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    Thread: My perpetual Karmann Ghia project thread...

    1. Member whalemingo's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 03:14 PM #1
      So let me start you off with a story. I bought this car in 2013 for $3700. It's interesting how I came about it. It's a 63 Ghia and it has the original motor. I had an 86 325e that I had done a diff, recaros and some other fun things to but I got tired of it and with no hopes of my 58 bug ever seeing the road for any real amount of driving I decided I wanted a bug. I did this while daydreaming in Iraq and when I was back on the FOB I had my dad sell the 325 and buy a 65 bug I had found online. That was a cool car and I did a few things to it but I quickly lost interest and after a small investment sold it for quite a hefty profit. Enabling me to get this car. Now I also bought this one off the internet but I was in Texas at the time and this car was in Northern CA. I struck a deal with the guy after he sent me 70+ pictures of it and reciepts for everything he had done to it.

      The story goes he bought it off an older VW mechanic who parked it in the 90's. It was his wife's car and after she died he didn't even want to look at it. So it got shoved in the back of a garage and forgotten until the guy I bought it from found it. He went through and had the motor rebuilt and the engine tin powdercoated, he did some cleanup work to it, got it running and then decided to sell it due to the electrical issues. Well I'm halfway decent with electrical systems and I always like a challenge so I bought the car off of him.

      I bought this car with the intention of never restoring it, only making it mine, making it a solid car and then driving the piss out of it. That is still the plan. I work on this when I have time and I try to get it out and drive it as often as possible. I do not intend on doing the body work or painting it. The car is pretty rust free minus two areas and I like the way it looks now. I do plan on doing the interior of it at some point, but I try to break it into small projects with this car so I don't take it out of action for too long at any one time.

      Keep in mind I've actively been working on the car since late 2013 so I have lots of pics and I don't plan on posting them all today since that would get everyone lost in the sauce. I also have a 1958 sedan that is what I consider a work of art. I'll post a thread about that one too, eventually, if anyone is remotely interested. I also have an 81 rabbit vert I'm going to do a quick build on and I recently sold my 356 to some guy in France. So I have some stuff floating around and each of my projects offers me something a bit different as far as value to me. In any case here we go. We'll start with some of the pics sent over the internet to me and go from there.





















      Next up we'll go through me getting a hold of it and starting work...
      Last edited by whalemingo; 11-25-2016 at 04:19 PM.

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    3. Member whalemingo's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 04:18 PM #2
      So then I got it home. Now I had this non running car that would blow fuses and try to catch itself on fire any time you had it running and tried to turn on the headlights. At this point I was still in the Army and the car lived at my dad's house here in CA. I never brought it out to me as I was getting out in the end of 2013 anyways so I just lived with my daydreams. I did, however, do little projects to it to knock some of the stuff out of the way. I hate more than anything leaving stuff in the middle. So I always, always break all my projects into much smaller projects so I can typically wrap something up. It's that whole thing my grandfather told me one summer when I was staying with him as a kid, stuck with me.

      So anyways first project I decided to tackle was the paint. Looking at it online I kinda of hoped that it was an original paint car, but didn't hold my breath because Sea Blue doesn't seem to oxidize like this one had. I got it back and realized it wasn't OG paint but but I dug it anyways. Like I said this car has always been more about driving for me. But I love to tinker so I'm constantly taking it apart and changing things. Ok so the paint...

      First of all even though I knew it wasn't OG I wanted to get something out of it. So I got the "power wheel of shiny" out and went to work on the paint.



















      I knew by looking at the interior that the car had a white roof. So I went and got some paint stripper and dug down to see what I could find... Low and behold, white! This was a few months after polishing out the paint on the car.

















      I also had all the bright work removed from the car so I decided to shine it up a bit since it was all in fairly good shape. I also bought some headlight rings off a guy named Alan. I could of gone a bunch of different ways with this but I liked the idea of bringing all original parts back to life.



      Here is the level of oxidation on the chrome. Not bad but still required a few hours of work to get them shinier.



      Here you can see the difference between the outer which has been cleaned and the inner which hadn't







      Then I started on the headlight rings.




    4. Member VWmk3GTI's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 04:35 PM #3
      in
      Quote Originally Posted by PlatinumGLS View Post
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      Quote Originally Posted by Crimping Is Easy View Post
      Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you're a mile away and you have his shoes.

    5. Member CodeMan's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 04:43 PM #4
      Looks like a solid car and I like what you're doing with it. Keep posting!

