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.






Fully packed, at a break on the Autobahn.

Fully packed, at a break on the Autobahn.

Geelong Late Bay Camper

13 06 2014

1975 campervan spotted in May in Geelong, Australia. Roo bars back and front. Also a pop-up roof one sees a lot over there, but not sure which conversion (Sunliner, Sopru?). Nice original-looking color with 1970ies stripes on the side. Large roof rack bridging the pop-up roof, with awnings on both sides, and plastic tubes at front and rear for addional storage. Fan pull switch in the dashboard I did not know yet but have seen in many late bays during this visit. What a very cool and down-to-earth camper!

PS, @Zero-to-sixty: Gear shift scheme on this ash tray (and in all late bays on this Australia trip) without the N for Neutral. But all were T2b’s or T2a/b hybrids, no T2a’s. Greetings from Berlin!

PS2 (Jan 2016): It is a Sopru camper, not a Sunliner. See also this Sopru blog post.







Brillant Land Rover Camper

10 10 2013

Not a Volkswagen kombi, but what a fantastic camper truck! A Land Rover Defender in full battle gear, with snorkel, winch at the front, heavy duty roof rack with a large roof box, awning from Foxwing (see also here) on the left side, and what looks like slightly larger than standard all-terrain wheels and elevated chassis. Saw it just around the corner here in Berlin. The owner came by and let me take a look inside: Self-built campervan conversion in birch wood multiplex plates in the back, with a kitchen unit with sink and cooker (methylated spirit), a fold up roof with hydraulic lifting mechanism, a rock and roll back bench/bed (actually the same hinge mechanism that I fitted into Taiga Lily). With space for two people to sleep on the folded out rock and roll bench and for another two above, in the folded up roof. Wonderfully executed in every detail. You can see the cover for the back door, done in aluminum, with fold down wooden table and with holders for a thermos can and a Maglite, beautifully cut out of multiplex. What a brilliant car!





Taiga Lily in the Sun

8 09 2012

Beautiful summer day, last week in Berlin.

The 5th Berlin VW Bus Festival

1 08 2012

Last Friday the whole family hopped on the bus and we spent an exciting weekend at the 5. Berlin Bus Festival. Lots of great buses to look at and friendly people to meet, great weather on Friday and most of Saturday, unfortunately some heavy rain late Saturday night and some drizzle on Sunday morning. Our baby-daughter very much enjoyed the camping, so many new things to touch and taste, so many people to smile at. On the minus side, the first night in the campervan was quite stressful for her and therefore for us as well. My preliminary campervan conversion was lacking an easy-to-use baby bed. As a last minute solution we put the toilette box into the annex so that we could place a baby travel cot behind the driver and passenger seats. Good for her, but this made maneuvering in the bus for us in the middle of the night really, really complicated. She was much better in the second night so she probably also just needed some time to get used to the new environment.

Happy bus driver with baby-daughter and Leon Dogwonder.

Buses in the evening sun.

The venue was again the former airport “Altes Lager” in Jueterbog, about 80 km south of Berlin. It was originally built in World War I as a Zepellin airport, then had to be deconstructed when the war was lost. In 1933 it was rebuild and re-opened as Nazi German military airfield which after World War II and until 1994 served as a Russian Air Force base. It’s now a venue for open air events of all kinds, a starting strip for paragliders and home to a permanent go-kart race track. Interestingly, even today, almost 22 years after the German re-unification and 18 years after the Russian Army left East Germany, the derelict Russian Army barracks are still standing, along the road leading to the Festival area, and there is still a Red Star above the main entrance gate.
On Saturday we took part in the orientation drive, a car rally of about 30 buses through five or six villages where in each village you had to answers questions on local details. And we made the first place! So we came home with a little trophy…

Getting ready for the orientation rally.

Taiga Lily with Trophy!

