Last Updated on July 22, 2012 (chronological order, newest entries at the bottom)
WOO-HOO! My '61 "Hippie Bus" won the "Über Stock" award (a glass boot) at the July 20, 2013 NW Vintage VW Meet held at Shoreline Community College in Seattle! "Über Stock" means appearing unaltered and showroom new! There was a huge turnout for the meet with over 200 vintage VWs from as far away as BC, Idaho, Oregon and California entered into judging and many more just on display. Jack, Ben and Adam down at Wolfsburg Motorwerks in Ballard and Ken at Aldercrest Auto Rebuild in Lynnwood deserve most of the credit for how this turned out! What a fun day and great feeling to be appreciated for paying attention to detail!
The Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter - 11/4/11 - When the Stuttgart-trained Porsche engine builder who I "apprenticed" under says he is thinking about selling one of his restoration projects that I've witnessed each step of its build and lusted after it, I didn't think twice! I blurted out, "I'll buy it from you!" and got out my checkbook before he changed his mind! My good buddy Jack Morris, the owner of Wolfsburg Motorwerks in Ballard has so many nice cars he couldn't keep this one inside (after a rare U.S. model, low mileage 1976 911 Turbo Carrera caught his eye and garage space) and didn't want the relentless Seattle rain and moisture to destroy all his hard work, so he was motivated to find it a good home. Well, how about a 60' x 36' climate-controlled showroom to keep it pristine? It now lives in my new barn and soon it will be raised back to stock ride height with new tires, and with a full-ton cargo capacity transmission, reduction gears and front spindles out of a 1967. Jack and his crew did such a nice job on the restoration, all that's left for me is a couple missing pieces and paint repairs. I am always amazed that the wheelbase of the Transporter is exactly the same as the Beetle! It sure is nice to have such a pristine example of one in my collection now and Jack has first right of refusal when (if) I ever decide to sell it.
Entry: 11/10/11 - Thanks to the wonders of eBay, I found the correct owners manual for my Transporter, still in very good shape, the contents of which is available for all to see on TheSamba.com. I love finding all the little missing bits to complete a collection (yes, it's OCD) and completing the "package" that would have been part of the original purchasing experience in the interest of preserving history.
Here's a fun little cut-away drawing that's actually a "fold-out" in the above owners manual and it shows how simple and unusual these little vehicles were. Who sits on top of the front wheels in a modern car? Crash protection? That's for sissys! Hell there aren't even seatbelts in this thing!
Entry: 11/16/11 - The first step of the return to stock riding height arrived today, a set of 5 stock size 6.40 x 15 Firestone 4-ply polyester tires arrived from cokertire.com. These are reproductions of tires from the period and will recreate all the driving sensations, instability and loss of traction that was part of the VW Transporter driving experience... am I crazy? Heck yes, this is about creating a time capsule that takes people back to the technology of the day!
Here's a factory press photo I found on TheSamba.com showing how high the Transporter was designed to ride. The factory tires have the same sidewall pattern as the new Firestone tires. These tires will definitely restore that "baby buggy" look the original VW Transporter had back in the day, looking like it would tip in a good crosswind!
It's the time-consuming little factory-correct details like painting the white inserts on the VW hubcap logo that give a restoration a certain "pop" factor. We live in a wonderful age with the Internet, rather than painstakingly cut a stencil to paint this area, some ingenious person on TheSamba.com came up with pressure-sensitive decals to accomplish the same thing. The important detail is purchasing a professional quality application fluid like RapidTac to allow positioning the decal before it starts to stick. Fun stuff!
Entry: 11/17/11 - Tooling up for some tire changing made forward progress today, an adapter that allows me to use my old tire machine on "wide-5" Volkswagen wheels safely. The tool is actually marketed as a "wheel balancer adapter" by Mainely Custom by Design, Inc. It is very stout plate aluminum, threaded for stock lug nuts and I don't see any reason it won't work perfectly for my application.
Entry: 12/22/11 - Yesterday my old buddy Ken, the painter at Aldercrest Auto Rebuild in Lynnwood surprised me with a cell phone photo of the radio block-off plate I dropped by with an unmarked can of leftover paint a few weeks back.
Today I picked it up, wished everybody Merry Christmas and rushed home to install it in the "Hippie Bus" to see if it matched... Perfect! Ken took the unmarked can of leftover paint and figured out what reducer would work to thin and spray it. I love working with a pro and when warm weather comes, I'll have him work his magic on the remaining defects in the paint.
Entry: 3/25/12 - Phew, Jack, Adam and I finally found some time to get started on raising the "Hippie Bus" back up to stock riding height today! Adam did a great job of rebuilding a set of full-ton, stock front spindles, he and Jack working on each side simultaneously, like a pit crew, had the old ones off and new ones on in a matter of minutes. My job was scrambling around my shop, finding the tools out of my collection that allowed them to complete each task. We discovered that the holes for the tie rod ends are much smaller on the new spindles so that job was put on hold and we moved to the back of the bus.
Pulling the engine was the next task to perform and it was out in a matter of minutes. With the engine out, you can really see how complete of restoration was done on this old bus. The engine compartment and underside have been completely painted as well. My job this week will be detailing the 1600 dual port engine that is currently installed so it looks just as shiny and new as the rest of the bus. Mounting the new tires will also need to be done before we put it all back together.
Entry: 3/27/12 - Today I finally got to put my tire machine to work and remove the 5 low-profile tires and mount the proper vintage bias-ply 6.40 x 15 Firestone tires I purchased from Coker Tire way back in November. The wide-5 adapter plate worked like a charm and on the tire machine but didn't fit the bubble balancer, which didn't work anyway so the tires are all mounted but not balanced. Since I'm not planning on doing much high speed driving in this bus, I'll give them a try and see if there's any vibration. So all 5 are ready for a little detailing and then mounting on the bus once the suspension conversion is done.
Once I got the tire mounting work done, I rolled the 1600 dual-port motor out into the sunshine and gave it a good degreasing using my favorite purple biodegradable detergent and scalding hot water from a garden hose out of the utility room window where I hooked it to the washing machine's hot water faucet. Now that it's degreased, you can see it is not the prettiest engine, but it is a very strong runner so I'm going to do a little detailing on it once it dries out thoroughly. A little rattle-can black spray paint on the tins around carefully masked-off areas that don't need paint should make for a big improvement. I certainly don't want to take it apart since we've already got enough things to debug with a new transmission and reduction gear boxes.
Entry: 3/29/12 - So I spent the last couple days with a Scotchbrite pad, some 180-grit sandpaper and carburetor cleaner, prepping the surfaces of the cooling tins and intake manifold for paint after a minimal amount of disassembly. Some semi-gloss black engine enamel and gray primer and reassembly and here's the results. A big improvement in appearance and ready to go back into the "Hippie Bus" after the new transaxle is installed.
Entry: 4/9/12 - The VIN plate that had been removed prior to the repaint had "disappeared" when it came time to reassemble the Hippie Bus. I know very well what the word "disappear" means, it means that somebody put it in a special place where they wouldn't lose it but forgot where that is when they go to look for it... a common problem for the generation that survived the '70s and musicians (that's a joke Adam). Anyway it was found eventually and finally returned to its proper location this afternoon. I was getting a bit nervous, a classic Volkswagen Transporter without its original VIN plate is about as sketchy as a President of the United States without his birth certificate. Now all is as it should be again, thanks to some stainless steel pop rivets. As you can see from the following photos, the VIN plate is on the firewall, just above the starter and the stamped VIN number is diagonal by the sheetmetal tray next to the battery.
Entry: 4/12/12 - In the course of lowering the "Hippie Bus" using "drop spindles" the routing of the hydraulic brake hose was altered and some parts important to safety were discarded. Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, a complete factory parts manual is available in .pdf format at the Obsolete Air-Cooled Documentation Project. Where on page 255 it clearly showed (parts #24 in the photo below) a bracket securing the brake hose such that it is kept away from the moving suspension parts where it could be pinched and potentially ruptured, causing the brakes to fail... NOT GOOD!!!
