It is high time to introduce our house on wheels: "Popo". If you read our page about you already know a little about him.
Our van is a bit like a member of our family. Our adventurous companion takes us everywhere, when he is not grumpy and we share 90% of our time with him, it's our little cocoon. So we can say that we love a crazy love our little "block". Blocking? Yes because let's be clear, it is not at all contoured so as to be aerodynamic, if you see what we mean ...
Anyway ... We show you so many pictures of him on social networks (it's a little "Popo on the beach", "Popo in the mountains", ...), it's really time we present it to you correctly.
The "living space" is not huge and requires to perform a daily ritual (folding the bed, tidying the table ...) but we find everything we need, all in one "room" multi-functions .
Basically, living in a van is like playing Tetris every day!
Interior design, improvements, ... We tell you everything. You will be able to better imagine our daily life!
Here is "Popo" our faithful steed! A 1984 Volkswagen T3 (or "Vanagon" in North America) from California with original Westfalia campervan layout. Good for connoisseurs this nickname, "Popo", is very basic since it is simply that of this model in Europe, but in North America nobody knows and necessarily it makes them laugh!
We found it painfully on the Montreal side two weeks after our arrival.
We were looking for a T2, the "real" combination of hippies like our Toaster in France but fitted out motorhome. The task has been very, very, very complicated in Canada. It must be said that rust is a big problem here and in addition the North American layout, which is a little different from what we are used to seeing, is not very suitable for long road trips.
So we ended up finding Popo. With its 4.57m long and 1.99m high, it goes everywhere and knows how to be discreet when necessary.
For the record, we are the fourth owners, the first lived in California, the second in Missouri and the third in Quebec. He passed recently the 300,000 miles or about 460,000 km ... just that ...
This is one of the first T3 water cooled (we easily recognize them thanks to the grille under the grille), not many options therefore, but it suits us very well! It's fewer potential failures! No air conditioning, no power steering, no power windows or centralized condemnation, ... Bas base what!
The engine is at the back, it is accessed from the inside via a large hatch that is located under the mattress. Here is a 1.9L 84h with the famous 4-cylinder flat. The transmission is 4-speed ...
Volkswagen has thought of everything: to make levels just pull a small hatch hidden behind the license plate, no need to open the trunk, to remove the mattress, the big hatch, ... phew.
That's fast for mechanics.
You see it in its v2.0 configuration. Yes, because when we bought it and we went directly with it in July 2015, it was far from being so clean and especially less equipped!
This is the original Westfalia development, type "Berlin". So there is a kitchen cabinet with a sink, two gas hobs (the 3-gallon tank is under the chassis, it's specific to American models), a refrigerator that works at three energies: gas, 12V and 110V (yes we are in the US) and storage. On the front we see a small led control panel that allows you to know about where we are in our consumption of water and electricity and a witness operation for the fridge.
The rear seats are transformed into a bed like a sofa bed. The bed is 120 x 190 cm, not very wide so especially with the walls on each side but it is done. Under the storage bed and original the rear heater (which only runs engine on), which we have recently replaced with a stationary heater (ie, which can also work when stopped) . Yes, it's a small luxury but really what a pleasure to be warm! Before that, we covered ourselves like two Eskimos! We also see the box that controls the charge of the solar panel, which is placed here, easy to access, but so it is not visible from the outside.
Above the bed, storage and side: storage again! We can also see the swivel table. Below, two hatches ... storage (well yes), with a double bottom in which is located among other 55L water tank.
The front seats swivel and you can install another table in between.
Yes, we see you coming with the "wooden balls" ... Yes, yes, it smells like that! We call them "the balls of Pakistani taxis" (without a thought of course!) To tell you the truth, we bought them with the van and the first thing we said was that the we could not keep such a thing ... But after trying them, you will never believe us but it's really very comfortable, especially when it's hot! We love them so much that we bought nylon thread to tweak them twenty times and then lately we spoiled and bought new ones for $ 9 US each at Walmart (by seat huh, not by ball!).
Finally, above the seats, optional, we can install a hammock as a children's bed. Under the passenger seat, the main battery and under the driver's seat we have just installed an auxiliary battery for this version 2.0. When we tell you that we went economy mode at the beginning of the trip and it for a year and a half ...
The main feature of the Westfalia model is its roof! Here, the liftable model, which can stand when it is open and also access two additional beds, basically it's the guest room! Yes, because for our part, we tend to sleep down! The mattress is thicker and we feel less claustrophobic ... The canvas, original (vintage huh?!), Can open on the front and has a mosquito net integrated (not stupid!). The new replacement canvases have the advantage of having two more openings on the sides!
It would have changed, but it will be for later ...
We have added to all this small world a home made furniture behind the passenger seat in which is a chemical toilet (in case of urgency only haha and only for the small commission one specifies!) And storage (one can never have enough ), as well as a small shelf that unfolds outward in the manner of previous models of combi, just to take a drink outside more easily ...
We also just installed a soft vinyl floor in the back. Not that the original carpet was in bad shape, but it's a lot easier to clean. No need for a vacuum cleaner, a brush and rags and it's impeccable! It is not that we are maniacs, but in a small space it is quickly the B% # $ @ L so we always make sure that it is tidy and clean.
