The BugShop: Project '57, pg 2

This page last modified- 11/3/01

Homemade Tools

Ok, who wants to guess what this is? 

That's right, it's a home made bench press, made out of wood. I made it because I was too cheap to pay someone to press my link/king pins for me. Did it work? Well, almost. It worked fine for the link pins, but not enough "ooomph" for the king pins (insert sound of splintering wood here). I had to bite the bullet and go and pay a local shop to press them for me.

Notice all of the screws in it and the "custom" return spring mechanism. I actually rebuilt this thing using some welded angle iron for the horizontals and some 3/4" threaded rod for the verticals. Bought a 6 ton bottle jack and used it to press A2 VW (watercooled) front end A-arm bushings in.

Front End

This is the mostly-complete front end of the pan. All done a piece at a time in "Chassis Black" from Eastwood. New brake lines and master cylinder.


Vintage 36 Horse

This is the back of the completed chassis with the engine installed. I got lucky when I bought this car and got a completely rebuilt, 0 mi. and totally correct 36 horse engine in addition to the original.

Not long after this picture was taken, I fired this engine up. It had been stored after the rebuild for 5 years. I stored it with about 5 quarts of oil in it. A couple times a year I took the spark plugs out and spun it with a 1/2" drill on the generator nut for a few minutes. To start it, I replaced the oil (yes, just 2 quarts), bought a 6 volt battery, rigged a gas tank and hit a homemade starter switch. It literally sputtered on the fourth or fifth revolution. On the second try it started right up. I ran it at a fast idle for about a minute and dumped the oil. Replaced the oil with new, ran it for about 5 minutes and dumped the oil again. New oil and run to fully warm (about 20 minutes), then dumped the oil again. I don't remember who recommended this to me a long time ago, but the premise is that lots of crud breaks free when a new engine starts up (especially one that has been sitting) and a case of oil is pretty cheap.

I actually have an extra NOS 36 hp dual tip muffler like the one shown here. I bought it from a guy whose father had left him with all of "these VW parts". He thought it went to "some kind of bus" and sold it to me for $15.


A Clean Drivetrain

Another shot of the drive train. Every part was removed and painted separately. All brake lines and seals were replaced. The tranny was wire brushed relentlessly. Those floors are original believe it or not, and this car spent its whole life in New England (by a very caring owner).


A VW Go Kart

The whole chassis. Those are my "shop" wheels. Only the shocks are missing from the chassis. That's my wife's '89 Jetta in the backround, sold in '96. 

Yes, You Can Drive a Chassis

Ok, now look carefully. All you need to make a Beetle chassis a "driver" is a gas tank (tin can, rear, just above/behind far wheel), a brake fluid resevior (another tin can front, in front of Jetta rear wheel) and something to hold up the steering wheel (2x3 brace with "U" bracket around steering shaft).

I drove this thing down to the end of the driveway and back; and have video of it. In 1998, I drove it up and down my street 7 or 8 times. Fun.

[Yes, my identity has been obscured in this picture due to my involvement in some third-world weapons deals in the early 90s.]


Ok, Now About that Body....

Now at this point (4 years after buying the car), the whole rolling chassis is fully restored and has been carefuly wrapped in blue tarp and bungees. The wheels are on it, but it is sitting on dollies that hold the wheels just up off the ground. If you look at the back, behind the B pillar, you can see a wraparound 2 by 4 frame that allows those same dollies to hold up the body shell, about 8" off the pan. The front, in this picture, is held up by that plastic milk crate.

The objective was to be able to store the chassis and body, together, have it rollable on dollies so it could be put accross the back of the garage and we could still park our other 2 cars in the garage (especially in winters) and allow me to still work on the body.

That nice front quarter is an NOS one that I picked up on a business trip in CA from Wolfsburg West in around 1992. Has the correct hood support bracket, paid $150 for it. It is just "fitted up" in this picture (see the vice grips?).


Hacked Up Nose

This one may make some of you a bit queasy. This car had been hit pretty hard in the left front. So hard, that the metal just under that vent tube that forms the "cowl" under the dash, was wrinkled. Can't really see it in this picture. I have since had my body shop buddy dolly it out nicely.

So the entire front left quarter, the spare tire well back and floor and front apron have all been removed. The front of the right quarter has been sawed off, as it too was very badly wrinkled from the accident. Carefully removing all of these panels, as not to damage the good ones underneath, by drilling out spotwelds and using an air chisel took LOTS of time and patience.

All this highlights some of the stuff I talked about in the FAQ article "What to look for when buying". If you look at the pictures from when I "rescued" the car (go back to page 1), it might not be evident that the nose had been punched so hard. The whole left quarter was Bondo, the fenders and hood had been replaced and the apron dollied out. At a distance, especially to the novice, this car looked OK, but inside, it was hiding some real injuries.


More Nose Stuff

This is a close up of that front quarter area. The metal has been painted with Eastwoods "Corroless" in anticipation of not be able to access this area when the new quarter is placed on the car. But I have since learned that will have to use some "weld through" primer in the places where the new panel will overlap the existing ones. This is to allow a solid weld and insure that the panels don't begin to rust in between.

If you look close, you can see some of the wrinkled metal at the very top of the painted area.