Motoette -in forward motion

Bon Voyage Dorothy!

 

The last of my possessions from the US.

Will it all fit??

 

Hmmm, where do I start??? (As I look up and to the left tapping the right side of my cheek with my index finger). I am embarrassed to admit it has been quite a few months since I have updated Dorothy’s blog! But, I must say, I have a good excuse, as Dorothy has kept Matt and I very busy in her new job adventure as a wedding transportation vehicle.

Let me just jump back to March, when we scheduled Dorothy to leave the port of Oakland CA to make the long sea going journey to South Hampton UK. Matt handled the exporting of the bus and started working with a company out of the UK, which put us in touch with Aladdin Shipping in Oakland CA. They were very professional and I would highly recommend them for all your vehicle transport needs.

March the tenth was the day we drove the bus to Aladdin fully loaded with all my worldly possessions. I drove the rental car for the 20 miles over bay and across the Richmond Bridge as Matt followed behind with Dorothy, clearly struggling with her extra weight gain. We made the short journey without incident and with great relief, pulled up outside of the Aladdin offices.

We were greeted by friendly faces, which immediately sensed our growing concerns in leaving the bus to board a big cargo ship, not knowing whether her delicate form would survive the harsh salt weather and the long cruise. To calm our nerves, John, one of the workers, offered to show us the warehouse where they store the vehicles before loading them onto the containers. We both nodded our heads in unison and followed him through a security door and into the huge warehouse filled with cars, trucks and even other VW buses!

Packing Dorothy with my last few belongings from home.

Packing Dorothy with my last few belongings from home.

What an incredible operation.  We could see the workers systematically loading cars and trucks into the cargo containers. There was one container where they were stacking four vintage cars with nothing but a skeleton of two-by-fours to support their weight on top of each other. I had a moment of panic thinking that was how Dorothy was going to be loaded. But, with the gentle reassurance from John, he convinced me that Dorothy would be tandem with one other vehicle. Whew!

 

After 30 minutes we finalized the paper work and Matt and I said our good-byes to Dorothy, who was to sit out front as we left her for the next hour until the people at Aladdin were ready to store her for the voyage 4 days later. Like doting parents, we sat outside in the rental car waiting for that hour until she was moved to her safe haven, the warehouse. An hour went by, then another 30 minutes. Then another 30 minutes and still she sat there patiently waiting to be taken in. After two hours, we finally had to just trust in the system and head back….reluctantly, I might add! It was the time we would see Dorothy on US soil.

 

Dorothy set sail on the Dallas Express on March 17 and was to arrive near London exactly one month later. We tracked her ports of call, starting with Los Angeles, CA then on to The Panama Canal. The ship docked in a port just after going through the canal and then on to North Carolina, where it made another stop. One more stop in Nova Scotia before it headed due east and towards the British shores.

Dorothy parked outside of Aladdin Shipping. The last time we would see her in the US...

Dorothy parked outside of Aladdin Shipping. The last time we would see her in the US…

 

While Dorothy was on her cruise, Matt and I dedicated a good portion of our day to promoting the wedding hire business, MoonstruckVW. Our main focus was to get noticed on Facebook by creating a more entertaining page for those VW bus enthusiasts. Posting fun and unusual pictures of things bus related stirred up quite a buzz and soon we were having inquiries for Dorothy. One of the frustrating things about doing wedding hire is, as a transport business, we can only do weddings and funerals (believe it or not!). So, it was a huge let down when the messages and phone calls started to come in only to request a price on proms! It was getting to the point where we just didn’t want to answer the phone anymore only to be foiled again by another prom inquiry!

Finally, people started to get the message when we changed our Web page by specifically stating our limitations. This was the turning point for us. Wedding related date requests started to pour in, and the prom seekers slowly diminished.

 

One of the other life changes we needed to make was to find a house that could adequately store Dorothy from England’s moist weather.

 

The Dallas Express, the ship that brought Dorothy to the UK.

The Dallas Express, the ship that brought Dorothy to the UK.

The prelude to shipping Dorothy:

We cruised the web for several months in search of the perfect house for Matt, his youngest son, Sean and me. Something that was big enough for the three of us, my two cats I had shipped from the US and garage big enough to house Dorothy and our two motorbikes. This would not be as big of a problem if we were doing this in the states, but here in England, garages are few and far between, especially two car garages.

