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Baja Forums -:- VW Volkswagen Bug, Baja, Bus, Sandrail and Thing -:- VW Volkswagen & Baja Bug General Discussion -:- Build advice ...
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Build advice ...
Bug, Baja, Thing and Buggies. Most every thing that will not fit any any other area. See list of other Forums for better topic placement...Volkswagen General Discussion
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CatJockey
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Post Post subject: Build advice ...
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:43 PM
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I have a 74 I am going to turn into a baja. My number one objective is mobility. More of an exploration baja than a jumping in the desert at 50 mph baja. Ground clearence is number one priority. I initially wanted to keep it simple, stick with bj front and maybe find a thing beam a try to get a good 3" and try to keep the same wheel track.

Where I am at now is the conclusion that I want to widen my wheel track to compensate for weight, raised center of gravity, weight on the roof rack, etc. My questions are as follows:

1. 3x3 trailing arms require a cage for upper shock mounts?

2. If using the same tire on all four corners (33's preferably), will a 6" widened front beam give me the same wheel track front and back?

3. Since going with 3x3's, I can't see much sense not going lp front beam now to take advantage of increased travel options. This will require a frame head swap, or a front cage fab. My question here is if I have to convert to lp, is there any reasons to not go the extra step and fab a full cgae front to back and extend the beam versus just swapping and extending a frame head?

Thanks. Again, my objective is to make a baja able to go the most places, to function like a jeep instead of Ivan Stewart's toyota (not that I wouldn't love two bajas, one meant to fly ljke Ivan's truck). Sound like I am on the right track as far as base suspension mods (3x3 + 6" wider lp beam)? Any other suggestions such as general build direction (engine, trans, etc.) to achieve my goals would be appreciated as well.

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 02:57 AM
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Wider and longer is for hi speeds more thasn slow speeds. For exploring keep it light add a three rib tansaxle and 30" tires on all four corners. Here is a video of what you can do with a stock Baja. The only mod this has is a 3 rib T-2 transaxle, longer Autozone shock and an adventurous driver. My first Baja was very similar except for a larger engine.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcCRdq66XHc

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 04:43 AM
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As I said, ground clearance is #1 priority. Everything else being equal, that is an additional 1.5" clearance on the pan with 33s, which is probably close to a 10% loss in ground clearance going with 30's. Wider is also to compensate for a higher center of gravity for slow speeds, not just jumping at high speeds - you can roll a vehicle going 2 mph too. And the wider the track the more side angle it can handle.

Otk6r does some sweet things in his bug, but he also beats the ever loving piss out of it. Love to see the bottom of the pan. He would do less grinding of his pan, and it would be in better shape, across rocks if he had bigger tires. And, quite frankly, there are simply places he cannot go with 30s but could with 33s.

I understand the light thing, but I am throwing a rack on top of a lifted body that will have weight.

So, any help with my first three questions, mostly why I would swap frame heads versus building a full cage?

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 05:08 AM
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I don't want to come across the wrong way perrib, as I definitely started with your mindset, down to using 30 or 31 inch rears and 7x15 fronts on a thing or beefed up stock bj and boxed stock rear arms and then I started thinking about everything else and I realized that I could make a light bug, but I would pack it full of crap to make a heavy overall vehicle - like camping out of it for a week sort of thing with 200 lbs of crap on a rack on top etc.

So, my first preference was to go light and actually much like otk6r's (I've lurked bug sites for a bit). He certainly proves what can be done. But running through the other checklist in my head, I really came to the conclusion that wider, as well as longer might be in my best interest.

So, the 3x3's and lp front. My biggest hang up at this point, is trying to figure out why I wouldn't just skip the whole frame head swap and build the rear shock cage all the way forward.

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 05:10 AM
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Building without a beam head is a good idea. It will be lighter and stronger. Go 3x5 on the rear arms and 4x1 on the front. Use coil overs for a nice soft low speed and high speed ride. I run 35s on the rear and 33s on the front of my rail for about 21" of ground clearance and the bottom of my rail looks a lot like the bottom of OKTR6R's Baja. More ground clearance for me only means looking for more challenging trails. Very Happy Don't forget with all that extra weight you need more power and a better transaxle. I posted the link just to show how what you can do for around a grand. The fun your looking for can cost $10,000 or more. Now the question is: Will you have 10xs more fun?

