By Duane D 2712 Date 2011-04-27 00:23
My wife and I just hauled home our awesome old dune buggy. I've been able to ID it as a Berry Mini T-4. It's still dressed in it's original orange metalflake gel coat, but it does have some pretty nasty scratches that are deep and the hood is a little faded so new paint is on the t0-do list. From what I've been able to find I believe it is on a 1961 Beetle platform with the stock little 1200 in it. I've been advised to pull the heads and check the bore and stroke to make sure it wasn't rebuilt with a little more oomph because that engine was pretty small. It "was" street legal in 1971 when it was titled in Sioux Falls, SD but I have some updates to do to get it legal for MN where we reside.
I need some major assistance in a couple of areas to get me rolling in the right direction. Any advice or assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
1. I am positive that what I have is a Berry Mini T-4 but I would like some facts about the company. How many total bodies did they produce in the T-4 style? How many were produced in orange. I know a lot of companies were on shoe string budgets and recods are scarce but I'm hoping some of you might have the info I'm searching for.
2. I've got a set of original Kelsey Hayes Mag Stars but they are only 14" x 6" front and rear. I need a recomendation for tire sizes to use with these rims. Right now they have an also original set of F70-14 bias plys mounted on them and theres no "stance" to the buggy.
3. Is anyone producing new tops for these. I have the original but it has some tears around a couple of snaps and the back window is just a big ugly rectangle and the clear is trashed. If I have to I can use a local upholstery shop and have one made but an original would be better.
Thanks for any help you can give or advice you can lend. I'll post pictures soon on the intro forum.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2011-04-27 02:01
1. No idea..can't help there.
2. I would go to www.tirerack.com and take a look at the tire dimensions section. They will give you overall height, rim diameter, treadwidth, etc. From there you can decide what might work. In order to get the rake you want you should probably look to 70 or 75 series rear tires and 60 series fronts. Doing just a quick look showed me that some BFGoodrich Radial TA's have some 225/70R14 that are 26.5" in diameter and some 215/60R14 that are 24.2" in diameter. That picks you up 2" in rake. There are probably other options as well.
3. For a top I would suggest the yellow pages for anyone that makes boat canvas tops. They would be able to work off your old top as a pattern.
Also, why pull the heads to bore and stroke? If it runs...run it. If you want to rebuild it them post the serial number (located under the alt/generator stand) and we will tell you what you likely have.
By Duane D 2712 Date 2011-04-27 04:30
Thanks for the info. The rims are in excellent condition and I kind of like that nostalgic look to them.
The serial number on the gen. stand is 5115400. A guy on Answer.com told me I had an engine made in August of 1960 making it a 1961 1200cc. He also recommended pulling the head. I haven't tried to fire it up yet. It had gas from 1971 in the tank that, although the fuel was a lot better back then, it's probably pretty nasty after 40 yrs. and I need to dispose of that. I also had to order the oil filter and do a little wiring repair. I'm hoping to crank it up this weekend though. I suppose I should ask about what voltage it is since it has a generator instead of alt. I believe it's 12 volt. I'm going to pull one of the headlight bulbs and see if I can read it. It does have a modern stereo(for 1971 anyhow, LOL) in it so I'm almost positive it's 12 V.
I don't have a lot of access to desert here so making it street legal is a must. Can anyone with a buggy in MN give me some direction to do that. Since it's titled 1971 I don't think I'm required to have shoulder belts. If I do I'm going to need to pick up a roll bar to fit it. Any ideas where to look for a nice chrome one?
Thanks for the tirerack.com rec. I'll check that out right away. If I did want to put bigger tires on the back do I need a spacer for clearance with this body or find rear wheels with more of an offset? It looks like there isn't a lot of room for wide desert style tires.
Are there any DIY kits for repairing gelcoat? In a way I would really like to keep it original. It really looks cool the way it is. I don't know if I can buff out the hood that looks darkened or faded so that will be the deciding factor. The tub is structurally sound and in great shape but I would like to put better seats in it. It has the old low back fiberglass buckets in it with what looks like stock VW brackets. Are there any compact car seats that are a good fit for these buggies? I'm going to have a lot of questions so I'm sure I will become a pain on here but I'm excited to get this on the road and enjoy it.
They mounted the fuel tank under the package tray in the back and the gas cap comes up through the package tray. I'm not real enthused about it like that. What tank is used on other Mini-T4's that exits out the side or would it be better to mount it in front and use a modern type fuel cell for safety? What tank will fit up front? If I do relocate it do I need to install an electric fuel pump to get the required pressure to the carb?
Like I said, I have sooooo many questions. I want to do it right the first time.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2011-04-27 13:01
Yup....that would be a 1200cc. I wouldn't suggest pulling a head to see the exact size unless there is a purpose for you to do so.
