van halen gets a lick of paint

Van Halen, the 1970 kombi, is one of the things we desperately needed to sort out this weekend, before Bean flies out to Geraldton (not intending to return to Albany and our current house) this Wednesday.

Since we moved to this place 8 weeks ago Van Halen had been parked in the garage, with all windows but the windscreen out and the sliding and front doors off, getting a bit of attention from Bean most evenings once the sprogs were in bed. Bean was prepping Van Halen for a respray and most of the prep work was done by the time he was offered the job in Geraldton, not quite all of it, but most.

The major things that hadn’t been done included:

  1. The driver side door still needed a fair bit more work, some welding and bog.
  2. The bumpers hadn’t been touched at all and needed to be attacked with an angle grinder and some rust kill primer.
  3. The headliner was still in, and stained from what we think was probably one of the previous owners smoking in it…


When we decided Bean would accept the contract in Geraldton and that we’d pack up house here in Albany so the rest of us could join him there we knew we’d have to cut some corners to get Van Halen back on the road and looking good enough that he wouldn’t attract the unwanted attention of the fuzz. Of course, we knew that when we’re not rushing to get paint on and windows in we’d go back and uncut the corners, but if we were going to get Van Halen from the state he was in to a road worthy state in less than a week we’d have to rush some things and just not do others. Ironically even before the respray Van Halen was more roadworthy than a lot of smarter looking old cars on the road because of the rust cutting and new panel work that had been done, but with a patchy paint job he would attract the attention of the cops more than he will all one colour.

We had a late night chat in the bus one night last week and decided to pull the headliner out, Liam got on to it right away and it instantly looked less crappy. We’ll probably get a new headliner one of these days, but the interior roof is in great condition and headliners weren’t stock on original kombis anyway so it can stay that way for now.

He’s resprayed the whole thing, not the original shade of white because for some reason the auto store couldn’t access the paint codes database (or whatever) this weekend and he worked against the clock to get it resprayed and put back together.

The original guess colour from one paint joint was really white, it was so crisp it looked like copy paper and we thought it sucked. The spray gun had a lot of overspray and looked pretty shocking even for straight off the gun. When he ran out of paint and we went to a different store to get more we opted for a more cream white and got a new spray gun too. Much better!

Bean has just spent 3 full days in the garage, early morning until very late at night. I’m pretty impressed with his efforts, it was a big ask to get it all done in a few days and he actually pulled it off.

At this stage we’ve decided we won’t sell it, we’ll hold on to it and then get Brigit’s (my ’71 microbus) restoration started when we’re settled. She’s going to get the full back to bare metal then 2pac treatment so she’ll be a very long term project and frankly I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t have a kombi for a daily driver (maybe be a whole lot warmer in Winter?!) so makes sense to keep Van Halen for now.

When we get some time to catch our breath Van Halen will need another coat of the same white, the doors are looking less cream and more copy paper than the rest of the body… The front will need some extra sanding and a respray, there was a rough patch that didn’t show up until the white went on. There are a couple of spots of paint that have reacted with something underneath so they’ll have to go back to bare metal and be repainted. We’ll be replacing some non-genuine seals with genuine seals, since the non-genuines are too fat and stop the doors from sitting flush wtih the body. The windscreen will also come out for the next coat/s of paint, it stayed in this time since we didn’t have the time or funds to get a new seal to put the windscreen back before Bean leaves. The tyres will come off the wheels which we’ll prep and paint the same white as the body, then we’ll finish them off with some nice chrome hub caps. The bumpers will need to be stripped back and properly prepped, they have just been painted as they were (rusty!)- no prep work at all. Ran out of time…

The interior, which is my job, has to wait too since we have clearly run out of time and don’t have all the parts we need to install the rock and roll seat and make up new door cards. Some of the interior from Brigit has gone in to complete it since Brigit just has to go to Perth where she’ll be garaged for a few months until freight time, no worries with the cops there (once we get her the 450km back to Perth that is!).

All up, Van Halen’s looking much more tidy than he did and I feel confident we’ll be able to drive it without hassle from the fuzz, the list of extra work required isn’t dauntingly huge either and won’t take long to bring him to a standard we could happily call finished.

