Project: Street Beetle to Subaru powered Sand Bug

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Project: Street Beetle to Subaru powered Sand Bug

Post by snewbank » Fri Jan 16, 2004 5:42 pm

Well, I'm on my third sandrail now and I'm still not satisfied. I can't afford a high digit rail and I can't see putting anything more into my current sandrail. The past couple trips have been cold and windy and I found myself having more fun cruising around in our Jeep Cherokee Sport tow vehicle than the rails. With all the comforts of an enclosed vehicle, I could see myself doing a lot my dune runs regardless of the weather.

That's how I came to thinking about a Baja Bug for the sand. I haven't seen many out there (in fact, I don't think I have seen any out there) which would make it a little unique at least. Also, virtually every part used in sandrails are designed for VWs to begin with. So it should just be a bolt- together affair (Right? :D ).


So heres the plan:

Starting with a stock Beetle...

- Pull all the fenders off (won't need them for sand, cuts down on weight, no tire clearance problems and this will be a green sticker vehicle anyway)
- Cut front end off. Install Baja hood and front panel
- Install new wider beam with longer travel towers and longer trailing arms (Shooting for 12"-16" travel up front)
- Convert to Bus Tranny
- Install 3x3 boxed trailing arms in back with 930 CVs. (Shooting for 12"-16" travel in rear)
- Dual-Rate Coil-Over shocks all the way around
- Install 2.5 Subaru (maybe with turbo)
- Install Roll Cage
- Install Bucket Suspension Seats up front and maybe in back (I want to keep this a four seater which makes the roll cage difficult)
- Install front and rear disc brakes
- Put on some 6.80 Apex tires op front and Hole-Shot paddles in back
- Install 5-point seat belts.
- Give it killer paint job.
- Add-up all receipts
- See Doctor about recovery plan from recent heart-attack


After much deliberation, research and preparing the garage to be an adequate work environment with adequate tools, I went on a search for a used beetle. I didn't want a Super Beetle because the mcpherson struts used in those are unusable for off-road. Also, some '71 and later and all '74 and later beetles use the struts. I didn't want a swing-axle which are on all '68 and older beetles.

So that means I could look at all '69-'70 and some '71 to '73 beetles.

After searching the Recycler and checking some of them out, I ended-up buying a '71 beetle last Saturday for $1100.

Image

It's actually in a lot nicer condition than I needed. The people I bought from where in the process of restoring it. They just put a new red paint job on it, new seat covers, a new carpet kit, etc. I didn't dare tell them what I intended to do with it and all the time they spent on it. The motor actually ran. It's pretty much stock. I don't know what size it is but it's a dual port. Could come in handy on one of the other rails.

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Image

It was hard tearing this thing down bacuase it was in such good condition but you can't make an omelete without breaking some eggs. Right?

I'm starting with the front-end first. Turns-out the new front beam I want to install is Kingpin and this beetle currently has a ball-joint front end. You can't just swap the beam because the ball-joint beam has wider spaced tubes so you have to cut-off the front clip and weld-on a new kingpin front clip.

Image

So I bought a new clip but I changed my plan before installing it. I don't think a clip is strong enough by itself for what I want to do. Also, the replacement clip I got isn't as strong as the original. Also, I think I want to install a rack in between the beams to minimize bump-steer.

So now the plan is to cut the top part of the existing clip where it attaches to the top tube and leave the bottom part where it attaches to the bottom tube. This way I still get some strength from the clip but it will be clearenced for the rack. Then I'm going to run some tubing from near the end of the beam tubes back to the fire wall (both bottom and top tubes) where they will attach to the roll cage on the other side of the fire wall with angled bracing back to the floor pan. This should give me the strength I'm looking for.

Before I do all that I need to install the fiberglass baja hood and nosepiece I bought for it. I already installed the hood. I just need to install the nosepiece. Of course the baja kit I got doesn't have any instructions so I'm still trying to decide where to the existing nosepiece off.

Also, since it's clear now that I will need to do a completely custom roll bar, I went out and bought a new welder (my old one was junk). I got a Millermatic 135 and a bottle of C25 shielding gas. I was playing with it last night and the setup welds awesome beads.

Meanwhile, I have been looking at new front beams. The standard wide beams is "6 wider for about $180. I want to increase the track as much as possible (front and rear) for better handling. I want to be able to park sideways on the steepest hill at glamis and not even be concerned about it rolling. I don't think a 6" wider beam is enough for me. I found a 9" wider beam at McKenzies but they about $300 for it. Also, I need to make sure the shock towers will work with 2" coilovers and not bind. I think I'm looking 10" of shock travel in the towers.

