Roof Clamps

The roof looks much better since we attached the new seals and gas struts. Currently though, we only have one clamp (technical term: – an over-centre) holding the roof down.

Two clamps arrived from Protex today and I’ll hopefully be fitting these at the weekend. They’re much smaller than the one we already have (see comparison to CD case – my favourite CD currently – Dave Matthews solo album), but there isn’t a lot of tension for them to take. They’re exactly the same size as the over-centres on later VW Camper conversions such as the Devon Moonraker (c.1979). They are also padlockable, just in case a casual passer-by is feeling malicious enough to open up the roof, slit the canvas and climb in that way. There’s paranoia for you!

Strutting about…

While attempting to get a good night’s sleep in one of Squiffy’s upstairs bunks, the last thing we’d want is for her pop-up roof to come crashing down on us. Unfortunately, Squiffy’s pop-up roof had managed to convince us of its potential as a death-trap, and so demanded our attention.

Once elevated, Squiffy’s roof was supposed to be held up by a pair of pneumatic struts, one at each end. The years had taken their toll, however, and the struts were, frankly, putting in a very poor effort. Even more worrying was the small wooden stake which had been installed to take over their role, and was not inspiring confidence.

So we installed two brand new struts in the hope that we could dispense with the wooden stake and enjoy stress-free kip throughout our journey.

It turned out that the new struts were so good and so hard to compress that they needed a good deal of coercion to get them to squeeze in under the roof. A stout piece of broom handle made a convenient prop while the back strut was forced in.

But the front strut proved to be a little more stubborn, calling for an ingenious application of man power…

The engine saga begins…

With all the efforts going into Squiffy’s interior, we didn’t want to neglect the most important part of our van: the engine. We were going to be asking a lot of it come July, so we wanted to make sure that Squiffy was being propelled by an engine that was up to the challenge.

Despite being massively keen to take on the job of preparing Squiffy’s engine for the expedition myself, my work schedule would be pulling me away from sunny Bedford for quite a bit of the Spring, so we felt that this was a job for the professionals…

So a quick call to Milotane in Bedford to ask them to take the engine out and remove the cylinder heads so that we could get a better idea of the work that we hoped wouldn’t be needed.

Squiffy’s engine bay (Type 2s have their engines at the back, of course) certainly looked a bit naked without it’s usual occupant, but with the engine out, we could clearly see how the engine had coped with over 20 years of use.

Unfortunately, what we saw was not pretty. Both cylinder heads had been blowing (exhaust had been escaping where it shouldn’t have been) and one of the pistons was suffering from the effects of something (probably a bolt) having fallen into one of the cylinders at some point in its history!

After consoling each other over a cup of tea, we decided that we needed to put some careful thought into our next move. So, trying hard to maintain her dignity, Squiffy meekly submitted to being towed back home, her engine resting in several oily pieces on her newly lino’d floor.

Hopefully, this is a scene that won’t be repeated once we’ve set off for Sydney!

Sundowner Oven

This is my favourite part of the interior so far (and, in my opinion) the cleverest. We’ve got an old Devon sales brochure (circa late 70s) which depicts the two main Devon conversions – the Moonraker and Sundowner. I’ve thumbnailed a few up for you – check out the best 70s fashions!


The main one we were interested in though, is how Devon fitted the oven to the Sundowner conversion. Most vans were happy with a static oven, but the Devon Sundowner took it one step further. Have a look at the following thumbnail – you’ll notice that the oven is on a pivot and can swing through 90 degrees to face through the van door. This enables the happy campers to cook outside (is barbecue a better word?) without having to crouch sweating over the Scallops au Gratin (or whatever other cullinary delights you might be planning):

This, in our opinion, is an inspired idea and one we wanted to recreate in Squiffy. Not having the original pivot hinge or reinforced oven cupboard, we set about making our own. Here are the pictures of my work today which, in truth, I’m extremely proud of !! :o) Considering one of my first jobs was drilling right through the van’s chassis, it could have all gone horribly wrong….

Preparations – I used a fence bolt to act as the pivot. So that the wood of the cupboard wouldn’t get damaged through constant use, I used a half-inch long washer off my old bike (!) and reinforced the corners with zinc-plating:

The fence bolt goes straight through the van floor and is attached by a nut underneath the van. The bolt is static but further lubricated washers between the floor and the oven cupboard allow the oven to swing easily through 90 degrees. If you’re wondering why there’s only a bit of carpet under the oven, it’s because we plan to cover the rest of the floor in a removable carpet (secured by strong velcro) which will allow us to deal with any major spillages (I hate to think) easily.

The finished oven is secured using a draw-bolt which secures the oven either in its resting place or in its ‘outside mode’. Note the cool ‘chimney’ on the oven – stops smoke from the Gratin going back into the van!

Coupled with the new box seat we added yesterday, the interior now looks like this from the back of the van:

It’s getting there! I’ll have to do a few Before & After shots towards the end of January. :o)

Happy New Year!!

…and guess what, yep, we’ve recovered from our hangovers and are working on the van!

The ‘rock n roll’ bed, which (for the uninitiated) is a two-seater chair which folds out into a double bed, is going to be the centre-piece of our interior and so it was important to get it in place. Here’s Andy demonstrating the bed bit…

Fitting one of these can be a tricky job (see http://www.type2.co.uk/bed.htm for details) and involves bolting the chair through the van chassis.

If anyone wants advice on fitting one of these (be aware that the petrol tank is directly behind the vertical panel) or indeed any aspect of fitting a VW interiors, we’re more than willing to offer some words of encouragement (our e-mail address is on the main site – info@london2sydney.org). We found it quite daunting to start with, so we know what you might be going through!!

Check out the pictures of the action!

Andy had to get under the van and secure the bolt for the bed on the underside of the wheel arch. Nice…

Then it was just a matter of adding the final fittings. Notice how the old seatbelts have now come in handy? That chair is seriously comfy by the way…

And a special mention to Clare, Nick’s sister, who made us a fantastic fry-up – it’s hungry work!!