Dave T

I am the creator and owner of the SWDubs site and have been around the scene for more years than I can remember. I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google plus talking crap and posting updates to the Scirocco 16v project I have going. Google

May 212015

It’s be some time since I wrote anything on here, so I thought I would kick it all off again with a bang and give a little guide on making a cool fire pit for your back garden or that summer camping trip.

Now, I can’t take credit for the idea or the design as I saw it posted on social media and thought I would give it a go. I have been teaching myself/learning welding over the last few months by welding up the Jetta, so I thought cutting up and welding together some old wheels might be a fun way to practice.

To start with you need a pair of matching steel wheels. I tried to find a matching pair, but all I could find were two 14″ steels that had been hidden at the back of a barn for years. Though they were slightly different widths and designs, they were the same diameter so all was good.


Now the first thing that you need to do when you have your wheels is to clean them up a little and remove the valves and weights from the wheels.

remove valves and weights

Once the wheels are clean and the valves and weights are off you will need to mock up the two wheels together to mark out the opening. I used a marker pen to mock up the opening first and eyed up the markings. I used the first sewage in the wheel as a mark of the top of the hole.

Once you are happy with the size of the hole, cut the wheel with an angle grinder with a thin cutting disk on. Make sure to wear the correct safety equipment as cutting the wheels can be tricky due to their shape and size.

I was planning on having rounded corners to my hole, but the metal hole saw I was going to use was too large. If you want to have round corners I would recommend using a 15-20mm metal hole saw, though it will be tricky to get the hole right.

Once you have the two wheels cut, you will need to mock the fire pit back up again to make sure you are happy with the shape and size of the final hole. At this point you can also make sure the holes on the two wheels line up perfectly. If you are slightly off use a grinding disc on an angle grinder to grind off the extra metal to get everything to line up nicely.


Once you are happy with the hole and are ready to weld, you will need to clean up the lips of both wheels to make sure for a good weld.

I used a wire wheel cup on a grinder to clean up the rust and make the lips on both wheels nice and shiny again. This is a very important part of the build as any rust left on the lip will contaminate the weld and make it much harder for you to get a good weld.

Once you have a nice clean welding environment, put the wheels back together and make sure you are happy with the fitment and how it all lines up. The two lips of the wheels will line up, but it can be difficult to get the two to line up perfectly, but if they are out of line the wheels will be more difficult to weld up to give a tidy finish.

I only had a small MIG welder to help up the thick wheels, so I whacked the welder up to high with a high feed rate and started tacking. Testing the settings on the first couple of tacks will allow you to get a nice finish. Because the metal is so think, it is a good way to practice welding beads of weld because you have almost no chance of burning through the metal.

I started by tacking the corners and making sure the wheels were still aligned correctly. Then beaded a weld all of the way around the wheel. Due to the thickness, the penetration of the weld was not great, so I added some tacks to the inside of the wheel too. These were to strengthen the weld, though having tested the pit the exterior weld would have probably have been fine for the job as it is not load bearing.

bead of weldall welded up - fire pit

Now that the two wheels are welded together, get your grinder back out and use a grinding disk to take off the excess welds. Unless of course you want the industrial look (and you are better at welding then me), then you can of course leave the welds as is if you want.

Once you have ground back the welds you should have nice clean connection between the two wheels.

nice clean weld - fire pitwelded up - fire pit

Next you need to sort out some legs. I was lucky enough that there were some old metal gates laying around that were being scraped that had some pretty cool swirls, so I cut those bad boys out and welded them onto the base.

finished fire pit

For the second fire pit I used the cut out sections of the wheels as the feet of the fire pit. If you managed to cut the wholes in one go, it is a simple task to measure up the two pieces of left over metal to make sure they are the same size, then half each side to make 4 legs. Then clean up and weld the feet onto the base 90degrees from each other. I simply did this by eye, but you could use a piece of wood and mark out the locations instead.

second fire pitsecond fire pit legs

From here you can leave the fire pit as it is, or paint it with some sort of high temp stove paint. I have done both, and I prefer simply leaving the fire pit as you can see above, though painting it does help to protect the new welds from oxidation.