Also, I got an idea how to make the rear-end even wider. Mckenzies said they have a kit that extends the existing IRS torsion tube about 3" inches on either side. It sounds like it's a 3" tube with end plates on both ends. One end bolts to the IRS end plate and you attach the swing plate to the other end with an end cap. Then you need to move the inside mount for the trailing arm out about 3". Also, the extended ends would use a wider bolt pattern to accommodate 4" of additional swing plate up/down travel. If it's not like this from McKenzies then I will make my own.

This should give me about a 12" wider track in back (3x3 trailing arms + two 3" extenders). If I do this then I'm not sure if even a 9" wider beam will be wide enough. I can get a custom beam but that will cost $$$. I'm thinking if I could find some chromolly tubing with exactly the same ID as the beam tubes, I could make my own front beam for a lot less and as wide as I want. Make my own shock towers that will work for 2" coilovers and stick in some needle-bearings and bushings.

Then there is the matter of front trailing arms. It looks like stock trailing arms are about 6" long and the standard longer arms are 2.5" longer and 1" wider and are about $200 for all four. So 8.5" long total. That means if the arms could travel 180 degrees (straight-down to straight-up) that would give 17" of travel. It looks like (in practice) they could travel from say 1 o'clock to 5 o'clock but I don't want the beam to bottom out on the ground so they should stop at 2 o'clock which would be about 11"-12" of travel?

Then they have 4" longer arms. Mckenzies wants something like $500 each! for those. I think there are some cheaper ones out there but I don't want to bend them in a witches eye. I'm thinking maybe I could get the 2.5" longer ones, cut them in two, slip the pieces into a thick walled chromoly tube thats about 8" long and weld them back together. That would give me 10" arms. I don't know about cutting some brand new arms in half though. Has anybody tried this?

I hope to get some work done this weekend but my girlfriend decided to remodel our bathroom and I think she's gotten in a little over her head so I need to help her finish up this weekend.

I will try to keep this post updated as I go along.

Of course, any suggestions or recommendations are always welcome.
Scott

Idaho Falls

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Post by Winston Cup » Fri Jan 16, 2004 6:27 pm

That's an excellent year to start with, sans the balljoint front end, which is an easy deal to change over really and it looks like you have a plan for that already. The Miller 135 is a great welder but don't get too cocky with it, your pushing the limit and then some on that thing so be carefull. Also DO NOT use any extension cord when running it unless it's a 10 gauge, and even there keep it under 15 feet or you'll get too much current loss and your gonna need all you can get. This is gonna be a cool thread to follow.
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Post by TroyB » Fri Jan 16, 2004 9:50 pm

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I extended stock arms 3", also made them 1" wider. They are very strong just look at the pics of my tweaked front end after a stuffed the car into a witch eye at 50mph. The arms survived and I am still using them. I get almost 12" of travel w/this setup. One of the problems that I'm having is the front tires on the inside are rubbing on the jam nuts on the through rods at a full turn when the suspension compresses. I have not checked the bump steer yet, that might be the problem. I had to polish the ends to keep from grooving the side walls of the tires. The more travel you have the more problems you will have w/ tie rod clearance

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Post by OBSESSED » Fri Jan 16, 2004 10:19 pm

If any other are interested in doing this, today at CarCraft in Riverside, I saw that Shane is selling a 1/2 done Baja with some tube work and frame work- cheap too.

CC's number is:
909-781-4480

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Post by snewbank » Mon Jan 19, 2004 10:16 am

TroyB wrote: I extended stock arms 3", also made them 1" wider. They are very strong just look at the pics of my tweaked front end after a stuffed the car into a witch eye at 50mph. The arms survived and I am still using them. I get almost 12" of travel w/this setup. One of the problems that I'm having is the front tires on the inside are rubbing on the jam nuts on the through rods at a full turn when the suspension compresses. I have not checked the bump steer yet, that might be the problem. I had to polish the ends to keep from grooving the side walls of the tires. The more travel you have the more problems you will have w/ tie rod clearance
Tire rubbing. That's a good point to watch out for. I wonder if you made the arms a little wider like 2" if that would prevent it.
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Post by snewbank » Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:21 am

Update: I bought some tubing this weekend (1.5"x.125"x40' Mild Steel at about $2 a foot) and some other metal stock but I didn't get any time to work on the Bug. Instead spent the whole weekend trying to finish up the bathroom and it's still not finished. I have to work on the bathroom some more tonight and probably tomorrow.

