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markh July 25th, 2010 02:52 PM

1937 Volkster convertible
Today started acquiring the necessary 1937 Ford Coupe parts. Picked up both front fenders, inner fenders, headlight buckets, hood side panels, running boards, dash, front bumper and brackets and one rear fender. Still need a hood, grill and coupe rear fenders. Apparently the coupe and sedan rear fenders differ but it was cheap enough.

The front end will need a slight extension to get the front fenders mounted. Thinking 8"? Haven't even started measuring. The fenders have their typical tears, dings and dents. Considering their age, I'm rather pleased with the condition. Nothing that can't be welded or beaten.

Next up, getting the donor car. At the coming PIR bug-in, hope to find a convertible body or vert doors and windshield frame to graft on the '67. Going to sell off the bins of vw parts including two original roof racks, set of wheels and tires and other misc. items. Maybe recoup a little of my today's spending?

markh August 9th, 2010 07:53 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
The truck has been shipped to Hawaii. ALOHA!!

On the way home, picked up the donor, a '67 with a strong 1776 and dual Webers. Bagged in the rear with air shocks up front on a 3" narrowed beam with 2-1/2" dropped spindles. Front and back dumps, no side-to-side but it works great.

Layed out the fenders and running boards to start pulling measurements. Looks like a 10" extender is my next purchase. "Mundo" has one he is going to let me borrow until I place an order for mine, so that will help me get a little closer to the '37 wheel base.

Sold off a number of parts at PIR. Next weekend, the bug and parts will be heading out to the family farm for disassembly, cutting off the roof, and front and rear clips.
Still sourcing a super beetle front windshield cowl, vert doors, and window frame. Thinking of using a Ghia vert top frame? More to come...

markh August 30th, 2010 08:06 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Picked up the last of my part including the rear clip and doors off a '72 vert.

The work begins. Cut off the front clip and threw in a borrowed 10" beam extender.

Aired up:

Everything will be mocked with it aired down. All the fitment is subject to the extension. So with that done, sit front end in place...
Modify a running board:

That's working out, now with the top cut off and vert doors on, chop the new vert windshield frame 2-1/2"...

markh August 30th, 2010 08:13 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Placed the hood to see how much of the '37 front cowl will need trimmed.
It's almost scary how close a bug width is to a Ford. Anyway, diced up the vert rear quarter and moved it forward to the B-pillars because it will be a coupe. tack it in...
Better shot of the forward mount at the B-pillar.
And end of my day oon Sunday, we have this:
Just placed the Ford dash in to see how it fit. It will be a easy changeover.
And parting shot:
Now the hard part begins with the structural frame integrity crap. Boring but necessary. Ray (Mundo) came over to give me a hand with the lower lateral b-pillar vert support. Gave me some good ideas and did a little grinding, Thanks Ray.

markh September 1st, 2010 11:05 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Worked on the front fender supports and mounting points. Have another suport to fab across the front still to design along with the outer edge fender supports. A pretty basic square tubing system with some flat steel with bolt holes. The front edge of the frame is raised 3" above the beam mounts. There is a lower tube that attaches to the top mounting bolt holes on the bug beam. Now I have clearance for steering. Eventually, the entire front compartment will get removeable panels attached to the sides and bottom to give me a storage compartment.
Pretty simple.
Also picked up the '37 front cowl section. This piece has seen better days, but the curvature of the leading edge where the hood attaches is solid. I'll trim and tack weld it to the hood and then fill the gap between. Should be able to get that done this evening.
The old pop up air intake will be filled.
More to go!

