Jay Salser Posts

Challenges of Vintage Car Ownership

Challenges of Vintage Car Ownership

Before I knew “Jonesie” (not his real name), he had purchased a Beetle which, by all logic, should have gone to the crusher. Never had he revived a car, much less a Bug. But, he had disassembled the car, removed the body from the chassis and proceeded to cut and weld and renew the car.

By the time we had met and become better acquainted, he was driving the vehicle but experiencing some major difficulties due to poor advice which he had received and some poor workmanship from a shop which rebuilt his engine and did some front end work.

I took Jonesie under consideration and introduced him to a bonafide VW mechanic and engine builder. Almost immediately the mechanic identified some of the problems. Together, we began solving and drawing the car out of its slump. It was gratifying to see Jonesie driving and enjoying his car. He talked about it, joined a local club, went on cruises and even was joined by his wife in his forays onto the highways.

I wasn’t surprised when he asked for help to build an authentic engine for his year of Beetle. After considerable expense, he soon was cruising with an engine to-kill-for—a real German engine from ring gear to crank pulley.

When he talked to me some months later and announced that he was selling his Beetle and all of his VW things, I was shocked. He told me that he had experienced a problem with his speedometer. Then, there was some other minor problem. These distractions bothered him and resulted in his disenchantment with a vintage vehicle. He plainly told me that he had not expected these things to happen. Clearly he was under the impression that once “restored”, the car was going to run without a hitch.

His has not been the first case I have observed! A person spends thousands of dollars and countless hours laboring to “get it right” only to have little stuff happen—usually when it is least expected and least appreciated—in terms of money, time and inconvenience!

I am a diehard VW fan who doesn’t like break-downs and other mechanical distractions, but I am in there for the long haul! I never have been under any delusion that a restored vintage car is going to be like a brand new car off the assembly line. Nothing is going to work exactly as it did in those days long past. Never!

In an article in the September-October, 2014 Saturday Evening Post, Jeanne Wolf interviewed Jay Leno—known the World ‘round for his vintage car collection and now-famous garage (pp.38-41 and 82). When but a boy, Jay was given a ’34 Ford Pickup to work on. His dad told him that if he could fix it, he could have it. Jay met the challenge and eventually had the truck running. He said about that first challenge: “You sort of learned to respect the machine and how to make it work. That’s probably what really got me into cars. And that’s what has kept me involved in creating my own collection and building the garage.”

’67 Beetle — One Year Only Parts

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — One Year Only Parts

Nothing says it like pictures. The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies here!

1967beetle.com daily receives many many requests about one-year-only parts (commonly shortened to “OYO”). It makes sense to maintain a photo library of these parts for everyone to access at will.

We’ve added a new feature under “ARTICLES” in the site navigation. Simply mouse over, and you’ll see the new addition. One Year Only Parts.

OYO

One of the great benefits of such will be to those who are considering the purchase of a 1967 Beetle. A check of 1967beetle.com’s OYO parts photos can help to confirm whether the car in question really sports period correct parts—or not.

Another use of this new resource will be the ability to compare parts when searching for a correct replacement part. All of us have had to scour the Internet looking for the proper part, often coming away empty-handed because we didn’t know exactly what we were looking for. Or because incorrect parts were being posted as being the correct parts!

Rear VW Axle Maintenance

Rear Axle Maintenance

Not long after I had reassembled Baby, our 1967 Savanna Beige Sedan, I noticed that the passenger’s rear axle was seeping fluid onto the backing plate. “Rats!” I thought.

And, sighing, I got out the tools and began the task of replacing the axle seal—what else could it be? I had done the “taste test” (not recommended for the weak of stomach). It definitely was not brake fluid. Now, folks, I don’t actually imbibe what I taste—it’s an immediate knowledge and I rinse my mouth of any possible residue. It’s the humble chemist’s unfailing test! Some people get a dab onto the forefinger and by rubbing between forefinger and thumb can sense what type of fluid they are dealing with.

Sure enough…after getting into the bowels of the axle, it was a leaking seal. I fetched a new seal pack from my supplies.

Vintage Volkswagen Bulb Repair

Vintage Volkswagen Bulb Repair

A couple of months ago, some of us were having a VW photo shoot. As my wife, Neva, drove away in our ’67 Beetle, someone exclaimed that one of the brake lights wasn’t functioning.

“Again?”, I thought and remarked to those present that I had serviced the offending brake light on more than one occasion. I added that to my list of VW Things To Do.

A couple of weeks later, I had a moment to work on the problem. But, in the intervening time, I had thought of a possible solution. It derived from something having nothing to do with VWs. In fact, this possible solution had nothing to do with anything automotive!

I removed the car’s cover, removed the lens and the offending bulb. I tested it to be sure that it was a functioning unit. Sure was. Sigh. Not as easy a fix as I had hoped. Wouldn’t it have been nice to just replace a burnt bulb?

Usually what I have done in the past is to remove the bulbs, then to remove the bulb holder itself. This is an easy operation requiring the removal of the lens, then the use of a Phillips head screwdriver to remove one short screw at the bottom of the bulb holder. The holder lifts out of its slot and there it is.

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.