Longblock Engine Disassembly

A few days ago my friend Dwayne helped me lift the engine up onto the engine stand I purchased. This made it much easier to start working on the engine disassembly. Today I disassembled the engine down to the short block. I found a few surprises in the process. First off, the push rod tubes on the aftermarket cylinder head were bent and leaky. Secondly, one of the push rods was unseated in the aftermarket cylinder head. Third, the port sizes are larger on the aftermarket cylinder head than the on the stock cylinder head. Fourth, there was a leak in the intake manifold going to the aftermarket cylinder head! I keep finding stuff that makes me more surprised that this engine ran properly at all.

On another note, it appears that the problem that was keeping the engine from turning over wasn’t related to the distributor drive gear. I tried to turn the engine over after removing the rocker arm assemblies and then again after removing the push rods to no avail. Once the cylinder heads, cylinders, and pistons were removed the engine would turn over no problem though (meaning it isn’t anything with the crankshaft.)

The next step is to split the case and remove the crankshaft and camshaft, but that will wait for another day.


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Engine Removal

Today I removed the engine from the car. It took a lot longer than I anticipated, partially due to my inexperience, partially due to it being a long time since the car was last worked on, and partially due to the extractor, which caused serious problems when I was trying to lower the engine out of the car. If I had known better I would have removed it before unbolting the engine from the transmission, but I didn’t realize that I needed to at the time. When I did try to remove it I couldn’t get the bolts loose, so it might not have worked anyway. The other major problem was that the bolts that hold the engine to the transmission were stuck and I had to hit my wrench with a hammer to get them loose. One of the bolts is accessed from inside the engine bay, and in order to reach it with a hammer I had to remove the fan shroud, alternator, and carburetor first.


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Engine Parts Arrive

My new engine parts are finally here! I ordered these parts through Central Texas Autowerks, where I got a great deal. I ordered AA brand 94mm cylinders and pistons. I ordered a 74mm crankshaft from CB Performance along with a crankcase breather and a new camshaft gear. I also ordered Los Bandito cylinder heads from CB Performance. These cylinder heads are bored for 94mm cylinders and have been ported with 40mm intake valves and 35.5mm exhaust valves. They are real Mexican VW cylinder heads (produced for the aircooled beetles that were produced in Mexico until 2003) and they use 14mm long reach (3/4″) spark plugs. This means I can use two of the spark plugs I already have, I just need to get two more of them. My new cam lifters, cam bearings, and rod bearings are from Mahle. My new camshaft is an Engle 120 camshaft from EMPI. I also got the rest of the parts from EMPI, including a new heavy duty oil pump with a full flow oil pump cover and a remote oil filter mounting bracket. Other parts include a set of rebuilt connecting rods, new push rod tubes, a piston spring compressor, a set of cam lifter clips, a new clutch disc, a clutch disc alignment tool, a flywheel lock, and a rolling engine stand.


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First Tune Up

Today I went out to tune up the bug. After replacing the points, condenser, rotor, distributor cap, and spark plug wires I found that I could no longer turn the engine past bottom dead center (BDC). Turning it over by hand results in a hard stop right before BDC. I removed the valve covers but didn’t see anything wrong there. I did, however, find out why one side of my engine leaks oil like a sieve! The valve cover gasket was warped. I also discovered that one of the cylinder heads has been replaced in the past with an aftermarket head, but not the other. The newer one uses 18mm long reach spark plugs and the stock one uses 12mm short reach spark plugs!

I couldn’t find the problem with the engine freezing up though, so I’m going to have to take out the engine and pull it apart. I figure that if I need to do that I might as well do an engine rebuild at the same time, and if I’m going to rebuild the engine anyway, I might as well beef it up while I’m at it! I’m going to order a stroker crankshaft (74mm) and big bore 94mm cylinders and pistons, which will give me a 2054cc engine. This should boost my engine performance quite a bit. I should be going from 50hp to somewhere in the 100hp – 150hp range. I need to eventually replace my carb as well, but I don’t plan to do that yet, which is part of the reason I’m only going to order a 74mm crankshaft. Plus, the 74mm won’t require me to clearance the case. The 94mm cylinders will require me to send the case to be machined, but I am planning to buy new cylinder heads that have already been bored to 94mm. Looks like I won’t be driving it for a while.


