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It all started as a moderate pile of iron oxide and dreams...

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vacca rabite

For the past several months, no work on the car has gotten done.

The shop in VA that I have been working at moved to a new location, and so from the months of May - July we have been packing boxes, moving shop equipment, tools, 10 years of build up stuff, and cars.  The new shop is slightly smaller, but WAY better.  We moved out of an industrial park about a mile down the road to a new, private location in Charles City, VA.  Cuts, scrapes, a LOT of sweat and swearing, but we got all three bays cleared out, cleaned up, and moved to the new shop by Midnight July 1.  For the "work weekend" in July, we went shooting.  And I'm guessing for the work weekend in August, I'm guessing it will also NOT be about cars - maybe a James river float or something else relaxing to do on a hot, humid Virginia day.  


In June I picked up a set of Alpina wheels (for free) and a spare set of axles from a friend who was also moving and needed to clear stuff out of his garage.  SCORE!  I'm not sure if the wheels are 5.5 inch wide or 6.5 inches wide.


I have been thinking about the build quite a lot.  The rust is extensive, yet fixable.  And I've already tackled some of the bigger areas.

Now that the front fenders are off, I found a small patch of rust on each side going into the cabin that I am guessing is pretty common.  A patch will fix it.

I'm going to replace the front fenders instead of trying to fix mine.  There is not that much wrong with them, but I'd really like to just be able to bolt on new ones instead of cutting and welding and cleaning the old ones.


The rear fenders both have rust in the arches that was hidden.  The arch panels will fix it, but are just as expensive as fitting in flares.  Man, it is really tempting to flare out the car and run some wider tire with a little spacer to push the wheels out.  But this goes against my desire to have a basically stock car.  Going down this route is what has kept me from driving my heavily modified 914.  Though if the wheels I got are the 6.5 inch wheels, I may have to flare it out for them to fit right.


Once the rocker panels are fully welded closed again, the next BIG task will be the trunk.  Its daunting, and will probably be several weekends of effort to clear and repair.


The reality is that almost every panel of this car needs some sort of rust repair.  That the shock towers are solid is some sort of weird godsend.


When I did my 914 the first time, it took me three years from buying it to the first drive, and that was with the car in my garage, here in York PA. I have started thinking about dragging the BMW home to work on, but I enjoy and need the break from life to go down to VA and work on it once a month.  I've had the BMW now for just over a year.  Hopefully its not another 2 years before I am able to start it up for the first time and drive it around.



vacca rabite

Last week I was back in Virginia to do more welding on the car.With my floor pans being mostly fixed, the next BIG issue were my rockers.  The drivers side rockers were by far the worst, so I decided to start with them.


Since I had bought the full rocker replacement panel from Restoration Design (who is the NA reseller for the W&N panels), I decided to replace the entire rocker.  This gives me a chance to see first hand how these cars are put together.


This first pic, well, it isn't pretty.



The cut off part is getting saved for making patches.  So I've set it aside.



When doing something unpleasant its best to make yourself as comfortable as possible.  The drivers seat fit the bill pretty well.  Better then kneeling on a concrete slab.




Even in tidewater VA, nearing 100 degrees in April is warm. Cutting spot welds takes time, and after 8 hours grinding and banging and cussing it was time to put the car back on the ground. As I sat there, in the work bay, drinking water to try and rehydrate, my car almost looked pretty.



Next day I got an early start.  It was obvious that I was not going to get the new rocker panel welded on, as there is some reconstruction that needs to happen first before its covered back up again.


Being slightly less warm and having a breeze, I opted to work outside under my Eazy-Up.  This picture reminds me of a little dog cocking its leg up to pee.  ;-)

At this point I had taken my bucket blaster and hit the interior of the rocker panel with glass blast media.  I also went around the car and hit all the places where the cars had started rusting around the trim.  I found a couple new weak spots in the steel along the way, but they were nothing critical.  You can see that the rust is gone along the leading edge of the hood.



The interior of the rocker is also looking much better.  I had cut away the inner rocker to get at the rust behind it.  The inner rocker will be rebuilt using that off cut piece from the day before.  Tehre are clearly some areas here that still need work, but I'm starting to see light at the end of the tunnel for this rocker.