 Posted by at 7:58 pm
Sep 052014

It’s been a busy old month or so for me with regards to shows and meets (read the Mega Meet Round-up here). This weekend just past saw the turn of Edition 38, one of the largest CW shows of the year and one of the main events of the VW calendar.

However, I was not there. Instead I decided to drive up to a small Hill Climb course near Worcester for the 2014 Retro Ride Gathering show. Now, I have been to this show for the last 3 years and have really enjoyed every year. This year was going to be slightly different though as it was moving location from Prescott to Shelsley Walsh.

Shelsley Walsh is not a small venue itself, in fact the main reason RRG 2014 was being moved from Prescott to Shelsley Walsh was due to the fact that they needed more room for the club stands. My only reservation was that the viewing of the hill climb itself was not quiet as good. For those of you who have been to Prescott, you will know that there is a great vantage point where many people can site on an open bank and watch a good third of the track. Shelsley Walsh however is a more traditional track, with a number of smaller viewing points that give a more limited view of the track.

Even though Shelsley Walsh’s viewing points were more limited and smaller then the main viewing point at Prescott, it was a fun, tight track that lead to some great cars being driven by some enthused drivers, easily entertaining all those who climbed the steep slope to watch.

As we were travelling up to Shelsley Walsh from Exeter, we decided once again to camp from Friday all the way to show day on the Sunday. Camping as a whole was well organised and the orchard used actually made for a pretty cool camp site. There were the usual antics during the night, but nothing too bad, and the ‘tat sale’ on Saturday night was great fun.

The Sunday came and the reason for the move to Shelsley Walsh became obvious. The club stand field was huge, with a huge range of different cars featured. There was no time to look around the stands in the morning though as two friends (Joe Ford and Tom White) were planning on running their retro Fords up the hill.

After getting up nice and early they both lined up to register and pay their £30 for their runs up the hill. We wondered up the (bloody) steep hill and many, many steps to get the to top S’s on the hill. We managed to get some pretty cool pics of the first two groups from the morning session that included Joe and Tom’s runs.

If I were to be critical of anything it would be that the second group in the morning sessions only had 2 runs. That makes for a quite expensive morning for those guys. It is a shame as it looked like it was mainly due to getting the cars back down after the runs and out the way of the next group. I think they were getting the hang of it by the time the afternoon sessions were running, but that did not help those in that second group. Here are the pics from the hill.


Astra-GTE Beniton-F1-Car bmw-2002 Dolimite DSC_0209 escort-van hearse hillman-imp jaguar Jag-xjs lancia-delta-racecar Lancia-delta-racecar2 Lotus-sunbeam M5-bmw Manta mini mk1 capri mk1-golf mk2-fiesta mk3-capri mx5 Nova Nova-Saloon porsche-944 racing-mini vauxhall-chevette Volvo-340


Once we had had our fill of the hill we wondered around the club stands. Some of the cars on show were beautiful classics that has been modified to help amplify an already amazing car. There were of course some that were a little tatty and some that were damn right pap, but that is just IMO.

Anyway, here is my dump of pics from the club stands on Sunday. Any requests for larger versions just leave a comment.

16v-on-bike-carbs 20v-bbm-mk2-golf 20v-scirocco 2000-bmw Beatle-chassis-mk1-Golf celica e28-bmw E30-M3 Hotrod-pickup Lancias mercedes-190e porsche-964

Here is a Video from the day made by In  Motion Media. Check out their FB page here.


Sep 032014

I first must apologise for the lateness of this post. I have no real excuse for not creating this earlier, I am just a lazy, lazy man who cannot bring himself to sit behind a computer in the evenings after spending all day behind another.

