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By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-04 18:51 Edited 2010-05-06 15:02
Well I parked this little girl on the carport this weekend after all the rain and tornados went through here..Got to spend a couple of hours taking parts off.I can see lots of little things that have got to be corrected and fixed already..Here are some pics of where I am at now...

I wil be asking lots of questions as I go along here so please be patient with me and thanks for all the help in advance.


By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-04 18:59
Now the tear down,these pics are not in any order,but I think it shows everything I have done till tonight..

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-04 19:09

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-04 19:35

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-04 19:45
last for can see I have many wore parts and issues to attend to ... but I will get it done one way or the

By Brad H 1498 Date 2010-05-04 21:39
Well Bruce, looks like your on your way. Do yourself a favor and buy all new brakes and steering parts. They're cheap and you'll save yourself hours of fighting with seized parts. Everything looks pretty good from the pictures, just dirty and a bit of rust to fight. the body looks good. Do you have the storable tow bar that goes in the tube in the center front of the car? Have fun and feel free to ask lots of questions. Looking forward to seeing this build as I've never seen a Tow'd up close. And one more thing I'll suggest is converting to a late model dual circuit master cylinder instead of the single one in the pictures.

By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-05 01:47
I'm looking forward to the build also. Are you planning to remove the body completely from the frame?

By ManxRob Date 2010-05-05 02:47
I'm tickled seeing a Tow'd all put together, even if it is coming apart. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

I'm also working on a Tow'd, though mine hasn't been together in many years and several owners.

I like the windshield 'fix'. Yours looks to have the original windshield frame. While new windshield with the frame are still available (Dino's), that aluminum extrusion is not used on the replacements. It may be worth welding the old one to be original.

My Tow'd is missing the steering column brace and the top portion of the front suspension plate (where it was welded to the column) was torched off. I was wondering if you could supply some detail pictures, with a tape measure for scale to help me in re-creating mine? 

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-05 15:40 Edited 2010-05-05 15:46
Thanks for the great comments everybody...I will definately look into a new brake mastercylinder and new lines and shoes..Yes I am taking the body off the frame,worked on the tub last night will post some more pics later today...I am planning on fixing this windshield frame to keep it original...Ran into allot of extra screws and the bolts and nuts have all rusted really bad,gonna have to cut the bolts off holding the skid pan on tonight then it is just removing the linkage rod and another rod that I am not sure what it went to (got late and havent drug out the lights yet) Then the tub should be off tonight so I can see what has to be done to the frame and running gear..Seen allot of cut wires in the harness so I started to remove those and found out someone had done allot of splicing and this last guy just totally wired everything needed to make it run,bypassing the fuse holder and everything was just straight wired.I am going to just get a new wiring harness with a modern switch box or something as the old fuse holder was broke anyway.Cant wait to get it apart so I can see what I have to get ordered then I will get to work on the body and get it ready to paint...We are hoping we can sand off the blue ( already tried a little and it removed easily) so we can try and save some of the original gel coat,as in do some graphics over any body work to be done.Dont know if this can be done but I am gonna try anyway...

I can definately lay a yard stick on the front end and take a few picks to give the dimensions of the front mounting plate.Will try and do that tonight..

Do you guys think the front fenders beeing busted like they are will be fix able or should I just order a new set ?

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-05 15:44
Rob,I just re read your post and I was thinking wrong,I will get you some dimensions on the streeing colum set up and closer pictures this evening..

By Brad H 1498 Date 2010-05-05 16:38
That's one of the joys of glass, that will be an easy fix. Grind out both sides and lay in some new glass and finish. There has been lots of discussions on here reguarding hte repair of fibreglass. Save the money for another project and fix the fenders you have.

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-05 16:59
That sounds good,Was just afraid of a strength issue since the break was at the bend of the fender were it is weak already...Will give it a shot and if they break their again later on I will try something else.

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-05 19:20
Forgot to answer,no I do not have the tow bar inside the tube,anybody know of a pic of it,maybe I could make one...For some reason I cant get my pics to the computer today so I will have to put them up tomorrow if I can figure out the problem...

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 02:17
Used my good camera and not the phone for pictures tonight and am able to post from my home computer instead of work...Got the body completely off tonight,found mouse or squirrel nest on top of fuel tank and lots of mud dobber nest helping to hold the body in place..Tomorrow starts the clean up,and I will be ordering some new parts by the weekend so they get here before I need them..

Also got the pics with a yard stick from all over the front end and towing tube and attaching bracket for the steering column...

Thanks for looking and for the advice,

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 02:26

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 02:40

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 02:54
and the last for the night..

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 03:29
I think tomorrow I will take her off the stands and roll her out in the drive way and wash the mud off before I do any more to her,I still gotta get the tank off so I can either clean it or get a new one made,thinking about taking the front end off to clean it up and paint it seperate from the frame rails,any comments on that? Now is enough of the vw still here to give me vin numbers,if so were are they,i still gotta get a registration and tag for her and that would help out alot...

I am gonna get someone to weld up the break in the windshield fram and fill the extra bolt hole that was put in and can get a new glass cut locally and installed...

The motor looks to be pretty much stock,but alot of rigging has been done on it also,the throttle cable was a piece of cable tied together with baling wire that tied to the carburetor,and the cap on the celenoid is busted (anybody got a old junk celenoid with a good cap laying around ?)

Now somw wire brushing and then some paint will have the frame ready and then I can start on the body,or maybe the motor first then the body...not gonna high performance the motor just new paint and a chrome kit and distributor cap and wires,simple but elegant and true to the buggy's time period..

By ManxRob Date 2010-05-06 04:29
Thanks for the scaled pictures of the steering support. That helps alot.

The VW VIN number should be visible under the gas tank, just forward of where the shifter coupling is.

The green metalflake looks cool!

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 13:44
no problem on the scaled pics....glad they help.... We think the green was a cool color also that is why I want to try and save as much of it as possiable..

Found another TOW'D tear down and rebuild set of pics,here is a link..
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2010-05-06 13:45
That is CLEARLY one very unique engine detailing method.........
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 14:02
I do have a dumb question,...., Any way to make this a automatic transmission instead of a standard,..., Told you it was dumb..Just thought it would be something different,plus it would save me from teaching the wife how to drive a stick shift (tried that once before,it was hillarious)...

By glassbuggy Date 2010-05-06 14:09
I've seen a couple buggies lately with late bus automatics,That might be easily attained, finding the compnants could be a challenge.
I remember reading that Bruce made the Tow'd gas tanks from well casing and by golly he sure did !
By glassbuggy Date 2010-05-06 14:09
I've seen a couple buggies lately with late bus automatics,That might be easily attained, finding the compnants could be a chalenge.
I remember reading that Bruce made the Tow'd gas tanks from well casing and by golly he sure did !
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 14:15
Jeffery,dont ya just love the way the guy I got this buggy from just painted over everything,I hate it as now I have to get it all cleaned up and re wired and everything hooked up correctly,then I can put a dressup kit on it.

At least Donna (my wife) told me to rebuild the front with new parts and not just clean it up and re paint the old parts,gonna take a little long than she thinks but if thats what she wants that is what I will do,he he,at least she isnt fussing about the cost!! She told me to do it correctly since we got it tore down this far,just makes her camaro set outta the carport that much longer...

Do you guys think it would mess up the look of the buggy to put some high back seats out of something else in instead of the boat seats,that way the seat would be adjustable for her shorter legs???????
By glassbuggy Date 2010-05-06 14:18
Try a can of oven cleaner and test a spot of fiberglass, you might be able to remove the blue paint from the orriginal gel coat.
By yellermanx y 25 Date 2010-05-06 14:26
I can't help myself, but every time I read the thread title I see
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 14:29
Thanks glassbuggy,I will look into that...may not be to easy to find around here though...

Yep it is a steel pipe alrite,inside is all rusted and plugs off the fuel system,thats one reason I had to pull the whole body off...

Good thing we have a scrap yard,I should be able to find some stainless or aluminum and have a new tank made if I cant clean this one up...

Thanks for all the advice,
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 14:51 Edited 2010-05-06 14:59
I had read on a boat forum that the oven cleaner takes the paint off,I was googling how to remove the paint from the gel coat when I found it..Has anybody actually tried it?what kind do you use ?

By glassbuggy Date 2010-05-06 16:16
I use it all the time, Heavy duty is ok, pick it up at the Groc store. The underside of the body is usually flat black and to redo this area I just shoot it let it sit and the pressure washer will do the rest - may take an application or two.
I use this all the time on aluminum to take grease off - amazing, puts engine brite to shame.
Also works on plastic
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 16:56
the underside of mine is un painted..But I am sure going to give the cleaner a try on the body before I start sanding on it,dont have a pressure washer but do have good water pressure with a sprayer,guess I could go to harbor freight and pick up a washer...

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-06 17:22
found me a transmission to make it automatic,my motor is to old for it though...Pluse the cost is a little higher than I want to spend at the moment.Guess I will have a fun day teaching her how to drive a stick...

Glad I found this place yu guys are great and alot of help.

By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-07 02:30
Bruce, love the photos! Its great to follow along with you. The tow'd is so unique. If the gas tank is a well casing, you should be able to save it. A new tank may be less effort though. That link you posted with the other tow'd rebuild has an interesting sub-frame. I presume it is a "roll bar" for the bottom of the tub. Maybe protection for the fiberglass that hangs down from the tube chassis? I'm not positive if that's what it is, but it looks like that.

Keep up the photos!

By ManxRob Date 2010-05-07 05:11
Bruce, Are the frame tabs in this photo used for attaching the base of the windshield? or something else? My body tub has some relief cuts there, but no tabs are on my frame.

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-07 13:51
well I tried the oven cleaner....didnt leave it on long enough the first time,or the second time,the third time almost got all the paint off the fender I tried it on.Donna suggested I wait till this weekend and spray it good and let it set for a couple of hours as the longer it set the more paint it took off.It did work great on the motor..Oh yea I went and bought a 2700 psi gas powered pressure washer when I got the oven cleaner,boy it cleaned the frame and everything up,The only thing I didnt like was I sprayed some on the inside of the buggy floor and firewall,it took the paint off my Meyers tag I almost cried,but I can put some back on so it looks correct I hope...

No pictures today,but I will get somemore this weekend,Gotta do something with Donna for mothers day,but she has to study for finals and she wants me to get this buggy back on the road so she can ride,so I will get most of the weekend to work on it.

She took my new washer and got ahold of her camaros rims last night,She likes playing with it..I will have to watch her or she will be using it to clean everything around the house,lol...

Rob,Yes those tabs are what holds the bottom of the hood and the windshield frame.They are just thin steel angleI will get you better pics this weekend with measurements.Do you want me to set a board across the frame with the yard stick going up to the tube holding the steering colum to give you a idea for the heigth to set it at?

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-07 14:23
Jay,I just went back and looked at the other build...He said he made the frame to hold a aluminum sheet to try and keep the rocks from hitting his rear end,Guess you could call it a big skid plate,lol...

By Jay H (X-20) (ManxVair CC) Date 2010-05-08 14:58
Cool. Obviously something to think about if you are going off road all the time.

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-11 13:38
got pictures to post up tonight...
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-12 01:54
Ok I got some pictures with measurements of the brackets to hold on the bottom of the hood.Als of the vin area,If I looked it up correctly it is a June of 1963 pan.Then of were the linkage connects to the transmission,I had to cut the bar when I pulled the body as I couldnt get the coupler loose,and still cant any ideas of what I am doing wrong? Got the frame wirebrushed down and primed for now. Oh yea I am thinking of adding a small plate off the frame on the back to hold the electric fuel pump instead of having it bolted to the tub ?good idea or bad?

Ok now pics.

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-12 02:06
More pics,oh yea the wrenches and toggle switch were inside the fuel tank,got them out with a magnet...

By glassbuggy Date 2010-05-12 05:07
I'm tellin ya, oven cleaner ! just dont get it in your eyes. It wants to jump on you and burn your skin as you blast it and dont breathe the damn stuff.
Sorry about the tag, it cleans off aluminum like nothing else.- great transmission cleaner hit it once,pressure wash then get the subborn stuff with a screwdriver and re apply.
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-12 13:37
Glassbuggy,Yea the oven cleaner works great,almost to good...were I had left it on the fender and the gel coat was showing it took the top layer off and the glitter is just wipping off,good thing I gotta do some glass work on it anyway.After looking at what all has to be glassed we have decided to just go with a whole complete new paint job,a little darker green,but will cover the whole thing...

Now I am in a big delema,we wanna get to ride around in this buggy this summer and if I wait for all the parts I want to put on her and get them all put on it will take awhile.Now my plan is to get the buggy repainted and the motor cleaned up and chromed,then save the rest of the stuff till winter to put on and get the buggy together now so we can ride.Is that a bad thing or not ?

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-12 14:10
I mean I want to add all the chrome pieces to the front end,put disc brakes all the way around,hydraulic clutch and new brake system,a chrome steering rod,make a new dash,and have the roll bar rechromed since this rollbar is unique to the tow'd only I cant get a replacement one in chrome,then really dress up the motor,so you can see why I dont want to wait to get it all done now,I can take her down again this winter and have all winter to get her ready for next summer,plus I have the summer to order parts and not spend out a bunch all at one time.

I feel like I am going backwards doing it this way but feel it is the best plan if we want to ride this summer and not wait till next summer to ride with it all done...

What do you guys think,bad idea or not ? what is your feelings on this...

By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-12 14:14
Got some 16 inch white spoke rims for the back and 15 inch for the front,is this combination going to work ok ? Got the white spokes for now and can save for some cool chrome rims for next summer.

Thanks again for all the advice.
By Brad H 1498 Date 2010-05-12 14:28
Mount the pump to the frame by all means, it won't make as much noise as being bolted to a big sound board like fiberglass.. You could also put some rubber between the pump and bracket to quiet it doown more.

