Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Return of BUG - The End of the Grind

Sometimes during a big project, in the midst of sand and dust and filth, 200 days into rust and sore joints, you wonder if it will ever end...
But with the end of work comes death, and who the hell wants that?  So we all plod along, trying to make sense of it all, and have a meaningful life in the process.  It's not always easy seeing the sunlight through the dusty haze.  It helps to achieve what you set out to do, no matter the size of the task.  Which, of course, brings us back to Bug.
It has been weeks of grinding, sanding, and sanding some more.  Insanity is creeping at the doorstep.  There really isn't any point to posting all of this, 10,000 pictures of sanding sanding sanding.  But it's the only way it will get done.  So hopefully, gentle reader, you will appreciate these omissions.

 What is the fun in losing your marbles in a giant project, without help?  Bug is no exception to this rule: without all the wonderful help I've been blessed with, Volks Folks could never happen.  Some times you really just can't do it yourself.
The changing lineup, this time Hal is here to help with some welding

In spite of being knocked around a lot, Bug's bones are really in excellent condition.  Her floor pans are perfect and rust free, heater channels solid and original, and there is very little welding needed.  But, there is always something needed on a 40+ year old car, and in this case the driver side door has a bit of sag, requiring a few tack welds along the front door seam.  Volks Folks SENIOR TEAM MEMBER Hal offers to bring by his very nice Lincoln 120 volt welder to take care of the damage.

 Makin' the sparks fly as Ma Bus strains to see
Done!  And nicely done too.  Thanks a ton Hal!!!!

After a couple skim coats of Bondo, good as new!  And the door now shuts as it should.

As I am fond of saying, "no rest for the weary".  And this is of course true, even on this fine and dusty day.
The shop is an older building, cobbled together since the 1940s.  It can be a dark and narrow space to work, which will not do.  
To cure the lighting issue, Hal donated 2 brand new florescent lighting fixtures!  I couldn't wait to get them installed, and maybe see what the hell I'm working on for a change.
But of course I would first have to sort through dirty spider-filled boxes of random VW parts and get them moved out of the way.  This takes me the better part of a day to accomplish...but what a difference.
 Former site of crap piled high
Light!  Isn't it wonderful?  
The other side, how the heck do I find anything?  Trust me, there's a system.
Bug has been jacked up on stands the better part of a season.  It is time to get her feet back under her again.
But first, the rear wheels need to be restored.

 Instead of masking, I tried this crude method, making a contoured tool for the task.  It worked pretty well, but was a bit wobbly and awkward to hold.  There was a bit of overspray, but I was able to remove it with Gumout before the paint dried on the rubber.  It was a ton faster than masking.
Good as new!
But the psychedelic cat is not amused
Don's new Bus looks on too, maybe wondering if she can help.  Nope, sorry you don't have hands.
I hate to say it, but through all this dust and haze, Bug is really coming together.  It is really rewarding to walk around her and see smooth surfaces in place of crusty dents.  But it means she will soon be done and fly the coop to new owners, and a new life under these often rainy skies.  But at least now she'll be protected from the elements, ready for another 40 years of faithful service.  How many cars can offer that?  I will poop my pants if any "modern" car lasts much longer than warranty...and no one wants that.

So, it is now time for finish bodywork, and prepping for paint.
 One more pass of the sander to make the rear apron perfect
Done!  And other than a light finish sanding, Bug's ass is truly complete.  She's come a long way.
By the end of the week, Bug will be ready for paint.  They really do grow up so quickly!
Can you see a bit of swagger in this picture?  I think she's starting to get her confidence back.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Return of BUG - Will It Ever End?

Who knew "the old grind" could be so literal?
With stiff calloused hands, so very tired of grinding, I am thankful beyond measure that Bug has her 1st primer coat!  It won't be long before she is ready for paint.  Oh, they just grow up so quickly these days...
But wait, was it really that easy?  Oh, no way.  Complicating matters, my young daughter is home for Spring Break, and a beautiful camp trip to the wilds of Mt. Hood sure make coming home to a dank and dusty garage a real challenge...between each pass of the sander, my mind's eye paints vast ancient landscapes and lamenting their passage.  QUIT IT, YOU!  And back to work.  
It really has been a maddening couple of weeks.  There really was no telling what was lurking under old paint: years of shoddy body work and poorly repaired fender-bender damage.  I had hoped for a quick "strip down", but alas this was not to be.  Each panel required hours of loving care, and I am now fully off my rocker.
The worst fender of the bunch, requiring a ton of pounding and grinding.  After all of this, I was only able to save two of Bug's fenders - and neither were original to the car.
Pretty slick, dontcha think?  
Just about there
Bug's last re-tap!  She is now fully threaded.
 And now all 4 fenders are done!  My goodness.

Either it's the fumes, or really encroaching madness (who can tell???), but as I sand, and grind, and sand some more, strange eyes start to pop out of the bodywork.  Lots of them.
It reminds me of Northwest Coastal Native artwork, where it is believed there are higher powers lurking in everything.  It seems appropriate.

Finally, Bug is ready for primer.  It almost seems a shame to cover up all that hard work and weird patterns, but the whole point is for them to disappear.

 No rust in the rear wells!  I applied tar-like spray undercoating for good measure.

DONE?!?!  No but getting there.
And just in time to finish the last 2 wheels.

Today, as I sit writing this and waiting for paint to dry in the cold garage, it gives me time to pause and reflect, and wonder just what the hell I'm thinking.  But once she's a pretty girl again it will be all worth it, and there will be another Volkswagen survivor plying our wet streets.  At least until the oil runs out.