Sep 28 2016

Three Days in September

Lots of days led up to these three days. They were mine to use. And I did. As best I could! Let me tell you a little bit about these three days in September.

I blame a race in Leadville CO and a bunch of cyclists who got an idea two years ago and did something about it in 2015. I have to share in the blame too since I have now driven my VW Westy from Toronto to the middle of Colorado (& further west) for a 3rd time. All to meet Andrea here… destinations Moab, Leadville and now Fruita. So here I am.

The days before – well the weeks before! – were all prep for getting on the road. The objective was being in Denver by noon on Sept. 28 and I couldn’t leave before Sunday morning (the 25th). I’m in a suburb of Denver now. My plans didn’t work out tonight so I’m going to enjoy a shower in the morning. The state park I had planned on spending the night at was full and I hadn’t planned on that. It was too far a drive to find another, the local Walmart doesn’t permit camping, so a room for the night.

Lots of changes were in the works in the weeks leading up to this trip. Some major changes including a new turbo charger which I generally don’t like to do before a “race”. So far so good though! And I just got a message from Andrea that she’s in Chicago with the first leg of the flight done and the next soon to start. She arrives here a little before 2pm (8:30am as I write this).

It’s about 1,500 miles from home to here. And I feel pretty good about having driven the full way in 3 days. Keep in mind that old VW’s don’t go fast so a mile a minute was the plan. That’s still 25 hours of driving plus stops for gas, food, and the occasional photo. And here I am.

Day 1: 678 miles, 1 province & 3 states. Slept in a huge parking lot and didn’t even hear all the trucks!

Day 2: 530 miles & 3 states. Passed a sign on Hwy 36 that said “Geographic center of the United States”. Slept in a motel after watching the presidential debate.

Day 3: 250 miles & 2 states. The state park I wanted to spend the night in was full so another night not in my camper.

Now let me share a few of the photos.

Packed

Toronto: Packed & ready to go. That bag up top cost me about 4 miles per gallon on fuel consumption!

iowa 80

Iowa: on I80, the world biggest truck stop

Iowa 80

Iowa 80

Babe

Sunrise Babe looks small @ Iowa 80

Smith Center

A motel in the middle of the US… I think she wants in.

Splat

Babe doing her part to control bugs

High Prairie

High Prairie country through Kansas… long straight roads with little traffic

Prairie View Kansas

Prairie View Kansas… nothing to see but wide open farmland

Colorado!

Babe adding colour to Colorado! This was on Old US 24.

The mountains...

Sunset over Denver at Cherry Creek State Park. Too bad the campground was full (all 152 sites!)

Sep 17 2016

A Week at Shelter Valley Folk Festival

I’ve been to the Shelter Valley Folk Festival every year since 2011. If you’re interested in a look back just do a blog search for SVFF. The first entry from 2012 touches on how Andrea and I got interested in the festival in the first place. And how the idea of volunteering crept into the picture. I’ve published a few videos and galleries over the years as well.

This year was a delightful mix during both the set-up volunteer time and the festival itself.

I wrote earlier about going to Vermont with Andrea for the Overland race. And driving back on Sunday to be ready for Steff and Saba to come over and then get on the road to Grafton. It made for a long day but meant we three volunteers could get our time in and get the work done that needed doing.

On Getting There

While away I’d exchanged some messages with Steff and they needed to make 2 trips to get everything together since I wasn’t able to go down and pick them up. The first load arrived while Andrea & I were away so we got home to the living-room/dining-room full of stuff. Not that it’s usually much different even when it’s just the two of us 🙂 . And that was great because Punch got a visit with a couple of happy people.

On Monday those two rode up on bikes with the rest of their stuff. I had been loading up all the things that were already here so it was a matter of loading bikes on the bus and getting on the road. Which we did somewhere around 10:30. More or less on schedule to get to the site for noon.

The advance setup crew chief is Myk and once we got on site we looked for him to see what he wanted us all to work on. After a little discussion he decided that we’d stick together and work as a team to build the three side stages. I was slightly hesitant because I wasn’t sure I wanted to boss my son and his girlfriend around but only slightly. Steff and I have done a bunch of things that required solid cooperation (canoe camping quickly came to mind) and I liked the idea of getting to spend that much time together. It’s probably 15 or 20 years since we were in the same place for days. So this meant a lot to me. To be fair, the one more recent time was 4 years ago when Steff came to SVFF for the weekend.

On Being There to Work

Ever since I decided to make the week ahead of the festival my time to volunteer I’ve been thrilled with what’s come of it. It hard, honest, work-up-a-sweat and get calluses kind of work. And when it’s done you get to see the very real results of your work. So… building stages that a couple thousand people will sit in and around is a big deal! And there’s not much room for getting things wrong. Did I mention that this was the first year for Saba and Steff to be onsite as volunteers? Definitely a jump -n-the-deep end kind of start!

We started on the Lavender Stage. It’s usually the hardest to make work so why not! The location and layout was also changed from previous years, adding to the need to adapt. So off we went. It’s a couple of days work to erect this stage so we only got started with an afternoon of time. It was a good start though. And we also set up our campsites at the top of the hill.

I knew where I was going to park Babe up on the hill. My “secret” spot for getting her reasonably flat. Saba & Steff tried a place near the trees, something they changed their minds about a day or two later. But there we were! Working and set up to camp and life was good!

Camping spot

Camped

Getting there on the Monday meant we had a wide open field to pick spots from. That changed a lot as the week went on. As it always does.

Volunteer Work

Monday was all about getting settled in and getting ready. The rest of the week was full days with lots of hard work.  Day by day the three of us worked together to set up the stages. From Lavender to the Village stage and then finally the Pine stage. We got better as we went along and having started with the hardest meant we had easier stages to set up later. And along the way the hospitality crew did an amazing job of feed us.

So many amazing moments as the week unfolded… I can’t do it justice in words or photos. You really have to be there to get the whole picture. Days filled with effort, challenges and accomplishments. Perhaps a trip to a lake for a swim to wash away the sweat and dirt before sitting down to some home cooked food.  Evenings filled with camaraderie and live music around the campfire. Wake up the next morning, get fed and repeat. Life is good!

So here are a few photos to help tell the tale. Oh… I should mention that Steff celebrated his birthday there (Sept. 1st) and thanks to friends (Barb in particular, Saba too!) he got put on the spot.

Festival Time!

And then it was Friday! A few minor things in the morning while waiting for Andrea to arrive, sitting and relaxing with friends as they rolled in, a celebratory beer (or two). All leading up to an evening of music.The lineup was great with lots of musicians Andrea and I had never heard before. And we’re still listening to them weeks later.

A the end of the main stage there was a little hanging out at our camper and then awesome music around the campfire.The volunteer campfire is always a treat as lots of the musicians camp up there too. And since many of them know each other it’s like a reunion for them too.

Repeat on Saturday with some side stages added in during the morning and afternoon, and then wrap it all up with more music on Sunday. We didn’t stick around for the post festival BBQ but next year we three volunteers are counting on it.

Here’s a video of photos I put together… if you want to see them at your own pace they’re all published on my website.

Sep 15 2016

The 7th GPCQM

I’ll jump ahead to this past weekend for the Grand Prix Cyclistes de Quebec et Montreal (GPCQM). This was the seventh time these UCI World Tour races have been held and they continue to be popular with riders and spectators alike.

For the riders it’s probably a rare treat to get put up in one of the finest hotels rather than a one star spot. The Frontenac is beautiful and I know first hand how well they get fed there. The spectators love the scenery and it’s a delight for both locals and tourists. For me… this is the second year in a row that I’ve opted to fly rather than drive my trusty Westy. It’s one of the rare occasions that planes, hotels and a bus ride make more sense.

