Friday, 31 May 2013

Fiona's interior makeover.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have recently, insulated the roof and fitted a ply headlining. (check out the blog archive menu on the left if you have missed these blog entries) After owning my bay for about 2 years, and having spent a few nights away in her and feeling extremely cold at night I decided I needed to get her fully insulated. So it seemed the right time to carry on and insulate the floor and sides before I put the newly upholstered westy interior back in.

This photo shows how poorly insulated my bay
was. On the cargo floor I just had the original
micro bus rubber mat, and above the engine
there was no insulation what-so-ever... no
wonder I was cold at night.!

You can in this photo that I have insulated the
sides of the bus and covered them in 3mm ply
to match the headlining. I have also placed a
sheet of ply over the rear side window which
goes behind the westy wardrobe. 

The next job on the list was to insulate the
bulkhead. I used the same insulation on
here that I used to insulate the roof before
the ply headlining went in.

On the floor I used some 6mm carpet underlay
that I had left over. It is made from numerous
re-cycled bits and provides insulation and
sound deadening properties.

This was laid all over the floor, over the engine
and anywhere else that was bare metal.

Once the bulkhead was fully insulated, this
was also covered in 3mm ply, and varnished
to match the roof and sides.

Once all the bare metal was insulated, the
next job was to lay some ply on the floor. I
put the front of the rock and roll bed in place
so I could measure the ply accurately.

Once the ply floor had been bolted down, the
next job was to lay the chequer vinyl flooring
I bought from madmatz. They sell various
styles of vinyl in sizes suitable for a bay window
floor area at a very reasonable price. I also
purchased a 1kg tub of adhesive for the grand
total of £53, and it was next day delivery.
Check out madmatz at:

What a difference the vinyl makes. Looks very
clean and smart inside now.

My good friend Zoe, from House of Dub:
re-upholstered my westy interior to match my
front seats. Although having a cloth seat with
black piping and vinyl sides was more
expensive than having all vinyl as the original
Westfalia's, I think it looks better. Personally
I find vinyl hot in summer and cold in winter.

The base of the rear seat, isn't  that a
perfect colour match? Well done to
Zoe for choosing the material.

Lovely black piping and vinyl sides with a
lovely green material finish.

Lovely finish underneath the base of the rear

Back section of the rear seat.

Rear seat / rock and roll bed fitted and working

Buddy seat in position, but I still have to bolt
it down at some point.

Rear cushion fitted and fits perfectly. My spare
wheel is under the front bench seat so Zoe had
to make the rear cushion fit even with the curved
side where the spare wheel normally is.

Table re-fitted and looking good. Cushions
compliement the seat colour.

New interior finished. What a difference the
upholstery makes. Before I had two pieces of
foam taped together and covered in a blanket
for the seat back and base, and although it
was really comfortable, this just looks so
much better.

Complete with deck chairs / cushions and
the curtains back up. Fiona's new interior is
complete. A massive thank you to Zoe for
the great job on the upholstery.

So Fiona's interior is now complete. From
start to finish it took me about 5 weeks,
although I could only really work on it on
weekends. This was from insulating the roof,
fitting the ply headlining and re-fitting the interior.
All that is left is to enjoy it, go to shows and
sleep over, hopefully in comfort and staying

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fitting my birch ply headlining

Continuing on from my March entry on insulating the roof, I'm now ready to start installing the birch ply headlining. I searched the Internet looking for company's that supplied the 'J' channel and the 3mm birch ply that I required and I was getting quotes of over £300. OK this was close to original as possible looking 'J' channel and the ply was pre cut and shaped, even so, at those prices I decided to look for an alternative solution.

After I had found a supplier of the birch ply
and a suitable 'J' runner substitute, the first
job was to remove the westy interior. This was
a pain, but because the wardrobe would have
been in the way, I figured it would make life
easier with nothing in the back at all. I might
even get around to laying some ply on the
floor, and cover in it vinyl while I have the
interior out.

My bus was originally a microbus, so over each
cab door and across the top of the sliding door
were these metal tabs, that held the fabric
headlining in place. These had to be removed
because by my calculations the new 'J' runners
would run right over these tabs.

They are only spot welded in every few inches
or so, so out came the small chisel and
a hammer.

A nice sharp chisel and a swift blow from
the hammer and the welds broke quite
easily. You can see in the above photo after
the tabs have been removed, it leaves a small
spot weld that will need to be ground off.

Once all the tabs were removed, out came the
trusty grinder to smooth off the remaining spot
welds until the whole surface was smooth.

