Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Good Shop, Part 6


I had to laugh when I saw this yesterday.  What else could I do?  Somewhere on this blog I know there's a similar picture of the Nautilus at another shop.  Believe it or not--this is the time warp I seem to be stuck in with this project.  I'm in my own version of the movie Ground Hog Day.

After I shot this picture, the guy waved me in.  I had a chance to discuss the details with him--and I found an issue, of course.  Relatively minor, all things considered, but it has to do with the left Q-window opening in the body where the new roof clip was welded in and affects the curvature of the opening.  A little more bodywork there, some seam sealer down the roof gutters and it should be good to go.  I also gave him the four hood bolts and asked him to do another hood test fit.

I'm headed back this morning to see how the re-spray went.  I also need to drop off the sliding steel sunroof panel so they can cut and buff that, as well.   Fingers crossed...

UPDATE:  The body was painted and even without a color sand, looks outstanding.  Seam sealer had been applied in the rain gutters and will have to dry a day or so before the roof color goes on.  I'm thinking I'll get the car back by Wednesday, which is fine by me.

The Chrome Goes On! Temporarily!

The Nautilus came back to the garage for about three weeks and while there, received its bumpers, fore and aft.  It was a JOB to get them on there correctly.  First, my bumpers are all original, but from so many different sets that it's impossible to determine provenance. The blades and over riders went together well, but the bumper brackets were so bent and/or incorrectly shaped that the bumper blades appeared to be sagging once installed on the car.  I tried moving the brackets from side to side, but in the end the only remediation for a saggy bumper is to remove the brackets from the blades, fit them in a vice, and start bending! 

All pictures were taken somewhere during the installation process and the end results were nearly perfect.  Getting some chrome onto the Nautilus was really satisfying, too.

I was surprised at the amount of hardware necessary to put a set of bumpers together.  The bumper blade end bolts and rubber spacers were from a pair of Type 14 front bumper end bolt kits, with 5mm of rubber cut from the ends of each spacer.  Worked perfectly to give the correct spacing between the bodywork and the bumper itself.  Since I had two complete sets of re-chromed bumpers parts to chose
from, I naturally cherry-picked the best of it for actual use.  I also had a spare front left corner section that I decided to use because the chrome was really, really nice.

If you look at these pictures closely, you'll notice that the paint finish on the body itself is a wreck.  It's dirty.  There's over-spray.  It's all the 'new problems' I've discussed before.  And...it's the reason the craft is now back at 'A Good Shop' for some more body and paint work.  So, the bumpers had to come off the car, as did the sliding steel sunroof panel, slide rails, cables and gearing.  I am happy to say that I did not add any damage to the craft with any of this work.

As the Nautilus left the garage, I spoke with yet another tow truck driver who really appreciated the work being done.  I know there's potential here--and need to keep my cool.  But, I'm once again questioning how much I'm really doing to get done on it this Summer and Fall.  Time to reassess and set some new goals.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Good Shop, Part 5

A few weeks ago, I made my way down to A Good Shop in Commerce City during a lunch break for a 'surprise visit'.  I figured I might as well check on progress and point out any remaining issues prior to the craft's delivery home, which was scheduled a few days later on the following Saturday.  The surprise was on me, however, because I found the Nautilus sitting in the shop parking lot.  After a quick inspection it was obvious that absolutely nothing had been done for 3 weeks.  I went from being cautiously optimistic to instantly pissed.  I found a new ding on the passenger hatch and a small scratch across the center rear raised section of the deck lid.  It looked like it hadn't seen water in years.  I couldn't tell if there was paint overspray--but there really shouldn't have been because the craft's cover was sitting inside...unused, but incredibly available to anyone with sense to use it.  I had to take a moment to calm down--but that didn't help because some idiot drove up to check out a piece of crap car the shop has for sale and parked next to the Nautilus and said idiot decided that is was ok to rest the damn door of that car against the Nautilus.  I asked the person to please stop doing that, and walked away.

