Friday, August 12, 2011

8-12-11 - week in review: A VW's smile will never equal a little boy's smile...

First things first. Our friends Joe & Allison brought home a '68 bug last weekend. It's their second VW in the past 2 years. Proof that once a VW creeps into your life, there is little hope. This was an interesting story. The deal was, they went out to look at it and, if they could get it running, they'd drive it home. A few hours of putting the engine in and some other details later, the bug sat in their garage, driven home under its own power. Word is there are some small things to fix, but it's ready to rock. Here's a picture:

Then there's my project. This week has been the most productive week as far as working on the '56 bug since I bought it and brought it home last fall. Oak, my almost 9-month-old son, and EP headed back to Louisiana to see her family. I was supposed to travel with them but my bad planning and disorganization got the best of me. I'm usually very organized but have found it hard to be since Oak came along. 

While I wasn't able to travel with the family, it ended up that I had the house to myself. Without fatherly duties, I was able to work until dark this week until I was covered in oil and dirt and then come in and shower off, watch "The Daily Show" and then go to bed. Fuzz (the cat) and I had the place to ourselves to do as we pleased. 

So I went to work..

After spending Tuesday night in the garage cleaning and cleaning, Wednesday night I started in on the car itself. First project was removing the gas tank. When I purchased the bug, the garage it was stored in had the faint smell of turpentine. Apparently it was coming from the gas tank of the bug. And apparently during the transport of the bug from Napa to home, I stirred it up. Last winter, the smell lingering from the workshop was so strong you could smell it at the house 30 yards away. Now, with nice weather and a chance to get dirty, it was time to investigate...

Removing the clips, easy enough...

I removed the beat-up liner in the trunk. And found oyster shells. Yes. It never ceases to amaze what you can find in old cars.

I pulled the trunk lining and what must have been a sound absorber and they eventually went into the trash. The it was on to the gas tank. The gas cap, a really cool piece of VW branding from the 50s, was stuck on. After grunting on it a bit, I ended up wrapping a rag around it and then wrapping some nylon strap around it (from a tie-down). A small bit of pulling tightened the strap enough to loosen the gas cap. Off it came.

From here, it was downhill but a bumpy ride. I curse the fact that the bug hood doesn't open up more than it does. Because working under it is constantly leaning over and now, with the cap cap removed, the smell of gas changed to varnish was at times overwhelming. And, of course, to pump out what must have been 3-4 gallons of old "gas", I had to (1) stand right over it and (2) put my hand in the top of the tank to work the fuel.

Here's the start:

And below is 1 of 3 containers I pumped out. By the end, as careful as I was, I had orange-colored goo all over my arms...

So, what shape was the gas tank in? Not bad at this point, a little crap came out of the first 3 pump-outs...

A overview shot for you, as it got dark...

Eventually, I had pumped enough to get the tank disconnected and lifted out. How was the condition at this point? Here's a hint:

Yep. That's what came out of the tank. It was so corroded on the bottom, that gas didn't even leak out after I disconnected it while it still had some fuel left in it. The gas tank is officially garbage.

Thursday night: Last night I was at it again. I started with the interior. Aside from crawling in during the winter to get the number off the chassis, I really hadn't spent anytime inside the bug yet. I wanted to take stock and get it a little clean to see what I was dealing with. 

The front mats were so brittle, it was like breaking a sheet of ice. I couldn't pick it up in one piece:

Under the back seat, where the battery was, showed more rust than I would have like to have seen, but it wasn't awful. it was solid enough to stand on, which is a good sign. Most of what you see in the photo is surface rust, though right under the battery's resting spot, it got worse.

Behind the driver's seat was better. Acceptable, I think:

Here's a shot of the entire back seat pan...

So back to the front. With the gas tank removed and sitting near the trash (still letting out a terrible stink!), I was able to get a good look in the light. I was happily surprised with the condition. Aside from caked on dirt, the front end is void of any problems. As PJAlau and I discovered a few weeks ago, it's has a small front end hit at some point, but not bad at all. It may actually just be from the bumper being pushed against the car. 

And it cleaned up really, really well, with no rust found. Here's a shot before it got too dark to take anymore pictures.

And another. This is going to clean up really well.

And, at the end of it all, it's satisfying to get the work shirt dirty..

But I must conclude with an observation. While I am enjoying the Zen of VW repair, I would trade all this work time for a few moments with Oak. VWs, for all their personality and charm, hold nothing against the chatter and coyness of an 8-month-old. 

I recall camping with a buddy of mine, Josh, when he had a 6-month-old at home. By Saturday evening he was quiet (unusual) and didn't seem too drunk (again, unusual). When asked why, he said he missed his boy. At the time, it didn't mean much to me except that a friend had grown soft. I now know what he meant. I miss Little Dude. And I miss EP. And I can't wait for them to be home. And no amount of progress on the bug make up for that.

This post brought to you by Speedway VW & Subaru. We try to make a deal for you.



Great post! Looks like hard but rewarding work. Babies do soften you up a bit. Especially when they are your own offspring.

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