Category Archives: General Maintenence

A new heart for Wolfgang! – Part 2

Sunday 9th April was a gorgeous sunny day that lent itself perfectly to using the van as a base for a family outing at Calke Abbey. Its quite unique in the location we live in as much as the owners (National Trust) allow you to park on the grass fields surrounded by trees and woodlands which forms the long driveway up to the historic house itself.

Pitched up at Calke

All in all it turned out to be a very busy day, but in the back of my mind i knew that this would be the last trip in the van with the trusty 1.6TD JX engine that had provided us with so many great journeys since ownership. Getting really sentimental, i guess you could say that we were not the only people to benefit from the trusty power plant, so it makes sense to show its penultimate day in a great light.

Pitched up at 9am waiting for family

So we got back from Calke, and proceeded to rid the van of anything that wasn’t appropriate for the journey the following day. No camping equipment required, but lots of new and refurbished parts in readiness for the trip to the garage in sunny Yorkshire.

Monday we were greeted with another fine day weather-wise, but this was all predicted by the met office so no great surprises, but welcome all the same. We left Derby for Honley just after rush hour and arrived at our destination at 10.30am. The visit to Brickwerks has become an annual pilgrimage. This was our third time and with each visit address increasingly more expensive issues to get Wolfgang back to his former glory.

After a brief conversation with Simon and Micheal, Mandy and I tootled off thinking I was just lacking a fuel pump bracket. This didn’t concern me massively. However, by the time we had walked the short distance to the train station, and got on the train to depart home, emails were telling me the list of missing parts were increasing exponentially. My lack of research, and my over simplification of what could and couldn’t be used from the old JX unit left me in a bit of a sticky situation.

Parts required:

Intermediate shaft pulley.
Intermediate shaft flange.
Intermediate shaft pulley bolt and woodruff key.
Brake vacuum pump.
Oil seal housings for both ends of the crank.
Flywheel end – seal
Timing belt rear cover.
Timing belt upper cover.
Timing belt lower cover.
Oil filter head.
Oil cooler.

As a recap, I brought a second hand engine from eBay which was similar, but not the same as the engine i needed to put in my van. It was from a later model VW van, and slightly bigger in capacity to the one i had in my van (1900cc) This was an acceptable exchange for the 1.9TD AAZ i needed back from the engine shop. I stripped it back the core engine and sent it away to AW Engineering for checking.

ABL ready to be shipped to engine shop

Feedback was positive for the returned unit, and my new engine (AAZ Code) was returned to me at a later date in a polythene bag. This is where it stayed in its packaging until we arrived at Brickwerks.

My van only had four days allocated by Brickwerks to get the old engine out, and new in. If things over ran it would put them in a sticky situation for there future workload. Mandy and I were looking forward to a little shopping and a meal in Sheffield on the way home, but my mind was now on trying to get the missing parts to the garage. With such an early spanner in the works the day had become a little stressful.

With so many parts required i contacted AW Engineering who provided the engine. I knew they were big with VW engine re manufacturing, so they were a good place to start in terms of providing the sheer quantity of parts i needed to keep things on track. Long story short, after numerous emails and phone calls, AW had accumulated a ‘kit’ of parts required to complete the install. £300 was the sum required to purchase bits and have them shipped to Brickwerks.

The following day images of the progression started to arrive via email.

Turbo spacer required for 1.6 to 1.9cc
Porting on inlet manifold
The engine, manifold and turbo

On Wednesday I had notification that the extra parts had arrived from AW, along with this photo to say that ‘It’s in the hole’ 🙂

In the hole 1
No idea what this is but it looks clean and shiny at the same time 🙂

So that’s where we are at the moment. I’m in a happy place because its really looking fantastic.

Next – A New Heart for Wolfgang -Part 3


Rusty fuel tank

I knew that the fuel tank had some corrosion but wasn’t 100% sure just how bad it was. The van was in my local garage last year to have the coolant pipes replaced and the mechanic told me there were large sheets of rust coming from the top of the tank during some preliminary work. Long story short the garage never ended up fitting the pipes, and threw the towel in after he realised everything was going to take him a lot longer than he had anticipated due to the expanding workload. However, I had ordered the new tank based on his analysis, which sat in my garage for a number of month up until now. So the  engine upgrade  is currently in full swing, which is the perfect time to get this sorted.

