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The Story So Far - Page 01

25/11/2013 
A Brubaker has come up on the Samba so as they are so rare I must have it. The money has been sent and hopefully it should arrive here in the UK in about 3 to 4 weeks. As I haven't imported a vehicle from the USA before, my friend Chris from work has been very helpful talking to the buyer on the phone and setting up the shipping. The van is a bit rough, but is said to be complete and the engine starts. First job is to get it home to Helium Frog Headquarters and then get it on the road. Its causing quite a stir at work and everyone seems to think its really cool as its just a pure 1970 retro classic. It even has period slot mag wheels and a "Shag Pad" interior! I cannot wait to click my Slade tape into the 8 track!








29/11/2013 
Shipping has now been organised and hopefully the vehicle will leave New York and arrive in Southampton UK just after Christmas. Whilst this is going on I have been doing some investigation as to what type of front windscreen the van uses. Top runners so far are 1970 Ford Pinto. There is a USA vehicle windscreen specialist in Luton, so this shouldn't be too hard to find. I am happy that most other parts can be found locally or replaced if needs be with similar items.

As I may be selling the baja I have had thoughts to use the Baja chassis for this car, its the cheapest solution as the Baja is worth more as parts. In that way I can have a right hand drive vehicle which already has a good chassis. Right hand drive really appeals to me as the drivers seat is next to the sliding door and initial inspection of pictures looks like the dash panel is a simple pod arrangement that can be moved across. Not sure which way to go yet until the van arrives. A 1972 chassis and reg would be nice to keep the registration of the correct vintage.


04/12/2013 
I have had a message today that the Brubaker Box has been picked up from the sellers and is making its way to the port.

05/12/2013 
I have had news that the Brubaker has arrived at the New York docks. I have just to make the shipping payments and the Box should be on its way.

01/12/2013 
Latest transport news is that the Brubaker is booked on the OOCL Antwerp and will leave the docks at New York on 05/01/2014. Arrival at Southampton around 25 days later. With the containers perched on the deck like that...I hope its a smooth crossing!

09/01/2014

There seems to have been a bit of a delay for the OOCL Antwerp into New York. Perhaps this was due to the severe weather in that area (Heavy snow and -25 degree temperatures). However today I tracked the ship into the port. Click image for a larger view. Tracking ships online can only be done when they are near land using this method, so I only picked her up today. The last time I tracked her was around the Azores off the Portugese coast!


14/01/2014

The OOCL Antwerp is now on the move, but it seems in the wrong direction! After leaving New York it travelled south and stopped at Norfolk Virginia and is currently docked in Charleston South Carolina. I believe the next destination to be Rotterdam in Holland. This is at least in Europe so my Brubaker will be closer to its new home.

23/01/2014

After leaving Charleston and about 6 days steaming across the Atlantic Ocean, I spotted the OOCL Anwerp this morning in the English Channel. This afternoon it was nearly through the Dover Calais strait. It is interesting to see how many ships are in this area and how they negotiate through. Not too far now until Rotterdam and then a quick trip back to Southampton. This is the closest yet the Brubaker has been to my home! Click image for a closer look.


27/01/2014
As suspected there has been a slight delay in the initial arrival date. I recieved a phone call today from the shipping company that the Brubaker will arrive in Southampton on Thursday 30th January 2014. The OOCL Antwerp is currently docked in Hamburg after a short trip up the coast from Rotterdam. Next stop is back down to Le Havre and then fingers crossed it is Southampton! The Brubaker has probably travelled further in the last few weeks than it will under my ownership! I initially planned to pick up the vehicle from the port, but my friend Chris has got some quotes to transport it directly to my house. These are around 200 all in, so it really isn't worth the trouble of hiring a trailer and going down there myself.

30/01/2014 The Brubaker has landed!

At 7.13am today the OOCL Antwerp docked in Southampton. I understand it will take 3 to 5 days through customs and then it is available for pickup. I just need to pay the VAT at 5% and also the cost of delivery to my home in Bedfordshire. There was no stop in Le Havre as this may be the next port the ship visits. The information on the net as to next port is often incorrect. So the completed journey of the brubaker was as follows:-

New York
Norfolk - Virginia
Charleston - South Carolina
Rotterdam - Holland
Hamburg - Germany
Southampton - UK

I'm excited to see the vehicle, but also a little apprehensive in case its is a complete wreck or indeed that I don't really like the vehicle close up as I have never actually seen one in the flesh! I might get my first look late next week.


02/02/2014

More paperwork has been recieved today to tell me that the Brubaker has cleared customs. I paid the VAT and all that now needs to be done is to pay the transport to my home. This is cash on arrival so maybe Tuesday or Wednesday I should have the box on my drive.

05/02/2014 A New Arrival!

At about 6 pm this evening the Brubaker finally arrived at my house. It was transported on a 3 car transporter alongside a Porsche 944, and a Bentley! I helped the driver unload and we pushed it easily onto my drive. I had a bit of a panic attack when I noticed the rear engine cover missing and in the dark it was difficult to see if it was inside. Fortunately further investigation with a torch revealed that inside was the rear cover and the two front alloy wheels poking out from under the rubbish. Here are the first pictures i took after it had landed.

Outside view - Windscreen is taped in. Its cracked on the lower right. There appears to be another cracked one inside which may be of use as I can take it to a supplier to get a match. Note also 4 stud front wheels, 5 stud rears. This is the same as my Baja! It doesn't matter as I will fit a disc brake conversion and so I am free to choose what stud pattern I want. Paintwork actually appears really good, but it is wet with rain which can hide many sins. The drivers side (Left side) doesn't appear to have a window and is open to the elements. It has been like this for at least 2 months during shipping. Tonight it sleeps cozy under a small tarpaulin roped over the gap. Underneath there is a huge hole the size of a football (UK football!) in the floorpan. The frame head, centre tunnel and rear outriggers seem to be OK so new floorpans are an easy fix. Brakes are non existent. The master cylinder reservoir is there but has no pipework. The car rolls easily so the wheel bearings are at least working.


Engine - Again exposed to the elements as the rear cover is inside the car. It has developed a nice patina! A strange battery tray is present top right and it has a bosch blue coil. The engine does rotate when turned with a spanner on the crank pulley. There is a lot of end float. The previous owner says the engine runs. I think this is correct as all the parts are there and the engine is free turning. It is a single port and on first glance looks almost standard. I can feel compression which is good. The rear tyres were flat at the docks, and the delivery man pumped them up for transport. I will probably replace all the tyres anyhow. Oh yes and I forgot to mention. The Brubaker has torsion bar front suspension, but IRS rear. The best setup and a nice surprise. I wonder what year the chassis is? This could sway the decision to keep this chassis rather than finding a UK RHD donor from 1972. I like the engine bay. No inner wheel arches and really good access to the engine. The rear window is fitted and the delivery driver asked me if the car had anything to do with Star Trek. Notice on the bottom left there is an etching in the glass of a Star Trek shuttle pod. This etching is also on the side glass. So the car now has a provisional name "The Shuttle Pod!" It's so obvious when you look at it. Thank you to the previous owner who got there first with the idea.


Interior drivers side - Even though this side has no window, the seats appear to be really good and are of tough vinyl. Perhaps these will clean up. I like the steering wheel. Carpets are shot and covered in mould, moss and probably rat droppings. There also appears to be a good collection of childrens toys in the passenger foot well! I hope the child managed to get out before shipping!


Dash Board -  This seems to be a leatherette affair. Just a large expanse of brown nothing. The dials are actually in the upright section just under the window (not shown in this picture). Good for longsighted people. There is a standard VW dial and to the left a rev counter which matches. This is also from a VW I think, but not sure which one.


Interior Rear - This was a good sight as here is the rear engine cover. If this hadn't been here I could have written off the project as I would not know where to get another. I also hasn't been chopped away for an aftermarket exhaust. Another bonus. What's underneath I have no idea. I'm hoping the rear seat cushion is OK and not ripped.


