Blue Bertha - '73 microbus turned camper

Discussion in 'Restorations' started by Blue Bertha, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. Howdy! You were all very welcoming in the introduction thread so I thought I might as well start a resto thread of my own.
    Be aware that the pictures are taken quite sporadically, and the work is done even more so :rolleyes:
    I'll try to take more pics from now on!
    Basically the story is that I got the bus for next to nothing after it standing untouched for 11 years. First priority is to get it street legal and through MOT again, so any major cosmetic repairs will only come later.
    And after that the camper conversion project will begin! (hopefully)
    I will probably use this thread for general troubleshooting too, appreciate all your help in advance :thumbsup:

    Here she was as I bought her.
    The tintop is in original color "Orient Blue" - rest of the bus has been painted over with some random blue at some unknown point in time. And quite shoddily so. Will probably strip the new blue and see what's underneath. Give it a good old "rat patina" look until I get around to re-painting it (waaaayy down the line)
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    Friendly guy from a local tow company brought it home on a sunday.
    When I bought the bus I lived in an apartment in Helsinki, Finland, and had a garage in the same building.
    Later I moved to a house in the countryside (without a garage, ironically) so I still have this city-garage rented and hopefully am not bothering the neighbours too much...
    [​IMG]

    In the meantime, here are my daily drivers :)
    1988 T3 Caravelle & 2014 Golf mk7 Variant
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    Stay tuned...

    PS: Note that English isn't my native language so disregard any spelling errors.
     
    MeelisV, Lasty, Rez and 4 others like this.
  2. i can t i c:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:ant spell either or people can t read nothen irish lol:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
     
  3. We like pictures..:thumbsup:


    (Some can't read to well):)
     
  4. Here's the engine as it was when I bought the bus. Not looking so fresh, but no major damage to be seen either. And the crank turned fine, so it should be okay for a top end rebuild.
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    The carb cleaned out okay after a bit of a rebuild (note how messy it was before)
    I didn't polish it up too much but the main goal was to stop leaks and have it working properly again.
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    And after a clean carb and some minor ignition tweaking, we got her to fire right up!!
    First start in 11 years, video here: https://streamable.com/wvvyz
    The ignition switch wasn't working so we had to go the good old movie way and connect the bare wires up front. :D
    And we made a kill switch from an old switch lying around, you can barely see it in the video hanging from those red wires. (didn't need it though since it stalled due to a stuck accelerator pedal and a poor idle)

    It was a true macgyver moment for someone like me who hasn't worked on these before whatsoever! Stoked to have her running with minor issues.
    And now I knew the engine was good enough to warrant a proper rebuild.

    To be continued...
     
    MeelisV, Bulletooth, Murtle and 2 others like this.
  5. Dropped the front beam yesterday. It was pretty stuck in there. Took a whole bunch of banging with a sledge hammer until it came off.

    Axles and suspension are in some serious need of freshening up...
    Brakes were badly seized up after standing outside for 11 years.
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    Hub, brakes, shock came off:
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    And everything else as well:
    After fighting with the trailing arms and ball joint nuts for a good while...
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    After banging on it for a couple days, it finally came off:
    First impression were that it's fairly intact with minor damage on the bump stop arms, and also behind one of the shock mounts.
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    Took off all peripherals and started scraping off the ungodly amount of gunk and dirt:
    Major leaks around the steering axle.
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    Here's the worst damage. One side is fine while the other has a major hole. Fun little detail that the inner side looks almost like brand new metal:
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  6. Someone pointed out to look for damage on the very bottom, but they look to be in fairly good condition:
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    And the aforementioned bump stop arms:
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    Last but not least, a very ugly repair of the steering axle bottom from the previous owner. Complete with two large holes! This might explain the excess grease leaks in the middle bottom of the beam:
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    Next step is to get it thoroughly wirebrushed and cleaned up before considering the repairs.
    Any tips and tricks are greatly appreciated!
     
    shielsy likes this.
  7. Get some strip and clean discs. They’re the best for taking paint off.
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    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Day and Blue Bertha like this.
  8. Rez

    Rez

    I'd be recommending a new beam instead of spend time and money on that one.

    Great thread so far though!
     
  9. very easy fix on that beam mine was ten times worse , mine turned outmint
     
  10. Like a Polo?
     
    Gingerbus and Bulletooth like this.
  11. £600+ for a new beam whilst this one is easily fixable with a little bit of welding. Not even close to some of what I've seen on this forum. I'm not considering that option at the moment. Let's see how this turns out first. Will go with stock suspension anyway.
     
    paradox, Valveandy and Bulletooth like this.
  12. Will do, thanks!
    The wire cup had to work overtime and still wasn't quite enough.
     
  13. When I removed the engine. This is what it looked like when it had been standing for 11 years
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    Didn't have a proper engine stand, but I got the table mount for cheap. Now all that was missing was a table so I made one of those too. Turned out fine, first thing I ever built I think. Thankfully it didn't need to be beautiful, just sturdy.
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    Works like a charm:
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    Leaks, rust, gunk, allaround nastyness...
    The sump plate had been switched to a heater type. For those cold starts in the winter I guess?
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    Little bit of stripping and cleaning:
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    It had the thin walled 1641cc cylinders that had seen their best days, so I decided to go back to stock 1600.
    [​IMG]
     
    MeelisV and Day like this.
  14. I had planned on reusing the old heads but 7 out of 8 exhaust bolts were totally seized/stripped/broken, so I just decided to scrap them and go with new (non-original) ones. They seem to be decent quality though.
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    Almost all the tinware parts were gone or destroyed so I got them as new reproduction. Here's the build so far.
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    Pretty much the fuel pump and alternator stand are the only original parts left :D And also the alternator, carb, and fan, which aren't pictured here.
     
    MeelisV, Valveandy, Day and 3 others like this.
  15. Looks a lot better! Did you do the bottom end?
     
  16. top end only...let's hope I won't regret that. I thought that would be too crazy since I had never worked on one of these before.
     
  17. Good luck with the project fella :thumbsup:
     
    Blue Bertha likes this.
  18. Gearbox came off today and started cleaning it up a bit.
    I was afraid the box was shot since the rear axle was sticking big time.
    But seems it was just the completely shot CV joints that did it, because when they came off, the gearbox turned smoothly.

    [​IMG]

    Seems like the previous owner lived on a farm because the gunk that scrapes off smells 100% like cow poo! :confused:o_O
     
    Valveandy likes this.
  19. Took out the gas tank today. Now all the backside is emptied out and ready to be treated for surface rust. Nothing too bad methinks.

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    Tank looked decent on the outside after a quick cleanup:
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    But the inside looks pretty terrible....
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    A few surprises found in the tank... Any idea what they are???

    Do you reckon it would be worth to try and clean the tank from the inside? It's whole, just a dirty mess on the inside... Or is it a lost cause?
     
  20. hyvä työ naapuri
     
    Blue Bertha likes this.

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