Wednesday our the house gets tented for termites which means we will be living in the RV until Friday. It will be weird stepping out of the RV in the morning not on to sand but on to the concrete slab in my backyard :cry:

Oh well, at least I get to try out the external water hookup and see how long of a shower I can take with that water heater :D

Probably won't be able to work on the bug till next weekend though. I guess it will give me more time to work out my front-end strategy.
Scott

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Post by snewbank » Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:37 am

Winston Cup wrote:That's an excellent year to start with, sans the balljoint front end, which is an easy deal to change over really and it looks like you have a plan for that already. The Miller 135 is a great welder but don't get too cocky with it, your pushing the limit and then some on that thing so be carefull. Also DO NOT use any extension cord when running it unless it's a 10 gauge, and even there keep it under 15 feet or you'll get too much current loss and your gonna need all you can get. This is gonna be a cool thread to follow.
Thanks for the tip. I have a 12ga 20' extension cord I use. I guess I should pick-up something thicker though.
Scott

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Post by snewbank » Wed Jan 28, 2004 12:46 pm

Well I cut the top tube mount off the front clip and temporarily installed a stock kingpin beam I had laying around and it seems like it's going to work.

Image

I still need to fabricate a new top to the front clip and the two bars that will go from the top beam back to the firewall and the structure that will reinforce the front firewall.

I was getting a custom front beam (10" wider chromoly) made by The Baja Shop but I want to have integrated shock towers for 10" coilover setup. The Baja Shop does not have a jig for beam shock towers. Also, they kept pushing me to not use shock towers and instead weld a loop from the top tube to the frame and add all kinds of crossbracing for it. This would mean cutting a lot of holes in the body and the stock gas tank would not fit up front anymore (I want this to be a 4-seater).

Anyway, I think I'm going to just go with a standard 6" wider beam from Warrior with coilover shock towers. I called Kartek to see if they had a wider than 6" beam with coilover mounts and they said the same thing. That I need to weld in a shock loop to the chassis. I know they mean well but I am also pretty sure that these guys (KarTek, Baja Shop) can only think in terms of Extreme "If your building a Baja bug, then it must be able to do 20' jumps all day long, otherwise what's the point of building it." :evil:

Also, I seem to be getting a snobbish attitude from a guy kartek. I asked him about pricing on 4" longer trailing arms for the beam. Of course they carry Foddrills (which are anywhere from $200 to $600 a piece x4! for a hunk of metal?) but when I asked him about cheaper ones he said "we only carry quality parts here" with a snobbish tone. Whatever :roll:

It looks Like I'll be trying that "Extend-a-arm-with-the-OD-tubing" idea.
Scott

Idaho Falls

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Post by porboy » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:40 pm

Have you looked at this set-up? A little exspensive but it looks to be every thing you are asking for.

Eagle Performance

They have some cool rear coil over converswions to.

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Post by snewbank » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:31 pm

porboy wrote:Have you looked at this set-up? A little exspensive but it looks to be every thing you are asking for.

Eagle Performance

They have some cool rear coil over converswions to.

Image
Yea, I've seen this type before. Actually, I just bought my beam a couple hours ago at PCU. Fortunately, I think I got the better deal. I got a 6" wider Warrior Style beam with 10" Travel Shocktowers made for coilovers. It uses gusseted plates instead of tubes for the shock tower and it looks pretty strong. Better yet, it's all made of chromoly and cost me $300.

I also, bought..

- HD Combo Link Spindles with 3" drop $450
- 2.5x1 Trailing Arms (The good ones made of large tubing) $265
- Extreme 6.80 Apex Tires $234
- 15x4 Douglas Billet Star Spindle wheels $240
- U-joints for Steering (I bought a rack yesterday)
- Misc parts

All together I dropped $1900 on the front end today (and I haven't even bought shocks yet!)
Scott

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Post by snewbank » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:41 pm

Regarding the rear-end. I think (per The Baja Shop suggestion) i'm going to go with 4x6 boxed arms (I hear there the same price as the 3x3) and just use a bypass shock with bigger torshion bars. They said that coilover rear-ends on Baja Bugs with stock pans don't work very well.

I wish they could make a combo bypass shock coilover that I could use on the front. Don't know how they would do it though.
Scott

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Post by TroyB » Thu Jan 29, 2004 7:47 am

If you use stronger torsion bars you will have to beef up the torsion housing or they will twist.

