Thursday, November 27, 2008
This Thanksgiving I found time behind the wheel to reflect on how good things are for my wife and I. I was also allowed time to dwell on past times that were not so good, when I was behind the wheel of another much loved Ghia, now long gone. Perhaps this connection serves as a reminder for me that these current times should not be taken so much for granted.
I am very thankful to be allowed the luxury of time to once again appreciate the simple act of driving a car I really love. I experienced the road. I had to push the car a bit to get it up to speed. And then I had to tend the wheel a bit more than usual to keep it going where I wanted. I once again bonded with a car that entered our lives five years ago, in a time before my interests took me elsewhere and the adventure with the Nautilus got underway in earnest. Winston is not about an obsessive and endless quest for automotive perfection, rather he's a car to enjoy, as is. And I am very thankful that my wife allowed me to take him out for a spin today.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
At the time of this writing, restoration plans for the Nautilus call for taking the craft back to a purely stock configuration. This is in line with my natural tendencies of 'purist'. In a seemingly contradictory stance, I'm also really not afraid to modify an original or stock restored car. Just as long as that modification can easily be reversed. There are a lot of nice bolt-on accessories available these days for Volkswagens and a resto-custom car can easily be built or undone. Or endlessly cogitated over. Obviously I'm quite torn on the subject.
I now have on hand some very interesting suspension components. BerT3 has recently introduced some parts to the Type 3/34 universe that I am having a hard time resisting...one of the greatest temptations ever...something so outstanding that it really deserves it's own darksider approved 'M-code'. Maybe something like:
- M 666 Special front suspension equipment package, Chassis 0 000 017 to 313 2500 000, consisting of lowered spindles, a tasteful 2.5" drop, 2 each.
Like them or hate them, these units are indeed lovely. Set #028 is currently in my good but ill-guided hands and I may have to use them. They're beautiful. It's a great Christmas gift idea. And at the time of this writing, there are still a few sets awaiting future owners, available only through BerT3.
Ok. We've establish that I like a slightly lowered stance on my cars. Having on hand both brand new lowered and original height powdercoated spindles seriously focuses in on the hideous appearance of that ugly, undercoating flecked, dirt encrusted, worn out-near death's door Type 3 front beam under that car of mine. Relax--I've got it covered. ISPWest is rebuilding me an early Type 3 front beam right now using one of their bushing kits. It's a custom order item that's gonna cost me big, but will result in a superior ride quality. And it will be powder coated 60% black for a luxurious long lasting finish, just like the rest of the undercarriage parts. I'm hoping it's done and in my grubby mits within the next 2 or 3 weeks.
With the front end more than overkilled, the opportunities for lowering the rear of the craft are manyfold. I could simply decide to re-index the rear torsion bars. Sure, I could do that--and have done that on other cars, but the despicably negative camber'ed results on a deeply and severely dumped swing axle car just doesn't get it done for me. If you didn't pick up on it earlier, then I'll say it again: I think it's quite a nasty hack, and I really mean that in a bad way. Not that there isn't a place for swingaxles, particularly for high horsepower cars. And regardless of my feelings on the matter, negative camber IS a classic stance that a lot of people dig. But I like my wheels and tires to be oriented nearly verticle to keep the tire contact patch with the road as large as possible, minimizing inner tire wear and tear and improving handling and braking. For these reasons, I much prefer IRS rear suspensions and the way this technology lowers down. That's just me and what I want for my cars...for you, whatever's cool.
Now, I've turned on 'Reader Comments' for this topic...not that I expect anyone's actually reading this. But if beyond all expectations you are out there and pawing through this dreck and also have an opinion on the subject, then please do let it fly. Just don't let me know if you have at any time in the past lifted and successfully raced a Baja'ed Type 34...unless you have pictures that you're willing to share and post here.
By way of review, the Type3/34 rear suspension has a subframe that unbolts from the pan. This opens up a ton of really cool bolt-on possibilities for the rear suspension, but in my opinion the best possibility for a street vehicle is to simply bolt in an IRS subframe. Better yet, modify a swingaxle Type3 subframe with the weld-in IRS trailing arm receivers to run the IRS trailing arms. This straight forward modification retains all the stock VW Type 1 IRS stuff, which is relatively cheap and plentiful. It removes the need to weld rear engine mount receivers for the rear engine mount bracket to the back underside of the car's body, which may not have been properly designed to handle the suspended weight of the engine, anyway.
