Jay Salser Posts

Dave Fennell’s — L639 Zenith Blue ’67 Beetle

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Such a great story. Slowly, we are connecting ’67 Beetle owners all over the world. A big thanks to Jay Salser for his edits and being such a huge part of what makes 1967beetle.com a fun place to come to work everyday. -ES

My first exposure to Beetles was when my uncle returned from a military assignment in Germany in the early ‘60s. He brought a Beetle back with him, probably around a ’62 Model and in red. I saw it when he drove it from Northern Alberta, Canada, to Southern Ontario, with kids, dog and camping trailer in tow. It was a real revelation to me, as my family were always owners of North American cars. Here was a simple, well engineered, air-cooled, economical and durable vehicle. I think that it was then that I decided that I would own one.
I owned a couple of motorcycles as a teenager, which certainly were fun, but somewhat limiting. I convinced my mother that we should share a Beetle, so we bought a well-used ‘65 model from the local Cadillac dealership. That’s when I found out about link pins and the maintenance they entailed. I had done most of my own servicing on the motorcycles, so learning VW maintenance and repair was a logical progression.

Shortly after that, I went off to University out of town, finding that motorcycles and Canada don’t work well in our winters. So…after my first summer of working, I was on the hunt for my own car, and, of course, a Beetle was the logical choice. It had to be a used one–I couldn’t afford a new one.

I found one at a local Volvo dealership. It appeared to be in nice shape, one fender had been repaired, but overall, it was sound. I called the dealer first thing Monday to ask about it. They had planned not to sell it, but rather to wholesale it since it wasn’t a product they felt like selling retail. However, the salesman said that he would talk to the Manager and get back to me. I got a call later saying that for $1300 it would be mine! It was, of course, a ’67, a Savannah Beige, Deluxe Model, with about 20,000 miles on it, a gas heater and a beautiful Blaupunkt AM/FM/Shortwave radio in it….a real upgrade from the standard unit.

I drove it about 100,000 miles over several years, and I only had a couple of minor issues on the road with it. Once when returning from school to home, the engine started cutting out. I pulled into a service station, let it cool a bit then removed a big chunk of dirt from the main jet. The other time was a failed voltage regulator. The original regulators were mechanical, so I took it apart, cleaned the fused points and returned it to service where it stayed until I traded it in.

It took me on several trips, including an epic journey from Southern Ontario to Vancouver Island–my first trip west of Ontario, with only one oil change required. It also took four guys from University to Boston for a whirlwind two-day trip….cozy, but it worked. My brother and I also took it to the Maritimes. En route, we had a flat tire. We pulled over, both of us jumped out, hood up, wheel swapped, hubcap popped on and back into the car in record time. We started to drive off and it felt
funny, so I turned to my brother, and asked if he had tightened the wheel bolts, and he said he thought I had done it! I quickly pulled over, just as the wheel parted company from the brake drum. Fortunately all of the wheel bolts were found inside the hubcap! One of my epic maintenance fails.

This first encounter with Beetles converted my family to the point that my sister and brother also owned Beetles, and my mom replaced the white ‘65 with a SunBug Beetle, a gold-painted version from the early ‘70s with a sunroof.

Gavin & Mary LaMaide’s L282 Lotus White ’67 Beetle

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Another fantastic story, Jay. Thank you for everything you do for 1967beetle.com and the ’67 Beetle community worldwide. -ES

Your story is both amazing and exciting. I find these stories of ’67 Beetles and their owners very intriguing. There are some very amazing situations that bring together people and cars and your story certainly bears evidence of that!

I gather from your latest reports that you are plenty satisfied with the way your car looks and how it performs. What influenced you to begin to show your Beetle?

My friend Tom, in Traverse City, MI, originally proposed the idea to start doing car shows last year. He has an ‘83 Olds Cutlas/Hurst 15th Anniversary Edition that he purchased new. It is immaculate and he has been showing it for years. I knew that my Beetle was not near to the standard of Tom’s car but we decided to give it a go anyway. I learned from a VW Festival that VW people, including me, are very forgiving and rather just appreciate these iconic cars as-is, bringing back fond memories.

I understand that there were prizes for winning cars at this first show? What were the criteria for winning?

Most of the shows in Michigan have several classes of competition. Chairman’s Choice, Best of Show, Top 20 or Peoples’ Choice, etc. Votes are cast by club members, judges, participants and/or spectators–or all the above. One never knows what may strike the fancy of the voters on any given day. I do believe from observation “criteria for winning” is grounded on the display you present to the viewers and their experience. Although every participant has great pride and passion for his vehicle, it’s the nostalgia which spectators remember about these cars that wins the day.

Given that your geographic location isn’t set for early spring-time weather, didn’t you find it a bit intimidating to enter your car in that first show? I know that many vintage car owners won’t take their cars out of the garage if the weather is not fully cooperative.

Yes, Tom and I did talk about the rain and cold we would experience during the first show (May 1st) and the “what if” plan. I never had driven my Beetle in the “driving rain” before this show and I was paranoid with regard to my electrical system. You are “spot on” with regard to weather and participant turnout. The usual 100 plus cars was down to 30 due to the weather. In any case, we had a great time and look forward to the 81st National Trout Festival Car show in 2017!

What did you learn from the first show that helped you as you prepared for the second one?

’67 Beetle Proper Engine Cooling

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Eric of 1967beetle.com messaged me recently with a diagnostic situation. Eric explained that he was hearing a strange sound in his engine. He even made a short video of his running engine.

