Angle Grinder Heaven

The other way to remove the body

One of the biggest problems I faced was getting the body shell separated from the chassis. I needed to eventually have it all in small enough pieces to transport to the local recycling center, and also be removed in such a way that I could do it myself (as the dog is not much help).

The drivers side, which had not been previously repaired, was pretty rotten and the removal of the bolts which hold the body and floor together was just not happening. After trying for a while to get these buggers off i noticed that the whole sill was flexing as i tried to get them loosened. In the end it was easier to use the crowbar to remove the whole of the sill below the drivers door which was totally rotten and offered little resistance.

Amazingly at this point it was possible to grab the door pillar at the back and basically pull the side of the car back through 90 degrees, so rotten was the aft section of the sill.

A quick swing on the bolt which holds the body shell to the back suspension (it sheared) and that was one side of the back of the car free :)

On the other side, which had been repaired at some point, I ran into what is apparently a common problem in badly repaired Beetles. The body should be bolted to the chassis but here they had been welded together along the new sill section. A bit of head scratching followed before the solution came to me.

Using my trusty angle grinder I cut through the sill at the bottom of the passenger door and along the bottom of the panel to the back of the body, just above where it had been welded.

The 4 bolts under the back seat were then removed, along with the body shell to suspension bolt (which sheared too) and i thought the back part of the shell was ready for lift off. At this point all that was holding it together was the rusty inner sill and the heater tube.

A block of wood was inserted under the back corner of the shell and the whole thing was lifted on a trolley jack. I was most chuffed when the back end raised into the air in a shower of rust.

This is the point where the back of the body shell bolts onto the top of the suspension. On both sides this bolt sheared, which saved time :)
Removal of the back half of the body was then just a case of lifting it up and pushing it over the back of the car. This took a couple of attempts, as it tends not to let go if you forget to disconnect the engine wiring first.
I was amazed how easy it was to get the car to this state, mostly due to the rotten state of the bottom half of the body work. At least the floor pan is in not too bad a condition and the mechanical bits look fine. I was planning on replacing both floor pans anyway as the buggy will be much more reliant on those for some of its strength.

Scariest thing of all is that the car looked OK, most of this rust was only found when the thing was taken to pieces.

Here we see Sparky in his semi-naked glory. The removal of the back half of the shell took about 3 hours and I managed it on my own. Tomorrows job will be to chop the removed section up into moveable chunks and cart it off to the recycling place.
As I said before, the mechanical bits of the car look pretty good. The next step of the strip down will be to remove the front half of the shell, then the mechanical taking apart can begin in preparation to have the floor pan sorted out.
The big decision I still have to make is wether the buggy will be LWB, or if I will have the chassis shortened when I have the floor pans done. I suppose I will have to wait and see how things work out.
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