Equalizer Spring Installation

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Equalizer Spring Installation

This article was submitted by reader and ’67 enthusiast Richard (Dick) Diaz. Thank you very much for your contributions to 1967beetle.com.

I am not sure about this 1967 Volkswagen Bug which I purchased nearly a year or so ago–it has taken over my life! In a positive way I want to add! Luckily for me, I was fortunate enough to stumble across 1967Beetle.com on one of my many trips through cyberspace looking at other 1967 VW Bugs, trying to see what is missing from my Bug.

I have tried hard not to make this project a “checkbook restoration,” but I do have limitations on what I can do myself, how much money I have and how much money my wife thinks I am spending! My rule has been to not try anything that requires a special tool, knowing that I have only so much time on this earth to use special tools and I have used up 66 years of my life to get to this point! I had written an early article for 1967Beetle.com on the purchase of my 1967 VW Bug and what mistakes I made in selecting this particular car. This article, Equalizing Spring Installation, comes at the urging of Jay Salser and Eric Shoemaker of 1967Beetle.com to hopefully help others that may want to pursue a similar project. The Equalizer Spring had been removed from my car when the previous owner lowered the car for the increasingly popular California Look!

This article is about my discovery of, and installation of, the missing Equalizer Spring that Volkswagen had installed in the 1967 year and early 1968 year VW Bugs. To complicate things, the Equalizer Spring goes by many names, making it elusive to what its true function really is: Rear Anti-Roll Bar, Z-Bar and Sway Bar. From what I have read, the Volkswagen engineers had it right the first time! According to Volkswagen’s Official Service Manual, Beetle and Karmann Ghia 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, Bentley Publishers, the Equalizer Spring is a side-to-side torsion bar connected to the axle tubes. It is designed to provide an additional progressive spring action to assist rear torsion bars when under load. The Equalizer Spring was added in 1967 because in 1967 the torsion bar was softened for a softer ride and the Equalizer Spring made up the difference and came into use only when there was a heavy load over the rear axle.

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Equalizer Spring Installation

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Equalizer Spring Installation

“Z-Bar” comes close to an accurate description of this part simply because after installation the configuration resembles the shape of the letter “Z”! But the function of an Equalizer Spring has nothing to do with sway, or preventing a roll! At least that is what I have read; it simply equalizes the weight over the rear swing axle when under a load! But then read the forums and you will find a difference of opinion of its function by each author, and whether the Equalizer Spring is even needed. It does make me wonder, though, why they installed it for one year only! Just the same, I hate to have missing original parts!

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Equalizer Spring Installation

On one of my trips to someone who knew a lot about the VW Bug, Rodney Cooper, an employee of Airhead Parts in Ventura, California, discovered that I was missing the Equalizer Spring, among other various nuts and bolts from the body and frame over the swing axle and spring plate. I had gone to Rodney to have him “re-index” the rear torsion bar and spring plates to nearly stock height. Remember my rule regarding special tools and needed expertise? This trip was needed because the car had been lowered all the way around and the rear tires rubbed on the fender wells on left turns and over big bumps. Rodney explained to me that although all the missing nuts, bolts, lock washers and the two heavy duty rubber body stops DO need to be there, the Equalizer Spring didn’t really do anything but distribute the load if I had heavy passengers sitting in the rear seat area. Ok–that made sense and besides Rodney is the Guru of the VW Bug. He even played a consulting/mechanic role in the popular Overhaulin’ television show where Rodney was part of the “A” Team in the Overhaul of a 1967 Bug! So I had the right guy tell me that. Much of my research has supported what Rodney told me that day as we were turning nuts and bolts in his driveway!

Now remember, I don’t like to have missing original parts, so I was on the hunt to find out about the Equalizer Spring! Although I believed what Rodney told me, my “missing original parts quirk” took over. Soon, I was on 1967Beetle.com and on my VW Club’s website, Central Coast Chapter, California, of Vintage Volkswagen of America, asking if anyone knew where I could buy all the parts to the Equalizer Spring. The usual sources were revealed: TheSamba, eBay, Craigslist and The Small Car Connection. The Equalizer Spring is not reproduced, but has to come from a donor car, or from someone who collects vintage VW parts. Curiously, though, a bushing repair kit is reproduced and is available through Wolfsburg west and Airhead Parts! I was getting excited that this might not be a difficult part to find, when I thought that I should ask my friends Eric Shoemaker, creator and caretaker of 1967Beetle.com and Jay Salser, who does some editing for 1967Beetle.com. Jay is a guy who has more than 37 years of experience in driving and repairing and has owned over fifty Volkswagens! He had the scoop on the Equalizer Spring! I forwarded to Jay a number of the ads selling Equalizer Springs and there weren’t many to share! But each time, Jay would get back to me and tell me that this or that part was missing in the picture. He didn’t recommend that I piece together a complete set from the various parts sellers advertised. Frustration was setting in when Jay said that he would look around his garage to see what he had. Well can you believe it, Jay had a complete set! Jay lives in Texas and in his Texas thought deduction he told me, “I have a spare bar, and since these last so long I will probably never need it! I’ll sell the spare to you.” Jay needed to check the shipping costs for an over-sized part. That settled, he needed the weather to warm up so he could spend some time in his garage packaging the parts. He notified me when he had it boxed and ready to ship and said that my box would look like a big screen TV when it arrived! And so it did because that is exactly the type of box he used. I then ordered some additional “I got to have items” from Jay and the Bushing Repair Kit from Wolfsburgwest and sat back and waited. As luck would have it, all of my orders arrived on the same day.

