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Thread: VW front beam modification

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Whine Country, California
    Posts
    442

    Default VW front beam modification

    I've been working towards getting some of my ongoing projects finished lately, and the biggest that stands between me and freedom is my aircooled VW project, which has been completely torn apart for several years now. I've done a ton of work to it so far (both floor pans replaced, multiple trunk sections replaced, sheet metal sections in the engine compartment replaced, rusty window channel sections replaced, front and rear collision damage repaired, both rear fender well sections replaced, rear panel replaced, both door jambs cut apart and straightened after collision damage was found, all factory trim and emblem holes welded up and smoothed, factory stamped style line in decklid along with the lic. plate lamp and license plate mount holes welded and smoothed, and over 200 additional "bondo'd" holes ground out, welded, and smoothed from a previous "hack" 1970's body shop repair). It still needs a ton more, but I am preparing to get this project rolling once again (figuratively and literally speaking). Luckily my father is a retired 35 year automotive bodyman and painter who has built over 100 of his own personal hot rods and custom motorcycles, plus restored numerous customer cars over the years. He offered to take the project on when I got sick, and I jumped at his offer!

    Here is the car as it sat last time it was on the ground on all fours. After buying a brand new 2" narrowed front beam for this car (which locates the wheel track inboard 1" per side to eliminate tire rub against the freshly painted body), along with dropped spindles and much of the needed supplies to assemble and install the beam and front suspension components into the car, I ran into some trouble during assembly (which only got worse dealing with the "cheap" ride height adjusters that were welded to my new beam). Not long after, I lost interest completely in the project as I was unsure what to do, and how to proceed ahead with the parts I had in hand. I was working 40 hours a week while going to trade school during the evenings, and time was limited. Not to mention that I had far less tools when the project began, which made it nearly impossible to make the proper repairs needed on this beam.

    Fast forward to now. After thinking for quite some time about what I wanted for the ride height of my project car, I decided to order some high quality German made front end adjusters that would replace the existing (cheesy) adjusters. The process of replacing these adjusters would entail fully disassembling the freshly assembled front beam (removing the steering box, sway bar, tie rod assemblies, spindles and brakes, torsion arms, and the torsion spring packs) before grinding the factory installed adjusters off and prepping the new ones to be welded into place.

    The process was actually very quick, but I still had a bad taste in my mouth from buying (what was supposed to be) the "latest and greatest" aftermarket beam that ended up requiring me to get my hands dirtier than they should have gotten. Let's face it, if I wanted to cut, grind, and weld on a beam, I would have cut and ground my original (dirty nasty 40 year old) VW German beam to pieces, narrowed it a few inches, added adjusters (a $30 expense), and welded everything back together for a lot less than the new ($300) beam cost me. If all goes well with assembly this time, this will be all I need to put the front end back together, get the car rolling once again, and have the front end completely finished! If all doesn't go well (as I already anticipated), I did buy the $30 adjusters in case I need to narrow my factory beam. Hope I don't have to go there though!

    Pic 1:Here's where we begin....the victim in final prime, all the rust repair and bodywork finished, the trunk area finished, the engine compartment finished and ready for the engine, etc.

    Pic 2:The "other" victim...a freshly assembled beam that was installed and ready for paint

    Pic 3:The culprit(s) before removal

    Pic 4:The reason for removal. Keep in mind this beam is BRAND NEW with ZERO miles on it, and the splines that lock the front end height are that shallow! Looks like an accident waiting to happen. I never knew what all the VW postings on Craigslist meant when they stated "New beam with stripped adjusters. Suspension won't adjust any higher than this and the car is not drivable as is" in the ad, but now I do!

    Pic 5:Notice the old adjuster on the right and the new one on the left...and notice how the adjustment slot is so much shorter than the old plates slot

    Pic 6:I added a small filler of 1/8" thick flat bar to replace the correct amount of material in order to shorten the slot length

    Pic 7:Welded in place with as little heat as possible. The torsion spring engagement block needs to be able to rotate freely inside the beam, so care was used to not blow through to the backside of the tubing. It is just under 1/8" thick wall tubing, but it's better to be safe than sorry

    Pic 8:The first adjuster tig welded into place nicely

    Pic 9:Both adjusters fully welded into place

    Pic 10:I didn't take a pic of the beam primed, but hopefully tomorrow it will get paint in the evening after I do a "dry run" of test fitting all the suspension parts
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    Andy
    New Everlast PowerTig 250EX that is begging for me to come up with a few welding projects so it can stretch it's legs. Did someone say aluminum???

    MISC. TOOLS:
    Atlas 618 lathe
    Milwaukee Porta Band with custom made stand
    Dewalt 4-1/2" angle grinder
    Dewalt 14" chop saw

    Strong Hand Nomad portable table
    Juki sewing machine I've had for years (yes I know sewing is for girls)

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