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!

Off to the clinic!

Since my last update, things have been progressing slowly.  As I have previously mentioned, the cleaning is something I hate doing and it has been hard work to get motivated.

The torsion leaves were removed from the old beam and put in storage.  I then began work on degreasing the chassis and removing the original sound deadening material ahead of sending it off for welding.

As you can see from the photos, the chassis cleaned up well and the tunnel is in very good condition.  After a pressure wash (thanks to Mark for helping to lift the chassis outside!!), I was able to remove the pedal set plate and under seat heater cables and that meant everything was ready to be welded!

After a short tendering exercise (I do work in Procurement after all..!) I chose to send the chassis to the Speedster Clinic, Kenilworth for the welding.  Not only is Gary providing excellent value for money, he also has the jigs to weld the framehead properly and spends all his working day welding beetle chassis for customers who want to create their own replica Porsche 356.

So, today Ian (him of the comments on this blog and 356 build fame) and I took a trip to see Gary.

Whilst the chassis is with Gary, I have lots more work to be getting on with but I hope to have a fully welded chassis back with me by mid-May!

And in case you don’t think a 356 replica man has the VW history, Gary showed me a number of his original 1970s VW sales brochures!!  Fantastic!


Beam me up!

Now everything is tucked away, my focus has moved to cleaning up parts and assessing what needs replacing.

I am incredibly impatient, which means this phase of the restoration is going to be difficult.  I hate cleaning stuff up and would prefer to buy everything new but that is incredibly expensive and I won’t learn anything!

So, the last couple of days have seen me clean up the front beam, scraping off grease and dirt, using a wire brush and paint scraper and basically making a mess.

I degreased and pressure washed the beam to clean that last remnants of grease and then had a good look around.  Unfortunately I found a couple of holes around one of the torsion bar ends, which means the beam is not worth saving.

So, I stripped everything else off the beam – steering box, track rods, spindles, torsion arms and shock absorbers.  Every ball joint was a pain and both shocks needed grinding off but everything is stripped and can then be either re-used or sold on.

The only thing left to do is remove the torsion leaves.  A very messy job!

I have decided to have an adjustable front beam, as the stock ride height was a little high.  But that is for another day..!

What is original?

Now that the body and chassis are apart, I am turning my attention the difficult decisions, before tackling the cleaning and sorting of parts.

Volkszone Interactive (VZi) is the forum for the VW scene.  It has a wealth of knowledge and knowledgeable people, so I have been tapping into that resource to ask questions on things I am not sure about.

One of my niggling concerns is about how to re-trim the interior.  As such I posted up the photo of my interior, which I understood to be original.  It turns out, that it isn’t!

So, I have a conundrum.  Do I do as I promised and return RUY to the condition he was in when he rolled out of the show room, or do I restore him to how I know him to be?

At the moment, I have the belief that unless things are being altered for safety (such as rear disc brake conversion, additional wiring for fuel pumps etc.) that I want RUY to be original.  But I am torn by the fact that the current interior is unique as far as I can tell and that makes Ruy all the more special.

So, what should I do?


Getting by with a little help…

…From my friends!

Today was the day that Ruy’s body was separated from his chassis for the first time since leaving the factory.  In order to capture the historic moment, I invited several friends to come over and help mark the occasion… by lifting the body and moving it to the newly built shelter!

Firstly, Ian headed over as advance guard to show me the best way to remove the rear suspension, brakes and Z-bar.  Thankfully the reading I had done meant I had a good idea of what was going on and seeing it physically meant I increased my understanding.  Aside from a few stubborn nuts, things went pretty well.

We then turned our attention to the front beam and removed that, which meant supporting the front of the car on a pallet so we could slide the beam out!

When Fran turned up, the three of us were able to lift the body off the car and put it down close by, so we could work of removing the pedal assembly, gearbox, spring plates, gearshaft and all associated cabling from the chassis.

Fran worked his magic on the pedal assembly and created a template so I know where to have the plates welded for it and the accelerator pedal.

By this time, Josh, Mark, Dan and Dave arrived and we were able to lift Ruy’s body, sedan chair fashion, over the fence and into the shelter built especially for him.

We then cleaned up the chassis, bagged and tagged all the bits and checked the chassis over for major issues.  Unfortunately I will need a new frame head, Napoleon’s hat and rear cross member along with floor pans but otherwise, the chassis is good.

I will admit to embarking on the next phase of the project with trepidation.  The fun part of dismantling the car has been done.  Now it is the slog of cleaning parts, stripping down assemblies and so on.  This might cause me to lose faith but I will try and remember the end goal!