Conclusion - My first impression is that the car was running and quite decent before being put in a barn (Clues:- Working engine and good seats). Someone clearly liked the car and added the Star Trek logos and the bosch blue coil. The toys indicate that children may have played in it whilst it was in the barn until it became too dirty to enjoy. The barn kept it quite dry as the engine is not siezed and the seats remained OK. The transport and probably the stay in New York during low temperatures and snow has made it wet inside but not so long as to make the car a complete rot box.

Lots and lots of work which I may not have time for. My friend Chris is hopefully coming up on Saturday to help me clean out and have a look how it all goes together. I'm sure once the interior has all the detritus removed, the mountain we have to climb won't seem so high. I already have thoughts to split the body off and send the chassis away for refurbishment leaving me just the top half to get done. Looking at the construction the body can be lifted off forward easily with the engine still in place. I don't like concours cars and just a running car with a clean but lived in look will suit this car just fine.

07/02/2014 Locked Out!
Home after work and unfortunately I have again to work in the dark. I tried to unlock the sliding door, but there was no joy. I applied WD40 to the slider but still nothing. The seals may have perished shut. Even after sliding the window back and working from inside it was stuck fast. I did have some luck on the top slider mechanism in that all the screws turn easily. Tomorrow when Chris arrives we should be able to remove the door completely to see whats wrong. There was nothing for it but to access the vehicle through the drivers door. Oh dear the door seems to be an "Aftermarket" affair and hand made with wood and very little care.

Clearly this is not of Curtis Brubaker design and will need to be fibreglassed shut and repaired. Unfortunately the interior panel is missing. I'll remove all the carpet and have a further look later. It's good in a way as I hated this door setup with the exposed hinges and now I know its not original I will be glad to see it go. Fibreglass here seems about 10mm thick in places! This shouldn't be too hard to fix, but the window above might need some thinking about. I did find some glass in the back of the car and one appears to be the right size for this.

On entering I removed the front wheel from the passenger side and found the seat all ripped. This probably occured during transport and is not good news. The seats seem to have standard VW bases so these wont be too hard to replace. Not sure where I can find ones with headrests though. Seatbelts are lap belts only which is also not too good. All toys and kids clothing are now removed and the broken windscreen inside the car is out. This looks like a different one from that which is used on the vehicle and is scrap anyhow. The dash board is very unusual and as seen last night a sea of uninteresting 70's diarrhea beige! Dials are quite cool thoughand looks like there is an ammeter and another pressure gauge (Maybe oil pressure). These could easily be relocated for right hand drive. The steering column is supported by a box section frame. Again not too hard to relocate. I initially thought this may be a 1500cc semi auto, but there are three pedals. The pedal cluster is mounted forward and upward. Very unusual. I'm still not sure how the floor is constructed. Are the panels removable or is it a single skin?

Next task was to enter the rear of the car. The Pouffe (Foot stool) that I have seen on other cars doesn't seem to be there, but underneath I found a removable panel which gives access to the fuel tank. I'm not sure which make this is, but its not from a beetle. Under here I also found about 100 acorns. but good news is there were no other living residents! In the back I found the rear panel, a bumper and a few other bits of carpet and trim. The rear light looks OK and there is a bit of room each side for a UK style indicator. I believe these lights are from a Toyota pickup.

Rear space is quite good, but I think the headroom is restricted, so this calls for a relaxed seating position! There is no roof lining, but some side panels. The body appears to be constructed in separate panels, the side and top panel are then bonded. At least that how it appears to me. I envisage sanding this off and maybe painting with stone chip or something to get it looking more reasonable. rear seat is missing a few buttons, but is not ripped. the carpet originally was a vivid satsuma orange but is now faded and damp.

One final image of the front of the vehicle. The front bumper is closer to the body than images of other vehicles I have seen. They are attached to the torsion bar bolts using a large pair of brackets. All the lights and indicators look good. The rear tyres have gone flat within two days and will need to be replaced. The front wheels are 4 stud and the hubs will need changing to accomodate the five stud alloys which came with the vehicle.

