Wires, continued, and also other things

So it’s been more than a month since I updated the blog. Part of that is because I’ve been unusually busy: I started a new job in mid April and that’s really cut into my wrenching time.

So I’ve not been doing much on the car, but I’ve not been doing nothing, either.

The three main themes are 1.) body and paint; 2.) engine and details and 3.) wiring. Not in that order. Wiring’s been the main thing. And it’s been a slog. Or anyway, it was a slog, before a buddy on the Spyder site gave me the color-codes to the Thunder Ranch harness.

They’re the keys to the kingdom.

The car came with a harness, replete with wires and switches galore. Trouble was, the instruction manual referred me to a color-coded section that was absent from the book.


I was all set to start tracing them all one by one—actually I’d started doing so—when I got the code. I checked a few wires and they lined up. So now all there is to sort are the few minor differences between the code and what I have, plus the differences I’m building into the car—such as the seat heaters, the floor-mounted headlight dimmers, the legit Porsche instrumentation, and this bloody windshield wiper thing that most Spyder builders have the good sense to omit from the build.

I mean, come on! The car doesn’t even have a top!

So today I got ’round to sorting the six (6??) wires jutting from the wiper motor. The book says there should be five. Some diagrams have four. Mine has six. And there’s no marking for the terminals (53, 53a, 31, etc) because they’re in a plug you’re just supposed to plug in to your Super Beetle. Well shit.


With my new battery I got the thing working. It’s a 2-speed unit. The Thunder Ranch switch supplied has just 3 wires coming off it, and it’s a second headlight switch. So I think I’ll ditch it in favor of a proper VW headlight switch. But later.

I decided to dry-fit the windscreen just to get that done. The kit supposedly came with all the holes drilled, but mine did not have the all-important end holes in it—probably because the PO filled them in thinking he’d go with a plastic screen.

I’m using DOT glass here even though most real Spyders today have Perspex, which is just so damn much cooler. The glass is a scosh taller, plus it’s tougher, plus you can attach a canvas top to it if you’re going crazy. I want the car to be at least semi-legal for street use….

So I cleco’d the base in


…got the rubber on the screen…


Attached the “shorty” end posts and slotted the rubber into the base.IMG_1314

Then I unscrewed the posts and got out some paint…IMG_1315

Wet the screws on the bottom of the postsIMG_1317

And used them to mark the spot where the post holes had to go.IMG_1318IMG_1319

Drilled them out…IMG_1320

test-fit the real posts…IMG_1322IMG_1323

Then installed the screen loosely and moved on to the cardboard templates for the side screens.IMG_1324

These will be thin Lexan framed with aluminum and rubber. I plan to make two sets: a low set for cruising and a fuller-sized set that will (I hope) slot into the eventual top still to be fabricated and thereby provide both leak-free rain protection and decent visibility.

The cardboard’s a start.

The other thing I’ve been working on, fitfully, an hour here, a half hour there, is this breather.


This is a more-or-less faithful reproduction of the original 547 breather, which plugged into a gaping hole in the back of the engine case and angled up past the passenger side carburetor.

breather2 550dotcom

Here it is in situ (courtesy Type 550 dot com).


Since my engine’s fan shroud isn’t like that, and in fact sits much farther back on the case than the four-cam does, in order to encompass the big Type IV oil cooler, I’ll have to mount this breather further back as well—basically over the bell housing. There’s room, and the angle’s right.

Making it took time, and mainly because I went with aluminum instead of the original steel for it. I brazed on all the bits of aluminum, but ended up epoxying them too, because as I brazed on new bits I found the heat melting out the old brazes.

The tube is filled with aluminum and copper wool to better do its job of separating the air and oil. I’ll plumb both valve covers too it, leaving the driver’s side in very low to allow for some oil drain back. The top fitting will run around the carb to the “oil tank” I made. Breather volume is going to be about a gallon: way more than the little 1914cc engine will need. I’ll put a second drain back from the “tank” to the other valve cover, probably, just in case someone ever dumps oil in there. And maybe a final fitting from the nipple on the oil fill tower, for good measure. Then a tiny air filter on top. I don’t think I’ll bother with a hose to the air cleaner, though that might happen.

And with that the Spyder’s breather system—insanely customized to roughly mimic the real deal—is basically sorted.

Gotta start cleaning this mess up and shooting some etching primer.




2 thoughts on “Wires, continued, and also other things

  1. Pingback: Fan shroud project | Along Came A Spyder

  2. Pingback: Engine in…engine out…engine IN | Along Came A Spyder

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