Make a boring grey VW T5 interior look fun

Just add grass. Not the real stuff of course. Just the finest plastic variety. Here are some pics of how I did it.

New VW van, but not a camper... yet

So the lovely T25 was sold to a friend on Facebook. We had two good years and plenty of adventures. Now we have a 2005 pale blue VW T5 Shuttle, ready to be converted into the ultimate family vehicle. This is a LWB (long wheel base), which means it's huge inside and can seat 8 people. I've always refused people carriers, but this one is different.

Plans are still being cooked up. But a conversion is on the cards, DIY style!


FOR SALE: VW T25 1.6 aircooled 1980 £6,250

This is becoming an increasingly rare vehicle, as it is a 1.6 aircooled VW T25 camper. These were the last aircooled vehicles built by VW before watercooled engines replaced them.

The interior is original Holdsworth Villa 1, apart from the cream Porsche 911 tombstone seats. Original Holdsworth cupboards, seat covers, curtains and even tie backs. The van was resprayed in 2014 back to its original colours.

The ride height is also original and not messed with.

Camping spec
• Rock ‘n’ roll bed downstairs for two
• Pop top sleeps two
• Twin gas hob with grill
• Small sink
• Original detachable table seats four
• Lots of cupboard space
• Two rear seat belts – one lap and one three point

Vehicle details
• 1980
• VW T25 1.6 aircooled
• MOT 13 May 2017
• Just been serviced by aircooled specialist in Tewkesbury
• Miles 13,343 (obviously gone round the clock - which will increase as still being used for camping)
• In the last year we’ve driven it 2,800 miles – never needed a tow. I even used it to commute to work, 38 miles each way, when I had problems with my car.

• The wheels currently have chrome hub caps, but we also have the original plastic wheel trims if you want it to be totally authentic.

MOT advisories
• Rear wheel bearing has slight play offside and nearside (MOT tester said this was usual for a vehicle of this age)
• Slight engine oil leak
• Light corrosion under body

Agreed insurance valuation of £8000

Work carried out 2015 – by aircooled specialist
• New roof struts
• New deformation panel – sits behind front bumper
• Replace engine oil seals
• New clutch
• Replaced master cylinder and brake servo
• Steering coupling and gaitors
• Exhaust removed repaired and refitted with new gaskets and heat transfer pod

Work carried out in 2014
• Ignition amplifier
• Ignition coil
• New starter motor
• Carb strip and refit
• Nearside front track rod repair
• Front brake discs and pads
• New battery
• Three point belt fixed and fitted in rear
• New tailgate struts
• Two new front window scraps fitted
• Two new door mirrors
• New indicator relay

• Resprayed by previous owner

Previous repairs from paperwork
• Inner sill
• Arches
• Outer sill
• Tie rod end
• Undersealed
• Wheel bearing kit

• Fuel filler neck
• Fuel tank
• Ignition lead set

• Replace O/S cylinder head

• Has some previous MOT certificates and road tax notifications

Next jobs
• When we bought the van the fridge was demonstrated as working, but we’ve never got it started
• Heating – doesn’t function. This is a common fault with this age of vehicle. But we only drive in warm weather!
• Rear tailgate rubbers (metal has corroded. I have sanded down, treated, filled and painted)
• Rear tailgate bubbling around seals

To test drive, you need proof of insurance
This van is 36 years old. There has been welding in the past. Previous owners have got paint on window rubbers. I don’t have records of everything that’s been done by previous owners.

Please view the van before buying. Email Richard:, or text 0771 267 0181.

Rose Xeon Team CGF road bike - one year on

So one year on since I started riding the Rose Xeon Team CGF road bike. It still feels amazing and every time I ride I feel very lucky to own it. With the carbon frame, fast spinning Swiss wheels, plus top end components it's a joy every ride.

In the past I've ridden and owned all kinds of bikes made of different materials, but never carbon and no bike has been draped with such top end components.

As just an average weekend rider, I really didn't believe that having a carbon bike would have seriously reduce my ride times. How wrong I was. I have been amazed at the results - even without clip-on pedals (which I must upgrade!)

I've seen my average speed increase by 2mph is many cases. If I really want to beat a time I can. Whatever energy you put through the cranks seems to go straight to the back wheel, without any wastage of effort or flex.

The bike is incredibly comfortable for longer rides, but if I was being picky I would like a longer stretch to the bars. But the geometry of Grand Fondo bikes means you're supposed to be sitting up more for long-distance comfort > I'm 5 '11 and I have the 57" frame.

