I can't believe it's been so long since my last update, but I have been steadily working away.
Having found so much rust pretty much everywhere, I came to the conclusion that although it looked sound, there was every chance that the off side sill would be rusty as well, so I removed it, and guess what? Rust!
Of course it would have been much easier to have done this while I was replacing the front arch, but bear in mind when I was doing the arch, I was still labouring under the illusion that the van only needed a bit of welding.
With most of the welding on the lower part of the van complete, I started to think about preparing the body for paint. Part of this included removing the Devon pop top. Which of course, revealed more rust. Luckily though, and almost uniquely for this van, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
The oak frame within the fibre glass surround had rotted substantially in the bit that goes across the front of the roof, so I used what was left of the old one as a pattern to make a new piece up. Luckily I had some old oak lying around from a job it did on the house years ago. For some reason, I didn't take any photos of this repair.
The preparation for painting went on, and on, and on. it wasn't exciting in the least, so I've hardly any photos, but I will say that I found getting the side panels flat and without slight ripples very, very difficult. The turning point came when I watch a video on YouTube about how to get panels flat, and the guy used a sanding block about a metre long. I had a bit of top hat steel section left from when I did the repairs to the chassis outriggers, so I stuck some 120 grit abrasive paper to this and off I went. Using a long sanding block really did make all the difference, and I recommend anyone doing this job does the same.
So after months of preparation it was time to start spraying. I was very lucky, as you may remember the summer during the Lockdown was very warm, and it was during this time I sprayed the van. The weather really couldn't have been more perfect. White bits first.....
Then the blue bits. My van was originally Niagra blue on the lower half, and I was keen to return to the colour it left the factory, in fact this desire to return the van to as close as it was in July 1972 when it was dispatched from the Devon works in Sidmouth carried though the restoration.
Anyway, I had quite some difficulty obtaining the correct shade of blue. All the sample mixes I had made up by my supplier were just too drab, and anyway, I knew what the correct shade should be as there was a surprising amount of original paint in perfect condition underneath the under seal in the wheel arches/wells. This underseal was so old and brittle it chipped off when hit with a pointy hammer. In fact when I googled VW Niagra Blue images the rturns were all different, and most nothing like what was under my arches. So in the end to make sure I got the correct shade of Niagra blue, I ended up cutting a bit off one of the rear wheel wells and sending the paint supplier this. A bit extreme to get the correct shade? Perhaps, but it worked and I was finally happy with the mix that came back.
Great work, very interesting read, was it cellulose paint? I know what you mean about getting the panels flat. I've got a long sanding block, probably 40cm, but mine aren't perfect (well they get better as I worked my way round over the years). I've watched many YouTube vids and some of them use flexible blocks, haven't been able to get any, but they look useful. Looking forward to seeing the finished bus.