Camp Westfalia

Archive for Happy Camping

Instant Eats: Breakfast

Grandma always said breakfast was the most important meal of the day, to get you started on a full tank. So, pick your fuel: carbs, proteins, or sugars!

All recipes are made to serve two, but can be easily multiplied for larger groups.

Berry-licious Yogurt Parfaits

Buy these finished parfaits in most large grocery stores, or prepare your own ahead of time at home and take them on the road in your fridge or cooler, or make ’em in camp.

In two 16-ounce glass Mason jars or similar sealable serving containers, add 1/2 cup Greek yogurt to each jar, followed by a drizzle of honey, and a layer of your favorite fresh fruit or berries. Top with a handful of granola (the fruit will help keep the granola high and dry so it doesn’t get soggy). Be sure to leave a bit of headroom in the jars, so whenever you decide to enjoy your parfait, you have space to mix it all up first!


Loaded Oatmeal

This hot breakfast staple can be pre-mixed at home and then quickly cooked in camp.

Combine a cup of regular or quick-cooking rolled oats, a 1/4 cup each of chopped dried apricots and tart dried cherries, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, and a dash of salt; stir or mix in a bowl and store in a sealed container for up to 14 days.

In a separate container, combine 1/4 cup each of the toppings: chocolate chips, toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, and roasted hazelnuts.

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil and stir in the oatmeal mix. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand until most of the water has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Serve with toppings, pomegranate molasses, and milk.


 

Hot Ham and Swiss Croissants

Slice a couple of croissants and spread a teaspoon of honey mustard inside each one. Pile some thin sliced ham onto each bottom half, then a slice of Swiss cheese. Assemble them into sandwiches and set inside a 10-inch frying pan; cover and ‘bake’ on very low heat for 5 minutes, flipping halfway through until the ham is hot and the cheese melty.

Cream of Wheat Instant To-Go singles, hot cereal in a cup

You’re supposed to add water to this convenient cup, then heat in a microwave oven to make a single serving of hot instant breakfast cereal. But it works just as well to boil the water in a tea kettle or small pot, pour it into the cup over the Cream of Wheat, and steep for a couple of minutes. Available in a variety of flavors, or add your own fresh or dried berries or fruit.

Smoked Salmon Bagels

Slice a couple of pumpernickel or other bagels in half, smear with a bit of chive or other flavored cream cheese. Make into sandwiches using a few thin slices of cucumber, 5 ounces of thinly sliced smoked salmon, a few rings of sliced red onion, and 1/2 teaspoon of drained non-pareil capers.


Finally …

Try these quick and easy breakfast ideas on your next camping trip, and look for ways to adapt your own favorite home recipes for the campground!

Making the Most of Stay-at-Home Orders, for Van-Campers

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have chosen to self-quarantine in our homes for the next several weeks. Cancelled trip plans, indefinite isolation, travel restrictions, Spring fever, and information overload can all be a recipe for anxiety and boredom.

We are van-campers, damn it! We are not homebodies, and we crave the hills, forests, seashores, and deserts!

Still, few are perhaps as well suited to such home confinement as those of us who travel and live for weeks on end in a rectangular steel box barely larger than the Eagle lunar lander. We can do this!

Here are a few ideas to help you maintain and improve yourself, your home, and your Vanagon!

First, Protect Yourself

Just as the airline flight attendants explain, in case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, first don your OWN oxygen mask, before attempting to assist others with theirs. Making sure you’ve got oxygen first is crucial if you want to be alert enough to help others.

The same is true while living under the COVID-19 health crisis; keep yourself healthy and sane so you can assist those around you.

Care for Family & Neighbors

Current health protocols suggest that, unless a member of your household is exhibiting early symptoms, or you have reason to believe someone has recently introduced the virus into your home, you can live your life as usual while under Stay-at-Home orders. So, you don’t need to practice ‘safe-distancing’ with healthy household members.

Feed and clothe your kids, enjoy meals with your partner, watch movies and play games with the whole fam together.

But beyond that, check in with neighbors or relatives near and far, especially the elderly or those who live alone (from a safe distance, of course). Ask if they need anything: food, medications, their dog walked, the trash bins taken out to the street, etc..

Use phone, email, or neighbor-to-neighbor online communities to communicate and coordinate with others to ensure that everyone in your area is getting the support they need.

Care for Your Home

A lot of people are using time confined at home to … take care of the home!

Clean the basement or garage, rake the lawn, weed the garden, clean the gutters (well, maybe that one can be procrastinated a little longer). But do be extra careful when doing these neglected household projects: an urgent-care physician friend recently reminded me that slicing your foot open with the lawn mower is always bad; but doing so now, when ER staff are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, is an especially dumb idea. They don’t want you now, and you don’t want to be there!

You might also consider preparing a room in your home in case someone does get sick. Ideally, plan to set aside a separate room with a bed or couch, preferably with it’s own attached bathroom, where a household member could rest and recuperate in isolation from other family.

In advance, collect some supplies to help care for any ill family members:

  • Extra bedsheets & blankets
  • Gatorade, juices, or other fluids for proper hydration
  • Acetaminophen fever reducers
  • Over-the-counter medicines may help with other symptoms
  • Digital thermometer to monitor fever
  • Room humidifier to help ease a sore throat and cough

More information on caring for a sick household member:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html

Use the Internet

Unlike previous epidemics requiring social isolation, we now have far more ways to keep in contact.

