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Abel's Restoration of a 1991 Vanagon Tintop - Pete.
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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 5:52 pm    Post subject: Abel's Restoration of a 1991 Vanagon Tintop - Pete. Reply with quote

Okay. I figure It's time to start a new post.

Here's the backstory: Bought an awesome Vanagon from Berkley. It's mechanically good, and I recently had some major work done on it to make sure that it stays that way for a long time. Problem is that cosmetically, it's not great. There's some major rust, and a lot of the interior paneling is slightly damaged. Overall it's OKAY, but it's going to take some work to get this Van looking pretty good. I'm not against having professional work done, but after lot's of research, and uh. . . soul searching, I've decided that the amount of money cost for someone else to do an external restoration would better be spent just buying another Vanagon in better shape cosmetically.

So, I'm doing what any rational human would do in my situation. Instead of cutting my losses, (I've already put more than a couple of grand in to a mechanic shop to make sure that this thing doesn't kill me since I purchased this just before Thanksgiving of this year) I'm going to take on doing an amateur restoration on the van.

I've got an artistic background, and I have a mean perfectionist streak. I also don't get frustrated easily. So I am going to break down this project in to pathetically small (manageable) babysteps. I've decided *not* to make a laundry list, since I might start to get overwhelmed if I start to think of the van as an entire project, instead of focusing a lot of energy on each, small component. That is to say, now that I'm (pretty) confident that the Van won't kill me, I can pick and choose my battles from here on out.

Also, I decided to name my van Pete.
The story behind this is this: In second grade my best friend RJ had a horrible joke about Pete and Repeat going down the river in a boat, it went like this:
"Pete and Repeat went down the river in a boat, Pete fell out. . . How was left?"
You answer: "Repeat"
he says: "Of Course I will! Pete and Repeat. . . ."

Yes, it's stupid. But as I just spent approximately 8-10 hours cleaning my driver's seat with SHOUT for car upholstery, several towels, some sponges, and those disinfectant wet towlettes, I couldn't get that joke out of my head. Especially as I applied my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th spray of cleaning product in an effort to extract a little more of the 20+ year old butt dirt from the seat, and on to my soiled towel. This seems pretty in line with a lot of the work that goes in to cleaning something old up. You've got to repeat, and repeat, and repeat, until it's as close to perfection as I'm willing to go.

So anyway, I figured that's a good place to start. The seats.
The seats in the van were pretty good when I bought them, however this model did *not* have arm rests. My friend (RJ from the dumb joke above funny enough) and I flew up to Berkley to check it out, and drove it 9 hours back to Southern California. Arm rests would have been nice.

A couple of weeks ago, RJ and I drove 2.5 hours up to La Quinta to get some dusty old Westy Seats off an 87, 88, 89, or a 90. They had 20 years of dirt on them. Over the Holiday I decided to give cleaning one of them up a try.

Below You'll see pictures of the uncleaned passenger side seat, and the Driver's side seats that my hands are cracked and blistering from spending all of my free time cleaning over the past week.

Side note: I thought about renting a wet extractor, or upholstery cleaner to make removing the hard to get dirt under the looped pile a little less painful. I might do that for the passenger seat in fact, My uncle owns a carpet cleaning business, so I might be able to borrow one for that. I just wanted to see how hard it would be for me to clean it with just SHOUT for car upholstery, some shop towels, a sponge, and wet towlettes. Also, I wanted to test my ambition. How willing am I to repeat mind numbing tasks for the sake of getting it right? Turns out, as long as I recognize that I'm making progress, I kind of get obsessed. Looks like I'm off to a good start as a Vanagon Owner.

Judge for yourself! On to the pictures! Rolling Eyes
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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 6:13 pm    Post subject: Before and After. Time for a beer! Reply with quote

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Before - Passenger seat on the right. No cleaning.

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Here's another

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Closer up.

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Here's the clean seat.

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A good side by side. The top part of the seat could probably use a couple more passes, but you can really see the difference. The "blue" gray is a lot more apparent in the cleaned seat.

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This still might require shampooing. This can only really be cleaned with a lot of agitation of the pile. I'm only able to remove a little bit of the packed in dirt on one side of the upholstery pile per pass. This was pathetically excruciating.

I should also sew that little hole shut.
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campism
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rent a Rug Doctor with the upholstery attachments. Seriously.

You're welcome.
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newfisher
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simple green and a pocket full of quarters at the powerwash car wash. Hang upside down on the fence at home for a couple days. Works for me everytime.

I also use the same trick with carpet. The seats are already out, just a few more minutes and the whole carpet gets removed and pressure washed.

