My Beetle Restoration


Getting Started!

by on Sep.06, 2010, under Disassembly

Labor Day 2010. First day to do any work on the car. I decided to remove the front bumper first (should be simple, right?). Well, the bolt that attaches the over-rider bracket and bumper bracket on the passenger side was frozen and will either need to be cut, or soaked with penetrating oil some more. This particular bolt went through from the wheelhouse, through the bumper mount, and then through the two brackets. Someone at some point drilled out the threads in the bumper mount and then through the wheelhouse. I'm guessing the threads on the bumper mount were stripped and this was their solution. So I decided to go ahead and remove the bumper by removing the brackets from the bumper. Even after soaking all the bolts with penetrating oil, there was a lot of creaking and resistance by most of the bolts holding the brackets to the bumper guards. It came apart, though, and now I just have to deal with the one frozen bolt. The other bumper bolt on that same side was missing. The back bumper was already removed when I got the car. I don’t think either bumper is worth trying to save and I will probably just replace the bumpers, brackets, and all other related parts. I will have to decide just what to do with the bumper mount on the passenger side that had been drilled out. I will not mount a bolt through to the wheel well as done previously. I'm thinking about removing the mount and welding on a replacement mount. One more issue in a long and yet undetermined list of issues on this project. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but I actually like these types of little surprises. Let’s see if I still feel this way down the road with dozens more of these unexpected challenges…


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Success with Front Bumper

by on Sep.14, 2010, under Disassembly

Finally got around to removing the badly rusted bumper bracket bolt. I decided to just cut off the last 3/8″ or so of the bolt that was rusted and giving me so much trouble. I purchased a Gator Grit 3″ cut-off wheel and arbor from Lowe’s to do this. I figured I could use this later as well. So I tightened the nut back all the way and cut off most of the remaining threaded end of the bolt. After doing that, the nut came off easily. My first success!


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Removing Headlights, Taillights, Antenna, and Wiper Arms

by on Sep.18, 2010, under Disassembly

I removed the headlights assemblies, the front turn signal assemblies, the antenna posts, and the windshield wipers arms today.

The chrome headlight ring on the passenger side will likely need to be replaced as it has a crimp in it. Depending on the pitting of the chrome, I may have to replace both of them. Both of the headlight mounting screws and spacers will be replaced as well as the all of the seals. I will have to take the assemblies apart and see if anything else needs to be replaced. The visible parts of the headlight housings will need to be primed and repainted.


The front turn signal lenses are fractured and will be replaced. The chrome housings are moderately pitted and I’m not yet sure if it’s worth having them re-chromed. I’ll have to wait and see just how many other parts are candidates for re-chroming rather than replacing and see if it will be worth the time to prep them. If any of the chromed parts are too pitted, they require too much work to fill in the pits and smooth out the surfaces. Then even after they are chromed, they many times just don’t look as good as the reproductions. The seals, of course, will be replaced.


Both taillight housings were removed before I received the car, but were included. The passenger side rear fender was replaced by the previous owner and the bracket was never installed on it. He did give me the old fender which still had the bracket installed on it. The housings are in excellent shape (and not missing!) and the mounting brackets seem fine. The only issue I can see now is with the lenses. The original snowflake lenses have a few cracks in them and I don’t know how much the cracks will show. Original replacements will be very costly and difficult to find and the reproductions I have seen don’t quite look like the originals. The seals will be replaced.


I will need to purchase a double-post antenna. The antenna that came with it is in bad shape and is a single post anyway. The other mounting post from an earlier double-post antenna was still occupying the bottom hole.


The windshield wiper arms may be in good enough condition to clean up and polish. At $20-$25 each for acceptable reproductions, I will try to polish them first.


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Removing License Plate Light Housing, License Plate, and Passenger Rear Fender

by on Sep.27, 2010, under Disassembly

Today I removed the license plate light housing, the rear license plate bracket & plate, running board bolts connecting fenders on the driver side, and started removing the rear fender on driver side side.