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Equalizer Spring Installation

I opened the Equalizer Spring packaging and had a look at what Jay had sent me. My first thought was how dainty this Equalizer Spring looked compared to what its function is. But despite the way it looked, all the parts were there and it all looked solid! I already had decided to prime and repaint the metal parts and to replace all the rubber bushings, so I was very pleased with what I saw. Since my wife long ago had booted me from the garage so she could park her two cars, my workshop was a dirt floor under a carport in the back of our property. Not ideal, but better than nothing–which is almost what it is. Spray painting the various components happened by using wires to hang each part from an orange tree and spraying away. This works pretty good and paint dries fast with the breeze and warm temperatures we have here in Fillmore, California.

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Equalizer Spring Installation

With everything painted, it was time to assemble the rubber bushings and sleeves onto the operating rods. Not too difficult to do using dish soap as a lubricant to move the rubber bushings over the rubber sleeves. One of the first things I noticed in the bushing kit was the lack of some of the parts I needed to fully replace all rubber parts. Missing were the two “hard rubber washers” that fit on the equalizer spring rod at each end where the “inner support” butts up against the “levers.” Also missing was the thick hard rubber sleeve that fits over the “equalizer spring rod” dead center on the rod to act as a buffer against the body and transmission case if the car were to bottom out. Also missing in this kit are the rubber protective caps that fit over the nuts at the tops of the operating rods. These protect the fasteners from corrosion. Luckily, for me, the original caps still were on the locations where they were needed. Not wanting to spend the time looking in hardware stores for things that would work, I reused these worn original parts. Not sure why the kit does not include them.

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Equalizer Spring Installation

Installation day came when my family was gone for a couple of days and I hoped that nobody would interrupt me once I jacked up the car, blocked it and placed it on jack stands. Using Bentley’s Volkswagen Official Service Manual, conversations with my mentor, Jay Salser, and numerous pictures I had taken of an early 1968 with the Equalizer Spring still installed, as well as schematics which I had downloaded from the Internet, I felt that I was ready to begin! This installation would turn out to be a 4-1/2 hour job with only one parts run for longer bolts to attach the Operating Guide to the Axle Tube Flange. My local auto parts had the longer metric bolts, split and flat washers, but did not have the nuts for the bolts so I was forced to use the old ones.

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Equalizer Spring Installation

Visualizing, I found that I could thread the Operating Rod, with the left Operating Lever attached, from the right side to the left—above the transmission case. After a couple of runs at it, I finally had it across and in place and was ready to start bolting down the Operating Rod Supports and Operating Rods. I checked and rechecked to make sure I had all the parts installed correctly. The left Operating Rod did not fit well onto the Operating Rod Guide, or Operating Lever. After three tries I accepted that this was the best that I would be able to adjust it. Since I was installing an Equalizer Spring off of another vehicle it was not going to be an exact match, unfortunately!

Standing back and looking at my work I was nagged by the words of others in the forums and my friend Rodney Cooper! I wondered about the value of the Equalizer Spring after all! Rodney had told me, “There was a reason that this was a one year only part!” Maybe now I get that, but then, “I hate missing parts and equipment!”

Posted by Jay Salser

My wife, Neva, and I have been driving and working on VWs since 1976. In fact, we raised our family in these cars. Now, we are retired and enjoy VWs as a hobby. The ’67 Beetle always has been our favorite year. We own a '67 Beetle and a '68 Karmann Ghia.

  1. Great article. I had a 68 in 1980 and remember removing that when I built it into a baja. Never knew what it was called. I love close by, Encinitas. Hope to see you on the roads one day. #VintageVW

  2. Live, not love close by but I do love where we live!

  3. Great article, thanks!

  4. Somewhere, somehow…a GREAT omission was committed at the beginning or the ending of this article! I must assume complete responsibility for that grave error.

    For while I simply edited this article, it was Richard (Dick) Diaz who wrote it. It was Dick who labored over the restoration of the E-bar and it was Dick who installed it. Yes…and I want to applaud his successful efforts!

