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