markh September 2nd, 2010 07:21 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Cleaned up and cut down the Ford hood cowl and attached to the hood so in the future, I know the hood will line up with the cowl. Also cut out the bug cowl to use on the rear. A small gap to fill.
So to find the proper placement of the cowl, had to go to the front and cut down the grill. Took out 4 precious bars and re-attached the top so the curve lined up with the hood. Tacked the hood to the grill for alignment. Now looking at the cowl as it lines up with the old wiper holes, the entire hood needs to shift to the left. This would explain why I have a half inch difference in my fender measurements!!
Eyeballed the bodyline down the side and figured it was close enough to start on the filler side panels. They too needed cutting. Made some good progress on the passenger side.
The slice on the side is the top lip I need to retain for the hood to rest on and the lower section was needed to follow the arch of the fender. The rear of the hood side and what remains of the front quarter panel, will need replaced just in front of the drip rail on the body.
Before anything get welded, need to make a few measurements to make sure the front end is completely square to the body. Then bolt the inner structure to the fenders, adjust the hood and start welding the cowl back together. From the above angle, it looks like the grill will need to come down a smidge more. Then the hood will follow, then the side panels can be welded together, then the cowl can be filled, followed by the front quarter panels. Will need a final alignment of the entire front end but that was expected. That's all for today.

markh September 6th, 2010 08:42 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Spent some time working on the cowl only after cutting down the grill another 2 bars. Then trimmed and fitted the hood side panels. ...made a few measurements and started attaching the cowl. The side panels don't look to fit perfect at the front, but there is plenty of adjustment and I will need to re-shape the front edge of the side panels to follow the change in the now shorter grill. The little stuff I'll come back to once I'm done with the major fitment.
The other side panel:
The hood lined up:
And the cowl almost fully welded. Still have tabs holding the hood to the cowl section. Almost ready to cut the cowls and pull the hood off to figure out the hinge situation.
What's hard to see is the slight flare from the bug cowl to the '37 hood cowl. Once I start in on the lower front quarter panels, it should transition just fine. Those should be fun!
But everything else is lining up good considering.
Will sneak in a few more hours in this week. Stay tuned!

markh September 12th, 2010 08:54 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
After some great input from the board, I think I got the rear decklid lines figured out. Moved it outside to turn it around in the shop. This is also my first view of it outside so here we go. The suggestion was made to use the roof metal and see where that would take me. So I did. Split it and added some material and it went all the way across from fender to fender. The arch at the lower edge ( a roll pan will be made to fill it) but that arch is the line that followed the original front window on the 67.
Speaking of fenders, you'll note the driver side rear is longer. The right side is a Coupe, the driver side is a sedan. The sedan fender is pretty rotten so cutting off the lower section works out well since I have to rebuild it anyway. The fenders will be welded to the rear quarter panels. It was weld them or spend another zillion hours trying to figure out how to mount them using bolts. You have bug fenders bolted horizontally, the '37 mount vertically.. So welded fenders here we go!
I'll need to make a series of relief cuts on the edges to get the roof material to conform better to the fender and the top rail of the body. No close up shot but I'll try and take them as I start shaping the transitions.
Good news with the long swooping rear is there is plenty of room underneath to clear everything motor related.
A rear decklid will be cut out of the rear deck just as soon as I have a continuous sheet to work with. Another access panel will be cut up high, just behind the vert frame for access to the fuel tank.

The money shot:

Having it outside gave me a good chance to look at the overall lines. I see that the uppoer cowl bodyline will need adjusted. I was expecting to need something in that area.

markh September 21st, 2010 07:14 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Not a lot of time to work on the Volkster but managed to start the rear decklid. The vent cowl and frame came off a mid to late 70's/80 dodge van.

After narrowing, I cut out the rear sheetmetal deck and centered it with a few tacks. The cool thing is the decklid will have a slight peak in the center giving it a slight bodyline down the length of the decklid...still to be designed.
The vents are a detachable panel. It is not screwed down so it looks a little sloppy at this point and the alignment is off.
But I now have a hinged rear decklid.
Side note, the area between the decklid and the rear of the convertible curved edge, I will be creating another access panel or "hatch" so that I can access the fuel tank that will be relocated to the rear. There is a TON of internal structure I still need to finish but that will come once the motors pulled and the body is pulled off the pan.
Will have plenty of motor clearance and plenty of compartment room to adjust carbs or whatever. More to come...

markh September 26th, 2010 03:47 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
IN trying to figure out how to make the decklid sturdy, ran across an old import hood that I cut out the underside and later attach to the skin of the decklid once I figure out the rolled edges of the skin.
Still need to do some trimming of the opening and figure out the channel to mount a seal.

