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charleslabri Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:16 pm

My lovely lady came home with a 1981 Vanagon (FI) she picked up on craigs out here in Cali.
My first car was a 62 Ghia, had buses, bugs.. road tripped in Vanagons and all that, but this is the first time as an adult I've owned one.

I dont know much about the vanagons, but Ive been doing research on this VIN, common problems, things folks do to upgrade em etc.

Sounds like the holy grail is a syncro vanagon with 200 original miles kept in a garage and started up to cycle the oil every week by a meticulous owner.

The flip side (of usable vanagons) is the 1980-83 airhead. Somewhat unreliable, less fit for subaru converstions (just have to roll your extra radiator up front). Who knows.

My VIN tells me that its indeed an 1981 Vanagon, aircooled.. but that its not a camper, but a vanagon. It has the pop top, which is in .. too good ... of condition. I ripped out some trashy polyester hippie headliner that someone put in and found that the pop top is a conversion, as I can see where someone did a somewhat questionable sawsall job and left some unpainted metal.

Oddly enough, someone DID do some extra conversion to camper by adding the driver side water/power/gas connections, mounted a stock propane tank, and cut the floor drains and all that.
The kitchen was completely removed and most of the interior was this terrible rotted MDF that someone had custom built. It matched the stock build mostly with some additions, and really Rococo hardware. There was a pretty janky cork floor that someone had recently installed.
I ripped it all out, really trashy work, and looked like crap. Lots of rot anyway.

I also started marking areas of rust or paint that has rust bubbles. Did a little bit of sanding on the long side, getting rust spots out.
I found some bad bondo job down by the driver quarter panel. Ill likely take this into a shop and have them cut/replace some of the metal sections that are really jacked.

Mostly this will be a build log thread as I cut through this.
Couple questions though:
1) is there a recommended way to seal the exterior body lines?
2) is there recommended wood to use on the interior?
3) are there any detailed plans on rebuilding interior to stock.. i.e. are there plans with dimensions on what stock here was?
4) are there any recommendations or places to focus on now that im down to frame internally.. i.e. sealing certain areas or adding this or that in this or that place.

Here are some pics:















charleslabri Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:40 am

Just an update here:

photos:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZQh7B86rGEHEs9RP9

Since this pic, ive gutted the ASI interior (it was pretty wrecked)

I also yanked everything out that was screwed in or sealed on.


Been redoing the undercarriage and powder coating the wheels.



I stripped everything reasonable off the underside with a wire brush, wire wheel, sand paper, paint stripper attachment on a drill, chisel, etc.



just finished my second coat of por15 and then next itll be 3m rubber undercoating on top of that.
Should be doing that in the next few days.

charleslabri Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:21 pm

recently, after i finished the underside:



i moved up top and started the shell paint work:







during that, i opted for cutting out the front rad inlet. I know, some haters are going to hate. But I can always put it back if i want.



While getting ready to primer the rear half of the vehicle, i decided to paint my gas tank. I had walnut blasted it to prep for powdercoating, but then in more inspection realized that there are plastic filters inside the tank- so i opted for red rattle can.



I also dropped the transaxle, engine
and replaced metals in both lower B pillars, rusted slider by B pillar, repairing someones BAD idea to drill screen doors into the window rubber, both rusted out step plates and both sides rear behind the wheels.














charleslabri Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:23 pm

oh yeah, shippin the transaxle to matt steedle and the boxeer engine should be in sometime in the next 30d

M_atthewanderson Thu Jul 23, 2020 9:43 pm

Great chassis cleanup. While down there I would recommend replacing suspension bushings, especially the upper control arm bushing with a polyurethane replacement.

charleslabri Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:36 am

M_atthewanderson wrote: Great chassis cleanup. While down there I would recommend replacing suspension bushings, especially the upper control arm bushing with a polyurethane replacement.

Yikes those are expensive. What’s the gain?

charleslabri Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:40 am

M_atthewanderson wrote: Great chassis cleanup. While down there I would recommend replacing suspension bushings, especially the upper control arm bushing with a polyurethane replacement.

Yikes those are expensive. What’s the gain?

charleslabri Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:13 pm

today, i dropped the first coat of primer over the whole exterior. Here it is..








now to sand the spots that are visible and then lay another coat of primer, block sand with black rattle can, and then a final primer coat for final paint

Vanagon Nut Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:33 pm

Nice. Looks like you've done this kind of thing before. ;)

Some (most?) aftermarket "OE" type upper control arm bushings tend to wear very quickly. In my experience, this is especially true if they see a fair amount of washboard, potholes on dirt roads. I'm sure others found the same thing. There's a huge thread or two here discussing premature wear, designs, etc.

IMO, if one has a "forever" bus, the poly UCA bushings are more than worth the expense.

Neil.

M_atthewanderson Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:13 pm

charleslabri wrote: Yikes those are expensive. What’s the gain?

True, but cheaper than doing it again from parts and effort perspective, especially if you include a proper alignment. Nothing like that upper control arm squeak.

There is the Whiteline option.

They're the only thing I would do while down there,

charleslabri Sat Jul 25, 2020 12:38 pm

Second coat 🧥 of primer after spot putty on the little stuff and a 220 grit sand








jlrftype7 Sat Jul 25, 2020 4:43 pm

Really nice 8) 8) 8)

charleslabri Sat Jul 25, 2020 5:37 pm

today spent the day spraying another coat of primer, and then doing x pattern blocking with a 9" sander block and black rattle can to mark the low/high spots.

looks ugly again with the spot putty, but soon ill put my final primer coat on the van which will be urethane (these two coats have been poly)

charleslabri Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:27 pm

lunch break today, i ripped all the seams with a dremel and a 3/4" wire wheel. Ill add seam sealer in AFTER my final coat of urethane primer.

charleslabri Thu Aug 20, 2020 7:50 am



seams sealed!

charleslabri Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:11 pm

cut the roof off for a kustom tin top conversion thats not just a little hole cutout






M_atthewanderson Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:22 am

Looks really good, great job righting that wrong. Did you find your seams were okay, no pitting?

I hear the smokes thick there, stay safe.

charleslabri Sat Sep 05, 2020 12:36 pm

M_atthewanderson wrote: Looks really good, great job righting that wrong. Did you find your seams were okay, no pitting?

I hear the smokes thick there, stay safe.

I redid all the seams, so theyre good now ;)

charleslabri Sat Sep 05, 2020 12:42 pm

upper bed rear!


Braces for bed!




Braces for pop top bar!




interlux primer on the luggage rack!


charleslabri Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:05 pm

ooook, doing some door work today:




dont even get me started on the slider. Feels like someone hit it a bunch of times with a baseball bat and then left it in a rusty boat for 10 years.



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