Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Vanagon "arse" end...

Vanagons (Westys) present some challenges with respect to packing, road-trips, access etc. Options are limited, and most people elect to attach things to the outside in order to maintain some living space inside the vehicle. Putting things on the roof is one option but it can create drag, and it can make it difficult to raise/pop the roof up. There is a nice luggage area on the section of the roof that does not raise up, but it is not very big. Another option is to attach things to the rear but that also has drawbacks; racks etc that attach to the rear lift gate make it difficult to raise the hatch for routine engine compartment inspection or maintenance. This is a bigger issue than it sounds because experience will teach that this access is crucial with a rear engine Vanagon that is 30+ years old. The best options for overcoming this are systems that swing open, away from the rear to allow access without removing gear and cargo. There are several options, and while not the strongest, the most economical and versatile (unless you fabricate your own) are the swing-away components available from GoWesty. They are not cheap, and the Canadian Dollar value for U.S. stuff does not help either. Nevertheless, I have added bits and pieces to the point where I now have 2 of these setups, one on each side. They present plenty of options, separate bits and pieces, and make it easy to add your own racks, boxes etc. Below is a shot of my setup. I have the basic swing-away with the universal ladder rack addition. The 2 black "cages" near the top are ATV gas can carriers from Princess Auto. Below that, are 2 5-litre rotopax knockoff gas cans. On the left, I mounted a cheap aluminum trunk, also from Princess Auto. On the right, I have the accessory shelf from GoWesty and a Plano storage box. There is also room to stack an identical second Plano box. The ladder rungs can accommodate various bike racks...options are almost limitless.
One issue is the taillights can be a little obscured. I have a plan to overcome that with some additional lights mounted somewhere on the racks. Another is your friendly mechanic can find it annoying to work on your van with these things fitted. While they swing open rather easily, they stick out then on both sides and can be a problem in a garage bay. Luckily, one bolt in the edge of the bumper is all that needs to be removed so I often remove mine before I take it to the shop.
Overall, I'm very pleased with this setup. I still have my old Paulchen rack that attaches directly to the hatch, but I find it annoying because raising the hatch is difficult, &/or you need to remove stuff in order to do so effectively. Pack-Rat that I am, I can't seem to part with it...
My earlier setup

Earlier setup with "brother" fabricated basket

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