Friday, 14 October 2011

Read VW Magazines Free and online

If you're anything like us, you can hardly move for the VW magazines strewn around your house and / or workshop, so we love the idea of online VW magazines. With just as much, if not more content than traditional magazines, they're a great way to get your monthly fix of VW porn!

Aircooled Classics Magazine is a specialist VW and Porsche magazine, which is available to read online, and is completely free.

We are also loving the fact that all the advertisements have links to allow click-through to the advertisers website. Perhaps this is the future of VW magazines?

If you like to read on the go, then don't worry, these magazines can even be downloaded to your ipad.

Also available from the publishers of Aircooled Classics, is their sister magazine Kombi Life, specialisng in all things VW T2!

Check it out here: Kombi Life

Another of our favourite online magazines is Air Monkeys - if you haven't already read this fab, free, VW Magaizine. Check it out here: Air Monkeys

Written by VW lovers, for VW lovers, this is a friendly, fun and informative magazine for anyone who just can't get enough VW photos and news.

So what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Mini Blog: How to Research the History of your VW

A customer asked me earlier this week how he should go about finding out the birth date of his early Baywindow Campervan, and how he could find out the original colour code. It struck me that many VW owners may be wondering the same thing, so I decided to share my reply with you all in this mini blog.
Firstly, if you are unsure when your VW was built, you can apply for it’s birth certificate directly from Volkswagen.
This is not only interesting to have, but on occassions it can also add to the value of your VW if it turns out to be a slightly earlier model than suggested by the registration number. This could be particularly important if your VW is on a 1973 plate, as if you can prove that it was ‘born’ before the end of 1972, then it should qualify for Historic Vehicle status with the DVLA and therefore be road tax exempt. It may also be of interest if you have a very early VW, or are close to a change over year, for example, the early bay in question here is on a ’68 plate, but if it turns out to have been built in 1967 then that would make it one of the very first Baywindow T2s ever made, and thus more rare and desirable.
You can apply for a birth certificate by writing to the Wolfsburg Museum and sending them a cheque or your credit card details,
AutoMuseum Volkswagen
Dieselstrasse 35
D - 38446 Wolfsburg
Or alternatively, follow this link and fill in the request form on their website:
The birth certificates cost €50 and take around 6-weeks to arrive.

The owner of the '68 Bay has now sent off for the birth certificate, so we will look forward to finding out when it's actual birthday is.
Alternatively, if you have a VW Transporter but you don't have a spare €50, you can find out much of the information contained in the birth certificate from your vehicle M-Plate. This is a small metal plate, usually located on the cab side of the front bulkhead, behind the right hand seat.
Analyse the M-Plate of your VW.
The M-Plate is a vehicle ID plate that was placed in VW Transporters from October 1958 onwards. This plate can tell you the exact date of manufacture of your vehicle, factory options, export destination, paint and upholstery colours, the model number and interior layout.
At first glance, the information on the M-Plate seems pretty meaningless, just a bunch of numbers and letters, but don’t worry, there are several sites on the internet that will help you decode them. provides a good overview of how the M-Plate works:
But even better, this site: does all the hard work for you; just enter the details from your M-Plate into the decoder at the top of the page and hit the decode button.
Having just tested it on a 1972 Westfalia that we are currently restoring, I am pleased to report that it worked perfectly, and having just stripped the van down to bare metal, I definitely can vouch for the original colour being correct!

Here is a photo of the M-plate (which has unfortunately been painted over!)

Here is the information as I entered it into the decoder:

And here are the results:

Alternatively, if you prefer to do all the hard work yourself, and maybe become a master of m-code reading, there are some excellent reference books on the market that can help you. I like these two:
VW Transporter and Microbus - Specification Guide 1950-1967 by David Eccles

And for Baywindow owners:

VW Transporter and Microbus - Specification Guide 1967-1979 by Alexander Prinz 

And although VW Beetles are not coded in the same way, there is also an excellent book in the same series for VW Beetle owners:

VW Beetle Specification Guide 1968-1980 by Richard Coping

I hope you find this information useful.......Happy Decoding!!!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Our Favourite Camping Gadgets for VW Owners

