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Wade Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:57 pm

Hello all,
Iíve owned my í56 Wolfsburg Deluxe for 33 years now. I bought it in the winter of 1988, fixed it up over the summers of í89 and í90, and have kept it with me through all of lifeís twists and turns. I love my bus.

I built a new engine for it in 2008, then about 3 years ago I embarked on a project to re-do the entire drivetrain, including front end, brakes, steering, transmission, wheels, etc. Basically I wanted all the running gear to be like new. (Or better).

Since I love the build threads I see here on The Samba, and I took a bunch of photos of this most recent work, I thought Iíd do a bit of a retroactive build thread. Maybe the photos and explanations will help someone down the road with a project theyíre working on.

To start, here are a few photos of the bus as I got it in í88. It had previously been semi-ďrestoredĒ with a later nose panel and a new drivers side rear corner. By the time it came into my possession it had been re-crashed with the nose and rear both pushed in, and the interior pretty much non-existent.






I did some rudimentary bodywork, pulling the nose out, replacing the drivers door, and filling in the remaining dents with bondo or fiberglass. I then painted it in my front yard. Itís definitely the work of a 19 year old kid but it still looks OK so many years later(albeit in a non-stock color) so Iíll leave a full body restoration for another day.






This was its first Kelly Park, in "91 I think.




Pics of the drivetrain teardown to come...

Miskeroo Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:59 pm

Awesome bus.
You did a good job preserving all these years, keeping it on the road✌️
Have fun with it

Almanor23 Fri Jan 15, 2021 5:47 pm

This one should be fun to watch, and your story is very similar to my own.

I bought my '61 23 Window in summer of 88, and spent about two years to get it 'done' or what I considered to be done for a twenty something kid with the main emphasis of driving my bus. Pretty sure I was at that Kelley Park show in '91, so if you see any pics of a blue and white bullet 23 with Porsche Fuch wheels in your picture stash, pls post it up!

Like you, I kept my bus all these years and have just about completed my driveline update.

Wade Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:08 pm

Thanks guys!

Almanor, I may very well have photos of your bus. I'll go digging and see what I can find. :-)

Now to 2018. The first step in the driveline rebuild was to drop the engine. No problem since I've done that a ton before. Then put the bus up on stands where it would reside for the next 2.5 years.






Next was removing the steering column and box. Carefully removed the steering wheel, then unbolted the yoke from the dash tray. After unbolting the drag link and the steering box I jacked the front end sky high for the removal. It turns out that Wolfsburg busses have an extra removable floor section around the column that allows you to remove the column much easier, but I didn't know that yet. :-).






Got the column out and marveled at how grimy it was. Time for a rebuild.



Regards,
-Wade

German Krew Fri Jan 15, 2021 10:56 pm

:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

LAGrunthaner Sat Jan 16, 2021 7:01 am

Wow Wade, great way to start your thread. I hope Everett put's it here:
Split Bus Projects/Builds and Preservations
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=627245

Wade what is the build date? I hope it's on my birthday.

Wow you painted it in your driveway, amazing.





Wade Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:18 am

Hello Linda.
I'm afraid that I've never acquired any build documentation for my bus so I don't know it's exact birth date, but with a Vin in the 20-166-xxx range and a chassis number of 165xxx, it would seem to be a Dec '55 or Jan '56 build. I'll have to do some additional investigation to confirm.

And I will say that the driveway paint job was fun. This was the second bus I'd painted in that driveway and other than an unexpected front yard fumigation for my downwind neighbors, it came out pretty darn good. :-)


OK, so on to the next step in the dismantling process - brakes, shifter and front beam.

I began by removing the drums, shoes/cylinders and backing plates. No problem.
Note: You may notice that this isn't a '56 front beam. Back before my ownership, likely when the nose and rear corner were replaced, the previous owner also installed a '67 front beam as well as a '67 trans. (More on the trans later). Anyway, the front end has always functioned well so I'll be rebuilding it and reinstalling.







After the brakes, I rolled the jack under the beam and began unbolting, apparently without doing my necessary homework as I didn't realize that I couldn't lower it out with the front shift rod in place. Doh! So, after running into that problem with the beam balanced on the jack, I got to dealing with the shift rod.








As has been well documented here on The Samba, the front shift rod coupler can oftentimes be corroded as if it was welded. I was in this position and getting that thing off was an annoying and messy job. I used a die grinder with a metal cutting disc and could barely get it wedged up there next to my heater tube. It wasn't pretty, but eventually I cut through enough of one side of the coupler such that I could chisel it off. Luckily, when all was said and done, the actual rods didn't suffer any damage.





