Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Return of BUG - Fenders and Rust

Sunday, the Sabbath, take it easy but I like to be busy.  Work for work's sake.
It was a nice afternoon, and I got to leave the door open, mixing with the fumes of PB Blaster and Charlie Parker.

Another faithful old implement

People just don't take their time.  This old Bondo repair doesn't match the contour of the fender.  The body filler is still OK so I just filed it down to shape.
Still rough, but the old contours are starting to come out.

  I was also able to pound out that lower area with a hammer, formerly full of Bondo, rusting underneath.  That's what causes holes in cars, among other things.  That rust must be dealt with - and bare metal will always turn to rust.  Paint is more than a pretty face, it is a crucial protector for your car's steel.
Bug did not want to give up her driver's side fender.  It was a stubborn fight, like pulling a broccoli stalk away from a toddler. 
 Look at the factory red paint some time in her past, poor Bug was in a hell of a fender bender, and had her front 1/4 replaced.  Man that's major surgery, nowadays this car would certainly be declared "totaled".

It was quite a fight getting those fender bolts free.  Surprisingly, only one broke off.

Yuck, I will have to deal with this.  It's not structural at least.

Of course there's always some drilling and tapping involved. 
That drill cost me $3

Still life banana
And I'm left with an ever-increasing pile of junk that will somehow transform into a beautiful Bug.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Return of BUG - Rust and Broken Bolts

I am tired.  It was a double-shift yesterday but I got a lot done.  A lot of beer is strangely missing...

Under the driver's side light, not too bad, just some surface rust. 
POR-15 will take care of this permanently - stay tuned...  

Bug's front end has had a rough life.  It has been bent and battered, Bondo over old rust.  Let's try to reverse some of this unfortunate, poorly repaired damage of long ago.

 After patient hours with body hammers, the old shape starts to come back.  Very methodical, all by touch.
It is a good feeling to see old rusty chunks of Bondo go flying.
A face only a Mother could love?  Don't worry it will get better.
Super Beetles had this lower grille for a rarely used air-conditioning unit.
It is maddening straightening bent teeth but I gave it a good shot.

The rusty old running boards must come off, they are held together by just a suggestion.
Once again I pray that rusty old bolts will not snap off.
Out of the 8 bolts, only 3 come out without snapping, in spite of slow careful work.
Drill out the broken bolts, retap.  It is very rewarding cutting new threads. like a mini act of creation.

Small plastic clips hold on the chrome trim.  These must be replaced, so pry them out with a little screwdriver.  They fit into little holes in the body.

These guys are plastic and just clip into place.  Take them off when painting instead of masking.
There is no telling what is lurking underneath...luckily nothing here.

It is also time to remove the old hood seal and deal with some crustys.  The channel is OK though. 

 Ghost of the Volks
Time and dirt conspire
By popular demand: "Old Scrapey and Little Chippy" hard at work

And the sun comes out for 10 minutes to create weird patterns in between the rain.

Too many fumes?  I think that's enough work for one day.

Spring is springing out there...

But what is this?  Second shift?
A dapper Gypsie stops by to lend a hand after work.    

Thank you but please don't disassemble my tie rods with a ratchet
We immediately get to work again.  No rest for the weary.
Trying to remove a tire with the car on jack stands.  CAN it be done???

No, it can't.
After fighting a losing battle for too long, we bolt a wheel on and just do it the right damn way.

What the hell is wrong with my impact driver?  
A patient Gypsie disassembles my compressor to find a comedy of errors, and it works like a charm.

And that's really enough work for one day.  12 hours!
Bug looks happy, don't you think?
Thank you Gypsie!
We sure get a lot of crazy projects done in this little shop.  But I wonder how many unfortunate beers have given their lives for the cause?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Return of BUG - Let's Get Started

Man I've always loved that quote.  Shiny show cars have their place, but to me a car is ultimately a machine.  It has a function, and when maintained properly will continue that function for a very long time.  A properly maintained and rust free Volkwagen can last (relatively) forever.  There is a great balanced beauty to a machine with all its parts in harmony, doing what it has been designed to do.

I've been putting this off for too long, it's time to get started.
  Summer is just around the corner...
 One-eyed pirate?
Bug is in great shape mechanically, but needs some cosmetic work and paint.  There are a couple of fenders that need replacing, and a small amount of rust that needs attention.  There is no telling what is lurking under there after 40 years...

