September 03, 2009

To Modify or Not to Modify, That is the Question.

Me and my wife have hit a little snag.  I don't think it is anything that threatens the foundation of our marriage, but it is a definate difference of opinion.

In general, we have a lot in common, similar tastes in music, TV, movies, politics, we see eye to eye on a lot of stuff.  On this particular issue however, I guess we are going to have to "agree to disagree."

What is the issue you might ask?

What to do with her 66 VW Bug?

Everytime I work on her car, or clean it, I notice something else wrong with it or something I want to change.  Kari also notices things she wants changed or improved as well.  Nothing major, a ding here, some rust there, weathered seals, small wiring issues, bent bumpers, carburator problems, little things like that that add up.  The car was probably restored 15 - 20 years ago, and neglected for at least a few of those years.  It really is time to start over, take it down to the "frame" and re-do it from the ground up.  Me and Kari are in agreeance that this is what needs to be done, and have talked about how long it will take (always longer than you plan), what it might cost (always more than you budget), and even how she can help on the project. 

The problem is vision.  You see when I think of starting over with a blank 66 VW Bug canvas, this is the type of vehicle I picture...

...or in some extreme cases, this...

THE problem is my wife's idea's are more like the Bug that stars in the new VW commercials, you know...

I've been quickly cut off several times when I start talking about the things I'm gonna do to her Bug.  I've gotten a lot of replies when I "suggest" modifications for her car they include but are not limited to:


I want that car to look normal.

That is stupid.

You're a dork.

(and my personal favorite)

You already have two race cars you can do whatever you want with, leave my car alone!

This past weekend (August 30th) at a all Volkswagen show not too far from our home, this difference of opinion was once again evident as we voted on the people's choice awards.  You have to vote for your favorite car of the show, and whoever had the most votes wins!

Kari's picks were these two vehicles:

See the theme, original, stock, BORING!

These were my choices:

You see my theme, low, chrome, shaved, COOL!

What to do, what to do?  Well, I guess any marriage is about compromise, so that is what we did.  She has agreed to let me put a tach in it, as I showed her that AutoMeter makes a small 2" tach that will allow me to know what the engine is spinning at, without distorting her dash too much.

And I got her to agree she does like the current 5 spoke polished aluminum wheels and billet aluminum running boards currently on the car...those can stay.

Finally the concensus was I could do "whatever I want to the car" as long as it looks the way it does now (aside from picking a new color when it comes time to paint).  I'm not sure if she knows how that translates from english to gearhead but...

I just got the greenlight to build a sleeper!

I will admit I still know very little about VW's and how to make them fast, but I do know there is a lot of potential in the 1600cc dual port mill that currently sits in the back of her Bug, and with a little research, I can make a car we can both be happy with.  It will look (pretty much) stock, but will run, just off the top of my head I'm thinking, bore kit, new heads, camshaft, exhaust, and dual carbs.  All that can be packaged without changing any of the exterior appearance.

I hope you all learned a valuable lesson when it comes to relationships and marriage, It doesn't matter if it finances, kids, schedules, work, housework, cooking, or a 1966 VW Bug that will toast Mustangs and Camaro's at a stoplight, but "look stock", you gotta meet each other in the middle.

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan

February 06, 2009

Bug Winter 09 Project Installment One

I've never really minded bugs, except for ants.  Can't stand ants.  Had my wife wanted a older 'Ant' instead of a 'Bug', we might have had some issues, and hell, might not even be married at the moment.

But she wanted a Bug, so as many of my faithful readers might know, I got her one, a 1966 black one.  Like a lot or cars that are 42 years old, it needs some TLC to stay road ready.  Last winter after it was purchased, the objective was to get it safe, so it got the basics.  Now it is onto improvements, and the list for this winter has three basic things, listed in order of importance:

1. Remove and replace (R&R) rear torsion arm bushings.

These are shot and causing the back end to sag.  The lowered look aint too bad, but...much like on a woman...saggin in one place and not another aint good.

2. Update wiring...infact, probably tear out existing wiring, and replace with totally new harness.

As I continue to work on this car, I find all kinds of "neat" stuff with the electrical system.  Wires that are wire nutted together, stripped wire ends soldered to connectors on the other wire, wires twisted together and taped, or wires simply just twisted together period, no tape, no nuts, nothing!

3. New carb and possibly intake.

This is the most expensive, and with my current employment status, probably the least likely to happen.  The car will run fine, but behaves like it is starved for fuel.  This is probably because it has a Solex carb that is off a SINGLE PORT 1500cc engine...this bug has a DUAL PORT 1600cc. I've done all I can with tuning to get it passable, it needs some more volume, more fuel, MORE POWER.

So we started with the R&R of the torsion arm bushings.  Still being new to this whole VW air cooled thing, I approach each project with caution, and really try to analize everything before I remove the first bolt.  I quickly realized that this job would be much easier with the fender off.  Analizing the fender removal, I first notice that you have to remove the bumper.  Analizing the bumper, it appears that the removal of the bumper, and then the fender is just removing 8 bolts, and some rubber grommets.  I tear into this little "pre-project".

All goes fairly well.  I do notice that removing the bumper and the fender involves the removal of 12 bolts, and not just 8.  Seems the fender was missing 4.  This little bundle of joy is just full of surprises.

Right after I get the fender off, my wife calls on the way to the gym from her place of employment.  "Wait til you see your bug!!!!" I say.  "WHAT DID YOU DO?!?!?!" she replies.  I'm a little frustrated with her doubt.  Doubt with my cooking skills is one thing, but when have I ever failed her when it comes to an automotive project? 

Side note: If you ask her that question about certain home improvement projects, I'm sure she could come up with half a dozen stories off the top of her head.  This is an entirely differnt blog entry all together.  Back to the automotive project question.

When have I ever failed her on an auto project?  Never!  They put up fight at times, and they have won some battles, but when it comes to me vs. the automobile, I'm undefeated, and feel that I do some pretty good work!  I'm reminded of one of my favorite Darth Vader lines from the "first" Star Wars (I know, I know, episode 3, the first one was the fourth one, which came out in the 90's.  All you Star Wars geeks, save your comments and emails) when one of Vader's men is questioning the vulnerability of the Death Star say the following line using your best Darth Vader Impression...and throw in the heaving breathing to really make the effect "special":

"I find your lack of faith disturbing."

This is what I felt like saying, but chose not to.

Instead, To put her mind at ease, I sent a picture to her phone, which maybe wasnt' the best plan, because this was the picture:

The project actually went pretty smoothly.  Fender came off with little issue, and thanks to the advice of a VW nut that I went to college with who resides in Wisconsin (some of you know who this certain Polish Asasian is) and an article that he emailed to me, the spring plate came off pretty easily as well.

Another side note: I'm knocking on wood furiousely as I type this, and would like you to do the same as you read this.  It came apart to easily, I'm EXTREMELY concerned with the difficulty level of getting it back together!

So the spring plate was removed from the trans axle

And the torsion arm bushing removal was pretty straight forward.  In the picture below you can see the exposed torsion arm which is red, or orange depending on your monitors resolution, and the degree of your own color blindness.

Next is the same thing on the driver side, then to actually scrounge up enough cans to get the money, to buy new bushings, and put them in.

After that it will be onto the electrical stuff.  Check back for updates.

As always, thanks for stopping by - Dan