Well the Subaru Engine is in and there is a difference

Got the van back after a long wait. Alan had a lot of other commitments so my poor van had to stay on the back burner.

Very Tidy Fit

Testing it now on the hills and it does maintain its speed when climbing. It is not by any means a racer but can maintain a reasonable speed when climbing the hills, not slowing traffic down. But the Subaru engine is so quiet I can not hear it when driving thus don’t know when to change gears. Need a rev dial on the dash. The fuel pump is/ was very loud with a constant whine but that seemed to be part of the package because you need to feed an injector system with fuel. The solution was a fuel tank as described below.

Performance differences climbing a hill before, the van would drop down to 19 MPH and you would be in second gear struggling to climb the hill, as described in Joker Project part 5.

Now I can Maintain a steady 70 kph and remain in 5th dropping to 4th gear on the steeper parts. This is the result that I wanted as it makes for safer driving no build up of traffic behind and dangerous overtaking to try and get past me before the next hill.

Got the van back a week before the CVRT was due so had to do a bit of paper work.

In Ireland you have to change the registration documents to reflect that you have changed the engine and under the rules you must present the vehicle to an SIMI registered garage to verify/inspect that the new engine is the actual engine in the vehicle. So I brought it to a local garage that had the SIMI registration. The engineer in the garage came out to inspect it and verified that everything was in order as it was. But when he saw the installation he immediately identified the engine as a EJ20 and said Wow it is such a perfect fit, so tidy.

I returned to the garage to collect the signed documentation verifying the engine replacement before going to the motor tax office. The garage owner  who would be the final signature on the replacement explained that you have to be very careful and sited a case where a garage signed off an engine replacement on a vehicle that was later involved in a fatal accident. The replacement engine was from a stolen vehicle and this had repercussions on both the signature and the insurance. So just a word of warning Please ensure you have valid documentation from the donor vehicle.


It passed the CVRT or Doe with flying colours. The emissions are much lower than the previous engine so it is better for the environment and the fuel consumption is way better 27 vs 20 MPG.

Technical Stuff


Coming from a 1998 Subaru the ECU (engine control unit) uses Subaru Select Monitor 1  SSM1 protocol, so to see what is going on in the computer I purchased a cable from Evoscan which allows you to read the error check conditions on a laptop. But it does not allow you to reset them. Bummer. To reset the ECU you have to physically connect both the TEST Mode connector and Read memory connector to signal ground. They were just 4 loose connectors in the loom which we thought were not necessary so they got snipped off. Bummer.

To reset the ECU now, I have to disconnect the battery and short the two battery cables together to discharge the capacitors in the ECU.

Fuel pump noise.

The fuel pump was very noisy and the eventual fix was a fuel tank replacement with a VWinjection fuel tank that has a 12 mm outlet to the fuel pump. The original tank had an 8 mm outlet to the pump which was sufficient for the carb 1.9 boxer engine but  not good enough for the injection Subaru engine.








Joker Project 6 removing a Subaru wiring loom

Removing the Subaru wiring harness took quite a while. To access most of the harness, start at the storage box behind the hand brake lever inside the car, and work forwards. Each trim part you take out will uncover screws holding the next part in. By the time you’ve finished, from sitting in the front seats you’ll just have the pedals and steering column left – everything else has to come out. Taking the wiring out is a far bigger job then taking the engine out.

It looks like a mess.

Removing the Subaru wiring harness / loom
Removing the Subaru wiring harness / loom

But eventually you will have the loom out.

Subaru Loom removed
Subaru Loom removed


When that is complete hook the loom on to the engine and run a quick test. In this video Alan is just testing the start operation with and without the Subaru Key inserted.



Joker Project Part 5 Subaru engine in a T25

We live in a hill area with some steep long climbs in both directions. Currently when driving the van out cold it struggles on the hills, having to drop down to second gear on some.

Here is a video of the current performance and you can see that the speed drops to 18 mph and we have to drop in to second gear  Yes before you ask there were 2 cars crawling behind. waiting, waiting.

On the bottom of the screen you can see the speed.  Don’t mind the date I need to set it up again. Maybe I should switch the sound on but I don’t think you want to hear me saying come on come on get up the f*** hill.

After the conversion is done I will video the same route to see the performance.

So what are the options:

  1. Recondition the carb or buy a replacement carburetor, that is investing money in a 30+ year old engine which will always throw up other problems because of its age.
  2. Get a replacement DG engine, you can buy a refurbished water cooled 1900 cc for €2300 and you are still going to have that well know lack of power on hills. But there are  people that want to keep the van in an as original  form and that is their choice.
  3. The other option is to replace the engine with a more modern, more reliable, more economical and slightly more powerful unit.

It just so happens that we have a Subaru Impreza AWD Sports Wagon with an EJ20 engine in the garage which we retired and drove in there some 5 years ago. When doing research on the most suitable replacement petrol engine for the T25 it turns out that the Subaru flat 4 engines are the one. Bingo!

donor subaru
Donor Subaru

The Subaru conversion is very popular in the USA because they are approved for emissions etc. and also in the UK where a company RJES was set up to supply all the components required to facilitate the conversion.

I could not find anyone in Ireland that has done the conversion, or could help me do the conversion. RJES had shipped some kits to individuals in Ireland but could not say specifically that this guy has done several.

Locally I found Alan a mechanic who wants to take the project on and make a good job of it.

We moved the Subaru over to his place today 2/9/2016 so he could start removing the wiring loom which is required for the conversion.

So Let the project begin.

We will update this conversion as it moves along and hopefully show some good results.




Westfalia Joker Project Part 4 Changing the canvas on a Westfalia PopUp Roof

Westfalia Canvas needs to be replaced
Westfalia Canvas needs to be replaced

Well I watched all the Videos read the blogs on how to change the canvas on a Westfalia popup and they made it look easy.

But I live in Ireland, a wet place with moderate temperatures that encourage damp and rust. The other guys live in places that don’t have these problems (California etc.) and changing the canvas is a doddle because all the screws just glide out. Well that does not happen here.

A 3 hour job becomes a 5 day job. 😦

Removing the bottom end was not a problem the ( No.4 1/2″ ) screws came out OK. they screw the rail holding the canvas into the van roof.

The screws (No.6 5/8″) that hold the top rails which holds the canvas to the poly fibre insulation headliner glued to the fiberglass roof were very corroded and they presented 3 problems.

  1. Would not budge
  2. Head would break off leaving a little stump
  3. Little stump would break leaving a screw end in the fibre board.

Steel screw in fiberglass/board for 30 years well what do you expect. I worked with boats, fiberglass and steel does not work in the marine environment, they need to be stainless steel.

I spent 1 hour trying to get a non budging screw out, eventually drilling the head off and leaving a stump. This is too time consuming so from now on if the screw wont budge I sheer the head off with a few taps of a hammer and punch hopefully leaving a stump which I can grab with a clamp wench and attempt to remove it. 50% of the time you will get the screw stump out. The other 50% the stump breaks leaving nothing to grab.

Left with a broken screw in the fibreglass
Left with a broken screw in the fibreboard


Next move? Mark the holes where the screw did not come out in their entirety. Then we have to remove any renaming screw metal. Screw extractors don’t work on screws of this small size so don’t waste money buying them like I did.

Final move.

Bought a JCB 6.5mm and 8mm tile and glass hole saw vacuum braised tip from B&Q



We are drilling into fiber board with the 6.5mm  it works because it is hollow and surrounds the screw, when in a bit try reversing the drill and the screw will sometimes come out, if not drill away and the screw will then end up in the bit. You will need to use the 8mm bit on some screws if you cant get the 6.5mm centered.

Extracted screw
Extracted screw

The roof uses fibre board for insulation with a flocked spray on surface to stop condensation drips. The reason the zink screws corrode is because the flock holds the condensation and the corrosion is around the screw head and outer shaft so the head snaps off or the screw shaft snaps off at the entry point to the fibre board. On examination of an extracted screw there is no corrosion after 2-3mm into the board.

Now you are left with 20-30 holes that are 6.6 or 8 mm wide and need to be filled. With what?

Experimented with one 8 mm hole using Teck-7 glue and a wooden 8mm dowel. Not good lets go back and look at fibreglass fillers.

