Contact: Rich Kurz   Page content last updated May 11, 2018

The Construction Diary


It's a new year and a new life!
I drilled new spark plug holes in the engine tin, trimmed off an inch so make the driver-side tin to fit the engine compartment opening after shifting the engine over when centering it, fitted the fan housing, put the tinware on, bolted on the alternator, adjusted the cooling flaps, and discovered where the thermo timing switch went.
While preparing photos for this page, I discovered I mislabeled cylinder 3 & 4, which meant I might not have the engine at TDC! Big problem for the distributor!! But how could that be? the distributor key was at 12 degrees and the #1 rocker arms were both closed when I rocked the crankshaft. Lots of reading later, and I learned a new term: "TWADDLE." That is when the rocking motion of the arms overlap with one closing and one opening. There is a brief moment when they are stationary and equal. And THAT is what I was seeing on #3! So I buttoned all the tin up and was back to where I started.
The coil posed a fit problem. Maybe the newer ones are slightly larger in diameter, but the bolt-down strap wouldn't bolt down. First the retainer bolt hole was stripped, so I tapped a new one, going from an M6 to and M8. Then I ground down the cast fins on the fan housing where the coil rested so the strap would bolt down. It worked.
Then on to the intake air distributor. I think it bolts to the engine housing using two case bolts. But I want to be sure before undoing those bolts. Then I scraped out gunk from the EGR valve and wondered if some of that was old seals. I learned that the EGR is a hard to find part. And needed to pass emissions on a 1977 engine. More research. So many little parts that I am missing.



Group 42-1, 6-7/8"x6-7/8"x9-1/2"

Things are now dragging out on the engine. Since I am going to have a good mechanic finish it up for me and check my work, I decide it is time to take it to him. He tells me there is only one engine ahead of mine. I also learn that I do not need the EGR valve. So there I leave it. I still need to adjust the brakes and fix the safety brake, make the front battery compartment, and fab the gas tanks and lines.
Oh! And I also need to clean up the heat exchangers. They are used and I have to drill out a couple of bolts. The biggest problem I see is the rusted out ends that fit around the exhaust pipes. The large gaps allow the outside cases to move around, and of course, will let most of the heat escape around the ends. I wrap 1/2" to 1" wide pieces of stainless steel wire mesh around the ends and slather muffler putty into it. The putty dries rock-hard, but we shall learn what a vibrating air-cooled engine does to the seal.
I adjust the rear brake drums and then see how much I can adjust the safety brake. Not enough to noticably work, it turns out. In addition, the adjustment nuts are on the back of the brake handle, which will be an elbow poker. That will have to change. It simply sticks up way too much. But where to run it?!?!
Turning back to the seats, I carved down the foam on one side to see how far I could shape it to the actual article. These seats adjust unlike the originals, and there is a reinforcement wire in the side bolsters. So I could only take the shape down so far. Still, it looked closer to my eye - comfortably so. The towel filled in the lower back line. The angles match what I calculated for the originals. The head rest did not push so far forward. And it is comfortable (for my height) to sit in. I can't wait to take those mountain roads! Then I took it in to the recommended upholsterer for a bid. It was expensive for my budget, so I will wait till the car it done and then do the style touchups, of which this will be one.

My first thought is to screw them into the base plate behind the brake handle, but the cable is not long enough. My second thought is to add a pulley wheel just in front of where the cables come up to the brake handle, and then have the cables screw into the base plate about midway beneath the brake handle. That should work, but sounds more complicated than is necessary. So, how to simplify?! My next idea is to run the cables straight along the underside of the handle. My neighbor thinks it will still need a pulley, but I try it without one first before going to that trouble. And SURPRISE. . . It works! But then, one of the cables pulls out of its threaded end piece. It takes two tries using a torch to heat it and the solder in the cable cavity, but finally it holds. Then all I have to do is balance the left and right rear wheels. Now it's the middle of March.
A call to the mechanic informs me that my engine is waiting for two owners to pick up their vehicles before any more can be worked on. I can be patient. Do I have a choice?
On to the battery compartment. To do that means I will have to box in the front compartment. I hope to fit a spare in there, too. Time to dig out the cardboard and start boxing it in. The nose will have two compartments: one in front of the "firewall", or passenger compartment bulkhead, will hold the battery and the steering coupler; and a larger one for the spare and a piece or two of soft luggage. I mock it up with flat panels and it looks like a decent amount of space. But then my neighbor suggests adapting the wheel well from the VW 412. If it could be made to work, it would be simpler. Or would it?!?!

