Preparations Have Officially Begun

Some friends already know that Andrea and I are planning an extended trip later this year. I’ve hinted about — perhaps even mentioned — this is a public forum or two as well. And asked some questions, looked about for ideas, put pins in a map, asked favours of friends to help get some things started and have made a list or two. Place to go, people to see, and stuff that has to happen before we get on the road. Let the preparations begin!

Today was a day of putting check-marks beside a few items on one list.

Manantler’s APA

Let me start at the end: I blame Volker for my enjoyment of Manantler beer… he is just past them so depending on timing I usually stop in on my way to his Body By Crome workshop or on the way home. Today was on the way home so I didn’t get to bring him one. Oh so tasty! As always (Volker, I’ll try to do better next time 😉 ).

Going back in time, I reached out to him to see how his weekends looked. I’m on a contract so during the week was problematic for me. Fortunately he was happy to find a few hours for us to sort out a short list of mods.

I had a list of about 6 things to try to get through, a plan of keeping it to 4 hours and I’m delighted with what we were able to accomplish.

The List

  • Install roof racks
  • Install back-up camera
  • remove and re-do snaps for the netting in the back hatch
  • A general look-about for anything that might need attention
  • a couple of parts for the pressurized expansion tank (that I replaced last year)
  • Possibly installing a T3 sway-bar and perhaps replacing the canvas

The last two were a stretch and I knew when I put them on the list that they were unlikely to happen. All the rest did though. And of course there were some unexpected twists and turns. There always are with this beasts.

Roof Racks

Volker tells me he has always used Yakima racks when he’s installed them. I got a set of Thule through my friend Jouko. So a little learning, an opportunity to compare the two products and a successful outcome. The spacing we went with on Babe is identical to Andrea’s Jetta so the cargo box can fit on either without adjustment. The surprise twist in this install came from the trim used to hold the canvas to the pop-top. In early Vanagons it’s a strip of wood that the canvas gets stapled to. Seems the previous owner used different sized strips from one side to the other. As the Thule has a solid backing plate this meant opening up the holes on one side so the plate could mount a little lower. A minor wrinkle 😉

When we did the original restoration struts were included in the upgrade list. It’s possible we may switch to heavy duty ones, time will tell. For now it’s great!

Thule roof racks installed

Back-up Camera

We had talked about this two years ago and I opted not to do anything at the time. I hadn’t spent enough time looking at what was available to know what I wanted. In the time between I have and found a combination I liked.

Garmin has a series of dash GPS devices that have built-in dash cams as well as having GPS capabilities that connect to your mobile device (for traffic info, hands-free calling and more). A couple of their devices also pair with wireless back-up cameras. This is what I landed one.

The GPS has been in use for about a year and the back-up camera has been in a cupboard for almost that long. I simply didn’t trust myself to install & wire it right. I think that was a good call… even with Volker doing it we encountered a couple of surprises. Old wires and old connectors… they don’t seem to like being fussed with. In the end it worked out great though. Another item off the list.

Garmin backup camera

Backup camera


The last main item we took care of was the row of snaps that hold the bug netting in place in the back hatch. This was take #3 as the first attempt didn’t hold (the rivets pulled out with the force of the snaps). Take 2 was using bigger / heavier grade rivets. They didn’t seat low enough though and as a result the snaps wouldn’t close. Take 3 was some experimenting with options and ended up being some deeper male fasteners that the rivets could sit in. That wasn’t enough though, the heads were still too big. A little grinding to reduce the size and poof! Problem solved. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of this, you’ll just have to believe me.

Solar Sampling

I also spent a little time taking a solar panel apart… more on that when I have some useful info to share! This is a 3-panel unit I’m taking apart to see what I can do with the individual panels. Wish I could find out more about the circuit board.

Solar panel

2 Replies to “Preparations Have Officially Begun”

  1. Your roof is soooo white!

    1. It’s funny… when we were installing the roof rack Volker mentioned I should give it a good cleaning and waxing 🙂

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