Installation of the new panels was pretty much the reverse of removal and, for the most part, a one person operation. I started with two easy panels, just to get my feet wet, so to speak: the driver side wall and strip panel that goes behind the spare tire. Due to the need for at least two free hands, I regrettably did not get to take many pictures of the actual installation for any of the panels, but hopefully, with the help of the Bentley manual and a good memory of how they came out, this phase should not take anyone long at all.
Entire panel thread.
First up, the narrow strip panel located behind the spare tire. I wanted to do this one first because it had a lot of screw holes that served as a good test for my cutting/drilling method (I actually installed it once, right after it was cut, so I was pretty confident at this point). This photo brings up a point I want to make about the new panel’s color/appearance. For some reason, the camera (old and about to die) had trouble with the new panel’s coloring and shading. In a lot of shots, they appear much darker than in reality and the flash gave the grain a very weird distortion. You’ll see them change color shades from picture to picture; the lighter colors are most accurate. New panel is above the original in this photo.
Getting the first screw started was the challenging part for this panel, but once that was accomplished the other five went in easily. I started with the back, top screw followed by the next screw forward (just behind the curtain) and then the screw just below the curtain. This helped the panel conform to the curve of the wall, minimized puckering, and helped align the other screw holes. To allow for some maneuverability, I did not turn the screws all the way in until all six were started in their respective threads. Once that was accomplished, I went back and screwed them flush with the panel. (See what I mean about panel color changing?)
Somewhere in the midst of producing ’71 buses, VW stopped using the rubber spare tire bumpers and installed a strap instead. Moby was produced late in the production run (she even has some features that show up in the ’72 model year) and therefore was missing the bumpers. I like them because they help hold the tire in place and protect the wall from chafing so I grabbed two from the parts stash to use along with the original strap.
Spare tire installed. If you’re keeping track of the surroundings, yes, this picture was taken after the interior went back in the bus.
Spare tire cover and rear cushion returned and ready for use.
The driver side wall panel was made from regular birch plywood because baltic birch is not available in long enough sheets. This panel (~5.5 feet long) did turn out a bit darker than the original.
Screws, catch, and backing plate for the side table.
The backing plate goes on the rear of the panel, near the bottom, with the triangle cutout protruding out (it is designed to catch on a piece of wood in the wall behind the panel). This plate gives the screws something to bite on besides thin plywood; without it, the table will rip the catch out of the panel when lifted.
Table catch polished with 000 steel wool and installed.
I supposed I could have eliminated the rear ashtray as smoking is verboten in this bus, but I don’t need any more ashtrays accumulating in the stash. A little steel wool polished it nicely.
To get the ashtray frame out of the old panel, I bent the six retaining tabs flat against the box.
A simple re-bending tightly mounted the ashtray frame in the panel.
Voila, ready for the ashtray.
To install, I angled the top of the panel towards the bus wall while lifting the top edge into the retaining channel. With the edge fully engaged in the channel, I moved the bottom edge towards the wall until the panel slipped into place. This step took a little alternating between moving the bottom and running a hand along the top to keep the panel in the channel. If the top edge slips out, the channel can splinter the plywood. Once in place, I then started the four large table screws and all the little retaining screws, but did not seat them fully. Like the strip panel, leaving the screws loose will help with alignment. With all the screws started and in place, I tighten them flush with the panel starting with the bottom row and working up towards the window (the table screws don’t need to be tightened at this stage).
Once the retaining screws were all tightly secured, I removed the four table screws and mounted the table. Installation was a bit tricky and required the use of my head and shoulder to brace the table while I put the four screws through the table bracket, set them about halfway, and then tightened them. The electric box followed, mounting easily with its two screws.
Before I started this project, I ordered a couple of decal sheets in case I couldn’t save the originals (68-79 decals; 68-79 Westfalia decals). The old one came off the panel intact, but was fairly wrinkled so I decided to use one of the reproductions.
The new decal is designed for later bay window models and contains extra translations not present in early iterations. To mimic the original, I trimmed off the extra information.
A new decal is a nice finishing touch for the panel. I used a clean rag to smooth and press the decay on the panel (same method I used on the front kick panel vinyl).