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'71 Super Beetle Convertible project
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AircooledBackcorner
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2022 11:01 am    Post subject: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Introduction
Hi, greetings from the Netherlands! As a long time air-cooled enthusiast, Iíve decided to start an off body restoration of a í71 super convertible a while ago. As the project is approximately midway, I decided to create a topic to share the progress, images and my many mistakes Smile.

A few warnings though:
- This is a very slow project.
- Iím not mechanically trained. Actually, this is my first restoration and I never held a welding torch or spray gun in my life.
- Iím not a native English speaker, please forgive my spelling/grammar mistakes.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and feedback!

Buying a Beetle
Before starting this restoration, I owned a í74 1200 (European) Beetle.

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My plan was to replace this Beetle with another.

While searching for this beetle, I decided on two things:
- The beetle shall be a Super (1302 preferred).
- The beetle shall be an official convertible.

Furthermore, the Beetle could be in project/barn-find state. Well, I definitely succeeded in that category.

After searching all over Europe, I concluded that it was very difficult to find a Super Beetle that met my requirements within budget, without being a total rusted wreck. Therefor, I expanded my search area a bit. It didnít take long to find my Beetle, in GeorgiaÖ

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The Beetle was advertised on eBay and listed as an auction. It looked solid at the places that mattered the most and I contacted the seller for additional info and photos. After convincing myself that this could be a good starting point for a restoration project, I made the decision to try to buy the car. Without seeing it in real life, I placed a bid. A week after that, I won the auction ($1.425). Not bad!

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I arranged the transportation (from Atlanta to the harbour of Rotterdam, the Netherlands). The seller was most helpful during this period. After two weeks crossing the Atlantic, the car was parked at a lot in Rotterdam. And together with a friend of mine, the car was brought home. Now I was able to get a good look of what I bought (Winter 2017).

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Pulling it apart
Now, what to expect from a Beetle a bought online, without seeing it in person, from another continent? Well, I can tell you that there was one thing I did not like to find: rust. Well, I did find some rust at the usual places (inlet heater channel including quarter panel, area below spare tire, luggage compartment) and some not so usual places (convertible roof mounting point). In general however, I was quite pleased.

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Furthermore, the general state of the vehicle was:
- The spine/backbone of the car looked solid. No signs of damage/surgery. Both floorpans were patched somewhere in the Beetles life (of course).
- The fenders and hood were gone (damage/rust), only the engine lid and doors looked pretty solid.
- A Mexican made engine was installed, Another engine (AE 1600) was placed on the rear seat. I had no idea of the status of both of them.
- The convertible roof fabric was gone, with a (non original) plastic rear window installed. The mechanism however worked fine and was aligned perfectly.
- Interior looked very worn, the seat structure however was solid.
- No brake fluid was present, Iím sure there was a leak somewhere looking at the garage floor.
- Electrics were a mess.
- Etc.

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In general, this project was not turn-key, but it was complete with loads of official and non-official parts. Therefor I decided that this car could provide a solid base for my project. So I sold my í74 1200 and started pulling the Ď71 apart. (Spring 2019)

At the same time, Iíve send a request to the VW museum in Germany to get some documentation of the car. My aim was, to restore the car close to original spec. After a brief period, Iíve got the documents. Unfortunately, they could not determine that the engine was 100% original. But at least the engine is from the same series, and thatís good enough for me.

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Chassis
During the initial general assessment of the car, I determined that the backbone/spine of the chassis was fine. After dissembling the entire car (winter 2019/2020), down to the backbone, I was assured this was the case. I had the chassis blasted and painted and it looked brand new when I picked it up. Furthermore, the components of the rear suspension were blasted as well.

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I began installing the rear suspension and the brake components (kept the drum setup at the rear, replaced all parts related to the brake system with brand new parts).

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In the summer (2020), I continued by cleaning the outside of the (original) gearbox and then replaced the gaskets, seals and transmission oil. Together with some new IRS axles and axle grease, the gearbox was installed at the back of the chassis.

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After that, the floorpans were welded in and the bottom the chassis was painted with POR15 for a good protective layer.

The rest of the summer was spend on:
Installing a new metal fuel line (I was not looking forward to this job, and with good reason).
Refurbishing and installing the pedal cluster (at first, a roller pedal was installed, I replaced it with an original later on).
Installing a new dual circuit master brake cylinder and new brake line piping.

