After eight decades of production, the iconic Beetle, aka the Type 1 chassis is coming to an end as the last of 5,961 “Final Edition” Beetles roles off the Mexico production line and off to a museum.
And then there were none.
After eight decades of production, the iconic Beetle, aka the Type 1 chassis is coming to an end as the last of 5,961 “Final Edition” Beetles roles off the Mexico production line and off to a museum.
And then there were none.
As we enter June, the club committee are working hard finalising the plans for Busfest 2019 at the Malvern Showground. This is one of the premier events in the transporter calendar and usually sees 7,000 people attending.
If that number fills you with dread, you are in luck! The Type 2 Owners Club has our own dedicated field holding 60 vehicles that means you can stay small, spend the weekend with just club members or go large and venture out to the many stalls.
The early bird catches the bargains and also the quiet times. Everything is organised with military precision having been run by the same group for over 25 years. It is a brilliant show to look for parts for Type 1 (Beetle, Ghia, Thing) and Type 2 (Split screen, Bay, T25, T3, T4, T5, T6) vehicles. Or just kick back and enjoy the atmosphere.
Just 4 of the vans from the 2018 club field at Busfest!
The owners club will have a large club marquee for members only in the club field. Last year we served tea, coffee, burgers and sausages. We had a ukulele performance from “George Formby” and about 50 vehicles were there. Plenty of dogs, children, stories, fun and laughter were there – everyone is welcome and the field coped well with mobility scooters.
You don’t even need to bring a van – come in the car and a tent. Bring a (small) motorhome.
Book early to avoid disappointment and book using the club link on the web link above. Discount code available from the club secretary if you did not find it in the club magazine.
Did you know that for very little money, you can shape metal and the sky is the limit.
Basics – a vice
Get a metalworkers vice – see the heavy duty jaws. Bigger but not thick jaws are for wood. Get the biggest that you can find, car boot sales / second hand shows are often a good place. It should be bolted to a strong surface and will hold metal safely.
Intermediate – a metal folder
To bend metal accurately, you will ultimately need to get a metal folder. It does what it says on the tin and folds the metal along a line. These start around the £50 / $70 area and go up to more than $10,000 each. If you are folding body panel thickness, a “poor man’s metal folder” is less money! Find your local metal working place that sells metal and buy 2 lengths of 25mm (1 inch) angle iron that is 3mm thick (1/8 inch).
Sit both pieces of angle iron in your vice upside down compared to the above picture. Then place your metal to be folded into the newly created wide jaws of your “metal folder”. Now clamp it all together – this takes a little practice to get the metal to the right position without something slipping. Measure twice, cut once as they say – keep moving it slightly until you get it perfectly aligned.
Once in there, push the metal in the direction of the required fold. If you do not need 90 degrees, add something as a guide.
Assistance – a hammer
A little pin hammer / tack hammer / small hammer will cost a few dollars / pounds. Its flat nose means less damage to the metal compared to a normal hammer that has a rounded end. Use the other end and experiment. Remember that you are not looking to shape the metal with a single hit! Slow and steady wins the race.
Once the metal has been folded mainly to shape, finish with the hammer until you get it how you need it.
First clever trick – a roll
If you need a small roll in your metal, open the jaws of your vice to reveal the part that needs to bend / roll. Now take that sharp (ish) edge of the above hammer and tap the metal between the vice jaws. Remember to clamp the metal first!
Tapping it with a hammer will allow you to shape by hand, nice and slowly / carefully. Sometimes that is not smooth enough.
Advanced – a socket
If you need a fold in the metal that is part of a circle, find a socket the size of the fold required. Keep the jaws open to the width required, clamp one side of the metal to one of the jaws. Place the socket on the metal between the jaws and allow the metal to shape itself around the socket with a hammer. Please do not use your best socket and any damage to your equipment is down to you!
My first example
I needed a piece to join the bottom of the wall behind the sliding door on my Bay window, down to the floor. I folded the 90 degree in my metal folder. I sliced a little way along that fold then used my hammer to tap the curved section (no socket used this time) before welding it up. Then I added the end triangle as it was going to be tricky to add later and welded it in.
I was rather pleased with that.
Once in, I was even happier.
I am now a fabricator, you can be one too. The paint was a short term measure to keep the rust at bay and yes, the bottom of the C post still needs work!
My second attempt
From the first picture, you can see that the bottom of the rear wheel arch is missing a common section where it has rusted, been patched badly and is in need of attention. Again, I took some cardboard, made a template, used some Zintec lightly galvanized steel and using just a 4 inch vice, a hammer and a little time, I came up with this:
And here it is zipped in:
Yes, I will sort out the ugly weld in the corner before I top coat the inside!
Following on from a conversation with one of our members, it is time to talk about harsh rides. Remember that ride comfort is a personal choice!