Unfortunately it was now Sunday afternoon and I needed to be cleaning up.  I hit the bare metal with some black epoxy to keep new rust from forming, since the car will be siting with the rocker exposed for about a month at least.  Before I painted it, I went in with an air hose and REALLY blew out all the crevices.  I wanted to get the cavities as clean and rust/dirt/blast media free as possible so there would not be sludge sitting there just waiting to soak up more water.



Went around the car and put a bit of epoxy on all the areas I hit with the blaster.



Both rear fenders have areas like this that blew out when I blasted what I had hoped was surface rust.  Given the cost of the patch panel I'm giving serious thought to getting a set of the IE Turbo flares or welding in a set of Mk1 VW flares.  My orginal scope for this car was to have it almost totally stock.  But with all the welding I'm doing, I wonder if putting flares on would be that great a sin.  I would certainly open up my wheels selection.



Until next time...





vacca rabite

Ive been tardy and let two work weekends pass without a blog update.


So, first, a new pass side floor.

trimming down the panel, and starting fitment and finding out where to cut.



Yup...  That is a big gaping hole in the floor.



Get all the edges clean and ready to be welded in.  Both for the panel to be welded in and the floor that needs the patch.




Finally ready to begin the fun part.



Zap zap zap zap zap.



And a little primer to keep the rust from reforming.



Part 2 coming up!




vacca rabite

Doing Homework

Last time I was out to work on my car, I brought a piece of the rear seat bulkhead to repair.

As you can see, the bottom edge was totally rotten.  YUCK!  While most of the bottom inch is going to get cut off, there is a few inches of solid metal I wanted to preserve.  On the pic below, you can see the top right.  I need to remove the old floor metal that has been spot welded on to the flange.



In the next pic you can see where I have wire wheeled the flange and found the spot welds.  I've also ground down the metal around the spot welds for easy removal.



Next I grabbed on to the remaining bit of floor with a pair of vise-grips and peeled it away from the flange.  You can see the nubs of metal left here (and also where I have ground two of the nubs flush.)



Take some measurements.  Scribe some lines.  get ready to start cutting out the cancer.



Bend up a new flange out of some 22 gauge steel.  I thought I had some 18, but this will work. Clamp it tight to the panel so I can scribe my cut line on to it.



Wire wheel through the paint and rust.  Start welding.

The blow out was my initial tack weld, where I had my welder set to hot.  I really want to modify my welder to have infinite temperature variation rather then just the 4 positions it currently has.  



That's where I left off last night, as it was midnight and I did not want to piss off my neighbors by turning on my air grinder (and I was exhausted).

Welds need to be ground smooth and primed.  Hopefully the next time I get a work weekend on my car the rear floor will go in and I'll be able to weld in this piece of bulkhead.


But better to get this done now for homework, then waste time on a work weekend futzing with it.


vacca rabite

From October to the end of December nothing got done on the car.  Well, that's not really true.

I got a ton of small parts back from the cad platers, and they look good.  But for the most part, until this past week all my time for the past two months has been hunting, making stuff for Christmas in my shop, some crunch time at work, and then the actual holidays.


But this past week, gentle reader.  This past week shit got done.

Started the same as seemingly all my other work weekends. Rainy.  Yep, I made the 4 hour drive to Richmond in the rain in only 7 hours!  A most excellent start. ;-)  At least I got to avoid all the sleet and ice back home in PA.



Never mind the cold rain.  Lets get cutting.


And test fitting....



And more cutting and grinding and cleaning and osphoing...



And some jacking (yes, there are jackstands under there - just hard to seem them)



And more fitting (getting close now!)...


And weld through primering...


And more panel prep... (and if you have a keen eye, you will see that there has been a little welding too - I shut up the areas where the panel had cut outs for right hand drive cars)  The notches at the bottom of the panel are relief cuts to allow the panel to fit properly and tightly.



Its finally time to weld!  Lots of layers.  Gotta try and stay warm.



Sum total of 2 days work.  Keeping in mind I'm NOT a metal worker or welder by trade, I'm pleased!  Still need to fill in the fitting notches and grind down the rosettes, (not pictured) but the welds mostly layed down very nice.  Little blow through.  Panel fitment is excellent.  Very tight against all the mating surfaces, though the back edge took a LOT of hammering to get right.



