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Discussion Starter #1
I have always wanted an air-cooled bug and I've always wanted to learn how to fix them and everything. Since summer is just starting I was thinking it's finally time to get one.

First of all I know almost nothing about engines, but I want to learn. If I get one that's in good working order would I be able to do a lot of the maintenance myself?

I'm thinking of getting one for $2000 at most. Is it possible to get one that is in good working condition for that? It doesn't have to look all that great. I kind of like the beat-up look anyway. It's a 40+ year old car, I think it should look like it.

I live in Mass so it will be a summer car only and, I don't really do a lot of driving. The only places I go are all within 10 miles. And It's almost all back roads. So is it a good idea to do this or should I just not even bother getting one at all?
 

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Getting an old beetle is a commitment. You will have to work on it. They are not maintenance free like modern cars. But on the upside the technology is more than 60 years old, and they are easier to work on than those modern cars of today.
You will have to socialize with the vintage VW crowd for advice and sometimes sympathy. :) They are the best source for info and help. As any hobby you get back what you put into it.
The first thing I would buy is the book "How to keep your Volkswagen alive.." by John Muir. There is a whole chapter about buying a beetle in there and a great source of "how to" stuff that is written in language for average reader like us.
If you do find a beetle in your price range try to find one that is running and driving. Good luck! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I know they're a lot of work and I want to do it. I just don't want to get one where I have to rebuild the whole thing from the start. My plan is to get one that I can drive when I get it, but knowing that I will be working on it.
 

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USS ANNIEPRISE NCC 1701 A
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I bought you last year. I don't know enought about them to do work myself. I bought one that was fully restored, but he did leak some oil and even burn some. (Do all of them?) I had a good time with it last Summer, but I desperately missed driving a New Beetle. I think the only way (for me at least) is to have it as a "toy" or a weekend plaything. Good luck to you, and I hope you find one!!!!:D
 

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Considering it is stock here are the biggies:

The OB only has a 2.5 quart oil capacity and no real filter--just a screen, so the oil needs to be changed frequently. (Add on kits to put on a real filter and add oil capacity are available.)

The OB engine has solid lifters (not hydraulic self adjusting like newer stuff) so the valves must be adjusted frequently--not difficult once you "get it".

The OB has old style points and condensor ignition--points and dwell timing need to be adjusted for optimum running. (I'd recommend just installing a Perlux Ignitor in the distributor and forgetting all that.)

The brakes in the OB need to be manually adjusted by turning a little star shaped wheel through the back side of the backing plate or front of drum depending on year.

Any car that old will have old brittle wiring and its' associated problems.

Make sure that the engine seals are in place and all the engine tin is there and in good shape so that the engine cools properly.

There is other stuff, it has been a while since I've owned one, but this is what came to mind. They are fun to drive and tinker around with... Enjoy!
 

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USS ANNIEPRISE NCC 1701 A
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Considering it is stock here are the biggies:

The OB only has a 2.5 quart oil capacity and no real filter--just a screen, so the oil needs to be changed frequently. (Add on kits to put on a real filter and add oil capacity are available.)

The OB engine has solid lifters (not hydraulic self adjusting like newer stuff) so the valves must be adjusted frequently--not difficult once you "get it".

The OB has old style points and condensor ignition--points and dwell timing need to be adjusted for optimum running. (I'd recommend just installing a Perlux Ignitor in the distributor and forgetting all that.)

The brakes in the OB need to be manually adjusted by turning a little star shaped wheel through the back side of the backing plate or front of drum depending on year.

Any car that old will have old brittle wiring and its' associated problems.

Make sure that the engine seals are in place and all the engine tin is there and in good shape so that the engine cools properly.

There is other stuff, it has been a while since I've owned one, but this is what came to mind. They are fun to drive and tinker around with... Enjoy!

EXACTLY! Bill you said what I wanted to but couldn't! the Old Beetle! It shows that you have owned a few of them. :)
 

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Who is John Galt?
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Word has it that they "all" leak oil. I've only had two...one did, one didn't. But the second was sent packing at 18,000 miles, a true lemon (1975 fuel injected). My '68 was by far more reliable but marked its territory with oil every time it was parked.

The old torsion bar front suspension had some quirks in that if worn, going over bumps, such as train tracks, could set off an oscillation that could only be brought under control by coming to an almost complete stop.

Rust is the biggest enemy these old cars have. You can only patch so many times and places before it's all gone.

Be prepared for no cold air in the summer (a few had a/c, but not many though because of needing ~10 hp to run the compressor when only 40 hp was available to start with) and no heat in the winter. Creature comfort, as we know it today, is almost totally absent. No power anything.

Plan on driving with the steering wheel cranked 10-15 degrees into the wind in a stiff crosswind and also be prepared to get passed--a lot. 40 hp can only propel you so fast. Most motorcycles have twice that much or more.

Previous poster mentioned brittle wiring but there really isn't a lot of wiring in one of these things as long as you stay away from the fuel injected ones.

All in all, though, I'd like to have another one if they weren't so damned old and rusty now.
 

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The most reliable ones would be early 70's, pre fuel injection. I've had a bunch of them over the years and have enough parts stored to build several from a stripped chassis.

The tiny oil capacity is certainly one thing to keep in mind - lost an engine on my 76 because of that. I've seen deep sump kits that add a quart or so.

It's been a while, but I remember mine being very fun to drive and relatively quick. I had exhaust and carb work on all of them with the holley bug spray being my favorite. My 70 had a stinger exhaust that would blow flames when engine braking down a hill - wild at night! Dropped in the front with wide tires all the way around - handled really well.

My 57 that is in storage will be the first car I've ever kept stock. I don't have a decent garage to keep it in if I pull it out of storage so it sits until I do (14 years now).
 

