Back to the pedals

When we left our pedal project I’d gotten the clutch and brake pedals basically made and was pondering the accelerator. I am still pondering the accelerator, but I have managed to rough-install the former two controls in the tub. It took a bit of fettling.IMG_0355.JPG

As previously noted, this car was set up to install the VW Bug pedal assembly, which is a marvel of efficiency and general dependability. The clutch and brake ride on a single shaft which protrudes into the tunnel, where cables run to the clutch and throttle. The brake master cylinder is tight against the bulkhead there, and the pushrod attaches very low on the brake pedal shaft so you get lots of leverage. The system has its weaknesses, but by-in-large it works well.

And it looks (say it with me) nothing like what was in a 1955 Spyder.

The Spyder replica uses a hydraulic clutch system, and this one would have you adapt the VW clutch pedal to that. Basically it requires the drilling of a single hole for the clevis pin.

To install my brake and clutch pedals, I at first climbed under the dash and put the pedal frames in place. I pushed the clutch pedal bolts through the holes (the brake pedal frame holes would have to be drilled, I knew). Then I climbed out, put the car on the lift, walked under and hung the clutch master cylinder on the bolts I’d pushed through. So far, so good.

Then I tried to tighten the nuts. I had a choice: I could try to get something to hold the nuts while I climbed back under the dash to turn the bolt head, or vice-versa. Neither method worked, of course, meaning putting the pedals in would be a two-person job. I thought about getting my wife out here and very soon thought better of it.

So to facilitate avoiding divorce, I cut out the floor section.


The multi-tool with a wood blade helped me make nice thin, straight cuts, and it stopped when it hit metal. Getting through the construction adhesive was too much for it though, and I broke the blade off in that goop.

In a bid to get the car a little higher for easier access, I then had a scare. Just as the ramps reached the top notch, I heard a POP, and oil started pouring from the hydraulic cylinder.


About a half pint.

I locked-out the lift and took a deep breath. Couldn’t find the manual so I ended up calling Direct Lift, the company I bought the machine from a year or so ago.

I couldn’t believe the thing broke so quickly: I hardly use it, and usually only with Bridget or this project on it: about one sixth of its rated capacity.

The guy at Direct Lift wanted to know how high I had the left when it popped. I told him. Then he asked how often I put it up there. I told him: basically never. Only the Spyder is low enough to fit under the ceiling at that height.

The man then explained that it’s common for a little oil to get past the seal and pool in the top half of the tube. This presents no problem, and there’s a pressure release valve to let it escape. And it only needs to escape when the lift is at or very near it’s top latch, because that’s when the piston inside the hydraulic cylinder is near the end of its travel. “The oil has to have somewhere to go,” he said.

So it might be OK?

Yes it might.

Of course, no way to tell from Wisconsin. He told me to get the car off the lift and then cycle it up to the top a couple more times. “You’ll probably get a little more oil the first time,” he said. “If there’s still more oil the second time, then you might have a leak.”

If not, he made me understand, then it’s probably fine.

So I pushed the car off. Did the test, and it’s probably fine.

Then I pushed the car back on. This was not so easy, as by then my boots had substantial amounts of oil on the soles.

All of which goes to show: nothing is easy. At least for me it isn’t.

With the car back up I employed a new multitool saw blade and the scraper blade and got the floor out.

IMG_0355.JPGThen I got the clutch system in.

Looking at the location of the clutch pedal, compared to where the brake pedal has to go, I realized: SHIT.


This would put the whole assembly above the floating floor that’s going in here. It’s a good 3/4 of an inch above the brake pedal.

Out came the cutoff wheel. And the sawzall. First thing was to get the “tunnel” piece out. I figured it’s easier to start with a blank slate with the gas pedal.

Next I pondered how to get the clutch port lower. Fill the hole and re-drill? Make a whole pedal system like Fibersteel?

Nah. I finally settled on: cut out this section square, chop 3/4 inches off the bottom, then weld it back in and put the chopped-off strip on top.

So that basically took only all day.








Stitched from the front.

And a little backer plate in back.



With that done I could drill the vertical holes for the brake pedal frame and fit the parts up.IMG_0374.JPG


That grinding wheel is stuck in there because, naturally, the VW dual master cylinder has a different style pushrod than my aftermarket pedals, and the aftermarket one isn’t quite long enough and also won’t hang inside the cylinder bore so as to keep the pedal from flopping forward, which means I have additional fabrication work to do on both pedal frames, plus I need to source a longer pushrod.

Absolutely nothing just bolts together.

You can see the gas pedal just kind of sitting there, waiting for me to figure out how to make it more Spyderesque. I think I’ve figured it out but, of course, it’ll take at least another day of metal bending and welding or whatever to make it.


This master cylinder is deeply unimpressed by this pedal cage. I’m thinking I’ll weld little nuts to the back of the bulkhead and grind them a bit so the MC clears.

Such are the joys of custom car-building.


One thought on “Back to the pedals

  1. Pingback: Etching primer, etc. | Along Came A Spyder

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