VW Type 2 Devon Camper Van

From the TV series 'Lost'

Where it all started

Hurley Bus

It looked like fun.....

So we had to go and get one ourselves.....

"New van"

A 1975 VW T2 Devon campervan

We had become interested in the idea of owning a VW van since we watched Lost, and I had memories of a holiday in Dorset in the 1970's in a hired camper van. A long time ago I had owned a rusty old car, in my case a 1975 Morris Marina bought for 100 in 1985 ,which did 150MPG of oil (leaks and smoke)- 5 litres of 10W/40 per  fill of petrol , and so I was used to the idea of looking after 'interesting' vehicles.

One evening I came home from work and the idea of taking a look at vans on Ebay came up. So we looked around and focussed in on one van that was for sale in Kent, and which had a short MOT but had had some money spent on it.

The auction was due to finish in 2 hours. After looking at the other vans on Ebay several times, and which seemed to have some kind of 'oops' factor associated with their sale - like tuned up engines that would no longer run properly, we went back to the van and offered a little more than the price one hour from the finish of the auction.

Note that we never looked at the van at all or contacted the vendor before the sale. We had decided that if the van could be driven away legally it would be OK.

We made a single bid, expecting to be outbid  and found we were the high bidder, which we remained to the end. As it turned out , we had bid the reserve price exactly. We then tried to set up PayPal to pay the deposit, contacted the seller and started the process which as we were not really prepared would take 5 working days to complete even just paying  the initial deposit.

At the end of the 5 days we were informed by PayPal that the bank would not honour the request for the money. As the credit card we usually use with PayPal also expired at about the same time as all this was going on, PayPal managed to get itself entirely taken out of the payment loop.

So we contacted the vendor and basically told him we still wanted the van, and we were now only sure of payment in cash, as all other payment methods involved the bank sitting on the money for days as it flows electronically from one computer to another.

The MOT certificate would have expired before a second try at moving the money via modern methods would have succeeded.

We arranged insurance and made sure all other paperwork would be ready to go on the day of purchase.

 So we got the cash out of the bank and set off for near Tunbridge Wells on the 10th of July. We arrved and saw the van for the first time. It was as described on Ebay, the engine started, it had an MOT so we handed over the money.
A quick trip to the bank in Tunbridge Wells and then to a nearby village postoffice with fewer queues for the V5 handover and the tax disc.

We decided not to give a name to the van until it passed the MOT for the first time.

10th July 2010: The Long Drive Home

Shirley drove our Peugeout  307 SW  loaded with tools and essentials like jump leads and a tow rope, following the van.

Out of the driveway and down the narrow and steep lanes was quite a tense run as I discovered the quirks of the van.

The trip back  began with a trip to the nearest filling station, where we had a succession of faults - ignition warning light comes on then fuse 11 blows and then there are no indicators.  

And briefly there not being enough output from the battery to turn the engine but that fault vanished once i wiggled some wiring , for now.
It reappeared once more later on with the battery being found to be OK when the engine would not turn over. Some vibration round the engine wiggling wiring and the fault cleared up .
Then as things warmed up, first  and seconds gears stopped being accessible from time to time.

The indicators would not self cancel leading to driving miles indicating a turn. I was not used to the noises of the van, so I missed the clicking of the relay, the rattles and bangs the grill tray being much louder, along with a really ominous metallic clunk from somewhere in the back.

And the brakes were scarily bad (not spongy, standing on the pedal wouldnt hold on a downhill T-junction until I used the handbrake as well)  but they seemed to improve in the horrendous traffic queues of Tunbridge Wells on Saturday morning.
We then drove south on the A26, gradually building confidence, but coming to dread roundabouts and traffic lights.

If you found first gear then second always followed but mostly we were pulling away in third .  Just like the old Marina where oil on the clutch and soft engine mounts made third the best gear to pull away in - in the Marina there was a dent in the wing from the carburettor hitting it.

When I did find first gear and floored it there was quite a good acceleration. The grill pan shot out and joined the happy throng of stuff on the floor. As I am used  to this kind of thing on Forethought, the amazing crescendo of rattling stuff inside the van was not too  disturbing.

We stopped a couple of times and I adjusted the gear lever each time and on the second try it seemed to get a lot better.

The van did not break down over 100 miles of driving.

After about 3 hours we arrived home.

I found out where the ominous clunking was coming from - there were 4 metal tubes looking like table legs or similar under the rock'n'roll bed. They were quite heavy and hit each other as they rolled around.

Shirley reported that the drive following the van was very relaxing apart from having to drive agressively occasionally to keep people from getting between her and the van. The diesel  307 SW reported much better than usual fuel economy. It looks to be twice as economical as the van.

It turns out the VW engine has been replaced even though the odometer indicates only 48k miles.