Conclusion - More jobs on the list, but nothing that cannot be done. I think the decision has been made to locate a RHD 1972 chassis and replace the one currently fitted. This will make access better via the sliding door and also paperwork with the DVLA much easier.


08/02/2014 Access All Areas

Today Chris came over and helped me access the interior through the sliding door. We undid the sliders at the top and managed to remove the whole assembly. The door catch required a little WD40 and now slides back and forth. The mechanism is very clever and the door is quite light. Next on the list was to have some fun with the engine to see if it would start. After some fiddling and scratching of heads with the wiring, we swapped the coil for a new one and using jump leads got the thing to turn over. To our utter amazement the engine spluttered and with a little easy start began to fire up. Our enthusiasm high we next rigged up a little jam jar and connected fuel via the pump. Another start and the engine was running on fuel. Large lumps of rust and debris blew everywhere and all seemed well. Unfortunately we noticed a large pool of oil forming on the garage floor. Looking underneath this seems to be coming from between the case halfs. Still it was fun whilst it lasted.
Next job was to reorder the cars on the drive. The Baja is now outside covered under tarpaulin and the Brubaker is in the garage drying out. After Chris left I removed the passenger seat and began stripping out the wet carpet. This is clearly not original and is pieced together and glued badly to the floor. I managed to get half the floor done before end of play. There are some horrors here. A large area around the handbrake and gear lever has been cut away and will need re connecting. The area around the fuel tank is also a mess and duck tape has been used to seal a large gap to the rear wheel arch. I'm not sure what to do here. Maybe make up some sections using flat GRP board. Perhaps just carpeting the centre tunnel is an option to cover the repairs.
Whilst we were in this area we noted the chassis number and looked it up. The chassis is January 1971 Beetle and could be the original but who knows for sure. The seats seem to be Ford items, but don't look original as they are mounted very badly using huge stacks of washers.


14/02/2014 Gutted!

Home for the weekend and as I had some time tonight I decided to gut the interior of its seats and all the nasty carpet and brown vinyl. The vinyl seems to have been fitted quite well and I am not sure whether this was a factory fit, but all the photos I have seen do not have this, so as it is in poor condition this has to be removed. I am coming to the conclusion that this may be a later automecca vehicle which was built as a home made kit as there are too many home fitted items and modifications.

Its quite nice to see how the Brubaker is put together and I cannot decide whether it's a really clever design or a really poor one! For example the door mechanism is very neat and simple, the interior well made and a very pleasing shape, but construction is complex....really complex. I am not surprised that Brubaker went bust as there seems to be about three times as many panels as is really necessary! having said that I really love it now I can see it all. Its just so exraordinary. I tried cleaning a portion of the panel with white spirits and the carpet glue came off after a slight rub with a metal scouring pad. The panel wasn't scratched and hopefully the rest will come up like this. See image below on far right door jam for how I am hoping I can get the panels to look. The upper panels are textured fibreglass but the lower areas are coated with stone chip paint. The gauges have been fitted badly and I think they were originally located behind the steering wheel in a binacle. This is now missing so I work with what I have and just engineer it a little better.


The rear seat is a separate bucket that locates in 3 tapered holes in the body. This is very clever and the seat can be removed so you could for example use it on the beach. Of course Mr Brubaker could have just padded the body and had removable cushions to save money, but I am learning that he didn't cut corners! The image below shows the seat removed and you can see the vertical tapered holes. The center large hole has been added later. Perhaps this is for acces to the clutch cable or to assist engine removal. I'm not sure. The upper panels are quite smooth and with cleaning could be painted to tidy things up.


The petrol (gas) tank is now out and so are the 1 and a half buckets of acorns! I believe the body here was all one piece across the top of the tank with no acces from inside the car. The chassis number was probably not visible originally. This has been hacked about quite badly and you can see right through to the rear wheel. I'll probably plate this over with aluminium or metal sheet with a bolted edge. Note that there are no bolts across the chassis and along the edge of the floor pan here. A standard beetle has 4 bolts across and quite a few along the heater channel at the edges of the car. See this image for how it usually is done by VW. I haven't yet learned how the body actually attaches to the chassis. You would have thought they would have used the bolts on the floorpan edges to improve stiffness, but there seems to be no evidence of any holes I can find. I am assuming it bolts at the front and rear somehow unless I am missing something obvious. Perhaps its glued!  This is like automotive archeology......How did our forefathers do it!

