2019 Activities:



22 June, 2019

Trevor and I spent a half day at the shop today, fabricating and installing the roll cage to frame horn support structure.  That completes most of the fabrication portion of the Baja Bug update; now it's simply a matter of painting the roll cage, reinstalling the glass, reassembly and installation of the engine and building a new rear bumper.  I forgot to get any photos today.


20 June, 2019

Spent today working on the Baja Bug update shifter installation; with the Bus transaxle in a beetle body, it's necessary to run the shift tube above the "tunnel" and that requires some adapting of the actual shifter to make it all mate up properly.  I also spent some time doing a little shop clean-up; my tools were scattered all over the floor and we were spending more time looking for tools than actually making progress......


New shift box location


8 June, 2019

Good progress today; we picked up the rebuilt transaxle yesterday and spent today fabricating mounts for and installing it.  We didn't go "full race" with the installation; it's destined to be a pre-runner so we dialed back our ambitions a bit.....  We've tried to make the installation as secure and off-road capable as possible but didn't attempt to optimize it for racing.  There are performance gains to be realized but their price (in time) isn't justified in a pre-runner.


Trevor's "002 with 091 bell housing" transaxle


5 June, 2019

Since our last update, Trevor has disassembled his Baja Bug Type 4 engine for overhaul and dropped the parts that need some machine shop attention at Paradise Motor Sports.  He has a new cam and lifters on order - hopefully he'll have everything ready for reassembly in the next couple of weeks.  His transaxle is nearing completion at "Power Box" so we should be able to begin designing and fabricating the mounts and shift mechanism soon. 

I've been working on a recent shop acquisition - a 12" Logan Lathe.  Mechanically, it's in great shape - I just wanted to clean it up, change the gear oil, adjust the gibs, lubricate everything properly, replace the drive belts and do a little re-wiring.  As received, the 3-phase motor was wired to use the forward/reverse selector as the start/stop switch - it was bypassing the "Furnas" magnetic starter completely.  This meant that the normal start button and brake switches were not functional and the fwd/rev selector was carrying electrical loads it wasn' really meant to handle all the time.  In addition to installing a phase converter to provide the necessary 3-phase power, I replaced the old magnetic starter (it was set up for 440 volts and wouldn't actuate with 240 volts - given its age, I chose to replace rather than tinker with adapting it) with a newer 240 volt unit and rewired the start button and brake lever switches to provide the correct start/stop functions.  Now, the fwd/rev selector does only that and the magnetic starter carries the big electrical surges encountered when starting and stopping - it all works correctly now.  We'll need to rearrange the shop a little to make a permanent place for it; it's currently just sitting where we unloaded it. 


Our 1968 vintage Logan 12" lathe



25 May, 2019

Today was "roll cage fabrication day" on Trevor's Baja Bug update; we cut, bent, fitted, welded and gusseted the entire roll cage today.  We now have a safe structure to protect the occupants and to carry the rear suspension shock loads.  It's really nice to have the right tools to do this job - when we built the 5/1600 car, we used hack saws and a manual tube bender.....  With our hydraulic tube bender, plasma cutter and hydraulic press brake we were able to do in one day what took several days previously.  Having done this before may also have helped......

Occupant area roll cage elements



18 May, 2019

Trevor and I wrapped up the microstub install today; we greased the stub axle splines, torqued the axle nuts then installed split pins to secure them.  Following that, Trevor fabricated and installed the IRS pivot pin locks.  With the rear IRS conversion complete, it was time to move on to creating openings for the new shocks in the wheel well areas then fabricating and installing the roll cage structure.  We have a good start on the roll cage with the "B" pillar, rear diagonal hoop and its support tubes.  We have much more to do on the cage structure but we ran out of tubing.....

Left side rear shock installed for reference while building the cage structure



11 May, 2019

Big day at the shop - Trevor and I were able to final install all the IRS suspension components (less the shocks) and get the car back on the tires.  We were able to get the component blasting done during the week and I painted everything immediately afterwards so the paint was dry for final assembly today. 

Back on the tires with IRS suspension



04 May, 2019

Trevor and I worked on the Baja Bug update project today; we finished the IRS inner pivot installation, crack checked the IRS spring plates (old race car spares) and repaired the drive's side rear trailing arm we are using (a race car part that was damaged at the 2012 Baja 500 roll-over and used as a spare afterwards).  Next, we'll take the old "spares" to Custom Aircraft Parts (my brother's shop) to bead blast them in preparation for paint.  Once the paint is dry, we can begin the actual final install of all the new rear suspension components and get the car back on the wheels!  Next will be the installation of the new "bus" transaxle - that will require fabricating new mounts and running a new shift linkage above the "tunnel" (we're not going to use a "10 degree mount" for several reasons).