My trek across the parking lot was done slowly, because I really didn't want to bring an attitude with me to the shop foreman, Phil.  In this I was only partially successful.  My mood soured further as I got a good look at all the populated bays, the paint booth and overflowing side garage.  The shop was completely packed.  We had a big hail storm roll through Denver back in mid-May and this caused all the body shops in the area to fill up rapidly.  Insurance companies want quick turnaround for their customers, so the Nautilus quickly became a 'shop liability', taking up needed space for the other insurance work.  Insurance work is the real 'money maker' for body shops.  A Good Shop also became a Hagerty Collector Car Insurance preferred body shop over the past month, so more work flowed in from that source, as well.  Rather than my car being finished first to get it done and out of the way, the shop made a decision to unfavorably 'prioritize' my car.

I spent a few minutes in the shop waiting room...fuming...and found a magazine Hagerty publishes called appropriately enough 'Hagerty'.  For June's issue they featured the Corvair.  Waves of envy and irony washed over me as I thumbed the pages.  There really are a lot of styling queues between the Corvair and the Type 34.  In the article, comparisons were being made between a completely restored metallic green '60 4-door and the actual yellow Corvair Ralph Nader used to make his classic 'Unsafe At Any Speed' observations.  Interesting article, but it didn't take the edge off my mood.  Once Phil finished up a quote for a commercial customer, he turned his attention to me, 'the prioritized customer'.  I asked him to accompany me out to the parking lot so I could show him the newly installed damage and talk about the other work that still needs to be done to finish up the sunroof installation.

Throughout my discussion with Phil, I mentioned the 'first-in-first-out' concept, which went nowhere.  I then took another tact--which I felt was a really generous concession on my part:  I'll take the car back unfinished, with the new damage, and pay them only half of what I owe.  In turn, I give them 90 days to re-schedule the completion of my car.  If they don't, I don't pay them any more money.  Phil told me he'd take this offer to Al.  I was left to develop an understanding for the situation I was now in.

By the following Saturday--and having heard no word from anyone--I arrived at the shop with the intentions of paying for and picking up the Nautilus.  I was again ready to move on, but no one was there. I contacted Al by cell phone and he apologized and gave me permission to pick up the car--NO CHARGE--because his policy is that no one pays until the work is fully complete and customer is happy.
 
Honestly, I was stunned by Al's shop policy.  In the face of my disappointment, he still managed to exceeded my expectations.  The both of us agreed that we would follow up each week and eventually we'd arrange for the Nautilus to return to the Thornton location to be completely finished.  In the meantime, the craft is at home in my garage and I have something nice to test fit parts to...bumpers and carpet, for example.  The project really is still on track and moving forward on all fronts.  I knew this restoration was going to be a challenge.  I just need to keep a cool head and keep looking up!  I still think I'm dealing with a good shop, but I hope to be able to call it a great shop before this is over with.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Good Shop, Part 4


Today was my birthday and I was allowed some freedom to do what I wanted with my time.  I started off with a stop at Denver Balancing to drop off the Nautilus' engine internals...for balancing.  Again.  This version of the engine will use a 15lb lightened flywheel.  The new Sachs pressure plate will be balanced to this slightly lightened flywheel, along with everything else that rotates or is otherwise flung around by the crank.  Other new key components are a set of Kolbenschmidt 85.5 pistons.  This version of the engine will also use a 74mm crank for a net displacement of 1700cc's.  It will also use dual port heads.  That's right--this will be a mild performance engine and there's no reason to choke it with single port heads.  I'll have the engine internals back next Tuesday evening and the new heads will arrive on Wednesday.  I'll re-start the engine build the following weekend, just in time for the car to be delivered back from the body shop.  My timing is never very good and once again the garage will be short on space with all the projects in simultaneous flight.

Engine configuration aside, I've definitely forsaken the path of originality with some other recent modifications to the craft.  The sunroof addition is definitely going against the standards for an M343 model designation as represented on the craft's VIN tag.  The sunroof still looks the part and I think it will be a wonderful feature.  To verify the sliding steel panel's fit and finish, I drove over to the body shop today and spent a couple of hours installing it.  I got it pretty close to perfection during the test fit and can probably do even better during the final fitting.



Fitting the sliding steel roof section was a fairly straightforward affair.  No nicks, dents, scrapes or scratches.  I had previously cleaned all parts and put things together dry.  During the final assembly, I'll use white lithium grease or Vaseline for the cables--or maybe a Teflon dry lubricant from Dupont.  More research is needed, but these are used most commonly.  The other thing that will be done is the installation of perimeter seals around the outer edge of the sliding steel panel.  The stuff I have is grey and is pretty good, but it's too short and I need more of it.  I think I got it from Wolfburg West, but whatever I use will have to be glued into place, two-thirds around the front and side sunroof opening, and the remaining third around that back edge of the sliding steel panel itself.
 
The picture to the left is of the cable drive gear housing mounted to the underside center rear of the roof.  Attached to the drive gear is the emergency crank handle which I used during the sliding steel roof section installation.  I wanted to make sure the cables weren't binding and the outer roof section didn't get scratched, so running it all manually by hand seemed to make the most sense.  There is no electric roof motor or drive shaft installed.  It all worked well.
 
Also note in the picture that the bottom of the roof was painted L514 Emerald Green.  The same is true of the sliding steel roof section.  Originally, none of this would have been very well painted and might even show signs of surface rust.  I wanted metal protection and a dark surface for the perforations in
the headliner to contrast with, so I chose the body color as the finish.  Much of the underside of the roof will be covered with a modern sound deadener, so in the end it won't really matter that much. 
 
One interesting piece of Karmann factory originality was that the roof color was written in very large letters on the underside of the sliding steel roof section, usually in a contrasting grease pencil, much
as the body color was originally written in the left headlamp bowl on both the Type 14 and Type 34 cars.  I might do this in yellow or white grease pencil for both the roof and body before final assembly.

Another interesting point of authenticity is the roof number '519' stamped into the cable drive mounting area on the main roof, as well as into the rubber bumper bracket on the tail of the sliding roof section.  These numbers would have originally matched, as they do on my car.  This is due to the fact that the roof opening shape matches the sliding roof section, as well as the curvature of the roof itself.

I left the sliding steel roof section installed into the car so the final paint cut and buff could be done with the sliding steel roof section in place.  Unfortunately, I also found some problems that need to be resolved.  I managed to fill one side of an 8.5' X 11" sheet of paper with my notes and received no arguments from the shop manager when I presented the for review.  All of it is fixable and should all be sorted by June 10th.  I made some progress today!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Good Shop, Part 3

More pictures from Al arrived this morning.  Phil and the guys from A Good Shop on Commerce City have moved forward and paint has been applied!  Things are really progressing and getting close to completion.  Delivery is scheduled for May 25th, but it might slip a day or two.  A delivery by next Saturday would be fine by me.

What's astounding is the work they've done in my absolute absence.  As usual, I've been thrashed at work and have had two on call rotations while this car has been in the shop.  I've also been battling a severe cold at at times not much use to anyone, frankly.  Even though Commerce City isn't all that far away, life's complexities make Commerce City seem like a continent away.  A big challenge to make it there by closing time.

One thing that's pretty obvious in the picture to the left is that the hood remains separate from the vehicle.  I didn't go for details on this when I spoke with Al earlier, but it still causes me a little anxiety, to be honest.  I actually see the hood resting horizontally on a rack in the background of the picture above, so I know where it is--but not how well it's going.  Also, the sliding steel roof is missing from the picture.
The suspense is killing me, but I don't want to seem too pushy.  I think all my questions and concerns will be addressed soon enough.

