Thursday, August 28, 2008

Front Heater Channel Rot.

Ok, so I had a little bit of disapointment when I peered into the front of the heater channel while investigating another repair. After blowing out all of the debris in the channel to inspect thoroughly, I noticed some pin holes in the front elbow of the heater channel that goes up to the defrosters. I definitely did not want to let this area go untouched as I would never be able to get to it once everything else was sealed up. I ended up cutting about a 7 inch section out of the bottom plate of the heater channel so I could get a better look at the damage. After getting the plate section removed, I noticed that it was much more than a pin hole. The elbow needed completely replaced.

Elbow Rot:

My first step in getting this fixed, was to remove the elbow, and see how the rest of it was. If nothing else, I needed it to use as a guideline for the new section. After getting the old piece out, it was clear that I would be working pretty much blind. It was almost completely destroyed.

Old Elbow:

Knowing the basic dimensions of the part that I needed to make, I took a few measurements from the channel section of the car to determine what the original diameter of the pipe was. It turned out to be just a hair over 1.5 inches.

The new elbow was made from stock 24 guage flat sheet metal. I cut strips of metal and bent them around an aluminum pipe, and then welded the seam from the inside once removed from the pipe. I made two of these.

Next, I cut a diamond shaped piece of sheet metal to make the corner of the elbow. This would wrap around the outer corner of the elbow. Surprisingly, everthing turned out very well. Not bad from starting with flat metal!

New Elbow:

I had to cut a bit of the new elbow section down to make room to mate it to the old pipe, and so it would be a little easier to get up into the fender area. I then made a smaller sleeve to slip inside the old and new pipes to get a nice air-tight seal. Everything fit amazingly well, and looks good also.

New Elbow in Place:

Everything is welded in place and sturdier than ever. I'm going to apply a layer of zinc coating over everything and then seam seal all of the welds as an extra added precaution. After that I will clean up the section of the bottom plate that I removed and weld it back in place.

In total, I spent fourteen dollars to repair my heater channel. Not too bad.

See ya soon!!

Finishing Sail Panel Welding

I finally finished welding the patches into the outer sail panel on the drivers side of the car. After much cutting and piecing everything in, it turned out pretty well and will only require a skim of glazing putty to make it look good.

Before patching in the big hole at the rear, I tacked in a few tabs under the existing metal. This probably isn't the 'correct' way of doing this, but I didn't think I could flange the existing metal without ruining the curve of the body in that section.

Tabs Welded into Place:

Once I had the tabs welded in it was a pretty quick process to tack in the remaining patch. I had to go over the pin holes a few times to get everything sealed real good. As a precaution, I am going to spray the entire inside of the panel with a rust treatment before closing up the inside. This should keep my body work nice and fresh for years to come.

Finished Patch:

I noticed that after I finished the patch, that the area had a little warping had occurred from the heat. To remedy the situation, I heated the area with a propane torch, and then quickly cooled it with ice water. The metal shrunk back to its original shape after two times doing this. The below picture still looks as though the panel is distorted, but the dark areas are mainly from heating the metal.

After Heating and Cooling Panel:

Over all I was very pleased with the outcome of this panel. I'm glad that I did not have to buy a new quarter.

Thanks for reading!!! See ya next post!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Part III - Getting into the body work.

I started getting into the heavy body work this past weekend. I mentioned on my last post that I was planning on starting on the front section of the drivers heater channel, but moved on to this instead. This is the part that terrified me for some time now. I had some huge gaping holes just below and to the rear of the drivers side rear quarter window.

Before Picture:

I've never been much of a bodyman, nor had I ever tackled this kind of repair before. The size of the holes really made this difficult for me to start since I really wasn't sure of the outcome. I figured I'd better just dive in before I chickened out.

I started by grinding out as much of the bad metal as I could using a combination of a 4 inch cutting disk on a Dewalt angle grinder, and abrasive stripper on a drill, and good old metal snips. The rot ended up extending about 2 more inches to the rear, and also stretched down under the wheel well about 4 inches. I decided to work from the outside in, starting to piece in under the wheel well, then up under the wing vent. Notice that I have the wiring harness pulled up and out of the way with a scrap piece of sheet metal. I didn't want it to be incinerated from the heat of the welder. Also note the hole on the inside of the body visible in my patch area. This is actually turing out to be fairly useful in shaping the outside panel from within. I'll patch that last. I left a little bit of an overhang on the bottom patch so that I would have a surface to mate the next patch to.

Patching in progress:
Next, I moved onto the fender mounting area. This was a little more tricky for two reasons. First, the metal had a double bend to it and second, I needed to fabricate the fender mounting on the left side of the patch. The stock panel had a 1 x1.5 inch indentation that I needed to mimic before welding in the nut. To do this, I cut a 1 x 1.5 inch piece of wood and clamped it in my vise, marked the center of the wood with a black dot. Next I drilled a hole in the center of where the mounting indentation was supposed to be. I then took the patch that I cut, centered the hole with the black dot on the piece of wood and hammered it over top of the wood using a rubber mallet.

