Transmission Cleaned

Tonight I cleaned the transmission and transmission area. This is just a first pass and more cleaning will be required prior to paint. I was again surprised at what good shape everything is in; much of what appeared to be rust was actually just rust-colored mud.

       Leave a comment

Eine Maus!

Tonight I pulled out the transmission (it’s surprisingly easy) to allow access to clean and paint the area above/around the transmission. With the transmission out it was easy to see what had been blocking one of the heater channel entry points just above the transmission, a mouse! It was basically mummified so I’m sure it had been there since the bus was stored outside.  Also, over the weekend I had cleaned/painted the underside of the belly pans but didn’t post or take any pictures, so I took a picture of the underside tonight.

         Leave a comment

Belly Pan Patching Continued

More patching on the belly pans tonight. With these holes repaired all that’s left is to grind the welds and paint the entire underside.

Belly Pan Patching Belly Pan Patching

       Leave a comment

Belly Pan Patching

Tonight more patching was completed on the belly pans. With all of the rust cut out and the insides clean/painted the pans are now making a satisfying thump sound when knocked instead of the previous crinkly rusty sounds. None of the welds to the underside look particularly nice, but they are solid and will look fine once ground flat; welding upside down is extremely tough. All that remains for the underside with regards to metalwork/paint is the following:

– Finish patches to driver side belly pan
– Finish fabricating and install front passenger side belly pan section
– Small frame repair to driver side front frame rail
– Grind all welds
– Wirewheel entire underside
– Clean/etch entire underside
– Paint entire underside with POR15

       Leave a comment

Belly Pan Reproduction Begins

Today the central belly pan was welded back in place and I began fabricating a replacement belly pan section for the forward passenger side belly pan area. The are a few holes in each of the belly pan areas but the forward passenger side belly pan was beyond salvage; when the bus was parked outside for 25 years it was likely facing downhill and leaning to the right, at least with enough slope for all the water to collect here.

To reproduce the belly pan I created a hardwood form to match the contour of the existing rusty pan and I’m using the hammer forming process to stamp the rib pattern into the new sheet metal. The belly pans were only used as reinforcement on busses with sunroofs or large pop-up campers; because of this, repair sections are not as available as other parts have been.

Fabricating Belly Pan Belly Pan Removed

       Leave a comment

Heater Channel Replaced

Today the rest of the spot welds on one side of the center belly pan were drilled to allow access to the heater tube. It appears that the heater tube’s insulating blanket was holding water against the tube, causing it to rust. The tube was replaced and then the entire inside of the center floor compartment was thoroughly cleaned, acid etched, and coated with POR15.

       Leave a comment

Frame Repaired, Crossmember in Place

Tonight the other frame rail was repaired and the crossmember welded in place. I had planned on just repairing the end of the center heater tube but I was able to pull the entire tube out. So apparently, and this makes sense now, the water that collected in the crossmember traveled down the heater tube and rusted it out. The center belly pan will have to be fully removed and the center heat tube replaced.

       Leave a comment

Heater Channel and Frame Rail Repair

Tonight I fabricated and installed a repair piece for the heater channel and worked on the frame rail holes left by the crossmember. This is going much more easily than I had expected, thanks in part to having the bus lifted extremely high, and in part due to the parts being much heavier gauge steel here, which is much easier to weld. One of the four frame repairs is complete (except for grinding), one has been prepped, and two remain untouched; I should be able to finish all of these tomorrow night.

       Leave a comment

Crossmember Removed

Tonight the crossmember was removed; It was in extremely bad shape, with all of the bottom missing. Once it was removed though I found that everything around it is solid. It had even blocked rust from spreading to under the floor, for the most part. It’s apparent that the crossmember had been holding water, and because of this there are two rust holes in the frame where the frame met the end of the crossmember. These areas will be cut out and patched along with the hole in the heater tube.

       Leave a comment

Made Where?

I got the bus back onto its wheels and have it raised as high as it will go for the next steps. I’ve been putting this off for a while but the last remaining metal work is to the center crossmember and passenger side front ‘belly pan’. It looks really bad but it’s actually very well isolated to the crossmember and heating duct. It appears that water came into the crossmember from the drain holes above and, with it’s own drain holes clogged, the water stayed in the corssmember, rotting it. The bus structure is a uni-body design, being supported by a complex web of parts instead of body-on-frame construction; so although I wouldn’t want to drive it this way there isn’t any danger of the entire bus becoming warped due to having this piece (temporarily) missing. My next step is to cut this crossmember out and weld in the new one. While everything is setup for easy underside access I’ll also POR15 the entire underside to stop the surface rust.

I also connected the parking brake, clutch, and shifter linkages; these will need some tweaking and a few small parts but are generally working for the first time since I’ve had it. The next action in this category is to get the hydraulic brakes working; this will mainly consist of replacing all of the steel brake lines, making the connections, and bleeding the brakes.

As for the title of this post, look closely at picture #1 “Made in W. Germany”; in 1967 Germany was still 23 years away from reunification.

    Leave a comment