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bluefirefly Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:26 pm

Again, thanks to everyone for all ideas I got to restore and upgrade our passenger van.

So, here I start with a 1986 Syncro passenger we bought in March, was not looking bad but I should have it cleaned before we bought it...

Some problems with it, nothing too bad, surface rust (I am pretty sure by now, it was not surface rust!), part of the dash unplugged by past owner because of the oil buzzer..... but checked out everything, no oil pressure problem, old van and electrical system, we'll see that later.

Anyway, not a bad van, Syncro, clean interior, we were happy with it.


Here it is, wife is happy since it is going to be her van (that was what she thought....)

First think, need to take care of the topping out suspension, everything looked good, so there is only one way, it needs longer shocks since those are the Go Westy kit and the passenger van might be too light for it.
All suspension parts aren't too old, no way I replace them so I need to make a braket for the rear and the front will get a coupling nut and a bolt.



Here it is in place, gave me about 2" longer on the shocks so about 3" more travel at the wheel, works great, no problem any more.


Van was making some noise while driving, some vibrations too when stepping of gas at highway speed, some half axle boots were cut (not sure for how long...) so I rebuilt both at the back and bought 2 new for the front, less noise but still a little something, and way less vibration, I still feel it but I am the only one.... must be in my head!

Now, time for those nice wheel (16", rim came with the van), but need tire first.
So, I read a lot and I was not sure but wanted nice tire and having only 4 rims, cannot have a spare so I needed something that shouldn't go flat... and wanted lower RPM at highway speed, of course knowing I might regret the loss of power.....




Here it is. See, doesn't need too much to make her happy...
I know, the front fender look pretty close, but we tried it in the construction site close by and everyhting is perfect, tires aren't rubbing anywhere.
Anyway, there is no plan to go offroading a lot, the van need only to handle non plowed winter road and mountain back gravel road and Calgary's potholes (might need 45 inches tires in some case...).

So, big wheel, everybody happy until you step on those brakes and...... nothing!
Time for an upgrade, fortunately, there is everything on Samba!

So, we didn't want to spend to much money since we were looking at that surface rust...... oups might be that little rust after all.

So, we went with Audi G60 caliper, Jetta rotor (like new) and new pads, result: $80 for used parts, $100 for pads and $110 for bracket and spacers and a set of Brembo drums, way better now, but I'll looks for SS brake hose because I am not 100% happy, may need bigger brake booster in the future.


So, after all of that, weather started to get better, time to work inside the van and take care of that surface rust.
Started with a wire brush and....... go some holes already, time to get the inside of the van out and really look at it:
















so I think by now, you get this idea, I did.

On Samba, I was looking at Ben's avatar, and thinking that he might be right.



Thanks Ben, you did ruined my summer and because of you, I need to do it right..... Je plaisante mon homme, tu es toujours le bienvenue a Calgary, je t'offrirai volontier une biere ou meme plus, mais tu risques de m'entendre chialer, voire meme sacrer mais ca va etre que pour 5 minutes...... but at the end, we'llbe so happy to have a nice RUST FREE van, priceless!

So, next step was.... cutting, it cost me a lot in cutting wheel, seriously!













So, I know there is other way to replace metal parts (Ben uses kind of powerful glue-resin) but I discover that later and anyway, I have a welding machine so....
For body parts, not too much choice, not too many Vanagon in Alberta and certainly in bad shape in those junk yard so I bought new body panels I was able to find and made everything else, no choice

I know some persons like POR15 or other, but I am not a big fan, I did buy one of their kit, and I am not really happy. There is no way I am going to look at it next year so I cut everything where there was rust.
I don't really think it is possible to get rust in those seams, I took all of those out and there is rust in really strange place, this is crazy.
I found 2 small spot rust from outside on a side window and had to cut 70cm (about 30") of metal because of the rust inside the panel!
Again, it is a 25 years old Syncro van, in Canada and not a summer sport car resting in a garage when it rains or worst....

So when everything is done, all inside panels, cavity and frame will get a full coat of grease or oil, we are planning to keep this van and I don't really want to waste another summer redoing it.

So, more post later, our van restoration isn't over, body work is still in process and I am getting side tracked by an exhaust issue at the beginning, bought 10cent system (looks freaking sweet, I cannot wait to hear it) and got problem with almost every single studs in those cylinder heads so motor came out and will receive a Go Westy kit, since I found some little cracks between valve, broken studs (cannot get them out, I don't have TK magic torches to heat them up...), new heads are on their way because there is no way I'll put back a motor with new heads and old cylinder or clutch, I am too lazy for that.

