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Discussion Starter #1
I figured I'd better start a journal here just in case any of it is useful to anyone in the future. There's already loads of info out there for anyone looking for detailed how-to info so it won't be like that. Just odds & ends.

I think I arrived here the same way as many of you, essentially wanting a massive estate car for stuff, but mainly I blame my parents. They were (and still are) very keen cyclists so for the first few years of my life I was regularly dragged around the country in the back of a Vauxhall Viva van full of bikes & camping gear. For anyone unfamiliar with the Viva, they look like THIS. Except most are in worse condition now. Also, don't Google "viva van" at work without adding the word "vauxhall". Cripey. Anyway, point is I spent a lot of my early life in a van.

So, back to this one. I've been hankering for ages and finally took the plunge last week, buying a LWB 2003 2.5TDi Caravelle. This is what it looked like when I picked it up:



Boodywork very clean & straight unlike so many of these despite showing 240k miles ! Interior is sound but filthy, and the last owner was a smoker so I have a lot of cleaning to do. Seems to drive OK but a few things are urgent:

1) The tyres are, bizarrely, older than the van and totally shagged. I have a bargain set of alloys reserved that I'll pick up in a week or so. Nothing special, but safe & legal.

2) The brakes are horribly mushy so I have a new set of discs & pads on the way.

3) Having taken the front wheels off to look at the brakes it was apparent that both track ends and one lower ball joint are totally shagged too. So I've ordered some of those too. And some drop links while I'm there.

4) And it needs a service, so I've ordered the stuff for that. Thank heavens for ECP / CP4L !

5) Lowering is de rigueur around here but I'm also old & sensible so I've ordered the 40mm Vogtland kit from Bluebird Customs. I was initially tempted by some of the cheap ebay kits but they don't seem to get good feedback on the forum.

6) First simple "custom" mod - extended 8 ball gear knob :)



7) Also tested fitted my bike for size in the back. I specifically wanted a LWB in order to have second row of seats and still get fully assembled bikes in the back - and it fits comfortably. This was just a test; I'll sort out some kind of proper mounting later on.



8) Ordered an EGR blank; fitted it yesterday. Very easy job but I discovered two out of four intercooler mounting rubbers were broken. Pattern replacements sourced via ebay for £15/set.



I think that's all for now. The general plan it to have an all-round family wagon / bike carrier / camping base so no intention of doing a full on camper conversion.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Fitted a spare Becker head unit I had "in stock". Pretty ancient but it does mean I have a basic sat nav system permanently to hand. The youngsters on the forum have probably never even seen one of these :) I'll have to keep an eye out for the correct blue/red version.



Slight panic on the intercooler mounts when I realised I'd ordered MUCH larger ones than standard:



But they do bolt up OK after some slight fettling. That photo also shows why (IMO) they fail so easily - they get twisted if the spanner monkey isn't paying attention when the intercooler is removed & refitted. That puts a strain on them that they are not designed for and they shear off.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Peering under the van yesterday I noticed the rearmost exhaust hanger was only attached to the body with one bolt and consequently the rubber had half escaped from the mount and was starting to split. The mount near the middle of the system had already broken. Slight panic until I checked ECP / CP4L and found they are £2.15 each, with free delivery. Immediately ordered three. They're about double that if you use any of the suppliers on ebay.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Three new exhaust mounts fitted. Here's the old ones:



The one on the right was almost new but had only been attached with one bolt so the rubber had escaped from the bracket :rolleyes: The other two were clearly long dead.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nope never seen that head unit! What does it do?
It's a radio / CD player / sat nav. Although it's archaic by modern standards it was cutting edge fifteen years ago ! They were also available in VAG blue/red:



The nav is basic and is just a turn-by-turn system, no actual maps displayed on screen, but it works pretty well and I've actually found its route planning abilities better than my modern Garmin. The Garmin has a habit of taking you down really tiny obscure back roads when there's a much easier main road alternative.

There's also subsequent models that added other features like bluetooth and MP3 playback, and the styling became sleeker. I kinda prefer these early models though, the buttons have a nice chunky feel to them. Just search ebay for Becker and you'll get the idea. Becker are quality through-and-through, with a particular reputation for building top-notch radio receivers. If you listen to radio a lot they really are excellent.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
5) Lowering is de rigueur around here but I'm also old & sensible so I've ordered the 40mm Vogtland kit from Bluebird Customs.
Well, that was a complete disaster. A week after ordering there was no sign of springs or shocks. A chase-up email took two days to get a reply, telling me the springs were on the way but the shocks "should" be available end of Sept. Seriously ? That's meant to be acceptable ?? No suggestions provided about what we might do about this, either supplying me with an alternative brand or giving me my money back. I replied the same morning to ask about alternatives.

The springs did arrive the next day though, with a delivery note in German dated the day after I had chased it up.

