Ask Herr Doktor

Various issues

Have you had a problem fixing your VW, or finding a decent mechanic who can? Do you need information on VW restoration or modification? Want to know anything about Volkswagen?  Got a question?  Then ask Herr Doctor, c\- Zeitschrift, Club Veedub Sydney.


Dear Doktor,

I want more power from my VW 1600, so I want to install 92 mm big bore pistons and cylinders. What is involved and is this a good idea?
P. H., Panania

This will give you more power, sure, as you are increasing your engine size to 1835cc and raising the compression to 8.5 to 1 with no other changes. You need to remove and strip the motor to the last nut and bolt as the case and heads must be machined so the cylinders will fit. Don't forget new bearings and gaskets all through. I personally do not like 92mm kits as the cylinder walls are much thinner than stock and are thus subject to distortion and poor oil control over a short period. Some tests have revealed leakage and blowby after only 40 hours of running. Temperatures are sometimes 30% hotter also. I feel that 90.5 mm kits are better (1776cc).


Dear Doktor,

Do you know why late-model air cooled VWs had a strong spring installed inside the removable oil strainer? Can you imagine what it might be there for? I cannot imagine any reason.
S.T., Lane Cove

Yes I know why this was done. The spring in question was fitted to 1500cc and later models made after 1968. It was part of a valve system incorporated into the oil strainer to ensure that the engine was still provided with oil even if the strainer was blocked (e.g. with ice, dirt or bits of piston). How? When needed, this spring-loaded valve would automatically pull the wire mesh away from the shoulder of the funnel-shaped insert, causing the oil to bypass the strainer and flow directly into the intake pipe.


Dear Doktor,

I have often wondered how engine size is worked out; is it from valve sizes, as with bigger cylinder heads, or something to do with the crank? How do I know exactly how big my motor is?
M.M., Moorebank

Engine size simply represents the volume swept by the pistons as they go up and down (sorry, to and fro in VWs). It is thus dependent on the bore (cylinder diameter) and stroke (amount by which the piston moves from top to bottom). For example, with a VW 1600 Superbug the bore is 85.5mm and the stroke is 69 mm. Remember the formula for the volume of a cylinder from school - πr2h? Therefore we take half the bore (85.5 / 2), square it, multiply by π (3.142), multiply by the stroke (69), then multiply again x 4 (number of cylinders).  Divide by 1000 to convert mm3 to cm3 and the answer is 1584.6 cc.


Herr Doktor,

I am restoring a 1966 Beetle and wish to order window rubbers from the USA. However, a friend of mine assured me that they wouldn't fit, and he was quite sure about it, though he wasn't too sure exactly why. What is he talking about? Of course the rubbers will fit, won't they?
T.D., Otway

No, they won't, if your VW is Australian made (99.9% chance it is). The reason is that VW Germany enlarged the Beetle's windows for the 1965 model - but not in Australia, South Africa or Brazil that had their own VW factories. Aussie Beetles were manufactured here, with the body panels stamped in Melbourne, and VW couldn't afford to update and change all tooling and dies in 1965 to European standards. Thus, Aussie '65, '66 and '67 Bugs all have smaller windows than their overseas cousins. Big windows arrived in '68 for the later German-stamped CKD kit assembled Beetles.  I suggest you order rubbers to suit a 1964 Euro Beetle; these will fit perfectly.


Dear Doktor,

I have a '67 Beetle.  I noticed the front bonnet release was getting very stiff so I unhooked the cable and gave it a good grease. I put it back and tightened it up and closed the bonnet. However, I must have the cable too loose because it won't release the latch...and I can't open the bonnet.  I can't get in from on earth can I open the bonnet and readjust the cable?
S.S., Wiley Park

This is going to hurt. Grab a hacksaw and cut the bonnet handle off flush with the bonnet.  The male section of the latch is attached to the bonnet from those bolts. Once done, wiggle the bonnet and it should open, leaving the latch still connected on the body. Buy another bonnet handle from the wreckers and you're in business. This time, go slowly with the adjusting. Start with the cable pulled tight and gradually slacken it off a little at a time.


Dear Doktor,

To settle a bet, when did VW stop making Karmann Ghias? A mate of mine says it was about 1971, but I thought it was earlier than that. How many did they make altogether?
W.G., Toongabbie

By Karmann Ghia I assume you mean the Type 1 Karmann Ghia, in which case you are both wrong.  The last Type 1 Ghia came off the Karmann lines on June 21, 1974, after a production of 364,401 coupes and 80,899 convertibles.  The replacement was the Scirocco.  For interest the Type 3 Karmann Ghia was a different beast and it finished in July 1969 after only 42,498 had been built.  It was replaced by the lovely VW/Porsche 914 series.


Dear Doktor,

A while ago I borrowed the movie "Herbie Rides Again" on video for our young children. I hadn't seen it for years, and I began to wonder why Herbie was called "Herbie"? The movie didn't say. Were there any other Herbie films?
M.B., Hurstville

Up to 1985 there have been four Herbie films. The answer to your question comes from the first one, "The Love Bug" (1969) starring Dean Jones, Michele Lee, Buddy Hackett, David Tomlinson, Joe Flynn and Benson Fong. Racing driver Jim Douglas (Jones ) acquires a mischievous VW by means of which I won't go into; Douglas' mechanic Tennessee Steinmetz (Hackett) 'understands' the VW and he suggests they name it "Herbie", after Tennessee's uncle Herb who was a middle weight boxer. Apparently the shape of the VW reminded Tennessee of the shape of his uncle's nose (believe it or not). A character called Herbie had also been part of Buddy Hackett’s stand-up comedy routine. This is truly a great film and fills the VW enthusiast with pride. Not surprisingly it was the most successful film of 1969. The other films were "Herbie Rides Again" (1974), "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" (1977), and "Herbie Goes Bananas" (1980). This last film was particularly awful. In 1982 a short lived TV series followed, called Herbie the Matchmaker, where Jim Douglas and Herbie operated a Driving School in downtown LA.


Dear Doktor,

What year did VW make the most Beetles? Was it in the 1960s or in the 1970s?
N.S., Castle Hill

Australian production reached its maximum in 1964 with just over 25,000 produced, of which 3,000 were exported, and 22,293 sold in Australia. German production reached its maximum in 1969, when 1,076,897 Beetles were made. World-wide, however, it was 1971, with 1,291,612 produced. The Golf has yet to reach figures like this, but it may one day.


Dear Doktor,

I have a 1967 VW Kombi and the gearbox needs replacing. I would like to fit a higher-ratio gearbox. Can I fit a Type 3 swing axle gearbox, flop the ring gear and fit the bus axles, final drive and nose cone? Would this arrangement make much difference from the standard box? Also, has anyone seen an early bus converted to IRS, using a late-model Beetle or Bus gearbox, and if so, could you give me some details on what is needed or who does the conversion?
T.H., Mulgoa

In reply to your first question, the answer is yes, a Type 3 swing axle gearbox will work fine in an early Kombi. Of course you must remember to reverse the crown wheel and pinion to mate with the Bus axles and reduction hubs. ALL VW rear ends are 'IRS'; you mean the 'double joint' rear end. You can fit a Superbug or Type 3 gearbox with double-joint suspension into the early Kombi, but the procedure is a little tricky. You may not wish to do it yourself, but here goes. Firstly, visit your local VW wreckers and pick up the complete rear end from a ’72 or later Kombi. This means drums, trailing arms, CV joints, etc. Be sure to get any of the trailing arm brackets off the old torsion housing you just bought. Locate and weld them into place on the ’67 torsion tubes. Be sure you’ve measured properly. Use the +’72 spring plates, etc, to build up what amounts to a +’72 rear end on your ’67 Kombi. The gearbox will need the side flanges for CV joints. You can use Type 4 units from Germany to do it properly. There you have it – a ’67 double-joint Kombi. BTW – the late model front end fits in easily.