A few years ago I had German Transaxle in Bend, Oregon build me a '73 spec Type 3 IRS transmission and it has the nice final gearing and nosecone to support backup lights. If I were considering a customization to the suspension, with or without an accompanying suspension height adjustment, an IRS rear suspension upgrade using this transmission is quite an intriguing option. What is even more intriguing is a Porsche 901 5-speed transmission upgrade, which I also have readily available.
Rest assured, the darkside has never offered so many temptations.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The parts in this kit will rebuild more than just a VW distributor. Maybe you have an old Volvo distributor to rebuild? This will be the kit for you, too. And each of these kits can potentially rebuild more than just one distributor, depending on model and condition of shims. Some of the old versions of this kit include a few more parts than those shown, too.
The 'Holy Grail' of Type 3/34 distributors is the much lauded Bosch ZV/JCU4R3. If you have a nice one on your car, you'll know what I mean. I've even considered putting one of these on my wife's Type 14 (see previous post) to replace the Bosch '010'. These distributors were installed only on the '64 1500S dome top pistoned engines. The engine room in the Nautilus will eventually be appropriately equipped and I do plan to detail the build-out of that power plant in future posts.
If you're in the market, Glenn Ring rebuilds and sells these on occaision, along with many other distributor types. Check here for his stock on hand.
I currently have three ZV/JCU4R3 distributors and may one day restore and sell one of them. As much as I try to not horde parts, keeping a selection of readily available spare parts has bailed me out of so many bad situations that I no longer feel overly guilty about it. An extra distributor is not too out of line--but two spares could be stretching things a bit. Keep checking the 'Parts Bin' for the current stuff I have for sale, as I'm starting to come to some conclusions about which parts will actually be used on my own restoration. The rest will have to go, as my long suffering wife wants to use the basement for something other than auto parts storage.
Friday, October 31, 2008
I've owned my fair share of original Volkswagens over the years. Where Karmann Ghias are concerned, I've recently owned two with nearly original interiors and have taken notes and pictures of these cars to use as guidance with future restorations. I've also torn into the battered remains of other orignal cars in search of interior pieces to help catalog my understanding of how things were originally done. I've also kept my eyes open for original used parts on ebay and der Samba and this has paid off with a recent score of a nearly complete '66 model year Type 34 carpet kit. I'll use this kit as a template to build a reproduction carpet set, once the appropriate carpet material can be sourced. I'll use most of the grommets from this carpet set on the reproduction set to enhance its authenticity, but my needs for carpeting will not include the carpet floor mats and I'll be donating the thimble grommets to someone for their '66 or later carpet restoration.
Take a close look at the layout of the carpet in the picture to the left. With the exception of the 4 floor mat pieces, all other carpet sections have one or more blue lines drawn on their backsides that run left-right in the picture. These lines are used to properly orient the main square weave line, which runs top-bottom in the picture. Refering to the picture below of the two square weave samples, this picture also shows the alignment of the main square weave line in a top-bottom orientation. Refering back to the picture at left, all pieces are actually correctly oriented top-bottom, as well. Also, the mystery carpet fragment missing from this set is the counter part to the carpet piece at the picture's front right. This piece is the one which fits over the left inner wheel housing. This piece invariably takes a real beating from the driver's left foot, much like the driver's floor mat does from the driver's right foot--whether it be the rubber mat (cars up through '65) or the carpet sections shown in this picture (cars '66 and later). If the driver's side carpet in my '98 Toyota 4Runner is any indication, carpet wear is directly proportional to driver's anxiety and is exacerbated by any tendencies towards road rage.
Anyway, it is interesting to note that there is a rubberized backing only on the four floormats, which further increases their durability.
One of the biggest problems in having a custom Type 14 or 34 carpet kit made is finding the correct carpet stock. I know what the original stuff looks like and I know what color carpet should be. Current carpet kits seem manufactured to a price point and invariably skimp on certain details. On particular aspects of my car's restoration, I'm not interested in cutting corners. In choosing the correct German square weave carpet, it must at least have the correct number of squares per inch, the correct binding type, a nearly correct color, the correct square weave orientation and it must fit correctly. Though some manufacturers obviously disagree, I honestly don't think I'm asking for much.