Though the shop didn't mention it previously, I know there was at least one challenge they faced when fitting the sunroof clip.  Below is a picture that illustrates this challenge. 
It looks like the 'A' pillar had to be tweaked a little to make things line up.  In studying the picture above, it looks like they've addressed the paint in this area, too.

Mentioned in a previous post are the rubber retainer strip/trim pieces were provided to the shop to help with the alignment of the roof, particularly at the top of the 'A' pillar to roofline weld.  I hope there isn't too much tweaking of the side windows to make things fit.  I mean--beyond the normal adjustments.  I might have brought on a bunch of adventure I didn't reckon upon.  We'll see...

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Good Shop, Part 2

I received these pictures from Al over at A Good Shop this afternoon to my phone and I couldn't wait to get them over to my PC for better viewing.  I'm scheduled to be at his shop in Commerce City at 10:00AM tomorrow morning and I can't wait to see the work in person.

They didn't much disturb the 'A' and 'C' pillar paint, as can be seen in the picture to the right.  I'm going to bring along the 'A' pillar aluminum covers and the top and 'A' pillar rubber retainer strips just to make sure it all still fits, but it's looking really, really promising.  The rear weep holes are there and Al assures

me that the 'A' pillar front drains were done to my specifications.  I can't believe it...my car finally has the sliding steel roof I've always wanted.  An electric sunroof!  I'm so delighted I nearly forgot about the hood.  Honestly...I just about don't care.  Just about.  Will follow up tomorrow with Ken, the body man actually doing the work.  I hope I have nothing but praises for everything after I visit the shop tomorrow.  I will definitely get some more pictures and find out if the overhead interior light wiring can still be routed through the 'A' pillar, or if I'll have to add it to the sunroof motor wiring loom that will be run up the left 'C' pillar.  Either way, it won't be a problem because I already need to do something for the tachometer, backup lights, oil temp and pressure gauge wiring and can just add it all to a new loom.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Good Shop, Part 1

I took a day off on April 26th to have the yearly physical, and to decompress.  It's been a challenging year at work and I really needed some mid-week downtime.  Too bad I didn't get it.  I had no sooner made my plans, and then life got in the way and significantly added to the day's docket.  One of the many big things that happened that day was a call from the body shop.  My new body man, Al--owner of 'A Good Shop'--told me that this was my chance to squeeze in ahead of some other projects, if I could suddenly get my car down to his Commerce City location.  I called the towing company, and then spent about 45 minutes in the garage pulling stuff out of the way so the craft could be moved.  By myself.  Heavy stuff.  Cussing up a storm.

Winded and sweaty, the next order of business was taking parts off the Nautilus to prevent their damage, theft or over spray.  I scoured the fore and aft bays and bilge of all tools, parts and garbage amidships.  I had already installed much of the wiring, but couldn't see a point leaving it all in there to be over sprayed.  I had just started removing the wiring when the tow truck arrived.  It was a flat bed arrangement and as luck would have it, I had turned the Nautilus around some months earlier, so this prevented damage to the nose of the craft as it was tugged into place.  There's body clearance for tow cables around the rear axles, but very little to no clearance between the body and the front beam.  I plan to address this in the near future, by the way, because there's nothing more infuriating than body damage inflicted by a tow.  In this case, the craft was delivered to the body shop at a reasonable price and 'event free'.  I arrived about an hour later with the sun roof clip and guide rail parts, which I believe should be enough to get the sun deck alignment done correctly.

