BugShop: Project '57, pg 22
page last modified- 11/3/01
Long before I even came close to finishing
this restoration, I started thinking about how exactly I was going to store
this car. I knew it needed a safe, protected space to sit out the "salt
season" (New England winters) and also knew that even when I was driving
it, I couldn't just park it amid the kids bikes and wagons and "house traffic".
I have a 25 x 25 foot 2 car garage and had always managed to store the
car across the back of the garage while I was working on it and still was
able to park mine and my wife's car in the garage. But storing the car
this way when it was completed introduced some new challenges. Even in
the "driving season", I needed a way to basically keep the car covered
and protected, yet had to be able to get it out and put it back in pretty
So this page shows how I store this car,
both on and off season.
||The challenge for me was to design a system
Here are the dollies that I made out of wood.
The swivel casters are from Home depot and good for around 250 lbs of load
Allowed the car to be rolled around by one person
in the garage
Allowed the car to be stored with the wheels
slightly off the ground, but the suspension fully loaded
Was simple and easy to get the car on or off
|This is how the rear dolly is used. First,
a 2x4 is placed across the bottoms of the shock mounts on the ends of the
axles, and the car is lifted with the floor jack. This 2x4 is a pressure
treated spruce one, it is bowing, but it is very strong. This allows me
to raise the car, yet keep the suspension loaded (wheels don't drop down).
You can see the dollies laying on the floor
underneath. Note the foam pipe insulation on the jack handle to keep it
from scratching paint.
Bythe way, I have another muffler I'm going
to sandblast and paint with POR-20 next spring (although that one is still
||The car is raised up and the dollies are
slipped under the 2 x 4, then it is slowly lowered and the jack removed.
You can see that the tries are about 2" off the floor and the suspension
During the driving season, this is all I
do with the car to put it away. With the front wheels still on the ground,
I can easily push the car by the back bumper and "steer" it into the storage
space. Sort of like pushing a shopping cart backwards. Also, with the driver's
door window open, I can reach in and turn the front wheels to get it to
fit in the storage space. Works very well, takes me about 5 minutes to
get the car on or off the dolly.
|For long term, winter storage I needed a
dolly solution for the front as well, to get the wheels off the ground
and still be able to roll the car in place. The front one was made very
similar to the back. A spruce 2 x 4 was cut to 47.5", and two 1.25" bores,
about 3/8" deep drilled in the ends (1 5/16" from the ends). This board
will support the back end of the lower trailing arms, right where the link
pin bolt is. The bores allow relief for the link pin bolt nuts so that
they don't take all the strain. The nice thing about using wood is that
it will "give" against immense pressure from a hard metal point or edge,
and the metal will not be marred.
The little block of wood with carpet on it
was placed there when I realized that as I was jacking that car up, the
board bowed enough to allow it to hit the underside of the framehead. But
after drilling the holes, I realized that the block stuck up too high and
I took it off and just stapled the carpet right to the 2 x 4.
|This dolly looks a bit different than the
back one. You will notice that one of the wheels does not swivel. This
is because even though I like to think my garage floor is pretty level,
I had a terrible time trying to manuver the car when it was on 8 swivel
dollies (in the late stages of the restoration). No matter how "straight"
I tried to push from the back, the front would roll sideways and into the
wall. The swivel dolly is smaller and needed a wooden "shim" to make the
The crossmember support on the dolly is placed
farther toward the non-swiveling wheel to insure it does the longitudinal
"guiding" that it needs to as the car is rolled into place.
||Here you can see how the back of the trailing
arm rests on the end of the crossmember, the nut on the link pin bolt well
into the bore drilled in the wood. Again, the car is lifted without unloading
the suspension, it rests on the dolly much the same as it would on the
tires. (front sway bar added in '59, it might be a bit more of a trick
on a car with the sway bar)
|Here is the front end resting on the dollies.
The crossmember looks a bit bowed and the dollies tilted in, but as soon
as the car is moved, the whole setup levels out nicely.
||[Ok, I admit I just had to find a
better use for my graphics software in these pages..]
Some things I did before covering this car
and storing it (more complete list below):
Open the glove box door. Why? Favorite place
for mice to build nests and I am lucky enough to have an intact, original
cardboard glove box. Mice won't build nests in places that aren't closed
Leave the doors slightly ajar (just "half clicked"
shut). This helps preserve the door seals.
Door windows open just a bit to allow car to
|My car cover is an inexpensive, single layer
cotton cover. It does have a plastic zipper on the driver's side to allow
you to get inside without removing the cover. I think I paid $30 for this
cover, it is a "small". A Beetle is 13 feet, 4 inches (4.065m) by the way
if you are buying cover. This one is a generic "small" car one and is not
made specificaly for the Beetle. If you look close, you can see how the
front of the cover is flipped back over the bumper a bit, it is actually
a bit too long. You must not use a cover like this out doors, it
will quickly ruin your paint.
||Ok, so what does this storage "space" look
like? Well, this picture is facing back left corner of the garage, the
back of the garage is on the right. That grey stuff you see on the lower
part of the wall is grey jute carpet padding and it is hanging down to
cover the cement kneewall of the garage foundation. And another piece of
it is glued to the wall under the overhang. That overhang is actually part
of the laundry room in the house and is a bit over 3 feet deep. And, as
it turns out, the nose of a Beetle fits right under there perfectly.
|Here you can see just how close of a fit
this is, and why the front dolly could only hold the wheels up off the
ground a tiny bit. The clearance side to side is probably under 1.5 inches.
This is why it is so important to be able to accurately "steer" this 1600lb
car into this tight spot. Every possible "bump" surface on either side
has been covered with either padding or foam. After doing this a dozen
or so times, I got pretty good at it. Sort of like docking a huge ship
in a tiny slip.
||This how you keep the bike handlebars away.
This is a 4 x 8 foot piece of 1/2" CDX plywood, hinged on the right end.
1x3 "strapping" is used lengthwise and diagonally to give strength to the
the "door". And where the strapping might be able to touch the fenders
is, you guessed it, foam pipe insulation (the stuff is usually slit lengthwise,
you just open it up and slip it on the 1 x 3s).
On the hinged end, you can see some more
foam padding stapled on. This "pinch" area almost wrecked my paint on the
front fender before I trimmed some protruding wood and added some foam
|Voila! The car is tucked safetly away for
the winter months. The hinged wall, couple with the little "nook" that
the nose is slid under, protects all but the rearmost foot and a half (mostly
bumper) of the car. The bungee cord keeps the door snug against the car.
For more insights on steps to take when
storing a Beetle away, see the Resuscitating and
Mummifying a Beetle article in the technical section.
Winterizing my '57 isn't quite the same as
putting a car away for years of storage. The fact is, most winters it will
sit from Nov-Dec until around April or about 5 months. Here are the specific
measures I have taken:
When the car is revived in the spring, the oil
will be changed after a warm up, brake fluid will be flushed, transaxle
fluid checked, etc. I prefer to to the preventive maintenance in the spring
just before putting the car back on the road, rather than just before putting
Fill the gas tank completely, add fuel stabilizer,
drive it about 10 miles to get the stabilized fuel all the way into the
Release the parking brake
Remove the battery
Drain the oil from the air cleaner, wrap the
cleaner in a plastic bag and place it in the engine compartment
Place a piece of trash bag plastic over the
carb throat and secure it with a rubber band
Loosen the spark plugs, then put them back hand
Open the glove box door
Remove anything from inside the trunk and cabin
that I might need over the winter
Open the doors slightly, open the windows in
the doors a coupe inches
Open the pop out windows
Print this list on a piece of paper and place
it in the driver's seat