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My restoration project, a 1971 Westfalia. Still learning.
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ateneo
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:49 pm    Post subject: My restoration project, a 1971 Westfalia. Still learning. Reply with quote

April 7, 2014

Last Saturday, I finally had the courage to overcome my fears of doing body work on my 1971 VW Westfalia bus. Oh wait, I think I need to introduce my project first and give a brief history of how I ended up owning it.

I think it was 2 ½ years ago when I spotted a 1971 Westfalia being sold in the internet. I spoke to the owner over the phone and asked her about the history of her Westy. She told me that it was owned by her son-in-law for many years and it has traveled around the U.S. It had stayed in places like New Jersey, Alaska, California, etc. While it was in the state of Louisiana, its engine broke down. The son-in-law decided to just give it to his mother-in-law who was a traveling chef. The mother-in-law was thrilled to own a Westy and decided to spend money to have a rebuilt DP 1600 engine installed in it.

With the bus having a new engine, the lady owner felt delighted that the doors to travel opened before her. She was offered a part-time chef job in Los Angeles and so she decided to pack up and relocate to California. She drove the bus from Louisiana to California (1900 miles) without a problem. When she reached Los Angeles, one of her grand children accidentally kicked the transmission shift lever and it became lose. The lady felt so bad that she just spent money on her bus and now she is unable to change gears. Exasperated, she decided to sell the bus in the internet.

After contacted the owner over the phone, I decided to check out the bus. After inspecting the Westy, I discovered that the wood interior is undamaged and is mostly original. The pop-top canvas is pretty much tattered and needs to be replaced. The grills on the roof where baggage are placed also need to be repainted. But the roof is in good condition. One of the roof hinges is broken and needs to be replaced. The floor in the back area is fine but some parts of the floor in the front area needs repair. The rocker on the right side needs a little repair but the rocker on the left side has been eaten away by rust, specially the one near the right wheel well. The owner said that the rust started when the bus was in Alaska. The dog legs on both sides are also bad and the body area behind the front wheels has been eaten by rust. The battery tray is rusted out and the replacement one that was placed in it has been eaten away by rust as well.

I can tell that the owner just wants to walk away from the bus. I was a bit worried that the bus might just end up in a salvage yard. I don’t know much about doing body work but the bus seemed to be asking me to save it from a certain death. Normally I would immediately walk away from this type of bus because it just requires too much expensive body work. But I felt bad walking away from this Westy because I know it will just end up as a donor vehicle where it will be chopped into many pieces to patch up other Westies out there. The business side of me is loudly warning me that I am about to make a humongous mistake and a loud speaker in my mind is barking “It’s a money pit!!!”…but the compassionate side of me is telling me that this Westy needs to live on and drive the roads of America. It has traveled to many parts of United States and it deserves to continue its journey.

I thought to myself, “I know this is a dumb & stupid decision but I am entitled to a dumb decision once in a while and today is that day! Besides, I will never know what I am capable of doing if I don’t try”. Please note, when I bought the Westy, it wasn’t April 1st.

So, negotiation time! After I pointed the long list of expensive restoration work that is needed to be done on the bus plus the ever present “unknowns” that always pops out during restoration, the lady owner decided to sell me the Westy at a very affordable price. I figured that if everything does not work well, I can always sell the engine and get my money back.

After paying the lady, she offered to have the Westy towed to my place for just $70 using her friend’s AAA membership that has a 100-mile towing service. I took the offer because it would cost me much more if I call a regular towing company to do it.

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After the Westy was placed on the driveway of my house, I crawled underneath the bus to check what went wrong with the gear shifter. After looking around, I discovered that the screw on the coupler came off that is why the shifter is no longer working. I screwed it back and test drove the bus.

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For the next few months, I used the Westy to drive to San Diego, areas in San Bernandino and the beach. Once in a while, I would drive it to work but my colleagues are afraid to park next to me worried that their new shiny cars might get infected by the rust in my Westy.

