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'Let's Go! Scotland-Croatia and onwards in our Kombi!'
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mcdonaldneal
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:01 am    Post subject: 'Let's Go! Scotland-Croatia and onwards in our Kombi!' Reply with quote

I think we all know the result of this poll, but this might be the first post in a thread about a 3000 mile+ return trip in our 1978 Bay camper. If we do go, I hope it will have pics like our recent Karmann Ghia trip down to England, see here:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=599025&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

The two of us have three weeks off work. The ferry from Newcastle, England to Amsterdam is booked (for our car at this stage!) and we plan to drive through Europe to an apartment on the North coast of Croatia. With our cat.

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We've done the journey many times before.

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Usually takes two days fast driving from Amsterdam to Croatia in our Citroen car. Have taken the Kombi twice before, taking at least 5 days for the journey, but on the last trip, 4 years ago the Kombi misbehaved, ran rough, overheated, couple of garage visits, and overall a stressful trip.
Since then, with the Samba's help, I can find my way around the engine, take it through a full service and hopefully sort the manageable stuff...
Bus is a 2.0l Automatic, 70,000 miles, running pretty well at the moment, compression 130, 130, 130, 102 in no4, up to 120 with a squirt of oil (presume piston rings). It is in the garage having tyres, brake fluid and ATF changed. (I plead time poverty!)
Couple of short lists:
Pros:
Fun, life experience, using the kombi as nature intended, chance to camp and take our time going through beautiful areas of Europe.
Cons:
Risk of mechanical problems, lots of junk miles for the poor kombi, slow, not as comfortable as the car, no aircon, what to do with cat if we stop for breaks and have to leave her in a hot bus?? not the ideal vehicle for day trips in Croatia (could be 40deg+).

Anyway, just throwing this out there. More posts to follow with the planning details and decision points. Opinions welcome, but liable to be ignored! (Disclaimer: we might just decide to go in the car Confused )
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Last edited by mcdonaldneal on Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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mcdonaldneal
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the story behind the Kombi, cut from another post, and a couple of photos:

In the year 2000 we worked in Melbourne for a year and although we could both cycle to work in the city, we wanted a car to explore the state of Victoria. First we borrowed a magnificent 1950's Holden that stank of petrol and was probably an explosion hazard, but we caught sight of an advert for a 1978, merino yellow, VW camper (or 'kombi', as they are known there), for sale about an hour away. We really were lucky. Imported when new by a guy in his 70's, and then bought from his widow by the current owner who was so obsessed by it that he would change the oil depending on the weather forecast for a camping trip, and then took a tent so that they wouldn't have to sleep or cook inside it and spoil the interior! Immaculate, 40,000 miles and cost us the equivalent of 2,200! Visiting relatives were treated to many weekends away, including Shona's parents. Her dad Hector, full of tales of camping and caravanning around Europe in his beetles and campers in the '60's and '70's. We couldn't bear to leave it behind, so loaded it up with all of our stuff drove it onto a container, and shipped the kombi back to the UK for another 800! We were very tempted by a powder blue Karmann Ghia convertible for sale in the aircooled specialist we took her to for servicing, but shipping two cars back was out of the question!

The kombi was never meant to be a museum piece, and over the next 12 years Shona and I had many wonderful trips. All over Scotland, around Ireland, to the French and Italian Alps, to Slovenia and memorably to Croatia with Spit, our adventurous cat, as well as guest starring at friends' weddings. On the Croatian trip, travelling 1000 miles on three cylinders, thanks to an undiagnosed cracked high tension lead, overheating like mad and having to stop every hour or so to cool down. The terrifying low point was springing a fuel leak on the German autobahn, managing to fix it, and then running out of petrol 10 miles further up the road! All of which persuaded me that I needed to brush up on my mechanical know-how, and with John Muir's help, reached the stage where I could get through a full service and beyond, with only a little frustrated head-scratching.

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Previous trip, and cat! Waiting for the ferry at Newcastle.

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True love doesnt always run smoothly, rear wheel bearings gave out!

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Thrasher22
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:25 am    Post subject: Re: Unsure about Scotland-Croatia round trip in our kombi ca Reply with quote

I can't give you advice on taking the bus or not, but that's an awesome story, and this such a great picture Very Happy

mcdonaldneal wrote:

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How do you set up the cat box for road travel? Smile I'm scared to bring my cat into the bus, he would probably freak out and run out the door.
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mcdonaldneal
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JDub113 wrote:
How do you set up the cat box for road travel? Smile I'm scared to bring my cat into the bus, he would probably freak out and run out the door.


