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Re: [T3] Purest Type 3 group?

No, not joking.  Ok... here is the Front end FAQ so you dont have to dig for
Grab a beer, get comfortable... and:

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.

This article 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

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 and make 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

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 will cause the
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

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 these

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 bolt on
the 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-seize in
the 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 ¹ 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 shudder 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

> i have never noticed any frowning on lowering, i think keith was joking.
> --
> nathan
> http://neogeo.orntar.net/ - project arc-snk
> http://vwt3.orntar.net/ - 1970 vw fastback

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