After the epic failure, and massive disappointment of not being able to have our dream holiday in the campervan back in May due to mechanical issues, the agony has been prolonged by restrictions on using the van over any distance until the gearbox has been replaced. A lengthy lead time of two months on getting my gearbox into the specialist left me feeling slightly frustrated, but mid July arrived and the box was delivered in person.
A month or so later and the refurbishment of my original gearbox seemed to be taking a lot longer than expected. Not exactly sure why but I’ve decided to take a friend up on the offer of loan gearbox to tide me over. I originally considered this option a couple of months previously to keep my van mobile in the interim but decided to wait. However, as my September holiday looms I have had to fall back on this as my only real possibility of getting my van roadworthy in time.
Pulling a gearbox out and replacing with another would normally be something I would leave to the experts, but the tight schedule means no availability in the only garage I really trust to do the job properly. So needs must. I rolled my sleeves up and got stuck in. All be it a little reluctantly.
The loan gearbox was petrol, so there was always going to have to be changes made before fitting to my diesel van. The bell / clutch housing needed to be swapped over along with the input shaft. After draining the oil from both boxes I split the clutch housing from the gearbox.
Then I proceeded to change the shaft. However, on close inspection I found the diesel input shaft to be pretty badly worn where it sits in the clutch spigott bearing.
Clearly I wouldn’t want to jeopardize the next holiday by turning a blind eye to something I could rectify prior to fitting the gearbox. So I posted on social media to see if anybody had a replacement I could use. Within an hour or so I had a bite, and by the end of the day I had images as proof of the condition of a good replacement part.
The wonders of Paypal meant that my part was on its way the following day. The clutch housing has also fitted with a new input shaft seal, and 4.5l of gearbox oil purchased in readiness of gearbox rebuild completion. Hopefully, the van should be back on the road in a matter of days 🙂
It took a great deal of effort and willpower not to email Brickwerks workshop asking for updates while my van was in for the engine swap . Simon had sent me a few photos of the progress in the first week, but after the bank holiday they had a lot on getting orders out for the webshop. I thought after the initial panic and rocky start shortly after I dropped the van off, the lack of contact in the second week was a good sign. The old adage ‘no new is good news’ gave me some solace that things were going smoothly. Besides, i didn’t want to know if there were any issues so thought it prudent to just sever contact until the latest possible moment.
Friday was the agreed collection date, so I emailed on Thursday morning to make sure it was a green light for the trip over to Honley by train. The reply was ‘yes, the engine has been running, sounded well but still needed a road test’. Attached was an image of the rear end of my Wolfgang with a new Brickwerks graphic on the exhaust cover. This I thought was really cool as these guys are the bees knees when it comes to this particular type of van! It adds an element of kudos for people to know this van has been breathed on by people that really know what they are doing!
I responded for them to keep me posted in case of any issues, and ask if could I have the bill by the end of the day to avoid the look of shock on my face at the counter when i came to collect. 🙂
Friday morning Mandy and I walked to Derby Train station from our home and caught the 9.40 train to Sheffield for the connecting train to Honley village. We arrived just before midday, and got to the garage shortly afterwards. Simon’s white Atlantic and another calypso Atlantic were spotted in the garage, which made for the usual full compliment of colours from factory if you include mine in cherry red. This seems to be the norm when I visit.
The finances were sorted out, Angus (the mechanic) gave me an overview of the work done and off we tootled. First stop was the garage over the road to fill up with diesel. Before I went to pay I noticed a pool of coolant leaking from the engine under tray. So we headed back to the Brickwerks to point out my findings.
Angus was just about to sink his teeth into a pasty for lunch . Credit to the lad, he set to fixing the issue straight away. We spent the time chatting to Michael in the reception about the shop, garage & camp sites . This resulted in me purchasing a few extra parts for the van in the form of a new snorkel for the airbox, and a pair of door mirror plugs. Close on two hours later Angus returned to say it was fixed and explained that the LDA boost controller (a component that enriches the fuel as the van accelerates), was actually pushing against a plastic union attached to the cylinder head which induced the leak. So we left for a second time just as he sank his teeth into his pasty 😅. What a star!
