PAINTING YOUR WAGON

How to prepare, prime, fill and shape and then paint your cherished vehicle

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VW combi van or camper wagon.

 

OCEAN PLASTIC TOUR BUS - VW Camper, or Combi vans are symbolic of the earth movement, made famous by the likes of Joss Stone, Jamie Oliver and BBC Top Gear presenter, Richard Hammond - all great fans of Volkswagen campers. The Volkswagen van uses the same air cooled 4-cylinder boxer engine as the famed Beetle designed by Professor Ferdinand Porsche. Seen here the front bumper mount was rusted so badly that it was decided to remove it and weld in more substantial panels. This was long before we were given use of the vehicle. Copyright photograph Blueplanet Universal Holdings Ltd 2007, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of BUH Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Painting a restored vehicle is not quite as easy as slapping a coat of emulsion on the walls of your house. Panels that have been welded in to replace the rusty old ones often need to be blended onto the original bodywork .........

 

 

 

 

UNDERSIDE AND SKIN - The underside of the door is not something you ever look at until you have to. We used two of the "ski" pressings produced by Alan Schofield to create a new steel door frame. Once again, there are section where nobody produces parts, so you have to use sheet steel from your local motor factors to form the missing sections. Be careful to line up the holes in the door skins with the captive threads for the wing mirrors. Copyright photographs all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Preparation and cleanliness are the keys to a perfect finish. We need to get back to a solid surface free of rust and old flaky paint. If you don't get back to sound paint or good metal, then you are wasting your time. Modern fillers and paints will give you a good look even if you don't prepare that well, but the gloss will not last and rust is sure to creep back if the old rust is not treated and the primer does not adhere to a dusty surface.

 

The better your preparation, the longer you camper will last and the nicer it will look.

 

 

Bay window frame for the windscreen badly corroded

 

WINDSCREEN - Once the windscreen rubber goes, water is trapped in the backward sloping gully until it rust the front panel through, then the water trickles down inside the vehicle and rots the floor and then the chassis. Make sure then that you do not neglect this area of your restoration, otherwise it will happen all over again. When refitting a new rubber, make sure you use the best quality item you can find. It will pay dividends in the long term. Copyright photographs, 22 March 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Volkswagen camper T2 bay window fitted with a new rear quarter panel

 

REAR QUARTER PANEL - You may need to trim some of the panel as it is provided to blend in with your requirements. Make your adjustments and dry fit at each adjustment to be sure that you do not remove too much metal before finally welding in place. The R-Tech equipment has been used almost continuously in harsh conditions for many months and is still as good as when we started this project. You still need to inspect the equipment and clean the shroud, but other than that most of our problems were just keeping welding gas and consumables coming. We've used three large cylinders of gas and two spools of wire already on this project. As you can see we still have the tailgates to come, and the sliding side doors. Copyright photographs, 29 March 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Welding complete, now for some serious preparation before painting

 

OUT OF THE WORKSHOP - Finally, we were able to put the event bus outside. freeing up the workshop for the AmphiMax in May. There is still a lot of work to do. First thing is to refit the windscreen and put on the stainless steel exhaust. We have custom switchgear for the ignition and for starting the engine. This needs to be fitted once the new exhaust is on so that we can move the vehicle around on the button to allow the project to move forward in the most logical sequence. We were operating on an extremely tight budget, but feel that we have accomplished significant gains with everyone contributing to the cause. Here you can see the sliding doors repaired and installed. It will be primer time just as soon as the filling and shaping is completed. Thanks guys! Copyright photograph, 26 April 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

VW camper tailgate filled with polyester filler paste in storage

 

STORAGE - The bus is stored under cover at night until a protective coat of paint is applied - and of course the vinyl wrapping is done. Much of the work on this ocean event vehicle was paid for by Avaaz supported by crowd funding contributions. Copyright photograph, 27 April 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Custom front end on our VW camper events and tour bus

 

