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Rusty VW bothering - MOT day - whoop whoop


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Been a serial lurker and occasional poster of nonsense, but have never quite got round to posting some pictures and the ongoing tribulations of being a serial VW licker.

First a disclaimer - I like old VWs, partly as I grew up with them and partly because I understand how the work and I can fix* them. I do not like the 'scene' attached to them, it seems to attract too many of a certain type of person I am often allergic to - they bring me out in a shouty rage. 

First car was a'69 beetle in red, driven flat out everywhere  until the rust took it. This was followed by a succession of Mk2 golf , vauxhall omega (vauxhall being close to VW in the sales ads)  a free Mk3 golf which was dire and tried to kill me multiple times. I have no photos of any of these as they were pre-camera phone and mostly awful. 

Then came a T25 camper bought using generous donations from friends and family at our wedding . Bought, and a week later after hovering 15 years of dog hair out of it, we drove it all the way to northern Norway on honeymoon. Used it for a while.

Bought a vauxhall astra estate (again, it was almost a VW in the sales section). It sucked. It did a year of commuting then it was scrapped. Was gifted a skoda fabia estate by my dad as a sensible run around. 

During this time my wife wanted a sensible runaround for her and the kids, so we bought a bright orange 1971 beetle (rusty of course) which was excellent fun. People were openly critical of apparent lack of regard for our offsprings safety. I pointed out it had seat belts.

 Due to rusting the T25 was sold as a project, the Skoda was sold for being too dull and a T2 purchased.

Here is the peak of VW ownership, where the beetle, bay and T25 are all in one place just before sale:


So now we had two aircooled vehicles, the newest of which was  made in 1973.

This lasted for exactly 9 months., during which I did lots of this:


to be repeatedly rewarded with this:


When the breakdown driver asks how the kids are getting on, you know you've seen him too much....

I also conducted some invisible repairs on the rusty bits of the beetle. I'll point them out if anyone can't see them:


A promotion and car allowance then allowed me to purchase a C3 Picasso (best not ask, I hate it). Its purple. I feel like a dick when I drive it. 

Beetle then had to go due to third child and not enough seats, but it had the good engine, the van did not. A swap occurred. My neighbors love* me and find my antics endearing*. I clearly have no need for a drive or garage.


After 1 too many FTPs, I was told van or family. I chose family and the van left. 

I then went a looked at another T25 minibus (three kids now) and was in much trouble for even considering another van. 

Two weeks later, after some small* arguments* we were in total agreement* and the van was purchased. 

Roughly 18 months ago - note lovely laqueer peel, mismatched rear wing and low level tide mark:




After some light fiddling I have made a very basic day van affair, and we dragged it with camping gear and the three kids all the way up to the arctic circle in Finland last summer (wife has family in that part of the world).

6 days before departure I noticed the rear suspension had a bit of paint hanging off. I pulled and it showed this below:



Trip to machine mart, a google of "mig wleding for numpties" and a youtube video later and I'd made this:


and away we went. 

Here it is in a moody B&W photo  in the land of the midnight sun, which really brings out the high quality paint. the rear suspension is still attached though, so winning. 


That's an epic catch up post really, but will use this space now to document the exciting* repairs and work done on it to keep everything attached .and working.... 

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Swapping engines in the street is something you just don't see enough of these days and two swaps at once is the mutts.

Never been a VW licker but the rare sight of an honest down at heel Beetle still wearing its original black and white number plates does make me feel warm inside.


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Was a little worried the van would behave and this thread would just fizzle away. 

Just popped outside though, saw the tailpipe looked a bit squiffy, so touched it and:


oh FFS. A closer looks shows the whole system is leaking gently and only wafer thin. Double FFS.

Biggest problem will be finding the cash for a new one (Scene tax) and then getting this one off without snapping at least one stud on the head.

According to some experts* on the internet without this bit I’m going to fill the van with carbon monoxide when stationary. 
Might be a problem with the kids in the back, so I’ve got them practising holding their breath.....

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Thanks all for the comments, good to see there is other T25 lickers about. 

On 12/7/2019 at 4:01 PM, bunglebus said:

Make a tailpipe - easy enough to cut a bit of thick steel for the flange and a bit of cheap curved pipe to finish

I did initially think I'd just weld the bit that came off back on, but the condition of the rest of the system makes this somewhat futile - its blowing at every joint judging by the carbon streaks   and there is very little metal left holding the rust together. the back box is about the only bit that is reasonable, but the flange on the other end is shot too.  It is 24 months old and cost the PO  just shy of £500 unfitted. 

