Saturday, July 24, 2010

Los Angeles has always been Type 3 friendly

While I'm waiting for my new Optima battery to arrive here's a photo Ivan Pang sent to me of a faded gulf blue '63 VW 1500 notchback parked in a garage a few houses away from where I 1976.

It's good reference for the kinds of features a daily-driven VW 1500 would have had in Los Angeles back in the day: solid red rear lenses, bias-ply thin whitewalls, curb feelers, AAA sticker on the bumper, etc. The license plate's number sequence points to an original registration date of around 1965, so it may have been a gray-market car. It looks worn but all original, which is no surprise because it was only 13 years old! No telling whatever became of the car; it was long gone by the time we moved to the neighborhood 20 years later.

Ivan has lived in the area for many years and he has always tried to photograph old VWs when he sees them. He has been a part of the California vintage VW scene from its beginnings in the early 1970s and has owned lots of interesting old VWs over the years, among them a Rometsch Beeskow cabriolet. He still has a number of them, including a low-mileage '62 notchback.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Engine is back in

I got the engine back in yesterday. The reinstall was fast, smooth, and uneventful. A motorcycle jack under the engine takes most of the drama out of the process.

I finally got to install the '63 heater mufflers. I had to improvise a substitution for the insulating ring (311 255 379 B) that the VW Workshop Manual advises be installed. I found some self-adhesive silica insulating tape at McMaster that should do the job. Supposed to be good for 1800° F.

According to the Workshop Manual, without insulation here the muffler can get too hot and burn.

Close to having it back on the road. I have a few loose ends to take care of and I have to see if my 6V battery will hold a charge (unlikely) or locate a new one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gray e-brake boot

My best find from the VW Classic weekend was an original gray e-brake boot. It's a surprisingly hard to find item, and I've been trying to locate one for years. It's really clean and there are no holes or rips. I picked it up from a seller at OCTO for a very reasonable price. Couldn't believe my luck.

Several years ago the restorer of a '58 beetle had a short run of gray repro boots made in Belgium, and I bought one when they were available. Here it is next to the OEM original.

It's not perfect—the shape and texture are a little off and the gray color is too blue—but it's well made. It's also the style without the adjustment access slots/flaps on the sides. Some original boots have these access slots and some don't, and I don't know what applications got which boots, or when. The supply of these repro boots now seems to have dried up as well. I'll sell this one and put the proceeds back into the Ghia's restoration.

Gray e-brake boots are very much in demand and it's surprising to me that a good quality reproduction isn't currently available. Respraying black boots gray is always an option, I suppose, but I doubt the result would ever look exactly right.

In other brake news, the rear brakes are finally completely assembled, adjusted and bled. If all goes as planned the engine will go back in next weekend.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

1500 Ghia visor clips

Speaking of 1500 Ghia visor clips, I'm very happy to finally have a pair of originals thanks to Larry Edson. They're not 100% perfect—both have minor cracks from use—but they're very presentable and far better than most others I've seen. It's rare for any of these clips to have survived due to an overly complicated and under-engineered design. This has lead to a cottage industry in 1500 Ghia visor clip replacements, some more successful than others. A few examples I've accumulated over the years:

I've seen a number of Ghias with these bent steel hooks. They work surprisingly well, taking advantage of the spring tension in the visor mounts to hold the visors in place, and they're simple enough to not call attention to themselves.

John Copello made these machined aluminum and powder coated clips, and it's possible that he might still make them to order. They follow the original design fairly closely but are blockier and have fewer rounded edges. They lack the flexibility that the originals have, of course, but they work. They're presentable but are clearly hand made.

Someone painstakingly cast these clips in resin and then drilled, carved and sanded them into a more rounded version of the originals' shape. They rely on a tension fit to hold the visors up, but the resin is brittle and I think they would probably break if used regularly.

These crudely fabricated aluminum clips were in my '62 when I bought it. They're not much to look at but they do the job.

A number of years ago someone in the Type 34 Registry had a quality reproduction made, but to get a set of them you had to be in the right place at the right time, and I wasn't. It's too bad a larger production run wasn't done. There are rumors of some investigation into a new high-quality repro. Hope it really happens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Type 34 Ghia hood latch deflector

There are a few parts that every Type 34 Ghia owner needs. Who couldn't use a pair of those visor clips that seem to have been designed to break the first time they were used? Or how about the plastic deflector that keeps the front hood safety catch from damaging the rubber seal? When's the last time you saw an original one? In my case that would be never.

Greg Skinner has taken it upon himself to reproduce the elusive deflector and he very generously brought a few to Bob Walton's pre-Classic BBQ for the Type 34 owners in attendance. Here is one of his repros, a faithful copy of the original part (341 823 491). I decided to test fit it to my Ghia.

One of the good things about having owned a number of old VWs over the past 30 years is that I've amassed a lot of hardware. I was able to find screws and washers that match the originals.

Here you can see how the deflector would protect the seal—if there was a seal there to protect.

Many thanks to Greg for addressing this very real need. We all owe you one.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Modifying a '63 rear brake drum for a '62

It's only fitting, really, that one of the slowest Type 34 restorations ever should get one of the slowest brake jobs ever. That's what I get for trying to keep things correct for an early '62. Over the last few months I've been trying to locate the early parts I need without much luck. The unique early '62 brake parts are really hard to find, so you have to buy them when you see them even if you don't need them yet, because you eventually will. I've already found it's possible to modify a Type 1 oil slinger to work with a Type 3 drum. The drum itself was the next hurdle.

Over the VW Classic weekend I tried to track down an NOS or good used '62 rear drum without any luck. For a moment I thought I'd hit paydirt when I saw an early pinwheel drum in a box of NOS oval drums, but alas it turned out to be an NOS early front. I promptly scooped it up for future use.


A few other potential leads failed to pan out, so I decided it was time to drill a hole in the existing '63 drum on my Ghia to accommodate the oil slinger.

In this photo of my car's original beyond-tolerance doorstop you can see said hole at just after 12 o'clock. If you look closely you'll see there's a slight depression in the casting below the hole to allow clearance for the oil slinger tube.

Fortunately the '63 drum's casting also includes this depression, helpfully indicating the drilling location and saving me some time with a Dremel tool. After measuring carefully I drilled a pilot hole and then the final 8mm (5/16 in.) hole.

Testing the fit with an original Type 3 slinger. It's good to go. After a little cleaning and painting today the left rear brakes will be ready for reassembly.