PRIMER - The front end had been exposed to the elements for a few years. It was high time that this steel valance was sanded back to bare metal and primed as a guide for some filing of a few minor indentations. We have sourced LED bulbs for the indicators and stop lamps and xenon bulbs for the headlights. We've also sourced some LED spot lamps to shine a light at shows. Copyright photograph, 3 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Filling and blending in new panels to old with body filler paste

 

SHAPING - Even with new panels, you will have to blend onto the original steel. This is done with polyester filler paste that hardens once mixed to produce a strong thermo-setting plastic that readily accepts primer paints in cellulose or two-pack formulation. Copyright photograph, 3 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

CUSTOM ARCHES

 

Custom wheel arches will require someone with a bit of experience in making one-off cars or modifications to existing cars. The shape of this arch cannot be too radical. We are aiming for a cross between the front arch and the original rear arch. This arch had to be widened to cope with the extra width of the eco tyres on BMW alloy rims and adapter plates.

 

 

 

PAINTING PREPARATION - Moving from shaping to preparing for painting is seamless. This is a 50 year old van that with a really good paint job and proper under body rust proofing, will see another 50 years of use - providing that is - we still have a planet to use it. Copyright photographs May 3 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

ORBITAL SANDERS - Most body shops use DAs to flat off the old paint before painting. You cannot get the shaping right with an orbital sander, you need a large block and sanding diagonally, especially where there are multiple compound curves such as with the Vdubs front panel. The windscreen recess is particularly important. Where a smooth return is essential if you want a watertight seal. This is one of the problem areas of any van or camper. Once the rubber hardens or cracks, water is then trapped in the gap between the rubber and the lip, which then rusts through to allow drips inside the cabin to rot away the floor. Copyright photograph, 3 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

SHUTS - The devil is in the detail. While it is important to flat large panels for the primer to adhere, it is also vital to flat off the door returns and corners, or the paint will chip off at the slightest impact. Copyright photograph, 3 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

BLENDING - Smoothing the original window frame to the new door skin with the trusty old orbital sander. Always wear a mask when working in dusty conditions. We use electric flatbed sanders as well. We don't paint cars or vans in our workshops. That is because we can't spare the space or time, when we are working on the AmphiMax and SeaVax prototypes. That is after all why we are going to all the trouble of sorting this tour bus for the Cleaner Oceans Foundation. Copyright photograph, 3 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Blending the wheel arches into the sills

 

MORE SHAPING - This side of the van had obviously had a mild encounter at one point in it's life. There was a ripple on the door skin that partially came out with some gentle panel beating. The new sill panel on this side needed some blending into the custom wheel arch, where the other side took no effort at all. All in all it was a pleasant experience, not requiring too much body filler. Copyright photograph, 3 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

BLUE ENAMEL - The old rusty fan housing was replaced with a new unit that has no heater take of ducts to improve the engine cooling. First the steel was primed with a rust inhibitor, then a heat resistant enamel was applied. The only colour that would do for this engine is ocean blue of course. When installed you don't get to see the conch like sculpture at the rear. What a pity! Copyright photograph 10 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Cleaner Oceans Foundation Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

SHAPING UP - Sanding the body filler smooth before priming is an experience for our newest volunteer. Kyla has not painted a vehicle before, but is keen to learn new skills. Copyright photograph 11 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Cleaner Oceans Foundation Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

GIRL POWER - Kyla is not just a pretty face, she is a weight lifter and very strong as you can see for yourself. She is more than capable of shaping the body filler on the Miss Ocean tour bus. Copyright photograph 11 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Cleaner Oceans Foundation Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

 

 

VW LINKS & REFERENCE

 

http://www.r-techwelding.co.uk/

http://www.r-techwelding.co.uk/news/r-tech-welding-equipment-meets-robo-challenge/

http://www.alanhschofield.com/

https://www.vwheritage.com/

http://www.coolairvw.co.uk/

http://www.justkampers.com/

http://www.volkszone.com/

http://www.robochallenge.co.uk/

http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/

 

 

 VW HOME - BODYWORK - ENGINE - GOLF - LOGISTICS - STAINLESS STEEL - SUSPENSION & BRAKES - VINYL WRAPPING - WELDING

 

 

 

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