My Beetle

This is my latest project, it's more a way to save a bit on fuel prices than anything else, but it gives me a chance to play around  without wrecking anything expensive. My latest van needs some work but to the most part it's complete and I cannot do much with it to improve on it. Yes I could put a gazillion dollar audio visual system into it but I simply don't have the money to spend on it.

I have some left over's from my old van, the van which was totaled by a hit & run driver, I have also discovered that Beetle parts "so far" are very cheap, to replace most of the braking system is going to cost around $80 (less than 50 quid).
The Beetle has been given to me by the father-in-law and I have been offered salvage rights to two other Beetles for parts. The other two Beetles will not provide much in the way of parts but something might be good I need, I will have to hit junk yards for other stuff. Sitting in his shed is also most of two Beetle engines and parts for another.

Things I have fixed(ish) so far

My 1973 VW Beetle, The engine was full of water, as there is no air filter on the carburetor. The carb is very sick as you can see from the photos below, the engine is also seized.
BTW if you don't know Beetles are air cooled, there is not meant to be water in the engine!

"Three little bugs, I'll huff and I'll puff and blow the rust down"
There is another bug parked out of sight, it's been mostly stripped and the floor panels have rusted out.
This little bug has an engine

This little bug has a floor!
No horn, the fan blower is seized, no keys, no brakes, seized engine, the bonnet (hood) is jammed closed, the fuel level sender is shot. No washer bottle or pipe work.


Pulled out by a tractor, the brakes are stuck on.
The brakes are unsalvageable, so it's new cylinders all the way around.

This is (was) a Weber progressive carburetor, it was very seized, and full of crap.

I have now fitted a standard single barrel carb, the inlet pipe was a real pig to fit as the twin barrel has a different pipe to the single barrel.

How NOT to change a carb!
Wot No Carb?

Plenty of room for improvement!
I dare not move the drivers seat as it falls off the runner and nose dives at the floor, it shakes and rattles when you sit on it, a bit of a white knuckle ride huh!

Is that paint I see, or just funny coloured rust?


Windscreen washer bottle, funny enough it looks like the same one that was in my 1979 Dodge van, it needs a little jigging around and a 15 second timer but it should work.

Looking Goooood, "No coke can in picture"

The lights finally work, crossed wires, bad earth and some J.B Weld (Araldite) and a few new bulbs.

Where did that come from? It's not mine!

Ohhh! Look at the lights!

Oh dear, No lights!

Wow! They are back!

"T" Top as well, and goes like shit off a chrome stick

I can fly!

This is one of my many fans, I cannot help myself, I'm such a fun guy!
The washer hose was missing, and the fan seized but as luck would have it a good spray with WD40 and rotating it by hand freed the fan up.

Still flying! Is this the next Concord?

Wot No Seat!

For my next trick I will charge the battery, "Again"

Nice shinny brake cylinder, no master cylinder "yet" as the one the "computer" said I had was the wrong one, so I had to reorder a new one.
BTW, It's a German car with metric everything, except the brakes there is an adaptor on the side of the master cylinder to convert it to imperial. So the metric flare spanners I brought to undo the brake lines did not fit. At least the car part store took them back and gave me a refund.

Awww No shiny brake cylinder, I got four cylinders with the order, the two back ones were fine (sort of) but the two front ones had the same part number but were different. I returned the wrong one to the car parts store, but due a "computer" hic-up the replacement was not ordered so I had to order it again.

Look nice clean glass, "on the outside", you cannot see the scratch marks from the windscreen wipers or the several stone chips in the glass. I have to change the windscreen.

Wire anyone?

It nearly has brakes, the engine is spitting out oil from somewhere, I think around the crank shaft seal, also the rocker cover gaskets. I used new gaskets but they were old new ones and they leak.

Master brake cylinder fitted, the replacement which the computer said, and the Haynes manual said was wrong!

Ahhhh SHIT!
I paid an arm and a leg for the replacement brake line hoses but the front ones were wrong, guess what, my plain old Beetle is actually a Super Beetle!
Soooo the front brake hoses cost me another $20 on top of the $97 I have already paid.
I wonder where the Air Conditioning system is, and do I need a telephone box for the Beetle to change into a SUPER Beetle?

A shy Beetle!

While I waited for pay day and the brake hoses to arrive I put in a ceiling, it was recycled from my 1979 Dodge Van

I want to be a ........ Giraffe!

Sun roof, so the Giraffe can put it's head out and look for hunters.

