Wednesday, June 29, 2016


I started turning some wrenches on the VW project. I'm not all that crazy about doing all the mechanical things this beastie is going to require but no turning back now. I had bought some brake parts a long time back, so I figured that would be as good a place as any to start. I needed a couple more hard lines and a new master cylinder to start with. I ordered a master cylinder from the old guys uptown but they didn't have the brake lines. I went to one of the new parts stores and they had one that was the right length but the other one that was closest to the size I need was 5" too long. I had measured the lengths of the old ones by following along the bends with a string and then measuring the length of the string so all the counterman had to do was get me something close. The dude was clueless to the fact that 12" is real close to the 11-1/4" I needed. He came out with one about 6" at first. The second place I checked had the same lengths and the guy there acted like he was kind of insulted that I didn't want a brake line that was 5" longer than what I needed. I understand the realities of merchandising - can't stock everything, especially for the oddball stuff I usually work on - but I'd be willing to bet someone makes brake lines in between the lengths of 12" and 20" even if you don't carry it, Sport. If it was for an American car I'd just whack off the extra length and re-flare it but I don't have any way of putting the Metric style bulb flare on it so I'll throw a pigtail on it and use it.

 I pulled the backing plate off, blasted and painted it. While everything is off the car I'll patch the rust hole, get everything back together and then tackle the other side. I called Mid-America Motorworks to see about rear fenders. Cuzzin Ricky and I are going to be heading south for some sprint car action in a few weeks and the thinking was, we'd stop by Mid-America on the way home and pick up the fenders and a few other items. The good news is that the fenders I want to use from an earlier Beetle should bolt up to my Super. The bad news is they're out of stock,back ordered and she's not sure when they'll be coming in. Shoots that plan square in the ass. It's not like I don't have other things to do in the mean time, however. I'll keep chuggin' away on the mechanical side until I formulate a new plan with the fenders.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Lights Out

I just finished reading Lights Out by Ted Koppel. The book attempts to answer the question of how secure our electric grid is from a cyber attack and what would result if the grid did, in fact, go down. In my opinion a cyber attack on the electrical grid is something that you can bet is going to happen, if it hasn't already. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of these days someone is successful in bringing the grid down. There has already been at least one serious physical attack on a power station in California.

Koppel was able to talk to people in high places who are the authorities on the subject as well as those employed by the government who seem to be rather clueless or oblivious to the severity of the issue even though they'll be the ones responsible for our salvation - "Heckuva job there Brownie". What are you going to do if the power goes out for a month or longer? If you live in the country, that's one thing. If you live in a high rise apartment in a large city, that's something else all together. We all need food, water, sanitation, and security. All of these need to be addressed. The book looks at all these and more. With my borderline paranoia, I probably shouldn't even read this kind of stuff, but God forbid if something like this ever comes to pass, you better have a plan. Things will get ugly quick. You can only go three days without water, don't forget.

Good book. 

Read it. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Fixing the Door & Fixing to Race

We had a big storm come through the other day, or the threat of one at least. The Weather Channel was forecasting bad things for those of us in the Mid-West most all the day long - rain, high winds, hail, maybe a tornado. I had both of the cars in the new barn but the truck was sitting out so I figured it would be a smart thing to put it out in the big barn. Except I really had to work to get the big sliding doors open. Dirt and grass had accumulated along the bottom of the door and was preventing it from sliding. I got the shovel out and skinned the schmutz out of the way. That took care of most of it but one door was still giving me some trouble. Apparently, the roller in the photo was the culprit. The bracket is bent and not only was the bottom of the door rubbing on the bracket but the roller was pinching the door as well. 

I rarely open those doors. The farmer uses them a few times a year when he's moving/storing his equipment so I didn't realize they were that hard to open. I'm glad I found out before the rain came in. I wouldn't have been at all happy struggling with a couple of big ass doors during a monsoon. I'll take the assembly to work and get it straightened out and add an extension to the top of the bracket so I can move the thing down a bit and still be able to fasten it properly to the door frame. I'll get the nut loosened up that holds the roller in place also so I can adjust the roller in and out as need be. Always something to do around the farm.

