October 19, 2004 at 7:16 pm #232092
Being a VW nut when I first got my driver’s license in 1967, I learned alot of how to work on them. Cerebral Atrophy has taken it’s toll since then and I re-learned as I re-built the chassis on the Pink MG…Now called Angelica.
The CMC directions tell you to cut the upper front torsion tube and rotate it 90 degrees. This is lame and only adjusts the ride height of the car. The suspension remains too stiff. There is a solution engineered in that front end by Ferdie Porsche when he designed it and it works for all VW based kits using the twin beam VW front end, not just the TD’s.
Those 2 torsion tubes are filled with 10 flat, stacked leaves that, when achored by the snub nut in the center of the torsion tubes, allows the stacked leaves to twist. That is your suspension.
The kit cars are considerably lighter than the stock VW, plus much more weight is transferred to the rear suspension by the new seat location.
The solution: Those 10 flat stacked leaves in each tube consist of 4 main (wide) leaves and 6 secondary (narrow) leaves. This is a purpose design. You can remove up to all six of the secondary leaves from each torsion tube to soften the spring rate of the car. Only the 4 main leaves are required in each tube to attach the trailing arms that hold the ball joints or king pins.
I do not know how much the rate changes for each secondary leaf you remove, but I can tell you this is the correct way to soften the your car’s front suspension.
For the Pink MG (Angelica), I bought a new, bare adjustable beam from an online discount VW vendor. I then stripped my cut and turned stock VW beam. I re-assembled the adjustabel beam removing 3 secondary leaves from each torsion tube. I then installed it and set the ride height with the adjustable beam. I then scaled the car on my buddy’s stock car scales. It was still a little stiff, but close enough that I did not want to R&R the thing to remove 2 more leaves from each torsion tube.
Some of you may already have done this and it’s nothing new to you. However, some may think your car handles safely all stiff and it’s supposed to ride like a brick. Believe me, it doesn’t and it’s not. Can you say severe understeer? Porsche Speedster builders in my club have done this and can’t believe the results!
Hope I didn’t tick anyone off or sound like a jerk. I hope this is helpful. It’s a messy job, but well worth the results. It can be done with regular tools in an afternoon.
By the way, the Lafers come from the factory like this.October 19, 2004 at 10:38 pm #236179
This is one of the reasons I joined this online club for information such as this. We can all learn from one another. Thanks for the info.October 20, 2004 at 12:08 am #236180
I might add that when you set the ride height, the suspension should be close to the center of travel. Also, the stock VW sway bar will still work. I recommend using the cheapest “JC Whitney” non-gas charged shocks too.
I also softened the rear IRS suspension by having .100″ turned off the diameter of the 2 rear, round torsion bars. I think that’s why the scales told us the front was still a little stiffer than perfect.
The Robert Bentley VW “blue book” (older Type 1 VW models) or “red book” (newer Type 1 VW models) will be a great addition to your library too.October 21, 2004 at 10:59 pm #236181
That is great info. I have two questions.
First, If you already have a lowered front suspension via the
cut-rotate-weld the upper torsion bar method can/should the
secondary leaves be removed, if so how many, and how will
this in turn affect handling?
Second, I currently just have the stock sway bar on the front. It
has been reccomended to me by some (but not all) VW experts
that I install the 1″ dia front sway bar and a 1″ dia rear sway bar.
I currently don’t have any rear sway bar. Can anyone tell me
from experience with their TD how this will affect handling on
my TD replica and how would the large front and rear sway
bars interact with the removal of leaf springs?
Brianssa84whales38281.958599537November 12, 2004 at 7:55 am #236182
I am very grateful that I have found your group. The info on the suspension is very helpful.
I have a kit sourced from the now closed Rich Industries. The company went under 1990 or so, and +- 2 dozen half finished cars found there way to an Airconditioning company in Port Elizabeth South Africa. My farther purchased a body only in 1996 and I inherited the project in 2000. The body is for a front mounted engine and custom made chassis. The cars were rear wheel drive. I decided to use the beetle chassis instead. No firewall. The front fibreglass section under the fueltank, etc etc, is missing. Without a building manual I attempted to put it together. To say that I battled is an understatement.
