Saturday 31 March 2012

Pull up to my bumper baby

Today i drove to sunny Southend to collect the original rear bumper for Barbara. Her beautiful rear end has been disfigured for i don't know how many years by the addition of a very ugly bumper from a T25. As i have already mentioned i have a soft spot for the T25, which was the boxy 1980's updating of the VW T2 Transporter, but on the lovely curves of the T2 Bay it just looks wrong, a bit like Dame Helen Mirren in a shell suit.

A huge thanks to Simon who contacted me on the early bay forum and offered us a choice of two rear bumpers, one a bit scabby and the other a bit dented. Simon's garage was a veritable Aladdin's den of early bay parts and the guy owns three buses and a beetle and gave us some great advice and he let me crawl all over his work in progress : a lovely Chianti red westy. He sells buses and the guy knows his stuff : check out his lovely  1971 Westfalia poptop, USA import  over at his page under his profile campmobile70. Don't forget to look for that rear quarter light window for me Simon!

 Anyway,  I went for the dented one figuring i could easily bash out those dents and strip the bumper of its paint. However almost as soon as i got back home i could not resist hacking off the old offending lump of iron and sticking this one on, a bit like a kid with a new pair of trainers. So pleased with the look even before i have cleaned it up, although our boy made a good start on sanding it down (see above)

Thursday 29 March 2012

How to repair a rusty VW on a budget?

Junior Banksy gets 'tagging' the bus

If you have read any of the previous post or seen the shopping list it looks like its going to cost over £500 to pass the next MOT, leaving nothing for her paint job and nice little extra shiny chrome bits. Allready plans to go to Big Chill or Beatherder festivals are scrapped. However as i have started to do as much prep work before she goes in for welding (no way I'm welding myself, the dyspraxia and short attention span would spell disaster) i am beginning to think i may actually be able to enter into the 'show & shine'  Barbara at our local show this summer : alive and vdubbin 

In two weeks i have got to all the rusty bits in the body work and removed paint and rust with wire brush shank thingy on my drill and extra course sandpaper and then re sprayed in primer. A couple of the small rust spots revealed some larger holes and gaps that required filling ( My thoughts are that any of these i can fill well will mean more time before i need to completely replace all the less than perfect panels)

I will try and give a step by step instructions on how to repair holes and dents and show you what a complete amateur can achieve. To be honest the results are not perfect but are a major improvement on some areas that were looking like a medieval cheese grater before and should get me through the MOT at least.

First of all i have to pay thanks to my lovely neighbours who have put up with me doing most ofthis work on the street. I have had no complaints and people have seemed to enjoy watching the changes take place...i have also never been 'so up' on the street gossip. However if you are doing this kind of work outside your front door in public space its important to keep it clean and safe.

Its also a good idea to get yourself a club membership sorted, my local club membership entitles me to discounts at a wide range of car part shops/suppliers. I avoid the big firms and prefer to use a local business that will offer you better advice and support in my view.

Rules for working on the bus on the street :

1. All drilling, electric sanding and grinding to be done between 11am and 3:30pm
2 .Keep tools, leads and chemicals tidy and out of the way
3. Sweep up as you go and use dust extractors on the equipment.
4. The body fillers are very noxious and for some reason reminded me of my days as a punk(?!) Strictly speaking you should not be filling this stuff on the street or let it's dust from sanding  go down the drains, i don't want any dead dolphins on my conscience or get the toddler next door addicted to solvents.
5. I refrained from blasting out dubstep on the stereo whilst i worked.

How to fill a hole
Barbara's back end gets some attention!
Step 1. Clean out all the rusted metal, inevitably making small holes even bigger, but unless you get all the corroded bits out it will only bubble up again soon. Also applied 'Krust' anti-rust treatment to the edges. I hear a product caled Vatcan is good but i cant find it in the shops here. I then cleaned the surrounding metal with white spirit to remove any grease or dirt left.

