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Thread: transmission installation in a VW beetle

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    Default transmission installation in a VW beetle

    The transmission presently installed in my 1960 beetle is less than perfect and howls like crazy at highway speeds. The gears crunched between shifting and the throw bearing made moaning sounds when the clutch was depressed. Luckily I found this gent in Michigan US who had been rebuilding transmissions for a living for 40 years before retiring and now works from home. He has a cache of NOS parts to build a transmission from scratch. The best part is that he builds a transmission as per the customers specs..from mild to wild. I don't do any crazy driving but I still opted for a new 3.88 ring and pinion, new pinion bearings, new syncro rings, welded and honed 3rd and 4th gear, new axles and tubes with new axle bearings and a new throw-out bearing. All the parts mentioned above are new old stock genuine VW parts made in Germany as the Good Lord wanted them to be, all fitted in a new later model transmission IRS case converted to swing axle.

    I am including pictures here but caution you to refrain from drooling on the keyboard please.I realize its pure p*rn for those looking for a half decent transmission to install in their VW's.

    I brought the transmission when it was done but the local VW mechanic wants $600 plus tax to install it in the car! Now I have seen it all done and there are tons of videos on Youtube but it still gives me the shivers when I think of the job ahead. However I am not going to pay anyone $600 plus 13% tax (and that too is a ball park figure given the approx. hours it would take..the final figure could well be a lot higher)

    I have the car on stands in the garage and have started with removing the wires. Even though there are not a whole lot of them but I am not taking any chances and have labeled them to remind me of their location when its time to put everything back together. (hopefully in a few weeks time.) I'll take pictures where ever possible and share with you the progress in the days / weeks ahead.

    Please wish me luck. I have a feeling i'll need lots of it.


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    Ok, sorry to hear about all the bad brakes episode.

    But I don't understand, I'm lost. I mean when everything was done following the checklist in your parking compound then why the brakes didn't work? May be the brakes were not bled correctly?

    Because if the pros did nothing but what what you had already done then how could this be working fine this time?

    Enlighten us with your learning of the exact problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reezvaan View Post
    Ok, sorry to hear about all the bad brakes episode.

    But I don't understand, I'm lost. I mean when everything was done following the checklist in your parking compound then why the brakes didn't work? May be the brakes were not bled correctly?

    Because if the pros did nothing but what what you had already done then how could this be working fine this time?

    Enlighten us with your learning of the exact problem.
    I suspect that the brakes were not bled right and the brake shoes were not centred. The problem here is that customers are not allowed in the work area of the workshop so you can never find out.
    It was most likely the air in the system but by taking the whole thing apart and putting it back together they were able to bill me for more than 2 hours and for good measure they threw in the new brake hardware (the springs, pins and clips) Its not a bad idea to replace those bits if available easily but not essential to having a working brake.
    I had every bit of hardware cleaned before assembling the brakes so in my opinion it was overkill but hey, the brakes work great now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmshaikh View Post
    I suspect that the brakes were not bled right and the brake shoes were not centred. The problem here is that customers are not allowed in the work area of the workshop so you can never find out.
    It was most likely the air in the system but by taking the whole thing apart and putting it back together they were able to bill me for more than 2 hours and for good measure they threw in the new brake hardware (the springs, pins and clips) Its not a bad idea to replace those bits if available easily but not essential to having a working brake.
    I had every bit of hardware cleaned before assembling the brakes so in my opinion it was overkill but hey, the brakes work great now.
    Lets just say that the brakes were bled correctly, and shoes were not centred. I think even if the shoes are not centred, after application of brakes quite a few times the shoes get to adjust themselves against the drums all by themselves to get centred eventually (if I am not mistaken).

    Having air in system seems to be the real trouble here.

    B/w $487.03 is a big price to pay for a brake job (especially when you can get it done here in this part of the world for Rs. 200-500, lowest being Multan's rate and upper being ISD rate) but then if it keeps you/your family & Billo safe, its a small amount of money to pay for a lesson well learnt for future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reezvaan View Post
    Lets just say that the brakes were bled correctly, and shoes were not centred. I think even if the shoes are not centred, after application of brakes quite a few times the shoes get to adjust themselves against the drums all by themselves to get centred eventually (if I am not mistaken).

    Having air in system seems to be the real trouble here.

