Saturday, February 12, 2011


Well, I started out the weekend ready to finish the super beetle up so I could take it down and get it aligned. The first thing I did was change the universal joints on the steering shaft. The only bad thing with this job is that you have to remove the gas tank. I hate dealing with gas but it has to be dealt with.

 Here is the universal shaft I am trying to change. This photo is from the bottom of the car looking up. You can only see the one joint. This joint was completely shot. The upper one wasn't in too bad of shape but it is one complete unit so the whole thing was changed.

 This photo shows the shaft from the upper side that is usually covered by the fuel tank. You can see the old boots that at one time covered the shaft and kept dirt and gunk out of the bearings. They are completely shot now.
 The first thing I had to do to even get to the shaft was drain the fuel tank. I pulled the lower hose that feeds the carb. The gas gauge doesn't work so I wasn't sure how much fuel was in there but it's a bug. They only hold 10 gallons at most right? Well after filling up 1 five gallon bucket and 2 two gallon buckets it was finally empty.
 This is the gas tank I am trying to remove. It is held on by a bunch of hoses (filler hose, a bunch of venting hoses and an outlet hose) and 4 bolts. I removed everything and it still seemed stuck. I gave it a hefty tug and it popped out. I figured it was the gasket sticking. (You will find out what it was stuck on later in the blog.)
 OK with a little bit of struggling, a smashed finger and a cuss word here or there I finally got the shaft out. I had to get Dixie to come out and pull the steering wheel towards her while I pried under the hood. Here is the new one and the old one side by side. The new one comes with sealed bearings so there is no need to get new boots like the old one had.
 I installed the lower joint onto the steering box and now I just need to get the upper one on to the steering shaft.
 Here it is all installed and torqued down. The steering column is designed this way for a reason. If you have a front end impact, this joint will crush so that you don't get impaled by the steering wheel and shaft. My 69 bug doesn't have this joint. It just connects directly to the shaft. Hmm, I guess I won't tailgate anymore.
 I installed the gas tank with new hoses and clamps and bolted it down . I put new hoses and clamps on because there was always a strong smell of gas in the garage. I figured this would fix that. (The source of the gas smell will be revealed later on in the blog.)  I looked at the fuel gauge while I was under the hood and found a nut was missing off the wire that goes from the gauge to the sending unit. I put the nut back on but haven't checked to see if that fixed the problem. I also installed a new speedometer cable because the old one was broken at the cap on the hub. The clean black cable is the new one routed in.

 Here is the cable at the cap side. It fits through a square hole and is held on by a small clip. I haven't yet put on the clip but it goes where the slot is.

I jacked up the back of the car at this point so I could pull the tires off and take all 4 down to get balanced. Supers are very high maintenance when it comes to having balanced tires. They want them to be perfectly balanced or they like to shake. I figured it's cheap insurance to get them balanced. When I took the rear wheels off I looked closer at the hubs trying to determine what was making the horrible noises I keep hearing from the back when I drive it. I was surprised to see that the tires wobbled up and down and side to side. They aren't suppose to do that and that only means one thing. The wheel bearings are shot.  That means the stub shaft has to come out and bearings replaced. I figured I would talk to Darryl at Bob's VW and make sure my suspicions were correct. I dropped off the tires at discount and Darryl confirmed what my fears were. The bad thing is that I took off the opposite drum that I had replaced already and found that that one was completely shot also. I am surprised it had not stripped out all the way. It was hanging on by a sliver of metal. Anyways in order to pull the stub shaft out to get to the bearings you have to remove the axle at the shaft itself. Here it is removed and pulled up out of the way.                                                                      

 Here is the outer roller bearing of the shaft. You can see how much it is sagging if you look at the runner. The bearings are rusted and galled.
 Here is the stub shaft. Luckily it is in good shape.
 Here is the inner ball bearing. It has a little grease still but the shaft moves like crazy and there shouldn't be any at all.

I picked up some parts and the tires and went back home. I figured I would get the gas tank all buttoned up and the front tires back on and then worry about the back end. That is where the fun began. You have to remember that I have the gas tank in completely now with filler neck and hoses routed and all 4 bolts in. I decided to put the fuel back in the tank. I got a funnel and poured about 6 gallons in when I heard some dripping. I thought I had spilled some and didn't worry too much about it. I then heard a lot of dripping. I stopped filling the tank and looked under the car and the whole front end was dripping with fuel. I quickly did a mental list and knew all the hoses were on but still the puddle was getting bigger by the minute. I grabbed a bucket but there was so much fuel running down the pan I couldn't do much to catch it. I then went in panic mode because I pictured me and the car going up in flames with my house. Sorry I didn't get a picture of the fuel pouring out but believe me it was pouring. (Dixie thinks I should of gotten one.) I then figured my only option was to pull the tank out and find out why it was leaking so bad. I wish I had a video camera going because I set a world record on removing a gas tank from a bug in just under 3.5 seconds. I got the tank out just as the fuel puddle underneath the car reached the back tires. (Remember the fuel tank is in the front.) I pulled the tank up and quickly found the source of the leak as I cut my hand on it. Here it is

That is a hole right in the back of the gas tank. Look closely and you might see some blood with a piece of my finger on it.  The gas on my hand cleaned the wound nicely though. Anyways, Remember when I said the tank felt like it was stuck and I thought it was just the gasket sticking. Well, here is the rest of the story. Here is a picture showing where on the tank the hole is located.It is on the hump in the middle of the picture.
I looked around and saw the reason the hole is there. This is looking inside the trunk right underneath the fuel tank. This picture shows a matching hole. It had a screw in it when I first looked at it. (Notice how wet the area is due to fuel filling it up.)
I wondered why a screw was there and found this inside the car. Look closely and you can see the hole in the firewall. I am holding a 12 volt socket (cigarette lighter) and the hole had the screw that grounded the outlet.
 Here it is on the floor. I guess there is no room between the tank and the firewall. I am amazed that it didn't leak more fuel then it did. I guess as I pulled the tank it popped the screw out and when I put it back in it it stopped sealing. That explains why I kept smelling fuel all the time.
Anyways, I guess I need to figure out a way to seal up the hole in the tank because the tank is in great shape other than the hole in it. I am airing out my garage and bandaging my hand. I really stink like fuel even though I showered. Ha Ha oh well, I guess no one will sit by me at church tomorrow. So that was the adventures of the super for this weekend. All in all it was a good weekend. The front end is done except for the fuel tank, and the back end needs a little work but nothing too difficult. The car didn't fall on me and I didn't blow myself and/or the garage up so I guess I can't complain. Until next time, If you smell fuel around don't worry it's just me. Hey at least I'm not a smoker.

1 comment:

David said...

You mentioned your 69 bug didn't have a the safety feature of the U-joint to collapse in a crash, but it should have a collapsible section, like in this picture: . You might want to handle that if it doesn't!