Low = less travel on the suspension = more likely to be a harsh or bumpy ride.
That’s the simple story though!
Some people call them sway bars, but of course they are designed to STOP the swaying as you go around a corner, therefore sway bar is a bit of a misnomer.
As you drive round a corner, the weight moves (Newton’s Laws start to apply) due to conservation of linear momentum and the outside of the van will drop, with the inside edge of the van lifting. To stabilize this, you can attack a bar under the vehicle that restricts both of these movements, leaving the van itself much flatter. Because this is effectively adding stiffness / restriction, going overboard on this bar can make cornering less comfortable.
Above is an anti-roll bar with the graphic borrowed without permission from the Just Kampers web site. Before you head over there with your wallet open, remember that an anti-roll bar is not the answer to the handling question.
Step away from the credit card….
The shock absorber….erm….absorbs the shocks of the uneven road. It did not take them long to come up with the name I suspect.
It is an oil filled tube with a round disk on a rod in the tube that lets the oil move past it slowly, damping the ability of the tube to expand and contract. One end effectively bolts to the vehicle and one to the wheel (yes, I know that’s a massive simplification, bear with me). As the wheel hits a lump in the road, the oil filled tube contracts and absorbs the impact, expanding again afterwards but not with a jolt.
These are consumable parts and do not last forever. The can deteriorate over both time and usage – just because it has only done 10 miles does not mean that your vehicle does not need them replacing. Do not replace them just for the sake of it though.
Taking the shock off the vehicle is quite simple. Jack up the front using the front beam and your trolley jack, settle it down on axle stands safely and securely. Remove the wheel. Depending on suspension height and shock length, you may need to shorten the shock to remove it by just removing the bolts at each end.
You are not strong enough to test it like this, so don’t do it. Those of you who did the above, please have a cup of tea and stop called me names.
Approach the vehicle with the shock absorbers still attached. Grab the rain gutter or open the front doors and grab the B post or A post and wobble the van from side to side. Does it stop wobbling pretty much immediately? If it keeps moving for more than about 1 second after letting go, probably old shocks and they need replacing. If it just keeps on wobbling, definitely change them.
Have a test drive on an uneven surface but don’t speed. If pot holes are unpleasant with a crashing or jarring feel, that could also be shocks.
Find someone with the same ride height as you and the same model. Have a go in theirs. If theirs is noticeably smoother, it can be shocks.
As above, you remove the wheel safely, unbolt the shock, fit the same length shock from a reputable manufacturer and reassemble in the reverse manner. Only ever replace both left and right at the same time. Expect to pay about £50 per shock plus around an hour labour for the pair. If you buy a cheap pair, expect that you pay for! We bought Sachs Boge heavy duty ones for our Crossover which fixed our crashing ride. Kyb and other manufacturers are available from leading stockists.
This should now give you a good ride on bumps and generally. If you also have problems with body roll on bends that makes things a trifle hairy, now start thinking about anti-roll bars.
The “standard” anti-roll bar is around £20 and will make a small difference. The heavy duty anti-roll bar is about six times as expensive but can make a significant difference to the roadholding and stability of a vehicle, especially on corners.
If you prefer a bigger delivery of parts, you can opt for a suspension handling kit which is a new shock absorber in all 4 corners plus front and rear anti-roll bars. This is a LOT more money – last seen over £400 but will transform tired suspension. Remember that this will not address problems with the beam, torsion arms and other standard parts that need reviewing first.
Going off piste
For the ultimate in change, you can remove the front beam, the shock absorbers, steering and replace it all with twin wishbone coilover suspension and rack and pinion steering covering a lot of bases in one brand new kit. This however makes your bank manager cry and means that you have to hide your bank statements for a while. Last seen at £2,800 fitted for a Bay window, £4,000 for a Split screen, and later vehicles work differently so cannot get this option.
If your ride height is not standard, please consult a professional as the above is a guide based primarily on standard ride height vehicles. Lowering a vehicle is something that I want to learn about and will feature in a future article if I complete that little task!
The next edition of the club magazine has been finished by our Editors and looks fantastic. It should be arriving through your door soon!
Meantime, a number of members are en route or have already arrived to Great Bourton for the first club meet of the year. Are you coming?
Following on from last week’s article, this week we are talking about improving fuel economy.
Now that you know how to calculate fuel economy, let’s look at ways to improve it!
Improvements before you start the engine
Improvements once you are rolling
If EVERYONE makes just a 1% change to their fuel needs, it will save 10 litres per person per year. 1% sounds like nothing but that is 3 billion litres per year in the US and 7 billion litres per year across Europe.
If you are spending £1,000 per annum on fuel, a well thought out strategy and a £200 service can actually work out cheaper overall but reducing the fuel used / money spent. Drive sensibly, maintain the vehicle well. Not only are you saving fuel and helping the planet, but you are also keeping the vehicle in better shape, making it last longer and stay in better condition.
