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The Story So Far - Page 03


Yesterday was just one of those days that you would like to forget. I had great difficulty assembling the steering track rods and all the joints seemed to turn whilst tightening the nyloc nuts. I had to get a load of washers etc. and get them seated first before undoing them all again to add on the nylocs!
I then turned my attention to the rear torsion beams. This is always a difficult job as they are in tension. I tried many methods including using ratchet straps but couldn't get them home with the new urethane bushes. One of the rebound stops is also a little worn, so it refused to hold whilst I tightened the cover plate. In the end I bent one of the cover plates so it cannot be used. I left this job and next week I will order a proper compressor tool from VW Heritage to make the job easier. One success I did have was to mount the gearbox on its new urethame mounts. It looks just the ticket...I hope all the gears work!
Today to cheer myself up I went to Jimmys Farm in Ipswich for the VW show with my partner. I was quite surprised as the show was very good. I would say better than Bug Jam which always disappoints with the lack of actual VW's! One further piece of good news is my other half now loves Beach buggies...perhaps this may be my next project! Here are two of my favourites at the show.
First a nice matt black ragtop beetle. Really nice and simple and everything on it was perfect even behind the dash which is normally a rats nest on 99% of beetles!

Second I really liked the splitty coffee van. Some would say you shouldn't cut the roof of such an early van, but this was so nicely done you can see it bieng used like this for many many years even if it changes hands in the future. The paint job of "Coffee and cream" was in itself an advert as to what it sold.I'm sure it's much better grinding coffee than grinding gears! More details here for the split screen bakery.


Armed with my new torsion arm compression tool and a bit more knowledge that the urethane bushes need fettling to fit I had another go at the rear arm assembly. I had to grind quite a lot off to get the inner bushes to fit snugly and my offhand grinder proved very useful. In the week I had bought some new torsion end covers from GSF. These were chrome, so I had to spray these black. The job was actually quite easy compared to all the swearing last week. I just need to add the rear dampers and build up the hubs. This shouldn't be too hard and a nice job for tomorrow. The chassis didn't come with bump stops, but I may have some of the brackets from a previous build. Another job shown in the picture below was to install the body to chassis gasket. This has been fastened with stainless self tapping screws. I'm not sure how the middle rear section is just yet, so I just cut this short.

Last weekend I forgot to take a picture of the steering assembly. Below is how it looks. I still need to touch up the paint and waxoil, but it looks quite good. Tomorrow I am hoping to get the rear buttoned up and then have a look at making some aluminium rings for the wheels. It's nice to be coming to the end of all the hard dirty work and getting onto more Brubaker orientated stuff.


Over the weekend I had a bit of a problem completing the rear hub assembly. The chevy pattern hubs seem to be machined to post 1967 pattern, but my axle tubes seem to be early items (Or at least have some early parts in them). This means the hubs stick out and I cannot get the castle nut on sufficiently to be able to get the split pin through. I had a bit of a fiddle around, but ran out of time as it was Fathers Day and also I had to go to the Airport etc. Over the last few days I think I may have come up with a solution. Rather than machining the hubs which requires a large lathe I will replace the rear bearings (Item 12) with sealed items. This solves two things.
1) It should eliminate any oil seepage into the brake hubs (This is a common problem and sometimes is difficult to cure)
2) I can eliminate the outer seal and oil flinger (Items 9 and 10). This in turn means I dont need a hardened and ground spacer (Item 11) on which the seal runs. With this restriction lifted I can turn up a shorted cylindrical spacer (A short Item 11!) to move the hubs in to where I want them. I do have a lathe and a small spacer like this is well within my capabilities at home. In theory I could make the spacer a much larger diameter and include an oil flinger on the outer, so if any oil does get out it is caught inside the cover (Item 8) and is directed through the escape hole already provided in the standard setup at the bottom and out through the back of the backplate. You can see this hole in the lower part of the paper gasket (Item 5). I could leave the oil flinger in if I just want a simpler spacer design.I will see what material I have on hand.
Sealed bearings are used quite often, particularly on "Slammed" beetles where the axle tubes point up from the gearbox. In these cars splash lubrication from the gearbox doesn't work and wheel bearings can go dry and fail. A sealed bearing retains its grease and should work much better. These are on order from items FAG 6306-2RSR. All plans sound good on paper...I hope it works in practice.