I did finish up the driver's side floor pan on the VW. All welded, primed and painted. Looking pretty sexy in there now. I've still got a ton of work to do on this thing but having the floor buttoned up is a major milestone. 

I'm planning on doing a bicycle race in about a month. I talked to my running and cycling compatriot and she says she's in. I've done this one a couple of times before and it's a fun event - eight miles in length. I won my age division last time but that was seven long years ago. I've been getting out a bit on the bike of late and while I'm in pretty sorry shape, I should be able to shed a few pounds and shape up a bit prior to the event. When I was doing all of the big mileage bike trips, my normal cruising speed was about 15 mph. I'll be lucky if that's my race pace a month from now but that's OK. Just need a goal to keep me moving. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

News From the Home Front

Photo From Here
I think that's the color that at least some of mine was at one time. That's a '72 Super in the photo. Not bad looking. Not exactly the same as the Riv but I could live with that.

It's been pretty hot around here of late - slowed my progress down a bit. Once the weather hits 90, the old boy needs to throttle back a notch or two. Of course, it's not near as bad as those poor bastards out west are having it. 120 degrees! No way I'd live out there, dry heat or not. When Jimmy fought in Oklahoma a few years ago it had been over 100 degrees for something like 30 days in a row. It was like an oven. Even though you were sweating, you never got wet because it evaporated just as fast as you pumped it out. Just about impossible to get anything done, even working nights.

I did get most of the driver's side floor welded up. I still have to weld in the seat mount and a little bit on the bottom of the rocker panel. I'll get that finished up this week. I'm now working on a couple of brackets to mount the rearview mirror. I bought one of the long ones with 5 or 6 panels that runs the full length of the car over the dash - like the local stock car boys used to run.

I dusted off the 900 and diddled with it a bit. I need to get the seat mounted up. I stared at it long enough that I think I've got it figured out. The stock mounts have been cut off the frame and I don't have the mating parts that bolt to the seat bottom either. With a little bit of luck, might have that taken care of this week also.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Driver's Side III

Here's a shot between the door opening and the rear wheel. I cut away about 4" of the outer skin and the part of the rocker panel that hides the heater channel and has the mating surface for the lower flange on the outer skin. 

And here's the new replacement metal for the inside. I made it in two pieces figuring it would be a lot easier than trying to get everything measured up and fitting on the money. Fits good now and I've got a nice straight surface to weld the flange of the outer skin to later. If you look closely at the right side of the photo, you can see more rust holes on what makes up the inner fender. I think I'll hold off on that part until I get a fender so I can align everything as it should be. The car came with plastic Baja fenders but I won't be using those. I'll get some real steel ones back on it. Actually, I'm planning on frenching in the taillights so I'd like to get an earlier Beetle fender that doesn't have the big ass taillight hole like the Super Beetle has. I'm not sure what fits what, however. I'll get that figured out and get a pair one of these days soon.

Here I'm trial fitting everything prior to welding. Seat fits, all the holes line up on the floor pans, all the paint is ground off where I have to weld - so it's ready to go together as soon as I pick up a tube of silicon caulk. I need to take care of some other business today, so I don't know how much I'll get done, but most of the hard work is done.

If you want to do this kind of stuff, you sure need a lot of tools. Hammers, chisels, punches, grinders, drills, snips, files, layout tools, sheet metal brake, Cleco fasteners, and various other hand tools along with your PPE. I'm pretty much good on the tools now except for a shear. I cut the strips for the bottom of the rocker at work on the "stomp" shear to get nice straight cuts without any distortion. I don't really have room for one of those even if I did find a good deal on one. I would like to have a Beverly shear. A model B-2 would be perfect for my needs - could've used it several times on this job. I might look into getting one before I start on the hot rod project. 