Step 2. On the engine bay hatch above the small holes were filled with P38 which is easily sanded back to a smooth finish. I used small quantities of this noxious and nasty stuff and built up the filler so it was just proud of the metal surround.  You need plenty of glossy cardboard to mix the stuff on (cornflake packet worked well) As it was hardening (which happens all to quickly so you have to work fast) you can trim off any excess filler. I used a razor blade which along with a donor card made the ideal 'spreader'. I wouldnt recommend using your platinum visa card however!

Step 3. Finally sound down the filler to a smooth finish level/flush with the surrounding metal. Any uneaven spots or 'craters' will soon be aparent when you spray with the primer after. If its not perfect its time to dig it all out and start again at step 1.

Sanding down the filler

This gaping wound (below) on the rear wheel arch required 'bridging' and filling with aluminium mesh and required using the harder P40 filler over the top of the mesh and then finally a layer of P38. 

step 3 looks more like a dodgy cake icing!
Finally all patched up and ready to go!

'Rat look' wheel hubs?

The clean up continues with the wheels today. I took of the old and i would guess by their condition, original, wheel hubs and ground off the old paint and rust. End result was a kind of 'scabby' or as they say in VW circles 'rat look' which i quite liked. May originally replace with some nice chrome baby moon hub caps, but quite pleased i have managed to retain the original bits of tin. (See below) All it cost me was a can of radiator paint and wire wool. Don't know if they look silly all freshly painted on such a tatty body? Looks a bit like the nerdy wimp kid with brand new trainers!

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Body Work Prep : Grinding & Rust Removal

Nephew Kie cleaning out the guttering with wire brush 
 Busy day today and roped my nephew in to helping out with some of the bodywork (total cost a plate of macoroni cheese: keeping it in the family keeps the costs down!) Kie managed to get the rear hatch door to open, that i had previously failed to release.

Geting the rear hatch opened certainly helped get access to some of those nooks and cranies

 We begun by removing the paint and rust around some of the more coroded and crumbly bits of the old girl. The engine hatch (see below) in particular needed a lot of attention. The early bay hatch is a hard to find item and my thinking is that if i can get a couple more years out of it will be a bonus and give me more time to hunt a replacement. 
Engine hatch preperation

After cleaning up the metal around the holes/rust spots i brushed 'Krust' rust killer paint on that immeadiatly turns the rust black and then i hammered in the metal around the hole into a concave 'rim'  ready to take the P40 and P38 body fillers

Most of these holes are pretty small but under the rear wheel arch below the bench passenger seats was a larger corroded area that required some more medival treatment with the grinder. This hole will require some wire mesh to support the body filler but as the area is hidden from view it needent be pretty  and i will probably just use the harder P40 and not bother with the top coat of P38 which sands down to a flat finish
Grinding on the wheel arches, notice all the safety precautions

Ended up running out of time to start mixing the filler and applying it, so that will have to wait untill the next post. So as the sun set we packed up, pleased that another couple of jobs were complete.

Keeping the unpaid labour working till sundown

Pop Top Clean and Minor Body Work Repairs

Pop top before
and after
Been quite busy this week given the bus interior a good bit of elbow grease, and most pleasing of all a thorough clean of the pop top roof with its mouldy and rust stained bellows. They came up a treat with a good scrub with Miltons sterilising fluid. The main cause of the discolouration was the metal poles for the hammocks becoming very eroded. Unfortunately they have also badly stained the canvas of the hammocks, need to find a good way of getting these rust stains out as they look like someone got murdered in them! Want to get them restored as the hammocks alone go for £100 or more each.

Inside the circus tent! Rusty Hammocks tucked on the sides

The youngest bravely tests out the hammock

Friday 16 March 2012

1970 VW Commercial brochure

Is yours here? Complete range of Early Bay commercials, lovely photos, includes hi tops, cabs, Kombi and Microbus. Some selected pages scanned in, will update.

