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Another weekend improving the baja bug. Firstly I wanted to use my new laser wheel tracking gauge to check the front wheel alignment. A standard beetle should have 30' toe in +/- 15'. On checking I found that it had over 2 degrees! This would explain why the car felt a bit twitchy. It is now much more planted and I have to put in much less steering corrections... Result!
The next task was to address the venting issue on the engine. I had taken delivery of a CB preformance cast vent box. Unfortunately I noticed too late in the small print that it doesn't work with late alternator stands. I tried to screw it home and the thread was very tight. I suspect either a different tolerance or slightly different pitch, however it screwed in easily for about 4 turns before binding. By using the compression washer off the previous filler pipe I was able to attach it sufficiently and here is how it looks.

Unfortunately the kit doesn't come with sufficient blanking bungs, so two at the top are currently open to air. This isn't ideal, but I have some on order so this can be fixed next weekend. The box looks smart and seems to work. It has a baffle system in it so any oil vapour can condense and return to the sump. In the instructions it says not to glue in the o ring seal on the front cover, but as they have made it too short, this was the only thing I could do to stretch it in place. Still it works Ok. The box also gives me the option to vent the rocker covers should I wish.
One of the real problems with Bubba is the noise inside the cabin whilst driving. This is due to the loud exhaust, solid gearbox mounts, no back seat and no head lining. I went out for a drive and at 60 mph  my decibel meter in the front seat recorded 95 - 96 dB. This is pretty loud and could cause hearing damage on long drives. I have been using ear plugs and this was clearly not acceptable. I had some sound proofing in the back and this improved things a little, so I doubled this up and also made a removable sausage to fill in any gaps in the rear. I was careful so the removable panel above the gearbox gound still be taken out should I need to do so.

I am sure "Dynamat" would be better, but it is really expensive, I used some wool/felt sound proofing that I have had for years and this proved quite effective. It is also self adhesive. Next was to address lining the roof. I noticed that when I had removed the original lining to fit the roll cage, the noise level rose quite a lot. I suspect this is mainly due to the curved shape deflecting the sound (Like a radar dish) right to the centre of the car.

I may cover this later with decorated plywood fastened to the roll cage, but a short drive revealed that the sound level has dropped considerably. I may do another layer again to improve things further. I want to get to the point where there is a point at installing a radio! I didn't have time to repeat the decibel test, but hopefully this can be done next week. I do feel now however that my hearing won't be damaged.
All in all a good weekends work and each step is making the car much more of a regular driver, rather than a now and again car. I also suspect that the small electric heater I have installed will keep the interior warmer as I am effectively now sitting inside a thick duvet!

I am not posting as regurlarly as I should as I have been very busy with Volkswagen related stuff. The Profs bus "Alf" is now on the road and he is very generous letting me use it at the weekend. I am fitting in a few little jobs on that in between more work on the baja bug.

The front suspension is now fully fitted and has returned the car to its former self. No bump steer and wild handling so is now a pleasure to drive. I have been using it regularly to visit my family in the Midlands and apart from having to wear ear plugs on long journeys all has been well...except about two weeks ago when I broke down! About 12 miles from home whilst changing gear there was a big clunk and the clutch pedal went to the floor. I initially suspected the cable, but on the side of the road, a brief inspection showed it was something more serious. Luckily the AA was on hand and arrived within about 1/2 an hour (On a bank holiday!) As I was so close to home I was towed back behing the AA van. I removed the engine for a closer look and found the clutch cross shaft arm had sheared off completely.

In order to stop this happening again I have now fitted a heavy duty version and heavy duty clips. It is fortunate with a beetle the engine is so easy to remove, so this job only took about an hour.

I has a few hours over the weekend to add on a new high level rear brake light. I had one of these before but It never worked well, so I invested in a new one. This time rather than wiring it from one of the rear lights I connected it down to the wiring loom just behing the passenger seat. I looked at the wiring loom and did a few sanity checks in the front bonnet to discover that it was the black and red wire that was for the brake light signal. I had guessed right and it worked as expected. The rear bullseye lights I have added look great, but I am not sure the brake lights are that visible. This should make things a little safer now should I need to brake suddenly.
The next job was to start to refurbish the new front torsion beam that I had bought this on ebay as a "Perfect no holes item", but as usual that was not the case. I originally paid 150, but I negotiated a refund of 50. So for 100 it wasn't a bad buy. In fact its in excellent condition apart from one hole on the tower behind the shock mount. There was even the original part number stenciled on one tower and the tow eye is still there.  I cut out the rust and welded in a new piece. I ground back the welds to cover most of my work, but this time I also used my finger and rubbed a little filler over the pitted areas. I sanded this back by hand and to my surprise after painting the fix is all but invisible and as strong as the original I am sure. A few more hours work and the beam looks like this. I'll really have to resist the temptation to be so finiky next time as Thats the sort of thing I did when I was younger and it spoils all the fun of owning a rust bucket!

In hindsight I should have removed and reinstalled the leaf springs before I did this paintind, but I'll do this next week before I apply the final coat of paint. I may go for a grey this time for a change to see how it looks. I have ordered the following Tractol 329 paint. Window Grey RAL7040, Jet Black RAL9005 and Traffic White RAL9016. I am considering hand painting the body as the paint gives the car no rust protection. I'll use these on a spare body panel I have to see how it looks. In the mean time the grey will do for painting the front axle.

Just a couple of smaller jobs have been completed this weekend. Firstly the replacement seat arrived so i installed it in the drivers side. The colour match is much better and also the seat cushions make the ride really comfortable. I am very happy with the way these seats looks and I would buy them again, particularly if I built a beach buggy or rail buggy. Unfortunately the spare seat doesn't fit in the rear too well, so I'll have to rethink this.

Another job was to fit in the new horn button. This went quite smoothly using a stepped drill and was easy to wire up as its just a switch with earths when pressed. This is now a much more reliable setup than the centre of the steering wheel so this troublesome piece of the car is now sorted.

Over a year since the last post, but Bubba has been in storage in London, so not much has been done..Two weeks ago I took it for an MOT in London and the MOT guy refused to test it saying it was dangerous to have an open engine and exhaust. I am not sure how he MOTs motorbikes, but still there goes! I wanted the opportunity to drive it up to my house in Bedfordshire, so I booked it in at Gravelley Garage and this gave me the chance to drive it legally without a ticket on it up north. It failed on a few points, the main one being a cracked / rusty torsion beam. I drove it home and worked on it for 3 days solid. Fortunately the Brubaker box chassis could donate its front beam for a retest, so on the Monday it passed without issues. Unfortunately the donated beam is lowered, so this doesn't make it handle too well and looks all wrong on a Baja. I did break down on the way to the MOT station, but luckily I traced this to a kinked pipe under the fuel tank (I had removed the tank to do the front suspension!)  A quick pull straight and the car fired up again.
Over the next few weekends I have been tidying up the car a bit to make it more drivable and have been using it as often as I can. I have bought a replacement front beam and this was a good buy as it is a genuine RHD version. It nees a small repair, a clean and a paint, but otherwise is quite useable so will be fitted as soon as I can. The car as it was handled really well, so I want to go back to this standard height I have also aquired some 3" lift spindles, but I wont fit these until I have attended to the rear suspension.
Many years ago I purchased a plastic bucket seat which is really designed for a boat. The Recaro seats I had in were a bit tatty and also showed every bit of dirt, so as an experiment I made up an adapter plate and fitted one in. To my surprise they are very comfortable and of course are easy to clean. They do perhaps need a cushion for long journeys, but otherwise are really good. I have ordered some wheelchair cushions in red which are exactly the right size (400mm x 400mm) and if i drill some small holes in the lower coreners of the seat, should fasten on invisibly.

I purchased a second one, but unfortunately it was a different shade of red due to the long time between manufacture dates. I have installed it for now, but another is on order so they match. I may fit the older one in the rear, but I haven't decided yet if that will look OK. For access to the rear I welded a three strong hinges to another plate, so the passenger seat pivots. Access to the rear is actually quite good. I have purchased some spring loaded locking pins, but I am not sure they are really necessary as the front hinges are really strong and the seat holds down well on its own. The seat head rest touches on the roll cage above the windscreen, but the tilt is more than enough.

I have completed lots of other little jobs, such as cleaning the wheels, renovating the gear shift and knob and tidying the wiring some more. I have also fitted a new fuel sender as the old one was really inaccurate. The horn has also stopped working again and I am fed up with redoing the steering column wiring. I have ordered a dash mount horn button, so will fit this soon and do away with the troublesome column wiring once and for all! After all now the car is not in London I will rarely need to use it!
In other news I have managed to purchase two good quality doors. Mine are very tatty on the bottom edge and I am hoping that these new ones will tidy things up a bit. I will try to fit new rubbers and fittings, but I can take my time as the current doors work OK for now.
The final job I completed was to add a little sound profing to the rear of the car. This has cut down the noise quite a bit, but I want to get this much better so I can hear the radio (To help perhaps I should also refit some speakers!)

Not many posts on Bubba in the past few months, but there has been a little progress. Many engines have been swapped in and out, but I think we have now found the one that is going to stay for a while. I still haven't got the MOT, but hopefully this will be soon. Over the last weekend I completed a new setup for the rear number plate and so it now has two lights on it. We also changed the gearbox oil a while back and this caused a leak on the rear of one of the brake hubs (As usual!), Tonight both myself and the Prof. stripped out the brakes and we found them badly contaminated with oil (As usual!). We also struggle getting the inner wheel bearing off the driveshaft (As usual!). We resorted to grinding the outer race so we could get the bearings out, which then released the outer race and then pried the inner race along the shaft with screwdrivers and a lot of harsh language. I have ordered a set of sealed bearings in a similar way that I did the Brubaker Box chassis. I am hoping that this will put any leaks to bed once and for all. I am not going to renew all the parts as they are all fairly new and I am hoping the IRS conversion will get done soon. I am still musing on a turbo setup for this engine, I have most of the main parts hanging around such as turbo 1/75" SU carb and a suitable manifold. It is just a case of fitting it in to the already jammed work schedule!

