JBugs Video Series

1971 VW Super Beetle - Firewall Nut Repair:

Video Overview:

Repairing the front firewall nut plates isn’t a commonly needed repair but none the less, here we are. Our tech shows how to open up the bottom of the firewall to remove the nut plates and covers how to free some broken bolts. Then the plates are reinstalled and the firewall is welded up so other repairs, namely welding in a new heater channel, can be completed.

Vehicle prep: 0:52
Fender nut plate removal: 1:34
Fender nut plate installation: 2:54

Video Tips:

Tools used in this video:

Angle Grinder
Wire Wheel
Cut Off Disc
Flap Wheel Sanding Disc
Vice Grips
MIG Welder

Video Transcript:

Hi! Sam here with JBugs.com
We're in the midst of rust repairs on our 1971 Super Beetle restoration, at a friend of mines' shop. 
In our last video, we cut out most all of the driver's side heater channel. 
We're going to be finishing cutting out the last bit of it and we're going to be opening up the bottom of the firewall 
so we can remove the bolts from the nut plates that snapped off during the body removal.
Before we start, we'll make sure to say, wear appropriate protective gear. 
Work in a safe and well-ventilated environment and only perform work that is well within your capabilities. Cutting, grinding, and welding can all be dangerous so make sure to use the necessary precautions.
Looking underneath the front left of the firewall, we can see where the bottom lip of the heater channel welds below it. 
On a side note, if this was a standard Beetle, 
the heater channel would run all the way through the firewall and the nut plate would actually be located inside the heater channel. This is a Super Beetle though and the nut plate is in the firewall.
So, we start by cleaning up the welds and the sheet metal so we can better see what areas need to be cut. 
A cutoff wheel is used to cut along the left, right, and the front edge. 
Then, a hammer and chisel are used to pry the last remaining piece of the heater channel from the firewall. The firewall is cleaned up a bit more, with a wire wheel.
Then, a cutoff wheel is used to cut into the bottom edge of the front firewall, so we can remove the nut plate. 
We cut two slots from front to back and one slot along the inside edge. Then we can pry open the bottom edge enough so we can remove the nut plate. The same process is followed on the opposite side, as the bolt snapped off there as well. Once both nut plates are removed, we can work on freeing both of the broken bolts.
After a long soak in vinegar, which is actually great for removing rust from metal, 
we welded nuts to the remaining portions of the bolts sticking out of the plates and then unthreaded them both. We used a tap to clean up the threads in the plates and then we treated them with some rust converting paint. There is supposed to be a capture plate to hold either nut loosely in place but both ours were rusted through.
Duplicating and reinstalling a capture plate would be fairly difficult and isn't entirely necessary 
but it does make putting bolts in later much easier, we'll manage without them though. The nut plates are slid into the firewall and bolts are threaded into the plates to hold them in place. 
The sheet metal is tapped back in place against the bottom of the firewall 
and the cuts we made earlier are all welded up. The welds are ground down flush with the bottom of the firewall.
Up next, we'll get to repairing the right rear cross member and the quarter panels. 
Then we can fit up and install our new heater channel.
Thanks for watching!
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and when you need parts for your vintage VW, head over to JBugs.com