Anyway, as most who are reading this will know we recently had the summer mega meet at Exeter services (Aug 17th) and therefore we are in need of a round-up post on the meet with a shed load of images in it.

The meet was lining up to be the biggest we have ever had. With over 400 people said to attend on the Facebook event page we were looking forward to some great cars from around the South West.

Then  the rain came!

Around half the people said to be attending ended up braving the weather and I bet they were happy they were. After a short shower at Exeter services we actually saw some blue skies.

As with all mega meets there was a great array of cars on show. From show cars to daily drivers. From VAG to Lancia.

Once again those who made the short drive to Budleigh were greeted with sun, sea and pies from the Devon Deli van.

That’s enough of me babbling on, here are some pics from the day.

Pics from Edward Blackmore Photography – Check out the full album on Edward Blackmore’s page Here.

Audi-A4 E30-bmw Hair-dressers-z3 Joe-capri Lancia-Delta mk1-caddy mk1-jetta R32-Bora R32-skyline-gtr restoshack-van Rob-mk2-golf slammed-lupo


And a cool little bonus video from Dave at RestoShack

Apr 082014

Firstly, I wanted to say that I am not shutting down SWDubs forum. We still get loads of questions and great threads on there (mostly in the for sale section these days), so I will be keeping the old girl going for the time being.

I started SWDubs back in 2004 as a place to get together online with a group of VW mad friends. The site and forum were learning tools for myself with regards to building websites (the first site was horrendous) and how to install a forum and manage it. This was due to me starting in a new job in SEO (search engine optimization) and wanting to learn more about how sites were made and functioned.

From that small start the forum exploded into life with new members joining and adding their personalities into the mix. Over the last 10 years the forum has been through many ups and downs. From the time when we were attacked by members from Barry Boys forum for posting about an MX5 accident near Exeter (long story that is better off not recalled), to small local clubs being spawned from members meeting on the forum (DKM anyone?). We have seen our fair share of technical difficulties too, with server crashes (2 so far) and whole site and forum hosting migrations.

photoshoot old swdubs

Photo Shoot from many years ago (2005 maybe?)

Over the years the forum has seem members come and go, with a core of people sticking around to share their knowledge and wind up newbies. However even this looks to be in decline. Overall the number of active users on the forum is falling, with most users using only the for sale sections of the forum and not the car or even the general chat. I myself am guilty of this, with things in real life taking a toll on the amount of time that I am on the forum, with new projects and new work changing how I interact with my own site.

Ten Tors Meet old swdubs

Ten Tors Meet in 2009

I am not sure this is the only reason though. I think car forums are starting to become a little old hat, with people wanting a more convenient way to interact with people of the same interest.

In steps Facebook. Now, I am not saying that Facebook has killed all forums, but it is a hell of a lot easier for someone to check on a community if they are already there several times a day telling people about the funny looking dog they saw in the street. Facebook groups are like micro forums, with people being able to post straight onto a wall that everyone see (awesome, no move getting my thread moved by mods right?).

SWDubs mega meet 2010

SWDubs Mega Meet 2010

Now, SWDubs has two Facebook ‘pages’ I hear you say. And you would be right. There is a SWDubs Group that was set up when the forum was down for a short period many years ago, and a newer SWDubs Page that was created by me to spread cool VW stuffs when I can be assed (and spread the word on the SWDubs mega meets). The Group is the micro forum type page that I mentioned above, it has many users all posting things that go straight onto a single wall. This is usually littered with poor for sale ads written by people who cannot be bothered to describe what they are selling. This micro forum is easy to use, quick and notifies you when something new pops up or if someone comments on your post. Awesome right? But as a whole there is no community there, it does not have the atmosphere created by people within a forum environment. It is just a single wall with people jostling for position of their for sale post.