The headliner is made from something that is referred to in some blogs as Polymid or Polyamid, which is a fine fibre insulation material.

There are products available for the marine world produced by Plastic Padding for fibreglass repair including gelcoat filler, marine filler and glass fibre filler.

The Glass Fibre filler I have used to repair the Rudder on a boat but the fibre strands can vary from 4 to 6 mm. which would make it difficult to fill a 6mm hole.

Opted for the Marine filler which can be used “for filling and sealing GRP, steel, aluminium, wood etc.”

This stuff hardens within 10 minutes so when you have 20-30 holes to do just make small amounts for 5 holes at a time.

Did the filling today and am looking forward to the results.

Will Keep you posted.

Any advice would be appreciated.



Westfalia Joker Project Part 3 Cleaning the inside of the Pop Top Roof

The pop top roof ceiling can develop dark Mold  spots on the soft flock material which need to be killed. The picture below shows the state of the roof.

Poptop mold
Poptop mold

To get rid of the mold use a mixture of Milton a household sterilizer used for cleaning baby bottles and water. The mix is 25% Milton and 75% water. Just spray the mixture on the roof ceiling and in 10 minutes the mold disappears.

Before and after
Before and after

Westphalia Joker Project Part 2

Got the Joker Westy camper back from the respray job and it is looking crisp and clean in December 2015. It was ready earlier but we took the Elnagh 66G camper for a trip to France/Italy for the month of November.

We let her sit outside in the stormy weather for a while to see if there were any leaks and yes there were.

As part of the repair process we had to replace a lot of bits and pieces.

The T25 quarter light bars (i.e. the bar that runs down splitting the small triangular glass from the roll down window in both Driver and Passenger doors) these were completely corroded at the bottom. They were difficult to find but eventually got chrome ones from NLA VW Parts for 55 quid sterling.

The roll down window glass had to be replaced because of extreme pitting due to welder burns as mentioned in Joker Project Part 1. These were imported from Brazil in a pallet lot by vwspares.ie and had to be collected as no body will ship them on their own for fear of breakage.

Both of the quarter light bars were leaking after replacement as the old rubbers were stiff and not sitting exactly in place.

Solution: Sikaflex 291-i  a rubbery compound that is used on boats applied to the top and bottom solved this.

There is water appearing in the drivers side foot-well, tracing this it looks as if the windshield rubber letting some water in. Next job is to get some 3M 08509  A non-hardening, pliable, water resistant sealer for sealing between windshield rubber and van body.

Other than that she is perfectly Dry. We had loads of storms this winter so I bought a breathable Maypole cover to keep her comfortable for the winter and it works very well.

CVRT DOE was due recently and I feared that the emissions might be a problem but there was no smoke to worry about. I was amazed when I got the results, the engine emissions passed on the very very low side which suggests that the engine is in very good condition for her age.

She did fail on one thing, which I am glad that they copped during testing, the rear flexible brake pipes were corroded at both ends and the rubber appeared to be perishing. The last thing you want is the brakes failing so they will be replaced next week.

A wee bit of corrosion on the flexible brake hose
A wee bit of corrosion on the flexible brake hose

It is expensive restoring a Westy back to original condition e.g. the signage along the side and the Westfalia logo imported from Germany cost 170 euros.

It takes a lot of time/ research to find the bits at the right price, e.g. the price of sterling a few months ago was high so most sourcing was done in Germany the stickers from  vwbusshop.de. But now with the drop in sterling England is becoming viable again as a supplier. e.g.  coolant hose for T3 1.9 Petrol DG Choke to Manifold is 32 euros from Brickwerks in the U.K. from Germany the part is 18 euros plus 25 shipping i.e. 43 euros and if you want to buy it in Ireland it is 63 euros plus shipping.

Is it worth it? We will see!!!

One thing though I am learning a lot.





Essaouira, West Coast Morocco

Sat. 4th April Essaouira

Essourai Medina from the beach
Essaouira Medina from the beach

Very Wet and Foggy, set off south to Essaouira. The fog cleared after a while but the road was rough. An overtaking bus hit our wing mirror but no real damage done.(in the videos tab)

Essaouira was packed with traffic because there was a safari rally ongoing and racing 4×4’s in every parking area available. We headed for the campsite to park up the van.

