The rebuild starts here

Now I have a shiny chassis, I suppose I really should pull my finger out and get rebuilding.

To that end, I have spent the weekend running heater cables, handbrake cables and brake lines.

Things went pretty well to plan but for some minor snags, particularly the handbrake, which was powder coated too well! I also need a second opinion on whether I have set the ratchet mechanism up correctly. I dont think it is right.

Next jobs are to clean and paint the brake master cylinder and to paint the pedal assembly and then fit both.

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Christmas comes early!

Whilst this is the first update since October, work has continued apace, with Ruy starting to look much better and almost back to his former glory.

Paul has been working wonders on the body work as you can see from the photos below.  Aside from a set of doors (which are almost impossible to find anywhere in good condition) the body is ready for painting.

I collected the chassis a few weeks ago and then sent it up to Johnsons for blasting, zinc priming and them powder coating (there is a tale to tell about that trip dear readers but that is for another time).  The results are fantastic and I am really pleased.

Now I have the chassis back I can start the rebuild in earnest in the New Year!  It feels like I have turned a corner and Ruy will be back soon!

In short: a fettle and some shine

It would appear I have been a little lacking in updates since July.  This is not to say that work hasn’t been progressing- it has!

Firstly, I popped back over to see Paul to try and fit the pedal assembly and the seats, to see how the re-welded floor was holding up.  Oh yes – in case I didn’t mention that, the floor plans didn’t appear to be as “top quality” as they were made out to be, and needed cutting down to size a little.  An additional expense but essential!

So, with the floors tacked back in, I was able to fit the assembly easily and Paul fettled the seat runners to give a smooth and less wobbly fit!

Whilst that was going on, I took all the rear suspension parts and towbar to Johnsons Ironworks in Terrington St. Clement (a recommendation from Lee Green in Splitterz) for blasting and powder coating.  A couple of week ago I was able to pick them up.  I am sure you will agree, they look very shiny!!

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80%

18th July 2017 marked the end of my exams and a renewed focus on Ruy.

Having made a couple of phone calls, I spent today on a road trip across North Cambridgeshire and West Norfolk to deliver parts and check on progress.

My first stop was to see Robert in Wisbech.  Robert is restoring my gearbox and I needed to take him the synchro hub and 1st/2nd gear selector fork which were the last pieces needed for my gearbox to be rebuilt.

Robert showed me the casing for my gearbox and also explained how the old selector forks were so worn that there was play on the gear rack. The photos below show both 1st/2nd and 3rd/4th racks and the play with the old forks.

The next stop on my journey was to see Paul.  When I spoke to him during the week he surprised me by saying the bodywork was 80% complete!  I had a mild panic as I had heard nothing and also hoped that my budget hadn’t all been swallowed up!

The good news is the work is progressing well and is looking fantastic, as you will see from the photos below.  The bad news is the chassis will need reworking, as the floor pans are too wide for the body, so need to be cut out and re-inserted.

The only concern I have is that the VIN plate has been removed to do the spare wheel well, and I hope it has been retained as its essential to the car for me.  Paul assures me it will be safe but I will keep reminding him!

We agreed that he would pause work on the body, to get the chassis sorted so I can get it blasted and plastic coated and then I can rebuild it into a rolling shell.  Then it will go back to Paul for the body to be installed, headlining fitted and windows put back in.

Therefore, my to-do list has just got larger…..

A beetle in a van? What on earth??

Today marked a major milestone in the restoration of Ruy.  I paid a visit to Mid Norfolk Car Company in Swaffham and was accompanied by one special guest.  I say one- what I mean is a collection of bodywork that together resembles almost a complete Ruy!

Last night I had help from fellow dubbers Fran, Andy, Lee, Heyden, Mark, Josh and Dan to help lift Ruy’s body back over the fence from his winter home and into a Luton van, along with wings, doors, chassis and replacement panels.

A beetle in a van!

It was a trip filled with anticipation and some amount trepidation.  Following last summer’s attempt to match up body and chassis I was worried that things weren’t good and extra work would be needed.  I was also slightly concerned by the amount of body work required.

When I arrived, Paul, who runs MNCC, and his gang helped me unload and then he had a good look around the body and was pleasantly surprised by the relatively good condition of the body work.  He allayed a number of fears I had and his initial thoughts were quite positive!

Ruy parked up at MNCC

We then refitted body and chassis together and again, Paul felt that there was little wrong with the work already done and that everything should be fine.  He will have a more detailed look in due course but fingers crossed I can crack on with the chassis coating and rebuild relatively sooner.

So right now, I am feeling pretty happy about the work to be done!  I am aware there will be trials and tribulations along the way, and that Paul will find more things that need doing as he strips the body back but we will take those on as and when we come across them!

Moving forwards

It has been a while since the gearbox had been sent up to Wisbech and I haven’t had much news to report.  However, things are now progressing – it is as if Spring has provided new impetus.

However, not all the news is good news!  It appears that the gearbox needs some new parts, which are rarer than hen’s teeth.  There was also a period where Robert didn’t believe I had a genuine GT gear box which put me into a state of dread for 24 hours.  However, that issue has been resolved with the help of the GT Owners club page on Facebook!

For the future sanity of anyone else in my position, the ratios for the AS gearbox should be First – 3.78, Second – 2.06, Third – 1.26 and Fourth should be 0.93 (Pre Nov 72, 4th gear was 0.89), Reverse 3.88 and the final drive should be 3.875.

On a more positive note, I had a lovely day at Volksworld show on Mother’s Day, collecting a genuine passenger side heater channel and repro driver side channel.  The OEM channels are quite rare, so I was pleased to get this.  I have slowly been stockpiling body panels for the day when Ruy goes into the shop.