Having spent much of the summer on the VW show circuit, sleeping in various campervans and awnings, we have had the opportunity to try out some of the latest camping gadgets on the market. Because we’re VDub people, the type of camping gadgets that we’re really interested in are not survival tools, or sort of equipment you would find in Bear Grylls’ rucksack, but rather the sort of accessories and gadgets that will improve and enhance your camping experience, and generally make camping easier and more enjoyable, and if they cause a little bit of gadget envy amongst your camping buddies, then all the better! Of course space saving is a hugely important factor when stocking your campervan or awning, to allow space for the maximum amount of gadgets and home comforts, which is the reason why the first of our gadgets has made it onto the list:
Wacky Practicals Collapsible Kettle:

When our friends Stu and Julie turned up at Camper Jam with one of these kettles, we were pretty impressed by the whole concept of a collapsible kettle, but even more impressed by how well it actually worked. With storage space in your campervan always at a premium, an awkwardly shaped, rigid kettle can take up more than it’s fair share of cupboard space, so we loved this innovative, space-saving design, which collapses to almost completely flat when not in use, but transforms back into a kettle in seconds and still makes a cracking brew! Collapsible washing-up bowls, buckets and full picnic sets are also available.

A similar product is also for sale at .
Coleman Event Shelter

We have been using a Coleman Event Shelter when camping for the last two seasons, and now couldn’t imagine being without one!  Judging by how quickly they have sold out during the last two summers, we’re not the only ones who like them! These shelters are waterproof, fairly wind proof due to their domed shape, and Ideal if you’re camping with a group of people and want a dry, sheltered place to sit and cook, or a communal area to relax in. We tend to park up with four campers with awnings on each side of the shelter, and that gives us a ready-made, sheltered, social area in the middle of our camping plot.  Zip in sides with windows or doors are also available if you want a bit more shelter or privacy. If we have a trade stand at a show, we use three of these shelters together, to make an interesting and more flexible alternative to a marquee.

Bog in a Bag:

I think most people would agree that one of the least enjoyable parts of the whole camping experience is that horrible feeling of waking up in the middle of the night (usually after a few beers) and realising that you desperately need a wee, and then remembering that the nearest toilet is a five minute walk away, across a cold, dark field, littered with guy ropes and other obstacles. OK, so if you’re a boy, you probably won’t see this as a big problem since the whole world is your urinal, but for the girlies, a solution to the problem of the night time camping wee is long overdue! This product solves the problem very simply and neatly, and takes away the need to store a bulky chemical toilet, not to mention the hassle of trying to empty the toilet on an ill equipped camp site. Bog in a Bag is basically a small, folding stool with a hole in the middle. You cover the seat with a plastic bag containing absorbent crystals and then go for a wee, and when you’re finished you can just fold up the plastic bag and throw it in the bin with no liquid waste and no mess. I would suggest that setting it up somewhere discreet in your awning or tent is a good idea, or perhaps in the space where your awning attaches to your van, but the good news is, it’s so easy to set up and pack away, that you don’t need to leave it out all the time, just set it up when you need it, or just before you go to bed. There is even a top cover for the stool, so that it can be used as a normal seat as well, and it all folds neatly away into a small carry bag which can easily be stored in your vehicle or awning, or even in a rucksack. And if you’re a bloke, don’t be thinking that this gadget is of no benefit to you, as don’t forget that it also gets you out of walking-your-girlfriend-to-the-toilet-in-the-middle-of-the-night duties, and/or emptying the chemical toilet duties, which I’m quite sure many of you get roped into… that has to be a bonus, huh?!

For more information, check out their website at

Coleman LED Quad lantern:
Wow, it’s such a simple concept, but so ingenious! Ideal for group camping, you can hang this LED lantern up in your awning, or your event shelter whilst you’re cooking, eating or socialising, but when someone needs to wander off to find the toilets, the bar, or their bed, they can take one of the four torches, and the rest of the party doesn’t have to sit in darkness. Simple but brilliant!

Gorilla Pod Torch:
Another ingenious lighting solution. We love the Gorilla Pod Camera tripod, and this torch works in just the same way. You can attach it to almost anything, which is ideal in a camping situation where there are rarely any flat surfaces and the most convenient place for a lantern is usually a tent pole or a tree branch.

