First of all I had to remove a pretty nasty dent in the gearbox support beam, a major problem since it is rather difficult to dent out 2 mm thick metal by hand. Luckily my helpful neighbour Arthur owns a hydraulic press, which boosted our muscle power to 10 ton.
The pictures give a good impression on what you will be working with for the next few weeks. We spent hours and hours scraping mud, rust, excessive undercoating and more rust and did I mention rust? After we removed the majority of this thick, natural protective layer, we decided that this was not the best way to clean the chassis. First of all, it is difficult to reach all places using screwdrivers and paint scrapers. Second, spending this many hours underneath a rusty van really does not leave any room for any form of social interaction with the outside world at all…
After talking to some people with a little bit more experience in restoring rusted pieces of s#*t, we ended up at a sandblasting company; what a great solution!
When my van returned from sandblasting, things become painfully visible! However, having this level of visibility really helps you to fully understand what needs replacing. After cleaning out the remaining sand that got stuck in little corners, we used a rust converter* to get rid of the last bits of hidden rust.
A lot of welding happened in between sandblasting and painting, which you can read all about in the other restoration articles. For the purpose of this article, we will fast forward to paint:
Now that the entire chassis has been painted with primer, all seams have been sealed with panel bonding adhesive to prevent water from creating rust again. 3M Body Schutz was chosen to apply as the second layer of protective coating. Body Schutz is a modern, thick, asphalt- based coating with excellent rustproofing and sound deadening properties. Not every vintage Volkswagen fanatic will agree with me applying this undercoating, but from a practical point of view, this is the best solution for me; my van is not going to spend its life in a showroom, but is being restored with durability in mind. The application of Body Schutz is done using air pressure and a spray gun. A piece of advice would be to conduct this little project outside, from personal experience I can tell that this coating also sticks very well on human skin…
In most cases, it is possible to pain on top of an under-body coating like Body Schutz (check the instructions). I had my van’s engine bay and wheel arches painted in the body colour, just for the looks of it.
* A rust converter is a product that pulverises rust and leaves a layer of blackened metal. It does not leave any acid surfaces, nor does it convert the rust film into a dry film. A good rust converter transforms rust into inert dust and detaches it, which gives you a perfect basis for a primer.