The van passed its MOT with flying colours today! No need to say much more than that! :o) A good day for L2S!

Oh, and note to self. Try and fit the roof clamps asap so that the roof doesn’t pop up when you’re driving the van along…. :o)

The Engine’s Final Chapter

Good news at last! The engine is complete and now needs some serious miles under its belt BEFORE we head off on the road to Sydney. A rebuilt engine needs to be ‘driven in’ and then re-tuned and given several oil changes. Hopefully we should be able to do about 2000 miles in the van before July, thus ensuring that the engine is in perfect working order before we leave. During this time we will be careful to keep the engine revolutions below 3000rpm in order that no stress is put on the motor.

The van will now complete an MOT and be taxed. Action pictures to follow.

The best laid plans…

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. The best laid plans of mice and men… Which ever sayings you prefer, the fact remains that the toast doesn’t always fall butter-side up. Sometimes it’s a sticky wicket and you’ve just got to play the dead bat and get yourself in. Having thought that the engine would be finished yesterday evening, it’s taken a further day in the workshop to get within touching distance of having a working van. I’ll explain…

We’d been puzzled as to why the engine wasn’t rotating freely in the van when it did outside of it. This meant the starter motor couldn’t turn the engine over as the flywheel wouldn’t turn through 360 degrees. After much puzzling and thinking we somehow hadn’t got the engine in correctly (or had fitted it at an angle somehow), we realised that the precision balancing had meant that two nuts were protruding further than usual from the flywheel. These nuts were then locking against the inside of the gearbox casing and causing the engine to stop turning. To fix this problem, Lee got grinding.

We took the engine out, ground some more of the gearbox, put the engine back in, found it still didn’t turn 360, took the engine out, ground some more of the gearbox, put the engine back in… On the third attempt however the engine turned full circle! The delight was obvious. Much thanks have to go to Lee for his patience and Ricky and Tom (VW enthusiasts) for taking time out from their own projects to help with shifting the engine in and out of the van today.

Tomorrow should be a case of simply putting the starter motor, fuel line and tinware back on. However, as I’ve learnt this week, never expect things to run as smoothly. I won’t be holding my breath, but should the van be running tomorrow I’ll be the happier than the Easter bunny! It’s been a long and frustrating week at times (and I seem to have spent most of my time in Lee’s workshop) but it’s been good fun too and I feel I’ve learnt a lot more about the van’s mechanics at the same time.Cheers Lee.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow folks. Have yourselves a Happy Easter.

The penultimate chapter of the long-awaited finale

Well, we didn’t hear it running, but today was a successful day for the London2Sydney household. After picking up some fuel hose and T-bar, myself and Andy got over to LA Performance for about 9am. With Andy having to leave and catch a flight back to the States a little later, we only had a little time left to work on the engine together. Even so,it gave Andy enough time to get his hands on an angle-grinder and get the grips on the heat-exchangers to fit snuggly to the engine block.

With some tidying required by the eagle-eye of Lee…

After much pruning with the angle-grinder, we finally managed to fit the heat-exchangers (and then had to take one off again as we forgot to put on the engine bar). The studs which protrude from the engine casing can be very fragile and we were extremely lucky that they stayed firm. Lee told us that had they broken, the whole engine would have had to have been stripped again! Not what we would want to hear!!

Once we’d fitted the fuel Andy’s last action before heading for the airport was to help lift the engine off the work bench and onto the trolley jack. Needless to say it was incredibly heavy and needed all three of us. Simply pushing it off the bench and letting gravity do the hard work was unfortunately not an option….

With Andy gutted at having to leave with the project so near conclusion, Nick carried on the good work. Once on the jack, it was a matter of jacking the van up to allow the engine to be rolled under the engine bay and then jacking the engine into the van. This is not as easy as it sounds. For anyone who has never put an engine back in a VW (or any vehicle for that matter I guess), it takes a lot of wriggling and pushing to get the crankshaft and clutch aligned with the gearbox. With Lee pushing and jiggling the engine and Nick operating the jack, we eventually managed to get it in the right position.

Then, with the van lowered again but the engine still supported by its jack, Nick set about the task of bolting it all in place.

Three hours or so later, the engine was finally fitted. The engine bar had been secured (after an inital problem with one of the brackets) and Nick had bolted on the remaining tinware. (Tinware, as you’ll remember from previous posts, is the metal which funnels air over the engine). The nastiest job had been fitting the fuel line. Even with the line clamped as tight as possible, lying under the van and a removing the plug to fit it to the pump means you get petrol dribbling down your arms. Nice! Here’s the mole’s eye perspective…

With Lee putting the final touches to the van today (tuning and fitting the new exhaust back-box), Squiffy should be ready to come home on Thursday evening. I can’t wait!

