Saturday, March 16, 2019

VW "Impersonator" and "Sabbatical"

Okay, I have been absent from this blog for a while, and when I left there was a really demoralizing problem fitting the front windows. I simply didn't want to continue until that got solved, and I am happy to report that it now fits (see the bottom photo). I also had a family member with a serious health problem, and while that continues, I am also happy that treatment appears to be being met responsively.

In the meantime the shop has another van, a much younger German one, which I call "Claudia." She's painted suspiciously like her English cousin, Victoria. But hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! The next things to do are to put the pocket doors in and paint the front grille. I know I have predicted completion before, but I expect it'll be this summer.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Drips, Handle, Dimples and Mr. Woo.

So the door problems have been fixed, but there another problem: the windows don't fit anymore. I mean the glass is flat as before but the aperture has seemingly changed shape. I'm freaking out for the second consecutive month, but Aaron is chill. We'll see. It could be a show-stopper.

The drip rails have gone on.

The front valance is going to be painted black and the manufacturing plate reattached.

The rear door handle problem has been solved.

The little dimples on the front have been reattached.

Lastly, I came across "Mr. Woo" while talking home from work. At 13 years old his rear legs recently gave out on him. But he's no ready to give up on life and his "parents" bought him a pair of wheels and he's busy racing up and down the side walk near where I park my car. There's a metaphor in that somewhere for all of us.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Major Setback

Since last week: front fenders and the radiator panel have gone on. Instruments found.

The colored pieces are coming together, but somehow after all the paint and polishing the front doors don’t fit right anymore. The leading edge rubber doesn’t touch the body on either side. The left side is really bad, it’s about 3/8 out and the right is about 1/8 out. I noticed it last week after reviewing a photo I had taken of the van, and I confirmed it this week when I examined the doors carefully (I closed them). In a finished product, this is a major setback.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fender Bender

Progress has slowed (from the last post) waiting for some much-needed parts in the mail. One is from Australia. However, in the last 9 days the rear fenders have been added plus the right sliding door was installed. I am very happy with the rears; they look really authentic.

Now, what's that orange thing in the side of the van?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Sum of All Beers

Of course the title is an adaptation of Tom Clancy's "Sum of All Fears" an espionage thriller tracking a plot to start World War III. "Beers" is obviously more appropriate here.

Last weekend was the van's 67 birthday. It was also the weekend of the All British Field Meet auto show, which I had hoped to attend. Alas, the van wasn't ready. 

In the past months my angst has reached new levels. What if after all this effort, after the opportunity costs and simple regular costs, it doesn't meet vision perfected nearly a decade ago? Everyone I know knows about the project. If I fail to delivery a outcome that's reflective of the effort what will they think of me? That's the lonely thought going through my head. Driving -- thinking about it -- is the worst. Apparently I make hand gesture when I think, or at least I am told that.

As it stands, the doors are going on, and the front glass is being fitted. The front leading edge of the side doors' rubber was a bitch to get on. I of course gave up before someone more persistent took over and succeeded. The front fenders were hit with clear, and they'll be sanded soon, bringing them back to where they were in March 2016 (before it was decided that they they needed to be refinished). 

There's another show in August, and I'll take the van there. I don't care about the shows myself, but I would like my dad to get the benefit of the experience, because I think it's the sort of thing he might have enjoyed doing in different circumstances.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Anxiety Parade 2

Okay, so this is the way the left rear wing looks now.  It's stuffed. It's radius is a little bigger than the wheel arch? Worse, it hangs past the body line by about 1 inch.
Here's how the fender looked originally. We knew for years that it didn't/wasn't going to fit. The original fender that was on the vehicle was banged up (see rumpled one below) and a replacement section was made (but never applied), and then a replacement fender was started, but abandoned. Eventually I got another from a donor in Australia (and that's the one that's on the van now)

My anxiety is that this looks stupid and I'll never enjoy the van because I'm looking at the stupid stuffed fender. Tonight I was researching people who might be able to help. The local university has a math department that might be able to find a way of optimally reshaping the fender to make it fit but preserve its original appearance.

