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I am a new Beck Speedster owner and although the basic Guide they sent is good for understanding certain elements of the car, recommended routine maintenance and related parts it falls very short of being a service manual. The same also applies to my Pat Downs engine. Should I obtain the John Muir book on "How to keep your VW alive" and will it suffice for the Beck Speedster nuances and Pat Down engine or should I obtain something else?

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Hi Helga Speedster, The Bentley service manual will cover most of the info you are looking for. The John Muir books is good too, but the Bentley is a real service manual.

Also I believe Gordon Nichols has a great owners check list that cover a lot of the things that need checking when you have one of these cars. It will get you familiar with the working of the car and what to look for when you have a problem. As you have already found, this is a great place to come to with questions about your speedster.

Hope that helps



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@Helga Speedster   (and do you have a first name, other than "Helga"?  Kind of reminds me of my wife's grand aunt Gertruda from the Baltimore German Gentry).

I agree that the documentation offered from the builders falls far short of a true “Service Manual” for these cars (They are more of a “User Manual”, giving you operational instructions, but not necessarily how to service it when it breaks).

So one cold, snowy January I sat down and wrote a true service manual for my speedster.  (If you ever used a Data General Eclipse MV10,000 computer system, well, I managed the creation of all of its Field Engineering service manuals - I know a useful manual from bad).

I tried not to cover the same details as in a Bentley Service Manual, (why re-create the World?) but approached it as if my son or daughter inherited my car or it was sold to someone else, and what information would they need to understand how and why it was built that way, where to get parts and how to fix it if necessary.  That turned into a month’s long work of several hundred pages, BUT…..   It is specific to my car, not generalized.  

True, it covers a lot of the same stuff, like how to properly bleed the brake system or adjust the rear brakes (drum or emergency), or how the wiring works - Stuff like that, but stops short of the detail presented in a Bentley Service Manual.  In fact, somewhere in the intro I recommend referring to the Bentley manual for most of the “VW” type of fixes.   Yes, the Bentley manual is that good.  In fact, I modeled mine after my Bentley!

Anyway, my “New Vehicle Acceptance Checklist” is available on here, to site donating members, up under the “Resources” tab so if you make a donation to keep the site going you can check it out - That, alone, might be worth the donation, but there is a LOT more up there, too.

In the meantime and since I wrote it, I’ll send the new vehicle acceptance checklist over to you in a PM (cuz you’re a newbie, after all, and it will help you ascertain if your new Speedster is safe).  

I am willing to share my service manual with others, but the complete manual is 9 chapters, several hundred pages and over 500MB and is currently written in Apple Pages.   It is too big to email.  Just for the heck of it, I'll attach the chapter on "Lubrication and Maintenance" to this post to at least get you started.  If you click on any of the sections in the table of contents it will take you right there.  I converted it from Pages to a WORD format for you non-Apple users  😉    If you like it and you're interested, PM me and I'll figure out how to make it more widely available.

Again and in the meantime, I sincerely hope that you enjoy your new Beck Speedster.  Carey and Kevin Hines are friends of all of us on here, they build amazing cars of all types, offer outstanding customer service and I would even volunteer to work there for free if they were in Central Massachusetts, rather than south of "Midway Corners" Indiana (is that even a place????)   😉


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Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Wow, impressive work on the checklist and service manual for Speedsters!  Not an easy undertaking and would require someone like yourself who understands organized conveyance of technical procedures. Thank you so much for it. FYI, I picked Helga for the name of my speedster due to it being a Norse and Germanic female name meaning "Blessed" but low and behold I think she may be a bit naughty. My name is Paul Murray which in Gaelic and Scottish means "Don't pour him a drink if he is working on your car or swinging a golf club"

While all of the above recommendations are great suggestions, there are so few of the systems on a Gen 2 Beck Speedster that are VW related anymore.  

Since this one is aircooled, the engine/trans are obviously so, but a 2054cc stuffed with performance parts, so even that is a stretch. The rear swing arms and brakes, and front spindles and brakes are all VW based, but again aftermarket disc brake conversions since there never was a wide five bolt pattern disc brake set-up from VW.  The master cylinder is VW based and designed the same as the Beetle, but a custom bore for the disc brake system.  Brake reservoir is also.  Hood latch, door latch, inner door pivots and inner handles, and headlights are all VW, but unless I'm forgetting something that's all...

Steering is rack and pinion, suspension is a-arm, shocks are adjustable coil-over, wiring is modern, remaining lights and trim are all P-car 356.

There is certainly a little crossover and the aforementioned books will help with those parts, but it is much less fitting than for a belly pan based car that uses all VW components...