Entry: 4/14/12 - Another afternoon of banging out the un-lowering project. Today Jack, Adam, Sara and JB came out and we worked on finishing up the front axle work and pulling the transmission and spring plates. Jack searched through his stockpile of parts and found a set of the missing brake hose brackets that were still in very good shape and only required a little bit of wire brushing and a coat of black paint to make look perfect. Jack also had the original retaining bolt (#26 on the drawing, described as the "distance piece") with a 6mm grease zirk installed into it.
So the front brakes are installed and the correct sized tie rods are installed but still need toe-in alignment, the dry steering knuckles needing some grease pumped into them and a few other tweeks. The new, stock-size tires look awesome on the front wheels, I can't wait to see how high the suspension holds them once the weight is lowered onto them.
Pulling out the old transaxle was one more thing crossed-off the list and three guys doing it together made it a very quick process.
The modified rear spring plates were removed and stock Type 2 spring plates will need to be put on the rear after I do a little detail painting on the exposed surfaces. We're thinking one more session, installing the new transmission, spring plates, reduction gear boxes, brakes and motor and we'll have this wrapped up.
Entry: 5/12/12 - Jack, Adam, Sara and JB made another house call today with the rear drivetrain parts ready to install. Ben Jones, the master transmission mechanic at Wolfsburg Motorwerks finished up on rebuilding the '67 transaxle with all new parts where they were needed and Jack assembled and set-up the full-ton capacity differential, swing axles and reduction gearboxes, except for the outer bearings which turned out to be the wrong ones in the pile of new parts he installed. That small amount of remaining work once we get the correct bearings didn't stop us from putting the new transaxle into the "Hippie Bus" and we can finish the reduction gearboxes in place later. Everything is bolted back in and looking very clean and original. Knowing everything has been rebuilt to original specs by professionals makes this a one-shot installation.
Adam got the Type 2 spring plates installed without much struggle and you can see how my minimal amout of black paint on the outsides of the axle tubes will draw a little less attention to it. I'm going to mask the whole thing off and spray the new bolts black as well. The reduction gear boxes are very interesting mechanisms, a smaller gear at the end of the drive axle spins a larger gear, reducing the gear ratio and dropping the center of the rear wheels to the stub axles, the center of the lower gear, raising the height of the van about 6 inches.
Ben did a beautiful job on the transaxle case, glass beading it so it looks as good on the outside as it does on the inside! You can really see how thorough of paint job this van was given to insure that all the exposed sheetmetal is protected from the elements and looking factory fresh. Original VW vans were actually left primered from the factory on the underside and not painted to match the top side, which might explain why they tend to be completely rusted out and need so much work to restore. The underside is as pretty as the top side on this old beauty.
All the pieces left to complete the reduction gearboxes and the brakes are sitting on the parts washer, waiting for the next and hopefully last un-lowering session. Jack and his crew are doing such a beautiful job on putting the "Hippie Bus" back to stock height and have a lot to be proud of when it's all back together. The van was originally intended to be used as their shop hauler but I think it became too nice to use and every ding or dent wasn't covered by workman's compensation so they're happy to see it being preserved in my showroom, representing Wolfsburg Motorwerks at the local Summer VW shows for many years into the future.
Jack's daughter Sara, who is almost 5 and a cute little bathing beauty running through the sprinkler that was outside, took a break to inspect our work and gave it her approval! Doesn't seem that long ago that my daughter Audrey, who will soon be 24 was making similar inspections... they grow up too fast!
Entry: 6/18/12 - After a 17-day adventure to Turkey, it's finally time to put the finishing touches on the "Hippie Bus" un-lowering project. Jack and I put together the reduction gearboxes and installed the engine today while Sara and JB played in my old Radio Flyer wagon in the raindrops. It's great to see the jackstands gone and the tires and wheels completely visible under the wheelwells. It sure does look great "standing tall" and ready for adding hypoid gear oil to the transaxle and reduction gear boxes, hooking up the parking brake cables and installing the brake shoes. A few more hours work and this old Transporter will be ready for a test drive with that new gearbox!
