Thursday, 6 July 2017

5. Karmann Ghia Restoration - Engine Strip

In the absence of progress on the bodywork on my 1971 Karmann Ghia Convertible (My friend has an American car stuck on his car lift so can't do the welding yet), I decided to take a look at the engine. My wife bought me a VW engine cradle at Christmas and now is the time to try using it. I decided to use my motorcycle lift as a base for the stand and secured the swivel socket to the lift with 10mm bolts and wing nuts. This makes it easy to remove when I want to put a bike back on the stand. I then bolted the cradle to the engine and with a jack under the engine, slid the cradle into the socket and tightened the clamp and with a couple of the car's wheels on the other end of the lift, as a counterbalance, I was ready to start stripping the engine.

So the first thing was the exhaust, which to my surprise unbolted with very few problems and with the exception of the clamp bolts, where the exhaust connects to the heater boxes, which snapped, all other nuts bolts and screws came out OK. I have no intention of refitting this exhaust, but I never throw anything away until a project is completed. So right now, it's under the bench. The heater boxes were next and again they came off reasonably easily. These are in quite good condition and will just need cleaning up and painting.

With the exhaust and heater boxes off, I could now tackle the tin-ware and the fan housing was my next target. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, I haven't stripped a VW engine since the late 1960's and things have changed a little and removing the fan housing is one of them. I now discovered that you can't remove the side screws until the inlet manifolds have been removed and also there is an interesting shutter system on the back of the fan housing that also needs disconnecting. Well the manifolds came off by releasing the jubilee clips joining them to a rubber hose which in turn connects to the rest of the inlet manifold that goes up to the carburettor. So two clips and two nuts on each side and they were off. I could now reach the side screws on the fan housing and remove them and with the fan belt removed and the alternator clip released, the fan housing should lift off. Well it lifted about 30mm and then stopped. I had forgotten that the shutter arrangement in the fan housing is connected to the thermostat under the right hand cylinder barrels by a thin metal rod and this also needs disconnecting before the fan housing will lift off. So thermostat removed, off it came.

I could then remove the inlet manifold and carburettor and the petrol pump and distributor. You will note from the picture, that I have not attempted to remove the Bakelite fuel pump flange as I remembered that they usually snap the long stem that goes deep inside the engine block , that is on underside of this flange, when you try to get them out. So I decided to leave this until later. Removing the fan housing also properly revealed the oil cooler making it easy for this to be removed,

So now I could remove the final bits of tinware and expose the cylinder heads and barrels.I felt that this was a good time to remove the clutch and flywheel and see what condition they were in. Well the pressure plate was excellent but the centre plate and flywheel were not so good. It looks as though the clutch has been recently replaced but the flywheel was not. This seemed like a very odd thing to do, as the flywheel is so bad that it has ruined one side of the centre plate.

It took a while to discover why the flywheel had not been replaced. Then answer is simple, whoever did the clutch replacement could not get the flywheel off the engine and so left in on. I approached removing the flywheel with great confidence. I inserted my flywheel stop, put a 36mm socket on the flywheel nut and using a long power bar attempted to undo the nut. It did not move. So I slipped a long six foot tube over the power bar and tried again. This managed to lift the bike lift up on to two wheels but still didn't move the nut. So I got a man to press down with all his weight on the left side of the engine whilst I tried again with even more effort. This time there was a bang and the bar moved. Unfortunately it was not the nut coming undone. It was the teeth breaking off my flywheel stop. This nut is really on  tight! So now I had to make a bar to fit across the pressure plate fixing bolts and extend outwards and lock into the engine cradle. I then took the engine off the stand and sat it on the floor, I then got a man to stand on the cylinder heads while I got a ten foot tube over the power bar and tried again. The power bar was bending, the man was loosing his balance as the engine tipped and then suddenly it moved and the nut was loose. No wonder the person who changed the clutch did not change the flywheel.

The next stage was to drain the oil, which was black, and then remove the cylinder heads and the cylinders.The heads came off quite easily, although No1 cylinder came off with the head and was well stuck in the head. To my surprise the heads, valves and cylinders are in remarkable condition. No sign of scoring in the barrels or on the pistons and all the valves look good. It is my intention to have hardened valve seats fitted in the heads anyway but it's still nice to find good news for a change.