Now that the floor is just about done, I think I'll see about working on the dash and cleaning up the area behind the seats. I'm not planning on running a back seat but I am planning on a roll cage. I've got the main hoop ready to go. I can get that tacked in and then see what I need to strengthen the floor where the rear tubes will go. Finally coming together.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Driver's Side II

I've been hitting it pretty hard lately. I got the floor pan on the driver's side removed and the rust holes in the bulkhead and inner rocker panel repaired. The bottom of the rocker is a flat sheet that has nuts welded to it on the inside that the floor pan bolts to. Where the pan itself bolts up to it is in pretty good shape but the couple of inches sticking out that's exposed to the elements has some serious rust issues. I'm going to grind out the spot welds on the outer edge and then cut that part out. I'll fit a new piece that I'll weld in along the outer edge but will just lay over the top of where the pan bolts up after punching some holes in it for the bolts. The floor pan will squeeze it all together nicely and with a big gob of silicon caulk between the floor pan and the bottom of the rocker, I shouldn't have too much of an issue with water getting in where it doesn't belong.

Here's the bracket for the jack. I cut it off the old pan and ran it through the bead blaster. Cleaned up nicely, but more importantly, even though it was pretty humid out when I did it, no more problem with water in the lines since I put the better water trap on the blast cabinet. 

I knew I was going to have to patch some things but I wasn't planning on replacing the bottom of the rocker. Might be a little tricky for me to get the floor completed this week with the extra work but I'm making good progress. As I mentioned a couple of posts back, the last time I did any work on the floor was right before I had the heart attack - four years ago - so it's definitely time to get crackin'. I've got one more spot on the outside of the body that needs some replacement metal. Actually it's a spot about six inches tall from the rear edge of the door back into the inner fender. So it's more than just a little patch but after that, mostly mechanical things. There's a lot of that, but again, I'm pretty happy with what I've accomplished of late - especially with what's gone on around here the last four years. Heart attacks, broken bones and cancer have a tendency to slow production down a bit.

My buddy, the Ducati singles specialist, brought me a little work to do. Primary cover off a 250. You can see the scuffed up spot in the photo. There's a couple of spider cracks that need a little T-L-C with the T-I-G. This will be an easy one. They use a good grade of aluminum in these things. Cut a little groove with the die grinder, fill it back in. Nothing to it.

School is going well, the Missus is getting stronger all the time and I'm getting things done on the projects. Life is good around here. Seems like all hell has broke loose everywhere else, however. Might be time to string the concertina wire around the perimeter and just hunker down - probably get more done that way anyhow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Progressive Education

Photo From Here

I finished this one the other day. When the subject of Progressive Education comes up, I would think that most people think of some type of touchy-feely crap or associate the word progressive with current political views. However, Progressive Education goes way back. The authors go into some history of the Progressive Education movement and names like Froebel, Montessori, Pestalozzi come up, along with one of the big headliners in this country, John "Learn by Doing" Dewey. Having a couple of education degrees, I was pretty familiar with the history of the movement as well as most of the people named. I was a little fuzzy on Col. Francis Parker, though - probably because the last time I had heard of him was circa 1978.

The book is short and sweet. Tom Little is the main author and he was the headmaster of a progressive school out in California prior to his passing away due to cancer. In addition to some history of the Progressive movement, he describes how his school operates and tosses out ideas as to how by following the Progressive blueprint for education, America's schools could be improved. He draws these ideas not just from his school but also from other schools following a progressive plan. One of the other schools he visited for the book was the Putney School. I mentioned the Putney School shortly after starting the blog. If I was going to start my own school, it would be one of the first places I would look to for a model of how education should be done. 

If you are a student of the art of education or you just want to know what can be done to improve education in mainstream schools, I'd give Loving Learning a look.

On a related note, I was watching the Chicago news a week or so back and a young man with MS set as his goal, not only to graduate from high school but to leave his wheel chair and walk across the stage to get his diploma. While they were relating the story of how his teachers and coaches worked with him to achieve the goal, I was thinking there had to be a shop teacher in there somewhere. Sure enough, they interviewed a vocational educator who was involved in making up some equipment for his therapy work. Coaches and shop teachers - they rock, and so does that young man!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Driver's Side

I've got a good beginning on the driver's side floor pan replacement. The pan is spot welded along the tunnel in about a million places. I've got most of it removed as you can see in the photo. The outer edge is bolted to the underside of the car, so it's pretty straight forward to remove. I'm not sure how the pedals attach, so the front section will probably be the last thing I tackle. Low hanging fruit and all that.

