left side with a louvered or jalousie window in the middle (looks old/original) and a sliding window in the rear (probably newer version, added later). I admit I am slightly biased when it comes to sage green kombis, but this is a fantastic bus!

PS: Small world, and small Berlin: Met the owner of this very same bus two years ago when we parked next to him at a local DIY market, for a sage green family meeting.




Sage Green Family Meeting

31 05 2014

Nice encounter last weekend at the local DIY market: Taiga Lily met a cousin, a 1977 Westfalia camper in identical Taiga Gruen/Sage Green, freshly restored and in fantastic condition. Beautiful new paint job, fold-up roof also freshly re-sprayed. Also met the owner and learnt about another group of kombi fanatics here in Berlin. Greetings to Ruediger – looking forward to catching up with you guys sometime later this summer!





New Front Axle, Part II

14 03 2014

Yay! Taiga Lily is back from the Beetle Clinic and as good as new! The new front axle has been installed, and with it many worn out parts of the steering mechanism have been replaced. New ball joints (German: Traggelenke), a new drag link (Lenkschubstange), a new steering dampner (Lenkungs- daempfer), new shock absorbers (Stossdämpfer), new tie rods (Spurstangen), a new wheel bearing (Radlagersatz) on one side, and a new set of four needle bearings (Nadellagersatz) for the four torsion arms. Hope I translated that all correctly. Will add snapshots of the respective pages of a VW repair manual below, for those who want to look into the details. Also check out this informative blog post by ZeroToSixtyEventually on the steering system of late bay buses and its maintenance. Finally, the main brake cylinder was rebuilt from the old to the new front axle beam and some aged brake lines were replaced. As a result of this operation, a wobbly steering experience has changed into quite a solid feel. Nice! And she also got her new road worthy certificate (German: “TUEV”), so she is legal again for the next two years!










A New Front Axle!

25 02 2014

I used the sunny weather last Sunday to wake Taiga Lily up from her winter sleep and brought her to the garage yesterday. Was very happy that the engine started immediately, after almost 3 months of being put aside. Background is that her front axle beam (German “Vorderachskörper”) was rusted through. This is an old kombi disease, at least here in Germany with lots of rain and lots of salt on the roads in winter time. Water gets into the hollow outer sections. If the openings at the lower end are blocked with dirt, the water stays in there and the panel rusts from the inside to the outside, as seen on the sad photo below. Once rusted through, the traditional stand of the German Technical Surveillance (TÜV) is that this part may not be welded but needs to be replaced as a whole. Not easy as front axles are not available from Volkswagen anymore, so one has to find an original one in good condition.
I was lucky in December and found one on Ebay for a reasonable price. It was delivered from Freiburg in South Germany to my local garage, the Beetle Clinic, in January. According to the Ebay ad, it was from the same year as Taiga Lily, 1976, and was put aside about 20 years ago for future use. It turned out to be indeed in very good condition (big thanks to the honest Ebay seller!). And the guys at Beetle Clinic did a greatjob in sanding and repainting it, with particular emphasis on soaking the insides of the hollow outer sections first with rust converter (Brunox) and afterwards with cavity sealing. The section with blank metal on the photo below is where the attachment plate for the break booster (Bremskraftverstärker) will be welded to the axle. This booster did not come with all models and was not on this replacement axle, but I was told it is no problem to cut it from Taiga Lily’s old axle and weld it to the new one. Most bearings in the steering system were already quite worn out, so the steering had a lot of play when I bought her in 2010. All these bearings will now be replaced by new parts when the new axle will be built in over the next 10 days.

Taiga Lily woken up from her winter sleep.

Taiga Lily woken up from her winter sleep.

Rusted section on Taiga Lily's original frotn axle beam.

Rusted section on Taiga Lily’s original front axle beam.

New second hand 1976 front axle beam  when delivered ...

New second hand 1976 front axle beam
when delivered …

... and after de-rusting and repainting.

… and after de-rusting and repainting.



Time for the Winter Break

1 12 2013

Berlin winter is arriving, with gray skys, miserable rain and temperatures touching 0°C. Time for Taiga Lily to retreat to her warm and dry winter quarter. So a week ago I charged her battery over night and gave her a thorough wash so that she will be all shiny and beautiful next spring. I upped the tyre pressure, checked the oil, drove her into her garage and diconnected the battery. While there I used a 12V electric pump to fully blow up the tyres of the our second kombi, the Old Lady. She is stored away in the same garage, waiting for better times. Seeing both of you again in 2014!



