There has not been much if any progress the last two weeks as we have been under a Halloween Delay here at our home. Every year I have an extensive display that I put up on my property… the overall theme being “Skeleton Graveyard”. Our home has become a bit of a local draw in fact this year we had 435 Trick-or-Treaters hit our doorstep. Four years ago I began the “Scare Hunger Away Food Drive” to benefit our local food bank and this year was another great success! Thank you to all who contributed!
Click on the Gallery Tab to see more photos of Halloween Night and how I put My First Mistake to good use…
I needed to find a creative solution to a limited amount of space in the home garage in order to do a complete frame off restoration. We’re fortunate to have a three car garage but one committment I made to my bride was that her car would not get kicked out of the garage during this project.
What complicates issues further is the fact that I have two 66 Bugs sitting in my garage due to “My First Mistake”. Since the first car will be a donor I want to keep it in the best shape I can and with the fact we are heading into our rainy season here in the Pacific Northwest (or what everyone else calls Fall, Winter, Spring and most of Summer) storing it outside is not ideal.
I found various cart designs that would be more than adequate if I had two stalls in my garage to dedicate full time to just this one car but I don’t. I was fortunate to stumble across two seperate designs on line by other home restorers that had characteristics that met some of my needs, neither fit all the criteria but they did inspire me.
Ultimately, it had to be affordable to build as we are on a budget, I need the body at a reasonable height once loaded on the cart for working on it, once resting on the cart the heater channels needed to be fully exposed, it had to be mobile and it needed to be able to roll over the rolling frame for storage. I decided on a design made with 4″x4″ lumber, metal brackets and wheel casters.
I started with  – 8′ – 4″x4″ posts,  – 6′ – 4″x4″ post,  – L shaped support brackets,  – flat metal plates,  – 36″ long 1″ dowel cut into 3 1/2″ lengths,  – 5″ wheel casters,  – 1 3/4″ lag bolts and a box of 1 1/4″ wood screws.
I left two of my 8′ lengths as they were and cut two others down to 6′ lengths. I then cut the remaining post so that I had a total of four 24″ lengths. Then using a flat bottom bit I drilled one inch holes at 1 3/4″ depths at the ends of each cut lumber pieces as shown below. I then drove the dowels into the ends of my 8′ lengths.
With a little glue in place I then hammered the 24″ lengths in an upright position. After checking the vertical alignment and verifying the angle was square I then mounted the L shape brackets using the 1 1/4″ wood screws.
Once the brackets were mounted I then placed the flat metal plate on the reverse side of the joint for added support. The 6′ cross supports were then put in place utilzing the same method. Four wheel casters then finished off the construction of the cart.
I’ve been asked a number of times why käfer in the name of the blog?
The simple explanation is that “käfer” is German for Beetle. I discovered this while doing research for the restoration of this car. I liked the concept of using the German translation when referring to the vehicle. In addition, there are a number of other sites on the internet that use Beetle or Bug in their title so it was an effort to seperate my site from others. Finally, although my primary heritage is Irish what’s not Irish is all German so I guess it was just a tip of the hat to that part of the family.
After getting some good advice from someone I trust I set out to find a car that would serve as a better foundation for the restoration project. I looked through ads that covered the better part of the West Coast and was fortunate to find a prospect not far from where I live. I took a trip out to take a look at it with a better understanding of what to be looking for to ensure that I had a car worth working on.
What I saw I liked but was still rattled by my first mistake. My reliable resource had made it clear that he was willing to look at anything I stumbled upon and bring his years of experience to the task. I schedule a time for us to meet up and take a look at the car… after careful review I got the thumbs up, this is going to be the project car.
Tags: 1966, aircooled, american, beetle, bug, cal, classic, Custom, european, hood ride, kafer, lowered, NOS, OEM, original, restoration, restore, scraper, slammed, Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4, vintage, volkswagon, VW
When searching for a project I came across what I thought would be the perfect canidate to restore… it was in my state, the asking price seemed reasonable and from the pictures it looked to be in fair shape. With what limited knowledge I possessed I took the drive to take a closer look. The car belonged to a gentleman that had restored/customized a number of VW’s over the years. He had owned this one for fourteen years and had driven the car daily for eight of those. He had stated that he had always hoped to get the time to restore this one but that the other projects in the garage had taken up his time. There were three other VW’s and two American Classics in various stages of restoration some complete others not.
The car was tucked away between two others and the interior was packed with dislocated seats, deck lid, boxes of extra suspension parts. etc.. So, I took my walk around and looked at what I could see and thought I had found a car in resonable shape to become our project. Now I was upfront with this guy as to my level of expertise, or should I say lack there of, and asked him to give me his honest opinion based on what he himself claimed to be a vast level of experience… was I biting off more than I could chew with this car? Oh no, he claimed this should be a great project and well within my reach. Well we haggled and after getting to a number I thought was fair and in my limited budget we had a deal. The guy was kind enough to even tow it to my house.
Unfortunately, once home I began to strip the car of its contents to see exactly what I had and then discovered I was in trouble. Once all the interior seating was removed along with the collection of parts, rear deck lid, etc. I began tearing out the carpet and padding along with the door sills. There it was… gaping holes in the heater channels on both sides right at the floor line running from front to back. These were definately going to need to go, not what I was hoping for but I still felt confident that I’d be up to the task. Time to take a break.
While sitting on my driveway sipping a glass of water directly in front of the car with the hood open did I realize that the apron was not a parallel with the shelf the gas tank sat on, it drooped downward on the drivers side. Now this just did not seem right… one thing I knew to look for was damage inside the spare tire well and I had looked prior to purchase and it was perfect, not a ding. Alarmed I quickly removed the fender from the front driver side wheel. There it was… a series of ripples indicating that at some point in its life this car had been struck and struck hard. In fact, upon closer inspection I could see that each of the spot welds were stressed. Concerned I had missed more I started digging deaper.
I had noted prior to purchase that the doors did not quite align correctly but how many Bug doors do in a car this old. I had anticipated that adjustments would be needed and possible but now I had my doubts. There was a pencil thin rust line just above the trim right behind the driver’s door at the latch. Although I had not given it much thought at the time I now wondered what this might be underneath. So I grabbed my paint stripper wheel and started grinding off the paint. My worst fears were beginning to be realized. A thick layer of filler was just below the paint. By the time I was done stripping that area, the driver’s door and rear quarter-panel I discovered that car indeed had been wrecked and that there were at least seven layers of primer, paint and filler on this side of the car.
Still no completely detered but definately wary I continued my inspection. Once I had the rear fenders off it became obvious that there were more issues… this time, more rust. Not rust in general is to be expected but in this case the rust was at the main suspension support in the rear fender well and that rust went all the way through to the interior of the car. You could actually see into the rear shelf behind the rear seat and once inside the car I could see how bad it truly was. Time for some outside guidance.
I am fortunate to have recently met a gentleman who has a beautiful collection of fully restored VW’s and I asked him if he had any suggestions on what to do. He gave me the name of another gentleman who had assisted him in the restoration of his vehicles and could not speak more highly of his level of expertise. I contact the man and he was kind enough to come out and take a look at the car. The news was pretty much all bad! His feeling was that this car was not worth the effort or money to try and salvage it and certainly not the right car for my first ever restoration. He encouraged me to cut my losses and start my search over and I did.
Click on the Gallery Tab to see more photos of My First Mistake.