Blue westfalia body work and paint complete

I got the westy back from and it is home now.  I am planning on getting it appraised as now with the body work on top of all the mechanical work I did fairly recently (engine swap, rebuilt transaxle and front diff, rebuild suspension, etc.) I have a fair bit of money sunk into this thing. I sure hope I never need an insurance claim but if I do, I want to be prepared.

Anyone know a good appraiser for vangons in the Vancouver or Victoria areas of BC?



Note: I asked Barry (werke1) not to do any work on the bumpers as I wanted to limit the scope of the work to structural rust repairs and nothing solely cosmetic. Hopefully within the next few years I can replace these fibreglass bumpers with new steel ones from Burley Motor Sports. I am very interested to see what his new ones will be like. In the mean time, I did get a quart of bumper paint so maybe this summer I can make the required repairs to the bumpers (fix numerous small dings) and give them a coat of paint so at least the front bumper will match those new looking grilles.

Oh – I said the scope of the job was structural rust repairs but there was a little more to it than that: the DOKA lower grille was broken so I found a replacement and asked Barry to paint both DOKA grilles and figured I might as well get the westy grilles done at the same time. (economy of scale you know 🙂 ) … and the DOKA bumpers were very rusty so Barry had them blasted and powder coated.


DOKA – rusty rear bumper



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Blue Westfalia – ready for paint

All the spots that had rust repairs done are now getting prepped for paint. I am looking forward to getting the westy back although I think from now on westy will be a 3 season vehicle (it almost was already as it makes me cringe to drive it on salted roads). Many years ago I did a total restoration on an early bronco and then proceeded to drive it to ski hills many times each ski season and after 10 or 12 years of that it needed a total body restoration again. Westy’s main purpose will be taking us on camping trips for years to come so keeping it off the road when the roads are salted seems like the best plan.

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Blue westy – bodywork update

The main goal of the bodywork currently being done on blue westy  (our ’91 orly blue syncro westy) is to get rid of rust that would slowly progress and eat away our van, as opposed to making the van cosmetically beautiful.  Unfortunately, it seems there was somewhat more rust than I anticipated so Barry at Werke1 has plenty to do. He really is a master craftsman when it comes to this sort of work though and with his extensive knowledge of vanagons and his high standards, I can’t think of a better place for our westy to be getting these body repairs.

As you can see by the examples below, this turned into a significant job…

photo1 photo2 photo3 photo4

and this was the area that required the most extensive surgery…


Driver side front wheel well: my previous “body work” to keep mud from going into the rust holes…





the patient looks bad…scalpel please…


rust extended up to inside the drivers door…


…and down to the bottom,


that’s better, I think the patient will live…





side note: that POR 15 caliper paint I put on a few years ago still looks perfect.


Many places might have done a ‘grind and fill’ job here and, although the van will look more or less the same as it did, I know it has been fixed properly and should last for many years.

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Westfalia bodywork in progress

Body work on the blue westy is progressing nicely. The new front panel is in place and Barry ( found a few additional rust spots when he took the windshield out so those will be welded up.

I am so happy to have the van in good hands for this sort of work. After all the effort I put into the drive-line and suspension I don’t want the van to rust away.

photo 3 photo 1 photo 2

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Blue Westy Update

No posts for a looong time as we moved in September and are still getting settled into our one room cabin.

Blue westy (the ’91 syncro) has been a bit neglected lately and was forced to be a daily driver for a couple of months too, shuttling kids from here to there, etc. but that neglect has now ended as Barry at Werke1 (about the only person I trust to do bodywork on the westy) finally made space in his schedule to do some rust repair work. We had been on Barry’s waiting list for must be close to two years but now the van is in his shop so that is great news.

The first owner of the van had hit a deer a long time ago and the repair job wasn’t done in a way that would last so the front end was getting pretty rusty.

rust behind front bumper

rust behind front bumper

Barry is now fixing that rust as well as smaller rust issues in a number of other spots like these ones:


blue westy at Werke1 Automotive

With the mechanical issues all taken care of when I rebuilt pretty much everything, and now the body work being dealt with, the only things remaining to do will be things like installing the Propex heater and rain fly I bought years ago and I suppose there will always be more things to get for the van… like an awning… but, this is a big step forward.

PS – I had previously posted about the Dexter trailer brakes that arrived from the FLAPS (friendly local auto parts store) with grease stains on the brake shoe material – well, I got in contact with a manager at Dexter , sent him some pictures of the brake shoes in question and he said I should definitely return them and get ones with no grease soaked into the shoe lining. I did that and got the 4 brake assemblies all installed and they worked perfectly. That 28 foot trailer is now my workshop.

Shop Trailer

Shop Trailer before I bought it

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New trailer brake assembly: good or return it?

I recently bought a 28 foot enclosed trailer that will be my new shop for future (how long, not really sure)  It needed brakes so I bought 4 complete assemblies (backing plates and everything that connects directly to them.

Today I bought 4 Dexter electric brake assemblies for 5200 lb axles (2 right and 2 left). I went to install them and on the first one I installed (I didn’t notice the issue until I had crimped and heat shrunk the electrical connections) I noticed that so much lubriplate had been installed on the backing plate at one of the brake shoe friction points that the lubriplate has soaked into the shoe lining leaving a ‘grease mark’. I am now wondering if I should remove this brake assembly and return it to the auto parts store and ask for one that doesn’t have lubriplate soaked into the lining.



I just sent the following email to Dexter Axle.  It will be interesting to hear their response:

Can you please look at these photos and tell me if this amount of lubriplate soaked into the lining will negatively affect braking so I should return the assembly or if this is not an issue.



PS – I just opened the second ‘right side’ assembly and noticed the same problem with it, although to a lesser degree. I hope all 4 of them won’t be like that.

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free Vanagon Westfalia above-sink trough

NOTE: this has been spoken for and is no longer available

I have an above sink trough from what appears to be an early vanagon westfalia. This is the trough that runs from over the sink back to the rear cabinet.It is tan colour and includes a light mounted on the bottom of it.

This is free to anyone who would like it and can come and get it. I am located in North Vancouver, BC and could possibly deliver it to other parts of the lower mainland if I happen to be passing by that way.




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