JDub113, I guess we're lucky. We use to have two cats, Spit and Polish and they travelled together in our car very unhappily, in a single cage until they got too big and had a cage each. Much yowling and growling.
Polish died Crying or Very sad but Spit was still not super happy in her cage. Then one winter, stuck in a jam during a snowstorm in a transit (panel) van, we let her out to feed and the traffic started moving, no time for the cage, and she just hopped up on Shona's knee, curled up and went to sleep. No cage from then on. No problem!
Our new cat is a similar temperament, so we just tried the same, from her first camping trip at less than three months old. She quite likes the dashboard, as you can see, but generally very happy.
(Disclaimer: results may vary from those described!)
Took her to Croatia in the car last summer aged four months, with no problems. Long may it continue!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is pretty cool. I think its key to start them early so they are used to it.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I say DO IT!!! Get the bus is the best shape it could be in a hope for the best. I just did a 3000+ mile trip in my bus from southwest Colorado to the Cali coast and back in 15 days. http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=598487&highlight=road+trippin+cali
We had a blast! Hopefully it wasn't a once in a lifetime trip but if it ends up being that I'm super stoked that we did it. Good luck!!!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since parts are hard to get for a type 4 in Europe I would get the engine reconditioned before the journey. Pushing all that weight with the history of overheats and high miles (plus one low cylinder!) is not wise. If you shell the case you are looking at a very expensive repair, now you just have an expensive repair. Cool kitty BTW.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"'you miss 100% of the shots you don't take' -Wayne Gretzky"
-Micheal Scott

do it, have an adventure
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IM just saying good luck, go for it, and that picture of the cat on the dash is awesome.
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mcdonaldneal
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the positive thoughts!
I'll fill you in on some of the preparation that's been done since last winter. Both carbs were looking filthy, with carbon and varnish visible and running quite unevenly, so I sent them away to a carb overhaul specialist. Got them back shiny and clean and things running a lot better. Got them synchronised and tuned and cold starting and mpg were as good as I've had them. Great. Replaced fuel lines and filter.
Also over the winter I had an auto electrician wire up the leisure battery to power the 12v socket, internal lights and a new DAB radio, so that free camping is free of the risk of draining the chassis battery. Previously the leisure battery was wired up so that it charged, but nothing was powered by it. Go figure?
This electrical work then revealed that the old 'leisure' battery (actu,ally, just a cheap car battery) was shot, so I bought a new, low height, proper battery to fit in the right of the engine compartment. Painted the tray with POR 15 and also replaced the interior lights with LED's (including a fantastic 3x LED overhead light. No worries now about having the lights on inside at any time!
Autospark also rejigged the gauges at the dash, so I now have matching volts/ oil press/ oil temp all in a line mid dash.
I also replaced the brake/ tail lights with 60 LED tower bulbs, which are much brighter than the standard bulbs, and visible from all sides. Not well seen in these pics!

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Yes, it's the right hand side that is the LeD!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Other jobs in the engine bay, installed a 'Blazecut' fire extinguisher tube. I didn't want to screw into the perforated 'ceiling' holding the sound deadening in place, so I mounted it using the firewall tin screws, with the two ends running forward past the batteries. It gives me reassurance, and I hope I never need it!
Also spent a couple of weeks removing and replacing the heater cables, story here:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7057917&highlight=#7057917
Unfortunately, although it worked reall well (good heat in the front for the first time in years), the cable routing at the front is a bit twisted and I've had to disconnect the right hand heater control cable. Not a problem now it's summer, but a nice job for a spare half day in the holidays, maybe! I kind of broke it when I was fixing the fan switch and realised that my two red heater control levers had always been connected the wrong way around (the fan came on when the defrost lever went all the way down, not the 'heat' lever) Should have just left it as it was!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lustig69 wrote:
"'you miss 100% of the shots you don't take' -Wayne Gretzky"
-Micheal Scott

do it, have an adventure

My favorite sports quote.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Side story about some engine jobs. I had been given the contact details of a well known vw engine builder, about an hour away from where we live. It's getting harder to find garages to do even the basics where we live, so I was excited to read some great reviews of work the engine guy had done. There wasn't a major problem with the engine, but he told me he was looking to retire, so we had a plan that he would do a visual inspection of the top end and replace what parts would help with overall longevity as we plan to keep the kombi at least another 14 years!
Sadly, when we went to drop off the kombi, we learned that his health hadn't been good and wasn't going to take on any more work, so it's a shame we'll miss out on his experienced eye.
There were stil a couple of things I wanted to get done, so having done the cycle of valves, compression test, plugs, points, timing, I was feeling a bit 'time poor' so I took the kombi to a mechanic in central Edinburgh that I have been going to for over 25 years. Not a vw specialist, but at least has a wealth of experience. I left a list (change brake fluid, service the Auto transmission).
Also, since the servicing I did, the engine was running at a superfast idle, 1400rpm a bit much even for the Auto. Idle screw nearly all the way in slowed it to 1000rpm, but then the mixture screw has NO effect. Running rich too, so we'll see if a fresh pair of eyes can spot the obvious mistake. (Suggestions welcome!)

