Friday, 8 September 2017

Rethinking the rear crossmembers

Although I had previously acquired a pair of genuine VW rear crossmembers I have since decided to take another route. Those Mexi ones could be made to work but have a different overall profile to the mid-sixties ones and are more square/angular looking. They also lack the mounting stud that locates the bottom hole of the rear wing as they are designed for later cars. One other annoyance is that they don't fit up to the Klassic Fab heater channels without trimming down the mating flange (located at the and of the channel) considerably. Those channels were expensive because they are high quality and accurate; I really don't fancy chopping them about!

Fortuitously a new reproduction crossmember has recently appeared on the market from out of nowhere and is supposedly 'German' quality (always a bit sceptical about that term) and made from factory gauge steel. I have seen them being used in a couple of other restorations, but have been unable to find out a lot of information about them. So, I contacted VW Heritage (one of the only UK stockists) to see if they had more about the manufacturer and swiftly received the following reply; "We don't have the manufacturers name, but we source them from a German supplier". Oh well, despite being no clearer about their origins I took the plunge and ordered a pair. I knew that they would still need modifying as they are made for cars up to '63, but in general they are a lot closer to mid-sixties OG ones and therefore a more logical basis to start from. I was quite impressed when they arrived, thick steel and super crisp pressings. Here is how they visually compare against the genuine Mexi (grey) ones, you can clearly see how much they differ:

I salvaged a few things from my old crossmembers that will be transferred over to the new ones. Firstly, I needed to remove the heater pipe. I shot blast the area so that I could reveal where the factory welds were:

I then carefully worked my way around the pipe (on the front and backside) with the Dremel tool equipped with a small cutting disc until it came free:

Next task was to separate these little reinforcement pieces from the top of the bolt holes using the spot weld cutter:

After a quick clean up they are ready to be reused:

Utilising the remains of the old crossmembers as reference I am able to study what I need to do in order to make the new panels close to OG and devise a plan of action. In the next post I will go into detail about how to adapt the new cross members to make them correct for a '64 - '66 Beetle...

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