On arrival we were pointed to a camping area, not where we originally targeted but we pulled in and parked up. Walked to the Medina a short 2 km. where we had a restaurant meal next to the port, not great.

Parking available by the sand dunes
Camper Parking available by the sand dunes

Walked back to the camper but had left one fly screen open, we did not get much sleep that night killed about 10 mosquitoes but we both got bitten. Dogs barking all night, what a place to park. It was next to the sand dunes with camel droppings everywhere which does attract the bugs.

Sun 5th April

Moved 500 meters further on to the original target Camping Sidi Magdoul ( GPS: N31 29 495 W009 45.802) a pleasant little walled campsite with hard standing and reasonable facilities.

campsite entrance
Camping Sidi Magdoul campsite entrance

We cycled along the sea front, a very well presented walkway with cycle tracks and  seating, up to the Medina.

2 km. Cycle track
2 km. Cycle track

Wandered around visiting some of the places we had been to some years ago. The Medina is a very interesting place, a hive of activity with many craft shops. Just outside the Medina is the fishing port where you can sample very fresh fish.



Mon 6th April

Had a good night sleep, no dogs barking. A fellow camper Brian from Scotland asked me to fix his laptop, it took two hours as the file index was corrupted. Back to the Medina and we bought a beautiful wooden box which has proved very useful in the van clearing clutter off the table. Came back and cooked lamb chops. It was overcast all day but the temperature was good.

Tue 7th. April

Decided to stay another day. Had lunch out 350 dh. very good food.

Goats cheese with Honey
Hmmm Goats cheese with Honey

Waddled along the beach and had a lazy day. On arriving back at the campsite there was a Rotel Tours Pigeon hole hotel. Full of Germans.

Now here is a campervan
Now here is a camper van

Wed 8th April

Time to move on. Could not empty the van as the campsite system was full and awaiting the pump truck. It is a lot of weight to be carrying to our next destination some 150 km. away Marrakech.

Ireland Campervan Trip Planning

Having just returned from France and Italy on a short one month trip, I took the time to ask French and Italian fellow campers if they have ever taken their camper-vans/motor-homes to Ireland. Out of 15 asked only one had visited twice. When asked why the other 14 couples had not been or even thought of planning a trip to Ireland the responses were varied but can be summarized as follows:

Lack of knowledge of available facilities for camper-vans.

This is understandable because when browsing the web looking at Ireland for Camper-van, Motor-home facilities it can be confusing. So here are some pointers to help you find and plan a trip.

campervancontact list 44 free spots with 4 for less than 10 euros and an additional 14 spots for more than 10 euros. There is an app available for downloading off-line maps with powerful search tools.

motorhomewild Lists camping spots and camper friendly pubs etc. This is a UK site that covers Ireland. POI download etc.

Camping Ireland lists all the tourist board approved campsites that have all the facilities required for a campervan. In high season you would be advised to check availability. They also have an app for download.

For those of you who use the ACSI card there were 10 campsites listed in the 2015 guide book which offer low season discounts. It appears that the Camping Key Card is more popular in Ireland offering both low and high season discounts of around 10% depending on the site.

Camper Friendly Pubs

We have been touring Ireland for years and have spent many great nights parked next to a pub and great fun in the pub enjoying the black stuff, excellent food, good conversations and sometimes music.

A little advice:
• Just ask the owner if it is OK to stay overnight and where would you like me to park.
• If you get free parking then spend money in the premises.
• Ensure that you are parked correctly out of the way of incoming customers and not taking up too much parking space. Park in the further-est spot from the pub entrance to allow arriving customers the convenient parking spots. In Ireland the Pub usually fills up in late evening so if you arrive early and the car park is empty do not be tempted to park at the door, show respect for the regular customers.
• Never use your awning or additional outside space, stay compact.
• Do not reverse the camper rear overhang over walkways or footpaths.
• Do not leave any rubbish.
• If you show respect you and other campers will receive respect and will be welcome.

Two examples:
Glenmalure Lodge Co. Wicklow GPS: N 52.95749, W 6.3534 have camper spaces available. If you visit there try their venison sausages on glazed onions, delicious.

