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Powder Hound October 5th, 2019 19:21

My Smyth-Utes build thread
Yup, I'm building a trucklet. I also voted to call it a Jettachero, since it uses a Ford Ranger tailgate. At some point when the paint is finished, I'll have to see if I can find letters to spell that out. I was asked to be sure and do a build thread and post lots of photos, so here it is. I'll try and show as much as is reasonable.

I'm going to try and post a photo or two after each day I work, probably a couple of hours in the evening if it is during the week, and a day on Saturdays. I will be taking a few vacation days, so there will be more work done on those days of course.

If you are considering one of these and have a specific question, there are some builders forums via the Smyth Performance website. I think anyone can view them. I'll try and answer questions that are asked when I get to that part. Sometimes photos trump any explanation, so when I can get a decent shot I'll include those. And I'll be posting the photos by using the TDIClub photo forum, so if you want to see them all at once, my personal photo album would be the place to go.

Some background:

I envisioned having a car to play with, but after a couple of false starts and bad choices, I settled on turning a Jetta TDI into a trucklet since a 2-dr Golf chassis isn't appropriate (Mark just didn't do it sized for the 2-dr Golf chassis). In 2012 I bought my target car, but let it sit for way too long, which had the dual effect of accumulating more rust and old cobwebs, and helping me figure out what I really want to do. Needing a small truck to do a lot of other stuff, and being tired of scrambling to find someone that could help, I have finally decided to pull the trigger.

Now, I had the target car, but when I found they were doing a New Beetle kit, my wife, who owns a TDI NB, was quite intrigued. So I've reserved one of those kits, but she is resisting. So I've decided to go ahead to do the Jetta, hoping that when she sees I can get that done, then the NB can be done and turn out well, too.

So here it goes.

I bought the Jetta kit from Smyth, and arranged to go pick it up today. Mark was there, agreeing to allow the Saturday pickup since I am fairly local, and shipping would be just kinda silly, really, since I'm so close. He did note after stuffing the kit in the back of my Golf that it was the smallest pickup vehicle he had yet seen. I had earlier asked it it would fit in the back of a Golf and he had answered yes, so I assumed it had been done before. Well, now we know for sure, it has now been done before, and yes, it does fit. One caveat, they drop ship the tailgate to you separately. The interesting reason: if it only gets shipped once, there is only the one time that the shippers can drop, dent, bend, or otherwise screw it up. Sounds good to me. The upshot: technically it isn't the entire kit in the back of my Golf, but it is as close as you will get.

We needed some extra cardboard and a little bubble wrap to keep parts from rubbing together and causing damage. Some duct tape helped hold things. If you ever do this, don't use duct tape in the summer. The heat would cause the adhesive to stick to the parts and be a mess to clean off, which needs to be done before prep for painting. And if you do it on a glorious day like we had here in the northeast today, peel it off as soon as you possibly can after getting it home. That's the best way to take care of that potential problem. For me, the tape peeled easily off the parts, but some stuck to my tailgate where I had taped a couple of safety flags since the parts stick out the back past the bumper of the car.

Mark took a photo at his loading dock when the kit was loaded and I was ready to drive off. I asked him to send a copy to me and I'll post it here when it comes.

I'll start here first. I have an engine hoist! I bought this one from a guy on craigslist, disassembled it, drove it to the shop, and have reassembled it. Since I'll need to swap the engine, it was necessary.

Here's a photo at my house. Just got back from a drive from Wareham, MA to Concord, NH.

Then I drove it over to the shop. I have unloaded the kit parts.

And here's the target car in the shop. There isn't much room - I had to get out the passenger side. I'll probably have to use a jack to move it sideways a little when I need room on the driver's side. Come to think of it, my own garage has this much room. If I can convince my wife, I'll use that. This is a great spot in case I need a little support or help, and the lights are better. But I need to clean my own garage.

The gray spots on the hood are zinc paint I put there over rust spots. I first sanded off the rust, of course, as zinc over rust won't do anything for you.
Galvanizing depends on a good physical contact that has to be electrically sound, and rust doesn't fill the bill. I'm testing out ways to stop rust. This paint seems to work OK. It has a very high metal content, and actually sands to a shiny metal surface. It ought to make a good base for the primer.

