Hermit bus - ‘73 Westy rebuild

Discussion in 'Restorations' started by Bob Alatt, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. Hi all

    Today, I guess, is day one of my restoration job. I say restoration but that’s stretching it a bit and I wouldn’t put myself in the same league as the genuine restorers on here.

    My project is to make one bus out of two halves: the mechanicals of a RHD 79 converted panel van and the rust-free imported shell of a LHD 73 with a Westfalia roof.

    The reason I’m taking this approach is down to the commercial rates of welding I’ve been quoted for bodywork to the 79. I’ve no doubt it’s restorable - there are examples on this very site of vans which were much further gone and have been brought back - but I don’t have the money or, sadly, the ability of others to do the work myself. There are some good parts on it - I even have a donor tin top - and I’d love to move it on in one piece for somebody to work their magic on it and restore it. But for me, right now, plan B is in operation.

    Over the coming months I’m going to set about transferring various bits from the 79 to the 73 - RHD to LHD. Fortunately, the shell is more of a shell+ as the seller had already done the whole front and rear suspension, brake lines and a few other bits like the wiring loom.

    I also picked up a few LHD specific parts like a dash, gear stick, binnacle and wiper motor.

    So, what is there to actually do for me? Well, first off it’s paint, followed by assembly: glass, interior gearbox and motor, all electrics, fuel system oh, and the pop top tent wotsit.

    I’ll doubtless discover huge gaps in my knowledge and, hopefully, overcome lots of blind spots between the RHD-LHD flip and the 79-73 alteration. Should be fun, could be a ‘mare.

    I’ll try and document anything which seems interesting from this perspective rather than provide a blow-by-blow account of changing brake pads.

    I’m most apprehensive about the electrics I think But these things are all relative. I’m at spark plug change level at the moment so a long way to go.

    Thanks for reading-wish me luck! Questions and advice most welcome

    Attached Files:

  2. Good luck Bob!

    Any questions, shout up :D
    Bob Alatt likes this.
  3. Good way to do it IMO.
    You know you could convert the shell to RHD I'm sure, though the sliding door would always be on the wrong side.
    Sproggy4830 and Bob Alatt like this.
  4. JamesLey

    JamesLey Sponsor

    Best of luck. We love a good 'ol fashion resto thread!
    nicktuft and Bob Alatt like this.
  5. Cheers. Yes, I did mull that option and now would be the time to do it but as the front end is more or less built, I’m going to go with the lefty. For now anyway!
    zedders likes this.
  6. So, I’ve not done a fat lot to the bus for the past few weeks: a bit of cleaning here and there, collected a few parts and things.
    But, things have moved on this week as the new shell has gone off for paint. Exciting times (for me).
    I’ve been taking a few bits off the donor 79 which you can see in the background but I need it to drive until the shell is back painted - so, the motor is still in. I’m amazed by how well parts respond to a bit of cleaning. 40 years of abuse make things look kaput but a bit of elbow grease and stuff comes back to life. I have a large box in the loft with loads of bits in ready to go back on - one day.
    I should get the bus back in a few weeks with its new coat... can’t wait

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  7. Cool project-good luck with it. Any idea what you’re doing with the old shell?
  8. Cheers. Yep, I’ll be selling it hopefully! Interested?
  9. Not exactly- I was wondering if you were cutting it- need a few bits.
  10. Fair enough. Not really my plan as I’ll need all of out of the way in one go. It might end up with a breaker. I’ll probs post summat on here about it at that stage.
  11. Yeah makes more sense to sell it complete.
  12. Managed to move things along a bit in the last week while I'm waiting on getting the bus back from paint. I decided that it was better if I drop the engine and gearbox now while I have more room otherwise I'd probably end up doing it on the road. The only real difference it makes to me is that the '79 is now leg power only so I'll have to push it off the drive when the '73 shell returns.
    Yesterday's project was to drop the engine and gearbox. It went fine actually. I had a right battle with two of the CV joint bolts which I'd stripped and had to grind off and the other time-consuming thing was draining the 1/4 tank of fuel - which turned out to be more like 1/2 necessitating a trip out for another jerry can.
    Other than that, the job isn't as daunting as it sounds.
    Plan for the motor is to tidy it up basically, fit a new dizzy, overhaul the carb, torque the heads, new seals etc. Oh, and clean it! image1.jpeg image2.jpeg
    paulcalf, Coco, paradox and 1 other person like this.
  13. the 79 had a 1600? i was assuming a type 4.. cool project btw.
    Bob Alatt likes this.
  14. Cheers. Yeah, just a humble 1600. I had 79mph out of it once coming off Bodmin Moor, but that was freewheeling! It's a rebuild from the late 80s / early 90s though - I have some bumph on it. I'm half expecting the motor to let go in the next 50,000 miles. I'd love to put an electric motor in it tbh...
    rob.e likes this.
  15. Stage two separation...

    Today it was time to separate the gearbox from the engine and start cleaning.
    There’s something very reminiscent of underground railways and the smell of gearbox oil. That aside, I started with this rather crusty lump... 98921D27-3339-4CDF-AE49-41294EC9FE76.jpeg

    ...and after a bit of scraping and wire brushing, had this... 23D509F1-B04D-4821-AF16-B7B4B6FAD179.jpeg

    which looks a bit better. A bit more scrubbing and I left it at this.


    Getting there but not done yet.
    Couple of things I noticed, overspray inside the bell housing - can’t be good can it?

    And, why would the starter bolt have insulating tape wound around it? Stop it rattling?


    Other questions are: am I ok to clean inside the bell housing with degreaser and is it ok to pressure wash the outside? Anything to avoid?

    paulcalf likes this.
  16. Avoid the breather hole near the bolt at the top.

    Gearbox breather hole.jpg
    Bob Alatt likes this.
  17. Got you, thanks!
  18. The tape would of been used to help hold the bolt in place while you fiddle round the back of the fan housing trying to get the nut in.
    Valveandy and Bob Alatt like this.
  19. Makes perfect sense. Cheers. I wrongly assumed it was a botched fix for something or other...
  20. I’ve been prepping your new engine bay today! [​IMG]
    Faust, Bob Alatt, PanZer and 4 others like this.

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