Dear Doktor,

Is it true that the band Man at Work mention a VW in one of their songs? If so, which one? I'd like to see more of that if it's true.
V.A., Warwick Farm

It's true, all right. The words in question are from the first line of the song "Down Under", from the Business as Usual album from 1981. The words are: "Travelling in a fried-out Kombi, On a hippie trail, head full of Zombie..." That's about it. The VW Kombi is also visible in the music video. It has low front blinkers and is burnt orange in colour, so it’s probably a 1970-71 model.


Herr Doktor,

I see in all the British magazines ads for VWs in England with the three symbols down the bottom. One is the VW sign; the other is Audi; the third says V.A.G. What exactly does this mean? Also, how old is the original VW symbol, and did Ferdinand Porsche design it as I have heard?
S.I., Yagoona

V.A.G. represents the conglomeration of the Volkswagen and Audi companies. VW bought Audi in 1965, and then NSU in 1969, and merged the two to create Audi NSU Auto Union AG. V.A.G. means Volkswagen Audi Group (actually Gruppe in German). Francis Xavier Reimspeiss designed the original round VW emblem in 1937. He was an Engine Designer working under Porsche during the VW3 prototype days. Reimspeiss designed the E motor that later evolved into the familiar motor we all know. The interesting thing is that he designed the VW emblem without being asked to do so. Porsche was impressed when shown the emblem design; he gave Reimspeiss a 100 mark bonus for it next payday. During the war the design was embroidered with gear teeth and other elements, but after the war was again used as originally designed.


Dear Doktor,

I have an early model (1974 Australian assembly) Passat in which the windscreen wipers do not "park" at the bottom of their sweep, but about 5 degrees above, i.e. when switched on, they are driven about 3-4 cm down before reversing up to continue their normal action.  Is this due to a worn bushing or some similar internal problem?  Can anything be done about this other than the workshop manual's advice to throw it away and buy another one?
E.V., Villawood

I sink vi haf vorked out ze problem.  Someone at some stage must have had the wipers apart and put back the lever which attaches to the wiper motor shaft onto the wrong spline.  It sounds like it's on one spline "retarded", so that the lever reaches its parked position only after the motor starts.  To fix it, you'll have to "advance" the lever by probably one spline, but in any case, you can remove the lever from the motor shaft, manually park the wipers on the screen, then re-connect the lever, which should then automatically line up with the correct spline.


Lieber Herr Doktor,

How pleased I am at your return to these pages. Please help me with my Type 3. I have recently experienced a problem with no obvious answer. Long ago I converted from carburettors to Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection. All has been well for many years. But now, thirty seconds after starting the car from cold, and as long as I drive fairly gently, the engine will misfire and sometimes stall. After restarting, all is well. In the afternoon, when the outside temperature is warmer, the problem is much reduced; the same applies for warm mornings. If I drive fairly hard, the problem does not surface at all. Looking forward to your solution.
R.Y., Blacktown

There are many faults that could cause this problem. The most common could be a fault in the engine thermostat, which means that your engine is not warming up quick enough from cold unless driven hard which means that the cold start valve is deenergised before the engine has reached a reasonable operating temperature. You could also check that the thermo-time switch is operating for long enough after starting. You should also check your temperature sensor and your auxiliary air regulator. A good workshop manual should show you how to do this, or you could take it to your local Volkswagen dealer who employs the best in factory-trained specialists and has the proper factory test equipment. Another possibility, which is sure to work would be to use part nos. 311 129 027F and 311 129 028F, which would be the most suitable for your application.


Dear Doktor,

I have a 1969 Bug that runs really well. Last year I finally replaced the trusty old generator and regulator with a Bosch alternator, just like the later model Beetles have. My question is, why does the charge warning light glow on first starting the engine, and for many minutes as the engine ticks over at idle? A quick blip on the throttle causes the light to go out, and on returning to a normal idle the light then stays out (mostly). Is this a fundamental factor of alternators, or just my particular unit or installation? Thanks for your advice.
M.D., Arncliffe.

As usual, all is well with your Bosch alternator. These well-made machines rarely give any trouble at all. The application of alternators for automotive use means that they have to be designed to operate over a wide RPM range. With a pulley ratio of approximately 2:1 the alternator must be able to work at 10 000 rpm or even more on a performance engine. So that it can operate in the high rpm range a sacrifice must be made at the other end. This means that until the alternator is spinning at about 3000 rpm it will not produce its full output. When there is a voltage difference between the ignition switch output (terminal 15) and D+ at the alternator, the light will glow. According to Faraday's law, whenever there is a relative motion between a conductor and a magnetic field, so that the conductor cuts the magnetic flux, then a voltage is induced in the conductor. The induced voltage is proportional to the rate at which the magnetic field is cut by the conductor so that at low rpm D+ will be lower than the battery voltage at 15, making the light glow.


Lieber Herr Doktor,

Please help me with my Type 3. I have recently experienced a problem with no obvious answer. I have installed a windscreen wiper/washer switch and intermittent relay from a 1976 Golf. It functions as designed, except that occasionally, for no apparent reason, the wipers will briefly flick up and sometimes complete a full sweep. I have checked for a good earth at the relay; no change. I have examined the design of the relay and found it to be a simple two-transistor monostable multivibrator, which should be fairly immune to supply line interference, unlike integrated circuits. Nevertheless. I have soldered a 47 uF tantalum capacitor to the supply line - still no joy. Looking forward to your solution.
R.Y., Prospect

It appears that you may have an intermittent problem with the earth contact, (SI) or (31), at the wiper switch. If either of these contacts become open circuit at any time that terminal 15 is live, then the intermittent wiper relay (part no. 191 955 531) will be energised, causing the 53m (M21) terminal at the relay to change from negative to positive. This will supply a positive feed via terminal 15 (M17) through the relay contacts to 53m at the relay to 53e at the wiper switch to 53 at the wiper motor, which will make the wipers operate. This problem usually occurs due to flexing of the steering-wheel/column caused by turning a corner or by pulling back on the steering wheel during hard acceleration, which is common in Golfs but would be unlikely in a Type 3. If the problem occurs during a high current operation such as starting or turning the headlights on etc., then the problem could be a bad earth connection to terminal 31 at the switch or wiper-motor. The best possible solution to your problem is to replace the switch with part no. 111 953 519 H or 111 955 517 A, which is how you should have left it anyway.


