My Beetle Restoration

Back to the Chassis: Getting Started

by on Mar.30, 2018, under Chassis

It's been 7 years since I've done anything notable to the chassis. Even then, not much. It is amazing how fast time flies by and how much life can get in the way and steal your time for many years. In the last half year or so, I have been eliminating all of the obstacles in really getting started on this project - lack of the proper tools, lack of working space, deciding just where to get started, and devising a plan on just what to tackle first. After careful consideration of whether to start with the chassis first or the body, I have decided that since I have so little good metal left as reference points, I may as well start with rebuilding the chassis and try to get it as close to the accurate factory specifications as possible and then build the body to match it. Since everything on the chassis that touches the body has to be replaced and everything on the body that touches the chassis has to be replaced, I may as well get started on the chassis. Besides, I have replacements for the floor pans, Napoleon hat, and the frame head bottom plate and don't have to make any major purchases. I have also decided to remove a large section of the tunnel bottom plate so that I can better assess the damage to the tunnel and facilitate replacing the areas of the bottom lip where the insides of the floor pans rest. There is a lot of damage there where water was obviously pooled there for a very long time. Anyway, that is the current plan and I'm moving forward with it.

First, I decided to cut off the outside sections of what is left of the floor pans. These are the areas that bolt to the heater channels. I am tired of hitting my shins on them and they need to be removed anyway.



Next, I removed the inner areas of the floor pans. Except for a few strips along the tunnel here and there in the middle and front, there was only floor pan left in the rear on both sides. Finding and drilling out the spot welds was challenging in some areas as they were barely visible and it is amazing how just the smallest amount of weld will keep the panel from breaking free. It is so nice to finally have the floor pans removed! After that, I pulled the accelerator cable, the clutch cable, the heater cables, the choke cable, and the emergency brake cables. I cut the emergency cables off just past the shroud since I will need to access the brake mechanisms to detach the cables on that end. I coiled the removed cables up and placed them in a bag to keep them for future reference. This way I can compare them to the replacements once I purchase them.



With the old floor pans removed, I just had to place the new floor pans on the chassis to see how they look and check the fit. I purchased the Wolfsburg West floor pans and I have to say that these are of very high quality and the fit is amazingly close to the factory originals. They are 18 gauge and currently cost around $195 each side. The pressings also closely match the originals. I can't tell you how gratifying it is to see the pans on a car that had almost no floor on it since I purchased it. It's a small thing, but it feels like a major one and is the first real progress I've made toward getting this car restored. There is so much left to do, but I feel encouraged and am hungry to get more accomplished.

The Wolfsburg West floor pans ship without the rear cross braces and jack points welded on so that they can ship by regular package shippers like UPS. Be forewarned that a package this large and heavy will be thrown around by the shippers and you will likely have some damage to the edges of your pans. I had just minor bends that should be fairly easy to straighten out. Wolfsburg West warns that damage is possible and likely. The box was 68"L x 22"W x 8"H and weighed 63 pounds, including a frame head bottom plate. The rear cross braces and jack points were in a separate box and the frame head bottom plate was placed inside a flattened box. I placed the pans back in the box to store them until I get to the point where I can actually fit and weld them on.

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