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Apr 02 2016

Westfalia Restoration Week 6

I’m not sure there’s much more that can come off Babe… she’s really stripped down to nothing! No steering wheel, no pedals (even the gas pedal shown in this photo is out), not much left! Which means next week will be the start of repairing the body.

Stripped down

Stripped down

There were a couple of surprises as the dash came off, most shouldn’t be too hard to address. First up was the master brake cylinder which seems to have been leaking for a long time. Long enough that the corrosive liquid stripped paint off in places. Fortunately they hadn’t gotten rusty, just needs to be cleaned up.

Corrosion from brake fluid

Down to bare metal

There are also some holes through the body in the floor. That will require some new metal. Unexpected but not surprising.

Then there was the brake & clutch hydraulics to address. I had the clutch master cylinder replaced back in 2011 so it’s ok. The brake cylinder was still original. And the entire system looks like it’s never been flushed in its entire life. It’s taken care of though, and once again I’m impressed with Volker’s attention to detail. See that little blue sticker? If you think he painted around it you’d be wrong, you can see from the 4th photo.

The next saga was the heater. Volker already had a new blower to put in. As he took the heater apart two things became apparent… Babe has been home to some mice, and the heater core had been leaking for some time. More on the mice later… in this instance they had chewed on some wire as you can see in the photos. That wasn’t too hard to resolve. The bigger challenge was the core which needed to be replaced. The usual outlets like CIP1, BusDepot, GoWesty, etc have all been carrying a great replacement from Behr Hella that’s even better than the original ones. They’re all out of stock though! Nada, not one to be found at any of these sources. I emailed BusDepot and they said they expected to have some in 4 to 6 weeks. Not a sure thing though!

So I reached out to the Vanagon.com mailing list to see if I might be able to find a good used one. Bingo! The first reply was from someone here in Ontario with a pointer to a new one available locally. I got 3 other replies within an hour to both used and new, all private stock that people have. How cool is that. It turns out the shortage is because Behr Hella have stopped making these replacements so it’s likely any new ones will be replicas coming from China.

Volker followed up on the first lead right away and it arrived today. In fact it’s already installed. A big THANK YOU to this great VW family (you all know who you are 😉 )

Now that all of this was taken care of, Volker had time for one other repair. The lift arms for a Westfalia pop-top have a known design flaw. Or perhaps shortcoming is a better way to describe it… they weren’t designed with 30+ years of use in mind. The problem is at the elbow of the lifter. The cross bar is hollow and the contact point from the elbow is a very solid steel plate. Someone discovered this a few years ago as they were trying to understand why the pop-top wasn’t sitting right when it was up. Alistair Bell in BC has a set of links to the problem on his blog. And Babe had a bad case of it. Not any more though, Volker used a solid bolt that fit in, welded it all in place and put it all back together nicely.

There are more tales to tell, I’ll save those for another blog entry though… the Mice’s Tale will be up next. Stay tuned!

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