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Help starting restoration

Me and my friend are restoring a 1969 VW westfalia
camper. We were just wondering Whats do we do to
prep the body for Painting? What about interior?
Are there any restoration catalogs for the camper.
Thanks alot.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Here's somebody's homepage that has a lot of VW camper/van links on it.

    A Westphalia isn't an easy restoration--it's a big and complex vehicle (interior, I mean, lots of stuff in there!), so you should plan it out carefully before you begin. If the body is dented up, you might want to consider having the initial bodywork done professionally, since those large, flat surfaces are very tricky to get straight. But if you're patient you can do it, if you use the right tools and techniques.

    Also, you might want to look at comparing the restoration costs on your particular vehicle (write yourself up a budget after you've figured out what you'll need to do) to just buying a good one that's already been done by someone (less fun but perhaps more economical).

    good luck with your project. Maybe other folks here have some good suggestions for parts suppiers or restoration guides. Here's one place to shop for manuals and tools:


  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I've got a car that has those cheap plastic armrests that Ford was so fond of cramming with electronics in the late 70's that are cracking, and the only wy to replace them is go to a junkyard and buy somebody else's 20 year old junk that will look fine until someone closes hte door to hard. I decided to replace them with totally new door panels that don't need armrests. I have some ideas for wat to do with looks, and can get some old ones from a junkyard for patterns (don't want to mess up the ones on the car just in case it doesn't work quite right). What I need is advice about how to start this project. Most of the rest of the interior problems can be fixed at a reasonable price by an upholstry shop, ut the door panels seem to be a DIY job to meet my satisfaction. Has anyone ever dont this before? Should I use the factory cardboard backing, thin plywod, sheetmetal, or what? Are there any ways to attach it beside those cheap plastic chirstmas tree fasteners? Any problems the average person might not anticipate? Thanks for any advice-

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Thin masonite might work, but I'd suggest outdoor masonite so it doesn't warp! Also a replacement type cardboard will work, and it's easier to shape and form.

    Basically, this job involved making yourself a paper pattern of the door panel size and opening that are needed. The material can be glued or stapled, and the door panel itself can be attached using small sheet metal screws surrounded by nice chrome finishing bezels. The tricky part is a pull handle, (nice ones are found in any MGB parts catalog, like MOSS MOTORS LTD) which of course is not attached TO the door panel, but THROUGH it to the metal door frame...also with sheet metal screws, but sturdy ones. Also, you MUST install the plastic vapor barrier that goes between the metal door frame and the new door panel.

    Good luck with your project!
    Before you begin a restoration here's some rules:

    1. Look up the real market value of the car your going to restore. Hemmings, N.A.D.A., Edmund's etc will give you a really good idea. Don't fundge your vehicles estimated value and you won't end at the short end of the stick.

    2. Do not even consider a restoration on the vehicle unless your prepared to take a loss or maybe break even on the car. Restoration for amateurs is a hobby not a business.

    3. Get connected to a local club or restoration resource for your particular marque. There is a lot of crap available out there so don't just trust the first available commercial resource you find. Club members can provide trusted contacts that'll make your restoration job a heck of a lot easier.

    4. Always, always, always do it for the joy of restoration not because of the profit. Enjoy the work and hours of relaxation away from the other stresses in your life and make it a project not a profit center. Restoration is wonderfully therapudic if your not in it for the money.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I remember many wonderful hours listening to the radio in the garage with the wood stove stoked, banging away on a car while the wind howled outside, trying to figure out how the hell to get the pieces back together again (it all seems to come apart easy enough!)
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Posts: 219
    And once you had it all back together, what to do with the left over parts.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    coffee cans (lots of 'em)!
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    "Look up the real market value of the car you're going to restore"


    Which by the way is probably about $5 on a good day. I'm going to restore this car because I like it, and it has sentamental value. It will never see a "real market" It's going to cost me about 10 grand to get the car looking nice, and probably much more once I add on all the extras I want. It will probably only be worth about 2 grand when finished. I've had these numbers quoted to me over and over, but I am, as yet, the only one who realizes that its not one of the 7 deadly sins to fix a car you really like, especially when your going to do it on your own dime.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Going into any project with eyes wide open is something I would never argue against!
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Posts: 34
    Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra, eyes wide open!

