Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper

A Star Wars fan turned his Volkswagen recreation vehicle into a R2-D2 Road Tripper. He recalled how he did it on his blog.

Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper
Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper

Artoo-Deetoo is an icon, a fictional character and one of George Lucas’ greatest creations. There are plenty of epic Space Odyssey fans out there that also drive cars. Few, if any, own a Hellcat, but even so, some of them wrap their cars as a tribute for the epic franchise.

A gifted Star Wars fan also is a Volkswagen Transporter driver who decided it was time to leave Tatooine for a change and embark on a rather Earthier experience. He recreated all the objects on R2D2 and adapted them to fit on his VW bus. According to his Instructables log, “all the measurements and computer work took about 50 hours, plus vinyl wrapping till we lost count”.

The vehicle itself is a 1992 Volkswagen Transporter that is powered by 1.6-liter air-cooled engine with 58 hp that was converted to run on CNG too, which gives it better mileage, but even less power.

Yeah, the force it’s not strong with this one.

According to his Indestructables blog, the R2D2 VW Bus was created in 14 steps.

Step 1: Planning the design

Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper
Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper

R2D2’s body is a cylinder, so the initial idea was to unroll the cylinder and wrap the bus with that pattern. But it ended up not becoming one with the force, that is the bus. It was all planned based on vinyl wrap customization, since they already worked with vinyl stickers.

Step 2: Recreating the objects [vector]

Based on a high resolution blueprint image from the web, they recreated in vectors by manual tracing each and every object on CorelDraw. At first they left the black outline, then realized they did not want a cartoon-looking robot.

Step 3: Recreating the objects [color]

Once the vectors were done, Photoshop work began. Most of this was done by setting layer styles, since it is an easy way to create a sense of depth.

Step 4: Photoshop overview

First, save the vector you created on CorelDraw and export as high-res .jpg to use on Photoshop. Once you have your image, and if you use crazy contrasting colors, you can easily select each section with the Magic Wand tool. Create a new layer and fill the selection with a medium shade of grey. For each new layer, work with layer styles to set “gradient overlay” and “bevel and emboss”.

Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper
Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper

Step 5: Measure everything

If you cannot find a blueprint of your car on the internet accurately depicting every measure and the position of every light, hinge, handle and what not, you’ll have to measure them all. That may take some time, but it is the only way to make sure the design becomes one with the vehicle.

Step 6: Prepare for printing

Once they had all the objects, they had to decide on where to place them. For that, you can either use a vector of the vehicle or pictures of the front, back and side.

Step 7: Cutting the stickers

A rule of thumb for wrapping is to always work with more material than the surface to be wrapped.

Step 8: Preparing the bus

This proved to be an exhausting part. They spent a lot of time on treating all the scratches and rust, then painting over it and sanding.

Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper
Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper

Step 9: Wrapping the front

They started applying the stickers by the front, since it would probably be the hardest part.

They used felt squeegees to press the vinyl bit by bit, careful not to leave any bubbles or wrinkles.

Step 10: Real buses have curves

The second target was the back, to rest from the hard time they had on the front. No major issues on the flat surfaces. On the curve, they dreaded the decision of planning it on a single module.

Step 11: Sweet sides

These were quick and easy. The advantage of picking a VW bus for the project. Since it is all flat, there is very little need for the heat gun.

Step 12: A few more details

It took a while to wrap the top grid. Might have been easier to paint it?

Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper
Turning a VW Camper Into an R2-D2 Road Tripper

Step 13: Are we there yet?

Well, almost! Since they were done with the printed stickers, a silver one was added to the window columns and another stripe of blue to the top.

Step 14: What a cool droid!

They plan to add Millennium Falcon to the top, and maybe write “On a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” as well.

Worth Pondering…

Good bye, old friend. May the Force be with you.

―Obi-Wan Kenobi, to his former Padawan Anakin Skywalker before traveling to Utapau

Read More

Great RVing Moments That Transcend Time

Americans, it seems, have been destined to be RVers since the earliest days that explorers set foot on this continent.