If its cold outside and raining ( here in oregon) i show up with a pizza before lunch at the powdercoater. They put the stuff on the racks and wheel it into the oven during the cool down when they go home at night. In the morning its dry!
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Id warn against too much vigorous scrubbing as they typically begin fraying soon thereafter. Mechanical beaters are an old seat killer. Best bet is to invest in some good seatcovers for the time being. There are some discussions on this site about recommended seat covers.

Try not to saturate the bottom cushion as they consist of firm foam and take a long time to dry out. During this time organic material that has filtered down will decompose and stink, not good. Especially problematic in warm humid weather.

If your seats are firm and unrotted you can plan on reupholstering them sometime in the future. I did mine recently and the result is pretty great (Sewfine in Denver).
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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gnarlodious wrote:

Try not to saturate the bottom cushion as they consist of firm foam and take a long time to dry out. During this time organic material that has filtered down will decompose and stink, not good. Especially problematic in warm humid weather.


Thanks for the advice. That's the main reason I wanted to avoid using a wet extraction type cleaner. I had a feeling I'd spend just as much time using a blow dryer to keep the moisture from settling in.

The seats are a bit worn, and i noticed that agitating the pile did cause problems with the two small holes int he drivers seat.

To keep the work as "non-invasive" as possible, most of the passes were done with a sponge wrapped in a towel. This allowed me to get a little more surface area without having the sponge come in direct contact with the fabric. It was a huge pain in the ass and took several passes.

I might eventually get the seats reupholstered later. I really like the sew-fine stuff, but it's pretty low on the list of things I'll be doing to the van for now.

I'll be using rug doctor and a hair dryer for the passenger seat to see if it ends up saving any time.
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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Renting a rug doctor was harder than I thought. I used to do profresisonal carpet cleaning waaayy back when, so this would be cake compared to what I was doing before.

Problem is: Nobody had what I needed.

1st place: Local Food 4 less - all rugdoctors were checked out.

2nd place: This crappy little grocery store called Dollar General. I rented the small rugdoctor + upholstery hook up. Problem is that the device was DOA. Called tech support, they rented me a broken Rugdoctor.

3rd place: Sun was starting to go down, and I had a cold, but figured I'd give it one more shot. Another Food 4 Less. Problem with this place was that they coudln't figure out where their upholstery hook up was. Sheesh.

Will try again this weekend.

In the meantime I picked up a new rear motor assembly for my non working rear wiper, replacement tail lights that aren't cracked, and a fusebox cover for my fuses.
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newfisher
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like the average day I have when trying to accomplish what seems to be an easy task after breakfast on a nice Saturday and ends up a complete fail with a good lunch squeezed in the middle. Hey, its better than laying on the couch watching TV! Keep at it. At least you have one to work on. I fly out in 2 days to grab mine thats a 2500 mile trip back in the snow.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like the average day I have when trying to accomplish what seems to be an easy task after breakfast on a nice Saturday and ends up a complete fail with a good lunch squeezed in the middle. Hey, its better than laying on the couch watching TV! Keep at it. At least you have one to work on. I fly out in 2 days to grab mine thats a 2500 mile trip back in the snow.
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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rug Doctor was really nice. It's still really tedious work, and hard to get a consistent clean. I pulled a lot of dirt off of the passenger seat, and hit some problem areas on the rear jumper seats. Each section took several passes, and I ultimately used a blow dryer to get most of the moisture off, and to avoid mildew.

I'm still going to need to hit the seats again by hand to finish up the work since it's not even, and the rug doctor was only rented for 24 hours. Also the upholstery connector didn't make easy work for the crevices, or the arm rests, or the top of the seat under the headrest. Still progress was made. This is something I'd definitely use for the carpet, the bed, and the rear seat in the future. It's just so awkward on the front and jumper seats.

Someone recommended using something else to transfer dirt to a terry cloth towel. This is some anal stuff.


In other news, Here's some stuff that I also did this past week.

    Replaced incandecant lights with white LEDs for instrument cluster (Gowesty)

    Replaced rear side lights with fresh lenses (Gowesty)

    Diagnosed front heater problem, missing little plastic tabs that keep bar thing in place

    Purchased replacement rear lenses (Craigs list)

    Purchased replacement rear wiper motor (Craigs List)

    Purchased extra set of OEM 14" steel wheels for $20 (for all four!!!) Will power wash, prime, and paint these guys black, and then get baby moons, and spray-paint those matte black. Should look really good. (Craigslist via Vanagon blog that aggregates craigslist adds for CA/WA/Oregon: http://vwvanagons.blogspot.com/)

    Purchased replacement Carat Table - Mine looks like it's jerry rigged, and installed with the wrong screws, preventing the table from sitting snug with the bar underneath (E-bay)

    Purchased replacement rear passenger Carat Panel. Local guy I bought the (unsolicited response from guy I bought stuff on Craigslist from who saw my WTB ad)

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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boring Seat Cleaning Update.

