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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
During the resto of my beetle, I've found this - and I'm not happy. :(





I've jacked under one end of "napoleon's hat" to bring the car level, checking with spirit level across the fuel tank and the rear window openings, and the bottom lugs on the Napoleons hat section. They all seem to be true, within a few mm anyway.

But the front axle beam's a mile out, as you can see in the pics, so it seems to me it's the framehead itself that's twisted. There's no obvious rot anywhere, just a little surface rust in a couple of places. 17 years ago I had the chassis sandblasted and etch primed it with hammerite on top, and waxoyl sprayed inside the tunnel.

The chassis is an early '64.







Now I've never noticed this twist before, but back in '89 I was probably in too much of a hurry to get the car on the road to check for such things. So I'm guessing it's been like this for years.

I remember resetting the rear suspension several times to get the car to sit level, I thought I had slipped the inner splines when I was lowering the rear end, but now I'm thinking maybe I was just compensating for the front end being out !

On the last photo I've arrowed where the top framehead is welded to the tunnel. Now, is this from the factory or has it been done since ? I'm thinking that maybe a previous owner has welded a new head on, and got it out of shape ?

The front beam had a very slight bend in it originally, as though the passenger front wheel had been in a bump, maybe hitting the kerb too hard. I cut the beam and straightened it out when I fitted the adjusters back in '89. I'm wondering if this bump also caused the frame head twist ?

There's no obvoius creasing of the metal as far as I can see.

Anyway, ideas please on how best to sort out the problem ?

I'm thinking about slitting around the top side of the frame head, then twisting it back to level, and re-welding.

Dave.
 

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whats the underside fo the spine like? any creases etc? what about he spot welded seams down either side of the seam have any of them split, must have been in a fair wach to do that, is the front beam still square to the front of the car etc???

cuting will be the only way, cut the frame head off compelatly then re weld on making sure its flat etc.
 

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Wow. Bummer. I guess you have a choice - like you say, cut it and re-set it, or, I wonder if it's possible to secure the chassis to the ground at the rear torsion beam area with chains or similar, and then with one front side secured the same way, jack th other side of the beam to twist it back?
Easier said than done though.
 

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need a hell of a weight to press it back true, also would you want a pan which had been bent then flatternd again? there woudl be allot of stress in the areas where it moves, wouldnt wanna be in a crash etc....
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
alex1916v said:
whats the underside fo the spine like? any creases etc? what about he spot welded seams down either side of the seam have any of them split, must have been in a fair wach to do that, is the front beam still square to the front of the car etc???

cuting will be the only way, cut the frame head off compelatly then re weld on making sure its flat etc.
On the underside of the car, all looks good. It all looks like factory spot welding, no seams opened up or anything. I would have noticed when I was painting the thing if there was anything obvious.

So if it's had any repairs underneath, they've been very neatly done. There's no sign of MIG welding anywhere round the front of the pan, except possibly those welds on the top of the frame head, and I don't know if that's from the factory or not ?

When I rebuilt the car, I thought the front beam looked a little bit bent back on the passenger side, and I measured front hub to rear hub on both sides, and it was about 10mm shorter on the passenger side I seem to remember, so I straightened the beam out, but never thought to check for frame head twisting.

Dave.

Dave.
 

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My 72 trekker fram head. All stock.

From what i can see it all looks stock under there, i can only compare it to the above late (72) B/J frame head, but all that welding looks stock VW to me, is is possible that perevious to your ownership its had the frame head front plate done as thats what really only hold the front beam in its posistion, if that were out 5mm at one side it would easily do that to the over all.....

or does it look bent futher back too?
pull the beam and see if its all stock under there
 

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alex1916v said:
need a hell of a weight to press it back true, also would you want a pan which had been bent then flatternd again? there woudl be allot of stress in the areas where it moves, wouldnt wanna be in a crash etc....
Agreed actually - I don't think it would work either.
 

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Looks fairly stock and original. 17 years ago framehead replacements due to rust were quite rare (bit more commonplace nowadays though), so it's unlikely that it's been replaced. I reckon, from your observations and notes, that it's accident damage from a time before you had the car. But not eay to tell fom the pics, and I'm no expert.
What if the chassis is straight, and it's the body that's twisted? ...Then again, you said that some chassis measurments show it's 10mm out.
Body off, and have a bodyshop striagten it out in a jig, is the only way I can think of sorting it out. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the pic Alex.

So those welds on mine will be factory, pretty sure.

I'm also pretty sure the frame head front plate is factory too, or it's been very neatly repaired.

Checking with the spirit level, all is fine with the car from "N. Hat" section rearwards. It's just twisted between there and the axle beam.

I have stack of photos somewhere of the pan stripped down, when I etch primered it years ago. I'll see if I can find them & scan them in.

My current thinking is - If i slit the top of the tunnel all the way round, where the factory welding is, and then a second cut further back, about 1 inch from "Napoleons hat", then place axle stands under both ends of the N Hat section, then go and jump on the passenger side of the axle beam.

Hopefully I'll be able to bend it so the axle comes straight, then weld up the cuts.

Or - remove the beam, drill out the spot welds holding the frame head front plate to the chassis, then bring the frame head plate to the correct angle, modify the edge of the freme head to suit the new placement, and re- weld.

Dave.
 

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The VW workshop solution was always to replace the frame head. The fact that they had a solution may indicate that it was not an uncommon problem. Pre 66 K&L cars seem to be more succeptible, maybe 'coz they are all quite old now, but maybe due to the narrow frame head. Chassis straightening jigs are not always capable of enough force to bend things back into shape, but require cutting, then the jig holds it straight whilst re-welding. A guy at Chesil once told me they always replaced the frameheads on all their chassis, partly to eliminate rust problems, but also because (he said) "they are all a bit out of true", (may have been because they bought scrapped cars as donors though). If your original framehead is rust free, it may be possible to re-use it, but I would make a jig from square steel tube, so you can check alignment whilst welding. Don't forget that the front face of the framehead is not vertical (not 90 degrees to the tunnel), it's slightly angled (sorry I don't know the exact angle), to get the correct Castor angle at the kingpins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Lawrence.

The metal is (I'm 99% sure) factory original, and very minimal rust. I'd prefer to keep it rather than chop it all off and fit an aftermarket frame head (or are genuine frame heads still available for K & L cars ?)

I'm thinking if I cut around the top of the tunnel, there will still be the bottom plate holding things, so I shouldn't completley loose alignment, but it should be flexible enough for me to bend myself ? (you know me, I'm not exactly a lightweight !)

Also thinking that a sheet of 3/4 inch MDF underneath the car will be a good easy way to check that it's all flat underneath, before re-welding.

I was going to fabricate a couple of front axle brace bars anyway, as part of the rebuild, but now I'll definetly be doing so before it goes back on the road.

If anyone knows the correct angle for the frame head, it would be handy.

Dave.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
And something else - just remembered.

It's a '64 chassis, '68 bodyshell, and '66 registration. (like that when I bought it in '87)

Chassis number is correct to the reg. document though.

So possibly some slightly dubious accident repair history in the dark distant past ?

Dave.
 

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The welding you marked is factory.

This maybe usfull information for you...

The way the frame head it constructed is that the centre tunnel of the car continues all the way upto the beam mounting plate, then the outer panel you see going from your arrow to the beam mounging plate is welded on on top. It is welded where you have indicated, along the base and around the beam mounting plate. Also if you look at the top of the tunnel where the petrol pipe comes through you will see some welding in an oval shape, this is a hole in the outer panel which is welded to the centre tunnel.

This outer panel can be replaced but it is a pig to get off because of the way it is welded on.

If you are thinkng of cutting the tunnel to twist the frame head you need to cut it behind the welding you have indicated. if you cut it forward of this welding the tunnel will be double skin and you'll have trouble rewelding it properly.

Hope this is of some use.

John
 

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I have welded an original framehead to an irs pan to try and make it look factory also i have done one on the car and used body bolts to align it up and the outer bolts on the napoleons hat

this is the framehead cut of as you can see it is pretty thick




it might give yo an idea but its not hard to replace with body on
 

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What we seem to be concluding here is that a pretty strong bit of the car got twisted in an accident. So presumably all of the weaker pieces of metal around it are new because if the accident was able to bend this bad boy then presumably things like the front beam and front bodywork would scrap?

Then were suggesting that this was 'sorted out' in a 'dodgy' repair of such quality that there's no evidence of it?

What's more we're suggesting that somebody went to all that trouble 18+ years ago as opposed to scrapping it?

I don't have a better explanation of what we're seeing but the above just doesn't sound right to me.
 

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addict said:
buy a bran new chassi.
of get a good used one they dont cost so mutch.
That would be my conclusion also - a new and better chassis.
If the car had been in a crash heavy enough to bend the frame like this and had been new enough to be sent to VW themselves they would not have let it out again with this sort of twist so some time in the late '70s say when teh car was good enough to be repaired but the owner was not going to pay the VW costs it was repaired just enough, I wonder what other nasties might be lurking.
 
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