A bus called Major

Major is a 1977 Westfalia Campmobile who lived all his life in Santa Cruz, California before coming to live with us in early 2011. He has been looked after in America and used a lot, this carried on with us and we used him for lots of adventures here in the UK. The bodywork, upholstery and engine need some tlc to bring him back to life and for the past couple of years has been resting.

Here he is when we got him home

We sorted the curtains out, wash & brush up, alloy wheels and some blankets and we where ready for action!

So, last September came and we decided to do a full refurbishment starting with the bodywork, chassis, running gear followed by the interior, cabinets etc. Me and my Dad did a survey on the bodywork to see what needed attention. The sliding door, cab door, left hand battery tray and part of the bodywork was found to be rotten. The motor has a misfire and the oil cooler needs relocating (or a Subaru conversion 🙂 ).

The first bit to tackle was the sliding door, there are a couple of drilled holes which do a good job of letting water spray in and allowing the door to rot from the inside out. Some subtle repairs and a respray sorted the door out nicely!

Next up, the left hand front door, the door skin was cracked and bits rattled loose when the door is opened and closed. We have de skinned it, replaced the rotten parts, rewelded the brace bars up and, as it stands, we are building it back up again.

With the door fully built back up, painted and lacquered, we considered it a job well done as it looks very good indeed, the paint has a nice shine to it now!

With that out of the way, Major has been moved to the garage for the welding to be done including a new front panel. I’m hoping we haven’t got too much to do but the mess a reputable VW specialist made didn’t do the chassis any good. This will be sorted along the way. Before we could move him, we had to take the roof off as he is too tall to fit in the garage!

Now we have all of the workshop facilities to work with, a start could be made on the bodywork. One of the easier bits to “sort” was the small section of rotten metal on the left hand side of the engine bay. This turned into a 2″ square section on the outer bodyskin and a 1″ piece on the inner D post and a complete new rear valance.

Nice and easy to sort, make sure any rust is cleaned up and treated with Vactan and a good coat of paint before welding up the new metal into place. We used a Custom and Commercial rear valance, its was very well made and fit as it should!

Looks quite good, we ground back and filled the weld holes up, flattened the filler off nicely, etch primed and high build primed the repair up until respray time. Very pleased with the end result 🙂


Now that the rear valance was sorted, we moved on to the front panel as it always let water in when it rained. There was some areas around the windscreen where the rust was bubbling away, we decided to replace the whole front panel and do a proper job of it and not worry again

Here is the reason why it leaked! The front panel had been replaced at some point as, we later found out, the front had been damaged and the air box assembly located behind it had moved backwards towards the driver by 2 inches. Something else to sort out.

If only we knew the amount of work we had to do.


This is was faced us when the old panel was cut away:

We had to source a replacement air box assembly, weld a new inner windscreen panel in, repair the plinth which the front panel sits on and align everything to ensure the windscreen will fit in its correct position. Quite daunting.

All in all, it went well and now its painted,  the effort paid off!

Our plan is to refit the lights, indicators, windscreen etc before we move on to the next area to sort.

Ill update this section as we progress with the next area to refurbish, the inside of the cab and floor. Not going into too much depth mind, just enough to keep a record of the work taking place.