I wish I could like this 100 times, Carey.

The entire point of a bespoke handbuilt car is that it's not like any other handbuilt car.

Coloring outside the lines and doing "special" stuff is what makes a full-blown manual or even something as routine as a wiring diagram and using it as a bible rather than a suggestion book an exercise in futility.

In a manufactured product (which these cars are not), a useful service manual takes about as long to create as the product did to design and build. It's why nobody does it for anything costing less than 6 or 7 figures anymore, and why no custom car builder has done it ever.

The most useful thing is for the owner to have documented who supplied the basic systems-- where he can buy replacement brake pads (and what P/N), what kind of spindle bearings are in the hubs (VW? BMW?), where can he buy a new soft-top when the time comes, and most importantly -- what's the paint code (brand of paint, etc.), etc. I can't stress the importance of this enough -- you need to know everything you can (where did the crankshaft come from? what bearings were used?).

We always dance around this -- but at the end of the day, a special car requires a special owner. One has to be at least a little bit mechanically inclined, or at least willing to learn to be mechanically inclined. They're not for everybody. My personal test is this: can you get your own lawnmower running in the spring? If so, you'll be fine.

The hard part is being the 3rd or 4th owner 15 years on, after the builder is dead or no longer in business. There's no way to determine what brake caliper or wheel bearing was used in the car at that point, other than your own wits and ability to dig. It's far better to get that information when it's all fresh in the mind of the builder, and document it for future reference. That's about as close to a manual as anybody is going to get.

Last edited by Stan Galat

That^^  was part of the impetus for writing my own manual.  (That, and a snowy, cold January with nothing else to do).  If the car went to my son I am positive that he could figure everything out without a manual, but why put him through that?  Why not document what I did when I was building it?

If it went to someone else, who was mechanically inclined, at least they would have a leg up on what's under the covers, what parts were used and where to get them.  

If it went to someone else and they weren't mechanically inclined, at least they would have some decent documentation to give to their mechanic to save them some time and grief.

Good documentation goes hand in hand with good products but, as Stan said, many of our cars are customized enough over time that a generic manual won't cut it, nor are a lot of people willing to put the time in to document something like this.  

Some of my manual came from this site as we discussed different topics, just cut and pasted into another document, and some came from scans of products I bought, like the Magna Spark manual or notes on my Kafer Brace or what the oil cooler is.  Most of my original part invoices were scanned and included, too.  That helped a LOT when I was getting the car re-registered as a replica.

As things popped up, like adding the gas heater, that got added, too (especially the custom heat control that is one of three in the world).  As some things got deleted from the car (like my A/F gauge) they got deleted from the main text but sometimes end up in addendums.

It also takes some effort to keep something like this updated, which varies with the level of detail but still takes some time.  That's much easier when it's an editable file, rather than a hard copy, but I transitioned from a Microsoft WORD format to Apple Pages by clicking a button so even that was easy.  If you want to make things semi-permanent, just save it as a PDF.

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

My advice - if you aren't all that mechanical - is to find a good mechanic and treat him well.

.....Times have certainly changed as years ago here or on the previous site were home speedster builders. As soon as I read a post and get to the line " my mechanic " it's like chalk screeching on a blackboard. Surprisingly are the limited number of speedster owners that can diagnose and wrench their own rides. Folks think about this, these simple cars are a glorified Go Cart aka a lawn mower x 4, simple electrics ( switch & fuse) it's that simple. John Muir's book is the Bible of easy to read VW mechanicals knowledge that anyone,  can get the answers to their issues if, they take the time to read it and there are some drawings and Do Not's .... too

As we are witness to, all too often many tend to get frustrated,  their pen runs out of ink from writing checks then selling their low mileage dream plastic machines at a loss.     

I just had this discussion with a guy I custom built a Dune buggy for two years ago, he had a few minor issues arise that a phone with him resolved. Last week a front trans mount broke for whatever reason, I explained that the motor had to come out and the trans slid back a few inches, he opted to shell out $450 to have a $20 trans mount installed hence his " frustrations".

......Do It Yourself certainly applies in Air cooled ownership.

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Last edited by Alan Merklin

Thanks for the advice Alan. I do have an experienced mechanic within two miles of me who has restored correctly and worked on all kinds of historical cars as well as more modern cars including my own when a problem gets over my head.  I have worked on my own cars over the years including a water-cooled Porsche, BMW, Subaru etc. and helped my cousin restore the brakes and interior of a 1967 VW Beetle which is my only "experience" with an air-cooled vehicle. Absolutely NO experience working on an air-cooled engine as he took the engine to a specialist. Bottom Line -- totally agree with you and for me it's a matter of recognizing when I am over my head sooner than later. Part of the reason I obtained the Speedster, though, is to learn about it's peculiarities and how to work on it properly within the realm of my capabilities and, of course, utilizing the insight of good service manuals and  people like you on this blog.

