Jay Salser Posts

Undercoating Vintage Volkswagens

Undercoating Vintage Volkswagens

Foreword: Rather than to address “undercoating” as a general topic of discussion, I’ve tried to keep the focus upon undercoating as it related to Volkswagens through 1979 and as it relates, now, to the vintage Volkswagen hobby.

Undercoating has around for years and years in the world of vintage Volkswagens.

The theory behind undercoatings is that a barrier could be created to prevent the infiltration of moisture. Undercoatings themselves had no rust-inhibitive qualities. They simply have been intended as a barrier.

VW dealerships sold the service to new car buyers as a preventative measure to guard against rust. It was a money-making operation and dealers loved it. Especially was it offered in the colder climate States and especially where salt was used on icy roadways.

Recently, I spoke with a former VW trained specialist. He described the undercoating procedure as he observed it. He said that the dealership where he worked had one bay with a lift, “in a dark corner”, where the “nasty” undercoating took place. He told me that it was part of a money-making effort by dealerships in the make-ready department. Undercoating was applied using a hose and gun working from a 30 gallon barrel of material.

I have had my doubts over the years about its effectiveness in sealing the undersides of a vehicle as a moisture barrier. Here’s why. I was in the painting industry for almost 30 years. If there is a coating, I likely have seen it or read about it. In my experience, despite all claims to the contrary, coatings will fail. There is no “eternal” coating. I’ve heard claims that “you’ll never have to paint again”. Why can’t this be true?

Undercoating Vintage Volkswagens

It can’t be true because of expansion-and-contraction problems. When the base material—wood, metal, plastic—expands or contracts, the coating is going to suffer, eventually. Some coatings are better suited than others. But the fact of the matter is that coatings fail.

Metals, especially, are given to fluctuations from heat and cold. They will expand and contract more, and more quickly, reacting to weather and usage conditions.

What’s another problem? It’s the fact that the underside of a vehicle is not a continuous sheet of metal. Not at all. The undersides of vehicles are composed of pieces that have been fitted to form a unit. This could be through a continuous weld or spot-welding or with nuts and bolts and washers. There are joints. Every place where there is a weld or a nuts-and-bolts joint, expansion rates will differ.

As well, the application of undercoatings must completely encase all of this in order to form a viable covering—it must be seamless. This doesn’t happen.

The next issue is that undercoatings historically were shot onto factory painted surfaces. In order for a coating to adhere, there must be the possibility of adhesion. Slick surfaces will not offer such adhesion possibilities. As a result, I have been able to remove portions of undercoatings on Volkswagens simply by using compressed air. Sometimes, I have been able to remove it in sheets, simply because of the lack of adhesion. I can imagine that vibration over the years helps to loosen poorly adhered coatings.

Peter Ferguson’s ’67 Beetle

Peter Ferguson's '67 Beetle

Our thanks to Peter Ferguson for letting us have a glimpse of his native Ireland. His story helps to enlarge our understanding of the global 1967 VW Community.

First, Peter, tell us a little about your part of Ireland to give us some background. Most of us readers have little idea of your country.
Hi all, my name is Peter and I am 35 and married to Amy (12 years married) with three children: Rebekah (7), Daniel (4), and Caleb (18 months). I am an Anglican clergyman/pastor and live on the Emerald Isle (Ireland), currently serving in Carrickfergus just outside Belfast City. Our wee Country is blessed with some of the most scenic drives and countryside in the world, although is does rain a lot – that is why it is so green!

How did you first become interested in Volkswagens?
My love affair with all things air-cooled Volkswagen is due to one man, my late grandfather, George Megahey. He drove Beetles throughout his working and retired life. My earliest memories are, along with my two brothers, jumping into the back of his Beetle and heading ‘round the coast and along the waterways and little villages of the Ards Peninsula. I was intrigued with the shape of the car, so different from all others and how the tiny side windows popped out. One stand-out childhood memory is when my family would holiday at Newcastle Co. Down in view of the Mourne Mountains. Our grandparents would come to visit us. We would hear the whistle of the Beetle before we saw it and knew they were here! My brother and I would jump on the runner boards and hold onto the gutters while grandpa would drive us slowly and safely to our caravan!

Papa George worked at Harland and Woolfe shipyard in Belfast (incidentally so did my great grandfather, who worked as a cabinet maker–he would have worked on the Titanic and all those great ocean liners of times past). He told us how that in the winter months, his colleagues with their water-cooled engines would get frozen, but he would hop into his little Beetle and away he went every time!