The larger gray areas are where I tested a rustoleum product: 'Never Wet'. I don't think it is appropriate for a car surface as the top coat isn't nearly durable enough. And obviously, it will never qualify as a show car finish. The top coat is rough, like 100 or 120 grit sandpaper, and has the appearance of translucent latex. It gets softer after a rain, so it isn't immune from water osmosis. I'll end up sanding it off anyway, so no biggie. It was interesting to satisfy my curiosity. I think it will work well on one particular surface on my home's exterior.

Anyhow, that is day 1. Day 2 is Monday. Tomorrow, Sunday, I'll not be working on the car. Nor any other Sunday. I've never heard anyone claim that God repealed the Ten Commandments, so. It might also keep Murphy confused enough to leave me alone for a day or two.

Day 2 is planned to go pick up the new-to-me used engine*, and spend the rest of the day stripping out the rear (everything after the front seats) of the interior. If I get to it, I'll also remove the rear doors and trunk lid. If anyone needs rear door parts (except the door latch mechanisms both sides and the speakers which nobody wants anyway), glass, rear seats, seat belts, trunk lining stuff, let me know. I'm not thinking there will be any takers, but for most of it, offer to come get it and for a stupid low price you can have it. Otherwise it will all get recycled.



* - I knew the Jetta needed a timing belt job, and after I did it I found the water pump impeller had separated on the old pump, and the engine smoked rather badly indicating to me that it is hurt. It will be easier and lots less trouble and lots cheaper to just replace the engine rather than rebuild the old one. The transaxle was really hard to shift, but that might just be dry from sitting and cable ends that are worn and need replacement, or bushings in the shifter that need help. We'll see. At least the clutch seems OK.

turbobrick240 October 5th, 2019 20:00

Nice. Those Ute projects look like a lot of fun. Looking forward to the progress.

jackbombay October 5th, 2019 23:22

I had never heard of these kits, they look good! And are pretty affordable, I look forward to the results!

KCTDI October 6th, 2019 06:33

Mine is my daily driver and it gets used. Look on for "Smyth Ute Tech Support " and "VW, Audi, Dodge, Subaru Builders Page"

jmodge October 6th, 2019 15:07

A guy from GR had one at Kirks get together last year, used it for a shop parts runner. Pretty neat little rig. Good luck with that, sounds like fun

Powder Hound October 7th, 2019 18:32

Day 2 - clean out
So today I started actually working on the car. I took vacation days today and tomorrow to get the project going.

But first thing, I had an appointment to pick up a new-to-me engine because I think my Jetta has a bad one. Unfortunately, when I got there, I saw a BEW set out ready for me. Since I'm working on a 2002, and need an ALH, that didn't fly. I had a brief conversation with the owner of the yard, and told him why it wouldn't work. But he's not a VW fan, so he just didn't know. I think probably what happened is that an insurance adjuster, who also probably doesn't know much about cars and certainly nothing about VW diesels, looked at the manufacture date in the door jamb, read a late 2003 date, and wrote it up as a 2003 instead of a 2004 model year car. Sigh... all that driving for nothing. But the silver lining is that the guy has another coming in the next few days that is supposed to be a 2001 with only 90k miles on it. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I ended up getting a late start. After about 4 hours of work, I knocked off for a possible errand which didn't work out. After that I went back to the shop and labeled some connectors, checked a different junk yard part (passenger side seat belt igniter was giving an error that the resistance was too high) and yes, it makes the error go away, but I screwed up by getting the seat belt reel from a GTI. The end connector for the belt is different, and they can't be swapped. Ugh. So something else to correct later.

I also decided to run the combustion gasses in the coolant test to be really sure my engine is toast and didn't just give a dazzing oil-fog display due to accumulation in the exhaust while I was letting the poor thing sit while being ignored. So I did a most interesting thing before running the test - I read the label. Gasp! So there it was, in bright, clear, and very fine print: doesn't work on diesels. They have a different fluid. So on the way home I stopped by that same FLAPS and returned the fluid and test device where they have a loaner program (so the cost is nil for the device, but you have to buy the fluid), and I'll do that one later also. As in, after they get the diesel version of the fluid in later this week.

And the rest of the story is that I was able to get a lot of trim stuff out of the trunk, remove the trunk lid, the right side rear door, the rear seat belts, and get pretty close to being able to cut. I still have the left rear door and some trim stuff. It shouldn't take too long, but I have to move the car because that left side placement at the moment will only allow the door to open about 6 inches, and that's not enough to get to the bolts on the door hinges. Not to mention it isn't enough room for me to get in and out.