You have a vehicle. It does not have “fuel economy”.
You have fuel. It ALSO does not have fuel economy.
Put the two together and you do have fuel economy.
Did you know that electric vehicles actually pre-date petrol / gasoline vehicles? The major downside even a century later is that electric power does not have the same energy density as a gallon of fuel. Your starter battery in your vehicle, whether it is a 2 seater light weight sports car or a large 4WD truck, will be somewhere between 20 to 50 pounds in weight / 10kg to 25kg.
Put that battery into an electric vehicle and even the most modern and lightweight electric vehicle will travel no more than about 6 miles. (Modern vehicles are approaching 150Wh per mile) and that is very optimistic. Take that same SPACE occupied by the battery and a petrol / gasoline engine will travel 40 miles / 60 kilometres conservatively. Take that same WEIGHT of the battery and you will travel far further. A starter battery of 50 pounds in weight (25kg) in a modern petrol car could travel more than 300 miles!
Due to this energy density, oil based vehicles, either petrol or diesel have dominated the market. They are however not overly efficient.
The above diagram of a passenger vehicle using the American EPA Urban cycle definitions shows that only 12% of the energy from the fuel ends up driving the wheels. A massive 62% of the energy is lost as heat.
Checking fuel economy
Fill up your tank as full as possible (initial fill). If you are using a classic vehicle, avoid supermarket fuel as some owners have found reduced fuel economy and other issues. Choose the RON fuel for your engine as applicable. Note the first odometer reading.
Drive normally and at a suitable point – ideally later in the tank not sooner to reduce the error margin, fill up again (second fill). Note the second odometer reading.
For those of you in America, you just filled up in gallons. For those in Europe, if you want to stay in litres then great. To convert to UK gallons, divide the number of litres by 4.56. So 45.6 litres is 10 UK gallons. Gallons are smaller in America!
(Second odometer reading) – (First odometer reading) is the distance travelled between fills. The fuel added in the second fill is how much fuel you needed to travel.
(Distance travelled between fills) / (Second fill) = Fuel economy.
Talking about a Volkswagen transporter, the older vehicles will be towards the 15 miles per UK gallon (12 miles per US gallon) or 1.6 miles per litre. More modern vehicles can get towards 50mpg (40mpg in the US or 11 miles per litre) and custom engines can make a big dent in this figure!
Some modern calculations are litres per 100 km / 60 miles. This is also valid but for this, the lower this number, the more efficient! MPG means a higher number is better.
Next week, we will be discussing improvements in fuel economy.
Are you coming?
Three weeks to go to our first big club event of the season. Great Bourton in Oxfordshire sees our second trip for the club weekend. Last year we had a dozen vans, 25 people, the FA cup final on the TV, live jazz singer and a royal wedding all accompanied by a free BBQ.
People brought cakes, beers, a table tennis table and a bucketful of fun.
We are hoping for more people this year, come along and meet people, share stories about your vehicle and your adventures or your plans to get a VW transporter.
You can bring a tent, a motorhome, it does not have to be a VW. Bring the kids, bring the dog, bring chairs, bring cake. Obviously.
Following on from last week’s article about air cooled heating, let’s get on with adjusting it.
Tools and parts
Get the vehicle far enough and safely enough in the air that you can crawl underneath and still safely operate tools.
Disconnect the battery. This is optional but safe.
Take ALL of the tools with you otherwise you end up doing a lot of sit ups going to fetch the above items.
Between the rear wheels at the back of the Y shaped J tube and heading into the heat exchangers, you will see two flaps, one on either side. These control the hot air coming forwards from the engine into the J tube and up to the front of the vehicle. If required, have your friend sit in the front and move the red levers up and down – look for movement underneath!
When both levers are moving, you should see a thin metal cable moving a flap that is about 50mm long and there should be a spring and a bolt. The arm should be moving freely forwards and backwards. Most commonly the cable is either missing or jammed.
If the cable is missing, get a new set! If the cable is jammed, get some lubricant on it and try again later. Manually move the bolt using pliers and see if the cable is free but the bolt is jammed. If required, detach the cable and verify which piece is jammed. Once all is moving, check that the control arm is as far forward as it can go when the cable has the slack taken up and the level on the dash is fully open. Similarly the level at the other extreme on the dashboard should allow the bolt to fully close the flap.
Adjust the slack on the cable using the 6mm spanner / socket, release the bolt, use pliers to take up the tension and tighten again. This actually needs doing regularly.
Thank your friend kindly and let them get on with something less interesting than fixing the heating on your vehicle.
As you are under there, don’t forget to wire brush and the loose dirt, muck and other unwanted bits then paint and underseal, especially on the heating pipes.