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I checked around on how much it would cost to have the rust repaired on my Westy. The estimates I got were just outrageous. Even though I know there are welding guys out there whom I can hire, I felt that I should be the one who should do the rust repairs. There is one problem, I don’t know how to weld. The solution? It’s the perfect time to study welding!

I bought myself a new Lincoln 140 MIG welding machine and decided to self-study. I had to do a lot of trial and error practicing on different gauges of sheet metal from 20 gauge through 16 gauge. There was one time when I was at Bill & Steves buying parts when I saw a guy who was about to throw away a front hood that came off of his 1969 bug that has slightly damage. I asked the guy if I can have the hood because I have been looking for VW body parts that I can use to practice my welding. He did not have a problem giving the hood to me.

For months, I practiced butt welding off and on during weekends. Not having someone to teach me how to weld is kind of frustrating because I can only rely on the internet whenever I am not getting good results on my welding. YouTube seems to be the most valuable resource of information on welding tutorials.

Let me tell you, if I have to do it all over again, I would rather just enroll in a college course that offers welding classes at night or during the weekends. Why didn’t I do it in the first place? Ever wonder why the men don’t like to ask for direction? This common male behavior kicked in during my quest to learn how to weld. That was a dumb move? Well, I already did a dumb thing by buying this rust bucket Westy, so why stop now.

The first areas that I will be working on in the Westy have 18 & 20 gauge metals. Here’s my plan—I will work first on the easy areas to restore and work myself towards the harder areas. Last Saturday, I decided to tackle the battery tray. After looking at it closely, I discovered that when the battery tray rusted out, the previous owner just had a replacement placed on top of it and was just screwed in by two bolts. The short splash shield (whatever you call that short metal shield behind the rear wheels) was pulled upward by the person who installed the replacement battery tray. Whoever did the battery tray was a butcher who did not really care much for the VW bus. I removed the bolts and out came the rusty tray. Now the hard part starts, I need to remove the original tray… or what is left of it.

I am aware that one of the best tool to use in this situation is a spot weld removal bit. Unfortunately, I don’t have one and did not really feel like searching for one at hardware stores at that time. Using an angle grinder with a 4-inch cutting disc, I decided to cut the edges of the old tray just enough so that I could pry & snap them off from their spot welds. Some of the cut pieces came off easily but some were a bit stubborn. The lower rear corner area near the right tail light has a lot of bondo and this tells me that there is a rust hole in there. When I pulled the edge of the tray that ran in that area, the wall crumbled and all of a sudden I could see the sky through the rusted hole that is shaped like a smile. The restoration just became more interesting.
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Lionhart94010
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck with your restoration…

You may want to look into using a football to repair the front of your bus :0)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQVre6S5J60 seems to work quit well!
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Other owned VW’s 59, 68 1500s, 69 & 71 Bug’s; 72 & 73 S-Bug’s; 67 Westy, 67 Deluxe, Other 71 DC
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Danwvw
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very neat to read your Bus story! I have thought about taking up welding for the same reasons. Will be following your progress!
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Last edited by Danwvw on Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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seventyfo
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know, I looked at all the pictures and I still don't see the rusty part. Awesome bus!
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Bala
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, great first post!
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Marleybus
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good Luck. Sounds like the bus is part of the family already!!!
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1972 VW Westy (Hit by dumptruck)
1963 VW Beetle (RIP)
1974 VW Beetle (RIP)
1981 Vanagon Westfalia (Sold)
1969 VW Beetle Convertible (Wifes)
1977 VW Westy 2.0L FI Chrome Yellow
Check out my thread!!http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=556709



[url=http://www.vw-mplate.com/mplate-13944.png]Click to view imageSee Pokey’s M-Plate[/URL]
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ateneo
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

April 11, 2014

It was my day off yesterday and so I decided to remove the remaining edges of the old rusty battery pan. Instead of just prying off the pieces of the edges of the pan, I decided to locate the spot welds and grind them using my electric cutoff tool. This way I can easily pry off the pieces easier instead of struggling to ripping off the welds off of the edges of the pan using an angled nose pliers.

