Hi Sam here with JBugs.com. With the
link pin drop spindles installed in our last video, we can start wrapping up
the front end on our 1963 Resto Custom Beetle. We will be installing a sway
bar, new brake rotors, brake calipers, narrowed tie rods and a pair of KONI
classic adjustable shock absorbers.
We start with the sway bar and
install larger sway bar bushings onto either end of our narrowed two Inch sway
bar. This is followed by two smaller bushings. The sway bar is then held in place
across the bottom tube of the front beam against the lower trailing arms and
the bushings are aligned with the trailing arms at either side. EMPI stainless
steel T bolt sway bar clamps are wrapped around the trailing arms and the sway
bar bushings The T bolt clamps are tightened down a bit to hold the sway bar in
place. The clamps will be fully tightened once the wheels are on the car and
it's on its own weight.
To install the breaks, our new
rotors need to have the bearing races installed before we can install them onto
the spindles. We recommend pressing in the races to avoid cracking the brake
rotors. Since we don't have a press in our warehouse, we enlisted the help of a
local shop to press in the inner and outer races into both disc brake rotors.
Back in our warehouse, at our work
bench, the wheel bearings are packed with grease. I use a plastic bag and grab
a handful of grease using the bag as a glove. Then a bearing can be grabbed and
the bag can be wrapped inside out. Squeezing the bag forces all the grease into
the bearing. The inner bearing is done first, then set into the back of the
brake rotor into the bearing race. Next, an inner wheel seal is set in place,
pressed down, and tapped gently to make sure it's fully seated. The outer
bearing is packed with grease and set in place into the outer bearing race.
Now, at the front of the car, the
rotor is slid over the spindle while holding the outer bearing in place. Next,
a keyed thrust washer is aligned with the spindle and slid into place followed
by the appropriate left hand or right hand threaded axle nut. The left side
axle nut is left hand or reverse threaded. The right hand nut, is right hand or
standard threaded. The axle nut is tightened down while checking to make sure
that the rotor spins freely. Check for any wobble or play in and out on the
rotor and loosen or tighten the axle nut as needed.
Next, tighten the set screw on the
axle nut to lock the axle nut in place. Now a new ball joint style grease cap
is tapped into place onto the brake rotor to seal the bearings. The brake rotor
is then cleaned with brake cleaner to ensure all the grease and oils from the
packaging are cleaned off.
Back at the work bench, we prep the
brake pads which come pre-installed on the caliper. With some brake pad disc
brake lube on the back in-between the pad and the caliper and the opposite pad
and the brake piston, the pads are pushed back into place and the calipers are
taken over to the car where the pads are cleaned with brake cleaner. The
caliper is slid in place over the rotor noting that the bleeder valve is at the
top of the piston. This is the correct orientation and will allow the calipers
to be bled properly later. The caliper is bolted to the
spindle. After checking that the caliper is not contacting the rotor at the front
or back side, the caliper bolts are tightened down. If the caliper were to hit
the rotor, washers can be placed in between the caliper bracket and the spindle
as spacers. The rotor and caliper are installed on the opposite side following
the same procedures.
Now the left and right narrow tie
rods can be installed to the front end by bolting the shorter tie rod to the
spindle and the pitman arm. The right side inner tie rod end has a hole for the
steering damper. That end is bolted to the pitman arm, and the opposite end is
bolted to the right spindle. You might notice that the right side tie rod is
hitting the tunnel. When the car is on its own weight, this will not be an
issue as the spindle will sit higher, moving the tie rod away from the tunnel. A
new steering damper is attached to the tie rod end then to the beam, and the
lock plate is bent over on the beam bolt. The steering wheel is turned so that
the pitman arm is pointing straight back.
Now the length of the left and right
tie rod ends are adjusted so that the rotors are roughly parallel with each
other, a more proper alignment will be done later. We will be installing new
steel brake lines at the front when we swap out the master cylinder so the
original lines are removed from the master cylinder. The brake hose clips are
pulled so that we can remove the hoses and lines from the chassis. New brake
hoses are installed at both calipers and tightened down. The hoses are then
routed to the chassis brackets and held in place with new brake line clips.
Next, KONI classic adjustable shocks
will be installed to control the suspension. The shocks have internal adjusters
that allow you to soften or stiffen the shock by compressing the shock fully. You
can twist the shock clockwise to increase, or counter clockwise to decrease the
stiffness of the shock. As the front of a Beetle is very light, and we want a
comfortable ride, the shocks are set to the softest setting and then bolted
onto the lower front trailing arm. Then the trailing arm is pushed up so the
upper shock bolt can be installed.
The narrowed beam towers sit closer
to the body than a stock beam. Caution is used while tightening the shock bolt as
we do not want the bolts pushing through the body. Once the bolt is touching the body we
take note on how much bolt length is left. Remove the bolt and install some
spacers on the bolt so it can be tightened down safely. Spacers or washers work
fine in this instance as well as, of course, would shortening the bolt or using
a shorter 12x1.5mm threaded bolt.
Now we are ready to install the
front wheels and tires. Stock sized tires will not clear with drop spindles so
low profile tires are required. We're using 135's mounted on EMPI's 5.5"
wide gloss black BRM wheels. The wheels won't fit with stock lug bolts so an
EMPI 12mm chrome stud and nut kit are used to mount the wheels. First the studs
are threaded into the brake rotor, the wheel is set in place over the studs, then
the lug nuts are threaded on and snugged down.
We still have to finish tightening down
the sway bar and need to get under the car with the car on the ground. As the
car will sit much lower than stock, a pair of drive on ramps is slid under the
front tires. Then a jack is used to lift the front end of the jack stands, and
the car is lowered onto the ramps. Under the car, all four sway bar clamps are
tightened down. The additional length on the bolts will be cut off with a
grinder and cut off wheel later.
For now we can roll the car off the
ramps and get a better idea of the lowered stance on our front end. You might
remember we have the front end adjusted to the highest point. We can lower the car much more from
here but we won't yet as the front springs are brand new and will settle a lot
once the car is driven a bit. Resist the temptation to slam the car to the
ground. Drive it for a bit and wait for the front suspension to settle before
setting the final ride height.
Next up we will be lowering the rear
suspension, installing rear disc brakes, installing a new master cylinder,
replacing steel brake lines, and bleeding the brakes. We will be one step
closer to completing our suspension and brake upgrades on our Resto Custom
Beetle. We hope this front end series has helped you all at home. If you have
any questions or are looking for more information on some of the products we've
used, stop by JBugs.com