Phone calling & text messaging, social media, email, video chat, and a plethora of apps now allow us to easily communicate with friends and strangers around the globe. Please use them, to take care of loved ones near and far, to educate and entertain yourself, and to share your thoughts and plans.

We’re all stronger when we stick together, even when we’re apart.

Preserve Our Economy

The other crucial front on which we must fight this threat is the broader economy.

For better or worse, most every citizen of the world is an active participant in some way of the wider financial world, and this pandemic has thrown it right off the rails. To put it back on track will require the efforts of everyone doing what they can.

To the extent that you can, support local small businesses, especially those most impacted by this pandemic:

  • restaurants, bars & pubs
  • brick-and-mortar retailers
  • providers of goods or services with elastic demand that are not seen as necessities

Consider ‘buying it forward’ by purchasing online gift cards from those businesses that you care about and want to help preserve. Think of it as an investment in a vibrant and thriving future economy, populated by the kind of businesses you believe benefit your community.

Of particular interest to those of us who love old Vanagons & Transporters, please consider ordering parts and supplies from your favorite Vanagon vendors, local or distant. Most of these are surprisingly small businesses, serving a narrow specialty niche that can be especially hard hit by larger economic contractions. Help keep them afloat by ordering Vanagon parts for your next big project, or just stock up on consumables you know you’ll be needing in the future anyway: filters, belts, brake shoes & pads, etc.. Your support now may help determine whether they are still able to serve you tomorrow.

Organize Your Stuff

A bit of down time at home is a good opportunity to clean and organize your camping gear, tools and parts, workshop area, etc.

But don’t stop there; if you continue cleaning out the garage of all that old scrap wood, leaky garden hoses, and that treadmill you never use anymore, you just might be able to fit the car or van in there again!

Start Planning Your Road Trips

Eventually, we’ll be able to ‘flatten the curve,’ travel restrictions will be eased, and we’ll all head screaming for the wide open spaces. Start working out some possible destinations and time frames, camping spots, and sights to see along the way.

Planning a Road Trip
https://campwestfalia.com/planning-road-trip-part-1-go/

Or, get inspired, get educated, and get handy with a good travel or Vanagon book:
https://campwestfalia.com/camp-westfalia-book-shelf/

Your Van Plan

As the weather improves, take the time to start working out any big mechanical repairs or upgrades you’ve been putting off. Organize your work space, collect the tools and parts, and start getting your van ready to go!

What’s Your Van Plan?
https://campwestfalia.com/whats-your-van-plan-for-this-year/

Get Cooking

Now, while you’re stuck at home all day and eating in, is a great time to try out some new camping recipes.

Experimentation is always best done on familiar ground, like your home kitchen, where you have a pantry full of backup options. So, find some new recipes (or create your own) that might be easily made in the campervan and practice them at home.

Get Out

If conditions and local health officials allow, get outside.

Rake the lawn, trim the hedge, walk the dog, ride the bike, work on the van, but go outside. The sunshine, the fresh air, the wave from your neighbor, all contribute to a healthier and happier you.

We Can Do This

Together, we can “flatten the curve” and begin to resume our lives.

Remember to reach out to friends and family for help and support when needed, and make the most of your time at home.

Watch for an upcoming article on proper and safe hygiene while traveling and camping. And stay in touch with Camp Westfalia on Facebook, or get Crosswinds, the free newsletter!

Resources

World Health Organization, Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus (COVID-19)
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Government of Canada, Public Health, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

Essential Apps for Van-Travel

Navigation and travel apps for your mobile device help you find campsites, points of interest, and the routes to get there, or even to make reservations while you’re still en route.

Here are some of the Camp Westfalia crew’s favorites …

Camping

VanAlert

Among all the other great features of VanAlert is a directory of user-submitted favorite camping spots to help you find a place to call home for the night. You can even find other VW Vanagon/Bus owners who have volunteered the temporary use of their driveway for short stays while traveling.

https://vanalert.com

Kampnik

Kampnik is built on the venerable USCAmpgrounds.info database of more than 13,000 campgrounds in the United States and Canada with a focus on public car-accessible campgrounds whose existence and location has been verified by a human. With Kampnik, you can find public campgrounds in National Parks, National Forests, Provincial Parks, State Parks, City and County Parks, and more on federal, state, provincial, and local lands. From beaches to mountains and rivers to deserts, Kampnik will help you find campgrounds for the places you want to go.

http://kampnik.com/

iOverlander

iOverlander is a free site (and phone apps) created to help overlanders on the road find their next destination. Please help us make this site great by updating our information and adding places you have been.

http://ioverlander.com/

Allstays

The number one camping app for iPhone, iPads and iPods. From resorts to hike-in spots. Amenities, maps, truck stops, rest areas, Wal-mart and casino parking, RV dealers, sporting goods stores and much more. Two modes: one uses GPS and maps that you can filter. One is an offline manual lookup mode for when you don’t have service.

https://www.allstays.com/

WikiCamps

Plan your next adventure using the WikiCamps Trip Planner. Create unlimited trips, add multiple locations, notes, and custom map pins. The ultimate camping companion for your smart phone, tablet and Windows 10 PC. USA’s largest database of campgrounds, RV parks, backpacker hostels, points of interest, dump stations, visitor information centers, water taps, toilets, showers, and more.

https://usa.wikicamps.co/

KOA (Kampgrounds of America)

Search KOA’s huge selection of campgrounds to find your perfect fit. Search by city, state or attractions. Or find a nearby KOA campground based on your current location. Get detailed campground descriptions, hot deals, driving directions, as well as descriptions of local attractions and local and campground activities.

