Roll up roll up for the second instalment of Ancient Syncrology and without further ague I introduce Apocatron….2.0. Oh yes, when the zombie apocalypse breaks out and the rest of humanity are seeking an alternative life in the mountains, I will be on my way to the supermarket for the weekly shop. I’m talking all terrain tyres, Mefro steel wheels, LED headlights, new bumpers, new screen washers ( not really relevant to the apocalypse, but the old ones were bloody dreadful! ) and a host of mods that’ll keep me cruising round the walking dead.
If you’ve taken the time to read my previous Syncrology entry you’ll know that the Apocatron is my new home and will thus be undergoing a complete overhaul. However, before I fit a Jacuzzi, pool table and cinema room I had to focus on some of the more important issues. I mean....don’t get me wrong, nothing’s more important than watching the extended Lord of the Rings, but sometimes a man…in this case a childish goblin like creature, must focus on the….how can I put this…issues considered more serious by the general public. I don’t know, like the tennis ball sized hole in the front of the van allowing almost all of the UK’s rainfall to channel itself into the van’s electrics…kinda issues. In all seriousness, I’m one of the lucky ones. Fellow owners will only know the kind of nightmarish rot that can so commonly consume these vans and mine is generally pretty good. Nevertheless, in order to prevent any of the problem areas developing I decided to book the van into the restoration workshop.
The Syncro spent five weeks under the knife and had a host of repairs, upgrades and general pampering. The front of the van was in a particularly sorry state so this received new panels on the top/bottom, new front bumper, the square headlight grill ( the round one did grow on me, but still prefer the look of the square lights ), the Campervan Culture LED headlight upgrade ( which has transformed driving at night ), smoked indicators ( fitted with LED sidelights ), new dual screen washers and all new rubbers around the windscreen. I had both panels behind the rear wheels replaced as they were badly rusted, a few seams tidied around the van and new bumpers. The work was carried out by Volksfarmers ( www.volksfarmers.co.uk ) in Folkestone who offered a very competitive price for a pretty major job. So was it worth it??? YESSSSSSS.
The benefits of the work have far exceeded my expectations. I love the more rugged look of the square headlights and the LED upgrade kit offers absolutely superb visibility. I’ve covered almost 10,000 miles in four months and often choose to drive through the night, so I can’t begin to express how nice it is to see more than two feet ahead ( if you have a T25/T3 upgrading to these lights is a no-brainer in my opinion, they’re incredible ). I’d been particularly concerned about fitting the much larger BFG All Terrain tyres after hearing stories of dramatic power loss and the subsequent need for gearing adjustments. However, the BFG All Terrain 14” tyres have been discontinued and getting a set of the General Grabber equivalent shipped from the USA was going to cost over a thousand pounds. Thus, I decided to take the risk and go with the 215/75 r15 All Terrains and its been one of the best upgrades I’ve fitted. I spent literally days trawling through forums researching the effect of these tyres on the van and struggled to find any conclusive information. Thus, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer solace to fellow owners considering the upgrade and confirm that adding these tyres to a 1.9 water-cooled does not have a catastrophic impact on performance and gearing. Instead, I’d completely agree with one forum member who’d calculated that the power loss was about 9%. The van’s slower, but the marginal loss in acceleration is far outweighed by the benefits of the larger tyres ( a new stainless steel exhaust & air filter upgrade could help claw back some of the power ). The ride comfort is absolutely outstanding. The Syncro was never uncomfortable with its soft risen suspension, but the larger tyres make the ride comfort spectacular. Potholes and bad road surfaces are a thing of the past, the tyres & suspension soak up the carnage with ease. On the motorway the van feels less skittish and more solid in cross winds ( something that can be particularly unsettling in the high top Syncro ). Oh and lets not forget these are All Terrain tyres so there’s no need to stop when the road comes to an end. The ability to go off road with confidence is one of the key reasons I upgraded to the BFG’s and I have already put them through their paces in both Wales and Scotland.
The Syncro may have taken the 1500 mile round trip to the Isle of Skye in its stride, but the distance did exemplify some of the existing issues that need to be addressed. The exhaust has been a rotter since I bought the van and despite a few temporary fixes it’s now beyond repair. The noise on the return journey will continue to haunt my dreams for years to come. Thus, until I get the new stainless steel system fitted in the new year I can’t really drive it long distances...just imagine a Spitfire backfiring like an Audi Quattro Group B rally car. Moreover, there’s a wheel bearing that sounds a little suspect and a pleasant new clonking located at the front of the van (...of course, diagnosing anything is challenging thanks to the exhaust noise ). I’ll therefore be staying with family for a couple of weeks after the festivities in order to get all work on the Apocatron carried out. Needless to say, I’m already itching to get back on the road.
I have a host of expeditions booked for 2017 and the Apocatron will be facing its biggest challenges to date. I hope you’ve enjoyed the latest instalment of Ancient Syncrology, stay tuned for the next episode.