Next day (New Years Eve Day - Day 3) I started on the back drivers side floor.  This panel was not NEARLY as bad as the front pass side, but I still bought a new panel for it.

Cut out the rust.  I also cut out the bulkhead to take home and fix the rust through on the bottom flange.  This will be a fairly easy fix.



Sadly, I lost track of the wires in the spark shower while cutting out the bulkhead flange.  The cut off wheel touched them and cut them like a knife through butter.  GRUMBLE.  But they are color coded and there are not that many of them.  Could have been worse.



I did a little more cutting, fitting and cleaning in the back, but now it was getting cold, and it was getting closer to New Years Eve party time.  So a quick scrub with Ospho, cleaning up the work area, putting away tools and such and work time was over.


After several work sessions over the summer and fall that essentially equaled "prep," it was very gratifying to be able to start putting good metal back into the car again. 

Several steps closer now to being able to put some of these nicer parts back on the car.





vacca rabite

Rust and hurricanes

This past weekend was my monthly trip to Richmond to work on my 2002 and visit with my southern set of friends.

Work was hampered slightly due to brake failure on my Toyota Highlander while driving down to Richmond (yipe!) which required fixing as soon as I got there, and a hurricane that just happened to be wrecking Florida, the Carolinas, and dumping several inches of rain in tidewater VA.


The last month (whose blog post never got posted) I had started stripping floor tar with dry ice.  But extreme heat and running short of time never let me finish that job.  So I polished that off Friday after replacing the brakes on the Toyota.



This did, sadly, turn up yet another rusty spot where I thought the metal was sound.  Happily, its a small spot.  Sadly, there is a big suspension mounting bolt on it.  This is another result of the HUGE mouse nest under that rear bench seat, and all the water that got trapped in it.



Its in FAR better shape then the other side and the rust never spread beyond the bulkhead this time.  So, a fairly easy patch to make.  But, still a patch to make.




The new floor panels (from W&N by way of Restoration Design) came in and they are a good fit.  I'm looking forward to welding them in.



Also a new set of W&N rockers fro the left and right sides.  


As the sun went down on Friday, the rain move in.  We had not actually planned to work on the car Saturday, but as the original plans got washed out by the monsoon, we slept in and got back to work for a few hours.  I put the car on a taller set of jack stands to make the work a little more comfortable.  At this point the 2002 was as tall as the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.  As you can see, at this point things were remarkably wet.



The rain was switching between soaking and driving, so my aspirations on starting to cut our rotten metal were dashed.  Instead we sealed the gas tank.


The tank had *seemed* sound when pulling it out of the car.  It had several gallons of fuel in it and was not leaking.  But after boiling it the truth came out.  The top looks okay...  Good even.


 The bottom of the tank, though...  *puke*



I poked my camera in the tank any it was like stars in the night sky.



So, decision time.  Some of these holes were 1/4 inch.  The metal on the bottom o the tank was too thin to weld. The epoxy sealer is supposed to be able to deal with this kind of issue, but there were doubts. Was the tank worth saving?  We decided to tape up the holes and try it.  The thought being that this was the only work we would be able to do that day due to the weather, and the chances of further harm to the tank were pretty darned small, while the chances to save it were pretty good.  We decided on taking a belt and suspenders approach.  The epoxy tank sealer would go on, and go on a bit on the thick side for the size of the tank.  After it was dry (it took 36 hours to harden - which was expected) we covered up the pinholes with some fuel safe JB-weld.  Its not a concourse car solution, but this car will never be a concourse car - it will be a driver. All this said we plan on testing this tank for leaks before putting it back in the car.


After the tank was set aside to cure, I helped Scott with a few tasks around his shop, and then we went home.  As the day went on the weather just got worse and worse.  We were somewhere between damp and soaked even though we were under cover.  It was Saturday afternoon and there were cold beverages awaiting our return to the house.  So we did just that.  Standing water on every roadway.  Lots of accidents.  Just an all around lovely day.


Next month I'll be hunting instead of working on the BMW, but the December work weekend is already set (to coincide with a Reverend Horton Heat concert.)  Hopefully, I'll be able to move the car inside in December, which will allow me to pull the doors off and take them home for work. 


