My Beetle Restoration

Initial Assessment of the Chassis

by on Mar.04, 2011, under Chassis

With the body off of the chassis, I can now get a good look at its condition. Here is my initial assessment of what needs to be repaired or replaced:

Floor pans: I guess the most obvious things that need to be replaced are the floor pans. There is almost nothing left of them except the outside frames. My current intention is to replace them with them new panels made by Wolfsburg West. These are thick and heavy-duty and seem to be the best ones available.


The Napoleon hat: The Napoleon hat or front chassis support panel on my chassis has suffered a lot of rust damage and must be replaced. These are difficult to remove due to the amount of welding where it is attached to the frame head and tunnel and have to be cut and ground off. New replacement panels are available and inexpensive, but often do not fit well and have to be greatly altered. I may buy a new one and see if it fits well enough to use. Donor parts are difficult to find, so my only option may be to use a new panel.


The frame head: The frame head has quite a bit of surface rust, but seems to be structurally sound. The bottom plate, however, does need at least portions of the plate replaced. The rear corners are rusted through where it attaches to the outside ends of the Napoleon hat and these areas will need to be replaced. Replacement bottom panels are available and reasonably priced, but it is a lot of work to remove the original one and a lot of welding to install the replacement. Right now, I’m not sure the extra work is necessary. I may just purchase a replacement panel and then make the decision. I can at least use it to cut out portions to patch the areas that are rusted away.


Front axle: The front axle is covered with road grime, oil, and dirt. In some areas it is more than an inch thick. I cleaned some of it off and went through and loosened all the nuts and bolts. Until I remove it, clean it up, and take it apart, I will not know what condition it is in. Same thing for the steering box. No surprises so far with the front axle and its components.


Pedal cluser: The pedal cluster is completely rusted solid and isn’t worth trying to rebuild. I tried spraying it with penetrating oil and letting it soak in, but I could never get anything to budge. Not only is it rusted solid, but the aluminum base has disintegrated. I’ll look for a used one worthy of rebuilding.

Brake system: I haven’t pulled the brake drums on any of the wheels yet, so I don’t know what condition the internal components are in. I’ll take them off soon to get an idea, but my plan is to do a major assessment of the brakes after the structural rust repair is done to the chassis. I do plan to replace all the brake lines and hoses. I don’t know if the master cylinder is usable yet and will not until I pull it off and take a closer look. My guess is it will need to be replaced. The brake fluid reservoir has a lot of surface rust, but I think that once it is media blasted, treated, and painted it will be fine.

Cables: The cables for the clutch, accelerator, choke, emergency brakes, and heater lever will all be replaced. They may not all need to be replaced, but I don’t want to chance having any of them break later. It will also be much easier to replace them now while the body is off. I will clean out and lubricate any guide tubes before replacing any of the cables and will also replace all of the seals where they enter and exit the frame.

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