Herr Doktor,

I have a mystifying problem with my 6-volt Beetle. Many times when operating the starter, all lights dim as current is drawn but the starter motor does not turn. There's only the ‘click’ from the solenoid. Sometimes there's a pitiful ‘RRrr...rr...’ as the starter begins to turn, but then stops. I've replaced the solenoid with a new unit, and also tried swapping the starter motor itself for another old one, but with no effect. I've checked the wiring extensively, and even tried the Gene Berg starter relay trick to get more electrons surging into the starter motor, but with no improvement. Before I start shelling out big bikkies for a new starter, do you have any other suggestions? Thanks for your solution.
I.F., Carramar

This problem is quite common in Volkswagens. When the starter motor is reconditioned the commutator-end bearing is replaced as a matter of course - but not the bearing in the gearbox, which supports the flywheel-end of the shaft. These sometimes wear out over a period of years, and after a while will allow the armature to make contact with the field poles. This is called poling. To replace the bearing, first remove the starter motor and with a suitably sized tap extract the old bearing. After soaking the new bearing overnight in light oil (under no circumstances use grease), press it into position and reinstall the starter motor. For 6-volt Beetles the bearing for your application is part number 111 301 155, and for 12-volt Beetles obtain part number 113 301 155. These are usually available ex-stock from your local VW dealer for only a few dollars.


Lieber Herr Doktor,

Please help me with my Type 3. I have recently experienced a problem with no obvious answer. My Type 3 drives funny. I cannot seem to find a shop that can properly align the front end. The factory manual states that the notches on both upper and lower ball joints should face forward and that the lower ball joint should not be used for adjustments. The last shop I took the car to did, however, adjust the bottom ball joint (it has an eccentric) and claimed that that was the only way to get the measurements within specifications. The car has never had a front-end accident. My questions:
1. Why did the factory see fit to provide the bottom ball joints with an eccentric if you aren’t supposed to adjust it?
2. Why specify a camber angle of 1° 20 if this causes the outside of my tyres to scrub?
R.Y., Prospect

The unique construction of your VW Type 3 makes it necessary to consider the entire front suspension, as well as the front wheel alignment, when making any adjustments. Front and rear wheels, steering gear, front and rear torsion bars and front and rear shock absorbers are all closely related and each has an effect on the whole. Good handling and satisfactory tyre wear depends on proper adjustment of the front axle and steering, proper tyre inflation, torsion bar adjustment, wheel balance and bearing adjustment, shock absorber action and steering geometry angles. Both ball joints are notched to allow correct setting at the factory, which in the basic position is with the notches facing forward, as you've said. Normal wear may be corrected by adjusting the top ball joint to a maximum of 90° left or right, but in your case I suspect the bottom ball joint has been wrongly disturbed, perhaps many years ago, and only now by readjusting it can the proper camber setting of 1° 20' be reached. The fact that this correct setting causes your tyres to scrub indicates that something else is amiss. Ensure your front toe-in is set to 4 mm and your caster is 4°, plus or minus 40'. It would also be worthwhile to check your rear toe-out, which should be 2 mm. Although the 1° 20' camber setting is higher than that of any torsion-bar Beetle, it is exactly the same as that specified for Super Beetles and only 10' higher than Type 4 models.


Dear Doktor,

Audi have recently changed their rare TV ads, so that now they talk about thinking outside the square. However. I much preferred the earlier ads, featuring, the Audi 90 Sport and the little string quartet, playing the catchy classical tune. The voice at the end mentioned moving in the best of circles. What I would like to know is, what was that piece of music; is it available in shops or was it written especially for the old ad? Thanks for setting me straight.
M.M., Maroubra

That excellent Audi music is the fourth movement of ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’ (A little night music) in G major K525, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Nachtmusik is made up of four movements. The first, Allegro ('fast') goes ‘dah...da dah...da da da da da dah..’ and is the part found on every Mozart recording. The next two movements, Romance Andante (moderate tempo) and Menuetto Allegretto (moderately fast) are shorter and less well known. The fourth and final movement, Rondo Allegro, is the one we are considering from the Audi ad. You must look for a Mozart disc with all four movements if you wish to buy it. My particular example, recorded by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and released by Deutsche Gramaphon, has a fourth movement lasting 3 minutes and 15 seconds.


Lieber Herr Doktor,

Please help me with my Type 3. I have recently experienced a problem with no obvious answer. Rust has started to bubble through from the rear top corners of my station wagon. I know that, just as in Beetles, Fastbacks and Notchbacks made in Australia after 1970, behind lurks the dreaded injected foam. How can I best remove it all? Would soaking the foam in fish oil or some other rust-inhibiting substance, and expecting it to act as a sponge, have any beneficial effect?
D.C., Blacktown

Although the idea of foam noise insulation is good in theory, in actual practice it was a disaster for Australian-made VWs. Rather than using a foam with a closed-cell structure, like white polystyrene (which dissolves easily), VW used a tough, open-cell, rigid structure urethane foam which, unfortunately, retains moisture. This accounts for the rusting you've described. Urethane foams are made by the condensation of isocyanates, usually toluene 2,4-diisocyanate, with polyhydric compounds containing terminal hydroxyl groups such as polyols and polyether alcohols. The example used in VWs will not dissolve in petrol, kerosene, methylated spirits, lacquer thinner or any other garage chemical you would have on hand. If you wish to remove it, the only practical way is to either scrape it out with a hooked wire or to open the sheet metal and cut it out. The noise difference is noticeable, but not unbearably so. The foam will burn very well, but I do not recommend applying heat to remove it. Soaking in fish oil or another rust preventative is a good idea if you wish to keep the foam, but would only work if first all moisture is removed and the agent soaks into every foam cell.


Dear Doktor,

Please give me your opinion on my reasoning. I have been having some problems with my 1835cc Beetle. Mechanically it is OK, but I am not happy with the ride. There are no mechanical problems with the suspension. Rather, I believe I have faulty tyre valves. Every time I pull into a service station to check the tyre pressures, they are way too high. I have 205/60 tyres front and rear, and normally I pump the fronts to 30 psi (206 kPa), and the rears to 32 psi (220 kPa). But when I check them, they can sometimes be up around 35 psi or more! I am tired of continually letting air out of my tyres at service stations. Have you ever heard of faulty tyre valves that leak air into the tyres? This is the only explanation I can come up with. Please let me know how to remedy the problem.
R.T., Bondi

I have never heard such nonsense. There is no such thing as a tyre valve that leaks air into tyres, because it is impossible! A gas cannot flow from a region of low pressure (atmosphere), to high (inside your tyres). Consider! A typical atmospheric pressure is 101 kPa; the pressure in your tyres will always be greater, even if they are 'flat'. Your typical tyre pressures are up to three times that of the atmosphere. The air in your tyres is straining to get out, and will if there is ever a true leak. No, the extra pressure comes from simple heating of the fixed air volume as you drive. The thermodynamic gas equation states that pressure times volume of a given gas quantity, equals its thermodynamic temperature times a constant, such that pV = RT (R=8.314 joules per Kelvin per mole). Thus, for a constant volume (or nearly so), if you increase the temperature, you increase the pressure. Imagine each gas particle becoming more energetic as temperature rises; it will strike the tyre casing harder and create more pressure. The solution is not to pump up your tyres so high. I recommend no higher than 180 kPa for your case.