Now for the photos:

Left side of the trunk. The spare is still sitting in there, but just about everything else is gone. Needs some other debris cleaned up as well, but that's just life. There's a couple of rust spots that were hiding under that coarse "fabric" that is the trunk liner. I'll sand the rust off and paint with zinc paint, then cover it with primer at a later time, and before I cover it with aluminum panels, of course.

Right side of trunk. You'll notice there are labels on the car side of the connectors. I'm going to be using the tail light connectors, or at least the wires, and try to use the license plate light connectors, hopefully by using the lights I have already. I have the trunk cylinder (still attached to the trunk lid) and the latch and latch popper were carefully removed and available for someone else - they're in great shape, and I won't be using them in the target trucklet. Same for the fuel door popper. Well, in a photo further down I think you can see the fuel door popper hasn't been removed yet, but I'm not going to need it, so I'll pull that out tomorrow.

A larger view from the rear. The glass is still there - I'm not worried about it, and I still need to remove the bumper cover, which won't take long.

The right rear door jamb. I haven't removed the igniter hook up for the seat belt retractor, which connector you can see above the door latch striker. It's the yellow thing just peeking up about halfway between the striker and the top of the photo just inside the door opening flange.

And the front side of the right rear door opening. The trim is loose, but I'm not certain where to cut it yet, so it is going to get folded around a bit.

Pulling the plug for the door isn't too bad, but the plugs just don't want to come apart. Since my example has manual roll up windows, there is only 1 plug for the speakers and auto door lock. For electric windows there'd be another. The plug is best attacked from the door side of the connection. I ended up cracking the car side of mine, but since I don't need it anyway, it is a big meh. I didn't think about this until now, but I'm not entirely sure that having the door just unplugged won't cause difficulties. For example, what happens when I lock it up? I'll probably have to figure out which pair of wires need to be connected so that the ECU/convenience control module thinks the rear door(s) are always closed. I noticed that the rear seat belt buckles don't have wiring like the fronts do, so the computer won't cry about the rear seat belts not being latched properly, but I forgot to check the latches. Too worried about the retractor igniters and overhead curtain airbags, I guess. Maybe some research on the Smyth forums will have the answers.

You'll notice the front passenger seat belt reel hanging there. You have to remove it to be able to get to one of the bolts for the lower door hinge. Those bottom hinges bolt to the body with a bolt coming from the outside, and one coming from the inside. The upper hinge at the body has only the one bolt coming from the outside. XZN bits are the hot tip for these. Yes, this is the reel with the error I discussed above.

Well, that's about it. There's a few more details. I'm not quite sure yet what to do about the side air bag. This is the one whose igniter is way back in the corner by the lower edge of the glass and shelf. Basically the bottom of the C pillar. It runs along the C pillar, then along the upper edge of the doors to the top of the A pillar. I don't mind keeping them, but since the rear 2/3 of the bag will now be useless, I'm not sure how I'd keep it on the front part while the back part is folded up, and the igniter would be back in that as well. There just isn't a good way to mount anything and have that air bag work well, I don't think. I'll probably end up soldering resistors into the wires so that the computer won't complain constantly about it.

I set some of the trunk liner and a few trim items outside because as generous as my friend is, there isn't a lot of room inside. And I wasn't gentle in removing it. There's a lot of fasteners, and they're made to build the car quickly, and hold on to the liner and trim parts. They are NOT made for easy removal and/or replacement. In fact, the only way to get most of them out that I can see is to destroy the fastener. They are those plastic things with a barb style poker that is made to go through a hole and never come out. They work well at that, but they're silly expensive to replace after you destroy them. (Have you ever priced those stupid things? $1.50+ for a 2-cent connector???) Anyway, nobody is going to want this trim stuff, so I don't feel bad about destroying it and the one-time use fasteners.

So far I have a trunk lid, a right rear door, trunk lid cylinder that would need to be re-keyed to be useful (I'm keeping my keys, thank you), the trunk latch, the trunk popper, and the fuel door popper. These would be useful. Of these, probably the trunk latch stuff might be claimed. The left rear taillight lens is good, and the little bulb cage would be good if you need one. The right side rear lens has a couple of star cracks. I need to ensure what the color codes are for the wires so I know how to hook up the target taillights, so I'm not ready to get rid of them yet.

The rest of the stuff: trim parts, liner, trunk lid, rear doors, well, unless you drive up here to get them and send a message within the next couple of days, I can't see that these parts are in sufficient demand to want to hang on to them. So they'll kick around until it is convenient for me to scrap them.

I'm figuring I'll be able to take care of the trim on the other side, remove the left rear door, and the roof liner, and maybe be able to make the first trial cut tomorrow (day 3).



Powder Hound October 8th, 2019 18:08

Day 3 - first rough cut
Today I started out by repositioning the car. You can see how close it was on the left to the wall, so I used the engine hoist to wrap around the trunk and just move the rear sideways. This leaves me with sufficient room and I may not need to move it again until it is ready to leave the garage.

Then I finished moving wires, marking the connectors, getting them out of the way, cutting the organizing retaining do-dads that won't come out of holes because of the barbs. I was able to loosen and remove about half of the curtain airbags on both sides, remove the oh-my-goodness handles, the courtesy lights, the radio antenna, and get all the wiring in the roof out of the way. Actually, in the roof there is only the courtesy light wires, and the radio antenna lead, the antenna going to the right side.

I removed the left rear door. It came out much easier than the right, particularly since I knew already about the bolt arrangement on the hinges, how to get to the inside bolts, and how to r&r the seatbelt reel to get to that bottom hinge bolt on the inside.

The seatbelt reels for the back are out. Since they aren't wired with an igniter for emergency retraction, they're smaller than the fronts. The friend whose shop I am using has a use for them, so he's got them now.

I haven't trimmed or cut the roof liner nor the backing. I'll wait on that. Maybe I should search for a good gray plaid to use instead. Votes?

I made the first rough cuts using a sawsall. Since it is my first time using that tool, the cuts were not bullet straight. For the roof cut, maybe a skilsaw with a metal blade would be better. My friend has one of those as well, so I'll try some practice cuts before I do the final cut, since I have the room to practice.

After cutting the roof free, we took it outside for the scrap heap. The rear window is fine and there's pigtails for the defroster. Speak now if you want it.

After getting the big chunk off, I finished removing the bumper cover and the attaching hardware, took a good look at where the final cut should be on just the cut extending across the back, and made that cut.

So now I have some trimming on each side, and some cleanup to do. You'll see in the photos - lots of debris inside like maple seeds, a little trash in the rear seat area, and the results of spiders doing their mightiest to reinforce the paint with spider silk.

There's a few places, not many but a few, on the inside where a little moisture has gained entry and caused some rust. I suspect it was rather chronic in terms of water being in those places as the inside surfaces have as strong anti-rust treatment as most of the exterior surfaces, with the exception of a heavy plastic coating on the underside of the car. I will have to clean the rust off, treat with zinc paint, then prime it. I have no interest in my trucklet rusting out too soon. This and the other cleanup will add a few hours. It needs doing before I cover it with alumninum sheets. I'll also need to locate a rivet gun that can handle 5/16" rivets. Yikes but that is large. No worries though - they are structural rivets so they need to be large in order to be sufficiently strong.

Here's the photos:
This is the rear of the car, held up by the engine hoist after we pushed it to the side.
How much extra room was made for the left side. There was just enough room to open the doors and gain access to hinge bolts and remove the rear door.

The curtain airbag igniter/inflater looks like this. I have its mirror image on the other side of the car. I managed to free up more than half, but I doubt anyone will ask for it. I'm just wondering if I should just cut it, or pull out the whole thing. Certainly I can't ship it anywhere because I don't have a shipping harness (probably just a very expensive shorting plug to keep it from blowing up in transit) and I'm not interested in going to find one. Still, if anyone wants one or both, don't hesitate to come get them. This is a very limited offer.
See? I TOLD you I can't do anything with it!!

Every other one of these powered antenna bases I've seen are the epitome of corrosion and useless electronics. This one isn't, after all I haven't done for it, and neither did the original owner(s). It still looks good with no apparent damage. Maybe there's hope for the radio.. nah. I'll get a good aftermarket head unit at some point in the near future (read: within a year or so, maybe sooner). BTW: there's a cartridge CD deck that goes in the trunk available. No cassette for it though.
So after you loosen the antenna base, you have this wire running to the right under the roof. There's a connector after about 1 foot of cable. I turned and turned and the darn thing wasn't getting loose at all. After finally getting my glasses and looking closely, those things I thought were coarse threads were really a spring. You push that black collar toward the car side of the connector then pull out the lead to the antenna. Not hard, if you stop and think instead of just spin it or yank on the connectors.
Another view of the car side of the antenna connector out under the roof.
The masking tape here is meant to line out the first trial rough cut. Hot tip: cheap masking tape just isn't worth the bother. Just. Don't.
The roof joins the scrap heap.
I did manage to do the final cut across the back.
As Captain Obvious would say, there's no going back now...