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      11-25-2016 04:57 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by Nicefeet View Post
      I look at the car, yard and to me it would make more sense to buy $3k worth of fireworks, booze and raw dog a gal named Tiffany in a clapped out Winnabgo at a Jesus music festival
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      11-25-2016 05:18 PM #6
      I these threads. Sub'd.
      Quote Originally Posted by Col. David Crockett
      I told the people of my district, that, if they saw fit to re-elect me, I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but, if not, they might go to Hell, and I would go to Texas.

    8. Geriatric Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 05:55 PM #7
      That should be a lot of fun! You're in the perfect spot as far as I'm concerned. I always worry about my original paint, but once that's gone you're free to do anything you want. Of course, you might not have those self-imposed restraints, anyway.

      I don't know if you want to go that far, but Wolfsburg West has the correct color of silver in a spray can for the inside of the bumpers. (As well as other colors for other jobs.) I took my 3 back bumpers, picked the best parts, polished the individual pieces, painted the insides and brackets and reassembled. I think it came out pretty good! It might look overdone for your stated goals, though.



      Here's how it looks complete.



      What I thought was a nearly perfect blade turned out to have an area with claw marks from some guy with Vice Grips who "straightened" it. I was able to shape it properly with a hammer and I used the yard as an effective shot bag to support the chrome side while I hammered the inside with a ball peen hammer. I got it really close to straight, filed off the high points in the gouge marks and made the AAA sticker to cover it up. I pretty pleased with how it came out. Not bad for $30 including new hardware, eh?

      In your shoes I think I'd dismantle and polish things like the wiper blades if they're serviceable without sandblasting and such. It'd give you the opportunity to install new rubber, too. That did wonders for my tail lights. It's amazing how much better parts look when you have nice rubber gaskets under them.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

    9. 11-25-2016 06:52 PM #8
      def following this.
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    10. Member whalemingo's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 07:23 PM #9
      Thanks guys. I have a lot more pictures and more time. I want to say these pics are from late 2013 early 2014. I've gone through some of the rubber cleaned up a few things here and there and currently I'm going through a lot of the mechanics that I felt could be better. Then I started this whole deal with putting fuchs on it and that went down a whole other road. This project is completely different from my other stuff in the fact that it is all about fun and saving what is there, with a few exceptions of course.

    11. Geriatric Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 07:38 PM #10
      Oh, then this thread should progress quickly, eh?

      Are you sticking with the 40 horse or are you putting in a bit more go-go? There are so many routes you could take and I'm looking forward to watching it unfold.

      Thanks for sharing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

    12. Member whalemingo's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 07:42 PM #11
      For right now I've stuck with the 40hp, mostly because it runs like a champ. So that has bought me some time to do a few other things. I have been stacking some parts for the motor project though and if you look in the background in some of the pics I have another motor sitting there. That is the basis for the project motor. It will be the vintage speed route because I'm not worried about going fast in this one.

    13. Geriatric Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 07:49 PM #12
      I missed that, the Nomad and the locking shifter!
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

    14. Member whalemingo's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 07:54 PM #13
      The nomad is up soon in the project list. It's a 55 and there is a huge stack of parts for it. I'm waiting on the pile of money to rebuild so I can do paint and body. The locking shifter is also one of the projects I'm going to tackle on this soon. It locks but the ignition switch doesn't work and I need to sort that all out. I have the original keys for it as well.

    15. 11-25-2016 08:14 PM #14
      Ghia's are cool -- Keep up the nice work -- Here's my '70

      Last edited by Fiatdude; 11-25-2016 at 08:31 PM.

    16. Geriatric Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      11-25-2016 11:12 PM #15
      If the key profiles are the same (some are marked SC, SG or whatever) then the shifter can be keyed with the ignition switch and doors. I know nothing about the internals of the shifter, but as long as you have a good ignition switch the doors can be re-keyed easily to match.

      The Nomad sounds über cool. I'll wait for that thread patiently.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

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      11-26-2016 12:11 AM #16
      Awesome, I'm in.
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      11-26-2016 02:02 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by Iroczgirl View Post
      Awesome, I'm in.
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      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
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    19. Member whalemingo's Avatar
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      11-26-2016 12:29 PM #18
      Ok so let's fast forward a bit here. So after I got out of the Army in March of 2014 I had a couple of surgeries to "correct" a few things. So I had to take some time away from working on the car, combine that with trying to become a civilian again and I had no time for the Ghia. So it got put on hold for a few months, maybe a year, whatever. So my wife says to me one day that I should try and have the car running for this show I go to all the time and says that for fathers day we can register and insure it for the road. So off I went with a fist full of coins and a mission. I sold a few things I had, that I was never going to use again, and made a small pile of cash to throw at this car. I ordered some parts, pulled out the welder and got after it.

