The Burning Bug

If you follow me on instagram at all, you may remember this picture. The previous owner packed the wheel well with silicone caulking. They might have been trying to waterproof the hole. Im not sure. I’ve been looking forward to fixing this for the last year and a half, and even bought a cheap AC TIG machine to get the work done.


I was given a front end from a ’67 beetle I was planning on cutting all the steel from to splice in. Thanks Dylan.


This method of sheet metal work isn’t elegant and wouldn’t be suited for bodywork where it would be highly visible, like on a door skin or quarter panel. Im adding steel overlapping the body, drilling holes and using clecos to hold the new steel in. It works, it still creates a strong and waterproof panel, it just has a seam.  In the wheel well, where its going to be be covered with undercoating- you’ll never know. I chose it because It’s my first go at body work welding.

This piece here I fabbed/fitted myself, the cross members underneath make the section difficult to cut out of my spare bug piece.


Rust cut out, bottom portion tacked in. Note the wrench that someone lost in the body cavity sometime in the last 46 years. I left it for the next guy to find.


These are ugly welds. I’m still getting the hang of running a TIG without a pedal. Luckily they smooth out with a sander and a little body mud. I had a little body warping, I was having a little trouble getting the heat right. It wasn’t too bad though, the fender still fit.



Here’s a 15 second clip that I posted to Instagram of getting the piece from the other front end tacked in.


The other side didn’t go as smoothly. I forgot to remove the carpet…


No damage, just a big mess from the fire extinguisher. Next time I’ll remember to remove the carpet, and any spare parts I have in the car. I lost a $20 door seal, so at least it was a relatively cheap lesson.



Sunrise Red

We’ve got a couple key things completed since the last bug post. First, I was able to fix the wobbling pedal cluster. It seems the previous owner didn’t have the second bolt to hold the pedal down, so they tried to weld the aluminum  mount on the pedal cluster to the steel tunnel on the bug. Aluminum and Steel don’t generally mix well, so what I had was a giant weld on the steel side, keeping me from being able to move the cluster to add a new metric bolt I acquired from a specialty hardware place (Champion bolt Supply, Everett).

After grinding the old weld off, which was a pain with the limited grinding capability of a dremel, the real challenge became painfully clear. The clutch cable engages the pedal inside the tunnel on a hook. It took me nearly a half hour of trying to hook the cable loop blindly before I thought to release the cable on the transmission side, to give enough play in the line to pull it out of the tunnel and hook it outside.

Redneck attempt at avoiding the hardware store:




The weld material kept the pedal assembly from being properly aligned with the bolt hole.

Notice the dark cavern. No foul tempered rabbits here, just a crude weld and rust.

I found out after burning through this grinding stone that we have an angle grinder… Add that to a list of things I wish I had known.


Properly adjusted clutch cable, check. Non-wobbling pedal assembly, check. 45-year old death-trap slightly more safe, check.


 Paint, and stuff

We stripped a spare fender and smoothed it with mud to test our proposed paint on.

We’re going with a rattle can job, but will be doing some extensive color sanding to avoid orange peel and other defects as much as possible.

20140913_154428 20140913_164025 20140920_123022 20140920_125659 20140920_142423 20140920_142652


Rustoleum Sunrise Red



 Door Patching

The doors are in pretty good shape, aside from the bottom of the driver’s side door.

There was enough rust to warrant a full patch panel in my mind, so I cut and spliced in the few places that needed it.


Cut & Splice

A little Bondo covers a multitude of sins

Got the welds smoothed up pretty well. A very thin layer of mud fixed some irregularity.




Up next,  window seals and scrapers.

First Steps on the Beetle

The first steps I took with correcting the wiring issues was getting the wiring diagram printed and laminated at staples. I spent half a day getting familiarized with the diagram and the unfortunate state of the wiring now. The steering column the bug came with was missing the turn signal bar and had in its place a jumble of cut wires. The horn ground wire that extends the length of the interior of the  column had been cut so close to the edge that I opted to taking it out and replacing it with new wire rather than try to splice in an extension.

I was also able to get the spare column installed and most of the wires to where they belong. It was missing a few parts that I had to go get from a wreck at the Lynnwood Pick’n Pull. I’ll have them installed and the blinkers and rear brake lights working soon.


Getting Familiar

Labeled fuse block

I may have gotten carried away with labeling…


Steering column and horn ground wire



Installing the spare column


I love cable organization.