The next few days will not show nearly as much progress. I have to go back to work since I don't have unlimited vacation days. Kinda like the rest of the universe of normal people. But I'll try and get a couple of hours in after work on as many days as possible. This project won't be nearly as long as some projects can be, but you still need to keep after it as much as possible. In my case, I don't want to let it sit as the spiders might gang up and try to take over. Also, and more importantly, I assured my friend I'd be out of his shop in about a month. The way things are looking, the paint and body work might slow me down, but the major mechanical stuff is going just fine.



scotthershall October 10th, 2019 11:38

I've heard of the Smyth Conversations before but for some reason never knew they had one for VWs! This is pretty neat! I'll be following along!

Good luck!

Powder Hound October 10th, 2019 19:07

Day 4
Today was really short. I didn't get a ton of things done because I simply did not have time. I should be able to do better tomorrow. And yesterday I didn't do anything at all. Life catches up to you sometimes.

And Scott, they actually started with VWs. The others they've added later. That's why the Jetta/Golf is the best selling kit (it's been around the longest and it's pretty popular for this sort of thing), but the New Beetle is catching up fast. They never had the volume of kits selling like this: the New Beetle kits are outselling all the other types combined.

I finished pulling the side curtain airbags. I was hoping they'd end before it got to the A pillar, but nope. Since the trim on the A pillar is pretty much like the others except for that top clip, I didn't try to pull it. I know, since Murphy lives at my house, if I tried to pull it that I'd mangle that clip and the trim subsequently would never go back flush the way it is supposed to. So, instead of being bothered by that, I decided it isn't a big deal since nobody's going to buy them (the side curtain air bags) from me anyway. Besides, the friend that is lending me the shop space is up for an experiment in small controlled explosions that spray out a lot of white powder. It'll be fun! So I cut the passenger side off a few inches short of the end and just tucked the cut end back under the trim. On the driver's side, I ended up cutting it about where the roof final cut is going to be and moved on.

I also marked the final cut line on the roof, and on the sides. I can cut the roof, but the sides aren't quite so well defined. I know the instructions say 11 inches above the top of the wheel well arch, but that isn't really exact. The rest (the other bracing around the rear wheel wells) can be cut free-hand for the most part. So probably tomorrow I'll trim a lot of the rest of the stuff that needs to go.

Interestingly, I was stepping on the bed and the body, in between the rear wheels is really stout. Very well braced. That hump under the rear seat and over the fuel tank - well, not so much. It is understandable that you have to have room for the tank, so there's not tons of bracing there. The structure is in the side rails and through the roof, where the side rails there are also stout. The kit has quite a bit of bracing right around there - to make up for the roof rails that I just cut out, so I think the end structure will be just great.

I also removed the rear bumper. It is rusty so it will need some serious cleanup and paint or other rustproofing.

I also realized that since the tailgate isn't here yet, I won't be able to do much but partly assemble the sides and rear wall. You need the tailgate to make sure the tail is square and then the front is square with those pieces. But you need both ends.

Tomorrow, I'll probably get going on, and hopefully finish up the rust repair on the inside - in the previous trunk area. Except for certain coating products drying, that is. There's a few more spots on some of the seams and so I'll be busy. I'm also going to be replacing the front fenders since the original owner didn't bother with the rust warranty on them. They're original - they still have the wheel arch foam sitting in there. I think I even saw a few iron termites still hiding deep in the foam. But it was dark, so maybe I was just imagining them.

I also called the yard where I'm getting my spare engine. I'll go pick it up first thing on Monday. As I said before, hopefully I won't need it, but there's always a place for a good spare engine. Who knows, maybe there will be another trucklet or two in my future, and I'll be ready to go even if it was a runaway or experienced some other form of catastrophic damage (just not collision). But that's really beyond the current scope! I just mention it because that would mean the base chassis would be really cheap.