The passenger door is now off and the large blocks of wood removed from the A and B pillar. The door seems to have about three skins of panelling and I am assuming one of these was done when the door was put in, but I think one may be when the inner panel was bonded to the outer at the factory. I am going to have to take it all apart and glass in the outer panel first and may even have to cut out some more inner panel to do this. I also found some parts in the sill which are remnants of the inner panel. Maybe I can piece it together from these. This is going to be tough.


22/02/2014 On a diet

I had trouble pushing the Brubaker in and out of the garage last weekend so I thought it would be a good idea to put it on a diet! I didn't have a lot of time today as I was fitting twin carbs to the beetle (See Baja Bug Webpage), but in the evening I pushed hard and removed the engine. Many of the bolts were tough work and I couldn't remove one of the heat exchangers directly. It's unpleasant work with a very rusty engine, the risk of dirt in your eyes is always a constant annoyance. Still after a few strong words the engine dropped out. Its not a very desirable engine as its a single port, no doghouse cooler and has a cracked manifold. I want a great engine in the Brubaker and this is not it. I'm not sure what to do yet, just ditch it and get another or try to rebuild.

Whilst there hasn't been too much work done today, in the week I have been purchasing a few items to make work easier. First on the list is a new high lift trolley jack. I have one already, but this new one goes up to 0.5m. This should make body removal much easier. I also priced up the cost to make some sawhorses so I can stand the body on when lifted off. Unfortunately wood is so expensive these would cost 110+ to make. I searched for an alternative and found proper steel trestles were only 20 each. I now have 4 and only need two fence posts for cross beams. The trestles are of course also useful for decorating and many other uses around the home and are much more compact for storage. 4 trestles can carry 900 Kg, so these should support the Brubaker body safely. It was a long day today 10am until 7pm as well as all my household chores, but hopefully if not too tired I can get a little more done tomorrow.

23/02/2014 

I was pretty tired today, but again tried to keep the momentum going on the Brubaker. I managed to strip off most of the outer parts of the engine and now have a nearly bare longblock engine. I found another nest of some animal within the tinware. Unfortunately some of the tinware was so badly corroded I had to grind off the bolts in some places. This is not good as it means I will have to drill out and retap the block and head to recover the threads.

After the engine strip down I decided to completely remove the wiring from the car. It is badly spliced in places with gaffa tape and has been chopped about quite badly. I did save some connections and the fuse box, but most of it was junk. At the front of the car I needed better access so removed the front panel and windscreen. There is an undertray which I assume is there to protect the wiring, but it was held in with two woodscrews. The wiper mechanism is bolted to the removable nose section, but I think should be mounted to the body and the spindles used to locate the panel. The lights are mounted on flat sheet riveted to the fibreglass. I will replace these with UK sourced items so the beam pattern is correct. Looking underneath and comparing the shock towers either side, the bodyshell is about 3/4" to the right. I can correct this later. On first inspection the front torsion bar tubes look in pretty good shape as does the frame head.

I have checked on my fibreglass stock and I have enough tape, chopped matting and woven matting to fibreglass the door. I just need some epoxy resin. Next weekends work is already bieng planned. I hope to have the body off in the next few weeks. The weather outside is improving now as we have had quite bad rain over the last few weeks. This should help as I can get the box outside but if not, there is plenty of cleaning and scraping to be done on the inside of the car.


28/02/2014 Brubaker Goupies!

A busy week away from the Brubaker and some success sourcing parts. Whilst in London I spotted a 1958 chassis on ebay and I thought this may be ideal for the Brubaker. This would mean an easy registration and no Tax or MOT worries. Unfortunately the advert was withdrawn, so another rethink was called for. In the mean time I purchased some resin / tissue and other fibreglass sundries from CYB Glassfibre in Canvey Island. I now have all I need to seal up the drivers side door.

