Trials of a campervan enthusiast

We have been continuing the work on the campervan to get “tidgy” roadworthy and ready for a MOT. However we hit a bit of a glitch this evening, we had spent at least 2 weeks re-wiring the whole van because nothing seemed to work, although we were assured that the wiring was “almost there”, yeah right…

Anyway, the glitch we encountered was related to the engine, yes the engine which we rebuilt from the bottom up recently. We managed to start the engine for the first time today as we wanted to make sure that the wiring was complete beforehand.  Two things happened, we realised that there might be a problem with the tappets and once it started (which was a great sound to hear, if you don’t know what i mean by this, listen to a VW Beetle or Campervan for that unique sound you get) the rear oil seal which is by the flywheel broke and the oil started to literally “piss out”. Well my response was mixed, i was happy that the engine started and it was great to hear it again, and the other thought was “bugger” we have to take the engine apart again to replace an oil seal which costs £2,50.

But we are a step closer to getting him back on the road, which is something.

We are going to now make a slight change of plan as we really need to check the rear brakes, so we will now focus on these as we know the engine works and all we need to do is get it out and sort out some simple jobs (we hope).



The difficulty i guess in writing a blog is knowing what not to write, but as i said i will use this as a opportunity to share my thoughts and stuff.

So on we go – We own a 1972 Westfalia VW Campervan (called Tidgy) and he is a pride and joy, but for the last 4 years it has been sat in a garage partly restored, well to be honest in a very rusty state.

We bought it before we got married (to sharon) and we paid for it with our savings for our wedding. The plan once we bought it was to honeymoon around Europe for 6 weeks over the summer and see what happens. We ended up only doing France and then getting an 18 hour ferry to Ireland.

Sharon, Me and Tidgy (Dublin camp site)

I include a picture of what he looked like before we sent him for restoration:

But last weekend it came home, not complete but it came home none the less. We have been getting help this week on the jobs that need finishing: engine, brakes plus some basic internal cosmetic stuff. But it will soon be back on the road.

Now we have 2 children (Ewan and Finley) and they have never experienced any time in Tidgy, but on Sunday we spent nearly 8 hours cleaning him, eating a small picnic in him and the boys played with their trains in him. It was such a joyful experience to see our children being able to have fun in Tidgy (Although he was parked on our Driveway!!)

The interesting thing about all of this is that the company who we had paid money too, went bust, so we were almost for a long period of time facing the possibility of losing him to the scrap yard, the money which was significant but not as important was also lost! But to cut a long story short, we managed to negotiate some additional work to be done at no cost…..

Now many friends have wondered why we bothered waiting and have often said “why don’t you buy a new van” “why is it taking so long”. Frankly even when we told them the whole story they still didn’t understand.

We have been through a great deal of stress trying to get to this point where he can come home, i was never going to give up hope that he would be able to come back. Tidgy is like our 3rd child, the sentimental cost is incalculable. I am reminded of a certain credit card advert. Cost of a new van £8000+, Cost of Tidgy to us PRICELESS

This is a picture of how he looks now without his new protective raincoat, we are very pleased with what we have and are grateful that he didn’t end up on teh scrap yard like many other customers vans.

Tidgy partly finished in our driveway

We are even planning on taken him to Australia (if we can emigrate in the next few years – more on this in future thoughts) so he will face a better climate and rust will be a thing of the past 🙂

Now i guess my question for today is can you ever really quantify sentimental value?

I’m sure insurance companies will have a view, but in our experience losing Tidgy would be like losing a member of our family.