newbie questions

Hi there. I've always wanted a baja bug, and I'm thinking of either buying or building one. I don't know a thing about them though. I'm
coming from the world of Jeeps, so I have some questions about the bug that may sound off, sorry. From what I've read so far, I'm looking for a '69 or later bug with independent rear suspension / transaxle? Am I even close? Could someone let me know what to look for? Do they come with limited slip diffs or what? What about gearing for the larger tires? Should I look for a specific engine size? What about all the other little things I'm not mentioning? I live in Florida and will be using it street/offroad/sand. Nothing too harsh or serious, I save that for my jeep, like mud n stuff. I've seen websites about building the baja bug but I can't find the answers to my questions. Thanks in advance for any help!
Troy
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On 12 Sep 2004 01:17:17 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Troy) wrote:

All bugs have "IRS" but yeah, the later bugs have the double-jointed axles so you can lift the rear without the tires tucking up so far under the bug, making it tipsy, but I've heard rumors some people have used older bugs and lifted the rear and not had any problems running like that.

Look for one that isn't a rusted hulk. Rust is the hardest thing to fix on bugs, at least in my opinion. Open diff. One tire starts to spin freely, just pull up on emergency brake to put a load on it and the other one will grab. Poor man's limited slip. :-)

You can run 31X10.5" and stick with stock gearing... People talk about using reduction axles from a bus for this a lot, but I never really looked into that.

1600+ is probably all you'd need. 1776 seems to be a good popular choice. More "oomph" but still reliable.

Don't fool yourself. I had a 63 baja with 1200 engine with 31" truck tires and sold it and bought a '76 CJ with 304. I dumped probably 4-5 times as much $ into that Jeep in a year than I did into the baja over 3+ years, and the Jeep never made it to all of the places I could get in the baja. The best thing about the Jeep was that it had an 8000# winch on it, but... it really needed it. The big advantage of the baja is it was SO much lighter than the Jeep that it would just skim right over mud that would bog the Jeep down. Also it didn't suffer from the top-heavy problem the Jeep had, so it could climb hills that were too steep/sideways sloped for the Jeep. Trust me. I took pictures. :-) And lastly the baja was big enough for driver and 3 passengers, but still smaller than the Jeep so it would fit onto trails that were normally only used by those little 4-wheeler atv thingies... and other bajas. Of course you'd scrape off the occasional door handle, but... http://bugadventures.dyndns.org / http://jeepadventures.dyndns.org/jeep.html I gotta update the Jeep site. I sold it and bought a dirtbike.

--
Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite,
and furthermore always carry a small snake.
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......................I've got to admit it, you've reached genuine GURU status!
timmy
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Hmm, so I should be able to get around a '70 bug or so, take off or modify the fenders so it'll take the larger tires in rear (skinny small ones in front?), and it's basically ready to go huh? I remember when I got my jeep, stock, took it to the dunes for some sand running with the stock tires, felt like it was going to sink in but it didn't, almost did tho. Then I put on the 31x10.50's and I noticed a big difference, I lost torque I think is the word? I had to run around in a higher rpm range, and when I got my 33's I had to change gears to 4.11. But enough about that. I know nothing about transaxles, will the bug need to get geared up also or will stock gearing do? I've put almost $8000 in my jeep (damned magazines) to get it "trail ready" but don't have trails in florida, just mud and sand. I'm looking to spend around $1000 for this whole baja bug idea, maybe up to $1500. I'm not looking to get into a suped up engine or anything flashy. Just a bucket to have some fun in. I would appreciate more input from people if you have the time.
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On 12 Sep 2004 12:31:19 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Troy) wrote:

...best bet is to find a bug thats allready been baja'd. No matter how much has been invested, a bja seldom commands a high resale vbalue...so you can often get far more for your money buying someone else's project. If you can find one that has a type 2 transmission installed (vw bus) it is a mucvh stronger geaqrbox as well as being geared lower.
...Gareth
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whatever you do, don't cut one up to make a baja, or you will get flamed like shaggie did. yeah, it was his bug and he can do whatever, but uncut bugs are hard to find.
buy one that is already cut up so you don't have to face the shame later on. at least that is simply my opinion and everyone knows how the world revolves around "my" opinion :)
--
bob
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Nobody is ashamed of themself unless they want to be. I choose not to be. :-)
--
Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite,
and furthermore always carry a small snake.
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On Mon, 13 Sep 2004 08:40:02 -0400, Shaggie

Which is as it should be. Unless you're ready to admit your shame with regards to that unfortunate period in your past when you were a Jeep owner???
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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On Mon, 13 Sep 2004 08:19:28 -0500, John Willis

Well, now, that's a whole different story. ;-) *hangs head in shame*
--
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1. I don't know about any spring clip on top of the battery. I have a 73 Beetle and it does not have one. It does have the clamp at the bottom though.
2. I recommend this electric washer bottle from Cip1.com
I got one. I use a universal horn button mounted underneath the dash for the on/off button.
I even added a second Anco universal washer pump to help get the cleaner liquid up to the squirter.
The original washer bottles that operate from air in the spare tire are a hassle and don't shoot out to many big squirts.
http://www2.cip1.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=washer
VWC-BAA-955-449-A - WASHER BOTTLE WITH PUMP - OE MEXICO - INSIDE FENDER MOUNT - STANDARD BEETLE 67-77
Our Price: US$34.95
3. I got this from John Henry's Bug Shop. http://www.thebugshop.org/index.htm
http://www.thebugshop.org/gotech.htm
Heating your Beetle A Primer on VW heat Prior to doing anything with your car, you must understand the dynamics of the heating system in the Beetle. Most of the air output from the fan housing is directed down through the engine cylinders, heads, etc. to keep the engine cool. When the heater control flaps are open, hot air is ducted into the passenger compartment under the back seat and into the heater channels to the front of the car. It comes out on the floor in the front and is also ducted up to the windshield via hoses inside the A-pillars. Keep in mind that the volume of hot air that is blown into the car is dependent on the fan in the fan shroud, which is dependent on the engine RPM.
follow this air path and check out the entire system. Engine compartment seal. "Fresh air" hoses. These are the cardboard or foil 2" hoses that connect the fan housing outlets ("arms") to the heater boxes. Even if you never want heat in your car, you should keep those hoses from the fan shroud in place to keep air flowing through the heater box (or replace the boxes with "J" pipes). Without this, your engine may run hot and you may have warping problems as your heads heat up. Heater boxes. Heater hoses. These are the plastic, insulated, flexible hoses that connect the heater boxes to the body inlets under the back seat. The should be solid, not cracked or warped and well clamped. Replacements are readily available. These also help deaden engine noise.
Ok, if all of those things are up to snuff, you can assess the inside situation. Now, while this is where most of the heat is usually lost and simple modifications can circumvent those losses and even improve a perfectly operating system
My Modification An airtight hood-to-body seal is essential.
Check your door seals. Make an improvement to the way the hot air gets into the car. The tube inside the heater channel is almost never perfect, unless you've replaced yours, and it is only about 1 1/2" in diameter. Chances are, you are losing at least half of your heat to the cold exterior metal of the car.
and if there are holes in the heater channels.
The solution is to remove the metal tubes under the back seat which route the heat into the heater channels (just break a couple spot welds) and port the flow directly into the passenger compartment using a 2 3/4" flexible fresh air hose. You can bring the hose through the old vent holes in the panel under the seat. I use a long hose that goes under the front seats, right to the front edge of the seat rails, since I rarely ever carry passengers in the back seat. You'll be amazed at the volume of hot air you get this way.
I just added a big 2 inch diameter fresh air hose on each side up to the rear kick panel. I have it sealed off really well where they meet the body. I do not have a defroster but I have gotten by the way for over 12 years. A can of defroster spray and a scraper is all I use.
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snipped-for-privacy@msn.com (Sleepy Joe) wrote:

Actually, when I got my '61 bug back in the mid seventies from the previous owner, there was a 6V squirrel-cage type booster fan in the spot on the driver side under the back seat at the point where you mention to break the spot welds and remove a section of the tube... It may have been an aftermarket option way back thirty years ago? It looks like it was meant for this application as the inlet and outlet connections are all the same diameter as the tube coming through the firewall and it is a DC 6V motor. Perhaps there is still an off the shelf blower fan out there that would do as well but most are 120VAC, aren't they? Maybe this was a behind the dash automotive single speed blower fan from some early US-style car?
--
___
|___| '61 - VW
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just giving you a little trouble ...
--
bob
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Where you at in FL?
Your right the 69-up is your best all around bet, you just want to stay away from the Super beetles because of the front suspension. Its actually pretty usable offroad, but its not as tough and harder to modify and fix.
You'll probably find that most in this year range will have a 1600cc motor at the very least. That would be the minimum I would want to work with. Tire size, will on a stock IRS car you'll be limited to about a 31" tire due to the torsion bars getting in the way of anythng bigger. And this is a good thing in a way because the stock beetle tranny starts to have a tough time with 31" and up tires. To a Jeeper this may no sound like much but I run a 29" tire on my baja and have around 15" of clearence on the center if that makes you feel any better. They did not come with limited slip, they are available, but not needed.
There are lots of little things you can do to make a pretty tough car with not too much dough. but its a good idea to really do some research and really try to decide how far you think you'll wanna go with it, mod wise, before you start buying parts. Believe me you can waste $$ fast.
Might want to look into the book "Baja bugs and buggies" by Hibbard to give yourself some insight into these vehicles and some things that are done to modify them.
A good tool to have when you buy a baja is a welder. You can beef up stock susepension pretty easily on these cars by simply welding some seams and adding some gussets here and there. And they come in very handy for lots of other things like cages etc... I bought my welder 2 years AFTER I finished my Baja, now I am going back re-doing alot of stuff I compromised on because I did not have access to a welder and was too cheap to buy one :(
Mark Detro Englewood, FL
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On a limited budget, the suggestion to look for one already cut into a baja is a good idea. Also, if you don't mind inclement weather, you might consider a 'glass bodied dunebuggy. A shortened one is extremely versatile, & it's lightweight makes it great in the sand. If you go baja & want bigger tires, you can use older rear torsion bars & hardware - they're shorter & provide more clearence. You can get lower ring & pinion, a bus transaxle, or even an early bus transaxle with the gear reduction boxes; this of course will blow your $1500 budget. Annie (my '63 baja) has 1400x38.5 mudders; I'm running both the early transaxle *and* a 5:14 ring & pinion. Just about unstopable in this configuration, & I've shown up alot of jeeps in my day. ~ Paul aka "Tha Driver"
Giggle Cream - it makes dessert *funny*!
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On 12 Sep 2004 01:17:17 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Troy) wrote:
...Hey Troy...
This was just posted on one of my VW mailing lists...not a lot of details, but it may be just what you are looking for.
From: snipped-for-privacy@wmconnect.com Add to Address Book Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 09:16:29 EDT Subject: [Air Cooled Volkswagen Club] Hurricane forces sale! 1972 baha bug in Florida 1st $1500-w/ new engine! RUNS !
The 1972 BAHA bug named "Beast" has a fiberglass front end, a new exhaust, cylinders, pistons, heads and it needs some minor repairs-rust is minimal-for info e-mail me or call 772-708-1171- gary East coast of S. Florida-in Stuart. Relocating after the hurricane Frances! G. 1984 Vanagon "Squeaky" 1972 BAHA Beetle "The Beast"
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Man, of all the rotten luck...
My dog bit my buddy in the face last night, had to take him to the hospital to get stitched up... cost me $1200 in the emergency room, and he got about 20 stitches in one spot... lucky the rest was puncture wounds. That's what he gets for being on drugs around my dog I suppose... weirded him out.
Now I'm gonna have to wait a bit until I can get one, but I guess it'll give me a chance to think about what I'm gonna do with it.
How much does rebuilding these engines usually cost? In parts, not labor or anything. I suspect that any one I get will need a rebuild sooner or later. Hmm, anything else while I'm here?
I live in Florida, and it gets really really really really hot. If I'm sitting in traffic, not moving much at all, trying to get somewhere to play, how will that affect the engine?
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It really depends on how far your going,or need, to go with the "rebuild" . Last motor I did and bought all the parts in Tampa cost me about 350-400 clams for the parts alone. That was just bearings, P/C's, cam, HD push rods, PR tubes, oil pump seals etc.. That did not include any machine work as I was working with a good case/crank and a fresh set of heads I already had.

Unless you have a some problems with the motor it really doesn't matter.
I'll ask again, Where in FL are you. There was a 72' baja local to me that was for sale for 800 firm. We offered him 600 and he would not take it. Its worth 800 easy, we just didn't want it that bad :) I could do a drive-by and see if its still around. It's in South Sarasota (Venice).
Mark Detro Englewood, FL
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