Having got the brake and clutch pedals roughed-in I turned my attention to the go pedal.
Most Spyder replicas use either the VW pedal set or individual dune buggy style pedals and a Neal or similar pedal, like this:
And I of course bought such a rig from Cip1, for $40 or so, before I had any idea how deep I was going to go on this.
These pedal sets work perfectly well and are dead simple: the throttle cable attaches to the side of the pedal itself. No fuss, no muss. . . . and—right!—nothing like what a 550 Spyder had.
Here’s the Fibersteel pedal set I should have bought for $900:
This looks enough like what a 550 had to satisfy the stuffiest purist, and I could have sold the pedals that came with my kit to offset some of the expense. But what fun would that be?
Also, I didn’t look hard enough at anything. That’s a lesson: if you’re going to try to make something, first you have to assess very carefully the thing you plan to make. How many pieces? How many attachments or seams? How many cuts and how precise must they be? How will these parts fasten together, and in what order, to make the whole? What materials? How hard must they be—and how hard to cut and bend? It’s a level of industrial analysis I never considered in my life, and on this gas pedal project I learned.
Working from the picture above and my handy pile-o-steel-scrap I got to work.
The’s the old VW gas pedal with the EMPI pedal base. The spring is from the stock Beetle.
I sketched the side view with my usual precision.
Again, I was working from a few marketing photos, so I had to guess all the dimensions by comparing them with the gas and clutch pedals I’d rough-installed. This initial design was a two-part system, with the front section consisting of a piece of exhaust pipe flanged, bolted to the bulkhead and baloney cut on the back, with a tower part and a hinged lever; then the “pedal” part consisting of the cast aluminum base and the bug pedal, and a pushrod between them. Honest to God.
I knew I’d have to close off the baloney cut later so I got some sheet metal for that.
The flange is 3/16th plate.
I at first adapted the stock Bug pedal’s “ski-slope” (the part the roller engages) to my pushrod.
The tower part is a precision piece.
Tacked together and mocked-up:
Now to make the pivot. I want it to last.
Screwed together for the initial tests.
Figuring the pivot points, measuring clearances, etc. etc. This all would have gone much faster if I had started with a technical drawing. As it was, it was cut, drill, hold parts near each other to estimate distances, cut…
So that’ll probably work.
But the bottom of the lever ought to be low, so the whole throttle cable can fit under the floating floor as original.
Next we see how far the “throw” is.
Over four inches is a lot of cable-pull on a VW. A quick check on the hexbar indicates about an inch and a half takes it from idle to wide-open. With the pivot point on the pedal so high, I’m making things very touchy. It needs to be lower.
OK let’s weld.
And here you can see an excuse for this construction: those ports under the pedal are for the brake and clutch lines. There are four cutouts through the front, and middle bulkheads and the firewall. The accelerator cable is the third item and then probably the e-brake cable is last. Anyway, a pedal bolted to the floor there would necessitate minor re-routing.
Here’s the close-off welded.
And finally to move the pivot point:
This is where I ran out of flux core wire. So off to the Despot for another 10-pound spool.
All throughout this process I kept putting everything back in, sitting in the car, and putting my feet and eyes on it.
Time to add the lightness…
This is good enough now for most people. With the inch-high floor over this you’ll never see the bottom hinge. But I still didn’t love it. So.
I set about making it a one-piece unit, as original.
Not bad. And just another five hour’s work. By this time I had about 45 hours in my pedal set. Material costs were minimal, but even so: that Fibersteel pedal set is looking more and more like a goddamn bargain.
And I wasn’t done yet.
At this point, the bottom of the pedal was exactly as high as it had been with the floor mount.
The ideal spot seems to be about 3/4 of an inch higher, and further forward. Like this:
So I cut off most of what I had just made and moved the pedal up.
And so there you have it. Well, not quite: After that I still had to drill little holes through the pivot bolts for holding pins, since there’s no use trying to make nuts stay on loose enough so it would all move right. And I’ve still got to prime and paint. I’m calling this a 53-hour project. With material I’m under $16 an hour on this job (compared to buying the Fibersteel kit). But now I know, so if I ever have to make another I figure I could do it in 30 or so.
I think what I did is as good as or better than the Fibersteel rig. The pedal cages aren’t quite right, but the spacing between the pedals is more correct, with a bigger gap between the clutch and brake pedals and a lesser one between the brake and gas.
Here’s 550-061’s original pedals:
Here’s 0090’s close-up: