As I previously mentioned, I decided over a year ago that I would go about getting my Westfalia camper “Babe” restored. And after doing some research I picked the person I wanted to do the work. Volker has been in the bodywork business for about 20 years. He got into restoring Westies in a very round about way – by fixing one up, test driving it with his wife along who quickly decided they should get one to travel with their dogs, and on it went from there.
I haven’t asked how many he’s done, I do know he’s done quite a few. He works on his own so almost all the work is done by his hands alone, only bringing specialists in as appropriate. Every restoration he does comes will a full set of photos to document the entire process. He started working on Babe at the beginning of the week and took a set of photos on a walk around. The gallery now contains over 500 photos and the disassembly isn’t even finished yet. It’s getting close though! With the help of a fellow Westy owner we took the pop-top off yesterday and set it aside.
The disassembly has been a discovery process, revealing work that had been done before and showing some unexpected items that need attention. The timing is good though, not much will need to be cut out. For all the Westy owners reading this though… know that the adage “if you see it from the outside, deal with it now!” is very true. Here’s an example; the first photo shows a seam just above the rear wheel on the driver’s side. The second photo is what it looks like inside.
There are a few places like that that need attention, not too many that are too bad. The worst is an area at the bottom of the kitchen that had been repaired about 15 years ago (see next photo). It was coated from the inside with a thick rust inhibitor some of which you can see has been scrapped off. It shows the series of spot welds and if you look at the bottom you can see the rough edge where the body had been cut. That will all get taken apart and fixed properly.
The other area that will need some serious work is just behind the front wheel on the passenger side. That may be the most complicated repair because it’ a sealed area so some cutting will be required.
I’m confident in his ability to pull this all together though, and I’m looking forward to getting there. A peek at his Body By Crome website shows some of his work. And the one he just finished is still on his property, I look forward to seeing Babe parked there again.
As an indicator of Volker’s attention to detail, here’s a before and after of the slider mechanism.
Here’s the gallery of photos I plan on expanding as the work continues, wish us luck! Week 1 of Westfalia Restoration: