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Posted by on in NOS parts
It was good meeting Aaron Britcher over the VW Classic weekend after years of long distance correspondence. He made his way over from Oz along with a contingent of mad VW freaks who all seemed to be having a great time visiting the Southern California VW scene. Aaron is the owner of the world's fastest VW 1500 panel van, among other VWs, and he has a great collection of Type 3 rarities with an emphasis on performance parts. With his eye always open for the rare and the unusual, it's no wonder he came across something at ISP West so obscure that no one would have even imagined its existence, let alone known to look for it.A 1962 1500 badge that had escaped the final die stamping that would have released it from the sheet, seen here with a finished badge for comparison. I guess it goes without saying that it's...

Posted by on in Events
As usual I got my first proper sunburn of the summer at last weekend's VW Classic. I hit as many events as possible this year, starting with Gizmo Bob Walton's BBQ on Thursday, followed on Saturday by OCTO, Ed Economy's Toy and Literature Show, ISP West's open house, the Type 34 Registry dinner, and the VW Classic itself on Sunday. Kind of a marathon, but well worth it. It was good catching up with the everyone and to get to meet Adam Barrett, Aaron Britcher, Eric Farnsworth, and a bunch of Samba regulars.Bob was kind enough to let me drive his Hot VWs-featured '62 notch to the events on Saturday, and the first stop was OCTO. It was my first OCTO and it didn't disappoint. Here are Gerson's freshly stamped Type 3 pans at the swap: After a swing through the toy and literature show it was off to ISP for...

Posted by on in reproduction parts
The past few years have seen a marked increase in the availablity of reproduction parts for VW 1500s and 1600s. ISP West has lead the way, reproducing a number of obsolete Type 3 parts over the last ten+ years, and they've been joined by the now-defunct PoP of Thailand (Simon Kelley has begun to pick up where PoP left off), Rudiger Huber, BerT3 and others, including my own self. But in the last year things have really picked up.The latest news is that the original "salt & pepper" wool cloth used from 1961–63 is now available for purchase from Gizmo Bob Walton. The possibility of reproducing this cloth has been talked about for many years, and it's amazing that it's finally here. I dropped in on Bob yesterday and saw one of several giant rolls. It looks fantastic.Equally exciting news: new right and left side floorpan halves for Type 3s are...

Posted by on in reproduction parts
Over the past two months I've been testing my water slide decals in harsh conditions to see how they hold up and if wax or a clear coat will provide added durability. I applied three decals to an old glovebox lid, giving one a clear coat of enamel, another several coats of wax, and the third left untreated as a control. I subjected them to weeks of full sun—at times over 80°F—and to damp 45°F nights. I dipped them in water regularly to simulate the effects of normal washing. I simulated daily wear and tear by rubbing the surface. The decals showed no ill effects after a few weeks of this treatment, so I decided it was time to pull off the gloves and give them the Extreme Humidity Test. I sealed them in an airtight bag with a few ounces of water and left them in the hot sun for...

Posted by on in restoration
As mentioned in a previous post, 1962 Type 3 rear brakes are different than those on later models. One of the most obvious differences is the presence of an oil slinger on each drum, which uses centrifugal force to direct any gear oil that gets past the axle seal away from the brake shoes and to the outside of the drum. The Type 3 slinger (part number 311 501 631) is a unique one-year-only part only used up to chassis number 0 076 299. Many have been discarded over the years during service, so if you're in need of one, as I am, you're in for a search.After looking for awhile and following a few leads to dead ends I decided to try another approach. Jason Weigel suggested I try modifying a Type 1 or Type 2 part to fit. Yes, 1950s beetles and buses also had oil slingers, and they're easy to find due...

Posted by on in restoration
I picked up the restored speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, and radio grille from North Hollywood Speedometer today. Nice job Patrick, thanks! My Ghia is not worthy....

Posted by on in NOS parts
To go along with these. ...

