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.
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.
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!