By Dave B 4242 Date 2014-11-10 00:03
For years I have admired the lines and 'fun-ness' of the fiberglass VW dune buggy. A kid in the 60's I have often seen these buggies in Elvis movies and occasionally around town.
Around 15 years ago I was conversing with a co-worker and the subject came up. He indicated that he had one and was willing to part with it. At the time life and family had my priorities and the notion was placed on the back burner.
The co-worker and I parted ways entering into different jobs and lost contact with each other. However we recently met in passing and the buggy was brought up. Having assumed he had sold the buggy long ago I was surprised to hear he still had it. That's all I needed and he agreed for me to follow him home to see it.
Opening his garage I could make the shape out under a mountain of boxes piled upon it. Enough was exposed to see that this would be a project. The car had sat in it's present condition for over 30 years. The engine was removed and the rear tires were off. I inquired about price and was told that provided I was willing to take on the project, he would give the car to me!
One month later in November 2014, we returned with a trailer and loaded everything up transporting it into my garage.
Today is the day after that arrival and I began cleaning out the car and taking stork in the multitude of parts that came with the buggy. Taking pictures and doing some more in-depth investigation I discovered some rot in the pan on the passenger side just ahead of the rear tire. Nervous but assured that the entire pan structure can be replaced if needed. The hood has a dent where some weighted boxes had sat upon it for years. I hope to use reverse weight and heat to undue the damage. A small crack and some chips in the fiberglass is the only damage to the body. A hole had been torched between and behind the seats exposing some of the shift linkage suggesting a problem existed.
Mostly rusted, faded and filthy, this appears to be just what I need at a pivotal period in my life. I am anticipating the expenses and work with expectations that as the project begins to come together I will be joined by my reluctant wife. I expect this to become our favorite summertime adventure out and look forward to cruising our bay front and beaches.
I am first looking to establish years and models for all the parts and pieces involved. It seems nothing is common in this regard. The engine, front end, rear end and engine are all from different vintages. And the fiberglass is assumed to be a Manx replica, not a true Myers Manx chassis.
My first mission is disassembly removing the chassis from the VW frame and assessing the pan and other structures. Once the reconstruction work is complete I am thinking about powder coating all surfaces, then having bed-liner sprayed. I wonder though if power coating can be replaced entirely with bed liner? The fiberglass will most likely be sent out after prep for paint as I don't have the confidence to paint the tub. I'd also like to find the side blisters for the sides but first need to be sure of the model. I will take ample photographs along the way and share.
By Lloyd B 2301 Date 2014-11-10 16:18
Look forward to watching your progress. Your initial cost will help in the rebuild.
By Larry R 3785 Date 2014-11-12 03:23
Nice find!!! Be sure to save pictures, I could
Kick myself for not having better before
By Dave B 4242 Date 2014-12-15 02:02
Initial cost was most affordable as stated. One of my delays will be in establishing heat into the garage housing my buggy. I think a torpedo style heater will suffice to get things rolling.
My initial goals are to get the pan and body separated and both front and rear ends removed. Then assessment and repairs will be needed to return the pan to usable.
Once I get the base in sound condition I am interested in treating it to both protect it and be attractive at the same time. One question I have is, what is the best coating for this goal? Paint, Powder Coat, Rhino Liner??
I intend to powder coat all the steering rods and components as well as rear end mounts and connectors.
On the same note, once I have the engine halves apart, what coating is preferred on the case halves? This engine will be exposed and I want it to be and remain attractive.
I have the engine in my basement and have begun pulling it apart. 2 cylinders slid off easily but the other 2 are presenting an issue. Although I havent specifically attempted to yet, the crank hasnt shown any sign of movement.
New jugs and pistons are included in the parts. The heads were already off and I havent inspected them very closely but I assume they will need truing at the least. As for finish on the heads I was simply going to clean the aluminum as well as I can and leave them au-natural. Is there any clear coating that will preserve their natural finish?
Lots of questions guys. Sure hope to get some help here as I progress and questions arise. If something I ask has already been covered, please link me in the right direction!
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By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2014-12-15 02:59
I personally like to clean the pan with a wire wheel, chemically treat any remaining rust, and then use Herculiner. Whatever you have left you can use to coat the underside of the fenders on the body. It will help preventing "staring" of the paint. If you powdercoat you really have to break down the chassis.
I use rattle can engine paint for the case. The vast majority of the heads will be covered by tins so there is really no need to coat them..plus there is some discussion on how coating heads may reduce their cooling abilities.
PB Blaster and some heat to the cylinders can often help remove some stuck rings. Af rozen crank is generally not a good sign. I would buy any new parts until you figure out if what you have is salvageable.
By Dave B 4242 Date 2014-12-21 21:55
Thanks Jeffrey P. What do you use to "chemically treat" rust? I am inclined to agree with the bed liner as opposed to powder coat for the pan. I suspect it is more resilient to road chips and will stay bonded better.
I'm hoping that I can avoid hiding the heads behind a sheet metal shroud and be able to show them. Not sure though as cooling may be the issue.
Tried and tried PB Blaster among other lubs with heat to no avail. I took drastic measures today and because of it will be needing new rods in the list of parts. A Sawzall did the trick and I finally have my case apart and dis assembled. A shame too as the other rods look re usable.
Looking at my heads I am dismayed to discover they are spent and beyond salvaging. I did a quick ebay search and am hopeful they wont cost me much more. The new cylinders indicate 87mm. Will I need to match the new heads to this bore? I'd be interested in any reference to a reputable site to get new heads.
Should I remove the long studs from the case halves? I am going to send the case out for steam cleaning and blasting. Once I get them back I'll begin the re-assembly process.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2014-12-22 17:03
There are several rust converters available on the market. One is Loctite Extend. They are aerosol and available at your local parts store. You remove the loose rust and spray it on. It chemically neutralizes the rust and turns into a primer. It won't "fix" a severely rusted panel but its great for mild surface rust.
I am not sure how you will be able to not cover the heads. The shroud and barrel covers are pretty much integrated and required for cooling. Without them I am pretty sure you will trash your heads.
I am not a great resource for motor things. I do know the heads need to fit the barrels.
Mofoco is one source:
There are lots of others as well.
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