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First off let me take this opportunity to thank the admins and owners of this site for a wonderful source of reference. I have been reading and will continue to do so as there is almost more information than one can actually take in. :)

Now for the form:

Skill Level - advanced with body repair and welding, not great with the mechanical end of electronics. Can follow directions though as long as they are complete. :)

Range Needed/Wanted - I need at least 30 miles on a charge but 40-45 would be even better.

Required/Desired Performance - Speeds of 55-60 mph would be sufficient. No interstate driving required but some highway speeds. but of course the faster the better. :)

Budget - As cheap as possible for the required range and performance but to build a machine that will last as long as possible I am willing to spend a little more money. This is not an overnight project for me as I will be restoring the pan first on the VW (the body and pan are already separated to ease the restoration process). I will be buying these part separately, as finances allow, so getting the right parts are vital.

Parts Considered - I'm a clean slate here. I have no biases or preferred ideas about what to buy as I figured it would be better to get advice and information from you good folks first.

Thanks for reading,

Drafin
(pronounced DrAY-fin, because a lot of people ask) :)
 
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Welcome to the site. Your choice of vehicle is good and many have done them. Go here and use the search function to find all the Beetles that have been converted. Your goals are attainable but rest assured that you will want more than you may think in the way of speed. Your not building a golf cart here you know.

I converted a 64 VW Ghia to all electric using lead acid batteries. Speed was fine but it was heavy and did not go very far at any decent speed. If I drove at in town speeds it would go further but still not by much as stop and go traffic can suck the batteries down too. Anyway I am partial to VW's and we are going to be building another 64 VW Ghia and a 67 Bus.

http://www.evalbum.com/

http://greenev.zapto.org/GreenEV
http://greenev.zapto.org/electricvw
http://onegreenev.com
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys... it's a lot of information to digest. But I have been munching away since I signed up. :)

@Corbin - I saw your conversion even before I posted. :) It's a nice one for certain. I don't need anywhere near the range you need but I am thinking about basing my conversion (in a round about way) on yours.

@gottdi - On your Ghia project did you change any suspension components? I'm thinking that if I go lead acid, I'll have to at least upgrade the suspension some but that's why I love beetles. Parts (upgrade and original) are both affordable.

Well back to reading guys... thanks for the responses.

Draf
 
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I did not change a thing but I purchased the car with a lowered front and rear and the front was like a rock because the person who lowered it only took out leafs from the front which always results in a rock hard ride. The rear was lowered too but that did not affect the ride in the rear. The weight pushed the ride down more. I should have raised the back a notch to counter the weight and still have a lower ride stance which I wanted. The front should have been done with an adjustable beam. The only thing I'd do if your going with lead is to change the front brakes to disc brakes. My drum brakes handled the weight fine under normal braking. But if I had needed to stop real fast I am not sure how well that would have held up. You might think of getting some coil over shocks to help. If your wanting to keep the stock height, coil overs on both the front and back should help keep it there. You may need to adjust some due to the extra weight. Get and adjustable beam for the front. Might think of a set of adjustable spring plates for the rear. Adjustable for easy fine tuning. That's about it. The suspension is naturally strong.

My new Ghia has an adjustable front and rides real nice. I may put in an adjustable set of spring plates in the rear. No coil overs on the next project as I want this ride low too. I may get some heavy duty axles but only because I am going to be using a large 11" Kostov motor which will put out lots of extra torque which the stock axles my not handle in all cases.

Pete :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
(snip)

You might think of getting some coil over shocks to help. If your wanting to keep the stock height, coil overs on both the front and back should help keep it there. You may need to adjust some due to the extra weight. Get and adjustable beam for the front. Might think of a set of adjustable spring plates for the rear. Adjustable for easy fine tuning. That's about it. The suspension is naturally strong.
Adjustable front beam is exactly what I was thinking. As for the stock ride height, just like most Bug customizers I'm looking to drop the front just a tiny bit past level with the rear. I'm not looking to slam it on the ground , just give it a tiny little bit of lowered look to the front. If the whole thing drops down a bit and does not affect the mechanics of the car that's ok too. The adjustable beam and the adjustable rear spring plates is a great idea.

