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Funky Green Panels for Beetles?
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engineerscott
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:06 pm    Post subject: Funky Green Panels for Beetles? Reply with quote

I know that some of TheSamba members know and deal with the owner of Klassic Fabrications, the company that makes the "Funky Green Panels" for classic VW Buses. I'm just wondering if he has ever been approached or had discussions about branching out into making quality reproduction panels for VW Beetles (in particular pre-68 model years). As most in the VW community are aware, there simply are no good quality replacement panels for many (really most) sheet metal body parts for the VW Beetle. This is sort of crazy if you think about it, one of the highest production cars in automotive history and add on the fact that a relatively limited number of body panels will cover a wide range of model years. For goodness sakes, you can't even get something simple like decent quality replacement fenders built in the right gauge metal and of the proper shape. Crazy. Sure, the VW is in many cases still a relatively cheap "antique" car, but that is changing rapidly for the pre '68 model years and the 1950's model years are already highly collectible and priced accordingly (I won't even talk about a 40's or earlier vintages).

Now, I can understand the mindset of wanting to do a limited number of things in a business and doing them very well, but there is nothing that says you have to loose focus or sacrifice quality when you branch out a bit. Plus, there are certain advantages broadening your product line can bring about. The potential number of customers for quality Beetle body panels is quite a bit larger than the market for quality Bus panels, simply because of the respective numbers of vehicles shipped. Yes, the Bus panel market was more underserved (there were some panels you could not buy new in any quality). The repro panel market for Beetles isn't underserved in the same way, but it is definitely poorly served. Not every Beetle owner is willing to pay extra for quality replacement panels. But if only 10% of people repairing or restoring Beetles are willing to pay more for a quality product (a percentage I think reasonable), then the market is large.

The advantages of branching out into reproducing quality panels for the Beetle have mainly to do with economies of scale. If branching into this market triples or quadruples the total volume of panels you ship in a year you can afford the capital outlay for more automated machinery that would reduce the manufacturing cost of everything you make and increase the quality of the product as well. This would be a win - win for both the Bus and the Beetle community.

I think that quality Type 1 reproduction panels will eventually happen. As the number of good restorable cars go down the price will go up and the guys laying out big dollars to have their Bug restored are simply not going to accept crooked headlamps and turn signals. The availability of decent repairable OG fenders is declining and the time required to fix some of these "repairable" fenders (fenders that 10 years ago would have been scraped) will go up and it will just make so much economic sense that someone will move into the market. I think we are beginning to see the start of this already with the recent availability of original gauge floorpans. Seems like Klassic Fabrications would be well positioned to get there first.


Last edited by engineerscott on Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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joshbuchan
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bought a pair of rear inner fender/bumper mounts from wolf parts and am very happy with the product, only slight bit of tweeking to be perfect.

quality is out there on some parts............you just gotta pay for it Wink
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smuenchrath
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have talked to Gerson previously about creating sheet metal for Ghias (in particular Heater Channels). A few months ago he had created a few really nice samples, but i haven't seen anything new advertised on his website.

Perhaps he would be interested producing beetle parts...
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engineerscott
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think you can extrapolate from a set of bumper mounts to saying that the quality is out there on most Type 1 panels. It's not. The situation has gotten a little better (you can actually buy replacement floor panels that are made of the original gauge metal and mostly fit), however the vast majority of body panels are junk, no matter how much you pay for them. The Type 1 fender situation is the most obvious. Go find the most expensive reproduction fenders and you will find that the metal is noticeably thinner than the original and the headlight buckets and horn grills are set at a different height from the original. So much so that if you need to replace one front fender with a new reproduction you have to replace both sides just so the headlights look even. Not to mention that the roll over bead at the edge is just wrong.

Last edited by engineerscott on Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It amazes me that VW themselves haven't re-entered the air cooled parts market.
They certainly aren't setting the world on fire with record sales of their ho-hum water cooled buggies, they could easily make up for lost sales $$ by selling type 1 and 2 parts once again. I'd rapidly pay a premium price for an OG 57 fender with the VW logo stamped into it! I'd even wait a few weeks for it to be special ordered in from Germany. Somewhere they have all of the specs for the dies and every other part on the car. Heck, in some old warehouse they may have the original dies rusting away! Even if they had to retool, if they did it right they'd make a small fortune world wide plus probably put WW and others virtually out of business overnight.
Just as long as they kept an eye towards quality they would really need not worry about price for I know that most of us would pay it.....IF we were getting a true quality OG part.