Driver side IRS inner pivot located with a jig



27 April, 2019

Trevor and I spent the day removing the engine and "swing-axle" transaxle, then began fitting the driver's side IRS inner pivot before calling it a day.  The project is moving along fairly quickly - we've done much of this previously when we built the race car so not much we haven't already seen....

Type 4 engine and "swing-axle" transalxe removed


15 April, 2019

Trevor and I spent all day on Saturday finalizing the front end on his Baja Bug update - the steering is installed and adjusted and we modified the fuel tank to fit around the new steering box.  Trevor test drove the car around the shop area and says the steering works great - just like the race car before power steering.  The fuel tank mods were challenging: we wanted to retain as much capacity as possible while eliminating the interference issues and we need it to be "leak free".  In the end, we were able to fit the tank in the stock location with minimal loss of capacity.  We leak checked all the welds before adding any fuel; it took several tries to close up all the little leaks but now, after a couple of days with fuel in the tank, we don't see any leaks.  This is an area that we'll keep our eyes on for a while.....

I picked up our "new" shop lathe today - a 1960's vintage Logan Lathe.  I need to wire in a "phase converter" so we can run the 3-phase motor off our "single phase" 220 power at the shop.  Hopefully, that'll be fairly easy......


07April, 2019

We've had a bit of a break from the Baja Bug update project - I spent nearly the entire month of March in Memphis learning a new airplane for work (Boeing 767) and we were waiting on SACO to manufacture and ship our somewhat unusual "offset input" steering rack.  We could have purchased a standard "center steer" rack off the shelf but that would have forced some fairly acute steering shaft angles and the resulting potential for binding and excess "slop".....  The rack finally arrived just as I returned home from Memphis so we're back at work on the project.


New "Rack and Pinion" steering unit fitted but not "final installed"
We still need to add a steering shaft support bearing near the universal closest to the steering wheel and secure all the hardware.


17 February, 2019

Trevor and I have been steadily making progress on his yellow Baja Bug conversion; the link pin suspension conversion portion is essentially complete but we are waiting for the new steering rack to arrive so we can finalize the steering geometry.  We are also awaiting the arrival of new front wheels/brakes so we can get the car back on the tires - his existing wheels will not work with "combo spindles".  Soon, we'll have enough spare parts left over to build another car.....


New front suspension complete and ready for wheels/brakes


Marking for "fender reduction surgery"
The new suspension allows nearly 10" of travel and would create tire/fender interference problems without some trimming.
We were able to avoid the need to cut clearance holes in the hood for the upper shock mounts - it's a tight fit that required
a bit of "massaging" to get right......


Original fender shape with tape marking proposed trim line


No going back now....


Final fender shape - I really like the new look


Final trim shape block sanded and edges smoothed.
We gained all the clearance we needed and still have a "finished" look.


04 February, 2019

Our Fortin 2.5 Power Rack

Trevor and I made a run to McKenzie's on Saturday; the pre-runner has been sitting in Trevor's garage since we brought it home in September and we haven't had time to work on it between the Baja 1000, work and school commitments......  We've been wanting to get it to a "roller" condition and some of the first things we need for that are the rack and steering control valve.  Now that they're on hand we can mount them up, then fabricate the steering shafts and tie rods.  Once those are installed, we'll make and install "spring carrier simulators" and install wheels/tires so that we can roll it around as necessary.


New Baja Bug Bumper/Beam for the Daily Driver


Partially completed beam/bumper mocked up.

Trevor's 1968 Baja Bug has all the least desireable VW suspension elements for off-road use; it has a "ball-joint" front suspension and a "swing-axle" rear suspension.  He's always wanted to convert it to "link-pin/IRS" like the race car and now seems like a good time.  We've begun at the front end; converting to a link pin beam required fabricating a new beam and installing some "ball-joint to link-pin beam adapters" (we didn't want to change the frame head).  As you can see above, the beam and bumper are complete.  Now we need to mount it, install the arms and spindles, shocks and brakes, then we can fabricate new steering linkages and tie rods.  Hopefully, only a couple more days' work on the front end.


002 IRS transaxle to replace the swing-axle type 1 transaxle

Converting the rear end to IRS is a bit more involved than the front end conversion......  Trevor could use a type 1 IRS transaxle but the bus box is stronger.  It will require some mounting provisions that don't exist on the car now, and will also require that the shift linkage be modified and moved to "above the tunnel".  We could use a 10 degree mount to avoid the shift linkage issue but that causes other complications in our case (type 4 motor with dual Webbers), so above the tunnel it goes.  We will also need to install IRS pivots on the torsion housing/frame horns and we'll "notch" the frame horns so we can set the transaxle as low as possible.  We'll post updates here.



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