Build It

The new one-ton truck elevated my ability to serve on the road but I had some loose ends. After the busy winter at River Ranch prior to my annual tour, I needed to attend to a tire vibration problem. While getting the tires balanced, I had some time to kill. I walked across the street to browse vehicles in a car lot.

I saw a blue Vanagon sitting in the back. Long ago I learned the first thing to inspect on a vehicle. I went up to the van and crawled underneath to look at the body and under-gear. I found them to be clean.

I went to the sales office to inquire. I discovered the van had sat on the lot for so long they were getting ready to take it to the auction.

I purchased the Vanagon that day. I didn’t need it but was inspired to start to process of making another work vehicle. There was no hurry to get this done since I was already busy and had a great bus to use. I have used VW busses my entire career.

The first step was to take this Vanagon to the VW shop I liked in Sarasota to get the engine rebuilt. When the engine was complete later that summer, the van went to a body shop to receive a new paint job.

The project of making this van into an efficient work vehicle took several years. I had a clear idea of how to rack the interior for my supplies due to having worked out of other busses to create sign work. Now I specialize in airbrushed murals. The procedure and the materials used had changed. I had additional equipment, paints and a huge assortment of glass bottles for the specially thinned urethanes used for these works. I kept in mind the efficiency learned from the circus combined with awareness of the typical motions made while preparing paint. This information influenced how I arranged the custom drawers I had built.

Also, inside, was an area for the air compressor, electric cords, air hoses, magnetic tool strips and special storage places for folders and road maps. At the time I did not need this Vanagon. Being a good showman, I took into consideration the possibility of an unforeseen tragedy. Having a replacement work vehicle in the wings made good sense.

When the Vanagon was complete and ready for decorative paint, I wanted the square shape of the van softened with a gradual shift in the two-tone paint job. Having the bottom yellow and the top white with a soft spray transition between colors accomplished this goal.

I wanted a classy look for the exterior artwork. I took a full week to carefully paint what looked like marble with incised letters that placed ‘hand painted murals’ down each side.

The effect was stunning. The finished van was efficiently racked to work out of and the clean exterior artwork conveyed quality.


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