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Questions on 1976 convertible repairs
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virusdoc
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:58 pm    Post subject: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

Hi all, I've been lurking and learning here for a little over a year. For most of my adult life, I have want to find a 1971 convertible (my birth year) and care for it as a lifelong labor of love. Only recently have I reached a point in my life where I have the time and funds to consider this. And I am finding it hard to find a 1971 in decent shape. Most were either rust buckets or in fully restored condition, and my budget can't accommodate either extreme. I have been looking for a minimal rust, complete bug that could be a drivable source of weekend reconditioning/updating projects for years to come.

What I did recently come upon, and I am planning to purchase, is a 1976 convertible in solid shape. This beetle has almost no rust other than some surface corrosion under the battery. Pans were recently replaced, heater channels are solid (undercoated, but I probed quite a bit and found nothing soft), and the frame is also undercoated but solid. Car drives and shifts well. Transmission seems to be in great shape, with all synchronizers working normally and good clutch adjustment. The paint is an aftermarket color, but in decent shape.

I'm writing because there are a few issues that I think aren't dealbreakers, but I want this forum's opinion on how much work and money I can expect to need to make them right. I am mechanically inclined, have a robust tool collection, and a full size garage with ramps, hydraulic jack, and jack stands at my disposal. So I would appreciate your thoughts and advice on the following issues:

1) It has the super shimmy at 50-60 mph. Couldn't tell exact speed because the speedo cable is broken (I know that is an easy fix). The steering box felt very tight and responsive, so I'm assuming the front end needs bushings and perhaps some other parts. Front shocks are new, with original springs. My feeling is that this is a relatively inexpensive repair, and that much of it I can do myself. Tie rod ends scare me a bit, but I can perhaps find a shop to do those if they are worn.

2) Brakes have some issues. It stops, but not as quickly as I'd expect. The drivers side rear wheel has brake fluid leaking out the back side of the wheel, not a lot but a few teaspoons at least puddled at the tire, and I couldn't actually see fluid in the master reservoir (though it was dirty and I didn't look closely). I plan to do a front disk conversion anyway, and I'm assuming the leak means I'll need some rear parts as well. My sense is that these parts are not expensive, and that the work is not that difficult. I've done my own brakes on every car I've owned.

3) Car had an Empi carb installed 2 years ago and fuel injection removed. It idles a little rough, acting like it is misfiring on one cylinder (entire engine rocks when this happens). It accelerates reasonably well, but it felt a little sluggish compared to other 1600s I've driven. The first thing I'd do here is check all the plugs, wires, and distributor, and replace anything that looks fouled or worn.

4) It shipped with factory air which has been removed. Hosing for coolant lines is still in place. I'm assuming this isn't a problem.

5) Under the rear seat, the pipe that goes from the engine compartment to the heater duct and channel on the drivers side has been completely sheered off, flush with the rear fire well. It was still laying under the seat, and it looks like someone tried and failed to gorilla glue it to the hot air output. Can this simply be re-welded? The break was clean--I suspect someone stepped on it during a restore job when the pans were off, and fell through.

6) Main engine pulley has some give when pulled back. I'd say about 1/32nd-1/64th of an inch. I have read that this can indicate that the lower part of the engine is due for a rebuild. Mileage on the engine, and whether it has ever been rebuilt, is unknown.

So what should I expect to need to do here, and at what cost? First priority for me is brakes and front end. I want to be able to drive it safely and comfortably on the highway (70 mph top).

Is there anything you think I should have inspected but that I didn't mention here?

Thanks in advance for your time!
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Q-Dog
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

1) Complete front end rebuild. www.topline.com for complete rebuild kit

2) Complete brake rebuild, including hoses. Might need drums too. I wouldn't bother with disk brakes, but that's just me.

3) If it is the original fuel injected engine, that means it should have an electric fuel pump. It could be as simple as too much fuel pressure. It could also be the carb is junk.

4) should not matter

5) It sounds like the bakelite connection is broken. No welding. Pick up used one from the classifieds here.

6) Engine rebuild. $2500 or more.

7) If it is a convertible, everything will be twice as expensive. Laughing
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virusdoc
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

Q-Dog wrote:
1) Complete front end rebuild. www.topline.com for complete rebuild kit

2) Complete brake rebuild, including hoses. Might need drums too. I wouldn't bother with disk brakes, but that's just me.

3) If it is the original fuel injected engine, that means it should have an electric fuel pump. It could be as simple as too much fuel pressure. It could also be the carb is junk.

4) should not matter

5) It sounds like the bakelite connection is broken. No welding. Pick up used one from the classifieds here.

6) Engine rebuild. $2500 or more.