Dave
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Gerson Premium Member
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am gearing up, "technology wise" to do the early beetle stuff, and the post 67 bus stuff...like I said, I need to invest in a way to make my dies faster, I have the technology identified, I am now in the speaking with several manufacturers, looking for the best deal.....I am on it... Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy.........I totally agree with you guys on the beetle metal issue......
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that's not patina, that's fucking rust man!!!!

we (klassicfab) make the funky green panels...........
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smuenchrath
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't forget the Ghia metal too Gerson! Very Happy
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Gerson Premium Member
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

and the ghia metal issue...and the type 3 metal issue, and the.... Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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that's not patina, that's fucking rust man!!!!

we (klassicfab) make the funky green panels...........
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joshbuchan
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

engineerscott wrote:
I don't think you can extrapolate from a set of bumper mounts to saying that the quality is out there on most Type 1 panels. It's not. The situation has gotten a little better (you can actually buy replacement floor panels that are made of the original gauge metal and mostly fit), however the vast majority of body panels are junk, no matter how much you pay for them. The Type 1 fender situation is the most obvious. Go find the most expensive reproduction fenders and you will find that the metal is noticeably thinner than the original and the headlight buckets and horn grills are set at a different height from the original. So much so that if you need to replace one front fender with a new reproduction you have to replace both sides just so the headlights look even. Not to mention that the roll over bead at the edge is just wrong.


who the hell said I was extrapotating anything Question wasn't talking about fenders
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engineerscott
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

smuenchrath wrote:
I have talked to Gerson previously about creating sheet metal for Ghias (in particular Heater Channels). A few months ago he had created a few really nice samples, but i haven't seen anything new advertised on his website.

Perhaps he would be interested producing beetle parts...


Yes, heater channels for the Type 1 are sort of a sore spot as well. There are some O.K. replacement heater channels but the vent holes are in the wrong place for some years and I think the sheet metal gauge is a little on the thin side. Glad to hear that Gerson is contemplating getting into this market. Fenders and heater channels would be where I would start for the Type 1. I suspect that fenders are probably one of the harder parts to fab the tooling for, all those compound curves have got to be a headache. Heater channels are probably a little easier since the lines are a little more rectilinear and regular. Almost anyone trying to do a quality restoration ends up griping about these two parts, amongst others.
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engineerscott
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gerson wrote:
I am gearing up, "technology wise" to do the early beetle stuff, and the post 67 bus stuff...like I said, I need to invest in a way to make my dies faster, I have the technology identified, I am now in the speaking with several manufacturers, looking for the best deal.....I am on it... Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy.........I totally agree with you guys on the beetle metal issue......


Have you looked at sheet metal hydroforming (i.e. hydromechanical deep drawing) as a technology to fab these sort of body panels? It is supposed to be cheaper since it requires fewer tools/dies compared to traditional stamping. That might be offset by the initial set up cost of buying the machinery though. I was involved on a project where the mechanical team was looking at this technology to run some parts with some complex curves and it looked promising at the time (about 9 years ago). It looked particularly good at intermediate volumes (between 1k and 10k pieces per month for the particular part we were looking at). We never got to the point of making parts with this process since we switched to a die cast design for other reasons.
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Gerson Premium Member
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, we looked at hydroforming, the main problem is the upfront costs, a big enough machine to do all the big panels is cost prohibitive at this point....we actually make our own machinery, which ends up being very economical...we are trying a new way of making our dies right now, which should wind up being quicker, and more economical....
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that's not patina, that's fucking rust man!!!!

we (klassicfab) make the funky green panels...........
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David
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any chance you could look into pre -55 Beetle floor pans (whole and half).
I'm sure there are people *worldwide* that need these...
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Gerson Premium Member
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we will start with the pre 55 floor pans and
early heater tubes.....what do you guys think?????
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that's not patina, that's fucking rust man!!!!

we (klassicfab) make the funky green panels...........
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coW
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gerson wrote:
I think we will start with the pre 55 floor pans and
early heater tubes.....what do you guys think?????


I wish I had an early bug now (actually wish I had an early bug, regardless Smile )
That's a great start!
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54ovsemi
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:32 am    Post subject: Order #0000001 Reply with quote

Gerson wrote:
I think we will start with the pre 55 floor pans and
early heater tubes.....what do you guys think?????



I'll be the first in line to place an order. I need Pans and Heater Channels, both sides, for my 54 Semaphore Oval. When can I expect delivery? Use my order #0000001...........
Send me a PM for billing information and shipping address. Laughing

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Gerson Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ok, let's get going here.. Very Happy Very Happy you can expect delivery 2 weeks from now (just kidding)... Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy .......we are on it, I need to get a hold of some of these early parts to use as patterns....
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that's not patina, that's fucking rust man!!!!

we (klassicfab) make the funky green panels...........
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LouisB
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about some quality lower door hinge area sections. I know Hookys in Europe makes some but would be nice to have a US source.

--louis
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will take a look at the part, see how much labor is involved making the die....
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that's not patina, that's fucking rust man!!!!

we (klassicfab) make the funky green panels...........
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beetleboy58
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I brought this up a year ago and the site crashed- good to see it talked about again!
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