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Post by snewbank » Thu Jan 29, 2004 12:06 pm

TroyB wrote:If you use stronger torsion bars you will have to beef up the torsion housing or they will twist.
Hadn't thought of that. Any suggestions on the best way to do that? It has to support a Subaru 2.5 and occasionally 4 passengers.
Scott

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Post by snewbank » Thu Jan 29, 2004 12:16 pm

But actually will they twist??....

All the force should be on the torsion rod itself. If anything twists, it should be where the torsion rods connect in the center of the torsion housing by the trans mounts? Right?

There will be some forced transferred to the shock mounts (I haven't worked-out where they will be mounted probably the roll cage which will tie down back into the ends of the torsion tubes but also the pan.
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Post by Winston Cup » Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:12 pm

TroyB wrote:If you use stronger torsion bars you will have to beef up the torsion housing or they will twist.
You mean the torsion housing will twist? I've never heard of that and quite frankly I don't see how that could happen when the force is in the center of the housing.
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Post by TroyB » Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:54 pm

A friend put sway aways in and the car sagged about 5" during the 1st ride. We reset the torsions because new torsion will sag a bit after the first run. went on another run and it sagged again so we reset them again. after the 3rd ride they sagged again. He called Mc kenzies and asked whats up. They told him to beef up the torsions housing to keep them from twisting. He bought a steel tube slightly bigger then the torsion housing and cut it in 2 length wise and rapped the housing w/it and welded it. This doubled the thickness and strength. He has not had a problem since.

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Post by TroyB » Thu Jan 29, 2004 2:12 pm

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Keep this steering shaft. The expanded metal section at the end is a crumple zone. If you crash and come to a sudden stop and hit the steering wheel with your chest This section will collapse keeping the shaft from becoming a spear. You dont want to be run through by your own car

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Post by snewbank » Thu Jan 29, 2004 3:20 pm

Too late. I'm converting to R&P so the steering shaft has to go. I'll have U-joints in the new shaft to route it to the rack. Hopefully, the mounts will tear-off and the U-joints will absorb the shock and so I won't get impailed if I get in accident.
Scott

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Post by porboy » Thu Jan 29, 2004 5:31 pm

I use a grant steering wheel to solve this problem. They are designed to bend in an impact. The down side is that they get a little warped over the season. It looks like a new wheel will be a seasonal change.

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Post by TroyB » Thu Jan 29, 2004 6:00 pm

snewbank wrote:Too late. I'm converting to R&P so the steering shaft has to go. I'll have U-joints in the new shaft to route it to the rack. Hopefully, the mounts will tear-off and the U-joints will absorb the shock and so I won't get impailed if I get in accident.

Even better. When I crashed my car the upper joint broke.

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Post by TroyB » Thu Jan 29, 2004 10:00 pm

Just got off the phone w/ my friend who had the housing twist. He said it was soo bad that they had to cut the center of the housing out and replace it. His car is a long travel. I'm sure the short travel cars would not have this problem as the torsions would not have to twist as much.

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Post by Winston Cup » Thu Jan 29, 2004 11:06 pm

That would've been a great time to weld in a center adjuster.
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Post by snewbank » Fri Jan 30, 2004 11:21 am

Now I'm waffling....

If I go with the torsion rods, I don't get dual rates like coilovers but I can put a bypass shock on. If I put dual rate coilovers I wont have bypass (unless I run both... Can you say KaCHING$$$$).

Which approach would give the softest ride over woops for the buck?
Scott

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Post by snewbank » Mon Feb 09, 2004 12:15 pm

Time for an update....

I ended-up getting a 6" wider beam with 10" travel coilover shock towers, 2.5" x1" longer trailing arms, combo link spindles (raised 3"), a Tatum 5-lug front disk brake kit, a centerload offroad rack and a pair of 2" King Coilover Shocks with 10" of travel.

I got most of it setup this weekend. Here's a pic from last night were I left off:

Image

Problems I ran into over the past week just to get it to this point:

1.) The Chromoly beam and Bug Pack polyureathane bushings that I bought from PCU don't quite fit together well. I hade to hammer the bushings in. Then I had to use a sledge hammer to get the trailing arms in the bushings. If this happens to you, don't continue to force them in because after I got the trailing arms in, I found they were hard to move up and down even with the grease. I figured, they would breakin eventually but once I installed the spindles, brakes, rotors, tires and shocks and let down the jack I realized the arms were so tight, the front end wouldn't even droop. So I took off the shocks thinking they were too stiff and dropped the jack. The front-end still wouldn't come down until I jumped on the front-end and then it dropped to the ground. So I had to take the everything back off, hammer out the arms and hammer out the bushings. Being a Sunday and no VW/Offorad shops are ever open on Sundays, I resorted to sanding/grinding the ID and OD of the bushings until the bushings fit easily into the beam and arms fit easily into the bushings, greased it up and put everything back together.

