Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rear suspension cleanup, part 1

I spent some quality time under the Ghia today, cleaning and painting the right rear suspension area. There was a lot of surface rust that I wanted to address. It was over two years ago that I cleaned off years worth of grease that had built up, and rust began forming very quickly after that.

Early Type 3 swirl brake drums. I kept the wheel mounting surface free of paint—I never want to see one of my wheels passing me by when I'm driving down the freeway.

Here's a good shot of one of the early rear Type 3 axles, which featured stamped steel lower shock mounts welded directly to the axle tubes. Early in the 1963 model year these were replaced by redesigned axle tubes with separate forged shock mounts. Another example of early Type 3 weirdness.

With the wheel removed there was a clear view of the transmission serial number, 35694, which is consistent with a build date of March/April 1962. With this number there's no doubt it's the original trans.

When the car is completely restored the paint will be redone properly, but this will get me by until then. Next weekend the left side gets the same treatment.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Engine reassembled

Today I finally finished reassembling the engine. It took awhile for me to track down all the parts, which for some reason I had stored in a number of different places. The last time I was at this point was the summer of 2007.

The last time I assembled the engine I had a really hard time getting the flanges to line up where the intake manifold's heat riser connects to the tube from the muffler. This time I put some effort into bending and rotating the muffler tube so that its flange would line up better, and I got the bolts started at this connection first before securing it elsewhere, which made it a lot easier to get the manifold in. Hopefully this will put less strain on the manifold when the engine is running—broken welds between the heat riser and intake tube are common on these manifolds, probably due to bad flange alignment.

Along with the intake manifold there are some other new parts that I didn't have for the last assembly, including NOS heater ducts (above), and the correct air cleaner intake boot and a quick-release clamp. I also used one of these cool looking old stock carb-to-manifold gaskets that I got from BerT3 (below). No one will be able to see it, but I like knowing it's in there.

Once I've cleaned and painted the rear suspension the engine can go back in.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gauges sent out for restoration

I took the gauges to North Hollywood Speedometer today. They tested the tach and it's in good working order, so it only needs cosmetics. They're going to make a new glass for it to replace the cracked original—either CNC etched or silkscreened scale and VDO logo—and will replace the late silver-finish escutcheons with early brass parts from donor gauges. The speedometer needs calibration but otherwise tested o.k., and it will get a cosmetic restoration along with the fuel gauge and speaker grille. I'm going to hold off on having the clock restored for now because North Hollywood Speedometer doesn't repair old Kienzle clock works, they replace them with modern quartz movements instead. I'd rather see if I can get the original clock working again myself. I'm not planning on installing it anyway since I have the tach, but I would eventually like to have it restored and ready to go.

When I was there one of the guys showed me a work in progress, a beautiful reproduction VDO Type 3 tach built from a clock housing. It didn't have any graphics on it yet but the needle and other details looked perfect. I told them it was probably being built for someone I know—so who is it?

The fabrication work on the tach will take longer than their usual turnaround, but they say I should have everything back in a month or two.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New year's resolution

I've decided to try something slightly different with the blog this year, something that I hope will help motivate me to make more progress on my own 1500 Ghia's restoration. I'm only going to post when I've actually accomplished something on the car. This means there might be more variation in activity depending on how much progress I'm making—more frequent posts if all is going well, and less frequent if nothing's happening.

This weekend's nice weather gave me a good opportunity to dig the Ghia out from all the junk that has collected in the garage and get the area cleaned up so I can get back to work. I cleared out all the spiderwebs and dust and whatnot from under the car, and wiped everything down. I was disappointed to see more surface rust on some of the hardware than I would have expected from a year or two of sitting, but it's nothing that can't easily be dealt with. Just a good reminder that a car that doesn't get driven is still subject to the forces of entropy. The rear axles and suspension in particular are in need of some attention. I had cleaned off years of grease and road dirt in 2007, but of course that's what had been keeping the rust to a minimum, so I gotta get some new paint on there.

I uncovered the engine too and gave it a once over. The NOS intake manifold got a final sanding and several more coats of matte gray hi-temp paint, and now it's ready to be installed. I just have to find the gaskets. They're around here somewhere.

Finally, I removed all the gauges so I can take them to North Hollywood Speedometer for a restoration quote. I'm bracing myself for the shock.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

1500 Ghia featured in Gute Fahrt magazine, January 1962

The VW 1500 Karmann-Ghia made the cover of Gute Fahrt magazine in January 1962. Note the funky retouching on the cover photo—the steering wheel is hilarious. I think the driver of the car must have been removed from the image.

A one-page feature article inside offers a lot of praise for the Ghia, its unusual luggage accommodations in particular, and attributes the car's sporty handling to its low center of gravity. In yet another take on the clock/tach/speaker conundrum, the article says there's a place in the dash for a tach just to the left of the glove box, but it would be better to put it in the clock's position for visibility. I guess this tells us that the test car didn't have a radio and the purpose of the speaker grille wasn't clear. The one criticism is that the fog lights are too high to really be effective. It says the convertible version would probably be available to the public in the spring. If only!