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Exterior Projects

Index of Quick Links

Rear badge restoration

Haze removed from headlights

Roof deoxidized & polished

Spoiler cleaned & painted

Tent rain fly

Bumper light wires rerouted

Sliding door screen

Shower/changing room

Outdoor table stand

Door trim deoxidized

Sliding door jamb repainted

Sliding door track cleaned

New tent

New Euro plate

New grille emblem

New propane tank

New tires

Auxiliary lights

Rear badge restoration

Product: Krylon Silver Leafing Pen

Date: December 2011

Comments: Rear name badge was dull as spit.  Came across the leafing pen and the badge looks almost brand spankin' new!  A steady hand is needed, but not to the degree a paint brush would require.

Headlight lenses cleared up

Product: Rubbing alcohol

Date: April 2010

Comments: Headlight lenses were so hazy you couldn’t see through them.  While they were removed to install the higher wattage bulbs, the lenses were cleaned up.

Pop-top deoxidized

Product: Meguiar’s fiberglass Oxidation Remover; plastic bristle brush; orbital buffer; Penetrol

Date: May 2013

Comments: The roof on my '90 was deoxidized back in 2010 using various products, but it all returned in short order and got tired of looking at it when the roof was raised. Used Penetrol in the luggage rack awhile back, worked great; however, I had used Meguiar's #49 Oxidation Remover a few months prior. So, this weekend I finally got around to doing the pop-top. Penetrol alone wasn't going to cut it, and scrubbing the roof with a sponge and cleaner (as others have done) wouldn't work either:

Spoiler painted

Product: VHT Epoxy Paint in Satin Black

Date: April 2010

Comments: Spoiler was no longer black, it was a dull gray almost.  Instead of using a restoration dye, it was simply painted.  Thousands of miles and lots of cleanings later, it still looks good.

Tent rainfly and sunshade

Product:  Home-made (outdoor polyester table covers + hooks and snaps)

Date: June 2010

Comments: Places like Fanchers and GoWesty sell rain flies & sun shades.   Fanchers' version doesn't cover the sides.  GoWesty's version is a wrap-around, one piece.  Neither works for me, so I made my own, for far less dinero!  The two sides can be completely removed so that the front piece can be used by itself.  The front sections of both side pieces can be folded back for light, airflow, etc.  

Update: Currently under reconstruction.  Look for the new version sometime in 2014.

Auxiliary light wires rerouted, Euro plate added

Product:  n/a

Date: Spring 2010; 2012

Comments: The bra appears to have remained in place when the bumper lights were installed; bra couldn't be readily removed.  I removed the lights (rerouting the wires in the process), removed & power-washed the bra and then made cut-outs for the lights so the bra can be easily installed/removed.  The second owner named the van "Old Blue".  The van conveniently came with a Euro-sized plate cut-out; because my state does not require front plates (yay!) I had a Euro plate made with the van's name.  I also added clear vinyl to the bra to protect the Euro plate.  Update: White Euro plate replaced with black plate; bra replaced with new one.

Sliding door screen

Product:  Home-made

Comments: I made this myself (albeit a blue one) because a) needed a screen, b) didn't want to add snaps to the interior, c) had screen leftover from making a new skylight screen.  I do make these screens for sale upon request; please visit The Store for more details.

Shower, toilet, & changing room

Product: Home-made (3 shower curtains sewn together)

Date: August 2010

Comments: A Zodi hot shower kit came with the van.  The shower talk over on The Samba persuaded me to add a shower/changing/toilet room!  Attaches to the van via hooks, magnets, and snaps.

Outdoor portable table

Product: PVC pipe > Targus camera tripod > Roll-A-Table

Comments: Table stand I made out of PVC that mounted to the van drove me nuts: wouldn’t work on uneven ground (duh)... had to come up with a new idea.  Camera tripod to the rescue!  Now the table can be used outside the van and away from the van.  For more details on the tripod stand, click here.  

Update (2013): Tripod works great, but my tables are used primarily in the van (i.e. was driving around with an unused table tripod taking up space); therefore, invested in a Roll-A-Table, which is wonderful!

Door trim deoxidized

Product:  3M Rubbing Compound, Meguiar's Plastix, 303 Protectant 

Date: December 2011

Comments: The door trim was about as gray as the spoiler; finally set about cleaning them up.  They look loads better now! Their original Graphite Metallic color has been restored!

Sliding door jamb repainted

Product: Orly Blue Metallic and clear-coat spray paint from AutomotiveTouchup.com

Date: March 2012

Comments: For some reason the sliding door jamb was plastered with scratches when the van was bought, many of them deep and rusting.  I finally got tired of looking at them, so one warm, Spring day  I cleaned up the surface rust and did some painting.  The paint is an exact match!  While the gouges are still visible upon close inspection, they are at least blue! (I didn't care to strip the whole thing down to metal.)