So here's the photos: not! I really didn't take anything, but I'll do better tomorrow and insert a few here just to surprise you later.



GTiTDi October 11th, 2019 12:35

You might want to consider a set of HF wheel-dollies to roll the car side to side in your tight workspace.

Powder Hound October 11th, 2019 12:38

Actually, I might not need to move it again. We'll see. I think I have a dolly already... somewhere... and it might be strong enough. Good suggestion though. If only there was a HF close by...



Powder Hound October 11th, 2019 18:47

Day 5
Another short day. Today I took a few photos and started getting the rust spots clear so I can treat them before the bed goes in. I also removed the front bumper cover so I could remove the right front fender. I don't have quite enough room to do the left front fender yet, so I guess I will have to move the car again after all. Maybe several times with painting. But it shouldn't be too bad. It actually rolls a little easier now that it is a couple of hundred pounds lighter.

I'm going to have to bring a vacuum cleaner to clean up dirt and debris from inside before I can do the rust treatment.

And while I'm ready to start the final trimming, I didn't have access to the saw, so I'm doing that tomorrow.

Some photos:

A demonstration of the 'benefits' of VW's inner front fender foam. Benefits if you're selling fenders, anyway. It should be obvious why I'm replacing the front fenders.

And this explains why I removed the rear bumper yesterday. This will need a bit of cleanup and rust protection, I think. Then it will be just fine for re-use.

The rear of the car sans bumper. And sans lots of the sheet metal as well...

The vertical tape has a barely visible in this photo mark that is supposed to be the final cut line for the fenders. It is about the middle of the horizontal tape. I think I might be just a bit generous until the final fitting of the bed sides.

The edge of the tape that the arrows are pointing to is the final cut line for the roof. Ready for tomorrow. Excess roof stuff is out of the way, so all I need is to go slow and be careful.

Side curtain airbags ready for experimental fun!

And a little cleaner look at the back.

I'm going to be happier after tomorrow. Unfortunately, the tailgate did not arrive today. But I still have plenty to do before I must have it, so it isn't holding me up. In fact, I can start getting all the painting ready before it becomes a show stopper, so I figure I have at least another week's work before then.

Tomorrow I'll be cutting, and prepping and painting for rust. Monday I'll pickup the spare engine and do more paint prep.



BleachedBora October 11th, 2019 20:07

Cool project PH! Can't wait to see the results :)

Powder Hound October 12th, 2019 20:29

Day 6 - first installment.
Today was a pretty good day. It wasn't the most fun, but I was able to make some good progress.

I'll also make 2 posts because I have more than 10 photos.

Today I started out vacuuming the dust and sand out of the back, as much as I was able. I picked up all the fasteners I could, but I am sure I missed a few, so I'll have to go back through the vacuum bag to pick them out. Not looking forward to that.

Then I started working on the rust spots. From the photos you'll see a bunch of them. There are only a few that looked like red rust.

So, for the less experienced out there, let's talk about the A4 generation metal treatment and how rust shows up. First, VW made the steel chassis, then they put a flash coating of zinc on it. It isn't thick enough to be called galvanizing, but it is a coating of zinc. Then they put on the primer, then the color paint. The paints are pretty darned good. They last a long time, and provide a good protective coating for the car. The primer is good as well. Lots better than the spray stuff (aka "sandable primer" you get out of the rattle cans from the FLAPS) which is too porous to protect against much of anything. And the zinc flash coating. It gives the steel a fighting chance to last a while. Unfortunately, the paints aren't perfect. Sometimes water can get through via osmosis, sometimes via a micro-flaw in the paint. However it happens, it allows ions the carbon in the steel and the iron to start the oxidation process to make rust. But first, it oxidizes the zinc.

When the zinc oxidizes it does it preferentially to the iron/steel it is coating, so it becomes a sacrificial protectant. In our case, the zinc oxidizes to zinc oxide, the preferred white pigment before titanium dioxide became really popular. It also takes up a lot more room than the original zinc, so it pushes the paint up away from the surface of the metal. This weakens the paint and allows more water/oxygen in, and after the zinc is exhausted to oxide, the steel starts oxidizing. First comes Fe3O4, also known as magnetite. Magnetite is a dark grey. It would look black if it was dense enough, but it seems to prefer to stay thin. By the time more oxidation happens, some of it is turning into the red powdery rust, Fe2O3.

