The BugShop: Project '57, pg 15

This page last modified- 11/3/01

I spent a good 3 weeks with the car under the car cover and never touched it. But I was very busy going through all of the boxes of parts. I found that parts that I thought were "fine" when I put them away, now looked waaay too crappy to put back on my shiny car. So I spent these weeks furiously "resto'ing" just abount everything I could find. Stripping, priming, painting or polishing chrome, or cleaning vinyl.

The lesson learned here is that I could have done all of this a long time ago. Like during the nearly 6 months the body was in the shop. It does take a long time. 

I removed the seat frames from the front seats to clean them up and paint them. Real quickly, I came to the conclusion that the best way to strip them (someone had actually tried to repaint them with a brush) was to have them sandblasted. While the actual surface area was small enough that I would have not shyed away with the air grinder and a ScotchBrite disc, the frames were complex with all kinds of nooks, crags, corners and sharp points. The $30 it cost me to have them sandblasted was a no-brainer. 

This picture should lay to rest any doubts about the effectiveness of sandblasting. There is absolutely no way that and sander, disk, wire brush or even chemical stripper would ever be able to clean a complex part like this seat frame adjustment mechanism so thoroughly.

Now while that lighter color on the frames might look like bare sandblasted metal, it is not. After sandblasting, the tubular frame area that is visible when the seats are re-assembled was sanded with 220 grit aluminum oxide paper. The whole frame(s) was then sprayed with Spies-Hecker's "Red/Brown" etching primer and then very quickly afterward with S-H's VHS primer surfacer. Once dry, the VHS primer was sanded with "red" ScotchBrite pads where it is visible.

The beige paint is Wolfsburg West's "L75" Beige shot from a spray can ($12.95). I am very happy with this paint. The color match is perfect and the paint lays very nicely, like a fine automotive grade paint. It also dries amazingly quick too. As I was trying to be able to paint all of the beige parts in the car from one can, I opted only to paint the seat frames where they show when put together. 

This is my box of ScotchBrite pads that I bought at an autobody supply store, probably 6 years ago. I think these red colored ones are equivilant to 1000 grit sandpaper. You can see the word "FINE" on that one small piece standing upright to the left. This whole box of 20 sheets (about 6" x 9" each I'd say) was about $13. These things are great because 1) they sand irregular surfaces much better (more uniformly) than sandpaper and 2) the sanded material doesn't immediately clog them up when you use them dry like sandpaper of 600 or finer grit.

You can also wet sand with these pads. I found them great for doing quick sands dry (not the sinking kind) of the VHS primer just before spraying color coats. You can cut them into smaller to use shapes with scissors. I highly recommend these when doing any "parts painting". 

Here's some more of the very anal side of me....

The original fender bolts on car are 8mm shanks with 14mm heads. Today, it is all but impossible to find such a bolt. The world has standardized on the 13mm head for an 8mm shank bolt. On the left you can see an original bolt with its 14mm head (this one "shined" on the wire wheel), on the right a shiny new "hardware store" 13mm headed bolt. "Fender" washers of original dimensions are also a bit hard to find (one shown here).

I was going to just use all new 13mm hardware until I was looking through Humberto Lapa's photo album of the restoration of his super perfect '52 "Zwitter" at the Norwalk CT show in 1999. Sure enough, he had "resto'ed" his fender bolts and they had their own picture in his album; all lined up nice.

So of course, I had to dig my box of rusty, crusty bolts out (see the ones at the top of the pic) and spend the better part of an evening with the wire brush wheel on the bench grinder and a pair of vice grips to "resto" mine. For some wierd reason though, I only had about half of my original bolts (maybe the others are in another box somewhere that I'll find later) so I have the 14mm ones in the front fenders and the hardware store replacements in the back. 

Here's an "artsy" shot of one side of my car. This was the night of June 22, 1999, officially "International Drive Your VW to Work" day. No, I didn't drive this car to work, but I made it a point to do some very "tangible" things to it. I completed the fender beading, attached a running board, a door handle and the stainless steel molding on one side.

Needless to say, I was QUITE pleased with the results....

See the June 23, 1999 entry in the Restoration Diary for tips on installng fender beading and body moldings. 

Pressing the Vent Window Glass into the frame.

Here you see the end of the vent window frame and the seal that I used. The correct seal is not available, as best I could tell. The seal you see here is a U-channel seal used in the convertible door windows. You can see that it has an outward lip on either side and is acutally deeper than the vent window frame. I don't remember the exact cost, but these seals are very inexpensive (I got this one from Wolfsburg West).

Here's the setup, minus some blocks of wood and the soapy water spray bottle. This a Workmate, this is not the really cheapy one, but not the most expensive model either. You can see the glass, the frame the seal and the holding jig I made up. The glass can be pulled from the frame, by the way, by hand, but you have to pull REAL hard. I have done probably a half a dozen this way, just holding the frame in one hand and the glass in the other.

Now about that wooden jig. Just some plywood scrap, some time with a jigsaw and some deck screws (wood glue in between). As you can probably guess, I just traced the outside contour of the frame. Note a couple things, 1) an opening in the guide between the 2 pieces screwed down to allow for the pivot post and 2) You can see part of a hole cut at the upper hinge position, under the guide piece. On this jig, this is needed for the passenger side window. The hinge will fit through this opening and allow the window to lay flat. For the driver's side window, the hinge will stick up, but the locking lever will fit down. After I took this picture, I had to drill a 9/16" hole in the wood bottom to allow the locking handle pivot (the handle can and should be removed by driving a small pin out of it) to fit through and the frame to lay flat.

Here's how it is set up. First, using a little 3M cement at (in) the ends of the seal's channel, I glued the seal to the glass edge. Just a bit of glue to make it stay put. The frame is laid in the jig, the little "chocks" on the workmate are set up properly. The spray bottle contains about a 10% solution of dish soap.

Now we're standing on the other side of the work mate and the pressing has begun. The clamp you see on the glass side is to keep the 2x4 from "rolling over" the top of the chocks in the Workmate (they are pretty shallow). Soapy water was sprayed all over everything before it was laid down. Both sides of the seal, in the frame channel. Make sure that only wood presses on the bare glass edge. You can't see it inthe lower part of this picture, but there is another piece of wood along the lower edge of the jig, the two handle (screws) are on the near side of the Workmate and are turned simultaneously.

You have to keep a hand on the frame as you tighten as it wants to pop up sometimes.

Here the glass is pressed all the way in. You know you have it all the way in when the glass edge is even with the frame edge (see the faint red arrows). This took just about all the "ooomph" that this old Workmate had to offer.

Noticed how much of the seal squished out the ends of the frame! (compare with the pic above when it was glued up) And noticed how it all squished up over the locking pivot plate. You want to use a piece of wood just shorter than the glass edge like this to allow the seal to squish out the ends a bit.

Here you can see the locking lever pivot and and how the seal stretched up over the plate. I had trimmed a good inch off the end of the seal at this point after it was pressed, but still hadn't trimmed it flush yet.

While I have never seen glass pop back out of a frame when the press is released, I usually wipe the whole thing down and leave it in the press with pressure applied for a few hours. Seems that the soap may dry out a bit and it may "stick" better. Once out, rinse the whole thing off good. 

Lastly, use a fresh, sharp razor, and trim off all the excess seal.