Frankie - 1973 Twin Slider - The Forgotten Bus

Discussion in 'Show Us Your Ride' started by Gas Works, Apr 10, 2019.

  1. The Frankenbay, aka Frankie, has been home for a few weeks now and we've been having a bit of fun getting to know each other!

    The bus has a bit of a story, but don't they all? Thought I would document it here with a bit of what I've found out, what I'm doing to it and where we end up! Grab a cuppa and a biscuit or three and I'll bring you up to date!

    It was almost an impulse buy, I've looked at bays on and off for many years but the timing had never been right. I bought a T4 in 2010, converted into a camper and enjoyed every minute of it, for daily use and holidays.

    Late on in 2018 and it was getting a bit tired, with 220k on the clocks now. I'd been squirrelling my pennies away for a while to give it a refresh and was visiting some local VW places to get quotes to restore it, a daily driver was sourced so I could take the T4 off the road over winter. All the while planning this, I was still browsing alternatives on eBay, including T2s and T25s, but nothing really caught my eye.

    Then I met Frankie, out of the corner of my eye whilst talking about my T4, in the shadow of a barn with no lights, years of dust and a lot of missing parts. No interior other than cab seats and a steering wheel, but there was some potential in there somewhere.. And it was for sale...

    We dragged Frankie out into the light and had a poke around. It's a 73, UK, RHD twin slider microbus, factory windows, bench front seat and not a lot else!

    IMG_20181117_101954-01.jpeg IMG_20181213_134344-01.jpeg

    I was pleasantly surprised, a light amount of restoration had been done, with a few patches here and there and appeared pretty solid! It's not a pro job, but seems stuck in well, and a fair amount of the original metal remains in place. A little filler in the rear corners, but appears to be more for a smooth look rather than rotten holes.

    The paint was hard to judge under all that dirt, but wears Porsche guards red topped of with an as yet unidentified bluey-grey colour. A few storage marks here and there. Another home-brew job but seems to have stuck to the bus. Not what I would have chosen myself, but as it's done it can stay for now!

    It had a little facelift in preparation for a set of early bumpers, lowered a bit, and wearing an almost new set of Empi reps with Yoko tires gave a little hint of what could be...

    All of the body and paint was undertaken by a previous owner, known to the guys at the garage. He never finished the reassembly and it was moved on. The current owner had initially bought it to build a camper hire business, but that fell by the wayside when other commitments took over. In the last 12 months they had made a little progress in sourcing a rebuilt twin port Mexican motor, as well as replacing all the hard and soft brake lines, calipers and cylinders, and then it was left....again... Back to the barn until I turned up! As far as I know, neither of the 2 previous owners drove the bus

    Not really knowing air cooled stuff too well or appreciating all that was required at this stage, I struck a deal with the owners to secure the bus, and a deal with the garage to get it up to MOT standard for me to take home and carry on the interior works and general fettling.

    Back to the barn whilst awaiting it's turn on the lift, ETA Jan 2019!

    Part 2 to follow!
  2. looking forward to more of the story and more pics, welcome to the forum
    Gas Works likes this.
  3. So, the log book arrived and the first thing to do was SORN the bus. On doing so, the DVLA online system informed me that Frankie was last taxed in 1990! At the time, it would have been 17 years old! I have no idea why it was taken off the road then, but this may account for the relatively small amount of welding undertaken in its life, having spent the majority of it away from the road.

    I started planning out the interior works and collecting parts, compiling lists and contemplating the enormity of the task and the self imposed timescales!

    Objective one was to be at Volksworld, should be easy enough. Objective 2 is Vanwest in May, followed by a few days around the south coast before the Retro Rides Weekender at Goodwood, for which I'll need a fully functioning camper!

    Access to the vehicle was limited and work didn't progress with any great conviction, January came and went and so did February with little more than a couple of days pottering, fitting some sound deadening and insulation among other things... I did strip the early bumpers I got with the van. The front was a bit crispy, but relatively straight. The rear was the complete opposite! not a spot of rust, but the artistry with the filler was phenomenal! i couldn't believe the dents they managed to hide!

    I can only assume it was crafted by David Isopon himself as a promotional item. Bumpers were handed over to Puggy at Bigfoot Custom and Blasting to weld up some holes and slop some grey powdercoat on them. Some fresh rubbers were added when they returned, but i resisted the temptation to rip all the wrap off before delviering them back to the garage


    Turned up on a saturday at the garage to find Frankie now had a face! Oh, and I fitted my Mooneyes badge that MrsGW gave me about a year ago! I'd been saving it for something special! [​IMG]


    I was provided with a little left over, if possibly out of date, paint with the bus, so despite being terrible with a gun I shot some Porsche Guards red over some vent cowls and a replacement fuel flap I had sourced, as the hinge on the original turned out to be broken. I'll get a little more practice before I try any touch up on the main body work.


    As March began, I was a little worried that time was slipping away and that I would be unable to meet the two target dates. Tickets were already booked and other life events have a habit of slowing down projects!

    Eventually, 29 years after being tucked away, I collected Frankie on 15th March, with a years MOT and half a tank of dino-juice, accompanied by a Cheshire cat grin on my face....that lasted about 2.7 miles...

    No fuel! A quick rescue mission from the garage got me on my way! So, fuel guage doesn't work! Also, the odometer doesn't work. No problem, I can work around it...Jerry can in the back for now! First time on the road, and the only pic I took was in the petrol station.