Team Tinkoff Interview

My weekend started Thursday morning when I took a Car2Go out to a hotel airport and then a shuttle to the terminal. This worked out well and meant I didn’t need to leave Babe in a parking lot with strangers. And it probably would have worked out to be about the same price if there’d been a Smart Car available at the airport when I got back. The fact that there were none meant I had to pay for a cab and that was considerably more expensive. Lesson learned.

The first race was on Friday but I had an opportunity to get some photos and do an interview with current road world champion Peter Sagan shortly before dinner on Thursday. Pierre Perron of MV Canada (clothing supplier to Team Tinkoff) and of course that was awesome. And it included some more lessons. The first being… I should do my own interviews rather than being the cameraman. I trust my instincts to ask the questions that I think people are interested in. So the video is so so. This shot with two Peters though… totally worth the time to be there.

Sagan

Peter (world champ) and Peter (me)

I was thrilled to have been in Richmond to photograph the event he won to get the rainbow jersey and certainly wished him luck in the race ahead. He didn’t sound confident about his chances of winning the Quebec race though. Or the upcoming world championships in Qatar.

Sagan

Sagan in the final 500M at Richmond

Quebec GPC

And then it was Race day. Here’s how it looks from a photographers perspective:

  • Mandatory meeting at 9:15 so have something to eat before then
  • Get photographers bib after meeting, you have to wear that at all times when on the course
  • 10:00 is the start of the team presentations
  • 11:00 is the start of the race
  • Keep track of the laps as the race proceeds and you go to the various spots you like for photos
  • Hop on and off the shuttle (or do a lap on a moto) in order to get the shots you want
  • Be sure to make time to eat. And drink lots of water!
  • Get back to the finish with 2 laps to go and start sharpening your elbows
  • When the organizers say go you run to get a good spot in the photographers zone behind the finish
  • And then you wait. Until…
  • The riders come to and cross the line around 6 hours after they started (so perhaps 17:00)
  • Jump up to get post race photos of joy and pain
  • Find a spot in front of the podium to get those shots too
  • Go to the post race press conference around 18:00
  • Process and upload photos until you fall asleep at the keyboard

And you know what… I love it! Some of the photos I’ve been able to take, some of the moments I’ve witnessed, well they all add up to being amazing and well worth the time and effort. A few photos might help show that. And these are only from this year… perhaps I’ll try to put together a highlights reel when I have more time.

Montreal GPC

And then it was over! Saturday was both a transfer day (a bus to Montreal) and a set of criterium races in the late afternoon. The transfer used to be by train and that was definitely nice. Which makes me think perhaps I’ve flown to this event three times… they’ve used the bus for two years now. In any case, Saturday is a time to reflect and relax for everyone. The riders get to prepare for Sunday’s race, the organizers move all of their services to the new location and we press get to complete whatever didn’t get done the night before.

As for the crit action, you can see a few photos on PedalMag.com. It was fairly low key.

It was an opportunity to hook up with some friends for great company and beer afterwards though! And that eventually led to meeting up on the side of the big climb during the race and passing on a VIP pass I had. It was put to good use 🙂

VIP

A VIP smile

Then it was time for waking up and repeating the previous list of activities. Add in getting back to the airport in Montreal in time for a 20:00 flight to Toronto followed by a cab ride home. It’s now Thursday as I write this and I can say that I’ve mostly recovered.

One other personal highlight for me was meeting a couple from Wales (Karl & Karen), He’s keen on photography (Nikon is his camera… I’ll forgive him for that), passionate about cycling (Sky is his team) and recently retired from the police force there. A few similarities and a few differences. And lots of great chats over the weekend as we bumped into each other. I hope we will meet again at some event in a similar unexpected way 🙂

Happy retirement sir!

Karl

Ted, aka Karl

All in all, it was another great weekend of racing and I tip my hat to the organizers. They are amazing!

