View original topic: Bringing a '73 Westy back to life... Page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  Next
levi20AE Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:49 pm

I purchased this August of '72 Westy about two years ago and have been working to turn it into a nice road trip vehicle for about two years now. I'm a full time engineer and a part time grad student so progress has been slow but its nice to have one place to document the progress. I have not been able to update the build thread on the local vw web forum that has been on going for over a year. I have decided to move the photos and progress to the samba.

Here is the bus as it was advertised on Craigslist. $500 and lots of new uninstalled parts seemed like a great deal initially.

It came without the 1700 Type4 and what appeared to be a few problem rust areas but nothing too serious. The interior was mostly complete but it looked like the door was probably left open for a long time because the Vegas sun destroyed most of the wood to the point it was dust over laminate.

Luckily i was able to score a nearly complete Vanagon interior for $125 from the local junkyard.

I also pulled a 2.0 Type4 from a '78 to eventually use to motivate the bus after a future rebuild.

My girlfriend was not particularly fond of mustard interior it came with or the dull grey vanagon interior so we agreed that eventually everything would receive a wood grain laminate and green westy plaid. I did the front seats so she could have something that was pleasing to her.

The previous owner also warned that before they pulled the motor the tranny was dieing and probably needed to be replaced. It was sent off to the local VW transmission shop, RC Trans, for a rebuild and to install a taller 4.57 ring and pinion upgrade.

levi20AE Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:10 pm

The next task was to start tackling the rust throughout the bus. the priority was to get the engine bay repaired first so at least it was driveable while the remainder of the repairs took place. Here are a few pictures of the rust areas that were easily identified.

Drivers side floor board

Passenger side rear corner had been hit and was horribly repaired.

Driver side behind the bumper

Rocker panels and sliding door

Both doglegs

Both front seatbelt mounts

Here are some photos of the rear passenger side repair, and also an excuse to buy a MIG welder. :lol:
cutout of the PO's repair job. Sheet metal was riveted to still damaged sheet metal and then a few clay sculpting techniques were applied as best i can tell.

The last bit of the frame was pretty tweaked as well so i went a head and removed it all and replaced with one of the many panels from a rust free downer bus. Some guy thought he could cut a bus in half and turn it in as scrap... that didn't work out so well for him so i ended up buying it for $100. The sad part is that it was a complete last westy with most of the interior and everything, zero rust!


Alex6373 Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:26 pm

Wow !
Nice Job and better yet you have the best year of Bus!!!!!!
At least I think so !
Keep us posted on your progress well done another bus saved!

old DKP driver Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:40 pm

Nice work you have done.I always like like seeing the resurrection
of a bus that some may say is too much work!

Now, put down the Vino and get a good pair of safety glasses. :roll:

levi20AE Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:44 pm

Thanks guys, yeah i found out about eye protection the hard way a few months back after a piece of hot metal zinged me in the eye and left a little bit behind that then rusted... when they dug that out it was no fun at all.

I ended up having to replace the rear decklid and the portion of the body where the hinges mount. After spending a month looking for an early donor bus i gave in and used the decklid and hinges from the '78 donor bus i bought. This poor bus isn't going to be a show queen so using the late style hinges inst breaking my heart.

I also spent a couple nights hammer and dolling the driver side after installing a new battery tray from Gerson. there were again sections where the bondo was 3/8" thick... It came out pretty good and the body guy was able to work it some more to the point that it need very minimal filler.

The poor bus currently has a late door i picked up for the time being. Still trying to locate a good early door, just not feeling the extra lock.

Also knocked out the floor as well so it wouldn't be too bad when driving.

And made use of the magnesium nosecone that was trash due to the bearing beating it to death.

levi20AE Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:09 pm

Rebuilt the axles. Three of the four joints were worthless. Ended up using four new Lobo joints and Rockwell boots.

Tried my hand at welding the forward transmission mount but that didn't work out so well so i made a new one out of 4130 CoMo, figured as long as there are no galvanic corrosion issues it should be good.

Made mom bowl for mother's day out of the spare junk from this bus and past projects.

Sent the bus off to have the engine bay painted Icelandic Green and the rear end put in primer as required. I also restored the fuel tank while the bus was gone.

Got the correct tins to install a 1776cc that i already had, this will get the bus around until the Type4 is rebuilt.

levi20AE Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:18 pm

I have been able to cruise the bus through the neighborhood and get my first taste of sitting above the wheels. i got to say pulling into and out of a steep driveway was a little odd feeling at first. I have taken care of most of the mechanicals at this point as well, replaced the rear drums, pistons, and pads and bearings. At the front the master cylinder was replaced, booster rebuilt, bearings replaced, and the front calipers rebuilt. It needs some tweaking before being ready for a road trip but at least we can drive what was for the better part of two years a storage unit sitting in front of the house.