Coleman Coffee Maker:

Here at Dubtricks, we love coffee. We love it almost as much as we love Vdubs, and without it all those late nights and early mornings would not be possible, so imagine our delight when we discovered that Coleman make a camping coffee maker. Now the fact that you’re sleeping under the stars does not mean that you have to compromise on your morning brew. Sadly, despite being widely available in the states for years, these still seem to be a little hard to come by and over priced in the UK, but we’re on the lookout for suppliers. This model is the best priced in the range and is also easy to use as it simply sits on top of your gas stove.
There are also some alternatives, which although higher priced, offer the useful feature of being self contained and running off their own gas canister.

Blauphunk Wireless Stereo:

OK, this one is a little bit of shameless self promotion! If, like us, you love music but have always had issues with fitting a modern stereo system into your classic VW, you have probably been on the look out for an alternative. We have been working on building innovative alternatives to modern stereos for a while, and our latest solution also doubles as an awesome camping gadget.
Contained in a retro style suitcase, our totally wireless stereo system will play music from your phone of mp3 player via Bluetooth, but it also has a built in battery, meaning that when you arrive at your destination, you can simply pick the suitcase up and put it in your awning, or next to your campfire and get the party started.
Stereo units are built to order. Please contact us for more details.
No Rinse Shampoo and Conditioner:

There are an increasing number of solar powered and 12v showers appearing on the market at the moment, and brilliant as the idea sounds, unfortunately in the UK there is rarely enough sun to heat the water for a proper shower, and although we’re working on it, I am yet to see a 12v shower attachment in a campervan that can be conveniently used.  The end result is that unless your campsite has a shower block, you will be left feeling grubby and unwashed for the duration of your stay. I still maintain that baby wipes are the next best thing to an actual shower when you’re camping, but if only I was able to wash my hair as well, then I would actually feel clean and refreshed. This is where the no rinse shampoo and conditioner come in. Simply massage into hair as you would with a normal shampoo, towel dry, and go about the rest of your day feeling clean and well groomed!
Cobb BBQ Set:
We haven’t tried one of these yet, because, well, frankly we can’t afford one, but it’s definitely going to be on my Christmas list as I would love to have one for next summer!

As featured on BBC2's "The Hairy Bikers Cookbook" and Channel 5's "Gadget Show", the Cobb is not only used for barbequing, but can also be used for roasting, frying, baking and smoking as well , and you can cook more or less anything you like on it, from whole roast chickens to pizzas. The Cobb produces no smoke so you can sit around it (under your event shelter) and keep warm whilst you cook without choking on fumes. Apparently it runs on just a handful of charcoal briquettes as well, so is more environmentally friendly than most barbeques out there.
They are also now for sale from Just Kampers:

If you prefer a cheaper and faster option, we also like the Coleman Fold N Go Propane Stove:

You may disagree with our choices, but these are gadgets that have particularly caught the eye of the Dubtricks team this summer. If you have any alternative suggestions, please feel free to comment and we will be only too pleased to test them out ready for an updated gadget list next spring.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Top 5 Tools and Spares that a VW Owner Should Not Leave Home Without

Though we all like to hope that our beloved, classic vehicles won’t let us down, the reality of owning an aircooled Volkswagen, or any classic car for that matter, is that from time to time you may find yourself at the side of the road with the boot lid open waiting to be recovered to the nearest garage. Whilst the occasional recovery may be an inevitability, there are many things you can do to keep this to a minimum. This begins with regular servicing and maintenance of your vehicle, which will be covered in later blogs, but for this blog we are going to look at what tools and spares you should take with you when you set off down the motorway to go to a VW show, or for that long awaited road trip.
I spoke to Jez Dyke, Owner and Head Mechanic at Dubtricks and Rob Newman, from campervan hire company, Dubtrips., who say that good preparation can be the difference between making it to a show on time, and spending the night sleeping in a lay-by! 