After a few days of soaking all the hinges on the vert top frame (a real rusty piece of work), I started chopping down to match the chopped windshield frame. Decided to cut the vert frame down 3" and then come back to the windshield frame and cut it down further.
Here is the top folded down:
As you can see, there is a lot more rust damage to deal with later.

In order to accomodate for the forward placement of the vert top and the chopped windshield, it took FOREVER to figure out which bar to cut, which to leave alone. Still need to cut down the forward most bar and the two diagnal supports. The arch in the window opening will also need addressed.
Top up:

Also been messing with the fender to body lines. I think it will be interesting once all welded up...

Still alot of shaping and small stuff. Just trying to get the big parts figured out first, then tackle all the mundane later. Till next week.

markh October 9th, 2010 10:17 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
So back to the decklid finally. Been thinking about how to seal the decklid when closed. Found some pre-made u-channel from an old home furnace. Welded them to the outer structure of the opening. The seal is actually an old door seal!
Nothing fancy.
The old fender you see under the '37 fender was my first attempt at figuring out where to mount the '37 fender. It's just bolted on and I'll be coming back to that once the decklid is sorted.

Got the decklid skin mounted to the inner structure. Plenty of rigidity. Have a lot of clean up to do underneath but that will come. I bent the outer edges of the skin in and will come back and trim and spot weld it together.
Cut out the latch out of the '67 only decklid and welded that in. Now here is proof that I am not the BEST welder on the block. Great...a nice close of of my, what I like to call "globbing" technique. My real expertise is in grinding and filling followed by more grinding.
With the decklid closed, there is just enough "spring" in the seal so that when it latches (eventually) it will be nice and tight.
I also radiused the lower edges of the decklid skin. I'm going to weld a run of solid rod across the lower edge to finish it off. The above photo makes the top of the decklid look distorted, it must have been my crappy phone camera.:Idunno: Still need to finish the channeling and outer radius of the body skin. Next up.
Trimmed the long rear fender and filled in the old gas tank hole and the old butchered hole. The lower edge of the fender will get rolled under once I get it up off the ground.
On sunday, I'm going to take a stab at suiciding one of the doors. Mundo is coming out to help/supervise and learn what not to do when he gets to that phase on his truck project. Picked up a set of hinges off of craigslist. They came with the small bear claw latches and the safety solenoids. Should be an experience since I've never done suicide doors. Until then...

markh October 10th, 2010 03:04 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Added a little round stock to the lower edge of the trunk lid. Good thing as it really straightened things out.

Still some final welding but I'm liking the rolled edge. See that I have some hammer and dolly work. I'm sure there will be a lot of that after everything is welded.

Also cut out the fuel tank compartment. Will need to pick up a smaller tank as my compartment area is smaller than the original tank.
Now that I have access, I can finish off the firewall and get that attached to the trunk metal.

And thanks to Fernon and his detailed build thread especially the suicide doors, I had some really good reference material before starting the doors. Mundo came over and we managed to get one door hung. Still needs reinforced on the backside and some filler work, but she swings like a door should. Some minor tweaks and I'll be ready to tackle the front bear claws.
They swing a full 90 degrees. Still lots of clean up but I'm happy.