Anxiety Parade 1

As events draw to a close, anxiety mounts. Two things weigh on my mind late at night when I think about the project. One is the wing lights and, specifically, the left one. When the wings were repaired it appeared that the left one was slanted, but I was just looking at a phone. Maybe it was an optical thing. But when the wings got mounted on the van I saw them same thing again, also in a photo. Again, maybe it’s just the way the fender/wing is seated in the wheel arch OR maybe something’s not correct.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Oh, the Suspens-ion

Suspension painted and put back in as promised last week. The nicely painted “copper” brake lines pop against the black. Last night I looked at the old photos and it sure is easy to forget how much improvement has been made.
The front and rear shocks I purchased 8 years again were oddly rusted when I plucked them off the shelf, so some sand paper and 8 coats of paint later, they look good too. They’ll be popped in place next weekend along with some other bits like the prop shaft and drag link. I received the new window u-profile rubber this week. It looks like it’ll work out.
What lube do other folks use for the side door rails?

Saturday, April 1, 2017


Took the suspension off this weekend to clean and repaint it. When it goes back on (maybe next weekend) it’ll hopefully be the last time it’s off in my lifetime. Cleaning it this afternoon I noticed something that has eluded be before, a number cast into the front axle -- "ST923ESCIA". I have no idea what it means. I have previously documented the number etched in the top, but this is different. It seems that die were put in situ before the molten metal was poured. You can see in the photo above that they are raised whereas the former are engraved (post casting). I am excited to get this done because then thing can start getting assembled quickly.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rubber...getting tiresome.

So years ago I ordered from window rubber from these guys:
This weekend I pulled it out and realized it isn’t going to work (see photo). The problem is with the U-channel – it’s just too thin. Now the s-channel’s dimension on all three sides that hold the glass at 3 mm x 3 mm x 3.5 mm. The channel I have is profile 391, I believe. My u-channel is 1.6 mm meaning I’ll have a giant gap at the front if I try and use it. I think I might just need a 1/8” (3/8” overall) u-channel like these ones:
Overall, not the most costly mistake to make – rubber, it’s like it grows on trees!
Elsewhere, the exterior finish is coming together. The hinges will hit paint soon, and looking at them this afternoon it’s hard to believe they aren’t original – foundry, machinist, filing and sanding, and what you see here now.
Aiming for Victoria Day long weekend for final assembly.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cuba, Chrome and Alternator

Okay, spent a week in Cuba last month. My family wanted the sun, but I wanted to look at old cars, and they were everywhere. Most are owned by the government. The original engines have conked out and guess what they use as a universal replacement? 5-cylinder Mercedes-Benz diesel engines. If you're interested, go soon because it's changing a lot, and for the better. Traveled all over the island and there wasn't a single grocery store.
I saw a couple British cars there and managed to snap this one -- it's an Austin Cambridge from 1956, I think. Steve Diggins had one.
Moved the alternator over to the left side and hopefully it will not interfere with the accelerator cable.
Chrome pieces are going out this week.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Rear Badge

Really happy about landing one of these rare badges. It was a local find too, so maybe it was originally from my van.  It's also in great shape. I cleaned it up this afternoon. I am uncertain about what colour it should be but I have time to figure that out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Cobwebs have gathered over the project over the absence of availability of a polisher. Yeah, I said that... a polisher. So for you keeping score at home:

Month | Accomplishments
March: None
April: None
May : None
June : None
July : None
August: To be determined.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fiddlin’ on the Roof

About 7.5 years ago the roof of my van was removed. Long-time readers will remember what it was like back then (see photos above). Today it was replaced, in the company of a couple kids that weren't even alive when it was removed. Hopefully it will remain there for the next 60 years or so. It took a team efforts of extra tall folks, and it happened in no time at all. Special thank you to them. Aaron, being attuned to the Shulchan Aruch, grew a beard for the occasion (not really). Of course, he can't be "Tevye the Dairyman" because he's 4 short of the required number of daughters. The doors need to be added next ans the rest will follow soon thereafter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Man With the Van Hassle"

Updates have been absent because color sanding isn’t compelling material for blogging. Let’s just say it’s being done real nicely. Meanwhile, I keep passing this cool little van on the streets of Vancouver, usually at a filming location. I can never get my phone out to take a snap of it (besides that would be illegal), but last weekend I went to the local soccer venue with my daughters (see above) for their first time, and as we pulled in the parking lot, there it was! There was a guy in a nearby car guarding it. He explained that it was for the TV series “Man in the High Castle” which is an “alternative history” where Japan and German prevail in WW2, and colonize the United States (Canada remains unchanged, naturally). I took the photos above but I couldn’t figure out what it was. In other places my friend Marc (yea, the guy with the truck that went and got the van with me in 2008) bought a new car (see above). It’s just 1800 pounds and has an LS3 engine, giving it the same performance metrics as a Bugatti. I’m scared to drive in it. There's also some guy on the Interenet selling "Happiness is buying a Morris J Type" in shich case drugs are becoming a necessity in my life.