2.) The Disk Brakes came with a bracket for the caliper that I was told is supposed to weld to the front of the spindle backplate. NOT. After installing the rotors with bearings and everything, I test fitted the calip and bracket and found that in order for the caliper to line-up with the rotor, the bracket would have to be welded edge-on (butt-jointed) to the spindle backplate! (sorry no pics). That would make the bracket extremely weak if the weld wasn't perfect. So ended-up frabricating new brackets that allowed me to do a lap-joint for better strength.

3.) The beam didn't come with brakets to mount to the front clip so I had to fabricate my own.

4.) I had a 7-piece Baja Fiberglass kit I was planning on using but it turns out the 6" wider beam with 10" travel towers doesn't quite clear the inside wheel wells so I had to cut holes in them. I don't like how that will look so I took back the 7-piece kit to get a 1-piece front end. The 1-piece front ends are on backorder so I am still waiting for that.

5.) I bought an end-load rack (I figured it would give me better tie rod clearence but once I mounted it and put the boots on I found it would only move about 3" from side to side which wouldn't give me a reasonable turning radius. So I had to buy a different one which turned-out to be a centerload. It looks like my tie rods will still clear though.

6.) Tie-rods. I mounted the spindles and rack and measured the distance between the two. I figured I needed 22.5" rods. Then (just so there would be no confusion) I brought the Rack and spindles to Mckenzies and said "I need to tie rods and ends to fit this". He came back with 23.5" rods and a set of international ends. he said "based on my measurements, this is what I needed". Well who am I to question a Pro. Also, he didn't have any left-threaded Intl Ends so I had to go to Moores Parts for those. It turns out the Tie rods are too long and the Spindles don't use Intl Ends. I think they are made for Heims (non-tapered 5/8" hole about 1.25" deep). So I'm off to change those parts now.

I have put 800 miles on the Jeep over the past week just running around to Corona, Anahiem and Orange during Lunch time (buying parts, exchanging parts).

Another thing, save you receipts and plan on a lot of trips to exchange parts. :evil:

I wanted to get the front-end done this weekend but now I just hope to have it down this week so I can start on the rear-end next weekend. I started with the front-end cause I thought it would be quick and easy to get started on. Boy was I wrong. I just hope the rear-end won't be so much trouble (will see).

Oh yea, If you need bolts, go to Mcfadden-Dale. They have every kind of bolt you can think of (not just those cheap Home Depot bolts). I have been using Grade-8 bolts on just about everything.

'till next update, Dune-on!
Scott

Idaho Falls

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Post by BeachHead » Mon Feb 09, 2004 1:31 pm

Scott...another source for bolts in the O.C. area is Hillco. And just think of all the challenges you will have overcome to pull your project together..:) I look forward to your updates, as this is a cool project.

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Post by snewbank » Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:52 pm

BeachHead wrote:Scott...another source for bolts in the O.C. area is Hillco. And just think of all the challenges you will have overcome to pull your project together..:) I look forward to your updates, as this is a cool project.
Dude!!

I looked up HillcoFasteners.com and it is even closer to were I live than Mcfadden-Dale and they seem to be open later on Weekdays and Saturday.

This going to save me a lot of time and miles.

Thanks for the tip :D
Scott

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Post by Winston Cup » Mon Feb 09, 2004 9:15 pm

What type of bender are you using?
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Post by snewbank » Tue Feb 10, 2004 11:26 am

I bought this cheapo one at Harbor Freight. Haven't even tried it yet. I hope it works.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/D ... mber=32888
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Post by porboy » Tue Feb 10, 2004 11:41 am

Don't expect that bender to make decent bends. It is a pipe bender and the dies are measured in ID instead of OD like tubing. I bought one as well and it was crap. I have friends who have been succesfull with it but it took them many years to figure it out.

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Post by Winston Cup » Tue Feb 10, 2004 11:45 am

snewbank wrote:I bought this cheapo one at Harbor Freight. Haven't even tried it yet. I hope it works.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/D ... mber=32888

Um, that won't work, it's a pipe bender. Tube dies are sized OD, pipe dies are sized ID for one thing. Also it doesn't have anything to keep the tube snug in the die. Hard to explain. That bender will crush and kink the tube, definitely need a different bender and you won't find it there.