    St Patrick's Day came and I thought it would be a perfect day for a shakedown run, one week to Volksworld and all is good with the world. We have a little family tradition, that any new vehicle gets a maiden outing to Hastings for a chippy tea, so convoy was arranged with my mates MX-5...

    Until I met them at their house and my hazard light switch went pop, fell apart and ceased to switch. With no working indicators I thought it best not to bother. By this point I've covered no more than about 14 miles in total. Parked up, switch ordered and crossing fingers for Volksworld, 6 days to go....
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
  4. Thanks Andy! It'll be up to date soon...ish
    paul2590 likes this.
  5. New switch promptly installed and I stripped the clocks to see if I could fix the odometer. This little drive gear was broken, a dab of superglue and a bit of wire for good measure and we can now count the miles! That'll help take some of the guesswork out of fuel stops [​IMG]


    Roll on 23rd of March, a blanket over the worn front seats, a cursory effort to clean off some of the filth from its years in storage and an optimistic driver with a pinch of blind faith. We were booked to be on The Late Bay club display...

    It was my first time at Volksworld, Frankie's first time anywhere and an early start to get there in time for the line up! A gentle drive up from Kent, we saw a couple of bugs on the way until joining the traffic at Esher, one of which turned out to be the young lad that got the Meguires Show and Shine award on Saturday...just about on time and in one piece, we took our place at the end of the line, we made it! A mate sent me this that was spotted on Facebook (don't use it myself!)


    A great day meeting some of the Late Bay forum people, catching up with some family and enthusiastically rummaging spares and picking up my Rusty Lee bed, before cruising home again. Got a little memento of Frankie's first proper outing!


    Overall it was an uneventful 110 mile day out, really, other than the dire front suspension. Rubbing in the arch's and catching the lip on occasions, definitely needs a little raise in the front, it's sketchy at best. Next weekend that can commence along with a start on building my interior! The gear change is pretty sloppy, so new bushes were ordered... I also picked up a CSP coupler for the gear box, seems tougher built than any of the others I'd seen and thought it worth a little extra if it lasts a little longer.

    Whilst looking at "nicely engineered thingys" I also picked up a Buttys Bits linkage, I believed the hype and I want to improve the driving experience, I hope it lives up to it! I like the fact that Buttys are solving problems/making improvements rather than making trinkets or copying someone else's engineering. I believe that deserves our support! Plus the Bubblegum air freshener is legit!
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
    gninnam, scrooge95, paradox and 7 others like this.
  6. We've cracked on with a few of the bits that were actually planned in between the other stuff; those that saw it at Volksworld would have seen a bare interior and a horrible off cut of lino on the floor, since then we've carpet lined the back 1/3rd, along with the bulkhead, added ply and Altro flooring and fitted the Rusty Lee bed frame!




    I didn't like the recommended practice of screwing a block of wood to the bulkhead for the bed to rest on, with the fuel tank being close behind, so I made some brackets that bolt in to factory mounts. Bent some flat bar, painted it black and glued a bit of foam to the top to stop it being too noisy when dropping the bed late at night....just typing that brings back memories of the super heavy bed I had in my T4!

    Cut some foam and made a kickboard from some left over sparkly bathroom panel I'd been saving...I knew it would come in handy one day! should be enough left for a little buddy seat/coolbox cubby too.

    And after too many horror stories, I fitted an automated fire extinguisher in the noisy cupboard


    Came home from work thinking about a couple of quick jobs before the light goes...and found this!


    No idea if it was an accident or malicious, no note left, no clues... Disheartened to say the least, I barely have enough time to get ready for Vanwest as it is, another set back could have big ramifications. New window ordered and should be fitted at the weekend!

    Also discovered the front beam has been subjected to a poor 'cut and turn' lowering job, with the centre boss welded in position in the beam. So much for a quick adjustment to raise it up! Limited options apply to rectify this, either
    a) remove the beam, cut off the steering knuckle (that's already been removed and re-welded once) drill out the welds, add adjusters and reweld/refit the whole assembly
    2) replace the beam
    D) add a coil-over type shock to take some of the strain and lift/stiffen the front

    Each had its pros and cons but replacement seemed to be the best choice for me. I'd envisioned fitting a narrowed beam at some point in the future so I decided to bite the bullet and do it right first time, rather than a short term solution that I'd want to replace down the line anyway.

    So now we are mostly up to date! I'm waiting on a beam delivery , my cooker unit and some other bits before the big jobs can progress,also I still have upholstery to make, leisure wiring and roof lining to fit, as well as tracking and a tyre before were ready for our holidays. Might get a chance to fit something for tunes. Late nights and aching backs are inevitable, I will make it and it will be worth it.

    Thanks for reading this far, if indeed you have! The posts will probably be a little shorter as I concentrate on the tasks at hand over the next 4 weeks!
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
    gninnam, scrooge95, paradox and 4 others like this.
  7. nice looking bus, keep the updates coming :thumbsup:
    Gas Works likes this.
  8. Merlin Cat

    Merlin Cat Moderator

    Nice story and van :). I had to look twice to see the problem! I thought it was just rain on the window :oops:
    Gas Works likes this.
  9. Thanks Mark, I'll keep the progress coming!

    Sent from my EML-L29 using Tapatalk
    MorkC68 likes this.
  10. Thanks Merlin!
    I wish it was just water! One step forward and two steps back at the moment, but the glass has arrived now, first job for Saturday!

    Sent from my EML-L29 using Tapatalk
    Merlin Cat likes this.
  11. Looking good, cool bus!
    Gas Works likes this.

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