This evening I began to have a look at the rear wheel bearings.I stripped all the hub apart and then realised that I couldn't just slide the wheel bearing out. I began attacking it with a grinder and managed to get the outer race and balls out, but this left the inner one on the shaft. I began dismantling the swing axle from the gearbox and half way through after freeing the outer shaft I managed to use it as a sort of sliding hammer to push the bearing off. Now I have the technique I believe the other side will go much quicker. I replaced the bearing with the sealed item and cleaned and refitted all the parts checking that they were all in the correct order. I left the seal off, but retained the oil flinger. To my surprise everything went back on and the nut screwed up as it should without any modifications! This was good news and it means that I don't need any special spacers. Tomorrow I will complete the other side and hopefully this hard job is over.

22/06/2014 One wheel on my wagon!

The rear right wheel bearing and assembly took me all Saturday to extract and replace. This morning I finally fitted the drum and connected the handbrake cables and some of the brake lines. That has been the worst job of the lot so far and totally unexpected.
With that out of the way it was time to start mounting the wheels. I had a bit of 8mm aluminium plate hanging around, so I rough cut this to size, mounted it on a bolt and turned it to 83.90mm outer diameter. I removed the bolt, reversed my 3 jaws on the lathe and machined the inner to 70.60mm diameter. The adaptor fitted snugly on the front disc centre. I didn't chamfer the rear so the adaptor sits off the face a little, this actually improves things and makes it easily removable should it
galvanically corrode on.

The wheel fits on snugly and I shortened a few bolts to 45mm to have a trial fit. The counterbore in the rear of the wheel ensures that the adaptor cannot fall out. That was it for today and next week I need to make another one for the left side, clean the wheels and shorten the bolts. The rear wheel are slightly different and an adaptor like the one above may not be the best solution as it may be too thin. Perhaps some sleeves for the bolts may be a better solution.This weekend doesn't look like I have made much progress, but I am really pleased that the main chassis work is done. From now on all the work will be much cleaner and hopefully more pleasant. I really should think about ordering those rear tyres!


Back home for the weekend and straight to work on the wheels. First job was to turn a new adapter for the other front wheel. As I now had the sizes for the part I was much more confident and finished the lathe work in about 1/2 hour. Next job was to clean up the front rims. I tried oven cleaner and this had no effect on the dirt or oxide, so there was nothing for it but wet and dry. The insides are intricate and cleaning is almost impossible, but I did my best. I hope to have a trip out tomorrow to get the front tyres fitted. Late tonight I ordered the rear tyres. I wanted to double check the tyre pattern on the front to get a good match. I found Cooper Discoverer AT3 235/75 R15 105T to be the best match for the Cooper ATS 215/75R15 (100/97R) fronts, but not exact as I think the ATS is an older tyre pattern. At least they are the same brand. I have calculated that the rear rolling diameters are about 1" greater than the fronts, so should give the Brubaker a horizontal stance rather than the "Drag" look it had before. The tyres look massive. I always get tyre sizes wrong so I am hoping that I have hit it right this time.
Other news is that the other Brubaker in the UK has been located. It's now no longer in the UK! It now resides in Bremen Germany and is owned by Lars Kambeck. Lars contacted me on Facebook and hopefully when our cars are a little more complete I feel a road trip to Germany might be on the cards. I always wanted to go to Wolfsburg and Bremen is sort of the same direction (Well it is from England anyhow!). Its nice to know that mine is unique here and as far as we know 50% of the European stock.

28/06/2014 Two wheels on my wagon!

This morning I was up with the lark and off to my local town to get the front tyres fitted. Just Tyres in St Neots did a grand job as the tyres proved difficult to fit due to their narrow size compared to the rim width. They used a "Bagging" Technique where plastic bags are forced into the gap between one bead. The tyre is inflated which puts one bead on, the bags are then removed and the other bead pressurised home. The tyres when fitted didn't look too thin and actually sit really nice. I am still not sure how low the front will sit so a little extra room under the arches is always welcome.I am also pleased with the way the wheels have cleaned up. Elbow grease and 600 wet and dry does wonders! Of course I can always clean them further when they are on the car.

The wheels are quite easy to fit with the new adapters in place, this is also due to how light the alloys are compared to my baja bug steel rims. Rear rims are in much better condition than the fronts and I can actually still see the machining lines in them. The tyre width I have ordered for the rear should be an easier fit than the front and inflate without any bagging.