Now when the engine cover is opened, a clean, strong-running 1600 dual-port engine is viewed, nothing fancy but strictly utilitarian and business-like. A 12-volt drivetrain powered by the fully-evolved, last of the breed aircooled VW "dog house" oil cooler, dual oil pressure relief valve, 4-cylinder engine. I'm planning on driving this van a bit and a low-investment but higher horsepower powerplant will make that very guilt-free.
Entry: 6/24/12 - One more push and the new rear brakes are together and the transaxle and reduction gearboxes filled with the correct 85/90W hypoid gear oil. Leave it to Jack to dig through his NOS parts stash down at the shop and find the exact, pre-formed hard brake lines we needed to complete this job... how cool is that?
It was a rainy day on the Saturday we finished the work and Sara and JB braved the rain to pose with the finished "Hippie Bus" un-lowering project for Jack and me.
The next day I reinstalled the back bumper, adjusted the front brakes and took it out for a 20-mile break-in cruise around Woodinville, Washington and was amazed at how quiet the new transaxle is, even with new gears, well-done Ben!
The stance is exactly like the factory photo shown at the top of this page, a slight inward cant of the rear wheels when there is no load.
I'm extremely pleased with how everything turned out! My hats off to Jack, Adam and Ben down at Wolfsburg Motorwerks for building such a fine van, now just a couple paint repairs with my buddy Ken up at Aldercrest Auto Rebuild and it's perfect!
Entry: 7/16/12 - My buddy Ken just got back from vacation and is ready to tackle the defects in the paint that keep the "Hippie Bus" from being flawless. I drove it over to Aldercrest Auto Rebuild in Lynnwood this morning and it should be all done in time for the Wolfsburg Motorwerks open house after the Vintage VW meet at Shoreline Community College this Saturday. The crew at Jack's shop deserve all the credit for this project because the few little tweeks I've made to get that last 1% done really don't count on this beauty.
Entry: 7/19/12 - A little probing of the uneven surface above the beltline strip exposed a thin filler skimcoat which was beginning to lose adhesion and crack, indicating a poor physical bond, then allowing water to enter and rust to form and further lift the skimcoat. Rather than just fix the small area that was cracked and hope the remaining original skimcoat would hold, Ken took the entire section down to bear metal and started over. Ken's theory behind the original skimcoat's adhesion problems were either the surface wasn't scuffed up enough for a strong physical bond to take place and a good bump broke it loose or that the paintshop was not heated and heat lamps had been too close in the paint drying phase and the expansion of the outer layer faster than the metal caused it to pop loose. Either way, why chance it, a total redo vs. just a spot repair is such a small incremental amount of work over the security of knowing it's done once and done right. It's also an opportunity to use the leftover paint from the original batch while it's still good instead of having to match paint and hope it doesn't fade into a different color than the original batch. I really appreciate Ken sharing his expertise with me on these things as they are not intuitively obvious to a hobbyist like myself.
Another little dent that has to be fixed is this one on the rear hatch. Too high in the door to be reached by a dentless repair technician, it has to be taken down to bare metal, pulled using a weld-on stud puller and then filled and finished. Ken will be pulling the rear window glass to make the paint repair so a masking line along the weatherstrip won't leave any evidence of the repair. My hopes of having it ready for the Vintage Meet at Shoreline Community College on Saturday are dashed... for this year. Call me thin skinned or a perfectionist but I don't want to parade anything less than perfect in front of a crowd of armchair experts with a gift for pointing out the obvious.