Sliding door track cleaned & quieted

Product:  Degreaser, Bug & Tar Remover, plastic-bristled brush, vacuum, hose sprayer

Date: March 2012

Comments: Track was filthy: dirt, sand, dog hair, 1 curtain track gizmo, 1 wrench socket(!), 1 penny.  Cleaned it up and applied UHMW tape.  Cleaned the upper & rear tracks and applied the tape there too.  It's loads quieter now; still have one rear roller track to do then the door will be virtually silent!

Update (12/2013): While the tape is still very effective, it has begun to bubble up in spots and rust is forming where the bearing originally wore the paint down to bare metal.  Will be peeling off the tape and repainting in the near future.

New tent

Product:  3-window acrylic (Outdura) tent from GoWesty (preferred to have an Ateliers tent, but didn’t want to wait 6 months; sale + GoBucks to spend = saved about $100 and had the tent in 2 weeks)

Date: May 2012

Comments: After Syncro Solstice it was time... couldn't stand not having side windows any longer.  The original one-window canvas tent was still in good shape, save for small holes at the rear hinges, but it was too drafty in cold weather and too claustrophobic!  Replacement was somewhat of a chore, but worth it for the 3 windows; 3 windows are fabulous!  The manufacturer did a crappy seam job, which resulted in the rear bungee needing to be cut and the right rear corner tearing a bit, along with small slits in the front window zipper webbing, but the manufacturer offered a free replacement (still need to install; thanks to GW for being the middleman).

New grille emblem

Product:  Cheap-o Jetta IV emblem from eBay

Date: November 2012

Comments: Original emblem was painted and said paint was starting to wear.  The Jetta IV emblem is an almost direct fit with a more modern, rounded look.  Click here for further info.

New mud flap & propane tank

Product:  Bus Depot (German mud flap); GoWesty (Manchester propane tank)

Date: June 2013

Comments: Coming back home from Moab via Prescott, the driver’s side mud flap fell off.  The flap was already torn; somewhere on 89, the flap tore completely off.  While in Moab, the propane tank regulator had issues (kept getting clogged).  Back at home, while under the van working on the cooling/heater system, I could smell propane; it wasn’t overwhelming, but concerning.  I could have refurbed the old tank, but I had GoBucks to spend and a new tank with modern components was more appealing. Both the flap and tank got their initiation with a muddy trip to Flagstaff.

Tires replaced

Product:  Continental Vanco 4 All-season

Date: February 2014

Comments: When the van was bought back in February 2010, the tires needed replacing ASAP.  I prefer buying tires from a national chain because anywhere I travel, I'm covered in the event of a tire issue.  Therefore, I looked up what GoWesty sold at the time (Michelin HydroEdge, if I remember right) and found it at Discount Tire.  I ordered up a set and soon received a phone call saying that the tires were unavailable.  Rather than hanging up and doing more research, I naively allowed the tire guy to order up comparable Pirellis (Cinturato P5).  Fast forward to spring 2013 when uneven tire wear was noticed on the front tires.  Discount stated that it's from not rotating the tires in a timely manner (admittedly, it had been over 5000 miles), and suggested to have the alignment checked.  Alignment was fine, but suspension was shot (van did a lot of nose-diving).  Installed GoWesty's progressive springs, which improved the handling by a 180°.  But something was still a little "off".  In culminating tire information into one "Ultimate Tire Thread" on TheSamba, I learned that the Pirellis (and the Michelins GoWesty sells, for that matter) were, in fact, under-rated for the van, and that Discount Tire and the like do not have proper Vanagon requirements in their databases.  Additionally, in buying a digital air pressure gauge at Harbor Freight, it came with a tread depth gauge, which I put to use immediately.  The Pirellis were at the start of the wear limit.  In the name of safety and handling, the Pirellis were dumped for Continental Vanco 4's, a tire that meets specifications for these vans.  Expensive lesson learned.  Van rides and handles a thousand times better than a few years ago, and has no problem off-roading!


Auxiliary lights

Product:  TerraPodz by Terrawagen

Date: January 2014

Comments: Van came with bumper-mounted auxiliary lights, which were great except they were difficult to get tight enough to never move.  I, along with many others, have lusted after the original Projetzwvo auxiliary lights that mount between the lower grille and front running lights.  Those lights are NLA and are quite expensive when you can find a pair used.  Terrawagen recreated the lights using a different type of light housing and modern LEDs.  While not bright enough to be driving lights, and not as bright as the old incandescents, they are perfect for DRLs and for minor supplemental lighting at night… they fulfill my needs, look great, and make the van more Euro-ish.  Of course, this meant that the bra had to be altered to accommodate the Podz; cutting was no problem, but sewing the felt border with my little machine was a slight pain.