Monday, April 26, 2010


The lower engine mounting bolts are not too difficult to get at. (Courtesy Autodata)

The Beetle has to be the most DIY enthusiast-friendly car of all, because engine removal can be accomplished more quickly and easily than with any other car. In fact, so easy is it to drop out the Beetle's engine, that it is tempting to remove it for some jobs which can be accomplished – albeit with some difficulty –with the engine in situ. In addition to a trolley jack and either axle stands or ramps, the tools needed are a 17 mm open end and ring spanner, an 8 mm combination spanner, straight and cross-head screwdrivers and a fuel pipe clamp.
Basically, engine removal involves raising the rear of the car, disconnecting everything which connects the engine to the rest of the car (wiring, fuel line, throttle linkage etc.). supporting the engine on a trolley jack. unbolting the four engine mounting bolts, then pulling the engine back clear of the gearbox input (first motion) shaft, then lowering it on the trolley jack and pulling it out from under the car.
Begin by disconnecting the battery earth strap. Because engine removal becomes easier the higher the rear of the car is raised, you may prefer to disconnect both battery terminals and remove the battery to prevent spillage. You can remove the engine lid if required. although this is not essential. Chock the front wheels fore and aft (it is good practice to engage the steering lock where fitted to prevent the wheels from turning side to side), raise the rear of the car as high as possible (using a baulk of timber to protect the sump) and support the car on axle stands placed under the side members, again using wood packing. Check that the car is raised high enough for the engine. when balanced on top of the (lowered) trolley jack, to be drawn out from under the rear valance. Check that the axle stands are secure by lowering the jack until the stands are taking the combined weight of the engine and body, then raise the jack so that it takes the engine's weight but does not lift the bodywork off the axle stands.
Remove the air filter assembly. pre heater and oil breather hoses. You can drain the oil if desired. although this is optional. Use masking tape and a biro to make up tags for wires as you remove them if you are not 100 per cent sure that you will be able to remember where each goes, and remove the wire from the oil pressure switch. the low tension lead, any wires attached to the carburettor, plus wiring which runs to the generator.
Remove the accelerator cable from the carburettor. and push it back through the hole in the fan cowling. Remove the heater hoses from the exhaust shield plate, then remove the exhaust shield plate itself.
From underneath the car, disconnect the flexible fuel line from the rigid fuel line, plugging both to minimise fuel leakage. The potential for fuel leakage is potentially far less if the fuel tank has already been removed.
Disconnect the heater control cables. DiscAnect the heater ducting from the heat exchangers.
Ensure that the jack is taking the weight of the engine but not of the bodywork. Remove the top engine mounting nuts and bolts. These cannot normally be seen and you'll have to work by 'feel' alone (the car in the photographs has its bodyshell raised from the chassis which obviously improves access). On pre-1971 Beetles there is a nut on each bolt and removal is a two-person job. On later cars the bolts run into captive threads and the task can be accomplished single-handed. Check again that the engine is fully supported by the jack before removing the lower engine mounting bolts – it is essential that no weight is allowed to fall on the gearbox first motion (input) shaft. Check that no wires, cables or hoses connect the engine to the rest of the car. Pull the engine rearwards until it is clear of the input shaft, then lower it and drag it out from underneath the car.
Re-fitting is the reverse of removal, and the same cardinal rule of not allowing the engine's weight to hang on the gearbox first motion shaft applies. The engine bay side seal may need replacing, and this is one of the less pleasant tasks in Beetle restoration! The rubber locates in rails and, whilst in theory it should be possible to work its lips into the rail, in practice you may succumb to the temptation to open up one of the metal lips, slip in the rubber then tap the lip back down.
If you have previously removed the sound deadening material from within the engine bay then replace this before the engine goes back in. The panels have wire reinforcing and this is all too easy to stab your hand with, so be careful! Whilst on the subject of trim, the engine lid seal can either be clipped or fed into place; in either case be sure to leave plenty of slack so that the trim lies flat and does its job.
Do remember to feed the throttle cable through the hole in the fan casing before fitting the engine, and ensure that it cannot kink to become trapped in between the engine back plate and the bell housing. Raise the car just high enough to allow the engine on a trolley jack under the valance then. with an assistant to help balance the engine, raise it up to the same height as the first motion shaft. align it correctly and ease it backwards. Take care not to rip out the engine bay seal!

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