The license plate light housing had no wires connected to it and I didn’t see any wires laying around in the engine compartment for it. It may have been some time since the light was used. There is black paint on the lens from the last paint job in the early 80’s. It is cracked under the mounting screw, so it will be replaced.


The license plate and bracket were a little difficult to remove. Extra-log bolts were used to fasten the bracket to the engine lid and to fasten the license plate to the bracket and three of the four bolts were heavily rusted. I managed to remove one of the bolts holding the plate to the bracket so that I could swivel it out of the way to get to the head of the bolts holding the bracket to the engine lid. One came out easily, but the other would turn a few times and completely lock up. I cut the excess threads off with a cut-off disk and was then able to remove it. The home-made bracket, by the way, was constructed from a 1971 Minnesota license plate.


At some point, someone hand-painted “Putt-Putt” on the right side of the engine lid. Maybe the same person who painted “Tonka” on the driver side door?


On the rear fender on the driver side side, I was able to remove five bolts, snapped the head off on one bolt (at bottom of fender & rear apron), and was unable to turn 3 of the bolts (the two bottom bolts on the front side and the 3rd one from the bottom on the rear side). Well, technically, I could turn the bottom bolt on the front side, but there is so little metal left in that area I didn’t want to tear it all out to get the bolt removed. I may just grind the head off. I spayed the remaining bolts with penetrating oil and I’ll come back to this fender later.

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Removing Driver Side Front Fender

by on Sep.29, 2010, under Disassembly

Removed the front driver side fender today. All the bolts were stubborn, but broke free. Of all the wheelhouses, this wheelhouse is in the best shape and will need the least sheet metal replaced.

Driver side front fender.
Front left Wheelhouse, full view.
Front left Wheelhouse, front view.
Front left Wheelhouse, center view.
Front left Wheelhouse, rear view.


I attempted to remove the horn, but the horn adjusting bracket snapped in two. The bolt and nut securing the horn to the adjusting bracket is severely rusted as well. It doesn’t really matter as I doubt the horn is restorable and will more than likely will be replaced. I will, however, clean it up and see if it is salvageable. Also when I was trying to remove the rusted adjusting bracket bolt, I felt and heard a spot weld break on the horn mounting bracket attached to the wheelhouse. This will need to be tacked back to the wheelhouse.

Broken horn bracket.
Horn, back view.
Horn, front view.


Once I had the front driver side fender off I decided to remove the running board on that side as well. All of the bolts attaching it to the heater channel looked really rusted and since the heater channels the running boards are going to be replaced, I didn’t bother with trying to remove them. I just wiggled it up and down until it broke off, which didn’t take much effort.

Driver side running board.
Heater channel under driver side running board.
Heater channel under driver side running board.
Heater channel under driver side running board.
Heater channel under driver side running board.
Heater channel in driver side front wheelhouse.


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Removing the Last Three Fenders

by on Oct.03, 2010, under Disassembly

Finished removing the rear fender on the driver side. Of the three bolts left from the first attempt, I was only able to remove the one on the rear side. The two bottom bolts on the front side were in an area that is severely rusted. The upper one is frozen and so rusted that the head is partially gone, but the fender is rusted away there and not being held by it. The bottom one had barely any metal to attach to and when I had the other bolts free, I just broke the few strands of metal away to free it and leaving it attached to the fender. The bolt that is still attached to the quarter panel can be left there as the quarter panel replacement will include that area as well. This wheelhouse is going to need several panels replaced. One, maybe two panels on the front side and one on the rear side that will include the bumper bracket.

Rear left Wheelhouse, front view.
Rear left Wheelhouse, front view.
Rear left Wheelhouse, front view.
Rear left Wheelhouse, center view.
Rear left Wheelhouse, center view.
Rear left Wheelhouse, rear view.