I’m not sure what the button that is hanging there is supposed to do, its going to be ripped out soon.

While I had the wheel off and was dealing with the horn wire I discovered why the brake lights didn’t work. You need wires.


We decided to test a shade of Rustoleum Red on the license plate light housing. We aren’t sure yet what we think yet.


Sad, but it made for a good picture. It also provided me with an Emergency flasher switch and couple other odds and ends.


Welcome to the Family.

Last Monday when I came home, Emily asked me  if we could get a her an old beetle. Shes had aircooled vehicles on the brain for a few months now. Two hours later we shook hands and signed paperwork on an amazing craigslist find. It was crazy! We found a gentleman in Arlington who had bought a basket case back in November and he wanted out so he could have time for a different project. He had a single picture with a short description on Craigslist with the price $1650. It turned out, he had nearly two of everything from stripping a parts car and wanted it gone so bad that the first 10 franklins took it. For $1k I wasnt expecting much but the beetle runs, drives and kind of brakes. Drum brakes aren’t known for their crisp braking. The main project will be getting the wiring corrected. Along the line somebody did a number on the steering column, effectively removing  access to all the light controls. Thanks, pal.   20140714_204715

Though spartan, I’ve always loved the bug interiors.20140714_200739


Where do all these go? 20140718_182217

Because, why not tear out the steering column and replace half the ignition with a switch?


First thing I did was get the wiring diagram printed and laminated. The second thing I did was realize that I printed and laminated the wrong diagram.

Regardless, these will be indispensable.



All the grounds will need to be cleaned. This one looked like it hadn’t been unscrewed in years


Awesome paint job on the fuel pump. ( Why!?)


Removing body accents, plastics and seals are always a good idea before painting. 20140718_193025

This is the locking mechanism for the seats. You can see that the teeth on the seat are too thick for the stops on the frame. The seats are from an earlier year of VW and we prefer them over the stock highback ones. I’ll have to come up with a creative solution for this. I have a feeling that a file and a dremel will be present.


The once removed steering column I’ll be reinstalling and wiring up. 20140718_204729

Despite it all, a happy owner. 20140714_203417

Bus: Mid-Summer Update

 Over the past few months, we’ve managed to do a little work on the bus. We didn’t accomplish anything earth shattering, however it’s all bringing us closer to our goal.

I timed the bus in May, resulting in a a boost of nearly 6MPG hwy on our trip to Mt. St. Helens! We calculated an average of 24 over our previously logged 18 prior to adjusting the timing. The Bus had been advanced 17° from TDC (Top Dead Center) rather than the suggested 7.5. Alot of  the work we’re doing seems to be split half and half between neglected/regular maintenance like timing and brake flushing and actual repairs.

In June, we bled the brakes. We had no reason to, other than for preventative maintenance. We’re glad we did. I’ve never seen brake fluid so opaque.

Chocolate milk anyone?

(sorry for the low picture quality)




Cleaned up and and added undercoating to the front skid plate in April.




Below: Installed and after a few days of abuse. After a month the Napa branded undercoating seems to hold up.



Next up, our new 1970 Beetle and it’s 44 year old electrical nightmare.

To Do

20140227_080350 Well kids, this is why you fix your fuel gauge and carry a AAA Plus Membership.

Fuel sender’s tend to get fouled up on the Transporters (bus) by age. Its a simple fix… once you drop the engine and fuel tank. Since I dont want to remove the engine yet, I’ve been tracking my fuel tank using this little gadget, held on by a magnet to the metal plate where  the dealership-optional clock would call home.

Hence the mileage tracking gadget that didn’t help me in this instance… I may have been off by a hundred miles or so.


This mornings events, pictured above with Roxanne’s corpse on the side of I5, a 1/2 mile south of Everett’s 41st Street exit, prompts a To-Do list for the bus. Most of these will be accompanied by a post detailing the work.

In no particular order,

1. Fuel guage sender fix

2.  Driver/Passenger Inner-door handles

3. Inside paint

4. Fire extinguisher install (will explain)

5. H4 Headlight conversion

6. Sealed heating system

7. Tune-up (spark gap, points, spark cables, fuel filter.. etc.)

8. All New fuel hose

9. Modern Windhshield wiper pump install

10. Door switch for Headlights-On Alarm

11. Cabin Light

12. New Curtains

13. Interior storage (remove “bookshelf”)

14 Radio