https://koa.com/get-the-koa-app/

Roadtrippers

Enter where you want to start and finish your road trip, and then discover the coolest “off the beaten path” places along the way. Our database includes millions of the world’s most fascinating places, making planning the unexpected easier than you thought. Road trip planning can be tedious… and what do you get from it? Most of what you find online will funnel you into the same places, filled with other travelers. It can feel like you need a local guide to get an authentic experience on your trip, but Roadtrippers helps you escape the tourist bubble and find the coolest stops.

https://roadtrippers.com/

Ultimate Campgrounds

Thousands and thousands of public camping sites across the US and Canada – free, dispersed and formal campsites

http://www.ultimatecampgrounds.com/

Freecampsites

Freecampsites.net is the primary source for information on free campgrounds and boondocking locations. We believe that free camping sites are often the most beautiful and peaceful camp sites. There are many free camp sites, but they can be difficult to locate. Here, we provide a simple, map-based search engine for free and cheap camping locations. It is also a platform for sharing locations you have discovered with others.

https://freecampsites.net

Hipcamp

Book unique camping experiences on over 300,000 campsites, cabins, RV parks, public parks and more. Hipcamp is everywhere you want to camp. Search, discover and book ranches, farms, vineyards, nature preserves & public sites for camping across the U.S.
From public parks to private land, we’re the most comprehensive guide to camping in the nation.

https://www.hipcamp.com/

Park4Night

Perhaps the most wide ranging of all the camping apps, Park4Night helps you find camping and parking spots from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Search user-submitted parking & camping spots on your smartphone or car GPS unit, enjoy your camp, then leave your new comments or updates for future travelers.

One intrepid Camp Westfalia reader reports having wild camped all over Europe using this app.

https://park4night.com/

Other

Waze

Waze helps riders and drivers get where they’re going—faster, smoother, safer, and happier—while working to beat traffic. Traffic starts with us, but it can end with us, too. Waze develops practical solutions that empower people to make better choices, from taking the fastest route, to leaving at the right time, to sharing daily commutes.

https://www.waze.com/

GasBuddy

Over the last 15 years, GasBuddy has saved users over $2.9 billion dollars. Download our easy-to-use app to start saving at the pump, complete fun challenges and win free gas today

https://www.gasbuddy.com/App

Chimani

Chimani is the leading national park mobile app. Our intuitive app draws on the power of GPS-enabled interactive mapping technology to guide your national park adventures. Chimani’s national park guides include descriptions of points of interest, trails, amenities, and more. “No service” when you’re out in the wilderness? No problem. Chimani’s app works with or without WiFi or data signal. Chimani’s app is free to download from the Apple Appstore and Google Play.

https://www.chimani.com/

Dark Sky

Dark Sky is the most accurate source of hyperlocal weather information. With down-to-the-minute forecasts, you’ll know exactly when the rain will start or stop, right where you’re standing. It’s almost like magic.
Powered by our own homegrown weather service, Dark Sky is the best source of accurate weather forecasts to help you plan your life.

https://darksky.net/app

Star Walk

Star Walk 2 is an exquisite stargazing tool that combines astronomical data with premium technology to deliver an effortless journey through thousands of stars, comets, and constellations. All you have to do is point your phone or tablet at the sky.

http://www.vitotechnology.com/star-walk-2-guide-sky-night-day.html

What’s Your Van Plan for This Year?

The New Year is a great time for a fresh start.

Never mind the resolutions to spend more time at the gym and less time watching cat videos (we both know that’s not gonna happen). The real question is, what are your plans to get your campervan in tip top shape, and enjoy some great traveling this year?

Most vans (and van owners) are inactive this time of year, so now’s your chance to set some goals, make some plans, and resolve to make this year even better than last.

Mechanical

Some aspects of traveling and camping in a decades-old camper van are necessarily mechanical, and require ongoing maintenance. Reliability is of the utmost importance, especially if you want to avoid breakdowns while far from home. Regardless whether you hire out your van’s mechanical work, or turn the wrenches yourself, here are some items to ensure are in top form.

Fuel Lines

The VW Bus and Vanagon Transporters certainly have their quirks, but the fuel system is perhaps the most potentially dangerous and deadly. Too many vans have been lost to fire due to neglected fuel systems. Old and brittle plastic connectors, rusty clamps, and rubber hoses deteriorated by modern ethanol-laced gasoline can all cause leaks. Gasoline injected into a hot engine compartment is a recipe for disaster for you and your family.

So, if you don’t know when these parts were last replaced, inspect and replace them before embarking on summer road trips. Use fuel line rated for use with ethanol fuels, and the correct pressure rating for your electronic fuel injection system, with quality fuel injection clamps. Here’s a good write-up >

The Big List

Most Vanagon owners keep a running to-do list of needed mechanical repairs, fixes, and other maintenance. These often get lost in the heady days of summer when the highway and the forest call, so start working on those procrastinated loose ends now when you have no impending trips.

If you have not been religious in your maintenance, or the van is new to you and of unknown provenance, a good place to start is the 15k, 30k, and 90k-mile maintenance items on the lists found in the back pages of the Bentley manual. Just start at the top and begin working your way down. You won’t get it all done in one day, of course, but in pretty short order you’ll be able to inspect, adjust, or replace everything needed to get your ride ready.

