My VW T25, White Wall Tyres and Me
As you know, we have recently completed a restoration on my Volkswagen Type 25 Transporter which I am really pleased with. Part of the process was thinking how we wanted the end product to look. We decided that we liked the van ‘riding high’ and so decided not to have it lowered at all. We also decided we liked some of the original features of the van, like the non-colour coded bumpers and the stock rims so decided to keep this all original.
However, one thing I knew I wanted way before we even conceived of having enough money to have the camper van re-sprayed was white wall tyres. I really like them and whilst I am sure it is not everyones cup of tea seeing these on a T25 (clash of era’s and all that) but I really wanted them.
So whilst the van was in the body shop I made a quick phone call to Just Kampers who I had seen were stocking some of the thin white wall tyres (thin white stripe - not think tyres!). They were very helpful and took my order and I had the four new tyres delivered to the body shop.
A few weeks later I had the call to say the van was almost ready so I went around to see the final stages being completed. When I got there the new tyres were on and looked great against the newly re-sprayed Harvest Moon Beige stock steel rims and domed VW hub caps.
However, there was a problem. The body shop was also a MOT / Mechanical Garage and the guy from that secton that had put the tyres on pulled me to one side and informed me that my new white wall tyres were not the correct specification for the van. Now, bear in mind I am a graphic designer who is quite at home on a computer designing brochures or websites, but I have NO practical / mechanical knowledge or skills whatsoever so all I asked Just Kampers was ‘will they fit a T25?’ - which of course, they did!
Apparently, the white wall tyres were rated P for passenger vehicles (small cars mainly) and with the unladen weight of my T25 Autosleeper coming in at 1.8 tones (meaning it is probably around 2.2 tones with all the camping gear and water tank fully loaded) meant that these tyres were not man enough for the vehicle.
So the van looked cool, but I was worried about the safety of it. I once again called Just Kampers who were again, very helpful. They explained to me that the specifications in the Transporter manual were based on the vans original purpose, a work van, and as such were no longer valid as it would not be carrying the weight originally intended. Now this kind of made sense to me but I was still not sure. So another call was made to VW Heritage where I spoke to a very nice guy who also said the same thing.
However, I took a trip down to a friend who works in a Tyres / Exhaust garage who took one look at the tyres and said ‘No way! Get them off!’. The maximum pressure stated on the tyres was 30PSI but the VW Transporter Manual was saying much higher so off came the cool white wall tyres and on went the commercial rated tyres. It really did not look as good (in my opinion).
So after another phone call to Just Kampers who were extremely helpful and understanding (and offered me a full refund on the tyres which was good of them) I then went on a hunt to try and find another way of getting my white wall tyres back on the van.
The first option was the White Wall Flaps which insert in between the tyre and the rim creating a white wall look. Having read up on these on forums and other websites it seemed that these have a tendency to damage and shred the side wall of the tyre they sit next too so these were a definite ’NO NO’.
The next option was to hunt out for some commercial white wall tyres that were man enough to carry the weight of the Camper Van. I took a look on various websites and the best seemed to be North Hants Tyres who stock a huge range of white wall and vintage tyres. However, over the phone the chap said he would not be happy selling me any of them to support a vehicle of that size. Back to the drawing board!
So the next option would be to buy some white wall tyre paint and pain the tyres myself. This seemed like a good idea until I remembered my lack of practical skill - the end result would probably look aweful!
So finally, after alot more time spent online on forums and other websites I found that there was some professionals who actually can convert normal tyres to white wall tyres. I located a chap called Neil who runs a Manchester based company that specialises in white walling tyres - www.whitewallingtyres.co.uk. I immediately emailed Neil who responded very quickly and said that it can be done buy smoothing down the lettering on the sidewall of a conventional black tyre. Then a layer of white rubber is applied to the tyre to give you proper white walls. The white band can be done in various widths to suit the look you are after.
Excellent - the only problem was they were in Manchester and I was in Devon. It seemed like a long way to go to get this done? So my hunt continued and I came across a company called Bay Area Rods based in Poole, Dorset which was a much more realistic journey to make. However, after trying to contact them a number of times to no avail I can only assume they are not longer trading?
So that brings me to today! It is now over 6 months since I had the cool white wall tyres taken off the VW Van and I am still no closer to finding a way to get them back on. The hunt continues…
So I ask for your help - Do you know of anyone that can white wall tyres in the South West? How about anyone that produces commercial white wall tyres? What are your views on the White Wall Flaps? Or do you think I should give up the dream and leave the tures as they are? I would love to hear anyones experience of white wall tyres and their VW Camper Van - Please Help!
Posted by Steve