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Rusty VW bothering - on the road again


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Today we made it to Latvia:


The A roads are big and empty, but turn off them and it’s lots of this:


Not sure it’s the best terrain for a dicky CV joint, but it seems to be holding up okay! 

to get this far we have spent a lot of time doing this


did enjoy watching the stevedores just pushing a trailer unit that was too small into a gap until all the other trailers shuffled across. The noise was amazing, and I’m pretty sure all those trailers are now rogered, but they got an extra couple on so seemed to think they were winning! 

Chod spotting is dire - it’s almost all Audis, with a smattering of other Germanic motors, nothing is that old that I’ve seen, which has been a bit disappointing  

However along the way we have stayed at a Franciscan Monastery (now with rooms on air b&b) 


Lithuania offered me the the hill of crosses which was a bit weird, and coming from north wales not a hill 


but this palace in Latvia was cracking 


it couldn’t have been more like a National Trust place - even the cafe was strangely familiar!! 

800 miles so far, no oil lost (staggering) or water. Lots of petrol used - 22 em pee gees.

Also rolled over 150000 miles, but didn’t feel it was worth a picture as the odometer has only worked on and off for ages, so think it might be a smidge* over that already. 

Tomorrow Riga, then on to Estonia. 


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  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - Baltic bothering
  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - Home again

Latvia - excellent, 25/10 would waft oily fumes through again. Still a lack of quality chod out and about though.  Riga bought this excellent quality bridge - major route, a lot of spalled concrete. Vaguely terrifying. IMG_4071.thumb.jpeg.7a1ef84675b35fd82bd3a0eddb15c369.jpeg

Also saw some excellent photos of old street scenes and manufacturing from the Soviet era in the National museum. All unfamiliar to me! IMG_4073.thumb.jpeg.c0458c2740d44508859a3ef80268b1dd.jpegIMG_4075.thumb.jpeg.6f002d1f3bbfce37632aeb13546a02b6.jpegIMG_4074.thumb.jpeg.3c8150db49335ec20fc8910de8133967.jpeg

Campsite had these two lorry based adventure wagons - German registered and having had a quick peek at their Instagrams used mostly for pottering around rather than their intended use! 

The unpaved roads did a a certain amount of dust


On to Tallinn, which was visibly richer. Old chod became slightly more common, mostly Volvo flavoured. 

Some how this chap seems to have turned upside down:

as the cars got older, so did the buildings 


Quick ferry over to Helsinki then up to Oulu in Finland. At one point I slammed to door and the large collection of wob I had been keeping as a rough version of a front wheel arch decided enough was enough and popped a bit off:


Obviously I have it a poke


and the fixed* it using top skillz


A medium term repair! 

Pottering around in Finland was a lot more old shite - they have the concept of the ‘weekend car’ which  genuinely sees a lot more random stuff out and about. Lacking photos of most of it! Lots of just old cars in daily use as well


around halfway through my fridge battery stopped charging as this


had become totally insensitive and unfeeling. Inside was complicated 


so I binned it in favour of a standard relay triggered off the charge light. Cold drinks and a less like warm sausage was achieved again.

Random meuseum if life type place had a cracking tractor, still fully working 


and this chap has a sense of humour that appealed on his lifted truck


always amazed how much more stuff you can buy in the shops - set of wheels and tyres in what’s basically Wilko anyone


coming back down Finland we used the car train - was weird seeing the van getting shunted round the station 


would do it again, but we didn’t book cabins so sleep was not had .

Back in Helsinki we saw these two beauties


I’m not sure which has a greater 0-60 speed though…..

From there it was a long ferry back to Germany, across to Amsterdam . So a modern art gallery  as kids wanted to go. Save your junk, as this pile is valued at quarter of a million 


I may possibly be a philistine, but for the most part I just don’t get why it’s art.

From there it was a short hop back to Rotterdam, ferry, MacDonalds breakfast and home for lunch.

About 4500 miles all in, 750ml each of oil and water used, 25mpg achieved due to the long, empty and relatively slow speed roads across the Baltics and Nordics  

Knocking cv joint has cured itself for now, so other than a good was and sorting the front wheel arch there isn’t a great deal to do until the next trip! 




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8 hours ago, loserone said:

Amazing. I've just caught up on about three years 😁

How many of you are there squeezed into this thing? And do you use the tent every night?

There are 5 of us - me, the missus and three kids aged 5 to 12. In the van we have storage, toilet and cooking gear, but no sleeping stuff so tent goes up each stop. Only exception is if we are just breaking the journey for a night, in which case we may stretch to a hostel/cabin or some equally low budget solution! Kids still reminisce fondly about the ‘posh hotel’ we stayed at in Biarritz - which was actually a 2 star back packers hostel! 

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9 hours ago, Tickman said:

Fantastic report.

Love seeing these write ups of lots of miles with my level of prep work.

