Soundcheck: Taiga Lily goes to the movies!

20 05 2018

Or at least her engine roar will… Some three weeks ago a friend asked me whether I would be willing to help another friend who needed to record the engine sound of an old Volkwagen bus. Turned out he is a professional movie sound specialist and is currently working on a Brazilian road movie that stars an unusual looking campervan. It took them some time to figure out it was a Karmann Safari, a motorhome built on the base of a Volkswagen T2b pick-up truck. And here enters Taiga Lily, not a Karmann Safari, but at least a T2b with the authentic Volkswagen boxer engine sound.

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So this is what the original Karmann Safari campers looked like (photo from Wikimedia Commons, Rafael Ruivo., Kombi Safari, CC BY-SA 3.0). I learnt only recently that the German car maker Karmann built such motorhomes based on the T2b. Its successor, the T3/T25-based Karmann Gipsy, is more common on the road in Germany and I portrayed one of them here. According to this Wikipedia page, Karmann started making the T2b-based ones in 1974 and built only 1000 in total.

So a few days ago said friend of a friend, together with a sound assistant, arrived at our home and we spent 4 hours, first gearing Taiga Lily up with microphones, then practicing drive-bys at various speeds, starting and stopping the van, driving fast and slow on the autobahn (fast being 85 km/h, slow being 65 km/h…), then slow and fast stops, and finally banging the drivers doors. All was recorded from the distance by the assitant and additionally with five microphone in an don the bus: One on the back window, another on the tow bar, yet another in the engine bay itself, another directly next to the exhaust, and finally one on a tripod in the middle of the car, pointing to the driver’s cabin, to also record the sound in the front of the car. Gosh, that was a fun evening! Will keep you posted when the movie is finished. Hope it will make it to the movie theaters in Germany!

 

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Bay Window Get-Together

14 05 2016

Two bay window buses on a sunny summer day last December in Geelong, Australia. The green one is in overall better condition. It is from 1978 and comes with a CJ engine (2L, 70 h.p.) and an automatic gear box. The red one, with some severe rust, is from 1974 and comes with an AP engine (1.8 L). Looked like the home of a Volkswagen lover, with a more modern VW Golf in the drive-way. Stickers advertising for “V-Dubs Only – VW Air Cooled specialist” on the rear window. I was spotting these stickers on several buses during this visit- perhaps a new player in the field of Classic Volkswagen workshops in the Geelong area? They don’t seem to have a web site, but this facebook page. Will add the address to the list of VW garages to the list in the section above.

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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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Beautiful Berlin Late Bay Kombi

3 05 2016

Another beautifully restored bay window bus, spotted a year ago in Berlin. Looks like a brand new paint job. Nice light green, but not sure which color this is, or if it is an original VW color at all (Sand green, L311?). Extra indicators on the roof in the rear, usually more common on ex-ambulance buses. Spare wheel and rectangular additional fog lights at the front. The hub caps look like from an early bay, but front indicators and rear lights are clearly late bay, so the bus should be from 1973 or younger. The indicator switches at the steering wheel suggest early late bay, and the little door covering the fuel filler cap was apparently build between 8/71 and 7/73, so I guess it will be from 1973. Wheel clamp and steering wheel lock as theft protection. I had stopped to take some photos and was so focused on the bus that I did not even notice the BMW 2002 next to it. Had to go back and take one more photo when DrJ pointed it out to me.

 

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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 “Bushaltestelle.berlin” (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.

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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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