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Re: [T3] The safety FAQ

<x-charset iso-8859-1>Keith and John:

This is the first chance I had to read your article.  EXCELLENT.  EXCELLENT.

Thank you.

You've answered tons of my questions that I've wondered but haven't asked or
even considered.

68 Notch

----- Original Message -----
From: "Keith Park" <topnotch@nycap.rr.com>
To: <type3@vwtype3.org>
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2001 6:34 PM
Subject: [T3] The safety FAQ

> While were talking safety and seatbelts... I thought Id post the safety
> Our old cars arent as safe as many of the modern ones so its really a good
> idea to wear our seatbelts and make sure they are in good shape!
> Keith
> Safety and your T3
> A guide as to what to consider when choosing a year or particular car.
> By Keith Park with the help of John Jaranson.
>   This article is written to familiarize you with the safety upgrades of
> T3 US spec cars and some things that can ether be upgraded on the earlier
> cars or avoided during a restoration.  In other foreign markets the same
> rules apply but the year of introduction of safety equipment may be
> different and some may never have been implemented.
> What year did the T3 become a safe car?  Well. compared to today's US spec
> cars never but in general with the cars of their day a general rule is
> for the US spec cars.
> Why this year? Well, 3 things really, first off the fuel filler neck, it
> moved to the RF fender and attached to the tank with a flexible hose so in
> an accident it will bend and not break.  The earlier design at the front
> the Tank was REALLY boneheaded as with no flex strip it will tear from the
> tank during a moderate front end collision and easily if you rear-end a
> high-bumpered vehicle.  You will probably then burn to death unless you
> get out quickly.  Secondly in 68 the US got the safety collapse steering
> column, without it a moderate to severe front-end collision resulted in
> face being permanently and perhaps fatally altered by the steering column.
> Lastly. the high-back seats.  Whiplash is greatly reduced by supporting
> head.
>  Early cars can be fitted with late seats as a direct swap.  Steering
> columns can be retrofitted too with some changes in the wiring and some
> of original look.  The fuel tank will swap out but requires putting a late
> RF fender on the car and cutting a hole in the inner fender well for the
> filler neck.   Some early cars already have the stamping for this hole.
> Seat belts!  There were mounts for the 3 point front and rear belts as far
> back as 65 at least and if they are not in your car this is the first
> upgrade you should do.  Inertia reel belts came out in 72 and are an easy
> bolt in to the early cars and much easier to use and use properly than any
> of the early belts.  This makes for a very desireable conversion.
> Lastly, never retrofit belts by bolting to anything else but the factory
> mounts and make sure they're in good condition.  Anything else hasn't been
> crash tested and such and makes for some dangerous possibilities.
>  Other safety features as they were introduced.  Not much happened till 66
> when the disk brakes came out on the front end.  This improved stopping
> ability notably. They can be swapped to early cars by changing out the
> spindles and everything on them as well as the master cylinder.  In 67 the
> Dual circuit brakes came out. BIG  plus for safety. Now you don't lose all
> your brakes if there is a hydraulic leak somewhere.  They can be
> to early cars by changing the master cylinder, using a 67 fluid reservoir,
> and upgrading to disk brakes.  67 saw hazard lamps installed.  68 saw the
> above mentioned improvements and a front bumper brace bar which added
> rigidity.  The automatics this year also received the new IRS rear
> suspension and 69 it was introduced on the standards.  This made for much
> safer handling characteristics and less oversteer.  1970 introduced the
> redesign with much stronger bumpers and a sturdier front end and body
> assembly.  Stiffening plates were added to the inner fender wells in front
> (most of which have rusted off by now) and an extra layer of metal to the
> door pillars and rockers.   72 got the new steering wheel and column which
> has better collapsing features and starting in May of 1972 new front
> These seats had a new front mount and strengthened pan that prevented them
> from tearing out of their tracks in a rear-end collision, a rather
> feature.  The unfortunate part is they are not swapable with the early
> and the mounts are too different to modify.  The newer seats, while more
> comfortable, are of poorer quality and tended to deteriorate faster.  1973
> got the side impact protection in the doors so if your upgrading your
> earlier car you may want to consider these.  They are bolt on back to 66
> the Square and Fast and 70 in the Notch but the inner door panel and
> mounts differ from the earlier cars.
>  With this all said there are other things to consider.  Outside of
> structural rust the things to avoid list contains the fiberglass pans.
> There are NO suitable replacement fiberglass pan sections on the market
> can hold the seat mounts of the 5/72 and later T3 3 point seats firmly
> enough to survive even a minor rear end collision.  You will be ejected
> backward and into the roof, not good!  Earlier cars must be carefully
> examined for rigidity of the runners that mount the seat.  Chances are
> if your fitting new pan halves that the outer seat rail is no longer
> structurally sound as the rocker is probably rusted too.   Carefully check
> this.
>  Fiberglass bumpers, not so much the early ones as they were so flimsy as
> steel  anyway but the late ones with the reinforcement.  A fiberglass
> replacement, especially if the stiffener bar is left out, will have some
> reduction on impact absorption.
>  Safety glass, make sure your car has it. Its Illegal not to in the US as
> 've had laminated windshields since the 30's but a few might have slipped
> with the gray market cars.  It's marked on the windshield.
>  Aftermarket seats, if they are just bolted in to a flat portion of the
> be it fiberglass or steel they will rip out on impact.  Make sure any
> aftermarket seat uses the factory mounts or the system has been really
> engineered properly or you'll come loose in an accident.
>  Lowered cars, this seriously affects high-speed stability if not done
> and 99% of them aren't.  You lose your caster and emergency maneuvers on
> highway are no longer possible.  Skinney, low profile tires also make
> handling dangerous and stopping ability greatly reduced.  Be prepared to
> Sued or not covered by your insurance in the US if these type of
> modifications are discovered after an accident.  This is starting to
> an issue.
>  Full-length rag tops.  Yea these are a blast in the summer but they
> really have a roll bar to go with them. The real support in rollover comes
> from
> the a,b,c, and d pillars and there connection to the upper rails(front to
>  back) and the front and rear header, however there are several stiffening
> bars screwed into the sides of the roof that run across the roof to
> support and protect you in the case of a rollover or partial rollover,
> especially in a Squareback, you lose these with the full length rag and
> side windows and windshield will fold over more easily.
> The rag tops do reduce safety in a couple of other areas too.  One is
> occupant
> retention in a rollover.  It would be far easier for an unbelted occupant
> be ejected from the vehicle in a rollover, especially if the top is open.
> You are also more likely to get intrusion into the passenger compartment
> from things like branches, fire hydrants, stumps, rocks, etc. in a roll
> over.
> The full-length rag top will also reduce the overall body stiffness of the
> vehicle which will add to additional stress on joints and poorer handling.
>  How do you use your car?  Is it a daily commute vehicle for you in
> Washington DC traffic or do you just go to the store on Sunday in a quiet
> Vermont town?  Are you an experienced driver or just starting out?   If
> have little exposure to risk then there is little to worry about driving
> even the early cars in stock form.  However. if your 16 year old son is
> commuting to work daily in Washington DC traffic in his 62 Squareback with
> the fiberglass panhalves and a full length rag then he should really be
> blasting "Suicidal Tendencies" from the stereo as well.
>  Another last thing that we should carry in ALL our cars is a fire
> extinguisher, this can prevent a little mishap from becoming a total loss.
> OR it can save someone else's car or LIFE when you stumble into an
> on the road.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------
> Too much? Digest! mailto:type3-d-request@vwtype3.org Subj=subscribe


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