On 12/7/2019 at 1:22 PM, DaveDorson said:

I might have an exhaust for that down the unit 

If you do and fancy flogging it let me know!

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7 minutes ago, rusty_vw_man said:

If you do and fancy flogging it let me know!

I checked over the weekend, it's marked up as being a 2.1 petrol silencer but it's a cheap ebay one from Germany.

I've a feeling I bought it as a suitable silencer for the GTI engine that's going in my one using diesel parts, and if it is, then I'm likely to keep hold of it.

it's also missing the tailpipe bit that you need, it's just the silencer.

I seem to remember you can buy them for less than the usual suspects charge, but I can't comment on the fit, as mines never been mounted.



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9 minutes ago, DaveDorson said:

I checked over the weekend, it's marked up as being a 2.1 petrol silencer but it's a cheap ebay one from Germany.

I've a feeling I bought it as a suitable silencer for the GTI engine that's going in my one using diesel parts, and if it is, then I'm likely to keep hold of it.

it's also missing the tailpipe bit that you need, it's just the silencer.

I seem to remember you can buy them for less than the usual suspects charge, but I can't comment on the fit, as mines never been mounted.



Cheers. I would be interested to see the petrol GTI mounted using the diesel mounts and bell housing. My first T25 needed a new engine, I did look into this, but ended up rebuilding the WBX instead for various reasons.  Seems like a good way to get a bit more power. 

Some googling has shown that I can get a full stainless system locally for less than the mild steel ones  the main suppliers flog, so think I will go down that route. 

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1 minute ago, rusty_vw_man said:

Cheers. I would be interested to see the petrol GTI mounted using the diesel mounts and bell housing. My first T25 needed a new engine, I did look into this, but ended up rebuilding the WBX instead for various reasons.  Seems like a good way to get a bit more power. 

Some googling has shown that I can get a full stainless system locally for less than the mild steel ones  the main suppliers flog, so think I will go down that route. 

It's a long way off at the moment.


Life, welding bits back on, and multiple workshop woes mean I've not really touched it in about 18 months.

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Looking for a photo I have uncovered an old seam of tat photos that I thought I had lost. 

I painted the first T25 by hand - first some prep. You can just see the remains of a stubborn cack brown 1980s stripe that came back through three coats. 


and then some roller action:


and it looked good at this distance:


After some serious cutting and multiple coats it looked pretty good closer too - in its natural habitat:


No plans to do it again any time soon though, was more labour intensive than spraying, and after a few years it had faded. 

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  • 2 months later...

Come home to see a suspicious patch on the road under the van:1369CE5C-1F54-495B-9445-B211B6AB6F6F.thumb.jpeg.23a0594f4e3ffdfdb62fe55023bde8b6.jpeg

A quick poke showed it was coolant not oil. Next puzzle was what had decided to randomly start leaking when I hadn’t even driven it for a week. 

Overalls over smart work clothes and a phone torch bought me to this piece of Germanic madness - the clipped in place temperature sensor which is just push fit with an o ring. C71B6F2A-7F35-4C99-9FD8-48F497F52887.thumb.jpeg.4cea1e28642807006f3d25f2778874e8.jpeg

red one fine, black one pissing water and wobbly, verdict o ring given up. Every single vehicle I have had with these has leaked at some point, what’s wrong with just screwing them in?! 

So hopefully a cheap fix, but location dictates that I need arms like an orangutan and will have to have my head in the stream of escaping coolant whilst I do it. Can’t wait. Plus it needs to be running for Monday as I need it for a 200 mile round trip for work, and the weekend is already stacked out. It’s almost like it knows.....

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So that went as well as could be expected. 

It is only possible to get to from underneath. Coolant capacity is huge and I lack enough buckets to act as a temporary store, so didn’t want to fully drain it. So I crawled under, popped the clip and pulled out the sensor. It got far enough out to allow the coolant to run down my arm and into my overalls, but held firm enough to need a decent wiggle, all the while my overalls was filling up. Finally got it out and crawled back out and literally poured coolant out my sleeve. Nice. 