Between us we have compiled a list of the top five tools and spares that that the wise VW owner should not leave home without. If you’re going to pack yourself a toolbox, this is a good place to start:

1. Spare Parts
Even if you can’t fix the fault yourself, it’s better to let the AA man fix your vehicle at the side or the road than have him tow you home. Recovery services rarely carry the correct spares for a classic car, so make sure you are prepared by carrying a selection of service parts and the parts that are most likely to fail. Rob suggests:

  • A fan belt 
  • Fuses 
  • A set of spark plugs 
  • Points, distributor, rotor arm and dizzy cap (can be purchased as a kit) 
  • Plug leads

Needless to say, you should check that you have the correct spares for your vehicle, for example, trial fit the fan belt to make absolutely sure it fits before removing it and storing it in your toolbox.

Rob also wisely recommends that you carry a copy or the correct Haynes Manual for your vehicle. Not only will this give you something to read whilst you wait for the AA man to arrive, but it will also help him diagnose the problem. As Rob points out, most recovery drivers will have little or no experience of working on aircooled engines.

If you know how to replace these parts yourself, then great, but if in doubt, call the recovery service, as you could do more harm than good by improvising. We will be providing information on basic vehicle maintenance and repairs in future blogs.

2. Some means of changing a wheel/repairing a puncture.
If you carry a spare wheel, some people recommend that you carry a wheel brace to undo the wheel nuts/bolts at the roadside, but Jez says he prefers to carry long breaker bar, pointing out that this gives you much more leverage and is easier to use. If it’s been a while since you had your wheels off, chances are they will be difficult to undo. You will also need impact sockets in the correct size for you wheel bolts/nuts. These are usually 17 or 19mm (and we have seen many that have a mixture of different sizes), check which sizes you have before you pack your tool box, or even better, pack a full set. If you have locking wheel nuts, don’t forget to carry the key!

You will also need a jack with a suitable rating to take the weight of your vehicle. (a 1 ton jack will be enough to jack up one corner of your vehicle). If you can afford one and have space to store one, a lightweight aluminum trolley jack is ideal, but if not a small bottle jack should do the job provided you are careful where you place it.  

Jez carries one of these as it's small, light and reasonably easy to store in a campervan (not so easy in a Beetle!):
Torin T815005L 1.5 Ton Aluminum Racing Jack 
Owners of severely lowered campervans may find that you require additional leverage to free your rear wheel from behind the wheel arch. Jez suggests a small jack from a Ford KA to do this job, which you should be able to pick up from a scrap yard or on ebay. 

Note: you may need to undo your bottom shocker mount too, so carry at least a 17 and 19mm spanner too.
Admittedly, all this sounds like a massive inconvenience, expense and loss of storage space, but happily there is an alternative:

Tyre Weld 
I love this stuff! If you don’t have space for a spare wheel, or don’t fancy trying to fit one at the side of the road, then carry a tin of tyre weld. Quick, easy and clean to use, this little tin will repair a small or slow puncture and get you home without any problems, although it will not work for a full-on blow out! I actually ran my van for over a year with a tyre repaired using tyre weld, and it was still working when I finally got around to replacing the tyre. Whilst I would in no way recommend that anyone tries this, it just goes to show that this stuff is good! You can pick it up from most petrol or service stations, or from you local auto parts or hardware store, or of course on line.

3. Replacement Fluids
As any experienced VW owner will tell you, there is a tendency for VWs to take a sudden dislike to their own oil and decide to dump it all over the road or your engine bay. If this happens, it need not mean the end of your trip provided you have remembered to carry a spare can of oil and a funnel to allow you to top it up. In addition, running your engine when the oil pressure is low is never advisable as it could do untold damage to your engine. Always use your dipstick to check your oil levels before you set off on a long journey, and stop to top up if your fuel pressure drops low. 

It is also recommended to carry some disposable gloves and some rags or baby wipes; any engine related jobs tend to be messy and you don’t want to get oil all over that lovely interior (or yourself).

On an old vehicle, you can never be 100% sure that your gauges are reading accurately, so don’t get caught out, carry a jerry can of fuel just in case, but make sure it is tightly fastened and won’t leak even when jolted.

It is not advisable to store anything other than your battery in your engine bay area, but particularly not things like rags which can easily get sucked up into the engine and cause blockages (we have seen this many times before!) Always keep oil, fuel and rags safely and securely stowed somewhere inside your vehicle.

