The journey started some months back with finding water on the mats inside my ’67 “Papa’s Slugbug” after I washed the car! I casually would look for the entry point of the water and just couldn’t figure out where it was entering! Then one day recently while lifting the wipers blades to clean the windshield, I saw it! The rubber grommet, (inner and outer bearing seal) on the driver’s side, that surrounded the wiper shaft and created a seal for the wiper assembly was hardened and cracked! I checked the passenger’s side and the same thing! But, there was something different between the two sides; the passenger’s side had a nut that threaded over the wiper shaft and held the entire wiper assembly! The driver’s side did not! (I purchased Papa’s Slugbug three years ago from a previous owner who did an incomplete and poor restoration).
Realizing that I was missing some parts, I made a trip to Larry’s Foreign Car Repair in Ventura, California, to hopefully pick up a nut that I was sure would be hard to find since, after all, this is a 1967 Volkswagen known for one-year-only parts! Larry is an “old school” Volkswagen mechanic and he quickly noticed that I was missing not only the brass nut, but also the stainless steel washers that are placed between the rubber grommet (inner and outer bearing seal) and the nut! They had to be brass and stainless steel to avoid rusting. Larry found some for me, but recommended that I replace the wiper shafts while I was at it, since I would have to pull the entire wiper assembly unit to replace the rubber grommets anyway! I never question Larry’s advice!
Online, I went to Airhead Parts, where I ordered new wiper shafts, rubber grommets and bushings for the wiper linkage arms! Not cheap, but while I was at it, I figured that I better do it right! As soon as I received the parts, I removed the wiper assembly and got started. The first thing that I noticed with the parts I received was that not only was I missing the previously mentioned parts, but on the back side of the wiper assembly there are a number of other critical parts: spring washer, brass nut and another stainless steel flat washer that is placed against the other side of the rubber grommet! Also on the outside there is supposed to be a wiper shaft seal to prevent water from entering the wiper shaft. Most of those parts on my wiper assembly were missing! Luckily Airhead Parts provides them and has them placed on the new wiper shaft in the order they need to be placed! Also the new wiper link bushings for the linkage assembly came with new C- clips.
Although I did consult Bentley’s “Volkswagen Official Service Manual” and John Muir’s, “How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive”, I found that putting everything back together in the reverse order I removed them was very valuable! I also referenced Wolfsburgwest.com. In their schematic of the wiper assembly, I noted a small spring which I hadn’t seen on my assembly! I should mention that I was forced to use multiple vendors since none of them had all of the parts that I needed which would have made shipping costs more palatable. Wolfsburgwest.com did have the wiper assembly spring, but none of the others did.
Back to Bentley’s. Bentley’s mentioned, “Unhook spring (wiper assembly spring) between wiper assembly frame and connecting rod, but with no further mention of it, or a picture. According to a post in a forum on The Samba, this is a return spring for the linkage arm to return the wiper blades in park at the same position each time when the wiper switch is placed in the off position. But, still no solid answer from the manuals.
Like every other time I am stumped on a project, I contacted my good and knowledgeable friend Jay Salser and 1967beetle.com, to ask about the spring! Yes indeed he knew about the spring and advised me that the wiper assembly should have one. Good enough for me! Since I saw it on Wolfburgwest.com, I went back to order it! It is called a wiper assembly spring and sells for $2.50, but shipping was $7.95!
I recontacted Jay to ask him how important that spring was. And, when I told him about the cost of the spring and the cost of shipping he suggested that I let him look around his parts pile. Soon not only did he send me the spring, but also a hard to find gasket he makes himself for the SWF wiper motor–if I felt the need to clean out the wiper motor of the old hardened grease and then put new grease into the motor and on the critical moving parts. But, I’ll leave that job for another day!
Now that I had all the parts I needed to rebuild the wiper assembly, I got on with the task. One thing that pleased me was that I didn’t need any special tools, but I did need to remove the radio and glove box to allow sufficient room for me to work and clearance to pull the wiper assembly free from it’s cramped location. But before I did, I marked all of the wires connected to the wiper motor so that I could return them to their previous locations.
Once I had the wiper assembly out, I removed and replaced each C-clip and bushing (4 of them) on the linkage, one at a time. I also lubricated the insides of the bushings. At the same time, I replaced the two wiper shafts, making sure that I put the 2-pin wiper shaft on the left and the 1-pin wiper shaft on the right side! I was now ready to replace the wiper assembly into its location. (At this point I did not have the wiper assembly spring.)
Using the photo from Bentley, I placed the spring washer against the pressed stop on the shaft then secured the brass nut over the spring washer. Next, a stainless steel washer was placed against the brass nut. This washer will then sit against the inner bearing seal (rubber grommet). This process was then repeated on the other wiper shaft.
The wiper assembly was carefully replaced so as not to damage the rubber grommets (outer and inner bearing seals). A stainless steel washer was then placed against the rubber grommet and the brass nut tightened securely. The wiper shaft seal was then placed over the wiper shaft and the wiper arm attached to the wiper shaft. Of all of the mechanically efficient things Volkswagen did, in my opinion, the method of attaching the wiper arm to the round wiper shaft was not one! It is really difficult to tighten the set screw sufficiently to hold on a round shaft! I replaced all the wiring, and the radio, making sure to place the wiper grounding strap securely, and lastly, the glove box.
As luck would have it the wiper assembly spring arrived after I reinstalled the wiper assembly! To install the wiper assembly spring, I did have to remove the glove box, because the placement was more towards the passenger side (thanks, Jay, for that tip). I could see only the location for the wiper assembly spring on the wiper assembly frame, but not on the linkage. By forcing my fingers above that location I found the location for the other end of the spring on the wiper assembly linkage. I put that end on first and then pulled the wiper assembly spring downward until I could attach it to the wiper assembly frame. The wiper assembly spring may be small, but it is stout!
Because I live in Southern California I would agree that this was a lot of work for something I rarely would need, but what the heck! I now have fixed another piece of equipment on this great car! Of course if the predicted El Niño arrives you can bet I will be out trying out my rebuilt wiper assembly!