The passenger side fenders were removed a little easier than the driver side fenders. Since the rear fender had been swapped by the previous owner in the last couple of years, it was much easier to remove. The front fender was a little more difficult with most all of the bolts being very rusty. The only real issue was with the bolt going from the front fender to the running board. It was much too long and the threads were very rusted. After fighting with it and getting it almost all the way off, it snapped in two (of course!). The running board was not attached at all to the heater channels and the rear bolt to the fender was put on just before I purchased it (just to hold it on) and was removed without tools.

The wheelhouse on the front passenger side will need at least one panel replaced on the lower rear section. There is an area that has completely rusted away, leaving a large hole near the firewall. That whole area with any rust will need to be replaced.

Front right wheelhouse, front view.
Front right wheelhouse, center view.
Front right wheelhouse, rear view.
Front right wheelhouse, bottom center view.


On the wheelhouse on the rear passenger side, at least two areas will need replacement panels. The front section will need at least two panels and the rear section will need a panel which includes the bumper bracket.

Rear right wheelhouse, rear view.
Rear right wheelhouse, center view.
Rear right wheelhouse, center view.
Rear right wheelhouse, front view.


With all of the fenders off now, I just need to decide what to do next…


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Sunroof, Door Panels, and Several Dash Components

by on Oct.09, 2010, under Disassembly

Tackled removing the sunroof components today. Most of the pieces are in good shape, considering the years of exposure to the elements. There is almost no rust in the roof structure of the sunroof opening which I find amazing. All of the components will need to be disassembled, cleaned, and painted. All the plastic rollers and maybe the Teflon slides will need to be replaced. Most of them are cracked and worn.

Sunroof, left side view.
Sunroof, front left angle view.
Sunroof, front view.
Sunroof, front right angle view.


The cover hold-down plate on the rear side is very rusted and pitted on the top side and I broke off one of the studs that bolt it down to the roof. Rather than pay $50 for a replacement, I think I will treat the rust and braze a stud back on it. Since this plate is completely covered by the sunroof cover, it doesn’t really matter what it looks like as long as the rust is removed, the metal is treated and protected, and it is suffiently strong enough to anchor the cover in place.

Cover hold-down plate, bottom view.
Cover hold-down plate, broken stud view.


Having never disassembled a sunroof mechanism before, I always wondered why the aluminum guide rails were made in two pieces on each side with a short piece around 6” long on each end. The reason is that the front spring bar is designed so that the rollers and the Teflon slide fit over the top and bottom sides of the channel and when the two smaller pieces of the guide rails are removed, the spring bar can be moved to the gap and removed.

Guide rail, short piece view.
Guide rail, short piece removed.
Guide rail, front spring bar removed.


After removing the sunroof components, I removed both door panels. The door handles and winders are all there, but the chrome plating is pitted. They will either need to be replated or replaced.

Door and winder handles, left door.
Door and winder handles, right door.
Door and winder handles, removed.
Door and winder handles, removed.
Left door, inside view.
Right door, inside view.


I then started removing the dash components. I removed the speedometer, the speedometer guide tube, and the speedometer cable.

Speedometer, cable, and guide tube view.
Speedometer, front view.
Speedometer, rear view.
Speedometer guide tube.


Next, I removed the ignition, the ash tray and holder, and the radio. There appeared to be a mouse nest on top of the radio. I’ll determine later if any of these components are worth keeping and refurbishing. I wonder who Valerie is?

Dash with ignition, ash tray, and radio, front view.
Dash with ignition, ash tray, and radio, rear view.
Ash Tray.
Radio, with mouse nest.


I then removed the glove box. At some point, someone installed a toggle switch in it to control power to the radio. I’m not sure why…

Glove box, front view.
Glove box, rear view.
Glove box, rear view with toggle switch.


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Headlight Switch, Wiper Switch, Fuse Blocks, Hood Catch & Several Other Interior Items

by on Oct.13, 2010, under Disassembly

Today I removed the headlight switch, the windshield wiper switch, the fuse blocks, the hood catch, the hood release cable & knob, the rear view mirror assembly which includes the visors, and the coat hooks & assist straps.

