View original topic: A promise, patience, and persistence - My 1974 Westfalia thread Page: 1, 2, 3 ... 17, 18, 19  Next
white74westy Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:34 pm

I’ve been saying for years, that I would like to start a build thread that shows progress, and for the sake of posterity. I am always amazed whenever I follow along with some of the incredible threads available on the site, at just how beautifully these machines clean up, once someone gives them the attention they deserve. The levels of dedication are incredible! Here is my contribution. I only hope it helps to inspire others and perhaps gives a little insight to those who come along in the hopes of resurrecting their buses' in the future.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I would like to thank a good number of people for being involved, directly, or indirectly; for providing support, assistance, motivation, counsel and advice. At the top of my list, is my family. Without the infinite patience of my wife and children, this project would never have got off the ground! I can’t wait to get them out camping in the bus! My parents for providing a great deal of the motivation needed to stick with the project, over the past couple of decades…alas we’ll get to that a little later. My friend JF (per his request, he’d like to protect his identity) for the incredible level of craftmanship in massaging, cutting, shaping and welding metal, to bring new life to this old gal. David P. and Jacob for their talents in the paint booth. Steven Mousa for his incredible attention to detail when it came time to do the upholstery. Colin Kellog (Amskeptic) for helping breathe life back into this beast. Richard Atwell for being kind enough to answer questions and of course his tireless efforts to catalog his restoration endeavors. Richard and Dawn at Powdertech Plus. All those who have gone unmentioned, but not intentionally overlooked nor forgotten. The innumerable people of TheSamba that have answered questions, and provided invaluable information in build threads of their own. Of course, a great deal of this would not have been possible without the purveyors of all things VW, however, I would like to give specific mention to Glen and the guys over at Hilltop motors, in Jacksonville too. We are fortunate to have a family run business, that has been around since the 1960’s to visit and buy parts from! Support your local!

Again, I thank you all!!!

I’ve heard it said before, that the best place to start is at the beginning. so here goes…

I bought my bus, back in 1997. I was fortunate to find this one. The southeast United States, can be particularly savage to anything metal, and as such, I looked at dozens of buses that even then, were well on their way to returning to the earth, in the form of iron oxide. This one however did not have too many of those issues. Sadly, many of the photos from those days are long gone, so I have none to offer. I have kept nearly everything else. I still have the paperwork for the transfer of title. I have tried to locate the original owner, as I’m sure he would love to see just how this thing looks, 20+ years later. I believe I am the third owner of the vehicle, which is a relatively low mileage survivor. As a young man, having a bus was awesome. It allowed a great deal of freedom. I could load up my dog, boards, scuba equipment and was ready to roll. The dog and I had many amazing adventures traveling in the bus. A couple of years into ownership, however, I experienced the dreaded full-body sweats, upon hearing a loud bang, and a sudden, gigantic black cloud of smoke, visible in the rear view, while we were driving up I-95. This did not deter me from continuing to drive the additional 3-1/2 hours home. Once she got me there, she would not start again. In my youthful haste, I immediately assumed the worst and dropped the engine, in the hopes of rebuilding it, without having performed any analysis. After a visit from Colin, a few years ago, I was “gently” told that I may have done so needlessly. Anyhow, we’ll get to that later. So, with the engine removed, the bus would no longer move under her own power, yet I refused to give up on her! The company I worked for, transferred me from Jacksonville, to West Palm Beach. Naturally, the bus went with me and was put in storage for a couple of years. I then returned to Jacksonville and brought her back with me. I pushed her in the garage and promised that someday, I would restore her. Well, there she sat for nearly another 10 years, until I’d finally had enough of staring at the sad machine, pictured below:

Well, that promise wasn't just for me. You see, my father would regularly ask, "Hey, are you ever going to get that thing done before I die?" It was kind of a long running joke between the two of us. "Yeah, yeah, I'll get to it old man, settle down." You know, the kind of thing you say assuming you've got plenty of time. Life however, has a strange way of quietly passing by. Before too long, you realize it has been more than 10 years that you've been giving that playful response and nothing is getting accomplished. So it was time to pull her out of her long hibernation and take a closer look at things, so that I could fulfill that promise. As you can see, at one point, many years ago, in one of my attempts to do a little work on her, I wire-wheeled any surface rust, treated with ospho and then a light coating of self-etching primer…except the nose cone where I kinda poured it on. :shock: :lol:

As you can see, the PO had decided at some point that he was going to paint the bus red. :roll: In fact he was so proud of it, that he let me have the can of spray paint he used. I kept it for posterity.