 

Finally, in early February of 2014, I spotted a house in a little village outside of Stafford. The pictures looked really good, but looks can be deceiving when it comes to selling something on the internet. We took a ride to take a look and it was perfect for what we needed. A quaint, but larger house with a sizable English garden front and back and a two car garage! We had not gone back to the US as this time to ship Dorothy back to the UK, so we had no way to know if Dorothy would actually fit or not, but we were confident she would—-she would have to because the house was perfect and time was running out!

 

Dorothy all dressed up in her wedding attire in the UK!

Dorothy all dressed up in her wedding attire in the UK!

September 5, 2014 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus, Vintage Volkswagen Bus Travel Story, Volkswagen bus | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dorothy as Days Go By

Dorothy all dressed and ready to do to work!

Dorothy all dressed and ready to do to work!

Where does the time go while you’re having fun? I can’t believe it’s been 6 weeks since Matt and I took our epic journey back to Kansas to pick up Dorothy and drive her almost 2,5oo miles back to California– and get married in Vegas on the way! Well, even though it seems like yesterday, Matt and I have done well with our time and have managed to kick some Fahrvergnügen butt and accomplish some impressive goals, at least to us! If you’re diggin’ the scene, then read on my brotha’s and sista’s to find out ……To start:

After three mechanics, two carburetors, one distributor. one float valve and a major brake job, still, the beat goes on! I have another appointment to bring Dorothy to her latest mechanic, Paul to have her exhaust worked on. This will alleviate two problems, one; the low power in low revs problem and two; it will fix the interior heater, which currently is not hooked up because of carbon monoxide fumes it emits into the cabin, making it difficult to drive when you’ve kicked the bucket!. *cough, cough, gag!*

Paul owns Valley Wagon Works, here in San Rafael, I was actually referred to him by a friendly worker at Homedepot. Wagon Works only does Volkswagen busses, nothing else, so that was a really good sign. Matt and I were quickly becoming discouraged in our discovery that there were not a lot of mechanics who know all the in’s and out’s of an air-cooled engine.

Floor before I refinished

Floor before I refinished

Floor after I refinished

Floor after I refinished

We had learned that a really good vintage VW mechanic was a rare find and even more rare the further east you go. This would explain why Dorothy had some rather unusual idiosyncrasies. For instance, her stick shift is way over to the right, making it difficult to find the gears. Matt and I were forever searching for all four of her gears while on our journey back to California. It turns out, her gear plates are in backwards! An easy mistake, if you don’t know what you are doing. Her steering is not set right, the light switch that is triggered by the doors was completely wired backwards (among other things), which is why it didn’t work. She has a new engine, but it’s a 1971 engine and Dorothy is a 1970. These are not big deal items, but just humorous as we learn more and more about her and how she was maintained.

Before I repaired the dashboard

Before I repaired the dashboard

After I repaired the dashboard

After I repaired the dashboard

What Matt & I have done so far:

Rather than spend $600 plus to replace the water stained door panels, we decided we could do a much better job and it would be more durable and tasteful than the standard option of cheap vinyl on cardboard. Matt cut, shaped and glued the fabric on to each of the 7 panels while I frantically sewed the fabric that was to cover them. We picked out a rich taupe ultra suede for the top and a chocolate-brown vinyl for the base of the panels. I put ruche pockets on three of the panels, which was rather challenging with my limited sewing ability!

I have to say, we really did a nice job in how they turned out. Matt trimmed each panel in a chrome trim with matching screw covers that really set it off. We have replaced: two front indicator seals and the two bulbs, two side reflectors, one chrome head light ring and the two rubber door steps on the front bumper. Added an engine seal, replaced driver’s door seal. New glove compartment, new leather steering wheel cover, installed the rubber trim around the pop up that was missing, fixed the doors locks, W-D’d everything! Spray painted just under the ignition where the keys scratched the matte black paint away. Repaired the dash with a vinyl repair kit. Sanded, then sanded again and varathaned the parquet floors.

Matt spent two days under Dorothy wire brushing any surface rust and then painted her underbelly with rust inhibiting paint. Matt also wax oiled all the inside panels to keep rust from developing. He went around the bus and touch-up painted anything that even resembled rust! I took the grill off and cleaned and painted the inside. Squirted the vent mechanism with W-D while I was in there, now the air vent opens and shuts completely now.

photos.14photos7I made new curtains for all the windows and installed the curtain wire that was missing. I could literally stand the old ones up they were so old and stiff! I made matching bolsters for the seat in the back. Replaced the old gas fireplace with a new electric one, so cute! Sanded and cleaned the two aluminum louver windows. Removed the decorative chrome head lamp covers and then scrubbed the rust off the glass of the head lamp it had left. We could not understand the function of these covers, since all they did was reduce the intensity of the beam of light in which to see at night! Whatever!