I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who helped today.  I may have seemed a little bewildered at times, as so much was going on and I wasn’t able to keep track of all the bits being removed and the advice being given.  I really appreciate all your help.

Now to crack out the credit card and buy some parts!

Getting naked

No, not me silly!

Today I used the first really good weather since before Christmas to make Ruy’s body a bit lighter ready for the lift.  It has been hard to get people together to help lift the body, so I am using the extra time to do what I can to lighten the potential load.

Today I continued removing parts from behind the dash.  That meant all the air vents and ducting were removed, along with the air controls, the wiper motor, the ashtray holder and glovebox.

Everything went smoothly, albeit with some fiddly bits taking a while to remove.  The only issue is that the driver’s side air splitter which connects to the heater channel was loose and came out along with the ducting.  The potentially poses a problem later on in the build.

After removing the headlamp and hazard light switches from the dash, labelling everything up and placing in the bonnet, I moved on to removing the wheels – just because I can.

I then began the task of removing the doors, which I hoped would be easy enough, thanks to an impact driver borrowed from a friend.  Everything was fine until the last screw, which refused to budge.  I resorted to heating it up for a while then trying again.  It soon came out!

So, everything is set for removing the body.  Then it is on to removing everything from the chassis.

Before I do that, I will need to measure the existing floorpans, so I know the correct measurements for welding in the new ones.  I will also need to clean everything up, before shipping it off to the blasters and plasticoaters.

Yes, I have decided to get the chassis and pans plasticoated, as it works out about the same price but lasts a lot longer and means no need for Waxoyl it seems.


We have lift off!

This weekend has turned out to be both productive and historic.

On yesterday’s post I detailed how I had gone through the last few things needed to enable the body to be lifted off the chassis.  After a text conversation with one of the sages of Splitterz Cambridge, Sunday afternoon was going to be the “lets check over everything to make sure nothing will catch you out” session.

So, when Fran (the sage) arrived, I was expecting a cursory walk around the car to say “this needs doing” and I was going to write a list.

As it turned out, I had done everything I could.  All that the final furlong boiled down to was a couple of tough bolts that needed persuading and then the body would lift off…..

….After grinding and bashing our way through several areas of weld that had permanently joined body to chassis.  Now I can’t complain, as over the 20 years that I have had the car, and before, work has been done to get the car through an MOT, not to make it look pretty.  Every weld served a purpose but for this restoration, they had to be cut through.  Lets just hope that nothing serious lurks beneath!

I would never have noticed most of these joints had Fran not showed me where they were and why they were problematic, so I am extremely grateful to him for his help – and his angle grinder, long bits of wood and perseverance!!

As you can see from the photos, a good couple of hours hard graft meant the body could be lifted for the first time in 42 years.  That in itself is an historic moment and I am pleased that I was able to see it and help to do it!

Now all I need is four strong friends to help me lift the body and store it, so I can crack on with stripping the chassis and cleaning it ready for any remedial work before new floor pans and powder coating!

Festive fettling

Today I managed to get outside and do some work on Ruy.  It had been a while, what with Christmas festivities, shopping and a spot of cough and cold but I thought that it was time to get on a get some more parts of the car off and bagged and tagged.

Having labelled all the electrical connections, I removed the rear light clusters.  I then set to removing the rear bumper and towbar- and thought I would be able to remove it all on one go!  I did eventually but it was very heavy and needed one wing to be removed to get the chassis mounts out!  This was easier than dismantling the tow bar though, which was rock solid and will need some WD40 and elbow grease to take apart.

Once the bumper was off, the other wing came off pretty easily.  The only downside being a couple of the bolts shearing off, as you can see in the photos below.

After Christmas I will get on with the front end!



Engine out!

So last night a couple of good friends came and lent a hand to take the engine out of Ruy.

I began by labelling all the wiring in the engine bay and taking photographs of it all, so it will all go back together easily.

Over the past year the engine has been out at least once, if not twice.  So, it meant that the team managed to get the engine out and stored away within an hour, in the dark!

The fuel pipe was disconnected, as were the heater pipes and accelerator cable.  Then it was a case of loosening off the four bolts on the engine holding it to the gearbox before jacking up the body whilst holding the engine on another jack and wiggling it off the gearbox.  Simples!

The rest of the evening was spent tutting over the metal work and then discussing stages in the project plan.

My thanks to both Ian and Josh for all their help now and no doubt in the future.  I owe you both a lot!!