At home, I started poking round the electrics. The stereo doesnt work. But we do have a 1970's Sharp  car stereo radio cassette player on Forethought -  I might swap it for a more waterproof one and put the old Sharp in the van as more in keeping with the era.

We discovered that there were a total of 6 different seatbelts around the van, three up front and three in the back. The cushions are original so we will replace them. Lots of discussion about the colour scheme for the new fabrics has started.

And the fuse 11 blowing seems to relate to hill starts - if the handbrake is used with the engine running it must rub some bare wiring.

The reversing lights dont work - there are several possible wires going to the reversing light switch  but none of them have 12 volts on them for the reversing switch power feed. 

Friday 15th July 2010: Off to the garage

A friend had said there was a VW specialist in Eastleigh but couldnt remember where it was. As the friends of his with a VW van were out on a trip in their van he couldnt contact them to get the details.

So I used Google search and came up with IGS of Eastleigh who specialise in VW and know about T2 vans.

Shirley drove up there, having some trouble with the gears and losing the indicators (fuse 11)  up at the Windhover roundabout (hill start at traffic lights from Hamble Lane) . She walked and took the train back, it took over 2 hours.

IGS tell us they can fix the electrics and the brakes . The bodywork will need some attention over the next couple of years but there is remarkably little rust underneath.

When I phone them on Thursday, they are able to promise to have it ready by Saturday. They had not started when I called.

Saturday 24th July 2010: Back from the garage

We collected the van on Saturday morning complete with MOT, and headed off down to the Hamble Country Park where we stopped for lunch.

The electrical faults all seem to have come from a wobbly wire on the alternator that was leading to voltage surges and fuse blowings.
At the back , the metalwork over the exhausts has basically rotted through and falls off when touched . Not structural so can be left for now.

After returning home , we decided to go out again to buy some new gas hose as what was fitted was just some generic hose without any clips or clamps on it. No luck in the chandlery although they sold all other gas fittings, so we went up to the campervan and caravan shop on the A27 where the little VW was dwarfed by giant white boxes on wheels. We got the gas hose, but overheard the comment - " they are very small" from another customer  referring to the VW.

On Sunday, I ordered a couple of new headlights , one headlight surround and an engine cover seal from Just Kampers.

In between trips,  I stripped out the overhead bunks and discarded the more rotten hammock fabric - the better one is to be used as a template. Then I began to clean up the paint on the bars and mechanisms that hold the bunks up.

Although there were a lot of rusty screws, they all came undone without any real trouble - just needing a lot of pressure , a quick tap with a hammer on the screwdriver, or the torque of an 18v electric drill. All apart from one which started to shift once I had drilled into the head. A quick squeeze with pliers and it wound out OK.

Flap wheel to take off rust, Hammerite rust remover, then prime and Hammerite. Difficult to get it even because everything is long and thin and the day is really tou hot for painting.

New seat fabric

On Sunday , we went  and purchased some new upholstery fabric for the interior -we are going to replace all the old cushions with new and have gone for a blue/yellow flowers on cream fabric below and a sort of mid-blue curtaining for the hammocks.

Tuesday 27th July 2010: New Headlights arrive

And are immediately fitted. I discovered the old headlamp bulbs did not fit the new headlamps. But in any case there was originally one Bosch headlamp with a traditional bulb, and one Hella headlamp with a halogen bulb. Quick trip to Halfords and type 472 halogens now adorn the new Hella units.

I also pressed the new engine cover seal into place - it will need some building up of rotten metal around the hatch where rust has eaten through, so I havent glued it in yet.

Saturday 31st July 2010: Order new seat foam

We were going to go over to Gunwharf Quays for an afternoon shopping after visiting Hawke House Marine. But they do not open on Saturday so a quick Google turned up an upholsterers shop in Totton : the Upholstery Shop. We drove in the van to Totton and ordered some nice 3 inch thick foam which should be ready by Tuesday. We paid a deposit and headed off for an afternoon of shopping at Gunwharf , in the van. It seemed to take a long time at 63 mph. And even longer when we had to queue for ages to get into the carpark. A combination of Navy Days, a busy Saturday and broken down exit barriers made the final 400 yards take about 30 minutes.
Some Spanish students stopped on the pavement to take a look at the van.

Sunday 1st August : rebuild sink unit

This is dealt with in a separate section here

While messing around with the sink unit I discovered my First Proper Hole In the Van. under the rock'n roll seat above one of the heater pipes there was a little hole . So I filled it with some fibreglass and then poked underseal all over it from inside - I can hardly reach it without going under the van while its on ramps as the hole is just accesible round several corners. With more time and patience I could have disconnected one of the pipes and got at it. As it is it is now a job for later - a weld I suspect.

While poking round the  First Proper Hole I decided to push one of the three wires ( the disconnected one which was threaded through the engine supports but went nowhere)  in the vicinity of the reversing switch back through where it was stuffed through the foam seal round the engine tinware.

After lunch , we drove to Hamble Point and bought a new water hose at the chandlers, and some press studs for the bunk bed vinyl covers. Then parked up in the public car park , and christened the new Just Kampers cups with a cup of coffee combined with an ice cream from the ice cream van in the car park.

Reversing lights work

 When I looked in the engine compartment it was clear that the wire I had tidied up was the missing 12 volt feed for the reversing light switch as the other end  dived back through a grommet and went back to the reversing switch . There was even a tag on the positive feed of the ignition coil for it., and a fuse as indicated in the circuits in the Haynes manual.
I engaged reverse and one of the lights came on. So I cleaned up the other bulb and now the reversing light comes on. Must have been when the engine was changed, the wire was forgotten .

Sink water pump works

On return home , I decided to resolve the problem that no power came out of the wire to the sink unit: This is described here

So we now have electric pumped water.

Missing part discovery - pedal mechanism cover

When we were in Towsure the other day , I noticed the Type 2 there had a cover over the mechanisms under the cab - we dont. So it is off to a supplier to get a cover . The bolts are there but no cover.

I have currently managed to locate a supplier of a fibreglass replacement, nomorerustybits.com.. I hope to be able to get to VanFest 2010 to pick it up. We did get it and fit it while we were at the VanFest.

Cushion replacements

While I have been doing a lot of engineering type fiddling around , Shirley has been covering the new cushions for the seats.

Camper van as a Marine Sesimic Recorder

Recorder interior
Not quite a full recorder - just a trigger box and navigation system running on the laptop.
The setup was on a disused airfield, and the vessels were a couple of 4x4's .

The kit was powered off a couple of inverters connected to the battery and the engine was left on a slightly fast tickover.

sitting on runway

It ran for a day and a half until the tickover speed proved to be too slow, and the battery went flat and the inverters shut down. It used about 12 litres of fuel ticking over between about 1000 and 1700 on its full day of service.

So we switched to the spare Mitsubishi Delica which we had prepared for this eventuality. Actually we were originally going  to use the Delica as the recorder van,  but one of the brake cylinders on the Delica had jammed on on the way to the airfield and the Delica didnt make it to the airfield until it had visited the garage.

vehicle fleet

February 5th 2011

We dropped the van off to the restorers on March 5th 2011. Just over 4 months later, after various hangups and hitches - paint oven expiring, replaced, controller on paint oven expiring, replaced, staff being sacked, cashflow crisis, part unavailability, JustKampers doors requiring significant bending, coupled with bending A pillar to make door fit and then a communication error, we finally got the bus back, with the restorers doing everything we asked for but unfortunately still leaving a few minor holes where it didnt matter.

Paint job is now L90D Pastel White over L53H Orient Blue. Strangely this appears to be the same as a Dharma Bus from Lost....

The weekend of the 16th and 17th July became a frantic panic, working on filling holes, trying to fix the passenger door window winder which expired because the felt channels in the door were too tight and were gripping the window too hard. Managed to insert part of a pop rivet pin into the assembly and restore most of the functionality. Then broke the drivers door window winder and had to leave it.

I will order new winders from VW Heritage when available, and in the meantime document the bodge when I do the drivers door window winder.

Fixed in the flooring. Filled holes in the back of the floor. Painted and undersealed. Refitted rock and roll bed.

Bought 300 worth of door seals and fitted them including discovering somebody had stripped the head of the hex bolt holding the sliding door up so I had to cut the door seal as I couldnt get the sliding door off in a hurry.

Worst of all was the engine cover didnt shut with the new seal - in the end I could close it with dent in the middle of the cover. We need a new cover anyway, but I need to look again at getting the cover to shut. Something wrong with the left hand hinge.

Replaced several blown bulbs and had to fight with the earthing on the rear light clusters to get sensible light combinations showing for indicator, braking, tail and reversing lights.

Took off offside rear wheel for the first time and blew up the ratchet in a ratchet wrench trying to get the nuts undone. Needed  a tommy bar and a 4 foot gas pipe to get the leverage to shift the nuts.

So on 19th July 2011 Shirley took the bus up to Hamble Motors, the local main Peugeot dealer. She reckons just about every member of staff came to look at it while she waited for the MOT to be done. They couldnt work out what kind of vehicle it was. Camper Van doesnt appear on the DVLA database. Type 2 Transporter was a closer match.

It passed but they noted the engine cover wouldnt shut and somewhere in the proceedings, the passenger door window wound itself down and fell out of the channel. Need to fit some stop or similar at the bottom to stop it falling out. Also had to rebuild the winder mechanism, this time including the spring used to lock the winder.
There is a need for a steering adjustment (probably wide tyres