Tuesday 2 July 2013

Bottom plate removal

Using a wire wheel attached to an angle grinder I cleaned off most of the dirt and surface rust from the frame head. This allowed me to see what I was really dealing with in terms of the metal work condition. Thankfully the frame head looked fairly solid despite being pitted in places. The same could not be said for the bottom plate which was in a sorry state. I agonised for a while as to whether I should try to patch it up or simply cut it out and replace with a repro panel. I choose to cut it out and replace as it was the more thorough option. The added advantage is that with it gone I will have better access to the front of the chassis tunnel. In the near future I intend to clean out all the accumulated rust flakes, dirt and grease from the inside the tunnel and then treat it with Waxoyl or similar to seal evering up. Anyway, I started by cutting around the spot welds:

I then switched to the angle grinder and ground down the seam welds along the front edge. It was quite a long process, but I was deliberately going slow to ensure that I did not damage any metal that I wanted to save:

For the smaller areas and tight corners I used a Dremmel, which I found to be surprising capable:

Here is the bottom plate starting to come free. Note the area at the top of the image that I separated by 'thinning' the metal of the unwanted bottom plate until it could easily be broken free:

So, after a few evenings of intensive cutting and grinding the bottom plate was off:

A comparison between the old panel and the repro one that will eventually be welded in:

I have heard other people mention that taking off the bottom plate is no easy task and they were certainly right! It takes a lot of persistence and at times I felt frustrated, but I resisted the urge to cut corners (both metaphorically and literally in this case!). I am feeling pretty good about the result as none of the metal that I am trying to save was damaged by the clumsy use of power tools. Slow and steady wins the race! 

Now I need to grind down the rough edges, clean everything up and straighten up those flanges.... 


  1. I wanted to say hello and introduce myself. I'm Neil from Leesburg, Georgia, USA. I'm enjoying catching up on your progress! I came across your site several years ago when I was planning my own restoration. I have a '63 Beetle w/ sunroof (like Herbie). But I never got started, and I quit following you for a while. Now, I'm thinking seriously about my bug again. So I checked your site and found out that you'd taken some time off, too.

    Thanks for taking so much time to document your progress. Your photos and tips will surely be useful to me. No doubt, there are many others holding onto old Beetles, just waiting for the time and/or money to get started. Watching as you progress will provide knowledge and motivation to those like me who need a little push. I'll be checking in weekly and can't wait to see what's coming next!

  2. Hi Neil! Thank you for leaving such a kind comment. I am thrilled to hear that I have produced something which is of use to someone else – that is the main reason for keeping this blog running! It can definitely be hard at times to stay motivated as it is a massive undertaking that requires a lot of persistence. However, I have noticed that the more I achieve the more my confidence grows and I am finally beginning to feel as though I can actually do this! I had taken a lot of time off as I was previously working out of a garage without electric which was situated very far from my house and I had pretty much done all that I could do without power tools. Fortunately, I am now in the privileged position of renting a larger garage with windows, electric and water from a good friend who lives nearby. I couldn’t be happier!

    Do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions about the work I have done – I would be more than happy to help. Good luck with the restoration of your ’63 (I am slightly jealous of your rag top!) and please keep in touch with a few updates along the way! It really is great fun when you get going…