Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bodes Well sporting a Big Blue flag...

If you're not checking in on Red Beard and Bode, you're missing some good stories. They visited Ludwig last week and hung out a bit. While there, Jason, Red Beard's driver, received some mail and a letter from me containing a couple "Big Blue is a friend of mine" stickers. He was kind enough to send through these shots with Red Beard sporting the stickers...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Buses as... backdrops in advertising.

Have you noticed them? Buses lurking as backdrops in catalogs, ads, etc? Here are a few I have seen over the past few months...

In July, Outside magazine used a VW as a blurred nod to an adventurous life on the road...

Patagonia, one of my favorite retailers, had this photo in their recent catalog:

And Athleta uses buses alot in their backgrounds. But these people are way too fit to drive a VW bus...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vintage Tuesday! - 1960s VW man

1960s VW man.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Win a 1977 VW Bus! Today is the last day to sign up!

Today is your last chance to enter a raffle for a 1977 VW Bus that the is sponsoring. You can be entered in the drawing for the VW by giving a $10 donation to the Waterwheel Foundation through the site. Waterwheel Foundation was set up by the band Phish to manage their charities. Seems like decent odds. How many people at Phish shows had an extra $10 to enter after making it past all the grilled cheese places? I'm thinking not many...

All the details are at:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fuzz in Big Blue

Sometimes EP likes to work in Big Blue while it's parked in our driveway and turn it into her office for the day. And sometimes I get photos like this sent to my phone at work. For an indoor cat, Big Blue must be an awesome vacation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Solex Carb sheet - found in a 1970 Owner's Manual

If you can't tell by now, I love finding old things tucked into VW books (actually, this is true of all books). I found this in a manual I picked up recently...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vintage Tuesday! - VWs pass on the street

VWs pass on the street.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Filling the holes and overcoming prejudice

Some children are raised with a taught prejudice from their fathers. Some are taught to hate a race, or a religion or a gender. I was taught a deep and lasting hate for Bondo. For those of you unfamiliar with Bondo, it is a rather sinister trick of the auto restoration business when used wrong.

Its intention is to help with rust repair on cars. It is a paste-like substance that may be mistaken for a bomb-making material. You take that material, add what they call a "hardener" to it, and you have about 5 minutes to apply this paste to the area you want to fix. There are other prep steps, but that's the application of Bondo in nutshell (here's a video on the subject, if you are still looking for more info).

My father hates Bondo. When used wrong, people use it to try to hide repairs made to rust (It can be detected by either someone doing a poor job, or sticking a magnet to the area in question).

I have memories of car-hunting with my dad when I was young. I have clear visions of him looking over some beautiful car from the 1930s, while I stood breathlessly amazed at the possibility that we might own this car if it passes his test. And I wanted it to pass his test. But if we headed back to our car and he uttered the sentence, "It's all filled with Bondo", I knew it was a death sentence. To him, it was worse than rust. It was hidden rust! And the car deserved equal parts sympathy and disdain.

So you can imagine the mental leap I had to overcome a few weeks back when I found myself actually standing in the local auto parts store with a giant can of Bondo in my hand, actually considering the purchase. But, each generation rebels against the previous. Besides, the winter rains are coming here in California and I had a giant rust hole under my windshield.

I started out looking for fiberglass, started reading the Bondo and then ended up going with "body filler", which is almost exactly like Bondo but it sounds a little more professional and I thought I could face my dad with a term like that.

The guy at the counter was kind enough to walk me through all the steps to do the job, and after a Saturday and Sunday working on it off and on, it was done.

Now, I have to say, it was easy. Super easy. But I did a lackluster job for sure. I'm looking at this as just a way to waterproof Big Blue for winter and I was scrambling to get this done before leaving on the Oregon trip as I was sure we would encounter rain there. Soon, I will have to face the fact that Big Blue needs to get into a body shop and get the new front end put on by professional (with metal, not Bondo). I'm sure to get it right takes a good deal of patience and some practice. Oh, and a lot of sanding.

The area of concern. Did I say "hole"? I meant, "Holes".

The largest offender. A little bigger and I could have used it for storage.

The driver's side is not nearly as bad.

