Saturday, June 27, 2009

The road to restoration nirvana is paved with inconsistencies.

I don't know why this bugs me, but it does. The problem is that the two Type 34 specific NOS headlight buckets pictured to the left and below is...well...they don't match. One of these things is not like the other. Both came right out of a VW 'blue box'. Both were obviously made at different times, possibly by different part suppliers. Both do have the Hella logo on them. Maybe one was intended to be used on the assembly line, and the other was provided as an OEM part through dealership parts supply channels. I really don't know what the deal is, but I feel a certain compulsion to ensure that parts used on the Nautilus match from side to side. There must be symetry. Even for parts you can't see when the car is put together. Regardless of function. Maybe this way of thinking is symptomatic of the entire restoration process being used for the Nautilus. Maybe this explains why my car is still in pieces. I have heard that perfectionism breeds procrastination. When I get some time to really completely think that concept through and come to a full understanding of it, maybe I'll reconsider my restoration process.

In going back through my parts stash, I found six rusty headlight bucket assemblies, four of which were largely complete and undamaged. Only two of these had no paint overspray on them, which makes me think that these were original to the Nautilus because it had not been repainted on the nose prior to my having it restored. (By the way--some of the other headlight adjusters will eventually go up for sale, because headlight adjuster assemblies generally don't go bad all of a sudden.) One thing that was consistent for all of the Type 34 assemblies is that the backside rounded bucket section of the adjuster was painted black, not gray. This more or less jibes with info I have on the Type 14 Ghia assembly line headlight adjuster parts I've pulled from the early cars over the years. On the Type 14 adjusters, there is an outer chrome ring which when removed, exposes a black inner ring. Generally speaking, US destination Type 14 cars only had the early style headlight adjuster assemblies up through the first half of the '64 model year cars. Since the Nautilus is a '64, I decided on the fashionable black backside for my own second bucket restoration, rather than the gray that would probably be 'more correct' for the later '60s Type 34. Enough of the rationalizations to cover for my anal retentivity. It also turns out that the metal stampings that make up the inner bucket adjuster section for the Type 34 adjusters are slightly different on the later gray units, as well, but the outer chrome ring and all screws were the same.

I broke down one of the best of the used adjuster assemblies and sent the zinc coated inner ring, screws and spring to Denver Plating for replating, and the black back section down to Colorado Springs along with a bunch of other stuff I needed 'Turkified'. A slight digression is probably required here to explain what that means. Gary Turk works for Jeremy Vreeman at Motorworks Restorations. Gary restores parts for the cars Motorworks restores and has done some fine work in this regard. If a dirty rusty part needs an authentic degree of restoration and Gary 'knocks it out of the park', we can then say that the part has been 'Turkified'. Some Turkified parts will make their way onto the Nautilus, definitely, particularly this headlight adjuster part. He even managed to save the white paint stamped VW/Hella parts information and put a nice, proper gloss coat on the part! WELL DONE!!! Turkification at its finest. The net result is that I now have a pair of headlight adjuster assemblies that for all intents and purposes match up perfectly.

One final note on Type 34 headlight adjuster assemblies--and then I'll shut up about them. For now, anyway. In the picture to the left, note that the VW 'blue box' originally held three pieces (3 Stuck). What an odd number of pieces to have in a single box. Last I checked, each Type 34 only used 2 pieces. As a spare part, maybe one would only need one of these. Why three??? I've never seen pictures of a Type 34 with three headlights...unless VW and Karmann had some top secret prototype in development where the fog lights were dropped in favor of a third headlamp, much as the Tucker's did in the '40s. I know this was not the case, but it amuses me when I consider this unusual spare parts package configuration. The good news is that there was one remaining assembly available in the box for purchase on ebay years ago, and I bought it. This probably means that there are more of them floating around out there in their original, battered VW blue boxes, hoping to finally find a home on your nicely restored Type 34.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Let the...Moon...shine in, Part 4.

The Nautilus is back at Motorworks Restorations for a little TLC. The paint picked up a light haze from the paint prep being done on another car at Motorworks back in January. Now--to be fair, that happened at the OLD Motorworks location because such a thing would never happen in the NEW Motorworks shop. Yep--they've moved to a much larger location and have sectioned off the paint prep work area from the final assembly area. I finally got a chance to tour the new digs yesterday and was very impressed by what I saw. They are taking care of my minor paint issue and are also installing the rebuilt front end. I was going to do this work myself, but I rather like the idea of any paint scratches caused by that work being their problem, and not mine.

One final possible modification of the car would be the installation of a sunroof clip. I've gone back and forth on this one, but after driving Scott McWilliams real sunroof Type 345 to the Type 34 Registry Dinner I know I must have one. The remaining stumbling block for me is one of sunroof mechanism reliability. And time & money--but that's always a given for automotive restoration projects. The reliability issue is one we'll have to deal with in an ongoing manner, but right now I'd just be happy to have a sunroof that works at all. Double checking the parts quality and functionality is job one. Having access to a shop with a solvent sink to clean up the greasy and grime encrusted parts was also key and Jeremy generously let me borrow both to get my sunroof clip ready for a test run.

Cleaning up stuff took a fair bit longer than I expected, but once clean it all went together real fast. I used the 12V Porsche 912/911 sunroof motor, but I could have just as easily used one of my 6V sunroof motors. I used WD40 rather than white lithium grease as a 'lubricant' to remove the need to go back and dig that grease out of everything during that final assembly. Jeremy has quite a lot of experiece with VW sunroofs, so after I did the rough cut on assembly I asked him to take a quick look at things and perform some fine tuning. We operated the mechanism nice and slow, and it opened and closed very nicely, popping up and into place as it closed, just as it should. No loud noises, no binding, no breakage. We have a definite winner, and a 12V one at that! So, I'm all set for whichever voltage I later decide on.