And then the beam was out. At that point both the front beam and the steering box went up to Jeff Gagnon in Oregon for full rebuilds. They came out great, which you'll see in a later installment.





Cheers,
-Wade

LAGrunthaner Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:56 pm

Wow I bet your knuckles took the beating. Is that how they come out Wade? I hope I never have to remove mine.

Wade Mon Jan 18, 2021 12:17 pm

Next up, removing the trans.




The previous owner had cut the original nose mount out of the torsion housing and rigged up a metal plate to attach the stock rubber mount for a later split case trans. Two holes are drilled directly into the torsion housing and tapped for bolts. The metal plate is then attached via the two bolts and the rubber mount bolts to that. Its ugly but it's worked for so long now that I'm going to clean it up and reinstall, with a new rubber mount of course.




Next is pulling the parking brake handle.

My steel pivot pin was completely encrusted into place and would not come out of the handle. I therefore had to cut it out. I cut a thin hacksaw blade in half and inserted it into my sawzall. (a hacksaw blade will lock in place just like the regular sawzall blades). Slipping the blade between the handle and the mounting bracket allowed me to fairly quickly cut through the steel pin.










I then had to drill out the pin until it gave way and could be extracted from the handle. What a pain.




Normally on the early busses, the parking brake handle is canted to the right, toward the passenger. Mine had been bent such that it was vertical, crumpling the pressed steel side.




It took some heat and some pounding but after a bit of massage I was able to get the handle decently straight.




Next was recreating the stepped pin that the latching mechanism rides on. I created a super hacky lathe using my drill press and a file and cut a step on a length of rod I had lying around. Perfect fit.













-Wade

mandraks Mon Jan 18, 2021 1:11 pm

Wade wrote:

Normally on the early busses, the parking brake handle is canted to the right, toward the passenger. Mine had been bent such that it was vertical, crumpling the pressed steel side.




It took some heat and some pounding but after a bit of massage I was able to get the handle decently straight.



-Wade

it is interesting to see the length POs went to to un-improve what worked just fine from the factory.

German Krew Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:03 pm

Wade wrote:




It took some heat and some pounding but after a bit of massage I was able to get the handle decently straight.




As the English say smashing good work no pun intended! =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>

Wade Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:04 pm

Thanks Krew! The handle isn't perfect, but it's pretty close, and now leans over just the way it did when it left the factory. :-)

The next issue I had to deal with was a nagging clutch chatter issue, the cause of which I'd narrowed down to broken clutch tube welds in both the front and the back of the bus. Basically the weld that holds the clutch cable tube to the front of the frame rail had broken as had the weld that holds the rear of the tube, on top of the rear torsion tube.

First step was to clean the heck out of the engine and transmission area. I cleaned and degreased, then I re-greased with a spray on oil and wax that's designed to keep keep rust at bay. Since I wasn't ready to paint the whole undercarriage of the bus, I figured oiling the steel would help keep the original finish OK for awhile. The stuff worked great. I'd spray it on, wait awhile, then wipe off any excess. (Also, it was really cool to see all the original sealing wax overspray on the trans hoops and other bits once it was all cleaned off.)




I got my welder out and started with the rearmost part of the clutch tube.




You can see where it was broken here.




I cut a small piece of steel to add strength and welded it into place. (please don't critique my welding. I'm just learning. :-)




And just forward of the torsion tube, there's a point at which the tube exits from under the rear belly pans. I figured it couldn't hurt to secure that as well, so performed a similar weld.




Then it was on to the front, which you can see here was pretty cleanly broken.




I decided to create a second steel "L" piece to double up the strength of this section. Since I'm a total novice at welding, I figured I could use all the extra insurance I could get. I didn't get a shot of it post welding, but suffice it to say that it won't be breaking again anytime soon.




I can't say that this was my favorite job, but it does feel good to know that the clutch tube will be secure for the foreseeable future.

-Wade.

Wade Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:45 am

Installing dual circuit master cylinder and making and installing new brake hardlines.

One of the things Iím doing with this rebuild is installing CSP disc brakes on the front. Along with that, Iím moving to a dual-circuit master cylinder and completely replacing all the hard brake lines. I ran into a number of issues as I went through the process of installing everything so maybe this write-up can help someone skip out on some of them in the future.