The problem is fitment, and specifically fitment in the front. Will it fit in the nose profile? I plot out a cross-sectionat 27 inches in front of the front wheelbase, about where the front of the wheel well will be. It does appear to fit! But then, my neighbor, who does the welding and can't believe he is saying it, suggests to cut down the well sides to be flush with the framing members. It sounds like a lot of work to me, but is it more than fabricating a new box? And is it worth it?? Welllll. . . I won't know unless I try. So I begin giving the well the Michaelangelo treatment, i.e., cutting away everything that it not the final well shape. After a three long afternoons, half of that time measuring again and again and discovering the framing members are not exactly symmetrical left to right, I have it all trimmed down and prepped for welding, and IT FITS IN PLACE AS I PLANNED! Yup, I think I'll go with it.
The wheel well was cut out originally with no thought to using it again. After all, it was for a 15 inch wheel and not a 13 inch. So after measuring again and again and etc., I throw a laser level on it and decide on a center line. Then I set it to what I think are the proper heights in front and rear so it sits on a slope. Then I mark the support frame height along the sides and begin to cut it down to that line and bend and flatten the sides so they might sit on the frame members. That does not really work, so I cut the bent tabs back just enough to give a surface for the new horizontal filler plates left and right to rest on them. Then I cut out those filler plates. It was the best job I have ever done with my cutting wheel. Even the left-behind holes look like I punched them out! My neighbor is even complimenting my work. Then I cut out a template for the piece that will cover the steering mechanism. I want to make this piece removable in case I need to service it.
That leaves the the frame side pieces. Once again I layout the contour front to back at that distance from the centerline and attach them to the frame. This is the most accurate contour that I can establish and the one I will use when I carve the full size body. It looks like I will have adequate space for the spare and a couple pieces of soft luggage.
One concern is how will I raise the front hood now. I had not originally planned on a tire well there, and to raise the hood will require the well to pivot with it. I don't think that is practical - too much weight and structure with a tire in the well. I will have to diverge from the original car by cutting two slits into the nose underpan and making it so only the underpan from the frame to the fenders raises up. It's not perfection, but I think it is a modest concession to practicality. After all, I want to take a road trip in the car when it's all done.
On this last weekend of April, my neighbor and I spent a 6-hour welding session and got the basic pieces of the trunk welded in. I bought a used Mig-welder with an argon gas bottle. That made for a quicker, nicer job. The pieces I had pre-cut needed only some slight quick trimming and together it all went. The structure are stiff and strong and ready for the front wheel wells filler pieces next. It was very satisfying to have that together and looking good.
And to round out the month, I finally sold the 915 transaxle on eBay. I got some working cash and some working space in the garage. And it found a good home with a 911 owner who had trouble finding one after he was tail-ended. Once again, I meet another car guy and make another friend thru this project.

With the major pieces of the trunk in place, that leaves the panels needed to enclose it from the wheel well. I spend the first weekend making chipboard mockups of the panels. >br>THEN . . . early Monday I get THE CALL! The engine mechanic has an open bay. I race over to talk about just what he needs. 'The transmission installed' he says. So I frantically work to finish the adaptation I need for the shift rod attachment screw and begin putting it in. I do it twice bacause I realized the VW 412 set screw, an M10x1.25, won't work in the threaded hole we found for the shifter adaptaion. It needs an M8x1.25. I end up grinding down a bolt to a pointed tip. The nose cone attachment bolts are difficult to manipulate into position, but I figure out how after 45 minutes. The gearshift is not smooth and can do 2nd and 4th, but cannot pop into 1st or 3rd. I try to bolt in the two seats, but something has warped and I can only get three bolts in for the driver seat and not at all for the passanger! It's late and I am frustrated and it's Tues. p.m. Weds. May 9 we load it onto my neighbor's trailer. I make some last patterns and load up all my extra parts, and its off we go.
The word is it'll be back some time in June. Maybe I can digitize the go-cart by then?!