Hindsight being what it is, I would have told my younger self to have left that OG paint alone, so that it could be buffed and polished, rather than taking a DA to it. :oops: Oh well, live and learn.

white74westy Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:09 pm

Finally getting to see the light of day, it was time to empty the contents of her interior. Years of sitting had turned her into a storage shed of sorts. Most of the stuff in there was bus related, however, some was not!

As you can tell, the majority of the interior had already been stripped and put in storage.

white74westy Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:29 pm

It will likely appear that I'm bouncing around quite a bit, however, I'm going to attempt to show things as they happened chronologically.


A couple of cancerous spots that were removed and remedied!

Under the jalousie window, on the driver's side.

What appeared to be nothing but pin holes, in the rear apron.

Glad I opened it up!

Crusty battery tray.

Note the A/C delete that needed to be repaired. Grafted in a donor piece.

jtauxe Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:17 pm

Looks like you've dived right in. Have Dad pull up a chair and a beer.

"And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun."
- Pink Floyd, Breathe

white74westy Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:13 pm

jtauxe wrote: Looks like you've dived right in. Have Dad pull up a chair and a beer.

"And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun."
- Pink Floyd, Breathe

"And you run and you run to catch up with the sun when its sinking. Racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older. Shorter of breath and one day closer to death."

Truer were words were never spoken...err, sung.

Thanks for the kind words jatuxe!

Sadly, for my father, time ran out and I never got to take him for the ride I had promised. :cry: He passed away in January of 2017. However, I feel his presence regularly. It helps me feel assured that he will indeed get to see the final product. He knew I had been working on the bus, just not to what degree. My parents were supposed to be coming for Christmas, 2016. So, in the early fall, my buddy (who owns a body shop) and I worked feverishly, in the hopes of completing the project before my folks arrived. Obviously, that got put on hold. However, my mother did make it over for Christmas, this year, 2017. One of the first things she noted was that we hadn't come through the garage, as we normally would. It was quite a treat to show her what I had been working on. I still haven't quite finished yet, but I'm getting real close. It was very emotional for her! She was sure to tell me how much he was really hoping I would pick them up from the airport in it. While those things are nice to hear, they are still a little rough to accept, as I didn't fulfill my promise to him. I'm trying my best to honor his memory, by doing the best I can with the bus. Stay tuned...I think you're going to like what you see.

Edit: P.S. Man, what I'd give to pull up a chair with my dad...even it were just one more minute!

white74westy Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:29 pm

While the engine was out, I took out the gas tank. Inspected, cleaned, treated, and painted the outside.

What I found...amazingly clean!!!

Treated and sealed for many years of service to come. BTW, I asked the tech department about the excess material that you can see in the photo. They said it would harden and would not present any issues. To this point, 4 years later, I've still had no issues! Fingers crossed it stays like that!

white74westy Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:36 pm

While the tank was out, I also took care of the filler hose. On my '74, I had the rubber hose, which all things considered was still in relatively good condition. I did not want to run the risk of finding out how much longer it might last, so I took it to a local muffler shop and had them custom bend me some pipe to match the dimensions. I lost the images of it before it was installed, but I've included the pictures of what it looks like installed. I used rattle can paint from Wolfsbug West to paint the pipe and bought Gates hose to connect it to the tank.

white74westy Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:51 pm

The fuel cell area was cleaned out, using a degreaser and paper towels, prior to being painted.

Once the paint had dried, I put some sound proofing in the fuel cell cavity. Before anyone spazzes out, I didn't use any of the asphalt based window tapes. I used butyl tape, which is essentially what dynamat is made of. I then covered that with a layer of reflectix.

Reinstalled a freshly painted and treated gas tank.

WildIdea Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:51 am

I like your documantation! Ill be following along for sure!

vwwestyman Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:03 am

Yeah, can't wait to see the "present day" pics!

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:08 am

WildIdea wrote: I like your documantation! Ill be following along for sure!

Thanks! I've really enjoyed following your progress too. Keep up the great work!

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:10 am

vwwestyman wrote: Yeah, can't wait to see the "present day" pics!

It might be a while...this uploading pics stuff takes quite a bit of time. :shock: Anyhow, stick around, I hope you enjoy!