Putting it back together half built was the story of my life till winter 2008 when I went at mine whole hog. You could enjoy the summer with yours, mean time accumulate the parts you'll need, and when possble, put sub-assemblies together so when the time comes everything is ready to come together. Make your new dash get all the chrome bits.

At least for me doing a little here and a little there just made me frustrated and took more time than just stripping the car bare and doing it all at once. Make it safe and reliable, enjoy your summer, get all the parts you want to put on and go at it all at once.

Take this for what it's worth, but DON"T PAINT THE CAR TILL EVERYTHING IS FIT and the way you want it. My buddy Todd painted his in December, BEFORE we fit the seats, steering,  lights, dash, cage etc and it was a ROYAL pain in the A$$ trying to do fabrication around a shiny paint job, everyhting took twice as long. Just shoot it in primer if you want a solid colour and leave the paint till the very end. I had a complete, running chassis before my body even went for final primer. You,'ll be surprised how often the body comes on and off during construction and the last thing you want is to scratch your nice paint.

By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2010-05-12 14:48
And by all means fix things that are safety related first. And fix them right.
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-12 16:16 Edited 2010-05-12 16:22
Thats what I was thinking also,so maybe rat rod flat black till I get her painted,lol,

See thats my delema,either finish it now and drive later,or just put it back together....The roll bar can be removed after paint and with the hood off I can do the front end without getting near the body,the disc brakes wont be near the body either with the hood off as it takes the fenders with it,just pull the headlights...

As for seats,I know the Tow'd was supposed to have something like boat seats.But am thinking of these fiberglass seats with covers..and the seats wont have to be removed for any reason on the winter build...

Definately safety first,that was the main reason I pulled her apart,to check everything and to get to the fuel tank to clean it up...


By ManxRob Date 2010-05-12 16:19
This Tow'd is re-inspiring me to get back to work on mine!

The weak area of the Tow'd frame is where the rear torsion mount meets the main frame rail. They crack/break on the forward side when abused. Mine was broken and re-welded on both drivers and passenger sides. The solution to breaking is to add a gusset there, or an additional piece of steel tubing extending forward to the frame to triangulate the area. The additional tubing makes a nice base for mounting seat belts and an additional skid plate.

The shift rod coupling should come off the transmission by removing one or both the set screws. It is a close fit, so if there is any rust in the joint it may take a bit of persuading.  Try a pair of vise grips?

You might consider using a stock VW fuel pump to keep things simple. Electric to push gas a couple of feet may be unnecessary.

The wrenches in the fuel tank was a nice touch.
By Bruce E 2146 Date 2010-05-13 01:10 Edited 2010-05-13 05:14
Thanks Rob,I didnt want to get over velous with it if I wasnt supposed to,figured it was just stuck...Have a different coupler on that old buggy thing that was brought in,thought I might switch to it anyway. Man that 1st place tow'd is clean and gorgeous,I like the look of the original gas pedal,got one of those on that other one also,May just have to keep the original pedal setup as I do not see myself out racing this little girl,just cruising her around and maybe run across a field or two to go park by some creek with the wife...I will see if I can get a replacement fuel pump as the last owner just took the lines off this one and added a electric pump...No cracks or breaks in my frame,thats cool ...

Got most of the rust outta the fuel tank,thanks to those wrenches the rust was like powder,so I will wash it out one more time and see if it is pretty clean or at least is the best I can get it,then put 2 filters in the line for now and hope for the best,if I see it giving a problem by winter I will see about getting a new one made...

Thanks for all the advice and help.
By ManxRob Date 2010-05-13 01:35 Edited 2010-05-13 01:45
I checked with my local tubing supplier, and now have a couple more ?'s for recreating my steering support/tow bar/Front suspension mount:

The cheesy paint drawing is the information I've found so far for recreating a close copy of  a Tow'd steering support tube. Would you verify these dimensions?:

The picture and specs for a Tow'd tow bar are from another site:

1) My steel supplier has two wall thicknesses available, .125 and .065. Using .125 wall tubing for the steering brace and tow bar would be a very close slip fit, maybe too close? Using the .065 wall thickness tubing for the brace the fit is much looser. Can you tell me the wall thickness on your steering brace?

2) What is the bend radius on the upper part of the steering brace/dash support? Is the bend welded on to the lower tube, (at the mark in the attached photo), or was it originally one long formed piece of tubing?

3) In positioning the steering brace for final welding, I believe it rests on the cross-member, and a pocket in the front suspension mount. My front mount was torched off close to where the steering tube should be. How much of the tube extends in front of the front beam mount plate? Does the steering support tube come in contact with the front suspension beam? A measurement from a flat between the frame rails to a reference on the steering support would be very helpful.

Thanks for any and all help!


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