Saturday, December 30, 2006

I love you, Sugar..

Its been a good while since I've updated. There are a number of things that I have done with my bug. Since my last post, I've painted my wiper arms, a project that was prompted by my wiper motor failing. I tore it down and found this reduction gear had stripped.

It was a 6volt motor and it went wild, high on 12 volts, which probably caused the gear to strip, so I bought a 12v conversion armature from But without a solution for the gear it was useless. I posted a want ad on the central coast forum and Doug Z(?) aka "BoysBug" was cool enough to let me buy a whole assembly from him. He's a good guy with a couple Herbies. This was all in mid-october.

They look good on there and I think the chrome on the blinkers is next. I'm going to do all the rusty trim that I can't afford to replace.

After that I began digging around behind my back seat and, sadly, found lots of corrosion. It is ugly.

I can't afford a proper fix right now, so I hippie fixed it. with some ply and carpet, grabbed from a back alley, I made a cover. and I used some more carpet under the window to insulate it. I was mostly concerned about fumes and sound.

A little insulation

The carpet I found in an alley, stapled to ply.

nice fit.


It actually quieted it down a lot! and now I have a little access window to my tranny and starter and all that goodness, hopefully one day it will be useful. It is still crappy looking though, but someday I'll do it proper. This was sometime in November.

Early December I was driving home and, just as I turned into my neighborhood, my engine died and I was able rolled all the way to the front of my house. I checked gas. ok. I checked spark to the plug. nope. I checked spark from the coil. nope, but its a new coil. I looked under the dist. cap and didn't notice anything at first, then I saw that the plastic rubbing block had broken off the points. I had an extra set of points and I was rolling again in no time. I should have adjusted my points a long time ago, because the engine responded really well. A friend was at my house when all of this happened, working on his toyota. He told me "you need to get a chevy" I said that if it had been a chevy, I couldn't have done something like that in 20 minutes, like I had.

December 18: I bought new tires for all five. It's good to get that off my mind, but it hurt. They aren't white-walled and I think they are uglier.

Two weeks ago I began grinding my rear bumper to paint it also. I finally put it back on this Tuesday, and it looks mighty fine!

I was thinking about doing something like this..

no, not really... this bus has a stinger... haha... I saw this at the Solvang show.

Next project are my wheels. When they are finished it should look amazing. It will take a long time to finish them all, but it'll get done. I saw these wheels at the Solvang show also, I really liked them...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Feng Shui

I've really been trying to make my bug look less old and more classic, especially for the neighbors because it tends to give them a little more patience for it. Well my after-market bumpers are getting rusty and I can't afford new ones so I decided to paint the front one to see how it turns out.

I ground off all the rust. what a pain.

Then I rattle-can primed and painted them Ivory gloss.

It looks surprisingly good! It matches the steering wheel and knobs and tray inside. I'm going to do the same to the wheels and rear bumper and what ever else I can so it's all feng shui (googled that ish!). I'll save myself the pain and have the rest media blasted and get new tires for the wheels but first i'll need a little cash so it will have to be put off for a little while.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Seat belts

I ordered new vintage style three point seat belts at for $30 each. They are non-retractable and I wanted to make them retractable by using the belts I already have. I started by cutting off the belt's metal piece.

Here it all is, disassembled. The first time I took it apart the spring unraveled in my face.

The pin goes through the spool and the belt around the pin. I left a little stub where it was stitched together so it couldn't pull through the pin and I wouldn't need to stitch an overlap myself.

Here the pin is through the spool and mount bracket, the black plastic is the spring and it goes on the top of the pin.

The shiny metal piece disengages the lock when the strap is wrapped fully around the spool and it needed a little adjusting. The spool was sticky but with a little white grease spray it retracted really smoothly.

I'll admit that I had to disassemble the whole thing five times on the first belt because it was backwards or I forgot to put the plastic on or both but the second time it went quickly and I only assembled it backwards once.

Well here it is and it looks pretty good all retracted and everything. It was a simple project and only took an hour (because of screw-ups) but I saved at least $100.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fuel Gauge

My next project was to get the fuel gauge working again. Besides a ridiculous amount of varnish build-up on the bobber pieces, the new gas tank is smaller and the bobber wouldn't rotate all the way down. I needed to shorten the rods to make it work. Once again this idiot brutte broke something. The rod was stuck in the small brass piece and broke off when I tried to pull it out.