Add caption
VW Commercial T2 Delivery Van
VW Commercial High Roofed Delivery Van
VW Commercial T2 Pick Up
VW Commercial Microbus

Extra's VW
1970 VW Diagnosis

Thursday 15 March 2012

Ancient bus manuscripts

Some of the bus's original documentation are looking like they were printed on parchment or vellum, so just as well i hooked the scanner up to copy them before they turn to dust. Cute that Danbury hand typed their manuals, love all the seating arrangement and can't wait to try out the 'L' shaped sitting room pictured in the handbook (see picture of the couple smoking somthing suspicous on page 1)
Danbury Handbook, cover

Danbury Handbook, Pg 1
Danbury Handbook,Pg 2
Danbury Handbook,Pg 3
Danbury Layout Guide 1
Danbury Layout diagram
Taymar Grill, Boiler, Fryer instructions
Slimline Grill Instructions
Slimline double burner 'n' grill, parts list
Bit puzzled which grill i have as i have instructions for the Taymar and Slimline double burner'n' grill. Anyone can help the picture is below

We are cookin' on gas!

After posting this on Early Bay forums  i got a great responce from the Danbury purists and thanks to 'Danbury Dan' who posted a pic of his amazing collection of Danbury stuff (see below) collected over many years from ebay (More stuff on my watch list then!) Also tipped me off to where to find the original Danbury badges that are missing on Barbara.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Pond life in the bus !


Started to clear out the bus today, removing the camper units and seats for a good old clean. Thought i should check on the spare time and removed it and discovered the bus came with this little pond in the spare wheel well. Looked like primordial life was begining to form, but fortunately was not yet rusting through. Anyway drained the swamp and now more at ease with my decision to stick the spare on her nose. Did not dare do a full anaylsis of the 'fluid' but reckon its just condensation rather than a leak. Just goes to show its always good to check all those nooks and corners for general nastiness!

Monday 12 March 2012

The Makeover Plan : the 'bush taxi?'

Roughly what Barbara will look like after the makeover
Partly because of my budget, but also in the interest in authenticity and heritage i plan to take the bus back to as much of her original state as possible. This means restoring the paintwork to its original 'Artic White' VW colour code. My plan is that after the panel work is done (not by me i may add, welding gear and my dyspraxic and clumsy nature will inevitably lead to disaster) i am going to strip it back to bare metal and then roller paint in Rustolene paint. Again my limited budget means i cant afford a 'pro' respray and the roller method is one i have researched and reckon i can do with reasonable results and i wont need access to a workshop.

A few 'tarty' additions such as front mounting the spare tyre, new chrome hubcaps and possibly wing mirrors will be the full extent of 'bling' on the bus. I would love some chrome bumpers, but i will have to wait for the lottery win (unlikely as i don't play the lottery)

One thing i am not going to do is a radical 'lowered' look. Yes i suppose its cool to look like your bus is hovering inches from the tarmac, but personally i think it spoils the look of buses. More importantly i love the high driving position and not having to worry about loosing the exhaust when passing the numerous 'sleeping police man'.
A Merc  'Bush Taxi' from Gambia

I have a fantasy idea of making the bus look like an African 'bush taxi'. A lot owners like to give their buses a 'history' by making them look like former ambulances/fire engines (some perhaps were originally designated like this) or in the case of panel vans creating vintage looking sign writing. Partly because of my love of Afro Funk (1970's African version of western funk and rare groove, exemplified by the like of Fela Kuti)  and also because of my families West African roots, i thought this could be a unique look. However despite searching the Internet i cannot find an example of an African VW bush taxi (i should explain 'bush taxi' means a vehcile used to transport people and animals across the rough terrain in Africa) I am sure they were used as the T2 is still widely used across the developing world as a people transporter. The concept may well be limited to the interior of the bus that is certainly going to get a funky African look.....that will have to wait for another post for now.  I have posted below a favourite Afro Funk mix that already gets a lot of plays on the buses stereo.

Saturday 10 March 2012

Barbara Biography

Me and the fam in 'Babs the bus

On Friday the 9th of March 2012 i became the proud owner of this VW 'Early Bay' T2 Transporter, converted by Danbury in Chelmsford in '71 into a camper van after originally coming of the Wolfsburg production line in Germany in 1970.
 After studying the extensive paper work that came with the bus i have already learnt a lot more of its history but hope to do an exhaustive 'forensic' study of its history later (The parts invoices alone are the thickness of a telephone directory). 
Lots of reading material came with the bus, they all have a lovely '70's smell!