Before I knew it, it was noon--half a day gone, with a little over an hour to remove the wiring and drive the 15 traffic laden miles to the Doctor's office...fortunately, I had remembered my welding gloves, which prevented the many potential nicks and tears to my forearms and hands.  I teased the three new harnesses from the craft, fully realizing the steps backward I was taking.  It was thirsty work with no shade, but we thankfully had a cool day on tap.  Wiring out and in the back of the 4Runner, I fished the wiring grommets from the various holes and galleries to fully complete the tear down.  25 minutes, total--which wasn't bad.  I remember at the time thinking that I should be taking pictures...but didn't.  Some guys from the shop drifted out to take a look at the unusual Volkswagen and to gauge my progress--and maybe even assess my sanity, with me mumbling, huffing and bobbing about the craft.  One fellow tossed the comment, "Looks a little like a boat", to which I could only offer sardonic laughter and hearty agreement.

Out of time and good progress made, I couldn't afford even a minute to stop and chat with the shop foreman, Phil, so deferred the offer of a coffee and a shop tour, driving off with nothing more than a few parts in one hand and much more optimism for the future of the refit in the other.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Nautilus stands inspection, Part 2

I found another body shop locally that is willing to help me with various issues on the Nautilus.  It turns out that SVE Auto Body is overwhelmed with insurance work these days, and The Ranch is no longer an option because the owner is seriously ill, which saddens me greatly.  Joe at SVE referred me to another shop in Northglenn and the owner, Al, stopped by our home to take a look at what I have.  Long story short, he was both impressed and intrigued by the Nautilus.  I asked him to fix the fit of the hood, for starters.  As a secondary consideration, I asked him if he could fit the sun roof clip.  He told me the hood is no big deal, and that he could fit the sun roof clip in one of three ways.  He left, telling me he'd get back to me later in the week with quotes for each job.  I held my breath, and braced myself for disappointment...because this is the point where I get ditched, or let down by false promises...

Despite my concerns, Al responded in 3 days with quotes for each job.  I thought it over for a day and agreed.  I have 4 hoods for the craft, and delivered 3 of them to his shop in my 4Runner.  I told him which hood was the original, and which hood I really wanted him to use.  He took it from there and tweaked up the painted hood within 4 days.  And he's a busy shop!  I picked up the painted hood yesterday, mounted it on the Nautilus with the newly available hood rubber from ISP West, and pictured here are the results.  Without having the craft in his shop, he got the fit to within 95%.  I could live with it, but in speaking with Al he told me he could easily tweak it more.  I'm stoked!  Oh--and total cost for this work, so far?  NOTHING.  He was just happy to help give me a little shove to get the project done the way I want it.  How about that!

Al is bringing his car hauler over next Saturday and the Nautilus is going on a little trip down to his  Commerce City shop to finalize the hood refinish and clean up some other small issues that remain on the main body of the car.  Do I DARE HOPE that the sun roof clip will also be installed?

External lighting components for the Nautilus

For about 10 years I presumed that the Nautilus would end up with the M274/SB13/North American sealed beam style head lights, largely because I had stumbled into nearly all the required SB13 parts in NOS condition.  And, because I don't live in Europe.  A couple of pieces I had to find independently, and then had to have them repaired to a state indistinguishable from NOS.  That is what I tend to do, with results as pictured at right.  Very recently, I had purchased a set of real Hella H4 E-code flat lensed head light housings, which in my opinion look great on the Type 34 and give it a 'meaner' look.  As a second option, I gathered up enough parts to install a set of Marchal Equilux's, which are another awesome vintage look for the Type 34.  I collected NOS dual filament AND single filament turn signal/parking lamp front assemblies.  I had a nice set of side marker delete badges and seals.  With all of these options, I decided that the car was going to be finished up as though it had been delivered to Canada.  The only thing left was to locate a set of solid red NOS tail light lenses to complete the configuration--the prospects of which didn't much excite me, to be honest.  I absolutely hate the solid red Type 34 tail light lenses, but half-heartedly began my search to find some NOS originals to maintain the authenticity.