Now, the SWDubs forum is still alive and kicking and still gets new members looking for answers to all those juicy dub related questions. But it just does not have the activity that I once saw.

swdubs mega meet 2014

SWDubs Mega Meet 2014 (image from S4 Gar)

Over the next month I will be trying to use the forum more. I want to see if it is possible to reignite the community into engaging more and rebuilding the great a atmosphere we once had. I want to get the banter started again where people would take the piss and then help out. I want to get the technical areas busy again with questions from newbies and experienced dubbers around all aspects of VWs. I want to get the meets section buzzing for new summer meets and shows.

I do hope that I am wrong in thinking that car forums are on the way out. They are a great way to get to know people like you in your local area, and gain some valuable knowledge at the same time. Some of my best friends have come from meets and shows arranged on SWDubs, so I would say it is worth a another go.



 Posted by at 9:38 pm
Dec 292013

Merry Christmas everyone, and a happy new year.

Christmas time means many things to many people, giving, love, hope, faith. But to a small number of people it means some quality time off under the car to get some work done.

I popped in to do some work on the Jetta today after Adam telling me that the rear beam needed to come off so he could weld up the chassis leg behind the mounting point on the drivers side thanks to some 30 year old rot. So I dropped in to get the old beam off (it wont be going back on) and help free up access to the rear arches for Adam to finish up the welding on them too.

Adam has been busy over the last couple of weeks, getting the drivers foot well, inner sill, outer sill and rear arch pretty much finished. He is off to New Zealand on the 7th of Jan, so we need to speed up the repairs so the majority can be done before he disappears (and I am left to weld the old girl).

Here is his progress on the drivers side,

Jetta Drivers ArchJetta Drivers Sill

Here is the beam, nice and rusty. (coilover was removed and put in a safe place).

Jetta Rear Beam

With the rear beam off we decided to have a little look at the underside of the old girl to see what else there was in store for us. Most of it looked pretty good, though some investigation into the fuel filler pipe and cap uncovered some less than great surprises.

Jetta Fuel FillerJetta Fuel Filler Pipe

Not an uncommon issue, but not one I was expecting. But oh well, not the end of the world, and the new parts are already ordered. To make the task of removing the filler pipe a little easier, and to get something else done we whipped off the petrol tank and gave it a clean out.

Jetta Petrol TankJetta Tank Area


Under the tank was actually really clean, with the surrounding areas just suffering from some surface rust. This will be cleaned up and sealed once everything is off the car.

Lastly, on the hunt for any more rust we took off the rear bumper to see what was underneath. There was some bubbling rust at the bottom of the rear panel, but I knew about that already. The biggest (and more amusing) find was the rear bumper itself. I think it has seen better days and I am not sure I will be using is again lol.

Jetta Rear Bumper Jetta Rear Bumper Bracket Jetta Rear Panel Rust


Well, after the morning of rusty fun and surprises we decided to go to the driving range and smack some balls. Adam is planning on getting the rest of the welding done on the sills and arches tomorrow, then we can work out the new areas over the next week.


 Posted by at 6:12 pm
Dec 042013

Even though I have been out of action for the last two weeks, that does not mean that the work on the Jetta has stopped completely.

Due to the main chunk of work that is needed at the moment being welding the many rusty holes on the car, Adam (my bro-in-law and expert welder) has been cracking on with the work (when he can be motivated to get out in the cold , sorry Adam).

So, Adam has been getting on and working his way from the front of the car to the back. There is a lot of cutting and welding to do on the old girl, and unfortunately for Adam I am after a pretty tidy finish. This means that he is having to cut out any and all rusty areas and neatly create new sections out of either repair panels (that came with the car) or more commonly shaped sheet metal.

I am then tasked with the job of cleaning up the welds so that everything is nice and new looking with minimal filler.

Anyway, here are some pics of the progress (more to come very soon) and a cool time-lapse of Adam cutting and welding the passenger sill.

Driver side wing repair

Passenger side wing cut out

Passenger side wing repair

Sill repair start


More updates coming very soon!

 Posted by at 11:13 pm

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