Anyway, my email went unanswered, as did my next email, and a PM on here. No answer on his land line either. By Tuesday of this week (over two weeks since ordering) I was thoroughly pi$$ed off and sent an ultimatum stating that it needed to be sorted this week or I'd go to the credit card company for a charge back. 25 minutes later I had an automated email saying I had a refund. Followed shortly by an email saying he'd "been away". Sorry Richard, but if you're running a business, your holidays are not the customer's problem.

I know he's a forum sponsor and all, and has fans here, but based on my experience he needs to seriously up his game. When there are plenty of other suppliers out there who have stuff in stock ready to ship same day, and actually communicate with their customers, this kind of behaviour is completely inexcusable.

FWIW the springs are good quality and don't go coilbound like the cheap 'n' nasty alternatives. I'm perfectly happy with them. Just disappointed with every other aspect of the transaction.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Good news - fitted new discs & pads on the front. Easy job.

Bad news - discovered that the offside outer cv boot is split. Another job for the list. It's not getting any shorter :(
 

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Discussion Starter #10
And so onto the rear discs. All went well until I found that one of the slide pins was rusted completely solid:



Yes, the one on the left. It won't move at all and the pads were worn correspondingly wonky. I don't fancy my chances drilling it out and a new one with new pins is not all that expensive so that's what I need to do. Frustratingly this means another weekend of not being able to use the van !
 

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You remarked that the youngsters would never have seen your radio type before.

Probably never seen any radio tuned to Radio 4 before, more's the pity.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Probably never seen any radio tuned to Radio 4 before, more's the pity.
Ain't that the truth !

Some small progress at last. Brakes fitted & bedded in. MUCH better than before. Lowered a touch. The Vogtland springs haven't dropped the back by much so I'm hoping they'll settle in a bit more yet. The driver's side torsion bar put up a bit of a fight but perseverance & Plus Gas prevailed in the end !

Finally some Audi wheels from colese to replace the manky steelies and I can drive my van at last ! A month to the day after buying it.

 

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Yep, sixteens, with 215/55/16 tyres. Cheap :D

It's still a bit higher than I'd like at the rear so I'm hoping it'll settle slightly in use. It could easily be an inch or so lower without causing any problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, a small mystery solved... I hope. The whole time I've had the van I've had a problem with the battery draining over a couple of days. At first I thought it was because I was fiddling with the van more than driving it, locking & unlocking, opening doors etc but eventually realised that even untouched for three days the battery would go flat. Once charged it would start perfectly, stronger than my other cars in fact. So no immediate concern about the health of the battery.

Yesterday I set out to remove the remnants of a phone kit from behind the dash and on removing the radio I'd put in I noticed it was warm. That's not right when it's not been used recently. The van has an ISO plug and the radio has an ISO socket, it plugs straight in. However in their infinite wisdom VW (and some other manufacturers FWIW) transpose the permanent & switched lives. So even when turned off the radio was still "on" in the background. Probably with the GPS gubbins all running.

Snipped & reconnected the wires and I'm hoping it'll start next time I need it :)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Picked up some Thule aero bars for a bargain price on ebay - just over £30 for bars + feet + locks + Range Rover fittings. I had to buy the T4 adapters brand new for another £30 but I have the Range Rover ones to sell that should recoup a tenner or so. Call it £50 all-in.

No idea what I might use them for as the whole point of buying a van was to carry the bikes inside the vehicle, and if I ever think that a LWB T4 is too small for three people and a couple of bikes I really need to have a word with myself :)

 

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Discussion Starter #17
Wife has decided she doesn't like the bench seat in the front so I need a single in this pattern. What's it called ? It's not the usual Inca pattern.

 

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Discussion Starter #18
eBay comes good again. A Becker 7825, exactly what I wanted, for sale spares or repairs as apparently the code was locked out and the buttons weren't working. I took a chance. It works just fine ! The message it was showing of "code wait" means you have to WAIT before you can enter the code. A big d'oh on behalf of the seller.

Needs a bit of a clean but I'm pretty chuffed for £39 ;)

 

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Discussion Starter #19
Other stuff going on ("life" and "family") means I'm on a bit of a tight budget right now. Fitted Meyle front shocks and Ocap drop links today.

Shocks - seem OK, certainly miles better than the knackered old shocks that turned out to have virtually no compression damping left.

Drop links - rubbish. They're looser on the ARB than the old ones I took off because they were a bit loose ! Clearly God's way of telling me I should have upgraded to the 27mm version.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Had a lovely two week holiday last month but by the tiem we got back it meant that in all the van hadn't moved for almost a month. It started up fine (phew) but the battery light stayed illuminated. Dreading the cost of a new alternator a bit of Googling suggested that usually it's just the regulator. Ordered one from ebay for £18, delivered quickly and despite being a pretty fiddly job it's perfectly doable in-situ. Taking the intercooler off helps though. And it appears to be fixed :D
 
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