Both the headlight switch and the windshield wiper switch are fastened to the dash with threaded aluminum retaining rings that are notched in the center of the ring. These notches are used by a special tool to tighten and loosen the retaining rings. The tool is hollow, fits over the switch stems, and has two nubs that fit into the notches in the rings to grip and turn it. I don’t have one of these tools, but was able to twist the switches enough to loosen the rings and turn them with my fingers. I will need to purchase or make one of these tools before the switches are placed back in the dash. I’ve seen the tools available for around $20 at Mid America Motorworks. The switches will need to be tested to see if they still work, but the knobs will need to be replaced.

Headlight & wiper switches.


The two fuse blocks have paper inserts that label what each fuse is for. These are dirty and torn and will need to be replaced. It shouldn’t be too hard to scan them, replicate them, and print them out on card stock. The blocks themselves should be fine to use. They just need to be cleaned.

Main fuse block.
Headlight fuse block.


The hood catch is likely too rusted to be usable. I will have it sandblasted first and then decide. The hood release cable will be replaced. The knob is discolored and I cut the cable when disconnecting it from the hood catch thinking it was steel and rusty. It was actually very dirty copper and usable, but the knob needs to be replaced and is included with most cable replacements anyway.

Hood catch, top view.
Hood catch, bottom view.
Hood release cable & knob.


The chrome plating on the rear view mirror is pitted and will have to either be re-plated or I will have to replace the mirror assembly. The housing that surrounds the back of the mirror is aluminum and can be polished to like-new condition. The visors will be replaced and I can dispose of the stems that connect to the mirror as they are included with the visor replacements. One of the screws that fasten the mirror to the body appeared to be either stripped or loose as someone had wrapped fine wire around the threads. I’m going to replace the screws as well, so I’ll see if the problem persists when installing it back on.

Rear view mirror, with visors.
Rear view mirror, visor mounts.
Rear view mirror, front view.
Rear view mirror, back view.


I’m not sure if the coat hooks were original to the car or they were replaced at some point. These are aluminum and typically they would be plastic. I think they were likely an accessory. The original assist straps were replaced with leather straps. They will be discarded and replaced with the original rubber-like straps. I won’t know if the coat hooks are worth keeping until after I clean them.

Assist strap, right side.
Assist strap, left side.
Assist straps.
Coat hooks.


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Speedometer Beauty Ring, Dash Plates, and Glove Box Door

by on Oct.15, 2010, under Disassembly

Today, I removed the remaining dash components – the beauty ring for the speedometer, the left and right dash grills, and the glove box door.

The speedometer beauty ring is held in place by four tabs on it that are bent over the dash opening. The plating on it is pitted and it will either need to be re-plated or replaced. Re-plating may be the better option as the replacement is nearly $30.

Beauty ring, front view.
Beauty ring, rear view.


The dash grills are both fastened to the dash by four tabs that fit through slits in the dash and the tabs are twisted to crimp them against the dash. The tabs were covered with a small amount of a clay-like material, probably to keep them from vibrating loose and rattling.

Right dash grill, front view.
Right dash grill, rear view.
Left dash grill, front view.
Left dash grill, rear view.


Last, I removed the glove box door. At some point, someone installed a pull-knob on the front of the door, most likely to make it easier to open. I will remove it and fill the hole left by the mounting screw. The molding on the glove box door and the dash grills will need to be re-plated or replaced.

Glove box door, front view.
Glove box door, rear view.


The bare dash:

Bare dash, front side.
Bare dash, front side.
Bare dash, front side.
Bare dash, front side.
Bare dash, back side.
Bare dash, back side.
Bare dash, back side.


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Removing the Wiring Harness

by on Oct.17, 2010, under Disassembly

Removed the wiring harness today. I cut the loose wires from the three branches of the harness that were under the front hood, leaving only the area of the harness with the black shielding. I taped on a pull string so that when I pulled the harness through to the engine compartment, I would have a way to pull the new harness through once I get to that point. The harness is routed from the front hood area to the engine compartment through a channel in the roof that is just under the rain gutters. There is ample room in this channel, so I’m hoping to not have too much problem pulling the new harness through it. That will be a while from now, though, and after all the body work and paint are done.


