Archive for the ‘Project’ Category

1972 Super Beetle front end rebuild.

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

I got my first Super Beetle back in high school. I immediately rebuilt the front end. There was no rubber left on the control arm bushings. A number of years later I wrecked that beetle in San Fransisco. Soon there after I procured my new beetle. Slowly I have been upgrading and repairing it.
About a year ago I purchased the necessary parts for rebuilding the front end. This last weekend my friend, my friend’s girlfriend, my dad, and I set about actually installing them.
Saturday started the festivities off. The first order of business? The muffler had to go. I had been driving my car around with a dead muffler for far too long. The install was uneventful but the effects were profound. I actually was not planing on replacing my muffler. I thought I could just replace the crush rings but on closer inspection there was a hole that could not be repaired. We had to hop down to the Buggy House and purchase a replacement.
After we got back we bolted on the new muffler and we started on the next task replacing the voltage regulator. This is pretty straight forward task. We pulled out a couple of bolts. Then we positioned the new regulator near the old one and carefully transferred the wires, one by one, to their new home. Soon the old regulator was in the waste bin and the regulator was bolted in place.
We grabbed a quick lunch and then started on the passenger side strut. I loosened the 22mm nut that keeps the strut assembly together being mindful not to take it all the way off as that would result in calamity. Next I removed the top three 14mm bolts. Then we were on to removing the three 15mm bolts that secure the strut assembly to the brake assembly and ball joint. With those bolts removed we moved on to disconnecting the brake line and removing the 19mm nut that secures the ball joint to the control arm. We proceeded to separate the strut assembly from the brake assembly by carefully rocking the strut forward and back, left to right and then it finally gave way. After 30+ odd years of service plenty of rust had worked it’s way in to that joint. With the strut out of the car work began in earnest. My dad worked on rebuilding the strut while my friend and I worked on getting the rest of the suspension pieces out of the car. We carefully removed the 19mm castle nut that secures the control arm to the torsion bar. Soon we were banging on it with a hammer after we got the nut off. In the end we dismounted the entire bar and used a vise to aid us in the separation of the control arm from the torsion bar. However there was a bit of a hang up when my dad was removing the torsion bar from the car. One of the 13mm bolts that clamps the bar to the car snapped off. My dad quickly started drilling the bolt out and was soon using a extractor to try and get the bolt out. Unfortunately the bolt was having none of that. My friend and I quickly set off to find a different extractor set. We went through a multitude of them trying to find one that worked. We new finding a set of extractors would take a while so we persuaded the control arms off of the torsion bar and brought them to the only shop in town that was open on a Sunday. The bushing on a beetle control arm are press fit. So while the arms were getting new bushings we went to the mall for lunch and to by a set of extractors. We found a set and picked up the control arms after remitting a small fortune. We quickly went work on mounting the struts back into the car. My dad held the strut in place while I put the 14mm nuts back in place. Next my friend and I attached the strut assembly back on to the brake assembly with a new ball joint. My dad did not have any luck with the new extractor set so we went off to find another set. We went to Kragen. We found a set and went to McDonald’s for a quick drink and made our way back to Dad. My dad worked on that damn bolt for a bit longer and quickly decided that the bolt wasn’t going anywhere. So it was off to our favorite Chinese goods importer. We searched high and low finally settled on set of tap and dies. With new tool set in hand we very carefully enlarged the hole to the appropriate size and then proceeded to tap the hole. I thought for sure the old bolt would give way but it was so rusted in there it was able to resist the pressures of being taped. With the hole tapped we quickly mounted the torsion bar back in place with new bushings of course. Next we secured the control arm on the torsion bar with the 19mm castle nut. Then we skillfully attached the ball joint to the control arm with a 19mm lock nut. With the lock nut in place we then proceeded to put in the 17mm camber adjustment bolt. This is not an easy task… We had to push on the whole assembly to get the control arm in to position. On the opposite side we used a load tie down to help force the control arm into place. Soon however the whole thing was bolted back together and torques double checked. The only thing left was to give it a quick test run. I took it on a quick run down my street and it preformed admirably.

How to make J-tubes from Factory Heater boxes

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

So let me start with some back story… while I was working at Hurricane Electric I had a lot of idle time and one day during some idle time I happen to have been browsing around online. Give that Hurricane Electric is an internet company this would not be that unusual. I came across Back Yard Metal Casting, I read the post about what got him started in Metal Casting and then, proceeded to read everything else on his site. I stored the idea metal casting into my someday file and forgot all about it. I’ve been slowly building a small (Small is a relative term, in this case “small” is small in comparison to a small full service car shop sans lift {in the someday file}) collection of tools. A few months ago I purchased a collection of air tools and a large air tank. I got board one day and worked on my car. I happen to have some heater boxes laying around in my back from when I swapped my engine into my car. I’ve been collecting parts for a performance engine for a number years and have just recently got my brand new engine into my garage. This engine being a performance engine I wanted to run without heater boxes. I thought to myself “A heater box most have a J-tube in it right?” So I busted out the grinder and went to town on the backyard fresh heater box.