Some excellent points some of which I knew and suspected but some a bit more eye-opening for me.  Big difference between being a buyer of a hand-crafted sports car and a savvy mechanic who can assess its differences and apply good preventative maintenance and correction practices.  Thanks guys -- now I feel like a grown man in diapers sucking on my thumb while Helga winks at me.  I think the comment "Welcome to the madness" says it all.

"Welcome to the madness" says it all.

This stuff is just the pointy end of the wedge, Paul.

Part of the reason I obtained the Speedster, though, is to learn about it's peculiarities and how to work on it properly within the realm of my capabilities

^^ This is absolutely critical. ^^

Go ahead and buy the Muir book and the orange manual. Get a list of parts and stuff from Carey, and get ready to dive into the deep end of the pool. You'll find it all to be less useful than you think it will.

Regarding air-cooled specialists: I've got a lot to say here, but I don't want to force you to drink from a firehose. Suffice it to say that it's been 50 years since a Type 1 was anybody normal's daily driver, so the guys that are left fall into 4 camps:

  1. They're 112 years old, and weren't that good to start with, or they'd have been retired for 30 years. They have done it the same way for 60 years and they have no intention of doing it a different way now.
  2. They're 2 time-zones away and booked up for 3 years building turnkey motors for select customers. They don't want to "fix" anything.
  3. They're impostors or charlatans.
  4. They're an independent German Car repair shop. There's one guy in the place who works on air-cooled, and he's a 3.2 Porsche 6 man. He hates your little plastic fake with the lawn mower engine. His boss is happy to charge $150/hr because he knows you can't go anywhere else.

... or you learn to do everything you can and pay attention to who's on this (and other) sites who seems to know what they're doing. You'll end up doing more than you think you will.

You'll make mistakes. They'll be stupid and/or costly. You'll lose more than half of more than one driving season biting off more than you can chew, or asking your car to be more than it is.

It's still worth it, but forewarned is forearmed.

Last edited by Stan Galat


Paul, part of our standard welcoming package is to advise you seek help from the closest VW enthusiast clubs if you're looking for a local aircooled VW mechanic.

As Stan suggests, those guys can be eccentric or well-hidden, as the good ones usually have more work than they can handle. For me, finding a competent local guy has been the difference between keeping my car on the road for 10 years, and selling it in disgust after the first.

They might be working out of their own home garage. Our local 356 guru does have a commercial shop, but no sign of any kind advertising what's within, and no cars parked out in the lot. You have to know the secret handshake.

Of course, such resources can be thin on the ground if you're in, say, central Wyoming, but become easier to find closer to civilization.

Seek out the VDub corner at your local C&C for references.


Last edited by Sacto Mitch

Just be aware that there are water-cooled 🤮 and air-cooled 😃 VW clubs and the club's mechanic/service source recommendations might/will be quite different, but I agree, that that would be your best starting point in discovering competent service help locally.  I ended up joining the Connecticut Aircooled VW club because they hosted an event 5 miles from my house one year, I went to one of their events mid-state in Connecticut (it was a great event) and discovered that they were a very cool group of "Nutmeg Cah Guys", even for a Massachusetts guy (and the afternoon BBQ was awesome!)

The big annual New England event has now moved to the New England VW club in mid-state New Hampshire (where cows are Queens), but I'm hoping to go this year, if it doesn't rain, if for nothing else than to be part of the "Special Interest" group 😠 but they are a great club, have a GREAT cook-out that can adapt to my old-guy food allergies and always make me feel welcome, whether I drive 5 or 75 miles to get there (and a lot of the Dune Buggy guys at Carlisle will be there, too, like the guy with the white/blue'71 Manx/Suby with the Surf Board on top who drives all over the country to events!)

@Sacto Mitch posted:

Of course, such resources can be thin on the ground if you're in, say, central Wyoming, but become easier to find closer to civilization.

The gentleman from Kalifornia tips his hand with the "civilization" comment. By it, he means a western state with cities sitting in the middle of deserts with lots of surrounding BLM land open to be used by sand rails. The arid climate preserved VWs sold there, and the thriving offroad community quickly latched on to the ACVW as being perfect for the application. There's a reason 95% of the aftermarket is located west of the Rockies.

