Early Beetle - Type 1 Oval era cars 1953 - 1957

36 horse progress

36 horse progress

Its been a fair while since I've had the time to sit down and put a progress report together, in fact the last post I made was back in January. This is mostly due to being flat out working on the car getting it ready for Speedweek. Well Speedweek has come and gone and despite putting in the hard yards in I did not get to compete. I had set myself the goal of getting everything together with engine in and running by no later than the end of February. I figured that this way I would still be able to do some tuning and get out to the lake with a relatively good chance of making it through the week with no major dramas. Unfortunately,  I did not get it together by the deadline. I was very close and could have pushed to get it done but this was the exact situation I sought to avoid when I set myself the February deadline. There's nothing like a rushed build to promote silly mistakes and expensive failures.

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Speedweek 2016

Speedweek 2016

The trip to this years Speedweek actually started seven years ago back in 2009; the first time that I visited Lake Gairdner. Myself and a mate had tried to get out there a few years before in 2007, but rain and bad track conditions had meant that the event was cancelled in both 2007 and 2008. In 2009 we rented a cottage in Kimba and commuted the 2 hours or so out to the lake every day. From the first moment on the lake I was hooked, it's completely inspiring to be there, stuck in the middle of nowhere, in one of the most surreal places you'll ever visit. Real grass roots stuff, not a corporate cash cow, but blokes like you and me, making stuff in their sheds that they drag from wherever on a journey that includes two or three hours over unsealed roads. Even as a spectator the commitment required to get there is immense.

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It Lives

It Lives

Its been a quiet couple of months, the oval went onto the back burner whilst we led up to the xmas break - its a really busy time for me at work and with the bit of time that i did get off over the xmas break I found myself building a pond int he back garden. Not that I'm complaining as the garden was missing a little tranquility, the pond provides a great place to sit and contemplate whilst having a cuppa...

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DIY Velocity stack

DIY Velocity stack

The 1600 single port build that I have been working on is using a Mikuni carburetor. These are normally found on Harley Davidsons and are fitted with filter covers. Whilst there's a lot of different bling style jewelry air filter cover available (Harley owners generally seem to be some of the worst for bling) this was no good for the 1600S/P build. What I really wanted was a nice velocity stack to finish things off. 

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915 clutch pull to push

915 clutch pull to push

If you read my last post - 'Hydraulic clutch slave' which was about fitting a hydraulic clutch to a Porsche 915 gearbox you might have thought that it was a good solution to an otherwise difficult issue to solve. Well that is what I thought until I tried to fit everything together. What I actually found was that the slave cylinder that I used was too long and meant that it fouled on the clutch assembly when the engine was installed in the gearbox. With limited time to buy and fit another shorter unit I decided to look at converting the old pull style 915 clutch release to a traditional push style.

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Hydraulic clutch slave

Hydraulic clutch slave

The one part of the oval project that has given me the the most challenges is the 915 gearbox conversion. Most people that opt to go down the Porsche 5 speed route use the much easier to fit 901 gearbox from the Porsche 914 / 912. Whilst not as strong as the later 915 box it shares the VW mountings, uses a cable pull style clutch and is much simpler to install. I opted to go with the 915 as the 901 was not suitable for the power of the big Type 4 that I had planned to hook up to it, plus I did not like the dogleg shift pattern of the 901.

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Blown 1600 SP

Blown 1600 SP

I recently attended a local SATA meeting. The SATA (or South Australian Timing Association as they are also known) are a small group of racers who have got together to promote and create South Australian land speed racing events. They have successfully held a few test and tune days both at Tailem Bend and at Waikerie Airstrip and have planned another next month. The next Test and Tune event is on November 8th at Waikerie. Only three weeks away.

Whilst there is absolutely no way that I will get the engine finished in time, there is a chance that I could get the car finished and install another engine in it. at least this would allow me to do a shakedown and make sure that the gearbox is working properly.