After I did some adjustments, I was able to fit the replacement battery pan. It still needs adjustments here and there but at least I know that the new part will fit. I am thinking of buying clecos because I have seen lots of restorers use them.
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bgoble
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out this thread of the rust repair on my bus. I had rust in some of the same places as you. There are some detailed pics and tips that may help.

Sorry about the multiple posts. I don't know how the delete the duplicates.

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=543445&highlight=


Last edited by bgoble on Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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bgoble
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out this thread of the rust repair on my bus. I had rust in some of the same places as you. There are some detailed pics and tips that may help.



http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=543445&highlight=
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bgoble
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out this thread of the rust repair on my bus. I had rust in some of the same places as you. There are some detailed pics and tips that may help.



http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=543445&highlight=
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ateneo
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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ateneo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lionhart94010 wrote:
Good luck with your restoration…

You may want to look into using a football to repair the front of your bus :0)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQVre6S5J60 seems to work quit well!


I wil definitely do that Smile Thanks
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ateneo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danwvw wrote:
Very neat to read your Bus story! I have thought about taking up welding for the same reasons. Will be following your progress!


After learning a little bit on butt welding, I did not feel worried anymore whenever I see a rust spot on my VWs. I am even thinking of doing some welding on my fence.
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ateneo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

seventyfo wrote:
I don't know, I looked at all the pictures and I still don't see the rusty part. Awesome bus!


I am going to be posting more pictures very soon. This bus is rust paradise.
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ateneo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bala wrote:
Welcome, great first post!


Thank you Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marleybus wrote:
Good Luck. Sounds like the bus is part of the family already!!!


The wife and kids does not like to ride it yet unless the rust is out. The wife is afraid that our kids might get tetanus.
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ateneo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bgoble wrote:
Check out this thread of the rust repair on my bus. I had rust in some of the same places as you. There are some detailed pics and tips that may help.



http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=543445&highlight=


Thanks for this tip. That guy is a whiz on welding…I wish he could give classes to amateur welders like myself.
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1967250s
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Between youtube welding videos and wrstp's threads you have it covered! Go for it!
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Tcash
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice find.
Tcash wrote:
Here is a little information. Good Luck

Cleaning+Rodents+Hantavirus
Up in smoke... Bus fires... don't let it happen to you!
Volkswagen Type 2 Bus M-Plate Decoder
Bus VIN / Chassis Numbers
Type 2/Bus Owner's Manuals
Bus repair manuals
Bus parts manuals
Early Baywindow Bus Parts Book
Late Baywindow Bus Parts Fiche
Type 2 Wiring Diagrams
Model and Year Variations
Type 4: Secrets Revealed
Distributor Parts & Specifications
PARTS INTERCHANGE MANUAL
Youtube Videos

There is a ton of information located at the top of the Forum section.
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ateneo
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tcash wrote:
Nice find.
Tcash wrote:
Here is a little information. Good Luck

Cleaning+Rodents+Hantavirus
Up in smoke... Bus fires... don't let it happen to you!
Volkswagen Type 2 Bus M-Plate Decoder
Bus VIN / Chassis Numbers
Type 2/Bus Owner's Manuals
Bus repair manuals
Bus parts manuals
Early Baywindow Bus Parts Book
Late Baywindow Bus Parts Fiche
Type 2 Wiring Diagrams
Model and Year Variations
Type 4: Secrets Revealed
Distributor Parts & Specifications
PARTS INTERCHANGE MANUAL
Youtube Videos

There is a ton of information located at the top of the Forum section.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Hi Tcash. Thanks for the info. I will need all the tips that I can get out there in the net. This restoration is beginning to become tougher as I progress through it. YOu will see more pictures of the horrors that faces me on this project.
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