Over the past few weeks myself and the Prof. have been building up a few engines an replacing some parts on the engine that is currently in the Baja. As I have said  this engine will probably find its way into the Brubaker Box as we have the original engine from the Baja complete and sitting in the back of the garage. Both of these engines are similar in that they are 1600cc, fully rebuilt and both on twin weber 34 ICT carbs.We have been struggling to get the one in Bubba running well. We changed the electrics, fitted a CSP throttle linkage. I also added a better return spring which pulls the linkage at the centre and uses a tension spring connected to a hole drilled in the alternator flange. It was a modification I saw online and it works really well. I also rejectted the carbs with the recommended ones. It was still fouling the plugs quite badly and this left us quite stumped. It was time for a fresh pair of eyes. We called upon "Fish" from the late bay forum as he lives quite close and was happy to come on the weekend. He arrived at the garage and we went over the engine and did a bit of a sanity check. All seemed fine, rocker clearances, ignition timing etc. until we checked the plugs. These were the wrong ones and this was my problem. No one had told me that Brazilian cylinder heads (Usually from AutoLinea) are thicker and need longer plugs. I had simply put in the ones I was used to using (for about the last 30 years!) which were too short and causing misfiring. We put these in and did a little tuning and the engine is now sorted. I may try going back to 150 main jets, but I think we have now bottomed out this problem. Fish also looked at the next engine we had built and again I had fitted the wrong plugs! Not too bad for about an hours work...two engines fixed! I am very pleased and I have met another useful contact in the VW community.
   I really want to get the MOT on this car very soon so I can move it about between Bedford and London. I think this is my next job....Right now its onto the internet to get a few sets of the correct plugs!

Wow I have spent over a month trying to get the engine running better! The engine has been out again and myself and the Prof. took off the heads and have now replaced the troublesome leaking spring loaded pushrod tubes. These have now been replaced with stainless steel items which have the correct flexible ends and so seat squarely in the head and block. I am becoming increasingly wary of these so called "Performance" option parts. Many of them just simply don't work and are poorly thought out. We also ditched the single carb as we could not tune it correctly....Again another new aftermarket item which has proved a waste of money. We stuck on the twin 34 ICT carbs and the engine fired up easily and was very smooth. A drive confirmed that the engine was running very well. On return we noticed a large oil leak at the back of the engine. This was traced to a leak under the fuel pump. We took it off and replaced the gaskets and added some sealer for good measure. It is now all sorted.
The MOT on Bubba runs out today, so there are a few things I need to do before I take it in for a test. The first is I need to replace the ball joint gaiters on the front as these always perish every year. Secondly I want to sort out the accelerator linkage as it tends to stick now with extra load of the twin carbs....Oh no another aftermarket piece of kit is required! I want to replace the Hex bar linkage with a simpler centre pull one from Scat or CSP. The Hex bar has too many links and hits all the wiring and sparking plug leads. It also mounts far too high for the cable coming through the fan shroud. It looks like a bit of shopping on the internet tonight!


Over the past couple of weeks I have been trying to get the engine to run better. After running over my air fuel ratio gauge I took delivery of a replacement. I have fitted this back in the car, unfortunately the wire is a just too short at the moment. I will need to extend it next week. Fortunately The Prof. has just moved house to near Dub Club, so I will be able to pop around there to do any soldering as the garage has no 240V supply. I was still struggling to tune the car so did a sanity check on everything. I noticed that inside the distributor cap the contacts were very pitted. I got my timing gun out and connected it up. Number 1 plug was firing intermittently and number 2 looked a bit bad as well. A check of all the plug sparks showed that they were very weak. On Thursday I had a quick trip over to Cool Air and bought some 10mm thick Taylor 409 Pro Race ignition leads and a Flamethrower coil. I was determined that this baby should not lack a decent spark! Last night (Friday) I fitted them to the car. The Pro race leads have one end on the centre coil wire not fitted so you can adjust where you fit the coil in your vehicle. I didn't have the correct crimping tool, so made a bit of a pigs ear attaching the end. Its OK, but I have ordered the correct crimping tool and will do it properly when it arrives.

I also took the time to remount the coil on the bulkhead. It will keep it out of the rain and handily gives more room for adjusting the carb. It wll also be positioned correctly should I fit twin carbs as the throttle bar comes acros this area. When I started the car up it was still a little rough, but I put in some new plugs as they were all sooted up (Again!) . This cured it and the car started to run really great with no misfires. I adjusted the mixure as the readings were now much more stable. I set it up to an AFR of about 14. This might actually be a bit lean in the real world. Stoichiometry occurs at 14.7 but on old cars you usually run slightly lower for maximum power (usually between 12.5 to 13.3). I'll drive the car around a bit to see how it feels and adjust it some more when I get the lambda gauge installed in the exhaust. Overall I think the engine is running the best it has so far.

I still need to tidy the wiring a bit more, but this should be easier now the coil is mounted up high. I still need to add a few wires to the engine so I will leave it for the time bieng. Two extra wires need to go to the engine. One for the oil temperature gauge and another for the tacho which I have yet to fit.
Inside the car I am just sizing up some rear panels. I am going to fit a radio in and some speakers and also do some soundproofing. I'm not sure what finish to do the panels yet or even what material I want to use. I quite fancy some thick plywood, perhaps around 12mm. This is lucky as I have some in the garage!

After lots of work on other vehicles it was finally time to have a look at Bubba. I had been doing some research on the net as to why the carb should run rich and I learned two things. 1) New carburettors are usually filled with debris from the factory and need a clean. I had noticed this when I had had a little look in the float chamber earlier and it was quite a surprise. 2) There was a note that some aftermarket carburettors are not machined correctly and by putting a washer behind one of the jets this might improve things.
Firstly I removed the electric fuel pump and regualtor from inside the car and fed the tank directly to the manual pump on the engine. I never really liked the Facet fuel pump as it was noisy inside the car.
Next I stripped tha carburettor down and used carb cleaner to blow out all the holes and jets. I then reassembled every thing and tried again. I was still running rich. I then noticed that the pilot jet (Part 31 in image below) on the right hand side of the carburettor was not fully home but screwed in just to touch the 'O' ring surrounding it. With the engine running I tightened it in fully and the engine immediately picked up. The smokey exhaust was gone and it felt much better. Perhaps this was the problem all along. I couldn't be sure if thats how it had come from the factory.

I put in some new plugs and tried to tune the carburettor by ear. I'm not too good at tuning, but I got it to tick over. The information on the internet about tuning is all conflicting (Some say screw this in..others screw out) and this convinces me even more that there is no one out there that can tune a carburettor by ear. If there is in my 30+ years of working on old bangers I haven't yet met one. All tuners worth their bacon use a fuel ratio meter and always have....At least since the 1970's!....OK rant over! I might make a video of what does waht on this carb with a meter connected just to prove it.
A test drive proved that it was running really well. There was a little hesitation on acceleration, but no massive backfires! I'll get my air fuel ratio meter set up next week and see where we are mixture wise.

I took the Baja Bug to work today and everyone was interested to see it. The car ran great and so at lunchtime I took a work mate out for a drive. When I accelerated a little too hard, something went wrong with the engine and it started to cough and splutter really badly and give out enormous backfires. Perhaps I shouldn't be showing off at my age! I was worried so rather than driving around the inner ringroad during rush hour after work I limped it back to my digs which were closer. Unfortunately here I had very few tools, so I went to the local motor factors and bought a spark plug spanner. I removed all the plugs and found them to be completely fouled up, the car was running really rich and hence the backfires. I cleaned them as best I could with an old toothbrush and a bit of paper and gapped them a little bigger. I tried to adjust the carburettor, but I wasn't really right. Fingers crossed I would get me the 18miles back to Dub Club in North London.
I set off at about 7.00pm as I thought the traffic would be clear. How wrong I was. It was queued up everywhere and the car was geeting worse. The backfires were so bad it actually broke the silencer retaining screws and the baffle was firing up about 6" or so. I thought it was going to come out for sure, but I had to continue. After about an hour of travel I limped back into the garage at Dub Club HQ mentally drained and very sweaty.

Tonight we again worked a little on the Baja bug. We sealed up the pushrod tubes again and there is now only one leaking! The Scat Big mouth tubes are really poor. The car seems to be puffing large amounts of soot and this is because the engine is running very rich. We will have to work on this a little more and have a look at the jets in the carburettor. It's OK though and pulls quite well through the gears. After Dub Club had finished for the night I decided to drive Bubba back to East London as I want to take the car to work tomorrow. I had loads of people waving and giving a thumbs up. I even had an ambulance driver wave and put on his blue flashing lights! There were also a lot of people taking photos and a few had a chat. This must be how a film star feels! The Baja arrived without any problems at my digs and tomorrow it's off to work. I am a little concerned when I drive around the A406 inner ring road in London as I would not like to break down there as I have seen people getting abuse from other road users when they do. The new engine has made the car feel much better and my confidence is growing in it after all these years. The accelerator pedal seems to stick sometimes with the throttle open. A quick blip sorts it out, but I think this is a problem with the roller assembly on the floor. This might be the next thing to look at. The Prof. has also had a look at the door cards. I may get some of these laser cut. Perhaps I will do these in stainless steel just as an alternative to aluminium.

I often bore my work mates with VW chat so at least they will now see what I am talking about.

Check out the Dub Club pages for latest VW work. Bubba the Baja Bug is doing great work as a test bed for various engines!. Below is a video of the latest engine intended to fit in the Brubaker box. The engine is completely rebuilt including all new internals. This is the first real start for the engine, so still needs tuning, but it pulls really well. We have a few oil leaks from the pushrod tubes to sort, but nothing too serious.

This evening we also started to strip down the original engine as this will be rebuilt to be Bubbas permanent power unit. The Rhubarb and Custard Type 411 engine has been sold as I have decided to stay with a type 1 engine. The main reason is part availability here in the UK. Items such as tinware and fuel injection spares are really hard to find, so I will stick with the original engine and just rework it. Like the Brubaker engine shown in the above video Bubbas engine will have all new parts including crank, bearings, camshaft, barrels and pistons and also cylinder heads. I'm not sure of what type of carb I am going to fit just yet. I have the option of the twin 34 ICT ones already fitted or the more standard PICT 34.