Depending on the weather and a few other things, I'm hoping to have the new sections tacked in by the end of the week. That might be a little ambitious but once I get the old pan removed it shouldn't be too tricky installing the new one. It goes pretty fast when you don't have to keep an eye on the high school kids or stop what you're doing to fix a desk or something else.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Gordie Howe

Photo From Here

When I was a kid growing up I used to watch the Blackhawks on Channel 9 and I'd get to see Gordie Howe every once in a while when the Hawks played the Redwings. Man, that guy was a great player, some would say The greatest. Played for 5 decades in the NHL and held most of the scoring records until Gretzky came along. Also had his namesake hat-trick: a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. Most all my heroes from my younger days are either gone or soon will be. While that's the natural order of things, sad to see it happen just the same. 

Rest In Peace Mr. Hockey.

Dashboard & Floorboard

I've been working on the dash layout for the VW. I ordered a couple of switches and a book on wiring from Speedway Motors. Even though the VW wiring will be pretty simple, I figured the book wouldn't hurt, plus I've got my hot rod project down the road that will be a complete rewire as well. What you see in the photo is pretty close to everything that needs to be wired - ignition switch, starter button, headlights, wipers and horn. The indicator lights and fuel level are in the speedo. I've got an after market turn signal flasher mounted on the steering column already. I'm still a long way off before I start connecting wires but I'm concentrating on getting everything I'm going to need in house so it will be here when I'm ready. Which means I need to get a piece of metal to make the dash. Onlinemetals has a piece about the right size of .050" aluminum 5052 alloy for $27.00. I'll get the credit card paid off for this month and then get a piece ordered.

If you look closely at the left side of the door frame, you can see a patch of green paint. It's been scuffed when I was sanding so it's not glossy but it's a nice looking green. Pretty similar to the Riviera color. I checked the stock Super Beetle colors and there was a solid dark green available but no light green metallic that I could find for a '74. I had to head north the other day and I was checking the colors of cars and trucks in the car lots and on the road. I didn't see but a couple of green vehicles. Now days it's primarily black, white and silver with the occasional red, blue and gray ones thrown in. The only problem is that real nice paint deserves better body work than I was planning on doing. We'll see.

I got the rivets drilled out and the sheet metal removed from on top of the driver's side floor pan. I've got a bit of cleaning up around the edges where it's covered with tar, fiberglass, etc. When I get it cleaned up I'll be able to locate the factory spot welds to get those drilled/ground out. It's supposed to get hot today, however. Might be a good time to tackle something inside the shack.

When Cuzzin Ricky and I were at the Silver Crown races at Terre Haute earlier this year, we saw this old dog. Pretty rough shape and craftsmanship - lots of "cobby" stick welds on the frame. However, it was entered in the Sprint car race at Kokomo last weekend -  started from the back and ran a few laps until it was about to get passed by the leaders and then pulled off the track to get out of everyone's way. Be a fun way to get out on a race track and turn some laps. I'd like to try my hand in a midget or sprint car sometime. They look like a total gas to drive - that is until they get upside down. I can live without that. Cuzzin Ricky called the other day and after perusing the schedule, he's thinking of putting together a "two-fer" during Sprint Car Week next month. Even if I can't get in one, they sure are fun to watch.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New Tee Shirt

New tee shirt - gift from my buddy Jimmy. Good advice there. You always need to be careful when you take the lid off the can of whoop-ass. 

Long time back I lived in an apartment in town. Across the street was another old house that had been converted into two apartment units, one up, one down. Downstairs was an old guy - retired Green Beret. Upstairs a couple of young guys - big strapping guys who enjoyed drinking and making noise. The two young guys come home late one night about half in the bag and are making a lot of noise. The old guy hollers up stairs and asks them to quiet down. He receives a less than polite response. Things escalate, the young guys come down and meet the old guy out in front of the house. About a minute later, it's all over with the old guy on top. Instead of taking their lumps and pondering the lesson they received, they file charges against the old guy. They go to court and the judge looks at the two big, young guys, then the small old guy and then says to the young guys words to the effect: "Let me see if I've got this straight. You two big strapping guys challenge this old man who just happens to be a war hero to a fight, get your asses handed to you, and then you have the nerve to show up in my court crying about it. Get out of here before I decide to throw both of you in jail for assault. By the way, you get to pay the court costs." 