One like this
Image

This is the one I have right at the moment.
Guy Chrest

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Post by snewbank » Tue Feb 10, 2004 12:00 pm

Winston Cup wrote:
snewbank wrote:I bought this cheapo one at Harbor Freight. Haven't even tried it yet. I hope it works.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/D ... mber=32888

Um, that won't work, it's a pipe bender. Tube dies are sized OD, pipe dies are sized ID for one thing. Also it doesn't have anything to keep the tube snug in the die. Hard to explain. That bender will crush and kink the tube, definitely need a different bender and you won't find it there.

One like this
Image

This is the one I have right at the moment.

Why am I not surprised :roll:

I was wondering how it would bend pipe (tubing) without kinking it. I just hope I still have the box it came in so I can take it back. Otherwise, maybe I could turn it into an arbor press?

At the cost of a real bender, I am not sure I can justify the expense just to build one roll cage. Maybe, I'll get a shop to bend them for me.
Scott

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Post by Winston Cup » Tue Feb 10, 2004 12:10 pm

Another option.

Image

"This improved version of our popular Class 11 Roll Bar kit has extra gussets for additional strength and is notched to slip together easier than before. It's a complete cage made of 1 1/2" x .090 wall mild steel tubing that offers superb light weight strength. The roll bar brace welds to the shock tower for maximum strength and you mount the rear torsion support kit to the rear bar. (Rear torsion support kit is included.)

60-045 Baja Bug Class 11 Roll Bar Kit
$180.15"


The price doesn't sound right to me, but it says it's the whole deal, all you gotta do is weld it and then add from there. I remember this was a popular way to go back when I worked selling VW parts.
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Post by porboy » Tue Feb 10, 2004 12:18 pm

That price is correct. My buddy used this as his base then added bars to it to suit his liking.

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Post by snewbank » Tue Feb 10, 2004 12:20 pm

Hi Guy,

Yea, I've been looking at that option. Only problem is I want to keep the back seat for occasional passengers. I'm thinking maybe I could use part of this kit (as long as the sides tuck in enough) and do something custom for the rest.
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Post by snewbank » Tue Feb 10, 2004 12:23 pm

I'm curious, where is the best place to mount you seatbelts to this roll cage if you have 5-points?
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Post by porboy » Tue Feb 10, 2004 6:10 pm

The only way I see to mount 5 points would be to add a bar behind the front seats. This would make it extremely hard to use a back seat though.

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Post by r erfert » Tue Feb 10, 2004 8:06 pm

Scott from Orange County, CA

I think you are asking for too much...No Really, a dual purpose 2 seat sand baja and 4 seat family baja.

Seriously... I have seen/done a roll bar in a baja with a removable bar behind the front seats for off road 4 point belts.
basically the removable bar is slip fitted into a slightly bigger tube on the drivers side and cradled in a half tube on the passenger side then bolted on each side for strength.

Does that help?

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Post by Winston Cup » Tue Feb 10, 2004 9:00 pm

Image
Image

By choosing to trim off just the top of the bulk head instead of changing the whole head over to fit a king and link pin front end, I'm curious what your plan is in regards to now transfering the load that will be on those top tubes. How do you plan to tie them in and deal with that load transfer. What I mean is that by going that route, rather than building a simple "roll" cage inside the baja for protection and maybe "some" chassis stiffening so to speak, your now basically going to have go to the next level and actually build a full "chassis" within the baja to deal with the load transfer your now gonna get from that front end setup that way. This means floor tubes front to back, side bars, the whole shebang. Don't get me wrong, this would be a mondo cool way to go, just wondering if that was or is now your intended plan. And I know first hand how these "plans" change. :wink:

Gonna be tough to do and keep the rear area accessible for a four seater.

Ahhhh, but maybe a .........convertible? :twisted:
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Post by TLB » Wed Feb 11, 2004 4:58 pm

A convertible would be cool, you could have a closed baja and an open air baja 8)
There are times that I wish I had a baja bug so the weather didn't put an end to my fun :(

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Post by snewbank » Fri Feb 13, 2004 11:36 am

I got the steering shaft in and some other things done. I got some pictures below of what i'm trying to do to support the loads on the top beam....

Image

Image

From what I can tell (based on the location of the coilover towers), the direction of the load on the top tube (when coming down hard on the front end) will be to push the tube up and forward. Since it will be pivoting on the bottom tube most of the "up force" will be carried by the front clip and most of the "forward force" will be carried by the top tube. This will tend to "yank" the firewall forward.

