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Adventures in a Vintage VW Camper ?>

Adventures in a Vintage VW Camper

77WestyGlobespotter  is hitting the road and wants you to come along!

My 1977 Vintage VW Westy is ready for adventure and the first trip is scheduled for the May 24 Weekend.

This blog will be a visual and written diary of old-fashioned road tripping and adventure as I explore North America, hippie-style.

Be sure to check back for updates.

– Doug

 

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First Camping Trip! ?>

First Camping Trip!

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This weekend, I took the Westy for the first camping trip to Stony Brook State Park, in Dansville, NY, south east of Buffalo.

I wanted to go somewhere that was not too far for the first outing, but somewhere that I could run highway, hills and find a nice spot to camp, and a place that I had not been to before.

Because it was the long weekend in Canada (Victoria Day), I decided to cross the border into the U.S. as the campgrounds in Canada can be a little crazy on the May 24 weekend!

Stony Brook State Park is on the edge of the beautiful Finger Lakes, and has some of the incredible geological formations that are common to the area, similar to the gorge at Watkins Glen or at Letchworth State Park close by.

SpeedoI left about 20 minutes behind schedule, and headed for the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie – my current favorite border crossing. The bus cruised nicely on the highway – no problem keeping up with traffic, and the new Hankook tires keeping the ride smooth.

Arriving at the border around 3pm, the lineups at all the Customs booths were long – looked like about an hour wait. Lucky for me I have my NEXUS card, so I breezed by all the cars in the left NEXUS Only lane which was completely empty.

2o seconds later, I was on my way. NEXUS is well worth it.

I took I-90 west towards Erie, then headed on some Blue Highways across the beautiful upstate New York countryside – rolling hills, farmland and fresh (sometimes bovine) air.

Highway 20A through Warsaw has some pretty good grades, both up and down, so it was a good test for the bus which managed fine.

I saw a sign for Fresh Brown Farm Eggs so stopped to pick up something for breakfasts. There was a young Mennonite woman tending to her garden, but she did not come over to the farmhouse when I pulled in the driveway. There was a sign saying ‘Customers Please Use Front Door’, and a young goat tied up with a long rope that reached easily to the front path.

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I said “Hi” to the goat and patted its head – it was really only looking for company or maybe thought I had food. On the front porch was a small bar fridge with a jar of money on top, along with a sign saying $2 a dozen for the eggs. I took a dozen and left my $2 in the jar, and headed back on the road.

The State Park is pretty nice, albeit that the campsites are fairly close to one another and not really private. I had a nice spot right on the river, which I looked over before heading in to town to buy some firewood.

It did not take long top set up camp. Thankfully I had done a dry run of setting up the E-Z Awning at home, so it was a breeze!

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You will note my spare gas can on the roof rack, in case I ran out as the gas gauge is a little wonky:

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All set up, with my Coffee, Tea and incense burner!

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Of course the first time I sat down to relax on my vintage 1970’s chair, I leaned back and heard a snap and the back fell backwards! The plastic on the arm was brittle and broke.IMG_1642

Naturally, I had only brought one chair, but I did have my tool kit, so a little McGyvering later with a zip tie, and the chair was stronger than ever.

Vintage stuff is cool, but it is old, so you sometimes have to accept that things will break.

Because it is a 77 Westy, I tried to go vintage for most things – Coleman Stove, Oil Lamp, Coffee Maker etc.

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The exception was my music, which was courtesy of my iPod and a Bluetooth Sony Speaker Cube. Even that could be a vintage illusion though, when the speaker was hidden behind my vintage clock radio and playing vintage 70’s KMET from Los Angeles!

Dinner that night was canned Shepherd’s Pie. Yes, it tasted about as bland as it sounds. But it was fast and easy and nourishment at least.

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The campsite was dry – ie: no electric or water hookup, but there was a tap nearby, and I had brought my fresh water. I also was set up so I could use the Coleman inside if needed, to brew coffee at night.

That was handy, although I usually cook outside.

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I settled in after a nice campfire – sleeping on the bottom bunk. The bus was at a slight angle, so I ended up turning around with my head to the back of the bus, but I found the bottom bed not completely flat, so not as comfortable as I would have liked. It was also short for my 6’1″, so my feet ending up dangling.

Thankfully I had bought and brought my Mr. Heater Buddy, which I ran for about 10 minutes prior to bed to warm up the bus, as it was pretty cool at night.

I made sure to open a window while I ran it, and checked the CO detector, but it runs pretty clean. I shut it off and crawled into my sleeping bag. I woke up a couple of times in the night – mostly because of the cold and the bed.

I ran the heater again to warm things up – it is really awesome!

The next day, I decided to hike the gorge…

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BlazeCut Fire Suppression ?>

BlazeCut Fire Suppression

If you are at all familiar with vintage VW buses, you know that they sometimes have the tendency to catch on fire.

I have taken the precautions of installing new fuel lines, hoses etc, but still wanted some peace of mind, so ordered and installed the BlazeCut Fire Suppression system today.

It’s pretty easy and cool – just a tube that is zip-tied to the top of the engine compartment, and it activates in a fire by melting the tube and releasing the fire suppression stuff.

Got it just in time for my first camping trip this weekend!

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Anyone wanting to buy one – you can get them here: http://jogrusa.com/products/blazecut-fire-suppression-system

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Sliding Door Curtain & Safety ?>

Sliding Door Curtain & Safety

For some reason when the Bus was refurbished the previous owners did not reinstall the sliding door curtain.

I purchased a length of aluminum strip to install as a curtain rod, since it needs to be bent to follow the curve of the door mechanism.

Screwed on, and installed the curtain!

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Also installed two important safety items – a CO detector and a Smoke Detector.

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City Water Connection ?>

City Water Connection

Replacement City Water Connection arrived yesterday from GoWesty!

The old one was brittle, and when I went to test it, it snapped in half.

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Took out the old broken one:

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Installed the new one:

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Still have to test it.

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Getting ready… ?>

Getting ready…

Coleman

Tested the Coleman Stove, and got a rack shelf for it, so I can use it in the Bus if needed.

Also, built a console box to fit in between the seats to securely hold my water cooler and a spot for drinks. Still need to make the top cover/tray.

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Driving around town ?>

Driving around town

Took the bus out for a drive around town. Making sure I give it a few shakedown drives locally before I take it camping!

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Spring Drive ?>

Spring Drive

Took the Westy out for a Spring Drive and a few photos:

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My latest purchase! ?>

My latest purchase!

78WestySome of you know how nuts I am about vintage Volkswagen’s. My very first car was a 1971 red VW Super Beetle.

Back in May 2012, my daughter Sara and I flew to Sacramento, CA to buy a green 1971 VW Super Beetle and drive it back to our home in Ontario, Canada via Route 66. The story and a video about that adventure can be seen here.

At the time we had really wanted to buy a vintage VW bus, as I had one back in the mid 1980’s when I first got married and they are just cool.

The prices for VW buses were just crazy though, so we settled on the Bug. Ever since, I have still been thinking about getting a VW bus, and this year I finally got an awesome opportunity after searching and even looking at quite a few that were rusted badly.

I was ready to head back to California to get a solid one, but with both the prices on buses and the terrible exchange rate on the US $, it would have cost me from $18,000 to $20,000 to get one that probably still needed some work.

This beautiful 1977 VW Westfalia Camper Bus is what I found, and I am flying out to beautiful British Columbia next week to pick it up.

 

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