The 1928 Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar at  the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum in Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The 1928 Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum in Elkhart, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adventurers at heart, settlers came in search of freedom and opportunities to grow and discover. And discover they did—first by ship, then by horse, in groups by Conestoga wagon trains and, ultimately, by motorized vehicles that ushered in the RVs of today.

1910: In the early years of the 20th century, Americans became accustomed to owning cars and traveling around the US by automobile. The modern RV industry began in 1910 when car maker Pierce-Arrow unveiled the Touring Landau at Madison Square Garden in New York. The vehicle, widely considered by historians as the first motorhome, features a backseat that unfolds into a bed, a sink behind the chauffeur and, remarkably, a chamber pot.

1935: Acclaimed Hollywood cinematographer J. Roy Hunt had to spend weeks on location shoots so in 1935, he added a bed, folding table, and 110 volt generator to a Willys sedan delivery. Two years later, he bought a 1937 Ford truck chassis and, borrowing some aircraft engineering techniques, designed a smooth fuselage body with a hatch-like flush door and a streamlined shape. He had a auto-body shop help him with the fabrication.

Hunt ended up putting the House Car into limited production, building 50 of them over the next decade, making it one of the rarest production motorhomes in existence. Considered to be the first with a working shower, it also featured a disappearing toilet that folds into the wall so the shower has additional space

The 1929 Wiedman Housecar at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The 1929 Wiedman Housecar at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 1937 Hunt House Car was restored by David Woodworth of Tehachapi, California and is on display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.

1947: Dutch businessman Ben Pon traveled to the small German town of Minden in 1947, where he met with the British authorities who, following the war, were in charge of the Volkswagen factory. Pon was eager to become the Dutch importer for Volkswagen. His visit had unexpected and far-reaching consequences.

During the meeting Pon took out his notebook and drew a rough sketch of a rectangular commercial vehicle. It is really nothing more than a box on wheels with a driver’s cab at the front and an engine behind it. It was a revolutionary idea for the time, as ingenious as it was simple, with a large cargo space on a small area.

Pon’s brilliant idea was put on hold for a year. Meantime, Pon and his brother became the first official Volkswagen importers in the world. Heinrich Nordhoff, the new CEO of Volkswagen, and the technical director Alfred Haesner decided to develop Pon’s idea. His simple design became the blueprint for the future and Pon became the inventor of the Volkswagen Transporter, the first of many models that were well suited for tight budgets, camping buffs, do-it-yourself mechanics, and several generations of hippies.

1958: In 1958, Ray Frank, owner of a small trailer manufacturing company in Brown City, Michigan, designed and built a small custom House Car. It was a vehicle that he intended solely for his family’s personal use and enjoyment. He and his family called it their Motor Home. The coach was unique since it was designed from the ground up to be a motorized RV. It was neither a trailer to which additional wheels and an engine were added nor was it converted from an existing bus or truck chassis. It was also unique in that it was the first recognized time that the term “Motor Home” was applied to a motorized RV, thus beginning the transition from the description House Car to the name universally recognized today.

Frank’s new motor homes were also the first motorized recreational vehicles that were built expressly to be distributed through a franchised dealer body.

Frank Motor Homes built six units in 1960 and 131 in 1961, when the name was changed to Dodge Motor Homes. These were, in effect, the first assembly line produced motor homes.

An early Winnebago motorhome at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
An early Winnebago motorhome at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum in Elkhart, Indiana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1967, Frank Motor Home Corporation was sold to PRF Industries and it became the Travco Division of PRF. The coaches were known as Travco motor homes or as Dodge-Travco motor homes. In 1979, Travco Division was sold by PRF and became a part of Clarence Fore’s Foretravel, Inc., which coincidentally, like Frank’s company, had grown from a single coach privately made and intended for personal use.

1966: In 1966 the first motor home rolled off the Winnebago Industries assembly lines. Through use of the assembly line, a wall construction process called Thermo-Panel, and other manufacturing innovations in the motor home industry, Winnebago Industries could produce a motorhome that sold for half the price of competitors’ models.

Through the 1970s and into the ’80s model names were influenced by the Native American tribe of the same name and included the Brave, the Indian, the Chieftain, and the Warrior. Older Winnebago RVs are often recognizable by the painted “w” (also called the “flying W”) on the side of the vehicle, with a stripe that connects the front and back of the motor home.