In the trunk, I did notice a section of the wiring harness where the shielding had melted. This could have been part of the electrical problems reported by a previous owner, which was supposedly why it was never driven again.


I also vacuumed out the debris in the front trunk area and the engine compartment. There was plenty of leaves, grass, dirt, and spider webs from all of the years of sitting outside. Once I had cleaned the half-inch thick debris off of the engine, I pulled out the dip stick to see if it showed any oil. It was full to the line and the oil looked very clean. Of course, I’m guessing that all the sludge has settled to the bottom of the engine in the last 25 years. I was told that this was a rebuilt engine and that it wasn’t driven long after the rebuild. It is definitely not the original engine as the engine number doesn’t match the number provided by Volkswagen.


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Removing Door Components

by on Nov.07, 2010, under Disassembly

I removed all of the components from the driver side door. I think this would be a challenging set of processes even if the car wasn’t 50 years old. The way the parts fit in and the specific order in which everything needs to be removed indicates that more than likely, VW didn’t really expect these items to be replaced very often. The sharp edges on many parts and the way they have to be routed through the door to get them out signals the difficulty ahead once the painting is done and the doors need to be reassembled again with the new and refurbished parts. I can envision many tense moments attempting to get it back together without scratching the new paint. Great care will need to be taken.

First to be removed was the window glass and regulator. I unbolted the regulator and pulled the glass down to the bottom of the door. I didn’t realize that the regulator arm just slips out of the lift channel on the bottom of the glass and removed them together, which is a little more difficult. Next were the felt channels, the inner and outer scrapers, the division bar and rear felt channel mount, and the vent window and its seal, post mount, and vent latch plate. All of the rubber seals and scrapers were brittle and rock-hard. All of these will be replaced with new components. I also removed the outer door handle.


Next to be removed were the door remote, remote rod, and latch mechanism. The remote rod is attached to the latch mechanism with a pin and C-clip. It took me a little while to figure out just how I could access the C-clip to remove it since these pieces are mated inside the door where there is little space. After shifting them downward, I was able to expose the connection and remove the clip. I’ll have to remember this when reassembling.


The last thing I removed was the check rod that keeps the door from opening too far. It attaches to the body with a pin and retaining ring.


I repeated the same processes for the passenger side door and now both doors are disassembled. I did discover a couple of issues with the passenger door. First, there were a couple of large dents below the outer door handle which made it difficult to remove the door locking mechanism. Secondly, when removing the window glass, the glass came down at a sharp angle towards the outside of the door and hit the door skin long before it was down far enough for it to come all the way out and clear the guides. I’ll address this when doing the body work and I am wondering if maybe the door is bent.

I also attempted to loosen the large screws that attach the doors to the body. I purchased an impact driver on ebay for about $15 that included the #4 Phillips bit that is required. I started with the driver side door and was able to loosen all eight screws, although the bottom four screws were a little difficult to loosen. On the passenger door, the top four loosened easily as did the top two on the bottom. After much hammering, one of the bottom screws loosened, but the other would not. The area that the bottom hinge attaches to (the A pillar) is severely rusted and will need to be replaced. Because it is so rusted, it gives way to the hammer blows and makes the blows less effective. I soaked the hinge and screw in penetrating oil, waited a day, and was able to get it to turn maybe two complete turns. I sprayed a little more penetrating oil on the screw, waited another day, and was finally able to loosen it enough to turn it by hand and remove it completely. I estimate that it took at least 100 blows to remove that one screw. I'm sure my neighbors are happy it's finally removed as well…


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Removing Gas Tank

by on Nov.17, 2010, under Disassembly

I removed the gas tank today. There are just four bolts holding it to the body and they all loosened easily. Once the bolts were removed, I disconnected the hose connecting the tank to the fuel line.