Furlongs Curracloe Co. Wexford GPS: 52.392880, -6.388362 When asked, Pat pointed us to a hard standing level area in the back under the watchful eye of CCTV security. We had the best battered fish that we have ever tasted there. The batter was crisp with no soggy bits.
There are many more camper friendly pubs so go find them and give them some business.

Wild Camping

There are many beautiful places where you can park over night and you will spot them as you tour around. Just take normal sensible precautions and ensure that you tidy up after your stay.

GPS: 53.107388, -6.491210 is a picnic area in Ballyknockan overlooking the Blessington Lakes, Co. Wicklow it is frequently used by passing campervans for short stays. There is a pub within walking distance and boat hire available where you can rent fishing rods and spend a day on the lake.
Please note that it is a bus terminus turning point for the Dublin 65 bus and that you should leave plenty of room for the bus to maneuver, the bus arrives twice daily at 7 am. and 7:30 pm.


With good routes etc.




Oulidia, Safi, West coast Morocco

1st April 2015

Left Camping International after clearing the van and headed south along the coast road. Roads were good but for a few obstacles. Stopped at an industrial complex with a port just 17/19 km.  south. Port de Jofhaser, a massive complex after which the roads improved.

Moved on to Oulidia a lovely spot, before entering the village there are incredible views of the lagoon beach. The village is very tidy and a good place to stop.

Oulidia Lagoon
Oulidia Lagoon

Checked the camping guide, it is way out of date. There is a brilliant new parking in the central area just off the beach. When we pulled in there were 20/30 campers spread around on the paved flat parking area. (25dh per night).

Oulidia new camping spot
Oulidia new camping spot

Planted ourselves between an Italian and French camper. Speaking to the French lad he says try out the restaurant just opposite they are well priced and give you loads of food.
Went for a walk along the beach facing the lagoon, waves breaking through the rocky sea entry points but a very calm unspoiled beautiful interior.


Oulidia Royal Residence on the hill


The Moroccan Royals used to come here and I can see why. Went for a cycle to get some photos but the sun was against me so could not capture the lagoon from the heights of the road into the village.
Crossed the road to the recommended restaurant L’Araginee Gourmande and would recommend it if you are very hungry. We paid 150Dh. For one portion from the menu for the two of us. Well we could not finish it because of all the complementary dishes, first arrives the salad, then a plate of sea urchins, then a plate of cockles and finally what we actually ordered fish combo with meat. GOOD food so here is their telephone number 0523 36 61 44.

Fog to Safi, The Sea is on the right bud did not see it all the way down.
Fog to Safi, The Sea is on the right bud did not see it all the way down to Safi.

2nd April 2015
Foggy morning, Blue Gaz ran out so replaced it with the Moroccan Cylinder.
Left at 13:00h hoping that the fog would lift. No, so travelled south on the coast road where we could see nothing but the road. Ann got a few glimpses of the sea through the gaps in the fog. I was so focused on the road that I did not see anything except some cars emerging from the fog in front of me.
Arrived in Safi at 14:00h and found parking west of the Medina 10dh.for parking.

Safi Medina wall The pottery place is up on the left
Safi Medina wall The pottery place is up on the left

Asked the guardian where is the Pottery place to which he gave us directions. But within a few minutes we were approached by Mossen saying that he works in the pottery place. In Morocco they have a signalling system. You are looking for something they signal the man that can look after you. Brilliant co-operation.
Well Mossen took us for a tour of Safi Pottery explaining the entire process, from where the red clay is brought in and how they treat it to eventually get the clay to the consistency that is required. They dry it a bit in the sun and bring it into a potter(video) who does his creative magic on the clay. Bowels, Tagine, Ashtray etc. The items are laid to dry for 3 days in the sun before the rest of the process to complete the product is started. It takes another 15 days before a product is complete.