It's a real little house on wheels that lacks just the shower ... And yes, for that it's outside that happens! Go hop, we go out! River, lake, beach shower, ... Otherwise it is under a small tent Quechua provided for this purpose, just to be safe from the wind and have a little privacy when necessary. We add to that a solar shower: basically a pocket of black water (so that it heats the sun, but it is rarely the case ...), and a pipe that goes with it!
We recently, thanks to one of our partners Leisure Leader (specialist equipment for van and camper), could have a lot of extra equipment. The shower is now with pressure thanks to a 12V electric pump system and a knob at the end. We put the pump in a container of water, we plug on the cigarette lighter and presto, a shower almost like home, hot water in less haha! In any case it's really practical, no need to find a tree or do I do not know what mount to hang the solar shower on the roof of the combi ...
Earlier we told you about the solar charge controller. It works well with a solar panel that we installed on the roof. It is a flexible model of 100w that sticks directly with a silicone specially designed for this purpose. Everything is included in the kit from Leisure Leader. We are now autonomous, we can stay put for several days and recharge our devices, switch on the light serenely, etc ... without risk of power failure! We will soon give you an editing tutorial for that 😉
Outside we also installed an awning, because we were tired of literally baking in the sun, and we are heading further south now, so no it is not a luxury! The clothespin towel technique is not very effective, tested and NOT approved!
This is a Fiamma F35 Pro, we chose this model for its lightness (in our opinion more suitable for a small van), compared to the model F45, although it is a little more practical since it takes place with a crank like a classic home awning. Leisure Leader we ordered it to measure: choice of the size, the color of the canvas and the case! We had a good laugh to carry it on the plane, it went like a letter to the post office.
The bike carrier is also a Fiamma model, we are often asked to do so, that's it. It was negotiated (hard), with the purchase of the van. It is aluminum so very light but very strong! This is a specific model for the VW T3. It has resisted the many stony, muddy and sandy paths that have put it to the test with the 2 bicycles permanently attached.
Many people asked us if we were not afraid of the risks of asphyxiation with the new heating ... No, for several reasons:
- First we do not leave it on all night. It is started as soon as one settles and until one goes to bed. Then we programmed it to turn on automatically a little before we wake up.
- Secondly because we installed a harmful gas detector. It is a small box that analyzes the ambient air and emits a light and sound alarm in case of problems: butane / propane leak, CO2 level too high, narcotic gas introduced by someone malicious. We did several tests and it works very well!
At the top of the photo that follows we can also see the 300W inverter that converts the current to 12V generated by Popo 110V (we are in North America do you remember?!). You can then charge any device with a conventional outlet. There are several power, more or less big fact, but for us the 300W is enough to load all our equipment. Transformers of these last being planned to work in 110V / 220V there is no problem of compatibility except the card of the catch.
You may also have noticed that there are three small hatches on one side of the van. From left to right there are:
- permanent water connection (at the campsite for example), never used.
- the electrical outlet (allows to use the refrigerator in 110v and feeds 2 taken inside).
- the filler neck of the 55L water tank.
Depending on the year and the origin of the model (Europe, USA, Canada, ...), traps are not necessarily placed in the same places and do not have the same shape.
On the roof at the front, there is a luggage rack. This is the part that stays fixed when you open the roof. It is not very deep but practical to put some stuff. At the beginning we had installed a waterproof bag with straps found in Canada at Canadian Tire (one of Mister Eric's favorite stores). It was good, but not very practical to get what was in it ... So we recently invested in a rigid box.
It's actually a rifle box (it's easy to find in USA haha, in Outdoors stores like Cabela's or Bass Pro Shop), which is totally waterproof and with a system that regulates the pressure history it does not have. do not explode taking altitude and vice versa that we can open when we go down. In short, it is very convenient, there is no big catch in the wind and it is very easy to access even without getting off the roof. It is secured with a secure key strap and the foam delivered with it has been used to wedge it into place.
Finally, the other question we are often asked: the wheels / tires.
On the first models, like here, it's the original 14 inches. Volkswagen subsequently installed larger diameter wheels (15 and 16 inches). We had All Terrain 4 × 4 tires fitted for several reasons. We travel in all seasons and in all weathers. So we needed tires that hold the road also in the rain and snow. We are also very often out of the box. Bye bye bitumen, to us pebbles, sand and mud. This type of reinforced tires also limits the risk of punctures. The first time we had BF Goodrich All Terrain ridden, but unfortunately production in 14 inches was stopped. So we upgraded General Grabber All Terrain A / T2, a little wider by the way, but still available in 14 inches and just as well.
So much for Popo v2.0! We have probably forgotten things, so do not hesitate to ask questions in comment, we will answer with pleasure.
Ah yes ! The color ... big debate between us ... you see it rather orange, brown or caramel?
All the products that have been supplied to us by Leader Loisirs are useful products that we have chosen according to our needs after more than a year and a half in van. These are not "just gifts" but items that improve our lives, so we talk about it. No language of wood, our opinions are and will always be honest with respect to the products mentioned here!