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[T3] Front end article

Not sure if this got posted last week.

The Type 3 Front end DON'T lower your standards!!

									Only your automatics.
									By:  Keith Park

The type 3 front end is a very well designed one and will last literally
forever if properly maintained and not lowered but with improper
maintenance and rough treatment can be shot in as little as 60Kmi.
Thisc is to supplement the Bentley manual, and show some practical
shortcuts and things that that were left out but you WILL need the torque
specs and such from the Bentley and it is HIGHLY recommended you read over
the whole chapter on the front end before proceeding with any work on it.
     I will write the article as a procedure to disassemble and adjust the
suspension height.  If your not concerned with doing this read through
anyway as I will include the little things to look for that may cause other

Begin by raising the front end of the car and supporting it with jack
stands under the beam.  Remove the front wheels.  Next remove the spindles,
the ball joint clamping bolts are a tricky breed and must be delt with
appropriately.  They are 9.8 Shanked  bolts which means they are hardened
and MUST be replaced with hardened bolts as they are torqued to 40 ft-lbs.
The bolts may be broken loose with weight on the ball joint but must be
removed without any weight on the stud or the stud will jam against the
bolt and roll the threads over. Lastly, most of these bolts are frozen so
you'll have to wrap the ball joint in a wet rag and use an OXY torch to
heat the knuckle where the bolt threads in RED hot to remove the bolt. 
Don't even bother with a propane torch as there is not nearly enough heat
and this is the LAST bolt you'll want to break off, its hardened so
drilling it out is a nightmare.  Take your time and get torch help where
you need it and they will all come out.

     Once you've loosened the lower ball joint stud bolt raise the lower
torsion arm with a floor jack being careful of the stability of the car and
shifting on the jack stands.  Once you have the top torsion bar so that it
is no longer pushing against the top rubber snubber you have relieved the
pressure on the ball joint stud and you can fully remove the bolt.  Next
drive a cold chisel or wedge into the ball joint clamp to free the ball
joint stud and raise the lower arm further until the stud is loose. 
Remember to check the car øe sure it isn't shifting on the jack
stands but you may actually have to lift it off one with the jack under the
lower torsion arm to get the arm high enough to remove the ball joint. 
Once it is free you can let the jack down and remove the top ball joint
stud in the same manner only you won't need the jack.  Hang the knuckle in
such a way as to not stress the brake hose.

If your just adjusting the suspension height or servicing the lower torsion
bar you don't need to remove the top ball joint.

     Now that your spindles are off remove the shocks making sure that the
lower bushing on the shock comes off with the shock and that you don't rip
it out of the rubber on the shock.  Your now ready to take the bars out of
the front end.  Lower bars first, First, and most important, is to take a
cold chisel and mark the stationary unloaded position on the arm and beam
so you can put it back on the same spline later. Next remove the anchoring
bolt on the opposite side and the retaining finger and thread in a longer
version of the same bolt and pound it in till the bar comes loose and hangs
free.  These splines are notorious for rusting up and perhaps NEVER coming
loose so be prepared for a showstopper here.  You can heat but it you
deform the end of the beam with the heat and pounding you'll ruin it and
never get a proper alignment again.  One of the locals here in town years
ago had a tool he put on it and vibrated it along with heating that worked
very well but finding this is probably an impossibility.

     Get it loose? GREAT! Now carefully remove the bar, supporting its
weight and keeping it in the middle of the hole so as not to damage the
bushing and bearing surfaces in the beam on the way out. It will be VERY
greasy so wipe it down and examine it.  The bar should not have more than
very minor surface rust and NO cracks. The bar should be concentric in the
hole where it enters the torsion arm too if it's just a little off OK but
if its really noticeable then you have a bent arm and its scrap.  This willhe inability to get proper Caster on alignment.  Look at the inner
area of the arm where the inner bushing rode on it, if its shiny and just a
bit worn its OK, if its scored or grooved but not worn into the arm its
been improperly greased and is near end of life but if the wear is down
into the arm its junk and so are the bushings in the beam.  Look at where
the needle bearings ride, there should be NO scoring or pitting here and NO
rust.  If you see rust your beam is probably rusted through under the
clamps and needs to be replaced.
If the arm checks out you can loosen the clamp bolt, mark its position on
the bar with a grease pencil (the bar is too hard for a cold chisel) and
pound it off.  These splines are also a bear and heat can be used but as a
last resort and with care as the grease in the arm will melt and try to
catch fire.

     The inner beam bushings and bearings are replaceable but obtaining
Part's is VERY difficult.  The outer needle bearings are easily removable
with a puller and a slide hammer but the inner bushings are a different
VW had a tool to do it but it's hard to tell what it was in the literature
and the bushings are usually really in there.  I have used an assembly of
washers on a rod filed on the edges so they will slide through and latch on
the other side.  This gave me limited success and installing the new ones
must also be done with care using a punch that will hold the bushing and a
lip that will pound it in to the correct depth.  I wish I had better
suggestions other than to hope the bushings are good but perhaps someone
else will invent a better way of getting them in and out without damage.

