Monday, 30 April 2012


Now this excites me!  I love all the little treasures that Hubby keeps finding out of the van.  I can't help wondering about the previous owners and the adventures they had in the campervan.
Right on!  One day, I will carefully peel the pages apart and read the whole story.  Captivating.  I need to know what happens to Meg.

Pendant- from a charm bracelet maybe?

Matches from the Sidewalk Cafe in Venice, California

Grubby American Coins.  Might clean them up one day.  Oldest date I've seen on them so far is 1965.

This toy car was made in 1995.

Now I want to go all CSI and track down the previous owners and hear their stories from the van.  Whose car was this?  Whose pendant was that and who was reading the Christian Science Sentinel?
I've already looked up the Sidewalk Cafe!,+Venice+Sidewalk+Cafe,+4x6.jpg


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Front seats

The seats as they were left a little to be desired - the bottoms had been covered with at least three different materials (including some very impressive tiger print!), the inside padding was falling out and the backs were dirty with a couple of tears.  These also weren't the original seats as although they are covered in Westfalia plaid material it is not the correct material that this van was originally fitted with - they are orange/green/black rather than yellow/green/black.

So, some TLC on the seats was definitely needed.

After lots of searching I managed to find someone in the UK who makes replacement seat covers to order using the correct original Westfalia plaid material.  Unfortunately they have not been able to find green vinyl the same colour as the originals and so that would be slightly darker, however I decided that didn't matter and would actually help me out as I need to also make replacement door cards and rear panels and could get identical green vinyl to the stuff they would be using to make the seat covers, and thus everything will then match.  So I got the seat covers ordered, and also ordered myself a roll of the same green vinyl.

I also found a supplier for replacement foam pads, and so all that was left for me to do was strip the seats down and re-upholster them.

While having them all stripped figured it was worth giving them a good de-rust and respray in order to try and get them to last for another 36 years.

And then I started on the re-upholstering...

Firstly a layer of thick felt to sit between the springs and the padding.

Then the replacement foam padding.

And finally the new covers.

The base covers went on pretty easily - although it did take quite a lot of time and sweat, with me having to balance my weight on them to squash them enough to get the covers over - and I think they look great!!

However disaster struck when I tried to get the backs on - while stretching the covers to try and get them on both covers split up the sides and ripped the vinyl, and one of them the stitching of the vinyl came completely away.  To say I was slightly annoyed with myself about this is an understatement!  My brand new lovely looking covers would now look about as bad as the old seats :o(

Being that I had a roll of the same green vinyl my first though was to make some patches to go over the ripped bits, but this still annoyed me as this would be very visibly bodged. So my next thought was to un-stitch all the vinyl and remake the vinyl back panels with new vinyl from my roll, wasn't sure however whether our sewing machine would be up for sewing through the thich multiple layers of vinyl, piping and seat material.

I then took a closer look at where the covers had actually ripped and found that all four ends points of the vinyl had ripped in exactly the same way.  What it looked like was that the stitching of them was a) too close together making too many holes in the vinyl (thus reducing strength) and b) the backwards/forwards finishing off of the stitching was right over the end of the vinyl and this repeated stitching on the same strip near enough cut it's way right through the vinyl and left it perfectly perforated (like toilet paper) all ready to tear away with little force.

Being that all four corners failed in the same way and that it looked like the way they had been stitched was at fault, I decided to contact the people who made them for me, and much to my surprise they volunteered to take them back and are in the process of re-doing them for me - phew!

Assuming I can eventually get them on properly and manage to make up my new door and side panels using the same vinyl, the only bit of the original green vinyl colour will be the seat headrests, and so I've handed these over to my mum with some of the new green vinyl and given her the challenge of recovering them - aren't I mean!!

Catching Up

When I got Pea Soup back in February I originally decided that I wasn't going to do a blog, and so sadly, although I've done a huge amount since getting her I haven't been taking many photos along the way which makes for really dull blog entries.

So, in order to get you all up to date without endless text only blog entries I figured I should just do a brief catch up in one entry.

It's mainly mechanical stuff that I've been doing, some of which needed doing, and some of which I wanted to do to ensure that I'm happy driving her, and so in order to get you all up to date without endless text only blog entries about laying on the floor for hours under the van I figured I should do a brief mechanical catch up in one entry.