Lately I have been performing all the rust repair required to get the interior in the bus so we can get our first camping trips knocked out. The front wheel wells were in bad shape and the rust extended into the bus floor where the old sink and jump seat once were.
Passenger side

Drivers side

The rockers on both sides are pretty much gone and the cargo floor supports are pretty crispy too. I have thus far removed inner and out rocker panels on the driver side. Luckily the middle rocker was still in pretty good shape.

mook Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:57 pm

Quote: Luckily i was able to score a nearly complete Vanagon interior for $125 from the local junkyard.

Oooo Nice.. I've been thinking about replacing my interior. How does the Vanagon one fit?

levi20AE Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:23 am

The vanagon is a few inches wider than the bay window so there will be some trimming required. I haven't installed it yet but there is a thread on here where a guy does instal one in his bay and it's pretty detailed.

Edit: found the link.

poptop tom Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:26 am

Keep up the nice work!

Pedro_Julio Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:54 pm

great work, congratulationes!

levi20AE Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:50 pm

Got the inner rocker and floor supports on the driver side finished yesterday before the tank ran dry.

Today the passenger side outer rocker came off. I wasn't planning to have to cut into the C-pillar but it is long gone.

TequilaSunSet Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:47 pm

Impressive work, good luck with the rest.

Kirk Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:32 am

Agreed. That bus was lucky to find you. Well done!

levi20AE Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:54 pm

Thanks for the kind words guys.

levi20AE Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:41 pm

Finished up the driver's side rockers today. I found the first flaw in all the KlassicFab panels i have used to date today. the panels that go in front of the wheel wells both have very short lips for the arch into the wheel well.

This was easily remedied by welding some extra material on to the inner lip to provide plenty of material to plug weld through later. These panels they also don't have the extra seem for the wheel arches either. You can see in the picture below that the wheel arch in straight on the KlassicFab panel. This maybe a difference between early and late busses as well. Mine was built in August of '72 so it is right on the cusp of being a late bus.

I ended up using pliers and a body hammer to make the extra contour match but if I could do it again I would have tried to preserve the original lip. and weld the seem lower down where the arch blends in with the rest of the panel.

On the passenger side I was delighted to find that the inner rockers were actually in great shape and only the portion that goes under the forward portion of the door track needs to be replaced. Guess that means I have to sell the inner and middle rockers in the classifieds. That saved me alot of time.

The rusted floor supports came out today and were replaced with justforcampers ones.

levi20AE Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:04 pm

Been shopping for and waiting on more sheetmetal to finish the exterior so this weekend i decided to start tackling the Vanagon interior conversion.

There were really two options when it came to installing the Vanagon interior. I could trim all the cabinetry 4.5" or i could take the same distance out of the bed and only have to trim the rearmost cabinet. I choose to take the width out of the bed. Had to modify the early westy brackets since they were for a bed mounted on the driver side.

Also had to modify the brackets that hold the lower seat in place when in the bed position.

Here it is with most of the interior mocked up and the sub-floor installed

This week I'll drag the stove/fridge unit into the garage and see what its gonna take to get them to start working again.

TequilaSunSet Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:14 pm

Great thread... really enjoy the progress and process.

Red Fau Veh Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:52 pm

Right awn. I have a newly aquired 73 and it's fun to read about others adventures.

levi20AE Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:56 pm

Got the surface rust areas cleaned and coated with POR-15 in the interior. I also made a fill panel for the old electrical outlet because the Vanagon 3 port outlets will be added later once the stove/fridg are mocked up. Decided to go with Maple for the wood color because it looks good with the green paint and interior.

I left the fridge upside down to help clear out any crystallization while we went on vacation. Plugged the unit in when we got back and sure enough it worked like a champ. Also put new fittings on the grill and fridge to get it running on a regular 5 gallon grill bottle for testing. It ran the stove for a few weeks on the grill bottle with out using that much gas at all. its a pretty efficient unit on gas.

The plaid fabric to redo the driver seat and make the seat cushions and pad for the bed came in as well. hopefully will have the upholstery guy start in the next few weeks. Getting super excited about first evening in the bus, even if it is in the driveway.

Hopefully this weekend I finish up the full flow setup. Thus far I've got a filter mount and a spin on Mocal thermostatic oil cooler adapter, a B&M oil cooler with a Spal fan and its own thermostat.

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