Along the Natchez Trace at an Indian mound at the Alabama-Mississippi border. We began work on this 1983 Westy in the summer of 2003.

The original owner bought the car in Germany. He quit driving in his 90s, and after a long story I got it.

I spend about a month each year in the Westy, using it for family camping and traveling with my work for the Alabama Scenic River Trail.

Got bike? A Westfalia camper like this is a good destination at the end of a bike ride—the refrigerator will keep refreshments good and cold.
In the woods in Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi. We generally take it around the Bankhead National Forest in north Alabama, where we use it as a base camp for day hikes and more serious backpacking.
My four-year-old granddaughter drew this snail with a sharpie one day in one of my notebooks. I scanned it and had a friend cut it in reflective vinyl. It's a warning to all behind me, as well as the symbol of a slow but sure creature that carries its house on its back.

Here's my red 90 Carat in front of the Plaza Hotel in NYC on our last road trip there over Memorial Day week. My mom stayed there and I had to get this preposterous shot when we picked her up.

I bought the car new. It has over 200,000 miles on it with no oil consumption. The engine's never been opened except of course to replace the rubber head gaskets. This is a great highway cruiser and hauls an unbelievable amount of stuff.



Instructions for a kitchen window awning that's easy to make, store, set up and take down.

Ever go camping in your Westy, and start supper and then find you've got to button everything up because of a downpour? Here's an idea to keep your kitchen window open and keep the rain out your rust-sensitive interior wall.


Click the image for more details.

Diesel Adjustment Guide. Download this PDF chart to make the job of adjusting the valves on your VW diesel easier.

Click on the image at the right to download the PDF.

Second battery relay wiring diagram. A lot of people on the lists I'm on have asked how to install a second battery that charges with the main battery while the vehicle is running, but allows only the secondary battery to run the auxiliary equipment (fridge, lights, water, etc.) without taking power away from the main battery, which will be needed to crank the car in the morning.

I had the help of a lot of people to figure this out, so my contribution is putting it into a convenient form.

You can get the relays at online vendors like

Click on the image at the right to download the PDF.

A Tale of Two Bentleys. Some people would argue that there is no reference to the Vanagon engine's cylinder layout in the Bentley Manual, the bible of Vanagon repair. Others can give you the page number where the drawing is located. Hey, it's the same page! In the same edition! Start the presses!

Now you can have your own copy of the 16-page sales brochure that touted all models of the 1990 Vanagon. It's in PDF format.

Page 16 was originally the blank white back cover, but I've put a layout key so you can look at the pages in the complicated order the brochure presents them in... the two long foldout pages mess up the PDF's linear layout. In any event, you'll figure it out.

This image at the right links to a screen-res version. If you want one to print better and can spare the bandwidth, click here.

Useful links and resources



Contact me via email with questions or comments If you own or want a Vanagon, I can't say enough about this awesome trove of information.

Alastair Bell's Westy and Canoe pages

Yahoo! Diesel Vanagon newsgroup

Been There Done That: Tips and tricks from the Vanagon Mailing List

Vanagon Rescue is a network of people who provide an easily searchable list of people who are willing to help stranded Vanagon Pilots.

Gnarlodious's Vanagon pages... serious commitment to the diesel Vanagon, lots of smart modifications and advice.

A working link to Darrell Boehler's invention for
diagnosing Vanagon problems. It is made for 2.1 fuel injection system though some have adapted it to 1.9 also. It is a great tool that anyone who wants to keep their Vanagon on the road should consider having (link and info courtesy Mark Drillock).

Is your Vanagon leaving puddles of coolant under the heads? It's time to replace your waterboxer's leaking head gaskets? Save big $$$ and do it yourself. I found this link from Blake Thornton helpful. It lists several helpful links not far down the first page including Boston Bob Donald's knowledgeable writeup.

Vent your smelly dinner fumes and sticky heater-induced humidity with this dual exhaust fan setup using computer cooling fans.

Click the picture for details.

If this van's rockin', the rear table's probably knockin'.

Here's how to stop yours from knocking for less than $1.50 and a trip to the home supply store.

Click on the picture for more details.

Hurricane Ivan's destruction of the Gulf Coast.

We took the camper to Gulf Shores, Alabama beaches over the thanksgiving 2004 holidays and recorded these scenes of Hurricane Ivan's destruction in the area of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Perdido Key.

Click the image at the right to view the show.



U.S. Grand Prix 2005

Who would have ever thought I'd be camping out on the same patch of ground as all the Formula One cars at Indy? This picture was made only about 100 yards from the paddocks of the faster, if less versatile, Formula One cars. And my Westy costs over $14 million less than one of them. You can see the stands between the mammoth campers who attracted seriously less inquisition than mine did.

Click the image for a couple more shots of the race... what there was of it in 2005. If you visit the picture page, see if you don't agree with me about the very curious behavior of the campground stewards.


Looking for an easy, surefire way to fill your diesel Vanagon's coolant tank?

A while back, Diesel-Vanagon (Yahoo Groups) listemember Andrew Libby invented the "Libby Bong" as a way to do just that. The only problem was that his DV had a late-model coolant tank. Click on the image to the right to download a PDF that shows you how to fill and operate such a device adapted to the original DV setup.