Entry: 7/21/12 - I am so glad I took the time to go to the Vintage VW Show (and swapmeet) at Shoreline Community College today. At the swapmeet I was able to meet with Clara Williams, the owner of Sunrisebuswerk who made the reproduction cab panels in the "Hippie Bus" and ask her why the headliner panels currently in there didn't fit. The answer, '61 is a transition year. We looked at her later split-window bus and she pointed at an indentation above the driver door and asked if my bus had one. I definitely said "NO!" because I had recently placed a maintenance service sticker on that spot and it was perfectly flat. She then proceeded to sell me the set that fits '56 to mid-'61 models for $35 and talked me through the installation process. Clara is a really nice lady and I'd highly recommend using her reproductions, they are very well done. Later I also found a better drivers side stationary door window glass and snagged that for a $3, yes THREE DOLLARS! I love swapmeets! Next year the "Hippie Bus" will be making its debut.
Entry: 7/24/12 - So Ken's down to the last round of block sanding and it should be ready for paint soon. It's clear that years of practice and experience are at work here because it looks perfect to me but Ken sees a few places he wants to give a little more attention before going to paint.
It's the same story with the work on the rear hatch, a little more block sanding and it's ready too.
Entry: 7/31/12 - Today is my 53rd birthday and of course Ken made sure to let me know that the "Hippie Bus" was going into the paint booth so I had one more exciting event on top of being spoiled by my ladies. Seeing this photo posted on Facebook by Ken really had me chomping at the bit to take a look at the finished result.
It was a perfect summer day so when the paint had set up enough to roll the "Hippie Bus" outside to cure in the sunshine, my daughter Audrey and I showed up after lunch together to give it a look. Ken had removed the rear window and latch and reapainted the entire rear hatch so there would be no masking lines. The leftover paint worked great and there is no color variation whatsoever.
As seen in masking from the photo from the paint booth, the side was painted from the frame above the drivers door back to the vertical seam for the rear corner horizontally, from the bottom of the drip rail to the bottom of the beltline strip. Again, no variation in the paint color whatsoever.
Audrey and Ken had to pose in front of the "Hippie Bus" just to indulge me because it was my birthday!
Entry: 8/2/12 - I stopped by the bodyshop this morning to see that color sanding and polishing is underway. Looks like I'll be bringing the "Hippie Bus" home today!
About 4:00 PM Ken let me know it was done so I got it home safe-and-sound after a little anxious moment climbing a long hill with a string of traffic growing behind me. The engine started cutting out and a little whispering my ear by Obi Wan Kenobi saying, "Luke, pull the reserve lever all the way out" got me to the Shell gas station by my house to put 10.3 gallons in a 10.6 gallon tank! Thanks to Ken, all the paint is now "show quality" and a few more little tweeks to the interior to get the cab divider installed and it's done.
Entry: 8/5/12 - Now that the paint's back up to snuff, it's time to start on that missing cab divider. A nice gal named Clara Williams, owner of Sunrisebuswerk in Olympia, reproduces the interior panels for these early vans. I was able to meet with her in person at the Seattle Vintage VW show a couple weeks back and get a replacement for the headliner panel that goes above the driver's head. The one in there had encountered a little problem when Adam attempted to install it such that it didn't go in all the way and that covers the groove that the cab divider is supposed to go into. An attempt to remove it resulted in ripping it so Adam left it partially installed rather than make things worse. Now that I have the replacement headliner panel and an excellent repro of the cab divider that Clara had provided earlier, we're ready to try again. Clara's work looks very good and is ready for installation of the reinforcing ribs and glass.
The "donor" cab divider has all the missing pieces, plus a "pass-thru" hatch modification made from heavy plate steel. The window rubber appears to be quite pliable and much care will be taken to remove it without breaking it as I haven't seen a source for a new one in all my searches. I think I'll cut it out and then remove the excess material around it so it doesn't have to stretch.
The glass has the matching factory etching and the rubber looks perfect. Once I get it out of the panel, I'll clean and treat it with rubber rejuvenator and get it nice and soft. I will not be removing it from the glass, simply to reduce any stress placed upon it. I'll also need to find a source for rivets similar to the ones used on the reinforcing ribs and take the necessary care to make sure they are positioned in exactly the same place after blasting and repainting them.
