VW Beetle body and chassis re-united

VW Beetle Restoration Project, Apr-2015

The underside of the body was finished with some rust treatment on the underside to remove surface rust then epoxy primed, seam-sealed and given a couple of coats of anti-stone chip:

Then with the help of a mate (thanks John!) we set about fitting the body to the chassis for the last time. First thing to do is position the sealing gasket on the chassis. VW used to fix the gasket in place using carpet tacks or similar but I wanted to avoid this if possible. As it turned out the gasket we used was fairly pliable so it could be held in place with polyurethane sealant but I still had to use small self tappers to hold it in place where it curves around the gearchange coupling cover:

Re-fitting the body was relatively drama-free. The only major problem was in trying to fit the four M10 bolts at the front – it proved very tricky to get the bolts to catch the first few threads in the tapped floating plate inside the front cross-member. Because it floats around the bolts just push it away and often catch cross-threaded. Very frustrating but we got there in the end:

With all the bolts in and tweaked up, it was time to remove the brace bars:

Then the moment I’d been dreading – re-fitting the doors and checking the shut lines. But I first had to deal with some rusted door hinges. One in particular was so stiff that I risked ripping it out of the door in trying to work it free. Even though I’d left it soaking in penetrating oil for weeks it seemed that the oil wasn’t getting right into the hinge pin. Getting desperate, I tried drilling into the hinge body to get through to the pin then dripped oil though this hole:

Within minutes the hinge was moving freely! Just need to make sure this is kept lubricated and sealed with a smear of grease.

Back to the doors, after the initial fitting I was very relieved that they would actually open & close freely without any clashes. Then to set about gapping the doors in detail, I re-fitted the shims that were there before and adjusted the thickness to get nice parallel shut lines and easy closing action with the door seals in place. One shim was needed at the lower hinge positions of each door (0.5mm and 1.0mm). Eventually the swage lines were near-enough aligned and the doors were opening/closing much better than they did before we started the resto:

The only issue now was to move the trim holes in the door as they were not aligned satifactorily. I believe this was a common issue from the factory. Also measured the gap between edge of the door and B-post and they were all within a gnats nadger of 5/32″ which is the factory dimension:

Made some final adjustments using the two body bolts at the front beam and the four body-chassis M10 bolts at the rear – loosening/tightening these bolts have the slight effect of distorting the body thus allowing small changes in the door aperture to be made. Found that removing the lower rubber on the front beam bolts would take out a little run-out of the gap at the B-post but still needed to keep the shims. Also moved the trim holes and ended up with decent shut lines and good alignment overall of the swage lines, trim, etc:

The last thing to do was to fit the wings, etc……

The car was then sent to a bodyshop for finishing.