In July of 2000 I bought a sandrail. It had a 2.0 Pinto motor, brand new guages, new seat covers, new front shock mounts, new disc brakes in the rear, and uninstalled new seatbelts. The rest was anything but "new".
I ran it for that first summer trying to learn what I'd need well enough to take it to the dunes that winter. It barely made it. I lost the drivers side axle twice (Broke once, popped the snap ring in the diff the other time) broke the shift selector in the tranny and learned that the rear shocks would only last for about 10 minutes before self destructing with the mounts the way they were.
By Halloween of that year things were looking bad. The motor was smoking badly (it had always smoked but not very badly) and as I learned how to improve the cooling system the motor overheated a few times. Halloween was to be my first trip to the dunes with the rail and by the time it got there I could only make it from my camp at the "garbage flats" to comp and back. Because any longer and I'd have no oil left in the motor. It was building up so much pressure it launched my oil filler cap and I never was able to find a replacement.
New Years 2001 rolls around and my rail refuses to start so I stay home for the weekend with my sick baby. Finally got it to start but it was hurting. Took it for one last spin at buttercup and decided to pull the head.
What I found will be detailed on another page but it was not pretty. I spent more or less the next year rebuilding the rail. I'm still tweaking it and improving it but the difference already is amazing. The results have made me very happy so far.Most photos will bring up a larger version by clicking on them.
|How it looked the day I went to look at it. You can see the new seats and basically how neglected the whole thing was.||Same view after my rebuild and then again after I finally re-did the front end.|
|The original rear view. I was told that the motor had sat in a shop for about 10 years while the rail rotted out in the sun. Then the guy I got it from bought it and put it back together again but the friend he was rebuilding it for lost interest so it went up for sale. The motor smoked so I knew it would need a rebuild but I had NO idea what I was in for.||The motor before it was started for the first time after the rebuild. Note the shocks are now back to stock VW mounts, new Esslinger header, Optima battery and the highly polished center console.|
|The day I brought it home. Man I miss that garage, I did not plan on having to move which really made working on the rail a lot more difficult for almost a year until I moved back into a house with a garage. This is how it looked when I drove it into my garage for the first time - and I actually ran it on those front tires for at least 6 months!||Now that's more like it! The new seatbelts that originally came with the rail didn't work out - they were super cheap and would not stay clasped, they also got sun rotted in just one year. Grant from Funco supplied me with the new belts from Filler/Pyrotech as thanks for help I've given the ASA.|
|Details. Ahhh, the Pale Engineering electric shifter. Neat idea but not very good for the dunes. It let sand into the nosecone and the modifications to the shift selector weakened it leaving me stranded in 2nd less than an hour into my first trip to the dunes. Also note the original air shocks and their mounting - no shock ever lasted more than an hour on those mounts.||The end castings and swing axle tubes had been welded together so I had to replace them with shiny new parts - chrome was only a few bucks more so why not. The shocks were all of $25 each and have lasted almost two seasons on the stock mounts. They're about to be replaced with some Marvin Shaws.|
|The cockpit before I bought it. That shifter only worked with the solenoid setup on the tranny. Forward for 1st, back for 2nd. Left button and forward for 3rd, button and back for 4th. Right button was to enable reverse and both buttons and once with some jiggling would get you neutral...sometimes.||Well, the guage box was highly polished - but a few trips to the dunes and getting caught in the rail at thanksgiving and that's all in the past. Still it's a lot nicer than it was. I added that GPS mount but the plastic shattered after about 4 trips. Still trying to whip up a better mount.|
|The wiring on the buggy had just been redone before I bought it. But it was still a rats nest inside and everything used inline fuses. It was a major pain to work on and the wires were so short that replacing a gauge or switch was impossible without undoing EVERYTHING.||Photo of new wiring coming soon. Dosn't look much better but it uses relays for the high draw circuits, fuse panels for switched and unswitched feeds and has enough extra wire length things can actually be worked on one at a time. Still not easy to work on though.|
|And finally how I get to the dunes. This is the only shot I could find showing the trailer as I bought it. I know I have a shot of it by itself when I first bought it but I can't find it anywhere.||Only took two days and $60 to rebuild and repaint the trailer. That includes a new swing away jack (not yet installed in these photos), all new bearings and seals, and the fresh paint. The stickers I just taped over and saved :)|