Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle

Hid­den sill rot and a poorly en­gine are rec­ti­fied in time for the dreaded MoT

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - DAVID BROWN AS­SO­CIATE ED­I­TOR THANKS TO: vwair­cooled­works.co.uk


It’s been an en­joy­able voy­age of dis­cov­ery since ‘Harry’ the Bee­tle ar­rived in my life last April. It has seen lots of use on high days and hol­i­days, prov­ing more suited to be­ing in­stantly fired up for lo­cal trips than the T2 camper.

As I be­came more fa­mil­iar with driv­ing the car, it was ob­vi­ous that its per­for­mance needed to be im­proved, and the ad­vi­sories on the pre-pur­chase 2016 MoT sug­gested that work would be needed sooner rather than later to keep it in good shape.

As re­ported in the 17 May is­sue, I sent the Bee­tle to VW Air­cooled Works in Whap­lode in Lincolnshire, which has done so much to the camper over the years to make it the ef­fi­cient ma­chine it is to­day. I met pro­pri­etor Peter Shaw at this year’s Volk­sWorld show at Sandown Park, and we’d chat­ted about what I knew needed look­ing at. I knew it would be in safe hands with Peter, to­gether with ap­pren­tices Con­nor Smith and Josh Mold­jord.

The big­gest job fac­ing them in­volved the run­ning board and sill on the driver’s side that had suf­fered from the all-too-com­mon prob­lem of col­lect­ing damp and dirt, be­ing so close to the ground (and this one is stock height!), and be­ing left look­ing de­press­ingly frilly. The guys re­moved the run­ning board, cut out the rot­ten area, fab­ri­cated a re­pair panel and seam-welded it in place. The sill step was painted in orig­i­nal Bril­liant Orange and the re­sult is so good that you re­ally would never know any re­pairs had been made. Many of the other preMoT jobs were pretty small, in­clud­ing fit­ment of a sin­gle carb fuel line ‘fit and for­get’ hose kit, and clean­ing any ar­eas of sur­face rust that were then treated with Wax­oyl.

With all the jobs done, I drove the Bee­tle the few miles to the MoT cen­tre, re­turn­ing with a clean bill of health and an­other sheet of pa­per to add to its his­tory folder.

With the car back at the VW Air­cooled Works work­shop, it was time for some ad­di­tional jobs to be car­ried out. I’m a great be­liever in equip­ping rear-en­gined air-cooled ve­hi­cles with fire sup­pres­sion units – the sys­tem Peter fit­ted to my camper is very re­as­sur­ing – so it made sense to get one fit­ted to the Bee­tle too, along with a fuel cut-off so­le­noid with a built-in ce­ramic fil­ter just out­side the fuel tank, wired into the fire sys­tem, which will cut the fuel sup­ply if the ex­tin­guisher ac­ti­vates.

Hav­ing driven the car to its MoT, Peter men­tioned its slug­gish ac­cel­er­a­tion and ten­dency to mis­fire and stall, so he’s set the en­gine up cor­rectly, start­ing with a re­build of the near­side rocker assem­bly, as the spring was miss­ing on the end rocker arm. He’s also fit­ted a new con­denser, fuel lines, HT leads, plugs and points to fur­ther en­hance its run­ning. In ad­di­tion, an SVDA vac­uum ad­vance dis­trib­u­tor has trans­formed en­gine per­for­mance. All that work, com­bined with a full service, means that Harry is in great form and should give plenty more driv­ing fun for years to come. Cer­tainly, the vast im­prove­ment in its run­ning was glar­ingly ob­vi­ous on the drive home across the fens.

Now it’s the turn of the camper to have its MoT and service. Here’s hop­ing it’s less in­volved!

The fleet’s all here! David’s 1972 T2 camper ar­rives for its MoT and service, just as the Bee­tle is fin­ished and ready to go home. En­gine’s run­ning so much bet­ter now – and the fire sup­pres­sion sys­tem (top right) is very re­as­sur­ing. Be­fore: The ex­tent of the rot un­der the off­side run­ning board was painfully ob­vi­ous. Af­ter: Seam-welded re­pair panel primed and await­ing top coat. It now looks like new.

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