The original engine has always run quite badly and tonight we found out a few reasons why. Firstly the engine was fitted with head spacer rings. This lowers the engine compression even lower than standard. Both heads were also cracked. One was very badly cracked between a valve and the sparking plug. The clutch was also badly worn and the flywheel clutch face showed signs of overheating. We haven't yet stripped the bottom end, but will probably find more faults as we go. I will run the Brubaker Box engine shown in the above video for a few weeks and enjoy it whilst we work on the next one. Bubbas engine will probably be a test bed for a few ideas we have such as turbocharging and fuel injection.


Not many pictures to show today, but I have spent the day shot blasting and cleaning the Type 411 engine tinware. The engine is now no longer Rhubarb and Custard, but satin black. The tinware is very poor though when sprayed, so I may hand paint it as the coating will be thicker and the Tractol paint is self levelling. This should hide much of the rust. I also sorted out a few tins of spray paint aand some sand paper as I want to tidy up the Camo paint a bit and I can do this down in London. I must say the driveway does look a bit empty now that Bubba is down South.


Both the Prof. and I left work early today and travelled up to Helium Frog HQ to pick up the Baja Bug. The traffic was quite bad, but we arrived about 6pm. Checking inside the house I found some correct wattage LEDs for the rear side lights, so we swapped these in and then I drove the car down to London. All was going well until it began to rain. About half way through the journey my windscreen wiper on the drivers side came loose from the spindle and stopped working. There was nowhere really safe to pull over on the A1, so there was nothing for it but to carry on. I arrived in North London at about 8pm and Bubba found it's new home at Dub Club HQ.
Driving down I noticed the engine is way off mixture wise, but it's coming out soon anyhow. I also noticed the indicators now flash too fast. The LED bulbs need a bias resistor to slow them down. I fixed the windscreen wiper in a few minutes using a screwdriver. One further job is that I forgot to wire in the high level brake light in the rear window. I should do this soon. In the picture below you can also see the reflectors I mounted on the engine. These work well with the camera flash!

I was pleased to find that there is plenty of room in the garage with lots of space to do work behind the car. I may visit again on Friday and have a bit of a move around to get even more room as there seems to be lost of space either side of the car that isn't really used. The garage is really nice and dry and I am sure Bubba will feel better now its out from under the tarpaulin.

07/10/2014 Engine Building School!

As well as both the Baja Bug and the Brubaker Box I have another project on the go at the moment. It's a bit of a secret, but we do need an engine to test it out on. With this in mind over the last few weeks, the Prof. and myself have been gathereing a few parts together to build a spare engine. It's going to be a 1600cc single port and we are using as many old parts as possible, with the exception of wear parts such as bearings and gaskets. This evening we assembled the lower short block. I have never built a bottom end of an engine before and the Prof. was on hand to give guidance. Its quite easy to do, but you have to concentrate as you can fail to assemble something or put it the wrong way in. Here is the engine just prior to closing the case. At Dub Club HQ we have a few old parts lying around and we chose the best for this. Overall quite a good engine and should last for years. We are now just waiting for a few more parts such as rings and a oil pump and we should have this assembled next week.

This work isn't directly related to the Baja, but it is all knowledge that will come in handy I'm sure.


Sunday and the weather was really nice. First off I needed to fit some rear reflectors. I decided to fit these onto the engine fan shroud so this was a five minute job with some self tapping screws. The rest of the day was spent checking things over and going for long drives to see if anything would fall off. Nothing did and there seemed no signs of any problems. Bubba is ready for its trip down to London and a new home in a nice dry garage. I am looking forward to this as I can see lots of small jobs, such as sanding, painting, wiring, rubber carpets and maybe sound proofing that are ideal for doing during the week. I am hoping that Bubba fits in the garage with room to spare at the rear so this will give us some room to work.


The weather was against me today as I had to work on the driveway. The reason for this is that the garage is full of Brubaker Box! I began about 10am and removed the drivers side rear suspension. I have adjustable swing arm plates, but these were at the limit of travel so I needed to rotate the torsion arms on the splines. I notched the torsion plates on the lower edge by about 5mm to give slightly more travel and then set them to about 10 degrees from horizontal. This covered the bottom hole of the flange about half way. Whilst the assembly was apart I took the trouble to replace all the rubber doughnuts with polyurethane items. These needed plenty of grinding as usual to fit. I had just about got the suspension back together again when the heavens opened. I continued on using a bin liner as a makeshift jacket and managed to get the car back on its wheels. Unfortunately the weather got even worse so I headed for the house and waited for the storm to pass. Fortunately after about 2 hours the worst was over so I began work on the other side of the vehicle. This was much quicker now as I had the height I was aiming for worked out and so the second side was soon back together.

After a couple of test drives and adjustments I now have the body level and the rear wheels sitting with just a hint of positive camber. Whilst driving I noticed immediately that the new bushes and ride height improved the handling around the corners. There is still a little wandering of the rear end and also the car turns in sharply at the front. I think there may be too much toe in and and maybe the rear wheels are not aligned correctly. In any case Beetles are known for oversteer and I assume a Baja bug may have more than a standard car. Still, Ill get my tracking gauge and see if anything is not as it should be.
The engine still runs poorly when cold, but not too bad when warmed up. There are a few pops in the exhaust suggesting the engine is running rich. I am going to fit these carbs on the type 411 engine, so won't adjust them just yet. The new engine is 1679cc, so these jets may suit the slightly larger capacity engine.
I have now fitted replacement LED light bulbs in the rear of the car. The last job is to attach the rear reflectors. Hopefully I will get a chance tomorrow and maybe give the old girl a clean. Next week if the Prof. is around I can get Bubba down to London and in a nice dry garage at Dub Club HQ.
My company has a vehicle enthusiast day on Thursday, maybe I will get a chance to take it there.


Quite busy again today. Late last night I sprayed the rear of the car so this morning I could fit the rear lights. This was quite hard on my own as I was using nyloc nuts and you always need an extra pair of hands. I hadn't bothered to label the wires, so I used my multimeter to check which was which and wire them up correctly. Checking the brake lights is a problem, but I wired up my multimeter and placed it on the back glass so it ws visible from the drivers seat.

I'm quite pleased how the rear looks now and the lights look great. I still need to buy some single filament bulbs and position the reflectors but I ran out of time today. Next weekend it won't take long to finish the job.

Today I was up early to take Bubba to the MOT station. For me its always like a visit to the dentist, but I didn't have to worry as it passed without any issues. The MOT man informed me that I had done only 8 miles since last year and was a record for his station! This is quite strange as the MOT station is at least 10 miles from my home! On the way back I double checked the odometer and it was working. I can only assume that the record for last year was input incorrectly as I have driven the car a lot more than 8 miles.
Back home and there were many parcels to pick up from my neighbours. I had taken delivery of some fibreglass front wings and I thought I might fit these to the rear. Unfortunately they are not the correct curve. Off roaders sometimes do fit modified front wings, but I now know that these must be steel ones and they bend them to shape. There was nothing for it I had to modify the ones I have currently fitted. After careful measuring I came up with what you see in the picture below. I also cut back the body a little as this had been done very poorly by the last owner and wasn't even the same from side to side. Overall I am quite pleased with the look. I think this covers the wheels enough, but if in the rain I am causing a danger to other road users I might fit some small rubber flaps to the trailing edge to direct any spray downwards.
I spent the rest of the day fitting up the rear lights and painting all the edges of the metalwork ready for tomorrow. The lights are located with a small bracket, but this wasn't enough to stop vibration, so I also added an M8 tie bar from the back of the light to the rear bulkhead. This holds the lights firm. One further requirement is for rear reflectors as I understand this is a legal requirement. I need to add these also to the rear as the light cluster doesn't seem to have any. The lights I have chosen are the "Bullseye" type ones as these look very retro 50's. I'm hoping to get the car completely wired tomorrow as during next week Prof. Originale has hinted that he may give me a lift so I can get Bubba down to London. This will be nice as it gives me a chance to take the car into work. My company has a vehicle enthusiasts day and there is one in October. Maybe this will be its London debut! I am wondering what engine it will have fitted by then.


Friday evening and before travelling home for the weekend it was over to "Dub Club" in North London for a bit of work on the engine. The prof and I first coated it with petrol, plugged up all the holes with tape and paper and then used a jetwash to get rid of all the dirt. The engine looks in really good shape, in fact the underside seemed cleaner than the top. Maybe this dirt is from storage and not from the road. The only sign of damage is one broken rib on cylinder 1, but this is OK. After this we turned the engine upside down to drain any excess water and coated inside and out with WD40. Hopefully the engine will be fitted soon so won't have much time to rust.


The Baja is now pretty much ready for am MOT. Yesterday I drove to Luton and picked up two new rear tyres. These were 235/75R15 104P Kingpin AT tyres and a bit smaller than the monster BF Goodrich ones that were fitted. I got up early to fit get these transfered onto the rims and by about 11 am they were on.

The car sits a bit low on the rear now but this is easily fixed. The back wings look a little long also, so maybe I might trim these down. I wont adjust anything yet until I get the new engine in. A type 4 engine is a bit heavier than a type 1, so it will pay to wait until everything is installed. The car looks more balanced front to rear and should accelerate a bit better.


I needed to do some MOT Preparation work on the Baja so first off was to reposition the front wings. I have always had difficulty adjusting them for the MOT and they are often set too high. Looking at images on the net of various Baja bugs I noticed my front wings are positioned too far back making the lights point skyward! First off I removed the wings and redrilled the holes about 60mm further around. I also added an extra bolt at the bottom front.

The above image shows the difference. The nearest wing has been completed and the far wing is yet to be done. The change is subtle, but it now means I have good adjustment on the lights and won't dazzle anyone at night.
Next job was to change over the exhaust to the old 4 into 1. This is quiet and will not scare the MOT man. Whilst doing this I also took the opportunity to fix the pulley guard at the top to the alternator. It has been wobbling about since I added the twin carbs. I would also like to put a set of new tyres on the rear. The current ones are too large, rub on the body and the walls are slightly split in places. I may pick these up next week as I know a good place in Luton where I got the front tyres from.
Form then on until close of play it was onto shot blasting. I was initially disappointed with my blast cabinet, but I have changed from glass media to coarser 60 grit aluminium oxide. This works much better, but my pickup tube in the bottom of the cabinet keeps lifting and so I blow air and the tube kinks which is a bit annoying. Even so the results are much improved. My compressor seems to be able to deliver enough air at 100psi to run the cabinet.

