Monday 12 December 2016

Hecho en Mexico!

Fortune was on my side last week as I was able to get my grubby mitts on some genuine VW panels (made in Mexico) from a chap who lives less than a couple of miles from me:

They are in 'as new' condition, but have been in storage for some time as you can tell from the slight discolouration of the crossmembers. In fact, he mentioned he had been slowly collecting various Beetle panels for years for his own project, but these were now surplus to requirements. The front right quarter panel and left rear cross member are now discontinued, so they rarely pop up for resale. For once I was in the right place at the right time!

The rear crossmembers do not share exactly the same profile as the original mid-sixties type, but the steel is a lot thicker and pressings crisper compared to current reproductions on the market. I confident that they are going to fit without too much faffing around;

Authentic VW factory sticker still just about hanging in there:

I am really impressed with the front quarter. It is designed for '68 and later vehicles, but can be made to fit my '65 with a few adaptions to the bumper mounts, petrol tank support rail and of course the deletion of the fuel filler recess. Just got to source the other Mexi side now (thankfully still available from the usual stockists);

Feels good to have some virgin VW steel to use in this resto. The resulting finish wont be a 100% year accurate build, but as I am more concerned with strength and functionality I can live with a solid car that hits the 95% mark. Christmas has come early!

Saturday 26 November 2016

Rear valance removal

To start proper repair work on my bumper hangers I needed to detach the rear valance/apron. To begin with I removed the (incorrect) patch panel that had been welded over the top of the original (same old story as before!):

I then removed the buckled engine tray on the passenger side (L/H):

Removing the rear valance basically involves locating and drilling out all the factory spot welds. There are quite a few down the side lips. Most need drilling, but a few had already broken off, having weakened from corrosion:

A few more spot welds inside the engine bay on the upper protruding taps and down the inner flange: 

I then needed to grind a couple of small solid welds on the top edge of the lip:

Same procedure on the other side as you would expect:

And away it comes:

The valance hasn't faired well. The left hand side of the outer skin is misshapen from the rear end shunt (although this doesn't really show in the photos, but it is very obvious in real life). Additionally, the inner reinforcement section has a lot of corrosion and rust holes. It would take a lot of work to get this section anywhere near good again:

I will keep hold of it for reference, but ultimately replace it with a high quality BBT reproduction.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Salvaging an engine bay side tray

The time has come for me to start getting serious with the shell. I decided to set to work on the drivers (right) side rear of the car, just because I had the best assess to this section in its current orientation. First job was to get rid of the incorrect bumper hanger that had been welded straight over the original:

Presumably when the original bumper mount had rotted out to the point where it was ineffective this later model repair panel was just slapped over the top. I will never understand why garages never seem to cut out the old rusty area first; patching over the top just becomes a hot spot for further corrosion to form and spread with vigour! I guess it comes down to saving time and doing the minimum possible to keep the car on the road for the short-term. After all, the previous owners were most likely just using the car as a cheap daily driver with no concept that it will one day be regarded as a cherished classic and subsequently undergo a major restoration. I remind myself not to judge them too harshly for not future proofing and opting for low cost repairs. I now regard these typical slap-dash patches as the 'standard practice' which kept the car roadworthy in the past and thus saved it from the scrapyard. To me they are like old scars from a previous hardworking life and their ubiquity doesn't really vex me as much as it used to...

Anyway, I ground off the welds and peeled off the nasty panel:

Next task was to remove the engine side tray located on the inside edge of the above rear quarter:

Removal would obviously enable me to recondition this part easier, but also give me better access to eventually repair the bumper hanger section correctly.

It is worth mentioning that the side tray on the other (L/H) side is not worth saving as it is completely buckled from a rear end shunt (which the original owner explained was caused by a mini sliding on an icy road and crashing into the back of poor Gretch!). As you may have noticed from the previous post, I have got a Hooky replacement tray for that side, which is so accurate that it will be near impossible to know the difference once it is in situ.

I hit the outer area with the drill mounted wire brush to locate the position of the engine bay spot welds and marked them up with a permanent marker (kind of hard to see in the picture below, but they are marked in red):

Having centre punched each of the spots I used my dedicated spot cutting drill bit so that I did not damage the lip of the engine tray behind, which I was trying to keep intact.There were also a few spot welds that I drilled out at the bottom of the firewall from behind:

After switching to the Dremmel tool to cut a few little additional weld blobs that were holding it in place, I managed to remove the side tray without any drama:

Rusty R/H tray compared to the new Hooky L/H tray:

I cleaned off the flaky loose crud and then shot blast the entire thing:

Needs a few repairs and flanges straightening, but it seems solid enough to reuse:

Wednesday 16 November 2016

More Hooky's panels!

Some fresh new Hooky's panels have just landed on my doorstep, so it's time for me to really get going on the major shell repairs:

  • Engine Bay Side Tray
  • Rear Bumper Mount (LH)
  • Rear Bumper Mount (RH)

As I have no doubt mentioned before, the quality of Steve Hook's panels are outstanding! If only he made every body component that I will need to complete this resto...