He’s not show quality, he never will be and was never intended to be, the engine bay didn’t get a lick of paint, it probably won’t this next time around either. Still, he looks smart and I reckon he’ll turn some heads.

Bean says he’s learned heaps from this leg of the restoration, and I’m pretty amazed at how hard he’s worked and how well he’s done.

Some things we’ve learned over the past week:

1. Don’t rush in to a paint job before your prep is completely finished*
2. Don’t paint two different shades of white over each other because the underneath shade will inevitably show through somewhere*
3. Don’t paint in a poorly lit garage at night time*
4. Having a second same-era kombi makes getting parts to complete the job much easier (as long as you ignore the fact that your other kombi is looking less complete every step of the way)*
5. When painting, it’s so much better to pull the windscreen out, even if it means sacrificing a perfectly good seal to the stanley knife gods*

* All of the above lessons could also be much more concisely stated as:
Don’t take a job 900km away when you’ve got a half finished kombi project in your garage!

So now, I have a question for you, dear readers. What colour would you choose for the interior if you had a white kombi with a black VW badge? Black and white? Red? Blue? Orange? Green? Yellow? Purple? Pink? Brown? Other?


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switch off & reconnect – productive

Today we had a switch off & reconnect day. Bean made some pancakes while I had a blissful sleep in, then after breakfast Sprout dressed herself and announced that she was ready to go out, so we went to the beach.

We drove a little way out to a beach that we could have to ourselves. We’re so lucky to be near so many lovely beaches in this part of the world.

Bean took some photos for a project he’s currently working on, and we spent a good amount of time picking up tiny shells, marvelling at their beauty and perfection.

On the way home we decided to buy a couple of noodle boxes to share for lunch because Sprout was getting very hungry and we wanted to feed her sooner than later.

Then we got stuck in to gardening for the afternoon.

The council green waste bin was already full so I asked Bean to ask his folks if they’d be able to borrow one of their neighbours bins to fill with weeds. I really dig the greenwaste collection thing this council has going on. Normally we’d compost the weeds but we’ve only got two small compost bins in this yard and there were so many weeds (we filled one and a half wheely bins!) we didn’t have anywhere to put them all. It’s all good though, because the council composts the contents of everyone’s green bins and then sells it back to all the people who were too lazy to compost it themselves. It’s brilliant, I tell you! I love weeding. Really, I do. It’s so wonderful to see where you’ve been working. Especially after this perfect weed growing weather – rain showers, warm sun, rain showers, warm sun, rain showers… repeat.

Sprout and I planted some ornamental flowers in the spaces where the weeds had been. There’s NO flowers in this yard at all, so I’m hoping to attract some bees with the flowers. It’s a bonus that they look sweet too. Sprout loved helping, and I thought again how much I’d love her to grow up on an organic herb farm. Growing stuff is awesome, don’t you think?!

While I planted and weeded with Sprout, Bean did some rust work on Brigit the kombi. He attacked the surface rust that’s shown up since we’ve moved here to rainyville with an angle grinder and some primer. Brigit’s second in line for the full restoration because Van Halen is closer to finished. Once Van Halen is done Brigit will be taken off the road, stripped to an empty shell then fully restored inside and out. Van Halen’s nearly rust free now, and so nearly ready for a respray. When he’s resprayed, which Bean will be doing himself (maybe I’ll be able to drag myself away from my limpets sproggets long enough to do a bit of it as well?!), we’ll build a rock & roll bed and make up new door cards. He’s so close to being finished I can almost see myself driving around in Bean’s flash looking restored kombi! Anyhow, I digress… don’t ask me about the kombis, I always go on too much once I start! Now, back to today…

While we were in the yard the sprogs (and Dave) met some children over the fence. They don’t live next door, that yard is often empty of people and full of weeds, so it was a lovely surprise for the sprogs to find friends at the fence.

After a chat it was decided that they’d play together on the same side of the fence. Bean opened the gate at the bottom of the yard and watched them play together at the front of the block (near his parents house) while I made some mayonaise (which was AMAZING, by the way).