Shot blasting is quite slow and harsh to tinware, so I think the best method is to use my wire brush angle grinder for the majority, maybe a scrape with a screwdriver in the corners and then into the blast cabinet to clean out the nooks and crannies of the part. I tried paint stripper, but the modern environment friendly stuff is about as much use as using harsh language to remove paint, so I gave up.
Whilst I was packing up I cleaned out the cabinet and then made some mods to the pickup tube. It is now fastened to the bottom of the cabinet and I have added a better feed tube which doesn't kink. Hopefully next week shotblasting will be even better.
In between working on the car I have also been researching the D-Jetronic system of the "Rhubarb and Custard 411 engine". The ECU has a 25 pin connector and I am some way into understanding all the connections. I think I will have to modify this loom as its is way too long, but first I would like to cable tie it in and get the engine running before tidying things up. I also need to think about a fuel return to the tank as this is required for the injector system.


After work I spent some time in the "Dub Club" North London setting up the lights and the sign. As there is no power in the club, I have to run everything on 12 Volts. I have now added a solar panel on the roof and a car battery which hopefully will give enough charge to run all I need for the few hours a week I am there. The LED lights I have added and the sign illuminate the rear of the garage well enough to work in with the door shut. Today Prof. Originale sold a few doors an rear tailgates which cleared out some space.

Further news on the shot blaster is that I may be using the wrong media which is why I wasn't having much success. Apparently glass beads are too fine and I should use aluminium oxide. I will try to get some of that this week and maybe have another go at the weekend. I may even loosen the paint with a heat gun or paint stripper and then just clean up with the corners stot blaster. It all takes a while, but when I have the technique things will go much quicker. I really need to crack on with the baja  as this is holding up the Brubaker work.


A bit of a wasted day today as I was setting up my shot blast cabinet only to find it was very poor and not up to doing a good job. I won't throw it away just yet, but will probably clean up the tinware with a rotary wire brush. I always tend to strip this stuff back to bare metal, but in this instance I don't think I will, just sand and flaten any bad bits and paint over it. I also experimented with wire brushing the fan housing. This is hard as the aluminium doesn't take kindly to wire brushing. Again I may just sand and paint black as this seems to be the best method.

The garage in North London is taking a bit of time setting up. It has no power so I need to get some 12v lights set up and also buy a cheap set of tools. I have done much of this over the weekend and also today took the time to make a logo for the back of the garage. It's a bit of fun, but as there are now two garages down there given over to Volkswagen restoration I thought I should make an effort! I have never done anything like this before and used all bits I had in the garage. The back plate was a recycled panel from the Brubaker and the edge has some LED light strip left over from the ones I am putting up in the garage. It should even provide some extra working light on the back wall when installed. I might add some more details, but not bad for a first effort.

Not much work on the baja over the summer as I have been concentrating on the Brubaker Box, however shortly there will be a big change in the engine department. I have aquired a type 4 engine (from a VW 411). This is a 1679cc fuel injected engine. The colour of it when bought was yellow and red, so I have named it "Rhubarb and Custard". The current Baja engine will be stripped of parts and donated to the Brubaker and this new engine will be fitted. I now have a garage in North London, so the intention is to get the Baja down there so I can work on it during the week. The engine is already there, so tonight I began stripping it down. The paint job is horrible, but the engine looks in good shape. The underside tinware has had a bit of a beating, but has been repaired quite well. The previous owner said the main bearings and other wear parts have been replaced and I have no reason to doubt this by the look of the heads and what I can see through the ports. The engine turns over and the feel of the cylinder drag feels nice. I don't think it is worth stripping down, just a bit of a clean up should do. Heater boxes look in good shape as does the fan and housing. It is fitted with a new oil filter and there is no oil at all in the engine. Prof. Originale assures me we can sort out the rats nest of wiring and get the thing running. This engine should produce around 80bhp, so will give the Baja a good boost in power.


As fitting the twin carbs meant that I could no longer use my old bugle exhausts I ordered a stainless one from Shanghai China. This morning another trip to ParcelFarce to pick it up (Again Parcel Farce fail to deliver to a neighbour). This afternoon I fitted it easily with no forcing and bending. The only downside is its quite noisy. Maybe it will quiet down a little when it soots up a little and also I need to tune the engine as this may improve things. It looks really nice.


Last week a pair of dual 34 ict weber carbs came up on ebay. They were almost new and 280 including postage. This is very reasonable as a new set is around 400 and they came with the more desirable hex bar linkage. I picked these up from ParcelFarce (No not a missprint!)  today and spent the first few hours in the garage fitting them. Unfortunately the buggy exhaust doesn't fit, so as a temporary setup I fitted the old 4 into 1. I still have to blank the heat riser flanges and sort out a top mount for the pulley guard, but other than that these are now installed. I have my eye on a Chinese stainless exhaust and might take a gamble as they are said to fit with a twin carb setup. I also have had to remove my lambda sensor, but maybe when a new exhaust comes I can reinstall it.

I cannot believe how much these carbs transform the car. The previous owner must have dialed them in for a 1600cc engine as they run really well and I didn't have to adjust them, bags of power and almost instant throttle response. These are now going to be standard fit on my cars! The best bargain I have had so far. The decision has been made, Bubba is going to stay with me now as it's such a great car to drive. the engine was the only thing that made it such a pain and now thats cured It couldn't bear to part with her / it!


With the imminent arrival of the Brubaker from the USA Bubba has not been given much attention recently. As I haven't finalised the SU carbs yet, last weekend I decided to refit the old single carb setup and get the old girl back on the road. Today it was out and about around St Neots my local town scaring the shoppers in the high street! I have considered selling this car, but I think I will hang on to it for a while. I do have plans to move house soon and I am hoping to get a place where keeping two cars under cover is not a problem. I am very attached to Bubba and have done many mods. The only thing that really lets the show down is the engine performance as it splutters off the line. Hopefully this week I can get both Bubba and the Brubaker side by side and have a good look at both.


Not too many posts recently, but there has been progress on Bubba. After reading about the weber carb online I have come to the conclusion that I will never get it to run correctly without a properly heated manifold. The decision was to either buy a manifold or try something else. As is usual with me I thought I would go the unusual route. SU carburettors have always attracted me as they have few parts and are easy to set up. In addition you don't need any jets as the single tapered jet mixture is adjusted with a screw. The problem is they are not fitted to a beetle very often. I could find little information on the net. I managed to get a matched pair of 1 1/2" (HS4) carbs from Ireland on ebay for 70. I used some type 4 castings connecting to my own fabricated manifolds. I jigsawed and hand filed the flanges and bought an exhaust bend. As an engine designer you would have thought that I would realise one head on a flat 4 is further forward than the other. I didn't and made both manifolds the same! I had to cut and chop the left manifold and finally positioned the carburettor using a straight bar, spirit level and by eye and then tacking the manifold together in situ. This worked well and both carbs are at the same height and angle. I still need to position the float chambers vertically, block a few more holes, run the vacuum balance pipe and sort out the throttle linkage. The linkage shown, was just a 12 kit from ebay, and I used some 8mm stainless bar I had lying around. I will put a support bearing in the middle and probably run a bowden cable (Bike brake cable) throttle. These details are yet to be finalised. This job will take a few weeks as I gradually knock off each job. I wont run a choke on this setup so I am hoping it will run sufficiently well when cold. With most cars I have had with a manual choke, I never used it anyhow.

07/10/2013 Mileage 44533
A few more small jobs today. First was the renovation of the fuel flap. It never quite opened properly and the pull ring was broken. Rather than buy a new pull ring which is 7, and very weak, I designed and printed one on my 3D printer. It's a bit of a rough print, but does the job and is unlikely to fail. I also took the trouble to clean out the mechanism and lubricate it properly.
Next job was to seal up the front bonnet a little better. I used an old pair of jeans for the large gap and duck taped all the seams and holes. Where I had some grommets I used them to at least make an attempt at a proper job! On driving the car, things are much improved and I can now feel the heater a little. There is still more to do in this department.
Over the weekend , my brother mentioned that Halfords sold some silicon spray which sounded ideal for lubricating the window winder mechanisms. I took off the door cards and sprayed where I could. The drivers side window now works much better, but the passenger side is still very stiff. Again if I want to improve them some more, this would mean stripping the mechanism out and cleaning up the bowden cable. This all seems a lot of work, so I will leave this and if ever I replace the doors, will have another go.
Last of the jobs was to tune the engine a little more. I had two long trips on a dual carriageway today and each time returned home and changed the main jet settings. The proceedure was to drive at 1/4 throttle (about 55mph in 4th gear) and note the AFR reading, then drive at full throttle and again log the AFR. I now have the following jets installed and the readings are as follows.

Primary Main 1.32mm     Primary Air 1.60mm     Primary Idle 0.45mm          Secondary Main 1.40mm     Secondary Air 1.80mm     Secondary Idle 0.55mm

Air Flow Ratio (AFR)  14.0 @ 55mph 1/4 throttle    (Slightly Rich)
Air Flow Ratio (AFR)  12.4 @ 70mph full throttle     (Rich)
Air Flow Ratio (AFR)  14.5 @ idle                          (About Right)

The car seems about right at the bottom end, and does ...well shall we say over the speed limit if needed! I'll probably drop the primary to 1.31mm and lower the secondary some more next week. I need to order a few more jets though. Even in this condition, I am confident to overtake on the motorway and cruise without problems, this makes the car great to drive and I am now not worrying that I will break down at any minute. I am also amazed at the road holding. I think the wheel spacers are helping a lot. I have always liked the way beetles handle, they have a gentle oversteer, which is predictable and easy to anticipate......I don't know why they are not used as drift cars!


No actual work on the car today, but a very useful one diagnosis wise. A long journey to my parents house in the midlands (165 mile round trip) did reveal a few things to work on. Firstly the car is very drafty. The front apron is very badly fitted and there is a large open gap at the bottom behind the front torsion beams. Whilst driving at high speed (Well high for a beetle!) air is forced into the bonnet space and out through every hole in the dash and footwell. The heater was not strong enough to make up for this, so the trip was quite uncomfortable. Whilst at my parents we came up with a plan and put a rolled up rug in the front space and on the way home things were much improved, but still a little windy. The draft is particularly strong through the fuse box area, so I shall have to work on this.
Second discovery was that the carburettor is way out. Here are the results.

