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Undercoating Vintage Volkswagens

Undercoating Vintage Volkswagens

Digging in the archives here at 1967beetle.com, we wanted to put this article in the spotlight once again.

Foreword: Rather than to address “undercoating” as a general topic of discussion, I’ve tried to keep the focus upon undercoating as it related to Volkswagens through 1979 and as it relates, now, to the vintage Volkswagen hobby.

Undercoating has around for years and years in the world of vintage Volkswagens.

The theory behind undercoatings is that a barrier could be created to prevent the infiltration of moisture. Undercoatings themselves had no rust-inhibitive qualities. They simply have been intended as a barrier.

VW dealerships sold the service to new car buyers as a preventative measure to guard against rust. It was a money-making operation and dealers loved it. Especially was it offered in the colder climate States and especially where salt was used on icy roadways.

Recently, I spoke with a former VW trained specialist. He described the undercoating procedure as he observed it. He said that the dealership where he worked had one bay with a lift, “in a dark corner”, where the “nasty” undercoating took place. He told me that it was part of a money-making effort by dealerships in the make-ready department. Undercoating was applied using a hose and gun working from a 30 gallon barrel of material.

I have had my doubts over the years about its effectiveness in sealing the undersides of a vehicle as a moisture barrier. Here’s why. I was in the painting industry for almost 30 years. If there is a coating, I likely have seen it or read about it. In my experience, despite all claims to the contrary, coatings will fail. There is no “eternal” coating. I’ve heard claims that “you’ll never have to paint again”. Why can’t this be true?

Undercoating Vintage Volkswagens

It can’t be true because of expansion-and-contraction problems. When the base material—wood, metal, plastic—expands or contracts, the coating is going to suffer, eventually. Some coatings are better suited than others. But the fact of the matter is that coatings fail.

Metals, especially, are given to fluctuations from heat and cold. They will expand and contract more, and more quickly, reacting to weather and usage conditions.

What’s another problem? It’s the fact that the underside of a vehicle is not a continuous sheet of metal. Not at all. The undersides of vehicles are composed of pieces that have been fitted to form a unit. This could be through a continuous weld or spot-welding or with nuts and bolts and washers. There are joints. Every place where there is a weld or a nuts-and-bolts joint, expansion rates will differ.

As well, the application of undercoatings must completely encase all of this in order to form a viable covering—it must be seamless. This doesn’t happen.

The next issue is that undercoatings historically were shot onto factory painted surfaces. In order for a coating to adhere, there must be the possibility of adhesion. Slick surfaces will not offer such adhesion possibilities. As a result, I have been able to remove portions of undercoatings on Volkswagens simply by using compressed air. Sometimes, I have been able to remove it in sheets, simply because of the lack of adhesion. I can imagine that vibration over the years helps to loosen poorly adhered coatings.

’67 Volkswagen Beetle Insurance

wreckedbeetle
Eric and I corresponded with the owner of a ’67 Beetle which had been wrecked. The owner immediately had contacted his insurance agent who sent an adjuster to view the damaged vehicle. The result was a declaration of a “total loss” with an offer of a small dollar amount for the depreciated vehicle. With reason—the owner was incensed. He knew that his car had value. He argued with the insurance company—to no avail.

Our Beetles fall into a class of vehicles known as “Classics” or “Collector Automobiles”. Their value cannot be ascertained by going to the Kelly Blue Book or to some other commonly know valuation chart.

Since this is true, insuring one’s vintage vehicle requires study before implementation.

When a person decides to insure his vintage Beetle with a “regular” insurer, he finds that the vehicle falls under the rules of the game for any other vehicle on the road. He may apply Collision, Comprehensive and Liability Insurance. But the dawn explodes when it comes time to file a claim.

The Insurer will send a claim adjuster to view the damaged car. The adjuster is used to assessing damage and applying the normal rules of a claim upon cars. As in the real-life example above, some have discovered, to their horror, that this type of insurance claim is going to adjust according to a value which the Insurer will unilaterally apply. Suddenly, you find your vintage Beetle’s pre-accident worth only a shadow of what you thought.

Your vehicle for which you paid THOUSANDS! How can this be?

Insurance Value:

The mistake was in not insuring the Beetle with a Collector or Vintage Insurer—a company which specializes in vintage vehicles. Such insurance is determined by a careful assessment of the vehicle based upon its age and value on the collector market—not as a household or business vehicle which has a calculated annual depreciation value plus condition.

Vintage Vehicle Insurers provide State-required insurance–and much more. Not only will your vehicle be protected against liabilities (claims presented by other parties of personal and/or property damages), but also its own inherent value will be protected by a “stated” or “agreed-upon” valuation. This is a process in which you, the owner, play an all-important part!

The agreed-upon valuation will depend upon your doing some homework. There are numerous helps for assessing the value of a car. But, before you look at any of these resources, know your Beetle! Do not leave this in the hands of another.

’67 Beetle Wiring Diagram – U.S Version

VW-Beetle-Wiring-Digram
Lane Russell has received quite a few emails asking for the correct wiring diagram for the one year only ’67 Beetle. Illustrated above is the VW 1500 sedan and convertible (U.S. version) from August 1966 to July 1967 in all its glory. You can download it in a much larger format as well.

’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.

FanSkinnyGermanCracked#e

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.

FanSkinnyGermanRusted

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.

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

ValveClearance Pictured#b

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!”