Safi Pottery
Safi Pottery

If you go to Safi it is a must see operation!
After the tour we went to the exhibition hall to see the final products, chose some fine items and the bill came to 900dh. Debated the price down to 750 but we were still not happy. So we decided to go for a coffee and an ATM. Of course Mossen came with us, he was not going to let us out of his sights. On returning we offered 500dh. He said 700, we said 550 so we settled on 600dh. Asked the boss if he was happy, he smiled and said “Sava”. Oh shit I am not good at this negotiation stuff there must have been more room. But it is fun.
But that said, there are over 70 people working in this operation each doing their bit of work to each item and they have to be paid. So I think we are happy with the price, but when your man says “Sava” you know you have paid a bit over the odds. So what!
Mossen helped us carry the pottery back to the camper and we had a beer and a cigarette. We enjoyed his company for the day so I asked him was he happy the deal and he winked and said “Sava” . It was a good day.
Headed up to the campsite. Camping & Caravaning de Safi.

Safi Campsite
Safi Campsite

3rd April 2015
Woke up to a Hot day 31 deg. Sat around for most of the day and watched the birds wandering around.

Local Peacock
Local Peacock



El Jadida, West coast Morocco

27th Friday March 2015

El Jadida a very enjoyable stopover in our camper. Stayed here for 5 nights.

Arrived at 18:30h just before sunset and got parked in Camping Caravanning International. There were loads of spaces available. There was a bar on site so went and had two beers 36dh.

El Jahida Campsite entrance
El Jadida Campsite entrance



El Jadida Campsite I see a spot over there
El Jadida Campsite I see a spot over there


28th Sat.
Set off on the bikes along the promenade up to the port which was crammed with fishing boats.

Crammed El Jadida fishing port
Crammed El Jadida fishing port


Small fishing boats El Jadida
Small fishing boats El Jadida

On the street facing the port there was a fish restaurant where we ordered a mixed plate of fish , salad, bread and water. It was delicious, gently deep fried fish of all sorts, probably too much for the two of us, we struggled to finish it. cost 100dh.
Walked over to the Medina which is a beautiful place with ramparts all around.

El Jadida Medina entrance
El Jadida Medina entrance


El Jadida Medina ramparts
El Jadida Medina ramparts

Cycled home along the promenade with the beach on our left a beautiful cycle run flat and easy going. The campsite is just up a short street opposite the end of the promenade.

El Jadida Beach beside the promenade
El Jadida Beach called Plage Sidi Bouzid beside the promenade

On the way back we called into the IBIS hotel to have a cold beer (100dh, very expensive) continued back to the campsite and has two cold beers 36 dh. much better value.
29th Sunday
Lazy day, at around 15:00h after relaxing in the sun took the bikes and cycled along the promenade stopping for a coffee overlooking the bay and port. The fishing boats started to depart in a procession one after the other so we continued up to the port to see the total chaos. Ice machine feeding the boats and then they depart. Youths swimming and grabbing the trailing dinghies to take a ride, amazing to watch.
Headed back to the camper and decided to eat out in a restaurant recommended by the book Rough guide to morocco. Khhina, well it was empty, but today is Sunday. Got back at 22:00h. and watched some TV.

In the camper we have an omnidirectional aerial which links into an Irish Saorview box ( DTT Digital Terrestrial Television, DVB-T/MPEG-4 HD) receiver which allowed us to pick up local channels in Morocco. One of the 5 to 11 channels always available was a film channel usually in English and News in French etc. Some other campers were amazed that we were able to get the reception as they were struggling to get satellite reception the further we travelled south.

30th Monday
Ann has a dose of deli belly so we needs to stay close to the van. Set up the Go-Pro and waited till 3 p.m. for the boats to leave the port, cycled up to get footage of the totally organized chaos (video below). Then some settling medicine. Stayed in and met Mohamed the campsite caretaker.

31st Tue.
Had to cycle into town for USB extension cable and sim-card reader for the Go-pro as it was full. Bought some nice meat for dinner but a fishmonger came to the camper with some beautiful fresh sole. Dinner decided! Bought enough to put some in the freezer.

Hmmm. Sole dinner
Hmmm. Sole dinner and spinnage

Relaxed for the evening.

1st April Wed
Time to move on after a very pleasant stay in El Jadida . And to finish off here is some Go-pro footage starting with 30 seconds cycling down the promenade then showing the fishing fleet leaving the port.


Asked the co-pilot/boss Where to? Follow the coast road to Safi but lets see what happens.