Once the sprogs were in bed Bean and I folded two baskets full of clean laundry then went outside to weed a bit more by the light of a headlamp. It’s verrry additcive, that weeding.

It was a wonderfully productive and connecting day for us all. Once again, I’m left thinking that we should switch off & reconnect more often!


All photos by


What do you do to switch off & reconnect with yourself & people you love?



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The kombis

I have a kombi “thing”.

It all started with Olive. Olive was a 1975 dormobile camper that my Dad bought me for my 21st birthday.


I decided, while living for a few months in a tent at a forest blockade, I wanted a camper van. I could have got any kind of van, but I had a soft spot for kombis ever since my brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) took me for a ride in one of his many kombis. I was planning to sell my little red barina to fund purchasing a kombi, but I hit a large tree branch that had fallen across the road in a storm one night. I really can say the tree jumped out at me!  So with the barina being a bit of a write off, I asked my Dad for a loan. Dad agreed to loan me the money and my BIL agreed to help me choose a kombi. Olive was the first kombi we looked at. BIL agreed she was mechanically ok, although she was a pop-top and he didn’t like pop-tops. After nearly 5 years with a pop-top kombi I now understand why he doesn’t like them, I don’t like them either! Dad paid for Olive and I drove her home. Her interior upholstery was terrible. The fabric was a classic 90s style caravan print, pastel colours, terrible abstract shapes. I decided to re-cover the seats myself with chocolate brown wide wale corduroy. Dad and his partner helped me & it was while we were doing this that they told me they didn’t want  me to pay them back for Olive, she was an early birthday present.

I went on many adventures in Olive. I lived in her for about a month or two at the forest blockade I mentioned above. I then lived in her on & off in Margaret River (Western Australia), while spending some time living with my sister & BIL and some time living in a disasterous share house situation with one other person. Olive’s biggest adventure was being put on a truck and freighted from Perth to Sydney then driven around Northern NSW & South-East QLD while I lived there, and then being driven from SEQ back to Perth across the Nullarbor. I drove on my own the whole way, it was a massive adventure for my 22 year old self.

Shortly after returning from the east coast Sprout was conceived. Bean’s love affair with VWs began soon after his love affair with me began so we got a baby seat anchor point fitted and Olive stayed with us for a little while longer. Olive wasn’t really a sensible family car though, as my Mum loved to point out to me often. Olive had a camper fit out in the back, not seats. There was a 3/4 width ‘rock & roll’ bed, which is a seat that folds out to become a bed, and we could only fit one babyseat on that because there was cupboards along one side of it & just one seat belt. So when we began talking about conceiving a second child we also began talking about purchasing a sensible family car.

I sold Olive and a week later found Brigit, my kombi with seats. A very sensible family car.


Brigit was named after the celtic goddess of fertility since we bought her to put more babies in! Brigit is still with us, and I can’t imagine that I’ll be selling her for a long time, if ever. Brigit is a 1971 microbus deluxe. The man I bought her from in early 2009 had owned her for 20 years. He reconditioned her engine himself, and spent a lot of time polishing her in the garage he kept her in, and not a lot of time driving her. She was a real score. We have plans to restore Brigit. To cut rust out, weld new bits in, respray her & have the upholstery & interior all done by an amazing craftsman motor trimmer with lots of experience with vintage & classic VWs. We’ve not been camping much with Brigit, since I’m not a tent lover, so when we were talking about getting a second car to become our daily driver when we take Brigit off the road to strip out & restore we decided to get a second kombi, and deck it out as a camper.

I found a restoration thread for a 1970 VW transporter on a local VW forum and shared the link with Bean. A couple of weeks after we’d decided to look out for another kombi that same kombi came up for sale. The owner had done a lot of work on the bus, cutting rust out & welding in new panels, the evidence was all there in his restoration thread. I suggested to Bean that we check it out, & we decided to buy it. This one was going to be Bean’s kombi, since Brigit is mine. The first time we looked at it the battery wasn’t connected because the owner was waiting on a lead or something, so the battery was connected to the starter motor (or whatever, mechanics is not my strong point!) with a pair of jumper leads. This fact (JUMPer leads) coupled with the simple fact that it’s a van inspired me to name him “Van Halen”.