So, in no particular order:

* Replaced gear rod coupling and bushes
* Fitted replacement gear stick that is suppose to make gear changing much easier - the original one has so much play in it that it was like a mixing bowl!
* Replaced steering linkage
* Replaced heater control cables
* Replaced most of ignition system - spark plugs & leads, coil, condenser, distributor, rotor arm
* Replaced all hoses and pipework on fuel system - there will be a separate blog entry about this!
* Replaced brake fluid reservoir - again there will be another entry for this
* Removed EGR system - "exhaust gas recirculation"
* Fitted new engine tinware seal
* New UK spec front lights
* New UK spec front indicators
* Rewired front indicators, side indicator repeater lights and side lights for the new lights fitted
* Stripped out dashboard clocks and recoloured all the warning lights - e.g. high beam now a nice blue, indicators green, battery/oil red - they had all faded and were all white!
* Fitted rev counter and oil temperature gauges and sensor units
* Fitted new fuel gauge sender unit and adjusted fuel gauge itself to (hopefully) fix it
* Fitted an alarm
* Fitted new radio
* Fixed horn earthing through steering column
* Fitted new windscreen wiper spindles
* Stripped down and cleaned up heater fan
* Fixed a few issues with sliding door that was making it very hard to open and close

If anyone would like more details on any of these things then please let me know - would be happy to waffle on in full technoGeeky detail about any of it!

So, after all this I've got to the point where I am happy to drive her - but alas haven't driven it yet as I've currently got the front seats out for re-upholstering :o(

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Cleaning up

First job was to give Pea Soup a really good clean - and this was a job that we all helped with.

Didn't take long to get most of the 36 years of grime and crap out and before long although still a bit tatty things were looking much better.  It in fact almost looked usable - shame really that most of this needs to be ripped out so that I can refit with a big enough seat for us all to be able to get it.

I'd thought that we would need to get completely new seat/bed covers all around, however after the clean up I discovered that the bed mattress covers from the top bunk and the mattress cover from the rear were all in pretty good condition and after a wash they are absolutely fine to go back on.  This also helped us to make a big decision - whether to try and keep it very original or to completely modernise it.  We both really liked the 70's feel of it and being that we can now re-use many of the original green/yellow/black plaid covers the decision was made - we would try and keep it as original as possible.  I think doing this will also help any future resale value as people like these for their vintage feel.

Keeping it very original doesn't mean that there won't be a few modern twists. For example I'm going to put in LED lighting and a modern compressor fridge, however this will be done subtly keeping with the woodgrain and chrome effects.

DVLA woes

I think I purchased the van from a bit of an incompetent dealer.  His business is importing Japanese cars and during one of his scouting trips he saw this van and thought it would be interesting to import something slightly different.

Unfortunately for him, but I suppose luckily for me, he knew absolutely nothing about these vans and so advertised it on eBay as a "1974 VW Caravelle" - which it blatantly isn't.  His English literacy also was non-existent and so the advert was very terse with no mention of it being a campervan  and no description of what was in it or what condition it was in etc.  This all resulted in him getting hardly any interest and so the ability for me to beat him down a lot on price - and I think that even though I have more to do to it that I'd really wanted to, I think I got a total bargain for the condition it's in.

I'm not actually sure how I managed to find the advert on eBay as the only thing that gave away what it really was was the pictures. Am very pleased I did find it though :o)

Now, his incompetency didn't stop there - it also kicked in when he registered the van with the DVLA after importing it.  This is a list of the errors he made with the registration:

* Date of first registration "2000" - it was imported in to Japan from America in 2000 and so stupidly he registered on the Japanese registration documents rather than as a 1976 built van

* Model as "VW Caravelle MPV" - rather than a VW T2 Westfalia Campervan

* 9 seats - was in fact a 4 seater

My biggest gripe about this is the fact that it's registered as a 2000 van rather than 1976.  This I feel really lets it down as it has to have a modern number plate on it rather than the old "P" reg it should have and so makes it look like one of the "modern" VW vans like this that are still being built in Brazil and many people look down on as they aren't original aircooled vans.

So, I've been in contact with the DVLA trying to get all of this changed and while they have now officially recognised it as a "MOTOR CARAVAN" and updated the description and number of seats etc., they wouldn't change the year of first registration to 1976 as the only documentation supplied to them when it was registered in the UK was the 2000 Japanese reg document and so they have no proof of it being 1976.