 

 

Sep 14 2016

A Month of Travel

It’s been over a month since my last post. I could say I’ve been too busy to write. That would only be partly true though. I could say I haven’t done much in the weeks since that post. That would be totally false. Since I sat in Carol’s Hungry Mind Cafe on August 10th to write about MSA I’ve been:

  • Out Camping: 20 days
  • At Home: 9
  • In Hotels: 4
  • a bus pilot for about 3,355 miles

I’ve been back to Vermont with Andrea for the Vermont Overland bike race, spent a few days camping in upstate New York after shooting Windham, helped create a folk festival site and then enjoyed the music for a weekend, flew to Quebec City, caught a bus to Montreal and flew back after shooting two World Tour bike races, and started a performance upgrade on Babe’s 1.9 turbo diesel engine.

So let me expand on a few of those and inject a few highlights that I didn’t include in that list. In no particular order…

On Being Found by Sero

John and Tracy and their #SearchingForSero project featured in my last blog post. I mentioned the ride/photo shoot and hinted at something to come a week or so later. Well the photos were for a feature they decided to do on me and my way of getting a serotonin high from life. They published the feature on August 16th and if you haven’t seen or read it (I posted a link to FB but know that not everyone who follows my blog is active there) here’s a link:

Peter Kraiker | Mountain Bike | Mont Sainte-Anne QC

I was very honoured that they found my story interesting and I think they did a great job with the telling. And of course John’s photos are amazing! Most people who know me know I generally prefer to be on the other side of a camera. That most of the shots were candid or action made it easier. Posing for the one shot… not so much ;). Here are a few photos I took from that photo shoot (couldn’t help myself!).

FoundSero

#FoundSero

Berkshires, Catskills, Upstate NY and Home

While Tracy & John were busy continuing their travels and writing up that feature I was making my way to the Catskills via the Berkshires and then up to the Finger Lakes.

I’ve never camped in Massachusetts before. Or gone mountain biking there. Now I can say I have after a stop in Pittsfield to talk to some locals at a bike shop and get a trail map of nearby biking. The nearby state forest had a great network as well as a decent campground.

Then it was on to Windham in the Catskills. I’ve been there a few times before and was prepared for a weekend of parking lot camping. I wasn’t prepared for all the rain though! From Windham I made my way across and slowly up through NY. I’d had enough photography from the races so I didn’t take a lot along the way. But It was back roads and small towns. I was near Endicott so I had a look for the IBM location there. What I found was a huge campus in the process of being demolished. Not the company it used to be! From there I headed up to Ithaca. Andrea and I had stopped in there a few years ago when we were at Joel’s Westies at Watkins event. It’s the home of Moosewood Restaurant amongst many other things. Unfortunately it was closed when we were there. What I found in Ithaca wasn’t food though… turns out there’s a guitar shop next to Moosewood. And they happened to have quite a selection of ukuleles including 3 or 4 bass ukes. Well now they have one less 🙂

A couple days of chilling at Watkins, exploring the town and the bike paths in the area and then it was a day of driving back home.

Back to Vermont

A few days at home included taking Babe to Performance Diesel to get a new injector pump and an electronic variable wastegate for the turbo. I had arranged this with Giles in advance and unfortunately we had a little mix-up with dates so not all of the work was done before I need to pick Babe up to head back to Vermont for Andrea’s race. They did get the new pump in and were planning to do the rest the next day. Well that next day is today to tomorrow, Babe is back to get the rest done. It meant we were a little smokey as we drove to Vermont and back though. The tuned pump delivers more fuel to the engine but without the turbo modification it can’t all get burnt. It will be nice to have that done for the next trip.

new pump

New injector pump

The trip to Vermont included a visit with Joan and Guy. Andrea doesn’t get to see them as often as I do so it was a treat to be able to spend an evening together. They were getting ready to head out for a camping trip of their own and it was just good luck that our schedules worked for the one night. Then Andrea and I made our way down to the campground Andrea had booked for us. The trip was via the Red Hen bakery as well as King Arthur Flour to stock up on great breads and baking supplies.

