VW Beetle Restoration Completed

It’s been a while since my last post – sorry just been a bit lazy (I knew this would never be a proper blog).

Anyway, the restoration of the Beetle were completed in August 2014.  I got it to the stage where it was running, 95% fitted out (headliner, carpets and door cards still needed to be fitted), and I could get it in for an MOT.


Up on the ramp at the first MOT following restoration

Thankfully it passed!  This meant that I could drive the car to near Woodbridge in Suffolk (yes I know it’s a long way!) to get the inside fit out completed.  I had to go to Suffolk because I couldn’t find anyone else who would do the job using parts and materials (kits) that I’d already bought.  There is somebody local to me who is a very well respected vehicle trimmer – but seems to concentrate on high end refits and wanted to charge thousands.  Not what I needed.

During the journey to the MOT I noticed that my front tyres were rubbing when I turned the steering wheel.  Doh! I had fitted larger than standard tyres to my new wheels but hadn’t taken account of the fact that the previous owner had fitted dropped spindles.  I managed to get and fit a set of standard spindles – and just to make sure I replaced the tyres with standard 155R 15 tyres.  Everything is now hunky dory!

Since this point I have done very little to the car apart from taking it on a few drives locally when the sun had decided to shine.  A new set of period style seat belts and replacement original hubcaps took the restoration a little further and made a huge difference to how the car looked.


Proof of the low mileage – or maybe it’s a very high mileage!


Internal fittings after carpets, door cards and new seat belts had been fitted


View from the right


View from the left


Front and centre!


Tail end view


Detailed 1300TP motor – originally rebuilt by Laurie Pettitt – but smartened up by my good self

After a few months I managed to work out why the engine tray on one side was continually blessed with a treatment of fresh engine oil.  The oil pressure sensor was leaking – but not from the thread – it was leaking from where the terminal is fitted.  I replaced this and the appearance of oil stopped.


At the MOT – 31/07/2015

The second new MOT was received in late July 2015 with no issues whatsoever! Very pleasing but shouldn’t be unexpected all things considered.

Since then I’ve even showed the car at my local Tetbury Classic Car Show – and won a small prize.  I think this was for the most ‘sympathetic’ restoration – i.e. the organisers/judges liked the fact that I hadn’t changed things from standard – no bling, no wide wheels, no lary paint job (you get the picture).


Beetle @ Tetbury Classic Car Show 06/09/2015

The car is also, now, sporting a reversing light which I hadn’t managed to fit during the main post restoration work.  It’s installed now – and works!  Proof is in the picture below:


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VW Beetle Restoration continued…..

Well, it’s a little bit later – over a year! – and I’ve got a few additions to make to the story of the Beetle restorations.

All of the rust has been removed from the chassis and the body shell and all of the welding have been completed – a selection of pictures…..


The fan shroud back from blasting with a coat of primer.


Bodyshell on home made support – note missing heater channel on near side. PO decided to fabricate the original out of builders foam!!!!


Bodyshell and chassis separated.


New O/S/F inner wing fitted – following a lot of ‘fettling’. An original VW part that was over an inch out on alignment.


New O/S/F inner wing with old fuel filler reinstated.


New front valance.


New front wings and front valance.


New bonnet being fitted – and aligned with the body shell and new from wings.


The engine removed from the chassis – but with no changes.


The engine still attached to the chassis.

Here’s one with the shell temporarily attached to the chassis:


Bodyshell and chassis – nearing the end of the welding and rust work.

The chassis has now been painted and the body shell is back in the body shop being prepped (much slower process than I’d like) ready for painting and joining back with the chassis.

I took the engine away to ‘tidy it up’ and it’s now ready to be installed again.  Work has mainly been to shot blast and paint the tinware and to refresh some of the other parts.  It’s also had a complete service and I have, today (27/04/14), tightened up the carburettor to manifold bolts (a complete nightmare of a job with the nut by the fan shroud), connected up the exhaust and filled it with oil.  Here is a picture of the engine it all it’s new glory:


1300TP Engine – Tidied up. Painted tinware, new crankshaft pulley (‘cos I bent the old one getting it off), restored inlet manifold (drilled out all carbon blockages, new gaskets for exhaust, new oil pump cover etc. etc.).

Note the difference between this picture and the one a little earlier in the post.  More to follow….

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VW Vanagon – Back on the Road!

Well, after some months the Vanagon is back on the road (legally).