I no sooner made the decision to go with the full-on M274 option when Jurgen Magdelyns posted up a NOS set of European head lights.  This gave me pause because he generally has some very nice stuff and is a great person to do business with.  This sudden indecision on my part was compounded by an email from a British Type 34 owner asking me if I had some SB13 head light parts I could sell.  Could I somehow manage to sell my SB13 parts, get Jurgen to drop his price a little, then scratch together the difference to make a deal happen?  Coincidental? Serendipitous?  Idiocy?  Whatever, I have to tell you that I mulled this decision over more than any other I have since I first bought the car.  A lot of people take this decision for granted because their cars come equipped with the European head lights.  Not me, and not on my car.  In this case, I'm glad I tossed caution to the wind and proceeded because I think the Type 34 looks more original and complete with them.  I also feel that the fit and finish of the SB13 head light assemblies is a bit careless, and maybe something of an afterthought.  I strongly feel the SB13 assemblies could have been engineered with much more similarity to their European counterparts.

I have to admit that any concerns over sending off the SB13 parts to Britain was somewhat mitigated by the fact that I have nearly everything to assemble another extremely nice set of SB13 headlight adjusters.  At the time, I also had a really nice set of re-chromed SB13 headlight rings, but these have since been sold and are now living on a Type 34 near San Diego.  I still have the NOS dual filament turn signal housings, and may end up using them later on.  With all of these parts, I figured I only needed to spend another $200.00 to get back to a point of being 'SB13 ready'.  Now...how to get Jurgen to budge on his price?  Well, when I approached him about this he offered me reconditioned head light assemblies with NOS head light rings.  We struck a deal and I saved hundreds on the decision and what I received really made me smile.

I think I see der Lampendoktor's work on the headlight reflector reconditioning--which is a process called 're-mirroring', folks--NOT some cheesy silver paint job.  The lenses appear new and the adjuster hardware was reconditioned to like new, with the exception of the outer adjuster rings which were badly pitted, but finished correctly in gloss black.  This is a major problem area with European head light assemblies, where water and dirt makes its way in and rests in between the inner adjuster ring and outer chrome ring to collect and create a muck that when wet, stays wet and precipitates rust from the inside, out.  The condition of the inner ring should be no big deal because this is all hidden by the outer chrome ring and I intend to do routine maintenance to prevent a repeat of the rust issue.  Ok--and then I contacted Carsten Klein in Germany and did a deal to get NOS inner headlight adjuster rings and recently swapped them out to make them better.  The results totally reminded me of what I did for the set of fog lights that will be used on the craft, with NOS chrome rings and der Lampendoktor re-mirroring.  The only thing I REALLY didn't like were the bulb retainers, both of which were obviously dirty, used, rusted and corroded.  They let down the whole package.  Thankfully, this was an easy fix, only requiring a trip out to ebay.de, where der Lampendoktor (of course) had them available NOS for a pair, $65.00, shipped.  Not stopping there, I also bought a full set of NOS Hella glass from Belgium as spares for both the head lights and fog lights, because that's just what you do for your Type 34 when parts and cash are available.


I've had a chance to test-fit the European head lights and fog lights together on the Nautilus and I have to stay that everything looks nice and bright and clear.  Just like new.  The craft is resplendent in its fully European guise.  Lee Hedges recently started distributing the new head light ring seals so I can progress with front end assembly.  I've decided to save them as spares.  I actually have two sets of PoP headlight seals, but both sets have shrunken SIGNIFICANTLY over the years in storage and really aren't all that usable for their intended purpose.  I have decided to cut up the PoP seals and modify them for use as fog light seals, instead.  With regards to the turn signal housings, I will be using the NOS single element housings and correctly move the parking light up into the head light housing.  I spent some time on the NLA web site a couple of weeks ago to build a collection of 6V and 12V bulbs (planning ahead, just in case) to properly equip the entire car.  I also built a proper spare bulbs kit for the glove box.

The Nautilus is entirely sorted for exterior and interior lighting.  Everything in the picture above was originally made by Hella--not Bosch--in case anyone's wondering.  I can't say for sure if this is the case for all Type 34 production years and parts, though.

Next up:  MORE body work!