Lieber Herr Doktor,

I am currently in the process of rewiring a portion of the electrics on my Kombi. I have read in Zeitschrift that electric tape is not a satisfactory option, but I am prepared to attempt its use in certain situations. Therefore, please advise me of some of the general properties of insulation tape; what size is it, how strong, how fire resistant and electrically insulating is it? Does it stain or corrode metal? What is the best tape to use and how best to apply it?
D.L., Gosford

Of course there is no substitute for a properly soldered, properly insulated joint. Many correspondents have condemned electric tape and with good reason, as the average application is generally shoddy. This tends to give electric tape a bad name. However, if done properly with good quality tape then I, for one, will not stop you using it. I recommend tape made by a reputable European electric fitting company, rather than cheap Taiwanese shit you buy at K-Mart. Hella tape is 19 mm wide by 0.145 mm thick, and is generally available in black or red in lengths of 10 or 20 metres. Its tensile strength is 26 Newtons per centimetre, with a 150% elongation before breaking. Its adhesion is 3.2 N/cm both to steel and to itself. It does not stain when subjected to the copper corrosion test, is self flame-extinguishing within 30 mm and has a water extract pH of 6.8, and is thus minutely acidic. As far as electrical properties goes, this tape has a conductivity of less than 2 millisiemens per metre, an insulation resistance of 1013 ohms (10 terohms), can survive a one minute proof test at 6 kilovolts and has a rapid breakdown value of 9 kilovolts. Hope this satisfies your curiosity.


Dear Doktor,

I have a query about Brazilian VW production (Beetles, that is). I understand it ended in 1986, but when did it start? How did production numbers compare with Australian figures, for example? What was Brazil s best year for Beetle production? Thanks for your reply.
N.Q., Strathfield

VW of Brazil was established in 1953, and spent its early years assembling CKD kits from Germany in a warehouse, in a very similar fashion to the Australian operation of the same time. A purpose-built factory was completed in Sao Paulo in 1957, when Kombis began to be produced. The Brazilian-manufactured Beetle appeared in January 1959, and 8,445 were made in that first year. Australia's best VW year was 1964, when 25,736 Beetles were made in Melbourne, but this pales against Brazil where 51,755 were made in the same year. While Aussie sales and production slumped, Brazil increased further to 91,821 in 1967, 134,594 in 1970 and an all-time high of 230,619 in 1972. As late as 1976 the annual production was still more than 200,000 per year, and was still 188,000 by 1980.


Herr Doktor,

I am becoming interested in building a drag Beetle and competing in the VW Drag brackets. I have always wanted to beat Dave Birchall. I wish to know something about nitromethane that the top fuelers use; can I use it and will it do any good? Thanks for your suggestions.
B.D., Kellyville

Nitromethane, CH3NO2, is a colourless, oily liquid at room temperature, with boiling point at 100.8°C. Apart from use as a racing fuel additive, it is used in industry as a solvent and in organic synthesis. Nitromethane is an effective racing agent because it is oxygen bearing; each molecule has two oxygen atoms and they are liberated on combustion, which in turn can be used to burn more fuel. Nitromethane is used in a mix with other hydrocarbons such as methanol, generally 15% nitro to 85% methanol, but sometimes as high as 30% nitro. You do not need this exotic chemistry to beat Dave Birchall. A gasoline 1500 Beetle with new spark plugs should be sufficient.


Dear Doktor,

Here is a question which I hope you can answer for me. Is it true that a VW was somehow involved in the early days of Apple Computers? I remember reading in your magazine some years ago that Club VW uses an Apple computer; if so then that is quite appropriate. Any information you have on this rumour would be happily received. Thanks.
W.N., Berala

This story is quite true, but not in so direct a fashion. Apple Computer began in 1976, when two young engineers collaborated on a small computing board for personal use. Steve Jobs, then 21, and Steve Wozniak, then 26, took six months to design the prototype, 40 hours to build it, and soon had an order for 50 of their personal computers. They realised the possibilities of expansion, and so they set up a workshop in Jobs' parents' garage. To do this, and to provide the equipment needed, they raised $1,200 from the sale of Wozniak's Hewlett Packard programmable calculator (very special in those days), and Steve Jobs' Volkswagen Bus. No doubt other companies may have similar stories. Domino's Pizzas also began as a backyard firm in the US by delivering from a single Volkswagen Type 2.


Dear Doctor,

My 1970 Beetle has started shimmying from time to time. I've checked the tie rod ends for wear and slop, and the steering box is also in good shape with full oil and minimum freeplay. I can’t seem to find any play of any significance anywhere in the steering system. I'm stumped; can you help me? It's enough to turn my hair white overnight.
S.H., Shelly Beach

I don't know what you consider to be significant slop, but actually it doesn't take much to let a shimmy develop. One component of the front suspension you didn't mention is the steering damper. The long steering tie rod on the passenger's side has a small shock absorber that attaches to the frame; it looks like a pushbike tyre pump and acts exactly like normal shock absorbers to dampen out shimmy (ie. oscillation). Remove your fuel tank and check it out. If the damper is worn, replace it. It is not expensive and will not alter your steering geometry. And it is impossible for hair to turn white overnight. Although nervous disorders or old age can gradually turn hair white, no natural agency can suddenly complete the process. Hair only grows 10 mm per month, so it would take weeks for your hair to change colour. It grows from the roots, and the coloured hair emerging from your scalp is already dead.


Dear Doktor,

I have owned two Beetles, a Type 181, six Type 2s and five Type 3s and have never had a problem with the bonnet release cable. Now I am at last the proud owner of a Type 4. Unfortunately the bonnet release cable has given up the ghost. How can I get the front bonnet lid open? It is closed. The car is the very first of the 411s - a 1969 4-door version. The bonnet release cable release lever is inside the glovebox.
S.G., Townsville

It is not often than I am consulted on Type 4 vehicles, as in Australia they are as rare as rocking horse scheisse. However, to answer your question. Firstly, retract the left-hand headlight along with its associated wiring. Insert your gloved hand into the aperture and firmly clamp your instrument onto the tendon which attaches to the bonnet catch-joint. Tweak it violently and the abdominal cavity of your Type 4 should be revealed.


Hey man,

I own two VWs you know, a mellow yellow 1974 Bus and a cool green 1966 Beetle. Both of them seem to go OK, but um, I notice that old age is catching up on them. You know, a little smoke, some rattles here and there, funny noises from the innards, some rust, the usual things. I have tried directing positive energies to them with kind words and encouragement, plus some chakra, but they keep doin' it. So I did some stuff and came up with an idea. I want to know how to fit energy polarisers, you know like Peter Brock, to both my VWs as these should realign the molecules and make them both run good. Where can I get them and how do they fit?
R.K., Byron Bay NSW

I am surprised I had not thought of this myself many years ago. “Brock polarisers utilise Orgone Energy, an energy Unknown to Science, to re-align the molecules in the vehicle, thus turning a dog of a car into a sweet running one" (P. Brock's own words). These units were designed by Dr. Eric Dowker, Brock's guru, and were fitted to HDT Special Vehicles from 1986 to 1987. Orgone Energy was first postulated in the 1930s by Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) who first claimed this non-electromagnetic energy was discharged during sexual orgasm. He later decided it pervaded the universe, being generated by the stars. Orgone was blue in colour, and Reich claimed it could be observed with microscopes, thermometers or Geiger counters. It was responsible for, among other things, the blue in the sky, auroras, lightning, St Elmo's Fire and the blue colouration of sexually excited frogs (I kid you not). Anyway. You should be able to buy a polariser from a Holden wrecker; GMH did not believe in them so they are no longer available as an NOS spare part. Don't forget to fit the ABA Energy aerial to the rear window. There is no physical connection with the polariser itself, which is fitted to the firewall with a large self-tapping screw. The unit may be fitted to the Passat as is, but Golf owners should turn theirs around 90 degrees first. Later model VWs built in Europe should also have the polariser fitted upside down. The Beetle is somewhat more complex. Fit the unit firstly to a pyramid-shaped bracket in order to step the unit down to 6-volts, turn the unit backwards and fasten it to the firewall as before.