The steps go like this (at least, this is what I did):
1. Sand the area (I also used a wire brush as it was pretty bad)
2. Prep the area with a few coats of rust-prevention spray. Allow for drying time.
3. Apply the Bondo... um, body filler ... to the area in question. I used a plastic putty knife.
4. Move quick. It dried on me very fast the first batch.
4. Sand the crap out of it until the surface looks sort of like it is made of metal and was intended to have that shape
5. Hit it with primer. Prime and sand as needed. I did 2 coats
6. I sanded the primer with a really light sandpaper. Like 1500 or something like that. And then you paint what is hopefully a color close to the color of the rest of your car. In my case, the color is off, but not too far to be bad.

Here are the pictures.

Prep the area with a few coats of rust-prevention spray. Allow for drying time.

Apply the Bondo... um, body filler ... to the area in question. I used a plastic putty knife.

This stuff dries super fast. This is about 5 minutes after mixing it. Rock hard.

Once the hole was filled, the sanding began...

and continued...
and continued...

The next day I rolled Big Blue out into the sunlight and primed and painted the front...

While doing so rust prevention, I took off the side window I had worked on before to seal it better. EP had told me that it leaked with on the Bettys and Buses Trip. While it was off, I took the opportunity to hit the insides of the door (you have access to inside the door with the window out) with the rust-prevention spray, and then sanded, primed and painted the area that was under the window frame. In all, it came out really well.

After scraping a little surface rust, I went over it with primer and paint...

And then I put down a fresh seal of caulk and then put the window back in. It must have worked as the window stayed dry in the heavy rains we would have the first night in Oregon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New passenger seat in time for the Oregon trip

In prepping for our recent Oregon trip, we took a "shakedown trip" to make a list of what we still needed to do to Big Blue and what camping gear we could lose. The "to do" list was:

1. Waterproof some of the windows and doors and rust
2. Get the stereo installed
3. Fix the passenger seat

The last one is a classic example of "out of sight, out of mind". Since I don't sit in it too often, I don't think about it. EP has reminded me a few times and I usually agree, then move on to other things. Plus it has a seat cover on it which hides the offending rips and missing cushion.

But on Sunday of the shakedown trip, EP decided to drive:

"Man, this seat is really bad, huh," I said.

"I've told you."

"I know. But it seems worse?"

"No. It has always been like that."

So I ordered new seats for both the passenger side and driver's side (because you can't order just one and who wants seats that don't match?) from Wolfsburg West (I agree with Minnie on point #4 here on the great and fast service from Wolfsburg West. I, too, love seeing those white boxes show up). PJAlau had given a presentation at Fall Finnon Fest last year and Wolfsburg West also sends a DVD with instructions along, so I felt good going into it.

Here was the existing seat (that white cover is a sheepskin-like cover that Monty, the previous owner left on):

Eh, I don't really see the issue...

You can see the original material VW used to build up the edges of the cushion.

I believe that is German for "Do not remove tag under penalty of law".

I noticed a light surface rust on the frame, so I washed it, sanded it and then primed it.

After waiting for the primer to dry, I simply followed the reverse of taking the seat cushions and covers off.

A note here: WW expects you to keep some of the old metal rods that slip into the underside to give the pins something to hold onto. If you are starting with just a frame with your own seats, I guess you are going to want to get some thick gauge wire from the hardware store first or you'll get stuck at this stage.

Nice, new, impressive.

It takes some wrestling and some getting up on the seat with your knees, but it will eventually slide on. Just be aware of the stitching and that you don't put pressure on it...

In this picture, you can see the white felt I put between the cushion and the cover. I did it on the bottom cushion as well. That was to build up the edges and give it something soft to act as a filler. They recommend putting something between the frame and the cushion as well, but I skipped that part because I am a rebel.

Ta-da! I wish you were all here so you could take a seat and try it out. Someday, my friends, someday.

EP approved, and it was well appreciated on the Oregon trip.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

1966 VW Bus Service Booklet

Hello Anthony L Baker and/or Robert E. Fiedler,

I'm not sure who is the owner, but I have your paperwork!

Details from a service booklet and insurance papers from Lane Motors in Bedford, Mass...

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