Depending on the year of car, carpet stock originally supplied to Volkswagen appears to have had either 7 or 8 squares per inch. This is easily determined by laying down a ruler and measuring the number of square weave squares running in an inch across the grain on a piece of carpet. After researching this on a number of original carpet sets from both the Type 14 and Type 34 cars, I've made some observations that seem to consistently apply to carpet sets installed by Volkswagen in the '60s on at least the Karmann Ghias. Carpet material used up through the '65 model year had the 7 squares per inch density and was bound with cloth material. Carpet material used from the beginning of the '66 model year and later had the 8 squares per inch density and was bound with vinyl material. The colors available for both the carpet itself and the edge binding are all specified in the Type 14 and Type 34 parts books.
My capable assistant, at right, models at least two of the carpet types used in the Type 34, early at left (up through '65), and late at right ('66 and later). Happy Halloweeeeeeen!!!
About a month ago, BerT3 made a remark on der Samba that got me thinking that he might have stumbled upon a stash of carpet material that would pass my acid test. He even agreed to send me a sample. This sample easily passed my '8 squares per inch density index' test and I am absolutely convinced that this is exactly the right stuff for '66 and later cars. The color is even a correct very dark salt and pepper. Unfortunately my car is a '64, so I ended up passing on the opportunity to buy some of it. For those of you seeking an authentic later '60s Karmann Ghia carpet fabric, this stuff is for you. It's OEM Haargarn, 2 meters in width, and I was able to use an original Type 34 carpet set (see above picture) to lay out a pattern that would have used a rather minimal 3.2 meter length of it. Total cost with shipping to the US would have been $1000.00. But if you want the right stuff, this is in my opinion well worth it.
Though this lead didn't pan out, I'm sure I'll eventually find a reasonable approximation for my car. In the picture at left, the left carpet sample is the Haargarn sample I received from BerT3. The right carpet piece is a scrap of charcoal colored Sewfine squareweave I picked up off the floor at Motorworks Restorations a few months ago when Jeremy was using one of their kits to carpet a Bug. It's got a rather sloppy square weave pattern to it, but it IS German square weave and it IS the right color. While I'd rather have Lenny Copp sew me up a kit, I'm still not sure about the carpet stock he is using in his kits. I hope to get a chance to see it in person in the Spring.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Though I've considered modern updates to the chassis and engine, mainly in the form of lowered front spindles from Bert3 and an IRS conversion for the rear subframe, in the end I've decided to keep the car as dead stock as funds, time and shop patience will allow. An example of the attention to detail is evident in the picture to the right, where Gary is using his hammer to replace the replated upholstery tacks used to keep the pan rubber in place during the body fitting process. Normally, Gary wields a spray gun, not a hammer, but either way this is detail work that this owner certainly appreciates. Thanks Gary!
Last year I owned an original, never messed with too much '66 Type 34 that my wife and I dearly loved. It was wonderful climbing into the passenger cabin, smelling that unmistakeable smell of old VW originality and seeing all the original detail still in place after the passage of 41 years of wear and tear. Still, once lifting the floor carpet and sound deadener, I was confronted with a harsh reality that the car had held a pool of water and/or battery acid at some point in its past. This caustic pool had introduced corrosion to the floor pan, and while well hidden and not too well developed, still represented an issue to contend with in the future. So when I saw this very recent picture of my '64, you can imagine my surprise and delight. It's a vision any Volkswagen owner can appreciate, I think. Maybe a little shop dust, but NO overspray! It's really starting to come together.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Most original and unmolested Volkswagen parts books have a section labeled 'ST - Standard Parts', which is a generic fasteners and miscellaneous parts section that provides a lot of detail regarding hardware referred to throughout the rest of that parts book. For example, a bolt with a part number of N10 023 2 is described as a Bolt, hex, hd M 10 X 45/25 DIN 70 613 galvanized. That's a lot of great information for those of us looking for missing hardware. This tells us exactly how the hardware should be restored when replated to maintain both strength and authenticity. And after the replating process, it's really nice to have an idea where that big bucket of bolts out in the garage could possibly and properly be used, particularly when it comes time to put it all back together.
If you need a bolt for a particular purpose, all you need to do is reach for your Type 3 or Type 34 parts book for the details on the fastener. Don't own a parts book? Finding one can be a hassle, but you can access portions online on der Samba. Unfortunately, the online references often don't contain the 'ST Standard Parts' section. I guess all the gut wrenching gory detail is just too much to wrap a mind around...ok, not really. Perhaps it's better described as the third to last appendix in the parts book and is about 4 pages of stupifying boredom. Regardless, scans of it are now presented here, just for completeness. Because boring detail is never in short supply on this blog.
