The BugShop: Project '57, pg 6

This page last modified- 11/3/01

This page chronicles the final metal work on the nose..

Fitting it all up

At this point, everything is pretty much just screwed together. I wanted to know that everything fit before I started welding it all together. So I brought the front fenders and gas tank down and "offered them up" (as the English say). As it turns out, the left front fender was a bit wrinkled and even torn around the fender bolt holes and the whole thing wasn't quite curved right. This is because the old, heavily bondo'ed left quarter was crumpled pretty bad and this fender (looks like an NOS one) was forced to fit this imperfect quarter. No creasing was visible on the outside of the quarter and the fender, but underneath, is was out of whack. A little time with some vice grips and I got it to at least fit. My friend Tom will work it to perfection prior to paint.



Now on the last page, I was pretty proud of my efforts "making" that front apron, and I still am. But when I fit it up with screws, I noticed that the hood seal retainer strip did quite line up perfectly with the one on the left side quarter; it needed a bit more inward curvature. I contemplated just adjusting the quarter panel one "out" some, but that wouldn't have been right. So I re-worked the ends of the retainer strip on the apron (right side wasn't right either). This involved removing the last 2 welds holding the strip to the apron so I could curve it in a bit more and re-weld it. This was no easy task. The strip was securely welded and it is very thin metal. I ended up cutting the apron metal underneath, grinding it off surgically with a dremel tool, leaving this "gap" in the apron metal that you can see here. The void will be filled with MIG and ground down when I weld every thing up. This area, by the way, is one of the "hand welded" areas on the car. Look close at yours. But remember what will be visible when the seal is in place; only the rolled edge of the retainer. You can see that it was nicely preserved through all of this. The other side was much easier to fix.

But this exemplifies the attention to detail that only and enthusiast restoring his/her own car would do. I say that not to pat myself on the back, but to point out that "Joe's body shop", no matter how much you pay them, is not likely to go through this much effort to make things as "perfect" as can be. It is this kind of fit and finish that makes a show car, well, a show car. But to be fair Joe's probably would finish in less than eight years. 

Open Wide!

May not be all that obvious from this picture, but this nose is square and wrinkle free. 

Retainer Strip

This picture shows the newly welded seal retainer strip from Wolfsburg West. The little "MIG pods" are easily ground down. The trick to welding these thin metal strips is to make sure that they are securely clamped and in good contact with the quarter to allow the heat to dissipate in the surrounding area. If the strip is even slightly elevated, it will burn away very quickly, even as metal "takes" on the quarter below.

Believe it or not, the quarter panel butt weld is just in the very lower left corner of this picture, behind the primer. 

"Drive Your VW to Work Day, 1998 Activities"

Digging Out

Ok, my nephew and I decided to get a jump on the July, 10th plans to get the pan out from under the body and all. A couple nights before, we started moving stuff around. This is how it looked when we started. The '57 Beetle Project/recycleable bin/bike parking/place-to-slide-stuff-under car.

Custom Work Dolly

This shows the rear lower door opening area on the driver's side. You can see how this "custom" wooden dolly holds the body and pan. The wheels are on the rear but held up off the floor an inch or so. A "wraparound" brace holds up the rear of the body. 

The Challenge

Lifting the whole body up high enough to roll the pan out from under it was quite a challenge. More so than putting the body on the dolly as I recall.

That shell weighs 240 lbs (uhhhh, about 109kg) and here is supported only by an 8 foot 2 by 4 front and back. The engine stuck up the highest from the chassis, we eventually uncovered it and took off the air cleaner to allow clearance. 

Nose Hold

Supporting the not-quite-complete nose of the body was a bit of a challenge too. The quarters are welded in, but the tire well floor is only tacked along its back edge. So we had to figure out how to support it solely by the quarters. We did a lot of tiptoe-ing around this one. Looks like a real Wile E. Coyote huh?

Ta-Da !!!!

With the body up high, we were able to carefully roll the chassis out from underneath. Then we put the body on sawhorses. I decided to leave it up high until I finish the metalwork (couple of snapped off body-to-pan bolts), but initially it was out in the middle of the garage floor. I thought if I could move it toward the back of the garage, I would be able to park at least one car (mine ;-) in there. But how could we move the body while it was up high?

We entertained the idea of putting the sawhorses on dollies, but that would take too much "fabrication". Then I saw this adjustable height computer table that we had used to hold up part of the front. It rolled right under the body. I wondered if it would be possible to find the "balance point" on the body and support it on this table. So we clamped the height screw on the table down really tight and slid a 2x4 across the table. To distribute the weight along a wider part of the heater channels we put about a foot length of 2x6 on top of the ends of the 2x4. We actually never got the body to balance on the single 2x4, but we came close. I would whack the end of the 2x4 with a hammer toward the front or back to adjust it a tiny bit at a time, but when we let go of the body, it would just slowly starting tilting. So we added a second 2x4 across the table and slid the first one back a little so they were at either ends of the 2x6 pieces.

So there it sat, perfectly balanced. It was kind of one of those silly challenges, where you just had to do it to say that you had. Then we held the body front and back and gently rolled it towards the back of the garage, then slid the sawhorses back under the front and back. But this would actually be good way to move the body around, on a rolling "crate" that you could lift up and then place on sawhorse when you had it where you wanted it. 

Dusty Engine

A few days before, I found my 6 volt battery to be dead, totally. Then I found out my 6 volt battery charger was dead also. So I borrowed one from a friend and charged the battery. I had to hear this engine at least turn over, it has been under tarps since November 1995. So we hooked up the battery and turned it over a few times, RRrr--RRR--RRRRrrrrrrr.

 Then I spent 30 minutes or so lecturing and quizzing my 15 year old nephew on VW engines, how distributors work, etc. 

Click here to see what I did on "Drive Your VW to Work Day", July 10, 1998.