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Just bought my 550A!

2002 Beck/Thunder Ranch w/2250 Scat motor. Bought on B.A.T. and shipped from Pennsylvania to Seattle just this week! Stunningly beautiful from any angle!!!2002_thunder_ranch_1956_550a_spyder_replica_15714177583d0cc68b9feeHD3A80762002_thunder_ranch_1956_550a_spyder_replica_15676231739f98764daIMG_03002002_thunder_ranch_1956_550a_spyder_replica_15714184610cc68b9feecd87HD3A8143

The car has the 911 style fan shroud and remote oil filter. I would really like to do my first oil change but cannot find where to add the oil!

Do I need to remove the shroud?

This will probably become obvious (if not a little embarrassing) once this mystery is resolved.

Pictures to follow!




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  • 2002_thunder_ranch_1956_550a_spyder_replica_15714184610cc68b9feecd87HD3A8143
Original Post

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Ed, that looks like a Bernie Bergman fan on the pic you posted. Not the same animal.

The fan looks like it may be an actual 911 fan on the poster's car. Some people didn't install a fill in the conventional location. They can be filled with a fabricated filler in the type3 spot, if it's a universal case.

Or it could be fabricated into a valve cover.

The filler on "real" 911 fan/alternator modified to fit a type1 was a hokey affair. I eliminated it on mine and used the distributor hole as a filler, as I have crank fire ignition now.

Thanks for the replies!

There is no filler pipe and both valve covers are connected to what appears to be a crank case breather affair.

This is my first air cooled car (ever) but I race a shifter kart and have raced and prepped sports cars for years (I'm 61), change my own fluids in all my cars regularly (Ferrari 360 & 996 Turbo are dry sump, multiple tanks) but this remains a mystery




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MV, I was suggesting where to put a filler re: the valve cover comment. It does appear from the photos that there isn't one.

You could have a filler welded into a valve cover, I had some AN-8 bungs welded into my cast aluminum valve covers. 

Or if you have a type3/universal case, a filler could be fabricated to attach there. See that hole with two studs to the right of the oil pump and under the dipstick tube? universal case

The only other way to get around needing the filler is to convert to dry sump like I did.


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@MVSpyder I contacted a buddy of mine with a Spyder that has a 911 shroud and had him send me some photos of his filler. He has a FAT Performance Type IV motor so I don't know how much that will affect the placement of the oil filler. His oil fill is on the driver side of the car in front of the intake manifold for the driver side carb. The billet aluminum cap is down low and the fill tube goes directly into the valve cover. If you look at the first photo you can see the billet cap in the lower part of the triangle formed by the tubing. Not sure if yours is there also but its a place to look.





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MVSpyder posted:

There is no filler pipe and both valve covers are connected to what appears to be a crank case breather affair.


If there is no other obvious place to use as a 'filler', can you use the breather for filling?

The breather hoses connected to the valve covers drain directly from the valve covers into the sump.  It might be a slow process, but once a year / 3000 miles is not like having to do it all the time.

A note on refilling:  You have a 'big' 2 liter engine capable of relatively high RPM compared to smaller stock-ish motors.  You might find best success filling to 1/2 quart low (between the high and low marks on the dip stick).   Your spyder has plenty of extra oil capacity beyond the normal stock VW engine case.  (You have an extended extra capacity sump, plus you have another quart in the filter.  So in a sense, you won't end up 1/2 quart low but more like 2 quarts high plus whatever is in the remote oil cooler).  For whatever reason, I have found that if I fill my 2332 to the top fill line on the dipstick, in short order it will find a way to push oil out until it gets to about 1/2 quart low, where it will stay happily until the next oil change.  If I fill to 1/2 quart low to begin with, it will stay there for the duration until next change.  It might be that the 2332cc pump overwhelms the volume of the case designed for 1600cc and relatively lower RPM.  Maybe increasing the air volume in the case by 1/2 quart makes it happy; I don't know.  But that is my experience.