Dear Doctor,

I have a Beetle fitted with a souped-up 1916cc motor and it runs really hot. I mean hot! The problem is my exhaust system - nothing I try seems to stop it from rusting. It is a Thunderbird-style single muffler extractor. I bolted it on new about eight months ago and it started rusting almost immediately. I took it off, wire brushed it and painted it with VHT high-temp black paint. It started rusting again after only a month or so. What can I do to stop this happening, Doc?
R.E., Mortdale NSW

By ‘rusting’ I assume you refer to corrosion of the exterior of your extractor, as distinct from internal damage. I will take the opportunity here to examine both. Firstly, internal corrosion (which your exhaust is not yet old enough to suffer from) is caused by a combination of hot, corrosive exhaust gases and moisture from the combustion chamber. Observe the water dripping from your exhaust first thing in the morning! This moisture is a combustion by-product and is always present, but when the engine warms it simply becomes invisible due to ebullition (changing to a gas). The corrosion may be somewhat reduced by painting as much of the exhaust innards as possible, then dribbling some motor oil down the tubes. The residue will act as a barrier - at least for a short while. In regard to external corrosion, you have discovered the great truth of high-temperature paint - it is not! In your first case, the factory extractor paint burnt off in no time at all, being a cursory covering at best. Your repaint with ‘high-temp paint’ was a step in the right direction but the product you used was not suitable. That type of paint is designed for US V8 cylinder blocks that, while getting hot, do not approach the temperature of your exhaust. I have seen this type of paint advertised as withstanding 1200°F (649°C); but the truth is - it won't. Your exhaust may well reach that temperature close to the cylinder head, and something better than paint is required. Zinc is not suitable, unfortunately, as it melts at only 419°C, and neither is cad plating - cadmium melts at only 320°C. I recommend two solutions - have the exhaust sand¬blasted and hot sprayed with aluminium (melting point 660°C) then painted with whatever; or replace your exhaust with a stainless steel example. Stainless steel is a class of chromium steels containing 74% iron, 18% chromium, 8% nickel and 0.08% carbon and will have a melting point in excess of 1500°C.


Dear Doktor,

I own a personal import 1987 16-valve Golf GTI. From a cold start there is a rattle similar to very loud tappets. This only lasts for 2-3 seconds. It disappears and is not apparent from a warm start. Could it be valves sticking or perhaps a starter motor not disengaging? Your diagnosis would be appreciated.
M.V., Manly.

Worry no more; all is well. You state that there is a rattle similar to very loud tappets - that's because it IS very loud tappets. Your Golf, indeed any water-cooled VW built after 1986, has hydraulic valve followers (a.k.a. tappets and lifters). These are a Good Thing, since they eliminate that most tedious of regular maintenance chores - valve clearance adjustments. It is quite normal for hydraulics to rattle when cold, according to VW. The hydraulic valve follower eliminates valve clearance by ‘growing’ under oil pressure to take up any play between the cam face and the valve stem. This cushion of oil takes time to be established on start-up from cold, and while the oil pressure is still building up, there is metal-to-metal contact, hence the rattle you hear. If the engine is left for a prolonged period, the rattle may take some time to go away, due to oil having drained out of the valve followers. In this case, the air has to bleed back out; VW says this should take no longer than it requires for the electric cooling fan to switch on when the engine is held at a speed of 2000 rpm. Meanwhile, there is no damage going on, just a damn nuisance of a noise. If the noise persists any longer than this, however, there may be a problem. The oil may have left clogging deposits in one or more valve followers, especially if oil changes haven't been as regular as they should have been. In such a case, an oil flushing treatment (such as made by Wynns) should be used, then a switch to synthetic oil ought to prevent a recurrence of the phenomenon, due to the reduced tendency of synthetic oil to oxidise and leave behind deposits.


Dear Doktor,

Please help! I own a 1969 Beetle, which has a problem with the operation of the indicators. Some time ago I noticed that the indicator warning light in the speedometer would only light up during the indicator's first ‘blink’. Despite this, the indicators would still operate normally, so I didn't worry about them. Then, some time later, I noticed that the duration that the indicators stayed alight was becoming longer and the duration they were off was getting shorter (ie. bliiiiiiiiiiiiiiink-k-bliiiiiiiiiiiiiiink). This problem slowly became worse except for a split-second of ‘off’ time between ‘blinks’. I spoke to my VW mechanic who said that it was probably caused by a faulty indicator relay. He also said that my Beetle had a relay unique to 1969 (it has many wires connected to it) and was fairly expensive to replace. So I ignored the problem, hoping it would get better. Guess what? It did, although the indicator warning light still only works on the first blink. So I forgot about the problem for a while until recently since now the problem seems to be coming back. Doktor, is the problem caused by the relay? Can I fix the relay somehow (get inside it and clean contacts or something??)? Or could I replace it with another relay (preferably an inexpensive one) and if so, how do I wire it into my existing wiring loom? I hope you can help me, as I'm worried the rego inspector may not approve of my ‘bliiiiiiiiiiiiiiink-k-bliiiiiiiiiiiiiiink’.
U.B., Westmead

I can confirm what your mechanic so rightly indicated - your control unit is on the blink. The unit is most likely a 211 953 215C or something similar, made by Hella, and is indeed a unique piece for that year. Physically it does not resemble any other VW indicator relay, being a small black plastic box 60 mm x 50 mm x 20 mm and with a screw hole right through the middle of it Also, it has four terminals. Opening the box will require you to drill out the brass rivet, so you would need a small nut and bolt to put it back together. This was VW's first electronic control unit, and although quite simple as electronics go, you need some specialised knowledge to understand it. However, cleaning the contacts may achieve something. Inside are two relays, one with fine copper windings and the other with thicker wire. I would suspect the one with the thick wire, as it has to work properly for the warning light to work. I think the control unit may be going into ‘blown globe’ warning mode, even though your globes are probably fine. This can happen when relays get tired, so it's probably a mechanical, rather than an electronic problem. Even so, you could try re-soldering all the solder joints on the circuit board with a small iron, as dry joints are a common cause of intermittent electronic faults. A simpler solution would seem to be replacement of the offending unit with a more common one. You could use nearly any blinker relay from any car, but of course, Herr Doktor will only recommend VW items, such as 111 953 227A from a later Beetle, or one from a Golf, for example. An electro-mechanical 1968 or earlier control unit, though it would mount easily and power the blinkers OK, is not recommended, as it isn’t designed for hazard lights, ie. all four blinkers flashing together. What about the excess of wires? Your dud unit has an extra – ‘KBL’ - onto which is attached a blue/green wire going to the warning light in the speedo (other VWs have blue/red). Electrically, all you need to do is double up this wire with the black/green/white one which attaches to terminal 49a, then you can use any 3-pin control unit. A double adaptor terminal, which allows two female terminals onto the one male pin, would be fine for this purpose. It's up to you to solve the problem of how to mount the new unit, as nothing else has the same dimensions as yours and a screw going right through the middle. Some sort of metal bracket will have to be fabricated in order to screw down your new unit, which will probably be designed to sit on a relay board instead of being screwed down.


