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.  

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