@RS-60 mark wrote- "A note on refilling:  You have a 'big' 2 liter engine capable of relatively high RPM compared to smaller stock-ish motors.  You might find best success filling to 1/2 quart low (between the high and low marks on the dip stick).   Your spyder has plenty of extra oil capacity beyond the normal stock VW engine case.  (You have an extended extra capacity sump, plus you have another quart in the filter.  So in a sense, you won't end up 1/2 quart low but more like 2 quarts high plus whatever is in the remote oil cooler)"

Yes, your Spyder has plenty of extra capacity beyond the stock VW engine case, but just something to remember- the oil in the filter and remote cooler isn't available to the oil pick up should it be uncovered during acceleration or cornering- that is why you run either a larger sump or a dry sump system.

Al, you smelling paint fumes again? Go drill holes in something!

IF you have an extended sump AND a largish engine(2000cc up) I recommend you run low on the dipstick just like Mark above. Maybe it's more airspace because of less oil, or less splash from the crank, but I completely agree. Less oil will force it's way out this way. I had the same experience as Mark with my "little" 2165.

And remember, with the extended sump you'll have at least a quart and a half in there for the oil pickup(you did extend the pickup tube, yes?) to suck up. So that ends up as 3.5 quarts in the sump(plus oil filter, lines, and cooler) compared to a stock 2.5 in the entire system. I ran 6 or 6.5 quarts in my complete system.

And yes, the breather hose can be used to fill but it will take a while. Large funnel stuffed in a hose perhaps at a half-quart at a time?


@DannyP (or should I just call you 'smart @ss?

 The paint fumes must still be lingering from last weekend- I painted a friend's custom buggy frame on Sunday- 3.5 liter Honda V6 power (well over 300hp), Mendeola 4speed transaxle (I still don't get why he didn't spring for the 5 speed, but it may have had something to do with the $2,000 more over the initial 10 or $11,000 required. Very short sighted...), Centerline wheels and over a foot of suspension travel. And I thought another friend's Honda S2000 (220 hp) buggy was fast- this thing's gonna be a monster! Anyway...

All I'm saying is that people think that the 2 quarts (or whatever it amounts to) in the filter, cooler and lines means the engine will never run out of oil, where that oil, not being in the sump is not immediately available to the engine because it's not in the sump. Yeah, the lines, filter and cooler are an integral part of the system, but the sump is where the engine draws from and there has to be enough oil right at the intake at all times to feed the bearings continuously, despite the acceleration/cornering G forces and rpm's the engine sees. I've seen guys wonder why their cars are running out of oil (and the engine has eventually seized)- they thought they had it covered because of the extra quart in the filter and lines but there's no additional volume actually at the pump intake tube. They didn't think they needed the added volume of the sump because, "hey, the engine's got lots of oil in the lines,filter (and maybe cooler)! A member here went through this 3? 4? years ago- he was slolamming his Speedster and thought that because the oil light only came on "occasionally" he didn't need a sump and was surprised when it locked up.

Gene Berg claimed that a 1½ sump was only good to about 6,000 rpm and if the engine regularly lived at higher rpm's a 3½ (for general driving) or 4 quart (for a dedicated drag racer) was essential.

Hey dude- we haven't talked in a while- Al

Gerry's frame 1

And Rick's Honda beast (that's my buddy Gerry behind)-

Rick's beast 



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Last edited by ALB

Let's just agree that the stock Type 1 oiling system is a joke and needs help.

Most sensible folk run an extended sump and fill to the top line on the highly calibrated Chinese dipstick, then throw oil all over the engine compartment from the pulley. Next, they buy a sand-seal (which helps a tiny amount). After they've been persuaded that this is not working, they shyly and secretly start running the oil down on the dipstick. Once they get to the "add" (bottom) mark, the oil spay pretty much subsides.