     Now that you've inspected the lower portion of the beam lets look at
the upper stabilizer bar.  These tend to work loose on the left side of the
car so grab it and you should feel no in and out play, just rotational and
the arms should both track with one another, both be tight on the bar.  If
you want to remove it just loosen the set screw on the left side or the
,Ithe right side and rotate the arm up so it will slide off.  NOTE
that these also tend to rust solid and may need heat.  Inspect the arms as
you did on the lower ones but there shouldn't be a problem here as they are
lightly loaded.  If you had a loose left arm inspect the bar and arm to see
of the edges are rounded off where it had been chucking around in there. 
This is a common problem and if left very long you will need to replace the
arm and bar as they will never stay tight. If they look rounded or don't
fit together tightly then replace them.

     Now here's a hint a REAL hint on how to improve the body roll of your
Notchback or Fastback.  The Squareback's, at least the late model ones used
a significantly larger sway bar and it's a direct swap with the other cars.

This will make a very noticeable improvement on the cornering and only a
small amount of increased stiffness of the front suspension.

     Lastly inspect the ball joints, they are good for about 180K on the
bottom if the boots are good and will last forever on the top as they are
lightly loaded.  They should show no signs of rust inside and move freely
with NO play.  Sometimes they are a bear to remove and heating them is
tricky as they have plastic parts inside them sometimes.  Try just heating
the nut and using an impact wrench.  On the early joints you can grease
them with a fitting but be careful not to blow the boot off.  Inspect the
tie rod ends the same way.


     Start with the stabilizer bar, grease the entire length of the bar and
arms and use anti-seize on the ends where the bar enters the arm.  Tighten
the arm on the left side, make sure it cant move around in the hole and
then tighten the bolt that goes into the bar on the right side until the O
ring seals (don't forget these) squish out.  You want it just tight enough
so you don't get any axial play but it will rotate smoothly. Then tighten
the clamp bolt.
     The lower bars should be assembled on the arms with plenty of
anti-sebFhe position previously marked.  Grease the entire length of
the arm and bar, use anti-seize on the splines and insert it in the marked
position carefully not to scratch the bearings or bushings during assembly.
 Adjustments in ride height can be made but rotating one spline at a time
for a very coarse adjustment and the Bentley manual gives the procedure for
the fine adjustment.  I have found that advancing 4 notches on the inner
spline and decreasing 4 notches on the outer spline (1'20") change is the
finest noticeable change.   Be sure to keep the 2 sides even.. this is
critical and you want the car, unloaded, with a half tank of gas, to have
about  to  inch space between the upper rubber stopper and the upper
torsion arm.  This may take several tries as the car has to be assembled
and let down each time 
to check the height.  With the bars set to where you want tighten
everything down and make sure the metal finger mounted on the inner bar
bolt is rotated so its over the lip on the lower torsion arm.  THIS IS A
SAFETY ISSUE that is often overlooked or assembled wrong.  This is the only
thing that keeps your lower arm and bar from coming out completely when the
torsion bar breaks and they do.  The early beams had these fingers welded
on the beam and they were bent over the arm once the arm is in place.
     Install the top ball joint after making sure the boot is good and use
lots of antiseize on the stud and clamp bolt.  Make sure the clamp bolt is
at least a hardened 9.8 shanked bolt.  Now lift the lower arm onto the
knuckle with the floor jack again making sure the car doesn't shift off the
jack stands and let the stud down into the hole until the bolt will enter
freely. Rotate the ball joint stud until the notch on the end faces front
and tighten and torque this bolt now before letting the jack the rest of
the way down.  I don't install the shocks until I have let the car down and
checked the ride height as it usually needs some tweaking.


     Those that know me know that I at the thought of lowering any
type 3 so let me put my reasons down on paper.

First off sit next to your car with the front wheel off and look at the
front suspension.  Now notice how little suspension travel there is, now
imagine changing the lower bar angle by I notch which is nearly 12 degrees.
Now where are you? Right against the lower rubber stopper!  Now imagine how
hard the ride will be! Also note that the Caster which should be 4 degrees
is determined by how far the upper ball joint sits back from vertical from
the lower ball joint.  This is a function of the geometry of the car and is
not adjustable.  Now think how much the Caster will be reduced with the
lowered stance.  Yep! You'll lose it all with just one notch down.  Without
Caster or with negative caster your car will wander, especially in the wind
and every bump you go over will steer the car in random directions (called
Bump-steer). These conditions are dangerous for emergency handling
characteristics and are just not acceptable.  
     I have seen some people remove the rubber stoppers to lower the car
even more and this really exasperates the shock loads on the bearings and
bushings in the beam which are so hard to obtain and replace. I've seen
bent frame heads because the car bottomed out in a dip and hit the clamps.
Your front end wont last long if lowered and those who say the handling
feels good have probably never driven a properly set up, tight, type3
that's been aligned properly.
     If your car is a trailer queen or a sunny Sunday car on smooth streets
then lower away but for the daily driver, especially the highway car you
probably won't be pleased with the high-speed handling and the suspension
won't last long.

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