Air Flow Ratio (AFR)  17.0 @ 55mph 1/4 throttle    (Lean)
Air Flow Ratio (AFR)  10.5 @ 70mph full throttle     (Rich)
Air Flow Ratio (AFR)  13.0 @ idle                          (Slightly Rich)

The AFR meter is already starting to earn its keep, at 1/4 throttle only the primary throttle is open, so the main jet needs to be larger. At full throttle both throttles are open, so this indicates the secondary jet needs reducing. The idle is near and can be adjusted anyhow, so I shall leave this for the moment. As I drive mainly around 1/4 throttle, having it lean is bad for the engine, so this needs attending to immediately.
Finally having no sun visors is a bad thing. As its quite late in the year the sun can be quite low for long periods, I found times when it was difficult to see ahead. I really need to sort out some sort of sun shield. Probably some sort of "Kev n Shaz" stick on affair might work, so I shall try to rig something up in as classy a fashion as I can.


Quite slow progress today. Whilst driving the beetle I have noticed that there is a lot of vibration of the roll cage relative to the body. With this in mind I knocked up some clamps to fix the cage to the body at the top of the A pillars. There were two holes already drilled through the roof where an old light bar had been fixed, so rather than drill some new ones I made the brackets to suit. This took a long time, in fact all morning. The brackets needed bending, welding and grinding and many trial fits. The effect is quite dramatic though, with all the shaking completely eliminated. I am getting more confident in the car now and it runs quite well. Hopefully the longer run tomorrow will give me the opportunity to have a look at the fuel air ratio whilst cruising at higher speeds.


A second weekend of small jobs. Tonight I completed the battery clamp. Unfortunately it was a little too big, so the hold down bars would need shortening. I had an M6 die, but unfortunately the bars were about 5mm diameter with rolled 6mm threads on. This meant there was insufficient diameter to cut a decent thread. I solved the problem, by mounting and welding some M8 bolts to the ends and modifying the cross bar. A few minutes on the lathe to cut in some pockets to recieve the bar in the bolt head and some tack welds and all was complete.  Its actually much better than what was supplied.The second job was one I just thought of on the way home from work! I have had an electric heater in my garage for some years now, a 12V item that I bought, but never fitted to my previous kit car. I am going on a trip to visit my parents this weekend and if I take the bug I was thinking it might be wise to have some heat as it is now October and it sometimes gets a bit cold. I had a look around for a good place to fit it and I thought if I recycle the air in the cabin through it this would be most efficient. A few holes later and an easy wiring job to my new fuse box and the job was done.

You can also see the results of a few other jobs in the image, namely the lambda gauge and bracket, the illuminated reversing switch and also the fuel cut off valve. The controls for the heater are easy to reach and the heater seems to work well. I noticed that it has a 30 amp fuse, so I shall keep an eye out for any dimming lights when it is in use. I did anticipate this though when I opted for a 75 amp altenator over the standard 55 amp one, so I am hoping the charging circuit has enough umph to cope.


Lots of small jobs this weekend to tidy up a few loose ends. There are no major jobs to do until I start the IRS conversion over winter. The fuse box shown below needed to be fitted and this required a few spacers to be turned up on my lathe. This has been installed and the Lambda gauge works well. I also took the opportunity to add in a correct illuminated toggle switch for the reverse light.
Other jobs included fitting modified window winders which are short enough to clear the roll cage. I had bought some new levers suitable for modification and again I was back on the lathe to turn up some adaptors for them. Winding the window is difficult, but possible. I need to do further work to get these to work better.
I drove the car quite a lot on Saturday and also visited some other VW enthusiasts in my village. I saw a nice split window camper and also a work in progress beetle. The beetle when finished should be quite nice with Fuchs alloys, a large bore engine and retro green paint.
Whilst driving my own car I have noticed that to get first gear is hard and also the gearstick throw on the EMPI shifter is way too short. Today I removed a shim plate and adjusted it so gear changes are much better.
A big issue with my car is that I only have one old worn key and this I can see is an accident waiting to happen. I know that key numbers are found on the inside of the door handles, so I took off the passenger side and noted the number. I also removed the drivers side door and checked the numbers and they were different. The key I have only opens the drivers door but I thought the key was just worn too badly for the passenger side, but it appears someone has changed the door, but not kept the original lock!. Unfortunately the number on the drivers side was not clearly visible, the last digit bieng completely obscured, so I had no choice but to remove the steering wheel and dismantle the ignition barrel. Fortunately this had the matching first digits the same as the door and the last one was also visible. Armed with this number I ordered some new keys off ebay. There may also be a way to reorder the lock plates to match the new key so that the passenger door operates off the same key. Hopefully the new keys will arrive next week.
The battery mount is very loose and so I repainted the floor in that area and ordered a new strap to make things a little more secure.
One last little job was to wire up the remote start button on the back firewall. I took the opportunity to renew the starter solenoid wiring and now this works as it should.

Looking at the list I set myself a few years ago, I am well on the way and have done many other jobs in between. Brakes and IRS are the next job.

Finish painting and protecting underside.                                    Stainless steel wing bolts.
Rear Brake conversion.                                                             Rear light swap.
Replace seats with recaro items.                                               Fit Full flow oil filter and uprated pump.
Tune / get engine running better.                                               Tidy up paintwork.
Renovate doors and seals.                                                        IRS rear suspension.
Larger 15" front wheels and tyres.                                              Roll cage and new interior panels
Sound proof the interior.


Last day of a long weekend and it was time to test out the Lambda gauge. I wired it in temporarily and all was well. I was happy to see that the reading was around 14.0 which is not too far off ideal (stoichiometry is 14.7). I now just needed a more permanent wiring setup and so I began to construct the following.

This is an auxilary fuse box. It has 10 outputs at the bottom 8 of which are switched by the ignition and two which are permanent live. Power and ground are supplied from the right and a single switched input is at the left. This pulls a 30 amp relay in to connect the 8 fused outputs. I have added two extra ground pegs at the top right. I prefer this type of eye connection as it is much easier to change the wiring around and add in extra wiring if needs be. Over the next few months I may transfer some of the wiring circuits from the main fuse box to this as the current wiring is terrible.

22/09/2013 Back on the road again!

A couple of days work and the alternator is wired in and working. Also complete is the electric fuel pump and associated plumbing.

The fuel pump feeds a regulator and then into a filter. The rear removable floor is painted and installed and also the voltage regulator has been removed and the wiring simplified. I also run a lead to the electric choke assembly which seemed to stick a little at first, but I shall check this again over the coming days. Additional details in the above picture are new spark plug spacer blocks (White blocks either side of the coil pack). These were designed in Catia V5 and rapid prototyped on my recently refurbished Reprap 3D printer. I also printed off a gauge mount for the Lambda sensor gauge and this is now fitted and wired from the back of the car to the front. I just need to find a suitable switched power line and earth and the gauge should be fully functional. A quick blast around the streets today and the car seemed to have much more power. I am wondering if the electric choke was the main cause of my engine problems. The Lambda gauge should confirm this. I have raised an additional problem in that the accelerator pedal now seems sticky. I will need to investigate this also.


One step forward two steps back! This weekend I tried installing the engine, but to my horror the new j tube exhausts clashed with the new diagonal bracing. This meant I had to cut them off to fit the engine. Engine installation is quite hard on your own, but after a little struggle and one drop to the floor it was back where it should be. The removable rear floor is also fitted with its location plates. The underside is quite good and some gunk, rotary wire brush and a lick of paint made it quite presentable. It was also a good opportunity to practice my sheet metal welding and I managed some quite neat welds which dressed off flush. 10 off M8 bolts hold it in place. I used Rivnuts on the body and the tool I bought broke almost immediately (Avoid silverline tools!) I did use a nut and cap screw to install them and this worked very well so I shall be using this method in future. Pushing hard late on Sunday I managed to get the new electric fuel pump, regulator and filter fitted and most of the pipework done. I just need to do a bit more and I may replace the rubber hose that runs along the centre tunnel and install a shut off valve near the drivers seat. For extra safety I will look into a safety cut off for the fuel pump so it olny operates when the engine is running.
In related work, I managed to fit a new hot end to my rapid prototype machine and printed off a mount for the lambda gauge. It was a little flimsy as the settings of the printer are not quite dialled in, but next week I will have another try.


A normal length weekend and also a planned visit to the Land Rover show at Peterborough meant that there was not much time to work on Bubba. Having said that I forced myself to do as much as I could and good progress was made. First order of the day was to complete the gearbox bracing.I added a top bar which also doubles up as a support for the removable rear floor. Of course after fully welding it up it distorted quite a bit which meant redrilling the rear cage mounts a little to get it all to go back together. My welds are still improving and with a little more practice I will be happy with the quality.

Not perfect, but getting there. I now feel comfortable enough to leave them unground, which is a good sign!
Now that job was complete I could measure up and cut out the floor. I used a small dremel wheel to give me a starting slot and then used an electric jigsaw for as much as possible. I had to use a hacksaw blade held in some rag for the last bit but the metal is quite thin and within an hour the job was done.
I am glad to have done this now as this part of the chassis is the last to need cleaning and painting and I can now keep an eye on it more easily. This should also make engine mounting much less of an issue as I can get to the top bolts and of course the IRS conversion should be a lot more straightforward. Next week I will make up some bolt plates so the centre portion can be refitted, then I need to refit the engine and get the fuel pump and lines mounted.

An extra day off work meant I could complete the jobs I had not finished. First on the list was the reassembly of the engine. The inlet manifold is now assembled and the carburettor mounted. The engine is now ready to return to the car, but until I plumb in the new fuel pump I won't be going very far. I would like to complete the removable rear floor section if possible before putting the engine back in and also brace the rear of the chassis. After a few hours work, the second job was well underway. Its pretty simple and constructed from 25mm x 3mm wall box section, but does brace the gearbox to the rear roll cage feet. I would also like to tie these feet across the car as when I cut the floor out it will go someway to restoring the stiffness.


