A maiden voyage

With the focus on making posters for my bus exhibition for MG Awareness, I completely forgot that it was to be the VW bus maiden voyage in Great Britain.

getting ready for maiden voyage; Paul said the bird poop was lucky, but I wanted to wash the bus for its first trip

Which meant it was also my first time driving it !!!! How could I have overlooked that minor detail? And it was over 100 miles from the Bedford area to Grill-n-Chill at The Hop Farm in Kent …

Carole’s ist time driving the Brazilian bus

On that drive down the M1, M25, M20 and a little country road (of which I do not know the number because every time I slowed for a traffic light or roundabout, the engine cut out!!) I  discovered this VW is nothing like my smooth 1971 VW Westfalia. This Brazilian built split window has a different everything: engine, brakes, gear positions, pedal positions and angle, steering, seats, steering wheel position, noise insulation, windows, mirrors; and it has NO rear view mirror and NO heat.

What does all that mean in practice?????

It means:

  • it loves to go into reverse gear instead of 2nd!!!
  • you have to REALLY step on the brakes because they are drum brakes and neither are they power assisted as in my 71 Westfalia
  • the braking distance is twice as far!
  • the clutch pedal is so steep my arthritic left knee no longer feels the pain because it’s dead!
  • the steering is baggy, baggy, baggy (where did you say the white line was?)
  • the driver’s seat is so low that the steering wheel becomes a boob carrier 🙂
  • the steering wheel is so high it almost hits yer chin!
  • the lack of insulation anywhere in the van, means the engine noise is amplified in the cargo space and is deafeningly loud
  • the lack of ventilation up to the front windscreen means I need to open windows
  • the windows slide so it’s a new manoeuvre instead of turning a handle (just one more thing to learn as I’m driving as fast as I can to get to the show in Kent)
  • the mirrors are small circular things that show almost nothing behind
  • the lack of a rear view mirror is positively dangerous as I have to turn around each time I need to change lanes (but at least I have no blind spots in a 15 window bus)
  • without heat it is so cold to drive in the English weather!!!!

BUT … despite all of the above ….

  • I did make it to the Grill-n-Chill VW Show at The Hop Farm in Kent

meeting my gracious host, Anton; notice the signs in the back of the bus!!!

  • it’s amazing, as with all VWs, there is just something about them that captures your heart !!!!

P.S. This story also published on sister site VW4causes (Vehicles Working for Causes) at http://vw4causes.org/2012/09/25/a-3rd-to-celebrate-driving-a-vw-bus-on-its-maiden-voyage/ … with more photos and chatter on using the 15 window bus to tell an important story

 

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I am so thankful

I was just thinking back to a few days before the end of my drive in California. Shown here is my trusty 1971 Volkswagen Westfalia in Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara. The night before taking this photograph, I’d stayed with VW friend, Judith, whom I’d met two years before in March 2010 on my first VW road trip.

The YesWeCan CamperVan in Carpinteria, California, towards the end of phase 2 of the MG Awareness drive; start date 20 October 2011 from Provincetown, MA, end date 15 May 2012 in Corona, CA, total distance 7853 miles

On that first trip I soon realized that my VW was my new friend who would introduce me to many more new friends. I also realized that my precious VW gave me the opportunity to start conversations with strangers, and the question quickly became what was it that I wanted to start a conversation about? Was there something important that I could talk about and that would be of interest or benefit to others, I wondered.

At the end of 2010, one year after the start of that first road trip, I was sure I’d found the topic, and another year on as I set off on my second cross country drive, I was pleased I’d chosen MG (Myasthenia Gravis). It would be the focus of my communications on auto-immune diseases and neuro-muscular ones in particular.

Seven months and over 7,500 miles later, at the end of my day in Carpinteria pictured above, I’d felt very fortunate that my VW had transported me safely on another momentous journey. On this trip, unlike the first, we’d had three major repairs before finally a new engine was built and fitted in Los Angeles. However every single time, help was on hand. It was miraculous how I was supported and helped along the way.

In the first instance, when the clutch started slipping and it was apparent it needed replacing, the Full Moon Bus Club’s South Carolina Coastal Group offered to fit a new clutch at their Thanksgivin’ Misgivin’ weekend campout just north of Charleston. Not only did they work on this repair all weekend for free, but Wolfsburg West stepped up and sent a new clutch free of charge and by overnight courier all the way from California to the VW campout’s organiser before we even arrived.

