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VW Beetle 1200 Jan '73 Marina Blue
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've recently bought a '73 bug in need of some love. I don't have any bug experience; I'm just in it to have some fun and learn a lot of new stuff. I would quite like to hear your views on how best to approach some of the jobs ahead.

Background:

Previous owner bought it 20 years ago. From what I can gather, he resprayed the body, blasted the chassis, new floorpans etc and returned the bug to a fairly good standard. But in recent years he has struggled to give it enough love and the rot is back.

Previous owner got some advice from a bug/ MOT specialist who suggested various bits of remedial welding would get the bug back to "MOT" standard.

I'm going on the ramp at a local MOT place next week to reconfirm this diagnosis. But in summary here is the situation as I understand it (I am probably using some incorrect terms):

  • There is some significant rot on the bottom of the NS heater channel and floorpan.
  • Structurally doesn't seem fatally compromised yet (the heater channel still has 3 good sides...)
  • The advice was to add a running board fastening panel repair plate, which I now have.
  • And various bits of floorpan welding.

Questions:

1.Does anybody have any advice regarding what to look out for when approaching these remedial welding jobs?

2. I am sensing there is a balancing act - knowing when to stop welding extra patches everywhere.. and do a full "body off" restoration job instead. What was your decision process when considering the body-off approach Vs ongoing patching?

Your thoughts would be much appreciated. It's really early days for me and I'm just trying to gather my thoughts regarding which direction to go and how fast to get there.


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I would say that needs a new heater channel. Then you need to look at the floor edges, bottom of the rear 1/4, front bulkhead, bottom of A posts and frame head.
Fitting a running board mounting plate is papering over the cracks.
Sorry
 

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I have just replaced one of my heater channels without lifting the body off. It did take a bit of patience but it can be done. Just weld a brace accross the door aperture and take loads of measurements
 

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I would agree with dc66, we can't see the bottom of the Heater channel, but it is likely to be beyond repair too. Replacing the complete Heater channel is often less work than patching over the old one with a running board mounting plate and Heater channel bottom plate, and removes all the rot in one go. I too have recently replaced heater channels without removing the body completely, to restore the structural integrity and door aperture, (I then raised the bodyshell to fully restore my chassis with new floorpans and frame head, 'coz that was all in poor condition). Once the door aperture has been braced and the old heater channel removed, you will be able to see how much work is needed on the floor pan, it may just need repairs to the outer edge, and that too can be done without lifting the body completely off the floorpan. Check all the areas which are welded to the heater channel too, bottom of the door 'A' pillar, front bulkhead, bottom of the front inner wing, bottom of rear quarter panel, (inside and out), and the rear cross panel under the back seat. If all those edges are sound, you'll only need to cut away the old rusty heater channel.
 

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Be prepared in my 30 years experience in the motor body trade has taught that there is never LESS RUST behind what ever you can see
In my experience repairing only what you can see means compromise in the repairs or boggery
I've seen cardboard duck tape and the best, expanding foam used to make those compromises
 

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I'd get over to reader's rides and have a look for some threads where heater channels have been replaced. Cars normally start to rot around seams, which means if the channel is bad then you also need to repair A and B pillar, front bulkhead, under the rear seats, front and rear quarters... Often referred to as 'the whole bottom 6 inches'.


Never mind using foam as a bodge - I dug wire mesh, GRP, newspaper and blue tissues out of the sills of a t2 back in the early 2000s that had been artfully fillered over.
 

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VW Beetle 1200 Jan '73 Marina Blue
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Fitting a running board mounting plate is papering over the cracks
Replacing the complete Heater channel is often less work than patching
repairing only what you can see means compromise
you also need to repair A and B pillar, front bulkhead, under the rear seats, front and rear quarters
You guys are clearly skilled engineers with good bug knowledge.

I am a total, complete novice, with a big desire to learn BUT I have reservations about heater channel replacement being my very first job on this bug.

My ideal journey with this bug would be to:

Year 1: spend a year or so patching trouble spots and really understanding the anatomy of the car and its problems, whilst keeping it drivable

Year 2+: tackle a proper restoration down the line when I'm much more competent and knowledgeable

I can see that patching this heater channel is a cul de sac as far as the long term improvement of this bug goes. But perhaps it is a good first step for me?

From what you are all saying:

Option 1 - patching the heater channel side & base.
  • This is a lot of cutting & welding (20ft of weld?)
  • Doesn't require much knowledge or skill.
  • Not recommended by any of you

Option 2 - replacing the heater channels.
  • requires a good understanding of bug anatomy
  • requires skill and patience to maintain all of the geometry
  • would be wasteful not to also tackle other degraded structure at the same time
  • requires partial body lift at least
  • having experience to deal with the unexpected would really help

I think you can see what I'm talking myself into here. If I took option 1, would you still talk to me when I needed your help? (or at least to say "I told you so")
 

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The heater channel is a vital structural part of the car. I believe it would be unsafe to drive as it is or the outer patched.

Sorry.

But yes, we would still talk to you! Lol

Where abouts are you?
 

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The year one option is the compromise I mentioned before
In my minds eye that route could end up being a false economy and ive seen people chase problems around getting fed up spending money on things that they have already 'fixed'
Even been guilty of it myself!
Here's a few pics of my heater channels on my project

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My advice would be just do it properly and replace the complete heater channel. Don't waste your time and energy trying to patch it up.Once it's done and treated internally with cavity wax it will be good for an indefinite period of time. There's plenty of information on the web to help a first timer. Good luck!
 

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Been looking over this thread as I have a 70 that I am probably going to have to replace the channels on also. The previous owner replaced the floor pans and welded in a new front beam. I have noticed that the doors do tend to sag just a bit when opened. Is this due to the body dropping or can the doors be adjusted? Looking at the way the hinges are mounted it looks like shimming would be the only way to adjust. My rust does not appear to be anywhere near bad enough yet to cause body alignment issues. Next question would be if the channels were completely bone and the body had sagged, how do you get it right before welding in supports?
 

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Been looking over this thread as I have a 70 that I am probably going to have to replace the channels on also. The previous owner replaced the floor pans and welded in a new front beam. I have noticed that the doors do tend to sag just a bit when opened. Is this due to the body dropping or can the doors be adjusted? Looking at the way the hinges are mounted it looks like shimming would be the only way to adjust. My rust does not appear to be anywhere near bad enough yet to cause body alignment issues. Next question would be if the channels were completely bone and the body had sagged, how do you get it right before welding in supports?
Check for wear in the door hinge pins, mine were badly worn and the doors sagged an inch when opened, but oversize hinge pins are available to take-up the slack, and not very costly, (getting the old ones out can be a bit tricky though).
You can re-align the body whilst it is on the chassis, by refitting the doors, (with good hinge pins), and small wood wedges in the shut lines, then fit bracing inside.
 
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