If you should find yourself in the market for a good parts book, know in advance that you won't be alone. A lot of us enjoy the portability and funkiness of a grease and coffee stained orignal shop and parts manual. I contend there's just is no substitute for the real shop literature. So you know what you're looking for, the Type 14 and Type 34 Ghia books are usually bound together. Though you may not own a Type 1 Karmann Ghia, there's a lot of good value in the Type 14 parts book because it allows you to cross reference between parts shared between the two Ghia types. There is, after all, the slim potential that your investment in the shop and parts manuals could actually pay for themselves.
I do enjoy engine building. These days, it's nice to be able to take advantage of some modern paints and finishes to get a result near stock, but potentially longer lasting. It's also the time to lift the lid on the Nice Old Stuff box and be able to feel guilt free in putting those rare shelf worn parts to good use. It's also the time where all that old information gathering really pays off. I can't tell you how many people actually contributed to this engine in part because of a comment made on some forum or blog that sunk its way deep into a subconscious and oft times retentive crevice within my memory. Anyway, the re-issued Bently shop manuals also paid off and the good folks at Bugs For You and Wolfburg West also helped bring it home. But, I would be remiss if I didn't extend the greatest amount of credit and appreciation to Jay Taylor of NuVintage, who tirelessly dealt with my incessant requests for numerous small but critical parts and really helped me maintain the authenticity of this engine.
This engine ended up with 83mm pistons and cylinders. The original Volkwagen units just didn't make the cut. I had 77mm pistons, but no cylinders and for the cost of the cyliners alone, the 83mm kit was cheaper and also offered a bit more horsepower. This '65 engine originally had the square boss heads, which was the first year for them, and I reused most of the sheetmetal. Denver Metal Finishing did the plating and Performance Powercoating in Golden, Colorado did some fine work on the 60% black applied to the sheetmetal. They also applied the 'magnesium' colored ceramic finish to the muffler and heat exchangers. While I was simply going for a clean original effect, this engine definitely draws the positive comments.
As it's broken in, a leak has developed at the flywheel. This annoys me, so I'll probably go in and fix it sometime this winter. For now, we've also replaced the original distributor with an 010 distributor and I must say that the old boy does kick some butt! Almost feels like a 1600, when pulling away from a full stop. Not neck snapping, but definitely peppy. As it continues to break in, we'll try it on the Rockies to see what it's really made of.
So...I'm not just a Type 3/34 person. I really like all Volkswagens. I just like Karmann Ghias more.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Those of you who have invested in this run of harnesses may have a somewhat valuable item. While there may be another way to have a run of these done in the future, it's looking like the current supplier would want a minimum order of 20. Yes, 20. Uh...I'm not going to foot the bill for THAT project. I wonder how long it would take to move 20 of these? The unit cost may go down a tad, but who wants to wait?
With the final version of the wiring kits complete, I can now start focusing on other things. Like drinking Scotch. Football. And other stuff that bugs my wife. I could even devote time to...Hook Deflectors! What Type 34 aficionado can resist a well proportioned '343 823 491'? I can't, especially when dressed out in black. We'll see how it goes, but these should be a straighforward cast of a decent part I have on hand. Stay tuned.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Some of these kits have already been reserved, so if you plan to buy one, let me know right away. First come, first served. The cost is $465.00 USD, plus shipping. I'm accepting payment in the form of bank check, Postal money order or Paypal (you pay the fees). They work best for cars built between '62-'66, but can be made to work in the '67 and later cars with some modification.
So it's a nice box, but what do you actually get in a kit? Well, you get an authentic front harness, rear harness, overhead light harness, the two different styles of horn harnesses, support for the left and right sidemarkers and trunk light, and support for either the pushbutton switch or the conventional headlight and wiper switches. I arranged for the kits to be provisioned with a radio add-on and have added an extra fuse holder for it. It also comes with a bag full of other really useful hardware pieces that includes fuse holders, junction connectors, extra crimp on spade connectors, piggy-back spade connectors, and more. It's very comprehensive and you will end up with parts left over, as Wiring Works only wanted to make only one kit for the Type 34.