I've been in contact with a local Westy owner who's managed to source some parts for me. He uses a product called folex on his Upholstery.

I've started using this on my vehicle, and it has worked better than anything else I've tried at releasing dirt. The work is still stupidly tedious, as one or two "panels" of fabric on the passenger seat can require one or two clean towels to transfer a good amount of dirt. What I've been doing is wrapping the towel in a kitchen sponge with the rough green end behind the towel. This gives me a nice way to agitate the fabric. Then I just vigorously scrub until my arm gets tired.

http://www.folexcompany.com/

At about $6 a bottle, I'll take it. I'm guessing that the seats cleaning is much easier, less tedious, compared to jumping in to body work. But if it's any indication of what body work will do to my patience, I will surely be a zen master at the end of this restoration process.
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Last edited by Abelabelabel on Mon Jan 12, 2015 11:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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zak99B5
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You make me feel like I should be out in the driveway cleaning my less-than-factory-fresh upholstery and carpets in my new (to me) 91 tin top.

Good work.
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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:15 am    Post subject: Quick Update. Reply with quote

Since my last post. Here's a list of what I've done. I'll post pics soon.

    Front seats are mostly clean - This will just be a neverending process as long as I own the van. Good way to relieve stress every couple of days.

    Painted Front Bumper - Hosed off, dried off, degreased, 2 coats primer, 2 coats satin black paint. Half ass job since the bumper is in bad shape.

    Painted front Grill, lower and upper - Hosed off, dried off, cleaned with mineral spirits, two coats of primer, two coats of paint

    Painted Steel Wheels Charcoal Gray - Used wirebrush drill bit to get rid of major rust spots, and built up gunk, used shop vac to remove debris, mineral spirits to remove remaining debris, steel wool to get whatever was left, another shopvac pass, 2 coats of primer, 3 coats of Charcoal Gray High Gloss paint. (turned out pretty good)

    Installed new hatch emblem - purchased from Bus Depot


Also took another trip to the mechanic. . .

    Replaced Rear Calipers
    Upgraded to Bilstein Shocks (So nice)
    Replaced Master Break Cylinder
    Upgraded Braklines to Steel


The ride is starting to look pretty sweet. I'm starting to gather strength to begin dealing with the rust under behind the front bumper, and will start to address lot's of the small spots where paint is chipping.


A request for advice!

I've done some searching, but anyone want to recommend a good place to get replacement stock paint in small quantities? I've seen a lot of products out there, and would like to see what is good for 1991 Vanagon White?

[/list]
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travelteam
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I've done some searching, but anyone want to recommend a good place to get replacement stock paint in small quantities? I've seen a lot of products out there, and would like to see what is good for 1991 Vanagon White?


I think it is the gowesty site that recommends http://www.paintscratch.com. I ordered some from there for my pastel white vanagon and the match was near perfect.
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Abelabelabel
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pete's been a solid Daily Driver.
The Second van has been in and out of the shop twice since purchasing.
I'm rethinking my relationship with my first mechanic, as the

"new car check up list was so short that I didn't bother giving it to you with your receipt" + "fee was waived since other work was done on it" still didn't keep me from returning to another mechanic to get the entire shifter assembly replaced, along with some thermostat work.

Fine that I had work to do, but I don't think I destroyed my shifter in 2 weeks.

Red van is back, and fun to drive with precise shifting.

Will post more pics soon. have been very busy, and it's hard to frame a box on wheels when it's cramped in my driveway.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pete's been my Daily Driver for about 3 months now. Running like a champ.

Red Van has since had shifter replaced, and then, thanks to a-coolant-leak-that-was-so-bad-that-not-enough-hot-liquid-was-making-it-to-the-radiator-in-the-front, it's getting a new motor rebuild wrapped up by Nyscoe Motors in beautiful Santa Ana. (Big sigh) Never a dull moment!
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Got Red out of the shop about a week ago. Engine is starting to get broken in, and I'm having a blast driving stick. Took Red to the top of the parking structure for a little photoshoot during my lunch break at work today.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice brick. Always like the red ones.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sofar have had best results with woolite upholstery cleaner. A foam u work into seat cover let it set a few min (don't let dry) wipe with damp towel, usually need additional tries depending on how dirty. If turn seat upside-down, do a fast spray rinse,towel & i sit in sun for a couple days, always dried out so far. .
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking sweet. Tornado Red Carats are my fav.
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