Entry: 8/8/12 - Today's moment of truth was seeing why the headliner panel currently in the "Hippie Bus" is not going in all the way. According to Clara "Sunrisebuswerk" Williams, 1961 is a transition year so half of it used the old style and half used the new panel. The panel I bought from her at the Seattle Vintage VW show is a '56 to '61 panel and my assumption is that Adam purchased and installed '61 to '67 panels and that didn't go so well. Removing the existing panel was ugly, it wouldn't budge so ripping it out in sections was my only option. As I had hoped, the old panel with the new panel laying on top of it shows that the correct '56 to '61 panel is significantly narrower at the front... this is good. The incorrect panel installed on the passenger side did go far enough in to allow the cab divider to be installed but it's not quite right, so do I pull it out and install the correct one or let it ride? I'll decide after I successfully install the one in the driver's side. If it goes easily, following Clara's instructions to the letter, then I'll rip it out too and make it all look perfecto. It really is one of those things you would really have to know was wrong to spot it.
Entry: 8/10/12 - I have the metal reinforcing ribs which were carefully removed from the old "donor" cab divider media blasted and primed. The proper sized split rivets have been purchased and I'm ready to install the reinforcing bibs on the new cab divider.
The original cab divider had been painted with the reinforcing ribs already on so matching the paint that Clara "Sunrisebuswerk" Williams used on her reproductions was easy thanks to Sherwin Williams and I have a gallon all ready to go. I went with an exterior, semi-gloss latex enamel and the test spot on the piece of the torn-out driver's side headliner I used as the matching sample can't even be detected, the match is so close. With a gallon of this paint, who knows what kind of great ideas I can come with for using it.
Entry: 8/11/12 - The driver's side headliner panel slide right in with a liberal application of bar soap to the edges and I robbed 4 trim screws from the driver's door panel to secure it. A test fit of the cab divider went into place without any real problem so now I can install the reinforcing ribs, repaint it and install the glass and call it done! I rather like how the cab divider looks but wonder if I'll be able to see out the rear mirror since the rear and cab divider windows have to line up!
Entry: 8/13/12 - The 1/8" diameter x 5/16" long split rivits used to hold the reinforcing ribs on to the masonite panel went in without any issues. Installing them was rather easy using a small center punch to start the "funnel" shape, then a larger one to make the "funnel" shape the maximum size and then a flat punch to form the "funnel" into a "T" using a plate of steel as a backing surface. I scuffed the shiny side of the cab divider with a "fine" grade Scotchbrite pad and wiped it down with a lint-free rag lightly sprayed with Wurth surface prep solution. The first coat of the custom-matched Sherwin-Williams paint has been rolled and brushed on and is drying. I'll let it dry thoroughly and decide if a second coat is necessary before flipping it over and painting the "front" side that faces the cab. I need to polish some of the scratches out of the glass that goes into the cab divider next.
Entry: 8/14/12 - The paint really dried quickly in the high temperatures so today I began with polishing the scratches in the cab divider window. The rule of thumb is that if you can run your fingernail over the scratch and it catches, the scratch is too deep to polish out. Most of the scratches were too deep but they can be shortened and others completely removed so I worked on them for a while and made them generally better but the glass is far from perfect. I made sure to cover the part number etching with tape so it wasn't accidently polished off. What this really worked good for was removing the stains from the weatherstrip holding it in place for so many years.
A close look at the 51-year-old rubber weatherstrip from the cab divider, even after soaking in Wurth Rubber Care, revealed a very dry and definitely not in any condition to stretch without tearing condition. I decided to avoid damaging (destroying) it and trying something a little more clever so I cut it apart right down the center of the glass channel and glued the front side to the freshly polished window glass. Once the clear weatherstrip glue had set up, I cleaned the excess glue off the glass and enlarged the hole in the cab divider masonite to accomodate the seal perfectly (it was a little too small). I placed the glued (bottom) seal face down on the table (covered with heavy duty aluminum foil where the glue might drip), applied an ample coating of weatherstrip glue to the back side, carefully laid the cab divider down on the table so it fit exactly over the window and (bottom) seal, applied more glue, placed the top half of the seal in place and "clamped" it down using a heavy piece of beam, full gallon of paint and a lead dent peening bag on top for weight. Now I need to be patient so the weatherstrip glue can cure and dry sufficiently that the glass won't fall out of the seal. I think this is going to result in an installation that "looks" perfect and took a conservative approach that avoided ruining the seal by trying to stretch it.