The rear door gap is spot on. I think just installing the hinges took about an hour to two to get to this point. Thanks again Fernon!!

markh October 11th, 2010 10:49 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Heading back to the rear decklid, got distracted by the area between the rear fenders. So, cut out a few pieces of metal and started to form a rollpan.
The reason behind the giant addition was to help me hand bend it under.
With the general shape I want, I take a magic carpet ride over to microsoft paint,,and I hope to have the rear lower edge look like this when all done:
There is a whole lot of contour to the outer edges of the pan area. Not noticeable in the photo, but it's there. A lot of material used to make a simple bend, I know. I may decide instead of a straight line across, to add a slight radius. The license plate and LED tail light strips will go down there somewhere. Yet to be determined.

markh October 14th, 2010 07:53 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Well I got the rear decklid idea transfered from Paint to metal. Contoured the outer corners to match the decklid and started in on the inside channel for the decklid seal.
A little closer showing the start of the seal channel.
Close the decklid to check fit...
Will need a little more adjusting but a good start. Have a little trimming to do to the center latch inside. I'll need to notch it a little to allow the decklid to completely close and latch. A simple fix but jut ran out of time.

From a little further away for comparison to the last posted update...
The other side with the bags aired out...
there is a considerable amount of inner structural work to be done to make everything solid. Once I figure out the location of te exhaust port, I'll pull the motor and start on the inner structure. A little backwards for some. I've seen people build the structure first, then skin. I chose to skin first. Probably making my life and progress more difficult but, eh..I'm having a great time!

markh October 17th, 2010 03:02 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Figured out how to get the rear decklid to latch closed. Took a little head scratching but after I found the right height, angle and set back for the latch, welded it on the frame structure adn started boxing it in.
The rear most frame section will get sheetmetal panels. Then another panel will bridge over to the engine cooling tin. Also got the rest of the weatherstrip channel in place. A little filler metal will be needed on the outside lower edge to fill the gap just below the latch.

The photo below, there is a HUGE dent in the sheet metal just above the latch. When I was hammering out the welds on the decklid skin, that appeared. Of course, it's right behind the inner structure so I'll be cutting out the inner structure and knocking that one out.
Bored with that, moved up to the gas tank door. Welded in some channel and extended the hinges to attach to the door skin. Aren't those pretty welds? HAHAHA!!
Still working on the open/close function without it hitting the body metal when opening. Will re-visit the hinge set up later. The skin got some round stock along the edge. Added some rigidity to the skin.

When closed, it will sit in flush.
The outer edge looks rough but once I'm done with the rest of the weather strip channel on the inside, that edge will clean up, not to mention add some rigidity to it as well.
I think it's turning out.

markh October 20th, 2010 09:32 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Took another approach to the gas tank door hinges. The first attempt really blew so in looking at the way the suicide hinges work,repositioned the hinges and went that route. Cut the old hinge system off, flipped some parts around and presto!
With everything just tacked, I now know where to permanently attach the new hinges to the gas tank access door. The square stock will be shaped to the hinges, but that's a small detail for later. You can also see in the below photo how the firewall is once again attached to the decklid skin.
It closes well and after hammering out the weld joints, the contour follows the deck body line.
The rear decklid corner was bothering me on the driver side as it was not sitting as flush with the skin. With a slight tweak to the rear round stock, I was able to get the decklid arch to follow the body a little better. Now it sits inside like I imagined. Still need to work the outer edges of the decklid but that will come.
Much happier.
Coming up, hang the passenger suicide hinges and start bracing them so they don't put too much stress on the B-pillar area. Follow that with front front latches and A-pillar striker posts.

markh October 23rd, 2010 10:51 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Started in on the passenger side suicide hinge and the good luck fairy was just not with it today. When Ray and I hung the driver side door I thought, "eh, what's the big deal?" Well...after about 3X as long, I finally got it to close and swing. What a pain and thanks Ray for helping me out!
After all that work, now look at what I've done, put the doors are on backwards!
Just seems wrong, but I'm liking the idea. Oh, also pulled out the wing windows. Going one-piece door glass now.

Also spent a while shaving off the front drip rails in front of the doors. If anyone has given a thought to just "zippin' them off" for a smooth side panel....well, break out the welder 'cause they hold s*%t together.
At the end of today, Ray and I were standing back and pointing out all that's left or will remain from the original '67 bug body. There will be about 5-6" of the front quarter panel just in front of the doors, and about 12-16" of the rear quarter panes behind the doors. Pretty much everything else has either been cut off or changed out.

