SUSPENSION & BRAKES
OCEAN PLASTIC TOUR BUS - VW Camper, or Combi vans are symbolic of the earth movement, made famous by the likes of Joss Stone, Jamie Oliver and BBC Top Gear presenter, Richard Hammond - all great fans of Volkswagen campers. The Volkswagen van uses the same air cooled 4-cylinder boxer engine as the famed Beetle designed by Professor Ferdinand Porsche. Seen here the front bumper mount was rusted so badly that it was decided to remove it and weld in more substantial panels. This was long before we were given use of the vehicle. Copyright photograph Blueplanet Universal Holdings Ltd 2007, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of BUH Ltd to reproduce this picture.
Production of the air cooled VW T2 combi van, or camper, ceased in Germany after 1980. Our van was one of the last to roll off the production lines and is unusual in that it has twin sliding doors and an alternator instead of a dynamo.
The suspension and braking systems were gradually improved from the original drum brakes and swash plate drive of the Volkswagen Beetle. Basically, the stopping power increased with larger drums at the rear and hydraulically operated disc brakes at the front.
The drive shafts went over to constant velocity joints with rubber gaiters that revolve rather than stay stationary like on the older axles. This meant that the cornering loads were not in-part transmitted via the axle tube to the differential housing, but via the captive steel balls and casings, since there is no horizontal sliding cup as in other CV based suspension systems found on most other front wheel drive vehicles. The Camper is of course rear wheel drive.
DRIVE SHAFTS - Notorious for being hard to undo, the castellated nuts that hold the braking drum to the rear wheel bearing assembly proved extremely troublesome. We eventually got them undone using some scaffold tubing about six feet long, lashings of lubricant and even some heat and hammers. Be careful not to use too much heat, this is not an exhaust pipe. Copyright photographs, 20 October 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
MASTER CYLINDER - Difficult to get off and then absolutely useless. The original master cylinder was beyond repair. Enter a brand new replacement of German origin. A comforting thought when lovingly rebuilding your Volkswagen. The vice on the left has seen some action, even for making robot frames. A solid vice is one of the mainstays of any workshop. Copyright photographs, 20 October 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
CV JOINTS - Unlike the VW Beetle that had swash plates, the drive shaft of a late model bay is a conventional constant velocity joint on a splined shaft increasing the overall efficiency of the vehicle. On close inspection the rubber gaiters were split and when cleaned, one CV literally feel apart it was so worn. Copyright photographs, 26 October 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce these pictures.
BRAKE SHOES - The old back plates were just a rusty memory. The new back-plates did not have the mounting holes drilled in the correct place, but this was cured by our resourceful mechanic who is a fan of copper-slip anti seize grease. New handbrake cables and slave cylinders were assembled, also with lashings of long-term lubrication. Copyright photographs, 26 October 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce these pictures.
BRAKE DRUM - Braking with drums is less efficient than with discs, the only advantage being that they work just as well in the wet, as in dry conditions. If you leave a camper with the handbrake on for long periods, you will find that the shoes rust to the drums. If that happens, you will need to get fairly brutal with a heavy (sledge) hammer on the tyres to shock bond loose. Simply rocking the bus will achieve little and may cause more damage internally. Copyright photographs, 20 October 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
DISCS - The taper roller bearings on the front axle are notorious for wear. If you feel a rumble on the front end, it is time for a new set. Fortunately, they are not difficult to replace using a drift evenly. One of our mechanics once replaced the bearings on a Beetle by the side of the road in less than twenty minutes using a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench. The wheel literally fell off the front end after a roundabout, but the quick reactions of the mechanic saved damage to the stub axle. That is the beauty of these vehicles, servicing is relatively simple. Always use MS3 or other long-life molybdenum grease and be sure to clean old grease from good bearings when re-packing a wheel bearing. Copyright photograph, 27 October 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
WHEEL BEARINGS - The rear swing axle is mounted on a transverse torsion bar that is a feature of these beautiful vans. One of the bolts that secures the cv joint to the drive shaft flange would not budge. This meant removing the shaft for some serious surgery in a vice. Copyright photograph, 31 October 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce these pictures.
CHASSIS OUTRIGGER - This part of the frame supports the front bumper and 'A' post that takes the front doors. In the event of a crash, shock loads are transferred from the impact area to the chassis via this beam. This company are specialist producers of body and chassis repair sections. Copyright photograph, 1 December 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.
We are using the best industrial welding equipment that we could find from R-Tech Welding Equipment. The first thing for our welders to get used to is that the torches are much heavier duty items compared to a lot of other DIY and professional garage equipment and the fittings are superb. We needed production quality equipment for when we produce the AmphiMax and SeaVax machines. We have MIG and TIG machines in single and three-phase, and a spool on gun setup especially for aluminium. You'll see more details of these machines as we move ahead with the project.
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