Hidden sill rot and a poorly engine are rectified in time for the dreaded MoT
1972 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE 1200L
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.