Posted by on in restoration
I have always dreaded brake work on older aircooled VWs because of the hassle of dealing with the rear axle nuts. Getting the nuts loose involved a breaker bar, a good length of cheater pipe and some colorful language. Getting them tight again was something I was never able to master with hand tools, so I would do the best I could and then limp over to a local shop to have them torque the nuts to spec. I can't believe it's taken me this long to finally buy a torque multiplying tool to do the job. This tool, popularly known as the Torque Meister or Torque Dude, multiplies the torque nine times, allowing the high-torque axle nuts and flywheel gland nut to be removed and installed with simple hand tools and minimal effort.Once I got the left rear drum off I found a hardened sludgy film on everything. I knew...

Posted by on in reproduction parts
I've ordered a lot of parts and some tools I need to get the Ghia on the road again. While I'm waiting for them to arrive, I thought I would do some durability tests on the water slide decals I had printed a few years ago. Andy Holmes reported recently that the edges of his Ghia's decals began to flake, so I sent him a set of replacements. I don't know what the cause was—humidity? rapid temperature changes of the metal surfaces they were applied to? offgassing from recently applied paint? or some combination thereof?—but water decals are fragile in the best of circumstances, and I want to test a few ways of making them more durable.Using a glovebox lid with original paint as a test board, I have applied three air cleaner decals. The one on the left was masked and coated with clear enamel (two mist coats and a...

Posted by on in NOS parts
Not long ago I bought a pair of NOS SWF Type 3 wiper arms. They have the part number 311 955 407A, and they'll fit 1967 and earlier Type 3s. They're not the wipers my Ghia would have come with originally, though, but rather a later part that replaced the earliest design. The original 1961–66 wiper arms, part number 311 955 407, looked like this:[image pilfered from thesamba.com]The arms that replaced them have a slightly different appearance:As far as I can tell, the 311 955 407A arms were introduced in the 1966 model year, superseding the earlier arms as replacement parts. I'm not sure what the functional difference is between these and the earlier arms; they both have the same poor design for clamping the arm to the wiper shaft: a small set screw that fights in vain to hold the wiper arm to the shaft against substantial torque. Working against the laws of physics, they would...

Posted by on in restoration
I got to the left rear suspension today. There was evidence of a substantial brake fluid leak, so I'll need to do a complete brake once-over before the Ghia sees the road again. The left rear drum is missing its oil thrower, so I should start tracking one of those down while I'm at it. It's a Type 3–specific part that was only used until chassis number 0 076 299, a month or two into the 1963 model year, so I'll have a search on my hands. It's probably time for me to buy one of those Torque Meister tools (a.k.a. Torque Dude), so I can get the axle nuts on and off without breaking a breaker bar.I cleaned up the wheel and found the April 1962 date code. I have all five of the original wheels, but I also have a set of NOS early Type 3 wheels that I'll probably end...

Posted by on in restoration
I spent some quality time under the Ghia today, cleaning and painting the right rear suspension area. There was a lot of surface rust that I wanted to address. It was over two years ago that I cleaned off years worth of grease that had built up, and rust began forming very quickly after that.Early Type 3 swirl brake drums. I kept the wheel mounting surface free of paint—I never want to see one of my wheels passing me by when I'm driving down the freeway.Here's a good shot of one of the early rear Type 3 axles, which featured stamped steel lower shock mounts welded directly to the axle tubes. Early in the 1963 model year these were replaced by redesigned axle tubes with separate forged shock mounts. Another example of early Type 3 weirdness.With the wheel removed there was a clear view of the transmission serial number, 35694, which...

Posted by on in engine overhaul
Today I finally finished reassembling the engine. It took awhile for me to track down all the parts, which for some reason I had stored in a number of different places. The last time I was at this point was the summer of 2007. The last time I assembled the engine I had a really hard time getting the flanges to line up where the intake manifold's heat riser connects to the tube from the muffler. This time I put some effort into bending and rotating the muffler tube so that its flange would line up better, and I got the bolts started at this connection first before securing it elsewhere, which made it a lot easier to get the manifold in. Hopefully this will put less strain on the manifold when the engine is running—broken welds between the heat riser and intake tube are common on these manifolds, probably due...

