Posted on 21/09/2013 at 02:32

Kitty Injection!

The one big modification on Kitty is its conversion to FUEL INJECTION!

Most of the VW community sees that as some sort of blasphemy, but come on, you gotta live with the times : fuel injection offers easy driving, the engine is available at any RPM, increased mileage, reduced pollution, no more carburetors that you got to adjust after 500km... Same goes for the ignition, which I intend to control with the same control unit as for the injection...
So, after test-driving Laurent's 1303 (check here :, I was convinced. And I went for some parts hunting!

For those of you interested by this setup, I'll go through the differetn modifications in full details during the next days/weeks, explaining the technical choices I've made :

  • Electronics

  • Hardware

  • Electricity

  • Fuel system

  • Software

  • Engine

But before I even started installing anything, I first wanted to have a clean engine compartment - which was in dire need of TLC. I first tried ordering a firewall/tarboard insulation kit from West Coast Metrics (via Slide Perf) : really nice product, but I wasn't satisfied with the final aspect.
So I finally went the hard way to remove all traces of glue : 6 hours of work with 5 liters of aceton (heavy duty gloves and gas mask mandatory, this produces some nasty fumes!)... But at least, it's finally clean icone smiley wink
So, be get ready for a series of quite technical articles!
To be continued... Real soon! icone smiley wink
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Posted on 18/09/2013 at 01:27

Kitty Upgrade : Short Swing Axle Swap

OK, so, on the rear things are a tiny bit more complex. The deep 6" Fuchs won't fit, their 36mm offset isn't enough, the tires hit the fenders.

My Ghia being a '68 model, it features the late "wide" rear axle ; by switching it for a narrow version, I'd get around 3cm on each side... So here I go, I hunt a set of narrow axles and I'm good to go!

The engine is taken out of the car without too much hassle (thanks Flo for your help!), except for that one exhaust nut rust-welded. I had to saw the exhaust away ; I had planned to change the exhaust anyway.
The gearbox quickly follows the engine to the ground. Surprise, the two silent-blocs were split in half, and the crossbar warped. Someone in my Ghia's past didn't know were to put his jack...
When I bought this car the seller told me that gearbox and engine had been replaced by VW in South Africa, and that the gearbox was a 8x31... And this is confirmed now, the "AS" code on the gearbox indicates it's a more recent (post '72) one, with the 8x31 gear ratio. And that is good news to me. icone smiley laugh
Then I remove the axles from the gearbox using a modified extractor. The rubber boots are dead and desperately need replacement...
The planetary gears are extracted, not an easy task since the end play had not been correctly adjusted when the gearbox was swapped : the snap ring moved in its housing, which created a small metal bur around it... I used a Dremel with a cutting disk to ever so slightly remove that bur from the lip of the housing, freeing the planetary gear...
Then the gearbox is in for a thorough spring cleaning : I scrapped off most of the muddy/greasy stuff, then solvent A, brake cleaner, hot high pressure, and finish with a drill-mounted rotary nylon brush.
The differential holes were blocked with duct tape to avoid getting any cr*p inside during the cleaning process.
For those of you who have never seen the two different models side by side : on your left the short version (up to '66), and the long one on the right (after '67). Beware, there's a third model, "medium sized", specific for '67 models.
The short version is more or less 30mm shorter ; but the transmission axles are actually 45mm shorter : the difference comes from the splined section, which is 15mm shorter... Which means you need to lathe down 15mm from your brake drums to be able to fit them on!
Since the axle tubes are still on the workbench, I decided to install one-piece seamless rubber boots, identical to the ones originally installed by VW, to avoid the usual oil leak you get from that spot with the split ones.
To install them, there's two ways : either you remove the end casting (on the wheel side) with an hydraulic press, to fit the boot from there (after grinding away the rake line support). After what you re-install the end casting with the very same hydraulic press.
Or, if you don't have a press (I don't), you can use the solution described in the VW workshop manual ; it may look tricky, but it quite easy to do actually.
I've made a short video to show you how to do it... And how not to do it, I managed to rip one!
You can find a few other videos of this process in this YouTube Playlist.