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General chassis work was completed at the end of the summer of 2020. Onwards to body work!

Body work
So, the body was separated from the chassis a while ago. I didnít look at it for quite a while. I did however support the door frame with a part bought online to not screw/bend the Beetle body. But now, bodywork had to start. And I decided by starting to cut open all the rusted areas and remove and replace all the rusted body parts (Autumn 2020 - Spring 2021). I especially took notice of the state of the heater channels along the side of the car. Being a convertible, these should be very strong. Therefor, I cleaned and examined these very carefully.

Parts replaced: rear quarter panel and heater channel, front apron, rear apron, bottom rear luggage shelf, panels in the engine bay, panel below spare tire and the convertible roof mounting points. As stated before, Iím not a professional welder, instead Iím an absolute beginner. I welded using the but welding technique and a MIG/MAG welder. Iíve got some great advise from my dad and others to improve my welding skills along the way. The welds were certainly not perfect, but very strong and after some finishing up, nearly invisible.

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Paint work
Daring, impossible or stupid? I just really wanted to do the painting myself. Just like welding, itís just another skill I want to make my own, or at least try to make it my own. In the end, itís my Beetle after all. Besides, I thought it would safe some money. This was before buying a giant compressor (100L / 3hp) and a professional LVLP spray kit (several guns) plus accessories (water filter, oil filter, etc).

I started by cleaning and stripping all the paint of the Beetleís body (Summer 2021) by using a chemical and a strip disc. I tried to get to bear metal on all areas, but some are simple unreachable.

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The first few layers of paint were the epoxy primer. Of course, I ignored all the advise given on this (and other) fora. I painted this first primer layer: outside, underneath a tree and in the sun. The layers were laid down (with a healthy curing time in between) and I was happy with the result.

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Next up, block sanding en filler. Bought a proper block sand kit and some body filler. Never used body filler before, and learned that many thin layers are the way to go. Just a matter of doing and having patience. (I used filler over the epoxy primer, on advise of my supplier).

In the mean time, I refurbished the steering box and reinstalled the front suspension strut towers.

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After being satisfied with the condition of the epoxy primer layer (finishing up with a 320 grid), I continued with the primer surfacer. Iíve chosen a dark grey colour. Again, several layers were applied and I made sure Iíve reached all areas. Even the ones below the body. After several days of drying time, I sanded the Ďdifficult to reach areasí with 600, 800, 1000 and 1500 grid.

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My goal was to paint all these Ďdifficult to reach areasí with the 2K top coat paint before putting the body back on the chassis. The 2K top coat (Iberian Red, L31F, high gloss) is applied 2:1 with a hardener liquid and 5% thinner. Applying several layers of this mixture will give a solid (yet flexible), hard top coat to protect against liquids, sun and other external problems. Some orange peel is be visible (due to the setup and my inexperience), but Iím happy with the result. Iím sure this orange peel can be buffed out later on.

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Body on!
In the autumn of 2021, an important and magical moment happened, the body was put back on the chassis. The chassis was prepared (chassis rubber installation) and some bits were installed on the body (like the heater hoses and the Y-ducts). A few days later, the body was installed (with help of family members).

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Being a Super Beetle, this does however not mean that the chassis rolls. To make this happen, I installed the steering box and the rest of the front suspension. New bearing and brake components were installed. I refurbished the steering column and replaced all the column wiring. I bought some used wheels (rims and tyres) from a Dutch trading website (I just really liked the look of these Weltmeister rims).

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Now, the beetle is back on itís feet again, beautiful!

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Body components
Besides the body, many components have to be painted as well (Autumn/Winter 2022). All the fenders, the hood, etc, must be painted in the same way as the body. After fitting the new fenders, I striped all the components of its paint and applied the same sequence of painting to the components (epoxy primer, sanding, primer surfacer, sanding). The insides of the fender were treaded with a layer of special coating to prevent stones to chip the paint from the inside.

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The doors were not completely painted in primer just yet. I was not very happy about the state of these doors. After the first layer of epoxy primer, the panel surface looked like a golf course. I put the doors aside and continued with the other parts.

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In the Spring (2022), the temperature was good enough to continue work on the doors. I ordered some replacement panels for the doors, but the fit was terrible, I send them back. Also, finding another set of solid doors was not yielding results. The structure of my doors was solid, no rust at the bottoms. The problem was the door panel itself, full of dents and deep scratches.

So, I ordered a dent removal set (a hammer) and tried to improve my sheet metal working skills. It worked, the panel surface looked better already. After his, I applied many (very) thin layers of filler and sanded almost everything away each time. I did not want to have thick layers of filler on the doors. After a few weeks, I was happy with the state of the doors.

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Next week, Iím planning of spraying the final layers of primer surfacer on them.

Thatís it for now
So much much more to do. For the remainder of this year, I expect to finish all the paint work (after a lot of sanding). I bought a big party tent to use as paint booth (with additional ventilation) and I will do the rest of the spraying in there.

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After that, the brakes (bleeding/testing), fuel system and the electrical system will installed. But Iíve got no schedule to keep up with.

Many of you will ask yourselves, what about the engine? Well, I decided to hand this to a professional. A mate of mine will restore the engine. I expect the engine to be returned somewhere this summer. Like the rest of the car, the engine is completely pulled apart and cleaned thoroughly. It will be restored to original spec.

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Thatís it for now! Thanks for reading and Iíll try to give a regular update from time to time! Please feel free to post feedback or ask questions! Thanks!


Last edited by AircooledBackcorner on Thu Mar 10, 2022 11:30 am; edited 9 times in total
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Tom K.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2022 11:10 am    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Very nicely done! That looks to be the perfect candidate for a restoration. Unmolested, reasonably complete, reasonably solid. Nice documentation of your work thus far. Keep us updated!

BTW, I have visited Rotterdam - wonderful city. I was wondering how popular the Beetle might be in Rotterdam given what the Germans did to that city back in WWII - makes Ukraine look like a child's sandbox in comparison.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2022 11:13 am    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Be aware that the convertible top on that is nowhere near correct. The 1971 Convertibles had a glass rear window, so looks like you'll need a window, rear metal window frame, and rear window wood or hard rubber mounting.

Here's my own 1971 (which happens to have a 1970 sedan engine lid, the 1971 convertible engine lids had 4 groups of slots). Mine also has 1970-only bumper-mount reflectors.
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Tim Donahoe
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2022 5:19 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Looks like youíve done excellent work on your project.

What color will the new top be?

Tim
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beanlover
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2022 10:14 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Looks great! And great work for having no experience!

I started one and stopped...but it's still in my garage...I am getting that cleaned out in a little over a week so I have room to work again just as it's starting to warm up here.

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Mine also has a messed up body where the top frame attaches. Haven't yet welded that up but I have the parts and the welder.

Just got this '71 and am using it as a driver:

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Once the red one is back on the road I'll get this one restored back to pristine and it will probably become a trailer queen while I drive the red one as my main.

Very interested in your progress! It's inspiring...keep it up!

I'm jealous you got the AE engine to go with yours...mine has a B6 replacement and some other '70 parts because it was (apparently) rear ended at some point.
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AircooledBackcorner
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2022 10:03 am    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Thanks all!

Tom K. wrote:
Very nicely done! That looks to be the perfect candidate for a restoration. Unmolested, reasonably complete, reasonably solid. Nice documentation of your work thus far. Keep us updated!

BTW, I have visited Rotterdam - wonderful city. I was wondering how popular the Beetle might be in Rotterdam given what the Germans did to that city back in WWII - makes Ukraine look like a child's sandbox in comparison.


Thanks! I guess I was lucky finding this one! Actually, I don't live in Rotterdam but very close to the German border (5 miles or so). The Beetle was very popular in the 70's, they are still seen on the road today on sunny Sunday afternoons Smile.

Cusser wrote:
Be aware that the convertible top on that is nowhere near correct. The 1971 Convertibles had a glass rear window, so looks like you'll need a window, rear metal window frame, and rear window wood or hard rubber mounting.


Yeah, got those already. That plastic window was a real eyesore.

Tim Donahoe wrote:
Looks like youíve done excellent work on your project.

What color will the new top be?

Tim


Thanks! The top will be the standard black. Some as the interior. Now I think about it, which colour should the inside be?

beanlover wrote:
Just got this '71 and am using it as a driver:


Wow, I can only wish mine will look like that right now! Great looking Beetle!
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2022 2:05 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

AircooledBackcorner wrote:
Wow, I can only wish mine will look like that right now! Great looking Beetle!