I finished building the engine up with all the new pipework and hoses etc. and – with a little help – I managed to install the engine in the bus.

Once the rebuilt engine was in, I had to connect it up to the water/cooling system, install the intake and fuel injection system, install the exhaust, install the air deflectors and connect all of the electrics.


The engine back in the bus

It took about a week and despite a couple of calamities (shearing off a small bolt in one of the inlet manifolds being the worst of them) it was ready to start up.

One small problem with the rebuilt engine was that the driveshaft for the distributor was a little out of position.  No matter what I did I couldn’t get the timing set up.  After much tugging of hair I decided to trim an inch off of one of the studs on the fuel pump cover which isn’t used on the 2.1DJ engine.  This allowed me to get the timing set up and – vroom she started!!!!

A day or so checking everything over for an MOT and the bus was ready to go.  It passed the MOT on Friday 14th March and I was able to apply for a tax disc (I had to put it on a SORN at the end of February).

The tax disc turned up this morning (19th March) and the bus was back on the road.


Looking good back on the road


All shiny after a good wash.

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VW Vanagon – Replacing the 2.1 DJ Waterboxer Engine

A short while ago (late 2013), after starting up the bus to check everything was OK, I noticed water pouring from the underside of the engine area.

On closer inspection there was a small crack to one of the cylinder heads.  In fact I’d noticed something a couple of years ago but it didn’t seem to leak any water – so, of course, I did nothing about it :(.  See picture:


I’d been dithering over replacing either the heads or the whole engine since I first noticed the small mark that turned out to be a crack.  I got a couple of quotes for replacing the heads as well as swapping the engine over.  Both were way too high and that was without the cost of the main parts – so I decided to do it myself.

The vehicle was now in a state where it couldn’t be driven very far so this would have added to the overall costs if I’d had to get a lift or a tow.

I embarked on finding the best replacement/rebuild that I could and eventually managed to get in touch with Marco Mansi (see http://www.marcomansiperformance.com) – in my eyes, and from what a lot of others say, a highly regarded, high quality rebuider of VW waterboxer engines.  Every one else says how awkward they are to work on – Marco puts them in Beetles and races them!


Marco Mansi built engine undergoing some stress testing!

After a few conversations and a timely slot in his calendar, he was kind enough to rebuild me an engine and to deliver the rebuilt engine to my lock-up.  Here it is when it first arrived:


Newly rebuilt 2100DJ engine from Marco Mansi – delivered in person!

I’d managed to get the old engine out of the bus on my own (no small feat when you’ve never done it before).

Since then I’ve been building up the rebuilt engine with new pipework, new water pump and new clutch (as well as a host of other bits and pieces and cleaned up parts that haven’t been replaced).  The newly built engine is now ready to go back in the bus – wish me luck!


The engine partially built up with new and refurbished parts

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VW Beetle Restoration Underway

Thought I’d create a post covering the recently started restoration of my VW Beetle.

Following last year’s MOT there was some rust between the chassis and the body in the front left wheel arch.  I thought it should be fixed before the problem got any worse.

So I removed a lot of the trim and took it along to my local body shop.  Here it is waiting for the work to start.


My VW Beetle parked at Impact Accident Repairs (now Autofix), Cirencester

Closer investigations proved that it wasn’t just a small job – on one side it didn’t even have a heater channel (the previous restorer preferring to fill any holes/gaps with some kind of builder’s expanding foam!).  Great!

So – the body had to come off………something that I had wanted to try and avoid.


A system of levers helped get the body away from the chassis – plus a few sheared bolts to make sure it came away

Once the body had been raised using a long piece of 4 x 2, the chassis could be rolled out of the way and the body placed on a simple little trolley so that it can be moved around easily.

One full shop

Chassis and body separated

Anyhow, with the body off it gives the opportunity of doing a much better job.  I have new heater channels, new jacking points, new front inner wings, new wheel well, new front and rear valences – plus a few other assorted repair panels.


So that’s where the engine is! This picture show just how simple the construction of Dr Ferdinand Porsche’s little Käfer is.

Currently, the chassis is being ‘fixed up’ with some neat repair work on all of the areas which have rusted over the years.  This sort of thing is way beyond my skills so I’m just doing a few bits and pieces to tart up the parts around the engine – tinware, air filter etc.  As this work goes on I may even take the engine away and replace some seals that are leaking a little – we’ll see.

More later…….


