All fired up!

Having sorted new locks and a fresh ignition switch, the next step was to fit a battery, drop in some fuel and fire it up. Well, in theory, at least…

When we first picked the Bug up I told my son, Oscar, “A fresh battery and a can of fuel is all we’ll need to get it up and running.” However, in hindsight, that was more than a little optimistic. Sure, it turned over and, with a new set of points and a battery fitted, there was a spark, but as I worked my way through things, it soon became clear we had other issues to fix (read: parts to buy) before firing it up.

I was a little concerned by the lack of hose clips on the fuel lines and, as the rubber hoses had perished, the first job was to order some fresh hose, an inline fuel filter and a dozen stainless steel hose clamps. With the engine bay re-plumbed, I moved to the front of the car to replace the hose from the bottom of the fuel tank to the solid pipe in the chassis. This was when I found the fuel tank was clogged and, upon removal, things quickly went from bad to worse. Not only was the outlet fitting blocked, the tank itself was full – like several inches deep! – with a hard, plastic-like debris.

As we’re working on a super-tight budget here, before I splashed out on a brand new fuel tank, I hit Facebook to ask if anyone had a good, used one kicking around. Within just a few minutes, I received a call from local VW specialist and all-round good guy, Danny Allen (Dubz by Dan), who had just what I needed. I jumped in the car, collected it and had it bolted in place within hours.

Fuel + spark = ignition

By this point I’d ordered gaskets, oil, spark plugs and ignition leads to service the engine but, as they had yet to arrive, I decided to give it a go, just to see if it would fire up. Sure enough, with fuel now flowing and a decent spark at the points, the old 1300cc motor burst into life after just a few seconds of cranking. To my surprise, it then immediately settled to a smooth idle. Not bad going when you consider it last ran in 1997.

The next move was to call up my old buddy, Tim Billings at Kustom Restoworks, who had kindly agreed to make space in his workshop for the Bug. The initial plan involved Tim overhauling the brakes and tinkering with the suspension but, as the remaining service items I’d ordered only arrived on the day I was due to drop the car off at his workshop, I loaded them inside and explained the situation upon arrival.

And so, while he waited for the brake parts to arrive, Tim popped off the rocker covers to check the valve clearances before draining the oil and cleaning the strainer and sump plate. Fitted back with fresh gaskets, the motor was topped up with 2.5 litres of Morris Classic SAE-30 oil.

While a new set of points in the original distributor had got us up and running, closer inspection revealed the vacuum advance wasn’t working, due to a combination of a leaking vacuum can and seized a base plate in the distributor, so I bit the bullet and ordered a complete replacement SVDA distributor via eBay. Priced at £34.95 (inc. delivery) this complete replacement unit worked out cheaper than the combined cost of a new distributor cap, rotor arm, points, condenser and vacuum can on the old (and well-worn) stock dizzy. It seemed too good to be true but, together with new spark plugs and ignition leads, I am pleased to report it’s performed faultlessly so far.

Oh, and my son, Oscar, replaced the rusty tail pipes with a pair of Cartune taper tips, which sound great!

Click the thumbnails below for further details…

Words & Photos: Paul Knight
(As featured in the November ’20 issue)

Thanks to:

Tim Billings at Kustom Restoworks  Tel. 07809 538663

Danny Allen at Dubz by Dan Tel. 07487 557447