So how to remove the No1 cylinder
from the head.I thought that maybe I could just give the barrel a gentle tap with a rubber hammer to loosen it, but that didn't work. So I then tried a rubber belt wrench rapped around the cylinder and tried to turn it. That didn't work either. So I settled for soaking the joint in penetrating oil and leaving it for a two days. That didn't work either. I was running out of ideas, when I decided to try another approach. Aluminium expands at a greater rate than cast iron, so I thought I would try heating up the cylinder head with a blow-lamp and see if that would beak the seal with the barrel. Success, it did and the barrel could then be removed from the head.

 Now I could strip the heads and take a look at the mating surfaces on the valves. More good news, the valves are all good. Although I will probably fit new ones when I rebuild the engine anyway. It seems quite odd that the car is in such bad condition and the outside of the engine is so filthy and yet the inside of the engine is looking so good. Perhaps when I split the crank case the story will change!

So now it's time to delve deep inside and split the crank case. So I removed the four nuts on the oil pump and all of the fixings holding the crank case together. Then with a gentle tap, with a fibre hammer, on the casing I loosened the two halves just enough to release the pressure on the oil pump housing so that it could easily be removed.

Now a few more gentle taps and a little pulling and the two halves of the crank casing separated and revealed a really nice clean engine. The main bearings showed some slight scratches where grit had passed around them but no real signs of wear and the cam followers are completely unmarked. More importantly there is no sludge or metal deposits in the bottom of the crank case. Wow!!

The other thing that I noticed was quite a surprise. In my ignorance I had assumed that this car and its engine had been made in Germany. However under the grime on the side of the crank casing it clearly says "Brazil".

Well now for the final bit of the engine strip. The crank shaft.I decided, at this point, only to remove on con-rod and take a look at the big ends. True to form they are beautiful. It almost seems a shame to replace them, when they are so good. But when you are so deep into an engine I feel that I should fit new bearings just to be on the safe side.

So the only bit left to look at now is the back main bearing and to do that I've got to remove the oil thrower, the distributor drive and the camshaft drive and this requires the use of some more heat and the use of a puller.

As you can see, I've laid out the parts in the order that they were removed and photographed them so that, when I start the rebuild, I have a record of the correct order of assembly.

As anticipated, the main bearing is beautiful. Unfortunately the puller had chipped a tooth on both the distributor drive and the camshaft drive. I suppose I could simply chamfer the chipped teeth and re-fit them but, knowing me, I will probably replace them when it comes to the rebuild.

Well that's the end of the engine strip. I'm still having trouble locating two of the nylon bushes for the soft top.

If anyone has any idea where I might get two of these bushes, please let me know.

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Copyright 07.06.17 all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

4. Karmann Ghia Restoration - Engine out & more

Well my 1971 Karmann Ghia Convertible has been measured up for its tow bar, which was cleverly done by bending mild steel rods into the correct shape and lengths. These can then be used as templates to make the proper square tubing parts for the tow bar. So now I can commence further stripping and that starts with the engine.

My experience of removing VW engines is quite good, although the last time I removed one was about 1969, however the bolts are still in the same places although some things have changed. The main one being the position of the oil cooler, which is now on the back of the fan housing and stops you reaching the top left bolt. I discovered that to combat this VW introduced a hank bush in that position and the bolt now has to be removed from over the top of the gearbox and that's pretty awkward.

Anyway with the front tray removed, all wiring, the throttle cable, heater cables and heater pipes removed, I could now undo all four fixings on the bell housing and remove the engine. Easier said than done. It was stuck and required a fair bit of levering and pulling and adjusting of the jack under the engine, before it finally pulled backwards and could be dropped out from underneath the car. Although this engine runs, it is my intention to completely strip and overhaul it, but not yet. My main priority at this point is the bodywork.

My friend, who has offered to do the welding for me (He's much better at it than I am) has said that he wants to transport the car up to his workshop to do it, so I am limited what I can do before he collects it. So I thought I would look at the areas that need replacement panels first and the Near Side Rear needs it the most.

I have received quite a few of the replacement panels, so I offered them up to the car and drew around them with a black felt tip pen. My next task was to find solid metal where the black lines are to have something to weld to. Well the more I sanded with my DS orbital sander, the more filler I found. In fact it was so thick that it measured 10mm thick in some places, and my sander was just eating sanding discs. So I decided to use the angle grinder fitted with a heavy duty sanding disc. This cut through the filler and I did find good metal but filled the workshop with clouds of dust. So I have now ordered a dust extractor to fit my angle grinder before I do any more.