Yeah Baby! In the back ground you will see Red-Necks loading their cannons, starting their ATV's in anticipation of killing a Giraffe.

Lookie here, I found the original boot lid, it's meant to be the same colour, which I imagine it was five years ago before the rest of the car was left out in the elements.
I could not get the Red boot lid to latch closed, I thought the lock was wrong or the hinge brackets, but after putting on the White boot lid, what I thought was a rust spot and a hole for the latch now is a broken weld and a hole where a hoop is meant to go.

I think I have found the problem with the engine coming to a stop after several minutes, the carburetor fuel inlet elbow is full of what looks like small bits of carbon or maybe hard broken rubber, this has also got into the carburetor, so a good blow out with a compressor did the trick. The engine started instantly and gassed me with smoke and fumes, making my head spin and I felt sick to the point of vomiting.
It did not matter what I tried to do the engine would only run on three cylinders, I have a wonderful spark, I guess the coil from my 1979 Dodge Van is working well!

And Guess What is Next!
Plumes of smoke, lots of leaping around the engine bay I have condemned the engine, I think the water damage had killed one of the pistons. I was hopeful it might clear up if I ran the engine but to be fair it's got worse.

Now where was I, Oh yeah finding a noose to tie myself or the Beetle to the rafters!

Engine out, this was after fighting with one of the engine mounting studs for nearly two days, it was corroded into the gearbox bell, it got to the point where it was me or it, laying on my back one foot on the exhaust, Jackie jacking the engine up and down on a trolley jack I crow-bared the engine off the gear box bell. Not nice, Not very elegant, Not the way to do it but it worked.
More of a surprise I never dropped the engine on my head!

There, Nice well behaved engine and no blood on the floor either

Where's the rest of it? I think I must have left the rest of the engine still in the Beetle!!!

It took three days to get the exhaust onto the newer engine, wrong size bolts, broken studs, studs which were put in crooked but the original snapped off studs were painted over so it was not obvious what was wrong, in frustration stuck some foam inside the bug, I stole "recycled" it off the old van's ceiling, I would have done more but I ran out of glue.

Newer engine in, look at the shiny new air filter I read that without an air filter that bugs back fire, which would explain why it does.
The large amount of oil spitting out of the engine in every direction, the plumes of smoke coming from the exhaust gave me the impression something was wrong, I also stripped the carburetor into tiny pieces and cleaned every bit twice!
I must admit, the engine is a marvel, I found out later the newer engine was only running on two cylinders, which would explain why it was so difficult to start!

Engine (newer one) back out, I'm getting good that this!

Look it's a Lego kit


Now that does not look well

Buggered cylinder head anyone?


Four buggered cylinder heads, seven wrecked cylinders

A man has to do what a man has to do, new gasket set all the way around $$$, valves reseated and ground, cylinders honed and ground into cylinder head, everything I could clean I did, also I took the right cylinders & head off the older engine and mounted it on the left of the newer engine.
What is really annoying is parts are rusting faster than I can clean them again, and again.
I don't yet know if it works.

The newer engine leaks oil out of every hole, even holes which are not there, I also replaced the oil seal behind the fly wheel, that was fun I used a 5' piece of pipe over the 2' breaker bar I have, you will see in the photo the engine mounting studs, after I put the flywheel back on, one of the studs was laying on the ground broken and the other bent to the point of being unusable, a few more Dollars, drill bits, stud extractor, tap handle and the studs came out, the broken exhaust studs in the left cylinder head from the older engine did not come out, I still have to get them out.
I also had to bend the exhaust to get it to fit the newer engine but as I have changed one of the cylinder heads I will have to bend it back again, Deep joy.

