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?


posted by wildecrafted in volkswagen and have Comment (1)

camping disasters – an epic – part two

Continued on from here.

It was about 1.30pm when Bean left. Given that we had no mobile phone reception that far out of town I didn’t bother getting my phone out of the car when he left and I don’t wear a watch these days so I wasn’t able to keep track of time. I knew it’d take him about 45 minutes to get back into town and then at least half an hour to get a car trailer organised, another 45 minutes back out to the car and yet another 45 minutes back out the camp site, so I wasn’t expecting him back for a while anyway, no point clock watching.

A while later the sprogs were getting cold after swimming for so long and they were asking for food so I took them back to the camp site with the intention of cooking an early dinner. At the camp site I was met with several food related problems…

The ice in the esky had melted already and the food was begining to get warm.

The esky had become a temporary ant’s nest (I thought eskies were well sealed too!?).

The frypan, bowls, plates, mugs and cutlery were all still unwashed from the previous night’s and that morning’s meals, and to top it all off the dishwashing detergent was in the kombi on the side of the highway several kilometres away!

By this stage the overtired, disappointed sprogs were complaining loudly about their empty tummies so I gave them a banana each. The camp site was in the belting sun, no shade at all, so we hid out in the hot tent and ate bananas until the whole 2kgs of bananas that we’d brought with us were gone. Dinner could wait until Bean got back with the dishwashing liquid and some ice for the esky. Until then, the esky would stay closed to conserve whatever chill was left in the water that half filled it.

Sprout asked me when her bed would be made up, and I told her it couldn’t happen until her Dad got back with the air mattress pump and the bedding.

Moe asked me for more food.

I asked a passerby what the time was. Twenty to six.

Wow. I had expected that Bean would be back by then. I had asked him if he thought it’d be best if we all went, just in case he needed some help, or something came up and he couldn’t let me know about it. He didn’t think it was fair to expect the sprogs to sit in the for hours all over again, not after the previous 24 hours. I had to agree, and hope that things went smoothly for him.

At twenty to six I began to curse him. Why was he not back yet? Why was I having to fend for myself at a camp site with two cranky, hungry kids and some vital camping stuff missing from the equation?

After eating some nuts the sprogs and I went for a walk. We asked someone at a neighbouring camp site what the time was. It was 6.30pm. The man asked me if I was ok and it was then that the dam broke and a floor of tears poured forth.

No, I most certainly was not ok. My partner left 5 hours ago to deal with our broken down car, it shouldn’t take so long, he wouldn’t leave us for that long without bedding at the very least. He would have been eager to get back to us. I was very worried something had happened and I had no way of contacting him. The men and woman at my neighbouring camp site were very kind, and well set up. They assured me that sometimes things like moving cars take longer than we anticipate and they lent me their satellite phone to call Bean, but the call went straight through to message bank. He was probably out of range. It’d be ok, but oh how it felt like it wouldn’t be. I was so worried about him. My camp site neighbours called their adult daughter who lived in town and asked her to go around to our house and see if he was there, or if the kombi had made it back at the very least, then to call the police and see if there had been any accidents reported.

Finally, just after 7pm, Bean pulled into our camp site in his parent’s car. I felt so relieved, and so furious. I thanked my neighbours and went and cried and swore at Bean.

We got the air beds inflated and begged some dishwashing liquid from another neighbouring camp site. Washed up what we could, salvaged what we could from the ant infested esky, filled it with a new bag of ice that Bean had grabbed in town and put it inside the tent, safe from further ant attacks. For dinner we had more sausages and some hashbrowns. By this stage I had given up feeling stressed about the complete lack of nutrient value in the dinners we’d provided our children for two nights in a row. We warmed up some water for face, hand and feet washing then got the sprogs into bed at around 9.30pm.

Bean and I then sat down to drink a mug of hot chocolate each and take a breather and catch up on the incredibly stressful afternoons we’d both had. I cried. Oh how I cried. This is not what camping is supposed to be like! I love camping. I’m supposed to be having a nice time. I thought you were dead. I want to go home. Please can we give up now and go home tomorrow morning… Oh how miserable I was.

The tent flapped in the wind all night long, and coupled with the mosquitos that had made it into our tent, made for a sleepless night for me.

At 5am Sprout woke up crying. She was hungry and really wanted food.

Bean tried to keep her quiet but she woke Moe anyway. After much coaxing and some cursing they were both asleep again and we got another hour of sleep before the day had to begin.

Bean took Sprout and Moe to the water’s edge for some fishing while I stayed at the camp and did some journalling. They were back soon after, having given up because stress levels were already high and Bean had become sick of explaining to Sprout that fishing wasn’t as simple as casting out and reeling back in immediately to find a fish fillet at the end of the line!

Bean agreed with me that it was time to go home. Only, by that time I wanted to try to salvage the weekend. Our helpful neighbours had left and they had a much better camp site than ours, with a path right down the hill to the water’s edge and some shade too. We decided to move our camp once more, but just 100 metres this time, not 20kms! Down came the tent, and back up again.

The ice in our crappy esky had melted again so we needed to head back to the general store for more. We went for a quick swim, had a snack and all hopped in the car, hoping that the sproggets would sleep on the way there. Thankfully the sprogs slept, which was about the only useful thing to come out of that drive. The general store was out of ice. The closest place to get more was a further 25km away, turning a 40km round trip into a 70km round trip.

It was then that I proposed we admit defeat. That we go back to the camp and have some avocado and tinned tuna sandwiches for lunch, sacrifice the food in the esky to the warm-esky Gods and spend the afternoon by the water’s edge until the day cooled down a bit when we could then pack up our camp (yet again) and go home. Bean agreed. It was definitely time to give up.

Back at the camp we had our lunch, paddled for a while in the shallow, clear water of the beautiful Waychinicup inlet and then began our final pack up. We packed some, then we swam some, then we packed some more. We had the car packed and ready to go by 3pm so we went down to the water for one last swim before bidding good riddance to that particular camping adventure.

This camping trip cost us a lot financially. A couple of tanks full of fuel, with all the running about. A whole lot of good food wasted. Money spent rather unnecessarily on camping equipment that wasn’t quite right but was just a bit of a compromise because we needed something like it to go camping with and we wanted to go camping NOW. It’s put us in a pretty terrible position for the week ahead with several hundred dollars worth of unexpected costs and an unknown amount of damage done to my kombi. We don’t know if we can get away with simply having the carbies cleaned and/or replaced or whether she’ll need a full engine rebuild. Obviously we’ll begin with rebuilding the carbies and see how she goes.

Still, we’ve learned a lot and won’t make this disaster our last camping trip.

In future we’ll make sure we’re well set up with camping gear relevant to where we’re camping and what we want out of our camping experience. We’ll most definitely never take the word of other people who tell us that a camp site is “great”, and we’ll choose to camp only at sites we’ve seen for ourselves before we arrive with a car load of camping gear and heads full of expectations of a fabulously relaxing weekend. We live close enough to heaps of gorgeous places that we can make day trips to scope out the suitability of camp sites for future trips. We’ll also never take my poor kombi on a gravel road again, and we’ll never rely on duct tape to keep the air filter on either! I have to say, I’m rather fond of the idea of owning a satellite phone too. That would be very useful given that so many of these places don’t have mobile reception.

As far as the kombi goes, this is probably the nudge I needed to learn about the engine. I know enough about kombi bodies, but up until now I’ve shied away from learning about the mechanics, figuring that I’d learn when the time to pull the kombi off the road and restore her came*. May as well start with a carbie rebuild eh?

Photos from the nice parts of our weekend to follow in (yet) another post.


*The time to take my kombi off the road for restoration is getting very close by the way… Van Halen (Bean’s kombi) is probably a couple of months worth of weekend body work away from a respray and new interior then it’ll be Brigit’s turn.

posted by wildecrafted in journal,volkswagen and have Comments (7)

camping disasters – an epic – part one

This week Bean had Thursday and Friday off work so we decided to make the most of the four day weekend and go camping.  I should be sleeping in a tent again tonight yet here I am, at home, Saturday night recovering from the trauma of our prematurely aborted camping adventure.We really shouldn’t have even let it go on as long as we did, in hindsight the wisest move would have been to give up the first night.

It was truly awful. I don’t know if we could have had a more terrible time if we’d been trying!

I had been so looking forward to camping. I love camping.

