High-top Syncro Camper 1986 – Get Away Van

Recently a high-top syncro camper came up for sale locally and I was fortunate enough to buy it. It is a Get Away camper van conversion. Get Away vans was a company based in Richmond, BC that converted various full size vans as well as some Vanagons to campers in the ’70s and ‘80s. I am not sure when they quit doing that but apparently the name was bought by a similar company in the Fraser Valley that now makes Get Away sprinter van conversions.
get-away-van

It seems Get Away vans did some nice work, adding the high-top and camper equipment including a 2 burner propane stove, a Dometic fridge, similar to the ones in Westys but bigger, a sink with a manual water pump, a “Power Center” which has a built in battery charger hooked up to charge both the starter battery and the ‘house’ battery when the van is ‘plugged in’. It also has a propane furnace (sort of like the Propex unit I will install into the blue westy one of these years). The Get Away van has an ‘upstairs’ bunk as well as the lower bed but the upstairs one is rather small as there is a cabinet up there using some of the space. (I’ll add some photos a bit later.)

This particular ’86 syncro transporter had what to me in an interesting option: a Webasto coolant heater. I haven’t tried it to see if it works but am interested to do so. The guy who sold me the van owned it from 1988 until last week and he gave me all the paperwork and instructions that originally came from Volkswagen and Get Away vans so I just need to read up on the Webasto before trying it out.

webasto-unit1

webasto-unit2

webasto-control

webasto-exhaust
It even has its own little muffler and tailpipe – hope I can make it work.

The van has just over 100,000 kilometres on it (just used for camping trips and the occasional furniture move, never was a daily driver) and just has a very small amount of rust. The diff lock works perfectly and the transaxle shifts nicely. It idles smoothly and runs strong although when I got it the coolant temp. gauge didn’t work at all. That was just a bad connector on the sensor and has been fixed now. I still need to fix a few other little things and it will be ready for a trip: things like a missing window winder handle, cupboard door struts needing replacing so the door can stay open (hinges upward like the van’s rear hatch). Long term I need to get a bit of rust under the windshield repaired and a new windshield installed, might need some exhaust work too. It appears some rain may have made its way in near the skylight at some point as well as into the storage area above the front seats so I’ll check that out soon. It has original paint so I think I’ll just get the paint repaired where needed as opposed to a complete paint job. Our almost-7-year-old is very excited to sleep up in the top bunk.

Well, it is apparent… I have syncro disease.

This entry was posted in Syncro Get Away Van, Syncro Stuff. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to High-top Syncro Camper 1986 – Get Away Van

  1. albell says:

    Nice van Ed. I had the same Webasto in my ’86. I didn’t work, and coolant hoses linked to by pass unit (little lipped seal in pump had failed – couldn’t get a replacement).

    So I pulled it, and when I did my head job recently I pulled all the coolant hoses (must have been 10 ft of extra hose). I’ll be so envious if you get your’s working 🙂

    So, bad connection on the temp sender eh? Gee, where have I read that? 🙂

    cheers

    ab

    • edbee says:

      Hi Alistair,
      Thanks for the hint on the likely source of the temp gauge problem. I’ll let you know if the Webasto works or not. (the previous owner said he never used it so I am not holding out too much hope.

  2. Bernie Steininger says:

    We owned a GetaWay and were happy with it. You got a very good deal.
    I was going to buy it but wife would not have been pleased.
    Good Luck.

    Bernie

    • edbee says:

      Hi Bernie,
      Thanks. Yes, I am happy with the purchase although there is some work to be done on it before it is really usable – see my reply below. Best wishes.

  3. Simon says:

    Hi Ed,

    Alistair directed me to your write up – wow nice score at a gear price! I recently saw a ’91 sycncro getaway sell for more than 2x what I think you bought yours for.

    I’m a getaway syncro guy mysel, though in my case it was a mod rather than a factory setup…. Full-ish story here:

    http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=513449

    Enjoy your new rig!

    • edbee says:

      Hi Simon,
      Nice job on your high top installation. It looks great. This Get-Away van is sort of a diamond in the rough. With today’s rain I found a puddle on the floor under the skylight (the skylight was closed) and the fabric surrounding the skylight was quite soaked as well. I sealed up the edge of the skylight from the outside and am pretty sure no more water will come in but still some cleanup to do. I had to remove a piece of plywood from the front storage compartment as it was damaged by moisture and found that an awning mounting screw is missing and some water coming in there as well as a weird hole about 3/4 inch diameter with some ill-fitting plastic plug thing in it and that appears to be a source of leakage as well.

      I figure with a reasonably small amount of time invested I can have a pretty nice high-top syncro although it will never be as nice as yours. (for one thing this one being an ’87 and for another thing you did such a topnotch job on the top installation (including adding insulation) whereas this is a 25 year old conversion that is showing its age a bit.

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