My Volkswagen Westfalia is a 1985 water-cooled 1.9 liter. She is the greatest van ever & I call her my lady~bus. Although I had momentarily considered breaking out the red & black paint to match her with the name I bestowed upon her, I did not follow thru. Definitely better to remain covert.
It sure was fun when I was first introduced to my Westy. I hadn't realized that so many things were different! Gas goes in near the passenger door, and if you flip up the license plate, in goes oil & coolant. Wiper fluid goes into the driver's side floor, & I've got a fridge, sink, stove and water & electrical hookups. The engine is in the back of the van, so I have to move my bed cushion to get to the engine compartment. The radiator and spare tire, however, are way up in the front. I quickly discovered that her speediest wiper speed is more like a snail's pace, and she really likes to c-r-e-e-p up those hills. On flat ground, though, she has tons of pep if you want to push her pedal to the metal. I, however, do not, and I drive like a little old lady. People pass me all the time, and I don't feel the slightest bit bad about it. Save your gas, people. Quit driving like maniacs. Take it easy. Go the scenic route.
She was in great shape when I got her, and she hasn't really had any extreme problems. She has no rust, since she's from Arizona, so I'll make sure she never has to see a snowy winter. Shorty after I moved in, I got to give her my very first oil change ever, which was somehow oddly exciting for me. It felt so rewarding to really get to know my vehicle and work on it myself. Other than routine maintenance, I only had to do minor things when I moved in.
First, I definitely had to bleach the life out of the interior ceiling. It was covered with mold. I then had to get a new skylight & have it replaced, since it was cracked & didn't open correctly. Now it works great, and I even velcroed a little bugscreen over it. I do still need to get some foam or something and stitch up a big rip in the passenger seat. I also need to fix the bug screen in my pop-top since it is full of holes. -making mental notes- Oh! Now that I think about it, my cd player is also broken, so maybe I'll mess with that, too. (I've been listening to my hand-crank radio and the mp3s on my phone instead..)
Sometime soon I would like to learn more about hooking up a 2nd battery (I'd prefer an AGM deep cycle battery) and get that done. I've found lots of informational sites out there on how to do it, I just need to combine my resources, sit down, and figure it out. I also have a coolant leak that I really NEED to fix. I've been putting it off, but I can't afford to keep dumping more and more coolant in there. The hose that connects to a pipe underneath the back of my van is really warped, and it leaks badly, even with 2 hose clamps on it. It is expecially bad when I idle, which is when it just gushes out. I tried to track down a new hose, but VW doesn't make the one I need anymore, so I have to figure something out. Hmm. That is a top priority.
One of the first things I got for my van was a bike rack and storage tote for the top. Both are very, very handy. I don't know what I would do without my bike, because I just love having it with me. It is perfect for scoping out different parking areas and getting around while saving on gas... I really ought to get a sticker that says "My other van is a bicycle."
On the inside of my van, there is pretty much a spot for everything. I've got little plastic totes in my "closet" that are perfect for my socks & undies, and I've got 3 plastic totes on my bed that contain the rest of my clothes. Then I've got 3 shelves in the little cupboard near my bed, where I keep things like books, journals, art supplies, hammock, frisbee-golf discs, and toiletries. I used velcro to hang a little mirror inside that cupboard and also to hang a little bulletin board next to my bed. I use it to keep track of where I'm going and where I've been. I also found a handy green storage net and hung it over the top of my kitchen area. It is perfect for my pjs, apples, contact solution, radio, and the tiny toy troll with pink hair that I bought at a yard sale to keep me company...anything and everything finds its way into that net. I also found a terrific backseat organizer. It it perfect for my lighter, pens, bugspray, notepads, incense, wet-wipes, candle lantern, flower vase, etc. My bed also folds into a bench seat, and there is extra storage under there, too. I've found that perfect for my rain boots, shoes, yoga mat, tent, backpack, towels, and "Gift of Enlightenment" boardgame.. Ever played it? It keeps you tuned in to your chakras...
There are many other little nooks and crannys in my van for things like repair manuals, replacement parts, food, and kitchen utensils. I have also found ziplock bags to be a very good friend. My van didn't come with anything to put beverages in while I was driving, so I got a cheap little plastic console at Kmart and put it on the floor between the 2 front seats. My sunglasses & dried lavender also hang out in there. Oh! I also installed a little net on the ceiling above my bed. I can hang an LED light in there, right above me, when I'm reading, or put my books in there when I go to bed.
Keeping things cozy:
I have made my van into a little apartment on wheels, because I just love being comfortable. The rugs and welcome mat on my floor came from my old apartment, and they actually fit perfectly in my van. And I mean they fit just PERFECTLY, without any modification. Since I loved my rugs, I took that as one sign that I was making the right decision by moving into my van. :) My favorite wind-chime also sings to me more than it ever did my apartment.. It jingles above my bed, everywhere I go..
My ivy plant came with me, as did my aloe. I used velcro to secure the ivy to my counter, so it doesn't get hurt. I also bought a 3rd plant of some type at a garage sale this summer, because the lady talked me into it. She seemed to think it would be perfect in my van, and I couldn't disagree.. Some of my favorite magnets and magnetic photo frames came with me too, since there is a handy magnetized area above my bed. I really don't have much in my van, but it does actually get messy at times. I don't know how I manage it, but it can definitely end up looking very much like a closet. Then, if I'm feeling lazy, my method of cleanup is to throw things into my laundry basket & deal with them later. Hmm. That actually seems like a good idea right about now.