We spent all of Thursday morning preparing our camping gear (most of it borrowed from Bean’s parents, some of it we already owned and the rest of it bought new) and packing the kombi before we set off around 2pm. On recommendation from Bean’s workmate we first went to Cape Riche, arriving at around 3.30pm.

Cape Riche is 18km down a corrugated gravel road, not the greatest of fun to drive down, so I’d hoped it would be great. Obviously hoping was futile because it was horrid. Black dirt everywhere, no shade, certainly no privacy and already completely full of Commodores, Falcons and four wheel drives emblazoned with Australian flags in celebration of Australia Day, a day we don’t recognise as being cause for celebration. Definitely not our scene. So, it was back down the 18km of gravel with a bump, bump, bump…

We stopped in at a general store in Wellstead and asked for advice on where to camp. We were told to try Boat Harbour 7km up the (sealed) highway and then 17km down another gravel road. A horrendously corrugated gravel road.

At Boat Harbour there was more black dirt, softer than at Cape Riche, and the poor kombi got bogged when Bean tried to turn around. Some generous folks towed us out and we discussed whether we’d stay there. Black dirt, deep water all together too close to the camp sites and very little privacy didn’t particular inspire either myself or Bean so we agreed not to camp there either. The people who pulled us out suggested another camp site but I was beginning to feel rather sceptical about taking other people’s word when they told us a camp site was “great”. It would appear that some people have differing opinions of what equates to a “great” camp site. Who’d have thought? People have different tastes! 

Back down that horrible gravel track, narrowly missing a collision with two rogue sheep, and we talked about whether we’d try somewhere else or just go home. Remembering Waychinicup, a camp site some friends had said was their favourite, we looked it up using the GPS on Bean’s phone. Brilliant! It was between home and where we were, with a short detour down yet another gravel road, so we thought we may as well check it out on the off chance it was awesome. When we got to Waychinicup and had a quick look around we realised it was indeed very nice, and also very full.

Disappointed, we drove away arguing about our next move. I was ready to go home and admit defeat, vowing never to attempt camping east of Albany again. I mean, why would I? With beautiful Denmark and Walpole lying west of Albany. Tall trees, nearby beaches, rivers… why would I choose scrubby coastal bush surrounded by brown paddocks and tree farms?!

Anyway, Bean wanted to check out the camp site suggested to us by the generous towing folks at Boat Harbour. They’d suggested Betty’s Beach, which was on the way home from Waychinicup.

Down another gravel road, we reached a point where we could turn left for Norman’s Beach or continue slightly right for Betty’s Beach. Norman’s beach was closer and by this stage it was getting late and we were a bit sick of gravel roads so we chose to turn left. Arriving at the camp site we noted some more black dirt (do we detect a theme here?), although it was in the shade so not hot under foot, and suitably private camping spots on the banks of a very shallow river.Feeling relieved that we’d at least found somewhere to pitch a tent for the night we decided to stay at least one night.

When we opened the tail gate of the kombi (one of the few doors with a brand new seal) we discovered that everything was covered in a thick layer of fine red dust from all the gravel roads. We brushed or shook off as much of the red dust as much as we could and hastily set up camp, racing against the setting sun and the ever increasing whines of tired, hungry children who’d been stuck in car seats for the past 4 hours! We hoped desperately to have food, shelter and bedding sorted before the fractious whinging became full blown meltdowns.

They coped so well really, stuck in the car with uncertainty hanging over their heads… Would we camp out? Would we go home and disappoint everyone? I was at the point of full blown meltdown and I am neither a 4 year old or a 2 year old.

Hope as we might, meltdowns did start before we had the camp properly set up so we settled for the quick dinner option of sausages with tomato sauce. No, vegetables not included. Eeep, the (rather dominant) health freak part of me wasn’t too impressed.

We then heated some river water to wash the sprogs who had managed to get themselves covered in bubble mixture and black dirt in the short time since we’d been there. We finally tucked the sprogs, and ourselves, in bed at about 10pm. What a horribly stressful afternoon!

One brilliant thing I can say about that camp site is that despite being right on the river’s edge we didn’t notice a single mosquito, very unlike our home which is just riddled with mosquitos. What a blessing! Moe reacts quite badly to mosquito bites, worse than the rest of us, so it was lovely to be outdoors of an evening and have no irritating mozzie bites to deal with.