After I lifted the tank, I got my first view of the area under it. Everything here is covered with road grime and flaking undercoating. I also noticed that there was no seal between the tank and the body. Either it had disintegrated over the years or it was removed previously and not replaced.


Next I unscrewed the reserve valve from the bottom of the tank. The long brass inlet tube was broken off and missing, as was the copper filter screen. The missing parts were not inside the tank, so it’s possible someone took the tank off and dumped the broken parts out of it. It would have worked without those two pieces, but would have lost the functionality of the reserve tank. Since there is no fuel gauge, the whole function of the valve is to let you know when you are down to the last gallon in the tank. When the longer inlet tube is missing, you are basically just allowing fuel to flow from the tank as if you are in reserve mode whether you have it positioned on normal or on reserve. Also, without the copper screen over the inlet tubes, you would also lose the filtering capabilities. Maybe the longer inlet tube was clogged and was broken off trying to repair it. Who knows? I will have to clean and rebuild this valve and will drill out both inlet tubes, solder in new tubes, replace the gasket inside it, and replace the protective rubber cover on the outside that protects the moving parts of the valve. I will also replace the copper filter screen that goes over the inlet tubes.


I also removed the inspection covers in the front trunk and the rear tunnel.


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Preparing for Engine Removal

by on Nov.20, 2010, under Disassembly

I started preparing for the removal of the engine. I disconnected the accelerator cable from the carburetor and removed the accelerator return spring seat, the return spring sleeve, and the return spring. I also removed the conduit which feeds the accelerator cable through the fan shroud.


I removed the top two engine bolts – actually, the one remaining top bolt as the right side bolt was already removed at some point. I then removed the air cleaner and the breast plate (engine tin) that fits between the engine and the rear apron. The breast plate really needs to be out of the way when dropping the engine, but the air cleaner was removed just to have it out of the way so it wouldn’t get damaged and so that I wouldn’t have to raise the body up as high to get the engine out. The air cleaner is the top most part of the engine.


The rest of the preparation to remove the engine requires raising the body and getting underneath it and I’m going to start that another day.

I started removing the emergency brake handle components. I removed the adjusting nuts on the cables where they connect to the handle and tried to remove the handle assembly, but the pin was rusted and frozen inside the handle. I sprayed it with penetrating oil and will try it again later.


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Removing the Engine

by on Dec.08, 2010, under Disassembly

I jacked up the rear of the car and set it down on the top position of my floor stands. I got under the car and removed the bottom two engine nuts. The fuel line was missing and the heater cables and choke cables were already disconnected, so there wasn’t anything else that needed to be or removed or disconnected. I placed the jack under the engine and raised it until it was barely lifting it. I then wiggled the engine back to clear the main transmission shaft and the bottom engine studs and found that there wasn’t enough space to pull it back and clear the shaft and studs. The engine was hitting the rear apron and still needed another ½”- ¾“. No matter how much I pulled back, there just wasn’t enough space. After dropping the engine a little, I was able to get it to clear the rear apron, but it required quite a bit of wiggling and rocking it around. I also had to turn the distributor to get the vacuum unit out of the way and remove the distributor cap as well. Once it was lowered down to the floor, I set it on a couple of short 2’’x 4” wood scraps.


Because my jack wasn’t able to lift the body high enough to get the engine out directly under the rear apron, I had to lift it as high as it would go and slide it out on the side, next to the rear driver side wheel. Not the best way to do this, but the only option I had with my tools. I plan to make a dolly to put the engine on so that it can easily be moved around the garage. With limited space, I constantly have to move things around to make space to work and will need an easy way to move it.


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Preparing for Removing the Body from the Chassis

by on Dec.24, 2010, under Disassembly

I began removing the bolts attaching the body to the chassis. I started on the driver side and immediately realized what a chore this was going to be. These is so much serious rust where these bolts are located and they are in the areas that have been most exposed to moisture for the last 50 years – especially the last 25 or so years where it’s just been sitting out in the elements.