Posted by on in restoration
I took the gauges to North Hollywood Speedometer today. They tested the tach and it's in good working order, so it only needs cosmetics. They're going to make a new glass for it to replace the cracked original—either CNC etched or silkscreened scale and VDO logo—and will replace the late silver-finish escutcheons with early brass parts from donor gauges. The speedometer needs calibration but otherwise tested o.k., and it will get a cosmetic restoration along with the fuel gauge and speaker grille. I'm going to hold off on having the clock restored for now because North Hollywood Speedometer doesn't repair old Kienzle clock works, they replace them with modern quartz movements instead. I'd rather see if I can get the original clock working again myself. I'm not planning on installing it anyway since I have the tach, but I would eventually like to have it restored and ready to go.When I...

Posted by on in restoration
I've decided to try something slightly different with the blog this year, something that I hope will help motivate me to make more progress on my own 1500 Ghia's restoration. I'm only going to post when I've actually accomplished something on the car. This means there might be more variation in activity depending on how much progress I'm making—more frequent posts if all is going well, and less frequent if nothing's happening.This weekend's nice weather gave me a good opportunity to dig the Ghia out from all the junk that has collected in the garage and get the area cleaned up so I can get back to work. I cleared out all the spiderwebs and dust and whatnot from under the car, and wiped everything down. I was disappointed to see more surface rust on some of the hardware than I would have expected from a year or two of sitting,...

Posted by on in press
The VW 1500 Karmann-Ghia made the cover of Gute Fahrt magazine in January 1962. Note the funky retouching on the cover photo—the steering wheel is hilarious. I think the driver of the car must have been removed from the image.A one-page feature article inside offers a lot of praise for the Ghia, its unusual luggage accommodations in particular, and attributes the car's sporty handling to its low center of gravity. In yet another take on the clock/tach/speaker conundrum, the article says there's a place in the dash for a tach just to the left of the glove box, but it would be better to put it in the clock's position for visibility. I guess this tells us that the test car didn't have a radio and the purpose of the speaker grille wasn't clear. The one criticism is that the fog lights are too high to really be effective. It says...

Posted by on in General
This is James Kramers 1966 cobalt / bermuda blue Australian delivered 344. Originally delivered to Melbourne, the car now resides in Queensland. Follow the link to read more about this car. Here's a few words from James about the car: This vehicle was originally purchased in late 1965 by a doctor from South Australia and used primarily (and sparingly) by his wife. I purchased the car from Bill Sundermann in 2006. A proverbial "barn find," the car never had any rust, damage or even any notable dints. There are just a few small nicks and tears in the original two tone interior, and even items like the original trunk liners are in excellent condition. It has spent all its life in Australia's dry inland climate. Bill had replaced/updated some mechanical items (eg brakes) and also had the car resprayed in its original colours (Cobalt Blue roof and Bermuda Blue body)....

Posted by on in old photos
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Posted by on in old photos
[from the February 1968 issue of Gute Fahrt magazine]...

Posted by on in accessories
Though it's not very widely known, the small appliance manufacturer Braun offered a few auto accessories in the 1960s. Their T 510/580 portable radios, introduced in 1962, were available with an under-dash slide-in mount that allowed you to use your radio in the car and also take it with you, like the Blaupunkt Derby and similar radios from other manufacturers. What Braun offered that the others didn't was the international-style aesthetic of industrial designer Dieter Rams. Rams has a cult following among design fans and his work for Braun in the '60s is thought to be the inspiration for much of Apple's award-winning product design of the last few years. He's currently the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Design Museum in London. These radios come up for sale occasionally but the under-dash mounts would have to be among the rarest of the rare of auto accessories.Braun also offered an automotive...