There are always more rivets. That’s a rule with Spyders.
I got the rocker boxes riveted-up and turned to installing the seats. I want to get those lined up soon because I’ll need them reupholstered, and that means dropping them off for weeks at the upholsterer. Better to do that now so when they come back I can just bolt them in.
This post will cover that process, plus the making of properly Spyderesque clutch and brake pedals, plus the beginning of another exclusive-to-this-car detail: secondary clam latching pins. Buckle-up; it’s a long story.
So here’s the front rocker boxes riveted-in. I bought some long #6 sheet metal screws to tack it from the back as well, because there don’t seem to exist rivets with a one-inch pull that match the others in this part of the job. Fastening these back there doesn’t appear to be strictly necessary, but I’d rather make it firm, to guard against rattles later.
Here’s the trim strip for the tiny gap on the passenger side, which would be visible through the oval hole. Compound curves; this took hours.
Passenger side riveted:
Front edge of the rocker box riveted (and driver’s seat set on the floor):
Here’s my feet test-measuring for pedal placement:
OK, you can see how my size 9s gotta squeeze in down there. That scrotal intrusion—designed for the stock VW fuel tank drain—will be cut out, I think. Soon as I get the tank back, I’ll figure that out. Now to the seats.
This is how tall the seat adjuster rail is: about an inch. The attachment studs are another inch or so. These small measurements matter in a tiny car like this. Tall Spyder owners often bolt their seats directly to the floor in a bid to get their head below the top of the windshield. They also complain sometimes about the fiberglass not seeming strong enough…
That’s where these come in. Remember the temporary (aborted) lower shock tower brace I made for the spare tire mount? Well, it’s being repurposed as the driver’s side floor braces running between the flat steel in the center and the frame tubes. Cut in half, it’s almost perfect.
I notched the ends to lay it down a paper’s thickness above the deck.
Notched the other side to meet the frame tube.
This C-channel adds 3/4 of an inch in height to the assembly, but it will strengthen everything nicely. Also, remember those seat rail studs? With these channels in place, those studs won’t protrude through the floor, so the belly can be smooth.
The idea is to get the seat bottoms in less than two inches above the floor. For long-torsoed, tall people, they’ll still be too high, so if someone built like that buys the car they’ll have to undo this. But with these cars, those folks always have to mess with their seats. And, meanwhile, people from 5’3″ through about six feet will have suitable adjustment—back and forth about 6 inches, and up and down (using shims) about 3/4 of an inch, front and back.
As with everything in this car, putting the seats together is a fettle. They came with no studs or holes for mounting, so first thing I had to do was remove the “seat” cushion (they’re velcro’d in) and get access to the shell.
I squared everything off and drilled near the corners, leaving room for some 2-inch fender washers, then put bolts through from the inside.
Naturally, the seats were too small to mount on the rails, so I drilled the rails about halfway up each one for the bolts. Adjusted all the way forward I could just about reach the nuts.
At that point I discovered I’d need about a 3/8 inch stand-off to accommodate the adjuster bar. Putting a nut on the bottom of the seat solved that problem neatly, as it obviated the need to jam a wrench into the seat in order to keep the bolt from turning.
With the adjusters now affixed to the driver’s seat I could set it in and get an idea of where the reinforcement rails needed to go.
(Note: the steering shaft is too long; we get to that later. And yes, I skipped the part where I installed the 22-gauge aluminum floor sheets.)
Now I drilled the rear C-channel to fit the adjuster studs.
…and set it in…
Then trimmed the front…
…to match the “elbow” in the frame rail…
before marking and drilling it for the adjuster studs.
I shimmed it up to test fit—
—to keep the studs from marring the floor. This was necessary, as I had not yet drilled the holes in the floor to allow access to the nuts. The holes will get plugs later to keep the bottom of the car smooth and flush.
I lowered the frame assembly into the tub to check the fitting before making those holes and welding.
Moving on to the passenger seat, we discover
that it’s an inch and a half narrower than the driver’s side.
Make another set of reinforcement rails…
Line ’em up
And now we gotta start accounting for various accoutrements.
That white box, for instance, is the size and shape of the shifter housing.
I set the e-brake handle in next to it.
Then set myself in next to it.
Not a lot of room. The brake kinda wanted to be on the other side.
Which would kinda work. This is not going to be a great car for passengers.
But eventually I decided that the brake handle has to go on the driver’s side. That’s where it was on real Spyders. I moved the shift box a couple inches to the right and things seemed to line up that way nicely.
Wired-up the seat adjusters.
Lined-up the rails with the reinforcements.
Marked the floor:
With that all roughed-in and ready to weld, I turned my attention to the pedal set.
With the car I got a set of dune-buggy/pro-street chrome pedals with attached single reservoir master cylinders. These are perfectly serviceable, reasonably well-made items. But the S-shaped pedals are not correct. Spyder pedals are straight.
The obvious solution is to buy these Fibersteel replicas. They cost $900. (Or $1,500 for the deluxe kit).
Being unemployed, and having on-hand some serviceable steel C-channel and 3/16 plate, I figured “how hard can it be to make a couple pedals?”
And it wasn’t, actually. Here’s what we started with:
These cast aluminum pedal frames will be close enough for government work.