The other rod was easy enough to cut. I took an even inch off both rods.

After I scraped off all the varnish I found that the bobber was filled with a lot of gasoline. I poked holes in it and drained the gas, then I plugged the holes and sealed the rim with JB Weld

To fix the piece I broke I needed to make a new one. I bought this brass hammer from ACE Hardware and planned on using some of the handle material but it was hollow with screwdrivers inside. There was still enough material in the head to get what I needed.

I cut the head in half and ground off enough material for it to fit in the chuck of my drill press. I turned and cut it with an assortment of files, shaping it to match the original, taking close measurements.

I cut the three steps at the correct lengths to match the original and then a groove for the o-ring to fit in. A notch was made for a screw to hold the arm in place like the original

And finally a hole needed to be drilled for the rod to be pressed in.

Here it is finished and pressed on to the rod of the bobber.

And here is the whole assembly put together. You can see where the brass piece I made fits in.

This is the piece that screws onto the top of the gas tank. You can see the arm with the screw that fits into the notch of the brass piece I made. The arm pulls or pushes the cable, mechanically moving the needle on the fuel gauge.

And Finally here is the gas gauge. It's pretty accurate after I adjusted it!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Axle boots and Speedometer

Well since I've been home I've been driving around a lot. There were two immediate things I noticed needed to be taken care of; the speedometer screamed like a banshee, and I left puddles of smelly gear oil from the transaxle every time I parked. I took care of the axle boots first, thinking they were the problem. This picture and brief description is an insult to the four hours I spent cleaning grime and stinky gear oil from the transaxle, axles and cradle horns to prep for the new boots. But there it is, one of the new boots, in all it's glory. Too bad the old boots weren't torn and the leak is coming from the axle plate.

I was really amazed that the old axles weren't torn because they were the original axle boots and 40+ years old.

The speedometer was much more fun. To take it apart the glass cover needed to be pried off. then two screws from the back to take it out of it's case, and this is what's left

From there it split in two parts. Here is the side with the magnet; it was what made all the noise. All I needed to to was disassemble, clean and re-lube and I would have been in business, but I wanted to fart around with the odometer.

Here is the other half with the odometer and gears.

The magnet spins inside this wheel that directly turns the needle and a spring on the other side offers resistance to take the needle back to zero.

I cleaned these too and re-lubed them and then figured out how to reset the odometer. I put it at 300 miles since that is how many I figure I have on the engine.

But I'm an idiot brutte and broke the needle. I wasn't going to throw away a good speedometer for a broken needle so I set out to make one.

I made the bottom one first from really thin sheet metal and the top one was made out of a dentists tool. At first I didn't think about counter balancing it, but when I tested the speedometer it would barely move. I had to grind as much of the underside to make it as thin as possible and on the opposite side I soldered on a large lump to balance it out. The original needle is plastic and smaller and a LOT lighter, but I balanced it out as well as I could and put it in the car.

It's a little off though, especially in the higher range, but it sure looks pretty. The obnoxious whine is also gone.


Well since my last post I have made it home and this is all that happened.

To finish my brakes, I went to Unique Supply in Redlands and picked up front cylinders and a hose. But when I began to reassemble the brake shoes I couldn't find a pin! The smallest and most worthless piece of the whole brake assembly! I wasn't going to drive back down the mountain to get another so I made one from a nail! ha! It looks shabby but it will hold as well as any of the others!

When I left camp I had barely driven the bug a hundred yards and I planned on driving it 100 miles to Pasadena, but I was getting bad vibes before we reached the bottom of the mountain and decided to take it to Wally's mechanic "Jenks" in Fontana. When I saw Jenks shop I was immediately skeptical, it had all the tools you could want but it was a wreck. The dirt yard around the shop was worse, littered with (a lot of) gaskets, retaining pins, old cylinders, brake drums, and brake shoes. In fact the only trash I saw was piled high with beer cans and bottles! There were a bunch of volkswagens and a sand rail. Jenks wasn't there but talking to the other guys I realized they knew there stuff. I left the bug there and resigned myself... A few days later and a few very brief talks with Jenks I got my bug back.. with a hefty bill. Jenks converted it to 12 volt using my alternator and other parts, he adjusted the brakes, put in new shift linkage, put in larger jets, adjusted the carburetor and set the timing. I was surprised what a great job he did. It was the first time I met Jenks and he was far from what I expected after seeing his shop. He was short-spoken and you could tell he really knew his stuff. He gave me a good laugh because after I had paid him and I left to fill up on gas he called me and said that ARCO gas was crap, which is where I was headed. If I'm ever down in Fontana and need work on my VW I'll definitely give Jenks a call!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