Dear Doktor,

I got into an argument with a chap recently. He said that while alcohol cars develop more power than petrol versions, this was due to quantity of fuel burnt rather than alcohol's energy content; he actually claimed that petrol was more powerful per unit. Conversely, he also tried to claim that LPG cars were gutless, yet LPG was MORE powerful than petrol! Of course I said he was wrong and refused to buy him another beer. We might have argued, but I’m right, right?
B.U., Blakehurst

Wrong. Your friend is the one who is right, and you owe him an apology as well as a beer. It can be misleading to think in terms of energy output per litre for liquid fuels such as the examples you mention, as the relative density comes into play. For example, petrol releases 34.4 megajoules per litre, and a typical Propane LPG only 25.4; however, petrol is denser at 0.730 times that of water, compared with only 0.508 for Propane. As a standard, we compare heating values on energy per mass, not volume, and in this way all fuels can be compared equally in terms of megajoules of energy per kilogram. With these parameters, Propane is the winner with 50.1 MJ/kg (which you would already realise by dividing the aforementioned 25.4   by 0.508), while petrol comes in at 47.1 (go on, work it out) In fact, all the liquefied gases do well here; Butane LPG measures 49.5 MJ/kg, Liquefied Natural Gas (methane) follows on 49.3, with Propylene LPG on 49.0. The reason LPG cars are less powerful is that the engines are not designed specifically for the fuel - they're modified petrol engines - and the tank, ancillaries and so on add much weight to the car. Continuing, fuels like diesel measure 45.7 MJ/kg, kerosene (jet fuel) 46.4, while alcohol is way back; methanol on 28.4 and ethanol on 21.2 MJ/kg. Alcohol racing cars can develop greater power because they have a much higher compression ratio (alcohol resists pinging better than petrol), and they run much richer and simply burn much more fuel in the combustion chamber.


Dear Doktor,

I am considering fitting chrome/moly pushrods to my 1835cc Beetle, as occasionally I suffer from the old bent pushrod syndrome. However, I've heard that this can adversely affect the valve clearance due to the steel pushrods expanding at a different rate to the aluminium ones. What's the story here?
P.P., Punchbowl

You have not described what you primarily use your hotted-up Beetle for, so I assume you drive it on the street as you would a normal Beetle. If this is the case, I suggest that you leave the standard pushrods alone and look for other reasons why they might bend. Are your valve springs too strong? Have you gone overboard and fitted double valve springs? If so you're asking a lot from the poor stock pushrods - do you really need that much resistance for your application? If the same pushrod keeps bending, then I suspect you might also have a valve binding in the guide - perhaps your valve is bent. But in any case, you are partially right concerning different expansion for steel and aluminium - but it's the amount, not the rate, that matters. Aluminium has a very high coefficient of expansion, which is measured in micrometres, per metre, per degree Celsius. For the range 20 to 300°C, aluminium measures 25.6. A high chromium steel is at the opposite end of the spectrum, usually around 11.0 or perhaps more with some nickel content. Thus, as your VW engine heats, a steel pushrod will not grow as much as a stock unit (which it is designed to, of course). I leave you to ponder the consequences of this.


Dear Dok,

I am confused about how German companies label themselves with GMBH or AG or whatever after their name. What do they mean? I've seen both written at various times after "Volkswagen", for example. Please enlighten me - thanks.
C.R., Morisset

I find this German corporate terminology very easy to follow; it's the English I cannot understand! What is the difference between ‘Pty Ltd’ and ‘Ltd’, or even ‘Inc’ ?! The initials GmbH stand for Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, or ‘limited liability company’, whereas AG stands for Aktiengesellschaft, literally ‘stock company’, a corporation owned by shareholders. ‘Volkswagenwerk GmbH’ (owned by the Government) was set up to manufacture the Kdf-Wagen before the war, and it continued on as the name of the company until public ownership in the 1950s transformed it into a corporation called ‘Volkswagenwerk AG’ (later just ‘Volkswagen AG’).


Dear Doktor,

I remember reading somewhere that VW once made an off-road, four-wheel drive Beetle sometime during the war. I think they called it the Commander wagon, and it was kind of jacked up. Are there any still around, and where can I buy one? Do you know anything about them? Thanks for your information.
R.B., Dural

You have recalled one of the most interesting of the wartime VW derivatives, the Typ 87 Kommandeurswagen. The idea began in 1941 when a Typ 82 Kubelwagen chassis was mated to a KdF-Wagen (Beetle) body. The result was the Typ 82E (or Type 5 according to VW). Being Kubelwagen-based it was only two-wheel drive, but it did have the reduction gearing on the rear axles and 16" wheels. Total production of this type was 688 cars. A slight variation was the Typ 92 of 1943, which was by then referred to as the Kommandeurswagen. It also had the Typ 82 chassis and Kdf-Wagen body and so was also two-wheel drive, but was different from the Typ 82E in that it was fitted with a sunshine roof and only three seats - the driver's (the Commander's) was fully reclining. There was a standard army Typ 92L, and the Typ 92SS which was supplied to the SS (Schutz-Staffel, or 'protective squadron', the state police). Very few Typ 92s were built. Finally we come to the vehicle in question, the Typ 87, which was also confusingly called the Kommandeurswagen. This last type fitted the KdF-Wagen body to the chassis of the Typ 86 Schwimmwagen, which was four-wheel drive. A five-speed gearbox was fitted, 4WD being operated when the fifth gear was engaged. The larger 1131cc 25-hp Schwimmwagen motor was also fitted. 667 Typ 87 Kommandeurwagens were made during the war, and another two were made during the British occupation of the VW factory afterwards. I do not know of any genuine ones in Australia, although at least one replica (only two-wheel drive) has been assembled. If I knew where one could be bought, I would buy it myself; I certainly would not be telling you!


Dear Doktor,

One thing that has always puzzled me is how the compression ratio of an engine is calculated. I realise that the engine displacement comes into effect; ie the larger the capacity the greater the compression ratio. But if this is so, how can a given engine have its compression ratio altered? Can it be measured or is it something that is calculated from a dyno power test? Please clarify.
T.E., Lidcombe

There are quite a few variables that go together to create a compression ratio for a particular engine. It’s determined by the engine design and can be worked out during construction. It has nothing to do with dyno testing, nor is it 'the greater the capacity the greater the CR", which is totally wrong. Compression ratio is simply the ratio of the total volume in the cylinder at bottom dead centre, compared with the volume at top dead centre. Let's consider what is involved. Firstly, at top dead centre the only space inside the cylinder is that made by the combustion chamber in the cylinder head, plus a little made by the deck height, which is the gap between the top of the piston and the start of the cylinder head. At bottom dead centre, the volume is the same PLUS the volume of the cylinder swept down by the piston. In the case of a 40bhp VW engine, the figures go as follows:
Volume of one cylinder = 298 cc (1192 cc / 4)
Deck Height volume = 5.7 cc (deck height = 1.23 mm x 77 mm bore)
Combustion Chamber Volume = 44 cc (measured by cc'ing the head with liquid)
So, the compression ratio must be:
298 + 5.7 + 44  to  5.7 + 44  which works out as 347.7 to 49.7.
Divide 347.7 by 49.7 and the result is 7.0 to 1.
Note that the compression ratio will change if you alter ANY of the three variables, but it will INCREASE if you enlarge the cylinder volume and DECREASE if you enlarge either the deck height or the volume of the combustion chamber (or both). This is true regardless whether the combustion chamber is in the head, or recessed into the piston crown.