Not too much work on the Beetle today as it was VW action 2013 at Santa Pod. As this is about 8 mile from my home and it is the best show for beetles I thought I would go. There were lots of VW's of all shapes and sizes, but very few baja bugs (Probably about 5). I bought a few items, mainly electrical bits and pieces and took many pictures. I was particularly interested in how the drag racers beef up the rear end and I now have a few ideas how I can use some box section to build an engine support. There were also many drag cars with modified and removable rear floors, so this has also helped me a great deal.

My favourite vehicle was the volks rod from Holland. I think the owner is called Kevin Salt and I have seen it at a few UK shows. I like this as it has many details that took a lot of time to do but are not immediately obvious. Examples are the roof chop, running board smoothing, wire wheels, inverted windscreen wipers and subtle ghosted flames in the paint. It also has full fenders without them looking odd and has a few chips and scratches. I know this car is driven regularly and its just how I would have one. I really want to build one of those and this car has really inspired me. I'll keep an eye out for a cheap roof chopped beetle.

Back home at about 1.30pm I did get a chance to do a little work on my engine. The inlet manifold is now painted and supported by a custom bracket. It still needs a little more work, but the engine is nearly complete. I want to get the manifold set up so I can remove the carburetor more easily, so this needs some thinking about with the stud and bolt locations. I also tested and adjusted the electric choke. It now opens fully after about 3 minutes.


Reassembly of the engine. The alternator is now fitted and it looks like the manifold will just about fit if I chamfer one corner. Whilst reassembling the engine, I managed to break my new fuel pump, so this has forced me to have a rethink. I have had a facet fuel pump in the garage for a while now, so I might as well fit this instead of buying more parts. As the inlet manifold is suported off the fuel pump studs and these are now replaced with cap screws for the blanking plate I am in the process of making a new bracket which comes off the top case stud. This was impossible when a mechanical fuel pump was fitted. The design should be much more robust than the one I took off. I have also fitted the Lambda sensor bung into the left exhaust. My welding is improving all the time and this went quite well even though welding a thick part to thin sheet can be difficult.
Whilst stripping down the engine, I noticed that there was no electrical connection to the choke mechanism. It seems obvious now, but as the beetle choke flaps fail closed this is probably why my engine is running seriously rich! The choke is effectively on all the time. Now the carburettor is loose, I will check the  function of the choke bimetallic strip and if  it works adjust it correctly and wire it in.

Further work has been carried out on the gearbox mounts and the solid plate is now fitted. Tapping out the damaged thread went without incident and I have been measuring it up for a "Kafer bracket" to connect it to the rear roll cage plates.I need to think of a way to also connect them to the suspension damper brackets as this will give me ultimate strength at the rear end. 


Moving a VW engine around the garage is a bit of a pain when you are working on your own. I decided to build myself a quick engine mount as this would give me the opportunity to further improve my welding skills. OK my welds are not great, but they are strong and functional and will only improve. Now this was complete I could move it out of the garage and give the engine a good degrease. It looks to me that there is an oil leak between the main engine casings. This isn't good news as it means an engine strip down to cure it. I will keep an eye on it in the next few months and maybe next year get around to rebuilding the engine.

Today was spent sanding and cleaning the tinware and fan metalwork. This is a long process, but quite satisfying. I don't want to buy new as it loses some of its patina charm, but clean and painted is a good halfway house. I have also installed some stainless j tubes and removed the gearbox support for replacement next week. Unfortunately I damaged one of the threads in the end of the chassis (This is common when the weight of the gearbox drops down) even with the gearbox supported. I have ordered a tap (M18 x 1.5) which will clean out the thread properly. I degreased under the back of the car where I could get to as this will help with the up and coming IRS conversion. It is tempting to start that work, but I should get the engine back in and working before having too many stray parts in the garage.


Friday off work, so the decision was made to pull the engine. Engine removal is fairly simple on a Beetle and even easier on a Baja as there is no rear bodywork or  heater cables. Within about 3/4 hour, the engine was free.

In order to fit the alternator upgrade, this meant removing the fan housing, which in turn meant removing the inlet manifold. As I was this far in, I decided to remove the tinware and give it a clean.

This was quite a good move as I discovered a nasty oil leak coming from the oil cooler. It was running onto No 3 cylinder, which is quite bad as there is no reason why this couldn't catch fire.

I am hoping that this is just a gasket problem and nothing else, but I will change the gaskets and then have a look later when the engine comes out again for the IRS conversion. I also took the trouble of separating the generator off the fan and I broke the fan belt pulley whilst doing so. I want to fully strip down all the parts this weekend so if I break anything else I have a chance to get them delivered by next weekend. Whilst the engine is out it seems a good time to fit a lambda sensor bung in the exhaust. This is on order and should arrive in the near future as will the gauge.
It is very good to strip out the engine as this gives me a good opportunity to make better plans for the IRS work. I have noticed that the clutch I will need is slightly different for the new gearbox as it requires a later type thrust bearing. In addition I have decided to go for solid rear gearbox mounts and I am hoping to brace them to the base of the roll cage. The car does judder a lot on acceleration and this could be either engine mounts or clutch. By doing this it will eliminate one of the probable causes. The car will be a bit more noisy, but I don't think I will notice this over the noise of the exhausts.


I am still struggling to get the engine running as I would like, I tried a different setup with the jets as recommended on Samba website. The jets seemed to give quite good bottom end, but no top end and stutter.

Primary Main 1.25mm     Primary Air 1.60mm     Primary Idle 0.45mm          Secondary Main 1.85mm     Secondary Air 1.80mm     Secondary Idle 0.55mm

I am really setting in the dark here, so tonight I have ordered a lambda sensor and gauge, so I shall fit these hopefully next week.

Other problems include the generator light coming on more readily and a squeek from the generator. I have also recieved an alternator conversion kit which I will fit. I may take the engine out to make this an easier install.


The weekend is here again and it is time for a few little jobs to make the beetle more reliable. Firstly I needed a spare fan belt and as luck would have it GSF car parts has opened a branch in Bedford, my local town. This was an excellent opportunity to try the car out in traffic. All went well and the car ran fine. I now have a little kit of tools in the car which will enable me to change a fan belt at the side of the road....this is vital on a beetle as the fan belt also drives the cooling of the engine.
The engine runs very rich, so last week I ordered a selection of smaller jets for the carburettor and also a fuel pressure gauge. I have read that it is a common fault with my carburettor (Weber 32/36 DFAV F7 3A 1A)  that it will run rich if the fuel pressure is too high. A quick measurement showed that it was 3 psi, which is normal. I changed the Primary and Secondary main jet to the smallest one I had and went for a test drive. There was a massive improvement in performance, but on return home the exhaust was still very sooty. I will order a few more smaller jets still and try reducing again. I should also check the float bowl settings...maybe next week. The jets are now:-

Primary Main 1.27mm     Primary Air 1.65mm     Primary Idle 0.45mm          Secondary Main 1.30mm     Secondary Air 1.60mm     Secondary Idle 0.50mm

I really should think about fitting a Air / Fuel Ratio meter to make my adjustments more scientific.

Another job was to modify the wiper switch to have a central push button wash. I followed the tutorial here
 . I was lucky as I had the exact switch to hand. The installation was fairly straighforward, but whilst doing the job, the wiper park facility started to play up. I have had this before, but this time it would not go away. I did notice that one wire on the switch seemed to be missing. I decided to do the job properly and removed the whole wiper assembly and switch from the car.

The above diagram helped and I duplicated this on the bench with a 13.8v power supply. I also stripped the motor assembly, cleaned the self parking switch and repacked the gearbox with new grease. At this time I also replaced and cable tied all the wiring into a neat loom. Once fitted all works as it should.
My brother was also here over the weekend and so the extra pair of hands was put to good use removing and cleaning various parts over the car and generally tidying it up. I think the young car enthusiasts now call this "Detailing"......but our generation say wash, vacuum and paint!!

05/08/2013 Mileage 44174

A four day long weekend and much progress on Bubba. Firstly was the install of the megajolt unit. This went smoothly and I set up the unit in RPM mode only as follows.

RPM    500    800    1000    1200    1400    1800    2200    2600    3000    6000
ADV     8        8       11       15        17       22       25        28       30        30

This closely resembles a Bosch 009 advance curve, idle at around 7.5 degrees and 30 degrees advance all in at 3000 rpm. A quick drive around revealed that the flat spot on acceleration has now gone and the car drives much better. The engine is still running very rich, but at least the timing is right and will remain so.
I am continuing to clean up the IRS components and they now look quite presentable in red oxide paint. The CV joints were dismantled, but can't get them to articulate now I have them back together. I will try again next week as I have no grease in them which may be the issue.
I made a bold decision to try to get an MOT, so I installed the IRS dampers at the rear as they were in better condition than the ones I had. I did a quick check over the car and then insured it (Adrian Flux 140 fully comp). I pre booked it at Graveley garage and drove it up. It was nice to get the old girl on the road again and with the roll cage, new front tyres and a better running engine, the drive was quite enjoyable. The car failed on some minor points, which were three split steering / ball joint boots. This was a surprise as, firstly it is a new part of the test this year and also the joints are all fairly new. I brought it back home and was going to settle for another week off the road, but then I remembered I had two spare ball joints lying around. I fitted the boots on the car and was then just looking for one for the steering. No luck. So I drove into Bedford and asked around a few car repairers. I finally found an old VW specialist who was retiring at the end of the year and having a clear out. I got a track rod end for free, but gave him 2 for bieng a top bloke. A quick drive back home, some frantic fitting then a rush back the the MOT station and I passed without problems. I couldn't believe that I got it all complete in one day. On the evening I tried to locate the V5 document, but couldn't do so. This meant I was unable to tax the car. Fortunately the DVLA were very helpful as they usually are and for 25 they could issue a new one and said they would send me the tax disc at the same time. This should be here in 3 days. fingers crossed the car should be road legal by next weekend.

Late in the evening I recieved an interesting email from Mark Naylor. He had read this blog and was keen to do an Arduino based system for his V8. I have forwarded all my work so far to him and at first impressions he seems to have a good grasp of electronics which is one of many skills I lack. I am hoping that between us we can crack the PIP signal input issue and get a working system for the ignition advance.


