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Monday, November 6, 2017

Welding updates...

As per my last post, I started a 6 week welding course at the local college.  I was four weeks in when the college staff went on strike.  For now at least, things are on Hiatus.

We spent quite a bit of time on SMAW (stick welding) which was highly educational;  The biggest lesson being that it is much easier to strike an arc with an auto-darkening helmet!  I was fortunate that we moved on to MIG on the last day, with a good three hours of lab time.  

With my Saturdays free I decided to have a look for my own machine.  As usual I turned to Kijiji in the hopes of finding something locally.  I cannot for the life of me understand advertising an item for sale and then ignoring potential buyers.  This is what I ran into on six different occasions until I found something within an hour from home. 

For the bargain price of $80.00 I turned up this little Italian made gem built in 1985.  

It's a little beaten up, but everything fires up nicely and it has its own stand (on wheels).  That being said, the gun is a little damaged and the tip was missing.  I discovered that it takes a 6mm Euro-type 15 which is available on Ebay and other online sources.  I bought a 5 pack from Scotland which came to about $7.00 including shipping!  

If you Google BeccaMig 140 virtually nothing will come up. I did email TelWin, the company who built it and was politely told that due to the age, they have no data to share.  I was hoping they might have had an archived manual somewhere. 

Without any Argon gas there isn't much I can really do, however I was able to test with the new tip and everything is a go! 

Until next time....

Monday, September 11, 2017

Get the lead in!

My poor old Beetle had definitely seen better days before it found me in 2014.  One of the most awkward spots to tackle was the rust right below the windshield.   Fortunately for me that area was solid but badly pitted with a few holes here and there (small ones).

I knew that putting body filler over top was a poor idea as rust could reform and bubble up under the paint.  I thought of fiberglass, however that was also messy and problematic.  I decided the best approach was to go back in time to the days of lead solder filling.   There is an excellent supplier in the US, TP Tools.

I had all the items shipped to my US address and they arrived within 2 business days.  I purchased lead body solder, tinning butter and a copper brush for application.

I have been sitting on this stuff for a couple months and decided to dive in yesterday afternoon.

Here are the shots of the process.

Here we have some small holes and pitting

initial filling of the holes 
I added some more material and smoothed it out.

Overall I am pretty pleased, especially for a first attempt.  I will need to use a thin layer of filler to smooth things out, however it is being applied to metal coated in high build primer.

I hope to have the rest done before class starts on Saturday morning!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Back to School!

We are never too old to learn and never too old to deal with what has been put off.

I have decided to tackle both by signing up for a welding course at the local community college. 

 My friend did an exceptional job installing my floors and heater channels;  I found myself envious at times as he made it look so easy.  He is entirely self taught, honing his skills over the last 27 years on British cars and other projects.   

I am ashamed to admit that I was intimidated by welding and always avoided it.  Relying on others is fine on occasion, but not something to make a habit of.  

My friend has a young family and a demanding work schedule these days.  In conversation he has told me he feels badly about not getting the Beetle finished;  I always make sure to show appreciation for all the hard work he has already put in.  Without him, the project would have never gotten off the ground. 

It is definitely up to me to take things over the finish line.  

With formal instruction I hope to gain the confidence to do my own work.   The course runs from Mid-September until the end of October, every Saturday morning for four hours. 

I am very excited to take on this new challenge! 

Not me.....yet.  (soon though!)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Ask and ye shall receive....

I asked the universe if I should do a ragtop conversion on the Beetle.  The universe in turn, put one right in my lap.  My lap and the rest of me will be making a two hour drive to collect in the next couple weeks, but so it goes.

It happened that quickly;  As a curiosity, I scanned the classifieds on the Samba and found this for a very reasonable price.

This roof clip from a '63 isn't perfect or complete but it is a great start!  The general consensus within the VW community is that aftermarket ragtops are subpar to a donor clip.  Well, I now have a donor clip and can gradually buy all the bits as I go.  This will make it easier to budget things over the winter.

It's funny how little signs pop up now and again.

Yesterday I wrote about my old friend Victor;  A few hours later, I spied a faded red Beetle (post '67) in the Dofasco parking lot.  What are the odds?

I believe in listening to the universe and it seems the universe occasionally listens to me.

Until next time....


I am still working on the Matchless engine rebuild.  Progress is being held up by a $1.38 sludge trap screw that will arrive in a few weeks.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Was I always this sentimental?

Yes, apparently I was.

It's funny how a memory or feeling can be triggered quite randomly;  for a moment you may even find yourself reliving it.

I live near a somewhat busy country highway, with homes staggered throughout.  On my drive to work this morning I spotted a house with a side lot being used for new Volkswagen storage. I imagine this is rented space for unsold stock from the dealer down the road.  While VW sales have been up on the whole (despite a series of scandals) they are certainly dwindling here in Canada. I was seriously interested in the Golf Diesel wagon until I read about all the fuel pump issues.

I am however, getting off track.

For some reason, as I drove by all those (probably unwanted) cars,  my mind drifted back to 1982.

I have spoken about Victor, our family car at the time in previous posts.  He was a cheerful 1969 red Beetle that my dad bought new, chosen by a narrow margin over an Austin 1100. Considering my father's level of patriotism and belief in the home product, it was a bit of a surprising purchase.

Even at a young age,  I always felt that Victor was a friend;  It was through his small rear windows that I first experienced the world outside of our home.  Being in the backseat almost exclusively, I was also the closest to his mechanical heart, beating reliably on every trip we took.  My favourite being the hour long drives to my grandparent's house in the country.

Victor was a very tough and determined little car;  I vividly remember the brutal winter storm of 1977 during which my sister was born.  The hospital was at the top of a tall escarpment, a 330ft climb from where we lived.  All that could be seen was the blinding white of blowing snow; the high winds repeatedly struck Victor's body as he held true to course.  As larger, more powerful vehicles laid helplessly by the way side, he carved his path and by God, nothing would get in his way!

We had many more memories and many, many good times over the next few years.  The most amusing incident being my father's absolute refusal to allow a bushel of Sauerkraut (the exact expletive laden slur directed at the Germans escapes me) in his car.  My mother was forced to pack it in the front with the spare tire.

Fast forward to the fall of 1982, sometime before Halloween.  It was a Tuesday and my father announced that he would be picking me up from Cubs.  I was strangely uneasy about this as he had never picked me up and we only lived a block away. (Unlike today's bubble wrap children, we actually walked everywhere, something I am quite proud of!)

I would point out that I didn't distrust my father in any way, however I couldn't escape an awful feeling that had grown in the pit of my stomach.  In retrospect this was an early example of instinct and to a lesser degree premonition that has been with me since.

It was rather cool that night as I stood outside the church alone.  I felt comforted when I heard Victor's distinct exhaust note coming around the corner.  My dad was somewhat ambiguous about where we were going, only that it was a surprise.  Was I being sent to military school?  were we moving? I really had no idea.  The drive to our destination seemed painfully slow, but we had arrived.

 It was a car dealership in the east end of the city.  I looked up and saw a strange word on the sign.  N-I S-S-A-N. I sounded this out to myself, unsure of what a Nissan was (Datsun were transitioning the brand at this point; some cars actually had both badges on them).

We got out of  Victor and walked over to a rather boring looking blue station wagon in a row of other boring station wagons.  Dad informed me that it was ours and he would be picking it up the next day.  'What about Victor?' I asked.  Dad explained that while our family had grown, Victor had not.  It was time for him to find a new home.

  Suddenly that awful feeling I had was justified, knowing that I would have to say goodbye to a good friend.  To my father's credit he was excited to have something new and wanted to include me in a traditional father-son experience.  To my credit, I asked lots of questions and attempted to bury my disappointment.  At least that's how I remember things.

Now that the Sentra had come home, Victor was relegated to the parking spot behind our backyard fence.  I would visit with him everyday, sometimes sitting inside and pretending to drive him away.  I worried that someone in the alley would steal him or smash a window.  Fortunately I could still see him from my bedroom.  When he was put up for sale, nobody wanted him.  On the one hand I felt badly for him and on the other,  I hoped we could keep him.

Beetles were garden variety in those days and plentiful.  Victor had one distinct advantage in that he was completely rust free due to a Ziebart treatment when new.  Eventually he was sold to the neighbour's son who bought it for his wife.  With fresh paint and a tune up, Victor was resplendent. That was my last memory of him and I cherish it.  Through a VIN search a few years ago  I discovered that he was sold again in 1985, the last time he was registered.  I'd like to think he is still being looked after by a caring owner.

My one remaining piece of Victor, as displayed on my garage cabinet. 

Is it wrong to love a car or motorcycle?  Not as far as I'm concerned. To choose to love anything or anyone is the noblest pursuit.  With the knowledge that all things must end, it is the bravest thing to be capable of.

As for the memories?  Hopefully the good ones live on forever.

Not the actual Victor, but identical.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

To Ragtop or not to Ragtop, that is the question!

At least that is the question on my mind today.

Yes,  I am finally getting back to the poor old Volkswagen project.  This August marks the 10th year anniversary of my sister's passing and I want to get her tribute back on track.

Over the next two days I am doing a list of all the jobs required to get this car running and back on the road.

One of the items I have been seriously considering is the addition of a sunroof kit.  It would be a shame to decide to do this after body work and paint were applied.  This is supposed to be a fun vehicle for weekend or the odd drive to work, probably seeing the most use in the spring/summer/fall.

Many VW enthusiasts source an original Golde sunroof with the surrounding metal from a donor car. While I am enthusiastic about this car, I can hardly say it is original anymore so that might be a touch extreme.

There are a few kits available and this one currently has my attention.

Ragtop Kit

At $720 U.S. (including shipping) the kit is just works out to $1000.00 Canadian.

If you haven't seen it already,  Max Wilson has a wonderful Youtube video of his father's Beetle restoration.  In the video, he installs a kit (making it look much easier than it probably is).

The video can be found here and is worth every minute of viewing time.

I hope to have a decision made within the month.

I think this looks pretty sharp!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How much is that single in the window?

The motorcycle as 'art'.  Paintings belong in galleries.  Bikes belong on the street.
I've said my peace.