Ball Joint Beam to King Pin front end conversion. . .

atomicjoe23

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What route would you guys recommend for converting from a ball joint beam to a king pin beam on a Baja Bug project. . .cutting off and re-placing the ball joint front beam mount with a king pin front beam mount, cuting the pan off at the bulkhead/front firewall and going tube for the front end, or. . .???

I don't live in SoCal, AZ, etc. . .I live in WA state so it won't see any races. . .more like forest service roads, maybe the occasional trip to the WA/OR dunes, etc.

I was planning on a wider beam with coilovers, Foddrill 4" longer front trailing arms, and some sort of upgraded spindle, but I'm still trying to figure out some of the nuances of buggy front suspension nomenclature (i.e. what are combo spindles vs. KingKong spindles, etc.).

Thanks for the recommendations.
 
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Don't bother.

Build up a Class 9-style ball joint front end, get some good shocks and put disc brakes on it.

Then get a good brake pressure adjuster so you can dial back the front brakes after you take all the weight off by installing a Baja Bug kit. This will be especially handy on fast forest roads, and indispensable in dunes as you can effectively shut the front brakes off there.

Are you going to have a one piece fiberglass front end? Wide eye or bug eye?

Planning to relocate the fuel tank?
 

atomicjoe23

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I was planning on a 1-PC fiberglass front end; I see the one on Kartek. . .the race style without headlight buckets. I am sure there are others, but I haven't spent much time looking at bodywork yet. Trying to figure out the more important stuff first.

I don't know enough about Baja Bugs right now to decide on relicatingvthe gas tank. . .I would initially say yes because that seems to be what most nice Class 5 Unlimited Bugs do, but it seems slightly counter-intuitive because the engine/transaxle are already putting a pretty good rearward bias on the weight distribution.
 

atomicjoe23

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I'm not familiar with Class 9, I will look tonight. . .

. . .I was under the impression most all of the available front trailing arm parts (Foddrill etc) were for king pin front ends.

. . .that would save me a LOT of work though.

Everything I have read said the ball joint beams were less desirable than the king pin beams, but if that is not necessarily the case I would be happy to hear that. Most of what I have read us pretty old info though. . .
 
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A link pin front end is superior, but a lot more expense and maintenance, which you don't need for your use.

You'll be better off spending the money on the rear suspension, IMHO.

Do you have an IRS pan?
 
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That's a good start. Do you want to continue here or on you other Baja Bug thread?
 
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If you can find Thing (Type 181) front arms and ball joints, that makes the best BJ front end.

Short of that, decide whether you want to run shocks in the stock position or fab custom mounts; reinforce the stock welds on the beams, make positive travel stops, gusset the spindles, determine how much spring you need, start thinking about steering: are you going with stock boxes or convert to a rack?

Look at Class 9 Challenger cars to get ideas re beefing up the BJ front end for more.

Again, keep your budget in mind.
 

atomicjoe23

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Ol' Curmudgeon. . .would you care to comment on the pro's/con's of moving the gas tank from the front to the rear (my bug doesn't currently have the stock tank so. . .)

. . .regarding your above comments the plan was not to use the stock shock mounts and to convert to a R&P steering set-up.

So, what I have picked up is that one of the problems experienced with a ball-joint front end is the ball joints binding at max/min travel. That being the case, wouldn't reaming (with a straight reamer of the correct/appropriate size vs. a tapered reamer) the tapered seats for the ball joints to fit heim joint/spherical rod ends eliminate/reduce the bind (within the angularity constraints of rod ends with HMA spacers). I mean you can only achieve and use so much travel and you would be strapping the suspension to keep from damaging components from over-extension anyway. . .so wouldn't using rod ends with HMA spacer gain you something over the balljoints?
 

atomicjoe23

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Uuuuuggghh. . .Thing front trailing arms do NOT look like they are going to be easy to find at a reasonable price. . .
 
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With time and money you can do lots of stuff, but why bother? Cut the whole nose off and fab an entire a-arm frontend, best performance $$$$$

I was afraid Thing parts had reached $$$tatus, made a bj beam strong enough to meet the standards set by the German Army.

In your case, you will need to limit the travel, just like you said, to keep from destroying shocks and ball joints. Look at how others have made positive stops attached to the beam that limit the arms' travel.

With no fuel tank, spare, or body metal except the footwell beyond the cowl, you are going to have a very light frontend that will need very little springing, and very little braking.

When your front tires are bouncing, or locked up, they don't offer much directional input.

Now, answer those other thread questions about engines, transmissions, budgets for each car.

Forest roads, light duning, both street licensed?

Each is an IRS pan with a ball joint frontend, correct?

Is the 'glass car on a full length pan?
 
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atomicjoe23

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In your case, you will need to limit the travel, just like you said, to keep from destroying shocks and ball joints. Look at how others have made positive stops attached to the beam that limit the arms' travel.
I have seen those. . .I read that section in Hibbard's book just yesterday; after your suggestion to keep the BJ front end I went back and read the BJ section of his book. I see that Kartek sells pre-cut ones that just need to be welded on. . .priced VERY reasonably too!

With no fuel tank, spare, or body metal except the footwell beyond the cowl, you are going to have a very light frontend that will need very little springing, and very little braking.

When your front tires are bouncing, or locked up, they don't offer much directional input.
A little confused here. . .I understand what you are saying about a light front end needing less springing and that explains why I have noticed most of the Baja Bugs I have been looking at have larger rear brakes than front brakes (something that was just the opposite of what I am used to seeing in Auto-X/road-course racing). If I am understanding correctly your are telling me not to over-spring or over-brake the front end based on weight. . .having the fuel tank in the nose puts more weight on the front, but at the cost of beating up the front end more. For an initial build that is budget minded (so I can go out and enjoy the car instead of looking at it sitting in the garage) keeping the front end light would work the lighter duty front end parts less and they would last longer before needing to be upgraded.

Am I understanding this correctly?

Now, answer those other thread questions about engines, transmissions, budgets for each car.

What year are the pans?
The Manx is titled as a 1970 IIRC; I have no idea on the Bug. . .it doesn't have a VIN plate and it didn't come with a title (a headache I will have to deal with sooner or later; I do know someone who will be selling a title/VIN sometime in the near future which I will probably be buying to title/register my Bug). All I can say is that it is a manual/IRS car so it is post '68; I don't know how else to narrow that down.

What engines do you plan to run?
The Manx has a professionally built 1640 dual port; the Bug came with an engine that appears to be stock. . .I will be sticking with that and concentrating on the suspension/steering/brakes before I mess with built engines for it.

What transmission?
I am so new to Bugs I just learned about the different transmission types; I have not looked closely enough at either transmission since I read about the different types to know. . .I plan to look at the Bug transmission tonight. . .it came in the Bug. . .I'm guessing stock. The transaxle for the Bug will probably see upgrades/replacement before the engine on the Bug.

What's your budget for each?
The Manx is "hers". . .so I don't have a budget for it. . .we will probably convert to disc brakes and get a better rollcage and the Manx is probably done.

I don't currently have a hard budget for the Bug. . .I don't know enough yet to even guess. . .let's just throw out $10K or less. I went to school for welding/technical design; I'm a toolmaker by trade, and I have my own MIG, TIG, oxy, manual lathe and mill, and access to one or two CNC mills. . .so the budget is almost exclusively for parts and not for labor.

Forest roads, light duning, both street licensed?
Yes, that is the goal. . .the Bug not having a VIN plate or title may change that.

Each is an IRS pan with a ball joint frontend, correct?
I believe so. . .because there isn't any plan of doing further work on the Manx I haven't looked to see what front end is on it.

Is the 'glass car on a full length pan?
Yes, it is on a full length pan.

Thanks for taking the time to help me out and explain this stuff to me. . .without any good local resources I am stuck with what I can find online and sorting the good from the bad on my own.
 

atomicjoe23

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Aaaaaaaggggggghhhhh. . .I found the VIN. I didn't realize it was stamped on the pan vs. a riveted plate like I am used to seeing. . .I had to use a wire brush to get rid of a lot of gunk to be able to see it once I was told where it was and that it was stamped.

1122318882

According to the online VIN decoder I found that makes it a 1972 Super Beetle!!!! German production.

Now what? I have always seen that Super Beetles are not a good starting point for a Baja Bug. . .

. . .is it just the front suspension/suspension components that is the problem? Or is there more to it than that?
 

atomicjoe23

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Well just as I posted this I realized I am now thoroughly confused AF!

The VIN says Super Beetle according to the decoder, but it is not a MacPherson strut front end???
 
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If it is a 72 Superbeetle, it should have a strut front end and a curved windshield. And, yes, SB's are not a good base for a Baja.

Once we figure out just what you have, we can proceed.

I think there should have been a VIN plate at bottom left of windshield opening. Any rivet holes remaining?
 

atomicjoe23

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Ok, after checking 3 other decoders and sending s bunch of pictures to the one VW guy I know it appears the first decoder I used was wrong. . .it was the one on air-cooledvw.net BTW.

It is a standard Beetle and I located all three tags and they all have the same number.
 
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Glad it's not an SB. So, what body metal remains forward of the windshield?
 
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