      So first things first I cleaned out the disaster of a garage so I had a solid place to take it apart and leave it that way for days, sometimes weeks at a time. Then I got to making the new front end.




      Pulled the stock front end out from under it


      And the fuel tank came out for ease of access.


      Then I was left with this nightmare looking scenario


      so I started cleaning while stuff was out of my way


      Next up I had the front end out of the car and decided that I should address a few other things while I waited for my adjusters to arrive (I ordered the airkewld 7.5" adjusters)


      So I started on cleaning up the nostrils. They are known for building up lots of crap and then the front end rusts out. So I wanted to get a closer look and replace the broken grille.











      Right now you're thinking :that sure was a lot of pics of the nostril area." And you're right, but I have them and I was happy about cleaning them up. So now you get to look at pics of them.


      So remember how I said I wanted to stick with bringing back OG stuff and not move onto the easier and more plentiful aftermarket. Plus brand new and shiny would be wrong on this car.


      Same grilles cleaned up.




      Some of that silver paint air and water was talking about. I had a little left from my 58 so I used it on these.


      I have since put new rubber behind them too, but this was a spur of the moment type of thing. Remember no judging.




      Now let's move on to that front end shall we. So I got the adjusters in and started tearing down the parts I was going to use. I for some reason decided to keep the stock front end just that, stock. But I needed to cannibalize it for parts so I stripped it down. I had another beam buried off in the corner for my 58, which was a 64 plus front end with the stabilizer strut, so I butchered it. And these pictures are the evidence. I'm sure you're asking well why didn't you just buy a narrowed front end? They are all over. And the answer is simple. I like needle bearings, they ride a lot better than any poly solution. I wanted to narrow the beam 4" because I like the wheels tucked in but there is no plans for disc brakes or anything like that on this car, just dropped spindles (we will get to those later). So 4" is adequate and not too extreme.





      And for some reason I have zero pictures of cutting up the other beam and welding it all together. I know I have some somewhere, but I guess I never uploaded them. huh...

      so POOF! New front beam in!






      Yes I had to cut the shock towers off. I didn't want to but at 4" what is good on a bug is not good on a ghia. My fault and I'll correct it later by building another beam.


      Leaf pack and control arms going in.


      Drum back on.


      And it would be silly not to rebuild the steering at this point. The box was a good original unit with no play so there was no need to mess with that.


      Steering box back in.


      Blurry photo of steering column with new donut.


      Steering reconnected new tie rod ends on modified tie rod.


      And back on the ground with big tires in front still.


      Next up on the list of things to do was to move to the rear suspension and lower that. I didn't want to deal with toe issues and all that other good stuff though so I bought a set of Atom Autowerks spring plates. I put them in this time in the stock position but they lowered the car I think 3". I forget. Sorry. We will come back to these pieces again in another adventure that I am currently underway with. That project is about 3 weeks away from conclusion but we'll get to that later, now back to 2015.


      Stock rear spring plates.


      out


      New spring plates in and axle reconnected. Sorry we switched sides I just forgot to take pics on the other side.


      Fully assembled.


      Months of dust and grime, and lowered on 165's all the way around. Next up its time to address this whole wheel situation.

      Last edited by whalemingo; 11-26-2016 at 12:40 PM.

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      11-26-2016 01:03 PM #19
      Hell yeah

    21. Member whalemingo's Avatar
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      11-26-2016 08:09 PM #20
      Okay, so one more update for today. This will be a pretty simple one and it will just bring us to the point of dealing with the wheel and tire situation. So as you can see it has a set of smoothies on it. I decided to run these as a temporary measure to get it on the road and to the show. We're going to revisit these again in the future too, but today, we're in 2015. So I have a friend who owns a sandblasting and powder coating shop. So as any good firend will do I brought him my wheels and asked him to blow the years of crap off of them so I could paint them. I did these with a rattle can so the finish isn't as good as I would like, but I didn't want to deal with colorsanding them. So I went with what I had. I still think they turned out really nicely. He just blasted the face of them too, so it took a few minutes after I got the tires knocked off and I was on my way back to paint them.