Hello Herr Doktor,

I have a 1973 Superbug, and I am after more top speed. I am currently working on the engine but in the meantime I want to improve the car's aerodynamics dramatically. I believe that by lowering the car, filling gaps, smooth wheel covers, spoiler etc. I can halve the drag coefficient and get an extra 50 km/h at the top end. Would you give some suggestions on further body improvements, etc., in order to get an extra 100 km/h?
S.D., Bardon Ridge NSW

What you propose is very admirable for fuel efficiency reasons, but to expect to halve the drag coefficient and get an extra 50 km/h is, how you say, nonsense. Total air resistance (W) of a vehicle is W=Cw.A.V2.D/2 where Cw = drag coefficient, A = cross sectional area, V = driving speed, and D = air density. The factors you are able to alter are Cw and A. Attempts to reduce the Cw value by adding spoilers, underbody panels, etc. will not be as effective as you think, since their effect depends on the aerodynamic characteristics of the basic car body. The Cw can be influenced, of course, but not by nearly as much as you believe. For example, lowering 30mm typically improves Cw by around 5%; smooth wheel covers 1-3%; flush windows by only 3%; sealing body gaps might give 5%, and under-body panels maybe as much as 7%. Total improvement in Cw with these measures might come to 25%. If your engine flat-out can handle a total air resistance W, then an improvement in velocity will be the square root of 25%, namely a 5% improvement in velocity. Not much, my friend! Measures like chopping the roof, lowering to the max, optimising the windscreen angle (65° is ideal) might give you perhaps a 50% improvement all up, but that only gives you 7% more speed for a given air resistance. The only way to get more speed is to overcome more air resistance - and that means more horsepower.


Dear Doktor,

What are those small headlights you see on some new cars, the real little ones? Projector beam lights I think they're called. Are they better than normal lights? I think they look cooler. I want to put them on my barndoor Kombi so I can see where I'm going (and make the car look real groovy).
S.B., Blacktown NSW

The headlamp types you refer to are known as Litronic headlamps (from ‘Light-Electronic’). Some people do call them ‘projector’ headlights, but this is a misnomer, as apart from a vaguely similar outward appearance, they have nothing in common with the workings of the average Hanimex slide projector. A Litronic headlamp incorporates a xenon-filled, "D-1" gaseous discharge lamp as its central element. The unit combines a high degree of illumination with minimal space requirements, allowing more adventurous styling of a car's front end. The 35-W type ‘D-1’ lamp's arc emits a luminous flux which is twice as intense as that produced by the normal H1 halogen lamp. The colour temperature (4500K) is higher, and like sunlight it contains relatively large components of green and blue. Full illumination, corresponding to approx. 90 lumens per Watt, is produced once the quartz element reaches its operating temperature of almost 1000K. Unlike H1 lamps they do require some warming up, but a current of up to 2.6 amps (compared with 0.4A normal continuous operation) can be applied to obtain immediate light. The service life of 1500 hours approaches the vehicle's lifetime expected use. One final advantage is that failure is not sudden like normal filament units, so early diagnosis and replacement is simple. I cannot imagine fitting them to an early VW Typ 2, however. I recommend 12V 55/60W H4 bulbs (after suitable 12V conversion) to produce 1000/1650 lumens respectively.


Dear Doktor,

I've just bought a second-hand 1989 VW Caravelle. I was curious to know what its 0-100 km/h time is supposed to be, as well as its quarter mile time! How much faster is it than older series 1 and 2 Kombis?
K.L., Kings Langley NSW

You won't be surprised to learn that your Kombi is quicker than any of VW's previous Transporter models. Starting at the beginning, a 1956 Microbus with a 36-bhp 1192cc motor took 75 seconds to reach 100 km/h, yet did the standing quarter mile in 27 seconds. The later 1493cc model with 53-bhp was down to 55 seconds for 0-100, and 25 seconds for the quarter. The new T2 Kombi with 1584cc 60-bhp twin-port engine did 31 seconds 0-100 and 23 seconds for the quarter, while the 1970cc 78-bhp Kombi took a mere 19.9 sec to 100 and blasted through the quarter in 22 sec. Your 2109cc Wasserboxer has 112-bhp and should take only 17.2 sec to 100 and 20.6 for the quarter. Interestingly, the famous Oettinger 3.2-litre 165-bhp six cylinder conversion took only 11.7 to 100 and 18.4 for the quarter.


Dear Doc,

Who invented Phillips head screws, and why for heavens sake? What possible advantage do they have over slotted screws? I always seem to strip them too easily.
A.W., Kirrawee

Phillips screws have many advantages, but most of them are probably not obvious. To engage the X-shaped head of a Phillips screw you need a Phillips screwdriver, whose pointed tip makes it self-centering. This is helpful when you're using a power screwdriver, 'which is why the Phillips head was invented - it lends itself to assembly line work. The inventor was businessman Henry M Phillips from Portland. Oregon USA. He knew that power screwdrivers don't work well with ordinary slot screws because 1. You waste time fitting the screwdriver blade into the damn slot, and 2. Once you succeed, centrifugal force tends to make the bit slide off the screw and onto the job. Even if you avoid this, 3. When the screw gets as far as its going to go, the power driver either stalls, strips the screw or spins in your hand. A Phillips driver is different — it engages as if by magic, and stays engaged. And when the screw is driven home, the driver pops right out. Auto-makers in Detroit found the device useful as far back as the 1930s, and have been using them ever since. The only problem is the one you've found — once they're in, they're a bugger to get out again. You can minimise the problem by using the correct size screwdriver for the job, and slightly tightening the screw before you try to undo it.


Dear Doktor,

How can I tell if a late '70s Kombi, particularly a Microbus, is locally made or imported?
G.H., Leichhardt NSW

Look at the chassis number first of all; the last Aussie-made Kombis were made in 1976 so if it's later than that, it's imported. The compliance plate (or manufacturer’s plate) behind the driver’s seat will also tell you. Otherwise, the front doors had quarter vent windows, and the Microbuses had chrome bumper bars.


Dear Doktor,

I am thinking of trading in my trusty old '77 Microbus on a new T5, or maybe a good second-hand T4 Caravelle. How does the power and torque of these newer Kombis compare with my old Kombi?
S.K., Silverwater