We washed and waxed Dorothy and polished her Porsche chrome wheels. We have cleaned under and over everything inside and out and managed to cure most of the squeaks that she had accumulated from her aged body!

What still needs to be done:

Her exhaust and a new ignition. I would also like to have all her spark plugs changed. Steering, gears are a must and that should pretty much cover it for the time being.

Because she will be shipped to England, she needs to pass the MOT. A mandatory annual inspection that is required in order to be able to drive your vehicle legally on UK roads. This means, replacing the rear lights and installing independent amber indicators from the brake and rear lights. The heater needs to work in order to get air flow to the windscreen in dealing with condensation. The windshield wipers need to operate properly as well as the windshield washer, which doesn’t work at all. We are still dealing with solving rust issues and poor Dorothy has an unsubstantiated amount of orifices for water and moisture to find their way in and therefore, creating RUST! So, this is an never-ending challenge for us, but one we happily take on!

Inside of the old door panel Yuk!

Inside of the old door panel Yuk!

Matt works his magic in creating new panels

Matt works his magic in creating new panels

What’s next:

Matt has been creating Dorothy’s Website http://www.moonstruckvw.co.uk/ together we both have been adding content and pictures. It is still a work in progress, but at least we have something up and running, next we will be adding a Facebook page. Okay, so I admit, it’s a small set back having Dorothy still in the US and the business in the UK, but we’re working on it! Our goal is to have everything setup and ready to go, with Dorothy and with the advertising. We are scheduled to have our first official gig in May chauffeuring our good friends son and his bride-to-be to their wedding. We are really hoping that Dorothy can be a part of this very special day.

Our projected time to ship Dorothy is the end of February, which will roughly bring her into a UK port at the end of March, just in time for the kick-off of the wedding season. If the there is an abundance of interest beforehand, then we will have to rethink the shipping date. We are waiting to ship for a few months to avoid additional fees, but if there is money to be made, it only makes sense to send her on and we’ll make up the added costs in revenue. It’s a no brainer!

New door panels and steering cover

New door panels and steering cover

 

Closer look

Closer look

A ruched pocket behind the passenger seat. This is where the new fireplace will go.

A ruched pocket behind the passenger seat. This is where the new fireplace will go.

  

 

 

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December 3, 2013 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Family Affair – Dorothy’s New Home in California

A picture paints a thousand words!

A picture paints a thousand words!

It’s been an interesting 2 weeks since our triumphant trip, traveling almost 2,500 miles from Wichita Kansas to San Francisco California in a 1970 Volkswagen bus named Dorothy.

Just two days after we arrived, we took Dorothy to a small VW gathering called the Deutschland Dubs 2nd Annual Air-Cooled Roundup Picnic at the Presidio just over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The picnic was to be held at Crissy Field, but again, being tormented by the National Park closures, the organizers had to relocate the small group.

We were very excited to be able to attend and hang out with other dedicated Volkswagen owners just weeks after purchasing her. We were also a little hesitant to go because Dorothy had not been running well. she was stalling anytime we would apply the brakes to stop in the last few hundred miles of our trip.

Bus gathering overlooking the SF bay

Bus gathering overlooking the SF bay

In the end, it was taking both of us to drive her. One person to keep their foot on the brake and one person to keep their foot on the gas so she wouldn’t die. It was really becoming tiring and concerning. She also didn’t sound good, her idling point would constantly vary, so anytime Matt tried to adjust the idle it would soon change. Clearly, it was time to give Mike (my mechanic) a call.

Regardless, we went ahead and took Dorothy to the meet up. It was a rare clear, glorious sunny day in the famous foggy city. We pulled into the parking area at the Main Post where twenty to twenty-five other Volkswagens were parked. We saw a bunch of bugs and several bay buses with three splittys. Two of the bays looked just like Dorothy. Almost immediately Kim and Bob came over to Matt and I to say hi and ask about Dorothy. We explained to the nice couple from Sacramento about how we acquired Dorothy and our recent epic adventures driving half way across the country. They loved the story and then digressed into their personal “bus “ story when we asked about the history of what looked to be the brother to Dorothy.

Kim's bus as she found it at the wrecking yard.

Kim’s bus as she found it at the wrecking yard.

