Monday, July 5, 2010

Man-Bench & Sand-Tastic

It's been about 2 months since I've worked on the car. However, with reaallllly good cause. I scored some solid oak cabinets from my neighbor. I was able to use these to make a great workbench. I took the workbench I had and chopped off about 2 feet and put some casters on it. I topped the new work bench off with some high quality plywood and polyurethaned it. It has a lazy susan too! So now I have a nice finish workbench and rolling workbench that can come out and be moved around the garage......nice.

I saw the 4th of July Holiday weekend as a perfect opportunity to jump on the bug. I had to do some paint removal on the fenders and hood. I had a feeling that there would be a fair amount of filler under the pink goo.

Sadly, I was right. Boy I spend the better two days stripping, sanding, and scraping. The final product was very nice though. What I found is that the parts are in great shape, especially for their age. There is some pitting in areas and perforations. Despite this, I should be able to weld up the trouble spots with minimal filler......the way it SHOULD be done.

The only two major parts that need scrubbing and cleaning are the doors and the engine deck lid. The deck lid will take some major energy. I kick myself because I forgot to bring it when I sandblasted the body.....damn! It's going to make cleaning the nooks and crannies tough, but I'm sure I can get it done.

My good friend, Jon, is going to come over next weekend. He IS the man! We're going to work on a mix of the nose, rear apron, side members under the heater channels, and fender & hood issues. I'm hoping to get lots of insight and direction. It's gettin' there!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blessing and a Curse

The Curse: I had planned a great vacation for everyone. I had enough points with Marriott and Delta to get a free hotel for a week and free flights for everyone. We were going to surprise the kids the morning of and tell them we were FLYING to Orlando; one day at Disney, one day at Sea World, etc. Well Whitney’s ankles have become an issue. The doctor told her that she can’t stand, sit, or walk too much because it cause more issues. The only thing that will fix it is popping that baby out. So we canceled.

The Blessing: So now I’m on vacation and nowhere to go……mmm…..might as well work on the Oval! I scramble to the phone and make arrangements to borrow my brother-in-law’s trailer (you da’man), call me buds Pete and Brian to see if I can sandblast at the shop, and of course check with the wifey. SCORE! I head out to get all the sandblasting media and take the body over to Pete’s shop (also…da’man). I get the all the bad spots and skim the rest of the body to make the paint stripping a bit easier. I took care of the fenders and hood, too. Sadly, it wasn’t until I got home I didn’t realize that I forgot about the rear decklid and the wheel rims. I’ll just have to figure that out later. I did all this in about two days. I think I really only picked the car up about 6 times with help. After it was done, I felt like somebody had shot me all over my body with a paintball gun…….and then a 2x4. Clearly I’m not quite as fit as I once was.

I got the body home and got here settled again back in the garage. After a couple of weekends, I decided it would be best to finish the job before the humidity set in. I didn’t want to get any flash rusting. I found some powerful stinky stuff that would take off your skin like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark……or maybe Fight Club depending on your generation. It took me about 8 hours but I was able to get all the paint off, sanded, and etching primer down. A few times the gooey paint that was sizzling up spattered on my arm. YOUCH! I may be out of shape but I can still move pretty quick to get that crap off of me. The wife had to come out a shut me down because it was Sunday night about 12:30 AM and I was using the orbital sander to get the last of the original black lacquer off and some filler. Made the last part go a bit longer, but I finished it off the old fashioned way by hand.

After I stood back and looked at what I had done, I finally felt like I made it over another hump. The next day my wife actually made a comment, as she walks by with groceries in her arms, “look like your making some progress”. MY LORD, that’s huge! If she noticed that then I really have done something. Well I’m ready to finish up that nose, maybe the underside of the heater channels, or the rear apron. I’d like to tackle this myself, but I think it would be better to have two heads around this one. I still need to strip and sand the fenders, hood, decklid, and doors. I got plenty to do so I’ll tackle that and hope that I can get Jon to come over sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bugs and Babies.....oh my.


I’ve taken off some time not only from this project but also the memoir. Things have been just too entirely busy and demanding. At time I begin to feel that my schedule is the dog and I’ve become the tail. Since my most memorable, frustrating, and fearful part of this restoration I’ve made some substantial progress. I have to think back because I’ve snuck in a few moments with the Oval.

Starting with the clutch cable fiasco. Now that it was out, I flushed it with Purple Power and hot water. I used a small funnel and a hose and pushed all the nasty crap out of it. Then we blew compressed air through it and it couldn’t be better.