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A New Toy

A little white 1970 VW Beetle was purchased and collected from its owner in Leicester on 24th June.

Sporting a 1300 TP engine reconditioned by the renowned Laurie Pettitt, I drove the car back home through the east Midlands and the Cotswolds on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.

Memories from the last time I owned a Beetle of this era came flooding back.  My old CLB 825H 1969 Beetle didn’t last too long but driving the new acquisition was like a blast from the past.

VW Beetle 1300TP – CYV 178H

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A Week in Marrakech!

At the beginning of June we (with Caroline) managed to get to spend a week in Morroco.

We booked a week in a riad – Riad El Zohar in the heart of the medina.

The name on the door – or just next to it!

Flying out of Gatwick in the early afternoon on the Sunday, we arrived in Marrakech late afternoon.  Our road had sent a taxi to collect us so it was easy getting to the point where the taxi had to hand over to a porter with a cart who was able to negotiate the narrow lanes to carry our bags to the riad.

Not having been to Marrakech for some 32 years, I’d forgotten how narrow and winding the alleys surrounding the medina were.

A glimpse of the colours in a textile sip in the Souks

A glimpse of the colours in a textile sip in the Souks

We started exploring slowly and didn’t venture into the heart of the Souks for a day or so.  By then we felt we’d be able to find our way around and, more importantly, back to where we were staying.

A busy week, we visited:

  • El Bahia Palace
  • El Badi Palace
  • Saadian Toombs
  • The Marrakech Museum
  • Medersa Ben Youssef
  • Marrakech Photography Museum
  • Marjorelle Gardens
  • Ourika Valley
  • Essaouira

The food was very good.  We ate Morroccan food all week – varying between Couscous and Tajines.  A surprising find for lunch was the roof terrace of the Photography Museum.

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2011 France – a Road Less Travelled

So it’s July 2011 and time to take my summer leave.

We (my wife, daughter and I) planned to take the VW camper and spend a week driving and camping throughout France before spending a week in a gîte near Crozant in the Creuse valley.

Just a couple of small rocks in the garden.....

La Petite Folie – a well known mill house in the Sédelle valley frequented by impressionist painters.  A stunning location with fantastic views of the Sédelle river as it crashes and tumbles down the valley before joining the Creuse at Crozant a couple of miles away.

The Sédelle river - running past La Petite Folie.

The first week and all of the travelling went very well.  A 20 year old camper isn’t something that you can take on a 2,000 mile road trip over a week or so without any niggling concerns.  However, she performed marvellously.  The temperature gauge rose quite a bit as we climbed some of the hills south of Clermont – and a weeping water hose connecting to the auxiliary water pump didn’t help with the slight concerns at the back of my mind :-).  But I needn’t have worried.  The driving went like a dream.

What a fantastic little motor the 1.6TD JX engine is in these Westfalia campers.  The vehicle must weigh close on 2.5 tonnes but the engine coped admirably.

Even on the drive home which involved some 600 miles over 2 days it didn’t miss a beat.  It lacks a bit of punch going up the hills but that just gives you more time to view the stunning scenery.

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Camper Repairs Completed

I’ve finally managed to get the repairs to my camper completed.

Looking good again

After removing the damaged rear bumper section there was more damage to the bodywork than expected, and it needed a complete bumper as even the right hand piece had suffered from being wrenched off its bracket when the rear section was pushed in.

The vehicle looks as good as it did before the accident – so special thanks to Steve Butcher and his crew at Impact Accident Repairs in Cirencester for another great job – I just hope I don’t have to visit you again for a while!

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VW Classic Parts Centre, Wolfsburg – a Result!

Well, following on from my previous post, I am pleased to say that I have been able to source original VW parts for the repairs to my camper from VW Classic Parts Centre in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Until recently I wasn’t even aware that this place existed, but have been extremely pleased to find out about them – and to find that the 3 new parts I needed were available.  It’s not cheap – but then, buying new main dealer parts isn’t cheap at any time.

What is good, however, is the service.  Once I’d established the parts were available – there’s an online search facility – I made an enquiry and was told the confirmed price and the costs of shipping.  Shipping was very good value – a complete surprise.  The delivery service was also excellent.  I ordered the parts on Friday 14th January and they arrived yesterday, the 20th – in a big box!

Just need to get the vehicle booked in and the repairs can be completed.  A few other parts that were needed have also been received (mainly sourced from eBay) and we’re just about ready to go.

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