Oh yes! Confession time...
The kombi has had the same Hankook, 'Mileage Plus', car tyre rated, mud+snow, 195 R14 whitewalls on since before we bought her. Over 14 years ago! Still plenty of tread on them too! Recently I had been trying to find light van rated, 185 R14 whitewalls (We've really got used to the way they match the bumpers and 'roo bars!) but unsurprisingly they don't seem to exist! Finally settled on Nokkian Hakkepellitas, a winter M+S tyre, which won't be great for our planned trip, but are ideal for a cold, wet, muddy camping field in Scotland! If they last half as long as the last set I'll be well satisfied!
Anyway, while jacking up the van to do the valves, I saw...

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Not easy to see, but a definite bulge! Glad I ordered the new tyres! I'm also taking the chance to get the wheels powder coated. I was going to go for white (I'll miss those whitewalls!) but we've settled on the stock silver colour. Probably easier to keep looking relatively clean!
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about the headlights, for right side of the road driving, to be polite to other drivers at night...
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

telford dorr wrote:
How about the headlights, for right side of the road driving, to be polite to other drivers at night...

Telford dorr, technically you're correct, it's a legal requirement to black out part of your headlights, or attach prismatic beam deflectors. In reality, have you seen the headlights on a 1978 Kombi, compared to the average modern lights???
Our usual strategy in the car, is to adjust the dipped beam so that it's as low as possible, high beam doesn't matter. In the Kombi, do nothing. Most of our driving is during daylight hours. Some European countries, Slovenia, Croatia used to mandate driving with dipped headlights during the day, with on the spot fines, but there seems to be a much more relaxed attitude to that now.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, just checking. I have Cibie H4's in my bus, and if I was driving in Scotland, I'd be concerned that I'd be seriously annoying the oncoming traffic...
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mcdonaldneal
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Other things we got the Autospark to do last autumn were to restore the fridge wiring so that it runs off 12v when we're on the move, could be handy on a long, hot journey.
Also we refitted the curtains we had had made with '70's material we had found, thread here:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7188317&highlight=#7188317

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Replaced some, and installed new poppers and magnets so that the curtains lie flush to the windows, and meet in the middle (the privacy will be a new experience!)
Finally got around to taking off the rear seat sheepskin to replace the half-baked elastic strapping system with nylon strapping and tension fasteners. Still need to get them sewn on to the sheepskin, but an upholsterer friend is hopefully going to be able to do that.

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I presume the seat material dates back to the original conversion, it's lasted well under the sheepskin, apart from getting squashed!
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We picked up the Kombi from the garage yesterday, lots of jobs done for the possible trip, new ATF and final drive oil, and new gaskets for both as they had been leaking. New brake fluid, oil and filter change. Mechanic had tried to get to the bottom of the rich running and had got the CO reading down to 5%. I guess a little rich is no great hardship for a long trip? Otherwise, now idling well, and still starting beautifully. Will take the carbs off and set from scratch sometime, but prob not before the trip.
Also had the new tyres, Nokkian Hakkepelitas fitted. Back to stock 185 R14 C rated tyres after 14 years of 195 R14 car tyres. What a difference! The low speed steering is much easier but still feel stable and solid at motorway speeds and through fast country road bends. They are a M+S tyre, so the tread is pretty chunky...

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Good excuse for a trip down to the beach near Tantallon Castle, opposite the Bass Rock, about 30min away from home...

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Sadly the powdercoat job that has been done on the wheels is not to my satisfaction, there is what seems to be blasting media stuck in the angle of the wheels (all of them!)

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I'm not happy, and the garage is going to ring the powdercoaters on Monday. I think they need to be redone, any thoughts from the Samba??
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, Gullane. Bet your village is wall to wall when the Open comes to Muirfield. Shocked Don't have much to add except I vote that you take the car and have a wonderful time. I just got back from a couple days in my Riviera and I had a very unenjoyable trip because of the bus. Take a tent and have a wonderful time, mine would have been so much better if I would.
And hey, I've always wanted to take a visit to Scotland. Don't know why as I usually go to the Far East, but Scotland intrigues me. Thinking about coming over this football season and catching Kris Boyd and a Rangers game. I'm a big Portland Timbers fan and they absolutely blew it 100 percent by not using that guy to his fullest. (the one thing I don't think I've forgiven the Timbers for yet!) He quickly became my favorite player and I'm now very happy he's found a good home back in Scotland with Rangers. I know it would probably not be the best weather wise time of year to come over during football season but I may be over. And I also heard Randy Carlson sold the Herbie he made to someone over there. May have to kill two birds with one stone.
Wish you all the luck on your vacation what ever you decide. I want one of those Scotland stickers on your back window
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