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Carburetor Assembly and Installation

Today I reassembled my Weber Progressive 32/36 DFEV carburetor.  I ordered new gaskets on eBay that fit perfectly.  The only problem I ran into was that I installed the choke element incorrectly, preventing it from closing the butterfly values.  I then had to remove the carburetor once again from the manifold, adjust the choke, and then reinstall the carburetor.  After it was all properly reinstalled and hooked up, I tried to start it without any luck.  I need to talk to the other Austin Aircoolers about it and see what they say.


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Carburetor Teardown

The gasket kit I had ordered for my carburetor arrived in the mail today.  I spent an hour or two removing the carb from the engine and dismantling it to discover that the gaskets I ordered don’t fit my carburetor!  (The kit was for a 32/36 DGAV carburetor and I have a 32/36 DFAV carburetor.)  It looks like I’m just going to have to buy a complete rebuild kit for it.  The pictures below show the process of removing and dismantling the carburetor.  There are also pictures that show why they call it a “progressive” carburetor.


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Turn Signal Lens Replacement

The front turn signal lenses that were on the car when I got it appeared to be the original Hella lenses.  The left one was in much better condition than the right one, but they both needed replacing.  This was expedited when the right front turn signal lens shattered when I was washing the car!  I picked up the new lenses from Steve at Central Texas Autowerks.


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Speedometer Woes Resolved!

When I bought the bug the speedometer didn’t work.  The previous owner said that it had never worked for him, and I found receipts in the glove box from 5 years ago that mention the exact same odometer reading as what is currently displayed on the speedometer.  When I was at Central Texas Autowerks for the parts liquidation sale and swap meet I asked Steve about it and he gave me some pointers on how to debug the issue.

The bug uses a very simple speedometer system.  A cable is attached to the center of the front driver’s side wheel.  The end of the cable is square and it fits into a square hole on the wheel, where it is clipped into place.  Whenever the wheel turns the cable turns as well.  The other end of the cable screws into the back of the speedometer.  The cable is surrounded by a plastic sheath that protects it between the wheel and the speedometer.  When the cable turns, it spins a small electric generator in the speedometer, causing the needle to move.  This generator also turns a gear which advances the odometer.

To find the problem with my speedometer, I first took the dash apart and removed the speedometer from the dash.  In a super beetle you do this by removing the dash plate that contains the switches and then pushing on the back of the speedometer, making sure to push evenly on all sides.  Trying to pull the speedometer out from the front or pry it out with a screwdriver will only cause damage to the speedometer.  Also, it is important to write down the location and color of each of the electrical wires before you disconnect them from the speedometer.  Once the speedometer was removed I found issue number one: the speedometer cable wasn’t even screwed into the speedometer!

Next I jacked up the front of the car and spun the front driver’s side wheel.  This should have caused the cable in the dash to turn, but it didn’t.  Next I popped the hubcap off of the wheel and checked to make sure that the hole in the wheel was still square.  It was square and turning the wheel caused the cable in the wheel to turn without a problem.  This meant that the cable was broken somewhere between the wheel and the speedometer.  As a last check I put the square bit in my drill and ran it in the back of the speedometer.  Sure enough, the needle moved without a problem, although the odometer still didn’t work.  Armed with all of this info I called and talked to Steve again.  He said that the odometer gears often break and need to be replaced.  I swapped my speedometer for a working one that he had and also bought a new speedometer cable at a great price!  He even reset the odometer in the new speedometer to zero!

Once I had the replacement speedometer and speedometer cable, I enlisted my daughter Kaitlyn to help me do the repairs.  She removed the pin holding the speedometer cable to the wheel and I pulled the cable out.  A piece of cable immediately fell out of the sheath onto the floor!  Next I pulled on the end of the cable that was in the dash until the cable was completely removed.  I ran the new cable through the hole in the dash and down through the trunk into the wheel well.  I then pushed the cable back into the wheel and my daughter clipped it back on.  Once that was done I put the new speedometer in place and screwed the new speedometer cable into it.  Spinning the front driver’s side wheel now caused the speedometer needle to move and the odometer to turn.  Success!

