My Beetle Restoration

Removing Rear Chassis Components

by on Apr.07, 2018, under Chassis

With the front axle and components removed, I now decided to remove the rear chassis components and started with the rear brake drums. In order to be able remove the axle nuts holding the brake drums on the rear wheels, I purchased an 36mm axle nut tool from M&T Manufacturing. This allows you to hammer the nuts loose. Otherwise, you typically need a heavy duty breaker bar and an extension, which I would have to purchase. It easily loosened them, which was a big relief. I was expecting a tougher time getting them to break free. I did have to remove the wheels first to have the clearance needed to hit the wrench.

With the axle nuts off, I adjusted the brake shoes all the way in so that I could pull the drums off. The adjusters are conveniently located on the bottom, so I had to lay on the ground to be able to see and access them. The passenger side came of fairly easy, but the driver side was rusted to the spindle and I had to beat it loose from the back. I used a spanner wrench and rotated it a quarter turn after each blow. It took quite a while to get it off.

Next, I removed the bearing cover plates which also retain the brake backing plates. Because I had forgotten to drain the transmission fluid, the fluid came pouring out of the first axle tube once the backing plate and cover plate were removed. It made a nice mess on the floor. I then drained the transmission before removing the other side, so the fluid that drained out the axle tube was greatly reduced.

I removed the shocks and then removed the 3 bolts on each side to that connect the axle tubes to the spring plates. The top bolt on each side also holds the stop bracket and rubber bumper. The axle tubes are now free from the chassis.

To Remove the transmission, I removed the rear mounting bracket, disconnected the shift rod coupler from the shift rod and transmission shaft, and then unbolted the front mounting bracket. I had to leave the front mounting bracket on the transmission as one nut was rusted and worn away and I could not get a wrench on it. I will remove the bracket later.

The gearshift rod is removed from the tunnel through the hole covered by the inspection cover plate on the front of the frame head. It is normally a little difficult to remove as you can only access it to move it through the tunnel through the small hole where the shift knob connects to the rod. There is really only enough room for two fingers and you really can't get much of a grip on it. It has to be rotated clockwise about 45 degrees so that it can clear a plate towards the front of the tunnel and it can be hard to maintain that position all the way out and it will hit the plate or bind if in the wrong position. Mine kept binding and hitting the plate again and again. I had to walk away from it and come back to try again several times. I have removed these before and never had this much trouble getting them out. Just when I thought I was going to have to leave it in the tunnel until I removed the bottom plate from the tunnel, it finally broke free and I was able to get it out. It was very rusted and the rust was grabbing and binding against anything it touched. If it were smoother, it would have been much easier to remove.

The spring plates and torsion rods are my last mechanical items left to remove from the chassis. I started by removing the spring plate bushing covers and the rubber outer bushings. I then marked the current position of the spring plates on the spring plates and bushing housings so that I will have a reference to get them in the same position with the same tension when they are reinstalled. The spring plates have to be hammered out from the inner side of the plates, so I put the bushing covers back on and applied tension from the underside of the spring plate using my floor jack. This keeps the spring plates from flying away from the housing and causing injury or worse. These plates are under great pressure, so they need to be removed with great care. After a few blows, the spring plates slide out enough to clear the housing and drop all the way down and are no longer under tension. At that point, I removed the bushing covers and hammered them the rest of the way out. The driver side spring plate came out still stuck on the torsion rod and the passenger side was welded to the torsion rod and came out together as well. I'm not sure why one was welded and the other one not, or if it makes any difference at all. Something to research. Once the torsion rods were out, I removed the rubber inner bushings. That's the last of the chassis components to be removed without cutting and drilling.

After getting the chassis stripped, I turned it over to get my first good look at the extent of the rust damage. The frame head bottom plate is definitely toast and I really will not know the condition of the tunnel until I remove the bottom plate. It's going to be a lot of work, but needs to be done. There will be sections that will need to be cut out and replaced. Once I have the plate off, I will have a much better idea of just how much. Overall, it's in better shape than I expected.

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