I have a pretty thick 2" square tube that runs along the front of the firewall (would have been better behind firewall but would have caused foot pedal interference). As you can see, the top of the beam attaches to this through the two top bars.

Now, the plan is to attach bars to the other side of the firewall. You can see the center one is already done. Bolts attach it through the firewall to the 2" square tube. I'm going to put two more tubes behind the firewall (on each side) next to the kick panel but rather than angling down to the floor pan, these will go straight back (but angling-out to hug the kick panel) and attach to the main front rollbars next to the door hinges.

I hope this will provide adequate support for the front beam. I figure half the force will be carried by the front clip (which is pretty much still at full strength) and the other half will be carried by the two bars that run back to the firewall and attach to the 2" square tubing which is supported on the other side of the firewall by three tubes (one in the center tied to the main floor pan channel and two on the ends which tie into the main rollbar system.
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Post by snewbank » Tue Feb 17, 2004 5:44 pm

Update...

I got a lot of work done (and spent a lot of money) this weekend. I started by gutting the inside and cleaned it out.

Image

I then bought a roll cage. I ended-up not going with the class-11 cage because it would take a lot of modifications to allow for rear seats. Instead I got a 6-point cage that seems to tuck-in out of the way really well. Of course, I still have to do some modifications to it. For one, the ends are designed to attach to the floor pan halves (a pretty worthless location if your looking for strength). However, it looks like I can cut the ends-off, spread the bars a little and tie them into the top of the side channels. Also, I will need to add some bars to tie it into the torsion tubes, stock shock mounts and tranny mounts so I have a strong/solid place to mount my coilovers.

I also bought a 1 pc fiberglass front-end. It cost a little more because it's hand-laminated but it looks pretty strong. I also got a front tube bumper with a top bar that has a hinge for the hood to pivot on. Of course the bumper required a huge amount of modifications to work on my front end. First, I had to cut the bottom tube ends off and weld them to the clamps I made for the bottom beam. Then I had to use the oxy/acet torch to bend the mounts on the top tube over so I could attach to the top beam mount. These changes made the bumper shorter so the hinge bar would not line-up with the hood so I had to cut it off, move it forward and reweld. Here is a Pic but it's hard to see it.

Image

I still need to do some grinding on the bumper to clean it up and I need to get some 1.5" sq tubing for the spacer but it seems to fit pretty good now. Also, much to my amazement, it looks like the fenders don't need to be cut back to allow the wheel full travel which....

BTW - I got a final measurement on front wheel travel. 13". That's using the 10" travel beam for coilovers and 2.5x1" longer arms and King 2.0-10" coilovers at max travel of 17-27" and no tie rod clearance problems.

Here is a pic of the mostly complete front-end. No, the front-end is not jacked-up. :) This is how it sits at rest

Image


With the front end being close to done, I decided to swing the chassis around and start working on the rear-end. Specifically, I wanted to get the rear-end apart so I could formulate a final plan and get some parts on order.

Image

I originally planned on using 3x3 arms with 3" torsion housing extenders which would simulate a 3x6 arm because I want to make this bug as wide as possible. However, after talking to the guys at The Baja Shop, they said I would be better off getting some custom 4x6 arms made and use the existing torsion housing with new torsion rods and some bypass shocks. This was all back in the day when I was going to get a custom 10" wider beam made. Now that I have 6" wider beam, I don't want the rear-end too much wider than the front or it might cause handling (cornering) problems. I decided against the custom 4x6 as well as a torsion/bypass combo and went back to the 3x3, extenders and coilover option (I want dual-rates not just torsion).

So, yesterday I went to Mckenzies for the torsion extenders which where $86 a pair and after looking at them in the car I realized with a little 1/4" plate, some pieces of tubing and some quality time on the bandsaw and welder, I could build my own for about $3 on materials. I am seriously considering making templates, making my own and returning them back to Mckenzies for a refund (minus 15% restocking). Maybe I could put the templates in the scanner and post them on the Fabrication side of the BBS for others to make ;) I don't; want to break any rules though. The kool thing about these extenders is they do two things: 1.) By pulling the trailing arms outward it relieves the angle on the CVs for a given amount of travel. 2.) The new torsion ends allow for more plate travel. It has holes for both stock end caps and extended travel end caps.

