Westfalia Restoration – reassembly begins


The paper has all been peeled back and she’s now ready to be put back together again. There’s a lot to reassemble in a Westy that’s been stripped down to the extend Babe has been. First a look at her new paint in the light of day rather than the paint shop bay and then on to reassembly.

This is probably the best indication of her new colour. Yes, she is bright. Her body is nice and solid now though and next up is putting all the parts back in. Starting with some key electrical parts and then leading to the dashboard. First was the setup for new house batteries using the GoWesty kit. Because my camper is a diesel the main battery is in the back which leaves room for 2 batteries behind the seats. These will power everything that’s not related to driving including radio, alarm system, all interior lighting, a set of 12V power ports spread around and other fun stuff.

Starting the Reassembly

Wherever possible new seals were used. A new radio antenna was popped in while the dash was out. Hardware that’s visible got painted either orange or black along the way so even screws and nuts that show are protected from rusting and look like they belong.

Dash Reinstall

Finishing up the dash & cockpit included installing some parts that had to be rebuilt. The heater cover Babe has is very hard to find so I took it to Cam at the Plastic Surgeon. It was a real challenge for him to get it back together as it kept breaking as he worked on it. I’m definitely in the market for a replacement for that part if I can ever find one. The other piece he fixed was the back of the instrument cluster. The back corners from the speedometer were broken off and I’m told this is quite common. It happens from pushing on the trip meter reset button which puts a little strain on the plastic. As it gets old it eventually breaks. Hopefully this fix will hold. An upgrade on the dash is the replacement of the original cigarette lighter and the BMW style power outlet beside the steering wheel. They are now both proper 12V sockets with one powered from the house battery and the other off the vehicle battery.

Installing the Top

Early in the process all of the parts that had been removed got restored and then painted before being put away. That included the fiberglass top sections too. For the front cargo box this included seal, screens on all of the drain holes to keep out the compost, new footman’s loops and decals.The back got new seals, new decal, a good cleaning for mold and lift supports. I’m including the two parts being installed as one entry even though they were done days apart. The pop-top is heavy and awkward and requires extra hands to put back on. I was fortunate to get John’s help for a second time! He was there to help take it off too. So he got the see the restoration very early and now very near the end. I’m very grateful for his help, Friday wouldn’t have been as productive a day without him.

More progress has been made. Lots more. As Volker put it when he sent me photos from yesterday, “a good day’s work”. I’ll leave it with one last photo to give a better sense and will write another blog entry tomorrow to cover the gap between getting the top on an where she is now.

Slider, hatch and windows installed

5 Replies to “Westfalia Restoration – reassembly begins”

  1. How many “manhours” of work until this stage? Beautiful work. When finished, will you be able to calculate the total costs of this restoration project?

    1. Hi John.
      I will have a record of all the parts and all the time when this is done. Will see how much of that info gets shared… this is not for the feint of heart. As you can see though… a lot of careful time has been spent. A few minor things that had to be done a second time but very few.

      So how do you like it so far?

      1. I really love the quality of your work. I have a 1984 which is in excellent condition with no rust except for the bottom of the windshield which I will have replaced and restored by the end of the year. After 146,000 miles, only issues so far have been related to wear & tear. So keeping fingers crossed and will follow your project.


    2. Thanks John. Really though my work in all of this has been writing about it. Volker at bodybycrome.com is the master craftsman doing all this amazing work.

      Take care of your ’84 and hopefully you can avoid ever needing to see all of this except second hand. And as everyone on the Vanagon mailing list is quick to say… change your fuel lines! 😉

  2. mechelle neunsinger says: Reply

    thanks for this site! appreciate all the time working on your project and writing about it!!!

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