Monday 23 November 2015

Finishing off the bottom plate

Remember when I salvaged the old brake pipe brackets from the rusted old bottom plate (click here)? Well, when I went to weld them onto the new bottom plate I realised that the recessed area stamped into the repro panel was too small widthwise for them to sit in. Typical! As the original panel never had these recesses I decided the best thing to do was to cut them out and weld in new flat metal. The old recess cut out and a card template made up:

New metal (from the left over scraps of the naps hat repro panel!) all welded in:

Ground down the welds and bent the flange to match the profile of the panel. Then finished welding it up, sanded everything smooth and added a lick of primer:

Once I had done the same on the other side I located the factory correct position of the brackets (thankfully I kept the old rusted panel for reference) and plug welded them on:

Continuing on the topside of the frame head, I decided to add a solid weld bead along the small section of flange between the naps hat and the diagonal flanges. I did this in a couple of stitches so that I wouldn't heat up the metal to the point of causing distortion. Here is the first stitch cooling off:

This just left me with the front edge to sort out. After laying down the first lap weld stitch it became evident that the old metal was not holding up well to the intensity of the welder and as a result the edge blew out in a lot of places:

I managed to reconstruct the area using weld material and grinding it back into shape, but it was a long and tedious task. To combat the blow-out I used a copper backing plate on the other sections which really did help to maintain the integrity of the old metalwork. It also proved to be an effective heat sink and drew a lot of the heat away from the area:

I 'pie cut' the curved section (where the profile of the new panel did not closely match the original) and bashed it into submission with the body hammers to get a better fit:

After a lot of fettling I got a passable result:

I then devoted a bit of time tidying the entire frame head, sanded the plug welds flat and filling a few pinholes. This finally concludes the epic frame head saga. Done. Finito. Phew!


  1. Thank you for documenting this! I have been afraid to tackle my 73 standard bug because of the rust, but it doesn't look that bad just time consuming. I will keep following this blog, I have learned a lot already. Again Thank you!!!

    1. You are very welcome! It is good to know that this blog is helping my fellow vw enthusiasts. I appreciate the positive comment :-)