4. Jump leads and/or a battery pack
You’re a VW owner, sometimes you go to shows and park in a field for the weekend with your stereo blaring, if you have a camper you inevitably use your fridge and lights and other electrical appliances for that little bit longer than you know you should, and there is always that mysterious flashing light on your dashboard that doesn’t seem to do anything but has a lot of wires coming out the back and appears to be draining your battery; lets face it, at some point you are going to need a jump start!
If you carry your own set of jump leads, all you need to do is find another vehicle with a working battery. Even better, if you carry a battery pack with you, then you don’t even need to find another vehicle (and you can use it to charge your mobile phone whilst you’re camping!)
Jump-N-Carry JNC300XL 900 Peak Amp Ultraportable 12V Jump Starter with Light 

Also, in case of battery failure and loss of lights, and indeed for general safety when travelling at night, Jez urges you to always carry a torch or hand lamp.
5. If all else fails.......

Never underestimate the value of carrying a good old towrope! It’s light, it doesn’t take up much space, and is endlessly useful. Whether you just need to be towed to a safe location to wait for the recovery service, or you find yourself stuck in a boggy field, a tow rope is invaluable and you will usually find that a friendly tractor of 4x4 drive is never far away!
This list is by no means exhaustive, but if you carry the essentials listed above, you will be able to get yourself out of most sticky situations.
Footnote: for European trips, remember that many countries require you to carry a warning triangle, high vis vest and first aid kit in case of a breakdown, and even though it is not a requirement in this country, it is still a pretty good idea. Consult your breakdown service provider for a full list of European driving requirements.

Thanks to Jez at and Rob at

Monday, 15 August 2011

Why Not Let Your VW Earn It's Keep?

For many would be classic VW Owners the cost of purchasing and maintaining a vehicle can prove prohibitive. It is unfortunate that the ever increasing popularity and therefore cost of these vehicles is pricing many enthusiasts out of the market. The even sorrier situation, which we are seeing on an ever increasing basis, is that the current economic climate is forcing lifelong VW owners to sell their pride and joy in order to maintain their standard of living or fund other essential purchases. Happily however, some resourceful enthusiasts are finding ways to put their classic VW to work, thus funding it's own upkeep and allowing it to stay with it's loving family.

Here are some great examples that we have come across recently:

Campervan Hire for Holidays:
Rob and Annie at Dubtrips hire out their vintage splitscreen campervan, Phoebe, for self-drive holidays around the UK. Fully equipped with sleeping, dining and cooking facilities plus an on-board water supply all incorporated into a beautiful '60s style interior, Phoebe gives holiday makers the chance to experience a proper campervan holiday in style and comfort. For next season, Phoebe will be joined at Dubtrips by her older brother Jeremy, a 1964 splitscreen campervan.

For those who prefer to drive a more modern vehicle, Rob and Annie also hire out their fully converted VW T4 for holidays hires as well.

All of Dubtrips vehicles are also available for wedding hires.

VWs for Weddings: 

VW campervans are becoming increasingly popular as wedding vehicles, and we can totally understand why. With their instantly recognisable appearance, their enduring appeal to children and adults alike, plus room in the back for a bride, several bridesmaids and as many bouquets as you can shake a stick at, we think you would struggle to find a better way to arrive at your big day. Throw in a bottle of campaign to drink on the way and some ribbons and bows, and you have a wedding vehicle made in heaven!

When Sooty fell in love with Faith, a 21-Window Splitscreen Samba, he knew he could not justify paying the hefty price tag for this much sought after vehicle, but he also realised that the all Lotus white deluxe bus with a full length sun roof would make a perfect wedding vehicle, and spotting a business opportunity that would allow him to own the bus of his dreams. He set up his company, VW4weddings, and offers chauffeur driven transport to the wedding ceremony and reception, plus Faith will happily stop and pose for photographs with the wedding party too.

Vintage Style Catering:
VW Lulabelle:

VW Lulabelle is a beautiful 1959, pink and white splitscreen van, and along with her owner, Cathy, provides vintage style catering for outdoor events and shows, catering for weddings and can even put on a vintage style tea party or children's party.

Lulabelle and Cathy spend the summer months driving up and down the motorway bringing their delicious cakes and fresh coffee to events all over the country.

More stories of awesome VW businesses to follow soon!