Projects - Volkswagen T3 1982 Body & Chassis repairs

June 2013: Something completely different for a change. As an enthusiast of Italian cars I often have to listen to prejudices about the sensitivity to corrosion of these southern European vehicles. Potentially this project may show you that so called German "high quality" engineering & products are not always as robust as they are said to be. This Volkswagen T3 camper has some body corrosion issues which are pretty severe. The pictures below are quite obvious I guess. Although I usually work on Italian machines I consider repairing this mess as an interesting challenge as well. I start with the right rear window frame which has lost it function almost completely due to metal rot.

Typical German quality window frame in body??


Hand made repair piece for inside of window frame trial fit.


Inside of window frame small improvement I guess.


Hand made repair piece for outside of window frame, only corner still to be done.


Window frame repaired inside & outside connected to each other.


Window frame solid again.


When comparing this status to the initial picture a slight difference is visible.


Window frame completely solid again.


Treated with anti-corrosive coating.


Also the window frame corner as solid as a rock.


Most probably the current status is more durable than a factory new status.


Looks pretty different than the starting status.

The second item to tackle is the left body and body reiforcement which show some severe sickness issues. Luckily I'm a surgeon so also these pieces of rotten metal will most probably become healthy again after a small surgery.


Left hand side body showing some pimples.


Lower section of left hand body after a bit of poking around, potentially a bit of refurbishment is required?


Maybe also here some replacement material is recommended.


I guess no words are required here?


No other way then to rigorously cut away the sick material.


Body reinforcement profile which most probably has seen better times.


Inside of removed panel, no use in repairing this, only replacement will suffice.


Body reinforcement profile coming from car and new one, difference is clearly visible, isn't it?

New reinforcement profile welded into position & treated with anti corrosive coating.


Another section in need of a little attention to become healthy again.


Repair on its way by tack welding hand made repair piece into position.


Making a new side panel by using the old crappy one as a template.


Newly made side panel tack welded into position.


Next up is the lower section below the freshly repaired middle section.


Lower section tack welded into position, final welded to be done.


Lower section repair finished & treated with anti corrosive coating.


Straight and flush new seam, looking solid & healthy.


Also other end of repaired section ready for final step.


Middle & lower section of left hand side body looking brand new after repair activities.


Potentially the above shown pictures may redefine your general impression about German quality ;-) This Volkswagen T3 camper is ready for many years of happy camping for these repaired sections. The end result looks brand new. I guess Dutch quality is required to be truly durable hahahaha ;-).


August 2016: Same patient same disease but at a different areas this time. Again a roadworthiness check has brought something forward which is not acceptable. The rear suspension arm shows some rust holes which endanger the structural integrity of the part therefore the okay is not given. In addition a front & rear wheel arch show too much corrosion to pass the test. A final issue is the driver side door entrance which suffers from the worldwide well known "Flintstone" syndrome. One luck with these Volkswagen buses is that the repair pieces of the body are often readily available and affordable, that saves a lot of working hours remanufacturing these items in factory original geometry and specification. Lets go for it and see if these items can be finished in 2 days.


Right hand side rear suspension slightly affected by rust.


Suspension arm top hole closed with fresh new metal material.


Suspension arm lower hole cleaned and prepared for repair.


Right hand rear suspension arm holes closed.


Right hand side front lower end of rear wheel arch pretty rusty.


Right hand side rear wheel arch sick material removed.


Right hand side rear wheel arch, trail fit of ready made repair piece.


Rear wheel arch welded flush into body.


Right rear wheel arch finalised with anti corrosive coating.


Right rear wheel arch end showing some signs of rot as well.


Rear right wheel arch rear end ready made repair piece welded into position.


Rear right wheel arch end finalised with anti corrosive coating.


Infamous "Flintstone" syndrome at driver side door opening.


Sick material cut away and base shape of repair piece cut out of sheet metal material.


Of course the original holes for attachment of the upholstery are included as well.


Right rear suspension arm covered in black paint.


The new roadworthiness check is valid for a little of 2 years until September 25th 2018.


The second attempt after the initial failed attempt for the yearly roadworthiness check is after these repairs of course passed without any issues. This camper is now completely ready for another 2 years of happy camping. Perhaps this German quality product will return for the next yearly roadworthiness check. To be continued? Lets see.
Last update: February 19th 2017  

Copyright © 2009 - 2017 Alfa Chirurg, all rights reserved