Two weeks later in Alabaster, Alabama, the accelerator cable broke in the middle of a busy traffic intersection as I was driving behind Staci (an MG patient who had been my wonderful host and helper) to accompany her in a Christmas Parade. On that occasion, Bill and Carol from Sylacauga had answered the distress message sent out on the VW network by my ‘support man’ Ken (back in Massachusetts) and they then drove one hour from home to meet me and fix my VW (after which they insisted I have my motor checked and hosted me for a few days while it was).

Two and a half weeks after that, as I was driving one early morning in a remote part of Texas, the fan belt shredded!!!! No sooner had I stopped on the side of the highway, we were joined by the nicest state trooper I’ve ever met. It was a very cold morning and I already had a sore throat and temperature, so he had me keep warm in his car, offered me his phone to call Hagerty for my breakdown service (my mobile had no signal) and stayed with me until my VW was on the tow truck an hour later.

It occurred to me at times such as those mentioned above that my VW bus is a perfect metaphor for a person with a chronic disease like MG. For example, all of us classic VW owners know (and mostly have come to accept) that our vehicles do not move as fast as high performance models, that they lose their balance around sharp bends, and that they often fight to get up hills. We also know that on a good day or when there’s far less resistance, the engine can run much stronger and livelier … and that during those times we can let out a loud sigh of relief or maybe we smile gently to ourselves, knowing that our faith has been restored and the struggle to keep going was definitely worth it.

We also know that during those ups, we might go a little crazy and do too many miles, and that, while it’s good while it lasts, chances are we’ll be pretty tired and plain old worn out later on.

As time goes by, we also learn that life in the slow lane can have its merits, like being far more appreciative of the good times and the fleeting moments of running free without bounds. Most of all we learn that living in the present moment is all there is, and with that, comes a joy all of its own.

So driving an old VW with it’s foibles and surprises, can really be a pretty good metaphor for what it’s like to have a chronic disease and to be steering one’s body through all the challenges that get thrown up along the way.  And the thing is, VWs just keep going and going if they are looked after and treated gently. Also one good example seen out and about on the road can be an inspiration to another, and waves and toots indicate that we share a common language.

For me, my VW has also been the friend who helped me find the very best of friends: those with whom I have a special understanding and with whom I can laugh and cry; those who have similar values and who give without expecting anything in return; and those who realize that trust and loyalty are the most precious of gems.

Boy oh boy … when I look at my old VW campervan, I really do have a great deal to be thankful for, don’t I?  🙂

Type 2 VW bus (T2)

Here’s the third part of our story on the Type 2 VW bus, taken from Wikipedia.

[ source Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Type_2 ]

Volkswagen Type 2 (T2)

1973–1980 Volkswagen Kombi (T2) van

1973–1980 Volkswagen Kombi (T2) van

Production August 1967 – July 1979 (Europe and US)
1971–1996 (Mexico)
1976–present (Brazil)
1981–1986 (Argentina)
Assembly Hanover, Germany
Emden, Germany
General Pacheco, Argentina
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Platform Volkswagen Transporter T2
Engine 1.6 L 35kW B4
1.6 L 37kW B4
1.7 L 46-49kW B4
1.8 L 50 kW B4
1.8 L 67 kW I4
2.0 L 52kW B4
Transmission 4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,400 mm (94.5 in)
Length 4,505 mm (177.4 in)
Width 1,720 mm (67.7 in)
Height 2,040 mm (80.3 in)

In late 1967, the second generation of the Volkswagen Type 2 (T2) was introduced. It was built in Germany until 1979. In Mexico, the Volkswagen Combi and Panel were produced from 1970 to 1994. Models before 1971 are often called the T2a (or “Early Bay”), while models after 1972 are called the T2b (or “Late Bay”).

This second-generation Type 2 lost its distinctive split front windshield, and was slightly larger and considerably heavier than its predecessor. Its common nicknames are Breadloaf and Bay-window, or Loaf and Bay for short.[15] At 1.6 L and 35 kW (48 PS; 47 bhp) DIN, the engine was also slightly larger. The new model also did away with the swing axle rear suspension and transfer boxes previously used to raise ride height. Instead, half-shaft axles fitted withconstant velocity joints raised ride height without the wild changes in camber of the Beetle-based swing axle suspension. The updated Bus transaxle is usually sought after by off-road racers using air-cooled Volkswagen components.