Were Volkswagens imported directly from Germany into Ireland?
Yes. Volkswagens were imported directly into Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) from Germany. However in the Republic of Ireland there was an assembly line in Dublin which put together CKD cars from all the parts. These are rare and sought after today. One unique feature of the Irish built beetle is the shamrock logo stamped on the windows.

You mentioned a VW Club–are there still many Volkswagens in Ireland or, are they scarce?
At one time Volkswagens were a very familiar sight on our roads. Everyone of a certain age has a Volkswagen story. They were seen as cheap and reliable transport and as such were used for transporting kegs of Guinness to bales of straw in towns, villages and on farms throughout the Country. They would have been used and abused, so many didn’t survive. Now they are a rare sight, but there is a small yet growing community of Volkswagen enthusiasts throughout the Island – north and south. They are now seen as a prized and iconic vehicle and bring a smile wherever you go.

Preparing For a Vintage Volkswagen Cruise

Preparing For a Vintage Volkswagen Cruise

(Photo and video by our good friend Chris Vallone of Classic VW Bugs)

When my friends and I decide to take a caravan cruise in our vintage Volkswagens, each person receives a memo outlining the cruise and the obligations of each participant. Preparations begin well in advance of the cruise date so that there will be no need for last minute attempts to ready the cars.

Choice of a destination is an important factor, of course and will make or break a cruise. It may take some research to find a suitable destination. Make the destination something which will peak interest. Sometimes it can involve a learning experience. Other destinations will be purely for the please of the outing and company of other like-minded Volkswagen enthusiasts.

Don’t wait until the last minute to begin researching a destination. Once one has been chosen, it’s time to make contact (in most cases) with the responsible party at the destination. This could be a restaurant, a shop, a visitors’ site or other location. Usually, those in charge at the destination need advance notification as to time and numbers. Be sure to stay in touch so that reservations, for instance, aren’t cancelled for lack of communication.

We’ve found that from 12 to 15 cars makes a nice, manageable caravan. Fewer cars, and the cruise begins to lose its appeal. The more cars in the caravan, the more cumbersome it becomes. And, unless the cruise is entirely on country roads, having too many cars can become dangerous!

Many of us do not drive our cars consistently enough to remember when or what we last noticed about our car’s performance while driving. So, it’s a good time to do an intimate interview with your VW Baby! Collect supplies as directed in the instructions and think of any other personal supplies which you might need. Then pack them into the vehicle so that you will know exactly where they are when the time comes to use them.

Once your car is ready and necessary supplies are in hand, take time to study the route. Don’t plan to just follow the car ahead…you may become separated from the caravan by traffic or by a traffic signal light. Know the route.

We place someone at the head of the caravan and someone at the tail of the caravan who is knowledgeable and experienced. Everyone should have an identical, alphabetized cell phone list of the caravan participants. A simple call to the leader can be made, if need be, and the caravan can pull over in order for cars to catch up or in order to assist a stranded participant.

We choose routes which will avoid major roadways where traffic might be congested. Congested traffic quickly can ruin a cruise by splitting everyone up, or worse—by causing an accident.

Robin Snook’s ’67 Beetle

Robin Snook's '67 Beetle

Robin Snook, of England, contacted 1967Beetle.com, inquiring about parts for his ’67 Beetle. Eric copied me and thus began a running e-conversation between Robin and me. I was able to help with some parts. When Robin mentioned something about how he acquired his car, I thought that his story should be told.

My involvement with Beetles began when I was 15 years old.

My dad died when my sister and I were quite young. As a result, we struggled financially growing up, and didn’t have a car. My mum took driving lessons in the early 1970s and after several attempts passed her test and acquired a license to drive…….she wanted us to enjoy some travel around the UK before we flew the nest!

My uncle had completed Conscripted National Service in Germany after the Second World War and learnt about the Peoples’ Car whilst he was there. He suggested that it would be a good car for my mum due to its reliability and high build quality……so the search was on!

We hunted high and low for a decent example to buy, but they were either too expensive or trashed! Eventually, we found a beautiful Pearl White 1200 model that had been registered in August, 1967. Mum bought it for £550 (around $880) in 1972.

The Fischer’s ’67 Beetle

The Fischer's '67 Beetle

When Gary and Donna Fischer purchased Wally2, their 1967 Beetle Convertible, they began to put “him” into stock condition. Wally2 had undergone many handlings since he had been pulled from a barn—literally.

One of the things which they found was two threaded holes in the driver’s side defrost defector in the corner of the dash at the windshield. (photo of the holes)

Questions came to 1967beetle.com where Eric copied the message over to Jay. (We are a quite the team!) Heads together over the Internet, we could not come to any good conclusion. We did agree that some previous owner had a reason for those two holes so carefully drilled and taped.