Friday, 13 July 2007

Rust Sandwiches

Although I've made a number of posts relating to my research and planning, I haven't said much about the actual work in progress on my Beetle. Alas things are not going too well. Bad health, bad weather, and a need for out of stock parts have all played their part in delaying things however the largest factor has been that I keep discovering even more bits that need replacing.

I knew when I bought her that the left hand heater channel was in poor condition. I was quite pleased with myself at the time for spotting it because it wasn't glaringly obvious and in a matter of weeks, I'd gone from knowing almost nothing about cars to knowing enough about Beetles to spot it. However I failed to spot that during a previous repair, the heater channel had been welded to the floor pan. It's really obvious when you see it but I just didn't notice and the fact is that it's the same on the right hand side meant that both sides looked the same and didn't alert me to it.

That in itself is not a huge problem but in the process of removing the left hand heater channel and floor pan half I've also come to realise that the corner of the front-head base-plate is rotted away, along with the end of the front chassis support, where they bolt to the heater channel. At the back, the outer part of the rear cross member is rotten and there were so many bad areas lurking beneath thick layers of underseal in the rear wheel arch (covered by glued on carpet on the inside) that it probably makes more sense to replace the rear quarter rather than repair it.

Now while all of that is possible, it would be a heck of a lot easier with the body off. However, while I've got replacement floor pans for both sides and a new heater channel for the left hand side, the heater channel for the right hand side is out of stock. Remember that the one on my car is welded to the floorpan and you'll relised that I can't get the body off and make the car roadworthy again before I get my hands on a new right hand heater channel.

Vol 7 of the Bug Me Videos shows them removing a heater channel in one piece, and while that makes a lot of sense for demo purposes (and let's face it the new one is going to have to go in in one piece) it's not necessarily the most practical way to do it if there are 'unknowns'. I've already said that mine was welded to the floorpan but in the video they say that there are no welds along the top of the channel where it meets the front wheel arch on the inside of the car; just spotwelds on the outside. There clearly was a weld on the inside of mine and things became even more interesting when I started to cut it out. It turned out that there were four, yes four, layers of metal.

On top of the original, rusted to bits, heater channel was a patch. Presumably this had also started to rust at the bottom at some point because there was another patch on top of that, and another patch on top of that.

Now that I've got it out of there I can see that the bottom part of the front wheel arch also has a patch on the outside, plus a patch on the inside, and the original rusted piece of metal is sandwiched between the two. Clearly that's going to need replacing too.

Apparently there's a saying in VW circles about having replaced the bottom six inches of the car. I seem to be discovering what that means.

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