Sunday, December 8, 2013

Not all went to plan but the result is a great one

The first bolts came out on the 27th October 2012. The engine was the first thing to be removed and it needed a lot of work, add in a conversion to 12volt and the allocated $1000 was not enough. The largest cost was the reconditioning of the heads followed by a new muffler. Other things were, A new alternator, distributer, carburettor, gasket and seal kit. The clutch housing had to be modified from a design flaw. When designed they didn't leave enough room for the clutch release bearing. Sure there was enough room when it was all new but when the clutch plate wears the bearing bottomed out and would make the clutch slip only compounding the problem.

Alongside the engine repairs the chassis was worked on. Armed with an 9"angle grinder all the old bolts, timber and shield were cut off. There was so much corrosion and rot that none of it was recoverable. The chassis was sent out along with other components to be sand blasted. This also cost more than was budgeted for. In fact almost all aspects of the restoration was more than budgeted for. Initially $2000 was set aside for the whole job. Half for the engine and the other half for the chassis/body. It was within weeks it was realised it would need twice that.

Around April 2013 paint was starting to fly, took until mid September to complete all the painting tasks. The chassis and the other major components were done first so to have a rolling chassis as soon as possible. Unfortunately the weather turn cold early and made painting very difficult, took weeks for the paint to fully cure. With the chassis painted the engine was bolted in first, probably the first job that went very smoothly. Then came time to re install the axles. New wheel bearings were required, the old ones looked like the grand canyon. These also cost more than planned. 8 new seal were fitted to the bearing housings and 2 for the gearbox. Working out the wheel gauge was a bit of the stumper, in the end the answers was found using Fairmont ST2 Manual.

All the brake rigging was pulled apart. A lot of it uses the same parts from Fairmont as is the design. The brake shoes are held on by wooden blocks. These had to be made, thankfully we had some hardwood laying out back and saws/tools to turnout 4 brake blocks. Linkages were welded up and redrilled and new pins fitted taking out all the play/slop in the brake system. This a part of the project was cheap and painless.

The gearbox was another easy job of refitting taking very little effort. A bit of silicone sealant and it bolted straight on and it doesn't leak oil.

Time came to do something about the body work. Originally the sides and running boards were hardwood, the top deck was plywood.  Not surprisingly hardwood is hard to get these days and what is available is expensive. The decision was made to make everything out of marine grade plywood. Prior to painting the plywood was fitted up so the paint would not get damaged trying to fit it all to the chassis. To replicate the plank look the boards were cut down their length. The plywood was primed before being painted red.

An all new shield was made up based on the same dimensions of the beat up original. The new one is all welded, no rivets were used, bracing was traded off for thicker plate steel. It ended up being only slightly heavier than the original, it will help with traction as well. Its construction was simple and straight forward. However, painting it was a nightmare. On the back of it is pale green and the front has to be red. The green back was done first then masked off to paint the front, all was going well until the last coat of red. A fly landed on the wet surface and ruined the finish. Once the paint was cured and the fly mark buffed out another 2 coats were needed but just as that 2nd coat went on it ran badly. Fixing took a couple of weeks. The excess was mopped up straight away, the paint then had to dry completely before sanding the entire front face of the shield with wet and dry sandpaper, then another 3 coats. It was at this point I was ready to throw the entire project in the bin. Thanks to a good friend who was helping with the job made me see sense. We moved on to getting the new trike trailer finished in time to take the VW to the Wagga model show.

The second to last job was the wiring of the electrics, this is the part I love doing. A central control box was made up to house the power distribution, fuses and relays. There is a key ignition to prevent unauthorised use and an emergency stop switch. Fitted also is a multi-unit electrical system I developed for when two or more trikes are coupled together, a jumper cable is used between units. This system makes it possible to share power, operate lights for direction of travel, all horns sound as one, most importantly and why the system was developed, is that from one point all powered units can be shut down should something go wrong.  It also has a remote control option.

On the 27th October 2013 the last bolts went in and the attachment of the identification plate on the front. This too didn't go to plan, despite using quality rivets they broke before pulling tight.

The VW is still yet to be track tested, probably sometime in the new year once the Crookwell Heritage Railway has its Heritage Operators Licence from John Holland Rail. It did go the this year's Wagga model show for display with only good comments received.

All up the final cost figure was $4,700 not including its purchase or labour and I lost count of the hours after 300. Would I do it again?  I have a TIC to do but it won't be done to the extent of the VW and not for a while. I will enjoy what I have for a while before tackling another restoration.



1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the resto, the finished product looks excellent. Lets hope you can get it on track and do some serious testing and then really enjoy running it.Darren