Follow all along from the front of the heat exchangers, along the J tube, the main tube in the middle, up and over the beam and up to the totem pole. Look for holes, leaks and missing insulation. Fix them all.
Crawl out from under the vehicle, stretch, curse if required, dust yourself down, get the axle stands off, reconnect the battery and celebrate by moving the levers on the dash of your working heating.
Remove the socks from the air vents on the dash (a popular way of stopping the draughts in the 90s), start the engine and feel more heat than before. If it is still not HOT once the engine is up to temperature then you still have air leaks in between the heat exchangers and the cab. Troubleshoot every join, seal every incorrect hole and check every flap. Come along to a club meeting and we can all take a look together!
This article will help those with an air cooled vehicle from a Split screen through to the early T25. If you bought a water cooled engine, then it does not apply!
Do you own a VW that you cannot use in colder weather without travelling in a big coat, bobble hat, thick socks and blue fingers? It is a great and effective system but with 39 years since they stopped producing the late Bay and nearly 60 years since the introduction of the Split screen, inevitably there will have been a small amount of wear and tear.
In this article, we are going to cover some of the important parts of getting some of the lovely heat from the engine up to the people at the front. That’s you.
The engine produces heat and a lot of it goes out of the exhaust system. Part of that exhaust system is the “heat exchangers” and that literally means a sleeve around part of the exhaust pipe that heats up the outside air. Once that air is warm it can warm you but it is currently underneath the engine at the back of the vehicle. We need to move it from there up to you without losing much of it.
The big fan above the engine cools the engine (air cooled – the clue is in the name) and there are two big ducts / funnels, one of either side in the engine bay. These go through the metal tray around the engine, underneath, into the heat exchangers and can then enter the heating system. From there, a control flap can be opened to funnel that heat along a 90mm / nearly 4 inch tube along the middle of the vehicle from the gearbox up to the front wheel line. From there is jumps over the front beam in a squashed tube then turns up at the front at the totem pole for those of you with that funny looking piece of metal.
The first place to look – the end game
If you can get heat into the van, you want to keep it there. Windows need to be able to close fully, doors need to close with no draughts, door seals need to be good. Any original flaps, sliders and other ways of getting air into the van need to be able to seal, otherwise that good, warm air will leave very rapidly. these are all visible and easy to track down. Make sure that the roof has similarly no big holes for heat to leave.
Now focus on the insulation. If you have zero insulation in the walls, the heat is going to leave really quickly – not only when you are travelling along but also in the evenings when you are sitting quietly, drinking wine and playing scrabble. Other excitement is available. Remove the wall panels and insulate – that is an article for another day, just don’t use rockwool which absorbs moisture in something that you squash into cavities pressed against metal bodywork. You may as well just drop the whole vehicle in the sea and let the salt water rust your pride and joy!
For evenings, consider curtains which will help insulate too.
Start at the start
That big doghouse fan noted above. Does it turn freely, helping to cool your engine? Ensure all is good in there otherwise you will have a hot engine and cold passengers. From there on both sides are holes about 3 inches / 70mm diameter – check they are not rusted and letting out that precious heat. From there, they warm air goes into stretchy concertina plastic tubes that pass through the tin tray around the engine and underneath. These should be tightly attached to the fan at the top using good jubilee clips – these are inexpensive and will really help.
Now get under the vehicle, safely (disconnect the battery, use axle stands, tie back long hair and loose clothing, your health and safety officer should be standing by and so on). At the bottom of those two concertina tubes they should connect to the heat exchangers, these are boxes on either side of the engine forming part of the exhaust system and do not touch them if the engine is warm. Again, the connection from one to the other should be free or rust, rot and holes and should be sealed well by the jubilee clips.
Then the heat itself
The air from the engine has now flowed underneath the vehicle and has been pushed past the exhaust, getting hot. Both heat exchangers flow the air into a Y shaped tube, curiously called a J tube, although replacement parts may mean this works slightly differently. From there, that lovely hot air enters the tube running along the middle of the vehicle. Once again, the join from the J tube or similar into the middle heating pipe needs to be sealed and not allowing the air out.
That big tube running along the middle of the vehicle needs to be free from holes. Originally from the factory, it is a heavy steel pipe with a jacket around it. that jacket is often missing or otherwise less than perfect. Check it, refit it, replace it. Even a heavy coat of underseal will give you some thermal help as well as reducing the air loss due to holes.
Just in front of the B posts (between the front doors and the sliding door) that tube joins a flattened pip section that jumps over the front beam and up to the front of the vehicle. That can have holes and is tricky to fix. From there you are almost up into the cab area and once inside, there are usually few issues.
Opening the system
The levers on the dashboard that are red are for the warm air. The green or blue ones are for the cool air. Next week, see how to get the red ones operating as they were designed.