The heater channel
is the foundation of the VW Beetle body. Over time and with exposure to
the elements they and rust and this will effect the structural integrity
of your air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle.
They run from the front
...to the rear chassis
The floorpan bolts to
the bottom of it. So replacing it is no small task. The spot welds
on the bottom of the rear quarter panel need to be located by removing
Then they can be drilled
Then the same on the lower
edge of the front inner wheel well.
On the inside the lower
side of the inner panel of the rear quarter panel must be drilled.
When drilling the welds against the rear chassis support a special
spot weld drill should be used the preserve the metal beneath. This
tool is like a small hole saw.
It is helpful to either
weld or bolt a metal brace in the door opening to maintain the correct
measurements for the door once the door post are cut loose.
The post are welded solid
to the channel and are best cut with a cut off wheel on a die grinder.
Remember that the neater
you can make the cut the easier it will be to weld later. There are
some welds on the outsides of the chassis supports that are a little
hard to find but they will become more obvious as you lift the body
to remove the channel. In one of our previous tech articles you learned
how to remove the body. Unbolt the body but leave the bolts loose
in the supports in the inner wheel wheel.
The body can pivot on
these. Since the body only needs to be lifted enough to remove the
channel it can be lifted from the inside. With some boards and a little
bit of ingenuity you can lift the body with a small jack under the
A sharp chisel may be
need to free up some of the welds.
Finally the channel can
be separated from the car.
Now after a little cleaning
up of the edges and some of the welds you can put the new channel
back into the body.
Ease the body back down
making sure that everything is going back into place and fitting up.
Tack the door post in
place first and check for fit.
The width should be correct
if you braced the door but you may need to use a jack and a board
under one of the door post to give it the right shape.
Once the door fits in
just right weld up the rest of the channel and bolt the body back
down. The Super Beetle channel welds flush against the front chassis
support while the bottom plate extends under it and is welded solid
along the edge.
The convertible has several
extra support panels on the inside that must be drilled and removed
before you can get to the heater channel.
also has a support rail that is welded to the bottom of the channel
before it is put back in.
As you can
see some skills in welding and fabrication are need to do this job
but it can be done. I would strongly recommend that you watch us
do this job from start to finish on Vol.7 of our Bug Me Video series
before you try to tackle it. You will be glad you did.