Not sure why Volkswagen thought it was
necessary to put the spot welds closer together
over the sliding door. It just meant I had more
tabs to chisel off and more spot welds to grind


After a lot of research and talking to people,
in-the-know it seemed the original 'J' channel
did come up for sale now and again, but if it
did it would cost a small fortune. I had to find
an alternative product and after trawling the
pages of '' I read that someone
had used B&Q 10mm plasterboard trim, and
that the guy was very pleased with the result.
He even said that it looked almost original once
the ply was fitted. Not being a purist, I decided
to give this product a go. And to make it even
better it only cost about £4.50 for a 2.4m

It comes pre-drilled with 3mm holes every 2
inches, but the rivets I purchased required
5mm holes, so after clamping the trim to a
piece of baton on the workbench out came
the drill. You can see the 5mm hole on the
left. This trim came in 2.4metre lengths, so
there was a lot of holes to drill. (although I
only needed just over 2 lengths)

As I said, I'm not a purist and if something on
my bus isn't as Volkswagen had intended, then
too bad. As long as whatever it is works, then
I'm happy, even if it's not original spec. This

goes for the positioning of the 'J' channel.
I am somewhere close to the position of the
factory fitted channel, (at 6cm from the top of

the window rubbers), but as I will be cutting
the ply to fit my roof, it didn't really matter
that much. The only original measurement
I did have was that the channel ended 5cm
from the windscreen rubber. Handy clamps
made the positioning easy.

After I was happy with the positioning of the
'J' channel I used a 3mm drill to drill a pilot
hole then followed with a 5mm bit. The rivets
I bought were 4.8 x 12mm flange head
rivets from ScrewFix direct. They have a
lovely big head which I hope will provide plenty
of support for the channel. I put a rivet every
4 inches.

Cutting the 3mm Russian Birch Ply in my
spacious garage / workshop (!). I purchased
the ply from James Latham at about £8.50 per
5' x 5' sheet. You will need 3 sheets if you
have a tin top. Remember to measure, and
re-measure before cutting the ply, and make
sure the grain is going the correct way, (front
to back) or else you won't be able to bend it.

Once the ply was cut to size, the next job was
to put it in place into the 'J' channel. This really
is a two person job but as I didn't have anyone
to help I had to improvise, so I cut some baton
to the length required and placed some rags
around the top to protect the inner surface.
This held the ply in position so I could ensure
both sides sat in the 'J' channel correctly.
Once one side is in the channel, the other side
will need pushing up and into the channel, this
is quite difficult. I cut my ply to follow the
contour of the 2 centre braces in the roof.
The ply should sit half on the roof brace,
you can see from this photo, the ply needs
to be cut cut back as it goes past the roof
brace. This will need to come out again to
enable me to varnish both sides for protection
and provide a decorative finish. I will do this
once I am happy with the way it fits.

After I had re-cut the ply so it sat on the roof
brace I took it out and varnished it, I decided I
quite liked the natural look of the birch ply,
and as I wanted a light airy interior I used
some clear satin varnish from Wilkinson,
750ml. Top tip, if you have some scuff
marks from handling the ply use a pencil
eraser to remove them before varnishing.

The rear section in and varnished. I do like the
look of that plasterboard trim, and I like the nice
bright colour of the varnish. You could, of
course varnish or stain the ply any colour you
Top tip, if you need to remove a roof panel
from the 'J' runners, to make any adjustments
simply grab the centre of the board at highest
point against the roof and pull downwards. The
board with bow inwards and 'pop' out of the
channels. Some say, you can put it in this way
but it has to be the correct size to do this.

Looking through the sliding door, I'm quite
pleased with how the rear section came out.
You will notice that I only took the ply up to
the rear hinges, this is because I have a top
locker that will hide almost half the rear roof
section. If you don't have a top locker then
you will need to take the ply to the rear door
and cut around the hinges. Only the other 2
roof sections to go, which I shall do in the
same way.

The front panel over the cab is tricky as it has
to be shaped around the visor mounts and it
is narrower at the front than the back. This is
a pain to create, luckily for me Zoe and Spike, 
my good friends at The House of Dub
kindly lent me a template from an original
Westfalia. Even with the template it still took
me 5 hours to shape and sand my panel until
I was happy with the fit. This was mainly due
to my 'J' runners not being in the same
position as an original Westfalia.

Once the cab panel is cut along with the hole
for the interior light you will need to add some
metal tabs to the rear side of the panel to hold
the interior light. This is because the interior light
sits in a metal housing on the centre roof brace
and once the ply goes in, the light cannot sit in
the original housing. I slightly bent my metal
tabs inwards to ensure the light fitted snug
and secured them using self tapping screws
although you could use rivets or even bolts
Once the cab section had been fitted, and the
interior light had been wired up and fitted into
it's new location I used these plastic screw
caps just to hide the screw heads and make
things look nice and neat.

Looking at the cab panel. I am very pleased
with the end result.
Once the cab panel was in, the ply seemed
a little loose across the top of the windscreen
due to there being no support, so I put a
self tapper screw on each side, behind the
sun visors and again finished them off with
the same screw caps.