So what was the final verdict on sunroof cable compatibility? That remains an unanswered question, actually. The 356 sunroof cables are the best choice for sure, but new ones haven't been available for over five years. Used ones are in short supply. I'm really having trouble finding them, so it you find some, please let everyone know. In the meantime, the closest cable I can find that is even remotely close to what we need for the Type 34 might be the '68 to '79 bay window VW bus sunroof cables. Near as I can tell, to make these work, at least two modifications are needed. The first modification would be the same as that which needs to be done with the 356 cables, in that the cable needs to be removed from the main sunroof connector cable end, shortened, and then swaged into place in the reverse direction. Since these cables are for a bus, there's quite a lot of extra cable. The 2nd modification is not so simple. It appears that the angle of the cable guide relative to the sliding steel roof connection is more extreme in the bus than the Type 34, so this would have to be corrected. In addition, the spring for the roof section needs to hook around a post that is simply not there on the bus cables. A machinist is needed to drill out the existing spring pin, machine a new one with the extended post, then thread it and the cast cable guide at a less severe angle. I know it can be done, but the question remains is who would be willing to do it?

2009 Volkswagen Classic Weekend

If you missed this year's Classic, please do try to make it next year, ok? Particularly if you own a Type 3 VW. Though car counts vary, I think we totalled fewer than 50 Type 3s. Which is kind of sad, but understandable. Folks line up to bring the Busses, Ghias and Bugs back to life, while the Type 3s can be very hard to show the love for, let alone restore. And if you own a Type 3 Ghia...well...it's getting to the point where you really need to get a very complete car to start with. Or, go custom. We saw both paths followed at this year's Classic.

Pictured here is Bill T. trying to leave WCCR with his entire family...and someone isn't cooperating. Bill's car is a classic example of a Type 34 that has gone a custom route. It's not been done so far out that it can't be returned to stock and I really like that. Nevermind that it's a '65 and Anthracite is no longer a color option for that year. This car is little about authenticity. It's really all about speed and safety. Stops nearly and fast as is ramps up. 2.6 liter EFI Type 4 power. Berg 5 speed. BIG meats in the rear, line lock and a water system to help things hook up on launch. Bill took me for a ride in this car and we were up and over 100Mph in quite a damn hurry. I had a big, stupid smile on my face because I know that Type 34s can kick some serious ass when set up correctly, as this car is. Oh...yeah...I guess they can also haul a small family around, too.

As nice as Bill's car is, there were some minor issues that one would expect to find on a car built by a shop with no previous Type 34 body working experience. Beneath those beautiful curves...no--make that breathtaking curves...digressing for a moment, I have to say that the bodywork on this car is REALLY nice. Maybe even sets a new standard for Type 34s. In fact, I went back to my car yesterday and gave it a serious and critical look. In comparison with Bill's car, I found it lacking. And while my car turned out very nice, Bill's car is clearly superior. However, his Type 34 does hide one critical but resolveable flaw: the rear decklid pushbutton doesn't work reliably. And that's just one little detail that MUST work right on our cars. It might take a little re-work of the pushbutton carrier to re-align it, which is really annoying now that the car is in final paint. But it's easier to fix than trying to get the kid into the car when you're attempting to make a swift and graceful exit from WCCR to get a decent spot at Nick's Burgers...come to think of it, did he ever actually make it to Nick's? Oh, yeah. There's plenty of videographic evidence that more than suggests he made it to Nick's. And perhaps that he also left quite a wake it his departure!!! Dude! Get a fully chromed Pedro Type 34 roof rack on that thing, will ya?!? Makes me smile to think about the whistling that rack would do at 100mph. Assuming one could even hear the whistling over the roar of that engine!

Ok, so Bill's car is fun, but's it's not really where I'm at with the hobby...and I have to add the standard disclaimer at this time. I joined the 1500 Club recently and think I've found a group of like-minded folks to hang with. This club's goal is to preserve as much as possible the early original examples of the 1500 Type 3. If restoration is required, as was the case with my car, their focus is to guide the would-be restorer towards the light. The focus is on period correct authenticity, whenever possible. I like this way of thinking, but also recognize that the world is a big enough place for land rockets like Bill's.

So in the interests of balance, I now present a car from the other end of the spectrum. Bob 'Gizmo' Walton's '64 Pacific Blue Type 343 is an important find for the Type 34 community because it represents a very original and unrestored car. If you are looking for details on how things were originally done, Bob's car is a great place to visit because in large part, it's a time capsule. der Samba contains a whole discussion thread on this car, so I won't dwell overlong on its humble garage-find origins. Unquestionably, one of the best things Bob did was enlist the talents of Jack Fisher to rebuild the 1500S engine and drum brakes, and he even managed to bring back a decent luster to the car's painted surfaces.

Most of the external chrome was redone on this car just in time for the its debut at the Classic. Rare Type 3 trim rings and Coker narrow white walls really play on the car's original and best features. Top it off with one of Pedro's Type 34 roof racks, and you end up with a winning example of the breed. Hey--even Scott Taylor liked this car, and who would have guessed he'd enjoy driving a Pacific Blue car so much?

I rode shotgun in this car from the ISP West BBQ back to the Crowne Plaza host hotel. All I could do was look around and take in all the originality, and hope that my own car takes on even a fraction of the authenticity contained within this car. Cool ride!