Archive for category syncro

Simon’s syncro Get-Away-Van

Update: it is for sale, samba ad here…. link

Washed and waxed, and I think up for sale soon. Only 88,000 km (55,000 miles), correction 84,099 km (50,459 miles)  body, transmission, engine, all in great shape. I’ve driven it and honestly, it drives very smoothly. I wish my van felt half as good.

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Some pics from Simon’s trip

Some of the pics Simon sent from his last trip.

Simon writes:

“We had a great time, through Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and home to the island. Altogether maybe 5000 KM? (I wasn’t tracking it). Only a couple of minor issues with the van; my electric locks went funny one day into the trip and so I disconnected them and went manual for the rest of the journey, also my window wash nozzles weren’t spraying, figured out it was a kink in the line at the pump, had a fun time fixing it with a lighter and a golf tee in cold campground in Yellowstone.”

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Trip – fogust in the Klanawa valley

Quick report on a four day trip into the Klanawa valley here on Vancouver Island. It’s the main east west valley between Nitinat watershed and the Alberni Inlet. We like this watershed despite it being extensively logged, you don’t meet many other travellers and it has a few special spots. We’ve exported this area a few times, “Klanawa” and the search box on the right will bring up previous posts.

First night was at a small lake. You have no idea how good it felt swimming in that lake after the 3.5 hr hot and dusty drive. Ok it’s hyperbole, but jeez it felt good.



I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the fog from the Pacific was thick the next morning. Dripping wet and chilly. So off we went further west into the fog and found a hill to climb out of it.


About 450 meters elevation we broke through the fog.


We parked on the side of the hill, facing south. By about 2 pm the fog retreated back to the coast. We got too hot, drove down to the Tsocowis river/creek and cooled off. This creek never seems to warm up, its not head numbing cold but it’s not “let’s just float around and enjoy life” warm either.


Than back up the hill and set up for the night. 


The road went a bit higher but no better southern view up there. Spot the van?


Yup, the fog/cloud creep back in the evening.

We smelled propane that day, I tried (soapy water) to find the leak. Somewhere at the tank I thought. No luck at detecting it. Ran out of propane during that night. Sheesh. So on Monday we packed up and drove into Bamfield to fill up with propane. Also took the guard off the tank and was able to get a bit of tightening on one fitting. Or maybe it was the spit valve leaking? In any event the leak didn’t re occur. Thought about staying at the campsite at Pacheena Bay, but decided to go back to our spot on the hill after some unsuccessful exploring for the other perfect spot. Do you get the idea we like high places with no one else around?

Yup, fog back in the morning. Actually I forget which morning.

Next day we drove back down into the clouds ( to be honest, the entire valley cleared up around 12 pm). This shot gives you an idea of the maximum grade of most of the roads. I think this is about 18, maybe 20%. Sometimes you find it steeper, and often it’s quite a bit steeper around the switch back corners.


Well that’s it, short report. To be honest it all seems much of a muchness and pretty dull stuff. But the pics don’t do justice at all to how spectactular the area is, and really how much fun it is to explore.


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Trip – last weekend

Weather great, didn’t get lost, only one thing broke* on the van. The main logging roads were rougher than usual, seems that a lot of  the gravel has gone and the bigger rocks underneath are exposed. It’s like driving on very rough cobble.


*a leak on the fresh water line from the new pump to faucet. Manifested itself by a little drip under the sliding door. Didn’t do a field repair, the leak seemed to be in part of line behind the fridge. Wasn’t bad enough to go to all the bother of pulling fridge. But at home, pulled fridge, and I lifted the entire floor (to get it dry). Found the tiny leak at a section of hose that ran adjecent to the fridge combustion chamber. It’s my fault, I secured the line back there with tie downs but too close to that chamber. I’m guessing that the new water pump made enough pressure to weaken the hose that was softened by the heat. Was just a pinhole leak, but still…

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Vanagon – Prague syncro high top

My son is traveling and I have been bugging him to find me some T3 action. He was in Beirut and I thought he might get lucky and find one there. Nope, but he came through with this nice syncro high top in Prague.

I very much like the sticker on the front door, “syncro Czech team”.

A quick sketch of Canadian version 🙂

Or the over used syntax…

And one for Simon 🙂

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Vanagon – those boring wheels on the van

Yes, this is Simon’s latest find. 88 syncro high top. Getaway van conversion, done over on the mainland (BC). I’ll have more to say about this van and pics of the interior when Simon is finished tidying it up. It’s a good looking van, and only 82,000 km. The bored out wheels look ok on it, but we both agree it needs about an inch of suspension lift to perk it up.

Yes, it’s the same Fiberglas hightop that we put on Simon’s other syncro. If you had to have a hightop, and you don’t have access to the sexy European models, I think it’s the best looking option.

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Vanagon – making a new roof rack

I get these ideas sometimes and for better or worse I follow through. Even though I have been using a perfectly good Thule rack system ( the type that has pads that sit of the roof top and hold down clamps that grip that black rail thing I installed for the purpose), the airfoil section aluminum spar material that was lying around the shop was too tempting.

Here’s the old Thule rack.

It’s the type of spar material you see used as spreaders on sail boats. This version is pretty stout, 1.5″ at thickest and a chord length of 5.5″.

The idea was to have two racks and not have them wider than the pop top. And the Thule ski box I use would be attached directly to the rack, not using the stock U bolt set up.

I cut the spars to 53″, and cut some shorties to act as pedestals. I coped the short bits to fit the airfoil section and welds them to the cross pieces. I also cut out some 1/8″ aluminum sheet and used that to close up the ends. This pic shows one with end closed, the other still open. You can see the slightly thicker section of the spar in the open end. All my attachments go to that thick section.


I glued some rubber sheet to the bottom of the closed in pedestals/feet later.


That groove running along the lenght of the spar falls pretty well on the middle of the thick section. On one end of the soars I drilled and helicoiled holes for the Thule box attachment. On the other side I used some 5/16″ riv-nuts as anchor points for eye bolts in case I need lash points for some future thing. Blanked those holes off with plain bolts for the time being.

And this is how they sit on the van.


The hold down mechanism took me a while and I ended up with a simple, if a little clunky, solution. For now the stainless brackets hook onto the rail, but when I am happy with the position of the racks I’ll bolt them to the rail and cut off the hook end. It’s a 5/16″ bolt attaching the bracket to the spar (helicoil in spar), I know it looks sort of week, I think it’s strong enough. It certainly pulls the rack down hard to the roof. Later you’ll see that I put in short sections of rubber hose to cover the naked bolts and make that part look less flimsy.

I am planning on painting the rack white, same interlux briteside one part polyurethane I used on the pop top itself. When it’s painted I think the rack will blend in with the roof, take away the raw industrial look.

It’s funny, the box still looks like it tilts towards the centre of the van. The cross spars are level, maybe the box itself is warped.


It’s not that bad looking, try to imagine it painted white. The painting will happen when the weather warms up, maybe this week. Oh and one more thing, the new rack lowers the box an inch or more.

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