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Grab Handles

Grab Handles and Hanger Straps
From: Joel Walker
Year(s):  1980-1991
Model/Type:  Vanagon
Symptom(s):  Add Grab Handles

Grab handles: this is a bit more tricky. I wanted a pull-up handle (like
is already on the passenger side) for the driver ... On the a-pillar.
Well, it turns out you have to be real careful when you drill holes into
the drivers a-pillar: there is a big bundle of wires running inside.
So what you do is this: take the grab handle completely off the
passenger side, so there is nothing but holes in the metal visible.
The last little plastic 'packing' comes out if you wiggle it front to
back while pulling on it. Don't pry it with anything ... You will
scratch the paint. Now get some wide masking tape and smooth it down
on the a-pillar, covering the holes where the handle was. Mark where
the holes are (for the grab handle) and also mark where the edge of
the a-pillar is (the corner edge ... The a-pillar cross section is kind
of a square). Also measure down from the edge of the headliner to the
topmost hole ... To help make sure that the two handles are pretty much
the same distance down from the roof.

Now peel of the masking tape, invert it and move it over to the drivers
side. Measure that same arbitrary distance from the headline, mark it on
the a-pillar, and put the edge of the hole mark here, aligning the edge
marks with the a-pillar 'corner' again. Check it out as to distance from
the roof, see if the holes look 'right' as to the amount of metal between
the holes and the windshield seal. Then drill a small hole into the top
most hole ... Do not let the drill bit go deep into the hole. Drill
slowly if you can. Using a coat hanger (or some such), poke around in
this hole to push the wire bundle back out of the way. Now drill the
other hole. Be careful. When you get all the little holes drilled, you
should be able to see the bundle of wires ... Push it out of the way
while you re-drill the holes with the proper size bigger bit ... 1/2
Inch, i think. Messy, cause there will be shavings all over the console
pod and steering column, etc. I used a large magnet to clean up
afterward ... A sheet or some such cover would probably be a better idea.

When you get all the holes drilled, you might want to put some paint on
the edges of the new holes ... Just for rusts sake. Let it dry, then put
the new 'packing' in (hint: since the other one is disassembled, you
forgot which way the things went. There is a top one and a bottom one.
The smaller end goes up on the top, and down on the bottom). Then just
put on the new handle and screws ... And you can go back and put on the
old one, too.

I also added another handle to the sliding door: i got one of the handle
to match the one on the b-pillar (in front of the sliding door) ... And
put it on the door itself, but i didn't use the little plastic 'packing'
that adapts the handle to the curvature of the b-pillar. I just added
the handle to the front 'pillar' of the sliding door, up high enough to
miss the body handle (so you don't mash your hand) ... Works great for
the middle or rear seat person to close the sliding door. Now they have
something to grab hold of.

I also added two more of these type grab handles in the low overhead side
above the rear seat ... Like the one that is over the left middle seat.
I figured that the rear seat people needed some oh-my-god bars also :)
the handles also come in very handy for hanging things on. I stretched a
clothes hanger bar between then, and secured it with a long bungie cord
(stretched from one side to the other, and kinda wrapped around the pole.

I also put the camper hanger straps (which, by the way, are exactly the
same ones as used to be in the beetles!) in place of the little round
coat hanger 'knobs) ... The little black things on the c-pillar (behind
the sliding door, and in the same place on the opposite side of the bus)
mostly, i did this cause i wound up using the overhead grab handles to
hold the clothes bar.

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