Next Patch:

After getting the fender mount tacked in, I moved up to the section by the wing vent. I figured I would do this and the lower section seperately to make retaining the body line easier. This patch went pretty well with only minor flaws.

Patch below wing vent: Now it was time for the part of the patch that I really wasn't looking forward to. I was a little hesitant since this part of the panel has multiple curves to it and I do not own any fancy tools. I don't even own body hammers and dollies.

I started by cutting te patch metal to the rough shape of the hole, leaving about a quarter inch extra around all the edges. To get the convex bend in the patch, I layed the metal on a soft piece of pine and started hammering at it lightly with my trusty rubber mallet. After about 20 minutes, I had the metal in just about the right shape to make the patch.

I held the patch up against the cut out section and trimmed any metal that would over extend the hole and also mated it on the overhang of the lower patch. I had to continue bending and hammering the metal as I spot welded it in to help with retaining the shape. All went surprisingly well. Especially for my first attempt.

Semi-finished patch:
All I have left to do for this patch is to fill in any pinholes left from welding, make final adjustments to the body lines from the inside, which is why the hole on the inside of the patch will be useful, and finally put a coat of glazing putty to smooth over the patch. Over all, I think this turned out pretty well.
That's it for this post. For the next post I am going to try and finish the rear drivers side sail panel.
See ya soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Part II - Still catching up...

I finally got around to startng work on the body of my bug this past week. There were a couple of spots that I really hadn't taken into account when looking for rust. Other than that, I knew that the car did indeed have a notable amount of spots that rotted through. I just didn't realize the severity.

After stripping the body to bare metal, I found some pinholes in the sheet metal just behind and below the rear quarter window. One thing I found to be very true... Where there are pinholes, there will be bigger holes. When I sanded the area, the hole grew to about the size of a Nerf football. I think this area will be the most challenging since it's very visable, and the body has many contours at that point.

After uncovering the mess on the back quarter panel, I started poking and prodding the heater channels since rust loves to accumulate there as well. Over all, the heater channels were in surprisingly decent shape with only minor repairs necessary. The front toe boards are rotted out just where the heater channels meet them. They were also rotted out at the rear running board mount, just above where the jack support sits.

Before the repair:
After the repair:

I still have to finish a few welds to fill in any pinholes on the repair panel, but I'll need to grind down the spot welds that I did already to make a smooth work surface. Not too bad of a job for a novice right? While I was at it, I decided to tear out the rear heat ducts that reside under the back seat. I found plenty of rot there too. The passenger side was alot worse than the drivers side, which means I will need to purchase a full cross member repair panel for it.

Passenger side:

Drivers side:

I decided that for the drivers side cross member, that a patch using heavy guage sheet metal would be adequate. After some cutting and bending the metal with my vise and a hammer, I was able to make a patch that fit very nicely, and is every bit as strong as the original. I still need to grind down the welding.

Drivers side after repair:

Next I will be finishing the spot welds on the back of the heater channel, then moving to the front of the drivers side heater channel and toe board area.
More to come!!!.......

Part I - Catch Up

Early in 2005, I had the opportunity to purchase 4 VW Beetles on an Ebay auction. All of them were in pretty rough shape and the common 'Beetle Rust' was far beyond started. I really wasn't sure about purchasing them though as I had no idea where I was going to keep them. I didn't even have a garage at the time, and all of my parking was on street. So on a whim, I brought the lil buggers home in the hopes that someday, one of them would make it back to the road. My mother and father housed 3 of the cars for a short time while I came up with a plan. (Thanks mom & dad!)
I carefully looked over all of the cars, trying to decide what would be done. After much poking and prodding, I decided to keep the 1976 Standard Beetle that had, so lovingly, given me the hardest time during transport. It was painted (hideously) between a shade of purple and pink, and looked like the paint was done with a mixture of a Wagner power painter, like the ones you paint your house with, and a paint brush. The paint was actually so bad, you really couldn't tell if there were any dents or body work. This is a pic just before the long trip home from Ohio.

I stripped the other 3 cars for parts, sold one, scrapped another and the last sits somewhere out on the outskirts of town in the clutches of an evil presence.
The first few months, I got alot accomplished on the car. I completely dismantled it and began stripping it of it's thick exoskeleton of paint. This is a picture of the body in it's semi current state.

After about 2 years of not working on the project, I finally picked it back up and really started tearing into things. One thing that I learned.... Rust can hide in MANY places! Official work resumed in late July 2008.

I started with some brand new floorpans from the JC Whittney catalog. Shortly after recieving the new pan halves in the mail... I discovered that they were made in Brazil. Brazillian pans are not quite the strength and quality that German made pans are. (Glad I ordered the Heavy Duty set.) It took me about 2 days to prep the chassis for the installation of the new pans, which included alot of grinding, sanding and welding some miscellaneous patches into the frame area. Welding in the pans actually only took about an hour for each. I was quite pleased with the results. A nice coat of Rhino Liner on the belly will make these last a very long time...

I'll end this post here to keep things at a readable length. I'll do some more catching up on the next post. Stay tuned.....