To all the earnest VW owners of Egypt who keep their cars running.
The Boss Man and I ran into a very cool van on Road 9. We just happened to be on our way to dinner. I was taking a photo of the van from behind, when the owner noticed and actually pulled over to talk to us. We showed him a photo of our '65 VW Beetle (on Boss Man's mobile) which caught on fire and just started talking. And the reason why I don't have photos of my van - for some reason, with this new Airport Extreme, we can't get photos printed anymore - thanks Apple!)
This van started out as an 81 aircooled. The owner, Hassan, added a home-made set of South African headlights along with a radiator and a carburated Golf 1800cc engine, thus converting it from an air-cooled to a water-cooled van.
Hassan made the new vent himself.
He had the engine and cooling system done by a local VW service in Maadi, who specializes in these conversions. The Boss Man and I have passed through that street (where the specialist is located) several times, and hope to re-visit it to get some photos and possibly talk with the owner. Only problem is, it's in a very busy and crowded area near "crazy street" and, on top of that, we get lost a lot.
Hassan, the owner of this van (in the photo below,) is very proud of his conversion. He built the roof-top rack himself and the van is hand painted. Hassan pointed out the tubes running up to the front to make sure we noticed. He says the van cruises at 120 kilometers per hour on the highway with the new engine - much better than before. Unfortunately there are few highways in Egypt where anyone would actually dare to drive that fast, lest they get killed. Yes, they do keep old cars running, but brakes- that's another matter. And in constant stop and go traffic, you tend to ride the clutch and the brakes, wearing them out pretty quickly. The police are always setting up surprise checkpoints, even on the highways. Yes, that means you come to a screeching halt and grab your papers. Besides that, in order to get anywhere around here, you have to, (as a friend said) "drive like a snake."
Hassan is a great guy and most VW owners we've met here are very proud of their cars. I hope to meet more people like Hassan to get a grip on exactly what they do to keep their cars going. It's sometimes a sordid story of survival, from what I hear, one we don't get to see back in the States, but something that sounds very entertaining! As one VW owner told us, it's a matter of looking at everything very closely, as owners and dealers of parts are very adept at trying to fool the buyer. Caveat emptor is the ingrained rule among owners and swappers of old VW's and accessories.
I did find a site that provides links for Tom's VW Pages, Vanagon Engine Conversions, with the following description: Gas to Other Gas Engine Conversions
"Gasoline powered Vanagon owners typically have to choose between engine cooling methods. To convert to a water cooled from an air-cooled engine requires the addition of cooling hoses and a radiator. An interior heating system must be retrofitted to the Vanagon as well. If the Vanagon is already water-cooled, the existing cooling and interior heating system is plumbed to the new engine. Here are some pages that cover swaps from one gas powered engine to another." Warning - some of his links are kaput.
For those of you who are jealous, that you don't have an old van to tinker with, maybe this site will help with that:
BusSelecta.com - a site where you can actually design your own bus. Check out my VW links as there are two other sites for designing bugs, and also T3D's and Porsches.
Ahh, Cairo traffic. Here's a van stuck at a traffic circle, making me somewhat lucky. News is, my Nikon D70 is irreparable here in Cairo and will have to be sent back to Nikon in the States. Working with Boss Man's camera, which has a delayed start up and then another delayed photo reaction, causes me to loose lots of shots - unless they get stuck in traffic. Wait until June, when I get my new camera! - No more of this shit! After awhile, you get sick and tired of shooting the back end of - whatever.
The Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian
Now, if we could just get more folks to take care of their VW's like the Egyptians do, then we'd be making some progress!
Tuesday, May 8, 2007