Restoration Revelation (Part 1)

Typically, as I think about the Spring Thaw, I’m considering minor things to my Beetle such as adjusting the carbs, changing the brakes or building a new engine. Yes, that’s right, the minor things. This year, however, I find myself in much the same disaster as many of you, with a total and complete restoration on my hands. In September I sold my 1969 Beetle, and began working on the next project, a 1971 Beetle. Rather then slowly work on the project over a period of a few years, as I did the last one, I figured it would just be faster and easier to tear this one down and do it all at once. Call it a restoration, or perhaps in this case a rebuild, but regardless it’s comprehensive!

Sitting in the CCA garage right now is a bare Volkswagen Beetle pan. So far in the first two months I’ve managed to strip the car down, repair the body, and prep the pan. The last month has been quite a bit slower though, as I’ve accomplished nothing more then mounting the transmission, shift rod and shifter. True, I did manage to squeeze a Porsche 5 speed into the Volkswagen floorpan, but the entire job was nothing but frustration. Two transmission rebuilds, plenty of cutting and welding and then finally 39 hours to setup the shift linkage so I could get all five gears and reverse while using the stock Beetle shifter.

While I have a mountain of things to do ahead of me, the experience has taught me just how insane some of you are each year. There are a few things I just don’t understand about this restoration thing¬† though. Like….

Where did all the parts go?! 
When I tore the car down, I put every nut, bolt and part into a ziplock bag, labelled it and placed the bag into one of three plastic bins. Now, as I go to rebuild the car, I can never find the bag I need. And why does the “front suspension” bag contain both the left and right side bolts, but the “rear suspension” bag only has 1-side? To make matters even worse, I tore down two other parts cars, labelling the parts as well. Why is it when I can’t find “rear suspension bolts” for my car, none of the parts car bins have them either!?!

Where does all the money go?
Back when I had a running, driving, car, the finances were simple. I needed something, I bought it. If I needed something big, I saved and I bought it. Most importantly, though, once I bought something there was a appreciable difference. Silent bearings, good brakes, new cosmetics. Now I just have boxes of parts, a floorpan…and no money. I’m working, I’m getting paid every two weeks but the car remains just a floorpan and there is no money. I knew restorations were bad, but this is black-hole suction!

Why doesn’t this fit!?!
Seriously, did an evil elf sneak in here with a hammer? Parts that came off the car were cleaned up, restored and painted…you’d think they’d fit. None of that seems to fit without grinding, drilling, modifying or dancing an ancient ritual found on the internet. I suppose, in hindsight, I should have just built a stock restoration…maybe then things would go together?

(this one is for Warwick) When will the mess stop?!
I think its about once a week that I announce I’m finally done with the grinding, cutting, drilling, welding and spilling. “Don’t worry Warwick,” I tell him, “it’s all clean bolt-together stuff now.” Um, I started in September…it’s the end of November. I mean, it has to stop before the car is driving, right?


P.S. Stop in tomorrow to see my four tips for making it through a major restoration…

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2 Responses to “Restoration Revelation (Part 1)”

  1. works4me November 28, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Ha, ha, ha. Yup, this sounds very familiar.

    And, no, it doesn’t make a difference if you build the car stock. Absolutely nothing fit on the BugEye and the body was stock. Even the overriders wouldn’t fit!! And the interior, specifically for a BugEye and a BugEye only, didn’t work the first time either.

    Once things are finally together it’s an amazing feeling, though.

  2. John Chattin-McNichols November 28, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    And–there is the part that we were prepared for by doing all of those “Can you spot ten things different between these two pictures?” puzzles. Why is the driver door rattling so badly when it’s latched–it’s coming from right there–ok, it’s the door handle lever, if only I had a way to hold it down and damp it…” Then, weeks later, happening to look at the passenger side to see the piece in place there doing exactly that, that got tossed or lost somewhere for the driver door…

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