My Beetle Restoration

Disassembling the Donor Front Firewall

by on Aug.05, 2014, under Body Work

Next up for disassembly is my donor front firewall. I bought this from the same person that sold me the Napoleon hat. It's newer than my car and came from a 1966 model, but the only real differences from my current one is that it doesn't have holes for the fuel reserve valve lever and the choke cable (and isn't rusted away at the bottom!). The stampings for the panel are the same, but the holes are just not punched out. This panel is in really good shape with almost no rust and was a great purchase at $100.


 

The key words of removing the the old panel pieces from the front firewall are Spot Welds! On the sides where it was attached to the wheel wells, most of the welds are spaced about 1/4 inch apart. On the top where it was attached to the trunk, they are spaced about 3/4 inch apart. I took a wire wheel and ground off the paint, carpet glue, and seam sealant so that I can better see the welds. On the sides where the welds are 1/4 inch apart, I decided to just cut the panel off and leave the strip of welds on the panel. This way I can just ground the strip down to the panel itself. On the other welds that were spaced further apart, I drilled them out with a spot weld cutter. On the top of the panel, I just drilled the welds out with the spot weld cutter as well. There were about 40 welds on the top piece and the sides each had more than that just in the areas where I just cut the panel off.

On another note, there was one thing that made it difficult to access the areas of the panel joints that were in the interior of the body - the seam sealant. It was anywhere from 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch thick, especially in the corners. It was 50 years old and hard as a rock. I took my time and carefully scraped it off little by little, trying not to scratch and mar the panel. The metal under the sealant was as pristine as the day it was applied. It really did its job.


 

Lastly, I removed the pieces of the heater channel from the bottom corners. On the tops where they are rounded, they were spot welded. In earlier years, this connection was seam welded. My donor heater channels were both seam welded, but they were both older than the 1966 front firewall. The other joints on the bottoms and sides were joined with spot welds that were practically on top of each other, so I just cut rough the heater channel pieces and left the strip of spot welds to be ground down to the firewall panel.


 

Again, really happy with this panel, but not looking forward to removing the one currently on the car as I know how difficult this will be. Since I don't have to save any of it, I may just cut it off where the spot welds are right next to each other and grind off what's left. I prefer grinding to cutting out spot welds!

 

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