Shaft size is easy to estimate.
Pedal faces are also easy:
Cutting the shafts with a taper. I got out the table saw and put a cutoff wheel on it. Sparkly!
I also “thinned” one of the pedals by half. You already noticed that the Spyder’s brake pedal is thicker than the clutch, huh?
Now we just need a bushing carrier of suitable tubular diameter. I hunted around the shop and discovered…
HA! The steering shaft! Need to lose four inches off the end of that anyway, and that’ll leave about 2 1/2 inches of nice strong thick tubing that’s just the right size.
I love it when a plan comes together!
Now we can see what’s up.
I worked a bit too hard getting these angles just right.
Adding lightness to the clutch pedal was easy enough. Actually the clutch pedal was way easier than the brake—
—which would get a full-length reinforcement piece plug-welded to the inside before drilling.
Almost screwed-up the clutch pedal with one too many holes.
Now to tack it together…
Some day I’ll learn to make pretty welds….
They look good enough from this side:
Bushings are next:
This is just a bit of copper pipe left over from the air compressor plumbing job. Nice tight fit. Now we check for the clevis pin. You can see how one more hole would’ve made a hash of this part.
This material is thinner and lighter than what it’s replacing. I added some metal to tighten it up.
Not bad, overall.
Now for the brake pedal. Here’s the reinforcement piece (left over from thinning the clutch pedal), drilled for plug welding.
I don’t really think this brake pedal would bend or twist without the reinforcement, but I want it to look as much like an original as possible, and Porsche did it this way for a reason. So, plug welds staggered between the big holes…
…and a perimeter weld.
Before setting the bushing carrier.
And finally adding lightness.
“Drag the slag,” my welder buddy says. Man, I think there’s something to this new-fangled “gas welding” stuff.
To make the clevis go in this one, I have to grind it a little thinner.
And while we’re at it…
So that’s not the worst you’ve seen, eh?
Serious Porschephiles will have noticed a cardinal error: these pedals are square! Everyone knows Porsche pedals are triangular-ovular, like little family crests.
Well, yes. But when I cut them, I did not have a good model of a Porsche pedal, so I used the ones I had. Then I ordered proper period Porsche pedal covers, with the idea of cutting these pedals down to fit them.
And here they are now.
Since I kind of guessed where the holes should go, I now hope I didn’t put them out too far.
Looks like it should just fit. A little thin on the lower edges maybe.
Here’s what the early Porsche covers look like on top of the VW/dune buggy pieces.
A li’l cutting, a li’l grinding, and
The gas pedal is a whole ‘nother thing, of course. I’ve been pondering it. The project is complicated by the steel upright thing that was welded into the front of the tub when it was manufactured. Nice thing if you want to use a VW pedal set; in the way if you want to do what I’m doing. I’m trying to decide if I can incorporate some of it into the needlessly-complex Spyder gas pedal system.
While awaiting my Porsche pedal covers, since I had the welder out and warmed up, I went after those floor reinforcements.
Also test-fit the steering wheel.
Cut a new end into the steering shaft:
And removed the evil red urethane steering coupler the PO had installed.
Why evil? Well, let’s just say these things have a certain reputation in the VW world. And this one, installed some years ago and never used to turn the wheels, lived right up to that reputation.
This is what a proper steering coupler/rag joint looks like:
Meanwhile, these came.
These are strut bushings for a mid 1990s VW Jetta.
I ordered them because they look—and should work—just about like these.
These are the secondary clam pin latches, found on all but the first 15 or so real Spyders, and basically none of the replicas. Pity, too, since the extra locating pins and sockets could serve to keep the clam from rattling. Some replica Spyder owners complain about their clams coming unlatched while driving, kept from flying up and destroying themselves only by the leather straps.
Of course these rubber donuts are unobtanium. The Spyder Factory has them manufactured by a small specialty plant in New Jersey, for their exclusive use.
I thought of buying a couple hockey pucks and whittling them, but then I spotted these. They were $13.75 from Pelican Parts. They even say “Fab Germany” on them, so you know they’re the best.
So it’s down to making the rest of this assembly: long pins, welded to an angled steel frame and affixed to the clam, an aluminum carrier for the rubber part, an aluminum bushing for the pin, and the tubular mounting system for the receiver.
Then all I’ll have to do ids make it fit perfectly.
Looking around the shop for likely suspects, I grabbed this aluminum shower stall thing I’d saved from a bathroom remodel a couple years ago.
I found some likely pins (old deck bolts), then I made the insert bushings to hold them snug:
Then back to my leftover bathroom junk to see about making the carrier. A little work with a hammer and dolly, and…
Yeah, no, that’s not gonna work.
Went back to the aluminum scrap heap and pulled out the trusty 3/16 diamond plate that the previous owner of this house helpfully abandoned here.
Then search around for some more a press. Ah, here we go: more quality German parts!
Now to force the “puck” in. I sliced it around with a hacksaw, about an eighth-inch…
But no way to push it in by hand, which is good. We want this to stay put once it’s in. So re-arranged my “press.”
Getting it in this way still took about six tries. The second one was a lot easier: only three tries.
And that’s where we stand.
I’ve a lot to do to make this part work and look right, but I feel like I just did the hardest part. We’ll see if I’m right about that.