Entry: 8/15/12 - I vowed to not remove the "clamp" on the cab divider window weatherstrip for 24 hours. In the meantime I went back and ripped out the incorrect mid-'61 to '67 headliner panel from the passenger side of the cab and installed the correct '56 to mid-'61 one with even less effort than the one over the driver's seat. Rubbing a bar of bath soap over the edges is really the trade secret to pass along here.
Once the headliner panel screws were all installed, the moment of truth, removing the "clamp" on the cab divider and seeing how tight the glass is held in by the rubber weatherstrip cement holding together the old seal. It's solid as a rock and only a trace of glue oozed outside the seal in a couple places and was easily scraped off using a razor blade. Installation was just a matter of pushing the cab divider panel into the channel across the top and installing the 5 stainless steel machine screws in the bottom that I had already test fit. I think the restoration went very well and nobody would guess it isn't the original. The metal reinforcing ribs were cut down at some point in their life as they should look the same on the bottom as the top but unless a better donor cab divider falls into my lap, they're way better than not having any. So here's the finished product, I think the color match is nearly perfect:
Entry: 8/20/12 - Another little missing detail added today thanks to a shipment from Wolfsburg West, an early door check strap and retaining pin. This allows the door to open only half way such that the front passenger door can be opened and closed too. Pull out the white pin to remove the strap and the door will swing all the way open. All the little details add up to a very complete and pleasing impression.
Entry: 8/25/12 - OH BOY! Fresh powder coating! I got a call from Seattle Powder Coat yesterday (Friday) that the "3 vintage VW bus parts" I dropped off on Monday were done already and ready for the final steps in wrapping up the "Hippie Bus" project until time and money allow for building a better engine. All the parts are listed as "cover plates" in the factory parts manual and were powder coated in a dirt hiding, semi-gloss black instead of simply primed in light gray like they left the factory to enhance their durability, because of their exposed locations on the bottom of the frame and purposes of keeping rocks and road hazards from being thrown into the steering linkage and brake lines at the front and rickocheting off rear bumper and into the painted body in the back corners.
The two corner cover plates marked as #56 (part number 211.707.361 B, cover plate, left) and #58 (part number 211.707.362 B, Cover plate, right) in the factory parts manuals are actually reproductions manufactured by Wolfsburg West and listed as a "REAR BUMPER SPLASH PAN KIT" part number 211.798.000 on their website (http://www.wolfsburgwest.com). The kit comes with all the mounting hardware, rubber seals and gaskets, so they're not rare or remarkable, giving no excuse for not having them on my bus.
The big cover plate for protecting the steering linkage and brake lines, listed as part #27 (part number 211.703.609 B, Cover plate under linkage (LHD)) in the factory parts manual is quite remarkable as it's an original that's in virtually undamaged condition. Jack had this piece stashed in his warehouse and ran across it while doing the spring cleaning. What's really amazing is it was still in the gray factory primer and only had a couple surface rusted spots on the top side where water had pooled, as you can see in the above photo, from the bottom it's flawless! I need to do a little tie rod adjustment to center the steering wheel since it has a woodruff key in addition to the normal splines, then install this cover plate using the existing threaded mounting points on the frame.
