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Challenges of Vintage Car Ownership

Challenges of Vintage Car Ownership

An older article we wanted to put in the spotlight again, as we’ve been receiving a lot of emails on this topic.

Before I knew “Jonesie” (not his real name), he had purchased a Beetle which, by all logic, should have gone to the crusher. Never had he revived a car, much less a Bug. But, he had disassembled the car, removed the body from the chassis and proceeded to cut and weld and renew the car.

By the time we had met and become better acquainted, he was driving the vehicle but experiencing some major difficulties due to poor advice which he had received and some poor workmanship from a shop which rebuilt his engine and did some front end work.

I took Jonesie under consideration and introduced him to a bonafide VW mechanic and engine builder. Almost immediately the mechanic identified some of the problems. Together, we began solving and drawing the car out of its slump. It was gratifying to see Jonesie driving and enjoying his car. He talked about it, joined a local club, went on cruises and even was joined by his wife in his forays onto the highways.

I wasn’t surprised when he asked for help to build an authentic engine for his year of Beetle. After considerable expense, he soon was cruising with an engine to-kill-for—a real German engine from ring gear to crank pulley.

When he talked to me some months later and announced that he was selling his Beetle and all of his VW things, I was shocked. He told me that he had experienced a problem with his speedometer. Then, there was some other minor problem. These distractions bothered him and resulted in his disenchantment with a vintage vehicle. He plainly told me that he had not expected these things to happen. Clearly he was under the impression that once “restored”, the car was going to run without a hitch.

His has not been the first case I have observed! A person spends thousands of dollars and countless hours laboring to “get it right” only to have little stuff happen—usually when it is least expected and least appreciated—in terms of money, time and inconvenience!

I am a diehard VW fan who doesn’t like break-downs and other mechanical distractions, but I am in there for the long haul! I never have been under any delusion that a restored vintage car is going to be like a brand new car off the assembly line. Nothing is going to work exactly as it did in those days long past. Never!

In an article in the September-October, 2014 Saturday Evening Post, Jeanne Wolf interviewed Jay Leno—known the World ‘round for his vintage car collection and now-famous garage (pp.38-41 and 82). When but a boy, Jay was given a ’34 Ford Pickup to work on. His dad told him that if he could fix it, he could have it. Jay met the challenge and eventually had the truck running. He said about that first challenge: “You sort of learned to respect the machine and how to make it work. That’s probably what really got me into cars. And that’s what has kept me involved in creating my own collection and building the garage.”

Vintage Volkswagen Keys

Jody is a friend of 1967beetle.com; as he’s been reading since the early days. Again, it’s the community that makes 1967beetle.com what is is. Thanks again, Jay for shining your timing light on another one that makes a difference.

Hello, fellow 1967 VW Beetle connoisseurs. My name is Jody Sauvageau (that’s sav-uh-joe). I’m 44 years old, live in Cumberland, Rhode Island, and have been addicted to Volkswagens since receiving my first Matchbox VW Bug “Dragon Wheels” at the age of 4. I still have that first Matchbox today. I always have owned at least one VW since my first car, a 1977 Rabbit, that I purchased at age 15½. I bought it 6 months before receiving my license so I could “fix her up” in time for that special day. Since then, I almost can’t count how many VWs I’ve owned and brought back to life in one way or another.

One car that never has left me, nor ever will, is my 1967 Sunroof Beetle Deluxe Sedan that has been highlighted here on 1967beetle.com in the past. Finished in L633 VW Blue with Platinum interior, it’s been a labor of love for the last 16 years. I fully restored her myself, aside from paint, from top to bottom, trying to replicate factory standards as best as I could. I have won numerous awards and trophies and was featured in the July, 2014, Hot VW’s Vintage Special Magazine, a dream come true. Now it is retired from judging, but I still take it to a few shows a year.

Besides buying and selling all things VW to feed my addiction (I mean hobby) my newest VW adventure has been cutting VW Keys. It started last year when a friend purchased a VW Beetle project car that had no Keys. He tried contacting a local guy who’s been making Keys “to Code” for VW’s for years, but had no luck getting in touch with him. Every VW lock has a Code stamped on it which represents its Key Cut, but more on that later. Eventually my friend located a locksmith who still could perform the task of cutting an “antique VW Key” by having just the Code, but this came at a premium cost. It was then that it occurred to me: “Maybe this is something I can do!”

Vintage Volkswagen Beetle Fuel Pressure

Another fantastic and well articulated article from Jay Salser. Our timing lights are pointed in your direction. Thank you for all you do here at 1967beetle.com.

I commonly hear the words—“I had a vapor lock!”

We mostly think of vapor in conjunction with heat. So a BIG question arises when the “vapor lock” occurs under cool circumstances. This renders such a diagnosis suspect.

It is very easy to blame a poorly functioning air-cooled engine on a “vapor lock”. When someone calls to ask what can be done to cure a “vapor lock”, I ask lots of questions.

I want to hear how the car-engine acted. I want to hear about the circumstances that led to the problem. I want to hear about the ambient temperature.

My mind follows the Fuel System from the Tank to the Fuel Pump. And I literally ask the caller questions during my mental perusing of the Fuel System. It’s like a movie playing through my brain as I listen and ask questions.

Did the engine just quit?

Did the engine buck, then finally stall?

Usually people try things like pouring water over the Fuel Lines or over the Fuel Pump.

Or, maybe the caller has changed the Fuel Filter.

In any case usually no firm diagnosis is reached and the next time it happens, the same scenario plays out.

One person reported that his car stalled at the roadside. A passing motorist stopped to give aid. He produced a bottle of water and poured it over the Fuel Pump. Soon, the engine started and the driver resumed his journey homeward. The assumption—the Fuel Pump had suffered a “vapor lock”—even though the weather wasn’t even hot.

Recently, Frank Salvitti talked to me about the “vapor lock” which temporarily put his car out of commission. He had driven a few miles, parked his Beetle and gone into the store to make his purchases. When he came out—the car would not start. He said that he could not see any fuel in the Fuel Filter (mounted, still, in the engine compartment). Eventually, after the engine had cooled, he surmised, the car started and he drove home.

Here’s what I asked Frank to do. I asked him to get a Fuel Pressure Gauge to connect between the Fuel Pump and the Carburetor. In a few days, he reported Fuel Pressure in excess of 5 PSI. This is far too much pressure.

The Float Valve (commonly called the Needle Valve) in the top of the Carburetor cannot withstand such High Pressure. Gasoline forces its way into the Bowl and begins to overflow down the throat of the Carburetor. When this happens, not enough air can mix with the un-atomized gasoline and the engine is choking to death on raw fuel. It either stalls or won’t restart after having been turned off.

Until all of that raw gas has dispersed and evaporated.

Think of the Bowl of the Carburetor as a toilet tank. If we hold the float down, water continues to fill the tank until it finally overflows. We have generated “excessive pressure” on the tank float—overpowering the cut-off mechanism.

Sometimes the Pressure is so great that gasoline can be seen percolating in the filter (if it is connected between the Pump and the Carb). With the Air Breather removed, raw gas sometimes can be seen over-flowing down the throat of the Carburetor. This especially can be seen if the car has been parked nose-uphill.

First, let’s review how the Fuel Pump operates through the following photographs.

Dean Kirsten’s L19K Yukon Yellow ’67 Vert

In the world of vintage VWs, there are so many special people that make this hobby what it is. Dean Kirsten is one of them. A former writer of Hot VWs Magazine, he reached out to share this very special story of his L19K Yukon Yellow ’67 Vert. It’s an honor. The ’67 Beetle community thanks you!

I would like to share my 1967 convertible with your readers. I found this VW in Naples, Florida after many years of looking for just the right vehicle that wasn’t in need of a lot of repair, or wasn’t fully restored. The more original, the better. After looking at nine ’67 convertibles all over the country, I came across this one just before it went up for sale. Randy Carlson knew I was looking for a very nice ’67 and figured this VW was a good match with my needs. I purchased this ’67 from a dozen photos, and several long phone conversations with the owner. But hearing that he was very ill and his days were numbered, I made the hard decision to take a chance and bought it without seeing it in person. Two weeks later, the car arrived in Costa Mesa, CA, and got my first close up look at what I bought. It drove like a dream, and I was more than pleased with its condition. Three days later, the former owner died of cancer.

This Yukon Yellow convertible was built on June 8, 1967 according to its birth certificate from the factory. It was shipped out of Osnabrueck, Germany on the 9th, and docked into the U.S. in Duluth, Minnesota. From there, it was trucked to Pray Automotive in Greenwich, Connecticut, where it was sold to Rev. Michael Kendall of Waterbury, CT. at the end of June. He used this car for one year, and then sold it to Clifford Swanson on July, 8, 1968, also of Waterbury. Clifford and his wife Elinore owned it until July 15, 2001, where it was sold to George Limnois, who I bought it from on February 6, 2013.

The first owner was a minister who got married and was expecting their first child, so they sold the VW for a larger car. Clifford and Elinore drove this car approximately 90,000 miles. In 1978, they had the exterior repainted and replaced both front fenders with Mexican replacements. During the 33 years they owned it, they never crashed it, and always kept in the garage and only drove it sparingly. Even with two children and various dogs, the top, headliner, boot, rear seat, mats, door panels and rear carpeting are still 100% original! I replaced the two front covers due to the driver’s seat had been patched poorly. I had Lenny Copp of West Coast Classic Restorations do the special request seat covers with proper heat seams and dimensions. He also made up a new gray German carpeting section for the front only.

Prior to the third owner getting ill, George had Monkey Nut in Charlotte, NC, do a detail and re-ring job to the original engine. To date, that HO engine case has never been split, as the pistons were/are 83mm VWs, rod bearings are still original, and cylinder heads have been only cleaned up. While the top end was being freshen up, the transaxle was removed and rebuilt by Mike Gagnier of Troutman, NC. Monkey Nut also went through the brakes, pedals and rear Z-bar. This engine has all the correct parts including the plug-in style generator, short coil with Bosch logo bracket, 30PICT 105-code carburetor with air cleaner support bracket, K-code distributor, Pierburg fuel pump, VW clamps, latch dust cover and so on.

Happy Birthday – Jay Salser

Jay Salser
I’d like to take a moment to shine light on one of the greatest vintage Volkswagen enthusiast in our hobby today; Jay Sasler of Garland, Texas. His contributions to 1967beetle.com are enjoyed by readers all over the world. Also, his knowledge and years of experience with vintage Volkswagens is second to none. Also, it was recently his birthday!

Jay didn’t want me to post a mention of this, but I feel the vintage VW community needs to celebrate. Like me, he does not like to be in the spotlight. 1967beetle.com is about the best year vintage Volkswagen. Without his knowledge it would not be what it is today. As Lane Russell has grown, I’ve had less and less time to focus on articles.

Has Jay helped you with your ’67 Beetle? (I bet he has!) If so, chime in below and give thanks.