Kim literally rescued “Wes” within hours of being dismantled for parts in a wrecking yard two years ago. Kim knew she had been given a rare opportunity and spent these last few years rebuilding the engine, replacing parts and injecting some good ole elbow grease to clean him up! Matt and I were very impressed and happy to say Kim is now a fellow VW compatriot on earlybay.com and a Facebook friend.

Kim, Bob and Wes

Kim, Bob and Wes

We parked Dorothy next to an early sixties single cab splitty owned by Lloyd and Diana from San Jose. Not long into a friendly conversation, Lloyd told us he found his prized rustic relic from a convicted ax murder, who apparently liked to collect vintage Volkswagen’s when he wasn’t hacking people up! Obviously we thought Lloyd was joking, but unfortunately (for his victims) he wasn’t!

Lloyd and Diana from San Jose

Lloyd and Diana from San Jose

I loved what Lloyd did with the single cab, by giving it a “rat” look, which is the new term used to describe retaining the original rustic patina that is becoming so popular with vintage bus owners. The unique feature to this single cab, was he had retro fitted utility bars on the flat-bed that included a retractable awning, a removable table off the tailgate complete with a mini Weber and a Tepui tent folded neatly in its own case on top next to the sun deck. I was thoroughly impressed with his creativity!

Matt and I really enjoyed talking with the cute couple and was sorry when they finally had to leave after having a full weekend of camping. Hopefully, our VW’s will bring us together again sometime in the near future!

Lloyd and Diana's cool single cab creation!

Lloyd and Diana’s cool single cab creation!

As the morning progressed into the afternoon, we met more interesting Volkswagen owners like Jason who owns a 1973 convertible bug. He had done quite a bit of work to the engine, which was very impressive considering our current situation with Dorothy. I noticed a Hawaii license plate attached to the bumper, something owners do to indicate where the vehicle originated from. So, of course I asked the obvious question thinking I would get the obvious answer “oh, so you brought this bug all the way back from Hawaii?” His reply (to my surprise) “no, I’ve just been there 23 times!” Another new Facebook friend!

Kyle, another bug owner (and Facebook friend) apparently had one of the original “Herbie” cars from the famous 1960’s Disney movie. This bug was immaculate and amazing in its preservation. The glossy cream bug with the off-centered red, white and blue stripe was definitely in its element with a backdrop of San Francisco and parked in the same vicinity as the Disney Museum, founded by Walt Disney’s daughter exactly four years ago this month.

Kyle's "Herbie"

Kyle’s “Herbie”

One of the last bus owners we talked with that had another interesting story was a guy who had purchased a 21 window splitty sight unseen from Colorado about nine months ago. He told us he found this bus on eBay. The seller was a widow trying to sell her husbands bus which mainly sat in a garage for most of the years he owned it. Looking at it, I could see it was in really good shape, but that there were little things that needed doing.

He went on to tell the story about how he bought it. How he sat there for what seemed like hours, holding his finger over the “ buy it now” sign, contemplating whether or not to pay the thirty thousand plus sales price. He said he kept asking his girlfriend if he should do it? Her boisterous reply was “just do it!” So he finally did….seconds later, to his disappointment the screen displayed “ bidding closed for this item”. He was crushed!

Splitty bought on Ebay from Colorado

Splitty bought on Ebay from Colorado

He continued on, explaining to us how a light bulb went off in his head several minutes later to send the seller an email in his new-found overwhelming desire to buy the vintage bus, just in case the bus came up on auction again. Within a few hours he heard back from the seller, informing him that indeed the original bidder couldn’t come up with the money and the bus was up for sale again. Needless to say, the rest is history!

Matt and I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon sitting next to Dorothy in our red folding chairs basking in the autumn sun talking to people who passed by us. Our good friend Jan rode up on his BMW motorcycle to check out the action and to visit some of his VW friends. Jan has been an avid VW collector and fan, owning two rare models. A late fifties split window barn door bus and a split window bug, along with a small fleet of other Volkswagens in his drive. It was great to see him – Jan gave us a lot of information about Dorothy’s engine while all three of us sat at her back side, taking inventory of all her parts!

Matt, Jan and me

Matt, Jan and me

At three-o’clock we pulled out and headed home, extremely pleased with the events of our day. We met some great VW friends that will continue on with the aid of Facebook and gained valuable input from seasoned owners with our moonstruck goal to revitalize and maintain these delicate metal creatures.

I guess a person could be wooed by worse…like a Studebaker or an Edsel!

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October 24, 2013 Posted by | 1970 Vintage Westfalia VW Bus, Vintage Volkswagen Bus Travel Story, Volkswagen bus | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment