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  One thing is certain, a 51 year old suspension and brake system with no parts support is not quite what we need for this effort. We had thought about just dropping the body on the frame of a modern car and calling it a day, but where's the fun in that? Instead we will be doing something a little different. The pieces needed for the work have already been sourced as "throways" from someone elses project. Probably a leap of faith since we don't have the car here yet for measurements or anything but I feel good about the concept. Like most aspects of the project the suspension will be unexpected.

Wheel test fit
  There are a few ideas kicking around for the wheel and tire treatment. I just thought I'd toss these under her today to see what the fitment looked like.

We have some other wheels 15x7 front and 15x8 rear to go really wild with but these may fit the overall plan a little better. Once we sort out a plan that is.

Wheel clean up
  Kept looking at that mock up photo and the wheels were bothering me. So I spent a little time with them today.

Only one done so far, they were so damaged I had to start with 120 grit then 220, 320, 400 and 600. I could go to 1500 for that mirror shine but there are still some pits that just wont come out so keeping them a bit satin helps.

I'll paint the centers once we decide on a color for the car.

Before                                                                                                      After

Chris and Jim W came by today and we hit it hard. The hood, trunk and rear fenders were removed to finish lightening the load. The body mount bolts were removed  broken off and we rolled her outside.  Chris came up with the good idea to put the rear of the body on the lift and then using a board for leverage he lifted the front of the body while Jim and I put some jackstands under it.  We then rolled the chassis out from under her and rolled the body dolly under the body.  Tarped it all up and rolled it out for later.

Bare frame
The chassis was brought back in and stripped of all the suspension components so now we just have a bare frame to start working with.

This isn't good
  One of these things is not like the other. Seems the eye of the rear leaf spring on the passenger side has returned to the earth. Thankfully we wont be reusing this part.

Cleaning up
Ahhh, nothing like pressure washing in the snow. First snow of the year great day for working on a car. Thankfully the garage is heated.

Mock up
We ended the day with a little work on the front suspension mock up. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is a porsche 944 suspension bolted into a Wartburg. Kinda looks like it was meant to be there.

Prepping the donor
Big work day today, earlier in the week I had stripped the floors off the donor VW chassis in preparation for today. So we started with a bare VW chassis and an extreme desire to create weirdness.

Surgury pt 1
We started by cutting the front of the VW chassis off as we were only interested in the rear suspension and center tunnel.

Sizing it up
Next we just placed the VW on top of the Wartburg frame to get an idea of where we needed everything. Part of the overall design calls for extending the wheelbase. We already got 2 inched up front with the 944 a-arms, we wanted another 4 inches in the rear so the VW frame was placed locating the wheel centerline 4 inches back from the Wartburg wheel locations.

Time to make some sparks
The grinding wheel got quite a workout as we started trimming the frame back to where we needed it. This is one of my many "do as I say, not as I do" moments. Please ignore my total disregard for safety.

Surgury pt 2
In the end our poor Wartburg frame looked like this. It was a bit painful and scary to hack it up, but the ends should justify the means.

Test Fit
The chassis was dry fit in the frame and many measurements taken. Lots of fine tuning with the grinder to get everything nice and snug, but finally we got it where we liked it.

All done
Finally we let the metal burn and the sparks fly and we put it all together. I still have some finish welding to do and reinforcement but it's again at a place where I can work on it solo and prepare it for the next all out team effort. An added note the rear disks are mocked up in the back. 944 brakes really are just a bolt on affair for a VW bug, sweet.

Rube Goldberg eat your heart out.
Its been compared to a pig trough, the jolly green giant's spackling trough...well in general it's very trough-like. And it's strong, built from 1/4 bulletproof (no seriously its made to stop bullets) steel. Overbuilt to the max but with 0 engineering skills we just went for overkill. Holds up the front suspension and in the end that is all that matters.

It's a roller
Finally back on her wheels.

Clean up time
Put a little time into removing 52 years of road grime from the chassis and giving it a fresh coat of paint. It's starting to look good now. Next up is to cap off the front of the VW tunnel but I'm waiting on new bushings for the shift rod, it will be much easier to put them in with the big hole there.

Idle time
Too much idle time on my hands waiting for snow to thaw and parts to arrive so I did some cleaning, and cleaning and scraping and painting. 30 some odd years of crud gone, things are looking good.

Kafer bar
A weak point of the VW setup is the engine and trans hang of a set of suspension forks which must bear all the weight of the setup. Under hard use these can flex and will cause transmission and CV joint problems. The accepted fix for this is known as a Kafer bar (from the Kafer cup racing in germany) It ties together the shock towers and then ties the frame forks to that to prevent flex. A cheap one is $150, a good one is about double. None of that was in our budget so $15 at the hardware store, a little cutting, welding and head scratching and our budget version of a kafer bar. The top bolts can be used to adjust preload on the frame forks. All hardware is grade 10 so it should hold up.

Body On Day
Lots of pretty pictures. Burned my hand so I'll ad some text later


Steering mount
Back to the grind, and cut, and weld. Things are moving quickly and I need to get this to the cage builder. But before I can do that I need to finalize steering so he can move it around. When the body went on we realized the angles were way out of whack for the column to the rack. I think I have a plan but I needed some fixed points to start taking measurements so I finally made the steering rack mount and soon I'll modify the steering column and mount points.

New wheels
The guys decided it was easier to find good rubber in 17" and 255 width in the rear had a better chance of keeping up planted than the 215s we had. Big wheels are fun :)

Tie rods done
Finally finished up the tie rods. These were an adventure. The inner joints are heim joints 5/8 right hand thread. No problem, the supplier was easily able to supply the correct threaded rod ends to weld to the tube for these. On tie rods one end needs to be right hand thread and the other left hand thread to make them adjustable. I should have though of this before hand and gotten the heims in left hand but I didn't. Getting correct ball joints in left hand thread was easy, they are a standard VW bug part. But they are 14mm x 1.5 left hand thread pitch. Finding metric weldable tube ends in the U.S. is hard enough, finding them in left hand thread is near impossible. Finally a supplier in the UK was able to provide them, and even with shipping they were cheaper than the standard rod ends I used for the inners....whew.

Last bit of steering
For the final wrap up of the steering a guide was made just to ensure the steering bar doesn't try to pivot on the end points. I made it a bolt in affair just in case I need to remove the rack at any point.

Roll Cage
Roll cage installation was done in one marathon 12 hour day on 5/29.  The astute will note that is ONE WEEK from our maden voyage on BABE Rally.

It was really cutting it close and the local builder who assured us it would be no problem suddenly fell off the map and was nowhere to be found.  Luckily Rob Leone from Schumacher Taxi Service of Lemons fame swooped in and busted his hump to get this done for us.

Note:  This is another do as I say not as I do moment.  Normally I would never endorse a full roll cage in a street driven car.  We had hoped to put it in after the BABE rally but with only 4 days between the end of BABE and the start of Lemons we had no choice.

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