After removing the engine last week and finding that the case was a single oil relief and not a good basis for renovation, the search was on for an engine. Again ebay came to my rescue and a recon with very few miles on it came up for sale. I picked this up on Thursday night from RPS Bodyworks in Wymondham near Norwich. 495 for a 1600cc long block engine complete with oil cooler. The engine is AB code which means it has a dual relief case and was originally a 1300cc built between 1971 and 1973. This is again nice as it is the correct era for the Brubaker. The price is cheaper than a top end renovation kit, so hopefully it will prove to be a good buy, but until I run the engine I cannot be sure. The engine looks clean and well looked after.

Tonight I had a visit from two Brubaker Groupies! Chris, my friend from work and Dean from Classic Car Revivals in Baldock visited to have a look at the progress. After a discussion it was decided that the chassis I have will be sent to Dean for sand blasting, powder coating and be put back into working order. He was kind enough to offer that we could come to his workshop and fit up the chassis to a rolling stage if that would help us out. He noticed that the wheels may have a non standard PCD, so I need to check this out and also that the front torsion bar assembly might need replacing. We also discussed how to get the vehicle registered and settled on a plan of attack. I need to obtain the chassis birth certificate from Germany so I can get an age related plate and V5. I welcomed the visit as having a group of knowledgeable people around gives me confidence that I can get the job finished.

It was very damp again this evening so no chance of getting the vehicle outside. I contented myself with tidying the garage up a little and then got onto scouring the inside of the car to remove all the carpet glue. It came up really well using white spirit and I think another couple of hours and the inside will be totally transformed. The carpet has preserved the surface quite well and there is only a little cracking at the front close to the windscreen. This may be sun damage and I will probably cover this with some brushed vinyl or something. Dash cracking is common in the hot states in america and covering with carpet or vinyl is common. Where possible I removed any floor bolts as I went along, sometimes with spanners and sometimes with an angle grinder. I have noticed the body seems a little off centre around the gearstick and a portion of the body is cut away to clear the front shock tower on the right side. Something here is not quite right, perhaps the chassis is twisted or the fibreglass distorted in some way due to the centre tunnel bieng cut away or possibly the torsion bar has had a shunt. Still it can all be sorted with either welding, replacing, fibreglassing or a combination of both!


01/03/2014 The "Brubaker" Smell

I got up early this morning and picked up some large fence posts 100mm x 100mm x 2.4m. These are the cross beams that I will place the body on after its been removed. It is useful having a working Baja with a roof rack when it comes to this sort of thing. After arriving home it was time to tackle the passenger side door. I spent about an hour planning and then there was nothing else to do but begin hacking. I decided to cut all the inner panel back leaving a 40mm lip around. This way it shouldn't be too difficult to attach a bolt on inner panel.

Whilst grinding I noticed a rather distinct smell and lots of white powder bieng produced. I believe this to be talc. The Brubaker may have been made by using a mould which is gel coated then the fibreglass is sprayed on similar to how many fibreglass baths are made. The talc is used as a filler to make the sprayed medium thicker. The smell is quite nice, but just in case I wore a proper two filter face mask.

I next attacked the inside of the door and removed all excess fibreglass. this took ages as it was 3 layers thick in places. I used an angle grinder as access was limited for a saw. The job is now nearly complete. I just need to feather back the edges on both panels and then onto fibreglassing. I found many more acorns in all the sill cavities. That squirrel must have been very fat indeed! Notice also in the above picture that the dash board and right side of the interior is starting to come up quite well. I need to go over it again with white spirit and a wire brush and scourer for the dash area, but I may not need to do too much work to this to get it looking presentable.