The Overland race was on Sunday and normally we would have stayed the night but I had a commitment to get to Shelter Valley with Steff and Saba on Monday so we headed out out right after the race. The morning started out very foggy but that burned off as soon as the sun hit the valleys. There were over 600 racers at the event and it’s a tough race which is organized by the same folks as the Rasuptitsa.

Well! All of that and then some happened.

Saving the rest for another entry

And I’ve run out of time so I’ll save the rest for later! Shelter Valley deserves it’s own telling… it was an amazing experience all on its own so stay tuned. And there are evolving tales about Babe’s tune up. Yet another tale to tell.

 

 

Aug 10 2016

A busy week @ MSA

I’m now in relax mode after a very busy string of days. From getting ready to be on the road to getting on the road and then covering all the action at Mont-Sainte-Anne (MSA), it’s been quite a week. But now I’m less than 200 miles from my next destination (Windham) with more than a day and a half to get there.

Which means I have time to sit here and write a little. Oh… “here” is this little coffee shop in Middlebury Vermont that Andrea and I have been to before.

Carols Cafe

Carol’s Hungry Mind Cafe

Meeting #SearchingForSero

I arrived at MSA mid afternoon on Wednesday after a smooth trip through Ontario and Quebec. As I was looking around the media parking area (which was quite full) I saw a Vanagon Westy with quite a load of toys on it. Including four surfboards up on the roof. Not a common sight in Quebec. It was parked, didn’t see anyone there so I went about my business and found my “VR” camping spot that had been arranged with the ever-helpful Marie-Michelle (media relations for the organizer). It was still relatively early in the week so there was lots of room for camping. Friends on Facebook would have seen the photo of a solitary Westy in the parking lot along with a cluster of RVs. Here’s a different view…

MSA Camping

Getting to MSA early means a good camping spot

Keep that spot in mind… I’ll get back to it.

#FoundSero

So there I was in the VR camping when a young couple came up to chat and ask a few questions about camping there. Turns out it was the owner of the Westy with the surfboards (John) and his girlfriend Tracy. They were there as media to do a story on the MSA World Cup racing and were looking at camping options. A friend had offered them a spot on his property not far away and they had used that the night before. I told them about how I had arranged it and they decided to talk with Marie-Michelle too. A little while later they pulled up and parked next to me. Only then did I realize who I was talking to. I had come across the story of Searching For Sero via Frank Condelli on Facebook and immediately recognized the camper. Hard not to with the custom wrap…

#FoundSero

#FoundSero (photo credit: John Rathwell)

[This photo was taken later in the weekend after all the racing was done but I love it! Thanks for sharing it John.]

Take the time to visit their FB page and their website to read about their project. And be sure to go back in about a week… more on that later.

MTB Action

John, Tracy and I spent quite a bit of time over the weekend talking about a wide range of topics. John is an experienced photographer so we had lots in common however this was his first MTB WC event so I shared a little of what I’ve learned over the years of doing this. It helped me realized that I do actually know what I’m doing 😉 .

And Tracy is an imaginative and creative story teller. Reading through their website will certainly show you that. Both were great company throughout the weekend.

The next three days were full-on racing action with few breaks until Sunday evening. Here are a few shots to show a bit of the story. You can see more in the galleries on my website or the stories on PedalMag.com.

Remember that camping spot? If you check out the coverage on RedBull.tv you’ll see the two campers showed up a few times! Here’s a screen capture Andrea sent me. And I’m sure I show up a time or two as well 🙂

On Tv

On Redbull.TV

Onward!