This festival is quite T3/T25-focused – there were an estimated 450 T3s, probably also fifty T4s, about ten T2s and two T1s. So my little selection of photos below is not quite representative, but here we go: The red and white bus is a 1966 original Westfalia campervan, interestingly with a Dormobile fold-up roof which, according to the owner, was fitted by Westfalia at the time. The owner bought her 33 years ago, when the first owner had given up on the rust, and brought her back into this beautiful condition. Below is a 1967 split-window that came down all the way from Norway, and a beautiful T2a, recently re-imported from the Netherlands and now based in the Greater Berlin area.

Below are some photos of the most seriously all-terrain-looking T3 Syncro I have seen so far. Impressive, and apparently built for an expedition through Africa. Check out the height of the snorkel in the back! The driver would already be half a meter under water when the engine could still breath… Could not find out any more details because the owner came from the Czech Republic and my Czech and his German or English were not up to the task. But what a monster…

Then there was also Luise, the stretched T3 that was the star of last year’s Berlin Bus Festival. Luise was built from three T3 buses, is 8.5 m long and is powered by a VW V6 TDI motor. This year they also brought Liesel, Luise’s little sister which was welded together from the body parts left over when Luise was constructed. And this year Liesel was hand-painted by the kids at the festival.

And of course there were lots and lots of modified and pimped up T3s and T4s. Here are just two examples.

The best is still to come: On Saturday afternoon about 400 buses were arranged next to each other in such a way that from the air it should result in the sketch of the front of a T3/T25 Volkswagen bus. Taiga Lily will be part of the left front indicator (we believe). I have not seen the final photo yet, but will post it as soon as it is available. All in all again a great festival, just outside of Berlin. Thanks to the guys from the Berlin Kombi Club ( for the excellent organisation!

New York Microbus

8 04 2012

Here are some photos of a bus a friend of mine spotted in 2010 in Manhattan – on one of those unusual car parking shelves that probably popped up because space is so precious in New York. A bit lost between all the modern limousines. Looks like a beautiful T2a. VeeDub emblem upside down. Two Westfalia-style roof rakes and a jalousie window. Only one wind screen wiper. I believe Volkswagen put the additional indicators (or reflectors?) on the front doors only on US models, not on any buses built for the German market.

Floor finally in, and roof rack installed.

3 08 2011

Things are moving forward. They better be as the 4th Berlin VW Bus Meeting will start in 2 days and we are meant to be there tomorrow night to help preparing everything. So what has happened: The roof rack was sanded and repainted and put on the bus, together with the box (Fig. 1). Unfortunately Figure 1 also shows a distinct lack of front screen. Due to a mix-up between VW Classic Parts and UPS the missing rubber seal for the windscreen was in the mail for 9 days and will probably be delivered only tomorrow. To make sure we can actually go to the VW Bus Meeting by bus, a guy from VW Classic Parts delivered a second copy of the seal tonight to our door. Made me very happy. Now we can put the windscreen in tomorrow morning, then put the dashboard back in, and hopefully everything works and we can drive Taiga Lily to the meeting tomorrow night…

Figure 1: Taiga Lily for the first time with roof rack and roof box

As a basis for the bed-bench construction and the kitchen block in the back, I put in a layer of insulation mates and on top a board onto which I had glued a lino-like floor covering yesterday (Figures 2-4). I also started to fill in polystyren boards and polyetethylen insulation mats (Reimo Xtreme) into the wall opposite the slidung door (Figure 5), and started to clean the oil-covered interior of the sliding door (Figure 6).

And a first test with the radio showed that all wiring and connections to the speakers and antenna worked! I still need to build the board for the radio above the driver’s seat. But it is good that everthing works.

Figure 2: Floor of main room, newly painted last August.

Figure 3: Reimo Xtreme insulation mat in place.

Figure 4: Board with lino-like floor covering in place.

Figure 5: Insulation of side wall in the making.

Figure 6: Sliding door interior, left half already cleaned.