Here is a picture the rusty tank taken off at the Brickwerks Workshop (Just so there is nothing left to the imagination). On the cusp of failure i would imagine 🙂

Caliper Replacment

The off side caliper had been intermittently sticking  on a few separate occasions throughout the course of 2016. I had taken my van into my local garage for them to investigate the problem. Diagnosed as sticking on the caliper carrier was one suggestion, and after new wheel bearings and disk brakes the issues seemed to be resolved for a good few months. May 2017 I collected my van from storage and by the time I had got home the smell of hot components made me realize the issue had returned. The only possible option now was to replace the calipers themselves. Not cheap at near on £250 for the pair including new hoses.

There were two different types of caliper fitted to the Atlantic. Mine had come out of the factory with the  ‘Late ATE’ variety. They do not make these calipers anymore so the only option was a refurbished pair. Brickwerks was the chosen supplier. I was pleasantly surprised at just how well these had been reconditioned. They actually looked new. Clearly all new moving components and they had been plated.

As good as they looked, I knew that a good couple of coats of Smoothrite Red would assist against the elements, and give a brief flick of red through the wheel apertures. I had used Hammerite on my previous vehicle calipers. It was capable of withstanding pretty high temperatures, and didn’t discolor.


Liverpool – November Weekend Break

Mandy and I always make the effort to get away on our Birthday weekend which fall in February and November respectively. This used to be in the form of a B&B, or hotel in a nice location away from home. However, since we brought the camper its pretty much been an excuse to go away in the van.

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An example of Liverpool’s beauty

Come mid October we were struggling to decide on a location for my birthday. I saw a post on Facebook by somebody saying they had spent a night at Liverpool Marina in their camper, so we decided to investigated the option by looking at the Marina website ,and sending an email for prices and availability. The response was £15 per overnight stay in the outer car parks, which included access to shower facilities.  The price was fine as a room in a hotel or B&B in the center of Liverpool would have been upwards or £80. However, information on the camping location was sketchy, so Mandy and I were understandably apprehensive. We decided to commit to the weekend in the hope that it would work out for the ok. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Saturday 12th started well for me. I got presents and cards 🙂 . The weather on the other hand was dull and rainy 🙁 . We set off from Derby mid morning, and arrived at Liverpool just as the rain stopped and the sun came out. The post code we used in the Sat-Nav positioned us in a car park with a few campervans. Initially we thought it was the right location and were a little dissapointed at the lack of boats. There was water, but no boats. It soon became apparent we were in the wrong place as the Marina Yacht Club was nowhere to be seen. A short drive lead us to the right location where we found a nice spot on the edge of the car park to set the van up.

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This gave us great views of the boats in the Marina.

Pitched Up and ready to hit the city
Pitched Up and ready to hit the city

We popped into the Yatch Club to make our presence known, collected a swipe card to enable access the shower (£10 deposit), and paid for two nights parking (£30). We soon got our bearings and headed towards Albert Dock. This was a 15 minute walk along the River Mersey past the Liverpool Exhibition Center, BT Convention Center and the Echo Arena.

Mersey at low tide
Mersey at low tide

We had been to Liverpool in the past. The first time was a coach trip to the cavern club for an evening, and a couple of times after that where we parked up at the main shopping complex ‘Liverpool One’. On all  occasions we only saw a very limited portion of what the city had to offer. It’s not surprising that our impression of Liverpool was a little muted. That said, the regeneration and new developments seen on the brief walk from Marina to the Albert Docks was certainly giving me a reason to question my opinion. Over the course of the afternoon, my view of Liverpool changed dramatically for the better.