In between cleaning up the rear rims I also finally got to fibreglass in the centre tunnel which I had screwed into place all that time ago. This was a really nasty job lying on my back with resin dripping down my arms and on my face. It was made worse as a thunderstorm hit half way through. Fortunately the bodyshell kept most of it off, but it did seem to affect the resin, which went off really rapidly. Maybe it's a drop in pressure or something, most unusual. I had to do this job as next week I may get a chance to put the chassis back under for a trial fit and mock up the pedals and fuel tank. Tomorrow if I get time I need to clean off the underside of the body and maybe tidy up the fibreglassing a bit more as I need to ensure that the body will fit in its proper place without obstruction. I also need to check how much room I have along the centre tunnel for the hydraulic brake and clutch pipes.


Quite tired this morning and my hands and arms ache after lots of sanding of the wheels. My fingerprints are probably non existant. First job was to get under and clean the body ready for the trial chassis fit. There was lots of tar like sound proofing on the underside, so I scraped at this. Fortunately this was still flexible so came away easily. I also examined the fibreglassing on the centre tunnel. I managed to put 2 layers on yesterday, but this seems to be enough and it is holding well. This area of the body is unstressed and I want to leave the maximum space along the tunnel for the hydraulic pipes. I also think leaving the body for a few weeks fastened with fish plates has got it used to the position I wanted it in and there seemed very little stress trying to pull it apart. Perhaps a few weeks of sun and cold have done a good job.
Next it was on to the rear wheels. I managed to finish cleaning them even though I could barely grip the sandpaper with my aching fingers! These are now ready for the tyres which I hope will arrive before next weekend. I have also had a rethink about mounting the rears. I was please with how the fronts locate, so am tempted to do the same on the rear. I was going to sleeve each of the bolts, but this is a lot of work and on measuring up I think a spacer similar to the front may work. 70.60mm inner diameter and 76.24mm outer diameter gives me a ring with a wall of 2.82mm. Its a bit thin, but I will try on my lathe. There is no counterbore on the rear wheels, just a plain diameter, so I will have to fasten the ring to the disc somehow. I'll probably use superglue, loctite or araldite as this is just to stop the ring working its way out. It probably wouldn't do this anyhow as the bore is quite rough, but its best to make sure.

05/07/2014 Rollin' rollin' rollin'!
A milestone was achieved today with the chassis with it back on its wheels. I completed the rear mounting rings. This took some time on my lathe, but by holding the ring quite gently in the chuck I was able to complete them without crushing them out of shape. I managed to get a quite nice drive fit over the rings so avoided the use of any glue.

Next it was off down to the tyre fitters to get them fitted and balanced. The tyres went on easier this time with no bagging. I chose to have the white wall lettering on the inside as it looks a bit too flash for me and the front tyres have no lettering. The lettering was covered with a blue dye which I assume is some type of mould release. This cleaned off easily with a scourer and the letters are actually quite nice and look like they would last a time. The tyres appear huge I hope they look OK when under the box.

Last job was to fit the rear wheels and make some "Brum brum" noises as I moved the chassis back and forth in the garage. All good fun and looking forward to next weekend. My brother Ian is coming down next week, so hopefully we can get the body dropped on for a trial fit. The picture below shows the pedal assembly placed on the chassis. This will need fitting, forward and up of the Napoleons hat which I can only do after fitting the body. I'll need to fabricate some sort of frame for this and also a support for the pedal reservoirs. I might even put the battery at the front as there seems to be more room here than at the back. all will be revealed next Saturday. I'm off now down to Devon for the week and hopefully a visit to the VW village near Truro. Maybe pick up a few ideas for the build....but more likely get distracted on another build!

10/07/2014 Inspiration in Devon
Whilst on holiday I saw many campers, but almost no beetles. There was one exception and that was at the VW Village in Chasewater near Truro. Parked outside were a few campers and beetles and many T5's which seems to be the vehicle of choice for surfers nowadays...Oh yes and of course no Brubakers!

There was an interior of interest and that was an early bay fitted with baja off road seats. These were really nice, not too large and have been made for years. I am thinking of putting these in my Brubaker as they would be a 1970's period accessory. I think these ones are EMPI as they have no logo, but Corbeau make similar ones.

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