Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Replacing a VW Bugs clutch cable and bowden tube.

I put myself in a bind this week. I had planned to get the bug on the road last Saturday but ended up having some set backs. This was one of them. I tried to adjust my clutch cable and the end was so rusted on that it snapped the threaded part off the cable. Here you can see the piece that broke. Monday I made an appointment to get the bug aligned at my favorite alignment shop. They are usually about  2 weeks out for alignments but when I called they wanted to do it Thursday. I put it off until Friday morning. That means I have to get the bug up and running this week so I can drive it down Friday morning so it can be aligned.
 I ran to Bob's VW in West Valley and picked up a new clutch cable, bowden tube and wing nut. I lucked out and he had them all. Here they are ready to be installed. Now it was time to get to work.
Since my cable broke I didn't need to remove the wing nut on the rear of the cable. That would be the first step to do if your cable is still intact. I removed the drivers seat to have more room. Next you need to remove your pedal cluster.
It is held on by 2 17 MM bolts. You will need to loosen your throttle cable at the carburetor to remove the pedal cluster. after the bolts are removed you need to remove the brake push rod that goes to the master cylinder. I unthreaded mine and left the 1 piece connected to the brake pedal. You can now pull and wiggle the pedal assembly towards you. The clutch cable may stay connected or it may come off the clutch pedal hook. If it comes off you can poke your finger into the hole and grab it to pull it out.
Here is the pedal cluster removed. You can buy rebuild kits for the pedals and if yours are in rough shape this is the perfect time to rebuild them. Mine were in really good shape so I just ran with them.
I had to reach in and grab the cable. Here it is as it is just beginning to come out of the tunnel. The po had wrapped wire on the cable to try to keep it connected to the hook when they installed it.
Pull the cable out now from the front of the tunnel. Here it is coming out. It will initially come out pretty easy and then it will get hard as the threaded rod gets pulled through the bowden tube. When it clears that it will get easier again. If your bowden tube is really crusted up you may need to remove the tube first and cut the cable to get it out. Mine pulled out pretty easily.
I found the old cable to be frayed pretty bad in one spot. I am glad that the cable end broke after finding this. It is much nicer to change the cable before it is up and running then to have it break somewhere on the road. Here is the new one and the old one together.
With the cable removed, it is now time to feed the new cable through the tunnel. Make sure you grease up the cable as you are installing it into the tube that is in the tunnel. I greased it a little at a time as I pushed it in.
Isaac took this picture as I was feeding the cable in. It will go easily until you hit the bowden tube. When you get that far you can try to wiggle the cable around and get it through the tube or you can remove the bowden tube and feed it through first then re-install the tube.
I planned on replacing my bowden tube so I just removed it before running the cable. Here is my old tube. It was so hard and crusty that I found it easier to remove the bracket that holds it onto the transmission. You should be able to just bend the tube and pull it out of the bracket but mine was too old and hard to do that.
Here the tube is removed and you can just see where the cable is poking through the end of the tunnel tube. that is where the bowden tube connects in the front.
You can see how my old tube is pretty much molded to it's shape. They should be flexible. When you pull out your old tube make sure you look at how many washers are on the rear of the tube. That will give you the needed flex in the tube to keep your clutch from chattering. Mine had 2 washers on it but the bend in my old tube was pretty excessive I thought.
A shot of the new and the old bowden tubes. When I tried to straighten the old one out it cracked all up. I was glad I had bought a new one. Feed the cable through the tube and then reinstall it to the transmission. You want about an inch or so bend in the bowden tube. It is adjusted by adding or removing the washers on the rear of the tube.
At this point you are now ready to re-install the pedal cluster. Take a look at your clutch hook and make sure it is not worn. Mine had a little bit of wear but not enough to be concerned about it. These are known to wear so much that the hook will break and you will lose your ability to shift. If yours is worn a bunch just replace it when you rebuild your pedal assembly.
I have always used a rubber band to keep the cable connected to the hook as is shown here. It works great for me and will not interfere with anything in the tunnel. Connect your cable and wiggle the pedal cluster into place. Make sure you install the throttle cable and line up your brake pedal push rod all together. It takes some patience and you may wish you had another set of hands when you do this.
When everything is lined up, install the bolts and it will look like this. Your home free now, just adjust your free play in the clutch and the brake and hook your throttle cable back up to the carburetor and your finished. You should have 3/16 to 9/32 of an inch play in the brake pedal and 3/4 to 1 inch of play in the clutch pedal.
Here is my new bowden tube installed. I still have more bend in it then it calls for but the clutch works good and I have no chatter. I might pull out a washer sometime later when I get more time but I think I will drive it for awhile and see how it performs.
You can't see it too well but I installed the new wing nut on the clutch cable. When you do this you should put some anti seize on the threads of the cable. This is also the best area for a fuel filter in my opinion. It is tucked up and out of the way and it's not in the engine compartment where it creates a fire hazard.
Me and Isaac took the bug out for it's maiden voyage on the snow packed roads here in Utah. I was very pleased. It shifted well, ran well and drove good. It should be a great driver for the winter. Here is the to do list before I get it aligned on Friday. It seems like a lot of stuff but it's all pretty easy from here and not very time consuming.
I backed it into the garage so I could work on the muffler tomorrow and to make sure reverse works. It did.
I am pretty sure it has a freeway flier transmission in it because it is very high geared. It will be great for my commuting to work and back on the freeway but not the best for wheeling. I will have to take it out on the trails when I get a chance and test it out. If it sucks maybe I will swap transmissions with Ed. I have always said that if Ed's trans goes out I will put in a freeway flier. Maybe I won't have to wait for that to happen. Until next time, try to stay warm.

1 comment:

Tony Williams said...

Good afternoon,

I will be making a similar repair to my car this week and was wondering if it's possible if I could be in communication with you to ask questions when something arises during my install.

Hopefully won't need you much would be awesome to have some Assistance's if possible.

What I'm working on is a Kelmark Ferrari GT which was belt on a bug frame. Pretty neat could and would appreciate any help