So here the result : pretty neat, uh?
Inspecting the boot I ripped, I could see that it broke along the "mold seam", there's probably a weakness in the matter there, and that's precisely where I forced with my screwdriver... So if you give it a try, do not make the same mistake!icone smiley wink
Next, I went on and prepared the axle tubes for painting : removing grease, rust, and thorough masking before bringing the whole thing to my body shop for a couple of coats of paint.
A few days later... TAAAADAAAAA! icone smiley laugh
Ok, now that everything's clean and shiny, it's time to put everything back together!

As said earlier the planetary gears play had not been set correctly. Time to do it correctly...
There is 3 different plays to check on the planetary gears, the VW workshop manual gives the tolerances :
  • between the sides of the "fish tail" end of the axle and the planetary gear body : you're supposed to have between 0.03mm and 0.1mm, with a preference for a tight fitting. My thinnest thickness gauge, 0.04mm, goes in tight on the right axle, while I have 0.05mm on the left one. That's perfect as far as I'm concerned.
  • between the flat side of the "fish tail" end of the axle and the fulcrum plates : you need between 0.1mm and 0.3mm, the ideal range being 0.15mm/0.20mm. I measure 0.15mm on the left one, and 0.16mm on the right one : bull's eye.
  • and now things get a bit more complex : planetary gear inside the differential, with its thrust washer and snap ring in place, you should have between 0.05mm and 0.2mm of end play, with a preference for the tighter end of that range. Unfortunately, I have 0.27mm on the right and 0.25mm on the left... No bueno. icone smiley sad
In order to fix this issue, I first ordered a Poor Man's Posi from Berg, but once I had it on the bench, I wasn't convinced... The parts were rough, even after deburring the shims, I did not want to install it. Additionally, I've read many feedbacks from users whose shims got shredded in the diff... Plus, I could not manage to fit in 3 shims as recommended, only two on a side and a single one on the other, unless it was way too tight. I could have surface ground the thrust washer, but meh...

Plan B it is then, I order thickness-calibrated thrust washers from VW Classics (2 months delay, one gotta be patient... I ordered new snap rings as well to have a reliable setup), in 3.9mm, 4.0mm and 4.2mm (thickest size available), hoping to have the right one for my assembly. Besides, upon inspection there are two distinct finish qualities : the 3.9mm and 4.2mm are precisely calibrated, with a nice smooth finish ; on the other hand, the 4.0mm actually are 4.42mm thick!
Naturally, that would have been too easy, I don't have the right thickness, the 3.9mm are too thin and 4.2mm barely fit in...
So I head up to JLC's (thanks Jean-Louis) to adjust the thickness with his surface grinding machine... And here it goes, perfect fit, almost tight, it will be just perfect after driving it a few kilometers!
Since the gearbox is on the workbench, I fit a new transmission input shaft seal (the most difficult part in that is removing the old seal, but it's made way easier using this kind of tool, found on eBay), and I put back the swing-axle tubes and adjust'em by putting the right number of paper gaskets ; I'll end up putting three on one side and two on the other.
I can now finally push the gearbox back into the car!
I install new mounts (harder ones), new bearings and gaskets/seals on the wheel side...
An finally... TAADAAAA!!!
The rear wheels fit comfortably under the fenders, I may even be able to put slightly thicker spacers behind the rims (I currently have 8mm ones).
It looks a bit too high like that, I'll have to drop it a few centimeters down...
I couldn't help making a quick Photoshop to see how it would look like!

Pretty good, but it'll have to wait for now! icone smiley wink
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Posted on 12/07/2013 at 17:20

Kitty Upgrade : Pedal assembly

Amongst all the little improvements that I wanted to make on Kitty, was the replacement of my clutch cable, which used to make a squeaky noise for a while now.
In order to replace that cable, one need to take the pedal assembly out of the car ; but when I saw how ugly it looked, I decided it definitely needed a bit of TLC before I could put it back in (and no, that's not what she said). icone smiley laugh
So here I go again, disassembling / cleaning / sandblasting / painting, beadblasting of the hardware, and reassembling with new parts...

That's the kind of setback that screws up my planning... Well, that and the delevry time of VW Classic. icone smiley laugh icone smiley laugh
The pedals feels much smoother now, I can't wait to actually try it on the road!
However, I uncovered a tiny crack at the base of the clutch pedal, so I may have to take it apart again in order to weld it... Well, I guess we'll see if it holds like that once the gearbox and engine are back in.