    I think Shifty and I were separated at birth. Nothing like cold concrete on the old bones to make you enjoy a hopeless resto. I enjoyed the garage in the winter. Snow flying. Wind howling. Fire burning and the wife safely in the house out of my hair. Convertible tops replacements are best installed in 80+ degree heat...however.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    A Trekkie, eh?

    I think personally I'd wait till 80+ degree weather to do anything on a car. I have an aversion to being cold and wet, and fighting with an ornery machine only makes it worse, IMO.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Oh,perhaps women alone can know childbirth but a guy can experience the true joy of having the entire interior contents of a 30-year-old muffler dumped into your eyes while your head is pinned against the floorboards and the moisture from the wet floor creeps up your backside.
  • ls1v8ls1v8 Posts: 34
    Or, the pleasure of a M-21 wedged between your chest and the rocker panel because you failed to extend the jackstands one more notch to account for a creepers? Or was the 20 lbs of "muscle" gained during the resto?

    Rea98d. Just happened to catch a re-run the other night and it was stuck in my head!
  • kc7hcjkc7hcj Posts: 3
    I'm new here and would like to soon restore an old car, preferably an old Cadillac. While going through a junkyard I saw a '41 62 Special and have badly wanted to restore a car ever since.

    Unfortunately I have no memories of rebuilding engines with dad, and currently only do minor work on my daily drivers (brakes, starters, etc..).

    Anybody have advice for me to get started? Like what cars are good for beginners? Post #4 was helpful.

    I'm not out to make any money on the project. I just want a nice old car that I've restored
    myself. I see plenty of old cars for sale on the web, along with parts.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Well, John, for starters you may want to pick a car that's smaller and less complicated than a Cadillac. I think a '49 Olds might be nice, or similar year "turtleback" Chevy. While 4-door cars are the cheapest to buy, it will cost you no more to restore a 2-door car, and the 2-door look nicer. Chevy and Ford are good because you can gets tons of parts, whereas the "off" makes, like Nash, Hudson, Studebaker, Packard, etc., are much more difficult to find parts, especially trim, chrome and glass.

    One of my faves is the 54-56 Buick 2-door. You coud find a decent one that needs restoration but is running and complete for under $5,000.

    Under no circumstances should you tackle a car with RUST, or a car that is stripped. Much better to start with a complete car that is running, even if badly.

    There are lots of late 40s & early 50s American cars that are cheap to buy right now...
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    If you want to drop it off at a machine shop, anything goes (almost.) If you want to teach yourself how to rebuild them, go to your nearest small engine shop and buy an old Briggs & Stratton lawnmower engine, a B&S service manual, and all the tools you'll need. Once you've rebuilt a 1-banger lawn mower engine, move on up to an old VW bug engine, and then 4-bangers, V-6's and V-8's
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    You know, it sounds funny, but I think an old 6-cylinder engine is easier to rebuild than a lawn mower!
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    It does sound funny. The only real hard part I had rebuilding an old lawn mower was the electrical system. Never did figure out exactly how it works, so I had to put blind faith in the manual. Now a six cylinder (Inline or V?) has six times as many components, and, if its a typical car engine, overhead valves, the fuel system is more complex... I'm sure you're right, but its just such a backwards concept. BTW...The advice I gave assumes your not a mechanical idiot. I know some english professors with Ph.D's who you could give a disassembled lawn mower engine (or a 6 cylinder, depending on your preference) and a service manual, and they would have no earthly idea what to do. Then again, I can't see how they can take a 2 paragraph poem and write a 3 inch thick book on it. I guess it just depends.
  • I am 32 years old and have always wanted to restore an old p/u I found the one I wanted. A 1948 ford F-1 flathead v-8 w/4spd tranny.
    I bought it for a good price {I think}. The engine has 70,000 original miles and was supposedly rebuilt 10,000 miles ago. The only problem is it set for a long time and now the engine is stuck. I would like to here it run before tearing it down {if possible} I have tried soaking it with diesel {still in the truck} and also tried to pull it and pop the clutch neither have worked.
    I was recently told to fill the cylinders with coca cola and this would free it up,but to flush it out as soon as it was loose. I was also told to use water{they said it caused it to rust and it would also loosen the rust?}is either of these ideas reccomended?
    Also being that it was rebuilt so few miles ago if I get it free what are the chances that I might not have to rebuild again.
    Your ideas and info are greatly appreciated!!!!
    P.S I do most all of the work on my other vehicles and do enjoy the cold wet concrete,and the grease and dirt in my eyes.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Okay, first of all, whoever has been giving you advice, thank them and don't ever take it from them again.