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 06:25 AM
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Awesome advice. Thank you. Cash? Well, should. In about 6 months I am going to start building an expedition camper to live and work out of an am turning my bug into my 'scout rig to tow behind for where my 30,000lb home won't go. I will be going all over North & South America, so I definitely want to do it right and reliable. I want to over build it, but under drive it a bit places south of the border. Winch is coming too.

I am not quite sure about the 4x1 thing ... 4" wider and 1" longer something?

If you wouldn't mind filling me in a bit on the 4x1 that would be sweet. As far as motor and trans, I have a base knowledge from lot's of reading, but providing I had the money to do it right, what would you suggest more specifically for engine size as far as enough power, but no more so reliability is not sacrificed. One last question is a stock bus tranny suitable? Or will it need some wrok?

Thanks again, exactly the type of advice I am looking for.

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 02:59 AM
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4" longer 1" wider front arms. In the states it would be no big deal however once your south of the border one thing to consider is how long it will take to get a replacement aftermarket part shipped to you plus the cost of customs. Stock VW parts on the other hand should be easier to find. Plus if a federale takes a shining to your built Baja it won't be yours for long.

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 04:39 AM
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Again, good points. I have a couple months before the check writing starts, so I am still leaving options open, like my original class 11 look-a-like to a nice, cheap, simple, yet very effective conversion like Ot's.

I'm not rich, merely single and financial irresponsible Laughing , so once you commit yourself to spending the money it may take, like 10+ g's, you start to think you need to when, in the end, the best solution may be to not spend all of that money, regardless of initial intention.

I have thought about federalies quite a bit (stealing my laptop, iPhone, etc, at border crossings, etc) but not too much about stealing a nice looking ride. Definitely a point to consider.

I originally started with the thought of a class 11 look-alike, but then started wanting to shave weight which started me down the 33's and widening options. Maybe in the end, my solution lies somewhere between your buggy and ot's financially.

Good insight and I appreciate it. It is easy to convince yourself (me) that you need to spend more and need to have more of this or that to get the job done than you actually need.

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Post Post subject: Build advice ...
Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 05:58 AM
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Keep in mind how many offroad races were won by VW-Based buggies with stock T1 front beam, arms and spindles and swingaxle. I'm not saying that's how you must build your car now for your adventure, but it's something to keep in mind when you're trying to control the flash flood of cash to build it.


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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 07:18 PM
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Quote::
I'm not saying that's how you must build your car now for your adventure...

Hey, I asked for advice. I had a certain focus, ground clearance and track width, and you and perrib are advising me that I might be a bit too worried about an inch or two relative to all the other changes neccessary. Actually quite helpful.

I only have about a year before I have to tell people I am in my 40's, so at this point I do have some nominal control over the testosterone filled 18 year old that lives inside me and tries to control things, like baja builds, and can reconsider more practical and reasonable alternatives than the most 'fun' sounding one.

A lot of you guys know this stuff like the back of your hand. It is not that I am too lazy to spend the next 1.5 hours reading, but I know that so many of you can compile a quick list from your head in a matter of seconds.

So, if I stick to bj beam and relatively normal track width, 7x15's front/30 or 31's in back, a couple more quick questions:

After I cut and turn 9/16", what else would you guys put on the front end (lift spindles, etc.)? Or is swapping for a thing that advantageous for quick lift and strength?

As far as the rear, are there any trailing arms that do not require an upper shock mount on an internal cage (1x1, 1x2, etc.)? Also, beyond boxing stock arms and cutting and notching spring plates, anything else for support or clearance?

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Post Post subject: Build advice ...
Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:02 PM
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Quote::
I only have about a year before I have to tell people I am in my 40's, so at this point I do have some nominal control over the testosterone filled 18 year old that lives inside me and tries to control things, like baja builds, and can reconsider more practical and reasonable alternatives than the most 'fun' sounding one.

