Editor’s Note: Having never done this job on any VW, I was at a loss how to counsel Richard Diaz. My main job was to act as his cheering section. Richard’s solution to this problem is brilliant! Thank you, Richard, for persevering despite your VW War injuries!
WHY DO THIS?
Maybe it is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but owning a vintage Volkswagen seems to bring out that trait in most of us who own a vintage VW! Living in Southern California there aren’t many days that a heater, windshield wiper, or a defroster are needed, but to not have them work just drives me up the wall and over time I have dedicated a lot of time to making them work as they were designed to work.
When I bought my “Papa’s Slugbug”, about three years ago, two of the long list of things I wanted working before I picked up the car were the heater and the defroster! To close the deal, the seller agreed! Well, he installed the wrong heater boxes, bus heater boxes, and didn’t attach the heater cables from the lever controls at either side of the emergency brake back to the flaps under the rear seat. Then he used a three-way splitter connection, from a 1968 Bug, for the defroster on the passenger side, using the large size hoses for that splitter, which made the passenger side barely work and the driver and center vent not work at all! I fixed the heater by installing the correct heater boxes and connecting the cables! But the defrost system required a little research to figure out, since I did not have a clue that I was missing the two Y-splitters, nor was I aware of how the system was designed to work!
I have been studying the defroster system to figure out how to fix it! What I have learned is that it is a very basic system, but the parts are a little difficult to find. After a Google search on tips to fix the defroster I was emailing my good and knowledgeable friend Jay Salser. Jay and I had a lot of discussion and he offered referrals to locations where I might find the correct “Y” splitters and hoses! Jay is always willing to help any vintage Volkswagen enthusiast and share not only his knowledge, but his resources. Many times he will share parts right out of his parts pile! Jay also is an advocate of keeping the restoration process as original as possible, so he quietly rejected some of the inventive ways others fixed their defrost systems. When Jay’s parts pile came up empty for the Y-splitter, I knew I was in trouble!
After his first referral for the Y-splitters didn’t pan out, Jay referred me to an advertiser on The Samba, Avery’s Aircooled Auto, located in Kelso, Washington. Soon two Y-splitters were ordered and delivered. The Y-splitters have three different hose sizes. The upper defroster hoses; one for the corner defrosters (1-1/4″ inner diameter fits over the corner defroster tube) and one for the center defroster (1″ inner diameter fits into either side of the center defroster tube) were found at Airhead Parts in Ventura, California. The third hose, the largest of the three (1-1/2″ inner diameter fits over the heater channel pipe flange), runs from the bottom of the Y-splitter to the heater channel, was more elusive, but was eventually located at Wolfsburg West.
Thanks to Jay’s persistence to find a single source for the three hoses he finally called and talked to Mark at Wolfsburg West. In a pretty excited phone call from Jay on a Friday morning he told me that Mark went out of his way to guide a search of their product site! You see Jay, and I had been trying to navigate the site by typing in what we were looking for in the “search” window and coming up empty. In the phone call between Mark and Jay, it was discovered, after a short lesson from Mark, that Wolfsburg West has all three hoses! Great! A single source!
Other vendors I searched online either did not have them, or only had the defroster hose from the heater channel to the Y-splitter, or the hoses from the Y-splitter to the corners and center. None had all three! None of the main sites I frequent sold the two-way splitter, either new, nor did they have used ones! And, one vendor who specialized in used parts took all my information and never got back to me! Another, who specialized in used parts never got back to me and after my third try to communicate on the phone I realized I had dealt with this vendor before and had a similar, but more serious, experience, so I abandoned further attempts!
Jay and Eric, of 1967beetle.com, are proponents of documenting system restorations and resources for parts for future restoration work that many of us will be involved in as we keep these fine cars on the road. For that reason I have submitted this article.
My opinion/theory of why Volkswagen Engineers used the varied hose size configuration is to increase the pressure of the warm air pushed by the engine fan to the front of the car to the Y-splitter. Reducing the size of the hose from 1-1/2″ to 1-1/4″ to the corner of the windshield, a relatively short distance, decreases the volume, but increases the flow pressure to blow the warm air into each corner (Venturi Effect) . The distance to the center of the windshield defroster is greater in distance and the reduction to a 1″ diameter hose further increases the flow pressure to travel the increased distance. But, because of this competition for warm air, the center defroster must receive warm air from both heater channels.