Come back for more, I am working on the front bumper as well, will add some light, leaking gearbox, found nice paint color from one member (Honuak, he was really nice to send us his color ref number, not sure if I can get it in Canada, but looking for something similar)


and storage box under bench, bigger stabilizer bar in front, may be add one in rear, new rad and SS coolant pipes, all coolant hoses, 1.25 rockers..... told you, all summer long!

Time to go to bed, have a nice evening.
Jerome

Phishman068 Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:42 am

What size tires are those on the 16'' rims?

Looking good!

bluefirefly Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:33 am

Tire are Dunlop in 215/85-16, load 115/112.
8mm spacers and 56mm stud for rear wheels, clear the side door by almost nothing but I had to rework the trailing arm a little to be safe.
Front fitted nicely but I'll replace those studs later and lugs are from Loogy.

This passenger van have a go Westy suspension kit and sits really tall so it fits, not sure with a Westy....

specialev Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:54 am

Looks like a lot of work. I've been tearing into my 86 syncro and dealing with similar rust at the body seams. Previous owner po15'ed the exterior seams but I'm going to grind them down and take the interior panels off and probably have to grind them out anyways. Can't wait to see some more pics...those tires are huge!

bluefirefly Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:29 am

That was my problem too and now, I am 100% sure that rust came from inside. I even did find rust under some piece of metal not "connected" to outside (like that little rail on the left side of the second bench on the floor holding the interior wood-vinyl panel or the base of the second bench.
I was surprised because it is a van and not a Westy so it shouldn't be humidity from people sleeping in.

It is really a big job, I am working on it with my wife about 3 to 5h every day after our job and usually the full weekend.
I did some little body work in the past, but not as deep and good as that so we learn as we go, got a lot of tips and ideas from this forum and will see what we'll get at the end but we are planning to make it nice so it might take more time than we thought.

Since the weather looks bad today again, I am not in the mood to work on the van, I might post more this evening, it will be all the welding work and pieces making.

Thanks.
Jerome

bluefirefly Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:38 pm

More pictures of the restoration, some welding, primer and body filling and got sidetracked again by the bumper this time.

So, we got some new panels and I looked a little for a donor van but no chance so I took the long way to do it, I had to cut everything to get those rusty seams off and put back some of the good panels from the van.
Not sure if it is the right way to do, but I am doing it for us, not for someone else and my work is free so it is not important.





















Some heavier gauge for those jack support, I had to redo all 4, it wasn't that bad but it was rusty outside and I had no way to know if it was from inside or not. I was wrong, still a lot of factory grease or wax inside those support and frame but the rust outside was enough for me to decide to cut.
I had to made a lot of parts that aren't available, tried my best and it should be ok, but a side by side comparaison will make my van look a little different.
I wanted to correct some factory defect (panel not perfectly welded together) so I spend a little more time on it.


Now a break from panels welding, I looked at that front bumper.
As I said before, this van has those headlight relays upgraded but I am not really happy so the plan was to add driving and fog light.
This bumper is I think from Go Westy and I wanted to make some protection for those light, but not a bolt on, I wanted something stronger.
So, I got some 1/4" flat, 2" pipe (3/16" wall) and 1/8" flat to put under those light.
So, I had to drill the bumper and the 1/4" flat to be able to insert the pipe in the bumper and weld both side.
Pipe has been welded, I don't have a pipe bender....

Of course, there is flat plate in front too so the bumper is stronger and I shouldn't have the pipe coming in my radiator in case of a low speed touching.
Another project for later will be to add a skid plate from this bumper to the front axle since I am not going to use a spare.










Now, place to the body work, still in progress, I am not really good at it and waste a lot of time but it needs to be done.












It will be like that for a while, we are taking the weekend off to go backpacking, we'll be able to rest even with 25kms per day, legs will work and arms will take some rest....

Enought for today, we'll add more later.

Jerome et Elise

purplepeopleeater Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:04 pm

great work, you going for the seamless look?

I gutted my seams and blasted them and acid washed them...then por15 and then epoxy panel glue.

I hope they last, was alot of work and $ to get them to look good.

bluefirefly Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:23 pm

It wasn't really by choice but the way I welded back those panels.
So, I'll have seamless under the window line and seams at window level.
Of course, I'll work on them but they are perfect, inside and out so I am not too worried.
There will be difference with my van once done because I wasn't able to reproduce some of the factory forms but it should look good, may be strange for another Vanagon owner but again, it will be rust free....

purplepeopleeater Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:48 pm


I am planning something just like this too, man that looks really good.