So, the change of registration year is still ongoing with me now having to try and get hold of an official "VW Birth Certificate" for it's VIN number that will prove it's age - hopefully then the DVLA will believe me and issue me with the correct "P" registration.

The Sidekick: Romancing

Last night, I was secretly hopeful for some romance.  The older kiddies were at Granny's and being fed, the little one was in a quiet and mellow mood, and Hubby was cooking dinner.  (Leek and Potato Soup, his speciality.)  I was looking forward to an actual, uninterrupted, adult conversation at the dinner table.

What I got; was dirty talk.

Nuts, springs and welding were a few things that I actually heard.

I think that hubby has mistaken my enthusiasm for his new blog about the campervan and taken it as interest in the ins and outs of the technical side of the re-vamp.

I'm happy for him, really.  I just don't need techie details.  As long as she works and I can operate the basics, that's all I need to know!  Save that dirty talking for your blog mister!  I says:-)

I'll just come along and take pretty retro pictures every now and then!


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Sidekick

I'm the Wife.  The Sidekick.  The one that gets to enjoy the fruits of my husband's labour when this baby's done.  And I can't wait!  

Admittedly, I was not in favour of Handy Hubby taking on a project of such a scale.  And yes, I did ask him (nicely) to please help me with a few other things first before he embarked on this new adventure.  In my defence, the things on his "to do" list have been on there for a very long time and he was avoiding them because they were not as exciting as trawling ebay looking at campervans.  In reality, I was terrified of being abandoned to deal with the 2 Year old boy and his older siblings on my own.  Having been through the campervan renovation experience before, I knew what was involved and remembered the jealousy I felt when he spent every spare minute (and not so spare minute) tinkering with her bits.  But, in the end it was worth it.  And the times we had in our finished campervan as a family made up for the times that we had lost him to the project.  

This beauty is apparently not as big a project as the other one, and handy hubby has made a small dent in his "to do" list, so for the most part, I'm cool with it!  The kids are over the moon and hopefully will be involved in the renovation project.  Anyway, Handy Hubby puts up with all of my shenanigans and kooky ideas and projects, so I'm glad he's got one of his own.  And let's face it- everyone needs a little escape from the "terrible twos".  Little does he know, I'll be taking over as soon as she's ready!

Stayed Tuned for: Sidekick Wife's Crafty Kiddies Campervan Excursions


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The birth of GG's Pea Soup...

Having sold our VW T4 campervan it was time for a new project.

What I was looking for was a structurally and mechanically sound late 70's VW Westfalia Pop-top Campervan that I could re-do the inside of to put our our mark on it and to make it a viable campervan for our family.

After a few months of looking (and my wife telling me I should be doing other jobs first!!) I finally found the successful candidate and so bought it!

It's a 1976 VW Type 2 Westfalia campervan, with a 2 litre fuel injected engine.  It was originally an American van that ended up in Japan in 2000, and then was imported in to this country last year by the car dealer I purchased it from.  From the various stickers on it it appears that at some point in it's life it must have been in Europe (Sweden and Belgium to mention a couple of places) but from what I can see it must have spent most of it's life somewhere reasonably hot and dry as it is very solid underneath with no sign of it ever having had any welding - which is rare for one of these vans!

The inside is in pretty bad condition with all the 70's laminate falling off the cupboards and all the seat covers torn or stained, but that is fine as I plan to re-do the inside anyway as at the moment it only seats two in the back but we need three seats to get all the kiddies in.

Mechanically, it runs, drives, and has an MOT, but there is a strong smell of petrol all the time and so more on it's mechanics once I've investigated and check it all over...

These are the pictures from the advert and so show it in the state that it arrived on the back of a lorry on our doorstep.

The first job on it's arrival was to give it a name - you can't have a VW camper without it having a name.  We just so happened to be having pea soup that evening - one of our favourite meals from my wife's grandmother's family recipe - and someone (not sure if it was one of the kids or my wife) noticed that the van was exactly the same colour as the soup and so it was immediately obvious what the vans name should be "GG's Pea Soup" - GG being what we call my wife's grandmother.

With it now here and having a name I am very excited about the prospect of getting on with it and I just can't wait to get away in it when the weather gets warmer.

Welcome to the family GG's Pea Soup :o)