Rear end work

I finally decided to take off the rear bumper to see how bad the rust was in the passenger rear quarter. I could see some, but the bumper was blocking my view. The above picture was taken a few days after we got Gus – February of 2007. Notice he is still sporting his bull/cow coat. One of the main reasons I wanted to work on this rear area is the lack of a rear working tail light. The passenger side tail light appears to be intact in this picture, but underneath it’s all cracked. Also, Gus features a wooden battery tray, which I’m pretty sure was not a VW option in 1978. His original battery tray is completely rusted out. I thought I had a picture of it, but I don’t. Imagine a D-shaped piece of warped plywood and you’re on the right track.

So I took off the bumper, and here’s what I found…

Very dirty, and there’s a bigger rust hole than I thought.

I couldn’t see this larger hole at all when the bumper was on. Fortunately, I have replacement parts.


This is a genuine VW replacement quarter panel I ordered a few years ago. Notice how the tail light area is supposed to be on the same plane as the rear facing piece? And how Gus’s is…well…not?

I also have a new battery tray – not VW. But it seems like it will work. I have it sitting at what it would look like installed.

The driver’s side looks like it might have some bondo in it, but there isn’t a hole at least. It is a little crunched also, however, and the battery tray also has a hole. My guess is the corrosion was caused by the auxillary battery.

Luckily, I had procured another genuine VW section of quarter panel and battery tray from a donor that sat in my garage last summer, awaiting the fate of the crusher…the infamous Road Warrior.

(I have to admit it was a little weird cutting out that piece. But some pieces had already been cut out, and the bus was going to the crusher anyway. At least it will live on in Gus.)

So I’ve got all my replacement pieces and I’m ready to start replacing metal.


If I start on this project I will never be on the road this summer. The front end is still in bare metal, and the windshield is still out. And in the spirit of wabi-sabi, maybe I can wait a little longer to repair this. Hmmm, maybe I can pull this thing out…

So I got out a couple of expensive body repair tools I had lying around – a piece of pipe, a pair of visegrips, a hammer, and a 2×4 piece of wood. And got to work.

(this is actually a decent shot of the custom wood battery tray)

Hey – it fits without being in two pieces!

So I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. It’s by no means perfect, but at least it holds the tail light housing and is almost straight. I’ll probably put a little primer over the major surface rust, and top it off with the touch-up paint I’ll be getting for the nose. I still need to pull the engine to get the gas tank out so I can reseal it. Or maybe I finish the windshield/nose first, get the muffler on, and see if I can actually drive it this summer. We’ll see!

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