These will include the following, and a whole lot more:

  • Fluids: oil, coolant, brake and clutch, windshield washer
  • Filters: oil, fuel, air
  • Belts & hoses
  • Lights: all interior & exterior
  • Wires: battery, starter, alternator, grounds, etc.
  • Battery: clean, inspect, charge, and test
  • Tires: inspect for wear and cracks, rotate, treat with UV protectant
  • Jack: factory jack or aftermarket, plywood support plate for use on rough ground



Record everything you do in a simple logbook, with date, mileage, and any notes, so that you can look back later for reference. Once you’ve got caught up on all this delayed maintenance, it will be a simple matter to keep up on the recommended intervals.

Outfit for Travel

If you’ll be spending a lot of time driving and living in your campervan, you’ll want to make it as comfortable as possible for you and your companions. Organize the cab, kitchen, and other living areas so you’re always ready to roll!

  • Charging jacks & cords: USB, phone, cameras, etc.
  • Maps, gazetteers, guidebooks
  • Logbook to track fuel & oil usage
  • Beverage bottles & travel mugs
  • Kitchen kit: all pots & pans, plates, utensils, containers
  • Food staples: your favorite non- or semi-perishable pastas, rice, spices, canned goods. Store in hard plastic containers to prevent spoilage and pests.
  • Bedding: sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
  • Heaters (electric or LP), cooling fans
  • Emergency tools & parts, fire extinguisher
  • Vehicle Recovery & Extraction: folding shovel, 12-volt air compressor, traction boards or tire chains, recovery & tow straps

Check & Test all Camping Equipment:


Other Activities

Sometimes the campervan is the means to another end—biking, hiking, paddling, skiing, fishing, etc.. Make sure your other equipment is ready for the season:

  • Roof or trunk racks, cargo boxes
  • Trekking poles
  • Binoculars
  • Gear bags or boxes

Travel Plans

The entire purpose of all this preparation is going places! Now, in the doldrums of winter, is a great time to start thinking about sunnier days and destinations close and far. In fact, poring over maps and planning a getaway is often the only thing that gets me through a dreary winter.

You and your travel mates no doubt already have some destination ideas, what season to go, and what sights and other activities to take in. How long will it take you to get there and back? How long to stay in each place?

One you’ve discussed and have a rough idea, start collecting info to make your goal a reality:

  • Travel guide websites
  • Maps, gazetteers, guidebooks
  • Relevant apps for navigation, finding attractions and sites, camping, etc.

Shakedown Cruises

Once you’ve attended to most of the points above, start taking your campervan on short trips close to home, then progressively longer and longer trips. This will give you opportunities to inspect your work, and to ensure your van is up to all those big miles and long days you have planned.

Traveling and camping in a vintage campervan, whether close to home or far afield, should bring plenty of adventures. But not mechanical misadventures. Once you’re reasonably confident in the reliability and comfort of your ride, hit the road!

Tips for a Successful Camper Van Adventure with Your Dog

From New York to Australia, from the United Kingdom to the Lower Lake Michigan Basin, our planet offers a plethora of opportunities for sightseeing, hiking, biking, camping, and seeing the world from a camper van. If your adventure will last more than an afternoon, you may be thinking about bringing along your trusty sidekick; your dog is sure to love the fresh air and new smells galore.

Activities like camper van travel, camping, and hiking allow you to enjoy some quality time together in the great outdoors. As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about your pup being lonesome at home or whether the pet sitter remembered his nightly belly scratches. Before you pack up your gear, check out this infographic for helpful preparation tips.

Spending some time together in nature is a great way for you to bond with your dog. And activities like camper van travel with your pet can be quite rewarding. According to blogger Kait Russo, who loves RVing with her dog so much that she now does it full-time, the first and possibly most important consideration is making sure you have the right camper van or RV. If you’re purchasing, make sure you invest in one that’s big and comfortable enough to sleep yourself, your four-legged friend, and anyone else tagging along. Do yourself a favor and look for a used camper van to help save money (and even ensure your camper van has a a little character). If you decide to rent or hire a vehicle, make sure it’s dog-friendly. Speaking of dog-friendly, you should also contact any potential RV parks or campgrounds to make sure you’re allowed to bring Fido with you – and double-check whether there are any pet fees.

Although traveling with a dog requires a little more planning and logistics, it’s well worth it in the end. Now that you’ve got an idea of what you need in order to be prepared, you can leash up and head out into the great outdoors. In addition to breaking up the monotony of your daily routine, you’ll make memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

What are you waiting for? Your outdoor adventure awaits!

Aurora James, editor of DogEtiquette.info

Additional Resources:

Health & Preparation


What do I need to know about taking my dog camping?
What if my dog sustains an injury on our trip?
How do I check for ticks on my pet?
Heatstroke and my pup: what do I need to know?
How do I locate dog-friendly campsites?
What are the potential camping-related dangers for my dog?

Travel Gear & Equipment:


What should I pack for my dog?
What should I put in my dog’s first aid kit?
Is a collar or harness best for my dog during our camping trip?

Using the Westfalia Liquid Propane System

If the galley kitchenette is part of what makes a Westfalia a cozy Camper, then the onboard liquid propane system is the power source of that kitchen.

It provides an exceptionally efficient, affordable, easy, and clean means to run both the refrigerator and the stove.

Let’s have a look at the Westfalia propane system to familiarize ourselves with the various components, and how to use ’em!