As quickly as the weekend arrived it was suddenly all over. I was stiff and tired from the days of climbing up and down the mountain with a load of camera gear so when the three of us went out for a ride/photo shoot Monday morning it took a while for my legs to get with it. They did though and we ended up having a fun finale to our weekend. And then it was time to pack up and go our separate ways. I’m sure I’ll follow their adventures and who knows… our paths may cross again.

Goodbye

Waving goodbye

My destination was Underhill Vermont for a visit with Guy and Joan. They are generous hosts as well as good friends. One of these days Andrea will make it back for a visit too. One night with them, then on the road to make my way toward Windham for the next weekend of racing. I have time to explore so I’ve kept the driving to short stretches and used the rest of the time for other adventures. Including sitting here in Carol’s for a few hours writing this!

Last night was Crown Point campground (across the bridge in New York), tonight I don’t have set destination yet but will keep heading south. Perhaps I’ll camp in Massachusetts just for fun. Who knows! In any case… it’s time for me to wrap this up and get going.

Aug 02 2016

First overnight in Babe 3.0

It’s finally real… I’m sitting in a campground as I write this. Camping. Using my Westy for its intended purpose. First night for this year.

Over the course of the past week since Babe has left the spa behind she’s been tested out on short trips, longer drives and even had battery and solar setup evaluated.She’s had an alignment done and an appraisal too. It will be interesting to read that.

I’m finding lots of things I like… little improvements that come as the result of upgrades. Like the fridge! The Victron solar controller with Bluetooth access is great and I’m finding that very informative based on the limited testing so far. I expect having more data over the next few weeks will make it even more informative. I’m interested in seeing how the solar panels I brought along work. I will have to write a separate entry on that topic… I have 3 panels with me and I will be testing them out in all kinds of conditions.

Bluetooth

Victron Controller

And there are things that will need to be sorted out. That’s to be expected though! I will have to make a note of when the doors, with their new seals, stop needing to be slammed. I feel like I’m being hard on this lady! Learning about the new Babe was expected and I’m looking forward to testing out all the subtle details that have changed.

Meanwhile…

Babe’s adventures since getting back on the road have included:

A fond farewell

Ready

Ready!

A first song.

Matadora

Danny Michel – Matadora

A visit with Kayla & mom!

Midland

First trip to Midland

Lending a hand at Shelter Valley

Solar

Solar powered main stage!

And finally… on the road!

Quebec

Hello Quebec!

And since this is Quebec… le Camping!

le Camping

First campsite for 2016

Cheers

Cheers!

 

And with that… I’ll call it a night! Babe is back 🙂

Jul 22 2016

Westfalia Restoration – DONE

I know there will always be some little detail that needs to get looked after. That’s what warranty periods are all about. Babe has had her test drive and is declared fit.

I will pick her up tomorrow… very excited!

So… There will be a follow up blog entry on how it feels to travel in the 3.0 version of Babe, Once I have her back and get all of her camping gear on-board there’s a big trip ahead, Tonight is “just” final prep… Babe is parked outside for the night and probably as eager for a work trip as I am! Hopefully that will be a story you get to read here soon.

IMG_9384

Final touches… solar panel + oil chance

Final touches

Final touches

Escape

In the wild

Body by Crome

All of the body work is by his hands!

 

Jul 20 2016

Westfalia Restoration – today in one photo

Only one photo in today’s post… and very few words.

The background hints at how long the day has been. The caption is what Volker shared with the photo.

Almost finished

Almost finished

Jul 19 2016

Westfalia Restoration – reassembly part 4

I went to Volker’s Body By Crome shop yesterday to help get the top cabinet in the back up and do a few little things that I wanted to accomplish. And he’s still working hard to get the reassembly done this week. I’m confident he will.

While I hadn’t intended to write another blog post there are some photos he passed along from the past two days that I was thrilled to see so I’ll go ahead and share them. A few have made their way onto Facebook but in general I prefer to keep the real gallery here.