So that left me with the question "what else can I get on with?" So I decided to turn my attention to the soft top. More bad news. Now I already knew that the car would need a new hood and headlining, but now I discover that the front wooden bow is completely rotten and needs replacing and the price quoted for that is very high. One of the metal cones that passes through this wood and located the hood onto the top of the windscreen frame snapped off.

So I turned my attention to the rubber seals that are connected to the hood and fit around the windows. These are perished and need replacing. So far the quote I have for these seals is over £100. I can't believe the cost for 4 bits of rubber.

So now I decided to take a look at the hood frame itself. This will need to be shot blasted and powder coated before the new hood is fitted. But first there are two nylon bushes that need replacing and no one seems to have any or have any idea where I can get them from. If you know where I can get them please get in touch with me. This is not just a straight bush as the inside hole is concave to house a round pivot ball.

Finally I need a new rear window catch, as the old one has a broken lever on it. Again, if you know where I can get one, please let me know. If not, I think that I can make this part and possible fix the old one.

I also managed to buy a complete second hand interior for the car, seats, carpets and door cards all in the right colours, although they will need some attention before they will be ready to fit. But at least that may have saved me some money.

Well that's it for now, I have no idea what the next stage will be so keep a look out for the next blog.

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Copyright 07.06.17 all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

3. Karmann Ghia Retoration - Hood off and more

Time to look at removing convertible hood off my 1971 Karmann Ghia and at first glance it doesn't look too difficult. There appears to be three large 10mm bolts holding it in place on each side of the rear quarter. However closer inspection revealed what looks like a wire rope passing around the bottom edge of the hood and terminating on each side, near the fixing bolts I mentioned, with a threaded adjuster. So I traced the path of the wire rope and found that its job is to pull the back of the hood into a groove around the body, holding the hood in place.

So I released the wire rope at both ends, expecting the back of the hood to fall out of the groove at the back of the car and allow me to lift the whole back of the hood up. Wrong! Firstly nothing moved. So I used a screwdriver and prised the edge of the hood out of the groove, only to discover that the wire rope had corroded in the middle and snapped long ago and that the hood was only held in place by rust and old age. But the hood still would not lift. So now I lifted the rear corner of the hood and found a webbing strap and some horse hair all held in place with a curved metal strip screwed to the body.

So I set about undoing what I thought were pozi headed self tappers. As you can see, I couldn't move them and after trying cutting slots in them, I finally decided to cut the heads off. To my surprise this revealed a second metal strip with more screws in it and these wouldn't move either. So I cut those off too.

 Now with both metal strips off both sides of the hood I was sure that the rear of the hood would now be free. It wasn't! So time to look inside the car and I found that the headlining was glued to the inside bodywork and trapped under the hinges for the opening rear window.

Well once I had removed the headlining and the hinges, I could now see why the screws in the corners wouldn't come out. Under the headlining were hiding the remains of 14 nuts and bolts that I had cut, thinking they were self tapping screws.

 So at last the rear of the hood is free and I can attempt to remove it.

All that is left  that is left is the six large 10mm bolts holding the hood to the bodywork. These came out quite easily and I now needed help to lift the hood off the car.

And here it is. Close inspection shows one disconnected strut and a main pivot point, that looks as though it should have a rubber bush in it, that has completely collapsed. This leaves me with a small dilemma. I will need to repair the frame before it is re-trimmed but I wanted to leave it in one piece so that the trimmers could see how it goes together. I think the answer may be to call the trimmers and see what they say.

So no I am back at the front of the car and can completely strip the dashboard and wiring. At first I thought that I would label each wire so that I know where it goes when it comes to putting it together again. But it soon became apparent that there was so much none standard wiring that it was pointless and so I decided to just strip it out and try and figure it out when the time comes to rewire. I did however notice that the windscreen demister tubes were completely missing so I will have to source them and try and figure out how they fit.

Right one last job. I removed the front under wing cover plates to enable me to remove the radio aerial and take a look at the petrol filler cap. Well the aerial was easy and came out with no trouble. But the petrol filler was a different story. This picture shows under the wing and no matter how I tried, I could not see how this filler tube is held in place and it would not move. So I scoured the Internet for help and found none. So after cutting the rubber breather pipe on the side and a lot of pulling, poking and prodding, I jammed a screwdriver down the side of the pipe between it and the large rubber grommets at each end and squirted lots of WD40 in. I then pulled down and pushed in on the pipe trying to force it through the grommets.