I say if its rust free, who cares what it looks like :D

yours will look great though

bluefirefly Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:55 pm

Thanks a lot.
This is Honuak's Vanagon, we really like the color but I don't think I'll go with that much black, especially around all windows, but the black part under the windshield look really nice.
Anyway, we have some time to think about it, paint isn't for tomorrow, may be next month, depend how it goes, I still need to rebuilt the motor and almost everything else.....

purplepeopleeater Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:29 am

bluefirefly wrote: Thanks a lot.
This is Honuak's Vanagon, we really like the color but I don't think I'll go with that much black, especially around all windows, but the black part under the windshield look really nice.
Anyway, we have some time to think about it, paint isn't for tomorrow, may be next month, depend how it goes, I still need to rebuilt the motor and almost everything else.....

My van is the same color, I think i'll do the same amount of black except around the side windows, ill be using bedliner instead though.

bosruten Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:37 pm

I almost bought that van for parts! It is good to see someone restoring it. Good luck with your project! :)

carterzest Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:43 pm

Awesome job so far. I wish I had the skills to do what you are doing :cry: I just posted some pics on my thread tonight and it is nice to have you to commiserate with 8)
Have a great backpack trip.

bluefirefly Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:12 am

carterzest wrote: Awesome job so far. I wish I had the skills to do what you are doing :cry: I just posted some pics on my thread tonight and it is nice to have you to commiserate with 8)
Have a great backpack trip.

Thanks a lot for your support.

Not sure about my skills, it might be why it is taking me 5 months and someone like Ben back East can do it in a week with a better result at the end.
I'll try to paint it myself but it might not work, not a big deal, I can find someone to do it later one.
I guess I have another 2 weeks of work on the body ,another week on the roof and I still need to rebuild the motor (should get my parts today) and after put it back together with half parts new (rad, SS coolant parts, new exhaust) but I still need to troubleshoot my idle problem and some little concern under the dash.

This backpack trip will give us some rest and we'll be able to start fresh on Monday.

Jerome

carterzest Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:52 pm

Noone could ever compare to Ben(bowing)!
:D

ALIKA T3 Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:47 am

That's some serious shit :shock:

congratulations on the awesome work!! 8)

bluefirefly Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:16 am

bosruten wrote: I almost bought that van for parts! It is good to see someone restoring it. Good luck with your project! :)



Would be a shame to use it for parts, it was not a bad van, some rust, some problems but not that bad.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with a part van, we need some to keep all vans running.
Did you find one since then?

bluefirefly Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:21 am

purplepeopleeater wrote: bluefirefly wrote: Thanks a lot.
This is Honuak's Vanagon, we really like the color but I don't think I'll go with that much black, especially around all windows, but the black part under the windshield look really nice.
Anyway, we have some time to think about it, paint isn't for tomorrow, may be next month, depend how it goes, I still need to rebuilt the motor and almost everything else.....

My van is the same color, I think i'll do the same amount of black except around the side windows, ill be using bedliner instead though.


I might go the same way, kind of undercoating that can be painted so if it is too dark for us, I still could paint it the van color after all.
Not sure how high it will be, certainly up to those fenders since I "cancelled" the line at the bottom of the body.....

bluefirefly Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:25 am

ALIKA T3 wrote: That's some serious shit :shock:

congratulations on the awesome work!! 8)

Merci beaucoup, ca fait plaisir.

bluefirefly Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:49 am

So, about some progress : none.
Backpacking was good, quiet, good weather, nothing to see (dears, that's all).
Still tired to work on this van, we had to put it aside since there was a lot of thunerstorm and hail warning, our loved Miata as to go inside the garage.
Bad thing is the day before we had to drain the trunk (about 2 gallons of water) so we had to take care of that (still need to put back a new top for it) before resuming any job on the van.

We got some parts for the motor but it seems I made mistake and ordered a head gasket kit instead of a motor gasket kit, so another delay.
Those parts looks good, so it a 2200cc kit with rebuilt crankshaft, camshaft and lifters, new pistons and rings.
Of course a new clutch, new cylinder heads and a 1.25 rockers kit with a new oil pump.

It will take some time to put all of that in place since everything need to go and there is many more things to replace, I only hope I'll be able to work on all of that this weekend.

Again, thanks a lot for your support we really appreciate it.

Have a nice day.



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