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Semi-Lurk Mode: GOOOOO
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Word has it that they "all" leak oil.
The 68 in my shop begs to differ! :D Replaced the pushrod tube seals and oil cooler seals, and now it doesn't leak a drop.

Previous poster mentioned brittle wiring but there really isn't a lot of wiring in one of these things as long as you stay away from the fuel injected ones.
They really do have a LOT of wires. I replaced the wiring harness in mine, and man, that was a PAIN IN THE :moon:. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't. Period. Find someone that is good at it and will charge a decent price.
 

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Who is John Galt?
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The oil cooler o-rings in my '68 were problematic...that's what caused me to part company with that car. I shouldn't have gotten rid of it and have regretted it since, but just got tired of the mess it makes when the fan blows that oil all over Creation.

There may be what you consider a lot of wires but by the standards of today, here are very, very few wires in that thing. Lights, ignition, starting and charging, and instruments. What else is there? I'm not saying I want to dig in and do the wiring harness but if I was forced to do a wiring harness on a car, I think an air-cooled Beetle would be at or near the top of the list of cars I'd choose.
 

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Gilmore Enterprises they do ac for beetles. and the old beetles did have heat. you just have to make sure everything in clamped right so there are no leaks.

in the words of a famous car guy.

If you build a car exactly the way it was originally, it will work just fine. -- Jay Leno

Reguarding the oil leaks. Some parts of the VW aircooled motor were designed to leak. They lubricate some parts. Don't blame the 40 year old car or blame Dr. Porsche. :D
 

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Who is John Galt?
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I didn't know the exterior of the engines needed to be lubricated.
 

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Your rocker assembly does. You do have a rocker assembly? There is also a leak to lubricate the flywheel. Let's face it the car was not made to strict tolerances. Oil will leak out and we are straying too far from the subject of this thread.

Yes you can buy a decent bug for around 2k. Most likely it will be a later model beetle. (68 and up)
 

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Hug it or drive it?
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Make sure when you go to buy one, if you make that decision, you do a total check, floor pans, heater channels, front apron, Etc. Otherwise, when you tear out the carpet and a hole is staring back at you, your problems just started. Also look out for the Bugs being held together with Bondo, after doing the work on mine, I'd love to shoot who ever told the idiot that it was okay to bondo an entire quarter panel and then paint over it.
 

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For over 4 years mine has been parked in the same spot every night and the oil stain under him is about the size of a nickle. So ya he leaks oil but not enough to even stain the motor.

Every 1000 miles I change the oil, lubricate the suspension, check/adjust the points, check fan belt tension. check the valve clearances and if I needed to make adjustments check the timing. This takes the best part of an hour and a $10 bill. Its not exactly difficult but it can seem daunting at first. Once you get the procedure down it's actually kind of fun. :)

Tom aka Fowvay

P.S. The tools to do all that work are an oil container, 2 box wrenches, 3 sockets, a grease gun, flat head screw driver, timing light and dwell meter. Parts needed are 2 cork gaskets, 1 paper gasket and 3 quarts of 30W oil.
 

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Who is John Galt?
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Your rocker assembly does. You do have a rocker assembly? There is also a leak to lubricate the flywheel. Let's face it the car was not made to strict tolerances. Oil will leak out and we are straying too far from the subject of this thread.

Yes you can buy a decent bug for around 2k. Most likely it will be a later model beetle. (68 and up)
What are you talking about, lubricating rockers and flywheels? The only rockers that I'm aware of that are outside of the engine are the rocker panels. Sure the rocker arms need lube...but they're inside the engine and their oil is meant to stay inside with them. And lubing a flywheel?? That would be a first. What part of a flywheel needs lubed?
 

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Dude all I am saying is that stuff leaks. They can get out of control if there a seal like the ones on the valve covers don't seat right. Regarding the flywheel I should have said gland nut. Sorry.
Fact is VW's (aircooled ones) will leak oil and some leaking is expected. Trust me.

I have built a few. :cool:
 

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da, da, da...
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My old air-cooled VW is still the one vehicle that I miss the most.
As xscribe mentioned, read the John Muir book first to get an idea of beetle ownership.
I had a bus, but many engine parts are similar to the beetle.
There are pros that can help if you don't feel up to the task.
I had my top end rebuilt by a VW mechanic, but I pulled the engine and tore it apart/put back together myself.
I learned a lot about what makes it tick. It's actually easy.
They require you to be "intimate" with them and you will never forget them for that.:)
I had an external oil cooler and a fender mount oil filter.
Even rusted body parts can be replaced.
Here's a few sites to get an idea of parts.
jbugs
west coast metric
Good luck!
 

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Air and Water
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An old bug is kind of a codependent relationship. They take a degree of dedication but they are so much fun to drive. The car responds on the road like no other (except when you tell it to go fast:)) and when you have hda one if you get rid of it you will always regret it. You will need to learn about the engine but it is not hard to work on.

Don't underestimate an old bug in the winter. They start up and run in any weather and they will travel in snow real well. The heaters take a few miles to warm up but if the hoses are in good shape they work well (but if you have passengers in the back seat they may be too hot.) Check out local air-cooled clubs. They might help you find a good bug.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
thanks everyone. All this advice is a lot of help. I bought the john muir book and have been reading it. It's pretty interesting actually... If I can find a bug in good condition I'm definantly going for it!:)

Don't underestimate an old bug in the winter. They start up and run in any weather and they will travel in snow real well. The heaters take a few miles to warm up but if the hoses are in good shape they work well (but if you have passengers in the back seat they may be too hot.) Check out local air-cooled clubs. They might help you find a good bug.
The only reason I worry about it for winter is becuase of all the salt on the roads and rusting.
 
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