Hereís the new master cylinder mocked into position. You can see the rear hardline attached to one of the front ports.




I started with hardlines Iíd purchased from Wolfsburg West. They were great quality, but unfortunately after installing the long line that runs from the master all the way back to the transmission cradle, I found that the line was about an inch or two short. This didnít have anything to do with the WW piece. Iím pretty sure it was due to the they extra bends needed to get the line installed in the new master cylinder. The port for the rear line was in a different and slightly awkward position compared to the stock master. Additionally, the brass splitter that mounts to the transmission cradle may be slightly rearward on a Wolfsburg bus, adding to the problem. Iím not sure on that one.

So, I pulled that line out and decided to make my own. I purchased a cheap but usable flaring tool and some copper/nickel brake line tubing off Amazon and went to work. Man, was the copper/nickel tubing easy to flare, and it was super easy to bend into place as well.




Unfortunately though, after installing the long line and crimping the steel tabs that hold it into place along the bottom of the bus, I felt that the tubing was just too wimpy for this application. It was really soft, and with it located out in the elements on the bottom of the bus, I didnít want it to get banged up during regular use. Plus, as I was crimping one of those mounting tabs, I thought I felt the tubing squish, which wasnít great. So I pulled it and sure enough, I found that the tab had squished it pretty good.






I then purchased a roll of good old pvc coated steel brake line and went to work for the third time. Creating the flares was more difficult with the steel but after getting the hang of it they were coming out great. Bending it into place was a challenge but no more so than the WW pieces, and once finished it felt way stronger and able to withstand the elements. Youíll notice from the photos that I shrunk head-shrink tubing into place where each tab would contact the tubing to provide added protection.











Hereís a shot of the rear, showing the piece that goes up and over the trans. You can also see how the flexible lines connect in a different place on a Wolfsburg bus vs later busses. For this reason I ended up making pretty much all my own lines, cutting the WW lines in half so I could use their threaded ends on mine.




In the front, you can see the somewhat lame routing that has to happen to get the lines going to the right places without bending them too tightly. This was all done by hand. Youíll also notice that I used new stainless screws for the mounting tabs. I found an ad for them in the classifieds and they were perfect. I reused the tabs themselves, but ordered some additional new ones for places where mine had been removed years ago.








Jumping ahead to after the trans was installed, you can see the lines that go from the axle tube to the wheel cylinder, held in place by the stock tabs bolted to the reduction gear boxes.






That was the hardlines. If anyone has any questions about this process, just shoot me a PM.

Regards,
- Wade

jeremyrockjock Sat Jan 23, 2021 7:20 pm

bravo 8)

Wade Wed Jan 27, 2021 6:31 pm

Hello all,
The next step in the project was to deal with the transmission. Not only did I want to clean things up and fix a broken synchro, I really needed to move to taller gearing to accommodate the 2332cc engine.

For gearing I moved from stock to a 3.88 R&P with standard '67 gear ratios. (Standard .82 fourth gear). Big nut reduction boxes.

I pulled the trans and loaded it up into my minivan with the help of my handy mid-rise lift. Took a little dragging but slid in fine. :-)




I drove the trans down to Central California and dropped it off with Scott at Metalcraft Motorsports. (mcmscott on Samba). Scott was great. He stripped and cleaned the trans, rebuilt the reduction boxes with German bearings, installed my new r&p, added an hd cover, etc. It came back to me looking 1000% better than when I dropped it off.




Once back, I began getting it ready for install. Getting the clutch cross shaft perfectly centered was more of a pain than I'd hoped. With some careful shimming and after noticing that the hold drilled into the bronze bushing was off center just a tad, I got everything positioned perfectly and locked into place.





I cleaned and reinstalled the janky steel plate trans mount plate, along with a new rubber mount from WW, then adjusted the plate such that the rubber mount was perfectly horizontal in relation to the frame horns.





Everything actually fit pretty perfectly. You can see here the bolt heads in back, where they almost hit the hacked torsion tube, but they didn't!




Since the long rear shift rod has to go in prior to the trans, it was time to install the new metal shift rod bushing. Greased it up and it fit really well.





Pushed the shift rod through, then went to the back and installed the trans and connected the trans nose to the shift rod. Everything went smoothly but if you look closely in the photos you'll see that the new billet seal on the end of the trans nosecone is literally resting up against the metal plate on the top of the torsion tube. It couldn't have been a more lucky fit as the seal was too large to go through the original hole. Whew.