    This being said, if pulling the truck didn't unfree it (ouch! Not a good thing to do, but, oh, well), then you will have to pull off the cylinder heads and see what's going on there. I suspect the piston rings are solidly frozen to the cylinder bores, or possibly somebody botched up the rebuild. You may have already broken all the rings anyway.

    These flatheads are very simple, and I'm afraid you're probably going to have to pull that engine and disassemble it. But it'll be worth it, those old Pickups are worth something when restored, and they are fairly decent to drive on modern roads, too.

    But think about what these advisors are tellling you....pour water in an engine? Whatever are they thinking?

    The best way to restore an old truck is to just take your time with everything. If you find yourself rushing, or frustrated, or lacking in information, STOP and don't start until you're ready. This is the secret to a successful and pleasurable hobby like this, IMO.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    That stuff is ACID, and will eat your cylinder walls beyond repair. If you're gonna try anything, use WD-40 or a good penetrating oil. Anyway, if it were me, I'd just rebuild the engine for the pure fun of it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Marvel Mystery oil is a good solvent for rusty cylinders, but really, if the engine is frozen, you can imagine what the walls of the cylinder look like, and I don't know how they would be able to seal the piston rings.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I think that, at a minimum, those cylinders will need to be honed, and may even need an overbore.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I'd expect the worst.
  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    I'm restoring a 1964 Mercedes 220 SEb. would appreciate the names of few shops I can get parts from.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Check out Hemmings Motor News...good place to start. Also snoop around EBay Auctions in their new EBay Motors section. Use the search feature and look for parts. There should be lots of cheap used parts for these sedans, as they were plentiful and often end up as project cars that people don't finish.
  • i have a 1968 Ford f-100. I have really nothing to go by except the VIN # to identify this trucks engine. All of the decals are long gone and worn away as well as the engine specs on the engine itself. This truck has been abused to give an example it has a Holley carb in it that is too big so the former owner stuck a stick in the rear port. I need help so i can start on this project. Is there any features i should look for? Also where would i find a wire diagram for this engine and chasis? thanks again!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Here's a site that might be of great help to you:

  • wilcoxwilcox Posts: 584
    If you have some rare parts (no longer in production) that are undamaged, except for the chrome finish being too oxidized, would it be prudent to go ahead and rechrome?
    I went to the library and have found out that it takes about six steps to rechrome after you have taken the parts off the car and delivered to the plating place....any thoughts gladly accepted....!

    Thanks, Wil
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I think, Wil, that one has to be very careful about the plater one chooses...I've seen original chrome parts messed up by sloppy grinding and prep prior to replating, and of course one those grind marks are in there, the part will never look as good as the original.

    So I'd recommend replating rare and original parts only if you've seen samples of the plater's work.

    Also, keep in mind that many car shows are now opening up a category for original cars, so that they don't have to compete with "checkbook" restorations that finish the car better than it ever left the factory originally. So rechroming might not be necessary if the original chrome is at least presentable. You could still enter it in shows if that's your desire.
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