I have solved most problems but the manual is going to help. A lot! Engine is 1400cc nissan carb fed motor. It stands proud from the body work, but I will get to that soon.
The Front “engine” lid I have is still untrimmed or raw. Is there a procedure to trim it to fit 100%. No hinges fitted etc. I am a bit nervous to attempt it before speaking to someone. I got to page 28 /29 of the manual and there it was… My lid doesn’t have a “lip”. for some reason it was trimmed off by the Rich Ind. Maybe the mounting is different when an engine lives underneath? Now What?
If I fit Aluminium angle through the hinges, or fibreglass it in along the lenght?
Cape Town Cape Town38303.3603356481November 13, 2004 at 3:11 pm #236183
If you have already cut and turned your beam, I’d suggest buying a new bare adjustable beam from one the VW aftermarket vendors you can find online. This will allow you to adjust the static (ride) height of the car after removing the leaves. The paint on them is cheap, so you may want to paint it right when you get it.
They also make caster adjusters for these beams. It shims the bottom or the top beam toward the front or the rear of the car to add or reduce caster. I’d suggest using these shims to get more positive caster (trail) into the front end. It makes straight line cruising a joy.
I’d start by removing 4 “half” leaves from each tube. That leaves the 4 main leaves and 2 “half” leaves in each tube. You can remove up to six from each tube. I know several 356 Speedster replica builders have removed all six “half” leaves from each beam and the cars are just fine.
You can also remove all the top tube “half” leaves and 3 of the bottom tube “half” leaves. There are many possibilities to get it dialed in right.
As far as sway bars go, the stock one in front is plenty. You don’t really need a rear one on the IRS rear suspension. If you have swing axle that’s a different story. A bar called a camber compensator is suggested.
By softening the spring rate to the correct rates for the much lighter car, your handling and ride will imporve beyond your expectations. All the componets, like steering, brakes, etc. will work as they are supposed to.
I feel building these VW kits and leaving the suspension un-softened is a sin. The tube turning is a manufacturers short cut to correct the ride height. DO IT RIGHT!November 22, 2004 at 9:40 am #236184
No, I hav’nt cut and turned the front suspension yet. However I was about to do it. I am going to source an adjustable beam.
The more I go through the builder’s manual the more bits are missing. For example: the rear bracket that carries the splash plate and provide mounts for the bumper…..missing! It seems easy enough to duplicate.
This is fun… right?
Thanks againNovember 29, 2004 at 10:28 am #236185
I haven’t driven my car yet since it’s still in the building phase, as you all know, but I imagine this suspension stuff will come into play as soon as I do. I’m getting ready to do a brake job on my wife’s car, and I might take the new parts off Merlin’s back axle and put them on her car, making room for rear disc brakes (have ’em on the front) Here’s my question—
I don’t want to substantially lower the front end of my car for two reasons; I like how it looks and I have a sump in the rear and air scoops built into the rear fenders and want to maintain adequate ground clearance. I’ve added some weight to the front (about 75 lbs.) and it sits about level. If I start taking out leaves, at what point might I expect to start dropping the front end? Would it make sense to get an adjustable beam and establish the front height through adjustment rather than by the stiffness of the suspension, which I could then lighten without dropping the front end. Could I solve the weight transfer problem by just adding more weight and leave the beam alone? If so, anybody out there have a figure in mind? Of course, if the car is as heavy as a VW, it’ll probably accelerate like a VW, which would take some of the fun out of it.
Thanks for your help. I’m sure I will benefit from the experience of those who’ve faced the same problems, and maybe for once I won’t re-invent the wheel.
Michael, the Merlin guyNovember 29, 2004 at 6:11 pm #236186
Mike, you hit the nail right on the head. Although it is possible to cut and turn both of your stock beams after you remove leaves, it is WAY EASIER to switch to an adjustable beam. Plus you’d have only one shot at the “turn and weld” method.
I used the adjustable beam on “Angelica” when I built it as the first “Pink MG”. By using the adjustable beam, you can play with spring (leaf) rates to really dial in the ride and handling and you’ll always be able to adjust the ride height exactly where you want it.
Don’t go nuts with a sway bar either. That little stock VW one works just fine. Also, use the cheapest J.C.Whitney non-gas fron shocks too.
