Breakdowns happen... We all know this. I often tell people that some of my best travel stories start off with a breakdown happening. This is one of those stories.
Sleeping Bear Campground
Shadow Mountain (Camp 1)
I wanted to reach out to our community and have everyone take an hour or so to do one very important thing. Take photos of your Vanagon/Bus. I'm NOT talking about photos of your Van in front of a cool waterfall or in an awesome campsite like what's shown in the header image above. I mean plain, generic photos of your van all by itself. Nothing else.
This is a project I've had on my back burner for quite some time. The main thing that was holding me up was locating a spare grey cubby hole door. I finally located a spare door so now it was time to get this project scratched off my list. This post contains a lot of photos, I tried to get as detailed as I could in order to help others that want to install a cabinet door.
I've been on the lookout for a good RV US Travel Map Sticker for quite some time but all of the ones I've found up until now have been pretty cheesy. I came across this one on Instagram on a travel trailer and immediately the search was on! I finally tracked it down to this one, its a RV State Sticker Map made by Evolve Skins sold on Amazon. I decided to buy it and give it a go!
As a Vanagon owner of nearly 7 years now I can easily say breakdowns happen. My worst fear is breaking down on the side of the road at night. I'm always looking for ways to make such a breakdown as safe as possible for me and for other drivers on the roadway.
I've never even considered replacing my standard cotton bath towels until I camped out with a fellow TexasVanagons member Trey that showed me his Micro Fiber towel. I was impressed with how thin and compact it was and my hunt began to find the perfect Camp Towel. By perfect I mean a towel that was very absorbent yet inexpensively priced, less than $20 per towel. I found just that!
I've been a huge fan of Blue Sea marine grade products for quite some time as I have a bunch of their products strung out all over my Vanagon. I was a bit surprised when I came across a new product of theirs, its the Blue Sea 1045 USB Quick Charger. I decided to pick one up and give it a try.
Ever since I purchased my 1987 Vanagon Westfalia 3 years ago I've always hated camping/traveling with either of my front or rear stock tables. They always seem to get in the way and the rear long table made it difficult to open the rear vertical closet door. On my next road trip, I need access to a table top so I can edit photos and blog while on the road so it got me to reevaluate my table situation.
Interior lighting in my Vanagon has been a struggle for me. I've always wanted to upgrade my lighting and add more but I haven't been able to decide on any one particular style of LED lighting option. I've probably ordered no less than a dozen different types of LED lighting solutions in order to install but haven't been happy with any of them. I felt I needed something in order to hold me over until I find the perfect solution. Who knows, this may be it.
I have my Solar panel wiring entering the van just above the rear closet in my Westfalia. I needed to run these wires to the front of my van where my Solar Controller will be installed. By drilling a single hole in the rear closet I was able to do so pretty easily. I'll detail out the process below.
I wanted a way to easily check my battery voltage while in the driver's seat and I began looking for different options online. I considered added a 52mm Voltage Gauge to my custom gauge cluster on my center dash but I already have 4 Gauges there. I didn't want to add a 5th. I remember seeing these steering column covers which are factory made and were meant to house a switch for a factory seat heater control. I've seen other owners place voltage meters or a outside temperature display in these slots before so I thought this would be my best option. Now I just got to find one!
I wanted a secondary water temperature gauge installed in my van so I can visually see a number on how my water temp is running. My stock gauge still works and this addition does not replace it. It's just a secondary gauge to keep tabs on your system. I've added one to my own van and this documentation is from adding one to another member's vans.
Fellow TexasVanagons member Kevin came out to our Houston Area campout with his 1987 Vanagaon Westfalia camper and this gave me a good opportunity to take a few photos of what I think is the cleanest gauge pod available on the market today. I've searched high and low for gauge pods for the Vanagon and even pods for all other makes and models looking to adapt them to our Vanagons. Nothing really caught my attention.
As a photographer, shooting photos on my road trips is VERY important to me. I guess this holds true for a lot of folks out there in general. One thing I did about a year ago was to mount my large Canon DSLR to a quick release plate on my center console. This was done so that it would make may camera more accessible without having it bounce around loose on the floor board. I had hoped this would allow me to shoot more photographs on my road trips but it didn't quite do what I wanted. Don't get me wrong, I love having my Canon DSLR within arms reach in the front of the van but this only works well if I pull over someplace for a few photos here and there. It does nothing for me in regards to taking photos when there are no pull-outs in order to stop.
When I first got interested in a purchasing a vehicle that I could use and practically live in for long cross country trips I looked at every option. The 3 front runners were a Ford Econoline van, a Mercedes Sprinter van and of course the winning choice, a VW Vanagon Westfalia.
I never knew how often Vanagons got stolen til I began seeing all of the "STOLEN VAN" announcements that were being posted on Facebook and thesamba.com. Granted those were mainly in the Pacific Northwest and I'm located in Texas but still! It really freaked me out and I was/am totally paranoid by it. Lol.
One of the questions I get asked a lot when dealing with dash electronics is "Where do I supply power from?". This comes up a lot especially when wiring up a new stereo or wiring up some gauges. I figured I'd take a minute and explain the easiest way to accomplish this. Even if you're not comfortable with 12v wiring in general. This will be very easy. I promise.
When camping we always sleep downstairs with our heads towards the rear hatch door. I found myself placing my phone on the ledge just above my head (behind the AC unit) while I sleep so that I can easily reach my phone. This is very handy in case someone calls with an emergency in the middle of the night or if you like to doze of while playing music.
I've been wanting to make a post on my auxiliary battery system for awhile now but it keeps evolving errr GROWING! lol. I decided to share a bit of my system piece by piece instead of trying to cover everything at once. This will be WAY easier. I hope. Ha.
I get asked by a lot of Vanagon owners how should they get started in adding a solar panel solution to their current setup. Many times they're overwhelmed by the amount of information, options and custom setups that have been described online. I wanted to find a good all around setup that anyone with a screwdriver and a pair of wire strippers could install in less than an hour without having to rip their hair out doing a ton of research online.
When I bought my '87 VW Vanagon Westfalia back in August 2013 it had a few things that immediately made it on my list of things to change and/or work on. One of them being doing something with the gaping hole in the bench seat kick plate that used to house a subwoofer sometime ago. My first inclination was to install a larger 10" sub in place of the 8" sub it was originally built for. In the preparation for the Colorado 2015 trip I've come to the realization that every little bit of storage space counts and I've since decided against adding a subwoofer in that spot and use it at storage space instead.
I bought a Rhino Design Studio Center Console for my Vanagon from GoWesty.com (Van-Cafe.com also sells them) with the sole intent of modifying it in order to house a subwoofer. These consoles are made on a per order basis so expect about a 4 week delivery date which I didn't have a problem with.