Here's a trick I use to keep me from going insane: think about each little part separately.  Do not think about any other parts except those "invited to the dance" (i.e. screwed or bolted together) right now.  If you treat each little assembled nut or bolt with perfect care, then it only goes to reason that the larger assemblage of perfect bits will in itself be perfect.  Try it.    
Fender for the scrap heap, unfortunately.
Pulling off the headlight assembly and turn signal is pretty easy, just a series of screws and nuts.
  Be sure to label your wiring connections before removal!
A nice German replacement

Fossil of an autumn leaf
Beetle fenders are held on by a series of bolts. Since they spend their lives in a very wet and harsh place, they are frequently rusted in place.
  "Please don't be rusted in place", I prayed.
And guess what, they weren't.  Lucky bastard.  Mind you, they didn't exactly fall off in my lap, but none were seized.  And I'm just as lucky with the running board bolts.  How many modern mechanics have to deal with running boards?  It's amusing to me.

By the way: I highly recommend PB Blaster for freeing stuck and rusty old metal parts, such as ancient Volkswagens.  The stuff has proven itself time and time again, it really works.  If you've ever tried to free a rusty old bolt for hours with vicegrips then you know what I mean..."Pour it on like holy water" like John Muir says.

It is surprisingly rust-free under there, a very welcome sight.  
The black stuff under the fender is that factory undercoating tar-crap.  After a few decades it starts to peel off, leaving shiny original paint.  It is also a perfect place to trap rust-causing moisture, so be sure to get all the loose stuff off.  Most of the vintage Volkswagens I've worked on have had this undercoating applied.  It chips away pretty easily with a screwdriver, and so does the loose rust and paint if you know what's good for you.  I have a favorite old screwdriver that I've been using for years to chip away rust, "Old Scrapey".  Guys have a strange fondness for their tools, they are our children.
("Old Scrapey" was left behind by an Illionois Bell telephone repairman in Chicago some years ago.  Long my she scrape.)

 Unfortunately there are a couple of broken front bumper bolts to deal with.
 Success!  Oh what a lucky guy.
 After drilling out the old broken bolt with a series of dull drills, I was able to re-tap the hole.

And that's enough for one day.  I am just relieved everything came apart!  It's also very nice that there's not much rust to deal with.  Tomorrow is another day.  

The Return of BUG - The Beginnings

 I first met Bug around 2008, or maybe it was 2009.

My great friend Gypsie needed a commuter car to get around Portland.  With years of experience working on his air-cooled Vanagon, he figured he was already part of the air-cooled family.  Bug came to him, like they always do.

He drove her around Portland for a while, and took good care of his horse.  It always brightened my day a little to see that happy Texas Yellow lighting up a gray NW winter.  She was a perky commuter; one of those reliable daily drivers that just keep going from 1972.  I was charmed.

In a couple of years, we were sad to see Gypsie move to Ridgefield, Washington.  Poor Bug sat.  She wasn't needed, so she slept a long nap at Gypsie Acres.  Bug became the classic white elephant.

Well, life went on.  In 2012 my daughter Terian graduated from college, and would soon be living in Portland.
  I was very excited!  She had been away for a long time and I missed her.  
Gypsie proposed a most generous offer - a trade for a fond guitar and a bit of cash, and Bug would be mine, to offer my daughter as a graduation present.  And so it was done.

Uh oh...that expression

Gypsie, Terian, and Bug
Full circle, Terian at 4 years old in 1995

Terian was delighted with Bug.  It was really fun to see the shock and surprise on her face.
  I got to work right away making things safe.

Tune up day
 New points and condenser.  Oil that wick if you have one! 

 The old spark plugs, very clean

Mini-procedure: heat riser cover repair
These metal bits fit over the engine tin where it meets the heat riser tubes.  They came from VW with an asbestos ring, but this is often missing.  With fiberglass mat and Permatex, you can restore these to function.  Cut the fiberglass mat with scissors and stuff it into the metal ring with a small screwdriver...insane but it can be done.
 If you are crazy, you will then paint them orange.  After the paint dried, I baked them in an old toaster oven.
 Good as new!  Garish too!

Bug is now completely dialed in and running like a top.  I'd trust her to Guatemala or Topeka, Kansas.  She's ready for the road.  Teri learns to drive a stick shift as we drive in circles around airport industry, round and round and round.  She was really nervous, but she eventually got the hang of it.

Bug sat.
Winter.  Clearly, Bug was once again a white elephant.

I didn't blame Terian.  Owning a car is a lot of work.  I could see that she was a bit overwhelmed with this little lemon Zeppelin from the '70s, so I took Bug off her hands.  She deserves a better fate, don't you think?
Poor Bug.  

Bug doesn't know it, but she's about to return to life.  Maybe she does?

To say the least: I am meticulous.  Call it OCD, "anal-retentive" (man I hate that one..), a CRAFTSMAN (yeah that's nice).  I always take my time to do a job right.

  Please follow me along as I bring Bug back to life!