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Welcome to Veedubbing

Mike's Yellow and Grey Lowered Bay Window

After years seeing Matt Wheldons brother cruise around in his dumped pre 66 beetle visiting endless car shows, reading tonnes of custom car magazines and many trips to Newquay, I realised there must be a better time had in a veedub van than getting very drunk and sleeping in a stinking tent!

It was time to get a VW!

I bought the bus from a guy in Dawlish in 1996, the previous owner seemed very weird; well he thought a good selling point was to say "it helps me save petrol when I go to college as I just drive the van over to Exmouth on Monday, sleep in the van all week, I've not been late for a tutorial yet!" (Pikey!)

It was advertised in Autotrader for £900 I took it out for a test drive this was my first experience of a Vw. The van was bright vomit green! It was disgusting, we checked the bus over out o politeness, despite the paint it didn't seem very rusty the 1600 engine was oily, brakes were rubbish and it made a funny noise when turning.

The guy said 'don't drive it far as it doesn't have much petrol' (you could tell that this was just to stop us driving far and finding more faults!) but I loved the idea of hovering along the road 2 ft in the air.

We had decided he was tight for cash and would take any money for the bus given its bad condition. We tried to offer him £450 but he said his brother had done a lot of welding on it, he said £600 so I said £500…we settled at £550! We thought we'd let him feed his kids for the week!

We decided to buy the bus as the bodywork was good and the engine needed some work, bargain (I thought)!!!

My Dad collected it that weekend because I was working and it actually drove all the way home and he thought it was the best thing ever, if a little slow.

Immediately the dirty 70's interior was removed and huge amounts of Dettol and bleach were used to disinfect it. It started to look better already, ("better" I didn't say it looked good).

The brakes needed to be overhauled, the steering was pulling to one side. The disc brakes on the front had seized callipers, so whilst the brakes were off we decide to put in new wheel bearings all round. Also on the back we had new backing plates, cylinders, bearings, shoes and drums - not a cheap start, but if a jobs worth doing! All the rust was stripped from underneath the arches and coated with black rust proofing.

I bought all the bits to service the engine too. After changing the oil I started the engine…a massive thump, thump, thump noise was heard. We realised at the time it was serious but didn't realise how serious. After reading Volksworld's diagnosis, we decided it was the flywheel oil end seal (obviously not knowing a lot about engines then! And not noticing the four-inch end float).

We spoke to a friend who said they could drop the engine out and fix it all in a day Bull spit! Spent half a day dropping the engine out and then decided that it was more than they can cope with and shipped it off to Volksburg Motors in Torquay for a rebuild, They guy there then told us the whole engine was knackered 'I might as well put it in the bin'. And buy a new engine from us at £1500.
So we took it to the tip (bloody idiots!), tin ware, heads, carburettor everything, we didn't even save the spark plugs!
Then we decided we couldn't afford the new engine because we wanted to customise and lower the van!

The van was pushed on the back of a friend's trailer and taken to Dial-a-mig (who should be called dial-a-mug)! They said they could fill in the rear engine hatch take off the doors handles flatten the front end, making it completely smooth and fit a type 4 Porsche 914 engine. It all seemed too good to be true…. and it was!

It turned out to be the poorest welding ever seen and they bent my bus to pieces. They welded the new front panel on too high so the windscreen would no longer fit in place.
I trusted them to the point of ordering £250 of Fiat Brava lights which they assured they could fit at the rear - I had decided my bus was to be very different and original. It was a custom car thing. Anyway they don't fit and look kack, they are still in my shed should anyone need them!

Then they obviously got bored or realised they were shit and left it with no windscreen, bare metal and no door handles, outside in the rain! The only thing they did get right was the height but they cocked that up too.
To lower the rear suspension need the torsion bar turning not just shorter shocks they set it to bounce up and down over the smallest cat's eye. But the front was cut and turned the old fashioned way even though I had spent £200 on Bus boys adjuster's dicks.
I wanted my bus to be lower than my mates split screen that he had just bought but it wasn't they had forgotten to cut of the bump stops.

A mate had heard we had a camper and said he knew of so well old Porsche wheels "that look naff" the next day he pop around with a set of Porsche Fuchs!!!!!!!!! Of course I bought them there and then. I had them all refurbished, but whilst they were with my van (at Dial-a-mug) the centre caps were stolen, along with my standard bus wheels. To fit the wheels a phone call to machine 7 soon had the adaptors for Late Bay to Porsche 5 stud on their way.

Time to get the suspension sorted properly! Adjusters from Karmann Konnection, Spax and Koni custom shocks, all top stuff and cost a mint but wasted on the green wonky skip.

After arguing with the guys at dial-a-mug about the bill and the quality of the work they'd done (scary bunch of people, but their business went bust shortly after that, HA!)

Finally we had our van back, with wallet £1000 lighter, a type 4 engine and one sorry looking camper, it was time for plan B!

A friend's boyfriend was a welder and was able to cut out and repair the shit job that they had done on my pride and joy. After spending 3 days trapped with the van he said he could do no more. It was towed home and on the way we found that the wheel bearings had become loose (a year and half after fixing) and I almost wrote off the van!!!

Next was 'The Pitstop' in Denbury, also turned out to be another cowboy. Everyone thinks that they can repair Vw's 'as they're simple cars' but it turns out most don't know a thing.
He said he could repair all the damage that dial-a-mig had done and turn it back to a healthy bus; it sounded good enough for me.

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