I was a little apprehensive on the way home after the earlier problem. I could tell that the engine has a lot more torque than the old worn out 1.6TD unit. The slightest incline had a massive impact on speed requiring down shifts into lower gears with the old engine. This new power plant was noticeably better. I could actually change up the gearbox as i climbed the hills out of Yorkshire into Derbyshire. I stopped at a car park to check all was well. Water was gushing from the under tray, and it looked like the injectors were leaking. This was really concerning and i had visions of having to drive back to Brickwerks again. I stopped and thought logically about this! The water was clear, and i could see no obvious leak from anywhere. What appeared to be leaking injectors could just be water boiling off after Angus had washed the pink coolant from the engine with fresh water. This could have pooled in the foam sound proofing attached to the inside of the under tray, which was still seeping out some time later. I hoped this was the case and we continued towards Derby, keeping an eye on the temp gauge and warning light. No cause for alarm as we pulled up to Mandy’s parents house in Ashbourne. I checked the back of the van and not a drop of fluid was seen to be leaking. My diagnosis was correct. Nothing to worry about 🙂
We eventually arrived home at 6.30pm with 65 miles now on the new engine. On reflection, the day had been pretty stressful. So once the old engine had been removed from the van and put in the garage, and the fridge had been switched on for a camp over at the weekend, it was a case of feet up and crack open a beer.
Mandy and I were up at 8am the following day. We had breakfast and started loading the van with the camping gear required for the weekends trip to King’s Linn. We chose the campsite via Pitchup.com mainly due to the distance. It was approximately 100 miles away from home, which would mean another 200 miles on the new engine by the time we got home. I needed to get to the magic 500 miles needed to run it in before I took the van back to Brickwerks on the 5th May for an oil & filter change and general check over. This round trip would put the total up to over 270. Happy days!
The weather was excellent all weekend. No rain, plenty of sun, but chilly with the northerly wind. The drive to Norfolk took us just over two hours. We arrived at the campsite at midday.
I was in a really good place and positively buzzing about the way the engine was performing. We pitched the van, turned the radio up and chilled for an hour or so. It was only going to be a matter of time before I got restless and wanted to tinker. Fortunately, I had something to occupy myself in the form of the new snorkel. The original one had perished and this was brought to my attention by Brickwerks during the engine swap. It sounded like it wasn’t going to be a particularly difficult job so out came the screwdrivers and away i went.
Half an hour later the old one was out and new in. Another job ticked off the list 🙂
In the evening Mandy and I went for a walk around the local village of North Runcton. Very picturesque with some amazing properties and fabulous countryside.
As the sun went down we headed back to the campsite.
The temperature dropped and by the time we got back to the van it was pretty chilly. The night heater went on as soon as the van door was opened. Great end to a fantastic day.
The following morning we headed of to Hunsatanton. It was only 15 miles down the road on the coast. We parked the van on a side street and walked to the shops where we had a coffee, then moved onto the beach. It had been many years since i had been to Hunstanton. 1983 was the last time or there abouts 🙁 .
We perused a market, and brought a small surf board bottle opener for the van, then decided on a steady mosey home around lunchtime which included a stop in a lay-by for a coffee and a sandwich.
We arrived home around 4pm. We had had a great weekend, and i couldn’t fault the new engine. It hadn’t used a drop of oil, and it hadn’t leaked any fluids (which was pretty much the opposite to what I had come to expect from Wolfgang). We just need to get a few more miles under our belt for the first oil change and we are good to go for the up and coming month long trip to Europe. Wolfgang has a new heart and clean bill of health at last 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’ 🙂
So that’s where we are at the moment. I’m in a happy place because its really looking fantastic.
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.
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.
This gave us great views of the boats in the Marina.
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.
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.
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 🙂