Plump and ripe for the picking.

For forty years this heater box provided warm air to cold passangers, it has no idea what is about to happen.


After the carnage you are left with a nice J-tube trapped inside a cold cast aluminum fined tomb. We have to save it! In this photo you can this heater boxes cousin that has already gone through the fires of hell and has come back free from the evil aluminum tomb.
You wouldn't believe how much lighter this makes these things...

Naked heater box core post cut off wheel

Now I placed the freshly picked entombed J-tube in the fires of Hades for about an hour. I did both sides in one evening.

Fires of Hades meet entombed J-tube.

It's a wonderous sight to behold.

Soon you’ll have hot molten aluminum dripping into your ash catcher on your Weber so be sure to clean it out between castings…

I wonder if I can make killing with these on ebay?

Winter wonderland or ?

So now all you got to do is wait for it to cool clean them up with a wire brush and get them ceramic coated… I’ll update when I get mine back.

Nixie Tube Clock

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

So back on Feb 24 I was browsing around online. I came across some information about Nixie Tubes. I had read about them before, but this time I was a bit more intrigued for some unknown reason. Well suffice to say I ordered a kit from glowingtech.com.

My order was received on March 5 around 2 pm. I was finished by about 2am March 6th. Mind I had work at 3am…

Here is a video clip of the initial power on:

I was not very happy with the mismatched set of Nixie Tubes that was provided with my order, so I went to the eFlea market aka eBay. Unfortunately it took the better part of 3 weeks to get my order from Russia. However there was a method to my madness. I happened to get a beautiful matched set of tubes. Which I promptly dropped one of…

Yes that is twine *and* butcher's paper

This is the awesome box it came in. I really should have showed you the inside but I was a little excited about getting this thing finished… The tubes where packed very professionally and survived the voyage over to our humble US of A, that is until I dropped one…

Yep my brand new broken nixie tube

Yep my brand new broken nixie tube

Well after carefully removing the old tubes and cleaning the holes for re installation, I skilfully installed my new set of tubes. Fortunately for me one of the mismatched tubes matched my new set I got from Russia.

I know, I know I really should have taken a picture showing the beautiful matched set of tubes but alas I was too excited to be finally finishing this project to be bother with appeasing the internets at large. You will have to be satisfied with candid shots from the case construction.

Two short pieces and two long pieces make what?

Two short pieces and two long pieces make what?

I worked with my dad to come up with a design for this box. After cutting the pieces I started assembling the box in my buddy’s wood shop, with his help of course…

Here is a candid of the bottem plate with threaded holes.

This was not easy to create. Without the help of my Buddy and his drill press it would have been impossible…

Wow look at that wonderful aliengment!

Ahh the fruits of all that labour… As you can tell it is far from finished…

As you can see the tubes fit just right. They are held in there with the use of no glue. The holes are just cut that close to the size of the tubes.

You have no idea how hard it was to create that finish...

You have no idea how hard it was to create that finish...

Here is a pic of the finish on the Clock. It took many hours to create that look. I really think it was worth the effort. What do you think?

Now what else do I have up my sleeve?

Thats right LEDs!

Thats right LEDs!

Yep! Those are bi-color Leds. I busted out my soldering gun and went to town on them. I used 560ohm resistors if you where going to ask… That is telephone style, solid core wire. I used an on-off-on switch so the end user could choose to illuminate the clock in awesome blue or whimpy red. In fact the red was so whimpy I didn’t even grace it with a picture.

I love this pic. Grabs phone. Apply as wall paper? YES!

I love this pic. Grabs phone. Apply as wall paper? YES!

Here she is in the from the top view. See the picture description for more details.

Yes I know I screwed the pouch on the gluing...

Yes I know I screwed the pouch on the gluing...

Can you guess this is my first attempt at glueing acrylic pieces together? With the leds on in a dark room it looks pretty awesome so I’m happy.

Mission Acomplished!

Mission Acomplished!

Well here you go. The clock is finished and the recipient is ecstatic. Mainly I think she was happy I delivered after weeks of telling her I was waiting on parts…

Eventually I will upload I clip of the clock in the new owner’s home…

If anyone would like more information on this build don’t hesitate, please contact me. I may even send you my template I made for cutting the holes for the Nixie Tubes…