That night Moe slept 8 hours straight. A real blessing, and a first. His longest unbroken sleep before that would have been around 6 hours. I’m still amazed that he slept so soundly on the air mattress next to me as I tossed and turned all night long, making it move a lot. At 6am he woke and the first word to escape his lips was,


We’d been telling him for days that we’d go camping at the beach and so there he was at 6am, desperate to go to the beach.

We got out our box of “just because we’re camping” cardboard flakes breakfast cereal and had a quick breakfast before grabbing the fishing gear and heading to the beach.

We’d been lulled to sleep the night before by the rhythmic crashing of the waves on the shore so we knew there’d be waves, but we were certainly not prepared for just how rough it was. It was totally unsuitable for sprogget swimming.

The river mouth provided no better swimming option either, being too hard for the sprogs to get down to.

The sprogs both cried in disappointment at how far they’d walked up a steep sand dune to get to a beach that was all together too dangerous for them so we decided to go for a day trip to Waychinicup. If we couldn’t camp there we could at least spend a nice morning there before coming back to our own camp site for lunch and a siesta.

We piled into the kombi and headed back up one gravel track and onto another, arriving at Waychinicup at 8.30am. On arrival we learned that a couple who had camped there the night before were leaving so we asked them if they’d mind us pitching our (older, smaller) spare tent at their site to claim it while we went back to our camp site at Norman’s Beach to pack up and relocate. They were very obliging so we got to it.

The swim could wait! We were going to camp there and spend three glorious days by those calm waters. It was time to get moving!

Back down the gravel track and onto the highway, and the kombi backfired somewhere along the highway. The kombi doesn’t normally backfire, and I joked that it was her way of vocalising her distaste for all the gravel roads we’d taken her down over the last 24 hours. I joked too soon…

A short way down the highway she conked out good and proper, and there was no starting her again. She really had been protesting about the gravel roads, or more to the point, the amount of red dust she’d sucked in to her engine…

My poor, faithful, reliable kombi. Oh my dear. I wanted to cry for my sweet car, that I love just a little more than a person probably should love a 41 year old hunk of metal.

After not too long a man pulled over to see if we needed help. We had condluded there’d be no fixing the kombi on the side of the road and he offered us a lift to the general store a few kilometres down the road. I declined, not wanting to take the sprogs in a car with no children’s seats. I suggested Bean go and I stay at the kombi with the sprogs. The man then told me it’d be getting unbearably hot on the side of that highway, with no chance of breeze. He’d just retired after 40 years as a cop and felt confident he could talk his way out of a fine on the off chance a police car was on the highway in the next 5kms. Not caring about a fine, but about the safety of my children I realised that the chances of having a car accident were slimmer than the chances of heat stroke from being stuck in the car for the next couple of hours (at least!) that it would take to get help 50km out of town. We decided to risk it, and strapped the sprogs in with regular seat belts.

When we got to the general store we bought ice creams and used a pay phone to call for help. To join road side assistance was going to cost more money than we had to spare and we couldn’t get through to Bean’s parents so Bean decided to hitch a ride into town to sort out some help. I stayed with the sprogs at the general store, sitting in the shade of some trees outside singing songs and making little people out of sticks, honkey nuts and dried leaves, for just over two hours until Bean came back with one of his parent’s cars.

Bean’s parents had loaned the car for the weekend so we finally moved our camp from Norman’s Beach to Waychinicup. At Waychinicup we ate a banana each then set up the tent and left it at that. The air mattresses were still deflated and the bedding left in the car. We took the sprogs for a swim at about 12.30pm then Bean left us at the water’s edge to drive back into town to get a trailer to tow the kombi home.

To be continued…

posted by wildecrafted in journal,volkswagen and have Comment (1)

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?



posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (4)

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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Swapmeet sales fails

We’re trying to offload some of our “stuff” before we move. Less to pack, less to move, less to unpack. We’ve had a couple of unexpected expenses this month, plus the impending move will cost a fair bit, so we decided we’d sell some of the sale-able stuff instead of sending it all to the op-shop like we normally do. At first we thought we’d try a garage sale, but we don’t have a lot of “stuff” in the first place (well we don’t have a lot of stuff for white, middle class Awwstrayans), so we decided we’d try a swap meet instead.

