Enabling 'Heating' on a VW Beetle

Heat IconThere is more than one option so which one to choose?

Well there is lots of info out there on the Internet and it all depends on what your trying to achieve and the cost. Most expensive is fitting original style Heat Exchangers and ducting to use the heat generated by the engine. If your only looking for a 'demister function' for the front windscreen then there are 'electrical heaters' and 'diesel heaters' you can plumb into the demister pipes at the front of the car.

Typical Electric HeaterWith an electric heater though your really going to have to upgrade the electrics to incorporate a 70 amp Alternator as the original 34 amp Dynamo isn't up to supplying sufficient power for long periods and that raises the cost significantly.

Typical Diesel HeaterAuxiliary 'diesel heaters' are available and are generally used on Type 2 Vans etc. used as camper vans for overnight stays. However it means you have to carry a supply of smelly diesel and remember to top the heater tank up and the combustion process does produce moisture so it's not really ideal for demisting purposes but can be a cost effective option using one of the modern Chinese alternatives to period 'Westfalia' heaters.

Preferring originality I decided to go with original style heat exchangers and watched the installation video on-line by JBugs Heat Exchanger Install which made it seem so simple. Well it's not that straightforward and takes a lot longer than the 6:44 of the video, more like 2 hours per side!

For most owners it will mean crawling around under the car with the engine already in place.

The first step is to measure the inlet pipe diameter on the car body to determine which connection pipe you will need and which is awkward as it sits behind the rear suspension arm. So, with the car jacked up at the rear on axle stands for safety and with the wheels off is the best way to do it. The Heat exchangers themselves have an outlet diameter of 60 mm. On my 1966 car, the body inlets were 63 mm, so I also needed 2 X part 113 255 355/B 'Heater Mufflers' as well as the actual 'heat exchangers'.

Heat Exchanger KitI ordered a complete 'Heat Exchanger Kit' from Custom and Commercial and when it arrived, gave the heat Exchangers a coat of high temperature paint as added protection before assembling the operating levers.

The JBugs video (watch the link above) makes the job look simple, however it's not that straightforward (it never is!). I assembled the right side OK but when doing the left, the tiny spring clip for the pin that holds the metal loop that the operating cable attaches to went 'ping' across the garage and was lost... I ended up drilling a hole in the pin and used a split pin and washer to retain it, rather than the tiny spring clip but as it's under the car no one would know.

Once that was done I removed the 'J' tubes between the cylinder head and exhaust. Fortunately for me the engine hadn't been run that much since it was put in the car and everything was free and easy to remove, but I can well imagine it wouldn't be so easy on an older installation when carbon build up and rust took a hold as some 'dings' on the exhaust itself testify to someone elses pain removing them.

Now mounting the heat exchangers under the car whilst laying on ones back is not so easy either as they need to slide into the exhaust and onto the cylinder head studs at the same time whilst lining up with the air feed hose outlets and ne could really do with 3 hands (but there just isn't the room). Right Side Heat Exchanger Fitted

The top stud on the exhaust is slightly behind and that is awkward to get at to put the nut on and then tighten. I used a 1/4" drive socket on an extension bar to slip between the heater flap lever and the heat exchanger body, as nothing larger would line up. Then the control cables were connected but again it wasn't like the video as the rubber sleeves which protect the cables were a very tight fit over the cable ends.

Once they were in place and secured at the cylinder head and exhaust, I fired up the engine and operated the lever in the cabin to open the flaps on the heat exchangers to make sure that air was blowing through (and let any debris out) then set about fitting the plastic 'muffler' pipes between the heat exchangers and car body.

Now there is not a lot of access under there and the units were to long, same as in the JBugs video, so I followed that and cut them down to fit, but in this case, a bit at a time and tried them before cutting again to ensure too much wasn't removed! muffler pipe

They were however still difficult to fit as the outlet from the heat exchangers and the car body are not in line. They were offset by circa 60-80mm which meant some brute force had to be used to try and bend the plastic tubes to fit on the sleeves which over the short length of the pipes with the metal spiral inside them and the snug fit onto each end, made for some choice language and skinned knuckles!

Finally once all the work at the rear of the car was completed it was time to move forward. As the main reason for adding the heat exchangers was to get hot air to the windscreen I blocked off the rear under seat vents (the control flaps were missing anyway) and made 2 blanking covers for the front foot well vents before once again firing the engine up to blow air through the heater channels to clear any debri from the floor pan repairs.

Beetle Front Heater OutletThen it was onto the front of the car and the demister pipes. Fortunately the bottom of the inner wing area where the pipes connect to the heater channels were clear at both sides so it was simply a case of spraying the area with Bilt Hamber Dynax U-C anti corrosion wax

Then it was down to replacing the riser pipes with new pipe and connecting the 'Y' piece to the pipes leading to the dashboard vents.

There is an image of the pipework in the gallery along with the: Heater Pipe Part Numbers

Lower Tinware KitThe final piece will be fitting the missing air deflector plates (OEM Part Number: 043-198-350) which go over the underside of the engine and attach to the heat exchangers and engine sump and are required for correct factory engine cooling as the engine will run hotter without them.

They also offer protection to the push-rod tubes from being damaged from any road debris thrown up.

Tins arrived so fitted them which, not surprisingly as a 'pattern part from Brazil), was not as straightforward as the JBugs video or the sellers description said.

After ensuring that the M6 bolt holes in the engine block which they fasten to were all OK they were wrangled into place (after a bit of fettling with a pair of tin snips!)

The holes in the attachment brackets on the heat exchangers were out of line as well so I had to drill new ones. Rather than use 'slot head screws' to fit them I cut down some M6 stainless bolts and used a flat and spring washer to ensure they didn't vibrate loose. Under engine tins Fitted

Whilst under the car I took the opportunity to re check the nuts holding the oil strainer cover as there was a bit of oil weeping out. Hopefully that is the last of the major mechanical work now completed on the car (I said that once before so....).

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