Kind of funny.

markh October 26th, 2010 08:04 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
With the suicide hinges in, it was time to move forward and tackle the striker post and bearclaw latches. In reverse order, and with some great reference material, found the proper placement and welded in the backing plates to the A-pillar. This was after I installed the bear claw latch in the door.
On the door side, with the bearclaw installed.
Once I had the door bearclaw installed, closed the door and marked out the A-pillar the opening. This gave me a center location for the stricker pin. Went pretty quickly. The striker post is adjustable so with a little alignment, the door closed and latched.

With the door closed the door aligns nicely with the front quarter in and out. Top to bottom will need a minor tweak to give the lower edge a better gap, but that's the lower suicide hinge:
Lots of patches to go to clean up everything, but again...a detail I will get back to once I have the doors operating properly.

This passenger door is the one causing grief. As I noted, I need to revisit the lower suicide hinge again. There appears to be flex in the lower hinge mount where it attaches to the door. Some bracing will be required. I braced the upper hinge so it's not moving, but there is a little flex in the lower hinge...not good. It too will need bracing before the convertible cross member gets attached to the B-pillars. Once this cross member is installed, it will eliminate much of the side to side flex.

markh October 31st, 2010 12:34 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Worked on the driver side latch and striker. Everything went very well. I only wish the pass side worked as well at the driver. Oh, well...come back to that side later.
Still have all the old holes to fill but again, come back later.

The next challenge is to get the front quarter panels put back together. Finished shaping the side panels. Still need a little trim. I have a great idea to get these front quarter panels to work and to add even more structural elements to the front clip.
Here's the mess:
Too bad this thing didn't come with instructions. I'll bet a paycheck I get it wrong the first time??

The plan is to follow the edge of the fender and side panels with round stock. Once the shape is there, skin it with sheetmetal. Then, attach that round stock to some verticle square tubing that will also anchor the lateral supports forward to the grill. In doing this, I hope that the side panels will also attach and the hood will sit just above. I'm also planning to have the front hood have a forward tilt opening over the nose of the grill. We'll see how that goes!

Another further away shot for fun.
There's a big surprise and change coming for the convertible top. Hope to pick up the replacement this week and get it mocked up next weekend.

markh November 4th, 2010 07:19 AM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
The plan sort of worked for the front quarter panel re-shaping. Used round stock to follow the contour of the hood side panels. Tacked that in. Then found I needed to add some additional framing inside, so did that.
There will be an "inner skin" behind the radius that will tie in and align to the top cowl section. That will come after the bracing is fully welded and sorted.
A slightly closer shot of the radius front quarter sheetmetal...
Once it's done, the lower edge of the radius will sit tight against the fender. Then the inner fenderwell will get completed.

With the side panel on:
The upper corner will need sorted but I like the fit of the side panel to the radius of the front quarter skin. The side panel appears a little too long compared to the top edge of the cowl. The side panel will need to shift forward some to give a little bigger gap.

Further away:
Now on to the other side and finish the inner frame structure. The hood will need some adjusting and a little trimming but I've been expecting that.

markh November 7th, 2010 02:25 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Started and finished the otherside of the cowl today. Also corrected the bodyline across the cowl from the bug door line. Close enough for filler work. Anyway, this is what the other side will look like when done.
Another view
Also completed the front top frame. Still need a couple more verticle supports and a panel to cover the nose of the grill. Also need to figure out the forward tilting hood.
Rolled it outside for the first time in a while.
The hood side panel lined up. The hood itself will need narrowed about 3/4 an inch on each side.

A couple overall shots:
Looks like a '37 Volkster! I've been waiting patiently for my new convertible top. When I have it in hand, I can start to address the rear panel and shape the rest of the rear to match that line of the top of the vert doors....if that makes any sense?

markh November 14th, 2010 02:33 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Finished the otherside of the front cowl.
Filled a couple of the holes in the A-pillar. Many more to go.
The rear fenders on the lower edges need fixed. The Driver side was GONE so used the pass side as a template...
Bent and welded a few things to make this:
There's a weird divot that was difficult to replicate but it's close enough. In these two photos, the running board is not sitting up where it will bolt. The lower flat part will get drilled for running board bolts.