Saturday night I sorted out our stuff, Bean packed it in the car, we set the alarm for 5am Sunday morning and trotted off to bed around 10.30pm. By 1am I’d fed Babyman 10 times, and hadn’t yet had a sleep! He finally settled down & I managed to get to sleep. Babyman fed again a couple of times before 4.30am when I woke up. Knowing the alarm was going to ring out soon & Babyman stirring for a feed meant I didn’t go back to sleep. Eyes falling out of my head I rolled out of bed at 5am and got ready to go to the swapmeet. We piled kids & dog into the car then set off around 5.30am. We got to the Melville swapmeet to be greeted by a sign that read, “market full, no bays available.” Damn it!

We decided to give the Kardinya swapmeet a go. It’s not far from the Melville one, although no where near as good. Anyway, off we went.

We got there late but snuck in and got a spot next to the entrance anyway. We laid our sheet on the ground & placed our “stuff” out. Once we were set up I decided to take Dave for a walk around the swapmeet since he normally has a walk first thing every morning and he was getting a bit over-excited by all the people around. Every single time I walk Dave, no matter what time of day, we get about 50-100m before he does a poo. I don’t know why I wasn’t prepared for it this time, but I wasn’t. I asked the people at the bay he pooed in front of for a plastic bag, dealt with the Dave poo & moved on. Up and down the rows, looking at all the “stuff”.

At a bay not far from ours I saw a bee wheely bug. Babyman was given a ladybug wheely bug for his first birthday and both sproggets love it so I asked how much the seller wanted for it.

“$10” she said.

Bargain! I bought it & took it back to our stall. So far Bean had sold a book for $3.

Bean then took Dave for a walk around the bays. He found a cold chisel for $1.

I sold another book for $5.

Over the next couple of hours the children played on the wheely bug and in the dog crate we had for sale which attracted a lot of attention & funny comments. Some people were shocked we let our children put themselves in a dog crate, though most people saw the humour in it. A mother walking by with her toddler in a sling suggested we might like to keep the dog crate after all 😉

A highschool student bought a boardgame from me and asked me about the anti-nuclear sticker I have on Brigit’s rear window. She wanted some resources so she could hold an arguement with her pro-nuclear science teacher. Nice little bit of information sharing there.

A volunteer came around to collect our $10 fee for the bay and I spent $19something on food from the stupormarket next to the swapmeet. At 10am we decided we were over it. We’d sold $15.50 worth of “stuff” so the day had cost us a lot more than it made us!

A couple of people asked if Brigit (my kombi) was for sale, and one person asked if Dave was for sale. If the kombi and the dog didn’t have places in our hearts we’d have made our money back, haha.

We packed up and headed home, the swapmeet isn’t over until 11.30am, so again, we were defying convention by leaving early. Arrive late & leave early… we’re not very good swapmeet sellers. Unlike the con-artist who was selling junk opposite us. It was almost worth going to hear him scamming people like a true swapmeet regular!

When we got home The Bubble fell on the driveway. She landed on the left side of her face. She grazed her cheek, just next to and under her eye & her nose, and she bit her top lip. Poor love did a thorough job of hurting herself. Understandably she was very upset. We cuddled & put some essential oils on it, and eventually she fell asleep.

Later in the arvo, while I was listing our unsold stuff for sale on the internet, and Bean was sanding the new paint on his kombi Babyman got stung by a bee. He was playing on a ride-on car & stood on the bee. Bean brought him in to me, I scraped the bee sting out & breastfed him. More essential oils & a bath, and he was happy enough. Shortly after being stung he was running around, showing no signs of distress. I’m glad his reaction was so mild, my sister has anaphylactic reactions to bee stings now. Last night he was obviously troubled by it, he was wakeful in spite of being very tired & he was grabbing his foot, though eventually after much breastfeeding and consoling he finally became too exhausted to be kept up by it anymore.

The stuff I listed on the internet… well, most of it has been sold. The bulk of it sold within 3 hours. We should have done it that way in the first place and just slept in! Although, I wouldn’t have scored that excellent wheely bug if we’d done that.

I thought that wheely bug would prevent further tiffs over who got to ride the wheely bug when, instead it’s given them something new to argue about… who gets to ride the bee, and who gets the ride the ladybug…

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have No Comments

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!

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (3)