Another few weekends on the electronic ignition hasn't resulted in any success, so a strategic withdrawl was called for. I have bought a megajolt which will be fitted to get the car running, which also gives me the opportunity to see how a clean signal is obtained from the PIP input.
Whilst this is a setback, there has been much progress elsewhere. Firstly I have purchased most of the parts for an IRS rear suspension conversion. The lead time for some items from VW herititage is 12 weeks! but this does give me the opportunity to clean and inspect the second hand items I have bought.

The above items were bought through ebay and although dirty have cleaned up really nice. The gearbox feels quite good, but this will only be confirmed when I install it. There were one or two bits missing which cost a lot (front pivot pins are 21 each) I should really check these before I buy, but these have been ordered and recieved. There is slight damage to the bump stop retainer on the right leg, but I may just leave this off as later if I reinforce the legs baja style, these will be removed and repositioned, as will the damper mounts.
One other thing on the list of to do items was to replace the front wheels with 15" items. I have had a set of rims in the garage for a while now and so I cleaned and sprayed them up. An internet search located a nice set of remoulds from tyres direct in Luton for 50 each. Yesterday I picked up a set and today a bit of driving around to and from the local tyre dealer got the job done.

On the left is the original 14" wheel fitted with Firestone 27 x 8.5 R14 tyres. The right is the new setup 15" rims fitted with 195R15 94P Kingpin AT (195 x 80 x R15). The picture doesn't really do the change justice, but they visually balance well with the rear tyres. I am hoping they will look better when I raise the car some more. I hadn't noticed the subtle difference in the rim design, but luckily they match the rears quite well.


Very little work last weekend as I was at the VW Camper show at Weston Park. There were a few campers, but not many beetles, which I suppose was to be expected!
I have spent all this week improving the control box for the electronic ignition. It now has an LCD fitted as well as three buttons. I have made many improvements to the software including using the buttons to flip through various screen configurations and also added some large fonts. This makes it more easy to read the various values.from a distance. The arduino can have up to eight custom characters, so I had to modify what you see below to remove a few. Character 3 is already available in ROM (Ascii Code 255). Character 2 I also removed as it is only used at the top of the number 2 and 3. I replaced this with character zero.

Unfortunately with a rear engined car, the display is placed where it is the least use to either the driver or when standing by the engine tuning. I may be able to make a reversed font, which means I could see the display in the rear view mirror when driving , or through the back window with a shaving mirror positioned correctly. This might be a nice extra I could add. In addition to this I have added some terminal connectors outside the box, so I can easily remove the unit without disturbing the PCB.
This weekend coming may be the last attempt to get it working, but I have a few other things on, so may only have a day to work on it. I have added all the improvements I can think of to get a clean signal from the EDIS unit. If this doesn't work, I may have to abandon the idea and go for a megajolt......I hate to fail at a project, but it does sometimes happen.


Working away from home in the week does have its benefits, the main one is that I can have a good think about the next weekends work and read up about new methods of doing things. Today proved very fruitful. It appears that you can control an LCD display using the I2C protocol using just two wires. I have read up all about this and although I won't be using it this time it does give me opportunity later should I need to free up some digital pins on the microcontroller. The main reason for this is that I can use the second option to expand the system to have two LCDs, one on the box and one at the front of the car. The circuit could be quite simple, so it wouldn't be a problem really to produce another circuit board from scratch if needs be. Another discovery was that I can get input from several switches, by using a few resistors and one analog input. As I have many of these which I probably won't use I have done this modification on the circuit and got it working on the breadboard. I will now have 3 buttons on the front panel available for programming.


A very hard weekend on the beetle with not much progress. A quick change of the resistance value on Friday didn't seem to make any difference to the PIP signal, so on the night I redesigned the input to use an opto isolator. This was installed on Saturday and there was much improvement, however when connecting the PC I have been experiencing intermittent lockups of the software. I believe this is due to the PC connection lead acting as an aerial, or that the PC and vehicle are not correctly earthed together. Whatever the cause I cannot tune the thing as it is, so I have decided to add an LCD screen to the electronics box, so I can directly see what the arduino is doing without any PC as when this is the case the arduino seems to run happily. The circuit has been mocked up on a breadboard, so I can get on with the design in the week. I also took delivery of a mini digital oscilloscope. This has a square wave output test signal, which does trigger the PIP input line. I should be able to use this to test the circuit.


As electronic circuit design is not one of my strengths I have spent some time today learning and Googling "mcu input protection." It appears that a simple opto isolator circuit may be my best option, but it does mean a bit of a circuit rewire. I think the decision has been made to just reduce the 1K resistor in the potential divider to 820 ohm to see if I can get the circuit to work and then see how it goes. If I redo the circuit later maybe I'll incorporate the opto isolator circuit to improve things. I have ordered the parts so this keeps my options open for next weekend. I think its about time I got this car on the road, so I shall not start any more major work, just finish what I am doing and check things over ready for an MOT.


Last day of the long "VW weekend". All the electronics have been installed and the car started on all cylinders without issue. I have been able to take control of the advance and by setting the value to a fixed amount in the program the engine responds correctly. I have been unable to obtain a steady RPM reading from the PIP input, which is stopping me completing the project. I left that for a while and concentrated on other work.

A little more work was carried out on the roll cage. The four front feet have now been completed with their backing plates and correct bolts and washers. I also ground down the modification welds, so it now looks much neater. The centre feet needed a non square backing plate, I hadn't got the correct size plate, so this gave me the opportunity to cut and weld a few pieces together. I had been after an excuse to try out my new gasless wire for my MIG. I cannot reverse the polarity of my welder, but I tried it all the same and it did produce a weld, but one that needed grinding off. This is OK for rough box section welding as it is a cheaper option than buying gas bottles all the time. I will use gas MIG welding for more critical welds or if the welds are on show. I did some more welding for a number plate bracket and this is now installed.

I think the car looks much better without the rear cowl on. The number plate does vibrate a little, so if it touches the engine I may have to relocate it or pad it out. The image above also shows the removal of the distributor. I have also completed the cigar socket wiring which makes charging the battery easy. I am in the process of adding a remote start button, but I still need to wire it up fully.
Inside the car I have tidied up the wiring a little to make things more reliable. I was always kicking off the battery to regulator wire and this finally broke. It's now more secure and fastened down properly. In this picture you can also see the roll cage foot which has its correct high tensile cap screw fastenings.

After all this theraputic work I was ready to have another try at the EDIS unit issue. I took the arduino firmware back to basics and just tried to measure the RPM. I could not seem to get a clean signal and the readings were all over the place. Going back to even more basic I looked at the signal directly using my newly aquired oscilloscope. I haven't really used my oscilloscope for measurement, but I set it up off the 5v regulator and then compared the signal at the arduino input. I noticed the voltage was very low, about two volts if my measurements were correct. No wonder the arduino is struggling to pick it up! It looks like my potential divider has some very conservative resistor values and drops down the 12v input more than expected. It also explains why I have been getting readings of 65000 RPM! its just on the threashold of triggering and the noise generates many falling edges. I could change the resistors, but this leaves me more prone to blowing up the input if I get a power spike. I may do it properly and fit a simple transistor circuit to do the job much better so I get a good 0-5v square wave. As usual I ran out of time and the mods will have to wait until next week. It does give me time this week though to set up a few circuits and try them out. I am really close now to finishing stage 1 of the electronic conversion.


The second full day on the beetle. I spent all morning completing the circuit board. This meant mounting the map sensor. I also spent some time turning a bulkhead fitting for the vacuum pipe to exit neatly out of the box.

Not too bad an effort as I am a bit rusty on a lathe. I did manage to break a 2mm drill in the through hole, but luckily drilling from the other end forced the broken bits clean through. The electronics are now mounted in the car and tomorrows work is to rewrite the software so I can get a good clean RPM reading from the engine and to see if I can gain control of the advance curve using the SAW output pin.
Other work to day included some of the installation of a remote start button at the back of the car, this way I can start the engine without having to go inside (The ignition must be on of course!). I also had the chance to do a compression test on the cylinders. The plugs do seem very oily which generally indicates worn rings, but the compression values were a surprise.

Cylinder 1 = 118 psi   Cylinder 2 = 118 psi   Cylinder 3 = 117 psi   Cylinder 4 = 110 psi

These values are quite high, so this is a little confusing. Maybe worn valve stems. Either way I won't be rebuilding the engine just yet.


Home on Friday night and I was eager to get on with the EDIS-4 rewiring. Using a Dremel and a small grinding wheel I cut away the 12 way plug to expose the pins. I used epoxy to glue on a terminal block and soldered in connecting wires. I only connected the wires  I needed  as this makes the setup much neater. I also left part of the connector hanging over the top of the pins as this serves to protect the pins from any damage. After installation in the car, there was a noticable improvement in the engine, running on all four cylinders, but with a misfire on cylinder 2. I swapped a few leads around and this confirmed that it was something in the cylinder. On removing the plug I found it to be badly fouled up. I replaced it and the engine was much better. I think it is running so rich that it still struggles, but it is now a proper engine again and my timing gun now works on all cylinders!
Buoyed up by that success I fitted some new battery terminals, ran a new lead between battery and regulator and also completed the wiring on the cigar outlet on the rear bulkhead. Tomorrow I shall work on the electronics, programming and maybe carry out a compression test to determine the state of the engine. This electronic conversion seems to be fighting me at every turn, but little by little I am winning.


Last weekend has been spent further refining the ignition system. The distributor has now been removed and the hole in the engine block sealed using the bottom of the distributor machined off and inserted. The home made coil leads have been replaced with early model Ford Ka items which are exactly the right length for my application. The interference has been eliminated as far as I can tell and the Arduino microcontroller is working. There does seem to be an intermittent fault and the engine sometimes runs on only two plugs. I think this is the 12 way connector to the EDIS-4 unit, so next weekend I may hard wire this using solder connections. I have also gone some way to completing the electronics box so this is almost ready for fitting. I may add in the MAP sensor for later whilst I am at it. The box has plenty of room for additional sensors.


Much work has been going on that I haven't had time to post up the details. This weekend I got the old engine firing up off the Ford EDIS-4 unit and coil pack. Most of the weekend was spent routing the spark plug leads to the internally mounted coil. I am still working on the electronics, so I have mounted these on a wooden board. this way I can remove them and work on the Arduino firmware in the week when I am away from home.