Thanks - I believe that the more you use old vehicles the more reliable they become. That said, I do travel with a comprehensive tool kit and spares!!  

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That's really interesting, thanks.  There's five of us (2, 5 and 6 at the moment) and we're trying to figure out the best holiday tricks.  

We've just done two weeks in gîtes, with five bikes and stuff in and on a camping trailer, but it's not cheap.  Trying the tent out in a couple of weeks.



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14 hours ago, loserone said:

That's really interesting, thanks.  There's five of us (2, 5 and 6 at the moment) and we're trying to figure out the best holiday tricks.  

We've just done two weeks in gîtes, with five bikes and stuff in and on a camping trailer, but it's not cheap.  Trying the tent out in a couple of weeks.



We camp a lot - but as a means for travelling, not as a leisure activity in its own right if that makes sense. After much trial and error we’ve got it down to a set up we can get set up in just under an hour from arriving to having beds and a hot meal.  Campsites seem to be about 30-40 euros almost wherever we went (which is a massive increase in a few years ago) but even cheapest indoor accommodation was more like 90+ euros a night, and often only for four (pesky ‘extra child’!). 

Main problem will be finding a tent that works for you - there are so many options. The bell tent works for us as it’s genuinely easy to erect with one person, but it’s a massive 35kg beast in its bag! 

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1 minute ago, rusty_vw_man said:

often only for four (pesky ‘extra child’!). 

Yup, there have been times we've had to have two rooms even when the little one was cosleeping.  Total waste of money.


We've got a pretty decent air tent thing, will have to see how we get on.  

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  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - Shit-tron C3 Prick-ass-o

Tonight a diversion to the slightly more modern C3 Picasso. It’s not quite old enough to be here, but it is 100% shite as it features the pure tech 110 engine, squeezing 110bhp out of a wheezy 1.2l 3 cylinder. 

In their wisdom they have gone for a wet belt cam belt. Why would you submerge a rubber belt in oil?! Possibly unsurprisingly the belts are suffering, and not making the change interval. As they disintegrate they block the brake booster vacuum, the valve timing solenoid and the oil pick up, so you tend to run out of brakes before the belt actually snaps. Great work Mr designer, nailed it.   

Mine is overdue a check, so tonight I striped off the cam cover and used a magic gauge to check if the belt was swollen. First time working on a properly modern engine, didn’t enjoy it. Access was crap, so many wires, pipes and delicate bits of plastic. 



however, the belt measures spot on 


so okay for the moment. Secret is allegedly avoiding a build up of petrol in the sump, so minimising short journeys and regular oil changes.

The real bummer of it all is that if the oil filler cap was 20mm to the right, you could do the check through that and save a whole lot of hassle. 

Will need to change the belt soon, looks quite complicated just in terms of how much appears to be in the way, including the left engine mount by the look of it. 

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  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - parts ordered

Next weekend the boss has given me a weekend ‘off’ so I can crack on with sorting the front wing/wheel arch. 

Parts incoming IMG_4336.thumb.jpeg.12f8640e14969895072b32b148359179.jpeg

New piece of wing, new step, new step rubbers, door seals and window scrapers (to keep the water out!). Plus some flap discs, slitting discs and a new welding blanket to replace ones that have worn out. £350 spent, just need some paint and underseal. 

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Hmmmm, so I’ve ordered a new wheel arch. It’s turned up and it’s enormous. IMG_4344.thumb.jpeg.116a59215cebc9daec56933fff883750.jpeg

I mean, it’s the right size for the van, but I feel slightly daunted by the idea of hacking quite this much off the van to fit it


well I’m in too deep to quit now, so let’s see how this goes! 

Weather forecast for the time I have to do it is poor, so will go and track down an end of season quailty* gazebo…….

[gets distracted by browsing brand new rust free vans on internet, gets excited, checks bank balance, sobs and orders £30 gazebo]. 

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  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - sparkly pritt-stick time

So today was the day. Work space erected


one cheap gazebo to keep off the drizzle. 

First job, remove seat belt. 17mm socket, little twist and the whole lot sheared off, good tug and it detached all together  - not ideal:


wing was crusty


very crusty 


choppy choppy:



old wheel arch was laid over the other panels and spot welded on. The flappy ends were then coated in a bit* of underseal:



fixed a few holes, added a new seatbelt mounting plate (still need to add a nut). Lots of rust, but it all came off nicely, shiny underneath. 

New wing spot welded in, step end was a nightmare, as the PO had bodged a repair and ruined all lines and shapes, so ended up with a bit of a jigsaw:


And the door shuts:


Some issues were had, mainly that I only have a gas less mig, and I had bought SIP wire, forgetting that it was shite, it’s about a billionty times smokier than any other wire, so it’s impossible to see the weld pool. All a bit point and shoot and hope for the best, welding is a bit messier than ideal, but I know having had to remove a bit that penetration is excellent. Even more pissed off as I bought a big roll, so got loads to get through. Bah.

