The Vanagon Westfalia stove makes camp cooking easy and efficient.
The stove in our Westfalia Camper has enabled us to start countless days of roadtripping with a belly-filling breakfast, whip up a quick lunch or a hearty dinner, or to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa while watching snow flurries descend from the icy peaks surrounding Crater Lake.
The Westfalia galley kitchenette is one of the distinguishing features which truly makes a Vanagon a Campmobile!
The Westy stove is fueled by the same external LP (Liquid Propane) tank as the Dometic refrigerator. Just after the main shutoff valve and two-stage LP regulator attached to the tank, the supply splits into two copper lines: one feeds the fridge, and the other the stove.
Inside, prop the kitchen cabinet lid open to reveal the stove, right next to the sink. A large oval grate covers the two gas burners, and beneath that the large stainless steel base catches the inevitable spills.
Above, mounted to the kitchen cabinet lid, is a stainless steel heat shield to protect the underside of the cabinet lid. 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, and commence to fryin’ bacon or flippin’ flapjacks on it. This will quickly discolor and buckle the heat shield, and food will stick and burn. DO NOT USE IT AS A COOKING SURFACE.
If your Vanagon’s previous owner neglected to remove the blue plastic protective film from your heat shield, do it now.
The burner controls for the stove are located on the front kitchen panel. Look for the three flame symbols on the edge of the control knobs, indicating OFF, HIGH, and SIMMER.
To light the stove, first make sure the main valve is opened on the external LP tank. Depress and turn the stove burner knob to HIGH, and listen for the quiet hiss of gas from the burner. Use a butane lighter or a stove ignitor to ignite the flame, and adjust for cooking. Just as with your home barbecue grill, if it’s been awhile since your stove was used, or you ran completely out of LP before refilling the tank, you may need to run both burners for awhile to prime the supply line before it will light.
Once lit, simply adjust the flame for whatever type of cooking you’re doing. A larger pan or pot on the stove can block your view of the flame, but the flame can be seen reflected in the stainless steel base beneath the burners.
On some Westfalia stoves, the SIMMER setting may allow the flame to go out, so set the control knob just a little higher.
Note that the burner grate stands on ten short ‘legs’; two of these legs engage in a couple of holes in the lower stove base. To remove the grate for cleaning, grasp the leg nearest you when standing in front of the stove, and firmly pull toward you to disengage the leg from the base, and lift the entire grate free.
Propane generally provides very even heating, but hot spots and scorching can be further prevented by using pots and frypans with fine heat-dispersing grooves engraved on the bottoms. We typically use lightweight nesting backpacking pots and frying pans with folding or detachable handles to save space. Be careful when using very small pots on the stove though, as these may tip or topple through the rather large central gaps in the grate. You can add versatility to your stove by adding a double-wide griddle for large-volume frying.
We also use a vintage teakettle for heating water for tea, instant soups, dishwashing, etc.. When not being used, it rests inside the sink, wrapped in a dish towel to prevent rattles.
Always allow the stove to cool after using and before stowing away for travel. To prevent annoying metallic rattles of the grate and the heat shield while underway, lay a couple of hot pads or dish towels over the grate before closing the lid.
The stock stove is a crucial feature that adds great utility to the Westfalia Camper. We use ours on a daily basis when traveling, for everything from simple hot water to full-on multi-course meals. With adequate ventilation and tidy cooking habits, you can avoid lingering food odors unless you enjoy a lot of bacon or fried fish.
A comparable Coleman two-burner camping stove requires frequent refills of a highly flammable fuel which must be handled and carried somewhere on board. By contrast, the Westy stove-and-fridge combo will run on LP cleanly, safely, and economically for at least 30 days and nights before requiring a $7 refill.
I will never forget the taste of a pair of fresh pan-fried brook trout, resting on warm beds of wild rice, accompanied by cold bottles of beer, enjoyed with a longtime friend on the grassy banks of the very stream in which he’d caught them only minutes before.
Few things bring together family and friends like good food, and the Westfalia stove often makes it possible …