Friday, 25 April 2014

Flipping My Lid

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
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Sometime before Marigold left Germany in the early seventies she was fitted with a side-lifting Dormobile "pop top" roof. This allows fantastic headroom and also allows room for the fitment of two stretchers, quite suitable for kids although a tight squeeze for most grown ups. My younger sis and I spent almost every holiday night in our youth sleeping on these stretchers.

As always, you can click on the pics for a larger version. Or not. Hey man it's your choice.

The combined ravages of time, neglect and the harsh South African climate have had their effect on this fibre-glass masterpiece and it is showing some wicked wear and tear. One of the translucent pop-up skylights was destroyed loudly and violently against a low concrete beam in an underground car park. The other departed suddenly and with a loud BANG at full speed (Speed? Lol, poetic licence) on the road to Heidelberg Kloof some years ago on the way to the local version of the Woodstock music festival. This caused some interesting and exciting swerving and fist-waving in the long line of already impatient traffic behind us, and startled my pre-teen daughter into wide-eyed rigidity. Ah, happy memories - yet another item on my wishlist.

I can get replica replacements for these on a Brit website for some nasty high price (36 quid each plus postage, *gulp*, that's nearly 15 gazillion rands with the current exchange rate).  but I have decided to either find a similar and locally-available substitute or to replace them with fixed windows. Maybe one from a caravan or summat. A friend on one of the local air-cooled forums has suggested a bain-marie dish so we have lots of possibilities. I'll be on the hunt over the next couple of weeks for something suitable.

The window rubbers were rotten and brittle so we pulled them out and removed the windows for cleaning. While at it we decided to do a proper job and remove all of the other fixtures and fittings too. We started sanding down the fibre glass surface to prepare it for paint, partly with an electric sander and partly with sanding blocks where the electric proved to be a bit too aggro. What a way to take off the autumn chill. Blood, sweat and tears: not just a bad singing group for nostalgic parents.

I grabbed hold of some modern inertia-reel type safety belts for the project. I don't like to buy second-hand for safety-related stuff so I bought brand new ones. The originals were well worn and didn't look very safe. Nor even very belt-like, come to think of it, more like giant, grey, furry caterpillars breeding in the seats. We made up some extra-heavy steel brackets to support them and they'll be fitted correctly once we applied some proper paint.

Sorry for all the rubbishy pics, I keep forgetting the better camera at home and end up using my old phone to take the shots for the project diary. Just live with it and use some imagination. Or bring some beer and come and see it for yourself.

Thanks for visiting, do come again!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bay Window Blues

When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.
Ernest Hemingway, True at First Light

This model type of the VW Kombi was known to many as the Bay Window. This is because the large, curved front windscreen was such a noticeable change from the twin, flat windscreens of the previous "split-screen" models. The windscreen has not weathered well and was particularly affected by the fire that caused so much other damage to the front end of the white donor bus. (As usual, click on the pics to enlarge them a bit.)

The screen was cracked at the bottom right, and the glue within the laminated glass had boiled and bubbled and turned a blueish brown colour. I removed the pristine screen from Marigold before I gave away the leftover sections of the project and it's been carefully and lovingly stored away. So I do have a replacement and will just need to get a new seal and some assistance with fitting, when I'm eventually ready.

I cut around the rubber seal and popped out the old glass with little effort. As I expected the steel surround is badly rusted and pitted, there are a couple of holes that go right through and much of the rest is thin and useless. This is a fairly common problem with these old Kombis, the design of the surround makes it a water trap and the rust is almost unavoidable without taking special precautions.

I have been scratching, scraping and scrubbing at the side windows to remove all traces of many souvenir stickers and transfers that once graced the old girl and boasted of her successful travels and conquests. They were, in most cases, faded and peeling and looking rather tatty so they had to go. I'll start a new collection of my own when I hit the road!

Thanks for visiting, come again!

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