At the rate you're going yours will look even nicer in my opinion! Looking forward to seeing more updates.
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'71 Super Beetle Convertible - Iberian Red - project that's not yet on the road

'71 Super Beetle Convertible - Clementine Orange - practically perfect in every way (ok not really...but she's a beauty!) - named Clarabelle
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AircooledBackcorner
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2022 10:28 am    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Many many thanks for the replies. I also had a look at all the other projects, so nice to see all the progress!

Now, a quick update! First of all, the engine. The engine isn't restored by myself, but by a professional. The engine was a real mess. It looked like it was on fire at some point. Now however, a thorough restoration was performed! Both block halves were blasted clean and almost all parts were replaced:
- New cylinders heads
- New cylinders
- New pistons
- New camshaft
- New crankshaft
- etc.

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I expect that the engine will be reinstalled somewhere next month. I'll keep you posted.

As well, I completed the brake installation and bled the brakes.

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Unfortunately, after completing this, I discovered that my reservoir leaked (probably due to my installation technique), and I had to replace it with a new one.

Furthermore, I sanded all the body accessories (fender, hood, engine lid, etc) and painted the inside of them.

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Now, for the next few weeks I'm planning to finish the entire paint job (if the weather cooperates). After that, I'll install the inside noice/heat damping material and the electrical wiring loom.

I'll keep you posted!
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AircooledBackcorner
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2022 12:36 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

A quick update: two weeks ago, I've started to paint the outside of the body. The paint was laid down reasonably well (as far as my limited skill set will let me), but I made a another beginners mistake. After the 2k paint cured (the top layer at least), I sprayed a final layer of paint over it (like a mist), thinking it would blend in nicely. The result: a very dim gloss and a lot of orange peel.

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So, I sanded the outside down with grid 1000 and got a smooth surface again.

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And today, I tried again. And I'm happy with the result. All the other body parts were finished as well.

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As this is a 2K paint, it's not required to finish with a clear coat. Therefor, I'll let it harden for a few weeks before I start to polish. Never polished a car before, but what can possibly go wrong Very Happy?

In the mean time, I will install the hood and fenders (including the rubbers). I know, I can (should?) polish them individually before mounting them. The car however, has to move (due to construction work to the shed it's in now). Therefor, I would like to assemble it as far as possible to reduce the chance of damage to these parts/paintwork.

Besides painting, I also refurbished the (vent) windows and mechanism in the last few days. When the doors are in, they are ready to go in as well.

Stay tuned for more updates!
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2022 1:10 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Greetings from California!


Looks like you've done a lot of great work so far, and that paint looks fantastic for a beginner! Excellent job so far.
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AircooledBackcorner
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2022 1:28 am    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Finally, Iím able to post an update again.

Many times Iíve opened the forum to create a post, but got distracted by all the other projects on this forum! Itís great to see all these beetles being restored, and a great inspiration to continue!

After the paint job was finished, Iíve started to work on the engine bay by installing the main wiring loom, rubbers and the heat insulation material.

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Then it was time to move the beetle to my driveway.

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I continued by installing the rest of main wiring loom and the fuse box.

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Also, the paper (?) hoses to the front of the sills (a-pillar) were installed. I was unable to reach them by hand or with a tool. The solution was to reinforce them by adding a pvc ring inside the hose (with a larger diameter and a cut to create a spring-like tension.

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Now the hoses were installed, no problem!

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Now, some good stuff, I looked forward to this moment for a long time! I installed the fenders, hood and engine lid.

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I know, the front seems to be a bit high (new springs and shocks maybe, Iíll let it sit for a while and will get back to that later). Also, the 2K paint will need a polish, this will also be addressed in a later stage.

Mean while, the engine is almost ready as well. Canít wait to put it back in the car.

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It has to wait however. Within the next few weeks, my girlfriend and I are expecting our first baby. So I am sure that Iíll be busy with other stuff and catching up sleep Smile.

So, thatís it for now! Iíll keep you posted!
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mr2cv
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2022 4:18 am    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Keep up the good work! Would be nice to have another beetle convertible on the road in the Netherlands...
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waggss
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2022 6:09 am    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Awesome work! Just seeing your build for the first time and it has made me want to work more on my project. Look forward to the updates and CONGRATULATIONS on the baby!
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AircooledBackcorner
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2022 12:38 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Thank you both! I was hoping of giving an update earlier, but time and sleep were scarce the last few weeks Smile.