As an 18 year old with the experience and memories of one who is actually 55 years old...I 'Get' what you're saying there...LOL

Quote::
After I cut and turn 9/16", what else would you guys put on the front end (lift spindles, etc.)? Or is swapping for a thing that advantageous for quick lift and strength?

9/16" rotation of a beam is Huge! It might get awfully tough to re-assemble the ball joints to the arms after that rotation. 5/16" is more like reality.
But if you stick to the BJ beam, some good options are...
- Thing spindles for about 2-1/2" of lift
- lifted spindles for 2-1/2" - 3" of lift (depending on source)
- check with Daryll (Bugzyla) on here about conversion arms to put linkpin spindles on your beam for greater travel capability and possibly stouter combo link spindles, maybe even lifted combo spindles. This would lead to new shock towers to mount different long travel shocks to and gives you the option of longer arms for more lift and travel.

Quote::
As far as the rear, are there any trailing arms that do not require an upper shock mount on an internal cage (1x1, 1x2, etc.)? Also, beyond boxing stock arms and cutting and notching spring plates, anything else for support or clearance?

5-1600 and 1/2-1600 desert race cars are limited by rules to +0 width and +1" length, so there are arms made to that standard. Or stock arms can be modified and reinforced to that width/length. The off-the-shelf longer arms would almost certainly require shock mounts on a cage. Custom built from stock gives you options for retaining the stock shock mounts. The racers, using micro stub hubs and 930 CVs, get 17" of travel from 0x1 arms and many use 31 x 10.50 or 33 x 9.50 or 10.50 tires without body lifts, but I don't expect this travel is what you're after. I suggest Type 4/Thing/Porsche 944 CVs with VW hubs and re-flanged stock stub axles. This would require aftermarket axle CV shafts. This with re-indexed rear torsions should allow about 9-10" of travel and up to 3" higher ride height than stock, not counting tire diameter lift. This setup should get you sufficient rear lift to go amaze yourself. Bruce Meyers' personal Manxter fiberglass car has beefed boxed rear arms with shock mounts in the stock location which has the shocks pass through tubes in the arm boxes. This is great but presents a problem of getting mud-packed if used in substantial mud, which is a scenario I foresee for an adventure like yours. An open-tube reinforcement like the no-longer available Prowler's arm kit would probably be better from that standpoint.

A well-built cage, which could be easily based on a "Class 11" or EMPI cage, but with added bracing to the front beam, motor mounts and rear torsion and shock mounts (without penetrating the bodywork) would add a huge amount of structural strength to the chassis, aside from rollover protection. This CAN be done while retaining an accessible back seat, the stock gas tank in front, etc.


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Post Post subject: Build advice ...
Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:17 PM
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Oh, and a stock 002 bus trans should be plenty strong and work great for your purposes. Also should not be difficult to replace or service compared to most any other gearbox most anywhere in the western hemisphere.


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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:35 PM
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I'm just a bit younger than Mohave and I doubt I'm more reponsible than when I was fourty but am a tiny bit more than when I was 18. Smile We all want more but often find out the hard way less is more. You cut and turn that beam 9/16" and you loosen any dental filling you have. Use the 3" lift spindles and a bit less cut and turn.

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 03:09 AM
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Thanks guys. I got the 9/16" off of the Class 11 site. Sounds like 9/16" is a bit more than needed for guys not jumping their Class 11's in the desert in a race. Noted on the turn.

I certainly appreciate the advice. I think I'll focus my 'unnecessarily spent money' on the engine at this point and stick with the bj beam and beefed up stock arms. No too bad of a financial loss if I decide to go full cage/high travel later on.

I will certainly be on the road sooner too.

Pffft ... what the hell am I? Some kind of Nancy boy? Worried about scratching the pan ... Some 4000lb winches sound great for dragging that pan across that one last little section. Twisted Evil

You guys sold me - a pan is a lot cheaper than those final couple inches of ground clearance. Thanks again. The hammers and saws and welders come out in 2-3 months. I'll let you guys know how it turns out. Now, the final engine decision ...

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Post Post subject: Re: Build advice ...
Posted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 06:04 AM
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9/16" is for hauling butt through massive bumps and whoops. Remember they are averaging 45 mph in the Baja 1000 with a near "stock suspension."

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