I finally got around to taking the bug to one of those do-it-yourself car wash places. It looks much better now, but the high pressure spray (which I needed even after scrubbing the heck out of it with the brush) managed to take off some of the blue paint and break the right front turn signal lens. I need to order a new one when I get a chance. On the bright side, I got the bug registered and inspected before this happened! I highly suggest Alan’s Inspections on North Lamar if you need to get your aircooled VW inspected. The guys there were quick, professional, and very friendly. They told me exactly what needed to be fixed and didn’t try to sell me any extra parts or services.
Ever since I got the bug, it has had a hard time idling unless the temperature is above 65 degrees or so. I hooked up my tachometer to the engine while it was idling nicely and discovered that it idles at 1600RPM instead of a normal 800RPM or so. This means that the idle adjustment is set way too high, probably in order to keep it from dying. All of this led me to believe that something must be wrong with the carb. I originally thought the problem might be with the electric choke, so I picked up a new choke element from a local Air Cooler along with a new low profile air filter element. However, when I took off the air filter and opened the butterfly valves I could see sunlight coming in between the barrel and the body of the carb! This is being caused by a faulty gasket that is sticking out into the barrel of the carb. This massive loss of vacuum is almost certainly the root of my carburetor woes. However, before I noticed this I tried to clean out the carb by placing my hand over the butterfly valves with the engine running. This causes any bits of built up residue to get sucked into the engine and burned up. Unfortunately, this also made my gasket problems worse! Now the engine won’t run at all until I replace the gasket. On top of that, I managed to break the hook on the pedal end of the accelerator cable! For now the bug isn’t going anywhere until I can order a new accelerator cable and a new carburetor gasket.
The hazard light switch was broken when I purchased the bug. Not only was the plastic broken and the light burned out, but it was impossible to push the switch and that meant that you couldn’t turn on the hazard lights. I found this out the hard way when the car stalled at a stop light and I had to pop the clutch to get it started again. When I tried to turn on my hazard lights they didn’t work! Unfortunately, they don’t make replacement switches anymore, but I was able to order a good quality used switch on The Samba. To install the switch I first had to remove the dash plate that holds the switches. In doing so I also discovered how to remove the speedometer and how to access the fresh air box. The new switch looks and works great!
Today I replaced the sun visors in the bug. One of the previous owners had painted them black along with the headliner, and they no longer worked properly. I bought the new visors from Wolfsburg West. I also cleaned up the free rearview mirror that I got from a fellow Air Cooler.
Today I pulled the door panels off and greased the window regulators. I did both doors, but my camera died after the first one. Greasing the window regulator on the driver’s side worked great! Now the window rolls up and down without a problem. However, it didn’t go so well on the passenger side. The window was a little easier to roll up and down for a while, but then the regulator locked up completely. I might need to just replace it. I also replaced the window cranks.
The oil hadn’t been changed in many months, so I decided to go ahead and change the oil and the oil filter while I was working on the car this weekend. Unfortunately, when I started the car it immediately emptied the the oil all over the ground! At first I thought I’d blown an engine seal by putting too much oil in it, but when I got under the car I realized that I had just put the oil filter on incorrectly. I hadn’t installed an oil filter before and I didn’t know that the filter seal needed to be oiled first. On top of that, I had screwed the filter on too far! The seal was sticking out from between the filter and the plate that it screws onto, and thus not keeping the oil in the engine. The next day I replaced the oil filter with a new one that I installed properly and now everything is running great.
The super beetle came with its original retractable seat belts. These were old and only semi-functional, so I ordered new ones from Wolfsburg West. I highly suggest ordering seat belts from them! They don’t sell cheap “universal” seat belts. Instead, they sell retractable seat belts for the front seats that match the original ones perfectly and non-retractable seat belts for the rear seat that are made specifically for classic VWs.
The beetle didn’t pass inspection because the horn no longer worked, so I ordered a new horn from Mid American Motorworks, along with a new radio antenna. The bolts for the old horn were rusted solid, but I sprayed them with some WD-40 and was about to get them loose. The new horn installed without a problem and works great! I also replaced the radio antenna, although I haven’t had a chance to hook it up to the radio yet, because of how the super beetle dash is set up. I bought a new lightbulb for the interior dome light, but then I had to bend the contacts back into place, because they had moved over time.
Well, I bought a 1973 Super Beetle today! Here are some pics.
It’s got a lot of minor body damage, some minor rust, and some paint chipping, but overall it’s in good shape. The front half of the passenger side floorpan is missing and a piece of sheet metal has been bolted on in its place, but it works nice and the carpet hides it well. It was also really dirty when I got it, but my daughter helped me wash it!
The dash is in great shape. The speedo looks nice but doesn’t work. I haven’t tried to figure out why yet. It might just be unplugged or something, but maybe it’s really broken. The fuel gauge seems to work, and there was a really old fuel tank sender in the trunk, so I’m guessing that was worked on at some point. (Also in the trunk: the original Bilstein jack!) I also need to fix the horn and replace the rearview mirror. The previous owner said the horn stopped working when the horn button on the wheel popped out. I’m guessing it’s just not on there right or that the horn ring needs to be replaced. Don’t know for sure yet though.
The carpet looks nice. It comes out really easily (but that made it easier to see the floorboard repair!) I need to adhere it to the car a bit better, but first I want to get some sound deadening material to put underneath it. It also has dealer installed air conditioning! Unfortunately, the compressor and all the other bits of the A/C system are missing, except for the vents in the dash and the controls mounted under it.
The engine is really nice and was a large selling point for the car. It has a Weber progressive carb on it along with a Bosch 009 distributor and a special fuel pump for the carb. All of the engine tin is there, and some of it is chrome. It also has an aftermarket oil pump with a screw on oil filter. It’s leaking oil from the oil drain plate though, so I need to take that off and put in a new gasket and maybe even replace the drain plate while I’m at it. The engine sounds great when accelerating and once it’s warmed up, but it idles way too slow when it’s below 60 degrees outside. I need to adjust the idle when I get a chance so it doesn’t stall out at every stop light on my way to work! I don’t know what size the engine is, but I’m guessing its a dual port 1600cc since the serial numbers match the year of the car, and I think they were all 1600cc engines by 1973. (The Samba’s list of serial numbers stops showing engine size in 1973!) The rear shocks are also height adjustable, which is an interesting feature.