I am experiencing a lot of interference from the coil pack, so much so that the Arduino fails to function. I will have to mount it in a metal box and maybe change the leads to fibre glass ones. I had a tip off from a chap at work that the Ford Ka leads are quite long and may work in this application. I have bought a set. Hopefully I may be able to use these unmodified even if it means loosing some of the length under the car.

The engine is starting to look very clean without the coil and wiring and when I make up a blanking bung I shall remove the dizzy as well. The trigger wheel is now fitted and I spent some time with it in the lathe centering it. It now runs within 10 thou or so.

To the top right of the image in the firewall is another little project. This is a marine grade connector (cigar lighter connector) so I can plug in my charger directly to the battery. It will also come in handy to connect my timing gun. When the engine runs it is very close to 10 degrees advance and now seems to tick over much better. I hope I can sort the interference problems out, but I have noticed that when the arduino is connected the advance does wander a little. I am hopeful that this is a sign that the SAW is at least having some effect and signal will control the advance when it is working properly.

Inside the car there has been further work on a roll cage. This is fitted, even though it required extensive modification to fit. I had to cut and reweld it in a few places and weld on some feet, but this is well on the way to bieng completed. Its tough work, so I have spread this across a few weeks. Maybe next week it will be done. Removal of the head lining was needed. It was badly fitted and ripped anyhow.

I have chosen to mount the feet with cap screws, stainless washers and nyloc nuts. It makes it look nice inside and they don't hang out too far below. I need to have a think how I can reinforce the feet of the central hoop as these are offset.

The cage is pushed right forward as much as possible, to increase the room for the driver. I may need to fasten it to the A and B pillars to stop the body and cage flapping about too much against each other. I have seen them bolted to each end of the dash and to the B pillar seat belt anchors, so this may be required.


Whilst away from home during the week I have been trying to make what progress I can on the electronic ignition. I found some electronic prototying software called Fritzing which has helped with the circuit design.

I hope to be able to add to this as I go along and it also enables me to keep a good track of the circuit. It appears that the timing between the input pulses (PIP) and the output signal (SAW) is important, so I have been reading up how to do this with interrupts. The first task is to get it working in limp home mode with no control over ignition advance, then add in the arduino circuit.
Other news is I have been looking for an alternative exhaust setup. I came upon a TVR Tamora exhaust silencer on Ebay which looks just the job. At 60 for a stainless one it looks OK. I will pick it up this weekend. I hope to mount it above the engine attached to the fan housing.

More progress on the electronic ignition system. I now have the VR (Trigger wheel) sensor bracket completed and fitted.

The sensor is mounted at about 20 degrees past the TDC timing mark, so the missing tooth should be at 110 degrees past top dead centre if my calculations are correct. The Ford EDIS-4 and coilpack (Shown in image) need mounting next, but before I commit completely, I will mount these on a board and see if it fires a set of plugs with the engine running on the distributor. With this in mind I have temporarily attached my old bugle exhausts.These are really loud, but do make working on the trigger wheel much easier. Another small job was to make a crank pulley washer. The standard VW ones are really weak, so I turned one about 3mm thick. This is painted and fitted as shown above.


Lots of activity on the beetle. I managed to win a six point roll cage on ebay for 84. An added bonus to the purchase was that it was local, so Last sunday I picked it up in my newly purchased Vehicle (Nissan Juke). Getting the cage in the back was a hell of a struggle and my new car got its first scratches inside even though it was only 2 days old! The cage will have to wait for a while as I am working on other jobs. I have made and fitted a trigger wheel to the crank pulley for the electronic ignition and at the same time fitted a full flow oil filter and a sump temperature sender. Its nice to see all the parts I have accumulated finally going on the car. At the front end I have replaced the top two ball joints again with some new long reach items. The ones I had fitted made the steering really heavy. The replacement ones are a real improvement. I'll try to post some images soon.


After some time off on other projects, my mothballed beetle needs some attention. Its been dry stored for a while, but always on charge and started regularly. After a little drive around, I have decided to redo the front ball joints as they are very stiff. The parts are on order. I have also been looking into distributorless ignition. Some parts are on order for an arduino based system. Hopefully I can set this up on the bench before putting it on the car.  

Mileage 44106
Finally back on the road. Yesterday I managed to fit all the rear wings with new stainless steel bolts. Unfortunately the bolts I bought were too short, so I had to cut down some longer ones I had in the garage. After fitting I redid the camouflage paint job and fitted the new lights. The car is now much safer with the larger lights and high level brake light in the rear window, it also looks more classic beetle with the original lights back in place.

There has been some work on Bubba, but I have been a little ill the last week or so with a heavy cold, so working outside is tha last thing I really wanted to do. All the wings are now reinforced with fibreglass and are very strong and the holes for the old lights filled and sanded. The rear inner wheel arches have been wire brushed,  zinc primed, painted and waxoiled. Its just a case of spraying the outside of the wings and refitting. Winter is fast approaching, so it's soon time for the car to go in the garage. During the down season it must be time for the IRS conversion and maybe have the wheels powder coated.

Not too much progress lately, but the rear wings are off ready for fibreglassing. I'm on holiday next week, so hopefully there will be more to report soon. In the mean time I have been scouring the net for some CAD models of a beetle, and couldn't find anything comprehensive. I did find one, but it was only outside surfaces and inaccurate in places. I have now taken the task on board to produce a free one for all to use. I modified the outside surfaces using my baja as a reference and completed a simple chassis model. I'll try to get an engine and firewall in soon.

The rear light assemblies have now been fitted and wired up. All seems to work as expected, but at the moment everything is just loosely bolted to the wings as it all needs to come off again to fibreglass up the holes for the old light assemblies. As these holes are around 30mm diameter its going to require some fibreglass meshing from the rear which can only really be done with the wings off.

All the underside painting is now complete and I am busy renovating the rear light assemblies.
In the mean time I am using the car as much as possible and it seems to be getting better as I do so. It always takes some time to bed new parts in and as there has been so many fitted this is to be expected. The steering is now much more free and the brakes are becoming sharper as I put more miles on the clock. One surprise is that the painting and waxoyling of the underside has made the car somewhat quieter inside. I can now hear some other rattles which are slowly getting sorted as I go. 

Still painting the underside of the car. It now has one coat of zinc primer, 2 coats of Hammerite and one coat of black waxoil which should be enough for now. I will apply further waxoil periodically and have yet to spray inside the box sections. This is the front end and centre section done so its just a case of the rear torsion tubes and engine wishbone support. This should take much less time. In between coats of paint I have been fitting a high level LED brake light inside the back window. Tonight I got it wired up and it seems to work very well. I might start work on the rear light conversions tomorrow.

Now that the seats are finished its time to get back to the underside of the car.  Now I have the borrowed ramps (Painted a very fetching gold) access is much easier. I was unable to drive the car onto the ramps as they kept slipping away and also I got a lot of clutch slip when trying to drive up. This leads me to believe the clutch plate / springs are nearly shot. In the end I had to resort to a trolley jack and bricks until I could slide ramps under the wheels.

After first sealing the panel edges with Tiger Seal, I applied a coat of satin black Hammerite over the red zinc primer on the underneath of the car. Paint coverage is really bad and I should have used chassis black, but as I have lots of Hammerite I will just have to apply two coats. Whilst the paint was drying I also used the time to sand and spray a few areas of the camouflage paint on the wings and bonnet. Its really great when you can just do a five minute job from a can! There are a lot more areas to do, but every one makes the car much more presentable. Another job was to check the front headlights, ever since I had the floorpan welding done I have had real problems with the front light alignment. I took the units out, checked the wiring and re seated the bulbs and bowls. I can find no problems, so this remains a mystery as to why I am dazzling other road users at night..

After a massive 3 weeks of work a few hours every night I have finally managed to install the Recaro seats. I chose to make the seat mounting frames from scratch and in hindsight it may have been easier to buy a set. Making my own saved a few pounds and they are better than bought ones, but it was a lot of work.

The seats are still quite dirty,  but most of the dust has now been vacuumed off and there is still some work to do with foam cleaner. I took Bubba out for its test run and the car feels totally different with the lower driving position and the seat wings holding you in. Its much easier to judge the grip of the tyres now around the bends which is vital when the tyres are as large as the ones I have fitted.

I have not updated the blog recently, but work is still progressing. I have been spending the past few weeks welding up some new seat runners in order to fit some recaro seats in the buggy. Most of the fabrication is done now, its just a case of tidying up what I have welded and installing. I have also retuned the fuel air mixture a little and the car is running very well. Everything is taking a long time at the moment as I haven't had many weekends free. Last weekend I visited my parents and took the opportunity to borrow some large ramps. This should make painting the underside much easier. I am resisting the temptation to buy more parts as I have quite a few items that still need fitting.

Another long trip today to the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon for the UK Slot Car Festival. The round trip of 143 miles was not the easiest as the cross winds on the roads were very strong and the Baja was blown all over the place, but again another long trip without any major problems.

21/05/2011 Mileage 43739
Today was MOT day. I got up early to take the car to my local test centre Graveley Garage. I was a little worried as this was the first MOT under my ownership. I arrived very early, but it was open and my car was straight in. After inspection there was a report of a few things. The inspector was unsure of the number plates bieng black and white and non reflective, but after consulting the rule book we found that these are OK on pre 1973 vehicles. The brake lights weren't functioning, but this was a simply a loose connection and an easy fix. He also advised me of a slight leak of fluid on the rear hub seal. This causes a weep of oil, again nothing dangerous and only very slight. These seals are a common fault on beetles. Fortunately all this is to be replaced when I install my rear brake conversion and I am also looking at replacing the rear brake lights with original beetle units. This will give me a chance to tidy the wiring and make it more reliable. So all in all not too much and nothing to fail the car on. I'm looking forward to another year of motoring in Bubba and many more improvements.
The wish list for 2011 / 2012:-
Finish painting and protecting underside.                                    Stainless steel wing bolts.
Rear Brake conversion.                                                             Rear light swap.
Replace seats with recaro items.                                               Fit Full flow oil filter and uprated pump.
Tune / get engine running better.                                               Tidy up paintwork.
Renovate doors and seals.                                                        IRS rear suspension.
Larger 15" front wheels and tyres.                                              Roll cage and new interior panels
Sound proof the interior.

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