Sooooooooo I washed the bug!
I still don't have the engine back in yet but I am working on it.
Well that was NOT fun, after fighting with the broken studs for the exhaust I gave up and just slammed another thread in the hole with the existing mangled stud in, after I had ground down the mess I made of the old stud.
I prodded and poked, jiggled and wiggled the engine back in, it did not want to go, it did not help the floor was damp from my shed flooding again, with oil, mud & grease on the floor I could not put much weight behind the trolley jack to push the engine home, I eventually pulled it into place using it's mounting bolts.
Another day passed, I had put most of the engine back together and left the oil change for the next morning, I took the six nuts..... hang on four nuts and two bolts?? out of the sump cover. Calling it a sump cover is a bit silly as it's a round disk about five inches across which holds a Mickey Mouse oil strainer in.
OMG......... that is yucky
Cleaned it up, and put the four nuts back on, but found the two bolts were loose, funny they were not loose when I took them out, I think they were glued in!
As the holes where the bolts were meant to go went threw the sump and into the space where the oil is meant to be, it left no imagination that putting oil in the engine was pointless. Lots of swearing, and driving around car part stores in a mindless effort to find a cure when there was none, so I drilled and tapped the holes with the same size tap I used for the exhaust and slammed in a couple of bolts which were off the clutch plate of the other engine.
I have not looked to see if it is leaking, I did notice the sump cover was badly warped I guess someone over tightened it to stop it leaking oil last time.
After getting all upset about the "thing" leaping around the engine bay, spitting out smoke, clunking like a tin can with a hand full of large bolts in, the exhaust leaking everywhere, eating lots of chocolate and swearing did not help either. I spoke to the father-in-law who happens to be a jet engine mechanic and he said to adjust the valve clearance again, so I double checked everything, true enough even though I had adjusted the valve clearance the exhaust valves on three of the cylinders were very tight and would not allow the feeler gauge anywhere near the valve end.
I did spark plugs, contact breaker and the engine started, I grabbed my timing light and set the timing, I don't know if it's right yet as there are three settings depending on the age of the engine, and I don't know how old the engine is!   
Anyway the engine sounds rough, but it runs, I mean it runs like a tin can with a hand full of bolts in with tons of smoke and then it dies, and dies and dies again. Once again the carburetor comes apart, I changed the inlet needle valve, still dies, no fuel in the carburetor, but fuel getting to it.
Perhaps low fuel pressure or the fuel pump is fouling up, changed the fuel pump but the one I put in was worse than the one I had, so a trip over to the father-in-laws and found another fuel pump, changed it for the twentieth time.
Still dies, no fuel in carburetor. Perhaps the fuel tank is blocking up, it was totally blocked when I first got the Beetle, but I cleaned it out with wire and replaced all the rubber hoses.
I stuck a compressor on the fuel line as it came into the fuel pump and blew air back into the fuel tank, that was fine.
Still dies, no fuel in carburetor. The only think I could think off is the fuel pipe running threw the body work is blocked, so I pulled off the fuel lines and ran a piece of twisted wire threw it, I noticed the fuel filter was dirty, but left the fuel running into a 5 gallon can while I worked at the other end.
When I disconnected the fuel filter after the fuel had stopped coming out into the can, more fuel came out of the tank....

Ahhhhh.... that would be a blocked fuel filter, the filter is new and the engine has not run more than two hours to get this dirty!
I put another filter in, it's not the same and I pulled it out of my trash can but it came at the right price, I think I will be changing filters for a while.
I also fixed the fuel level sender, so the fuel gauge now works.

I also noticed that the body is bent at the point where the front suspension arm is connected, it looks like I can replace the front of the chassis it forms a "H" and is held in place with a hand full of bolts, I will ask around and confirm my thoughts before I get upset about it.

There you go, it runs... Sort of.

I painted the engine bay and replaced the rubbers around the engine bay, the engine now fits snugly and I hope will be happier, I want to get a stainless steel fire wall, but that will have to wait.
The engine still has problems, a bit to much smoke and rattles, but it runs and starts from cold or hot, but will not start if warm??
The timing changes depending in the year the engine was built, I noticed one cylinder head had 89 in the casting, the other cylinder head I used from the older engine has 78 in the casting, but I don't know what age the engine block is so I will have to experiment.

Now that's interesting, I noticed the electric choke was not opening all the way, truth be known the engine has not run long enough for it to be any concern, I had tried the electric choke as I fitted the carb but this time it was not warm.
Funny enough the crimp connector must be corroded internally, I have just brought some connectors to replace it.
I have not tried starting, restarting the engine yet.

It's running, it still sounds bad, and is blowing smoke out quite a lot but the main thing is it is running, you're notice the pulleys are spinning in the photo, it had been running for about thirty minutes when I took the photo.
I better replace the fuel filter soon.
I'm not overly worried about sounding bad or the smoke, the engine runs which is the main thing, I will let it run for a while as it has just been put back together then I will check the clearances and timing again .
The brakes are extremely dangerous so I have to give them some more attention, but I have done that many times before so I am having a play with a spray can and covering a few blemishes and tarting up a bit.
Did I mention I also replaced the accelerator cable, it was only hanging on by two strands.

Time moves on