7) If it is a convertible, everything will be twice as expensive. Laughing


Thanks for the reply Q-dog. With (6) are you saying the axial play on the crank pulley indicates the definite need for a complete rebuild, or just suggests it is a possibility? If the latter, how would I go about diagnosing what is actually needed? $2500 is a big bite and the only thing here that concerns me. The other stuff is feasible piecemeal and with a lot of my own labor. Thanks!
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Cusser
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 6:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

virusdoc wrote:
And I am finding it hard to find a 1971 in decent shape. Most were either rust buckets or in fully restored condition, and my budget can't accommodate either extreme. I have been looking for a minimal rust, complete bug that could be a drivable source of weekend reconditioning/updating projects for years to come.


I'm in Arizona, but have too much history with my own 1971 Convertible to sell it, sorry. But I wanted to say that a full top will cost about $2500, and not so easy to do it yourself.
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1970 VW (owned since 1972) and 1971 VW Convertible (owned since 1976), second owner of each. The '71 now has the 1835 engine, swapped from the '70. Second owner of each. 1988 Mazda B2200 truck, 1998 Frontier, 2005 Yukon, 2004 Frontier King Cab. All manual transmission except for the Yukon. http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=335294 http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=335297
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robcy04
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

Welcome to the fold. You are today where I was one year ago when I picked up a 1979 Convertible.

1) I lowered mine, but this is where I started. I replaced all sway bar bushings, tie rods, and and ball joints. The ball joints need a press but the rest is purely a home job. I used poly bushings, some don't like them, but I am firmly in the like them category. I added adjust a struts and recently chamber bolts, and caster bushings from Topline since I lowered mine

2) I did a full rear drum rebuild because mine where shot as in not working at all. I also did a front disk upgrade, and the stopping power is greatly improved. The disk upgrade is only slightly more expensive than a full drum rebuild in front if you need need new drums like I did. I like disk, they simply work better. This is also done at home.

3)Is the distro vacuum advance? If so check that it is working.

4) Keep the lines. Maybe in the future you might want to AC again.

5) Dunno

6) Drive it till it dies, and in the mean time save up for a new engine. Mine is a little tired, but it drives nicely if a little low on power, but it will be driven until I can replace it, or until it dies and I have to replace it. The amount of time this engine last will determine how much $$ the new one will cost.

Mine has given me electrical nightmares. From blown fuses, to alternator wiring, and the entire system not charging. I also did the trailing arm bushings in the rear when I repaired the brakes. I also used poly there, and lowered it at the same time.

The good thing is that there are a lot of good people with knowledge here, and they is always someone willing to help. Good Luck
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virusdoc
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:26 am    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

robcy04 wrote:
Welcome to the fold. You are today where I was one year ago when I picked up a 1979 Convertible.

1) I lowered mine, but this is where I started. I replaced all sway bar bushings, tie rods, and and ball joints. The ball joints need a press but the rest is purely a home job. I used poly bushings, some don't like them, but I am firmly in the like them category. I added adjust a struts and recently chamber bolts, and caster bushings from Topline since I lowered mine

2) I did a full rear drum rebuild because mine where shot as in not working at all. I also did a front disk upgrade, and the stopping power is greatly improved. The disk upgrade is only slightly more expensive than a full drum rebuild in front if you need need new drums like I did. I like disk, they simply work better. This is also done at home.

3)Is the distro vacuum advance? If so check that it is working.

4) Keep the lines. Maybe in the future you might want to AC again.

5) Dunno

6) Drive it till it dies, and in the mean time save up for a new engine. Mine is a little tired, but it drives nicely if a little low on power, but it will be driven until I can replace it, or until it dies and I have to replace it. The amount of time this engine last will determine how much $$ the new one will cost.

Mine has given me electrical nightmares. From blown fuses, to alternator wiring, and the entire system not charging. I also did the trailing arm bushings in the rear when I repaired the brakes. I also used poly there, and lowered it at the same time.

The good thing is that there are a lot of good people with knowledge here, and they is always someone willing to help. Good Luck


Thanks for the response. I like your philosophy on (6). I think I will drive and enjoy it until something major necessitates a rebuild. I look forward to frequently consulting the expertise here!
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andk5591 Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

You have got good advice so far. Just a couple additional comments:

On the front end kit, you need access to a shop press and would really suggest taking the parts to a shop to have the old bushings, and ball loints removed and pressed in. And Topline is all I use. Buy the whole kit and plan on the better part of a day to do it. Get the upper bump stops as well. You will need a coil spring compressor BTW... Not a bad idea to farm out the whole job to a shop that is familiar with these cars.

Bakelite tubes - I just added these to a 74 Super vert last week. Pain in the ass, but doable. You NEED to grind them down a bit to get them in without removing the body. There are threads on this topic. Thats how I saw how to do it. I used a belt sander to do the material removal.

Get or borrow a fuel pressure gauge to measure your pressure. 0-10 lbs is what you want. You would like around 2.5 or so. If its 4 or over, that may very well be some of your issue.