The T2b was introduced by way of gradual change over three years. The first models featured rounded bumpers incorporating a step for use when the door was open (replaced by indented bumpers without steps on later models), front doors that opened to 90° from the body, no lip on the front guards, and crescent air intakes in the D-pillars (later models after the Type 4 engine option was offered, have squared off intakes). They also had unique engine hatches, and up until 1971 front indicators set low on the nose rather than high on either side of the fresh air grille – giving rise to their nickname as “Low Lights”. The 1971 Type 2 featured a new, 1.6 L engine with dual intake ports on each cylinder head and was DIN-rated at 37 kW (50 PS; 50 bhp). An important change came with the introduction of front disc brakes and new roadwheels with brake ventilation holes and flatter hubcaps. 1972’s most prominent change was a bigger engine compartment to fit the larger 1.7- to 2.0-litre engines from the Volkswagen Type 4, and a redesigned rear end which eliminated the removable rear apron. The air inlets were also enlarged to accommodate the increased cooling air needs of the larger engines.

In 1971 the 1600cc Type 1 engine as used in the Beetle, was supplemented with the 1700cc Type 4 engine – as it was originally designed for the Type 4 (411 and 412) models. European vans kept the option of upright fan Type 1 1600 engine but the 1700 Type 4 became standard for US spec models.

The year 1971 also saw exterior revisions including relocated front turn indicators, squared off and set higher in the valance, above the headlights – 1972 saw square-profiled bumpers, which became standard until the end of the T2 in 1979. Crash safety improved with this change due to a compressible structure behind the front bumper. This meant that the T2b was capable of meeting US safety standards for passenger cars of the time, though not required of vans. The “VW” emblem on the front valance became slightly smaller.

photo taken by Carole Brown of a 72 Bay window bus and her own 1971 on the right showing the differences in position of signal lights, size of VW logo and shape of front bumper

References

11. ^ Dolan, Matthew (22 September 2009). “To outfox the Chicken Tax, Ford strips its own vans”The Wall Street Journal.

12. ^ “The Big Three’s shameful secret”Freetrade.org, Daniel J. Ikenson, 6 July 2003.

13. ^ a b c Ikenson, Daniel. “Ending the “Chicken War”: The case for abolishing the 25 percent Truck Tariff”. The Cato Institute.

14. ^ a b c Bradsher, Keith (30 November 1997). “Light Trucks increase profits, but foul air more than cars”The New York Times. Retrieved 27 May 2010.

Type 2 VW bus (T1)

Since Wednesday’s post was so popular, I have again taken information from the wonderful pages of wikipedia.

More from Wikipedia on the Type 2 VW bus

Volkswagen Type 2 (T1)

Volkswagen T1c Kombi
Production 1950–1967 (Europe and US)
1950–1975 (Brazil)
Assembly Wolfsburg, Germany
Hanover, Germany
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil
Platform Volkswagen Transporter T1
Engine 1.1 L 18kW B4
1.2 L 22kW B4
1.2 L 30 kW B4
1.5 L 31-38kW B4

The first generation of the Volkswagen Type 2 with the split windshield, informally called the MicrobusSplitscreen, or Splittie among modern fans, was produced from 8 March 1950 through the end of the 1967 model year. From 1950 to 1956, the T1 was built in Wolfsburg; from 1956, it was built at the completely new Transporter factory in Hanover. Like the Beetle, the first Transporters used the 1100 Volkswagen air-cooled engine, an 1,131 cc (69.0 cu in), DIN-rated 18 kW (24 PS; 24 bhp), air-cooled flat-four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine mounted in the rear. This was upgraded to the 1200 – an 1,192 cc (72.7 cu in) 22 kW (30 PS; 30 bhp) in 1953. A higher compression ratio became standard in 1955; while an unusual early version of the 30 kW (41 PS; 40 bhp) engine debuted exclusively on the Type 2 in 1959. This engine proved to be so uncharacteristically troublesome that Volkswagen recalled all 1959 Transporters and replaced the engines with an updated version of the 30 kW engine. Any 1959 models that retain that early engine today are true survivors. Since the engine was totally discontinued at the outset, no parts were ever made available.

The early versions of the T1 until 1955 were often called the “Barndoor” (retrospectively called T1a since the 1990s), owing to the enormous rear engine cover, while the later versions with a slightly modified body (the roofline above the windshield is extended), smaller engine bay, and 15″ roadwheels instead of the original 16″ ones are nowadays called the T1b (again, only called this since the 1990s, based on VW’s restrospective T1,2,3,4 etc. naming system.). From the 1964 model year, when the rear door was made wider (same as on the bay-window or T2), the vehicle could be referred to as the T1c. 1964 also saw the introduction of an optional sliding door for the passenger/cargo area instead of the outwardly hinged doors typical of cargo vans.