I went through and loosened each of the 14mm bolts on the driver side. On two of them, I broke the heads off and the others just tore away the metal that they were bolted onto and they would just spin. I used a mini hacksaw, which is basically a handle that holds one end and the middle of a hacksaw blade leaving around 4” of the other end protruding, to cut through the spinning bolts. I used this type of tool with the blade sticking out so I could slide it between the floor pan and the body gasket to cut the bolts. It’s a lot of work, but was the best I could come up with, with the tools I had on hand. I cut the remaining 14mm bolts on the driver side.


The three 17mm bolts on this side were another story. The two bolts on the front that bolt into the front of the heater channel, I was only able to remove 1 bolt. The other one just tore through the bottom plate of the frame head and shouldn’t hinder the body from being lifted away. The head of the 17mm bolt on the rear shock tower was so rusted that it rounded out and I was unable to turn it. With a hacksaw, I cut though the head and then drove a large screwdriver tip through it like a wedge and broke the head off in two pieces. One side done…


On the passenger side, it went much easier. The first 14mm bolt I tried, I was able to remove it completely. It was the one and only floor pan bolt to come out in one piece. The rest of the 14mm bolts on this side ripped out immediately when trying to remove them and would just spin like the ones on the other side. This side is more rusted than the driver side. Since there was so little metal left on the bottom of the heater channels where they bolted on, I didn’t see the need to cut them. With the three 17mm bolts on this side, the front two came out with much work and the head of rear bolt on the shock tower twisted off immediately. This side is also now done.

There are six bolts under the rear seat area — four 14mm and two 17mm. Since these were all inside and more protected from moisture, they all came out fairly easy.


The last two bolts I removed were in the front trunk that attach the body to the top of the front axle. These were protected enough that they were easy to remove.


Lastly, I removed the steering wheel, disconnected the steering shaft from the steering coupler, and removed the steering column. Removing the steering wheel was fairly simple although I did have to purchase a socket to fit the large 27mm nut that attachess the steering wheel to the steering shaft. Since a 1-1/16″ socket is very close to the same size and several dollars cheaper than the 27mm, I just bought the 1-1/16″ socket instead. Once the nut was loosened and turned most of the way off, the steering wheel came loose with a moderate amount of wiggling and pulling. I left the nut on so that when the wheel broke free, I didn’t hit myself in the face and chest with it. With a few turns, the nut was off and I was able to easily pull the steering wheel off safely.

Disconecting the steering shaft from the steering coupler disc was a bit more difficult. The bolts holding the steering shaft flange to the rubber coupling disc were not only caked with road grime, but were severely rusted. Rather than fight with getting them off, I decided to use a cutting wheel and cut them off.


With the steering column and shaft disconnected, all connections from the chassis to the body have been removed and I should be able to separate them. Before I do that, I want to design and build a frame to set the body on while I do the body work. I want the frame to be high enough to be able to roll the chassis under and back out as needed and wide enough to be clear of the wheels. I also want to brace the door openings to maintain spacing and alignment and to keep the roof from giving way and buckling. The heater channels that normally maintain this spacing are severely rusted and I don’t trust that they will be able to provide this support. I might be wrong about this, but am not willing to find out!

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Bracing the Door Pillars

by on Dec.30, 2010, under Disassembly

As I stated before, I want to brace the door pillars to maintain their approximate positions and also to support the bottom of the body and keep the roof from buckling. With the heater channels in such poor condition, I don’t trust that they will be able to provide adequate support once the body and chassis are separated and the body is supporting its own weight. I also want the braces to be adjustable so that when I am replacing the heater channels, I can adjust the position of the pillars if needed.

