Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stripped clean pan

Just a quick update, the chassis (aka "pan") is finally stripped clean! Almost a month of work & a gallon of aircraft paint stripper went into it! Now I'm fixing some small rust holes, I need to fill about two dozen 3/8 dia. holes too.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New frame head, new chassis, disc brakes!!

Alright, it's been almost a month since I updated my progress. I have since welded the new frame head on, and the new napoleon's hat. Both turned out very well. The measurements I took of the original frame head all fell within 1/16" of how it ended up, which aint bad. However, at Easter, I was visiting with my in-laws when a conversation with my wife's uncle led me to find out he had a chassis that someone had given him as payment for work he did on their beetle last year. The chassis had disc brakes he said. How much I asked... $100 he said. I said I'll take it, sight unseen. The disc brakes were worth it to me alone. And I could always use an extra chassis, I doubt this will be my only beetle project ever! When I went to pick up the chassis that same day I was amazed at what I saw- the chassis was in great shape! Come to find out it was from a '73 beetle and the disc brakes were from a '67-'72 Ghia. So, I decided since my chassis is so rusted, pitted, awful... that I'm going to use the beautiful chassis I picked up instead. I'll use my original chassis to build a street legal buggy someday I think. I replaced all of the suspension on the old chassis so I could roll it around, and I put the body back on it so I can roll it around too! And what do you know- when I put the body back on, everything lined up perfectly with what I had welded on!!! I started to strip the 5 layers of paint off the new chassis today. Three hours to do 1/4 of the chassis. Sigh...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Off with your head!

After taking many measurements and setting the chassis up on the stands so the two axle tubes were perfectly plumb, I took the leap and made my initial cut! I had to cut very carefully so as to only cut through the frame tunnel and not through the reinforcement underneath. I "snuck up" on the cut, making my initial cut about an inch away from where it ended up. I then positioned the new frame head exactly an inch away from the final position, got it perfectly plumb & straight, and used blue masking tape to mark the final cut. After very carefully making the final cut & filing it perfectly straight I was very happy with how tight the seam ended up. And the measurements are perfect! I drilled the hole for the fuel line in the side of the new head. I have not yet welded the frame head on because I still need to treat the inside of the tunnel with POR15 to stop the rust. I will also weld up all of the openings on the new head and tunnel so as to completely seal out the water. No moisture, no more rust! I went to the local junk yard today to check out the half dozen or so beetles they have. I was disappointed to find they were pretty rusted into the ground and had been picked over pretty thoroughly. However, I did score 5 beautiful, original wheels!! The wheels that came with my bug are horrible, unusable. Very pitted (see below). I was able to get the nice, original wheels (see below) for $20 a piece! That means the 5 original wheels cost the same as ONE new reproduction wheel!!! I also picked up a battery hold down bracket for $2, mine was missing when I got the car. Al in all, it has been a great day for my beetle project, very productive!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Napoleon's hat" removed

Today I began the process of removing the front chassis support panel, commonly referred to as the "Napoleon's hat". I made a number of measurements then cut it off. The air chisel came in handy here. You can see the new support panel laid in place.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Today I removed the trans-axle, the rear swing-arms, the front axle tube and all the brake lines. I was able to then lift the chassis up onto it's side by myself. That's when I discovered the front frame head is heavily rusted. I was very disappointed to find this as it is no minor repair. The "napoleon's hat" section will have to be replaced as well. I have begun to research on the web the best way to do this. If it is not done correctly the alignment will be off and the structural integrity will be gone. In other words, it won't be safe! A friend of mine from work made me a 17mm tool from 3/4" hex stock that I was able to use to remove the rear swing-arm. I will also need to remove the rear torsion bars & arms at some point, a dangerous procedure that I did not feel like doing today. I will need to order a new frame head like this one.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

saving the old seat pedestals

So today I cleaned up my shop a bit, put all the tools away, swept up the huge amount of rust that had fallen out of the car, and did a little bit of work on the actual beetle! I first cut the old seat pedestals out since I need to re-use them. Full 1/2-pans made from steel that is the original thickness are no longer available. However 1/4 pans that are made from the original thickness are. The only problem is one, you obviously have to weld them together. That's a bit more work, but I think the lap weld actually makes them even stronger than the original pans. In my opinion, the thicker pan is worth the trouble of a welded seam across the center. Second, the 1/4 pans don't come with seat pedestals or jack supports. The original seat pedestals are in good condition, and since they're $45 a piece it was worth it to re-use them. I had to cut the spot welds to free them from the original floorpan metal. I have temporarily laid the 1/4 pans on top of the original pans just to see how they look. I had to order the special 12 point CV joint removal tool today in order to be able to remove the transaxle.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The body is off!

So today I finally took the body off of the chassis! The hardest part of it all was building those sawhorses so they were heavy duty enough to hold the body! That took a few hours and two trips to the local lumber/hardware store! 2x6 beams make them very strong, and I made them high enough & wide enough to roll the chassis under the body if I need to. After I finally finished the sawhorses a couple of my friends who live close by came over & we lifted the body off & sat it on the sawhorses! I then cleaned up the chassis a little bit with the shop vac and then called it a day. I also received the 18 gauge 1/4 pans to restore the chassis this week. I'm very happy with the progress so far, I hadn't planned on doing much work until it warmed up a bit, but oh well!