Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Honey Do stuff...

If you're a guy, and you're married, I don't need to explain the title.
We have a 1971 VW van that the 1st Mate bought many years ago. It's lived in some pretty rough places... one of them was Gualala, CA near Mendocino, where the air was so damp and salty, it would form stalactites of that mineral along the bottom edges of the car body and on the undercarriage... and nothing electrical would work.

It was auto hell.

Now, 1st Mate insists that I return to the reconstruction of the van (known for the last five years as the GRAY VAN) because it is one of the most reliable cars we've ever owned. I drove that van from Gualala to Barra de Navidad and back twice with only two problems... a sticky starter solenoid, and a timing adjustment (quick and easy fix) at a rest stop near Blythe, AZ.

And a cracked windshield... I caught a pebble within the first 30 miles of replacing the windshield right after the van turned from forest green to gray.

Yesterday, chasing some rust around the edge of the windshield got ugly and I ended up taking the broken glass out to find gaping holes where the gasket held the windshield in... so I did what I always do first. Consult the internet and see how others have made the repair.

Recommendations as the appear:
1) Take it to a body shop. (Sorry, can't do that. I'm a DIY kinda guy)
2) Find a donor vehicle and cut that part out and weld it to the rusted out part. (Uh. Donor vehicles would probably have the same problem since it's a common ailment, and I don't weld (yet)) and finding a donor vehicle in Mexico is different than the US.
3) Fill the holes with bondo. (Then, when the rest of the metal rusts out, the bondo will float magically in the holes without touching anything... against the laws of physics.)

So my solution was:
knock all the loose rusted pieces out... which was mostly all of it. Buy a can of insulating foam and spray the foam into the piece. Trim off the foam when it hardens and lay fiberglass and epoxy resin on the foam. Repeat until the piece is restored. Sand and paint. I was able to find a nice piece of laminated fiberglass about 1/8 inch thick to act as the "bead" for the windshield gasket. I epoxied it in and it's very strong. It was easy, too. I've got a couple of "finish" coats of epoxy on it now, and the 1st Mate says, "it looks like it belongs there."

1 comment:

1st Mate said...

When I talked about restoring it, I didn't realize what a can of worms it would be. Mea culpa!