Dust shields

I unpacked the wiring harness last week and started marking the wires to their respective fixtures. I got what I guess is the easy half. Looking for some color-coded early VW wiring diagrams now to aid with the rest. The car came with the early Bug (6-wire) signal switch (which does not have the high beam switch integral). That’s cool; I already bought and installed the foot switch, but it’s just one of many potential differences between the way the car is going to go together and the Thunder Ranch instruction manual/pre-made wire harness. So to avoid mucking too much with that this week I finished off my inner dust shields instead.

The last 20 or so 550s made (and a couple others, most notably 0051, on which I’m basing this build), all had their dust shields connected to the frame.

The inner dust shields are just one more thing you never see on a Spyder replica. I roughed-in the lower parts months ago but because the Thunder Ranch cars have this cross brace between the shock towers, I couldn’t close off the tops properly.

On the originals, the clams close down on them with a bit of rubber gasketry to seal. Like

You see that riveted brace that rolls around the front of the inner fender? Yeah, I couldn’t make that. I tried three times, about four different ways. I thought the bead roller would cinch it, but no way.

And I realized that, even if I could replicate that piece, I’d still be lacking a functional dust shield, since the tops of mine are open to account for the cross brace.  Even though the cross brace is non-standard for real 550s, I don’t want to remove it, as it adds rigidity to the rear of the frame. It was a puzzle.

Then I discovered that most of the first 70 or so original Spyders had the full dust shields integrated into the clam, with Jetsons-style aluminum stiffening brace riveted to the inner fender surface. Looked like

The cross brace on my car completely negates this design, since there would have to be a slot all the way up the middle of it. But, I thought: what if I make a hybrid of the early and later cars? And so:

Those cups up top meet with the lower dust shields and cover the gap in the top. A bit of fettling, a little rubber gasketry and it’ll work perfect.

I know it’s the sort of thing a lot of folks won’t notice at all, and it’s now nothing like what any original Spyder came with, but it is in the spirit of the original cars: that is, made of aluminum, with rivets. And it helped me avoid wiring for a couple days, so that’s a bloody win!


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