Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's a good time to be restoring a VW 1500

The past few years have seen a marked increase in the availablity of reproduction parts for VW 1500s and 1600s. ISP West has lead the way, reproducing a number of obsolete Type 3 parts over the last ten+ years, and they've been joined by the now-defunct PoP of Thailand (Simon Kelley has begun to pick up where PoP left off), Rudiger Huber, BerT3 and others, including my own self. But in the last year things have really picked up.

The latest news is that the original "salt & pepper" wool cloth used from 1961–63 is now available for purchase from Gizmo Bob Walton. The possibility of reproducing this cloth has been talked about for many years, and it's amazing that it's finally here. I dropped in on Bob yesterday and saw one of several giant rolls. It looks fantastic.

Equally exciting news: new right and left side floorpan halves for Type 3s are now available from KlassicFab. Almost all Type 3s need to have some part of the floor pan patched, most commonly the area under the battery, but many are in need of full pan replacement. The availability of quality pan stampings will make it possible to save many cars that would probably have otherwise been parted out or gone to the crusher. Gerson of KlassicFab says he'll be at the VW Classic next month with ten pairs, and I plan to buy a set there.

A long-requested accessory now available from Neil Mast is a high-quality VDO Type 3 tachometer reproduction. Repro Type 3 tachs have been available from Bill & Steve's and Tacho Thomas in the past (and Tim Dapper made a Type 34 version), but they have followed the Gossen tach style in which the needle is positioned under the center escutcheon. Neil's new tach is faithful to the original VDO design and matches the other Type gauges perfectly. ISP West is also finishing up their Type 3 tach repro, which follows the Gossen style and also looks great.

And with any luck, BerT3's repro wraparound dash pads will be available soon too.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Quality control, part 2

Over the past two months I've been testing my water slide decals in harsh conditions to see how they hold up and if wax or a clear coat will provide added durability. I applied three decals to an old glovebox lid, giving one a clear coat of enamel, another several coats of wax, and the third left untreated as a control. I subjected them to weeks of full sun—at times over 80°F—and to damp 45°F nights. I dipped them in water regularly to simulate the effects of normal washing. I simulated daily wear and tear by rubbing the surface. The decals showed no ill effects after a few weeks of this treatment, so I decided it was time to pull off the gloves and give them the Extreme Humidity Test. I sealed them in an airtight bag with a few ounces of water and left them in the hot sun for a week. Here's the result:

None of the three test decals fared very well, but then neither did the original paint on the glovebox lid or the original 40-year-old decals on the other side. The glovebox itself started rusting very quickly and the paint began to bubble. Needless to say, if your car was stored in similar steambath conditions flaking decals would be the least of your worries. It's worth noting that the wax didn't provide any protection at all, but the clear coat did help a bit.

Clear coat (left) and wax:

The original Karmann decals began to bubble and loosen too. There was no rust on the glovebox prior to the humidity test.

In the end, I think these tests show that the decals themselves are as durable as Karmann's originals, which is to say that they're vulnerable to damage from unusual dampness and abrasion but should be fine in normal conditions. A clear coat does seem to provide an extra measure of durability and protection from normal humidity, but if you happen to live in a rainforest all bets are off.

If you purchased decals from me and have experienced any unusual problems please let me know and I will be happy to provide replacements.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Modifying a Type 1 oil slinger for an early Type 3

As mentioned in a previous post, 1962 Type 3 rear brakes are different than those on later models. One of the most obvious differences is the presence of an oil slinger on each drum, which uses centrifugal force to direct any gear oil that gets past the axle seal away from the brake shoes and to the outside of the drum. The Type 3 slinger (part number 311 501 631) is a unique one-year-only part only used up to chassis number 0 076 299. Many have been discarded over the years during service, so if you're in need of one, as I am, you're in for a search.

After looking for awhile and following a few leads to dead ends I decided to try another approach. Jason Weigel suggested I try modifying a Type 1 or Type 2 part to fit. Yes, 1950s beetles and buses also had oil slingers, and they're easy to find due to much higher production numbers, so I was able to buy a pair of Type 1 oil slingers advertised on The Samba for a reasonable price. Here is one of them (left) next to a Type 3 slinger from my car (right):

As you can see, the Type 1 slinger is considerably flatter. The Type 3 tube is also slightly longer. I stuffed the inside of the tube with a few pieces of wire to keep it from getting crimped closed and then carefully re-bent it to match the Type 3 part using a vice and a pair of metalworking pliers. The steel was more malleable than I expected.

The idea was to get the tube to correspond as closely as possible to the inside surface of the brake drum, as did the original Type 3 part, allowing clearance for the brake shoes and wheel cylinder. The slightly shorter tube length turned out not to be a problem.

Couldn't hear any rubbing with the drum back in place, so I think it will work. I'll still try to find another real Type 3 slinger but this will get me by for now. Next step: pulling everything apart again to redo the brakes themselves.