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Well this is, Project 53. I 've done two other show dune buggy's, they are not that difficult with the exception of wrangling in and out from under the dash area. Tim the owner specified a Berrien tube chassis and the Nostalgia Aqua Metallic body both are manufactured in house by Acme Inc. New Cumberland PA. John Mickel the owner was gracious enough to fabricate the chassis, one piece fiberglass floor and body ready in just two weeks time. The chassis uses the rear VW torsion assembly and ball joint axle beam.  (A bit of a stretch on the center would make for a nice speedster chassis ) I've been ordering part$ for the past week including a fresh balanced 1641cc engine and reman transmission. Tim will supply new old school Cragar's,  tires and chrome show bar. I ordered a dune buggy specific custom made harness for  Zippy" he is known to build a great wire harness that is complete with all grounds etc. I had to fill out a work sheet that specifies where everything is mounted in the buggy as well as how many gauges etc.   Yesterday we inventoried everything we have received so far and today I set up an area to begin the chassis, axle beam prep for paint. Looks like Tuesday will be the first good day for doing the DTM semi gloss black epoxy paint.  I'll post as I go along but this one is a casual build with a completion date of mid January.

Tim buggy 1Tim Dune buggy build photos

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Buggy build update: I did some rethinking and changed from the epoxy DTM chassis paint to self etching primer and VHT Chassis roll bar paint.  I first did some measurement checks on the chassis ACME's jig is spot on and after following ACME's instructions to remove the steering box locator pins ( will drill, tap and use  short set screws once repositioned) the adjustable axle bean dropped right into the front mounting brackets... the orange straps were used to hold it in place until I have absolute center position. It comes with the clutch cable tube welded in place ,  I had to add the supplied accelerator tube also installed a hard fuel line.  Pre-paint..... I scuffed the entire chassis with 120 ,then washed the chassis twice with lacquer thinner and applied two coats of self etching primer ( zinc / acid) and two  coats of  VHT Chassis roll bar satin black paint. This was done with the chassis on extended jack stands and I suited up in an old long sleeve shirt , gloves and a good mask...  by the time I was done I was covered in primer and black, the blue tarps saved me a ton of time cleaning .  Allowed the VHT black top coats to dry for two hours then tried to scrape it with a flat blade screwdriver ( it barely left a mark)  the self etching primer and VHT paint is  a durable combination. Installed the steering box, pitman arm , tie rods, steering damper and oil filled shocks. Prepped the  disc brake specific master cylinder with the brake light switch and pop in reservoir, found that  that the welded chassis mounting plate had SAE nuts welded in place and of course the master cylinder is M-8  I had to run a tap to open up the welded in M8 nuts. Next morning I cut off the welded nuts and bolted the master cylinder to the mounting plate using the threads on the M/C. Bedded the front wheel bearing races into the rotors, test fit the bearing onto the spindles  had to take a .002 off the spindles with Emery paper to get them on,  packed the inner and outer wheel bearings and installed the rotors & calipers. Followed that up with front hard lines and braided brake hoses.        Today installed the shifter - bushing bracket,  E' Brake bracket and the wishbone shaped E' Brake tubes to the one piece fiberglass floor, opened up the pedal to tunnel area only to discover I need longer bolts than I have in stock. Installed the roller pedal to the pedal cluster and that flopped L to R as the opening for the roller pedal arm is way too wide and had to make up a tapered spacer. Bolted in the transmission cradle and installed the rear tunnel cover plate. Cleaned primered and painted  the CV axle bolts and cleat washers, installed the forward transmission mount o the chassis.  I'm waiting on a few misc. parts that hold me up until next week..... I expect to have the chassis done, reman transmission and fresh engine installed by later next week.

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Dune buggy build update & photos:  It's been a few weeks and received the custom harness I had made by Mike at Dune Buggy Brothers - eBay ) and every single request I made was spot on , every harness break out section and item is labeled, all grounds are included, it's a bargain at $300.  I ran the tunnel fuel line and shifter rod welding an adjustable end to dial it in. The steering box, tie rods, damper, pedal assembly are all installed & the front disc brakes, master cylinder, lines and hoses. The Berrien chassis design doesn't allow for the chrome hoop style front bumper clearance so I fabricated 1/2" stand off brackets to resolve that issue. Clutch and accelerator cables and tubes, fuel lines and filters are in place too.  Installed the reman ( John Brown) IRS transmission and clutch set. Assembled the engine and that's hanging off the trans and now done. Everything is here except a choice of shifters and seat belts. They sent the wrong adjustable torsion spring plates so I am waiting on that until Thursday's ...Brown Truck. The tape measure tells me the suspension seats and custom Acme seat brackets may be a bit of a height issue, that remains to be seen after I set the body on the chassis. Yesterday flipped the body over onto saw horses to run a harness conduit, I used a  1.25 ID grey electrical conduit that I heated and bent to follow the body underside contour and glued that in place with exterior grade expansion foam,  pulling the harness with some soapy water was easier than anticipated. This coming week I'll wire most of the dash and lighting before setting the body to the chassis after the torsion spring plates get here.



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Last edited by Alan Merklin

Dune buggy project update:  After a 2nd set of wrong adjustable spring plates I finally got the right set last night. Waiting on that at had the entire rear section on the chassis assembly on hold so I've been doing odds and ends and will update progress next week.

Another buggy project:  I found a previously used older version of this same style fiberglass buggy body and a solid IRS chassis with 4:88 R&P trans but minus anything that resembles floors for $500 in Kentucky. I bought it , but didn't feel like doing 800 miles round trip to get it so I listed it on U Ship, a guy with a jeep and trailer delivered it the next day for $350... Chassis needs to be rebuilt and the body will go to my body paint guy in PA to get the holes from previous light holes etc. repaired and  then decide a paint color.  Should keep me in the garage over the winter .

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4:88 Rear?

Were they using it to pull stumps?  Pull wheel stands out of the stoplights?

The one in progress is coming along nicely - nice Bling, too.  The very last buggy I built, I went with chrome everything on the 1915 engine for the bling factor (Everybody was chroming everything in sight back then) and I ran a small single Holley carb and loved it.  Never really had any cooling problems with chrome tins but only had it in the sand twice and then it sold.  

That electrical conduit to run the harness is really cool - that stuff bends nicely with heat and I did that around corners of a pergola we once had.  I'm surprised the wires pulled through easily - never happens for me!  We used to use a silicone grease for pulling bundles of wires in data centers and it made a YUGE! difference, but Dawn dishwashing liquid works almost as well for small jobs.  Smells better, too.

I remember buying a used '69 transaxle (synchro first and IRS) at a junk yard for that buggy.  Cost me all of $25 bucks.

I like your idea of "slowing down" in retirement, too......    

Some progress on the first buggy build, adjustable spring plates, trailing arms and rotors, wheels and tires on , checked the ride height and need to go up one notch on the inner torsion bar. Back side of the Cragars barely scrape against the calipers, Speedway's 1/8" wheel spacers will take care of that



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Dune buggy project update : The latest speedster project left today for the new owner, it's great to have some room in the garage. With no speedster projects available . The Berrien dune buggy chassis is now complete but required a good number of time consuming fabrications, it's now done and  ready for the body on Friday. Target completion date is 12/15 The next buggy build's chassis is already at Bug Stuff in PA getting floors and a Napoleon hat and the used body is at my body guy getting filled smoothed and primered.  I hope to have this one on the road for Spring.

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