Check back for more progress!

The Build--2018


1st ROW
(L) A peek inside at the valves - they both looked closed.
(C) Confirming TDC - rocker arm positions for cylinder 2 (left) and 1 (right).
At TDC, #1 rocker arms are both holding steady in the same postion and don't move when the engine is rotated.
(R) And rocker arm positions for cylinder 3 (left) and 4 (right).
When #1 is TDC, #3 rocker arms have moved in opposite directions.
But at the moment of #1 TDC, #3 rockers "overlap", or "twaddle". Yes, that is the word for it.
That means #3 rockers are in the same postion. They are and rotating the engine reveals their opposite movement.
2nd ROW
(L) Checking the angle of the distributor drive key . . .
(C) But the dizzy won't insert when the rotor aligns to the alignment mark on the distributor edge.
(R) The engine tin is where the vacuum can wants to be.

1st ROW
(L) Here's the problem with the engine tin when it shifted after the engine was centered.
The answer is to cut about one inch off the driver side, and add some to the passenger side.
(C) Side view - upper cooling tin in place and attached to the block and fan housing
(R) Front view - cooling tin
2nd ROW
(L) The rest of the top tin in place
(R) Straight-on view of the fan housing


1st ROW
(L) The engine as far as I took it - left side . . .
(C) And right side . . .
(R) Top view from rear . . .
2nd ROW
(L) And a view from the rear . . .
(C) One way to lift a 200 pound engine without a hoist.
(R) Padded for its trip to the mechanic

1st ROW
(L1) 3/4 front view: left is before, right is after shaping.
Note the towel, which completes the seat back line, but allows the seat back to tilt forward.
(L2) Front-on view: same left/right difference
(C) Headrest 3/4 front view showing how much it was taken down
(R) Side view illustraing how much was removed from the bolsters
2nd ROW
(L) And a top-down view


1st ROW
(L) A view of the interior and the safety brake
(C) Close-up of the safety brake adjustment. It's an elbow-gouger.
(R) The modified safety brake handle

2nd ROW
(L) Close-up of the new adjustment position. The pieces freely pivot.
(C) Another view looking back-to-front along the brake handle
(R) Before (right) and after (left) heat exchanger repair. Note the stainless steel wire mesh pieces.


1st ROW
(L) I began by simply boxing in the battery well and the spare tire well. I expected to employ plain flat sheet metal. And it works.
(C) First test of using the VW 412 spare well. Yes, it will fit and is strong, but it wastes space.
(R) This view shows the necessary angle to fit within the nose profile.
2nd ROW
(L) I need a cross section at the forward end to accurately check fit inside the nose.
I begin by transferring a full-sized line drawing to cardboard.
(C) To do so, I trace the line by punching holes along the contour, pencil it in, and cut it out.
(R) The contour correctly positioned - and it clears!
3rd ROW
(L) This view better shows the clearance. The yellow arrows point to the area of greatest concern.
(C) Tire well sitting upright and straight-on to the laser level to establish the center line and horizontals
(R) The trimmed and cleaned up tire well with the driver-side frame template in place
4th ROW
(L) Cutting out the contour for the frame side. It was laid out the same way as above.
(C) The frame contours in place. That should pretty accurately define the space.
(R) A look-down view. The battery well is next to the "firewall" at top. The steering mechanism is visible.
I have a couple of templates to box it in and keep the road dirt out of the nose compartment.
5th ROW
(L) Head-on view of front well welded in
(C) Front overall view
(R) From the passenger side showing contour side plates. they have been cut down 1/2 inch from the actual contour.
6th ROW
(L) Side view showing more of the compartment space
(C) Driver side view from behind. Note the space for the steering gear.
(R) A look-down view. The battery well is next to the "firewall" at the left. The steering mechanism will be accessible.


1st ROW
(L) Strapped down and ready to go.
(C) The frame is suggesting the body shape.
(R) With the transmission in place on its mounts.