In 1962, a heavy-duty Transporter was introduced as a factory option. It featured a cargo capacity of 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) instead of the previous 750 kg (1,653 lb), smaller but wider 14″ roadwheels, and a 1.5 Le, 31 kW (42 PS; 42 bhp) DIN engine. This was so successful that only a year later, the 750 kg, 1.2 L Transporter was discontinued. The 1963 model year introduced the 1500 engine – 1,493 cc (91.1 cu in) as standard equipment to the US market at 38 kW (52 PS; 51 bhp) DIN with an 83 mm (3.27 in) bore, 69 mm (2.72 in) stroke, and 7.8:1 compression ratio. When the Beetle received the 1.5 L engine for the 1967 model year, its power was increased to 40 kW (54 PS; 54 bhp) DIN.

1966 Volkswagen Kombi (North America)

German production stopped after the 1967 model year; however, the T1 still was made in Brazil until 1975, when it was modified with a 1968–79 T2-style front end, and big 1972-vintage taillights into the so-called “T1.5” and produced until 1996. The Brazilian T1s were not identical to the last German models (the T1.5 was locally produced in Brazil using the 1950s and 1960s-era stamping dies to cut down on retooling, alongside the Beetle/Fusca, where the pre-1965 body style was retained), though they sported some characteristic features of the T1a, such as the cargo doors and five-stud 205 mm (8.1 in) PCD) rims.

Among American enthusiasts, it is common to refer to the different models by the number of their windows. The basic Kombi or Bus is the 11-window (a.k.a. three-window bus because of three side windows) with a split windshield, two front cabin door windows, six rear side windows, and one rear window. The DeLuxe model featured eight rear side windows and two rear corner windows, making it the 15-window (not available in Europe). Meanwhile, the sunroof DeLuxe with its additional eight small skylight windows is, accordingly, the 23-window. From the 1964 model year, with its wider rear door, the rear corner windows were discontinued, making the latter two the 13-window and 21-window respectively. The 23- and later 21-window variants each carry the nickname ‘Samba’, or in Australia, officially ‘Alpine’.

Volkswagen light trucks and the US Chicken Tax  

U.S. sales of Volkswagen vans in pickup and commercial configurations were curtailed by the Chicken tax

Certain models of the Volkswagen Type 2 played a role in an historic episode during the early 1960s, known as the Chicken War. France and West Germany had placed tariffs on imports of U.S. chicken.[11] Diplomacy failed,[12] and in January 1964, two months after taking office, President Johnson imposed a 25% tax (almost ten times the average U.S. tariff)[13] on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks.[13] Officially, the tax targeted items imported from Europe as approximating the value of lost American chicken sales to Europe.[14]

In retrospect, audio tapes from the Johnson White House, revealed a quid pro quo unrelated to chicken. In January 1964, President Johnson attempted to convince United Auto Workers’ president Walter Reuther not to initiate a strike just prior to the 1964 election, and to support the president’s civil rights platform. Reuther, in turn, wanted Johnson to respond to Volkswagen’s increased shipments to the United States.[14]

The Chicken Tax directly curtailed importation of German-built Type 2s in configurations that qualified them as light trucks – that is, commercial vans (panel vans) and pickups.[14] In 1964, U.S. imports of automobile trucks from West Germany declined to a value of $5.7 million – about one-third the value imported in the previous year. After 1971, Volkswagen cargo vans and pickup trucks, the intended targets, “practically disappeared from the U.S. market”.[13] While post-1971 Type 2 commercial vans and single-cab and double-cab pickups can be found in the United States today, they are exceedingly rare. As of 2009, the Chicken tax remains in effect.

[ source Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Type_2 ]

A test drive in the VW Westy

We’re now in Morro Bay, just over 100 miles north of Santa Barbara, and have some great photos to share from today, but before we do, we looked back at some earlier photos and videos. What we noticed was that we are so far behind in sharing these with you … but unless you’ve done this yourself, you may not realize it takes quite a bit of time time to edit and post, especially video.

And we need more comments from you to know what you like and what you don’t like.

So here’s a taster, a video taken just over a month ago and edited a few hours ago.
Go to our youtube channel and find the one entitled “A California Test Drive in the Westy” ….. Darron drives Carole’s 1971 VW Westfalia for the first time and chooses to test her out on the hairpin bends near his home in California. Climbing up the hills to Canyon, in the Oakland hills east of San Francisco Bay, they encounter sun, showers, cyclists and some tough driving. 
We hope you enjoy joining us on the drive.

There are other videos on our youtube channel, too.

Keep checking as there’ll soon be one of us crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.



Refueling

Carole wishes we could find a way to convert the VW Van’s engine to take biofuel or some kind of other eco-brew …

Found in California - one of Carole's favorite fuels - not while driving of course!

Please send us your ideas or tell us about any VW engine conversions that you know about. THANK YOU!