Of Buses and Bugs

21 10 2013

The first one or two letters of a German number plate stand for the town the car is registered in. Then come two letters and up to four digits. These are random, but for a small fee can be chosen from what is available at that moment. So living in Berlin comes with the option and priviledge of going for a BUS number plate – highly sought after in the Berlin kombi community. I realized only a few days ago that BUG is also an option. Nice one! Also spoilt myself with a vanity plate holder I got printed for Taiga Lily. There is a happy little blogger…




Sage Green Westfalia Camper

30 09 2013

Here comes a T2b Westfalia camper with a brand new paint job. Fantastic 1970-ies sage green, but I might be biased since I have fallen in love with Taiga Lily. Looks like the Helsinki campervan conversion with the kitchen block behind the passenger seat. Works with the jalousie window only on the right side of the car. Beautifull orange-green-yellow plaited original cushion and seat covers. Judging from the vanity plates it’s probably from 1978. What a beauty! Thanks to Matti for the photos!
Interestingly no head rests on the front seats. Volkswagen seemed to have offered them as an extra since the early 1970-ies and I believe they fitted them from that on as standard for the US market. I had assumed they would have been standard equipment as well in buses for Germany in 1978. Our 1978 panel van already had them already while 1976 Taiga Lily came “head rest-free”. Which is still a bit frightening and I am working on an upgrade here. There is an additional break light in the center of the back window. I have been thinking about such a light for a while now because the bus is slow on the Autobahn and it would be safer if cars coming fast from behind would see us as early as possible. The original back lights are pretty pathetic. I would almost consider stronger rear lights more important than extra rear brake lights.








Of Autobahns and Country Roads

12 08 2013

Three weeks of vacation have come to an end. They started with a power weekend for Taiga Lily as she was booked as a wedding limousine in Stuttgart. Stuttgart is about 800 km from Berlin when driving via Marburg where I dropped of the dog with my parents for the weekend. With some stops along the way to fill up on petrol, coffee and food, to walk the doggy and to have dinner, the trip took me some long twelve hours. But the weather was great, traffic not too bad and Taiga Lily drove smoothly all the way, so I enjoyed the ride. The route took me through “Volkswagen country“, with VW production sites along the way in Hannover, Wolfsburg, Salzgitter and Kassel, and towards the end into the homelands of Mercedes and Porsche, Stuttgart and Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. Pretty amazing how much richer Stuttgart looked compared to Berlin.

Taiga Lily all shiny and clean for the biog day in Stuttgart.

Taiga Lily all shiny and clean for the big day in Stuttgart.

Official maximum speed of the van is 127km/h (70 h.p. CJ engine), and given enough time to ramp up the speed she easily goes 120-125km/h – haven’t pushed her beyond that yet. But on those hot days, the top speed quickly went down to 90 or even 80 km/h as the engine temperate otherwise raised beyond 100°C. Air cooling comes to its limits when its 35 to 40°C in the shade. The new sliding window in the sliding door paid out massively – always a nice breeze on the backbench, no more problem with too much heat in the back as during last summer’s ride to the Czech Republic.
To spare the little one of at least part of the long rides, my lovely wife and wonder baby flew from Berlin into Stuttgart. The way back was then still a long five-hour-ride from Stuttgart to Marburg, some days spent in Marburg and then another eight-hour-trip for the last 465 km to Berlin.

VW Bus Fans - The Next Generation.

VW Bus Fan – Next Generation.

After the VW Bus festival and a week at home in Berlin, we spent the last week in a bungalow on a campsite in the Spreewald, 100 km southeast of Berlin. This time we deliberately avoided the Autobahns and went for the small country roads, both to get there and while exploring the environments. Amazing how much more pleasant it was to drive the old bus at 60 to 80km/h through the forests instead of racing her at 100km/h over Autobahns. Probably this is more the speed for which these buses were designed in the late sixties. Now the holidays are over and it is back to work – what a shame.

Our dog enjoying the prime seat on the porta potti box...

Our dog enjoying the prime seat on the porta potti box…

Back streets in the Spreewald region southeast of Berlin.

Country road in the Spreewald region southeast of Berlin.

Things That Can Break. Today, The Brake Booster

2 08 2013

I learnt a bit about the break booster (German: Bremskraftverstaerker, BKV) in the last few days. Mainly that it is not good when it fails. The first impression is that the breaks do not work at all any more, which is pretty frightening when it happens out of the blue. The breaks actually still work, but need a lot more power on the break pedal to show some effect. Turns out the systems runs under a vacuum which is generated at the engine in the back and is transferred via vacuum hoses to the brake booster at the front axle. My Berlin VW garage, Beetle Clinic, checked everything and found two dodgy sections in the vacuum hose which they replaced: One part with a kink in it and one where one of the previous owners had bridged a short stretch with non-vacuum hose. While at it, they also replaced a vacuum valve, just to be on the safe side. I picked the car up today and so far the breaks have worked correctly. So hopefully it were just these weak points in the hose and not the brake booster unit itself. I was told these are not made anymore and it may take some time to get a working unit second hand.

Taiga Lily meeting a close cousin at the Beetle Clinic.

Taiga Lily meeting a close cousin at the Beetle Clinic.

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.



Taiga Lily's original back bench, black leatherette.

Taiga Lily’s original back bench, black leatherette.