Tag Archives: VW
It has been a while since my 1966 VW Bus project was introduced on the blog. House projects, other VW projects, and a 1 year old and a 3 year old have caused my progress on the Bus to be slower than I expected. During this time, I've been accumulating parts and repair panels in anticipation of working on it. Now that the other projects are out of the way, I'm back to working on the Bus.
One of the first things I wanted to tackle was stripping the paint from the lower half of the Bus to see what was hiding under the paint. To strip paint, you have several options: media blasting, mechanical removal, or chemical removal. With the large flat panels, I didn't want to chance warpage with media blasting, and chemical removal can be a bit messy, so I opted for mechanical removal using my angle grinder and these Poly-X stripping discs. Be sure to use the proper safety equipment when stripping paint like this, as dust will be in the air (respirator, faceshield, ear plugs, gloves). The Bus had 4 layers of paint and these strippings discs quickly removed the paint and body filler. I was able to strip the whole bus to bare metal, from the beltline down, in an afternoon using 3 discs.
I knew there was some body filler in spots, but didn't expect to find as much filler as was hiding under the paint. There was some minor damage under the filler, but it seems like whoever did the bodywork went a little overboard with filler. I also found a fiberglass patch in the rear apron covering up a hacked cutout to allow use of a two tip VW Bug muffler. I'll be showing how to create and weld in a patch for that repair in the near future. Now that I know what I am working with, I'll be able to properly address the damage. Stay tuned for more progress.
During the 40's and 50's, many motorcycles looked more like large bicycles with motors attached, and some were just that. I've always been a fan of the "stripped down" look from that era and I decided to take the plunge and find a motorcycle project.
Recently I traveled to a very large collector car and motorcycle show and swap in northern Germany to find my dream motorcycle. I'm a classic German car enthusiast and it only made sense to look for a bike that shared the same heritage. DKW and Auto Union were companies that eventually became what we know as Audi these days. In fact each of the companies that merged are marked by a ring in the Audi logo. Back in the 40-50's DKW was one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world and they had a huge impact on the looks of motorcycles at that time.
I was after their bread-and-butter bike, the RT125W. This bike is by far the most copied motorcycle in history. I recently stumbled across an article on Vintage Veloce where they listed and detailed all of the iconic motorcycles that were direct copies of the RT125 and RT200. Even Harley Davidson used the RT125 to make its Harley "Hummer". Many other "big boys" like BSA, Maserati, Moto Morini, Kawasaki, Peugeot, Triumph, etc all copied The RT125 and made their own version.
After some searching and some translation help, I found the bike I wanted and a stack of Euros were exchanged. The motorcycle I ended up with is a 1952 RT125W that has some light patina. A nice Dutch collector was selling it along with 5 other similar style vintage motorcycles and they all were equally as nice! Even though the bike is missing the key, has flat tires, worn out grips, and has been sitting for quite some time dry, I saw potential. The key elements for me were there- it's mostly original with all of the key rare parts still intact including the tank, badges, headlight with speedo, engine, and fenders. It was love at first sight!
Once I got the bike back to a friends shop, we quickly tore into the bike priming the carb and kicking the engine over until we got it to fire to life. SUCCESS! Once we knew the engine was good, we began tearing the bike down and boxing it up to ship back to the states. I'm patiently waiting as I type and I can't wait to start doing a light restoration on it. The first plan of action is to clean and reseal the original gas tank with one of our Gas Tank Sealer Kit for Motorcycles. Then I'll move on to degreasing the engine and mechanical parts with Chassis Kleen and getting things mechanically sound.
Stay tuned for some tutorials as I work on the bike, and be sure to ask questions and make suggestions along the way!
Anyone that follows our posts here will notice that I am a fan of lowered vehicles. Could it be my fear of heights? Honestly, I'm not sure, but everyone can agree a car or truck that's "in the weeds" sure looks heavenly!
As I get older I want my custom vehicles to ride better, even when they are extremely low. It's not fun riding on the rubber bump stops and dreading every imperfection in the road! With vintage watercooled VW's this is a big problem enthusiasts face. I recently found a set of early-spec"rebuildable" strut mounts and I decided to gut and raise them to gain some shock travel and improve ride quality.
Since I needed an oddball sized piece of tubing to build the extension, I had a piece of 11 gauge steel rolled to match the diameter of the strut mount shell. I then used the vice and a pair of Eastwood Locking Pliers to clamp the rolled metal together. I then chamfered the edges and used the Eastwood TIG 200 on 220v to weld the two ends together. The result was a nearly flush joint that just needed a small amount of finish grinding.
With my "tubing" now formed I chamfered the edges of every piece to help me make a flush weld joint. I started by clamping the bottom halves in the vice and tack welding them together. This allowed me to flip the mount over and weld it in a more comfortable position. I set the TIG 200 to a max amperage of 140 amps and used 1/16 Steel TIG Filler Rod to join it all together and fill the chamfer I made. I repeated the process with the top cap and I soon had a mount that looked OE, but is 1.5 inches taller.
I am still working on making my weld puddles all look uniform, but I have come a long way since I first began learning to TIG weld on the TIG 200 about a year ago! With a little patience and a lot of practice, it really opens up what you can fabricate!
A big part of building modified cars is swapping around parts from other years, models, and even makes. When you get pretty far into heavily modifying a vehicle, you will definitely come to a point where you will need to learn how to weld, especially TIG weld. This past weekend I tackled a mini-project I've been putting off for sometime.
In stock guise this engine used an oil cooler that ran hot coolant through it to "cool" the oil. Sure your coolant may stay a few degrees cooler than your oil..but not enough to significantly cool things down. In the end it leaves more failure points for coolant hose leaks, and doesn't help cool things down much.
I decided to use a "sandwich" oil cooler with external oil radiator. I used the "sandwich" cooler portion from an 80's turbo Volvo. These came stock on just about every turbo Volvo in the 80's-90's and are plentiful in the junkyard. You can then mix and match an external oil radiator of your choice to gain oil capacity and cooling capabilities. I chose an OE oil radiator and hoses from a European Mk1 Golf GTI. It required little modification to fit in the grill of my 76 VW Rabbit project. As an added bonus, the fittings on the hoses that came with this oil radiator were a direct fit to the Volvo sandwich piece.
Because the sandwich cooler is much thinner than the factory cooler, I needed to chop and shorten the VW cooler cap shaft by about 1.5" (are you confused yet?!). I started by marking and chopping the section out I didn't need.
Once the pieces were cut, I made sure they were flat by grinding the cut ends with my Eastwood Eastwood Bench Grinder and beveled the edges to be joined. By beveling the edges I can make a weld joint that is flush with the surface of the joint without having to grind any of the weld away. I chose to use some thin .030 steel filler rod to make tight, small weld puddles; again to reduce the need to grind.
After hitting the cooler parts with Aluma Blast Paint, I reinstalled it all on the engine and now have a factory looking external oil cooler conversion!