long time coming

Well it's been a long time since I've updated this blog and there is so much that I have done to the bug. Today was the first day I drove it, so let me catch up on everything up until now.
June 15th I headed for the Pomona Swap Meet, to buy an engine and whatever else I saw, the next morning. But I saw an add on TheSamba for a 1600 dual port that had a new piston/cylinder kit put on and I drove to Pasedena to check it out. It sounded really strong and I took it back with me. Instead of converting the car to 12 volt I wanted to convert the engine to 6v. So I threw on the generator from my engine, put in the 6v. choke and muscled on the 6v flywheel, setting the end-play along the way.

You can see the tools I bought to set the end-play, torque the flywheel and align the clutch. I've done it before without them but let me just say it was soooo much easier with them.

This all done over a few weeks, taking time in the evening and my days off to work on it and also waiting for parts to come in the mail. I prepped the engine bay and put in new seals and such.

With some help from friends we popped in the engine and I connected all the wires and such.

Then I put in a new gas tank and flushed the fuel line. It was a good thing too because this is the rust that came out of the filler hole when I just set the tank upside down!

Having put in the generator, the carb had to come off and other things moved around so all the settings were off, and the accelerator cable had broken so I couldn't give it gas while I turned it over. I got it started eventually and it sounded like crap and was running really rough and hot. what changed? I had to list them, starting with the most obvious:
-dirty gas maybe blocking a jet?

Thinking I had covered all the electrical bases I started with cleaning the jets, which were clean, though it wasn't a bad idea because as the first gas was pumped into the carb the gas filter got really dirty.
I messed around with the timing a bunch. I changed the points and condenser and put on the new coil. But I wasn't feeling it.
At 6000' I should retard the timing a bit and also the fuel mixture would become rich. But I already messed around with the timing and the engine was running hot, indication of running lean.
Of course the most obvious answer is usually correct, and even though I thought I had converted all the electrical to 6 there was a fuel cut-off solenoid that needed 12 volts and was only getting supplied 6. When I tested it on 6 volts the foot would retract most of the way, but it was my only solution so I cut off the foot and started the engine up. With a few tweaks it was running really well.

When I was dead-ended on the engine I would work on brakes and axle seals. I put on the GR-2 shocks from Gert and new brake hoses and slave cylinders. I replaced the rear axle bearings and Mr. Woooo (Jason Liou) made a really cool tigers-eye necklace out of the old bearing for me and I hung it on my mirror.

I put in new axle seals and new brake pads. I had to do one of the axle seals at least seven times because it kept leaking and it was the last thing I did today before I drove the car. I think it still leaks a little but people have lived with worse and I'm on crunch time since camp is ending one week from now.
I haven't yet finished the brakes since I haven't received my full order of parts and was missing a brake cylinder and hoses for the front, but the e-brake worked and thats how I stopped while driving around camp. Seeing the poor bug in that garage for two months half stripped of drive-train and dignity was really depressing, and I would really lose motivation easily while working on it, just giving up sometimes. But after driving it around today and getting it out of the garage I was refilled once more with hope. so tonight I rolled her back in the garage, promising she would be back on her feet as soon as I could finish her front brakes. I tore out the cylinders and hoses and prepared for the new ones I'll pick up on Monday, Aug. 21.
When I finished I jumped on the electrical. The headlights and running lights turned on. The blinkers wouldn't work but when I by-passed the blinker they lit up like a christmas tree. Seeing how little more work that needs to be done until it can be driven gave me a lot of confidence that it would be driving home.
There is only one problem I see; the generator isn't generating. I put on a new voltage regulator and I will try polarizing the generator but if that doesn't work then I will just take my time going home, stopping at service stations along the way to have the battery charged. No biggie.