DOORS -BODYWORK & FITTINGS

How we used MIG and TIG metal inert gas welding machines from R Tech to repair this classic VW

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VW kombi van or camper wagon with a bay window.  Front valance body panel repairs to a bay window VW

 

OCEAN PLASTIC TOUR BUS - VW Camper, or Combi vans are symbolic of the earth movement, made famous by the likes of Joss Stone, Jamie Oliver and BBC Top Gear presenter, Richard Hammond - all great fans of Volkswagen campers. The Volkswagen van uses the same air cooled 4-cylinder boxer engine as the famed Beetle designed by Professor Ferdinand Porsche. Seen here the front bumper mount was rusted so badly that it was decided to remove it and weld in more substantial panels. This was long before we were given use of the vehicle. Copyright photographs Blueplanet Universal Holdings Ltd 2007, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of BUH Ltd to reproduce these pictures.

 

 

Production of the air cooled VW T2 combination (kombi) van, or camper, ceased in Germany after 1979. Our 1978 model van was one of the last double sliding door vehicles to roll off the production lines.

 

These vehicles were made of steel welded construction from pressed panels ranging from 20 to 18 gauge in the days before design for corrosion treatments was well understood. This means that these Volkswagens rust badly over time forcing most of the owners of the split screen and bay window campers to the scrap yard for recycling.

 

We'd rather not consign another classic VW to our local vehicle cemetery. As we need an event rig we are repairing this bus so that it is strong and reliable in service, also for use as part of our "Feed The World" campaign support vehicle, for showing our robots and giving talks about ocean pollution. The fact that this vehicle has been brought back to life, gives us hope for reviving our seas for economic blue growth recovery.

 

 

A door skin repaired with pop riveted aluminium and body filler 

 

DOOR SKINS - Wow!!! Look at the state of the drivers door once the skin had been removed. On the left you can see how a previous owner had repaired the door using aluminium sheet and pop-rivets. Over the alloy plate, polyester body filler has been applied like plaster to blend in the bodge for painting. On the right you can see how corroded the pressed-steel door frame was. There are no steel pressings available to buy to repair much of the internals, so we'll have to fabricate our own. In the old days this was called panel beating. Keep the tin-snips handy. Copyright photograph all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce these pictures.

 

 

 

 

WELDING & GRINDING - We offered the door up several times to make sure that the wheel arch repairs would line up with the new skin. Use an angle grinder to knock off the spot welding nibs and prepare for welding of the underside repair panels. Copyright photograph all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

Door repairs to the underside using panels from Alan Schofield 

 

 

 

UNDERSIDE AND SKIN - The underside of the door is not something you ever look at until you have to. We used two of the "ski" pressings produced by Alan Schofield to create a new steel door frame. Once again, there are section where nobody produces parts, so you have to use sheet steel from your local motor factors to form the missing sections. Be careful to line up the holes in the door skins with the captive threads for the wing mirrors. Copyright photographs all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Using an angle grinder to cut out the rusted sections

 

THE NITTY GRITTY - Always wear a breathing mask and eye protection when cutting out rotten sections of bodywork or chassis with an angle grinder. Here our expert restorer is using a 1.5mm cutting disc to accurately slice out the old chassis outrigger. He works with the precision of a surgeon - the workshop is his operating theatre. Do not attempt this level of repair unless you have a great deal of experience with sheet metal and as a welder. Copyright photographs, 30 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

VW camper bus doorstep bay window restoration

 

DOORSTEP - The inner and outer step panels are available from Alan Schofield with a very fast delivery service if you need it. Be sure to check clearances before seam welding. We tack weld until we are sure it all fits. Copyright photographs, 14 December 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Film set effects

 

NON STOP WELDING - We are on our second large bottle of gas already. You cannot replace old rusted panels without joining the parts - and while you are at it doing a good job. This camper is to be used for road shows and other events such as the Miss Ocean Watersports competition that is designed to draw attention to plastic and other ocean pollution. Copyright photographs, 1 February 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

R-Tech welding equipment was used with excellent results.

 

OVERHEAD - The hardest welding of all is overhead while joining clean metal to rusted metal. Basically, gravity is working against you and the weld pool, and of course the weld spatter has nowhere to go but rain on the welder. Make sure you work to one side of the weld area. Copyright photographs, 1 February 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

Holy welding smoke and fumes.

 

DOOR RUNNER & SILLS - The sliding door runner was in bad shape, so we decided to replace the whole side. This is not recommended. If at all possible work with as much of the runner as you can. If you really have to replace the lot, you will find getting the roller wheel clearances a problem, but you must keep offering up in trial and error fashion until the lower door wheel run easily. Not only that but the runner height has to be accurate so that the top bearing does not fall out or is unduly loose. Spot welding is not allowed for MOT work even if that was the original method of construction. We suggest spot welding while positioning the parts and when you are absolutely sure of the fit, then run a continuous seam weld to please the MOT tester. The lower spots were drilled first to be sure of 100% penetration as the hole was filled. It's time consuming but gives the best results. Copyright photographs, 1 February 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

WHAT WELDING EQUIPMENT ARE WE USING?

 

We are using the best industrial welding equipment that we could find from R-Tech Welding Equipment. The first thing for our welders to get used to is that the torches are much heavier duty items compared to a lot of other DIY and professional garage equipment and the fittings are superb quality. We needed production quality equipment for when we produce the AmphiMax and SeaVax machines. We have MIG and TIG machines in single and three-phase, and a spool on gun setup especially for aluminium. You'll see more details of these machines as we move ahead with the project through 2017 into 2018.

 

 

Arc stick welding at the Allchorn Maritime conservation project  R-Tech digital inverter welding machines

 

DIGITAL STABILITY - The heavy duty drive on this versatile inverter based machine provides a crisp melt and just the right amount of penetration for an extremely strong weld. Once you find a voltage and amperage combination that you like, you can store the settings to recall as you swap between metal thicknesses. Copyright photographs , 6 December 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

JACKING POINTS - Isn't it strange how many people don't use the jacking points when changing a tyre, but use the sills or other soft body sections. Camper jacking points are welded to the main chassis member and the outer sill section that is part of the door runner. They butt onto the top-hat sections of the floor-pan rails. Copyright photographs 15 February 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

 

OFFSIDE SILL - Here we have welded in another steel panel to reinforce the wheel arch lower corner that is prone to corrosion, before we replace the outer rear arch section.  Copyright photographs 15 February 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

NEARSIDE SILL & RUNNER - This is a very rare twin sliding door van. Because of this some parts for the door runner are not available, meaning that you have to fabricate steel sections from other suitable parts. Don't panic, there are plenty of available parts that can be modified. Copyright photographs 15 February 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

NEARSIDE SILL & RUNNER - Once clamped in position, our very experienced welder joins the section to the steel pressing behind. Holes are drilled in the new section to be joined to the panel behind. Holes are first drilled in the new section, and then filled with weld using a circular motion to give complete penetration. Copyright photographs 15 February 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

   

 

DOOR REPAIRS - Offer up the new door skin. You will find that it needs to be fettled quite a bit to mate up with the original frame. Grind off the paint where it is to be welded and spot weld to secure, but only once you are sure of a reasonably perfect fit. Copyright photographs March 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

VW camper van tailgate repairs

 

TAILGATE HATCH - One of the main causes of rust in these vans is that the rubber window seals fail, when water trickles down the inside of the bodywork and rusts the steel where it sits before evaporating. In British winters the damage is multiplied until the inner door frame is peppered with rust holes, that at least allow water to escape before doing too much more harm. This leaves us with a repair problem and several choices. We can try to source a new tailgate, repair panels, or custom make repairs sections. As we have now exhausted our crowd funding from 2017, we could not afford new panels, instead we welded in 22 gauge steel sheet, making the most of our superb welding equipment and the patience of our volunteer mechanics. Cut out as little rusted steel as will yield a solid repair. Try to resist the temptation to bodge with fibreglass as this will be nowhere near as strong or last as long. We swaged a lip onto the original door skin. The new steel strip then blends in to the old, save for the welds. Spot welding is fine for this repair, so long as you grind the weld heads flush ready for surface filling. Copyright photographs April 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

All welded up and ready for surface filling and then primer painting

 

THAT'S BETTER - Okay, it still looks a mess, but we now have a solid steel foundation on which to prepare for painting. We are vinyl wrapping this vehicle with suitable ocean images, but we still need to paint her and obtain a reasonable finish or the wrapping will not work that well and all of the hard work so far will have been wasted. Copyright photographs April 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

 

 

VW LINKS

 

http://www.r-techwelding.co.uk/

http://www.alanhschofield.com/

https://www.vwheritage.com/

http://www.coolairvw.co.uk/

http://www.justkampers.com/

http://www.volkszone.com/

http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/

 

 

Welding in a steel chassis member for a good repair

 

R-TECH MIG - This digital welder can be used in MMA or TIG mode, but here is fitted with a Eurotorch and is being used to weld in a chassis member at the front of this classic surfing wagon. Copyright photographs , 6 December 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

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