Full operating instructions excerpted from the “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual” for the 1983 Camper can be found here >>

Introduction

The Vanagon Westfalia external LP (Liquid Propane) tank is mounted on the underside of the van, on the left-hand side, and is plainly visible below the Camper hookups. The valves and regulator are protected by a steel shield, and new Campmobiles were delivered with a heavy-duty mudflap behind the left-front wheel to prevent stone damage.

The heavy steel tank is rated for 3 gallons of LP (liquid propane), but is filled to only 80% capacity, to allow room for safe expansion:

  • 2.4 gallons
  • 9.6 lbs.
  • 9.6 liters

Overview

Starting at the rear end of the tank and moving forward, you’ll see the main components:

Overflow Bleeder Valve

The propane technician will open this bleeder while filling your tank to release excess propane vapors, and as an indication as to when the tank has reached its capacity of 80%.

Fill Valve

Under a protective plastic cap is the heavy brass fill port fitting. This is where the technician will connect his filler hose valve to pump pressurized propane into your tank.

Main Control Valve

This primary valve is what turns On or Off the supply of propane from your tank. As with most such valves, turn it clockwise to turn the propane supply Off; turn it completely counter-clockwise to turn the propane On.

Two-Stage Regulator

Opening the Main Control Valve allows high-pressure propane to enter the first stage of the regulator, which reduces the pressure to about 15 PSI. A secondary stage further reduces the line pressure to about 0.5 PSI for use by the kitchen appliances. The regulator is often covered by a protective plastic housing to keep it clean of mud, etc..

Tee Fitting

Immediately to the left of the regulator the line divides into two supply lines, which pass upward through the floor of the van to provide propane to the kitchen; the upper copper line supplies the refrigerator, while the lower line provides gas to the stove.

Filling

The Westfalia LP tank accepts a standard fill nozzle found at most commercial propane dealers, such as RV service centers, U-Haul outlets, many hardware stores, and some campgrounds. Unfortunately, many younger or inexperienced LP technicians may be unfamiliar with the Westy’s older design. So, if you find a place that you like, continue going there for your propane refills.

Compared to most other RVs, the Westfalia’s LP fill port is mounted quite low to the ground, and is relatively difficult to access. You can make things easier for your propane guy by parking near the LP station, laying out a padded foam kneeling pad or carpet scrap, and removing the plastic cap from your fill valve. Make sure the main control valve is OFF before filling. I also like to ensure that the overflow bleeder valve is working freely by briefly loosening & tightening it beforehand, so the tech doesn’t need to twist on it with a pair of old pliers. Wear a heavy glove when doing this, to avoid severe cold-burns from escaping liquid propane.

At only 3 gallons, the Westy’s tank is barely half the capacity of a typical BBQ propane tank, and is likely one of the smallest tanks many techs will encounter. So, it tends to reach capacity sooner than expected unless completely empty, and results in only an eight-dollar sale.

Let the tech do his thing, and consider tipping him for his troubles. Replace the filler valve cap, and make sure the overflow bleeder valve is fully closed (an LP tech once left mine somewhat loose, resulting in a slow but dangerous LP leak).

Driving

Though legal to drive while using the propane to power the fridge, save the LP and switch the fridge to 12 VDC while underway.

Liquid Propane Consumption

Though the tank is small, both the stove and the fridge are quite efficient, so a refill lasts a good long while. In normal usage, even running the fridge 24/7 and cooking 1-2 hot meals each day, a single tankful will last an entire month.

The Westfalia propane tank has no gauge to tell you how much LP is left, so after a refill, start a simple log book to keep track of your typical camping days, so you have some idea of how much fuel you can expect from a tankful.

Maintenance

The LP system requires virtually no periodic maintenance, other than routine washing of the tank exterior, valves, and regulator. Periodically inspect these parts, the tank body, and the supply lines for dents, scrapes, or other damage. If you ever smell the distinctive odor of liquid propane, immediately make sure the main control valve is closed. You can also spray soapy water on any of these components; if the soap mixture forms bubbles, there is a leak.

If ever in doubt, see a qualified RV propane service center for repair or replacement of your tank or other components.

Finally …

As the main fuel source for the stove and refrigerator, the liquid propane system is a key player in the Westfalia Campmobile, and provides easy, economical, and reliable convenience.

Have any questions or comments about the Westfalia liquid propane system? Post ’em below, and use the social links to share with friends!

Instructions for the Westfalia Liquid Propane System

NOTE: the following text and photos are excerpted from the 1983 Camper “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual.” For more info on using the LP system see, “Using the Westfalia Liquid Propane System.”

Downloads
1980-1985 Vanagon Westfalia Campers: “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual”
1986-1990 Vanagon Westfalia Campers: “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual”


Propane Gas Tank

The liquid propane gas tank is located under the left side of the vehicle. The equipment includes two pipe lines; one for cooking and one for refrigeration. Instructions for refilling the tank are listed on the sticker and in a separate pamphlet. The propane gas tank capacity is 3 gallons/12 liters.

Setting Up Your Camper Van Kitchen

How to outfit and organize your campervan kitchen to make the most of your precious cooking and clean-up time!

The Westfalia Camper boasts a small galley kitchenette which includes a refrigerator powered by AC/DC electricity or by liquid propane, a two-burner LP stove for cooking, and a sink for food prep and cleanup. Storage for food and kitchen wares is provided by several cabinets.

Like most campervans and other small motorhomes, space is at a premium, so smart use of limited resources will help you stay organized and make cooking easy and fun. Here are some ideas for outfitting your own camper van kitchen.