The Winnebago brand name become synonymous with the motor home, whether they were produced by the company or a competitor.

Worth Pondering…

If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him.

—Seneca

Read More

Thailand RV Market Expands

Long holidays like the mid-April Songkran festival may prompt adventure lovers and tourists to go on camping trips with their family or close friends.

Motorhome & Camping Car currently offers four Volkswagen camper van models.
Motorhome & Camping Car currently offers four Volkswagen camper van models.

And motorhomes and camping cars seem to offer a perfect fit.

“Camping trips are becoming more popular in Thailand, driven by expanded parking areas in national parks and resorts,” Somsak Siyano, managing director of Motorhome & Camping Car, a Thai-Japanese joint venture, told the Bangkok Post.

“Currently, around 40 to 50 national parks and resorts in the country have set aside areas for campers.”

According to Somsak, each camping site has convenient facilities such as electricity, running water, bathrooms, restrooms, and minimarts.

“Now, rich Thais are more interested in owning home trucks for domestic travel,” Somsak told the Bangkok Post.

“We expect the trend to become more popular once the Asean Economic Community is fully implemented.”

Founded 20 years ago, Motorhome & Camping Car sold 30 units in the domestic market and exported 400 units last year mainly to Japan, Germany, Australia and India.

Its assembly plant is in Phanat Nikhom, Chon Buri.

The company, which displayed its latest motorhomes and camping cars at the recent Bangkok International Motor Show, expects to sell over 40 units in the local market this year, while shipments remain unchanged from last year because the strong baht has dampened exports.

Somsak said sales remain far lower than the company’s 1,200-unit annual capacity.

Potential buyers of RVs are still limited to high-income people.

54467Motorhome & Camping Car offers four models, two of which are assembled from pickup trucks, one from a light-duty truck and the other from a home trailer.

This year the company plans to introduce units that are assembled from Volkswagen, Ford, and Chevrolet.

It plans to assemble Volkswagen trailers priced around 5.5 million baht.

“Western pickup trucks will help us reach other groups of high-income earners who have brand royalty,” Somsak said.

Worth Pondering…

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.

—Maya Angelou

Read More

End of the Road for Volkswagen Kombi

The classic Volkswagen Kombi is set to cease production next year, ending some 63 years of continuous production.

The last Volkswagen Kombi will be built on December 31, 2013. (Source: autocar.co.uk)

The Kombi, or VW T2 as it is known in Brazil, the only country where it is still produced, will be forced out of production due to new safety legislation coming into force in South America’s largest country, reports Autocar.

To comply with the new Brazilian market legislation coming into effect on January 1, 2014, all new vehicles must come with anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags as standard, meaning an end to the production of the more simplistic Volkswagen Kombi.

VW’s product development chief for Brazil, Egon Feichter, told Autocar that to comply with the new legislation, the Kombi would need to become “a new car”.

It is likely the last Kombi models will be built on December 31 2013, a full 63 years after the nine-seater first went on sale in 1950.

Feichter confirmed that it was only the new safety laws that prevented the Kombi from still being built, as it conforms to every emission regulation needed for new car markets in South America where it is still sold.

The new safety legislation is only for Brazil, but its position as the largest new car market in South America by some distance means it’s not financially feasible to continue with Kombi production.

Some 251 Kombis are still produced everyday at VW’s main Anchieta factory for South America in Sao Paulo.

Replacing the Kombi with a like-for-like model would be almost impossible, as “you can get two Kombis for the price of one normal car,” Feichter told Autocar.

The Volkswagen Kombi has been in production for 63 years. (Source: caravantimes.co.uk)

Volkswagen will continue to make the VW California, the latest incarnation of this 1960s, Volkswagen camper vans which was launched in 2001.

There are many companies out there that renovate old campers, but the California is the only one built and sold wholly by Volkswagen.

The company also has plans to launch a new compact Caddy van in 2013, reports Caravan Times.

Worth Pondering…

A man does what he must in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures, and that is the basis of all morality.

—John Fitzpatrick Kennedy

Read More