Cracked into my new 225 piece o ring set as Sunday, so limited options for o ring buying. Only it turns out that 20mm by 4mm isn’t close enough to VWs 19.6mm by 3.65mm to fit. I figured being rubber, and squashy it would be fine, but despite trying various things including a bit of lube it would not fit. So old one back in with a smear of sealant on it. Laid in puddle of coolant to pop it back. Unsurprisingly it still leaked. Also broke silly springy metal clip putting it back. 

Retreated cold, wet and smelling unappealing of coolant to the house.  Used it anyway, just topped up regularly. Parts now on order. 

Only thing is I have to do it again, and can’t decide whether to drain it, or just warm it up a bit first so at least it’s not cold as it fills up my overalls..... 

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  • 1 month later...

So back in December the tail pipe fell off. Now two joints are leaking, and there is a small hole in one of the headers. As lock down means I'm not spending money (and the MOT is approaching) I thought I'd treat myself to a new one. Strangely a stainless sports* one was cheaper than a cheap mild steel one, so I clicked and 26 hours later this arrived:


Unfortunately its beaten the new gaskets, head studs and nuts here, so all I can do is look at it making racing car noises.....

Next game is to get the old one off. I have no drive or garage so will have to find a secluded corner of the street and socially distance myself underneath the van. 

Last time I tried removing an exhaust on a flat four engine I ended up doing this, which the eagle eyed amongst you will note you is a head some way away from both van and the rest of the engine, allowing me an opportunity to snap off various easzi-outs and drill bits before managing to tap a hole slightly on the piss.  A 95% successful repair. 


According to the owner forum I need to soak my nuts in plus-gas for a week before hand, but so far its just made them sting, so not sure I'm doing it right.....

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I'd totally forgotten that they did these with water cooled boxers...for some reason my brain had decided that they switched to the inline engines when water cooling came in.

That should sound the business with the new exhaust on.  Even with the stock system on I remember my T25 (1.6 CT engine in that one, she was a really early one on a V suffix plate) had a lovely exhaust note.

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23 hours ago, bunglebus said:

I remember fighting to fit a pattern heat exchanger on my 2.0 one, not fun. At least you don't have that pleasure to look forward to!

Looks a nicely made bit of kit anyway ^^^

One with the oval exhaust ports and the copper gaskets? All my aircooled exhausts needed a fair amount of encouragement with a hammer to fit. I remember being nearly in tears with a cheap Earnst pattern exhaust with razor sharp edges where only 5 out of the 6 attachment points would line up with the engine and carb heat risers at any one time. 


1 hour ago, Zelandeth said:

I'd totally forgotten that they did these with water cooled boxers...for some reason my brain had decided that they switched to the inline engines when water cooling came in.

That should sound the business with the new exhaust on.  Even with the stock system on I remember my T25 (1.6 CT engine in that one, she was a really early one on a V suffix plate) had a lovely exhaust note.

Yes - one of their less clever ideas really, the water jacket around the engine is very much an after thought! To get one of the gudgeon pins out you have to go in through the hole for the water pump, plus theres the 58km of pipework between front and rear of van.  They did go for inline diesels, not sure why they didn't just whang a petrol golf engine in as an option. They did a 5 pot audi engined one for South Africa which is very nice. 


1 hour ago, cobblers said:

I went to buy a van off a guy a few years ago who had a nice exhaust on his 2.1WBX California, and it did sound absolutely beautiful. I really really miss my T25.

I'm a little alarmed at the size of the pipes and the very lightweight nature of the backbox - doesn't feel like there is much in there to stop the loud coming out, so not sure if the sound will be nice or rather loud. Just fingers crossed it doesn't drone at cruising speed, otherwise I'll be in trouble with the kids in the back! 

Enjoyed your write up of T25 ownership, also enjoying the ongoing Talbot, which to be fair looks a whole lot more practical than the T25! 

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1 hour ago, rusty_vw_man said:

Just fingers crossed it doesn't drone at cruising speed, otherwise I'll be in trouble with the kids in the back!

I so totally dodged a bullet with that on my current van.  The silencer is basically an empty box as best I can tell with zero baffles.  It's...throaty.  However pretty much the only point in the rev band it's quiet is precisely at 60mph in top.

...On the motorway at 70 (honest...) It's not...though in full juggernaut mode at that point it's just one more layer in about 50 major contributors to the racket!