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:28 am

Engines out, what better time to clean up the transmission and do a refresh:

Stuck it in a large rubbermaid tub and started scrubbing:

Once I had knocked off most of the built up grease and grime, it was time to take care of things like the nose cone and drive flanges. Filthy work, but fairly rewarding, once you're done with it all.


Clean and refresh - drive flanges:

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:43 am

Shift linkage is know the drill, clean, inspect, paint, refresh and grease:

Original wire retaining the grub screw:

Missing bushing...makes for a very sloppy shifter!

Pieces and parts:

After a bunch of elbow grease and paint:

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:49 am

Just for fun, I found these pictures, going through some of the others. I have the original spare tire. Not to worry, it has been replaced as well as the other 4, with Hankooks. I went with the 195's. I have been very happy!

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:14 am

My dad had this really old school way of drumming things into your head. Even when I was a young boy, he always stressed the importance of maintaining tires, brakes and oil. I've read it here before...probably Busdaddy saying something along the same lines, that "stop is way more important than go!" :D

Suffice to say, everything was gone through thoroughly. The laptop I was storing most of these images on crashed, so I don't have all of them, however, I'm showing everything that could be retrieved.

Front and rear brakes and bearings:

I had some trouble with the "German" bearings that were available, particularly on the rear wheel assemblies. I pulled them again and sourced some FAG's that were excellent. Just thought I'd mention it, as I remembered it going through the photos.

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:28 am

Drive axles had been cleaned, repainted and had new CV's installed. However, as you can see from this photo, the boots that I originally purchased from Rockford, were too short. Notice the unpainted portion of the axle showing:

Take a look at the difference in the height of the boots. Notice the difference in the number of pleats. The boots with 3 pleats will not work properly.

Needless to say, this was going on while Colin had paid a visit and you can imagine how happy he was. :lol: So, the axles were pulled apart again and the proper boots installed and everything was regreased. Notice the difference?

All things considered, I have been very happy with the way the boots have performed to this point. I remember there being a good deal of discussion about the poor quality of rubber being used as well as longevity and the effects of ozone, when it came to the boots. I am happy to report, that a few years on, the last time I was under the car, they seem to still be holding up well. Thumbs up for the Rockford boots!

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:46 am

Some of the most tedious work I have performed on the bus, to this point, has been the jalousie windows. It's not that i didn't enjoy the work, it just took a lot longer than one might imagine! The only thing I have enjoyed less, has been rebuilding the wiper motor. That absolutely sucked! I cussed a lot rebuilding that thing. We'll address that later. I used Ratwell's site coupled with Matt Curtis' video as guides, while I was doing the work. The end result is completely worth the effort! Having nice clean, windows that work properly is a real treat!

Some of the disassembly photos:

When I started

After photo and a little teaser shot:

white74westy Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:24 pm

The front seats were a bit of a disaster! The PO had originally installed seats out of a Subaru. While he may have been decades ahead of the crowd, some of his installation tactics were suspect. He mounted the seats to 1/2" plywood and then attached the plywood to the bus, using 3/16" nuts and bolts. As many of you know, the bus is relatively safe, however when one considers the leaps and bounds made in safety over the past few decades, not having properly attaching seats isn't in the cards for me!

You may have noticed in one of the earlier photos, some late bay seats that likely belonged in a Sage westy.

You would be correct in making that assumption, as they came out of a '77 donor. This however was not going to work. I sourced a set that were out of a '74 westy, out on the west coast. They were a little crusty and needed some attention:

There are several more pictures in my gallery of the disassembly process

Once they were completely apart, they were sand blasted and painted.

I kept all of the original seat covers. They were used by Steven Mousa as templates to recreate new seat covers. I bought old pieces of plaid material out of the classifieds. My preference was the upper bunk, as they likely saw less damage from UV etc. I also had a company make new vinyl, in order to replace the original. It was a trying exercise, but I think they did a pretty good job of recreating it. There's just something tricky about precisely replicating the colors that came from the '70's. I had enough made to make new seat covers as well as the headrests. I am pleased with the way they came out. I bought the Horse hair from Wolfsburg West. Unfortunately, the '74 is one of those years that came between the early bays and the late bay seat designs. The tracks are early bay, as are the seats. However, they do not make the covers for seats with headrests. I had to get a little creative. I did some trimming and "shaving" in order to get them to work:

white74westy Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:28 pm

Engine was torn down, cleaned and shipped out to Adrian at HeadFlowMasters.

Along with a box of goodies to be installed, once everything had bee reworked:

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