The SRAM Red/Force combo is perfect. It's never missed a change or flipped the chain off. The calliper brakes are incredibly powerful as they are driven by SRAM Red hydraulic callipers. They scrub off speed fast, but I get a little nervous sometimes barrelling down a hill as the power seems to want to throw you over the top of the bike. I think this is more down to my riding style than the brakes though! The power of these brakes would be perfectly suited to discs.

The ride is smooth and soaks up the bumps and can handle damaged and rough roads. I often ride the bike around country roads - smooth tarmac is often a luxury where I live. The bike has handled everything thrown at it.

The rims take 25c tyres which are all the rage now. Mavic did some really interesting research on why 25c is better than 23c and Cyclist magazine explained it like this: "....a 17.7% increase in tyre air volume decreases rolling resistance by 13%, Furthermore, Mavic's testing shows that a 25c tyre on a 17mm rim bed inflated to 80psi has the same rolling resistance as a 23c tyre on a 15mm rim bed run at 100psi. However, the 80psi tyre will deform more readily over road bumps because of the lower pressure... etc etc"

Other design elements worth mentioning are: internally routed cables, the rear brake is positioned under the bottom bracket, and the integrated seat clamp > add them all together and you have a bike with really clean lines and pretty aerodynamic.

The most surprising thing about all Rose bikes are the prices (I believe all UK prices are just converted from the German Euro price). The 2016 version of the Rose CGF has just been released with Ultegra running gear, and costs a shade over £1,500. For a bike that weighs 6.8kg that's pretty amazing. In the latest issue of Cyclist magazine, similar specced bikes from mainstream or boutique manufacturers are priced at £3,500+  

If you go to the Rose website it's also worth checking out the aluminium framed Rose Pro SL. It's under £800 and weighs 7.9kg.

My final hint on saving money with Rose bikes is to join the Rose bikes Facebook page and send them a message to ask if they're selling any demo bikes. That's how I got mine and saved over £400 off the new price. I reckon I could sell the bike now for what I bought it due to its spec.

Below is the latest promotional video for the Rose CGF.... 

Back fire fixed

Tonight was a very special night. For the first time I have fixed something mechanical on my camper van. As you may have read, I've had a couple of starting problems recently. The starter motor has been turning, but the van hasn't been starting. When it does start, it starts with a large back fire. 

I did the sensible thing tonight before booking the van into the garage, I delved into the engine bay myself. Everyone says these engines are easy to work with. What could go wrong?


I started off by looking at the distributor cap and lucky for me I struck gold straight away. If you look closely at the pictures below you can see sooty deposits at the base of the cap. This could be the reason the van hadn't been firing up. Not enough spark was getting through to the spark plugs. With some light screwdriver scrapes and a tap to empty the debris out I put it all back together. 

When I turned the key, it started. Then I tried it a second, third and fourth time. Started first time, every time, like normal.

It's an amazing feeling to fix something. And it was so simple :)

My first VW T25 breakdown :(

It was going to happen at some time. And it did on Friday. We were heading off to the Forest of Dean for a family break at Whitemead Forest Park and we stopped at a service station outside of Tewksbury.

Only, the van didn't start back up.

I'd had a problem a couple of days before, which ended up with a big backfire outside Tescos. Today it was outside M&S. My van just doesn't like food shopping.

Luckily for all of us, our friends at VolksWrecks were two minutes away and I gave them a call. They very kindly came over to see what the problem was. And with ONE turn of the key my T25 started. My eldest son thought this was hilarious. Total humiliation for me - a perfect family treat!

We got to the Forest fine and had a great time at Whitemead. The next day the van was reluctant to start, but it did.... just. It may mean another trip to VolksWrecks.

First T25 breakdown.jpg

T25 struts start going soft

In the high winds last week, the T25 roof did start to come down. It was bizarre at first. I popped the top, went inside and when I returned, the top was down. It took me a few seconds to realise what had happened.

The gas struts do look a little tired, so I ordered some replacements from a company that's well recommended online - SGS Struts.

The new struts arrived today and as soon as I saw the package I knew there was a problem. The struts were huge. They were more fitting to an army vehicle!

So here's a key learning. Read the instructions on the website - get the code off your current strut or call up SGS for help. If you don't have the code they require three measurements:

  1. Distance between the centre of the two bolt holes
  2. Length of the piston fully extended
  3. Diameter of the eyelets

It was really difficult to see the codes on the struts, so I climbed up and took one off. Once I'd taken the measurements I tried to put it back. My attempts were rubbish and I couldn't make it go back.