Bean has done some work on Van Halen, finishing off what the previous owner has started. We plan to respray Van Halen, get a camper interior in him (full width rock & roll bed, curtains & under bed storage), and some baby seat anchor points fitted so he can become the daily driver and Brigit can be taken off the road & garaged during restoration.

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Introducing Van Halen

Bean now has a kombi of his own!

I’ve named it Van Halen because it’s a van (har-har-hardy-har) and when we looked at it the battery hadn’t been properly connected yet and it had to be JUMP started (har-har-hardy-har again :lol:)

Van Halen is a 1970 kombi. The guy we bought him off began restoring it, he’s cut a lot of rust out. Here’s a link to a thread he’s started on a local VW forum detailing the work he’s been doing on it:

The plan is to take Brigit (the 71 deluxe) off the road to restore her and use Van Halen as the daily driver while Brigit is out of action. We’ll use Brigit’s interior initially, until we make up a rock and roll bed for Van Halen then Brigit’s seats will be off to the motor trimmer to be reupholstered (in blue leatherette with white piping, in case you were wondering).

Once Brigit is fully restored we’ll do a bit more work on Van Halen – maybe a respray, definitely a DIY interior. It will be our camper eventually, still with a hard-top, I’ve done my time with pop-tops!

So now we have matching phones, matching phone numbers AND matching cars… how terribly naff! 😆

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Brigit’s Canary…

Is G. O. N. E. GONE!
We’re stoked.
That is all.

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Brigit’s Canary List

Bean took Brig over the pits on Friday. She didn’t pass, we didn’t expect that she would because we found a couple of little things on Thursday night while at a mate’s place that we thought they’d pick on.

So the vehicle inspector gave us a list of things we had to do to Brigit so they’d pass her at the next inspection & gave us 28 days to get it done.

Brigit’s Canary List

  • Replace split RH drive shaft boot
  • Number plate lights must work
  • Rear reflectors to be replaced (they’ve faded to pink & need to be red)
  • Fit missing heater tubes
  • Windscreen washers need to operate
  • Replace brake & clutch pedal pads
  • Rectify movement in steering wheel (I didn’t think there was any play in the steering but apparently there is, seems we got a picky inspector since our mechanic thinks it’s fine Confused ) & centralise steering wheel (cross bar is vertical, not horizontal, since the steering box was replaced – we tried to fix this the other day but turned it too far so next time we’ll do it when the sproggets aren’t helping!)
  • Adjust foot brake – low pedal
  • Adjust handbrake to operate correctly (it pulls out too far apparently)

So there we have it, Brigit’s Canary List. It’s all simple stuff & we’ll do most of it ourselves. We’re sending her off to our mechanic on Wednesday so he can replace the drive shaft boot, we’ll do the rest. This evening I replaced the pedal pads & the tail light lenses, so we can tick those off the list.

We’re hoping to get her over the pits very quickly this time so we’re clear of the yellow sticker before Bean has time off over consumermass & new year. We’d like to spend that time doing some rust repairs & prep for new paint while Bean’s got several work-free days in a row.

We’ll also be doing some gardening & general housey bits while Bean’s off work too, so I’ll not neglect that part of the blog for all those who aren’t bogan revheads 😉


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A bloody canary!

Soooo,  I’ve not made the posts I promised in my last post. We’ve been busy. I won’t make any more promises, they might come in future, or the moment may have passed.

We got a yellow sticker (canary) on the kombi (if you’re not from WA, search “yellow sticker WA” or something) & only 10 days to get her ready to go over the pits. They pinged her on seatbelts. Fair enough, they ARE 39 year old seatbelts & were on our list of things to do to Brigit. We were hoping to have more than 10 days just before consumermass to do it though!

Anyway, as luck would have it, the weekend following the stickering was the weekend of Day of the Volkswagen 2010. Awesome. We got some good leads on parts (needed a new rear bumper & we got one), did some revhead bogan networking & got all inspired by the already restored cars to get on with Brigit’s restoration.

We’ll be taking her over the pits this Thursday (Friday is our deadline) so cross your fingers for us!

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