One step forwards, two steps back

Its been a couple of weeks since my last post and I had been having a great time test fitting bits to the chassis and cleaning parts up.

I finally sorted the pedal assembly so that everything moves freely.  I attached the clutch and accelerator cables to the pedals through the tunnel and checked they all worked.  I also put the driver’s seat in to test the pedal travel!

I also ran the heater cables through the tunnel, along with handbrake cables to check they fed through properly and worked.  Everything was going smoothly!

I then removed everything, so the chassis was ready to be sent off for blasting and plascoating.

Before doing that, I cleaned up all the ancillary bits of the car that also need coating, such as spring plates, axle tubes etc. As part of this process, I removed the bumper irons from the bumpers and also managed to take the tow bar apart so that can be cleaned up too.

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Feeling pleased with myself I also finished cleaning the expanding foam out of the body shell and then also set to work with the wire brush and drill to take the rusty areas and split paint areas of the body back to bare metal so they could be painted with primer and identified easily when the body is sent off for prep.

With all that progress, it was with anticipatory excitement that myself and a few of the guys from the VW club (Josh, Dave, Dan, Ben and Andy) came and helped me move the chassis out into the garden so we could test fit the body to the chassis to check it was a good fit.  This was the final test before sending the chassis off and a big milestone for the project.

So, it was with a mix of bemusement, anguish and disappointment when the guys and I realised that the fit was far from perfect.  Its out a lot in places.  Not by millimeters but centimeters.  This was not a good sign. Heater channel bolts didn’t line up and the rear cross members were very out of alignment.

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So, after putting all the bits back under cover from the torrential rain and supplying all the chaps with a “thank you” pint.  I tried to make sense of what had gone wrong.

I sent the photos off to Gary at the Speedster Clinic who had done the work and we had several phone calls about my concerns.  The problem it seems is that whilst the parts I had bought were the best available, the best is still not anywhere near as good as the original and there will always be an amount of fettling to get parts to fit.  Add to that the way the metal on the body just above the rear cross member has been mangled for a previous floorpan replacement- you can kind of see why nothing fits perfectly.

Gary welds beetle chassis for a living day in day out.  He stands by his work and I don’t blame him.  What I was expecting was for everything to fit and that was an unrealistic expectation.  Having someone of his experience explain how out the bodywork was from the photos he had seen (by pointing to the position of the torsion tube as a marker) helped me manage my expectations. Whilst I am not sure that the gaps should be anywhere near that big, we are where we are.

I have spoken to Paul at Mid-Norfolk Car Company and warned him to expect not just a beetle body but also a chassis, so he can work on fettling it to fit before I send it off for blasting and coating.  So, a slight change in plan and probably a lot more expensive but not as bad a situation as I was thinking it would be at first.

I am now at a pause in the project, aside from a bit more cleaning up of the body.  I can’t do any more to the chassis or parts for coating.  Its now a waiting game for Paul to have more space and time to take Ruy into his care.

Lets hope I am thinking the worst and that reality is far from it!

Learning new skills

This morning I had the assistance of Ian (again – I owe him a lot!) to help weld the various ancillary bits to the chassis, ahead of it going off to be blasted and coated.

So, the clutch pedal stop was fabricated based on measurements I took of a similar stop on a car at Alive and VDubbin – the show we were at this weekend.  This was welded on by Ian and it does its job perfectly.

Then, the accelerator pedal mount was positioned and welded, again by Ian.  With the accelerator cable in the chassis already, we were able to test pedal travel accurately and the fit is good.

Next, both the tubes for guiding the rear heater control cables under the back seat were cleaned up and welded, again by Ian.

Finally, a couple of points between the floor pan and rear cross-member needed a bit more of a weld, so Ian welded one side and then, after a test weld on a bit of metal, I got to have a go.  I took to it like a duck to water and seemed to do a pretty ok job!

Now, it is time to take everything back off the chassis, plug all the holes and send it off for blasting and coating!

 

Beaten bearings

It has only taken a couple of weeks but I have finally managed to get the rear wheel bearings off the car!

It appears that the offside bearing was stuck fast, and no amount of hammering, pushing, pulling or swearing would see it free, so I have to take the angle grinder to it, being careful not to cut into the axle or the axle tube.  It still took a long time to remove but eventually it came out!

I then started work on the nearside with a small amount of trepidation.  I need not have worried though, as the bearing came out within a minute, sliding out easily.

My last task was to make sure I knew which way the spacers go back into the axle tube, along with the washers and O-rings.  Thankfully the Haynes manual was most useful!

All I have left to do now in terms of dismantling is to remove the foam from the body, clean back the rust holes and primer it all.  Before the chassis goes off for coating, there needs to be a little bit of welding and a bit of taking stock, to make sure everything is where it should be and I have thought of everything I need to!

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The Metal

So, it has been a few weeks since I last posted, as I had been having trials and tribulations with expanding foam and rear wheel bearings that wouldn’t budge (and still won’t).

However, this time last week I was able to collect my fully welded chassis, with new floor pans and framehead.  Gary at the Speedster Clinic has done a very good job and I am very impressed!

Since the chassis has been back I have been test fitting the pedal assembly and brake lines.  I need to put a new fuel line in, which will be difficult and weld a couple of heater cable conduits but otherwise it is ready to go off and get blasted.

I do have to say a big thank you to Fran who came to help me with the pedal assembly, as it was much tighter going back on the car and needed some persuasion in the form of re-working the support.