Also here's a photo of my old van.  She was an utter rot box (definitely repairable, aside from the outrigger under the offside tail light the underside was virtually immaculate), but it took me less than 30 minutes to get it running and driving after being abandoned under a tree for ten plus years.  Even the brakes worked fine!

The bodywork would (and one day might, she's apparently still patiently waiting in dry secure storage for restoration) take a huge amount of time to sort though as basically every panel was shot.  If I'd been sensible I'd have broken it for parts as soon as it arrived on my drive...however being such an early one I really wanted to do what I could to save it.  Basically everything from the sills (inclusive!) upwards though was rotten.

Aside from being so underpowered that she couldn't get out of her own way she drove really nicely actually...only real sign of disuse was an obvious divot in the brake discs once she'd cleared her throat after a mile or so.  Hopefully one day she might be restored, who knows!








Was a good fun diversion at the time though and I reckon I passed it on to the next owner with far more chance of survival than it arrived with me.  If I hadn't wound up with a certain other German van from the same era...


...I could definitely have seen me having another - though now I remember the cost of some of the parts I do somewhat question that logic! 

Would love a proper shot of one though.  Obviously mine never really saw the road in my ownership - only brief trip out was to a local welder to assess whether a couple of bits were actually repairable.  Their assessment was "Absolutely if you've got a few years."

Main thing I recall was that it rode astonishingly well for a van.

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16 hours ago, Zelandeth said:

Would love a proper shot of one though...

Main thing I recall was that it rode astonishingly well for a van.

Here's a proper shot of mine


34903680783_3e96cb02bf.jpgBungleinthesnow by RS, on Flickr


VW had independent suspension all around from day one on the Transporter, whenever I drove a Transit or Sherpa it was more like being in a cart without the horse. T3s drove like a big car.

Haven't quite worked out when VW went from the pressed metal rear air vents to the plastic insert, as I've seen earlier vans than mine with the plastic bit. 1985 was a big change, loads of the electrics, sliding door, think even the cab floor is different after that, but these really early ones have a different tailgate (around the lock), small badge grille that's almost always broken, different flap behind the number plate to check/top up oil etc

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The vents changed quite early on, sliding door on about a C plate

*edit* plastic vents were 1981 when the diesel was introduced. Sliding door changed in 1985 with the shorter handle and different latches etc. A right &^%$$ to find an early panel van one!


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Sunny day, so thought I’d have a crack at the exhaust. 

First relocate to dead end at the end of the road to avoid Covidiots coughing on me - today’s luxury* workshop* looks like this:


First 4 head nuts came off fine, no hassle, no drama. Number 5 needed my finest high precision spanner - this is from underneath looking up, so you can image the rusty pieces cascading into my eyes, and as I turned my head, my left ear. 33FAEC89-FBD6-4D99-A025-302ABA971F56.thumb.jpeg.8c16f016dc550b621150b53225fb9976.jpeg

Nuts 6 and 7 both wound out the head studs, but cleanly. 

Number 8 stud, the last, sits under the thermostat housing, and had been gently watered by a seepage on the bottom of the housing. 13mm socket rounded instantly, 1/2inch 6 sided hammered on didn’t. Suddenly released, in a buttock clenching yielding fashion, but it was all okay. 

so all I needed to do now was split this joint:


Not happening! So hacksaw out. Now much of the exhaust was paper thin, but the only bit I could get at with the saw was surprisingly solid:


Got there in the end. It the n started raining coolant on my head, as I had managed to dislocate a pipe, which turned out to be barely bolted on, so just nipped it up and the pink shower stopped. I is a winna. 

At this point the 5 local druggies turned up on the other side of the hedge to ‘get it cooking up quick’ (apparently) so i felt I needed to significantly increase my distance, social or otherwise.  Moved down the street with open exhaust ports, Christ it was loud, but I liked it. The lady at number 8 with the net curtains did to, or at least she seemed to be waving enthusiastically  at me.

finally got to the good bit - putting shiny bits back:


Complete with proper locking copper flashed nuts - a first for me but allegedly they will come off again in the future, but not by themselves whenever they fancy. We’ll see. 

Final verdict on an ‘essential’ trip round the houses is it’s silent at idle, roars on power and cruises okay. Louder than I’d hoped, but better than I’d feared. It’s also very shiny, which does make the rest of the van look worse.

Will let it cool down then tighten everything up again.





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  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - MOT day - whoop whoop
  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - whoo hoo - road legal again

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