In desperation I hit Google and found a fantastic site where I discovered you have to fit the struts in a certain order. By the time I'd discovered this, it was getting dark. So that's a job for another day. However, I would recommend checking out the Smallards blog, it's a fantastic record of the Smallards T25 renovation.

VW T25 up close and personal

A couple of months ago I discovered a big rust problem that was hiding behind my VW T25's front bumper. The job was far too serious for a bit of filler!, so I searched out a reputable local VW aircooled specialist that could carry out the welding.... plus remove the engine to fix an oil leak, replace the clutch and sort out some of the electrics. Ahem, so just a couple of jobs.

To be honest it was tough to find a good aircooled mechanic in North Gloucestershire. Some have the aircooled expertise, but just don't communicate very well. I spend most of my time in and out of meetings at work, so good comms with the garage are just as important as their mechanical expertise. As soon as I contacted the VolksWrecks team I was impressed and over the last week, comms have been amazing. They also very kindly took these photos for my blog. 

I pick up the van in the morning from VolksWrecks, just one week after dropping it off. I'm looking forward to having a chat about what they've discovered during the week working on my T25. I hope it's all good news :)


T2D Bootcamp complete

I'm afraid. Very afraid.

You see, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And after a day at Type 2 Detectives learning about electrics, servicing engines and how to take them out, I have all the knowledge I need to trash my van.

I also bought a test probe to help me sort my electrics. Yesterday everything was so clear. It made sense at the time. Now, with my van uncovered and my probe in hand, my mind is blank.

In all seriousness, yesterday was amazing for two reasons. First, it was like studying in the National Portrait Gallery. Beautifully detailed VW works of art hanging in the air and jacked up on trolleys. I could have driven away any of the VWs in there. I took a couple of snaps for you to look at.

But I wasn't there for oggling VWs, I was in Cambridge to study at a world renowned centre of learning, Type 2 Detectives.  T2D run a monthly Bootcamp for air cooled owners and share their immense knowledge to make air cooled owners feel more comfortable working on their VWs.

The day was packed, covering:

  • Air cooled electrics
  • How the air cooled engine works
  • How to service your engine
  • How to remove an engine
  • Breakdowns and how to get going

There was plenty of time to discuss your own van and ask specific questions. 

As a T25 owner it was also good to see that there was no split screen or bay window snobbery. T25s were welcome - as long as you're air cooled. In fact, everyone there was super friendly and it was great to be with like minded people, passionate about their hobby and facing similar challenges.

Great work Type 2 Detectives - highly recommended. Now where is that probe. And where on earth do I stick it?

T2D Bootcamp bible.jpg

Oh bumpers!

On a sunny winter's day I decided to take a little bit more of the van apart. To my horror, look what I found on my VW T25.

Patch it up with filler? I don't think that's possible here! I need to source a front deformation zone to be welded on. 

T2D Aircooled Bootcamp

Over the last few months I've never found myself a good aircooled mechanic I totally trust with my bus (North Gloucestershire, if you know anyone!). After spending a few £hundred on the last repair the mechanic did own up to 'not really liking working on aircooled' Great, thanks, you could have told me that a little earlier!

My Christmas present was a day-long course at Type 2 Detectives, near Cambridge. T2D Bootcamps are very visible in the VW mags and they also feature a lot at shows.  According to the site the course covers all the basics on aircooled engines, from electrics to oil leaks, and the most common reasons for breakdown. 

It's a bit of a trek over there as you have to go through the roundabout hell of Milton Keynes.... but it looks well worth it.

You can read more about the T2D BootCamps of their website.

T25 rust attack - passenger side footwell

After sanding back the driver's side I made my way across to the passenger side of my T25 camper. I got my sander out and off I went. I always feel very nervous at times like this, as you never know what horrors you're going to discover.

Once again the replacement floor hadn't been primed. I'm no expert, but surely this is common sense. In this photo you can also see how blue the Krust has gone, as it works overtime!

Once again the replacement floor hadn't been primed. I'm no expert, but surely this is common sense. In this photo you can also see how blue the Krust has gone, as it works overtime!

I discovered holes around the washer bottle entry point. Something that will need filling.

I discovered holes around the washer bottle entry point. Something that will need filling.

Once again, I apply  Hamorite Krus t to the surface to stabalise it.

Once again, I apply Hamorite Krust to the surface to stabalise it.

After it's applied the white solution will turn blue if it's working. Once dry it turns black. Unfortunately, the day ended before it had dried. Plus I may have applied too much...

After it's applied the white solution will turn blue if it's working. Once dry it turns black. Unfortunately, the day ended before it had dried. Plus I may have applied too much...