Truck Fridge

Early into this I planned to replace the original Domentic fridge with an updated Truck fridge. The Domentic was still working. It even made ice cubes in the little tray that another vanagonaut gave me. I wrote about that ice cube tray years back and I still smile when I think about it. And Dake… the fridge has been replaced but I still have the ice cube tray!

I sorted out the details of getting the fridge plus getting the cabinetry, hardware & fittings via Karl at Westy Ventures before a trip to Vermont for the Rasputitsa bike race that Andrea & Kate were doing back in April. I had all of it shipped to our friends Guy & Joan’s place to bring back and avoid paying all the duty. That worked out well and Babe now gets the new fittings and we’ll get to enjoy the new gear!

I said the fridge worked and it still does. I’m sure it will continue to work for years if someone needs to replace theirs and wants to keep it original. They are only capable of cooling things so much though and we’ve found that camping in places like Moab and Fruita exceed those limits. That was a big part of the motivation.

Added bonus: many people use the door from the old fridge to create a new cabinet door to the bigger back storage area and Volker took care of that. Win Win.

Unused Space

The Westfalia company did a great job of maximizing space utilization. So I’m surprised to come across unused or under used spaces. The gap between the water tank and the small lower cabinet is one. That’s kind of understandable. The one above the back cabinet took me by surprise though. Volker opened that up for me and we’ll see if it’s actually a useful space.

Power Power Everywhere

I’ve mentioned that adding in the Truck fridge also got me to look at and upgrade the house power setup. Earlier posts have included photos of the dual AGM batteries, GoWesty isolator kit and the new solar port outside. Of course the fridge will take advantage of this and so will all the other gadgets Andrea and I travel with.

First up are three new 12V ports. These are in addition to the two in the dash of which one is powered from the house batteries. One new port got added down where the 120V outlets are. The other two are up where I’ve seen other people install them and I like the effect. Volker did a great job putting those two in so they don’t obstruct the vent and there are no dangling wires.

Then there’s the inverter (a 1000W Pure Sine) and the solar power controller. I’ve read about the Victron MPPT 100/15 in a number of places and everything I’ve read has been positive. In addition there’s the bluetooth dongle that Abel installed and I was sold on the idea when I read his review. Abel uses a well designed 100W Renogy folding kit for his solar panels. I bought one but later worked out a deal for some very compact 75W panels that use fabric frames rather than aluminum. The price per watt is higher but I fell in love with the size and portability of the new panels. So with 100 Ah storage and 150W solar input I think I’m good to go!

So Close!

Things are going very well as Volker does the finishing steps of reassembly. His last major task is putting the doors back together. Not a trivial last step, that’s for sure. It looks like I may have made a mistake though… I’ll have to figure out how to sort that out.

You see Babe had some purple highlights. I never got a good explanation from the previous owner of how that came about but I gather it was his wife’s touch. I didn’t ask Andrea about those pieces and gave Volker a green light to paint them to match the rest of the trim. Personal touches…

The birthday present Fiamma rack Andrea gave Babe is back on after a very brief and perhaps similar conversation. It’s part of her character so forget all that practical stuff. It’s how it should be. Babe has a trailer hitch now so there are other ways to carry bikes. But that rack… well it was gifted to this camper and has special significance. So it’s back on with some protection added over the paint. And that will be one of the many fingerprints of Andrea.

As for the purple bits… if Andrea wants them back I’m sure Babe would agree! Or orange accents? 😉

People

If you look back through this blog entry you’ll see a lot of people getting mentioned. While Volker is the main protagonist in this tale it couldn’t have happened without the help of a lot of people. I’ve added to the list with this entry because I think the community aspect is important. People from around the world have contributed to aspects of the design. Parts have come from close to a dozen sources. Encouragement… well that’s come from everywhere!