... and if they don't drive like they're trying to channel the ghost of Graham Hill, it works pretty well.

But when the driving gets brisk, the pick-up cavitates, and the oil light comes on. After a few times, the oil light starts coming on in more pedestrian situations. Eventually, more desperate measures must be taken. An even deeper pan is put on the engine, which means that it scrapes on anything taller than an acorn. Eventually, a railroad track takes off the sump-plate, and all the oil ends up right there in the middle of the road.

A dry-sump system fixes this, but adds a layer of complexity that baffles most people. "What... I check the oil with the engine running?" "In a tank?" "What kind of fancy-pants set-up is this?!"

I think both Al and Danny are right. There's no good way to run a full dip-stick with any wet-sump Type 1 - there will be oil everywhere if you rev the engine past 4000 RPM or so. I also agree that the engine needs all the capacity it can get, so running it low is an invitation to exposing the pick-up. Dry-sumping is the way to go (which is why Porsche did it with the 6 cyl), but it's a ridiculously complicated solution to what other engines get figured out by other means.

Al, for the record, I don't believe for a second that the extra capacity in the filter and lines does a thing at the oil pickup. All that matters is oil at the bottom available to the pickup/suction tube. I'm just of the opinion that the extended sump gives you more at the pickup tube AND lets you run the dipstick lower, helping with blow-by/vapors and pushing out oil all over. I made a huge breather can, with a drain back into the case. It worked very well below 4000, and worked above that with a crankcase evacuation system I fabricated, complete with a solenoid-activated valve set above 5000 rpm. The vapors were sucked out the exhaust, and it definitely kept the oil off the engine. But it did also increase oil consumption slightly, about a half-quart every 1000 miles.

With my old system and thin-line sump, I never ran out of oil or even saw a flicker from the oil light once, shifting at 6500 rpm OFTEN. Yes, I had a mechanical gauge on it for a while to see how it was under extreme driving conditions. I had a 26mm or 30mm pump(can't remember) with a Berg iron pressure-relief cover, plus a remote filter, thermostat, and fan/cooler. Of course my case is full-flowed. 

I know one guy on here who had a flickering oil light often on corners with the vaunted type4 and it's supposedly superior stock oil system. Currently rebuilding that one due to LARGE crankshaft endplay due to lack of oil. As Gordon says, pffffft!

Eventually, I did as Stan did and went dry sump. I did this to alleviate an ever-increasing blow-by. It didn't work, the rings and cylinders were worn out. I rebuilt the top end this summer, and am back to new-engine blow-by, meaning little to none. I removed the sump extension as it is no longer needed. I have a two-stage Autocraft pump, a bolt on scavenge pickup, and a Jaycee oil pressure relief filter mount. Other than the standard filter, thermostat, and cooler it's really only a bunch of lines and the Speedway Motors 8 quart tank. I run about 6.5 to 7 quarts in the system, the tank is a bit over half full at idle. Yes, we check the oil engine running..... My system is not quite as complicated as Stan but it sure gives me a feeling of security when I hit the brakes at 110 into turn 1 at Lime Rock Park.


Thanks again for all the responses!

Last night I figured it out! I removed a fitting on the drivers side valve cover and used a pointed filling spout that screws on a standard quart size plastic oil bottle. It was a bit tedious squeezing in quarts and checking but I got it done and started the car for the first time in my ownership. That thing is a snotty firecracker! Its super cold up here in the suburbs of Seattle but I hope to drive it soon.

The dates on the tires (although they look new) are 2005ish, I will start shopping for something in a 200 treadwear range and replace them pretty soon just to have a fresh contact patch. 

Thank you for your support, I really appreciate getting into the weeds on some of the responses and may pursue converting to a Dry sump oiling system and crank fired ignition down the road

I am very impressed with the build quality of this 550 and will be fiddling with it for quite a while!


BP in MV



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  • Spyder motor 11-30-2019
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