Firstly, thank you for not going to a Tarago or some similar piece of pus. Your Kombi has a fuel-injected 1970cc Type 4-based motor that produced 51 kW at 4200 rpm and 143 Nm of torque at 2800 rpm. You didn't ask about the wonderful T3 'Vanagon' models that followed yours, so I will mention that the late Australian T3 Kombis had water-cooled 2109cc flat-fours that produced 70 kW at 4800rpm and 160 Nm at 2800rpm. In Europe you could get a high-compression version of this motor with 82 kW and 174 Nm, but sadly this was never sold here. When the front-engined T4 appeared in 1992 it had a Golf-based 1968cc inline four that put out only 62 kW at 4300 rpm and 159 Nm at 2200rpm, so this was something of a backward step. However the range was updated as TKM finally got their fingers out, and at the end of the model in 2003 there was a choice of 3 motors. Going up the scale, there was a 2461cc 5-cylinder TDI (turbo-diesel) with 75 kW at 3500rpm and 250 Nm at 1900rpm; then a 2461cc 5-cylinder petrol motor with 85 kW at 4500rpm, and 200 Nm at 2200rpm. The top motor in the T4 range was the V6 fitted to the last Caravelles. It was 2792cc in size and produced 150 kW at 6200rpm (!) and 245 Nm at 4200 rpm. Now the new T5 Transporter is on sale. It has a choice of six engines, four of which are diesels. The base 1.9 litre TDI diesel four comes in 63 kW and 77 kW versions, while the larger 5-cylinder TDI is 2460cc and also comes in two versions, 96 kW and 128 kW (at 2500rpm). The 128 kW TDI 5 produces 400 Nm at 2000 rpm. VW has made incredible progress in diesel output, and the 128 kW TDI is quite something to drive, I can tell you. VW supply a 4-cylinder petrol motor with 85 kW; why would you bother? Then the top petrol motor is a 3189cc V6, with 173 kW at 6200rpm and 315 Nm at 2950rpm. This is a real rocket ship! There really is no comparison between these new models, and our trusty old air-cooled Kombis. If you can afford one, take a T5 for a test drive. And hang on.


Dear Doktor,

I just bought a second-hand box trailer to carry all my old VW stuff to and from swapmeets. It's an 8 x 4, with Ford rims and tyres. I reckon I'll be towing up to 400kg of stuff. I have a couple of questions. Firstly, how easy is it to bolt VW wheels to my trailer? And secondly, how often should I repack the wheel bearings? The previous owner bought it second-hand as well and didn't know anything about it—obviously never done it.
T.P., Regents Park

Holden and Ford stud patterns are the standard on Australian trailers. They are fairly easy to tell apart. The Holden/Torana 5-bolt pattern uses a 108mm PCD (Pitch Circle Diameter), while the Ford pattern is 114.3mm. VW Kombis use a 112mm PCD, so they won't fit. T4 wheels use a smaller 110mm PCD, so they won't fit either. The current T5 Kombis use a 115mm PCD, so that COULD be made to fit with a file (not recommended). Otherwise you are looking at modifying your trailer hubs or having spacer plates made. Why bother? As for the bearings, I would look at them now, then again in a year. Clean them thoroughly and use proper bearing grease and new seals. New bearings are cheap and easily bought from auto parts shops.


Dear Doktor,

My 1971 VW Beetle 1300 smokes when I make a right-hand turn, or accelerate up a hill. It is my first VW and I've only owned it for about three years. The engine was rebuilt about 85,000 miles ago. Is this a common problem with VWs, or is there a cure?
B.M., Kingsgrove

No it is not a fundamental design problem with the Volkswagen, if that is what you are wondering. Oil burning is causing the smoke, which happens when VW engines simply rack up long and successful lives. Oil is slipping past the valve stems when you turn, as your valve guides are worn. The smoke on acceleration is due to another problem, most likely worn piston rings. Take your VW to a VW specialist (see the sponsor's list) and have him examine it. You may only need a top-end overhaul to get another 85,000 miles of VW motoring.


Dear Doktor,

What was the first Volkswagen to be built with unitized construction, as distinct from a body bolted to a chassis? Was it the Passat?
D.H., Cronulla

All water-cooled VWs have been unitary body, but the Passat was not the first VW built this way. The first VW car to have a one-piece body/frame was the Type 4 sedan, the VW 411, introduced in Germany in October 1968. Earlier Beetles, Karmann Ghias and Type 3s all had platform chassis and bolt-on bodies. However, the VW Type 2 Transporter has had a one-piece unitised body from its debut in 1950, and was the first VW so made.


Dear Doktor,

I have an 1835cc engine with twin 40 DCNF Webers in my Beetle. It runs really rough on the right-hand cylinders. When I hold my hand over the right-hand carb, blocking off most of the air, the engine picks up and runs smoothly. I know the carb is good because I've swapped sides with the two, and the right bank still runs rough. I've made sure the carb is tight on the Bugback manifold and I'm pretty sure the ignition is OK. What do you suggest?
R.D., Woodhaven

There is no harm in rechecking the ignition, particularly the plugs and leads. If they are OK, then I suspect you have a leaking manifold. The easiest way to test this is to grab a can of Nulon 'Start Ya Bastard', and spray it around the base of the manifold when the engine is running. If the motor picks up, then you have a leak. Take off the carb and manifold and check for cracks or signs of leakage. You may find better sealing with fibre gaskets on the head rather than the VW-style steel gaskets. You should also check the cylinder compression - make sure all four cylinders are good. Another more remote possibility is that your camshaft lobes are worn.


Dear Doktor,

What was the first Volkswagen to be fitted with fuel injection? I was chatting about this with some mates at work and they said it was the Golf Mark 2. I think Kombis might have had it earlier as Leigh Harris' Kombi has it. Who is right?
W.B., Lurnea

Yes the Golf 2 came with fuel injection, but did not go on sale in Australia until 1990. Before that, the Golf and Passat diesels sold from 1979-82 had fuel injection, but both the Australian and German-made petrol Golfs sold here from 1976 to 1980 had carburettors. The European GTI Golf 1 was not sold here, but it did have fuel injection in 1976. This was before Kombis, which only got fuel injection with the post-ADR models. We have to go further back. In fact, it was the 1967 VW Type 3 that first got fuel injection on the US-spec ‘1600 TLE’ fastback model. They used the Bosch D-Jetronic system. We can be proud that the VW Type 3 was the first production vehicle in the world to have electronic fuel injection (earlier systems like the Corvette's were mechanical). In Europe the model was called the TLE, TL for Touren Limousine, E for Einspritzen. Type 3 fuel injection came to Australia slightly later, in 1970, but only on the Fastback. That was the year the Type 3 range was facelifted with the longer nose and bigger taillights.


Dear Doktor,

I read somewhere that Kombi 2-litre engines are actually the same as Porsche engines. How come mine is so gutless then? How can a Kombi engine be the same as a Porsche engine? As Pauline Hanson once said, Please Explain.
E.G., Austral

Your 2-litre Kombi engine is a 1970cc development of the 1679cc engine first fitted to the European VW 411 in 1968. It grew to 1795cc in 1973 for the VW 412, but the model was killed off in 1974 and replaced by the Passat. The Type 4 never had a 2-litre version of this engine. The VW 411 and 412 were never sold in Australia, but the 1679cc motor was first fitted to the Transporter in August 1971 but it was detuned to produce only 48 kW, compared with 50 kW and 58 kW versions in the 411. The 412's 1795cc engine was fitted to the Transporter from August 1973, but again was detuned to 50 kW from the 412's 55 kW and 62 kW versions. The differences were mainly that the 411 and 412 engines had much higher compression and usually (but not always) fuel injection. In the meantime, the VW-Porsche 914 debuted in 1969 and used the 411 's 1679cc engine with 58 kW. In 1974 the 914 was upgraded to the 412's 1795cc engine, in 62 kW form. These engines were essentially the same as the Type 4 except for the exhausts. In 1973, however, a separate development of the 1679cc engine was introduced to replace the 6-cylinder 914/6. It was bored and stroked (94mm bore x 71mm stroke) to make 1970cc, and produced a maximum 74 kW in the high-compression twin Weber version. The Transporter engine is just a detuned, low compression 51 kW version, but gave adequate performance when it was new. Your old engine may just need an overhaul.