A quick update, dashboard is in. As with any aftermarket product, it was not perfect and the fit is not 100% correct. I tried to make the best of it and adjusted it slightly. Also reset the speedometer and installed the remainder of the electrics.

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I also inspected the roof construction and made an inventory what to buy. To summarize: almost everything not made of steel (all wood parts, fabric, etc).

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And the last few days I spend wet sanding and polishing.

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And Iíll continue polishing for the time being. I also expect the engine to be installed soon, Iíll keep you posted!
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2022 3:48 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

AircooledBackcorner wrote:
Mean while, the engine is almost ready as well. Canít wait to put it back in the car.
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Before you install the engine, rotate the generator 90 degrees clockwise for better cooling. Basically the plate with 4 screws that attaches to the rear-face of the fan shroud gets rotated.

This is a 1971 1600cc engine (USA) with vintage 009 distributor and Solex 30/31 on the dual port manifold using an adapter. See where the generator terminals should point?
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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, 2014 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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viiking
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2022 5:18 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Your skills are amazing.

I love your car but am jealous of one thing!

How much space you have to work! Most of us have small garages full of ďlife junkĒ getting in the way everywhere.
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AircooledBackcorner
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2022 11:55 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Cusser wrote:
Before you install the engine, rotate the generator 90 degrees clockwise for better cooling. Basically the plate with 4 screws that attaches to the rear-face of the fan shroud gets rotated.

This is a 1971 1600cc engine (USA) with vintage 009 distributor and Solex 30/31 on the dual port manifold using an adapter. See where the generator terminals should point?
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Thanks for the tip! Iíll make sure that it will be done!

viiking wrote:
Ö

Many thanks! The amount of space is great indeed! Iím lucky that my farther in law has a farm. Over there, I did most of the restoration. Now the beetle is at my driveway!
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ysteve1
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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2023 2:06 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

How is your project going. I'm also working on a 71 SB Convertible and having a few questions.

How did you wire / connect the internal rear view mirror light. It has 3 wires but not figuring out how they connect to the light (only see 2 connectors)

And how did you mount the rear kick panels? The rear seat brace has tabs but again not able to figure out how to get them to connect. It looks like the old ones were screwed into the brace, but it doesn't look correct or clean.

Thanks and your pictures are great!

-steve
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AircooledBackcorner
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2023 2:55 am    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

It has been a while since I last posted, but there is progress!

But first my apologies to Steve because it took me way to long to answer:

my rear view mirror broke, so I ordered a new one. In short, I think that the + prong is connected to the always hot red wire, and the - prong to the switched ground (left door switch).

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That implies that the ground is guided via the carís body. Therefor I cleaned the threats (a practice I always apply) and area around the bolt thoroughly. Now, the light should have 3 settings: off, switched door and on. Iíll receive my new mirror next week, Iíll let you know if this works!

The rear kick-panels where gone, so Iíll fabricate new ones (wood?) with speakers in them.

Then, my progress:

The polishing is finished for now:

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And all windows were installed:

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Lights were installed as well:

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Furthermore, I had a short somewhere in the electric system, and it took me 12 hours to find it! I disassembled the entire rats nest to make sure I got to the bottom of it!! It appeared to short in the steering column turn signal wiring!

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I also added the new fuel tank and strut enforcement. To Ďimproveí handling!

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Then, I finished my dashboard setup. I decided to install a genuine 71 radio from blaupunkt which I will connect to a Bluetooth amplifier (which I will hide in my glovebox) and 4 speakers (with front kick panels).

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Oh, and I blew the motor of my fresh air box, which is being refurbished at the moment.

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Since my last post, the car was moved to my new garage which Iím sharing with a friend.

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With my next post, I hope that finally have the engine and carpet installed.

Keep you posted!
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ysteve1
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2023 6:58 pm    Post subject: Re: '71 Super Beetle Convertible project Reply with quote

Car looks great, thanks for checking on the mirror and kick panels.
I have three wires coming out where the mirror mounts, i guess i'll try to ground the mirror through the screw hole.
As far as the kick panels, I was going to mount speakers off them but speaker depth is going to clear the battery so I think I'll mount them up on the rear deck

Have you tried putting your rear bumper on yet? I tried mine but it wouldn't clear the rear fender wells, so not sure if I got the wrong rear bumper, if there's a difference
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71 SB Vert (work in progress)
17 GLI Jetta
17 Passat
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