    B/w $487.03 is a big price to pay for a brake job (especially when you can get it done here in this part of the world for Rs. 200-500, lowest being Multan's rate and upper being ISD rate) but then if it keeps you/your family & Billo safe, its a small amount of money to pay for a lesson well learnt for future.
    Maybe if I had another VW person to help me I would have had another go at bleeding the brakes but I just didn't see me loosening the axle nuts once again and re-torquing them if I had to take them apart and triple checking the internals of the brakes.
    You are so right about the $487.03 lesson well learnt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmshaikh View Post
    Maybe if I had another VW person to help me I would have had another go at bleeding the brakes but I just didn't see me loosening the axle nuts once again and re-torquing them if I had to take them apart and triple checking the internals of the brakes.
    You are so right about the $487.03 lesson well learnt.
    I have three take aways from this experience of yours;

    1- Leave the critical jobs to the pros only.
    2- Invest in good torque wrench/air tools.
    3- Prefer to never have Non-VW neighbours in life

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    brake fluid is hygroscopic (attracts water) it's possible that over time it became "Watery", which also allows for air bubbles to form (which leads to brakes not working as air compresses).

    i suggest that everyone first bleed the system and then refil their lines with fresh fluid every year or so (in any car) otherwise this too can happen to them.

    did the invoice state what was wrong? was it the seals in the master cylinder? brake fluid? pads? etc? that's allot of money for someting,.. specially when they didn't specify EXACTLY what they did.
    1. A car is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, 2. Resale wont save your life in an accident, 3. Genius has limits, stupidity has none, 4. Never argue with an idiot, they will bring you down to their level & beat you with experience, 5. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young! 6. انّا للہ و انّا الیہ راجعون

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    Quote Originally Posted by reezvaan View Post
    I have three take aways from this experience of yours;

    1- Leave the critical jobs to the pros only.
    2- Invest in good torque wrench/air tools.
    3- Prefer to never have Non-VW neighbours in life
    transmission installation in a VW beetle -237161
    It doesn't get a lot better than snap-on tools and while air tools are a big plus the equipment can be rented if need be. Space is always an issue in houses in cities. I agree with the other two observations though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Storm View Post
    brake fluid is hygroscopic (attracts water) it's possible that over time it became "Watery", which also allows for air bubbles to form (which leads to brakes not working as air compresses).

    i suggest that everyone first bleed the system and then refil their lines with fresh fluid every year or so (in any car) otherwise this too can happen to them.

    did the invoice state what was wrong? was it the seals in the master cylinder? brake fluid? pads? etc? that's allot of money for someting,.. specially when they didn't specify EXACTLY what they did.
    There was fresh brake fluid in the system as I put a whole can in there as I bled the brakes so I suspect it was just improper bleeding of the brakes.

    The invoice just states brake over haul, adjusting brakes and the cost of new brake hardware. I had replaced the brake shoes myself when I was putting it all together so I wouldn't have to worry about that. Replacing the hardware never occured to me as whatever was on there looked fine and for good measure I cleaned everything with kerosene and a wire brush. They didn't charge me for the brake fluid so i think they just topped it up to make up for the fluid lost while bleeding. The master cylinder is brand new and they don't touch the seals in there..they replace the whole cylinder if need be.

    It is no surprise that we see perfectly good cars been parted out as its too expensive to get anything repaired. The only other option is to do it yourself. After my scare at the lights I decided in a hurry to seek professional help rather than risk it. In any case the brakes work like a charm and it is raining outside so I wouldn't have been able to take the car to the mechanic today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmshaikh View Post
    The light turned green and I moved with caution..my right hand would reach for the parking brake (and stay there) immediately after changing the gear while I scanned ahead for any reasons I may have to stop in an emergency. I tried braking again when the road was clear with the same results as the last time. The braking power was almost non existent and I could only manage about 20% with raid pumping and another 20% with the combined use of the parking (hand) brake and gears. I drove around the block and returned Billo to the safety of our driveway.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com<img src=" /><o:p></o:p>
    I checked the brake fluid reservoir and as expected it had the right level of brake fluid. The only other thing would be the brake bleeding. I had asked my neighbour to help me with the job and had him sit in the driving seat while I had bled the brake. I had adjusted the brake myself..first tightening it all the way then loosening it an equal two clicks on each side. I had adjusted the hand brake too so what could it be?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I jacked up the car and turned the wheel with hand. It spun freely half a turn then slowed down the rest of the turn..clearly the brake shoes were not centred. It was the same situation on the other side. After the near disaster a short while ago I made a quick decision to seek professional help. Brakes are something I don’t recommend you monkey around with unless you are absolutely certain of your abilities. I have to admit I’ve flunked in that department royally.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I called the mechanic who said he can accommodate me if I got the car over within an hour. The tow truck took 20 minutes to arrive and another 20 minutes later Billo was up on the hoist in the workshop. Undoing the axle nuts is a breeze if you are using an air tool. They took everything apart leaving just the brake cylinders on and then put everything back on, adjusted the shoes, torqued the axle nuts, bled the brakes, re-adjusted the parking brake, took her for a spin, came back and parked.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    10 minutes later I was handed the bill.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Now back to the question I asked a short while ago.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    How much is a B/job? I meant to ask How much is a brake job? <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Well I found out first hand that it is $487.03..<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    And stop smiling..cuz I am not!<o:p></o:p>
    Oh man.... in that much you could almost buy a beetle here in Pakistan!

