Monty the Red Campervan

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Sep 3, 2011
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Monty the Red Campervan
I thought it was about time I posted a thread about my 1970 Montana red westy. I also want to keep a record of all the work I do on the van, as barely a day goes by without me doing something to it!

I have had the van for two years now having bought it from an enthusiast who imported it from Los Angeles and did a re-spray and put in a new pop-top canvas. Apart from that the van was all original and was in good condition on the inside although the mechanics have needed some attention since I bought it. The first thing was getting a new engine a 1600 TP. In retrospect I would have left the old engine in for a bit longer as I am not exactly sure what was wrong with it although it wasn’t original.

The forum has been an invaluable source of information and tips for me; in fact I started reading up on here even before I bought the van so I would know what to look for when buying such an old vehicle and also which sort to get. I decided I wanted a pop-top as I bought it for camping trips after getting negative feedback from my family about wet tents and rain-soaked campsites! I first started looking at splitties but realised fairly quickly that 1, they are expensive 2, they are small inside, 3, bays are better!

Here are some pics of the van


on the way to Ullapool


I am not a mechanic but I can do some things as long as it’s not too complicated, however the Bentley manual and John Muir’s book have been a great reference for a lot of stuff I have done. Talking to folks at various shows this year has also been really useful and I could look at other vans for ideas.
I have done loads since getting the van, far more than I originally thought I would. I have replaced the steering gear underneath although I hope to keep the original steering box. It has a small leak but it seems to work ok and I would like to stay as stock as possible despite the sometimes difficult handling. The next thing I want to do is replace the shock absorbers with some good quality ones and then I should have the best handling I can expect for a stock height van shaped like a loaf of bread!

The master brake cylinder has had to be replaced as it was leaking and I wasn’t happy. I am ok with the drum brakes as they work well, they just need regular adjustment.

The heater tube had at some stage been replaced with a plastic pipe which was just making things worse as the ends were getting rusty where they meet the cross members and a new metal one has been welded in. New heater cables have fitted as there were none. (no heater needed in LA I suppose!) I have ended up also replacing the heat exchangers , and making sure the hot air pipes in the engine feed into them. There is now a reasonable flow of warm air into the cab. I will need to insulate the main pipe under the van for the cold weather.

Pics of heater pipe

Although the body work was mainly sound and free from rust the jacking points were shot, and were covered with silver foil and underseal when I looked more closely at them, which was a bit worrying that someone had gone to the trouble of covering this up. Fortunately everything else has been ok on the rust front.

I have also decided to add some heating for the cooler evenings when camping. Sometimes a tilley lantern is not enough! After looking at various options including the propex option I decided to go for a petrol heater and Webasto seemed to be the best one for me. I know the propex heater is really popular but I don’t need a gas bottle for anything else so I thought a feed from the petrol tank would save some room. I am really pleased with it so far however time will tell in the cold weather to come.

pics of webasto

now you see it

now you don't

I have replaced the 1970 orange fuse box as it was cracking up. They are made of Bakelite and are notorious for breaking apart, and the 1971 fuse box is almost the same but is made of nylon I think and is much more solid. It’s so nice not to have to worry about fuses dropping out as you drive along! I believe you can also get later white 1970 fuseboxes as well but they are probably like hens teeth and the ’71 is fine.

*pics of fusebox*

new one

I decided I had to inspect the floor of the van for my own peace of mind and to tidy it up. The state of the sink unit at the back reminded me how filthy the floor probably was after 43 years. It wasn’t too bad removing all the furniture and floor panels in order to get at the cargo floor. I was glad I did this because although under the rock and roll bed seat was dirty it was easy to clean up all the dropped coins, pencils, and bits of paper. The floor was in good condition and I decided to simply treat the rust with kurust after wire wheeling the surface stuff away. I then painted two coats of red Hammerite over it although ideally I would have liked to have used Montana red.


cleaned and treated with Kurust then red hammerite
It’s always difficult for me to decide whether to keep something old in the van or replace it as I am sure many of you will recognise this dilemma. There are issues of keeping the originality and the old ‘look’ as well that sometimes replacement parts are often inferior to the older parts. I like to keep the interior as original or OG as possible as I like the retro vibe. The ply side panels are not perfect and a bit stained from leaks but it doesn’t bother me. The headliner is in really nice condition apart from the bit near the sliding door which I tried to repair but made it worse!

Having the van has really become ‘a way of life’ because I go camping in it, I’ve been to several shows in it this year and it has become my main hobby at home; I’m doing jobs on it all the time. I hope to get to the point where I am happy with the van and it just needs maintenance so I can get back to my other hobbies!

Thanks for reading and I'll be posting more updates soon!
Firstly Mike great Northumberland
Flag Fella! Its class!
I bought a heater for the wife :lol:
It a diesel one when the weldings finished
It one of the first things to go in.
Then the wife! :lol:
geordie said:
Firstly Mike great Northumberland
Flag Fella! Its class!
I bought a heater for the wife :lol:
It a diesel one when the weldings finished
It one of the first things to go in.
Then the wife! :lol:

Yes we love the flag, helps find the van at shows etc!

Heater is important to keep the other half happy.
Thanks for the kind comments guys.

Over the weekend fitted my new Koni shock absorbers from Paruzzi. I got the idea for them from the forum. They went on quite easily, or should I say the old ones came off ok which was my main concern :roll:

I can't understand why I took so long to realise why the van had such poor handling especially on the motorways. Anyway all the steering rods, damper and draglink have been replaced and I suppose this was the last thing.

I took the van out for a test drive in the wind yesterday, it was quite wild up here, and I couldn't believe the difference! :D
Going around corners, being buffeted by the wind, hardly felt lorries over-taking. I can't compare other makes of shocks so all I can say is that they are better than the old ones that were on and they felt like good quality when I put them on. They weren't cheap
but they're not the most expensive either.

here's some pics

new and old (not sure what make the old ones are but they are made in USA)

Koni Classic 'gives you wings' (who needs red bull :lol: )

Mike, have you changed the rears too??
If so I'll have old ones off you at the swapmeet, if your not keeping them!!!??.
Looking lovely there Mike, it's a great bus and you are doing a grand job on it.

mike202 said:
I hope to get to the point where I am happy with the van and it just needs maintenance so I can get back to my other hobbies!

No Chance! :lol:

Lovely Bus though Mike, and it's always great to see a bus being used for it's intended purpose - get it on the continent!

Top work mate - bus looks great on these pics but awesome in the flesh!

Keep the pics coming

Very 8)
Nice van 8)
Good choice on the konis these are superb, what adjustment did you use? i did both front and back one turn stiffer from full soft.

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