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Blower Drive Pulleys

Blower Drive Pulleys

Speedweek 2016 is at the end of February which is not really too far away. Whilst there's not too much to do on the Oval there's still heaps when I take into account how little time I actually get to concentrate on one project. In addition to Speedweek it looks like the SATA are putting together a speed trial at Waikerie. This will be open to SATA members and SATA / SCTA compatible cars and bikes. This is great news and is exactly what I was hoping for except that the meet is to be held on November 18th which leaves just a shade over a month to get everything together. Now of course I'm not going to kid myself that I can make it happen, but if I put another engine in that I happen to have already built and laying around the garage I recon I might be in with a chance of at least doing some shakedown testing on the car itself.

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Interior panelling

Interior panelling

I've been pretty busy over the past few weeks trying to get the shell and running gear finished so that I can make a start on building the engine. The body is pretty straight and only needs a few small patches welded in but having cut out the rear floor (for a variety of reasons) I needed to make up some interior panelling. After some deliberation I decided to go with aluminium panelling simply as it is easier to work with and requires no finishing. I had originally wanted to make the panelling and door trims out of reclaimed corrugated fence panels - the stuff you would typically see on a 100 year old Aussie property - just like the stuff I replaced on my house a few years back and retained for exactly this purpose but decided that the time that it would take to iron out the corrugations was time I did not have so aluminium won the day.

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Moon Disk Fitment

Moon Disk Fitment

With Christmas out of the way I managed to sneak out in the garage and spend a day finishing off the window surrounds and moon disk fitment.

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Things are really cranking now

Things are really cranking now

After last weekends progress and also receiving my 74mm DPR crank in the post this week I was amped to get back out into the man cave and spend a little more spanner time on the oval. The DPR crank is an awesome bit of work. It's a stock 36hp crank that is welded and offset ground to give the extra stroke. It also has counterweights added and is heat treated to stress relieve the crank after the welding process. The end result is a very affordable 74mm crank.

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A change of heart

A change of heart

A chance meeting has netted me with a bunch of 36 horse parts. I popped out to buy a number plate bracket for the Type 34 and ended up coming home with a bunch of 36 horse stuff. This has nudged me to change direction with my plans for speed week and look to build a 36hp power plant instead of the planned 50 horse - literally a change in heart. Having been an avid follower and support of the 36 Horsepower Challenge for a number of years its probably fitting that I enter at least once. So with a selection of 36HP parts now at my disposal it has given me a chance to take a look at whats possible with these early engines.

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Speedweek 2015 here we come

Speedweek 2015 here we come

It's been a while since I did anything on the Oval. It's pretty much been left abandoned in the garage and used as a bit of a storage shed. I think that this is a necessary step in any restoration project, or at least thats what it seems like as all mine end up this way at one time or other. 

So after sitting for the past few years its time that the oval project was revisited once again - mostly as I've decided that I'm going to race at speed week next year.

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Bricks and Bucket Seats

Been meaning to post some pics up of the garage since it's near completion for some time now, so thought I might as well add a blog post to put down what has been going on.

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Caged Beast


Delivered the oval to Donegal Engineering today to have the cage made up, big thanks to Paul Penny and his brother for helping out, was good to hook up. Sorry I couldn't have stayed a bit longer, but had an appointment at upullit to get a throttle body.

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Body back on pan


Made more good progress today, i fitted the new pan halves and got the body back on the pan. Somehow I managed to do this by myself - I guess it's a lot easier if you're not worried about scratching paint. I postponed fitting up the new front beam as I didn't have an adjustable 18-22mm reamer, which is necessary for reaming out the king pins to fit after they are pressed into position. I will try to source another beam as a doner and then outsource getting the king and link pins fitted as it will probably cost about the same as an adjustable reamer.

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IRS Fitted


Progress was good today, managed to get the IRS finished, all that is required is the final welding and a little patching where I've relocated teh handbrake cable to the lower half of the pan. I will leave the final welding until after I have had a chance to get the car back on it's wheels with the engine in place so that I can check the wheel alignment out - this will need to be done with a little weight in the car.

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915 box fitted


Fitted the 915 box in today, it sits pretty good. Had to cut out old front gearbox mount to get enough clearance. Still got to make up mountings but will fab some custom ones to fit. I've also cut the pan for the shift linkage, everything seems to line up better than expected. It is a bit of a tight squeeze in between the frame horns, but it all fits. There is only one place that really needs a bit of clearancing as it is a little close to the case, but not really a massive issue as the box shouldn't be moving around too much. I am very tempted to hard mount the engine and box in, as this will certainly be easier, but not 100% at the moment.