After Mckenzies, I headed over to Outback (just look at what they got and what my options where). I talked to both John and Mack (mostly Mack). They are super busy right now but they still made time to talk to me and were really helpful. I told Mack what I currently have, what I am building and what I want to get out of it. I found out that I didn't really need the DOHC. In fact, the SOHC 2.5 has more of a torqy low-end like I want AND it cost less. I originally planned to shop around for the motor thinking Outback would be too high-end for me. In fact, I think they are the first place I have dealt with since starting this project that understands that not everybody wants an alcohol-burning-twin-mega-boost-turbo-nitrous-breathing-dragster-engine-and-are-willing-to-pay-any-amount-to-get-it engine. I was so sold on them (and their reasonable prices) that we picked-out a used 20K Mile 2.5 SOHC motor they had sitting on a pallet and put my name on it. We wrote-up a receipt for the motor, EMS computer, exhaust (w/ wastegate flange for later use, maybe;) ), oil pan, adapter kit, Stage-3 clutch, air filter, and some other small items and for the first time since starting this project I am under-budget!!! I fully expected to drop $5500 on a basic turnkey. Instead, I walked out only spending $4400!!! They still have to go over the motor a little bit (checking plastics and stuff) so it won't be ready 'till Wednesday (that's tomorrow!!!). I expected it to take a few weeks even months but since I am not doing anything custom, there isn't much they need to do to it. Now I need to get the bug ready for an engine :)

So... after Outback, I headed over to Transform and picked-up a Stage-5 "002" with hardened/HD everything and a 930 kit with CVs (clearenced for 28 degrees), axles, flanges, boots, stub axles, bolts, etc . Also,I picked-up some chromoly 3x3 arms.

Image

Image

All together, I dropped $7400 Monday and I'm finding it hard to breath right now. It's a good thing it's going to take me awhile to install all this stuff because my funds are pretty much tapped right now. I hope I get the old sandrail sold soon. I still need rear shocks, seats, rear disk brakes, etc.

BTW - I'm starting to think I don't need the Torsion Extenders after all. I'm going to install the 3x3s tonight (hopefully) but it looks like it is going to be wide enough with 3x3 + Disk Brakes + High-Offset rims.
Scott

Idaho Falls

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Post by porboy » Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:49 pm

Awesome work. Keep the updates coming. Out of curiosity, where are you going to mount the radiator?

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Post by porboy » Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:51 pm

One more question, If you are using coil overs, how are you going to attach the spring plates?

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Post by snewbank » Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:08 am

I'm still trying to decide where to mount the radiator but currently the plan is above the engine kinda of like a whales tail spoiler mount. I don't want it to look stupid though so I have to see what it looks like with the engine in and how big the radiator will be.

For the rear spring plates, I was just planning on leaving the torsion bars out and attaching it as normal. I have heard some people have had problems with the camber changing when they step on it with this setup. I was thinking it shouldn't be a problem if the end caps are tight up against the spring plates. Maybe I'll add an extra strap for the spring plates to help keep them straight. Any other ideas?
Scott

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Post by snewbank » Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:33 am

I just thought of another idea....

Maybe I should take the old torsion rods and grind down the teeth/splines on the inside end. This would allow the torsion rods to turn freely on the tranny side (as if it were stripped) but still keep the spring plates from bending outward/inward.

Has anybody tried this?
Scott

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Post by TLB » Wed Feb 18, 2004 4:16 pm

It's looking good so far. Looks like some major ground clearence when your done.
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Post by snewbank » Wed Feb 18, 2004 4:23 pm

TLB wrote:It's looking good so far. Looks like some major ground clearence when your done.
Yea, I think its like 24" of ground clearence.

BTW - I just picked-up my engine - Shwing!!!

I can't wait to get my tranny in so I can bolt it up and see what it looks like. :D
Scott

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Post by TLB » Wed Feb 18, 2004 4:35 pm

Seeing the pictures makes me want to build a baja too. Their have been some times when we were out for some fun that the weather put an end to the day :(
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Post by snewbank » Wed Feb 18, 2004 4:58 pm

TLB wrote:Seeing the pictures makes me want to build a baja too. Their have been some times when we were out for some fun that the weather put an end to the day :(
Just to rub salt in your wound... Outback threw in a free AC Compressor since I told them I was thinking about hooking-up the stock AC unit for the later season months. I need to get the exchangers and stuff maybe from a junk yard and then mount it in the rear deck.

Air-conditioned Duning. I like it :twisted:
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Post by TLB » Wed Feb 18, 2004 5:25 pm

Yeah I have my radiator behind my head and AC would be nice too.
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