Then get rid of that 75 lbs. of weight, it only hurts performance and gas mileage. When you get the spring rate right, you won’t need it.
Believe me, people that have done this with their VW based kits won’t get out of their cars!!!November 29, 2004 at 9:44 pm #236187
Thanks…it’s a step back, but I’m getting ready to take the fenders and nose apart for painting anyway, so it’s not THAT MUCH EXTRA WORK (God, how many times have I said that!) to change out the beam. I think I could do it in a weekend. I have been thinking of going through the frond end anyway, since I built it so long ago and I’ve learned quite a lot since then (not to mention purchased a torque wrench). I’m still thinking about disc brakes for the rear and a better master cylinder.
MichaelNovember 30, 2004 at 10:38 am #236188
Mr. Pink MG,
Sorry to bother you again, but I’m hoping you’ll indulge me just one more question. I’ve been on the phone to Mid America Motorworks concerning their adjustable front beam. They tell me that it only will adjust downward (lowering being the usual goal). Since I’m trying to maintain something close to a stock height in front, I’m not seeing any benefit for this particular adjustable beam in my case. I could drop perhaps 1 1/2″ in front, which my seat of the pants reckoning tells me is about what will happen when I remove the leaves. That would be o-k. In no case will dropping further be what I’m after. Are you aware of a beam which has a range of adjustment which extendsd UP as well as Down? l would install one to avoid having to mess around with the leaves once the job is done.
Thanks again for your help.
MichaelDecember 1, 2004 at 1:27 pm #236189
Try using a different vendor…Mid-America is very expensive. I used Chirco (Tucson, AZ) and http://www.cip1.com
I bought my adjustable beam from CIP1. You will not have ride height adjustment problems with the adjustable beam. If I remember correctly, mine was just about centered on the adjustment after the leaves were removed.
Also, use the stock style grease seals on the beam and paint it with some good paint before you start to assemble it.February 13, 2008 at 3:08 pm #236190
Does anyone have a suggestion/hint on how to reinstall the 4 wide flat torsion sping bars into the front axle?
I can get three bars in but I have not been able to reinsert the 4th bar.
Mr. BillFebruary 14, 2008 at 9:27 am #236191
The way I did mine was to make sure the grub screw on the other side and middle was out than stack the bars the way they came out and use light wire to wrap them and keep them stacked – then just grease and install them as they came out – worked for me.
DaleFebruary 14, 2008 at 7:01 pm #236192
I did think to contact the place where I have been purchasing my parts and they instructed me basically the same way.
What they suggested was to use electrical tape and wrap the wide leaves about 1″ from the end. Then grind a bevel all the way around the bundle. I did and it worked.
I haven’t set the car back on the ground yet, I’m installing new shocks and disc brake set. Since I stayed with the original axle (which at some point the lower tube has been cut and rewelded), I’m anxious to see what the ride height will be. I have located a company with an “up” adjustable front axle.February 15, 2008 at 10:44 am #236193
Mr. Bill…In all likelihood, because your current beam has has the lower tube cut, your car may not sit right. Plus the suspension has been incorrectly loaded.
It is the center set screws alignment to each other that determines how much load is on each beams leaves. VW designed these parallet for a reason. Cutting one beam was a dangerous “quick-fix” done by the kit manufacturers to set the ride height and sell kits.
You can buy a new “bare” beam with the ride height adjusters built in. Just swap in all of your exisiting components. Then let the car down and set the ride height trying to keep both adjusters parallel. When these are not parallel, it is loading one set of leaves more than the other, the same as just one tube being cut and rewelded.
It’s a shame that when these companies built these TD kits, they were only interested in the looks and the quickest way to get the car on the road. Unfortunately, this sacrificed handling, ride and safety. I think they thought it would turn-off prospective buyers that were not really car builders. I have a video from CMC that says you can build one of these cars in a weekend!February 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm #236194
I agree with your statement. I haven’t taken the car of the jack stands yet but my gut feeling is that it will be to low.
I hadn’t noticed that the lower beam had been cut until I started reinstalling the wide torsion leaves. That is when I noticed the pinch bolt did not align correctly like the top pinch bolt did.
I have been trying to find a local supplier with no success but as a last resort I have the http://www.cip1.com web site you suggested to fall back on.