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Oval body off pan


The past few weeks haven't seen much progress with the oval, most of this time has been spent waiting for parts, but a little more about that later. We have also been pretty busy trying to get the ezine out before christmas, this is nearing completion and should be out any time soon. Keep a look out for an announcement in your inbox.

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Stripped Naked


So I finished stripping the oval today, the doors didn't want to come off, half of the bolts came out with a little persuasion from the rattle gun, but the rest had to be drilled out. the keeper plates will have to be cleaned up and re-tapped before refitting. Fortunately, door hinge screws seem to be something I have an excess of.

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Project Oval Stripout


Just a quick post to say that the strip down of the oval is now underway. The shell has been mostly stripped out, with only two wings (fenders) and the doors left to remove before the body can be lifted from the pan.

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A new project begins


This may seem strange to some, but after being into VW's for over 20 years, I've just bought my first Beetle. The car in question is a 1956 oval windowed bug that I've bought to build as a budget racer. The idea is to put together a car for Speedweek 2010 and the rest of the year use it for drag racing.

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Feel a bit lost without the car to work on, so have been a bit slack. Have spent the time doing a spot of research on ye olde interwobble, trying to track down some cheap gauges. Found some flea bay specials for a very reasonable price - oil pressure, oil temp, boost pressure and a 5" tacho for not very much dollahs. They're el-cheapo snide Autometer clones, but will do the job for time being, which is likely to be one weeks use at speed week - assuming the car lasts a week that is :)

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OK, fresh back from the scrutineering meeting yesterday, decided to get cracking. Went out and sourced some steel for the scatter-shield, and the RHS braces that were discussed, and also some sheet metal for fabricating up the new bulkheads and patching a few bits of tin worm here and there.

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Cage Finished

http://www.vdubber.com/media/images/sharingImages/544.jpgFirst off, if you haven't noticed, we finally released the first issue of Vdubber magazine, thanks for all of your kind words, and support, it looks like it's a success. A big thanks to all of the contributers and also Melle Mel for typesetting the whole mag.

I picked up the oval this week as the cage has now been finished off. We lifted the body off today, and I stripped the front beam off and trial fited the new narrowed beam up. I had to keep the car rolling as i am going to a scrutineers meeting tomorrow and need to be able to get the car on and off of a trailer, so I temporarily fitted the new drums up too, but all of this will need to come off to be able to finish the pan.

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Christmas come early

Christmas come early

Progress over the past week has been a little slower than I had hoped. I've still managed to get stuff done but work has been massively busy so by the time I get home I've not felt up to much. But whilst my actual progress might not have been as good as I would have liked the ordered parts have been arriving at a steady rate, its almost like Christmas has come early

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36hp Challenge K36 Build Progress

36hp Challenge K36 Build Progress

A short time ago I posted about changing direction with the oval and entering into the K36 class of the 36hp challenge with a blown 36hp engine. Since that time I've been carefully planning the build and collecting the necessary parts.

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The reassembly continues


Haven't had a chance to post much lately, been pretty busy either working or getting the oval back together. Progress has been marred a little by real work, which has taken me out of Adelaide, this has meant that work on the oval comes to a complete standstill (there is only me unfortuantely). Looking at the countdown time on my widgets, it's telling me 21 days to go, not a lot of time, but still lots to do. Since getting the pan back from the cage builder, I've been busy getting the suspension and steering back together, and also getting the scatter shield made up.

The scatter shield has probably been the biggest headache of all - not only does it have to be custom made, but i also had to figure out how to mount the 915 gearbox in as well - double trouble. I started off making a simple hoop out of flat bar which I was going to mount  to a beefed up trans support, but this didn't look strong enough. Then, whilst helping the father in law with his Triumph Bonneville I spotted a prime mover brake drum, that he said he had used as a brazier - perfect size, but unfortunately cast iron and not suitable. He called me back a few days later to say that he had found a rolled steel extension that was made for the top of the brazier - he dropped it over and work started on scatter shield mark 2.

