Happy Birthday Samba!

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Dear VW friends,

 

today 67 years ago, the Samba was finished in the Wolfsburg factory and the next day it was send to the big VW-dealership Fleischhauer in Cologne. Still today anything else of its history between August 28th 1951 and May 2017 is remaining unknown. None of my attempts to identify a former owner was successful.  I published the license number K-ER 571 in all big local newspapers and the local TV, I even created a picture of the Samba by photoshop  showing the Samba in the state it must have driven around Cologne: sealing wax red in the bottom, chestnut brown in the middle and the white roof on top, but nobody can remember the Samba so far! But I don´t give up. I am sure someday I will discover a piece of its history somehow.


My little photoshop homework: this is the way the Samba must have looked in its early days. So strange nobody recalls this bus. Remember, 80% of Cologne was bombed to the ground, the entire city was still in kind of agony 1951. A three color luxury VW-bus must have been something “unreal” back in those days. There must be pictures, there must be somebody still alive who was impressed by this vehicle. I will find him.

 

Strange, but true: I found out an interesting detail about the time before the Samba left Wolfsburg! By total accident the birth certificate of another bus crossed my way and this bus was due to the certificate built on August 15th 1951 (so more than a week earlier than the Samba), but has a much later chassis number than the Samba! What does it mean?

The most likely explanation is that in the factory they grabbed for the Samba production in the very early days a bare, chassis number stamped, body from the assembly line and moved that into a special department where they converted the body into a Samba more or less by hand. When you have a close look on the “deep sky light” section of the roof, it´s easy to see this is not made by a professional big quantity assembly line, it´s kind of custom made.

Same difference when you inspect the dashboard of the very, very early Sambas. Even the hole for the ashtray is obviously cut out by hand! Obviously this whole conversion process in the factory was impossible to do in one day! That´s why a bus showing a later chassis number was officially “born” earlier than the Samba. While the Samba was in its few days lasting handmade conversion process its regular brother was assembled in just one day and overtook the Samba this way easily.

Another fact proofs that theory: same as some coach builders (for example many Italian sports cars) the factory stamped many Samba-specific parts of the very early cars with the chassis number or at least with the last three digits. So they did on the dash (see previous post “An amazing find”)  and they did elsewhere. See here what I found.

The whole chassis number 15448! Amazing, isn´t it? I won´t tell where I found the number exactly to avoid helping the deceivers faking regular busses into Sambas, but to all of these bad guys and the ones willing to spend big money for such a car: the very small community of honest and passionate VW-experts will always be able to identify a faked Samba, so anybody in the mood to buy an early Samba, better reach out for the expertise of a pro before buying!

But why stamping components with the chassis number at all? It´s easy to explain, it just helps to avoid messing up the parts of several cars standing side by side during the conversion process. Just imagine, this must have looked more or less the same way as in our garages today. Remember, they built less than 270 Sambas in 1951, starting most likely in March or April (*see special note at the end of the post), what means they finished not even two per day! This must have been kind of handmade prototyping; there was no assembly line for Sambas in 1951.

Now, a little 67 years later, the Samba is in need for some handmade process again. So I after our great Amersfoort adventure and all the photo shootings for a lot of press articles it was time for me to bring the Samba back to Mark Spicer, so the body work will be continued.

Another piece of “art” performed by Christo? Well, the Samba is a piece of art, no doubt about it, but this wrap up was my way avoiding that the Samba loses some of its precious pieces during the 500-kilometer-trip

 

On the way to Mark I made a little stop in Shoreham-by-Sea to attend the August Heretics meeting. The Heritage team did a great job to welcome the Samba and everybody had a lot of fun this evening. Here are some impressions:

Believe it or not, this baby drives!

 

Parking it in the right place before the crowd shows up…..

 

It might look like Frankenstein, but you can come a little closer, it won´t bite.

 

That´s better!

 

The steering wheel is not correct for a Samba, it is an early Standard Beetle wheel, but it´s the one that was with the Samba when we found it last year. But why should anybody change the beautiful, big, ivory samba steering wheel and replace it by a basic, small, black Standard wheel? I can imagine of one explanantion only: One of the prevoius owners must have been extremely fat! Can you think about a better reason? Let me know!

 

Barney, CEO of Heritage Parts Centre, enjoys a hot dog while watching the crowd photgraphing the Samba on and on and on.

 

Just 13 months ago this was poor pile of rotten metal in the woods, today the star on the red carpet. What does this teach us about life?

 

And here´s a little video:

 

It’s here…..

Gepostet von Heritage Parts Centre am Donnerstag, 16. August 2018

 

Next morning I continued my way to Mark and believe me I was so happy to arrive safely! 500 kilometer with a trailer, driving on the wrong side…… I could imagine some more pleasant way of adventure. But all this stress was forgotten when we sat down this evening for some bottles of British whine in a fine restaurant. Yes, no kidding, there is British whine today and it´s enjoyable, no doubt. Every day is a school day.

Now back at home I just received a mail from Mark with two pictures attached. Please read here his comment and compare the section of the Samba shown in the pictures with the video of the Samba above just a few days before! Aren´t the skills of this man nothing but amazing?

Mark´s comment:

I had a little play with the Samba paint btw, admittedly a very odd place to start with such a big resto ahead but at the start or at the end ..it doesn’t really matter 🙂 ( I will cover it with tape to protect it). Wish it was all this good as this was under layers of old paint and also you can see where the trim holes were welded up at some point.

I should just add that the very last layer of paint would dissolve in cellular thinners after a lot of rubbing so you are looking at exactly what was under the paint when they first sprayed it and I have caused no damage to what was there.

Also to note that deluxes were painted ceiling wax red all the way to the roof gutter and the chestnut brown added after so that’s why you can see the red colour under the brown.

On top of that point, 51 deluxes are the exception as they had white roofs and on yours where the rubbers where it is still the original white paint with only the factory primer underneath.

The roof looks to have only one paint ever again in white although this has flaked off in 99 % of areas and the original white being a thin coat has mostly burnt off to the primer but it’s still there in places especially round ever window rubber.

So the order of paint..( from memory ) from the roof gutter down after the factory paint…

A white primer or may a white top coat 

A coat of off white/ cream which is a  very hard coat

Then a coat all over in a very very thin red

Then a coat all over in a very very thin dark blue

Then a coat of thick white paint which I think was hand painted.

I couldn’t work out at which point the deluxe trim came off in the paint yet..I will try and see when I do a bit more. It doesn’t mean anything but it would be nice to work out when the trim was lost during which respray.

Sorry to brain dump everything I noticed but these details may be important especially in people recalling the bus in Bonn or may be ID ing the bus in old photos.

Cheers

Mark

 

I strongly believe the Mark was the very best choice for this job I could possibly find, cause he just gets exactly how I want this Samba to be restored. There is even no need to explain to him that we have to save as much of the original substance no matter how much work it takes. This paint job really made my day!

I hope you can share my joy.

 

Best regards from Bonn

 

Florian

 

*
I know the official start of the Samba production was, due to the Volkswagen “Progressive Refinements”-list,   June 27th at chassis number 20 – 012 908. But when the IAA 1951 opened its doors at April 19th ´51 there was already a Samba in the booth.

 

 

Sorry, today for German speaking only ;-)

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Dear VW-friends,

 

here is a little update just for those of you speaking (or at least understanding) German. The media hype about the Samba is getting bigger and bigger. Now the current issue of the “SPIEGEL”, Germany´s oldest and most important news magazine, is featuring the Samba. Don´t try to translate it with Google, it won´t work as it is written in very old fashioned and conservative German, that´s why I like it so much and I want to share it with you. Many of the other articles about the Samba are trash: lousy language and / or no knowledge about the historical facts, messing around with the technical details etc., but this one here is very nice to read.

There is even a little video below. Just click and enjoy.

By the way, the younger ones in my team said we must have a Youtube channel for our weird activities, so I allowed them to open one. It´s OK with me as long as I am not bothered with this modern “social” media bull**, so if you like Youtube go for the VEWIB-channel, but be aware this is 100% made by the VEWIB youngsters in our team and I will not involve myself to much into it, but today when Leonie (18 years) mentioned we need to have naked girls dancing around the Samba with some R´n`B “music”, I intervened and gave order to use some Richard Wagner tunes for the newest Youtube video they released.

Next time there will be pure technical matters again, no media madness, so please stay tuned in THIS channel here, in Florian´s little world of oddity.

 

Best regards from Bonn

Florian

Did you know? Mr. Lemmerz was a local neighbor (and a pretty cool one!)

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Dear VW-friends,

 

the Samba didn´t had its original 16” wheels anymore when it was found last May. So I had to search a set of Barndoor wheels, what is not the easiest task  -and it´s pretty expensive too. But wheels you can mount still last minute during a restoration process, so I didn´t feel too much pressure to pay sky rocket rarity prices for Barndoor wheels when thinking of the years this reconstruction will still need anyway. I decided to buy this wheels only when they cross my way for small money. So I bought two wheels in Hessisch, two in Spa and the last one came to me the best way of all: a neighbor showed up in my place and donated a “very poor, old 5-stud-16”-wheel, maybe you can use it”. I was happy enough it wasn´t just an ordinary 16” bug wheel, but a Barndoor one. Bingo!

Looks like junk for most people, but it´s a rare Barndoor wheel in fact. And made locally too!

 

Next step was painting the wheels. Finding the correct color combination for 5×205 Volkswagen wheels is kind of scientific. Most of them are painted with a sophisticated two tone scheme which correspondents to the color of the car, but never one of the two wheel colors is the same as the car´s color itself. Believe it or not, the factory had a team of psychologists just for creating the best color combinations. This effort reached its peak in the early 60s when even the beetle´s steering wheels, running board mats and fender beadings had their specific colors. So I was kind of feared about finding the right colors for my Samba´s wheels.

How wrong I was! The question of the Barndoor Samba wheel color is very easy to answer: the majority of the Sambas came in sealing wax red / chestnut brown and these Samba´s wheels were painted just in plain chestnut brown.

“Why”, you may ask, “did Volkswagen paint the wheels of its top range car this basic way?” Well, the factory added to the Samba wheels a very special touch of luxury, something only Sambas came with factory wise: a set of chromed beauty rings for the outer wheel rim.

Looks as a typical early VW two tone wheel at first glance, but it´s something much more special. Just as the entire Samba is.

 

No need to say that most of this beauty rings got lost during the life of a Samba. This makes these rings very, very rare today anyway. To make it worse the rings are specific to the wheel size too, of course! Now think about the fact that Volkswagen changed from 16” to 15” wheels already in 1955 and then to 14” in 1963. Can you imagine how rare Barndoor Samba beauty rings are today?

I was lucky enough to find one NOS beauty ring in my own stock.

 

And now guess who was the manufacturer of this beauty rings? It was also Lemmerz!

 

OK, it might need some years until I find the missing three remaining beauty rings, but this is no reason to wait with the paint job. Also finding the correct tires is a job which I could do right now. I was not in the mood for a set of this ugly tires produced by the well known names today. These tires´ look doesn´t have too much in common with the original Continental tires which the Barndoor Samba showed after leaving the Wolfsburg factory.

But finding old production tools is my profession, so why not trying to find an old German production tool for 5.50 -16 tires? To make a long story short: I was successful finding this tool. Not the Contiental one, but at least a German one. I could also convince this certain tire company to produce a small series of these tires on the old tool. Take a look at the design. Not too bad, don´t you think so?

 

 

 

If you own a Barndoor too which is in the need of a tire set, I produced enough of them! Just give your local VEWIB-distributor a call.

 

Here come my freshly mounted tires! Cool, isn´t it?

 

To add another touch of originality, we used vintage plumb balance weights.

 

Another job well done. Time for an after job summer refreshment, especially in the summer time. I hate sports, but I am smart enough to know that some sports is essential when you turn 50 and want to stay in good condition for continuing  a punk rock life with lots of vintage Riesling and lots of vintage Volkswagen activity. So let´s go to a local public swimming pool. Could there be any other place matching more perfectly then this one here?

No kidding! This place is the public Lemmerz swimming pool in Königswinter!

There was not to much changed since the pool opened its doors in 1953!

