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 >>
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.
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.”
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!