Camper and Commercial is one of the leading VW Magazines in the UK dedicated to, funnily enough, VW buses. We at Westcoast were lucky enough to be featured in their "behind the scenes" section of their March issue.
Rick Davies the photographer spent the morning with us, taking photos and chatting about the buses we had in and projects we'd both completed and were yet to undertake. In the workshop we had Dave's split, a permanent resident as customers vehicles (and me and Moo) always take priority. My bay having its 500 mile service and Moo's Green Bay fresh off the boat from South Africa. We also had a split with a broken gearbox, left with us by its owner who was down on holiday, a hire companies yellow bay having some work for its MOT and a beetle having a bad lowering job sorted out, which turned into major surgery. Rick really managed to get some interesting shots, which you can see in the magazine capturing the workshop in a very accurate light.
i did say in the last blog that I'd try and pin us all down for a photo, well as Rick was there (and you have to do a staff photo) we managed to get one. Below, from left to right is, Dave the boss, Moo in the centre and me Rich, on the right leaning on my van. We're no oil paintings and I think Dave needs to buy some new jeans but now you know what we look like, please if your in Cornwall, pop in and say hello, the kettle is always on.
Well, happy new year everyone. As promised, I'm going to give you a little run down on the restoration of Hank, the 1971 Volkswagen T2 which we completed in August last year.
Arriving in February 2015, Hank had been well loved and clearly well enjoyed. It'd been a hire van for tourists to visit Cornwall before I finally got to keep him all to myself and enjoy weekends away with the Missus and dogs (fact was he was getting tired and less desirable).
Sitting down with Dave, we established a plan, talked budget, formed a timescale (this would soon all go out the window) and began the strip down for work to commence. It's at this stage that care, attention to detail and very careful labelling, can save time and money, if you decide to restore at home. As we discovered, when the job grows and the bits you took off thinking you'll be reunited with them soon turns out to be months down the line and far from fresh in your head, you'll be thanking yourself over and over.
It very quickly became obvious that I'd been ambitious, or should I say hopeful with my plans as Hank was indeed a VW bus in need of a lot of love. We uncovered very badly carried out repairs, salty, muddy, squatters taking up residence in all the usual traps and mating to form what we have come to know as RUST and an engine which had purred away lovely, with more end float than a 200 year old weather vain.
I sat down with Dave , revised all the plans, budget etc again and after 3 cups of coffee, ordered the parts including a VEGE 1600 engine (not on the original list) and began cutting.
Now, don't get me wrong, we've worked on vans in far worse condition, but when it's your own van and you think you know it, there is always a bad past relationship that rears is head in one way or another.
Anyway, horrors fully exposed, which tends to happen in the Volkswagen restoration business, especially in Cornwall, it was time to start putting right the previous wrongs. I will say at this point, that you pay for what you get and there is a massive difference between replacement panels/parts and you should definitely buy the best you can afford. At westcoast VW we will always work to a budget but try and steer you not for our profits, but for your vehicles longevity, kind of do once, do right attitude.
Dave, Moo and myself spent days and nights over 5 months (around normal workshop jobs) cutting, welding, grinding, cursing and yes bleeding (which I made Moo keep my blood under the paint) to get Hank back up to scratch.
I will say that even when we thought we'd found everything, we still found more problems on the way and as I mentioned earlier, do once do right so we addressed them as we went. One area where people differ in their views is that of filler. Now, Hank has got filler and I'll wager that 99% of buses out there do also, which in my opinion is fine, as long as it's for minimal, essential filling and not a substitute for structural, vital components. With all repairs done and minimal filling carried out it was time to prep and prime for paint, cue Moo!!!
If you're still reading then you know what comes next and even at this point, 5 months in we still couldn't decide on a paint colour. The plan was for me to use Hank as a wedding car but still keep him in a correct for year colour, so after lots of consultations, we settled on Pearl White in and out, job done, or so I thought. We had discussed having a white roof, but due to time kinda shelved the idea until Dave and Moo overruled me and did it anyway on the eleventh hour along with the bumpers (which I'm glad they did). In addition I had all the engine tinware blasted and powder coated by Powdertech in Newquay, with a metallic black paint which I liked that much,I had the dash done the same. Engine was then put together, and placed in the newly painted engine bay and fitted with a single quiet pack of course modified by me with a clam style tail pipe.
This is the part we all enjoy at Westcoast VW, the bolting back together, using nice new parts and the parts we carefully labelled and boxed 5 months before. Now the interior was down to me, I had a clear view in my mind, so it was just a case of making it happen. I fitted a new headliner and a luxury deep pile carpet in the cab, before turning my attention to the seats, front and rear. I wanted to stay with stock seating for wedding purposes so fired up the sewing machine and cracked on. My view was to achieve a neutral beach hut theme so when not in use for weddings I could still enjoy him as my van, albeit not a camper anymore.
So is that Hank finished? Well in a word, No! He did go on to win best in class at last years CVWOC Jamboree show n shine, but when you own a classic Volkswagen, you're never finished. My plans for Hank are to fit the deluxe trim I never had chance to fit, a............. I think I'll leave the rest for another time but suffice to say there's more to come. So if you're in Newquay Cornwall and you see Hank either with or without a wedding ribbon (www.honeybugscornwall.co.uk) give us a wave.
As for the workshop? Well we've started 2016 on a busy note. We have 3 buses to get ready for sale, a 1951 barn door to get back on the road, a few vans arriving from South Africa for customers and Moo, and Dave's VW splitscreen needs to get back on the road all around our regular customers who still need their VWs looking after. So, a Busy year ahead and I look forward to telling you all about it. I will also convince Dave and Moo to pose for a mug shot so you can put faces to names, although none of us are very photogenic.
Chow for now and have a party hard 2016
Welcome to the start of hopefully many blogs from Westcoast VW, to keep you up to date with what's going on in the workshop whilst trying our best to be informative at the same time.
Before I start, let me introduce myself and the team (I will post pics of us, when i can get them all to stand still).
My name is Rich, I'm the author of this blog, mainly because we all have talents in the workshop and although I don't agree with the campaign process, it was decided that I should be the one to keep you all up to date with what's going on. My usual role is that of, Trimmer, spanner passer, coffee maker and general all rounder. I have owned several VW's in my life both wet and dry which I fell in love with after hearing a beetle go up a hill aged 3, awesome sound, even now. My current vehicles are an award winning 1971 VW T2 Bay Limo restored obviously here at Westcoast (which I will write a dedicated blog about soon) and a 1976 RHD Karmann convertible beetle
Next up we've got Dave, the boss. He's been in the classic Volkswagen restoration business for many many years and if any of you have seen camper van crisis ont tele, you may well have seen him prior to his move to sunny Cornwall, so I guess you could say he's famous, although he plays it down. Dave has owned way to many VW's to list but currently he has a 1967 split screen (currently in for resto) and a Volkswagen T4. Dave has seen everything and I've yet to see him beaten when it comes to air cooled problems or adaptations both good and bad, especially with all the tourist breakdowns we get in Cornwall.
Finally we've got Moo, the paint, body master who can literally make a silk purse from a sows ear (usually requiring a lot of panel fabrication) as he hates filler. What Moo doesn't know about paint and panel fitment, ain't worth knowing because he is such a perfectionist. Moo has by far, the most Volkswagens in his stable, so much so that in the new year, I'll post more as they unfold, but I will say Jurgens autovilla and 5 to give you an idea.
We all live our lives to the full, surfing, families, parties and dubs. Most of all though, we're good mates who get on well pranks and banter a plenty which helps, which I'm sure you'll witness if you visit
So what's coming up in the new year?
Well aside from the stuff I mentioned above, we currently have in the workshop a rare 1951 VW Splitscreen bus, which we hope to finish very early next year, which again I'll keep you posted on. A 1980's Komet T25, a 1970 VW Bay pop top camper, both of which will be up for sale soon and some new buses from South Africa which will be getting the Westcoastvw treatment. In addition to these we have later in the year a resto on a VW T25 Doka syncro, on its return from a winter surf trip in Norway and a complete retrim of a T4 which will be travelling down from Wales.
I guess that for now that's it , so I'll sign off by wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a party hard new year. Here's to a great 2016 and please feel free to pop in if your in our neck of the woods to say hello, always great to see fellow enthusiasts, even if our mugs do come with a health warning.
Chow for now!!!