 

Coming back to Lemmerz, it´s time to tell the story of the factory´s owner, Mr. Paul Lemmerz. Lemmerz was always big in producing steel wheels and the factory is still producing wheels today, but lorry ones only. Already in the early 50s Lemmerz was very successful, not at least cause of the big amount of wheels he produced for Wolfsburg. Paul Lemmerz made so much money, that he felt the need of sharing some of his fortune with his hometown Königswinter.

He was just 51 when he decided to donate Königswinter an entire open air public swimming pool! What a cool dude he must have been. Still today you can go in the summer to Paul´s pool and it´s an amazing experience. If you love the styling of vintage Volkswagens you will fall in love with this place right away, cause it still looks as it was 1953! There was not too much changed, this yard is a time machine.

This badge honors Paul Lemmerz´s gift of the public swimming pool

 

In 1977 Paul Lemmerz donated another public swimming pool to Königswinter town, but this time an indoor one, also still existing. How rich and how generous he must have been. Unfortunately Paul died right after the opening of the second pool. He is buried in a fancy mausoleum at the public Königswinter graveyard.

So next time you come to the Rhine area with your vintage Volkswagen, have a little brake at Königswinter and honor Paul´s life with a visit of his swimming pool and / or his grave. Both is pretty impressive.

 

Best regards from Bonn

 

Florian

See the Samba driving in Bonn next Tuesday!

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Dear VW-friends,

 

the media hype about the Samba is still big. Next Tuesday a film team flies over to Bonn to make a report about the project. The Samba is currently in the exhibition hall of a big Bonn VW-dealership, the ARG-company in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. They are kind enough to make a little event next Tuesday (July 3rd) morning from 9.00 am on. All owners of vintage Volkswagen are invited to join the party, so come over, the weather forecast is fine!

You will see the Samba driving as the film crew wants the bus to drive around the yard. This will be the last possibility to see the Samba driving in this state and it will be the last chance to see the Samba before I bring it back to Mark Spicer who will continue the reconstruction of the body for the next years.

If you can´t make it next Tuesday you can visit the Samba at the ARG Bonn (address: Godesberger Strasse 40, 53175 Bonn) until end of July. The dealership is open every day until 7.30 pm, Saturday until 2.00 pm.

This is the current parking spot of the Samba: in the exhibition hall of the ARG in Bonn. Right beside the Samba you can check out a Brasilian Bay Window Bus “Last Edition”. This Bus was build at the very last day of the Bay Window production in December 2014. It´s a rare special edition and so the very first and the very last special edition VW kombi are standing right beside each other. Amazing, isn´t it? Contraire to the Samba, the “Last Edition” is for sale. And it´s still brand new!

 

Details for the event on Tuesday you can check out at the Facebook side of the ARG. Come over, bring your vintage VW, be a witness of a historic moment and have some fun with other VW friends too!

 

Best regards

Florian

See the Facebook page of Auto Rheinland.

“Ist das Kunst oder kann das weg?”

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Dear VW-friends,

 

please excuse the German headline, but it is a German phrase that would sound weird if I try to translate it. This phrase (mostly narrow minded) Germans use when looking at a piece of art or something that somebody calls “art” or something that some (stupid) people might call “art”, but in the eyes of the speaker it is just trash. The exact translation would be “Is this art or can we dump it?”

Anyway, this phrase flashed through my mind when I found this here a few days ago:

 

For me this is nothing less but the most exciting find since months and I am not talking about the, hhhhhmmmmm, special airbrush. The experts already identified this door to be a real Barndoor Samba cargo door. Whoever made the airbrush hadn´t a clue what precious door this is, truly way more precious than the airbrush (OK, call me a stupid barbarian, it doesn´t bother me). Anyway, to make it even better, this door isn´t very complete only, it comes with the mechanic and the door panel, but there is the second door too:

The man I bought the doors from lives locally and his grandpa used to drive this Barndoor Samba until the car crashed accidentally in the early 60s. He thinks he got more pieces of grandpa´s Samba somewhere, he just have to “search someday”.  I will keep you updated what shows up from this source. Can´t wait until he contacts me again and I bet you can´t wait neither.

But you can bridge the time by going for another German lesson with the newest broadcast of the Samba in the German TV. Just click below:

Sorry to publish such a short post, but after Amersfoort there is a lot of work to do here in the office which been left undone. Maybe the preparation to make the Samba driveable for Amersfoort was kind of to much as I had a little circulatory collapse on Saturday, so I hope you agree that I should concentrate on the most important things to do right now and slow down the pure “fun” activity as writing long stories for the blog a little bit.

Anyway, enjoy the unexpected early summer (at least when you live in central Europe)!

 

Florian

Amersfoort

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Dear VW friends,

 

 

in the last weeks I did not share with you the real progress we made, because we wanted to bring a real huge surprise to the big Barndoor Gathering in Amersfoort this weekend and I didn´t want to spoil the surprise.

When Mark delivered the chassis and the dashboard April 9th we had the plan to complete the chassis with the front axle and the gearbox to bring a rolling chassis to Amersfoort. We were quite fast with the front axle as we had all parts in the shelf or we already restored what was necessary and Marcel Tode was also fast in rebuilding the gearbox, so this goal was reached already end of April.

It´s always good to reach for the higher aim, not resting at the point you already stand regardless how good it might be. So I invited Mark to come over again to construct a little frame on the chassis to put the big surviving panels on, so the whole unit looks a little more as a bus again. As you know Mark, he also delivered a work much better than expected. Just see the pictures below.

When Mark was finished, we stand in front of the Samba both of us had the same thought: “Wouldn´t it be cool to have that baby driving in Amersfoort?”

But we just had three weeks left! So I promised Mark that I will do my very best to complete the Samba so far that it would be able to drive. The race begun…..

What you see in the little movie above is the result.

Have some fun with the following pictures, showing some stages of this process. I will update you after Amersfoort with a lot more of details, but now I am in a hurry! The Samba is on the trailer, it´s Friday and we are ready to hit the Autobahn towards Amersfoort.

 

 

Have a nice weekend!

 

Florian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No, I am not going to paint it”

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Dear VW-friends,

 

today there will be just a very little update, because we are very busy to get the Samba´s chassis ready for Amersfoort. We really want to show it there on its wheels and as you can imagine this is not an easy job…..

It´s now exactly a year ago since the Samba was found in the Eifel and just a few days later I started this project. Still so many people keep on asking the same question: “Which color you will paint the Samba?”

My answer is always the same (see the post´s headline) and the reaction to my answer is nearly always the same: people don´t understand why I am not going for a full restoration ending up with a shiny as-new-Samba. So I try to explain the philosophy of the project once again.

I do like cars which tell a story. The story of the car´s life, the story of the owners, the story of the social circumstances the car lived in, the story of the country. I don´t blame anybody who is going the painful way of a full restoration, it´s my living to sell parts for these projects, but left to my very private taste I always prefer to look at the unrestored cars when I go to a VW-meeting, it´s just more interesting in my eyes.

Sure this Samba was in such bad condition I wouldn´t ever be able to drive it to a meeting at all. And as much as I like unrestored cars, what are they good for if I can´t drive them, if I can´t share my joy with other VW-friends at a meeting? So the way for my Samba was clear: bringing this baby back to the road, but save as much as possible of the (rusty) history.

If you don´t understand what this means, just scroll down and see the great job Mark Spicer did regarding the rear hood. This is the way the entire Samba will look like! And this philosophy does not stop at the outer body. I am very consequent following this road even to the little details. For example now while I am completing the Samba´s engine. See here a close up of the fuel pump.

 

As you already knew from a previous post the lower part of the pump was broken and I didn´t see a way of welding it. So I had to go for a replacement, an original time period replacement of course! This replaced part was cleaned and polished professionally to as-new-state. Sure the pump was fully rebuild inside too as I want this Samba to drive someday. But the upper part of the fuel pump will stay exactly the way it was found and I am not going to clean or polish it ever.

See what I mean? There was a wrong, later manifold with the engine (and it was broken too) when the Samba was found, so this one was replaced and you see it is replaced, cause it looks as new. The fuel line between the pump and the carb is still the rusty, original one. The carb was fully rebuild inside, but still shows its dirty surface outside, the same story regarding the generator and the precious D-regulator. Got the idea?

 

This is the philosophy of the project: all parts which I am forced to replace, because they don´t work technically or they are just missing, will be polished, painted, chromed or whatever brings them to as-new-condition. All parts which were at Samba when it was found will stay the way they were: rusty, dented, bend or mishandled! In the end we will look at a car which does not exist in the scene so far: a wild mix of fully restored and poor rusty Samba. Weird? Odd? Yes, just the way I am too.

So, with regards to Ned Faux and his stunning ´51 Kombi (a car restored in a similar way, great job Ned!) “No, I am not going to paint it!”

 

See you in Amersfoort!

 

Florian

 

 

Mad in the mud

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Dear VW-friends,  

 

spring finally arrived, it´s time to go outside and dig in the ground for VW-parts!

“Calm down, Florian, we all know you are kind of…..hhhmmmm…..special and the winter was long for all of us, we surely desire some sun, but digging in the ground for VW-parts is nonsense!”

Contraire! I am serious (this time…). To explain my weird spring activity let´s have a view back in the Samba´s history. It was a Saturday in May 2017 when my phone rung while I was doing some boring bookkeeping in the office. A local customer of mine, Werner, was on the phone. He drives a ´59 firetruck bus and what he told me on the phone was the start of the whole Samba project.

“Florian, one of my friends owns kind of a wild field in the middle of nowhere in the Eifel (a mountain area in West Germany where also the Nurburgring is located) and while cleaning up the yard he started to remove some bushes and trees. Deep in theses bushes he found a Samba Bus.”

“You are kidding.”

“No, really! But don´t even think about rescuing it. There is nothing to rescue. It´s beyond any chance of being restorable, believe me. I already pulled everything out the ground. I got that stuff for free, cause the owner just wanted to get rid of this oily junk. He was afraid to face legal problems due to an environmental  crime.”

“So, what´s the matter now?”

“I just found the ID-plate of the car and was curious if you could tell me the year the car was build when I name you the chassis number, cause I can´t read the year in the plate, it´s to rusty.”

“Sure I can, tell me the number.”

“20 – 15 448” “

“It´s a Samba of July or August 1951. What is your plan with the parts pile you got?”

“I going to sell some of the Plexiglas windows, the axles and the engine, the big body pieces I will nail on the walls of my garage for decoration and all the rest in the trash.”

“Werner, please don´t touch anything, don´t put anything in the trash, just wait 40 minutes and I will be with you. I am going to buy everything, but don´t touch or trash anything. PLEASE!”

In the afternoon I was owner of a ´51 Samba wreck. Please see here some picture of how Werner and his family dig out the wreck.  

After removing the first bushes and trees they found a lot of parts of the Samba just sticking in the mud around the Bus. Have a close look on the picture: do you see the windows? All of them but one corner window were there and they were not smashed! All the sky windows were there too!

 

Sure during the removal of the bushes and trees Werner didn´t know it was a 1951 Bus, they hadn´t found the ID-plate yet. So for them it was just an old and very junky Bus, there wasn´t even one thought of the possibility to restore this piece of rust. The only value they saw was in some parts. Who wants to blam him for that?

 

OK, the real Barndoor expert could have known when finding the decklid that this must be something pre December 1952. But even if you would have known that, still this wouldn´t had made you thinking that this Samba must be saved to get it back on the road, would it?

 

Still here there is no hint that this here is a real piece of history. The engine compartment section with the chassis number still stuck in the mud and the place of the ID-plate is empty. Sometime decades ago it fell off cause of rust and stuck also down in the mud.

 

This picture really hurts! But remember, Werner and his family were careful enough to pick up whatever they found at least. How many others would have trashed the entire thing right away?

 

The moment that changed everything: Werner found the ID-plate down in the mud and gave me a call: “Florian, I found something…..” This is where the whole story of the Samba´s second life begun.

 

One year later.

The whole winter I was thinking of going to the place where Werner dig out the Samba to search the ground for parts that might still sticking in the mud. The last weekend was sunny enough to start this adventure. Werner and his entire family were kind enough not only showing me the way to the place, but also helped a lot. It was big fun to search the ground as you can see in the following pictures. Best of all: we really found something. Not so much of the Samba, but other stuff. Just have a look.  

Arriving in the Eifel: unloading the digging equipment of the `79 pickup, taking a good sip and let´s start the adventure.

 

 

We all dig carefully and there were lots and lots of stuff in the ground: hundreds of bottles, cans, a tire, a wheelbarrow, cooking and coffee pots, three casseroles, cutlery, a mattress….. Somebody must have lived in the Samba!

 

Werner, his daughter and me digging out tons lots of waste as well. Frustrating? No, it was the first real sunny day of the year and the Eifel is one of nicest place to be. Even if you are digging in the mud.

 

Do you see this wooden hut on top of the little hill? A crusty old man walked out of it and watched us digging. We asked him if he could tell us something about the Samba´s history. He answered: “I used it as a playground when I was a teenager.” “OK, mister, when was it?” “Around 1964.”  “Who brought the Bus here and why?” “I don´t know. And I don´t care. Why is that of any interest?” 
I renounced the try of an explanantion….. 

 

Lena and Nicole found something! Do you recognize it? Right, it´s  211 837 206, the Samba´s passenger side outer door handle!

 

Werner and me were not so lucky! Whatever this is piece of metal might be, it doesn´t belong to the Samba.

 

At the end of the day we filled nine of these plastic boxes full up with parts that could have something to do with the Samba! At least we found around 50 springs of the Samba´s seats plus some rotten seat frames.

 

Enough for today! But we have to come back! There is still so much to discover. Why? Just see some examples of what we found in details….

 

Just some shards? Yeah, but shards of the only Plexiglas window missing! I need all this shards, so I have to go back in the Eifel! Mad? Kind of….

 

A water bag of a vintage VDO accessory windscreen washing kit! A nice find, isn´t it? But even more interesting is the little aluminum tube below. It´s a piece of the Samba´s rear luggage jail bar rails!

 

A car color can! Produced in my hometown Bonn at the “Bonaval” color factory. This company disappeared from the market in 1968…..  

 

A parcel tray under the VW kombi´s dashboard. But it does not belong to the Samba, cause it´s surely after 1955 and there is no way of fitting this into a Barndoor. So why did it lay in the mud where the Samba stuck? Strange!

 

A Solex 28 PCI! Also this does not belong to the Samba. First it is not original, because it showed up in January 1954 and second as you can see in the pictures above there was the original carb with the Samba when it was found. So, to which car belongs this carb?

 

Now it starts to get serious! This license plate shows a TÜV-sticker dated in August 1968! And there is still the district sticker of “Neuwied”-county untouched in place, so the car which belongs to this plate here was never officially delicensed. It was most likely stolen! And remember, this license plate does not belong to the Samba neither as the Samba had its rear license plate still mounted on its decklid. There might be a second bus buried here!

 

Do you see? The Eifel is always worth a journey. We´ll be back again soon, but first we have to face another adventure: the big Barndoor Gathering on May 19th! Didn´t I promise to bring the Samba´s chassis rolling on its wheels to this meeting? Ouuups, hurry up Florian, there is still a lot of homework to do if you don´t want to embarrass yourself in Amersfoort.

Is there somebody out there who can help me with the two shifter rods for a pre ´59 Bus? I accept rusty ones too!

 

Have a good start into your week!

 

Florian

 

 

Can anybody help?

Posted 4 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

we are really trying to bring the Samba´s chassis to Amersfoort  -rolling! Sure we want to assemble the chassis as much as possible and I would like to bolt the front bumper trim on to the front bumper. Can anyone spare with me the information about the measurement of the gap between the trim and the end of the bumper´s rib? A picture with a ruler in this certain position would help a lot!

 

Another question I need an answer from the experts is here. Please see this picture:

This is a license light lens another Barndoor owner borrowed me for reproduction. As you see the lens is clearly bended a little bit. Is this bend the way it was original or did the lens bend by the heat of the bulb over the years? Who knows?

A new update about the assembly will follow soon.

 

 

Have a nice weekend!

 

Florian

Learning German lesson II

Posted 1 Comment

Dear VW friends,

 

remember this little video in the very beginning of the blog? It was on a local TV-station just the evening after we presented the Samba to the press in May 2017. The reporter who shot the video told me the following funny story. When he came back from my yard to attend the TV-station´s daily conference his boss asked him while watching his video of the Samba: “Are you nuts? Who for hell has any interest in this pile of rotten metal? We won´t show this nonsense!”

But due to a lack of interesting news that day the video made it anyway in the show that evening and a week later the boss spoke to the reporter again: “I have to apologize! The video of your rotten metal is the most clicked video in our history ever. People from around the world are watching it again and again. I don´t get why, but that´s the way it is.”

So, no wonder the TV-station is constantly asking me if there is something new about the Samba to follow up with another video. I am not that horny to attend in the TV every week and I don´t want to present myself as an idiot announcing a set of rebuild shock absorber to be worth showing to the TV audience. But maybe a set of rebuilt brake backing plate is, because it is just a good example of the way I want the Samba to be reconstructed. Have a look what 58 years of rotting in the Eifel´s stormy weather have done:

Again the same conclusion as with so many other of the Samba´s surving parts: very original, but rotten. On the other hand, havn´t all of us seen worse sheet metal?

 

Sure it would be easier to purchase just a set good used ones or even NOS-parts, but in my eyes that wouldn´t be the right way. So let´s restore the plates, it´s not too complicated! See what a nice job a local customer of mine did.

Just as new. Almost.

 

And now see what the local TV-station broadcasted about this story:

 

Now have a nice weekend, learn some German and next Monday we will go for a classwork to test your skills.

 

 

best regards

 

Florian

another item finished

Posted 2 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

because the last post was the shortest post so far, I am adding this week the longest one.

It is regarding the Samba´s rear shocks. I was so happy to find these extremely rare (and cause of that extremely expensive) shocks with the Samba anyway, so it wasn´t that big deal to agree to a complex restoration. Plus shocks are a safety related item, it´s not a good idea to be stingy when it comes to safety.

Jacek Krajewski ( www.ww2vw.com ) did this wonderful job of restoring the shocks.

He also made a very detailled picture documentation. Please see here the full series of pictures he have send. Watch these and you´ll agree that there no more comments neccessary. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend.

 

best regards from London (where I am to attend the Volksworld-Show)

 

Florian

                            

To all the doubters out there

Posted 5 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

this post won´t be long, but it´s the most impressing one so far!

I know there are still some people in the scene who do not believe that this Samba will ever hit the road again. Well, tonight I received some pictures right from England that should convince even the last disbelievers. Just have a look at this and now tell me you are still thinking this project won´t be finished as announced…..

 

Can´t wait to bolt on the Samba´s front bumper here and fix the surviving front license plate!

 

Look how elaborately Mark fitted in the surviving parts of the chassis into the new frame he just constructed.

 

Watching these pictures encourages me to announce to the public, what Mark told me weeks ago. We will be able to bring this chassis ROLLING to the Barndoor Gathering in Amersfoort this May!

The gearbox and the steering knuckles are in Hessisch-Oldendorf at Christian Grundmann and his great mechanic Marcel. Both of them promised that gearbox and steering knuckles will be finished in time. The front axle beam should be already in England on its way to Mark.

The rear shocks are in Poland at Jacek Krajewski who told me he will finish this job next week (I will share with you an extra post about the rear shocks).

The front shocks I will repair by my own end of next week (post will follow very soon).

The wheels are in Sofia for a paint job, what shouldn´t be a problem at all. Hhhhmmm, I just realized that I need some tires. But to buy now a set of new brand tires wouldn´t be smart as there will be some years until the Samba is really completed and ready for its first ride. Letting some new tires ageing for nothing would be stupid.

So is there anybody out there who can spare with us a set of used 16”-tires just to bring the chassis rolling from England to Amersfoort? Come on, guys! Be part of a great story and write me if you could help by donate some old tires you couldn´t use for regular driving anyway!

 

Have a nice weekend!

 

Florian

 

Everybody can disassemble! (even I can do it)

Posted 4 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

as you know from a previous posting I disassembled the Samba´s front axle unit before I´ve send the front and rear end of the Bus to Mark. A front axle assembly of a classic aircooled car is a complex device. Many of its individual pieces can break or at least wear out: torsion arm leaves, the torsion arms themselves, the king- and linkpins, the brake backing plates, the wheelcylinders, the brake shoes, the wheel bearings, the drums and many small pieces as well as the basic body of the axle beam itself.

So I thought it would be a good idea to dissemble the whole unit to the very last screw. This way I could control all components and repair or replace them in case it would be necessary. One damage was clearly visible right away: the big brackets between the lower axle tube and the body of the Bus were rusted off, so there is a need of welding at least this. But I expected a lot more of work or even worse: the conclusion that the axles body is not repairable anyway cause of rust. But to end up with this conclusion we have to disassemble all the components first. So let´s start the job, disassembling is not too complicated; this is a job I can do. All I need is being careful not to brake more than what is already broken.

This is where we start from. A original Barndoor axle, the brackets are rusted away, but at least it is complete (the right steering knuckle I removed already weeks before)

 

I wanted to do the job in an organized way: from the outer to the inner, beginning with removing the brake drum. But in opposite to the rear drums both of the front drums didn´t turn a single millimeter! OK, let´s remove the grease cap and see if there are any surprises.

Totally blocked!

This one looks as it wasn´t opened since the day it left Wolfsburg

 

Everything´s looking normal here

 

 

How to remove a totally blocked drum? A look into the VW workshop manual is always is good idea. So what advise can the gentlemen in Wolfsburg give us?

Pfffff…. I don´t have the “extractor VW 202”, neither the tools VW 202 c, d and m-T. But looking at picture of the extractor gives me an inspiration to construct something similar as this tool by my own. Constructing this extractor needs to sacrifice a 5×205-wheel. I will check my stock of these wheels later to choose a bad one which I can sacrifice without regretting. For now I decide to continue the disassembling by removing the complete steering knuckle unit with the drum and brake system mounted.

To remove the steering knuckle unit I have to lose the drag links. So let´s clean the drag link ends carefully.

I am not too surprised finding the nuts of the draglinks secured by the very old style, original cotter pin. As I am confirmed in my believe that the Samba didn´t run a high mileage by many other hints while disassembling, this situation here is another proof.

 

Does look good, doesn´t it?

 

Also this side looks as it wants me to invite: “Don´t replace me! I was with the Samba all the time and I am good enough for another 66 years.”

 

As Bender said: “Another job well done.”

 

Maybe I will use the original draglinks again. I will have close look on them later. Let´s continue now with the disassembling!

Removing the shock is next on the list. But being careful is very important here. The upper fixing screw of the shock often brakes when apply too much force to it. In addition to the need for a new screw (which is not so easy to get, cause it is not just an ordinary screw, it´s a VW-specific item with an own VW spare part number!) the rest of the broken screw is stuck in the body of the beam and removing this without destroying the thread is a hell of a job!

So applying rust resolver is a must here, but this is not enough. The risk of breaking the screw is still too big. To heat the whole thing up is always a hopeful way to lose a rusted screw. So let´s try it!

NEVER try to lose this screw just by applying lots of power to it as the risk of breaking it is by 90%. You will see the later why……

 

 

It doesn´t work all the times, but heating up raises the chance of losing the screw without breaking it big time!

 

Gotya! See, the thread of the screw is way smaller than the rest of it, so the screw got kind of a predetermined breaking point.

 

Now when the shock is out of way, we got room enough for a cleaning job.  Here you see my two pupils Mert and Lars, two teenagers send from a local school to sneak into the “real professional life”. Strange idea to learn something about today´s professional life in my odd enterprise.  I am a bloody bad teacher, I learned my profession on the junkyards of Bonn and Los Angeles, what for hell could an analog dinosaur as me teach a teenager today? Let´s face it: they could teach me! For example how to handle a smart phone….

But sure I don´t miss the opportunity to show young people that there is more you could use your finger to but wanking and a mouse click. For example remove some antique dirt of the boss´ very personal car´s the front axle.

Just kidding. They also worked in the goods-in, the packing station and the warehouse too. But, believe it or not, working on the Samba project was their favorite  -at least they said so.

 

Mert, would your mum agree that this bright jacket is a smart choice for this kind of job?

 

“And now, boys another epic moment: removing the torsion arm leaves covered all over by 66 year old grease! Can you smell the history?”
“Aaaahhhhh, hmmmmm, well, OK, Florian.”

 

 

 

OK, this is a very unusual way to pull out the torsion arm leaves, but this side´s torsion arm is stuck and I don´t want to hammer it out while the fragile leaves are still in place.

 

One last torsion arm to remove and we can continue to clean the beam´s body.

 

Isn´t this more fun than paying attention to a math lesson? And, believe me, the girls they like men who can handle a powerful device correctly…  

 

The result of the cleaning process: this beam´s body is way better than expected! No rust hole at all.

 

Now let´s clean the torsion arm leaves to see if any of these is broken. A broken torsion arm leave is not a rare event at all when restoring an aircooled VW……

 

 

None of the leaves is broken!

 

 

As the Samba hadn´t had any wheels mounted in the front when it was found, the threats of the front drums are very rusty. To clean the threats up and save them I have to screw in some wheel bolts very carefully. Sure the bolts suffer from this procedure and I better don´t use them again. I sacrificed one bolt for each threat, but as I have enough of the bolts cause of hundrets of bugs I stripped since 1986, this isn´t too painful.

 

OK, now let´s continue the disassembling by removing the brake drums from the steering knuckle to have a look at the front brake system.While Mert and Lars cleaned up the beam´s body I tried to make my idea of a self-made extractor real. This is what I ended up with:

May I present you? Florian´s self-made extractor. Will this “tool” work?

 

It will.

 

Remember this great Toy Dolls´ song  ‘Spider in the dressing room’ ?

 

You know me, I always try to save as much patina as possible, but there is a red line: the brake- and steering system. If the engine blows up caused by too much patina it´s one thing and it´s just me who has to suffer. But if the brakes or the steering is going to fail, others will suffer caused by odd addiction. This must not happen, so let´s say ‘Good by’ to the spider´s mesh and clean the brake system up!

Pretty, pretty original! Correct four bolt wheel cylinder, wire secured bolts, this Samba didn´t drive too much mileage in its life for sure!

 

 

Look at this! Haven´t all of us seen this area much worse in our lives?

 

What a nice surprise! So many original parts in place, the effort of needed repairing is way less than I expected. Sure the wheel cylinders needs a lot of attention, but –hey!- they are there! The brake shoes are the correct ones and we can surely use them again when we rivet new brake linings on. The drums need just a proper cleaning and –just for the safety- a set of new wheel bearings.

Also the steering knuckles don´t look too bad. But I will send them to Christian Grundmann´s mechanic Marcel for inspection. Let´s see what he will tell me.

Another all original tie rod end. It´s worth a try to save it too.

 

So, let´s heat it up!

 

Replace an all original wheel cylinder by a more or less working substitution? No way! I will rebuild this one here. Stay tuned on this channel and I will show you how.

 

Saving every little component is essential during a proper disassembling. Bagging it up with detailed markings too.

 

Now the whole axle beam unit is disassembled up to the very last screw. There is one golden rule beside care and tidiness: NOTHING must go in the trash, even this parts which are obviously broken. Maybe you will need them later, at least as a sample.

Saint-Exupéry was very right: You always have to clean also the dormant volcano, cause you never know.

 

 

have a nice weekend!

 

Florian

 

 

Yes, there is some progress!

Posted 4 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

don´t worry, the project is still going on and it is going on fast, believe me! I just didn´t have the time to follow up here in the blog. I was in hospital and had to catch up with all the work in the office. But the Samba is a truly European project, many people are involved, so even if I couldn´t work on the bus personally in the last three weeks, my friends all over Europe they could!

The rear shocks are in Poland at Jacek Krajewski for a really complicated rebuilding job, I will publish a lot of interesting pictures next week.

The gas tank is in Romania in an amazing reconstruction process. A detailed report will follow soon as well.

The front axle´s spindles and the gearbox are at the very well-known restorer Christian Grundmann in Hessisch-Oldendorf. I hope to receive some interesting pictures to publish them here from Christian too.

The front axle beam itself is at Rick of Alan Schofield. He will weld on the rust-broken fixing brackets (all the rest of the beam´s body is in quite good shape!)

But this post here is again about the most important man of them all: Mark Spicer. Just have a look at the pictures he send over and read what he wrote me:

“Evening Florian, in a change of scheduled plan today i got some work done on the front chassis.

This mainly involved chopping out all the rusted out areas, cleaning up the seams and then straightening up what remained. Most straightening was the lower part infront of the beam as this like all Barndoors was pretty bent.

I’m sure you will agree that it looks a heck of a lot better even like this and what remains is usable.

 

 

Hi Florian,

A few pics as promised, I built the front end of the chassis in the last few days. All the very front I made in house and has come out very well indeed. Obviously lots to do still but I’m sure you will be happy to see progress.

I have a couple of small jig positions to add to the rear before i pull the back original frane off and repair it and join in to the front.

The front section under the seat I have saved as much as possible of the original and most of the frame liners in that section are original. Also I have repaired the original tool chest side parts with the original and correct pressings.

I’m also working on saving the bulkhead, I make the lower sections and I will add one on as well as repairing all the top sections too.

 

Isn´t Mark doing a wonderful job? Just see how he welded Schofield´s chassis legs into the remaining part of the front end! He is truly saving as much original material as possible, no matter how complicated and how much more time it is to do it this way. But that´s exactly the way I want it!

I simply don´t like the idea what a certain well known restorer mentioned to me:  “I would like to buy the Samba´s ID-plate from you. Is there a price?”
“No way! You just want to build up a complete reproduced bus, tag the ID-plate on and call it a ´51 Samba!”
“Yeah, that´s the best you can do with this poor pile of rust!”

Well, I guess Mark, my European friends and me we will proof the gentleman how wrong he was.

 

Have a nice weekend!

 

Florian

 

A fresh dash

Posted 1 Comment

Two men, one mission: fresh up the dash as nice as the decklid. The poor two metal fragments in front of our feet are the point to start from

 

Dear VW-friends,

 

as you know Mark finished the Samba´s decklid perfectly. Barndoor decklids are one of Mark´s specialties, but he is also an expert for Samba dashes. Sure he agreed to reconstruct the whole body of the Samba, but it´s always nice to see some quick progress in such a big project, so we decided that the reconstruction of the dashboard is next on Mark´s agenda.

On the picture above you see where we start from: two poor metal fragments, but there are still the two fuse boxes, one of them even with the cover, there is the white beading between the dash and the front end, there is also the middle block-off plate and its chrome rim.

The Samba´s block-off plate. It  stuck  in the mud where the Samba was found.

 

When you look real close you see some very little remains of the white color. We will fit in the plate in the dash just in this certain condition. Even the moss will stay. No kidding!

 

Also the chrome rim was still with the Samba. Rusty, but not even dented! Sure also this we will fit into the dash just in this condition. “But there brand new Chinese reproductions of the rim….”    “No way!”

 

While Mark is working on the dash itself, it´s my turn to get all the missing parts. As you know from an earlier post I found the very correct speedo on E-Bay luckily. So it was easy to fit it into the nice dashboard plate I found in Rosmalen recently. Doesn´t it look pretty cool?

I now have also a matching key for the ignition lock. It didn´t came with the unit when I purchased it in Rosmalen. How I got the key is a very special story, it will fill a complete post somewhere in the next weeks. It is going to be a real freak show. Don´t miss this one!

 

The clock looks a bit to mint for this project, don´t you think so? Anyway! By now I am sure that this is definitely a real Samba specific clock. Everything what I could find out so far confirms this theory. Can anybody dispute?

 

I know there are long discussions about the correct ashtrays for the pre ´55 Samba. Luckily I do have a lot of ashtrays in stock. Due to the picture in the very first Samba sales brochure I am very sure that this Happich (GHE) unit is the correct one for 1951:

Come on experts, get me your comment. Is this the correct ashtray?

 

What I need now is the correct frame to slip in this ashtray. Can anybody help?

I know, I also need the little upper switch for the dash (what is it good for anyway?) and the correct starter button, but this is not a big deal to find, is it? Should be the same one as for split window bug, at least when the 1953 VW parts catalog doesn´t lie of which I am certain.

So, Mark, it´s your turn, I nearly finished my homework   🙂

Don´t get me wrong. There is still enough time until the big Barndoor Gathering in Amersfoort, May 19th. And I still have to search all the parts to complete the decklid, what isn´t easy at all! I would be happy to present in Amersfoort beside the rusty remains of the Samba at least the completed decklid and the completed dash. That would be a little proof that this project is something real. Stay tuned to see if we will be able to reach this little goal.

 

Best regards from Bonn

 

Florian

 

 

 

 

 

Nice prey, some help form the experts would be even nicer

Posted 7 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

back from Rosmalen I present to you my prey. Also here I need the help from experts. Please see my questions below the pictures. If anybody could help with some answers, please send a comment.

 

 

Best regards from Bonn

 

Florian

 

A very nice owners manual dated March 1952 (I would swap against an iusse of June, July or August 1951). My question to the experts: in this manual I can´t find any Samba-specific content as handling the sunroof for example. Did the Samba have its own manual?

 

 

A NOS-tailpipe for the single tip muffler is always a nice find. But I saw these in different length. What would be the correct one for the Samba?

 

 

Are all Barndoor steering wheels the same? I know the Samba needs a ivory one, but wouldn´t it be OK just to paint this one here?    
OK I got the answer on this one now. Please see details in the comments.

 

 

The 1954 parts catalog says that the Samba had the same speedo plate as the Export split bug (in opposite to the speedo plate for the regular bus, which is -due to the parts catalog- a bus specific unit, whatever the reason might be). So this one here should work for the Samba when I change the speedo, right?

 

 

Can anybody date this brochure? On the back it says 12.51, but I doubt it and think it must be a little later. Why?
Well, it´s regarding this picture of the dash board, which I found in the brochure:

Do you see the two little switches left and right the ashtray? A December ´51 should have just one switch, at least if the dash below, which belongs to a February ´52 Samba, was restored in the right way (of which I am sure since this collector is a serious one).
Also I do know now that the steering column tube and its fixing bracket are of black colour in 1951.

 

 

The one-switch only dash is for sure correct until end of 1951 at least. Just have a look into the very first Samba sales bruchure, here is the one-switch version as well:

 

Note also the unique ashtray! It´s peeping out of the dash and it is smaller than all the other ashtrays!
Interesting detail for our king-of-dashboards, Mark Spicer  🙂    Did you know it, Mark?

 

 

Another Holy Grail?

Posted 3 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

today I need your help.

It´s regarding my newest find, a clock which I need for my Samba´s dash. Since I own the Samba and I am much more into Barndoors as before, I always wondered what could be possible the difference between a Samba dash-clock and a split window beetle dash-clock. There must be a difference because even the very early VW-spare parts book confirms that the Samba clock has a specific Samba part number (241 016 201), but what difference could it possibly be?

The design of both clocks is identical, at least when we look at the very first Sambas. The only difference I could imagine was the long clock adjustment stick which is reaching out of the clock housing and ending in the beetle´s passenger glove box as shown in this pictures:

When looking at any Samba dashboard picture I could never see a stick peeping out the dash´s right side. Also while looking at the rest of my Samba´s dash I couldn´t find any hole where the stick of the missing clock could have went through.

But how did very early Samba owners adjust and raise their clocks, when the stick is missing? Nobody could give me an answer so far.

Today I found and bought a dash plate with a clock mounted. The assembly looks as a regular split window beetle unit:

But now have a look on the backside:

 

No long stick, but a short one, which is for setting the clock only, but not for raising it. To raise it there is a turning handle as grandma´s mechanical alarm clock had one! I had a very close look at this handle and it is definitely not a later homemade conversion, what reason could such a conversion had anyway?

So my only conclusion is that this might be the Holy Grail, the Samba specific dash board clock. Could this be right? What do the experts say? Can anyone confirms this or knows better?

I would be sure that this is a Samba clock if there wasn´t that strange date stamping in the clock´s housing:

June 1950!

There was no Samba in June 1950! Or did the factory already thought about something as a Samba in June 1950? Then this would be the clock of a prototype nobody ever heard of! I could not belief in such a find!

Can anyone solve the miracle? If so, please send a comment.

To those who can help and to all of us: have a good weekend! I am heading to Rosmalen tonight searching more Samba parts. See you there?

 

Florian

An amazing find (for the scientific VW-freak….)

Posted Leave a comment

Dear VW-friends,

 

as posted before I went for a short trip to Mark Spicer checking together with him the condition of the Samba´s chassis and discussing how to proceed. Mark also received in the same box we shipped rest of the Samba-chassis the Samba´s remaining dashboard pieces. This is what this little post is all about.

 

This is Mark (on the left) in his workshop. He presented me the restored decklid of my Samba two days ago and I was delighted!

 

Before we have a close look to a special secret of the dashboard let me introduce Mark to those of you who don´t know him. Mark is the owner of the only surviving Kohlruss-Bus, you can read the story in German language here:  http://www.bullibar.eu/der-kohlruss-samba-nur-einer-hat-uberlebt.html   or in English here:  https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=649306

When I found the Samba I knew right away Mark is right one for the body work part of this reconstruction. The way he restored the Kohlruss is exactly the way I want the Samba to be reconstructed: not a shiny “as new condition” is the goal, but to save as much as possible of the little remaining pieces AND to save as much as possible of the Samba´s history.

This is how Mark´s Kohlruss-Bus was found in 2014:

 

 

And this is the Kohlruss today, December 30th 2017. Not complete yet, but driving on the road again. What a hell of a job!

If you still didn´t get the philosophy behind the Samba-project, just have a look at Mark´s Kohlruss-bus. The Samba will look a similar way.  “This is soooo sick!”   “This is kind of serious VW-science.  And it´s Punk-Rock. I am into both, Baby!”

 

Mark found this beautiful Kohlruss-badge lately in the net. Doesn´t it match perfect to his Bus?

 

Now lets have a look on the dashboard story.

You surely know that the dash of a Samba is very special. It´s much bigger and totally different compared to the dash of the regular bus. Mark is very into Samba dashes. He turns it into a real science and he is even reproducing Samba dashes.

It seems to be pretty sure that VW itself converted existing microbuses into Sambas in the very early days and you can bet they made this job very accurate. How could we possibly distinguish this VW-made conversions and real born Sambas? The ID-plate is one way, but what if VW changed this ID-plates after the conversion? It would have been an easy job for the factory to fit in just a new ID-plate. Plus, faking an ID-plate today is an easy job for someone who wants to fake a Samba! 

But what Mark found now might be the final proof for a real born early Samba. Just have a look at this:

Do you see the number 448 stamped into the metal? Now you have to know that my Samba has the chassis number 20 – 15448. That means the factory stamped the three last digits of the chassis number into the dash! It means this dash was specially made and dedicated to this bus in the factory while the producing process. Now facing the fact that the dash is a Samba-specific item, we have here a proof of this Samba´s authenticity.

To fake this three digit number after production would have been nearly unthinkable. Number one: this certain Samba is out of the road since decades. In its former life there was simply no reason to fake this number. Even if this Samba would be a conversion, nobody would have faked this number. Yes, even in the 50s a Samba had a much bigger value than a normal microbus, but if it was a “born” or a converted Samba wouldn´t had any influence to this value as long as the conversion was made in a proper way.

Exactly because of this reason I strongly disbelieve that the factory stamped the number into buses they converted to Sambas. The original reason for the number was avoiding mess in the production process when they assembled normal microbusses and Sambas side by side, not to create a proof of a Samba´s authenticity for collectors in the 21st century. To stamp it into a more or less “customized” car far beside the production process wouldn´t have made any sense at all.

Number two: to stamp this number in needs a very special equipment. You need to have a set of this unique stamping letters. Number three: to stamp it you need to fix this part of the dash into a stamping tool device. Now try to get this thing 66 years later! I doubt you will be successful at the next home depot….  Plus, don´t forget that this stamping process and the fixing into the stamping device needs to be done BEFORE the dash´s assembly! Try to stamp it into the complete unit, it wouldn´t work. You would just press a big dent in your dash as the force of the stamp would need a solid counterpart to protect the relative soft dash metal.

And, finally, you need to know the exact position of the number. This last secret should remain to the owners of early Sambas to avoid any try of faking a Samba.

But for how long the factory stamped in this numbers? I will try to find out by asking the owners of early Sambas. Do you own a Samba too? Why not letting me and us know if you found a number on your dash too? Help the VW science and help to identify the fakes! Because, just in case, if we find this number also on a Samba build in March 1955 would mean that any Barndoor Samba without this number is definitely not a real born Samba!

Sometimes I wonder what “normal people” outside our VW-world do think about me and this odd fetish which is much more than just a hobby. This post above must be the final proof of my madness in their eyes. But isn´t it this way: whatever you do in life, just do it with your best possible profession or leave it. Doing anything half-hearted doesn´t this defines you as being a half-ambitiously person, as being a half-human to be exact?

Or –as Charles Bukowski said- DON´T TRY

To all the ones not trying, but doing: Happy New Year!

 

Florian

A German tank will drive into the heart of England, a Samba-tank!

Posted 2 Comments

The white VW-jacket I wear is a 61-year-old NOS-item coming from this big Cologne VW-dealership where the Samba was delivered to. If you look real close you can identify below the VW-logo the script “FLEISCHHAUER”, the dealership´s name

 

 

Dear VW-friends,

 

don´t worry, Germany will not try to finally conquer England beside a soccer stadium, nor do we think we could stop the silly Brexit by an even more silly cardboard tank (but I would try to if there would be any chances it could probably work!). But what is this huge toy all about?

In my last post I wrote that Mark is desperate for some new work, now when he finished the Samba´s decklid. So it was time to send the remaining pieces of the chassis to Mark. There are a front and a rear piece of the chassis still existing. Let´s start with the front piece. The front axle beam was still mounted. Sure I had to remove it, because restoring the beam with all its bits and pieces is something I can do in my little Bonn workshop while Mark is working on the chassis. Will the fixing screws of the beam turn without breaking? Can we convince them to leave their place after 66 years rusting in the mud? Let´s try.

 

With a little help of my worker Robert, a long tube and some strong German Schwarzbrot for breakfast I can put a bit of force to the screws

 

 

Another job done! And none of the screws broke!

 

After removing the beam I found it in relative good condition. At least I don´t see any rust hole nor are any pieces missing. The right axle stud with the drum I removed before, to check if the brake system is still the original one. It is! I will feature the disassembling of the beam´s pieces in another post soon.

Now let´s concentrate to pack up the front and the rear piece up carefully and make sure it will arrive at Mark´s place without damaging the precious rust. I decided to construct a wooden floor and place the rear chassis piece on it. See here:

 

Now we have to build a “second floor” for the front piece. Check how we done it:

 

 

 

 

To make sure no truck driver takes a look on our rusty wreck, dumps it in the next junk yard and can call the ambulance to bring me to a psychologic hospital, I close the whole construction with some thick cardboard. Wonder about the “Vespa”-logo on the cardboard? My neighbor has the biggest Vespa dealership in the area. When he gets a new delivery of Vespas from Italy he dumps the cardboard of the Vespa pallets in my yard. So he has not to pay to get rid of it and I receive this beautiful strong and thick cardboard for free. It´s the perfect material to build up strong oversea pallets full of VEWIB-goods! Recycling at its best.

 

 

“Hhhhhmmmm……it looks like a tank, Florian.”, my worker Markus said.
“You are right”, I replied, “let me stick a big metal tube on to it and scare the English a little bit!”

 

The “tank” is finished. No, I swear I am not fascinated by any military device at all, it was just a strange coincidence.

 

Have a good journey! See you at Mark´s place.

 

End of December I will follow my “tank” to England and have a meeting with Mark to discuss how we proceed with the reconstruction of the chassis.

Stay tuned and have a beautiful weekend!

 

Florian

 

Steering the project a little bit forward

Posted 1 Comment

Dear VW-friends,

 

there are good news from England! Number one: Mark finished the body work of the decklid, just have a look on the brilliant job he has done.

“This you call ‘finished’? Don´t you want to restore it to mint condition? Come on, it´s a Samba!”
“Pfffff, you still didn´t get what this reconstruction is all about.
I will explain it again, the 100th time, just for you: I want the Samba to tell its history and so I won´t paint it, no way!”
“Stupid Punk!”

Superb job, Mark!

 

 

Number two: Rick from Schofield´s finished the new chassis legs for the Samba. Don´t they look great as well?

Rick will send the chassis legs directly to Mark, who is desperate for new work.  🙂

Mark will reconstruct the chassis of the Samba and so it is my turn to send him the remaining parts of the chassis. The rear part is ready to go, I removed the gear box a few months ago already. But Mark needs the front part as well, so I have to remove the front axle. But before disassembling the front axle I had to remove the steering box. The box itself lost contact to the chassis leg a long time ago and was wiggling freely, just hold by the central draglink.

Have a look on the draglink, it´s still the original one with the grease nipple and the simple, non-closed rubber boot.

 

Steering boxes for split window busses are hard to find, so I am happy that there is still a steering box even it is looking very rusty and dirty. Will it be worth restoring? This will depend not on the condition of the box only! Before investing time, work and money into it, I have to be sure that it is the original steering box of the Samba. Because –you guess it already- there are THREE different steering boxes just for Barndoor! Have a look in the 1954 workshop manual:

Three different steering boxes up to 1954 already!
As our Samba has the chassis number 20-15 448 the model “532, old type” should be the right one

 

Now we have to clean the steering box and hope to find a ZF-number. So let´s drop it in cleaning fluid for a night.

 

The next morning, I am removed the oily, but now more or less liquid dirt from the box and was lucky to find this:

Bingo! Model 532! But is it the “new type” or the “old type”?

 

What is the diffenernce between “532 old” and “532 new” type? The ZF-number is the same. Another look into the workshop manual teaches us how to identify the difference:

 

The cam spindle and the steering shaft are 2 separate parts which are splined together and secured by a clamping band

I would say this is exactly what we see here:

 

Now we know the steering box is still the original one! Next step is getting the seals we need for the restoration of the box. Let´s have a look into the 1951 spare parts book:

 

There are three sealings we need:

N 013 828   seal ring for the upper laying shaft

N 013 809   seal ring for the two lower housing screws

N 013 840   upper seal ring in steering box for spindel of the boxes ZF 531 (up to chassis # 20 – 010 000) and ZF 532 old type (from chassis 20 – 010 000 until 20 – 041 712)

To produce this seals in VEWIB-quality is my job! It wasn´t to complicated and the seals are already in stock now. If you need them for your Barndoor restoration, you can order them through every VEWIB-distributor.

Next week I will remove the front axle and send the two parts of the chassis to Mark. I will keep you updated.

 

 

Have a good week!

 

Florian

 

Gentlemen, start your…..starters

Posted 1 Comment

Dear VW-friends,

 

while still waiting for Mark coming home from his honeymoon trip to make some progress regarding the chassis I thought it´s a good idea to do another step forward in the meantime by doing a job that I could probably handle by my own. After the generator turned out to be the old original and –even better- to be restorable, I was curious if I would be lucky again in a similar case. So I had a close look on the starter.

The starter was still bolt on the gearbox when the Samba was found. Disassembling the starter was very easy: just one nut to turn  -and it didn´t even brake! So here I present the Samba´s starter, another rusty Bosch piece of history:

 

Same story as the generator, first of all we have to clear if it is the real original one, cause investing time, work and money in a rusty piece which isn´t even original doesn´t make sense. So let´s see what the 1954 workshop manual has to tell us about starters and if there is a picture and a part number which can help to identify the piece and to judge about its originality. Again, the manual shows two different starters for early Barndoors.

the Bosch EED 0.4/6 L/4

 

 

and the VW 211 911 021

 

Again the Bosch item must be the older one, because the VW 211 911 021 one comes already with the nine digit part number, which did not exist in 1951 when our Samba was build.

Comparing our rusty starter with the picture of the Bosch EED 0.4/6 L/4  makes me hoping it could be the right one. So let´s grind the starter´s housing to search for a stamped in Bosch number. See what I found:

Bingo! Lucky again! It´s the correct Bosch one!

 

Let´s remove the cap of the starter carefully and have look inside:

Not too bad! In fact pretty good!

 

It´s nearly clean inside and the brushes are still good, there isn´t even a need to replace them.  Here we have another proof of the theory that the Samba didn´t drive too many kilometer in its first life. If the starter is still the original one and the brushes do look good as these ones here, we can call the Bus a “low-mileage-car”, too bad some idiot left the Samba outside to rot to death! What could have been the reason to dump a probably good car in the mud?

OK, a 1951 Bus was pretty “old” in 1961 when the current Busses came with a much more powerful engine, much better brakes and a full synchro gearbox, but still it was a Samba –the most expensive Volkswagen Bus you could buy back in those days. At least it would have been worth a technical upgrade. Fitting a new engine and the full synchro gearbox wouldn´t has been such a big deal. Many people went this way, why did the Samba´s owner decide to let the Bus die?

Anyway, now it´s my turn to bring the Samba back to life and the starter seems to be easiest job so far. I cleaned it inside, washed the bearings and applied some new grease on the moving parts. Grinding the bolt for the big red power cord and the screw for the red cable 50 coming from the ignition lock will be another step to eliminate future 6-Volt-electricity problems. What more could I do? Don´t say: “Sandblast and paint the starter housing.” Keep in mind the philosophy of this reconstruction: The old and rusty original parts will stay the way they look to show the Samba´s history and to help identifying what is an original and what is a replacement.

Now let´s see if the starter works! I better don´t practice a common fault when it comes to test a starter. Never fire a starter up without sticking the starter´s shaft in a correct placed bushing! Bolting it to an old pre-1966-gearbox will avoid damages inside the starter by a free wiggling driving shaft.

 

Now connect the starter to a battery, bridge pole 30 to screw 50 and…….. it runs! After 56 years!

 

What a nice feeling a piece of the Samba shows a bit of life again. A good motivation to keep on working on this epic project.

 

Have a nice weekend!

 

Florian

Generating some knowledge…. and another little step forward!

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Dear VW-friends,

 

Mark mailed me  -from India! He is still on his Honeymoon trip and won´t be back before mid of November. So, to do another step forward I am still taking care about the mechanical components of the Samba. Cause we disassembled all of the engine´s bolt-on components already, it´s an easy job just to grab another piece. Today let´s have a close look on the generator.

Does look like a piece of crap to you, doesn´t it? But crap with a precious D-regulator at least!

 

Before even think about repairing such a rotten component it´s always a good idea checking if it is still the component which was with the Samba when it left the factory. If the generator turns out to be a later replacement I better invest my time at another end of the Samba and look for an original one in the net. But how identifying an original generator for a 1951 Samba? A look into the 1954 workshop manual is the right way to get some knowledge again.

As you can see, even in 1954 the manual already knows two different generators for early Barndoors:

the Bosch RED 130/6 2600 AL16….  

 

 

…and the VW 211 903 021!

 

 

Obviously the Bosch RED 130/6 2600 AL16 would be the correct one for our Samba, because it´s the older one. 211 903 021 uses already the nine digit part number which was established around 1953, so it would be incorrect in our case, same as any other generator but the Bosch RED 130/6 2600 AL16 would be incorrect too. Just by judging the outer surface of our rotten generator it could be the old Bosch boy…..

Just compare it to the picture in the workshop manual! This could be the right one….

 

 

So let´s clean it a little bit to make the part number visible again:

Bingo! It´s still the original Bosch RED 130/6 2600 AL16 generator!

 

This is just another hint that this Samba wasn´t on the road for long. Where ever we have still existing pieces of the car, they are most likely still the originals! So now it´s time to see an expert for rebuilding generators. Who could do the job better than an old Bosch workshop? These are pretty rare by now, but one of our VEWIB-customer still has a Bosch dealership with a workshop. Mr. Bliersbach senior and Mr. Bliersbach junior run together this famous place in Cologne, so let´s bring a piece of the Samba back home, because the Samba was delivered in August 1951 from Wolfsburg to the big VW dealership Fleischhauer in Cologne.

 

A real Bosch dealership in a vintage building, a bug in the garage…. can we find a better place for rebuilding the Samba´s Bosch generator?

 

 

The generator, some VEWIB spare parts and Bosch mechanic Mr. Bliersbach junior, now the job can be done!

 

After opening the generator it doesn´t look to bad!

 

OK, this one needs some attention. But Mr. Bliersbach can solve the problem for sure.

 

The job is done! With some new VEWIB bearings and brushes the generator delivers a good performance on the test stand.

 

Still looks rotten, but now it´s working perfect again!

 

To follow the philosophy of the project we keep the outer surface of the generator the rusty way it was. So, in about 15 years, when the Samba´s reconstruction will be finished finished, you will be able to see exactly which item was replaced and which one is still the original.

Stay tuned as the next step will be interesting too! I will visit a local expert for locks and keys in Bonn this afternoon to get some keys for the Samba. A real weird place….

 

Have a nice weekend!

 

 

Florian

 

Windshield seals, prototype ready

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Dear VW-friends,

 

here are some good news for Barndoor owners. As mentioned in a previous article I started a project to add windshield seals for Barndoors to my VEWIB-line, just because there is nothing good on the market for Barndoor so far and I need the seals for our ´51 Samba anyway.

Of course a VEWIB window seal needs to be perfect and of course it has to have preformed corners. So we needed to construct a heating tool for the preforming process. Ever wondered how these tools look like? Here is the brand new heating tool for the Barndoor windshield seal:

 

Producing a VEWIB window seal needs a heating tool, but also the correct extrusion tool for the rubber itself. Luckily I do own the original extrusion tool for all Split Window Bus window seals since 1998. I bought it from a former rubber company who worked for Volkswagen in the 50s. The extrusion tool dates from 1949!

Now we were able to produce a prototype of the windshield seal. Here you see our warehouse worker Viktor assembling the prototype on the left windshield of our ´51 Samba.

It fits perfect! So we will start the first production run next week. Due to the preforming the left and right window seals of all Split Window Busses (regardless if pre or after 1955) were different and Volkswagen used different part numbers for the left and for the right side seal. When Volkswagen gave up the preforming process in the early 80s, just selling the seals extruded and glued together, they obsoleted the right part number and used just the left part number (211 845 121 A) saying “This fits both sides”. Giving up the preforming process made the production a lot cheaper, but also the product itself cheaper….

Sure this seals fitted not as well as the preformed ones, but at this time an old Bus was just an old Bus and not a collector´s car in at all. Barndoor windshield seal were obsolete back in those days a long time anyway.

Sure we will produce left and right seals! The part numbers will be 211 845 121 for the left and 211 845 122 for the right side. You can order this seals mid of December 2017 from your local VEWIB distributor. Keep in mind that these seals are for Barndoor only! Preformed VEWIB windshield seals for ´55 – ´67 Busses we have in line since 1998. These you can order these any time by using the part numbers 211 845 121 A (left) and 211 845 122 A (right).

Here is the “SEKURIT” logo in the Samba´s windshield. A little wonder the windshields still were with the wreck when it was found in May….

 

I feel now it´s time to have a look at the body reconstruction of the Samba and you surely wondered why I do concentrate on all this little details as headlights, shock absorbers, the fuel pump etc and there is no news about the progress regarding the body at all. This is because our friend Mark Spicer married his lovely girlfriend Evelyn and they made a real long honeymoon trip through Europe. I didn´t want to disturb them by pushing Mark regarding the Samba´s decklid which he started to restore. But after two months the honeymoon trip should be over and I am sure we will have interesting news from Mark soon.

When Mark has finished the decklid, we will start to work on the Samba´s chassis. Nearly all parts we need are in stock in the meantime, so the project can go on. I will keep you posted.

 

Best regards

 

Florian

Girls, they wanna have…..carbs!

Posted 1 Comment

Dear VW-friends,

 

when disassembling the engine I found some parts not original for 1951 as the manifold and the aircleaner (very normal! Which engine still had the T-aircleaner when the –technically- so much better oil-aircleaner was available?), other parts are surprisingly very correct, for example the generator and the D-regulator (I will feature these next week) and the carburetor which we will have a close look on today.

The carb is still the Solex 26 VFIS and it got the correct 8mm connection for the fuel line. So far, so good, but the rotten outer surface did not make me hope that it will be an easy job to rebuild it or maybe it is beyond being repairable at all. But it´s worth a try, just because it is one of the few original pieces of the Samba still existing.

When it comes to complicated matters regarding anything related to Solex carbs there is one place in the world to go: Annette Hue´s IOZ-workshop in Koblenz / Germany. Luckily Koblenz is just a 45 minute drive from Bonn and it is beautiful ride always along the Rhine with all its castles and wine yards left and right beside the river.

As Annette is the best address for Solex carbs I found her workshop in the normal state: crowded over and over full up with customer´s cars: from basic models as Opel Kadett up to Porsche 911 or Mercedes S-class, everything was there waiting in line for her magic hands. You think about going there too with your car? Be aware that you need to set an appointment now for a date 8 months later!

“Got a surprise for you, Annette!”

 

But as I know Annette since many years she was kind enough to have a quick look at the Samba´s carb and her judgement seeing this rusty little piece was quick and short: “Just dump it and buy a rebuild one.”

“You don´t want me to rebuild this piece seriously, do you?”
“I sure do!”

 

Annette and me got something in common: we don´t like Facebook, Twitter & Co., neither she got time for browsing the net every day, so no wonder she didn´t know about the Samba and what the story is all about. So I had to explain her that I really want this certain carb for rebuilding, no matter what effort it may cost.

“Hmmmm, well, I doubt that even one of these screws will turn without braking.” she said.

Will the screws turn without braking?

Yes, they will, but can we open the carb?

 

But surprisingly all screws turned without any problem (I applied a lot of rust dissolver to it a week before!) and we found the inner of the carb in quite good condition after removing the upper part.

Surprise! Look how nice and almost clean the carb is!

 

“OK, seems it will be possible to rebuild it, but you know my order book is full up with work until next year. How quick do you need the carb?”

I showed her some pictures of the Samba and so she got the answer.

“But it would be fine if you could do the job before you retire.”

“Don´t worry. If this carb will be the last I do in my life it seems to me that I will be still in time for this project.”

Pretty right, Annette…..

 

 

No more new projects! (Or just one. Maybe. A little one…)

Posted 3 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

this post won´t not show you any progress regarding the Samba, but it tells you a little about a problem that some of us have for sure. A project as the Samba needs your full attention, it´s a lifetime job and if you share your time with too many other projects at the same time, you will end up as a good friend of mine I know since mid of the 80s.

He is a few years older than I am and started collecting aircooled VWs around 1982. As me he used to buy the first cars of his collection at the local junkyards here in Bonn. The cars were cheap back in those days and he couldn´t resist to buy any aircooled VW as long as it was cheap. As you can imagine each and any of these cars was in bad condition.

To make the long story short, toady he got around 36 cars in several rented garages, none of them is restored or is even driving. It was three years ago when I told him: “OK, you are 55 now. Dividing the estimated amount of your remaining years to live by the amount of cars you still “want to restore someday”, what kind of sum are you facing?”

The minute I asked him this question, I did the same calculation regarding my own life-cars-balance and I was shocked. And I don´t have 36 cars to restore. Not even half of 36. But some.

It was this certain day when I put a little sticker on top of my computer screen to remind me every day. Can you see the little sticker saying “Keine neuen Projekte!” on the picture below showing my office desk?

“Keine neuen Projekte” means “NO MORE NEW PROJECTS!”

I was serious about it, really.
And then the Samba showed up….
‘OK, just this one, it´s just too exciting. But not even one more from now on’ I advised myself.

Today the phone was ringing, it was the owner of the local junkyard:
“Hey, Florian, I got a VW beetle for you. Come over!”

I was not really interested. The times this junkyard was a place to buy cars cheap are over a long time. But as the place is just 900 meter away from my office, I stopped by. You never know, maybe he got a KdF-car, he wouldn´t see any difference to a Mexican bug. So I went there for a quick look and –of course- it wasn´t anything special, just a Mexican bug. OK, a rare Sunnybug and in quite good condition, but I knew he would ask a price way to high.

I asked for the expected crazy price and he said: “OK, we go for a package deal.”
“What kind of package?” I asked.
“I had another old VW in yesterday, I don´t know what it is, never seen this model, but there is the engine in the back and a Wolfsburg logo at the steering wheel. Bad condition, but I make you a special price if you go for both cars.”

You won´t believe what “other old VW” he picked up the day before:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When have you seen a Razor Edge at the local junkyard last time? 1983?

The car was covered by a thick layer of dust, he must have pulled it out of a barn or similar where the car was stored for decades. On the windshield there is a sticker ‘LICHTTEST 1977’. Inside are the bumpers and a lot of parts, the car is pretty complete! No more projects? Should I have let a Razor Edge go into the crasher? Of course I went for the “package deal”.

Due to my calculation I have to extend my lifetime to 109 now to finish all my projects, but as I don´t smoke, eat healthy and have a chilly job, this shouldn´t be a problem at all. Any doubts?

Sorry for boring you with some news not related to the Samba directly, but maybe some of you liked to share this little adventure. And, this is a promise: the Samba will be finished before the Razor Edge!

 

best regards from Bonn

 

Florian

The Engine Horror Picture Show

Posted 3 Comments

Dear VW-friends,

 

today I don´t want to write too much, but just want you to share my joy I had when looking at the disassembled engine parts. These pictures say more than any words….

Will there be anything useable again? Sure! Just stay tuned until next week when we will have a closed look at the carb and the generator for example. You´ll be surprised!

 

Best regards

 

Florian

little update

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Dear VW-friends,

 

today I can share with you just a very small update, because I am kind of ill and couldn´t work on the Samba as I wanted to.

So, just to do a little step forward I pulled the fuel pump of the engine. Due to a broken lower part of the fuel pump it was fixed by the fuel line to the carb only. Luckily I was able to lose the screws of the fuel line without damaging them. The state of the line made me expecting the opposite, just see how rotten it looks:

I tested the line and it was still tight, no little rust hole, so I will use it again on the rebuild engine to save another original part. Sure I want to do the same with fuel pump, but the lower part is broken and I don´t see a chance to weld this metal, do you?

Needless to say that it is still the original 8 mm pump, otherwise I would just grab any complete pump from the shelf. But this way I want to save at least the upper part of the pump.

So I looked for a lower fuel pump part in my parts bin, thinking this is not a big deal as in my opinion there was no difference between 6 and 8 mm pumps when looking at the lower part of the pump only. But again the Barndoor thought me that nothing is easy when it comes to these early cars!

See here the lower fuel pump part and its quite big “SOLEX” script:

And here one of 26 (!) fuel pumps part I have in stock and I could take apart for the lower section, they all look the same saying “DEUTSCHE VERGASER GESELLSCHAFT”:

Damned! I am in need for a lower fuel pump part saying “SOLEX”. Sure one of mine would work technically, but it wouldn´t be original and I wouldn’t be happy with it. So if anybody out there can spare such an item, please contact me!

Next week there will be a new big update or even end of the week in case I am back to 100% again.

 

best regards from Bonn

 

Florian

 

You need a plan, man!

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Dear VW-friends,

 

I am selling spare parts for vintage Volkswagen since mid of the 80s and I am kind of familiar to the VW-number system in a way that enables me to know the good selling items by their part number and if I don´t know the number exactly, I find the correct number normally in old VW spare parts books quickly.

This does not mean I am exceptional brain artist, but the VW-number system is so logical, it really makes identifying the parts pretty easy.  Whoever invented the VW-number system in 1953 was a genius. Back in these days VW just had two different cars: beetle and bus. But even today this old number system still works for Volkswagen and its huge variety of different cars and models.

But even based on this brilliant number system I was never able to learn this damned Bus chassis parts: rockers, jack supports, brackets, rails …. front, rear, middle, outer, inner… I never got it and always felt as being an idiot, cause it was too complicated to me. But now when the gearbox is removed from the poor rest of our Samba´s chassis there is finally the time: I HAVE to learn it, just because I have to know what we need for the reconstruction of the chassis. I was in a need of a plan.

So when today´s Sunday office work was done I stayed two extra hours in the office, reading, comparing, investigating in my 1954, 1957 and 1967 vintage VW Bus spare parts books, the websites of several British sheet metal producers, the Wolfsburg West catalog and the current issue of Airmighty with its feature of Claus Missing´s brilliant 1953 Barndoor panel. In this article there is a big picture of Claus´ Bus from underneath and this picture was finally very helpful.

I copied the picture and marked the chassis parts in different colors. Green for the sections which are still good and different other colors for the different producers´ parts. Of course there is a lot Barndoor specific which doesn´t make getting the parts easier. But in the end I found that I can get everything we need for the reconstruction but the floor pans itself. Some of the parts we even had already in our VEWIB-line –and I didn´t know it.

The result of two hours working this Sunday in the office: my plan for the chassis parts

 

All other parts I ordered not only just one of each for our Samba, but a complete load to add all this parts to the VEWIB-line. So, if you are doing a Barndoor restoration yourself, we got everything for your chassis in line now.

In the meantime when I wait for the chassis parts to arrive, I will have a close look to the front end of the chassis. In case I find some time in the next week, I will remove the front axle to check what is left of the bulkhead. We will see and I keep you posted.

 

Best regards from Bonn

 

Florian

Shocking: one of the Samba´s technical components still works!

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Dear VW-friends,

 

today we finally removed the gearbox from the rear chassis part and so we had to remove the rear shocks as well. Lucky enough the Samba still got the original style shocks and wasn´t “upgraded” with telescope shocks as most of all older Volkswagen were.

 

This kind of shock absorbers do look strange to anyone not into the vintage Volkswagen world. For the Volkswagen enthusiast they are pure gold: very expensive and hard to find. No wonder! Volkswagen itself recommended already in the late 50s to replace this shocks by the modern telescope type and many VW-drivers did exactly this.

 

 

Also I was surprised finding the gearbox with the solid axle boots still, not being superseded by the split type axle boots. Both facts indicate that the Samba didn´t run a high mileage and having still the 24 hp engine tells the same story.

When did you see last time a swing axle Volkswagen with untouched, solid axle boots? For sure we will save them, but is it a good idea to fit them in again after rebuilding the gearbox?

 

All this are lucky facts. We don´t need to search for original (and very expensive) shocks and looking at the low mileage makes me feel optimistic that the gearbox won´t be in too bad condition.

Not so lucky we were regarding all the bolts and nuts which held the gearbox in place. All of them were really rusted and extremely hard to remove. We needed hours and hours to convince this screws turning after 60 years, but the last screw, the one in the shifting coupler, broke. So we had to cut the shifting coupler very carefully into pieces, cause drilling out the broken screw I was too afraid damaging the gear change lever.

Yep, we destroyed the shifter coupling. We had to! Otherwise there was no chance to get it out of the way without possibly damaging gear change lever. But don´t worry, the coupling was broken into two pieces anyway and anything related tothe gearbox is way more expensive than a simple shifter coupling.

 

After all this painful jobs I collected the nuts, bolts, tools   -and the shocks. Being curious if the shocks still move I was very surprised finding one of the shocks not only moving, but still working! And not too bad, I have to add. Anyway I will send the shocks to Jacek in Poland to get them rebuild.

 

 

Now when the gearbox is finally removed, how does the rear part of the chassis looks to you? To be honest, I expected it to be worse. At least we do have an intact torsion bar tube, even the torsion bar covers are still good. Both radius arms are OK too. The entire tubes of the gearbox mounting area are also still strong. So, dear haters, there WILL BE some original material left for sure, when the reconstruction is finished!
The outer rear chassis legs are a bit of fragile, but maybe there is a way to save them. Mark, what do you say?
Did you see that? The rear brake hoses are still intact. No kidding.
Can´t wait to use them again after 66 years on the German Autobahn. Just kidding.

 

best regards from Bonn

 

Florian

Little update, big luck

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Dear VW-friends,

 

here are two little updates. Number one is a current picture from Mark Spicer´s decklid work. Here you can see the new inner frame he just finished. Doesn´t it look great?

 

The other topic is regarding an unbelievable find in the net. You maybe know that there at least five different types of speedometer for Busses –just up to 1955! So finding the right one for our Samba seemed to be really difficult, because VDO changed the design of the speedo slightly in late 1951 already, so I was in need for a speedo not even build for 20 months!

So I was extremely surprised finding such a speedo on E-Bay last week. But the auction was headlined by “Speedo for 1950 Barndoor VW Bus”, so the seller knew exactly what kind of treasure he was offering and I expected the final price to be skyrocket. But it wasn´t! For just 221 Euro the speedo was mine, I was sure the price would be much, much more.

Lucky office cat with the lucky find of the year!

 

Today the speedo arrived and when I turned it around I couldn´t believe my eyes: the date stamp shows “7.51”! What´s so special about it? I learned this lesson very well: the speedo normally was build one or maximum two months before the car itself was assembled in the factory. So for our Samba, build in August 1951, a speedo constructed in July 1951 couldn´t be any more perfect!

I apologize for the bad quality of the pictures, but I just took the shot with my antique Blackberry

 

Have a good start into your week!

 

Florian

 

Bright up your life with Florian´s Hella story

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Dear VW-friends,

 

today I was assembling the headlights for the Samba. Nothing special? Well, it seems everything is special when it comes to early Barndoors and early headlights are a scientific matter anyway. So before the assembly could start there was a lot of research to do. Maybe you like to share what I could find out so far.

On the poor rest of the Samba´s front panel there was a Bosch headlight ring. But the 1951 Bus spare parts catalog and still the 1954 one do list Hella headlights only. This is quite interesting, cause the split window bug had, same as all following beetles, either Bosch or Hella headlights. VW simply had two suppliers of Type-1-headlights, same deal with a lot of other parts for early Volkswagen, the factory often had several suppliers for the same part.

But surprisingly VW had just one supplier for Bus headlights in the early years, minimum up to 1954, and this was Hella only. I learned this lesson to late, cause I already purchased a nice pair of symmetric Bosch Bus headlights, even with the little Bosch logo on the chrome ring –not correct for the 1951! Another amazing fact was that the early Hella Bus chrome rings are –due to the 1951 parts catalog- identical to the Bug headlight rings. So they are not specific for left and right, because they did not come with the little drain hole in the ring yet.

This fact made it a little easier for me to assemble a pair of headlights for the Samba as I have a nice collection of Bug symmetric headlight parts, Bosch and Hella. The conclusion of the 1951 and 1954 parts catalog was that the only Bus-specific parts for the headlights were the reflectors and the lens. But there is another tricky fact when it comes to Hella symmetrical headlights. Sure Hella and Bosch changed something here and there during the production of symmetrical headlights (they were superseded by the asymmetrical system in August 1960), but Hella changed much more than Bosch! Hella even changed the entire inner mechanism for example, but Bosch changed just some little details.

Also the reflectors of the early Hella symmetrical headlights and the late symmetrical ones are so different that you can´t interchange them technically. VW itself listed two different part numbers for Hella reflectors up to 1960. Also the super early lens has a very different design than the ones in the late 50s. But as I have a nice amount of NOS super early Hella Barndoor lenses, I did not have any reflectors at hand. I thought: ‘Damned, another expensive hard-to-find item on the list!’ But Dieter Schmidt-Lorenz could help with a NOS pair of these reflectors for a real good price. He surely made my day.

Dieter´s reflectors. Always a moment of history using parts which were stored the last 50 years untouched in their original box….

 

New original Hella lens seals we do have in stock, so the assembling could start, but there was one last question to clear. Did Hella used in August 1951 still the “Hella”-logo on the chrome ring? I have a nice bunch of both styles, with and without the logo, in stock, but I needed another lesson in VW detail history. After some research in the net I was very sure that minimum up to 1952 Hella headlights always had the little “Hella”-logo in the chrome ring and the little fixing bracket of the chrome ring was mounted with just one rivet, not with two as later on.

“Hella”-logo in the chrome ring, fixing bracket mounted by just one rivet and a half round head screw: this beetle headlight assembly should be the right one to convert it into a headlight for our ´51 Samba.

 

Not tired about headlight details yet? I can continue for another little while….

As I wrote before Hella changed the entire mechanism of its symmetrical headlights somewhere around 1954. The early style had a long bracket inside to move the reflector when turning the adjustment screws, the later ones show that typical Hella half-round fat spring, that surrounds the lower part of the reflector housing. Due to this technical difference the reflectors of the early symmetrical headlight is so different to the late symmetrical one. But also the material of the reflector changed. The early style show a heavy reflector made of brass, the late style is made of the same light tin than all reflectors later on.

Here you see the bracket that moves the reflector when turning the adjustment screw. This is specific for super early Hella headlights.

 

Confused? Well the story is even more complicated! There were also reflectors for the early mechanism made of tin! As VW offered reflectors for the early symmetrical mechanism at the spare parts counter for a longer time, these ones were made by Hella in the very same material then the current production: just tin, not brass anymore. The reflectors I purchased from Dieter Schmidt-Lorenz are such ones: early symmetrical style, but made of tin. If you see it from the pure historical point of view, the headlights I assembled are not super-correct, cause they don´t come with brass reflectors.   

