JBugs Video Series

VW Super Beetle Short Block Disassembly:

Video Overview:

In our last video our 1971 Super Beetle's engine was partially disassembled where we uncovered some issues that meant we had to rebuild it. In this video our tech will complete the tear down as far as we can. The engine case will be split, the crankshaft and all the internal parts will be pulled out and the connecting rods will be removed from the crank before sending the parts out to a machine shop.

Video Tips:

The tools you will need are:

1/4" Drive Ratchet
1/8" Drive Ratchet
3" Extension
6" Extension
10mm Socket
13mm Socket
15mm Socket
17mm Socket
10mm Wrench
13mm Wrench
15mm Wrench
17mm Wrench
Vice Grips
Needle Nose Pliers
Snap Ring Pliers
Telescopic Magnet
Brass Hammer
Flathead Screwdriver
Impact Driver with Ground Down Chisel

Video Transcript:

Hi, I'm Sam with JBugs.com With the discovery that our 1971 Super Beetle's engine needs to be rebuilt, in our last video, we continue disassembling the short block. The engine will be completely disassembled so that the case, crank, and other components can be inspected. The case, if reusable, can be machined and reused.


We start by loosening and removing all the smaller nuts and bolts around the perimeter of the case, then follow with the six large case stud nuts. After making sure all the nuts, bolts, and washers are removed, the case can be split apart. There are small ledges at the front and back edge of the split in the case. Tapping the left side of the case at the ledges while pulling at the head studs on the right side case half, the case starts to open up. With more light tapping at the lower engine stud, the right case half comes free.


Lifter clips are inserted into the lifter bores on the right side case half to hold the lifters in place. The right side case half is lifted up and off the engine and set aside. Now, the crankshaft can be lifted up from the left case half by the one and two connecting rods. [Lift] straight up and out of the case and set on our bench. The camshaft is pulled straight up next and the cam plug is pulled from the engine.


The six o-rings on the main studs are carefully pried up, cut, and removed. The main and cam bearings are removed from the case. A pair of needle nose pliers are used to remove the four dowel pins from the main bearing journals. The pins should be tight in the case and the holes should be squared in the journal. A wallowed out hole indicates that the bearing is twisted and, most likely, the case should be replaced.


The lifters are removed from the case. Note that if you plan on reusing the lifters, place them into a container and mark the positions so they go back in that same place into the engine case. Now, the distributor drive pinion is pushed out of the case, and the two pinion shims are removed.


The engine case is flipped over and an impact driver and ground down chisel are used, to loosen and remove the two oil release plugs. The oil pressure spring and pistons are removed, noting the longer spring installs at the crank pulley side of the case and, the shorter spring installs closest to the flywheel. The eight cylinder head studs are un-threaded from the case by double nutting each stud, and using a wrench or socket on the bottom nut.


I use a 17mm nut first with a 15mm nut on top, which allows using a socket or a ratchet on the bottom nut. The case is flipped over and the three oil sump plate studs are un-threaded from the case. Note that the oil pick up stud has a nut inside the case which must be unthreaded. The oil pick up stud is much longer than the other two, as it runs up inside the case and holds the pickup in place. The left case half disassembly is complete and the right side is very similar.


The lifter clips are removed, and the lifters are removed from the engine case again noting their position if they are going to be reused. The main and cam bearings are removed, and a pair of needle nose pliers are used to remove the number two crank journal dowel pin. The head studs and sump plate studs are removed. The right side case half can be placed back on the left and loosely bolted in place for safe keeping. At the bench, we can begin disassembling our crank. The rear main bearing is slid off.


A hammer and punch are used to remove the pulley woodruff key. The oil slinger is removed, followed by the front journal bearing. Unless you have a set of snap ring pliers, stop here and move to the connecting rods. Snap ring pliers are necessary to remove the retaining ring, and caution is used sliding the ring over the crank so it does not scratch the bearing journal. A press or puller are needed to remove the distributor drive gear and the cam gear from the crank. Both fit so tightly that they have to be heated up and slid onto the crank during installation.


We'll take our crank to a shop, and have the gears pulled off so that we can pull off the number three main bearing and inspect the crank. At the back of the crank, the four dowel pins are removed. All should have a snug fit into the crank. Like the case, the pins should fit tightly into the crank and the hole should be square in the end of the crank shaft.


Wallowed out holes indicate that the flywheel and crank had twisted either from a loose gland nut, or too much horse power. If the holes are damaged, they may be able to be drilled out for over-sized dowels. All four connecting rods are removed by un-threading the rod nuts, and then lightly tapping the bolts to free the rod from the cap. Keep each rod cap with the rod it came from as they are machined an assembly. Note that the rod and the cap are stamped with matched numbers that should line up.


Also note, the rod nuts are one time use as they are peened over during installation. They are used to keep the caps in place currently, but will not be reused. With that, our engine disassembly is as compete as we can get it. The crankshaft will be taken into a shop to have the gears pressed of, so we can reuse it. All of our case hardware, head studs, dowel pins, and key ways will be cleaned and inspected.


The engine case will be cleaned and taken to the machine shop for inspection. We had one theme in mind, hoping that the engine was usable or at least re-buildable. But, that theme has be modified slightly [but] still keeps to the spirit of the first. Those will be shared in out next video though so stay tuned, thanks for watching, and motor over to JBugs.com for all your vintage Volkswagen parts and accessories.