That's all for today, to be continued soon!
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Posted on 11/07/2013 at 23:02

Kitty Upgrade : the brakes!

In order to install the Fuchs, I need to switch from the original 4x100 wheels bolt pattern to the Porsche 5x130 ; which means, at least, replacing brake discs and drums.
So, here I to again, renovating the whole thing! icone smiley laugh

Front end :

I replace brake discs and bearing with new ones (thanks Laurent!), and I fully rebuild the brake calipers : renovation kit from VW Classic, new brake pads and flew lines, beadblasted nuts and bolts, and Foliatec-painted calipers. I wanted to paint them red at first, but then I thought that would look a bit to "bling", so I went for a more classy lossy black finish.
Why paint them, one may ask? Well, just for the sake of avoinding to see an ugly rusted bit of metal behind my shiny polished Fuchs' spokes! icone smiley wink

Rear end :

Complete renovation here too : degreasing/sandblasting/painting of the brake plates, beadblasting of misc hardware, and reassembling with new brake cylinder/pads/springs!
Yet another thing done... To be continued tomorrow!
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Posted on 10/07/2013 at 23:23

Kitty Upgrade : Fuchs time!

I'm sorry, ShamWerks may have looked like on hold for quite a while now...

Actually, I'm currently in the process of making many improvements on Kitty (that's my Ghia's nickname - don't ask), and it's taking me more time than I had planned for... And I was waiting till I had reached some major steps before posting anything about it here!

So brace yourselves for quite a series of "Kitty Upgrade" posts ; speaking of which, I'd like to thank Bazoom who made the drawing I use in this post's title ; this is kind of a preview of what my Ghia should look like when I finish it. I know, I know, I got quite a lot of work to do before I get there! icone smiley wink

One of the long awaited modifications was installing the Fuchs wheels presented here almost... Phew, 6 years ago!
These are genuine, original, pre-Feb '71 Porsche Deep Fuchs, not repops, 5.5" in the front, 6" in the rear... Überlike! :
It took me a while, I finally got them polished. Yup, I went the easy way, bringing them to a professional to do it, I didn't have the courage/patience to spend 15 hours per wheel sanding! (Olive-from-the-Hills, if you read this : yes, I'm kinda ashamed icone smiley laughicone smiley laughicone smiley laugh)

So, I first took the rims to paint stripper to get rid of the many paint layers. Fun fact, he didn't manage to remove the original black layer from Porsche, even after putting the wheels four times in his paint stripping bath! That paint was pretty tough!
Then, I took the rims to Moriano to get them fully polished. He ain't cheap, but the result is just perfect, they look like they're chromed!

And to those who tell me "that's too shiny, too bling, go on and detail them", well... No. I do like'em this way, they'll remain fully polished! (well, at least until I get tired of cleaning/rubbing/polishing!)
Then I had to decide what the size of the tires would be... Not an easy task, since there's not that much room under the fenders of a Ghia.
So I first spent quite some time browsing several Aicooled VW forum (F4E, FKG, TheSamba...) to see what tires other people used on their Ghias. I compiled all these data in an Excel file, which might prove useful to anyone out there who wants to put Fuchs on his Ghia : download this file here, you'll thank me later... icone smiley wink

I finally set my mind on Yokohama tires, 165/65 R15 in the front, and 185/65 R15 in the rear, ordered on the french website 123pneus (and delivered within 48 hours as usual, that's a good address!). Tires were installed with tire tubes inside ; that's not perfect, but you don't really have a choice with Deep Fuchs, since there's no ridge around the rim to keep a tubeless tire in place...
After a quick test, the Fuchs seem to pass just fine inside the front fenders with the 165/65 R15 tires. That's mainly thanks to the 42mm inside offset of the Deep 5.5"... The tire just slightly rubs the fender when I'm turning full left, but it should be ok. To be confirmed with dynamic driving on the road, though, but I might very well not have to change my front beam for a narrowed one!
On he other hand, the rear tires do not fit the rear fenders, but I knew that would happen.

While I was at it, I installed four red Koni adjustable shockers, trying to make the best I could to improve the road holding. Concerning the shockers, they were out of stock at all the aircooled VW dealers I contacted, but I found them available, and cheaper, directly on the Koni-Shop website, delivered within 24 hours! icone smiley laugh

To be continued... Tomorrow! icone smiley wink
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