A reflector made of brass, but unfortunately a Beetle reflector, not a Bus one.

A reflector for super early Hella Barndoor headlight, but made of tin. As you see here a part number using already the new nine-digit-system (established in 1954), this reflector was not made for the production line, but as a later spare part production

 

Anyway, I am really picky about originality, but I can live with tin reflectors made somewhere in the late 50s. I think to assemble a pair of headlights with the correct 1951-only-lens, the correct “Hella”-logo-ring and the pre 1953 old mechanism is good enough for this Samba.

the correct pre 1952 lens for Barndoor

Here you see our “chief of headlights” Sebastian (he normally converts LHD-headlights into RHD headlights) disassembling one of my very early beetle headlights to convert it into a headlight for our Samba

And now remove this long one-piece-spring, Sebastian! A pain in the ass to remove it? Well, wait until you have to put it in place again….

Here Sebastian mounts a new VEWIB headlight lens seal on the NOS early Barndoor lens

Putting it the lens in the correct position

Next step: putting the reflector bracket in place….

A little trick: we used some of the new style springs to fix the whole assembly on one half to help holding everything in place. Now we ccould try to put this damned one-piece-spring in place on the other half….

But still a pain the ass! Sebastian was right to refuse this job and leave it to me….  I won the fight in the end, but I had to try again and again. Whoever constructed this one-piece-spring, he was not the smartest Hella employee, for sure! The next worker telling me that putting the (late style) fixing springs in place is a tough job, has to try it with one-piece-spring!

Did you know that? The “L” in the line “28L” indicates the year this headlight was produced. Due to TheSamba.com “L” means 1953. Good enough for the project from my point of view!

Cleaning the bold holder is essential if you want your six Volt headlight to produce some brightness. When the ´51 will be finished in 15 years I will be 63, so having a bright headlight would be a good idea! And for sure I still won´t be in the mood for an unsporting 12 Volts conversion….

Ready for installation. Thank you, Sebastian, good job! So we are ready now, what about you Mark?   🙂

 

We don’t want this reconstruction to end up showing the car the way it left the factory in August 1951, we want a Bus showing its history. In 1961, when the Samba was taken from the road, it already had a changing in the headlights to Bosch, so for me it´s fair enough to give the Samba back its early Hella headlights. I leave the lack of brass to the haters to make their lives less miserable….

 

For all the rest: enjoy life and the rest of the summer!

 

Florian

Happy Birthday, both of you!

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Today 66 years ago our Samba was built in Wolfsburg, but today it´s also Julian Hunt´s birthday. For anyone not knowing Julian, he is the # 1 photographer in the vintage VW-world and proud Barndoor owner himself.

The pictures show both birthday candidates, Julian in one of our ´79 pickup twins driving the ´51 Samba wreck on the lorry bed from our garage in the early morning of May 16th (another special day for Lagwagon fans…) from our garage to the Press presentation where he produced his famous photo series about the Samba.

All of us are looking forward to the next presentation of the Samba when both birthday children´s levels of patina will be more equal….

first item ready!

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Dear VW-friends,

 

as promised in July („handbrake cables will be ready in August“) here we are presenting the first item we produced for the Samba: the handbrake cables! Fresh from the factory, made in Germany due to a very old original drawing.

Of course we made not just a pair for our own project, but we produced a whole lot of them, so all other Barndoor owners can participate and order a pair of handbrake cables through our VEWIB-distributor network. The part number is  211 609 721.

By the way I learned that there are two handbrake cables for Barndoor! The very first version from the beginning until January 1953 and a later version from February 1953 until end of Barndoor production in March 1955. We will produce the late version as well, it will be ready before the end of 2017!

Right now I am working on the headlights for the Samba. I always thought I am kind of expert for pre ´67 headlights. How wrong! There is so much more to learn. It will be the longest report for the blog so far. Something for the real VW-freak. Have a look here next week!

 

have a nice weekend!

 

Florian

 

Mark Spicer in action

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Dear VW-friends,

 

here is a little update from England. As you know, Mark Spicer shipped the decklid of the Samba to his workshop and he is just right now in welding action. So this goes out to all the haters in the various chats who keep on saying “he is never gonna make it”, “just dump it into the trash” etc: there are also a lot of good friends in our little VW-world and together we will definitely reach the goal!

Next body piece will be the dashboard!

Best regards from Bonn

Florian

 

Corner window production

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Dear VW-freinds,

 

here we go starting to produce the next item for our Samba. When we found the Samba there was one corner window still with the bus, but the other one was missing. Sure Plexiglas corner windows are extremely hard to find, especially the ones without the “Plexiglas” logo, which only the very, very first Sambas came with.

As chances are nearly zero to find such a corner window we decided to produce them. The first step is to create a data base for the production. So I drove to St. Vith in Belgium to visit one of our suppliers for sheet metal, Mr. Warny. He has a laser tool to scan any item for the data needed to build a production tool. Mr. Warny was so kind to support our Samba project by laser scanning our remaining corner window and now we have the data base to go for step number two and build a tool for producing the corner window itself.

Stay tuned as I will visit a plastic company next.

best regards from Bonn

Florian

 

Body reconstruction has begun

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Dear VW-friends

 

Last week Evelyn and Mark Spicer, the owner and restorer of the famous Kohlruss bus, visited me to have a look on the Samba wreck. It was amazing seeing Mark checking out the poor rest of the dashboard for more than 20 minutes. He was truly fascinated about little details I don´t have a clue of, but for Mark these dashboard pieces show that this is the very earliest Samba he has ever seen. For anybody out of the vintage VW-world this scenario must have looked so weird: an adult man totally fascinated by two very rusty pieces of rotten metal, declaring: “I had a theory about the early Samba dashboard, which must have been kind of prototyping, this here is the proof. The production of the very first Sambas was more or less a handmade process.”  

Mark is not only a specialist for Barndoor Samba dashboards (he reproduces the entire element!) , but he does the same with Barndoor decklids. To get the body reconstruction started I gave Mark the decklid of the Samba wreck for restoration. So the decklid is already in England now and Mark promised to start right away. We both think the same way about the style the Samba should be reconstructed: the same way he did the Kohlruss! Not a shiny look-as-new Samba is the goal, but a Samba telling a unique story.

The decklid will be the example of how we would like the whole Samba to be restored. Stay tuned as Mark is probably faster than most of us think. I will show the result of Mark´s work here as soon as the decklid is ready.

In the meantime I will take care about the mechanical parts. The starter, the fuel pump, rear shock absorbers, the generator plus D-regulator are the next on the list. All these parts are still the original ones and worth a rebuilding. Read more about it here in this blog soon.

Best regards from Bonn

Florian

 

Lucky in Spa

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Dear VW-friends,

 

I was very lucky to find at the Bug-Show in Spa a Barndoor taillight. Have a look at it! I guess it is the correct one for the 51 Samba. What do the experts think? If you can confirm or disprove it, please leave a comment.

I also found a central brake light lens. Yes, a red one is not correct for 1951, I know it has to be kind of yellow and must not have a K-number neither a wave, but at least I have a sample with the correct old style Hella marking to produce a copy in the correct color.

The next find in Spa was a beautiful 1953 workshop manual! It wasn´t cheap, but I am happy to have it anyway. I guess it´s pretty rare and was worth the 270 Euro.

Just when I was ready to leave the swapmeet I found two separate barndoor taillight lenses for unbelievable 20 Euro each!

 

best regards from Bonn

Florian

interesting contacts

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Dear VW-freinds,

 

Today I received an interesting detail from the owner of the well-known 51 Samba found in Greece (see here: http://kombiclassics.com/1951_barndoor_samba/ ). He told me that the remaining Plexiglas windows of his Samba neither had any logo. As his Samba is younger than mine this information is very interesting as another hint that very early Sambas didn´t have the “Plexiglas”-logo which we all know from later Barndoor Sambas. At least the Barndoors which were really “born” as Sambas in the first place.

A real “born” Samba in the first place? What does it mean? There is the theory that the Volkswagen factory itself converted in the early days regular busses which were already sold and driven on the road into Sambas. I am still collecting facts which confirm or disprove this theory. More about this scientific detail soon.

Tomorrow I will have a look on another unrestored early Samba and I hope to return with some interesting news to share with you.

Next week the one remaining corner Plexiglas window of our Samba will be put into a laser box to create a CAD data as a base for a production of the corner windows. Our Samba needs one, so we will produce a whole load of corner windows based on the one original which came with the Samba.

In two weeks I expect Marc Spicer, the restorer of the famous Kohlruss (see here http://www.thepicta.com/user/rustykohlruss/2338719690/1371636174993288017_2338719690 ), here in Bonn and I am looking forward to learn from his experience as the way he restored –or better reconstructed- the Kohlruss is exactly the way I want to reconstruct our Samba.

More news soon after the upcoming Spa weekend!

 

Maybe see you in Spa?

 

Florian

windshield seals

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Dear VW-friends,

 

my knowledge about Barndoor busses must have been very poor! So far I didn´t realize that the windshields of an Barndoor are significantly smaller than the later ones. What means I do have a lack in my VEWIB line of windshield rubbers.  Sure I wanted to add VEWIB windshield rubbers for Barndoor to my line, at least cause I will need them some day for our Samba!

Fortunately both original windshields are still with the Samba wreck and we can use them for creating a tool. But the tool for the preforming of the rubbers is a real big investment, because when it comes to pre ´55 rubber items the chances to find the original tooling are near zero. For sure we can´t sell too many of these rubbers, but I decided to go for tool anyway. The project and the first seals will be finished in September. So, all Barndoor owners can ask their VEWIB-dealer for the windshield seals soon. The part numbers will be 211 845 121 (left) and 211 845 122 (right).

 

Best regards from Bonn

Florian

Handbrake cables

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Dear VW-friends,

sure our Samba will need a pair of handbrake cables someday. As so many other parts these are different for Barndoor then for the later busses and as far as I know there are no handbrake cables on the market for Barndoor. So this a typical job for VEWIB to bring back a good German quality.

I contacted an old supplier of cables who produced handbrake cables for Barndoor decades ago. We found the old drawing in his archive and I gave order to start a new production again. Peter Reichler was so kind to spare with me a NOS handbrake cable, so we now have the old drawings and a NOS item to assure that the new production will be very exact.

The production will be ready in August and orders can be already placed either with VEWIB direct (if you are a registered dealer) or through our distribution network. The part number is  211 609 721.

 

Best regards from Bonn

Florian

Plexiglas windows

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Dear VW-friends,

our Samba was made in August 1951 and it is a real “born Samba”, so it was constructed as a Samba in the first place, not later converted from a stock bus into a Samba (the factory in Wolfsburg itself really did such conversions in the early days!). Björn Schewe and Eckberth von Witzleben checked the chassis number of our Samba in the Wolfsburg archives and they confirmed that this is “born Samba”.

Based on this fact I would like to clear an interesting little detail now. Not to many parts of our Samba survived, but all eight sky windows and one of the rear corner windows were still with the Samba when it was found. Sure all this windows are made of Plexiglas, but none of them has the typical “Plexiglas” script!

As we know this Samba is not a conversion and there are nine of the ten windows still with the car, we can exclude by 99% that this windows were exchanged later, because they were possibly broken. It would be very unlikely that nine of ten windows broke.

So could it be that the very first Sambas did not have the “Plexiglas”-script, because it came a little later than August 1951? What do the experts think? You are welcome to write me:  samba@vewib.de or come to the VEWIB-booth in Chimay this weekend.

See you at the EBI!

Florian

Welcome!

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Dear VW-friends,

thank you for your interest in our Samba-wreck! In this blog I would like to inform everybody who is interested about the restoration of this amazing car.

“Restoration” might be not the correct term as there is not so much left of the poor bus. We got an engine, a gearbox, a front axle, an ID-plate, some very rusty sections of the body and a few (but very interesting) parts. So we better call it a reconstruction.

I will write the blog in English language, so more people can follow our project. Please excuse my funny English terms, I learned my English with Beavis and Butthead, so don´t expect Oxford level from my side….

As this is my first blog ever I have to learn how to use this. It might need a few days until I am familiar with this medium, but I will do my best to give you an update of the project weekly. So have a look in the next days and I will share with you our progress to bring back this Samba on the road.

Have a good start in the week!

Florian