Tips Posts

Gavin LaMaide’s ’67 Beetle Pedal Alignment

Gavin LaMaide's '67 Beetle Pedal AlignmentEditors note: Gavin, we thank you for the article. As I’ve said, isn’t about me, it’s about the community of ’67 Beetle owners around the world. Let’s continue to help each other stay on the road. -ES

Quote for the Occasion..

“If you think you can, or think you can’t….you’re RIGHT!” -Henry Ford


You will learn nothing new in the confines of this article outside of luck, determination and deep gratitude! In any case, I was asked by Eric & Jay to share my “little experience” with my clutch pedal cluster that I disassembled by accident and put back together. Based on my total lack of mechanical expertise, you can do it too!

It all started after I read the recent article about Pedal Clusters and the articulation and organization of such parts. I noticed for months my very own clutch pedal on my 67’ had way too much free play and was a two full inches depressed beyond that of the brake pedal. It really started to bother me. Although the clutch worked fine, it looked bad and clearly it was not adjusted properly. So, I thought, “ I’m not a mechanic, what could go wrong. Let’s give it a go!!”

’67 Beetle Steering Coupler Disc

This past weekend (September 26th) my good friend James Anderson of Wylie, TX, was demonstrating his newly restored Zenith Blue 1967 Beetle to several of us VW friends.

While we were examining different aspects of this beautiful vehicle, James turned to me with this story.

He told me that during his test driving, following the nuts-and-bolts restoration, he noticed that the steering was “strange”. This demanded an investigation into the cause. Those who are acquainted with James, know that he is a very careful and thorough person in every aspect of his life.

As he examined the front suspension, eventually he came to the Steering Box and Coupler. Careful evaluation of the Steering Coupler Disc revealed that it was stretching and tearing—note photographs #2 and #3. James had installed a brand new urethane Coupler when he restored the chassis. During one week of light test-driving, following the restoration, the urethane Coupler failed.

’67 Beetle Pedal Cluster


Editors note: Jay, you’ve outdone yourself with this one. The ’67 Beetle community around the world thanks you for your in depth knowledge of these great old cars. Let’s all take a moment to shine our timing lights in the direction of Garland, TX.

It occurred to me a few years ago that in the case of parts failures for my 1967 Beetle, I had few spare parts to call upon. I began in earnest to collect—first, only major parts which might fail and be more costly to replace down-the-road. Soon, I was examining possibilities for more parts. Eventually, I had collected so many parts that my inventory, if you could call it that—was in terrible disarray! Parts were crammed here and there on shelves.

Neva offered to help me. She sat with a clip board as I unloaded the shelves and began to reassemble the parts in a meaningful manner. Neva noted each part, numbering and naming each, including which shelf it called home. Soon, we had the job done—shelves and a large lateral filing cabinet.

My next operation was to transfer all to my computer. I called the file: VW Inventory. Now, I easily could locate any part which I had saved. Later, I went through the Inventory and rearranged in groupings of related parts, including condition (new, restored, used) and number of units of each part.

I had it in the back of my mind to restore and inventory a Pedal Cluster for my Beetle. I placed a Cluster on my work bench to remind me. On an opportune day, I scavenged every Cluster which I could find in my storage area. Now, the task was to sort to find appropriate examples to restore. I decided to restore two, since we also have a 1968 Karmann Ghia Coupe—which takes the same Cluster.

This discussion concerns only left-hand drive vehicles. There are extra components for the right-hand drive clusters.

When considering the Clusters, I had to note the condition of the Housings—that’s what I call the base unit to which the Pedals affix. The Housings are of cast aluminum. Over the years, moisture accumulates at the low spot where the Housing bolts to the tunnel. Corrosion and pitting occur, rendering many Housings unsuitable for reuse. This shows the importance of good rubber seals all around the car—to prevent moisture infiltration.

Right away, I discovered that I had two different Cluster Housings in my stash. Both styles bear the same VW Part Number: 113-721-109A. I checked my own Beetle and decided to use the example which corresponded to its Cluster Housing configuration. The difference can be seen in comparative Photograph # 1. Note the Accelerator Pedal Stop protrusion in the right hand example.

Vintage Volkswagen Bumper Differences

NOS '67 Beetle Front Bumper

Not a week goes by without someone emailing about their bumpers. The conversation usually goes something like this.

“Hey, I’m about to re-chrome my bumpers but am not sure if they are German or not. Is there any chance you can you help?”

You’ve come to the right place; let’s talk. To keep it simple, there are 2 different types of bumpers on the market today; original and aftermarket. But it gets more confusing than just that statement alone. If you don’t have a trained eye and know what to look for, your restoration could end up with the lessor of the two. I’ve had this happen myself.

Let’s explain the differences I’m aware of. This research comes from many conversations with the amazing Jay Salser, research from John Henry, along with our friends at Wolfsburg West.

The easiest way to spot these cheap bumpers is the ugly black plastic grommet between the overrider tube and the blade. Unlike the better quality units, the fit isn’t there to allow a smooth union between the parts. This also means the tooling making these bumpers is so worn out it can’t even get close to the right tolerance. Once you know this, this grommet screams “cheap aftermarket!!” And the plating at the end of the tubes is usually notoriously poor, leading to rust forming easily and quickly in this area. A bolt accessible from inside the blade secures the tube to it. Here’s a look at that cheap plastic wedge up close. 

What Makes a Vintage Volkswagen?

We’ve discussed what makes a Volkswagen a 1967 Beetle. When Eric began, he had in mind to memorialize the Model Year 1967. We’d all probably agree with him—that’s why we are here, right?!

This week a Reader wrote to Eric (and Eric copied to me) that he recently attended a VW event. He drove his unrestored but completely original ’67 Beetle to the show—not necessarily looking to win an award but just to mingle with the VW Community. He made a pointed observation that cars which were original seemed not draw the attention of the judges. In fact, judges appeared to be drawn to Volkswagens which had been altered in some fashion. The three of us batted this back and forth through our e-mails.

I had made a similar point to Eric, a while back, that I had seen the same thing. Highly modified VWs and those which are more weird seem to attract the attention of the crowd and the judges. In some cases there will be an award even for the most altered or worst vehicle!

At every show, I see absolutely stunning restorations which seem to go unnoticed.

I can appreciate that owners have ideas about what they want to do with their cars. They are the ones who drive them. Who am I to criticize or to dictate how they should use something for which they have paid their hard-earned dough.

Even the most “conservative” of us seem to have something to add to our Beetles—mud flaps, bud vase, and the list goes on and on. These things were not original equipment. But, what I’m discussing has to do with alterations to a car which changes that vehicle’s “nature”. In more and more cases, it would cost so much money to return such a car to original specs that it would prove to be unfeasible to attempt. Such a car is “lost” as far as the Collector Community is concerned.

But, here’s my point. Love me or not…I believe that rewarding alterations to these cars sponsors further alterations. It’s only natural that if people see how the judging goes, they will want to follow suit. At subsequent shows, more and more altered cars will appear, hoping to gain favor and status. From my perspective, I see a downward spiral to a species which is becoming more scarce.