    Each of us goes through a learning curve when dealing with these vintage little “beasties”. Dick has excelled. I congratulate him on the acquisition and conservatorship of yet another 1967 Beetle!

    Dick–I raise my timing light in a toast to you!


    1. Fellow Texan, I will be re-installing the z-bar and equalizer springs in my 67, as they were gutted out when it was baja converted. I am keeping the baja because of the chopped off front and rear but I want a more street or standard ride height for street comfort and proper suspension travel. The car is a toy and grocery-getter and not going airborne in Blackwell. I have decent luck finding parts from Bug Acres out by Lampasas. Got a full front beam from him. Do you think it is a waste of time or good parts?

      1. Hello, Michael…Just a quick comment here. I think that you can see from Dick’s Featured Article that the Z-Bar “experiment” wasn’t a bang-up success by VW. It lasted the one year and into 1968. Apparently the anti-sway properties came more into play under loaded conditions. With only the driver, for instance, it had little apparent effect upon how the car handled. That said–I do not view the reinstallation of original parts to be a waste. Oh…some might say…”Why?” Apparently there are enough of us that feel that if it was on the car originally, it serves a useful purpose still–if only esthetically.

        One other thing, Michael–these cars are becoming valuable enough so that people actually are obtaining clips and putting Bajas back to original. Maybe that could become one of your long-term project ideas.

        Thanks for being a Reader of 1967beetle.com!


  5. Richard "Dick" Diaz March 29, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks Jay! I have to say I am really enjoying learning about this car as-well-as all the great folks I have met through 1967beetle.com! So many are so willing to take the time to share their knowledge, and in your case, knowledge, parts and friendship!-Dick

    1. That’s what Jay and I get paid the big bucks for, my friend!

  6. Thanks Mr. Diaz & Mr. Salser for another wonderful article. We (that’s the literary pronoun; it’s actually “Gary”) will be checking this out next time Wally2 is out from under cover!

    1. Agreed! Go, team!

  7. Nice article, I have the bar but not the other parts of it

  8. I can very much relate to this story and Dick not accepting missing parts. My son bought me a 67 Beetle from California. I am looking for the right rear mounting plate/spring plate on the axel. If anyone has one please call or email, Mike 920-723-4472 or mzenoni@charter.net

  9. Hey I happen to have a pair on the car so rusted that they snapped when I was trying to change out the rubber bushings. Would you know what the part numbers were so I can source for them? Thanks!

  10. Ken,
    We have them. Email us. Hello@lanerussell.com

  11. I just bought a 67 bug and the first thing I noticed was the spring(looks like a shock) equalizers are both shot. In fact one is just resting in the metal cup with no bolt holding it in. My question is, should I remove and replace or not replace? I am also wondering if I should drive it with the what looks like original part?

    Thank you

    1. Hello, Kevin…Thanks for comments! Can you send photos of what you are seeing? You can send to: eric@1967beetle.com and to jksalservw@gmail.com We can go from there. As they say–a picture is worth a thousand words. Thanks. jay

  12. I have started to rebuild my equalizer springs and have run into a couple challenges. I painted them with metal primer paint then with a gloss black. When I push the tubing over the bar it pulls the paint off. Am I not waiting long enough for the paint to dry? I am waiting the suggested amount of time on the can. I have painted them for the third time and I am going to wait 15 hours for them to dry.

    Another weird thing is that my equalizer springs do not seem to be very different in length? In all the pictures I have looked at the two springs look a lot different in length. Could my car have 2 of the same equalizer springs? The drivers side spring has a very small threaded screw on the bottom that should be screwed to the bottom cup from underneath. I hope that I can get enough thread to attach it on the bottom?

    I would really appreciate any suggestions or insight into my dilemma.

    San Diego

    1. Hello, Kevin…By “spring”, I think that you are indicating the “Rods”–is this correct? If you cannot get the paint to adhere, you may want to have the Rods powder-coated. If you do this, be sure to specify that the threaded portions should NOT be powder-coated. I have sent a photo of the relevant parts by separate e-message. Please let me know if I have answered your questions. The Rods are, as you suspect, of differing lengths–decidedly one is longer than the other. The Z-Bar cannot operate if both Rods are the same length. ?? jay

  13. I wasn’t sure who to contact for help with my z bar on my ’68 Ghia, but very much appreciated this article.
    My issue is I don’t know how to take the rods with the rubber bushings apart.
    I got the bottom nut off but can’t figure out if the top part unscrews or everything slides off the bottom, or what. My rod is pretty rusty, so I’m trying to be careful.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Yes…Dwight–there is a Nut on the top of the Rod. Rust IS a big problem,–I advise you to use PB Blaster or some other loosening agent.