The scatter shield needs to be 6mm thick steel, and whilst there are not any actual reccomendations in the DLRA rules, general consensus within the drag racing fraternity is that it should extend 1 1/2" forwards and back of the flywheel. For the V8 guys this is easy - just go to your local speed shop and order a replacement bell housing for your trans - job done. Unfortunately, the Porsche (or VW) box is all one piece and so this simply isnt an option.

The rolled steel I got from the father in law (cheers Chris) was a litttle too big in diameter, so I had to cut a section out and then use ratchet straps to close up the gap before re-welding it. it's not the prettiest of jobs, but without a set of rollers, it's a hard thing to fabricate.

With the scattershield done, and the pan painted with a generous coating of gloss enamel underneath and matt enamel on top, with some POR 15 on the exposed front and rear frames , the refit has started. the front and rear suspension are now back on, and the brakes are next on the list - everything is new, so hopefully it's a case of reassemble rather than rebuild.

The gearbox is officially in. The shift rod has been shortened and gears have been selected - I modded a repro hurst shifter to work with the 5 speed box, had to bend it a little to prevent my knuckles grazing the roll cage, and ideally would like to add spring gates to it, but I will leave this as a last on the list job, as currently I can select gears.

The schedule is now really out of whack, but 3 weeks is still time enough if I knuckle down - it takes about 2 weeks to reassemble a car including trim and this doesnt have anything inside at all. Need to get the body back on to clearance for the engine, and also see if the extra 25mm I managed to push the gearbox further forwards will now allow the stock deck lid to close. If not I managed to source a cheap semi-w to cut a hole in for the Porsche fan.

Off to get the brake shoes relined tomorrow, then I can get the pan rolling again.

Fingers crossed.....

There's heaps more pics in the gallery - just search for the tag vdubber - http://www.vdubber.com/photo/gallery_tag/vdubber/50/1

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Roll on 2011

Well, at the beginning of this week I decided to throw in the towel with the oval build and admit defeat. Whilst it would still have been possible to get the car running and to the lake, I would have been missing out on any shakedown time that I had planned. Unfortunately, a few delays, have meant that timing has slipped, and the time I had set aside for running in and teething troubles simply dissapeared.

So I decided that I had given it my best shot. I did not want to run the risk of blowing an engine, or worse, just because I had rushed at the 11th hour. Bit gutted to say the least, as this has now been my main focus for months, but not to worry - I now have plenty of time to make sure it's 110% for 2011.

At the moment, I'm having a bit of a siesta and concentrating on getting some $$$'s earned (anyone need a website?) but will have a look at the VW events calendar and see what is coming up in the near future - Having just missed out on Portland last weekend, I now fancy hitting some drags.

I will be taking the Oval to the club show at the end of March, so if you fancy having a look, make sure you tag along.

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Back to work

Finally managed to get back out in the garage this weekend. It's the first time since April that I've managed to get anything done on the Oval. Having not made speedweek in March, the bug has just sat there waiting for me to make some time to get back into the swing of things. So with next March slowly creeping up, I decided that it was long overdue.

Most of the weekend was spent clearing the back yard, this is in readiness for the concreting to be done on the garage extension - with the garage base in I can finally clad it and get some undercover space to work on the bug. 

Clearing the yard was fun - as this involved removing a tree - a perfect excuse to hire a chainsaw and wreak destruction - lol. With the tree 'pruned', all that was left was to pull it out of the ground with the Landrover. This is the third tree that the little Landy has pulled out - just lash up the tow rope to the front bumper, stick it in low range and then work the tree out of the ground. The key is to leave a long bit of trunk when you prune it so that you can get some leverage. Works a treat. And I cannot imagine that you could do the same with any modern 'softroader' it would likely just pull the front end off.

So - final scores - Tree 0 - Landy 1

With all of the fun over and done with, I managed to get a spare half hour to POR15 the rear brake backing plates on the oval. This should hopefully mean that I can reassemble the brakes next week and get the chassis rolling again. So not a massive amount of work - but at least a start.

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