Feel free to grab the graphic or share the article with friends or on your own blog or website!

Storage

Dry packaged and canned goods are perhaps best kept in the two rearmost top-entry cabinets. A compact tea kettle with folding handle may fit inside the sink, along with Camp-Suds and scrubby for dishwashing.

Cutlery, knives, can opener, and most other cooking utensils will fit in the small drawer below the sink.

The large cabinet below provides pretty ample storage for pots, pans, griddles, and food storage containers. A dishpan serves as a handy ‘drawer’ to organize most cooking wares, and can also be used for its original purpose.

To prevent jostling and annoying rattles while driving, place thin rubber shelf liners inside cabinets, and dish towels and pot holders or trivets can be laid over the stove burners.

Just as at home, you’ll want to store leftovers or other unused foods for later use. Lightweight plastic food containers with snap-on lids save space, both when nested for storage, and when stacked for keeping food. Work well for dry goods and refrigerated items. Smaller quantities can be kept in zipper-lock plastic baggies. A few chip clips for resealing plastic food and snack bags.

Work Surfaces

Space for food prep is in short supply in the Westfalia, so be smart and creative.

The original Westy table can be mounted either directly behind the driver’s seat, or above the rear kitchen cabinets, and can be pivoted in a range of positions for best use.

If not immediately using the stove burners, flip down the stainless steel drain board, or close the lid completely to use the countertop surface.

When the popup roof is raised, there is a large ‘shelf’ offered by the folded upper bunk; this is a great place for ingredients, cookware, and utensils you’ll be using immediately.

A large cutting board makes for an additional, portable work surface for chopping vegetables, assembling sandwiches, and other food prep. Get one with raised edges to help contain messes.

Cooking

Modern cooksets made for camping and backpacking offer several advantages over pots and pans from your home kitchen. Most can be nested inside one another, or feature folding handles, to save space and reduce clutter. They’re often made of aluminum or other lightweight materials. Many feature bottoms optimized for better heat dispersion when cooking on a camp stove or small burner, to avoid scorching.

Most such cooksets include a small- and a medium-sized pot, a small frypan, and a lid and handle/gripper to fit them all. When cooking for two, a 1 1/2-quart and a 2-quart pot should be sufficient; larger sets are available for larger crews.

Though small, the included frying pan does have its uses for light-duty heating, but you’ll probably want a larger pan for most frying, sautéing, and flapjacking. If your pan doesn’t include a lid, pick one up in a thrift store.

Oven mitts or pot holders protect your hands and countertops when handling hot pans.

A small set of kitchen knives of various sizes with snap-on sheathes will provide all your chopping, dicing, and mincing needs.

Two or three mixing bowls of various sizes; double as serving bowls for chips and other snacks.

Other typical cooking utensils: spatula, spoons, ladles. Smaller, lightweight camping versions save space and weight. Can opener, bottle opener, and corkscrew. Small multi-spice shakers. A grater for cheeses, vegetables, and other foods. A collapsible strainer for draining pasta.

Serving

Cooking in your campervan can be fun, but eating is even better! Again, lightweight and compact is the key here, and dining wares made for camping & backpacking are the ticket.

Stacking, plastic plates and bowls are durable and quiet, and help keep your food warmer longer, especially when dining outdoors.

Matching polycarbonate cutlery offer the same advantages: knives, forks, spoons, even the thrifty and versatile spork.

The same thermal beverage mugs or cups used when driving can be utilized at the dinner table, or use dedicated plastic cups and glasses for meal time.

Use placemats or a heavy vinyl tablecloth on untidy outdoor campsite picnic tables, especially if the previous occupant gutted a couple of brook trout on the table, or was an incontinent seagull …

Clean-up

Seldom the favorite part of mealtime, there’s no need for tidying up to be laborious. Like cooking, let’s keep it quick and easy.

Stow any leftovers away in the storage containers mentioned above. Scrape any heavy remainders from cookware using a thin plastic pot scraper.

A five-gallon plastic bucket with a padded seat, often used by hunters and fisherfolk, also serves as a convenient container for trash and recyclables when lined with a couple of trash bags.

Water can be heated in a teakettle while you eat, then used for dishwashing and cleanup. Simply pour it into the Westfalia kitchen sink or a separate dishpan, and add cold water to temper.

Conserve your biodegradable Camp-Suds by applying a few drops directly to your non-scratch scouring pad. Start by washing your least-dirty cups, cutlery, and plates first, followed by the messier, greasier pots and pans. Rinse cookware directly in the kitchen sink, and set out on the drain board to dry.

Synthetic microfiber dish towels are extra-absorbent and quick-drying.

Dirty dishwater should be collected in a gray-water container, and not drained directly on the ground. Empty the container in a campground toilet or a designated dishwater-collection receptacle.

BONUS

Any ways in which you can get double duty out of your kitchen gear will save you space, expense, and time!

  • A large cutting board with raised sides can also be used as a serving platter for sandwiches, wraps, and other foods.
  • A flat grater for shredding vegetables and cheese takes up almost no space, and doubles as a pasta strainer!
  • Experienced backpackers often eat from the same pot in which they cooked, using the same spoon with which they stirred, to minimize clean-up time.
  • Slip dish cloths between pots and plates to protect non-stick coatings, and store towels and pot holders on the stove burners to help reduce annoying rattles while underway.
  • Mixing bowls can also be used as serving bowls for snacks, or use food storage containers for both!

