Tag: westfalia

Texas Busfest 2015

Last weekend Melina and I loaded up Olly and headed to the Busfest, a gathering of presumably like-minded Vanagonauts and Busnuts in central Texas. It was our first time joining the throng, and we were part of a crowd of over a hundred buses, 27 of which were Vanagons. I’ve honestly never see so many VW vans in Texas, and it was actually encouraging to discover it’s not all Chevy and Ford in the Lone Star State. Not that I have anything against Ford, what with Olly being Bostig’d and all. And for what it’s worth, there was even a Chevy-converted Vanagon present. It was quite impressive.

We took the canoe, and this was also the first time we’ve gone a significant distance with the canoe on the Yakima rack, and the whole thing worked wonderfully. I was able to load and unload the canoe by myself thanks to the Boat Loader extension bar, and strapping it down securely was easy. Only bad thing was that once tied down, the back hatch was inaccessible due to interference with the straps, but if I absolutely had to get in there, it would just mean unhitching the one rear strap.

Olly fared well otherwise, as he does. I kept the speed around 65 mph out of deference to the canoe, but we had the power to go faster. Unfortunately, with the van loaded down, the aging springs and suspension were made very apparent, and I’ve decided to elevate that to the next project. Definitely not something I’m looking forward to tackling.

Two upgrades bear mention.  The first was a new mattress pad for the lower bunk, bought on Amazon. The pad fits perfectly, and added so much comfort to the bed. Also, although it takes up a lot of space when we’re not using it, it’s much more compact than other memory foam type toppers I’ve seen some Vanagon campers travel with.

The second addition to the Vanagon kit is the Rear Hatch Shelter by Bus Depot, and it also impressed us. Having the rear hatch fully open kept the van much cooler both day and night, and it was an exceptionally handy place to change clothes, providing room with fewer obstructions than the main cabin. We need to get a better mat for the ground, but otherwise it’s great.

Of course the best part of the whole trip was meeting fellow Veedubers, who on the whole are a welcoming lot. In particular, it was great to meet the growing faction of Texas Vanagon owners, who have their own Facebook page. Visiting with others I learned a few things, although not most people’s names. Sorry if I can’t remember yours the next time we meet. Probably will remember your dog’s name, though.

I enjoyed, but didn’t record the symphony of boxers I heard during the weekend. Here instead are a few pictures:

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Tripping the Light Fantastic

daI’ve long been in search of better lighting in the Vanagon. I’ve still yet to add an IKEA puck light LEDs to the cockpit area, but I was nevertheless able to make two more light mods that really brightened things up. First, thanks to fellow vanagonaut Harold Teer, I acquired a second overhead galley light and mounted it above the stove. The improvement is incredible; gone are the days of cooking in the dark.

The second modification was to upgrade the bulbs yet again since LEDs have come a long way since I first installed them in Olly seven years ago. With new, brighter and warmer LEDs from superbrightleds.com, the interior becomes much less clinical, making it far cozier. The new warm LEDs also match the IKEA pucks better, giving an overall more uniform appearance when all the lights are on. One installation note: I did have to slightly bend the prongs in the galley lighting to accommodate the oversized festoons, but that was easily accomplished with a pair of needle-nose pliers. This could be avoided by using smaller LEDs than the 6451‘s I used, but some light output would be sacrificed.

As a bonus, the whole thing looks very vanagonish, as if the light fixture was always there.

The Case of the Incredible Shrinking Trim: Solved

The Vanagon Westfalia t-trim molding used in the interior of the camper conversions is notorious for shrinking over time. As it does so, it starts to easily detatch from the tables, risking possibility of damage to the plywood laminate. I remembered a bit of discussion on the Vanagon.com list a few months ago about how to fix things and decided to try it out myself. A bit of work with a heat gun and some strong adhesive set things right.

The procedure is simple. First, pull the trim away from the table. I didn’t remove it completely, but just went about halfway down the sides of table. I then applied a bit of Gorilla Glue to the channel in the table.

While the glue was setting, I used the heat gun to warm up the trim, working it along the length of the side. After it starts to soften, you can tug on it gently and feel a bit of stretch develop. Once it gets to this point, I stopped and worked the trim into the groove.

Repeat the procedure with the other end of trim, again stretching it up to the corner.

At this point I had one side left to rejoin the trim to the table where the two ends meet. Same procedure allowed me to stretch the trim and close the gap.

Gorilla Glue is strong stuff, but it needs to be clamped for the bonding to do its work, so once it was done, I used a couple of bar clamps to hold the trim in place for a couple of hours. Once it had set, I was able to remove the clamps and let the glue cure on its own. Remove Gorilla Glue promptly for easiest cleanup. If the trim is a bit dirty or scuffed, Brasso does wonders for cleaning it up. Once finished, I had two virtually new tables (except for the legs, which need to be repainted). I’ll use this same procedure for fixing the trim that has shrunken in other parts of the van as well.

The shrunken trim!
Pulling the trim away before reattaching.
Clamping it all down to set.
Voila! The finished product, better than new. Should last another 20 years.