I spent some time with the kit in my own car and was really happy with the initial results. I actually ended up installing and removing the front and rear harnesses twice. It installs as the original did, following all the same paths. If you have damage to any wire route areas in your car, be advised that this kit is not for you, as the wires will probably end up being too short.
The prototype needed some changes, so I worked with Wiring Works to adjust things to make the kit even better. I originally wanted to include every single wire on the car, but the cost was way too prohibitive. We decided that the main larger elecrical components should still have their wiring intact. This assumption includes the upper steering column wiring, wiper motor wiring, pushbutton switch wiring, chassis ground straps and battery cables. It's a big assumption for some, because I know that on my own car I will have to rebuild the upper steering column and replace one or two wires on the pushbutton switch. Wiring Works is willing to supply this extra wiring at additional cost. I'm assuming that most folks won't need or want this wiring.
Once these are advertised they should go quickly, so act now. I don't know if Wiring Works will ever want to do these again in such small numbers.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Well, they still are pretty.
I have several sets of glass lenses, but will probably run the murky depths with these plastic ones. They are marked Hella, and are similar in markings as the latest set of glass lenses I have. Note the seals, and how they fit around the lense. I've never seen these before, but then I've never owned a set of NOS Foglamps, either. Hope to, one day.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The '64 Type 343 Karmann Ghia that I am currently restoring is called 'the Nautilus'. Disney did a version of Jules Verne's "20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" and their rendition of the Nautilus has a very pronounced razor edge, all around the craft, not to mention a number of other very unusual styling cues, just like my Ghia. My car was orginally Sea Blue, is currently separated from the pan and is resting on what might be mistaken for a boat trailer. Some have commented that the car body looks a little like a boat or submarine. I think that in this nose shot it looks a little like a puffer fish.
I've been through the restoration 'spanking machine' several times before, however this particular restoration adventure has really been the most intense and frustrating of Volkswagen endeavors that I've ever experienced. For those of you considering the restoration of one of these cars, I have a couple of 'lessons learned' to share with you: set your expectations low, and your budget high. With regards to the bodywork--and to hopefully not overstate the obvious--if you know you have rust or damage in a particular area, definitely go into it with as many body panels as you can scrape together, in advance. Then, find the best and most patient body shop you can afford.
These pictures document the work done before the right rear quarter and extreme rear body panels and valence panels were replaced. The car looked like a great start for a restoration, but once media blasted it became apparent that there was a right rear fender replacement and some structural damage to the right rear in times past. I put the feelers out, as we were definitely looking for better panels to use. Came up completely empty. We ended up using the panels from the other '64 I originally rolled into this body shop for restoration. This also required the use of one of Lars' rear wheel well arches and more patience was necessary before this part arrived from Germany.
We've used Lars' Type 34 rocker panel replacments before and in fact we used his front two rocker panel sections on this particular car. And I'd use them again on any Type 34 project. They fit great and work well. However--and in stark contrast--the rear wheel arches are disappointing, as the coutours are not entirely authentic. They do work, and this part is currently the only game in town, so there you have it. With the car now in paint, I still consider this area to be a weakness in its appearance and will probably one day have that section redone using an original piece--or even a Lars' panel, if they improve.
These pictures were taken back in October of 2007 and it was slow ahead through much of last Winter. The good news for me is that patience prevails and that major progress has been made by the body shop since April and the car has since been painted L514 Emerald Green, but 'the Nautilus' is a name that still suits it.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
After buying 7 pan halves, you'd have thought I would have ended up with at least two usable pan pieces. Not so. The basis for this restoration project actually ended up using the original main pan with original driver's side piece, however the passenger side pan half was taken from a much later car. Note the black strip running along the right in the picture, which was exposed after the later style reinforcement rail was permanently removed. Retaining an authentic 'one piece' Type 3 pan look is key, so spot welds have been patched and ground, the butt welded seams smoothed out, and pin holes exposed during sandblasting welded shut. There will be some more bodywork done and filler used to smooth things out, so the pan will be satin black epoxy coated, rather than powercoated.
The white with black roof '64 Type 343 in the background was sold to an acquaintance for $1.oo. Quite the deal--literally pocket change--considering the dash pads alone were cosmetically perfect. I needed to get rid of the car, and fast. I heard that the car ended up up in Portland, Oregon and I later saw it for sale on the Samba.
The car in the foreground made the trip to Colorado with us and I had it cut it up for body panels about a year ago. A lot of it made its way onto my latest project.