Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

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Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:58 pm

Introduction:

Our 1967 RHD Walkthrough Split ‘Veronica’ or ‘V’ for short is an original UK 11 window split, purchased by us Carl & Helen in 2004. Back then Veronica was a half-finished project (the first time) and we completed the purchase at a cold Brighton Breeze that year, our first ever VW show season. The first restoration took 2½ years and got us on the road to splitty ownership, the SSVC, great mates in AircooledKonnection and the VW scene but more on that in a moment.

But let’s start at the beginning…

Our love of VW campervans all began in 1996 (20 years ago) when we travelled around the world on our honeymoon. The first two places we put on our world trip itinery were Australia & New Zealand. And if we hadn’t gone travelling we may never have got into VW’s at all. Half way through the trip we arrived into Darwin from SE Asia, and down to the backpackers car market a group of us went. Most of the guys bought cars but we had enough saved for a camper. We were on honeymoon after all! There were two choices – Toyota Hiace and a VW 76 Bay, kitted up for the outback and probably a van that had toured around Oz many times over.

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The choice was easy, it could have been the Hiace or any old camper but it was a VW and that made it all the more quirky and special. The deal was done and we purchased ‘Constance’ a lime green, 76 Late Bay. Constance gave us an amazing way to see Oz. We drove everywhere, from Darwin, through the outback, across dried up riverbeds, round the East coast and then very sadly sold her in Melbourne, albeit for $50AUS profit.

We didn’t know it at the time but we were now completely hooked with the VW scene and having been touring tent campers all our lives, this life style would fit us like a glove, we just didn’t know it yet. We just loved the ability to travel, pull up, open the doors with a ‘stubby’ (a small beer as large bottles warm up too quick down under) and chill out wherever we liked.

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Constance – NOT the subject of this resto thread, but our first bus and the reason for many things later

Constance was bought for $4000AUS and with the current import and price situation, if only we’d know then what we know now we’d definitely have brought her back.

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Coming Home and VW’s new:

6 more months of travelling was soon forgotten as we came back to the UK to build careers in Marketing and Midwifery and move to the South. With those ‘realities’ it took us until 2003 to buy a UK bus. Once we realised that we wer missing ‘bus life’ like hell, it was just a case of finding one. We went looking at For Sale buses at shows like Vanfest and Stonor Park and saw loads of buses with nice shiny paint jobs but unlike Oz we decided that it was the metal underneath that mattered.

Owning a van has been a steep learning curve from the beginning and even now. We started with no mechanical knowledge (some say we still don’t know) or tools whatsoever and enlisted the help of Kim at Vanshack to help us find our dream van. This was a big decision. We’d looked at lots of early bays and liked them but we really liked the styling of the splitty. A few £ numbers later we realised we couldn’t even remotely afford one – even back then when they were cheap by today’s standards. Kim suggested we take on take on a resto case and with that he pulled off a dust sheet of a bus ‘possibly for sale’ and there was Veronica. This is how she looked the first night we met her. With a bit of wrangling later she was ours. The previous owner had just run out of resto cash – I know how he felt!

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We paid for Veronica at Brighton Breeze. Here she was a couple of years later after the first resto, more on that to come.

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Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by EeVeeWee » Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:59 pm

Great story!

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:23 pm

Veronica – our RHD Walkthrough split – completing resto one 2004 to 2006:

Let’s talk resto one. Don’t really know how much to say as this is just history …

Veronica as we found her in 2004 was a UK registered, RHD tin-top in diamond white & Citroën green. She’d had all her patch welding done by the previous owner and a fresh coat of paint. But still bare metal inside / underneath. Not at all pretty underneath but welded and a job for ‘another year’ or ten.

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No bulk heads, no panels, no interior, just the glass for the windows. Veronica had been off the road for 10 years. This was a 2½ year labour of love to get her back on the road – but nothing compared to the resto we have started now in 2016!

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No engine bay let alone an engine! Just an old bird’s nest where the petrol tank should be!

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Big decision

Ok, let’s be honest (sorry guys) - our bus was not always a Dormobile. It wasn’t even a pop top. It wasn’t really anything.*

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And watching that first cut in the roof was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever watched. But I am 6’ 2” and knowing how much were likely to use that bus for camping, shows and holidays in these last 13 years, it was honestly an easy decision to make, just hard to witness the roof chop.

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* The original bus DID have a Devon rail and it has taken us 13 years to return to those thoughts…

Another of our lucky finds - the ‘new’ Dormobile roof was found in a ditch! It cost us more to get it home in a transit than it did to buy.

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Our luck continued with bulkheads. Veronica didn’t have any but we managed to source some left hand drive ones that could then be cut, fabricated and welded to do a reasonable job for right hand drive. And slowly Veronica came back to the road.