Which brings me to the best news!!  Paul at Mid-Norfolk Car Company has confirmed that Ruy can be brought in, so in the next week or so I should have another blog post to write!

Gearing up

Today marked the first day doing work on Ruy for some months.  Whilst I am still waiting for my slot at the bodyshop, I was able to get on with sending the gearbox off for a checkover, clean and paint, so that it is ready to drop straight back in to the car in the future.

So, after some lift and shift help from Dan Chase (check out RSC Bespoke Renovations on Facebook kids) I took a trip up to Wisbech to see Robert Parry.  A wonderful chap with a huge amount of experience and knowledge who served his apprenticeship with VW and knows air cooled VWs inside out.

Hopefully the gearbox is in good order and doesn’t need too much work, just a clean up, paint and then stainless steel nuts to add a bit of bling!

Until I get Ruy into the bodyshop, there will be very few posts, but do come back in March for more!

What goes around comes around

During my formative years working in an independent sports shop, we would regularly take on work experience kids from the local schools.  It was regular practice to send the work experience kid off on errands to pass the time.  The usual tasks were often added to with searches for sky hooks for the displays.

One particular favourite of ours was to tip off the JJB Sports store that we would send our kid up to them shortly and ask them to keep them on for a time, just waiting.  I am sure you can see where this is going – it was much fun and jollity when the kid finally twigged what had happened.

A long weight is not quite what it says on the tin….

Any way, I think karma has struck back.  I am now in the frustrating position of waiting a long time for any progress with Ruy.  I have done all I can – the loom is off being built and the chassis and body await a slot at Mid Norfolk Car Company*, which won’t happen until January.

This isn’t too much of a problem, as I am back studying again but a lack of progress leads to more questions than I have answers.  I am currently wrestling with how to protect the body work once everything is finished – waxoyl, stonechip protection, dinitrol, seam sealant and such.

Hopefully, the new year will see more progress!

*The reason for the long wait is that a fellow Splitterz member has his Split Screen Van with Paul.  It has been there a while as it needs a lot of love.  I can’t complain – the standard of work is exceptional!

One final fettle

So, after a holiday hiatus, where my time has been spent trying to line up others to do the serious work on Ruy, I spent this evening cleaning up the obvious signs of rotten metal around the body.

It was an interesting experience, uncovering a large amount of silicon/rubber filler between heater channel and passenger side inner front wing.

I also found some Brucey bonus items on the conveyorbelt/in the gap where the front heater pipe splitters go, as you can see below!

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By the time September comes around, I hope to have both the chassis and body with Mid-Norfolk Car Company and the gearbox with a helpful ex-VW mechanic in Wisbech.

Unfortunately, exam season is just around the corner for me, so I doubt I will now meet my early July deadline for completion.

One step forwards, two steps back

Its been a couple of weeks since my last post and I had been having a great time test fitting bits to the chassis and cleaning parts up.

I finally sorted the pedal assembly so that everything moves freely.  I attached the clutch and accelerator cables to the pedals through the tunnel and checked they all worked.  I also put the driver’s seat in to test the pedal travel!

I also ran the heater cables through the tunnel, along with handbrake cables to check they fed through properly and worked.  Everything was going smoothly!

I then removed everything, so the chassis was ready to be sent off for blasting and plascoating.

Before doing that, I cleaned up all the ancillary bits of the car that also need coating, such as spring plates, axle tubes etc. As part of this process, I removed the bumper irons from the bumpers and also managed to take the tow bar apart so that can be cleaned up too.

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Feeling pleased with myself I also finished cleaning the expanding foam out of the body shell and then also set to work with the wire brush and drill to take the rusty areas and split paint areas of the body back to bare metal so they could be painted with primer and identified easily when the body is sent off for prep.

With all that progress, it was with anticipatory excitement that myself and a few of the guys from the VW club (Josh, Dave, Dan, Ben and Andy) came and helped me move the chassis out into the garden so we could test fit the body to the chassis to check it was a good fit.  This was the final test before sending the chassis off and a big milestone for the project.

So, it was with a mix of bemusement, anguish and disappointment when the guys and I realised that the fit was far from perfect.  Its out a lot in places.  Not by millimeters but centimeters.  This was not a good sign. Heater channel bolts didn’t line up and the rear cross members were very out of alignment.

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So, after putting all the bits back under cover from the torrential rain and supplying all the chaps with a “thank you” pint.  I tried to make sense of what had gone wrong.

I sent the photos off to Gary at the Speedster Clinic who had done the work and we had several phone calls about my concerns.  The problem it seems is that whilst the parts I had bought were the best available, the best is still not anywhere near as good as the original and there will always be an amount of fettling to get parts to fit.  Add to that the way the metal on the body just above the rear cross member has been mangled for a previous floorpan replacement- you can kind of see why nothing fits perfectly.

Gary welds beetle chassis for a living day in day out.  He stands by his work and I don’t blame him.  What I was expecting was for everything to fit and that was an unrealistic expectation.  Having someone of his experience explain how out the bodywork was from the photos he had seen (by pointing to the position of the torsion tube as a marker) helped me manage my expectations. Whilst I am not sure that the gaps should be anywhere near that big, we are where we are.

I have spoken to Paul at Mid-Norfolk Car Company and warned him to expect not just a beetle body but also a chassis, so he can work on fettling it to fit before I send it off for blasting and coating.  So, a slight change in plan and probably a lot more expensive but not as bad a situation as I was thinking it would be at first.

I am now at a pause in the project, aside from a bit more cleaning up of the body.  I can’t do any more to the chassis or parts for coating.  Its now a waiting game for Paul to have more space and time to take Ruy into his care.

Lets hope I am thinking the worst and that reality is far from it!