The generator should have some markings on what it is. You can also just hook up a volt meter to it. And check to see what kind of battery it has.
Not sure where you can get a chrome roll bar. They aren't really making reproduction parts for that car anymore. Sure, the drivetrain is easy, but reproduction parts are tough. Most people have custom cages or show bars made at speedshops and have them powdercoated or painted. If you have some cash you can get a custom one chromed.
For the tires you will have to measure. the rear supsension is adjustable very easily, although if it is a swingaxle (most likely) your going to be limited on how much you can raise it. Keep the stock tires on it and measure your clearance from the top of the wheels, and then on the inside. Finding matching, special offset, style wheels is going to be a challenge. While anything is possible, some things are not practical.
Gelcoat can be wet sanded and buffed. I have also seen it clear coated.
Lots of seats seem to work well. I have seen Fiero seats, Miata seats, Porsche 914 seats, Corbeau seats, and others used. You just need to make sure the width is around 21" or less.
Not sure about your tank. Most vw's rely on gravity feed to get the fuel to the pump. Most VWs only need around 2psi of pressure so electric pumps are rarely needed. Your little 1200 isn't going to need alot of pressure or volume.
Pictures of what your working with will always help the answer process.
By MonoManx7 (manxologist) Date 2011-04-27 15:48
Re the generator, the 6 volt generator was much smaller in diameter than the 12V generators and the 6 volt typically has the voltage regulator on top of the generator.
You can also look at the headlight bulb...on older bulbs, the voltage was sometimes molded into the glass at the bottom of the lens portion. You can also pull a taillight lens and look at the base of the bulb. If it is an older bulb, the brass would sometimes be stamped with voltage and the glass would have imprinted voltage on it.
There was an old buggy dealer in Concord NC that sold Berrys, manxes and other kit cars...he had a stack of bodies and complete soft tops for all of the different cars. Sadly the building I believe has been razed. Not sure where all the contents went...
By Duane D 2712 Date 2011-04-27 21:07
Thanks Jeffery and Chris.
You're right on about the wheels. I did a little searching last night and about the only thing I could find for Kelsey Hayes 15" wheels and all I could find was wheels and center caps for Shelby Mustangs and as for price, well let's just say I could park another couple of buggy projects in my garage for what they are asking for a set of original not repo wheels! LOL Unbelievable!
We are having nothing but crappy weather so rolling it out to get pics is a problem right now. Saturday is allegedly supposed to be nice so we're going to try it then.
I think what I'm going to do for a roll bar is check with one of the race shops that we have up here and see if the can bend me one to fit and have it powdercoated. Chroming is nice but expensive. The shipping alone is nuts.
Are the pans heavy enough for a rollbar and seatbelt to be fastened to or will I need to add some plating in those areas?
As for the wiring, I,m now certain that it is 12 V. There is one item that has me baffled though. In the main line coming from the battery positive post to the gen. there is this huge red thing that also has a ground attatched to it. I'm guessing this is some sort of noise surpressor for the radio. I'll throw a pic of it on here to.
Thanks again guys! I appreciate all the help.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2011-04-27 22:29
"Roll bar" is a tricky couple of words. On some forums you would have been beheaded by now and given tons of advice to build a "roll cage" strong enough to protect you from a 100mph impact.
That being said, a single hoop roll bar is probably just gonna fold over if you ever roll the buggy. They call them mousetraps...and you can figure out why. In order to make one work "correctly' you need to triangulate and tie it into the chassis and multiple points.
That being said, you can make a nice hoop and tie it into the floor with a backing plate and then triangulate it back to the rear and tie it into the glass with some backing plate as well.
Now realize...thats for looks. Glass is not going to save you against a 5000lb SUV. Remember, your driving a 4 wheel motorcycle.
My Manx had a 6 point "show cage" which was just that...for show. Sure it offered more than that but the rear was tied through the glass and the sides were not triangulated. It sure looked pretty though!
By Duane D 2712 Date 2011-04-28 04:24
WOW!!!! That does look awesome! That is what I'm thinking of doing. Just a show cage with a cross bar to mount the seat backs & .shoulder belts to. I've got a lot of ideas floating through my head right now but I'm trying to get focussed on reliability and safety first. I'll get into the ginger bread once it is as safe as possible w/o going overboard. Afterall, it is a dune buggy and not a full on sand rail or stock car where a full 8+ point cage is installed. Some of the parts I ordered are in and the rest should be here in the morning.
Time to shut up and get to work, I guess! Thanks again Jeffrey.
By nasir k 3512 Date 2012-12-22 20:41
hi..im thinking of making a dune buggy but widout buying any parts for it..i have a garage and lots of damaged cars which i can use for it..i just need some guidance and some design's with which i can start.i know it wont as great as i think but i really want to try.so if some can give me some chasis design and help me build my dune buggy.thanks Nasir
im thinking of making something like this.please advice..
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