The quays, wharf’s, docks, architecture, museums and colorful history makes Liverpool one of the most interesting City’s to visit. I really couldn’t believe that  we had missed such a lot previously. Saturday afternoon gave us a great overview of the docks and its location in relation to the other areas we were more familiar with. A coffee at Nero, a meal at one of our favorite restaurants Zizzis, in combination with plenty of fresh air and  walking made the day pretty much perfect. Suffice to say we both slept extremely well that night.

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Sunday was Armistice day. This always fell on my birthday weekend so  we were used to being cought up in the excitement of the parades. This year was different. We had a leisurely start to the day because we didn’t feel the need to rush being so local to the city center. We had a shower, a cuppa & breakfast, then set off on a brisk walk up the now familiar ‘Kings Parade’  to the Albert Docks. We were so distracted by the shops and attractions at the docks, by the time we realized it was almost midday and we had missed the parade 🙁  …but I found this on youtube  🙂

On the Saturday I had seen some small ferries giving guided tours of the docklands and river. I decided that this would be a great way to pass some time and learn a little about the history of the area. Unfortunately no ferries were running on Sunday because of armistice day. So we settled for an open top bus tour.

The temperature in the afternoon dropped so this was a chilly experience, but it was a great way to see far more of the sights than we would have been able to on foot. One fact I  learnt was “Liverpool has more grade 1 & 2 listed buildings outside of London than anywhere else in England” .

Anyways, we stayed a second night at the Marina before heading home the following day. In summary a really great city break on a real budget. Highly recommended for anybody that has a campervan / motorhome 🙂

Radius arms / chassis mounting (Brickwerks)

I decided to take my van to Brickwerks for a service some 6 months or so after buying it back in May 2015. I’m a bit precious about my vehicles and have found myself in a situation on numerous occasions in the past not really trusting the run of the mill, modern car garage. So the first visit was for one day which included a service, inspection and a fix of anything that was clearly not right and fixable within the constraints of the day. So from there we had a list. One year on and my van was in for a minor service to follow on from the full one in 2015, and a brief to chip away at the already identified issues. All good in the hood….Not quite!

It soon became apparent that I had some quite serious issues as a result a distinct lack of maintenance by the previous owners. Radius arm bushes were identified as being perished on the first visit, and although this on it’s own is not uncommon, the fact that after further investigation it was quite conceivable that none of the associated components had ever had any maintenance since it left the factory in 1990.

Radius arm and perished bushes
Massively damaged body mount aperture

After viewing these parts it dawned on me that if these issues hadn’t been identified during this visit, structural failure was going to happen at some point in the not too distant future. I’m not complaining, but this unforeseen issue was now at the forefront of my vans visit to Brickwerks.

The following is pretty much a step by step pictorial of how the repair was done. I will hasten to add that there is a lot more science and expertises to this than just being able to use a welder and a grinder. If you care about your van…and more importantly the occupants, pedestrians and other road users that may become involved as a result of dodgy workmanship, i would recommend you leave this sort of fix to the experts.

So the first pictures were emailed to me by Simon at Brickwerks (above). This was great as I was left in no doubt that this really needed addressing. Shortly after followed these showing the progress:


All corrosion cut out of the ‘three’ affected layers.

First layer of plate welded in from the back

First layer of plate welded in from the back, after which the middle and front followed.

seams ground back to clean

All visible surfaces were cleaned back and the hole was drilled for the radius arm. I will say that this hole was not guess work. A template was made from a new off the shelf part to make sure it was in exactly the right place.

After this that bare metal was primed

After this the bare metal was primed…




and Dinitrol applied to stop stone chips & water ingress.


I’ll just point out that the above photo shows one of the desperately thing layers of metal that made up a part of the chassis connector points. The repair (I think you will agree) is a million miles away from the old and worn out parts that were on my van when I purchased it.

So this is the finished article….


Note: When I first got my van I went through a process of replacing some of the suspension parts such as coil springs and dampers. This improved the ride of the van massively and I didn’t think it could get any better. I was proven wrong and it was instantly noticeable on the way back to Derby from the workshop in Yorkshire that it was so much tighter on the bends and bumps. This just goes to show that it is a sum of all of the components being in good working order that makes a van handle well.