Now I’ve taken some time off from the car. Not for any other reason but to free my family from debt. It took about 7 months of strict behavioral changes, selling of personal items, and careful planning. Fortunately, selling the Bug was not part of the conversation. As if….. I made the commitment with my bride to not spend a dime on the car until we were debt free. However, when we were, it would be FULL STEAM.

So I placed my first substantial order to get things going. I started a new position in the company I work for which has monopolized virtually every moment of my time 7 days a week for the first 45 days. It was becoming ridiculous. I actually had the parts at the house for over 2 weeks before I even touched anything. I mean, come on, to sit anxiously pining away for a car that you know you are not going to work on is like a fat kid pressing your face against the glass of a bakery that is closed for a VIP party.

I asked my friend Jon over since we hadn’t seen each other in awhile nor talked due to the holidays and the new job. Besides it was time that we commiserate on the current economic and political state of affairs. I asked Steve if he wanted to come over to scratch and fart too. The Saturday that I had been waiting for had finally come with a grateful surprise. Jon, Steve, Steve’s dad Tom, and Dave, all came over to help me put on the parts that I had brought it. I couldn’t believe it!!! Everyone wanted to help get this project moving forward. I suppose it was because they were tired of hearing my pathetic story or because they were hoping to see more progression. Either way it was phenomenal. Here’s the recap on what we did.

I decided to update the front brakes to disc brakes. I decided to drop the $500 because it would be a better insurance policy than anything I could by. All that time and energy could be wasted if I can’t stop and crash into some SUV. That’s how I got here in the first place! Those were installed with relative ease. We installed the shocks which wasn’t too bad, but required a little persuasion with the bushing’s on the front beam. They had rusted on there unknowingly. Dave cut them off with a Dremel and the shocks went on no sweat. We sandblasted a few parts like the rear brake back plate, the pedal assembly, and wheel drums. I finished up the wheel bearings in the rear, assembled the rear shoe brakes (of course after I switched the back brake plates that I put on backwards – right on the left and left on the right…duh). Got the clutch cable and pedal assembly attached. Heater cables and knob assembled. Gear shift and knob functioning correctly. Brand new brake lines bent and assembled. And last, the transmission connected to the gear shaft.

Jon said, “Let’s go get the wheels”. I paused and thought to myself skeptically, that surely he’s joking and we wouldn’t do that yet. But we could!! So we did!! Damn, it’s actually looking like a car now. It’s so gratifying to actually feel like I’m making progress. Except for restoring the brake fluid reservoir and blasting the wheel rims, this chassis is DONE. I was going to order a new reservoir, but they said they just end up leaking. That is VERY BAD. Holy crap. If I hadn’t talked to Wolfsburg West, I would never have known that. That’s just why you don’t by off e-baby, or just some reseller. It pays to buy from a resource. They may charge a bit more but it’s so worth the extra cash.

I’m going to put the MBA on hold. We have a baby girl on the way (yahoo!) and my new job is very demanding. Finishing this car is a high priority for me so come April 25th I’ll be free to charge forward on this at full steam. Right now, I’m only catching a couple of hours here and there when a new part comes in. The baby is due around 7/30/10 so I better haul ass!

Now comes the next phase strategy. Do I move to the body or the engine? Perhaps, both? I think that I could get the engine going in 2 weekends. One to finish disassembling and partial reassemble. A second weekend would be to finish the reassembly and start and fine tune. I better get the body moving forward at least to sandblast (just the lower portion) and primer so I can take my time with the body rebuild and welding. Next stop……sand blasting.

The Big Black Booger


Well it’s a glooorious day! It’s Halloween night and I mention to Dave (bus man helped Steve next door) how I’ve screwed the pooch on the clutch cable fiasco. I described my misery and how I’m unmotivated by the whole thing. He describes an idea of some kind of fence puller. I’m not entirely sure where he’s comin’ from so I just let him run with the idea. He offers to come over in the morning, so I figure, “what the hell?”

Dave comes over with this old piece of crap that looks like a Viking tool that he found in an old shed somewhere. He hooks this apparatus up to the front of the car and I start to gain anxiety. What if it pulls the conduit apart? What if I bend the front beam? HOLY CRAP! I better tell him to stop! Just then, we give it a tug and that son of a bitch cable just came right out like a thick black booger. I jumped for joy and spun around like the idiot I felt like. This tool is designed to stretch fence wire around farms. I don’t think it could have been any better. It was like four monkeys were swatted off my back. I was a new man and ready to charge forward. Finally……I can get moving on this project again. Dave…… da’ man.