Monday, August 27, 2007

How to renovate a VW bus in just 736 complicated steps

Last week DrH and I took a week off to go and park in his parents garden and scratch rust out of The Bulli. It was a grand plan, involving lots of lying in the dirt removing and reapplying under chassis protection and replacing a rusted drivers door (the replacement door having acted as a modern art sculpture in our hallway for the last four months). A grand plan indeed and one which we started by going to our campervan-converter-man for some information on getting some underfloor tanks to hold fresh and waste water.

Well, was that a mistake. We cruised through his shop, fondling doorknobs and cup holders, exclaiming over three-way fridges and quality cookers. We decided that we needed to upgrade our kitchen block from the temporary one DrH had whacked together out of some IKEA shelves ten years ago and only worked with unwieldy plastic boxes (see here). I wanted a kitchen block with drawers and other amazingly modern and useful in-built devices. We bought a three-way fridge. We bought a new sink/cooker arrangement. We have spent all the money which we could otherwise have used for lovely hotels in great cities, so I guess it is just as well we´re now set up for camping isn´t it?

So we whiled away the week rebuilding the inside of the car and not touching a single piece of rust. I sanded what seemed like a square acre of wood to a finish so smooth your hands would glide off it without realisng you were touching something. It was a piece of art, I tell you. My skills with an electric sander are not to be underestimated.

I came to the conclusion that we needed storage space under the front seats (which we replaced last year, this car is in a constant state of flux) so I designed and built some fiddly little holders for maps and atlases and first aid boxes.

Now, with a nifty little fridge, we could remove the old cool box run off the cigarette lighter and move the toilet to behind the passenger seat. This got a brand new box as well and I´ll finish the cushion for it this week.

But it was the kitchen block itself that took most time and effort. With all the skill of the amateurs we are, we forgot that the sink needs a pipe coming off the bottom, meaning that the whole thing was 4mm too short to fit both the fridge and sink in. Hence our surprisingly thick benchtop. To save time and effort I decided to use IKEA drawers, although the sheer weight of these things will increase our petrol consumption considerably. However they work nicely and I was able to convert our lovely wood into drawer fronts. Did I mention I´m equally as skilled at drilling as at sanding?

So it´s still lacking knobs, electric and gas connections, but that will be taken care of in the next two weeks. Then it´s France, here we come!


Jan said...

Respect. The bulli has become a real "Hingucker" (eye-catcher)!

Let me know if you need a caretaker for the bus when you are going to go to Ozzie land for holidays! Isn't that a generous gesture?

Schlupp said...

Dr. J, I have the impression that you've gone native!

Dr. J said...

schlupp- you don´t know the half of it. I caught myself putting sandals on OVER MY SOCKS to walk the dog before bed the other night.

Hold me. I´m scared.