      There is supposed to be a Rubber Cap covering that Top Nut–however, most have disappeared or rotted over the years.

      If the Rubber Caps ARE present, remove them CAREFULLY and save them. No one produces those Caps!

      Let us know how this goes.


      1. Jay,
        Thanks for the help. I am embarrassed. My rubber cup was so encrusted with undercoating, dirt, and gunk, that I didn’t even know it was rubber or what it was. Of course, once removed (carefully) the 14mm nut just underneath allowed me to take the rod apart easily. I installed the Wolfsburgwest z-bar bushing and sleeve kit and all is well.
        Really appreciate all your advice and pictures.

        1. Dwight…We have Dick Diaz to thank for the Great Article. He really did a wonderful job with his car’s Z-Bar. I contemplated manufacture of those Rubber Caps. My research revealed costs into the thousands just for Research and Development–prior to any actually Production. With the limited number of cars with Z-Bars still on the roads, it just wasn’t feasible–sadly. So, we do with what we have. I believe that you say that your Z-Bar is on a ’68 Ghia? I also have a ’68 Ghia–but have not inspected it’s Z-Bar status. The car came to me very poorly conserved–I have been slowly returning it to stock condition. I’ll get to the Z-Bars at some point. Keep up the good work! jay

          1. Well, I’m hesitant to reply on websites because I believe my issues to be so trivial, but since I have benefited immensely from others posts’ (especially Dick’s) , I suspect someone else might benefit as I have. Again, thank you and everyone for your help and advice.

            Jay-with-the-’68 Ghia,
            We may become great friends.

            I suspect the ’67 bug site exists because it is a common, collectable year for bugs, and has many advantages and followers. While on the other hand, it seems to me, the ’68 Ghia is unique in so many ways that we must band together as bonded brothers in our plight to restore and nurture this most unusual and unique vehicle. Z-bars are just the beginning (well, the end of the alphabet) of our quest regarding unusual and annoyingly unique features associated with our ’68 Ghias.

            It was only yesterday that I deciphered whether my Ghia was an early or late model “68 Ghia, which, I suspect you know, matters muchly when buying tie rods and front wheel bearings.
            Distributors and other engine parts seem to be all over the map, and I have no clue whether my carburetor matches my dizzy. My 2-notch pulley drives everyone crazy, and don’t even start to ask about my broken windshield wiper motor replacement. Arggggg.

            Well, I’ve obviously digressed from the topic of this website, so no need to reply. But wanted to let you know that we are all in the same boat and I appreciate everyone’s help.
            Take care,


  14. Hi all,
    I know this is a good few years after the original post, but I would like to offer a big ‘thank you’ to Dick for a great article. Also thanks Jay for the amazing and informative website, it truly is an encyclopedia of everything 1967 Beetle!
    Now, I have a question about the Z-bar on my own RHD ’67: when the car is on the ramps and the weight off her wheels, the right hand side equaliser rod slides up and down through the bracket on the axle, where the left hand side there’s no movement. So can anyone please tell me which is correct, movement or solid?

    Many thanks,
    Grant (East Sussex, England)

    1. Hello, Grant…
      I have neglected you!  I apologize.  I can give one reason–the weather here has been cold and bad and at 83, I don’t do cold weather well. But–the real reason is that I do not know–flat out–I just do not have the answer to your valid question! I would need to get a car onto a lift to test the components. However—I think that there has to be “load” on one side, since the load passes from one side to the other as the car moves.  Does this sound logical? I apologize for not having a ready answer. jay

      1. Hi Jay,
        Thank you so much for your response to my email, it’s very much appreciated. Our weather has been quite cold too, but nothing compared to what I know you guys endure!
        To my original question, your answer does indeed sound logical. With the car off the lift and it’s weight back on the wheels, both operating rods slide up and down within their guide rings on the axles. All the rubber bushings, bump stops, etc look very worn and the left side guide ring looks bent, so I guess I’ll be spending some money to solve my issues!
        Thanks again with best wishes to you, your family and friends, and don’t forget, Spring is only just round the corner! Grant

        1. Hello, Grant–Interesting that you should mention the “..left side guide ring looks bent..” because, I have found this on our ’68 Karmann Ghia and on a loose part which I had here in the shop (which I was able to straighten). It’s prob. too soon to make a judgment about the “left side” at this point but it’s something to examine later. wolfsburgwest.com still sells the only kit available (to my knowledge) for replacing worn parts of the Z-Bar (look under “rear axle”). The Z-Bar was a study which merited the attention of those VW engineers–but, apparently the two years of use by the Public proved that it really wasn’t worth continuing. They left it as a legacy to us “down the road of life”. Thank you for being reading and commenting, Grant! jay

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