After about 20 minutes of this and a movement of about 5mm the WD40 started to melt the under seal and revealed a thin jubilee clip around the bottom grommet. Obviously it would not unfasten, but a quick cut with the Dremel and off it came. Once this clip had been removed, the pipe simply pulled down and then out. It's simple when you know how!!

The final part of this job is to remove the petrol flap lock mechanism. This had completely seized and despite all my attempts finally broke its aluminium casting whilst trying to remove it. So I'll have to find a new one of those.

Well that's it for this episode, I'm not sure whether the next one will be tow bar in or engine out but we will see.

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Copyright 04.04.17 all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

2. Karmann Ghia Retoration - The strip begins

Well the stripping has begun on my 1971 VW Karmann Ghia convertible and the more I uncover the worse it gets, although that is no surprise. On every restoration that I have done, when I've started to pull them apart they have always revealed hidden disasters.

As mentioned in my previous blog, I had decided to do the tow bar first. Well as usual, that didn't work out and although the car has now been measured for the tow bar, there is no further progress in that direction. So I decided to get on with the rest of the project.

The first thing was to try and find out how far the rust has spread under the paint. So I set about the car with a very heavy duty wire wheel mounted on my angle grinder and wherever I saw signs of rust I attacked it with the wire wheel. This disclosed holes around the headlights and around the front air intakes. Obviously both sills have gone and, now the bumpers are removed I can see considerable rust on the rear panel.

Of course the other problem with stripping a car that is this old, is that many of the screws and bolts you try to remove simply snap. Even the bigger nuts and bolts were seized solid. Fortunately some of my special tools came in handy, particularly my air wrench and some special sockets, that I was given for Christmas, that have a conical cutting inner shape and dig into old rounded off bolt heads. Many of the tiny pozi headed self tapping screws, holding in the interior trim just would not move and I had to resort to cutting a slot in them with the Dremel and then using a straight cut screwdriver.

The next stage, after removing the bumpers, was to take off the bonnet and boot lids and strip all of the furniture off them. This was quite easy compared to items that had to withstand the weather on their fixings. However, removing the battery from the engine compartment revealed the inside of the near side wing and this was a surprise. There were three rows of small holes drilled the length of the inner wing about 60 holes in all and these all had small amounts of filler poking through the holes.These holes combined with the huge amount of filler that I found on the outside of the rear wing has convinced me that this car had had a near side accident at some time and that these holes were used to pull out the wing as best they could. If you click on this picture of the outer wing, you can see just how deep the filler is on this side.

Well, with all of the outer trim, lights, badges etc. removed, it's time to look at the interior.
So "out with the seats" - mistake!!!, I'll explain that in a minute. The drivers seat slid out easily and, apart from needing a new foam base, revealed that it had a seat heater fitted in it (not standard). The passenger seat was not so easy and required a friend to pull it whilst I pushed with both feet from the rear, but as you can see, it did come out eventually. Now the carpets and door sill trims can be removed and reveal just how bad things are underneath. Well the front of the floor pan is OK and the off side rear section is too, but the near side rear floor pan is only held together with the sound deadening material stuck to it.

I now decided that this was a good time to remove the windscreen, but first I felt that it would be easier if I took the steering wheel and column out first. Not too difficult but someone has already replaced the ignition switch before and all of the wires have butt crimp connectors on them and will not withdraw through the hole in the dashboard. So I've had to cut them. That done and with the steering coupling removed, it all came off quite easily. As did the padded top on the dashboard, which is only held on with plastic nuts and will have to be replaced.

Now to reveal why taking the seats out was a mistake. It's time to remove the windscreen! I know the correct way to do this. You sit on the seat, put your feet on the glass and gently push it out forwards with someone to catch it on the other side. But I had already removed the seats!!! So I decided to try a different approach, as the screen rubber seemed quite soft and I had no one here to help me. So I tried gently levering the rubber out from the front. I should have known better and you know what's coming. Yes I broke the windscreen. !!!****   Idiot. The surprising news is that I found you can still buy one, but I could have done without the expense.  Another look at the floor pan revealed that the heater channels will also need repairing.

I don't know if you've seen the episode of Wheeler Dealers on TV, where they renovate a Karmann Ghia? But if you did, you will recall that Edd had to repair a large strange hole under the dashboard that he informed us once held an auxiliary heater for the USA. Well mine has got the same hole (neatly covered with masking tape), so this will also need to be repaired.