Draf
 
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If you lower the VW you should lower the front the same as the rear. Keep it balanced. It will look better too. If you use lithium batteries you can lower it quite a bit. Lowering a swing axle too much can result in a camber issue. An offset spring plate can help. They do make them for the rear. The front if lowered too much even with the adjustable beam can have a camber issue too. They have camber shims for the beam to counter that issue. It needs to be slammed to the ground for that to be a real issue.

Pete :)

Have you had a look at that this 68 VW? http://www.evalbum.com/1798

Check his web page out. I have a motor exactly like his. It is so right for the VW. Needs an external blower. No problem.
 
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I have been for a ride in his Bug. It is lead acid but a fine example of what can be done.

Pete :)
 

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I went with the shortened, adjustable front beam, but it is adjusted all the way up to prevent tire rub on the wheel wells. I also have 2" drop spindles. I did add coil over shocks in the front; before I had those it didn't really have any *spring* in the front, and the coil overs actually gave it some play.

The battery weight in the front is considerable, and lowered it more than I expected, but I'm quite happy with the way it sits and how it handles.

My rear is lowered only by battery weight; it is quite a bit, and the rear tires have quite a bit of camber on them. I'm going to wear away the inside area of the tire much faster than the outside.

I did convert to disc brakes all around; I live with some significant hills, and I'm quite happy I went disc all around. Even with those, they heat up quite a bit going down steel hills.

If you go with an AC system, then that may not be an issue, as regen will slow you down. Do you have an idea of what type of motor?

I thought the HPEV AC50 would be underpowered, but when I look at the kw consumed going up my highway it is always about 30-35kw, which is less than 50hp (the max hp for the AC-50).

--corbin
 

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If you lower the VW you should lower the front the same as the rear. Keep it balanced. It will look better too. If you use lithium batteries you can lower it quite a bit. Lowering a swing axle too much can result in a camber issue. An offset spring plate can help. They do make them for the rear. The front if lowered too much even with the adjustable beam can have a camber issue too. They have camber shims for the beam to counter that issue. It needs to be slammed to the ground for that to be a real issue.
I am a fan of the old California Look, with the front slammed, but Pete is right, you need camber shims up front if it is more than about 1-1/2 inches lower than the rear. You can use 1 or 2 sets of camber shims, but if you use 2 sets you MUST use longer bolts to replace the stock lower front beam bolts. Lowering can cause tire clearance issues, especially dropped spindles with a stock front beam. Cut and turn used to be the main method of lowering but the adjustable beam (or welding adjusters into the original beam) is what I would recommend today. My old Buggy has a 1/4 inch cut and turn top and bottom plus 1 set of caster shims (and worn out king and link pins.)

My advice on lowering the rear of the old swing-axle Beetles is keep it moderate. If you lower it much there is no way to keep the camber under control. I don't like that deep negative camber look, it almost certainly increases rolling resistance, and you will have to slot the spring plates to get the tow-in right. For the cal look I like to lower the back roughly enough to reverse the stock camber setting (from about +1 degree to about -1 degree.) For the later IRS rear suspension Beetles lower to where you want, the camber is nearly stable. Many of the later Beetles do need the control arm bushings replaced, worn bushings cause excessive negative caster.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I am a fan of the old California Look, with the front slammed, but Pete is right, you need camber shims up front if it is more than about 1-1/2 inches lower than the rear. You can use 1 or 2 sets of camber shims, but if you use 2 sets you MUST use longer bolts to replace the stock lower front beam bolts.
I'm not going Cal look for sure. As a matter of fact I have to find the vent windows to put back in the doors, but thankfully most of the trim is still there along with the bumpers. As for the front lowering the only thing I'm looking at is the "lowering" caused by batteries and some way to control it from going to low.


I don't like that deep negative camber look, it almost certainly increases rolling resistance, and you will have to slot the spring plates to get the tow-in right.
Is the natural camber a concern at all with rolling resistance? If so is there a solution to getting the front and rear closer to zero degrees without adversely affecting the way the car is designed? This is something I hadn't considered up until now. It seems to be a give and take with the weight of the batteries, the natural design of the bug, and the compromises that must be made for both to accommodate both natural design and performance.

By the way guys, I'm still reading all the material you are linking. My wife tends to think I over analyze at times, but in this instance I don;t want to make a costly mistake with the Beetle or the conversion components.

Draf
 
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