I listened, heard “something”, but could not come to a conclusion. Had it been the Generator bearings, I would have suspected a growling. I could not hear that. I suggested that it could be something to do with the Fan—maybe the Fan Nut on upside down?—maybe a cracked Fan? It did not sound like a Fan rubbing the Fan Shroud. Someone else thought that it might be a connecting rod. I asked Eric if, after accelerating, then letting off the gas, he heard a heavy thumping. No. Well…that seemed to limit our attention to the Fan. In the end, Eric’s mechanic was called upon to diagnose and remedy the problem. The Fan had succumbed to metal fatigue and had cracked where the Fan Hub seats on one side and the Wave Washer, on the other.

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Eric wanted to install a new Generator which he had on hand—which turned out to be a good thing because the original one was quite troublesome to disengage from the Fan and was rendered useless in the end. With the replacement Fan and the new Generator installed, the Savannah Beige was, once more, purring down the roadways!

In choosing a good German Fan to send to Eric, I looked at several which I had on hand. I found one similarly cracked. Another was severely rusted at the Hub. Rust does a number on metal, weakening it. That one also was discarded.

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Yet another problem which can occur to the Fan is “wallowing”. If the Fan Securing Nut is not properly torqued onto the Generator Shaft against the Fan Hub, the Fan will begin to “rebound”, causing the opening for the Hub to become distorted. When this happens, the Fan must be discarded and a fresh one installed. The Hub, also, must be inspected for damage.

Frank Salvitti’s L41 Black ’67 Beetle

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Frank Salvitti, of Long Island, NY, and I began our e-correspondence several months ago. We talked about little odds and ends concerning 1967 Beetles. It wasn’t long before we were exchanging photos and talking in depth about our cars. I began to sense that Frank is a person who talks to nuts and bolts and wrenches and they do his bidding.

In Frank’s own words..

Frank…when I saw photographs of your Beetle and of your garage, I knew that we HAD to do a story.

The garage is something I had in mind and have wanted to do for years, so finally did.

You told me that you have some history with Volkswagens. Give the Readers of 1967beetle.com an idea of when you first were involved with VWs.

A. When I was a kid I always had a love for cars and the sound of motors and loud pipes– since around 6 years old or so, that I can remember. I grew up in the time when cars were at their best in the 60’s with the muscle cars. A lot of family members had hot rods. However some family friends had a VW which I thought was a real neat car. I liked that– so different. During that time, I remember that my grandfather bought a white 1968 VW Bug—the first year of the auto stick. We went for a ride and I was like “…wow! How come the brake pedal is so large? And—“No clutch.” Then I saw him shift and asked how he could shift with no clutch? He explained and I said, “Wow a neat invention!” lol

From our conversations, I know that you have a love of all things automotive. What about VWs interested you?

A. Jay, as for the interest in VWs, after growing up around them I became interested in their neat design, so different from American cars. The motor is in the back? No radiator? How is this possible? My interest grew as I got older and starting seeing so many of them. One of my neighbors had a VW Bus, another VW that I thought was so cool. This was back in the time of peace signs and flower power etc. –painted all over it, a “Hippy Van” I believe it was called back then. Also around that time I came across the first VW Ghia that I had seen. I was fascinated by this new wave of automobiles. But when I saw my first Dune Buggy, that was it! I was sold on VWs. I thought that was the coolest thing of all times. They could be taken down the beach, no roof, loud… wow! “I got to have one!” I was around 15 or so when these things were all over and were only $800.00 for a brand new one. However, growing up kind of poor, that was a lot of money back then to lay out for a toy. I told myself that one day I will have a VW Bug and Dune Buggy. It took me many years but I did accomplish that.

’67 Beetle Valve Clearance — .006 or .004?

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Often times, Jay and I will be having conversations around specific aspects of ’67 Beetle restoration. Big or small, Jay has an article crafted in a day or two for the world to see. His research goes deep and is spot on accurate. Let’s all take a moment to thank him for his contributions to 1967beetle.com. I consider him a true partner in my effort to better educate the world about this very special one year only car; the 1967 Beetle.

We restoration enthusiasts proudly refurbish our Beetles right down to the gnat’s eye bristle, as the saying goes. This includes such things even as the stickers/decals.

One thing which has puzzled owners is THE VALVE CLEARANCE MYSTERY!

There have been a few small comments made on 1967beetle.com about this issue but nothing really has been resolved. Finally, 1967beetle.com Reader, Quinn Elliott approached me with some information and I decided to plumb it as far as I could go.

Quinn has owned his 1967 Beetle since December, 1966, when he bought it after he retired from the Military. He was in England at the time he bought the vehicle.

Quinn says: “I have collected hundreds of manuals, parts lists, parts fiches, bulletins, documents, memorabilia, parts, etc. for many years now. “

So, he has experience and Volkswagen Literature on his side.

I involved David Brown in the discussion. David was trained by VWoA and worked as a Parts Manager. Later, he would establish his own VW shop where he worked on customers’ cars and did some FormulaVee racing on the side. David also has a treasure trove of VW Literature and Parts.

As an opening “teaser comment”, Quinn reported that in September, 1967, “…VW exchange engines were equipped with short replacement studs. Valve clearances were altered to .004. In addition to the .004 valve sticker, they (VW) included a metal clip which slid over the rocker shaft. It read: .1. .1 mm is .004”. Some of these engines could possibly have wound up in 67’s. A rare bit of VW history!”