After looking in various DIY stores and
Builders merchants I couldn't find anything I
liked to join the roof panels. I couldn't drive
around with gaps in the ply headlining so I cut
2 x 3" strips of the ply, sanded and varnished
them to match the roof and laid these into the
'J' runners to cover the joints. They hold
themselves in and It actually looks nice and

So that was how I fitted my new ply headlining
for around £100. I have no carpentry experience,
nor do I have any fancy tools, but I did plenty of
research, talked to a lot of people and took my
time. I am very pleased with the result, although
I am having second thoughts on the clear varnish,
maybe it needs to be a bit darker.
If your thinking about fitting ply headlining
into your bay, then I hope this may have
inspired you.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Beaconsfield Classic Car and Bike Show.

On Sunday 5th May the Beaconsfield Football Club held their annual charity classic car and bike show. This year they joined forces with Watford Rods, a fairly local Hot rod and custom car club. I had discussed going with friends of mine, Claude and Jean and as the weather looked promising we decided to meet up at the event. 
I arrived before Claude and Jean, and this
was the first car I saw on the entry road to the
show. I just knew it was going to be a good

A super bright yellow 1934, 3 window coupe.
It has a roof chop, bobbed rear fenders with
big and little wheels. It looked similar to a
'Grafitti' coupe.

I got their about lunchtime and the show
ground was full so everyone had to use the
public car park. This lovely early Chevy
step side truck looked somewhat out of place
parked up next to everyday mundane cars.

A nice selection of early pick ups.

Also in the public car park was this early Ford
Popular in pro-street style with massive rear
wheels tucked under the stock body.

A 1932 Ford 5 window with a blown motor.

A 1959 (ish) Ford Popular in bright yellow.

Looking tough from the front with the blower
sticking through the hood.

Another Ford Pop, this time in dark purple.

Massive rear wheels,tinted windows and super
deep paint made this look so good.

Looks like a 1929 Model A pick up with a rag
top. Very nice.

A 1956 Chevrolet step side pick up. No flash
paint, no flash wheels, but doesn't it look good.

This convertible beetle had pearl paint, it went
from light blue to a light mauve. It doesn't
really show in the photo's, but trust me it
was so nice.

1956 Chevrolet 4 door in classic the red and

This looks like a 1960 / 61 Ford Mustang in
pastel yellow.

Stunning 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 4 door.
Lovely deep cherry red with white roof.

A lovely 1959 Ford Thunderbird convertible.

A 1959 Mercury Station Wagon sitting so
low. Love the deep blue over white paint and
the custom wheels.

Early bay in the car park looked sweet.

Another early bay with pop top. There must
have been 1/2 dozen early bays at the show
including mine.. not bad!

1946 Plymouth Coupe special convertible.
This looked original.

Interior of the Plymouth, immaculate.

A lovely 1958 Oldsmobile eighty eight in pink.

This Model A is a regular at the Ace Cafe,
and has been featured on my blog before.
A very nice looking 5 window.

An early 1960's Ford Anglia in pastel yellow
and looking pure hot rod. 

I'm sure this beetle is local to me, I think I
have seen this at the Wolfsburg Weed
Huggers VW Club.

Very clean and very nice theme.

This Ford Popular looked cool in it's retro
1970's style. Loved the red perspex rear
windows and the homemade air scoop.

How cool does this 1929 fully fendered 5
window Model A coupe look?

Finished in what looked like red oxide primer,
just added to it's toughness. Love the
louvres in the deck lid.

How about a street legal speedboat...
I wonder if the owner built this after last year's
horrendously wet summer.!

Looking under the boat, it looked as though it
was built on a Reliant Robin chassis or
something similar. I bet he gets some funny
looks driving down the street.

It's not unusual to see a fully fendered model
A, 3 window coupe with a model B grill shell
but not to have a roof chop, now that is

A mate of mine from the Wolfsburg Weed
Huggers was there in his early bay. It was
nice to catch up with Joe.

A lovely model B roadster in gloss black.

A fully fendered 1932 model B, with very
striking yellow flames over bright red.

A pair of pro street Ford Populars.

Pro street Fordson van looked tough.

A pro street style Henry J with blown motor.

15" x 15" rear wheels under the stock body,
and simple paint scheme made this one of
my favourites t the show.

This was my other favourite. A standard 1928
model A.

Skinny cross ply tyres should make driving
this a hoot.

Super bright orange model B roadster was

Another variation of the model B complete
with 'moon' fuel tank.

1929 Ford pick up with rag top.

This late Ford Anglia had a neat paint job.

1934 Ford looked cool with it's flame paint

My bay, parked up in the public car park.

Really cool looking beetle. I loved those
wheels with the whitewall tyres.

This was my dream bike many years ago as
a spotty teenager, a Yamaha XT500 Enduro.
I never did get to own one, little chance now
as they are getting rare.

I recognise this Kombi, Claude and Jean
stopped off on their way back from Stanford

Claude left his safari screen open so I
couldn't resist taking a photo.

Another lovely looking Model A coupe, with
bobbed rear fenders, colour coded steel
wheels with whitewall tyres, very nice.

This was my view of the drive home as I
followed Claude and Jean, happy days.

That was the 2013 Beaconsfield Classic
car show. It is a cracking little show, but
if you intend on going next year, a word
of advise... get their early because the
show field does get full up.