08/03/2014

Another early start to pick up parts from Milton Keynes and also a trip to the tyre fitters to swap over some tyres that I had delivered in the week. Unfortunately when we removed the old tyres the fitter noticed that he would be unable to fit the tyres I had chosen as the rims are too wide. This was a blow and I may have to rethink the wheel situation. The chassis had standard VW 4 stud hubs. The rear wheels are fitted with adaptors, but the long bolt is missing. The front hubs currently have an old 4 stud wheel set fitted. In order to fit these wheels I will have to buy 4 new wheel adaptors and now sell the tyres and buy new ones! Perhaps I should just look for a new set of rims that fit straight on. I really like the wheel I have though....Another decision that I shall think about for a few weeks and do some more research. In the mean time I have fitted my old 14" rims from my Baja on the back. I now have 4 tyres that hold air! 

After returning home it was back on to the door. I spent a good hour feathering the edges of the body and door tapering it down on the inside and back about 20 - 40mm each side of the join. I then spent ages aligning everything up and attaching fishplates to the outside. I bought these from Screwfix for about 3.60 for 10. I aligned the top and bottom edges and then the middle. The panel was a little out of line in the middle, but only by a couple of millimeters or so. The plates were easily strong enough to pull this out. I also had to make up some little card squares to fill in the hinge holes. I covered these with black tape as I assume that this will peel away from the resin. I then taped all the seams and pushed the tape into the gap so the resin would not be proud of the surface.

Once this was complete I ground off all the screw ends flush with the inside of the panel. and wiped down the inside with some clean cloth. This doesn't sound too much work, but it took me about 4 hours to get everything just right and solid. The inside looked pretty neat when finished and the image below shows how it looked just prior to fibreglassing. By close of play I had managed to put a single layer of glass on the seams. I'm pretty confident I can make this repair invisible from the outside once it has been sprayed up. Very pleased with the progress today and I enjoy working with fibreglass. This is good as there is lots more to do!


15/03/2014 Keeping the Squirrels Out!

Last night I did some preparation work by laying up some flat fibreglass sheeting. I managed to get some old UPVC window frames during the week and they proved very useful to lay up the sheet on the glass panel. A quick wipe with turtlewax before applying a couple of layers of matting enabled the finished sheet to part quite easily. I tried both chopped mat and woven mat and found the chopped mat much stiffer and thicker. I do have quite a bit of woven mat and this is a good opportunity to use it up as I prefer woven mat as it is easier to work with and much cheaper.

First job today was to finish off the door reinforcement. In total I have added 6 layers. This should give about 6mm wall thickness and I have been able to move the car back and forth holding the door, so I think this is easily strong enough. All the outer fishplates have been removed and it looks a fairly easy job to smooth this over to make an invisible repair.

Next job was to block up the hole behind the fuel tank. This was where the squirrels had got in and stored all their acorns! I measured and cut a template in card and then made up a panel to fit. This took quite a time, but was really pleasing and fitted exactly.

It was still quite thin and flexible at this stage, but when it is fitted and the body removed I can add several layers of glass to make it solid. I'm not sure I will bolt this to the floorpan as the passenger side has no bolts here. I added the lip as this should help make a better water seal. This now has a single layer of glass fibre on the other side to hold it in place. I won't do much more with this until the body is removed and I can get better access to add more layers.

In between waiting for the glass fibre to go off I also went around the vehicle and ground off as many chassis to body bolts as I could find. Here I found the worst piece of engineering I have seen for a long time. The previous owner must have has a 1/4" washer fetish or something. As an Automotive Engine Designer by trade and this sort of thing horrifies me. Its just as easy to do the job correctly as do it wrong, what a mess! I am coming to the conclusion that this car may never have been on the road and if it was it was a death trap! Well at least it makes the body easy to remove.

Last job was removing the steering column. Having a good look at the footwell it would be a big job to change to right hand drive, so I am going to keep it as is.....At least that is the decision for this weekend. The body now feels loose on the chassis at the back. I think there are still two bolts at the front that need tickling with the grinder and maybe removal of the pedal assembly, but after that the body should be free. My brother is coming over next weekend, so lifting off the body will be a nice job for us to do together. I also won a sand blast cabinet on ebay so If I can pick it up during the week that should make tidying up parts much easier. This is going to take a long time, but if I get the right gear I can make the job much more pleasant.


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