Can I say thanks enough? People who’ve been following this blog know I appreciate all the support and help. For anyone thinking of taking on a labour of love like this… let me tell you…

If your partner is the least bit hesitant. If the person doing the work doesn’t show you the utmost confidence. If you have any doubts. Don’t do it! It’s a big commitment from all involved.

But… if you see smiles?

Bright idea

Bright idea

Jul 17 2016

Westfalia Restoration – reassembly part 3

I’ve gotten the reassembly effort up to this past Friday, now let me get it up to today.

Volker had given me the heads up that there were a number of things he needed extra hands for and one in particular that needed at least two extra people. So I reached out to my VW buddy John to see if he was available. At first I had thought it would be next weekend and John wasn’t available but before I could even ask around to find someone else Volker let me know it would be Friday the 15th. I guess John was just meant to be Babe’s pop-top guy because he was available and so we made plans to meet there. I had a few parts to bring along like the glove box and the water tank that I’d been either storing or cleaning. I also intended to clean the flocking on the inside of the pop-top and hoped to get there early enough to have it done before John arrived. He also had to leave around lunch time to get back to Toronto before one so I didn’t want to be the cause of any delay.

That didn’t quite work out as planned but we did get the top up and John left about on schedule.Those photos you’ve already seen. I’ll add this pair of pics that Volker took the two times John came to help though.

Installing the Slider and Hatch

After we got the top on Volker went about preparing a few other things and I set about cleaning cabinets. When he was ready we set about carefully reattaching these two big doors. First up was the slider.

As seen in the earlier post the door had been reassembled.The hardware had also been prepared and the channels greased.  There aren’t pictures of it being back in place because our hands were full. Here’s what I do have though.

Then came the back hatch. While the door could rest on a support the hatch had to be held up so the top hinges could be reattached. My neck was less than thrilled with the job but it all worked out well. Again there was a little fiddling to get the adjustment and position right for it. All of a sudden she was looking a lot better though.

slide in place

Back hatch and slider back in place

The Magic of Windows

Then it was time to put all of the glass back in. I’ve never done this. Haven’t even seen it done.I had bought a complete set of new seals and all of them were ready to be used.

Volker warned me that it’s hard to do and very important to do it right so we’d take the time to make sure they were all done correctly. In total there were 6 windows to put in place and we started with the front. Seems I have a magic touch…

In between set and go there was a lot of finesse provided by Volker and a little muscle provided by me. It went it easier than expected though. From there we went on to the back hatch, then the two rear side windows and finally the middle windows with the aluminum frames. They were definitely the hardest to get in as they are a tight fit but they all went in on the first try. If I thought putting the slider and hatch on made a big difference, having all of the windows back in is huge! Oh… and some very special stickers are still in place so she has kept part of her old character. The big rear window sticker from the 2010 MTB World Championships in particular. but also a number of others. Here’s a gallery of windows.

I worked to get the windows clean after that while Volker went on to the next assembly steps. We both called it a day around 6pm. Volker got up Saturday to do some work on her though…

Curtains and Cabinets

From the outside Babe is getting close to done. Still a few things like fuel filler, mud flaps and the like but not much more. Most of the rest of the work in inside. Putting all those wonderful Westfalia parts back in and turning her into a camper. Volker started by putting in the curtain tracks. Before I left I took two of the straps which had broken snaps that I will repair tonight.

Then he moved on to the cabinets. They all had to come out is a certain sequence and they also had to get put back in the same reversed order. One part of the cabinets will be empty for a day extra though. The old Dometic fridge is being replaced by a Truck Fridge. I’m told I’ll love it and I’m confident I will. It’s one of the reasons for the house battery & solar power upgrade. While the old Dometic could be run on propane, 12V & 120V the truck fridge is only 12V.

So… this finally gets me caught up with Volker! Until tomorrow when the rest of the cabinets go in followed by the fridge.Then there are doors to put back together and attach plus putting her new shoes on. Not much more to go.

It won’t be long before she’s ready for a test drive.

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