Thanks for the shirt, Jimmy

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Races and Rivieras

Photo From Here

Cuzzin Ricky and I went to the races at Kokomo Sunday evening. The feature was the last night of USAC Midget Week here in Indiana. In addition to the midgets, they also had sprint cars and street stocks. As an open wheel fan, I'm not too interested in the street stocks but it's a cheap way for the average guy to go racing and that's always a good thing. That made three racing events in three weeks for Rick and I. This retirement thing's not bad when done properly! We're making plans to hit at least one of the races during Sprint Week in July. 

What has all this got to do with the photo above of the '63 Riviera, you ask? We went by one sitting in a car lot on the way to the races. It looked to be in good shape and was that real pretty mint green they came in. I damn sure don't need any more rolling stock but I'd still like to have one. I've been pondering what to paint the VW. It was a similar mint green at one time as well as a gold color. The only thing that has any color to the car now are the seats and belts. They're black so any exterior color would work. I don't recall seeing many mint green VWs. I'll have to look into the factory colors that were available for the Super Beetles. Of course, since it's not a resto, I can paint any color I like - and I like the color on the '63 Riv.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Floor Pan

Picture of the completed floor pan on the VW taken right after I shot some primer on the new metal and the weld seams. I put a coat of gloss black on everything later on. Looks about as good as a Super Beetle floor ever does. The new contact tips for the Mig welder showed up on Friday. I bought what will probably be a lifetime supply of both .023" and .035" tips and a jar of nozzle gel. Fifty tips, nozzle gel and shipping for $43.00 from Welding Direct. No complaints with that.

I'm going to start on the driver's side floor next. The original floor is still in the car, plus there's a layer of sheet metal on top of it that's been riveted in. I'll drill out the rivets and get the top layer off at least. I've got a bunch of other things I need to get done around here this summer. I can't spend all my free time working on the VW. Finishing up the passenger side floor was a major milestone, however. I took a look back at the VW posts on the blog and the last time I had worked on the floor pan was just before I had the heart attack - about four years ago. Guess it was about time to finish it up. Hopefully I can get the driver's side knocked out in a little more timely fashion. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Greatest

Photo From Here

Rest In Peace, Champ 

Thursday, June 2, 2016


I went by the college Tuesday to get my syllabus squared away and to talk to my boss a bit about the upcoming class I'll be teaching. I'll be teaching pipe welding this summer. This will be the first time I've taught the class at the college but I taught pipefitter apprentices years ago, plus I've done a bit of pipe welding out on the job way back when as well. It's a small class and I've had most of them as students already. Should be a breeze. Plus, the boss says we've got a new pipe beveler coming in soon. Better still.

I went to the welding supply after leaving the college. No luck on the contact tips for the MIG welder. They don't stock the .023" and they were out of the .035". I did pick up a couple spare gas cups and insulators, however. I ordered some tips off the internet. I've never done business with this outfit before. Keeping my fingers crossed that the tips get here in a timely fashion.

Since I'm out of commission with the MIG, I cut the seat bracket off the old mount and tack welded it on to the mount with the TIG. I also welded up some of the trim holes on the driver's side while I had the welder running and then stared at the dash for a bit seeking inspiration. Nothing really jumped out at me. I want to put a right angle bend in the dash but I want a 1/2" - 3/4" radius on the bend. I need to figure out a way to bend that and to put some shape into the dash face so it doesn't just look like a flat piece of sheet metal. I could put a couple of beads in it or maybe sink a recess in where the switches go and then mount the gauges in an aluminum plate. Maybe engine turn the plate. I'm still thinking but at least I should have the welding machine situation taken care of in a few days.