I’d also bought some slitting discs of the web, were branded dewalt, which I’d just finished a tin of. This set I think were fake as they only lasted a couple of cuts, and several shattered, whereas the last set were excellent. Pissing irritating, and occasional ouchy. 

Next is seam sealer to be wobbed on, then some paint to stop it rusting away. Then it’s the step on the other side, oh and the bits on the back, the boot lid arreegggghhhh why does it rust so much .

Well pleased though as it’s the largest panel I’d ever attempted and whilst it’s not perfect it’s certainly good enough, and better than the crumbling old shite that was on there. 

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7 minutes ago, bunglebus said:


Bit late now but hopefully you were very careful around the maze of fuel tank breathers etc that seem to live under the front arches! 


Yes, I wrapped the end of the filler in foil, plastic and then popped a run can over the end:


100%* fuel proof! Was safe enough, although the occasional whiff of petrol was a little exciting! The breathers on this side are missing due to PO bodgery.

 You are appear to be much braver than me, not sure I could cope with hacking that much off!! 

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  • 2 months later...

Van is behaving fine so not much to say. However, took the modern (7 year old C3 Picasso) for an MOT and it failed. 

Since pretty much new the rear discs have looked like rusty shite, but each year have passed. This year the tester him say no - passed the brake efficiency tests, but not the visual have they been recovered from the sea test. 

Was a bit peeved until I found the pads had got a bit* thin


metal on metal. Passed efficiency and no noises. Probably was due a change!

Disc was a little crispy as well


Modern cars are so much simpler - discs come with sealed bearing pre installed, no faffing around with grease, and bearing drifts, just out the box, on and do up the nut. Could get used to this. 

MOT man charged me a £20 partial retest for the pleasure of looking at the car from a distance and saying he could see they shiny new bits. Not sure how u feel about that, but a pass is now achieved…..

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  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - don’t pick at it, you’ll make it…. Nope, too late.

Time for a wash, but the jet washer dislodged a little chunk of paint, and then a little bit more:


hmmm, looks a touch rusty underneath, and a bit of filler/fibreglass, which wasn’t me. I’ll just give it a quick brush over and put some rust killer on:


Not sure rust converter works on air. Let’s just check round the back:


Oh ffs. 

my trailing arm appears to be held on by a few scraps of rust and some strings of underseal. 

Luckily I can buy a new mount all neatly fabbed up in 4mm steel, so just need to do a bit of cutting, welding and swearing and it’ll be like new.

Probably best leave it in the jack for now!  

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4 hours ago, cobblers said:

Oh, bugger. My Doka had similar minor rust there and it turned out to be quite severe once we picked off the outer panel.

No photo description available.


No photo description available.

Both sides were as bad as each other


It’s a common grot spot isn’t it - made some temporary’s repairs on the other side 4 years ago. 

This side has been done a few years before I got it by a professional. I have been keeping half an eye on it so it’s not a total surprise, but it is worse than I hoped it might be. 

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Two long days of cutting, welding and setting fire to things (mainly underseal, the sleeve of my overalls and my angle grinder that self combusted) I have done it:


and better still it actually works:


despite knowing that there is a shed load of new steel in there replacing the rusty scraps and it being so much stronger I always get the fear when I first lower it down. 

It needs a touch of filler and the seam line reinstating on the side, but I have plans to paint it this summer so it’ll do for now. Wing is also crusty throughout, especially the return lip so more to be done in that as well. 

Also welded up the front step, the missus was underwhelmed by the gaffer tape that kept the water out. No pictures of that, it was a ropey old repair to start with, and I haven’t improved the look of  it, although it’s now water tight without the tape! New step section needed, but again, it’ll do for now. 

As an aside, if you’re slicing open packaging to get to your welding consumables, using a brand new Stanley blade, try and avoid just stabbing it with all your force into your index finger…. 

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20 hours ago, RichardK said:

Isn't there a recall for those belts and the impact on the brake booster from rubber bits falling off?

There is - they measure it for you free of charge and offer to change the belt if it fails their test, but you pay for this bit. I may be cynical, but I wouldn’t trust me local dealer to ask me to get my wallet out regardless of any measurements.

I have a very late model one, which as it turns out has a later style narrow belt fitted, which apparently is not as prone to disintegrating if you use the correct spec oil and regularly use it longer distance so it gets nice and hot. Apparently the worst thing for them is short cold drives. 

As it’s 7 years old shortly it’s going to get moved on anyway as company car allowance has a maximum age limit. 

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  • rusty_vw_man changed the title to Rusty VW bothering - on the road again

In a repeat of last Easter it’s time to drag the van to Spain - a loop of Zaragoza, Valencia and Madrid this time. 

Best do some prep:


Best add some oil, a litre or so seems to have escaped.

Excellent, with that done I’m going to call it ready to go…. It’s only a few thousand miles. Next stop Bay of Biscay 🤢 the kids are taking bets on the first to vomit. 

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