So the first thing you will see is small bumps or sharp points sticking up in the paint. If you sand through those, like I did today, under the paint, primer, and zinc oxide you will see dark round circles of magnetite. This is the beginning stage of rust, the steel won't be pitted, but it is halfway to red rust. Basically the red rust pushes the paint up far enough to really compromise it, and the rust goes nuts from there.

I'm trying to fix what I can, knowing that anything I do now can only help in the future, even if I know I can't hold off the inevitable forever.

So I spent most of my time working on the rust spots. When I got really bored, I got the sawsall out and trimmed off around the rear wheel wells. These I trimmed closer to final height, and got rid of most all the excess metal that needs to come off anyway. I didn't try to go to final height, feeling like it would be a good idea to wait until I get the truck bed there so I can take some final measurements. And since the tailgate hasn't yet arrived, that might be a little while longer. We'll see. Maybe I can get the final trim done without waiting for the tailgate.

I also did do the final trim on the roof. Nice structure on the roof rails. I have a couple of shots of that.

I had tried to pull out the fuel door, but the attached shroud was tighter than the tank cap, so I left it until today. Today I unscrewed the cap, put a paper towel in the filler pipe, and pulled off the fuel door. I then replaced the tank cap after pulling out the paper towel. I also found that there is a ventectomy in the near future for this car. I guess the former owner never heard of TDI Club.

And the rust in a few places is deeper than I wished. (Well you wish for none, but...) So since I ran out of sandpaper (I didn't bring much - less than 1 sheet) and it was getting dark and I was tired, I decided it would be much better if I let those really ugly spots soak under some gelled phosphoric acid and loosen up. I'll get them on Monday. (Phospohoric acid is the stuff that separates rust in the "naval jelly" preparations you buy at your favorite FLAPS. It is a great grease cutter, and so you MUST wear gloves and be careful with it because it WILL cause skin and other damage to your body if you aren't careful.)

And that's about it for today. while I was at the shop, another guy came by (a mutual friend of the shop owner as well as myself) and I found out he has an old Jeep that he has stuffed an AHU engine into. He loves it.

Now, on to the photos with editorial comment, as usual!

Rear wheel well after trimming. The height isn't quite to final, but it is pretty close. And the extra metal inside is cleaned up. I don't think there is much more to cut on the wheel wells, and that's all that is left for the cutting operation.

Here I'm trying to show the dark circles of magnetite that show up after you sand off the primer. You sand, of course, where the paint is no longer flat and smooth.

Another shot of revealed rust (Fe3O4).

This is the mangled top fastener on the trim cover for the C pillar. It is the same setup as that on the A pillar. I mangled this one, and if I tried to pull the A pillar, I'd mangle that one as well, and I'm keeping those, so. This is why I ended up cutting the side curtain air bags instead of extracting them complete. I can't legally ship them anyway, so there's no great loss of opportunity.

This is the pile of dirt and sand (wet, of course) that was behind the front fender wheel well liner. You know, the place where all the dirt coming off the windscreen and falling by the windshield wipers washes and collects because VW didn't allow for a drain. Yes, german engineering. Who says they don't screw pooches on occasion??
I'm using paper towels to hold the naval jelly onto the rust spots while they soak until Monday.
The spare tire area had a lot of rust spots, but none of them were red dust (Fe2O3).
This is the spots with 1 coating of zinc paint. It looks like gray primer, but it isn't. The primer will come later, but the first thing I'm putting on is some zinc paint because while I could actually plate zinc on there, I don't have the time or patience it would take to do it on all the spots.

This car has some of the most disgusting habits. I really have my work cut out for me...

Powder Hound October 12th, 2019 20:38

Day 6, Part 2.
More photos!

Car side view of the fuel door.

The roof has been trimmed to final. I am probably off by a millimeter or so either way in some places, but it will sand off reasonably quickly.

The other side. I haven't trimmed the overhead backing to final length, and it turns out I made a mistake and sliced through it - about 4 inches worth. I guess I won't be making any photos of the interior roof until I find the perfect gray or blue plaid.

You get a nice view of the side roof rail structure. And in the corner of the partial cut, you can see 3 layers of metal there. Pretty good rollover protection in these chassis.

Another view of the roof rails.

A minor curiosity: If you look closely in the cut, you'll see filings that have become magnetized via the cutting action.

And that's all for now!



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