To accomplish this, I decided to use ½” EMT conduit, ½” conduit hangers, and 1” U-bolts. I attached a conduit hanger about 7” above the heater channel on each of the A and B pillars with a #10 self-tapping sheet metal screw. I then cut a length of conduit to go from the A to B pillars on each side. Before inserting the conduit into the hangers, I wrapped the areas going into the hangers with a strip of rubber non-slip shelf liner to help the hanger grip the conduit. I inserted the conduit into the hangers and tightened the clamping screws. I then cut a length of conduit to go from the left A pillar to the right A pillar, and from the left B pillar to the right B pillar. I attached these pieces to the ends of the previously installed pieces with the 1” U-bolts. It is surprisingly strong and the materials only cost around $12.


To lighten the body a bit, I removed the doors, the front hood, and the engine lid. I shouldn’t need them for a while and will reinstall them as needed. I am leaving the front windshield, the rear windshield, and the quarter windows installed for now to strengthen the body and maintain their respective openings. I’ll remove them when I get around to working on the metal in those areas.

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Building Body Supports for Body Work

by on Jan.01, 2011, under Disassembly

To build the frame to support the body for the body repair, I re-purposed some of the lumber I used to secure the car in the trailer while transporting it home from North Dakota. What I built are basically tall and wide sawhorses – tall enough to hold the body so that the chassis can be rolled in and out underneath it and wide enough so that there is adequate room to clear the wheels on both sides. I just have the one available parking space in my garage for this project and the chassis and body will need to occupy this one space for the duration. I haven’t determined just how I’m going to get the body on the sawhorses just yet, but will figure out something soon.


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Separating the Body from the Chassis

by on Jan.05, 2011, under Disassembly

I attempted to lift the body at various points to make sure that all of the bolts were completely detached and discovered that two bolts on the driver side were still grasping well enough to keep the body from separating at those points. One was the rear most 14mm bolt going through the floor pan into the heater channel. I drilled out the center of the head until it fell off. The other bolt was the one 17mm bolt at the very front that goes through the frame head into the heater channel that I couldn’t remove earlier. I thought that this area was rusted enough that it would just pull through when the body was lifted, but I was wrong. I used a floor jack to lift up the body a little and create a gap so that I could get a hacksaw blade in between the heater channel and the floor pan. I cut the bolt and was then able lift the body on all sides.


Finally, I’m ready to lift the body onto the supports I built. After much thought, I decided to lift the rear end first. I partially threaded in the two front body bolts that attach it to the front axle. This not only keeps the body from sliding forward when being lifted, but acts as a pivot point as well.


I laid the rear support on its side with the top beam up against the rear tires and the legs facing toward the front of the car. I then used a small portion of a wood frame to jack up the back end. This raised it up around 8”, but was not high enough to get the top beam over the transmission and onto the wheel. I lifted the support as high as it would go and held it in place with bungee cords. I added a couple of blocks to my jack and lifted up the frame again. This lifted it up high enough to set the top beam on the top of the tires. I lowered the jack and let the body rest on the top beam. I then grabbed the rear apron, lifted the body up, and had my wife and son stand the support upright. I then set the body down on the support.

After removing the two front body bolts and setting the front support on its side against the front wheels, I lifted the body by the front apron and had my wife and son stand the support upright. I now have the body on the supports where it will live for quite some time. Now the body work begins!


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Disassembling the Heater Mufflers

by on Feb.14, 2011, under Disassembly

Disassembling the Heater Mufflers

I disassembled the heater mufflers today. These are used to muffle the engine noise so that it doesn’t come through the heater channels. This year (1960) is the last year that these were used. On the outside, is a vinyl cover that is wrapped over the entire muffler and the incoming tubes. Under the vinyl cover, is a 1/4” to 3/8” layer of cotton batting. Under the batting, is the muffler housing. The housing is a two-piece unit that is held together by two tabs on each side that are bent down to retain the top part to the bottom. The top piece comes off, but the bottom piece is welded to the tube coming through the rear cross member on one side and to the heater channel on the other side. Inside the muffler housing is a cartridge that consists of a cylinder of galvanized steel mesh that is wrapped with approximately 3/4” of tightly packed cotton batting which is then covered in a single layer of burlap. As the sound bounces through the pipe towards the heater channel, it is absorbed by the cotton.


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