Come back for more news on Friday!

The engine saga enters its finale

It’s been a successful weekend. Andy’s been back from America and we’ve worked solidly on preparing the ‘tinware’ for the new engine. For the uninitiated, the tinware are the sheets of metal shrouding which to funnel air over the engine – thus creating the ‘air-cooled’ effect.

Due to Squiffy’s previous oil leak, much of this shrouding was absolutely covered in oil and several years of general dirt and gunge. Armed with some GUNK (, several cloths, some surgical gloves, some soapy water and some black spray paint, Andy and I tackled the tinware with a vengence. Let me tell you that there is nothing more satisfactory that taking a piece of dirty metal and restoring it into a glistening example of VW precision engineering. Erm, is there?

And so tomorrow we head for LA Performance, ready to bolt the tinware onto the engine and put the engine back into Squiffy. Watch this space! Tomorrow could be a momentous chapter in the L2S story! We’re excited!

Meanwhile, a spot-the-difference competition. Answers on…an e-mail!

Engine Update

The process of rebuilding Squiffy’s engine is virtually complete. A set of downdraft carburettors arrived today from Italy and will be built directly onto the engine. After that it will merely be a matter of adding a few bits and pieces here and there, including the tinware which funnels air over the engine in order to cool it.

Here are a couple of cheeky snaps I took of the engine over at LA Performance today.

Lee has taken lots of photos of the engine being rebuilt (everything from cleaning to balancing) and I’m hoping to have these on the website as soon as possible. Right, now I have to think about cleaning some of the tinware so it matches up to the shiny new engine.

Spreading the word…

Since celebrating one year in existence, the London2Sydney expedition website has enjoyed a record number of visitors. Although Andy and myself were excited that January was showing an increased level of ‘site traffic’, February exceeded all our expectations.

February might have been a leap-year ths year, but even with the extra day, our site totalled over 700 unique visitors from, we reckon, over thirty-four different countries. That’s an incredible 26139 hits in total, giving an average of over 900 hits per day.

Not everyone has merely been browsing though. February also saw an increased amount of people becoming interested in our charity of choice (Cancer Research UK) and several generous donations were made to CRUK through our online donation facility. Andy and I have also received many e-mails from people interested in our trip, from those interested in how Squiffy (our van) is coming along to those who have offered support and help. We are always extremely pleased to hear from anyone who wants to get in touch or feels they can lend some advice, so get e-mailing! We always reply! :o)

And on the engine front, we have good news at last. An engine update from LA Performance will be hitting these pages very soon, so keep coming back and keep those hits up! Here’s to a successful March for the L2S expedition!

The engine saga continues…

The main engine block is now with Lee at and refurbishment is well under way. Lee’s been great to us and has also promised to take some pictures of the various stages as the engine gets rebuilt. I’ll post up a ‘parts list’ in the next few days and keep watching this space for pictures of engine-rebuilding in action!!

I’ll be popping over the laperformance workshop tomorrow to check out the latest progress. 🙂

Cancer Research

We are hoping that the London2Sydney expedition will provide the catalyst to help us raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK, to help them continue their valuable work. As all the expedition costs are being borne by our team, every penny raised from sponsorship will go to CRUK.

With CRUK being our charity of choice, we’re obviously very interested in increasing awareness of the disease in addition to our fund-raising. We feel that the following information confirms that research into cancer is pushing back the boundaries of care and cure. For us that makes our fund-raising expedition to Sydney all the more worthwhile and we are all the more determined to make this expedition a success.

According to a report published today, one in two of all British cancer sufferers can now expect to survive the disease. Advances in treatment, screening and scientific knowledge have seen overall cancer death rates fall by 12 per cent. More than half of all patients should now survive their cancer for at least five years.

Figures released by Cancer Research UK show a greatly improved chance of survival for both men and women compared with 30 years ago. In the last generation, women’s deaths from breast cancer have fallen by 20 per cent and men’s deaths from testicular cancer by 37 per cent. Deaths from bowel cancer fell by a third, while those from Hodgkin’s disease fell by almost three-quarters.

The latest survival statistics – for patients diagnosed with cancer in the 1990s – show 37 per cent of males and half of females surviving cancer for five years.

Announcing a fundraising campagin, All Clear, highlighting the improved chance of surviving cnacer, Robert Souhami, the clinical director of CRUK, said: “The number of cancer survivors has greatly increased in the last generation. “Most people rightly no longer view it as a death sentence.”


Should you wish to make a donation to CRUK through L2S, no matter how small, please use the following link: