Friday, December 22, 2006

Floor 2, going down

After the success of dropping the first floorpan (photos here)it was with a little trepidation that I started on the passenger side !

The original chassis, which was in a pretty poor state (Oh Dear Nena)only had the drivers side dropped, but that just seemed lazy. Whilst I am going to be driving her most of the time Sarah is going to want to get behind the wheel too, so I need to know I would fit as a passenger !! Also if I lose my bet for 1/8/07 completion date Sarah gets the first drive on the road !

Anyway, the fitting of the new panels and cutting went very well. Lot's of measuring first, as always, and it all fits together well.

And, as you can see it all lines up, and looks symmetrical. Once welded in (still just wedged and a couple of holding rivets) it should look the business. I have had a quick test with my seats (Bedford rascals £30 e-bay) and they fit nicely, and sit at the right level now. I cannot wait to get the welding done and then mount up the bodyshell.

I have limited workshop space, so to start cleaning up the shell and filling the numerous holes the last owner made I need to get the shell mounted. The only welding job remaining will be the relocation of the handbrake and gearstick, but I won't do this until the dash is fitted and I can simulate the final seating position.

This will be the last post now till after Christmas, and the last work on the car for a while. I hope to have the welding completed 3/1/07, but then go off on holiday for 3 weeks so February is the target date for mounting the shell.

Happy Christmas all, Jim

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The first cut is the scariest !

So let me get this straight in my head:

Spend time and money getting new floors welded in.

Then cut holes in them and spend more time and money lowering the floors so my 6ft 3" 'should grow up' body can fit in a low slung fibreglass 'sports car' from the 70's.

Yep, that makes perfect sense !

Well, progress has again been slow due to the Xmas run up, work commitments etc, but another step has been taken - the floor drops are happening.

After the body fitting trials a decision was made, a 3" drop was needed. Much consultation with the forums and re-reading reference material later I chose to go for the 3 cut drop, using the original pan material and having 3 pieces fabricated per side to support the lowered pan.

A local metal fabricator (if you need one in Sussex mail me for details) did the business on the steel (I don't have folding equipment) and my plans were correct !

Beware - the NOVA original plans should be treated as a guide only, although I wasn't using the original style side panels the rear should have been identical - it wasn't. I made my own cardboard templates to be sure.

I have gone for a sloping floor drop, so had large triangular sections made up. I have been told that a sloping floor drop enables the seat to tilt and in turn aids the seating position and headroom. This seems to make sense and should help with my knee/leg angle for the pedals.

I have only cut the right hand pan so far and the panels fit well. They are pretty much holding themselves in place, with the aid of just a couple of rivets. I aim to get them welded ASAP. I go on holiday for 3 weeks in Jan and want to get them welded, sealed and primered by then.

One other change I have made from the original plans is for the outside edge of the new panel to wrap over the mounting lip, and fit between the body and chassis. I know this does potentially affect the distance between body and chassis, but a couple of mm can only help headroom, and the mating gasket should mask any changes in levels. I thought by making this additional lip it would be more secure and easier to weld - we shall see !
I have put a call into the welder and am currently booked in for Jan 3rd - more pictures will follow ! Jim

Friday, December 08, 2006

Body and chassis reunited - briefly !

I thought it would never happen, but the chassis has made it out of the garage at last !

And the body briefly made it on top as well !

The aim of today, in between rain showers was to check the fit of the body on the new pans and front chassis bearer, and start to test seating positions.

I have very limited garage space so working on the body is only going to be possible once it is mounted on the chassis. However I cannot do this until I have finished the welding etc.

I did try and convince myself that a floor pan drop wouldn't be necessary, but even with the necessary Bedford rascal seats (runners removed) I was kidding myself. This was particularly evident once we got the dash and pedal set into place as well. A 3" drop, combined with keeping the seats right on the floor should enable my 6ft 3" to get behind the wheel !

Though little actual progress was made today it was a valuable process and bouncing ideas of others is always good in this situation. The last thing I want to do is mess up the seating position and curse to myself everytime I drive the car !

The gearstick, and possibly handbrake will need miving too, but this will be easier to judge once a fixed seat is in place and a steering column is roughly positioned.

If at all possible I would like to get the pans dropped and painted before Christmas, as then I can move the body into the dry. The gearstick etc can be moved later as access is reasonable, but dropping the pans is definately a 'body off' job. The positive today was rolling the chassis out and not hearing any grinding noises from my new brakes and bearings, and also seeing that the mounting holes on the body do line up with the chassis - always a good sign !

Right, back to the original build manual and the NOVA forums to decide upon the best drop procedure and out with the cutting gear !

Measure twice, cut once as my Dad would say !

Cheers to Dad and Nigel for lifting the roof on and off whilst I tried seating positions !

Monday, November 27, 2006

I've tidied up my rear end

It's been a while since the last post. Work, Xmas parties (yes really) and a million and one other things have slowed me down, but I do think I'm getting there.

All of the rear metal work has now been cleaned up - lots of wire brushing (by hand and angle grinder). I have then treated it all with Hammerite anti rust treatment, zinc anti rust primer and Smoothrite. Hopefully that will keep things tidy for a while !

All nuts and bolts have been replaced with either stainless or zinc coated, and most importantly the right grade - particularly for the bolts that hold the swing arms to the axle tubes. I spent far too much of my life de-greasing the gearbox and removing 30 years worth of road grime ! It is now clean, and oil free. I did contemplate painting it, but don't want to take the detailing too far. As I have said in previous posts the aim is to build a solid fun and reliable car - not a precious show car. You may also spot a new engine support in the top photo - the last had been butchered with a home-made tow bar and weakened too much in my opinion. Gearbox mounts were also changed at this time.

Though not a fan of multicoloured underpinnings I am accenting in red. I prefer the urethane parts, where available. They seem to wear well, and are often cheaper than stock. To match the new bumpstops a set of red drive shaft boots will go on soon, then I can refill the gearbox oil ! I may detail some of the engine/tinwear in red eventually - the callipers will be sprayed red eventually as well.

That includes the rear callipers, on my new EMPI rear disc kit. This was the first time I have fitted rear discs, and I hope these will work well with the adjustable pedal assembly I have. The kit had reasonable instructions, but not great. The quality is reasonable, but not the best. I spoke to others who have fitted them, and the calliper alignment does seem to be the weakness. It seems to depend on the year as to where you put the spacer washers, and how many ! Also the castings of the callipers isn't spot on in places so if you go for similar to look carefully before fitting and ruining your new discs. I had to file a couple of spots, which now means the coating is lost and painting is a must. Might as well go for porsche red callipers then !!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Been shopping

Progress may be slow, but the purchases have been mounting up !

I have started amassing many parts, both for the chassis/mechanical side of things, and also for the bodywork. In particular, a great find was a number of NOVA spares, through the Club NOVA/AVANTE website (see Sources of Inspiration) - cheers Adrian.

Room at home is getting tight so have put a number of spares up in the loft, and in the shed for now until they are needed, but thought I would post a few photos up here of them all first.

Canopy side interior panels (GRP) . These are in need of a good clean, and retrim, but the GRP is fine, aside from a couple of old mounting holes.

Pendulum mount pedal box, with three master cylinders. I will be having front and rear discs with a bias bar to adjust the front/rear braking. The clutch will be hydraulic as well, utilizing a NEAL slave cylinder.

Bedford rascal seats (e-bay £30 for 2), original NOVA dashboard and pods.

Now I can start testing out seating positions (yes I know this needs to be done in the car !).

Close up of dash, some patching required here and there, but overall solid.

Pods have been trimmed in PVC. I will probably strip these down and either paint, or re-cover.

Nice pair of headlights Sarah !

These were another e-bay bargain, chosen for their integral indicators. They should fit snugly in the existing light pods, with a bit of careful cutting. Now I just need to find rear lights and side repeaters (perhaps built into mirrors).

Well that's it for now, more pictures will follow as these bits start to get fitted, Jim.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

4 wheels on my wagon

Well, its been a while since my last entry, but today I got back to what I enjoy - rebuilding !
After a week or two of shopping and assembling the parts required I have rebuilt the front end, and re-installed the front axle.

I could have re-used one of my salvaged steering boxes, but think both are probably past there best, so chose to get a new one through VW Heritage. I went through the pain of stripping down the old tie rods - If you have done it you will now what I mean !! I figured its a pain to get to all the suspension and steering gear once the NOVA shell is back on, so have gone for the safe option of replacing everything ! I used a disc brake conversion kit from VW Heritage, which I have used before on my beach buggy. The parts are all VW and good quality. A 'How to' guide from Volksworld helped refresh my memory, with it being @3 years since I last did the conversion, but it went well, and hopefully should help stop me when I need it.

I know I should be working on the bodyshell, getting it straight and prepped for paint, but am struggling for room. I think the aim is now to re-build the back end and then mount the shell to it, which means I can keep it dry in the garage and start sanding etc.

It feels like major progress today to get front wheels back on, and it is nice to get the car out of the garage to enable me to have a good old clean ! Oh for a double garage !!

Well here it is - the rolling chassis - on the road again !!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Welding, Part 2

Well, at last the end of the welding is in sight. This is the final structural stuff, and after all of this I can get on with building up a new rolling chassis.

As discussed under the first welding entry (Nice one Nigel) the new framehead was on, but as a precaution a further weld to the original tunnel was made, through a precut slot.

Also to be finished was a small plate underneath - hence getting the car high up in the air, where the original tunnel lower panel had rotted out. They all seem to go here as water collects through the pedal holes and has time to eat it out from within. I had cut back the rot and this left a 6 x 4" hole to be plated up, to meet the new framhead panel.

Patches were also cut to size to plate over the master cylinder holes in the chassis bearer (they were for LHD).

Finally an additional plate was made up to entirely cover the old pedal holes on either side of the tunnel, and add further strength to the tunnel at the point where the new framehead is welded up to the tunnel. This was made up in one piece, with folded edges being welded onto the floors themselves. This was fully seam welded all round.

Here it is, the nice all new framehead and associated panels, all aligned, fully welded and ready for painting.

