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My 4 Seater Buggy Project
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pullstart
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:47 am    Post subject: My 4 Seater Buggy Project Reply with quote

Hello All, first time post here. I've been lurking as a visitor for a few weeks learning about all kinds of technical stuff and reading a bunch of awesome builds!

We picked up this buggy a few weeks ago as a road/trail toy and for the occasional trip to Silver Lake. It's an Appletree 4 seater, powered by a dual port 1641 with FOMOCO heads, aftermarket cam, redline intake, single webber carb and it's running a 3 rib bus trans and stock IRS. There are all kinds of light weight goodies on it and I've added the ammo box for some oil and a snatch strap, replaced the speedo cable, valve cover gaskets and belt so far.

I've quickly noticed that our local trail system in Yankee Springs south of Middleville, MI is an absolute riot, but there are some ruts deep enough to bottom out in a few places. I've thought about a 3x3 trailing arm kit maybe over the winter and need to sort out the front end.

With the aluminum beam I don't see any means for adjustment of the torsion springs. Could I remove the set screws, re-drill them higher and put it all back together and add longer trailing arms? Would that eventually tear the beam? Would I need to TIG in some reinforcement to prevent tearing?

Thanks in advance for any input!

Kevin (pullstart in reference to my model 502 Wheelhorse)

little one taking a cat nap on our first road trip
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oldschool5er
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:23 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

I would suggest you replace the beam with a warrior or similiar with adjusters already welded in. Or get a stock beam and weld adjusters in. The aluminum beam just is not durable enough to be trying to modify based on my experiance with them. In fact I do not believe there are aluminum adjusters you can tig in. Since you are talking a dual purpose Rail I would go 3x3 with good offroad shocks all around. It is better to have it as a woods buggy because it can be used at Silverlake easily also, but if you concentrate on it being a Silverlake duner you will find it very lacking on woods trails like St.Helens area and further up north due to terrain demands. Better a dual purpose woods buggy that just a Duner in my opinion. Lots of michigan trails that are so great, Silverlake becomes so small quickly lol. Nice Rail lots of potential. Sorry I keep editing. One more thing about the aluminum beam, the shock towers are short so you are very limited on shock length if you want to gain more travel and having to tig up all those aluminum mods needed is just not worth it.
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Dale M.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:20 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Nice looking ride...

Personally I never saw a advantage to aluminum beam except for pretty.... Replace with steel beam with adjusters and be happy forever, and a lot cheaper then goofing with the aluminum one...

http://vwparts.aircooled.net/Front-Axle-Beam-Lowered-1949-65-Type-1-LP-p/axle-beam-lp-lowered.htm

Dale
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pullstart
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:38 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Thanks for the tips guys, my father in law has a king pin setup that he plans on pulling at some point to go A-arm front, maybe I'll casually wait for him to get to work! Maybe with some offers to help... and to help get rid of his junk front end Very Happy Otherwise there is an old VW guru down the road that maybe I'll swing in and chat some day.
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Derek Cobb
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

I think those aluminum beams were intended for extremely lightweight sand or drag cars. Not really a good choice for a heavy four seater woods buggy like yours. one big rock or just a little kiss on a big tree and that'll likely pretzel. Good news is you can likely sell it for good money and use that for a great warrior long travel beam. There are kits to build them if you like to weld.
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pullstart
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 12:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Any idea what that aluminum beam might be able to sell for? It would be nice to fund the habit, eh?
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dustymojave
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Aluminum beams are inexpensive and resale value pretty low. The complete assembly may go for a couple hundred. But for the next step up on your car, I wouldn't ditch the whole assembly unless you already have the complete one from the Father-In-Law.

Most all of the pieces off the existing front suspension would work fine on a steel beam. Torsion leaves, trailing arms, spindles, shocks, steering box, etc. will all fit right onto a steel beam. If you go to 3x3 rear arms, I suggest going to a wider beam, like +6 or +8". Too wide is not good between trees in woods. And you would need serious mods or replacement of the trailer to fit. But then with a wider beam, you should probably go for a rack and pinion steering too.

Aluminum beams were never intended for rough duty service, only lightweight sand dune rails only. If you only used it on the street, or only on dunes, that would be fine. But forest trails will cause a very short life span for the beam.

For woods trails, I strongly recommend adding front brakes. No need for anything fancy, just pretty much stock VW drums up through 1965 year model will work fine. Front wheels need to change to 5-lug and tires some sort of treaded from 215-75 to 7.00-15. Hiway tread or extra traction or even 4 or 5-rib implement. Those front tires are nice for dunes or street, but not for offroad.

Cute pic of your little girl. I recommend 4-point belts for her and the rest of you. Not to hold you down, that's the lap belt's job. To hold you back in the seat and to control lateral movement.

The rear shocks are crappy. At least some of the same as the front has would help with bumps.
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I Ride Sand
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

dustymojave wrote:

For woods trails, I strongly recommend adding front brakes. No need for anything fancy, just pretty much stock VW drums up through 1965 year model will work fine.


X2 on this.

My friends rail only has rear brakes, and it does not stop great.

if/when you add the front brakes, use the rear wheel cylinders in the front and visa versa. you will have to mix and match years to get it to work but it helps the brake balance tremendously. the best setup i have ran is disk rears and stock front brakes with the smaller rear wheel cylinders. i lock up all four wheels about the same time. it still is a tad bit too biased to the front on an 90" wheelbase.
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pullstart
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:51 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

And the knowledge keeps on pouring!

My in-laws are all circle track racers, they have piles of 4 point harnesses as soon as I get my butt over there to do some upgrades. The girls have moved to helmets as well, they don't like the wind noise much.

For brakes, I think his buggy might have stock drums as well up front, so another score possibly. I've got discs in the back, so if I pick up a set of rear wheel cylinders it sounds like I'll have a good balance.

With the wider beam, it's 6" overall, or 8 overall... right? 3 or 4 on each side? So a 6" over plus extended trailing arms like a 2.5x1 set would net a total of 8" wider, correct? Would the frame need to be stretched 2.5" at all, or would the tires simply move back 2.5" and that's ok? I'm assuming also that the front leaf springs would need to be extended the same amount as the beam?

Sounds like I'll have to pick up a few more plow accounts this winter! Cool

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pullstart
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:07 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Derek Cobb wrote:
There are kits to build them if you like to weld.


Any suggestions on which sites to look? I found Pacific Customs and their website alone is enough to make my head dizzy!

Let's say there are two budgets to work with, $750 and $1500. The trails are not as much technical tight corners but more seasonal roads with some small rock patches and sandy stretches, but mainly tire ruts and the occasional mud hole the length of the car.

Could you build a front end with $750 or $1500 including beam, arms, springs/shocks and steering?
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Derek Cobb
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:41 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

http://www.appletreeauto.com/VW-SUSPENSION/

Lots of options here that fit right into your budget. It's been ages since I did an off-road car, but these folks were solid back in the day.
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pullstart
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:23 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Oh right! Yeah, I don't know why I didn't think of Appletree for building a beam, that's where I have a 3x3 rear picked out anyways...
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cbeck
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Here is what you are talking about. Apple tree 3x3 tubular arms and 6" beam with 2 1/2 x 1 arms. sits on wore out 31 in rear and 235/75/15 front. The outside of the fronts lines up with the outside of the rears. The rear sits at 15" to the bottom of the solid motor mount and the front is at 17" to the bottom of the beam. The beam kit was from dan's [looks the same as apple tree's ?]. The front is so stiff it doesn't hardly move with 225 jumping on it. Will be removing leaves slowly to soften it up. the rear may turn out to be too soft, I will know more when engine gets installed. This also does not account for the r&p box and heavy tie rods and ends. With the kits at 1k, you will eat up the other 500 real quick. With that being said, if you are resourceful I am sure you could pull it off for less. P.S. none of this has just bolted on.
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pullstart
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 3:46 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

cbeck wrote:
P.S. none of this has just bolted on.
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Your car looks great! Are you using stock spindles?

Yeah, I'm up to 2 grand in my shopping cart at Appletree, just need to take momma on a few more rough rides to convince her it's worth it... I didn't realize you can remove leaves from the pack, do the grub screws simply drive in further, or do you use some type of spacer to take up the extra space?
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:49 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Some people just remove the leaves...
I think it's a better idea to cut the leaf, and retain the section at the grub screw. You can tack weld the cut section to the whole piece to keep everything lined up.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

More specific... I will be cutting one leave at at time , first from the upper packs, then one from the bottom packs. I will be cutting and tack weld [Only needs to hold long enough to reinstall] with the lowest setting on my welder the grub screw area. Jimmy hoffa stays in town and he removed 2 leaves [the outsides] from each pack. I thought I would not get that carried away on the first attempt.

The kit came with hd spindles [empi?] that have the extra reinforcing cast into the spindle and carrier but still has speedo hole? Cost me another c note to get the bushings installed and reamed with the kingpin pressed in and assembled.

Right after I ordered the kit, dan removed it from his site. Said his chinese supply for the arms dried up. Poor me, he set me up with a set of tweeds 2 1/2 x 1" arms in a timely manner. Also dan answered the phone himself every time I called.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Whoa!!!

Let's Ease Up on the talk about removing leaves from the front torsion. I strongly recommend approaching this intelligently.

1st off - The trailing arm beam front suspension in stock condition sits with the arms straight back. Applying weight to the front of the car at the bumper is like picking up a kid by the hands with their arms held out to the side. Their arms will give readily. Longer arms on the front apply more leverage to twist the springs. Raising the ride height for offroad rotates the arms so the spindles push up and reduces leverage on the springs. Like picking up a child by the hands with their arms locked to their side. They can hold their weight.

But an offroad VW hits bumps moving forward, so the leverage is to the rear, thus rotating the arms more readily than applying vertical weight to the bumper when the car is sitting still. The faster you hit the bumps, the smoother the ride.

Then 2nd - Use stock leaves...NOT aftermarket stiffer ones. More and thinner leaves in the stack means softer, fewer and thicker means stiffer.

3rd - VW wide beams use stock length leaves from trailing arm screw to inner anchor or adjuster as stock (in some). Others are shorter in that distance with the inner adjuster closer to the trailing arm end to allow using one set of leaves redrilled just a bit shorter. That shortening makes the leaves a little stiffer. Depends on who makes the beam.

But if you remove leaves, then there isn't enough to fill the hole and things fall apart. The leaves hold the trailing arms in the beam. You don't want your wheel taking off in a different direction than the rest of the car. You can put short pieces of 1/8" or 3/16" strap stock in the stack to replace the leaves taken out. But you should tack weld the stack together when partly inside of the trailing arm or adjuster round block so the leaves won't come apart.

Remember that offroad driving is offroad. The trail is not glass smooth. You need more suspension than in a parking lot.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:50 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

Also something to consider is mounting your front shocks the other way around. Most the time they are designed to be used with the chrome rod facing down, and may change the valving/stiffness. It also looks like drivers side shock might be bent?
I missed the part about longer arms, so before you go cutting springs, see how the longer arms do first.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 6:08 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

yeah, the driver's side shock IS bent, it's not an illusion Shocked I've done some pretty hard wheeling and it was like that when I got it, I can't imagine the impact to bottom the shocks out!

I also did some measuring last night, the front beam is 9" off the ground and the rear frame where it mounts to the torsion tube is 13". That's a good reference I suppose.

so I have a plan, I guess:
For the front I'll keep a leaf spring setup but go with a 6" over warrior beam with 10" towers, 2.5x1 arms, and stock height forged off road spindles. Bumps and limiting straps too, or could the hook and rod setup work with link pins as well? With a wider beam (dual adjusters) is there a stock set of leaves that work or an aftermarket 6" wider with stock spring rate?

I'm torn now for the rear though, I've read that stock early vanagon axles work for 2.5x2.5 or 2x3 trailing arms, but would they have nearly as much travel as a 3x3 kit with the 930 joints? or do you still run 930 joints with vanagon axle shafts? Either way, I'm convinced my stock arms are bent and need replacing but I'm not sure if I can save some coin by going vanagon/shorter arms or if I'd simply be happy spending the extra to go with the full Appletree 3x3 kit. Both ways, I'm surely convinced though it will be better than it is now!

Then I'll need to figure out how to power the car to be able to use all the new inches Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 4:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Non-Adjustable aluminum front beam... Reply with quote

pullstart wrote:
yeah, the driver's side shock IS bent, it's not an illusion Shocked I've done some pretty hard wheeling and it was like that when I got it, I can't imagine the impact to bottom the shocks out!

I also did some measuring last night, the front beam is 9" off the ground and the rear frame where it mounts to the torsion tube is 13". That's a good reference I suppose.

so I have a plan, I guess:
For the front I'll keep a leaf spring setup but go with a 6" over warrior beam with 10" towers, 2.5x1 arms, and stock height forged off road spindles. Bumps and limiting straps too, or could the hook and rod setup work with link pins as well? With a wider beam (dual adjusters) is there a stock set of leaves that work or an aftermarket 6" wider with stock spring rate?


Hook & rod works fine on link pin beam. The Warrior beam will come with bump stops. The factory ones provided are not necessarily the "right" stop point, you may get more travel by altering or replacing them. But they will certainly prevent the arms from going "too far".

Stock torsion leaves are full width from right trailing arm to left trailing arm. They must be cut in half to use in a 4-adjuster wider beam. There are leaf packs made to fit wider beams off the shelf. But they are stiffer than stock leaves.

pullstart wrote:
I'm torn now for the rear though, I've read that stock early vanagon axles work for 2.5x2.5 or 2x3 trailing arms, but would they have nearly as much travel as a 3x3 kit with the 930 joints? or do you still run 930 joints with vanagon axle shafts? Either way, I'm convinced my stock arms are bent and need replacing but I'm not sure if I can save some coin by going vanagon/shorter arms or if I'd simply be happy spending the extra to go with the full Appletree 3x3 kit. Both ways, I'm surely convinced though it will be better than it is now!

Then I'll need to figure out how to power the car to be able to use all the new inches Cool


Yup, the info on 2x3 or 2.5x2.5 is correct.

Vanagon (Type 2) CV joints and CV axle shafts use the same spline as Bug, Type 4, Thing and Porsche 924/944 use.

Porsche 930 CVs and shafts use a bigger and longer spline than Bus and Bug, etc. They also use a bigger CV flange and bolts than Type /4/Thing?924/944. Bug uses even smaller flanges and bolts.

So if you want to use 930 CVs, you have to also change the inner CV flanges at the trans, the stub axle shafts and the CV shafts.

Power-wise...a stock 1950s 36hp VW 1,200cc engine will make enough power to occasionally bottom some VERY serious suspension and go fast enough to hurt somebody. An offroad car is not a drag racer. - Unless we're talking mud bog racing or sand drags. Cool

I thought that front shock 's bent shaft was just the camera view. But the front does appear to have a lot of toe-out. It should have about 1/8" toe-in at the tire surface at ride height.
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