Plan on dropping the engine at some point - if its rocking much, you probably have bad mounts. And I would do a proper tune up based on what carb and distributor you have. Lots of info here on that.

Disk brake coversion may make the wheels stick out more....just keep that in mind and same deal - talk to Topline abouit a kit, but you may find that once everything is working well, you may not need it. A stock brake system will lock up the wheels if you want.
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Rosie 65 bug - My mostly stock daily driver.
Woodie 69 VW woodie (Hot VWs 7/12).
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virusdoc
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:51 am    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

Is there a good place on these forums to seek recommendations for ACVW mechanics and machine shops in the Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill NC area?
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andk5591 Premium Member
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 5:23 am    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

Look at the shop listing and then see if you can find feedback.
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D-Dubya Manx clone - 63 Short pan,1914.
Rosie 65 bug - My mostly stock daily driver.
Woodie 69 VW woodie (Hot VWs 7/12).
"John's car" 64 VW woodie - The first ever
Maxine 61 Cal-look bug - Cindy's daily driver.
Max - 73 standard Beetle hearse project - For sale
66 bug project - Real patina & Suby conversion
There's more, but not keeping them...
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virusdoc
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

Well I picked up June Bug yesterday and have had fun driving her around town for the last two days.

Observations and questions:

1) She starts poorly when cold. Have to crank quite a while and feather the gas. For the first few minutes after starting, she idles very rough and there is a strong odor of unburnt fuel. Once warm, the idle is stable. But acceleration seems hesitant, and I smell a lot of unburnt fuel coming out the tail pipes.

2) Parking her in my garage, there is a strong smell of fuel in there after less than an hour. I cannot find any obvious leaks, but I do know that the PO recently had a crappy undercarriage-mounted fuel line replaced with one inside the frame tunnel where it belongs. There are two fuel filters, one under the tank visible near the right front suspension members, and one in the engine compartment. The smell seems concentrated at the front of the vehicle, in or near the frunk. Engine compartment itself does not smell of fuel.

3) The PO claims he bought the bug with a FI conversion already installed, and that he put a new Empi 34PICT-3 carb on it. The carb is marked 34PICT-3 but not stamped Empi anywhere, so I think it is an off brand. He gave me the old carb, which is a Brosol Solex.

4) The distributor is simply labeled "Bosch", I believe an 009.

5) Shakes like it's going to disintegrate at highway speed. I'm getting the front end looked at by a VW specialist shop tomorrow morning.

6) There is no engine serial number, so I believe this is a replacement brazilian engine. Is this a problem?

7) The flex pipe leading down to the heat exchanger isn't attached to anything. It can just be pulled up out of the holes.

8) There is an open hole in the engine tin on the right side that just goes straight to the ground. What went here? Car used to have factory AC.

Where should I start to get her running well? I'm going to do the obvious--change oil, transmission oil, check valve clearance, check compression.

Engine compartment pics below...does anything stand out as blatantly incorrect? Thanks for your help!


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Rome
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions on 1976 convertible repairs Reply with quote

Nice going to pursue your dream car, even if it's a few years off your ideal choice.

Quote:
7) The flex pipe leading down to the heat exchanger isn't attached to anything. It can just be pulled up out of the holes.
Do you mean one of the two large silver foil hoses coming off the fan shroud? If so, it must be connected to the heat exchanger (HE) inlet! The HE must have a constant supply of air blowing into them from the hoses. The HE retains the heat coming off the front 2 cylinders' exhaust pipe. If the heat lever inside the car is closed (lever down), the heat inside the HE gets vented out at the upper top front of the housings. If that heat from the exhaust is kept in the HE because the pressurized air is absent, the intense heat from the exhaust can rise up to the underside of the head and the 2 cylinders. Component overheat.

Depending on the type of muffler on your '76 engine, the silver foil hose can often be stretched enough up top so that it leads into the HE inlet.

Quote:
Cool There is an open hole in the engine tin on the right side that just goes straight to the ground. What went here? Car used to have factory AC.
Another foil hose like the two silver ones on each side of the fan shroud. The 3rd hose was attached to the factory oil bath air cleaner, routing warmed air coming off the right cylinders into the air cleaner and then into the carb to help prevent intake manifold condensation in low temp humid conditions. Your aftermarket air filter does not have a fitting for that warm air source. If you don't plan on retrofitting a stock style air cleaner, you should close off that hole. You can use something as simple as some aluminum flashing cut to a slightly larger diameter, use 2 or 3 pop rivets, and painted black to blend in with the engine tin.

Here's a shot of a stock oil bath air cleaner with the large hose. This is my own engine in my '77 Beetle sedan. The air cleaner is from a '70. Later Beetles ('73, '74) used a rectangular paper element air cleaner, but still used the same large hose.
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