Custom Removable Side Scoop Fabrication & Installation
Help your Splitty breath a little easier.
Anyone who's been in the VW bus circles for a few years has un-doubtedly heard some of the arguments for or against the use of side scoops. Personally, I have always had a bit of an open mind when it comes to scoops. If you look at the second generation buses and early third generation Vanagons, VW incorporated a "scooped" air inlet to aid in getting more air into the engine compartment. VW had to know there was an advantage to this or they wouldn't have made the change.
I've always wanted the benefits that a scoop could bring, but never liked the scoops available on the market. The only off-shelf design was a cheesy fiberglass unit that to me had a lot to be desired aesthetically. I also had real issues about drilling permanent holes into the side of my pristine sheet metal. So I went about designing and manufacturing my own. The two requirements I made for these was:
1. They had to be made of metal (namely aluminum)
2. They were to be COMPLETELY REMOVABLE with absolutely NO HOLES TO DRILL IN MY BUS!!
This is what I came up with. I think they are much better looking than the fiberglass alternative as well as being stronger. They are also completely removable with NO holes in my bus.
NOTE: The drawing is NOT to scale, but the measurements are true.
First I laid out the basic scoop on flat sheet aluminum. Ensure that when you lay out your scoop, you have the grain of the metal going from the top, to the bottom of the scoop (as it sits on the bus). That way the bend lines for the sides are perpendicular to the grain. If you bend aluminum with the grain, the metal will crack. For this project, I used .100" thick 7075 - 0 sheet aluminum. I used aluminum with no temper ("- 0") to make it easier to bend without cracking. With it .100" thick I wouldn't need to worry about it being flimsy. I used shears to cut the large straight lines and a band saw to cut out the wedges that will make the front of the scoops.
Be sure that you drill holes with a 1/4" drill bit where the sides and top meet (where noted on the drawing, or else your metal will crack. I found it easier to bend the sides up first, then bend the top piece slightly to match the cut of the sides. When you weld up this seam, any minor imperfections in the joint will disappear in the weld. Just be sure it's square before you hit it with the heat.
The base flange was made separately out of three separate strips of 3/4" wide X .100" thick 7075 - 0. I had all the joints and base flange pieces welded together. I then ground all the welds smooth so that it has the illusion of being cast in one piece.
Now that the scoop was made, now I had to attach it to the bus. I accomplished this with four brackets that grab the body from inside the top and bottom louvers. It was important to make these fairly wide so that the force being placed on them would be distributed over a wide area. Also I ONLY mounted these on the top & bottom louvers because these are the strongest. The others could bend.
Above are some photos of the brackets I made to hold the scoops to the side of my bus. The two longer ones are for the forward end of the scoops while the smaller ones are for the back end. You'll notice that each pair as a longer one. The longer ones have a shorter, hooked end. The added length is to make up for the setback of the bottom louver going in from the surface. The hook is to get a better grip of the angled surface. To aid in the mounting and dismounting, I used pieces of anchor-nut channel flush riveted in place. That way I wouldn't have to fumble with nuts and washers especially on the rear mounts. If you can't locate any of this channel, you could substitute it with riv-nuts which are available at most hardware stores where they sell pop-rivets.
Above are some photos of how the mounts attach to the body of the bus. ABSOLUTELY NO HOLES DRILLED!!
The top of the scoop has four holes drilled and countersunk so that I can use countersunk head screws for a cleaner finished appearance.
To seal the scoops and also ensure the body doesn't get scratched up, I used adhesive backed foam weather stripping to the entire mounting flange. It's cheap and does a great job of protecting the paint.
To get the scoops looking good, as well as toning down that glaring, polished shine, I decided to give them a brushed/polished look by using progressively finer sandpaper until I got the desired shine. I then taped the entire face if them off with a thick, high-quality masking tape. I got onto my computer downloaded an appropriate image onto MS Word®. I then arched the saying, "El Vaijero" above and, "The Traveler" below the image (since my camper is an E-Z Camper, "El Vaijero" model) and then printed it out on plain paper. On the scoop, I laid out a piece of carbon paper and then laid the graphics overtop and taped it into position. I then carefully traced out the graphics with a pen. When I removed the papers, I now had a perfect drawing of the graphics reliefed onto the masking tape.
Now I used a razor to carefully cut around the graphics and then removed all the tape EXCEPT the graphics. Then, I took the scoop into the bead blaster, and with LOW pressure, I frosted the entire scoop. This not only gave me a uniform, softer texture, but it also removed the minor scratches that were there from the building process. When I peeled off the tape, this is how it looked. . .
A nice matte finish with the polished graphics!! All there was to do now, was to clear-coat them to ensure corrosion wouldn't set is as well as protect the surfaces from scratching. For this, I used a Deft® brand clear-coat that's made for bare metal surfaces.
I'm REALLY happy with how these turned out and they look GREAT on my bus!! Now if I can just get the rest of the bus looking as good as the scoops. . .
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Revised: August 24, 2003 .