Very exciting to find all the original sales literature: handbook, original service books and hand typed layout plan by Danbury of the interior and its many lay out configurations.  
Babs in her raw, untouched state
Originally i had planned to buy a T25 VW camper which is the the eighties redesign of the classic VW Transporter (Affectionately know as 'the brick' for its blocky shape) as i thought that the classic 'breadloaf' or 'bay' camper was out of my budget ; Early Bay campers like this go for silly money plus and original right hand drives are increasingly rare as they tend to dissolve in the British climate  increasingly the only ones you see are 'dry' buses shipped from California where the climate means they last much longer.
The T25, more blocky than a T2 but still very cool, i still want one!

 However our wonderful neighbour Barbara (Hence the name change, Barbara called her Spitfire 'cos of the lovely noise she makes) who previously owned the bus kindly offered us a shared ownership arrangement....she gave me a set of keys, put me on the insurance and together we shared running costs. Was so excited when she was prepared to sell, i knew it was a difficult decision because she loves her so much, however we continue to share her and Barbara is looking forward to going to Latitude Festival and the Alive & V Dubbin VW club meet in her this summer so that took the 'sting' out of her decision!

*Road Tax exempt 'heritage/classic' vehcile
*Untouched and unmolested. Not lowered or pimped up in any way ; original tape cassette stereo, Danbury interior with pop top roof. 
*Three owners from new. Original owner from Essex had her from '71
 to 2004, two more owners since then.
*Extensive paper work and all original documents prove she has been much loved.
*Instant membership of the 'cool club', grins of delight from schoolchildren and driving it very much acts as an anti depressant without any side effects.
*Always starts and has only broken down on me once and Barbara whose had her for several years has only had a couple of breakdowns and she has been used almost everyday. 
*Always got somewhere dry and a proper bed to sleep in at Festivals.

*She's a little crinkly around the edges, but for a 40 year old she's still pretty gorgeous and nothing a bit of welding cant fix. (See post : job list)
*25 miles per gallon, but with my heavy foot its probably more like over thirty. Could be improved with a new carb set up or LPG conversion, but she will always be thirsty. 
•Risk of turning into a vw bore/nerd (to late already perhaps)

*Er, that's it.
£1,484 new in 1971! Wish i had a time machine!
Below is Barbara's 'birth certificate helpfully decoded from the very handy site Although wierdly it lists planned production date May 1972, however the reg docs all indicate she is from 1971.

M-Plate content

Model Type 2 (T2) mod. 234(0) :
- Kombi
- Sliding door left
Chassis number 2323122282
Serial number 122 282
Modelyear 1972
Planned production date Thursday, 25 May 1972
Number for production planning
 (temporary serial number)
Type of engine Type 1 (AD) - 1584cc, 37 kW (50 bhp DIN)
Type of transmission Manual 4-speed gearbox
Paint color
L90D-  Pastel White
Interior color (doorpanels and seats) 51 - Dark Beige Leatherette
Destination England, Ramsgate

M-CODE Description Concerned models From chassis number To chassis number
191 With outer and center underfloor plates (belly pans)

793 Trumatic SB2000 heater 231, Campmobiles 2x6 2 000 001
A41 Specifications for Great Britain
Collection of M-codes: M 020/061/187 (1970-1972)
2x0 2 000 001 2x2 2 300 000

020 Speedometer and odometer in Miles 211-274

061 Type labelling of seat mounting and identification plate for England and Ireland

187 Headlamps for left-hand traffic (for countries with left-hand traffic) 211-274, Countries with left-hand traffic

A41 Specifications for Great Britain
Collection of M-codes: M 020/061/085/187 (1973-1976)
2x3 2 000 001 2x6 2 300 000

020 Speedometer and odometer in Miles 211-274

061 Type labelling of seat mounting and identification plate for England and Ireland

085 Filled in factory with double amount of petrol (used for driving on and off the train, for example)

187 Headlamps for left-hand traffic (for countries with left-hand traffic) 211-274, Countries with left-hand traffic