Separating the Body from the Chassis

VW Beetle Restoration Project, Oct-2014

Prior to lifting the body, the engine was removed. This is not strictly necessary at this stage but will minimise any clearance issues:

Now the body securing bolts could be removed. The bolts from the body to the suspension parts came out fine but those bolts that run into the heater channel just spun round. On opening up the heater channel, you could see why – the bottom of the channel has completely disintegrated. The black painted metal under the captive nut is actually the chassis floor:

The main problem with this car is the bodged heater channel repairs. Instead of replacing the heater channels when required, a previous “restorer” attached plates from the good metal on the top of the heater channel to the floor. This effectively made the car a monocoque rather than a separate body & chassis – and ensured a more rapid disintegration of the underlying structure.

Once these repair plates were cut through, in theory the body would be ready to lift off:

With a wooden beam slid under each front wheel arch and connected to a block & tackle it was time to try lifting the body:

The first attempt failed to separate the body cleanly – you can see its starting to lift but was still fairly well attached to the chassis:

Found that the previous “restorer” had also welded the body to the chassis along the edge of the floor:

Eventually found all of the welds holding the body to the chassis and after a thousand cuts, the body separated with a bang:

We could now see the extent of the bodgery inflicted on this poor car. The obligatory structural silicone:

There were dozens of these things around edge of the floor where it mates with the heater channel. Realised they were carpet tacks. Found out later that this method was used at the factory to fix the gasket in place prior to mating with the body.

Every bodger’s favourite – multiple welded plates over rusty metal:

Finally, found a lightly welded cover plate hiding rust damage to the front bulkhead. The lower front bulkhead where it bolts to the floor has completely disintegrated and would provide zero structural strength: