Monday 30 January 2017

Brace yourselves!

In preparation for the major bodywork surgery that is required to the bottom portion of the car, I decided it would be wise to upgrade the temporary bracing that was currently held in place with self tapping screws. I opted to add turnbuckles to the middle of the door apertures to allow for fine adjustment of the door gaps when the time finally comes to weld the new heater channels in place.

I took a trip across town to the steel merchants to buy some fresh 40 x 40 angle iron (3mm thick) and also picked up some M12 turnbuckles (I originally purchased some M10 turnbuckles online, but they felt a little flimsy for the task at hand):

After an hour of faffing I produced these little beauties:

Dry fitted to the car so that tweaks to final positioning could be made:

Welding the bracing to the body was a bit of a concern as too much heat would cause warpage to surrounding bodywork and too little would ....well, lets just say that there would be no point in adding the bracing if the welds were that weak. I practiced on some scrap steel and played with the MIG settings until I had found a happy medium.

With all the joining surfaces cleaned back to gleaming steel, I started adding a series of strong tacks. I then added cross support bracing to ensure that everything was robust and firm. This was the grand result:

Thanks to Stu_b over on the Volkszone forum for his input and for sharing photos of his bracing arrangement (which I pretty much carbon copied here!).

Now the real work can begin!


  1. Hello!
    I have just found your blog and i have enjoyed reading about your journey so far. Ive just taken my '65 off the road this year after a couple of years of regular commuting and I will be embarking on a restoration in the next year. I've been thinking about getting the welding done in a shop but your blog has encouraged me to think about doing as much as I can myself. I don't think my car is in as bad condition as our own starting point but who knows what I'll uncover. Keep up the good work!

  2. It is always heartening to know that people are reading the posts and feeling motivated as a result. It's a big reason why I keep the blog going.

    You remind me of me way back in the beginning - I didn't think I would have the ability to learn all the skills by myself and initially spent time approaching restoration firms to take Gretchen on. That didn't work out, so I decided the only option was to tackle it myself. I was certainly intimidated by the prospect and felt out of my depth for quite a while. However, as knowledge grows and you begin to get a feel for basic metalwork (inc welding), those overwhelming doubts fade and enjoyment takes over. Ultimately, it is all comes down to time and patience (..and money, of course, blah!). If those two elements are in place then I believe anyone can learn to do it.

    Good luck and let me know how you are getting on with your resto from time to time...

  3. Thanks - Ill try and keep you and others updated via a blog or similar once i start. When i first got my beetle I was quite naive, but experience over the past few years has forced me to learn how to rebuild the front brakes, solve various electrical faults and partial strip and clean the top end of the engine. These were all just running repairs and not something I had anticipated having to do but i guess that's the joy of these sort of cars and the reality of not having the resources to simply pay some else to do it. 'Built, not bought' as the hot-rod stickers say.

    PS - when you get to the interior, think about putting back the Grey-mesh 65 interior. You don't see alot of cars with them and i think they are one of the real charms of this model year

    1. Haha, similar story with me - when I bought Gretch back in 2000 I was 18 years old and beyond naïve! Owning a Bug means that you quickly develop into an amateur mechanic. I didn't really know a thing about cars and was soon swapping out starter motors, changing carburettors, upgrading fuel pumps, replacing brake pipe lines etc. All necessary just to keep her running!

      I want to retain as many stock elements of the car as possible because it all contributes to her character and feels right. The original interior was Leatherette Grid Brown, but the front seats were beyond saving and were stripped down years ago. The rear seat is still in good shape though and may clean up with some elbow grease. Unfortunately, I have never found anyone selling a direct replica of the Grid Brown covers, but TMI currently produce the 'Mesh Grey' that I think you are referring to. It a fairly close match, so that'll probably be the option I go for:

      I still have the interior panels and although they are falling apart I think they are salvageable ;-)

      What is the colour and interior spec of your '65?

  4. My car is a java green with the deluxe american spec over-rider bumpers and has the original mesh grey seats and off white & grey door cards. The seats are very worn and ripped and the hard board backing on the door cars are all warped from leaky window seals. Water has gotten to the head liner at the back window too so i think its going to be a fully replaced interior when i get there. i am aiming for a stock spec rebuilt - classic ride height with whitewalls etc but probably a faster engine as the current non- original engine is knackered. I think Ill see how things go though - its a long road.

    1. Very nice! I do like Java Green (as sea well as Sea Blue) - mid sixties Beetles had some great colour choices. I think your plan for whitewalls will set it off!

      I am keeping the 1200 lump in my car as it was a recently reconditioned engine (at the time of taking the car off the road) that was converted to run on unleaded petrol. With regards to ride height, my bug will be slammed to the floor because low Bugs look badass to my eyes ;-)

      Good luck with your project - it certainly is a long road, but it all has to start somewhere...