      Raw


      Sealer/Primer


      First color which is like an almond white. I forget the name.


      What the finish looked like with no clear


      Masking off for the outer color


      The may look black depending on your monitor but it is a dark blue metallic


      Still no clear but this pic really shows the color


      Unmasked


      Cleared


      Then I just did the backs in a satin black


      Here they are finished up with clear coat and backs painted





      Then I masked off the hubcaps and used that satin black again. Keep in mind I went with all original caps that had not been refinished, just cleaned.


      Then with half the cap polished out.




      Then I threw some tires on them.




      Then I threw them back on the car.

      With all the "major" projects knocked out I had to get to the rest of the items on the list. Including cleaning it all up again. But this got the car rolling on all its wheels. Now I just had to do the bumpers, headlights, electrical system and some rubber, you know...The small stuff. I'll update this more tomorrow.

    22. Member n0rdicalex.'s Avatar
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      11-26-2016 08:23 PM #21
      that's a good looking machine.
      welcome to the layer cake

    23. Member
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      11-26-2016 10:56 PM #22
      Looking good! Always loved these things

    24. Member whalemingo's Avatar
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      11-28-2016 02:38 AM #23
      So next up it was time to tackle a bunch of little odds and ends. I wrote a "gig" list, taped it to the windshield and started plugging away. At this point I think I was about a month away from The VW Classic, which is the show I was shooting for. There isn't a lot of pictures for this part of it. So I'll post a pic or two and kind of describe what I did.

      First up I needed to square away the headlights, taillights and actually get the bumpers and trim pieces on the car. So I started by re-polishing the car. Once I got through that whole mess I started with the easy stuff. The bumpers and trim. I had a bunch of the original emblems and scripts so I just reused those. I also put new rubber behind most of this stuff. So here we go with some more pics.




      As you can see from this and other pics the gaps were pretty bad. Both doors had really weak hinges (They're aluminum and they all crack)
      and the bottom hinge on the driver's door was broken completely. So I sourced a set of nicely rebuilt hinges and slapped those on and
      adjusted the door gaps by making shims out of sheet aluminum.











      I don't seem to have any pics of the adjusted door gaps. They aren't perfect but they are a hell of a lot better. So after that task was knocked
      off the list I moved on to getting the headlight mounting system sorted and getting the wiring fixed. Now I plan on replacing the harness
      completely over the next little bit. I have to wrap up some current stuff, but it's coming. So when I did this I just patched stuff in and cleaned
      up grounds to get it all working. I also figured out why it kept burning up the same fuse. When the previous owner tried to fix the headlight
      he didn't seem to really understand what he was doing. He used the wrong wiring diagram from a later car and grounded a wire that should of
      been power. So everytime you pulled the headlight switch on it shorted, blew the fuse and continued cooking the line until you shut it off. Easy fix
      once I knew the issue. I just corrected the wiring problem and blammo! no more short.


      So next I needed to sort out the mounting issue. I pieced together a bucket setup for the headlights and mocked up the mounting positions
      I needed to use.




      I also needed to figure out how to mount the ring because the lip needed was missing. Yay.








      Here it is starting to look like a car. Headlight brackets are finished, trim is all on, bumpers are mounted and now I'm chasing electrical
      demons through the car and sorting out the wiring so I have all the needed lights to drive it.






      Now time to sort the tail lights






      Good set of OG lenses.




      And this is midnight the night before the show.


      And now...

      The show.





      After the show I spent more time getting the gaps adjusted and other stuff. The doors sit flush now and there are a bunch of other things.
      But that is for future posts. This was my main push for 2015. I broke the nosecone engine mount driving it a few weeks later and that started a
      whole other adventure. But we'll leave that for next time.

    25. Geriatric Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      11-28-2016 07:10 AM #24
      Yeah, a broken front mount on a swingaxle car isn't cool. What most people don't know is that the trans mounts are part of what locates the rear wheels, making good mounts critical.

      It looks good! I like how removing chrome details, polishing and reattaching makes things like the rear script look sooooooo much better.
      Quote Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
      Proletariat, Bourgeoise - Everybody smellin' my potpourri...

    26. Member Stromaluski's Avatar
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      11-28-2016 08:41 AM #25
      Subscribed! Love a good aircooled thread.

      Good choice on keeping the needle bearings. I never realized how much of a difference there was between needle bearings and bushings until I used a bushing beam...

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