Since I'm running an extra long clutch arm on the throwout cross shaft, I had to push the upper sheet metal (floor of the rear hatch area) up just a bit so it would clear. Didn't take much.




Lastly, bolted the redux boxes to the spring plates with their lock tabs and called it a night.




Thanks for following along!
- Wade

German Krew Thu Jan 28, 2021 8:46 am

Wade wrote:















Good work you are doing some justice to this bus, I like the touch of material between the brake line mounts!
=D> =D> =D> =D> =D>

Busstom Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:12 pm


I've never seen an engine stand with such a narrow footprint. Usually the rear crossmember is at least 36" wide for seismic stability...or floor gaps. Thank goodness your garage floor resembles a placid lake. :wink:

German Krew Sun Jan 31, 2021 12:24 am

Busstom wrote:
I've never seen an engine stand with such a narrow footprint. Usually the rear crossmember is at least 36" wide for seismic stability...or floor gaps. Thank goodness your garage floor resembles a placid lake. :wink:

I think it's a 6" narrowed stand? :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

buseric Sun Jan 31, 2021 5:36 am

Wade wrote: Thanks Krew! The handle isn't perfect, but it's pretty close, and now leans over just the way it did when it left the factory. :-)

The next issue I had to deal with was a nagging clutch chatter issue, the cause of which I'd narrowed down to broken clutch tube welds in both the front and the back of the bus. Basically the weld that holds the clutch cable tube to the front of the frame rail had broken as had the weld that holds the rear of the tube, on top of the rear torsion tube.

First step was to clean the heck out of the engine and transmission area. I cleaned and degreased, then I re-greased with a spray on oil and wax that's designed to keep keep rust at bay. Since I wasn't ready to paint the whole undercarriage of the bus, I figured oiling the steel would help keep the original finish OK for awhile. The stuff worked great. I'd spray it on, wait awhile, then wipe off any excess. (Also, it was really cool to see all the original sealing wax overspray on the trans hoops and other bits once it was all cleaned off.)




I got my welder out and started with the rearmost part of the clutch tube.




You can see where it was broken here.




I cut a small piece of steel to add strength and welded it into place. (please don't critique my welding. I'm just learning. :-)




And just forward of the torsion tube, there's a point at which the tube exits from under the rear belly pans. I figured it couldn't hurt to secure that as well, so performed a similar weld.




Then it was on to the front, which you can see here was pretty cleanly broken.




I decided to create a second steel "L" piece to double up the strength of this section. Since I'm a total novice at welding, I figured I could use all the extra insurance I could get. I didn't get a shot of it post welding, but suffice it to say that it won't be breaking again anytime soon.




I can't say that this was my favorite job, but it does feel good to know that the clutch tube will be secure for the foreseeable future.

-Wade.

Just a note on these clutch tube repairs. You might want to ensure the clutch cable slides all the way through nicely after welding. Some times a little bit of weld ends up on the inside of the tube, particularly if your a novice welder and burned through it a bit with too much heat. I have seen it happen a few times. Easier to fix it now then with everything installed again. Keep up the good work!

Wade Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:11 pm

Good question about the engine stand, Busstom. The photo came out a bit distorted which makes it look super narrow. It's actually 24" wide, built like a tank, and is quite stable.

And yea buseric, getting weld into the tube would have been a nightmare. Even though I'm a complete newbie at welding, I tried my best to not blow through the tube. I got lucky and it was fine.


As for the next project, I wanted to focus on giving the engine all the help it could get staying cool so I installed an external oil cooler. I went with a sandwich adapter with a thermostat, a temp switch for the fan, and a Setrab fan and cooler unit.

I found a nook for it, rear of the rearmost crossmember and just in front of the torsion tube. It actually fit perfectly, blocking it from road debris and with enough space above for air to flow through and out.





I decided to make a scoop for it that would hang just a bit lower than the belly pans and thrust air up through the cooler and out the top.

I mocked it with cardboard, then welded it up in steel.










Then I scoured McMaster Carr for suitable rubber isolators that would be sturdy enough to hold the fan but that would provide some vibration protection.




The two forward isolators were installed with captive nuts.




The two rear attach to steel hangers I welded to the crossmember.




When all was said and done, it went together perfectly and is working like a charm.




Man, the flash makes that paint look super lame. :-). It's almost invisible in real life, blending in with the old thrashed undercoating that was installed long before I got the bus.




-Wade



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