Finally …

With some basic camp-cooking and serving wares, and some smart packing, you can make the most of your Westfalia Camper kitchen.

Find more ideas for packing and organizing your entire van here!

Got any Westy kitchen cooking & clean-up advice or tips? Leave a suggestion or question below, and use the social links to share with friends!

Using the Westfalia Kitchen Sink

The galley sink, like many other Westfalia components, is a handy and compact feature that makes cooking and kitchen cleanup easier, with no need to haul big jugs of fresh water around, or to wash your dishes out in the rain and bugs.

With a Vanagon Westfalia Camper, you have everything AND the kitchen sink!

Full operating instructions excerpted from the “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual” for the 1983 Camper can be found here >>

Introduction

Tucked away beneath the main galley cabinet lid is the stainless steel sink, right next to the two-burner stove. The sink’s water is supplied by one of two sources:

Onboard water tank
Concealed beneath the rearmost galley cabinet is a 13.2-US-gallon (50-liter) plastic water storage tank. It is easily filled from a home or campground water hose via the external filler port, the rearmost of the three hookups located on the driver’s side (before filling the tank, be sure the drain cap on the underside of the van is secured). You’ll need a key to unlock the filler port, to prevent tampering. Inside the tank is a small submersible water pump, which sends water to the sink via a hidden hose routed behind the cabinets and fridge.
After a trip, this supply tank should be drained and cleaned and dried, for proper hygiene; see below.

High-pressure ‘City’ water connection
This is the forward-most of the external camper hookups, and accepts a standard garden hose. Connect the other end to a campsite water supply. The standard city water supply pressure of 40-50 PSI may be too much for the old plastic connectors and supply hose inside the van, so you may consider an aftermarket pressure regulator made for this purpose.

At 10.5 inches (265 mm) in diameter, and just 1.7 gallons (6.4 liters) capacity, the sink is … of humble proportions. But it’s large enough to fit a few plates and a couple of bowls, and is perhaps best used for washing dirty dishes individually.

It’s also just the right dimensions to store a vintage tea kettle (color matched to our Ivory Vanagon, and featuring the same number of dents), which I picked up in a thrift store several years ago while travelling. Such a kettle, or a modern equivalent, is great for heating water for instant oatmeal, coffee, or dishwashing. Or, of course, for tea.

Just to the left of the sink, mounted to the underside of the kitchen cabinet lid, is a protective heat shield. On Canadian models, this deflector is permanently affixed; on US models, this heat shield can be unsnapped and hinged downward to lay flat, to serve as a drain board when washing & drying dishes (note the angled surface and small drain slot over the sink).

NOTE: Many new Westfalia owners mistakenly assume this heat shield/drain board is a griddle or hot plate. It is not, and this will quickly discolor and buckle the heat shield, and food will stick and burn. DO NOT USE IT AS COOKING SURFACE.

Checking the Water Level

Turn on the main switch (G) on the kitchen control panel. The left column of lights indicates the remaining volume of fresh water in the storage tank as follows:
(C) Green: 13.2-10.5 US gallons (50-40 liters)
(D) Yellow: 10.5-4.0 US gallons (40-15 liters)
(E) Red: 4.0-0.8 US gallons (15-3 liters)

Turning on the Taps

Before using your kitchen sink, be sure to remove the drain cap located on the underside of the van, just behind the left-front wheel. Replace after using.

The knob on top of the sink faucet controls the water flow: turn the knob counter-clockwise in the direction of the “T” mark to activate the tank pump and draw water from the onboard storage tank, turn clockwise toward the “C” mark to draw city water when connected to an external supply.

If your sink has not been used in some time, it may take a few tries for the pump to prime the supply lines and for water to flow from the tap.

You can also install an aftermarket hands-free foot switch to turn the tank pump on/off, which makes rinsing dishes and cookware easier.

Draining

Just like your kitchen sink at home, the Westy sink has a drain stopper/strainer so you can fill the sink right up. When done washing, simply rotate the stopper to allow the water to drain out, straining large food particles and debris which might otherwise plug your P-trap or drain line.

Whether camped in an established campground or in the backcountry, it’s important that “gray” water—used dish and hand washing water—not be dumped on the ground. Connect a hose to the drain outlet on the underside of the van and run this to a campsite wastewater collection hookup, or use your own portable gray water collector.

Water System Care & Maintenance

After each trip, as part of your basic routine, pour a half-gallon of hot fresh water down the sink drain to flush any debris from the P-trap, then rinse and dry your gray water bag.

Remove the cap from the bottom of the water storage tank to drain the unused water, and maybe drive around like this for a bit to allow any remaining water to slosh out.

If you notice stale tastes or odors from your Westfalia water system, try adding an ounce of RV water freshener to each tankful. This can help reduce the taste of plastic, metal or sulfur, and eliminate algae and slime buildup in your water tank.

For more seasonal care to keep your water system clean and healthy, see “Winterize Your Westfalia for Storage.”

Finally …

Along with the stove and refrigerator, the water supply and sink system is just another of the ingenious features that makes a Westfalia Camper a home. We use ours regularly, and besides the periodic cleaning and maintenance mentioned here, have only recently had to replace the original 35-year-old main water pump.

It’s a convenient feature for meal prep and cleanup, and provides cool drinking water and hot coffee in the morning. Heck, I once even replenished a leaking engine coolant system with water from the kitchen sink!

Have any questions or comments about the Westfalia kitchen sink and water supply? Post ’em below, and use the social links to share with friends!