Now for the doors. Removing the handles and the door card is easy, just a couple of philips screws on the handles and then unclip the card and lift and off it comes. But getting the window glass out is a different matter.

To remove the window on a VW beetle, you simply unbolt everything and draw the glass out through the bottom of the door aperture inside the car. Not so with a Karmann Ghia. I downloaded a manual extract to tell me how to do it. First you have to remove the chrome and rubber strip on the top edge of the door. Then, looking down the hole, you can see two rubber buffers. These also have to be removed. Neither of these jobs are easy as you are literally working down the slot. But the next bit is worse. You then remove the window mechanism (that's easy) and that leaves the window with the metal plate fixed to the bottom of it. The manual then says remove the window upwards through the slot. This is almost impossible. I suppose that when the car was new and things hadn't rusted then the window and plate might have fit through the slot. But now, with age, it is a nightmare trying to lever the rusty metal plate through a slot that has now distorted with age and now has wavy internal edges. I was certain that I was going to break the windows, but by some miracle I didn't. However the thought of getting them back in again, when the doors have nice new and soft paintwork is somewhat worrying.

My next task will be removing the convertible hood. I've already taken the rear window out, which was just a couple of bolts and so I suppose the next thing to do is unbolt it and see what happens. I would like to remove it in one piece so that the trimmers can see how it should be when I take it to them. But I can also see that there are some repairs necessary on the frame too.

But more of that next time.

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Friday, 3 March 2017

1. Karmann Ghia Retoration - The project

Having restored several vintage motorcycles and built a miniature Land Rover, this is my biggest project yet and looks to be a major challenge. Looking at the photo above, the car looks in fairly good condition, but you will see from the photos that follow that this is not the case. The car requires significant body repairs and chassis repairs and I estimate that, as it took me 2 years to renovate classic motorcycles up to concours standard, then this project is likely to take up to 4 years. So this is going to be a long blog.

My history regarding VW's is that I left school, at the age of 16, and became an apprentice motor mechanic at Beardalls of Nottingham, who were at the time the VW main agents in the area. During this time I worked on all models of VW's and after leaving for a short time to work on other makes of cars, I returned to the same garage as a service advisor. So despite it being a very long time ago, I'm still pretty familiar with how the car works.

So before I start to strip it, let's take a look at what I am faced with:

The chassis is in bad condition and needs new floor pans welding in. This will mean removing the whole body from the chassis and then cutting out any rotted panels and replacing them with new ones.

Of great concern are the rear quarter panels, particularly on the near side. These have rotted away. But of greater concern is the fact that this is the last point at which the body is connected to the chassis. Everything rear of this point, where the body continues to the back of the car, simply hangs over the gearbox and engine compartment.

The result of this is that when I lift the car and take the weight off the wheel, the gap between the doors and the body widens. Equally, when I drop the car back down onto its wheels, the gap closes again. This means that the car is literally bending and when I come to welding new quarter panels in place, I will have to ensure that I support the back of the body to close the gaps before welding.

The rest of the body isn't much better.

So I'm under no illusion how big a job this is or how long it is likely to take.

The good new is that the 1600cc engine starts and runs OK. Two jobs that I've had to do right away are the petrol tank and the front brakes.

The petrol tank had a bad leak and the smell of petrol was significant whenever you approached the car. I removed it and found that the underside of the tank was perforated so badly that I had to send it away for refurbishment and then had to order a new pipe connector which was also fractured. Well it's back now and looks great, but there is no point in refitting it, as it would just have to come off again.

The next problem was the front brakes. These had seized completely and you couldn't turn the front wheels at all. If I'm going to work on this car, I must be able to roll it. So as a temporary measure, I removed the two seized front brake callipers and simply placed them on top of the front chassis, without disconnecting the brake pipes. This also revealed the front discs, which are so badly corroded that they will have to be replaced.

My intention, when this car is fully restored, is not only to show it at rallies but also to use it to tow my motorcycle trailer. This will enable me to enter the concours competitions for both bikes and cars. This however means that I will need to fit a tow bar on this car. This creates two more problems; firstly I have searched the Internet and cannot find a tow bar  available. So I will have to make one. Secondly, I may need to raise the rear suspension a little to accommodate the tow bar. If I am going to do this, I would rather do it now before the car is renovated to avoid possible damage to the new paintwork. Also I need the full weight of the car on the suspension to set the correct height. So I can't commence the stripping process until the tow bar is fitted. So strange as it may seem, that is my next priority.

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Copyright 03.03.17 all rights reserved.

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