I’m installing the front disc brake kit so I am not in a big hurry.
I will post another question on the rear suspension and maybe you can answer my question and others will benefit.
BillFebruary 15, 2008 at 9:30 pm #236195
If I may please ask more questions;
I have completed the installation of new shocks, front disc brakes, and removing 4 small torsion springs from each beam. My ride height did not change. One thing that may have affected it is the shocks. I know you recommended the J.C. Whitney cheap oil filled shocks. I purchased shocks for a local supplier. The brand is “Cofap” possible model “amortecdor super” oil filled shock. Does this mean anything to you?
Since the ride height did not change are you still advising changing the front axle to an adjustable axle?
The people I purchased the car from was not the original owners. They told me the car was actually built buy Daytona of Flordia. Looking at how some of it was done I can believe that then other things (such as only the lower beam cut and rewelded) I have my doubts. I know I have found other items that they said was replaced wasn’t.
Is there anyway to verify that this was a Dayton factory built car?
BillFebruary 16, 2008 at 3:43 pm #236196
Now I know why the ride height did not change. The replacement shocks are longer and are bottomed out. Looks like I have no choice but to purchase the adjustable axle and purchase the shocks from J.C. Whitney.February 17, 2008 at 9:11 am #236197
You could try what I did – order the adjustable coilover shocks from J C Whitney and try them first before you go farther – it worked for me. You can send them back and replace w/ the other type if it does not work out – give it a shot.
Is there any adjustment side to side on the front end ?- mine works great now that the one side is unfrozen, but still the one side sits a little lower than the other – I had to adjust that out w/ the adjustable shock – not the best way to do that. Thanks for any help,
DaleFebruary 18, 2008 at 10:15 pm #236198
Thanks for the information.
The shocks I was sold by the local supplier are 3″ longer (collapsed) than the original shocks. I will return them to the supplier tomorrow. These are supposed to be the standard shock for the 1973 Beetle. They are thinking a shorter shock has been installed by the builder. They will try to match the size tomorrow.
I have gone ahead and ordered the adjustable axle beam. I found where only the lower tube had been turned and rewelded. It must not be a tight weld because water/rust was form one end to the other end in the lower tube.February 28, 2008 at 5:09 pm #236199
If the valve is located centered on the rim, they won’t work with disc brakes.
I lost your message.
This statement puzzles me. Are you indicating the valve stem is located between the spokes and not on the outer rim as it is on most car wheels?
Also I had posted a message to you concering the rear suspension. When you have time please read through and see if you can answer my question. I’m sure others will be interested also.May 8, 2008 at 10:29 pm #236200
Some of you may find that you will need to buy shocks for a lowered front beam. Lowered or raised front beams whether balljoint or kingpin style can be bought through a number of mail order houses or just about any dune buggy shop. Cofap has been a name that has been around aftermarket vw stuff for a long, long time. One of the suggestions in this thread was to get a set of coil-over shocks to try out. The problem with that is you will increase your spring rate which is counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve. You want to reduce your spring rate to something more adequate for the weight bias and lower the ride height to your taste. The only way (and the cheapest) to properly accomplish this is to buy an adjustable beam and remove some leaves. Turning the OD of the torsion bars in the rear is a good way to soften it up. You’ll want to make sure the OD is polished after it gets turned so you don’t leave any stress risers in the torsion bars. You also want to make sure that you put them back in the side they came from. It is also helpful to mark everything prior to removal so they are indexed right when they go back in. Chasing an uneven suspension because the rear torsion bars are out of index from side to side is a royal pain!June 3, 2008 at 5:58 pm #236201
THANKS SO MUCH MARK FOR THE CALL AND ADVISE
LAURIERNovember 18, 2009 at 8:09 pm #236202
After reading all of this, I can see that my car has the same problems. I have 2″ clearence between the fenders and the tires, and 1″ up travel only. It looks like the cure is to buy the cip1 adjustable twin beams # c24-113-401-021-fcsp @ $ 278.15 plus sh. The lower beam only, was cut and the clamp rotated foreward. I am thinking this brought the body down. Aparently the shock limits the up travel. If this is correct, I will order the new beams. Thanks for any comments. Rollie
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