Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A Tour of our Vintage VW Camper Van

Well its been a while since I've posted a camping / hiking video. Lots of reasons. Covid, work (healthcare), kids - basically a lack of time. I have however managed to finish most of the outstanding jobs on our camper van and I thought I would share the results before I wrap her up in her cosy cover for the winter. 

                See the video below

So let me introduce you to 'Skippy', our original Holdsworth conversion 1979 VW type 2, bay window, 2 litre air cooled camper van (called a ‘late bay’ by fellow ‘dub campers’). 

She is 42 years old and officially a historic vehicle, meaning no road tax and no MOT needed (although I always get her MOT'd anyway). We bought her about 6 years ago from a local lady who had 3 vans that she hired out for weddings etc. Skippy was surplus to requirement at the time and as we had hired her for 2 previous holidays, and knew her well, we decided to bite the bullet and buy her. 

The front of our bay window camper

She was is reasonable condition when we got her. The engine & gearbox had been recently replaced and were in great condition but there was some bodywork rust bubbling through in the usual spots and the interior was starting to look a bit tatty. We therefore decided to spruce her up. We wanted to keep as many of her original features as possible and so we renovated, rather than updating her. 

She's a pop top with a sliding side door

We started the work 3 years ago and since then she's had all her underneath sealed, rusted panels replaced and welded and a complete re-spray in baby blue. The pop-top roof was really tatty so we've had it removed and completely renovated with new canvas and head lining. She's been rewired and had a new split charge system fitted (a system which charges a separate 12v leisure battery in the engine bay and also allows for 240v hook up at camp sites). This powers the new interior LED lights, the sink tap and the radio. The system also powered the fridge but we found it was flattening the leisure battery in about 2 days (unless we used 240v hook up - which we wanted to avoid). We therefore decided to fit a 180w solar panel to the roof and this now charges a separate leisure battery in the van which is enough to power the fridge continually as well as a few 12v USB ports. 

This is the original Devon interior from 1979

We have removed, sanded down and re-stained all of the original wooden furniture and then re-fitted it over a newly tiled floor. All the door cards and interior panels have also been replaced. In fact the only jobs now remaining are to have the seats recovered, fit some new curtains and have the original rusty wheels sand blasted and spruced up. Then she will be ready to take camping next year.

The new floor & renovated interior furniture 

Of course there are always other jobs to do with a van of this age. I also want to fit a gas heater so we can use her in winter and a separate bottle fridge between the 2 front seats, also powered by the solar panel. 

For a more thorough tour, see the video at the start of this post. 

Part 2 of the camper van tour, where we have done some further upgrades including reupholstering her and renovated the wheels can be seen here.