Finally, I had Kaitlyn read me the notes I had made about the wire colors so that we could rewire all of the lights and instruments in the speedometer.  Once that was done Kaitlyn tested all of them by turning the ignition on and testing the blinkers, hazard light, headlights, etc.  Afterwards I pushed the speedometer back into the dash and replaced the dash panel.  It won’t get a full test until I fix the carburettor’s gasket problem and get the car running again.

As a side note, while I had the speedometer out of the dash I hooked the antenna cable back up to the radio and checked out the fresh air box.  It looks like the driver’s side of the fresh air box controls work but the passenger’s side controls do not.


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Accelerator Cable Repair

I tried to replace my accelerator cable with the one I got from Central Texas Autowerks but I realized that I would need to jack up the car and put it on jack stands to do so.  With the help of my neighbors we were able to push the bug up the driveway and into the garage.  (This was an amazing feat, because my driveway has an angle of about 45 degrees!)  Once it was in the garage I went out and bought a floor jack and a pair of jack stands.

First I unhooked the accelerator cable from the carb in the engine compartment.  Then I pulled the cable out from the hole near the accelerator pedal.  The second picture below shows what the broken hook looked like on the old cable!  I then inserted the new cable in the same hole, greasing it as I went.  Unfortunately, it stopped without going all the way to the engine compartment.  It was at this point that I jacked up the car and placed it on jack stands.  I crawled underneath and found that there was a problem with the cable tube that the accelerator cable runs through from the point it exits the pan near the transmission to the engine compartment seal.  The tube was bent and had been taped back together at some point.  I was able to use a pair of pliers to move the cable through the tube while I held it in the proper position, but then the cable stopped at the engine compartment seal.  After much examination, I found that there was no way for the cable to reach the engine compartment.  This was perplexing, since the old cable obviously did.  There is a metal tube that goes through the fan shroud in the engine compartment through which the cable normally passes.  My best guess is that this tube is supposed to run underneath the engine compartment seal so that the accelerator cable can reach the engine compartment.  However, the tube in my engine ends at the edge of the engine compartment, and I would need to remove the engine to fix it.  It appears that the previous cable ran between the engine compartment seal and the bare metal underneath it, which seems like a problem waiting to happen.  I was able to poke a small hole in the seal for the cable to pass through, which allowed me to finish the cable installation.

While I was under the car, I also discovered why my heat doesn’t work.  The heater boxes have control levers on them, and these levers are supposed to connect via a wire to the control knobs inside the car.  However, the wires have been cut and are no longer attached to the control levers!  I’ll need to fix that before next winter if I want heat in the car.


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Parts Liquidation Sale

Today I went out to Central Texas Autowerks for a parts liquidation sale and swap meet.  I had a great time hanging out with all the guys and gals at the swap meet.  Steve (who owns Central Texas Autowerks) made burgers and hot dogs, and there was beer as well.  (Although I don’t eat meat or drink beer, haha!)  One of the Dallas Air Coolers brought down four fenders and a hood from a 1974 Super Beetle for me.  The bumpers changed in 1974, so the bumper holes in the rear fenders are slightly different, but otherwise the fenders and hood should be drop-in replacements for the ones that are currently on the car.  The fenders also included headlight buckets, front turn signals, and rear taillight assemblies.  I’m especially excited about the rear taillight assemblies because it’s impossible to get aftermarket replacements for the 1973 taillight lenses.  The 1973 model year was the first to include the larger “elephant feet” taillights.  I’m not sure how they changed in 1974, but although it’s easy to find taillight lenses for 1974+ taillights, they don’t seem to make 1973 taillight lenses.  I also picked up a brand new pair of running boards with chrome trim that I will install on the bug after I replace the fenders.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think about how I was going to get the fenders and hood home in my Saturn when I made the deal!  We put our heads together and made it work though.  I also bought a new accelerator cable and new front turn signal lenses from Steve while I was there.  All-in-all I got some great deals and had a great time to boot!


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