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    Quote Originally Posted by fahadwizz View Post
    Oh man.... in that much you could almost buy a beetle here in Pakistan!
    (Long) Gone are those days buddy when you could buy a bug for that much of money.

    May be a junk yard buy alright. But trust me you have no idea what kind of money would be required to bring that junk yard buy to make her re-gain her status of a BUG again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fahadwizz View Post
    Oh man.... in that much you could almost buy a beetle here in Pakistan!
    I agree if you are using the past tense..You could buy beautiful stock beetles for less than that. I bought my GT for 33k rupees but that was very early 90's. I bought Billo for 18k but then I spent more than 200k to bring her to this stage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reezvaan View Post
    I have three take aways from this experience of yours;

    1- Leave the critical jobs to the pros only.
    2- Invest in good torque wrench/air tools.
    3- Prefer to never have Non-VW neighbours in life
    Im trying to get the spousal unit to agree with me that an aircompressor is needed in the house here (she usually questioned the air compressor in Pakistan (not a prob because mom also used it as a leaf blower).

    before rolling out on the road - be sure the brakes engage on your driveway or something, if not - fix it ASAP.
    ZRS - Zulfiqar Racing Systems ..... - professionals at work - at crackwheels.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmshaikh View Post
    I suspect that the brakes were not bled right and the brake shoes were not centred. The problem here is that customers are not allowed in the work area of the workshop so you can never find out.
    It was most likely the air in the system but by taking the whole thing apart and putting it back together they were able to bill me for more than 2 hours and for good measure they threw in the new brake hardware (the springs, pins and clips) Its not a bad idea to replace those bits if available easily but not essential to having a working brake.
    I had every bit of hardware cleaned before assembling the brakes so in my opinion it was overkill but hey, the brakes work great now.
    In Houston its not allowed too - but doesnt stop me (wife's nissan is under warranty - so I proceed to pull Nissan's hair out for every little issue). And the service advisor will furnish the detailed work order of the job done, if they dont then pull their ears - anyways north of CAD400/- is OUCH - It mustve felt like you had a lobotomy done by a leopard.
    ZRS - Zulfiqar Racing Systems ..... - professionals at work - at crackwheels.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xulfiqar View Post
    Im trying to get the spousal unit to agree with me that an aircompressor is needed in the house here (she usually questioned the air compressor in Pakistan (not a prob because mom also used it as a leaf blower).

    before rolling out on the road - be sure the brakes engage on your driveway or something, if not - fix it ASAP.
    Oh my wife does not have a problem if I go ahead and buy an aircompressor or anything...its just that its going to be awfully cramped in the garage when I'll have to move my bed there too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xulfiqar View Post
    In Houston its not allowed too - but doesnt stop me (wife's nissan is under warranty - so I proceed to pull Nissan's hair out for every little issue). And the service advisor will furnish the detailed work order of the job done, if they dont then pull their ears - anyways north of CAD400/- is OUCH - It mustve felt like you had a lobotomy done by a leopard.
    That is one B/job I'd say no to anyday

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmshaikh View Post
    Oh my wife does not have a problem if I go ahead and buy an aircompressor or anything...its just that its going to be awfully cramped in the garage when I'll have to move my bed there too.
    LMAO!!! I cant imagine a better accomodation...right next to Billo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reezvaan View Post
    LMAO!!! I cant imagine a better accomodation...right next to Billo.
    On second thoughts...maybe not...like our friend Bin Ladin I have my priorities right.

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    nice work bro

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmshaikh View Post
    Oh my wife does not have a problem if I go ahead and buy an aircompressor or anything...its just that its going to be awfully cramped in the garage when I'll have to move my bed there too.
    kind of in the same boat.. installing some fine necklaces/perfumes on the spousal unit may induce some change management in your favour. Not guaranteed to work 100% - because the compressor is surely somewhat noisy when running.
    ZRS - Zulfiqar Racing Systems ..... - professionals at work - at crackwheels.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xulfiqar View Post
    kind of in the same boat.. installing some fine necklaces/perfumes on the spousal unit may induce some change management in your favour. Not guaranteed to work 100% - because the compressor is surely somewhat noisy when running.
    These measures have somehow lost their efficacy and I don't entirely blame her.

    On our honeymoon in Australia I came across this old VW dealership that was now selling parts for all sorts of cars. I ended up buying about four figures worth of engine parts that were still in original VW boxes - parts that were ordered by people (I don't know if paid for too) but they never came to pick up in a decade or more so the couple who ran the business were happy to sell them to me. This was the pre Ebay and The Samba time. Later I found these nice louvers for the rear window of a beetle and ofcourse I could not check the box in when flying home...I hand carried it, meaning she had to lug her own suitcase at the airport.

    That was just the start.

    18 years and dozens of VW's later she's heard and knows of every trick in the Veedubbers almanac. Will have to come up with something more potent.

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