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More work needed front and rear
Front nose

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And the deck lid was re-fabricated from an early bay donor, a tricky fabrication to let in the ribbing.

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And then we could move to the paint:

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Undercoat of pearl white paint inside and out

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And Veronica arrived out into the world in a new, low cost coat of Velvet Green & Pearl white. How lucky we were.

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We opted to have safaris fitted and bought the cream powder coated kit from C&C, which has proved to be a good kit over the years compared to most. But it is one of those things you agonise over. They look great. They are lovely but what a chore and until we found the right seals much later - thanks so much Butty – they were nothing but a leaky mess. I hear even the originals leaked though and I know they weren’t designed for the UK, but they are just so cool.

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Bringing Dormobile to Life

We had got used to cupboards down one side in our Devon style Auzzie bay. With no interior and only bespoke interiors for sale at that time, a full 1968 early bay Dormobile interior we sourced was a prayer answered.

The interior was of course one year too new for our split and certainly not one for the purists. Of course it belongs to the early bay but we loved it. It fitted remarkably and served us fantastically all these years.

It came to us as a complete interior straight of a ’68 artist’s bus. They needed all the space they could for their easels and it had been stored by them dry for 14 years before we bought it and transported it back to the workshop.

Our first restorers knew Dormobile inside out and were amazed at how great condition and complete it was. Everything was there; cab seats (where was I going to find rhd walkthrough splitty cab seats in those days), under cab seat cooker, both buddy seats, the whole interior, unbroken sink and the rear drawer unit. Helen and the restorers got to work and produced something lovely.

Only the purest of you would have ever known this wasn’t a true Dormobile but it did make us proud of our 67 Dormobile bus, with more than a little early bay twist.

Fitting the Dormobile interior to the split was remarkably straightforward.

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Arguably this was the weirdest pic from the 2004 resto. Seeing V disappear up a ramp and inside a truck to go off to the trimmer.

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Soon after the trim panels and leather seats arrived from ace trimmer Steve Bowles and in they went to complete the look. Helen even managed to salvage quite a bit of the ’68 Dormobile vinyl to stitch in with the new upholstery. The new leather seats, the fresh coat of pearl white and velvet green, getting us back to factory colours and no more canary yellow paint. Note that the roof has been chopped ready for the Martin Walter Dormobile roof.

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Here it was finished and good to go for lots and lots of use over the last 12 years. Yes Dormobile was a ‘bit pink’ for some but it was an incredibly roomy, cosy interior that looked great on show and set up for holidays. Those dormy guys back in the 60s knew a thing or two. If we hadn’t met an interior oak craftsman these last couple of years, we might never have decided to change it or now think about selling on the Dormobile interior.

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Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com


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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by ramjetvw » Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:30 am

Wow. Fantastic story.

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by susta » Thu Oct 13, 2016 4:00 pm

Better not give the name away just yet then of your Oak boy!!

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:14 am

Over the years:

The first resto took probably 4 of 5 years, with us and the previous owner, to get the bus back on the road from its 10 years down time and to even a modest standard as it turns out. And it really has lasted well, we’ve had 11 or so years of fun and good times with the bus – apart from one rather huge time that I’ll come to …

For most part the bus has been kept packed and ready to go for weekends, club activities, shows and holidays. We even die Christmas camping one year to extend the season.

Through that time Veronica has looked great, although issues would need addressing one year or another.

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Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com


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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by ted698 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 9:43 pm

Great posts, love seeing old stories like this and how the 'journey' progresses.... keep them coming...
It helps that I have a velvet green bus with uk oak interior ;0)

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:29 am

So, you know a little of the history of us with VWs and our bus Veronica. Contemplating our second resto and what has turned into more or less a full resto, was challenging. Having been around the scene a while there were plenty of options on who to work with for welding and fabrication. But timing and how far to go was the topic of much debate. We knew that the underneath, cross beams, top hats and i-beams needed replacement. And as we began to strip down the bus we realised that the cargo floor would either need replacing or several repairs. We set out and have continued with a ‘do it once mentality’ and our aim was to spend the time and money now so that we can enjoy the bus for the foreseeable. We also worked out quite early that metal is cheaper for us than welding time. Good panels are available widely now and so almost every time we priced up repair vs replacing a panel, the replacement won. IF I could work metal and weld it would be different of course.

We also knew that the front end needed re-doing properly. The cab floor had been strengthened by cross-section tube and flexed slightly, we’d long known that the previous owner in coping with MS whilst doing his resto had cut out the lower front panel, extended the front panel, removed the inner valance, let square section in to replace the lower A posts but then had left an unsupported gap between A post and wheel arch on the passenger side.

Sills were totally non-standard, made from more rectangular tube with outer panel just tacked on, the short panel had a nasty ding and a gash and the engine bay side plates looked shot.

In 2009 we had totally cleaned off the underneath and put rust coat protection on the underside. That had been a good decision as it had given us another 7 years use out of the bus.

Before:

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After:

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Us doing the dirty work:

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Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:29 am

Stripping down:

Our final show with the bus was Busfest 2015. There were lots of discussions on what Veronica might need from this resto and who to get to do the work. Huge thank you’s go out to our mates in AircooledKonnection for advice and help with the strip down, particularly to Mark Quarrell, the Car Doctor and VW mechanic and to Gary Barrett for lots and lots of help with the strip down at Mark’s Swindon workshop and then on the drive over Easter Fortunately the sun shone to make it less of a sad time.

Over to Mark’s to begin and get some protection from the winter
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The bus stripped out well. Electrics were fun. Gotta get a new loom! Did we really have all that behind the Dormobile unit?
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And back home as Easter approached and working outside became possible
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Out came the engine and gearbox - thank you so much for help and support Gary Barrett
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We’ve had a noise on the transmission and problems with second gear for a while. Brian, BJ1 (superb recommend Brian) recommended Bears Motorsport so off went the IRS box for a check and rebuild,

As we stripped back the problems we suspected appeared more
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Off it all came. Helen tried her best to keep us organised with pieces, nuts and bolts wrapped, boxed and labelled as we went. A large stack of cheap plastic boxes and takeaway containers came in handy,
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Stripping down was a bit of a blur and seemed to take little time with help from Gaz and Mark – special thanks for advice on stripping back to the basic loom and cutting back and storing ancillaries separately.

The cargo and cab floors were the big concern. The bottom of the long panel now looked as we feared, like it had seen major repairs in the distant past. Maybe it wasn’t as pretty as it looked. Just maybe it was full of filler!

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Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:25 pm

Floor up:

With help from good friends I’d managed to be more involved than ever in stripping the bus down. But I knew I was going to need restorer help with all this. From knowing nothing, I have begun to understand bits and become more and more hand on. And whilst this is no DIY job for me on my own I am already into hundreds of hours on this my second resto. There a still a couple of tales of woes to share with you here.

I was too hands off last time and the work on getting Veronica ready was really quite stop and start in 2004. This time I wanted a restorer to work solidly but with me not for me.

That meant finding a restorer workshop that I could effectively book myself in to work with, get hands dirty, learn from and work alongside. The guys at Beresford Bodytech (https://www.facebook.com/Beresford-Body ... 8/?fref=ts) are all that and lots more. They are a small team, currently working on my split and two bay windows.

John Jackson and Paul Osman run the business. You’ll hear me talk a lot on here about Paul and John and I’ve been lucky to work with them, get to know them and see the superb quality of their work and huge efforts.

Beresford Bodytech is based in a small unit in Hampshire. There, they build, fabricate, repair, weld and paint not just old buses but they have a keen eye and passion for all things classic VW. They are both great restorers and I am lucky to have them working on my bus. It’s certainly not been a cheap job but we are trying to stay on the do it once, do it properly road and I’ve been in there right through so far, making every decision with them. They seem to enjoy having their customers around and I think that says a lot about them.

This was a light touch when we started – floors, fit new doors, cross beams, i-beams, floors, front refurb and repairs to long and short panel. It has become far more than that. And the guys are working to a standard that blows me away. But the best way for me is to show you what we’ve done. Right in the midst of it all.

Here is Veronica off and on her way to Bodytech.

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Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:49 pm

The cargo and cab floors were the big concern. And in no time at all the cargo floor was gone. Here is Veronica in her new home for the next few months.

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But a few problems soon started to appear:

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And some more problems elsewhere under the paint:

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But our first new metal started to arrive:

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Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:43 pm

ramjetvw wrote:Wow. Fantastic story.
Thanks Ramjet and EeVeeWee
Loads more to follow. This is just the start of the resto
Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:52 pm

ted698 wrote:Great posts, love seeing old stories like this and how the 'journey' progresses.... keep them coming...
It helps that I have a velvet green bus with uk oak interior ;0)
Where will I find a pic of your Velvet green Devon Ted?

Thanks but not yet Susta ...
Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com


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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by Reggie » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:53 am

Hi Carl i will be following this closely . great story as well.
NOT JUST A WAY OF LIFE lovol

1960 Westy SO 23 :-)
1968 Titan red Deluxe Bay
1968 Beetle

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Re: Veronica’s Woes: A Tale of Two Restos for our ‘67 RHD Walkthrough Split

Post by wheatywheels » Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:51 pm

Reggie wrote:Hi Carl i will be following this closely . great story as well.
Thank you Reggie. All supportive words greatly appreciated
Carlos

Life is a journey made better with a bus or two
1967 RHD Walkthrough 2nd Splitty Resto - AKA 'Veronica' - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=117648.
http://www.aircooledkonnection.com

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