Dometic RM182 Refrigerator Instructions

NOTE: the following text and photos are excerpted from the 1983 Camper “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual.” For more info on operating the fridge see, “Using the Westfalia Refrigerator.”

Downloads
1980-1985 Vanagon Westfalia Campers: “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual”
1986-1990 Vanagon Westfalia Campers: “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual”


Refrigeration

The controls for gas/electric refrigeration are arranged along the top edge of the refrigerator. They are accessible by opening the refrigerator door.

A: Pump Knob
B: Safety Valve Button
C: Thermostat Control Knob
D: Voltage Selector Switch
E: Gas Valve Knob
F: Flame Indicator Light

Startup Procedure for Propane Operation:

  1. Turn the gas valve on propane tank to ON.
  2. Move the Voltage Selector Switch (D) to GAS (center position).
  3. Turn Gas Valve Knob (E) to ON.
  4. Turn Thermostat Control Knob (C) clockwise to MAX.
  5. Pull Pump Knob (A) and pump in and out at least 15 to 20 times.
  6. Press and hold Safety Valve Button (B), at the same time push Pump Knob (A) in completely until an audible click is heard.
  7. Continue to hold Safety Valve Button (B) until the Flame Indicator Light (F) in the sink cabinet control panel comes on and remains on. This should require about 15-30 seconds.
  8. If the Flame Indicator Light (F) does not come on, or if it flickers on but goes out again, the pilot light has failed to ignite to a steady burn. This might happen if the refrigerator has not been used for some time, or if the outside temperature is low. Repeat steps 5-7.
  9. After a few minutes, check the Flame Indicator Light (F) again, to assure yourself that the pilot light is still burning. The pilot light flame can also be observed through the sight glass in the lower left hand corner of the rear wall inside the refrigerator.
  10. Should the pilot light snuff out unexpectedly, the Flame Indicator Light (F) will also go out, and the thermocouple safety valve will automatically shut off the gas flow.
  11. Temperature inside the refrigerator can be regulated with Thermostat Control Knob (C). The center position will usually maintain sufficient cooling. In hot weather, or when more cooling is required, turn the knob toward MAX.

To discontinue gas operation:

  1. Turn Pump Knob (A) to OFF.
  2. Turn Gas Valve Knob (E) to OFF.
  3. Turn Thermostat Control Knob (C) to GAS MIN.

To assure yourself troublefree gas refrigeration at altitudes above 6500 feet or 2000 meters, it is necessary to install a smaller gas burner jet. Therefore, if you use your camper predominantly at high altitudes, the no. 24 jet installed in the burner tube should be replaced by a no. 22 jet. Contact the Dometic Refrigerator Service center in your area for this service.

NOTE: When the liquid propane tank is refilled, air will remain in the gas line. Before using gas refrigeration, we recommend bleeding the system by lighting the burners of the gas stove. Let burners burn for about one minute. This will help air escape more rapidly.

Procedure for Electric Operation:

  1. Move Voltage Selector Switch (D) to AC 120 V.
  2. Make sure Gas Valve Knob (E) is in OFF position.
  3. Turn Thermostat Control Knob (C) clockwise to MAX. When the refrigerator interior is sufficiently cold, turn Knob (C) from MAX to an intermediate setting.

The 12 Volt power supply from the vehicle battery can be used only when the engine is running and the Voltage Selector Switch (D) is set on DC 12 V.
The 12 V circuit is not thermostatically controlled.

To Discontinue Electric Operation:

  1. Move Voltage Selector Switch (D) to GAS (center position).
  2. Turn Thermostat Control Knob (C) to GAS MIN.

Defrosting the Refrigerator

Keep an eye on the ice formation on the evaporator core. Too much ice build-up reduces cooling efficiency. We recommend frequent defrosting. Never let the ice thicken more than 1/8” (3-4 mm).

Make sure that Gas Valve Knob (E) is in OFF position, and that Thermostat Control Knob (C) is in the GAS MIN position.

Empty the refrigerator, leave the door open and let the ice melt into the catch basin below. Pull the basin out to empty the water and dry off before reinstalling.

Cleaning the Refrigerator

Clean the refrigerator interior with a solution of lukewarm water and baking soda.

To keep the door seal air tight, clean the seal around the door with clear water only. Chemical additives, oil and grease much to come into contact with the seal.

Ventilation

Keep all vent openings clean and unobstructed to assure efficient cooling. Vent openings are located below the refrigerator door, behind the heart shield of the gas range, in the left sidewall of the sink cabinet, and in the left outside panel of the vehicle.

Inspect the propane tank and lines periodically for tightness and leaks. Use soapy water to test for leaks — NOT MATCHES.

Start refrigerator several hours before storing food. Precool or freeze food items at home before loading your Camper refrigerator.

Leave spaces between food and drink items for the necessary air circulation. Use unbreakable plastic containers and bottles, and seal them tightly to prevent spilling.

Condensation

The FLUE VENT must be kept uncovered at all times.

Only when you wash the Camper, or while taking the vehicle through an automatic car wash, should the Flue Vent be covered.
To drain accumulated water due to normal condensation, open the screw on the condensation drain pipe (arrow).

When the refrigerator is operating, be sure to park on level ground to maintain efficient cooling. If the vehicle remains stationary for any length time on gradients exceeding +/-8˚, the cooling output will be considerably reduced. Should level ground parking be unavailable, it is best to discontinue operation to prevent overheating of the core which can lead to permanent damage of the refrigerator.