I am sure the purists wouldn't be happy with the visible welds, but it is all going to be out of sight eventually. My main objective is to build a good looking car, which is structurally sound and easy to maintain. Once these areas are fully primered, seam sealed and have a number of coats of chassis black over them they should be good for years.

The removal of the original pedal holes also removes a possible water trap which has to be a good thing. The last welding job (for now) was re-welding a captive nut on top of the old axle, as one had sheared off. Welding will resume once I have decided on the amount of floor drop needed. Then I can relocate the gear lever and handbrake too. I have seats and a dashboard on their way which will help me mock up a seating position and make some decisions - at last I am building again !!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Nice one Nigel, the welding takes shape

Phase 1 of the welding - get the framehead on square !
Pretty important as otherwise I could be driving in circles all day. Fortunately my friendly local welder Nigel was able to come and weld it all up in my garage. This meant I could spend many hours getting it all leveled first. All four corners were on axle stands with spirit levels across the torsion tubes front and rear and across the shock mounts. Jigs were made to measure the distance from the chassis bearer to the rear torsion tubes and these measurements were checked throughout the welding process. Initially I had planned to replace just the chassis bearer and lower framehead panel. As I said under the 'Donor card' blog the original framehead had been welded so many times it was impossible to get ay repair panels to fit. Fortunately VW Heritage (see links) do this great framehead replacement panel with all 3 parts pre assembled.
The framehead was initially tacked on, and then fully seam welded to good clean metal. As a further precaution a slot was cut in the repair panel 4 inches along to weld through to the tunnel below. The new panel overlaps the original tunnel by at least 6 inches allowing this second weld point which we thought was important for strength.

Once we were happy that the framehead was on in the right place the floorpans could go in. I had again taken many measurements to be sure I knew where the pans started and finished. Pleasingly, with the framehead secure the pans went in on their markings. This confirmed 3 things, Nigel had done a good job with the welding, the measurements were correct and the new pans were a decent quality and the same as the ones that came off - result !
The lower edge of the tunnel, near the mounting lip had been damaged in parts by sitting water - mainly near the pedals, so some right angle steel was welded in to give strength back here, and for good measure carried right along the flat sections. The final stage will be to fill in a hole cut in the top of the tunnel by the last owner (lazy) and plate over the pedal mounting holes (I am not using the original pedal set up). Also holes in the bulkhead for the master cylinder etc need plating as they are for LHD ! Then I will pump the tunnel full of Waxoyl and ensure the dreaded tin worm is banished.

Your donor card please

Well here she is, the unsuspecting donor. As the eagle eyed will notice, she was quite a looker in her glory days, and in fact a rolling advert for my local VW specialist I have used since I was 17.
When I went to see what basket cases they had with a correct V5 (tax free) I was surprised to find out the garage had changed hands and that this multi coloured beauty was up for grabs.
If you are squeamish look away now ! After much cutting the chassis was exposed. In the process a good front axle, engine, gearbox, and full wiring loom were retained. However, as you can see the good parts of the chassis were easy to count !
The old framehead had been plated over so many times that the repair panels just wouldn't line up. I also had concerns, which were confirmed by my friendly welder Nigel, that the front end was out of line. The only sensible option in the end was to cut off the framehead entirely and weld a new complete head in - more of this in later blogs.

Oh dear NENA, you have let me down

You will start to see a pattern emerging. Another weekend of drinks and more friends 'persuaded' to help with the project. This time to remove the body from the chassis.

Thanks Simon H (bottom left), Nick (top left), Paul (top right) and Simon (front right). It all went fine until I (top middle) realised the speedo cable was still connected ! Anyway, once the body was off NENA revealed some nasty surprises. The drivers 'lowered' footwell was a combination of scrap steel, sheet aluminum, a plastic tray and a lot of rivets ! The tunnel had significant damage to it where attempts had been made to cut in a new handbrake mounting and brake fluid had eaten through much of the front framehead lower panel. The diagnosis was not good. This coupled with a 1978 V5, meaning no free road tax made the next decision that bit easier - find a new chassis !


Meet NENA, a 1978 VW NOVA kit car, registered, rather amuzingly on her V5 as a VW NOVA Porshe (yes no c ).

What would you do with your weekend, when 3 old university friends are visiting to watch the start of the World Cup? Wrestle a very sorry NOVA home of course !!

Thanks Roy (bottom left), Mark (top right), Lucian (bottom right) for your help.

So here she is, looking reasonably complete, but hiding a multitude of horrors. More of that later ! What have I done ????? Jim (top left).

This is how it all begins.............................

So this is how it all starts.

Man passes driving test, man buys beetle, man is nearly bankrupted by beetle.

Man sells beetle, man buys campervan, man is nearly bankrupted by campervan.

Campervan is sold, man buys beetle, man is nearly killed by beetle spontaneously combusting.

Man gets vaguely sensible, buys VW Golf, gets mortgage and proper job with company car.

Man sells VW Golf and builds VW Beach Buggy.

Man realises never uses VW Beach Buggy so sells it.

Man misses the VW Beach Buggy so buys a project VW NOVA kit car that has seen better days.

The restoration (fun) begins.......................................................................