Entry: 9/1/12 - Installation of the Wolfsburg West reproduction rear bumper cover plates went very well. All the mounting point holes on the bus body lined-up very closely and it becase clear that the cover plate has two functions, first is keeping rocks and mud from rickocheting off the bumper onto the body and second to secure the ends of the bumpers to the body through a set of brackets that reinforce the mounting points from behind. About the hardest part of the installation was getting the rubber seal to stay on the 'U' shaped lip on the cover plate, once that was done it was pretty straight forward thanks to an explanation given on the Samba as to where the little rubber plug was to be installed and how it keeps the cover plate from actually touching the body. Jack gave me a pair of original rear mud flaps with the round VW logo on them and I'm thinking they would look pretty cool too, now that I understand how they're mounted using the bolts for the cover plates.
Entry: 9/2/12 - Today the front cover plate went right into place. I chased the threads in all the M6 1.0 captive nuts and used cheesehead engine tin screws to hold it snug. Wow, it looks pretty but now I see a place I need to hit with blue touch-up paint under the front bumper bracket!
Last but not least, I finally centered the steering wheel by adjusting the tie rods as shown in the technical manual. The Type-2 steering wheel has a positioning slot in addition to the splines so it goes on one way and adjustments must be done the right way, not by cheating by removing it and aligning it on different splines like you can in Type-1 cars. It only took two attempts to get it perfect when driving down the road.
Entry: 9/4/12 - Today I finally finished with the front bumper, painting the bare, unfinished shadows where the bodyshop dolly had been attached, using a 1" wide brush and some of the Dove Blue paint I'd set aside in a baby food jar. I while the bumper was off, I resized the captive nuts in the bumper that hold the ends to the body under the doors from 10 mm to 12 mm because the smaller ones were completely stripped, they're now tapped to the larger size coarse thread. I had to use the Dremel tool to slightly enlarge the oval shaped mounting brackets on the body to accept the 12 mm bolts and painted the exposed metal with Dove Blue paint as well. All bolted back together the front bumper is now as solid as the rear one so little bumps can't possibly flex it to touch the paint.
Then came the fun project, the mud flaps! Restoring the frames on the mud flaps just required disassembly,a good cleaning, light sanding and coat of white paint, fabricating rubber pads for where they touch the blue paint, reassembly and then installing them on the rear. I think they look spiffy and no rocks will ever be hitting the body now!
Another little cool detail completed today was having new keys cut using hard-to-find original factory key blanks. In a perfect world, one key would still open all the doors and fit the ignition like it left the factory but somewhere in the last 50 years, a mid '64 and later "T" pattern key ignition switch was installed when the original one that matched the doors wore out. So I was able to easily find an "A", "D", "E", "F", "V", "Z" key blank (all the Type-2 keys were the same from Mar'55 to mid'64) on Wolfsburg West's website. The "T" blank took a little more work, using the services of Gabriel's VW Key and Locks (http://www.gabvwkey.com). Now if I can find an "A", "D", "E", "F", "V", "Z" key code ignition switch, I can have Gabriel re-key it to fit the doors... so the hunt is on!
Entry: 11/6/12 - I found an interesting little piece of "bling" for the "Hippie Bus" on ISP West's (http://www.vwispwest.com) website, a chrome tip for the exhaust pipe. Amazingly, this little tube is the size of a single "peashooter" exhaust pipe on a stock VW Type-1 exhaust but with no baffling so a slightly larger inner diameter so more exhaust can pass through. This "custom" piece seems to deviate from my normal "bone stock" mindset but I like the idea of getting the exhaust pipe a little farther away from the white rear bumper so it stays a little less soot stained.
Entry: 12/12/12 - Watching ads on TheSamba.com for an original "A", "D", "E", "F", "V", "Z" key code ignition switch finally paid off and even better, I found the correct '60-'63 one being sold by Gabriel's VW Key and Locks (http://www.gabvwkey.com). Gabriel was able to take my door key and re-key the ignition switch so one key will do it all, as original. Now I have a spare "T" keyed ('67) ignition switch with two original keys once I get the new switch installed.
The really cool thing is the key blanks were rare "Witte" brand as was also original on my bus. Not that I'm going for a 100-point show bus given the later drivetrain, but I might as well do it right if I'm going to the trouble and it's the little details that separate average from excellent from a selling perspective.