Also, its pretty clear that the weather seals on the car are at this point just wishes and prayers.  The car was pretty damp inside during the storm.  I am hopeful that by spring the car will have the welding complete and will be in epoxy sealer if not epoxy and paint.  So all the window seals are going to need to be sourced and replaced.

vacca rabite



I'm not sure whose car this is.  But its the inspiration I'm using for mine.  


I had decided that I was going to take the trim off my car and weld up the holes.  So I was searching for pictures and here was this little beauty.  My color, almost exactly what I have planned for my car.  

So if this is your car.  Man, it looks fantastic.  And I'm using it for my inspiration.



vacca rabite


A 90+ degree day here in tidewater Virginia.  I'm slightly hung over.  Its humid as balls.  It took me 7 hours to make the 4 hour drive from my home in York.  Anyway.  Time to take more parts off cars.


Started with the master cylinder bracket.  I used up a TON of time cussing and fighting before I figured out all I had to do was pull the 4 bolts that I thought were part of the steering shaft bushing through the firewall.






And while I was in there, I pulled all these other brackets off.



And then sand blasted them for powder coating.



And then all this stuff got pulled off to get cad plated.


And this


 And these (after blasting all the rust off that clutch cylinder bolt)

All this stuff will get cad plated.



Also, check it out.  I've got headers!




It seems like not a lot of work, but that was about 8 hours of labor.  


Other stuff:

The gas tank got boiled, and was riddled with pinholes. :(

But the 2 part epoxy coating that we were going to coat it with anyway is supposed to be pretty thick and will seal them off.  As I've already paid for the tank to get boiled and for the epoxy kit, we are going to try it out and see how it works.  If not, I'll be in the market for a new tank.


The list of work for next months session will include:

*Installing new motor mounts.  

*Cutting out the trunk floor for replacement.  

*Clearing rust away from where the fresh pedal cluster will go, and replacing the pedal cluster and brake bracket.








vacca rabite

The day I bought the car, the pedals looked like this:


Dear God YUCK!

Also, the clutch cylinder is broke.  

Anyway, that pile of excrement simply can not exist in MY very fancy automobile.  So, after considerable cussing and sweating, out it came.

The next day there was a hurricane.  So I drove a few hundred miles home instead of attempting to work on my car.  But I brought the cluster with me.  Yay!  Mini-project!


So, first I took everything apart and blasted away the rust, paint, tar, and my tears.


The fresh parts went right off to New Life Powder Coating right here in York PA.  I've worked with these guys for the past couple years and they do excellent work.And they have an oven that is big enough to PC entire cars, truck frames, whatever.  Very good people.


And a week later got these back:



I gave Ireland Engineering a few weeks worth of beer money and they sent me their full bearing pedal rebuild kit.  And - wow.  Its amazing!


There was some fitting I needed to do.  The inside of the pedal bores were coated, so I needed to polish down the IE aluminum bushings.  Easy as pie.  Stuck them on my lathe, little oil and 320 grit sand paper and we were good to go.  They have almost zero play in them, and actuate so smoothly!  Highly recommended.

vacca rabite

After buying the car, immediately tear down began.



Gas tank out to be boiled and epoxy coated.

Fuel lines removed (including the nylon interior fuel line).

Front calipers off for rebuild.

Front disks off for replacement.

Rear brake cylinders out for replacement.

Brake hard lines out for refresh.

Pedal cluster removed for rebuilding.


We cleaned out the prior tenants.



The Passenger front floor was getting close to Fred Flintstone territory when we scraped out the tar coat.  Yuck!  But all the other floors were solid.



The rear trunk had the expected iron oxide speed holes already installed.  



More soon, gentle readers.

vacca rabite

So, its hot.  I'm bored.  Here is the start of my restoration blog.

I bought the car in June of 2016.  It was advertised as not needing much, mostly solid, strong running engine, etc.

When I got there the car that faced me was, well, a car.

On the west coast it would be a parts car.  But I'm on the east coast.  And we takes what we can gets.




My thoughts of taking the car home that day ended.  Brakes were frozen, tires would not hold air, usual old car BS.  I live in York PA, the car is in Richmond VA.  Happily a friend in Richmond is willing to hang onto the car for me until I can get it able to safely make the trip back north.