Been thinking about how I want the front hood to open. Did a little searching and decided a forward tilting hood would be cool. So I started mocking. Did it wrong the first two/three times but it now opens and closes!
Really quite simple. This is the crudest form I came up with just to figure the geometry. There will be a rod going all the way across the underside of the hood that will replace the two stubs on the hood sides. The ends of the square tubing will be finished at a later date.
Now that it operates, I'll add another parallel strut so it opens equally. I'll need to give the current struts a slight forward bend so the hood will move further forward giving more clearance to the grill.

The rear edge of the hood will get a VW front hood pin and latch in the center, still need to figure out how to guide it in to the latch as it's closing. Otherwise it lines up nicely.
That's it for this weekend.

markh November 18th, 2010 12:09 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Finally picked up my new convertible top and frame.
Did you guess from a Miata? Yep! Doesn't fit surprisingly so...start cutting away stuff. Cut out the dash and the entire front cowl. the '37 Ford dash is going in so this step was planned. Sorry for the crummy photos:
Cut all across the front of the cowl and raked the entire windshield frame back about 4-5". The vert mounts at the body are just above the b-pillars and there was about 6-1/2" difference. The rake gave me 4-5". The Miata header bow will be reshaped to match that of the bug. The overall width of the Miata top at the rear is about 6" too wide for the bug body so the entire vert frame will need narrowed. The vert frame will get a "pinch" to the rear adn that should do it. The width above the windows and the front header bow are spot on so the header bow just needs re-shaped.
In doing the cut across the cowl and raking the windshield, it left about an inch gap in front of the frame, so fill that with a little metal. I did this so the bottom edge of the windshield stayed in line with the top so the glass and rubber will fit.

A profile comparsion of the newly raked windshield:
And after:

Need to go back and re-shape the top edges of the doors to follow the windshield but that's no big deal. Finish sitching the A-pillars and mocking up the Ford dash. No biggy.

markh November 25th, 2010 05:10 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Before it started getting really cold here in the Pacific NW, had a chance to start reshaping the front edges of the doors to follow the new angle of the windshield.
The purpose of the stick of metal hanging down keeps the bear claw lock unlocked.
Also started fitting the new Miata vert frame.
Narrowed the rear a smidge and started locating in the B-pillars. This is really rough but it's a start.
The front header bow will be extended and re-shaped.
The width at the front should work out fine.
Will be working on the pivot mounts on the B-pillars, then coming back to the windshield header bow. Crossing figures it will work. Then it will be back to the rear deck to reshape, re-angle and re-work once more to pull it all together.

markh November 28th, 2010 05:55 PM

Re: 1937 Volkster convertible
Worked on the pivot point mount for the Miata top. Moved the top forward so they are in the right position. I have a ton of reinforcement to do on the inner quarter panels, suicide hinges and the vert top mounts.
It opens and closes like butter. One hand.
Also ground down the welds at the front edge of the doors.
The bug vert radius at the rear is much different. You can see the frame drops in a different arch. I will need to reshape the rear deck to follow the new top arch across the back. Also need to delete the parcel tray from the vert section installed originally. The rod coming off the top is about the length of the new windshield bow. Unfortunately, there is no way to get it to drop below the bodyline when closed.

What good came of this is I will be able to re-contour the rear bodyline up higher so the top edges of the doors will flow right in to the higher bodyline. On this profile shot, you can see the top edge of the door will meet up with the rear deck skin. It will also hide more of the vert frame when closed.
The other side.
Basically the entire vert upper parcel tray thing will be cut out. This new hole will allow me to fit my gas tank in under the tank opening. Should be slick.

To save my chrome wheels from welding and grinding sparks, I pulled them off and put on the old 165/15 on the front.
And aired down and put away for the day.
This coming week will be dedicated to inner structure and re-shaping the new opening along the top rear deck.

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