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Quickie: First welds on the shell

After the epic progress of the last post, the pace has slowed slightly in the garage. Whilst the paint cures on the chassis and it is too cold and damp now to paint the associated ancillaries, I have turned my attention to sorting out the shell. However, my approach to this is going to be crucial to the ultimate success of the restoration. I have been researching the best strategy based on the experience of others and have been drafting a workflow diagram in an attempt to get my repairs in a logic order. I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't a daunting prospect of this phase of the project. Intimidated, but excited!

To ease myself back into the swing of things I started by making some very minor cosmetic repairs to the dash section. Thankfully the shell uses largely the same gauge steel throughout so this gave me the opportunity to fine-tune the settings on the welder, which will be a good starting point for everything that follows. As you can see, at the bottom of the aperture for the radio blanking plate there were two holes that had been drilled by the PO, presumably to accommodate additional switches; 

Repairing this was a simple case of cutting a small circles of steel to sit within the holes. Here is one of my tiny patches clamped into position;

I then welded all the way around. It is important to note that I added just one spot at a time and let the steel cool down completely before adding the next. This was to mitigate heat build up that could lead to warpage;

Carefully ground down and linished to form an invisible repair;

Once the other side received the same treatment I sprayed some primer over the area to give a little protection. As they say around these parts "Jobs a good'n!"

Friday 30 September 2016

P - A - I - N - T

I proudly present to you;

It looks like new, wouldn't you agree?!

Now that the grand reveal is out of the way I will back up a bit and explain the painting process. This was a steep learning curve for me and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't a touch nervous entering into it! For some considerable time I have been mulling over the best method and almost gone down the foam roller and brush route (I kept my receipt, so I can take all those particular items back to the shop). Foam rollers would have been straight forward and simple, but that is not what this project is about! Having asked for advise on the Volkszone forum I opted to spray using a HVLP gravity fed gun with a 2.2mm nozzle. I opted for a cheapo Sealey SSG501 that I picked up off eBay and I also added an additional water trap which mounted to the inlet (I already had the regulator laying around):

My painting paraphernalia:

Thanks to Dangerman who loaned me the use of the adjoining garage to spray in, it would have been near impossible to do it without this space! I thoroughly cleaned the area out so that there was no trace of dust that could be disturbed by the spray gun and end up in my fresh paint!

To get the paint to the right consistency for spraying it needed to be thinned by about 20%. For the first layer I mixed up far more than I needed as I had no clue how far the stuff would go, but for the additional coats I only mixed up 720ml (300ml comp A, 300ml comp B and 120ml of No 17 thinners):

A little time-lapse of the first layer going on (unfortunately the camera didn't capture the very beginning):

The best inter-layer adhesion occurs before the previous layer fully cures, so I waited 3 days before adding the 2nd coat and a further 3 days before the final coat. The 2nd and 3rd coats were more challenging to apply as it is obviously not as easy to see the areas that have been freshly sprayed versus those that have not. Requires a bit more focus and strategy, but in on reflection I think I did a pretty good job for my first time!

...and relax!

Monday 26 September 2016

Stripped and prepped

Spent an eternity stripping the temporary primer and grime off of the chassis in preparation for the top coat of Mastic 121. It is hard to stress in words just how time consuming this was - the big flatter areas obviously get stripped relatively fast, but that can be deceiving as it is all the nooks & crannies that become the vortex of time! Here is a breakdown of my pre-paint bare metal process:

  • stripped what I could easily get at with the drill-mounted wire brush and an angle-grinder mounted poly abrasive disc (< this was a true godsend!)
  • masked up the all the chassis orifices and shot blast the hard to reach areas 
  • keyed everything with 80 grit sandpaper to create a suitable roughened surface for the paint to bond to
  • Tack clothed the entire area to remove debris particles
  • Thoroughly panel wiped the chassis to clean and degrease
  • Applied FE-123 into any pitted areas of steel to neutralise any lurking residual rust
  • Once the FE-123 had hardened/blackened I sanded back those localised areas to remove excess
  • Blew entire area over with compressed air (including inside the chassis tunnel for good measure)
  • Final tack cloth & panel wipe all over until no trace of dirt was detectable on the rag

So here is the naked result of my boundless endeavour (NB: these were taken just before I applied the FE-123 because, despite being necessary, it made the chassis look less shiny and presentable);

The next post is going to be epic. The chassis will finally get a lick of sumptuous semi-gloss black (truth be told, I have already sprayed the first layer and it looks pretty damn sweet - but that is a story for another post)...

Monday 5 September 2016

Funky green channels

Recently took an epic detour to pick up a new set of 62-67 Klassic Fab heater channels. Far from cheap, but the pressings are crisp and the detailing is top notch (finished by hand I am told). The closest thing to brand new period correct channels that are currently produced anywhere in the world:

Threw them on the pan for a quick test fit:

All the bolt holes line up wonderfully, but I think that the passengers side pan might be slightly out - hoping I can resolve this further down the line when I am aligning the body. I hope...