In the rest of this great and vast nation, it rains and sometimes snows, and the VW Beetles sold here oxidized as they were sitting on the new car lots, made no heat during the 6-month long winters, and burned to the ground with amazing regularity for no apparent reason. People ran screaming from them even before they stopped making them, and they've been oddball curiosities in flyover country for 50 years.

There are no shops or clubs catering to them in places with less than a couple million people, because when you don't pile people on top of each other, they tend to be less weird.

I live in a small town outside a small city in the Midwest. The metro area population is maybe 500k. There's some money here, and the (one) local C&C has the usual collection of Lambos and Ferraris, along with a LOT of muscle cars from the Big 3 and no small number of hotrods piloted by octogenarians. There is an occasional air-cooled Porsche and water-pumper Golfs with fart-can exhausts and cold air intakes... but if there's an air-cooled VW, it's a single-port 1500 bug held together with body filler and bailing wire. All is forgiven if there is a blumenvasen on the dash and a "farfegnugen" decal on the window... even though the driver is likely experiencing very little joy.

A 'roided up, dual carb, 150 hp 2L Type 1 mill may as well be a "Back to the Future" DeLorean or a "Blues Brothers" 70's Dodge cop car with a speaker strapped to the top or a "Ghostbusters" ambulance (all of which are represented at our C&C). It's as weird as a supercharged lawn tractor (which we don't have, but which would generate similar interest). A flashmob forms at the gas station, but at C&C we park near the back with the mid-'80s Rolls Royce and the aforementioned movie tributes.

I honestly don't think I'm uncivilized, but others may disagree. I do have an F150 with 33s, which I guess means I'm compensating for something in the eyes of civilized people making their homes in places where there is no ground water and people are piled on top of each other -- but nobody is defecating on the streets here, so there's that.

The point? There are no ACVW clubs here, so imaginary friends on the interwebs is the only game in town. Maybe you live in LA or Phoenix or Sacramento or Detroit or Charlotte. If you do, then find the other weird kids in your town, join the club, and get to know where they go for stuff.

If not -- welcome to the madness.

PS: I'm driving the remains of 2.5 engines to the Black Hills, SD this weekend to give them to a guy who will (hopefully) make two complete engines for me out of them and several billion dollars of additional parts. This is not abnormal. I've hauled my bus to Salt Lake City and back and purchased engines from guys in SoCal, Salt Lake, and Spokane. I'm working my way closer to home -- this guy is only 12 hrs away. There are guys closer (one in Wisconsin), but the muse did not come upon them when I talk about what I was after. Carey buys his engines from Pat Downs in CA, so that says something about the availability of local resources in flyover country. Maybe there's a guy in your town. Maybe there's oil just waiting to be discovered in your backyard.

Last edited by Stan Galat


Look Stan, I'm genuinely sorry if you're feeling a little cut off out there in the middle of the prairie and without a good local source for fish tacos, but there must be some aircooled VW's still rolling around in them parts.

Maybe they're intimidated by all the outsized pickup trucks clogging up the roads and only come out at night when the trucks are sleeping?

I do know the Vintage Volkswagen Club of America lists chapters in 27 states, including Illinois. And that's more than half of the states. There's even a chapter in New Jersey, and, from personal experience, I know there are few places farther from civilization than that.

In his profile, Paul doesn't say exactly where he is, so I was tossing out some generic suggestions for hooking up with like-minded folk. If you've got one of these prehistoric vehicles, you've got to be resourceful.


No blood, no foul, Mr. Toll. But I went to the Vintage Volkswagen Club of America's website and was underwhelmed.

Kalifornia has 7 chapters.

Illinois has one -- 3 hrs away in Napierville in the metro Chicago people-pile (population: 9.5 million)... which sorta proves my point about needing 2 million people to find enough weirdos to get a quorum.

There's a Chapter 6 hrs away in Kansas City (metro population 2.2 million), but metro Indianapolis (2 million, 3-1/2 hrs away) doesn't have one, nor metro St. Louis (2.8 million, 2-1/2 hours away), nor metro Louisville (1.365 million, 5 hrs away).

Of course metro Detroit (the motor city) has a chapter, but they're 6 hrs away and have 4.3 million people.

Oddly, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which only has 115,000 people (6-1/2 hrs away) has a chapter -- I'm guessing with two members, both 80+ year old German immigrants who drive their stock Beetles to potluck at the Lutheran church two Sundays per summer. The winters are long in Northern Wisconsin.

There are obviously non-VVCA clubs in St. Louis and Milwaukee and Indianapolis, but these places are too far away to be a good fit or resource. I went to a really nice VW show in Milwaukee (metro population 1.5 million, 3-1/2 hrs away) with Rich Drewek, and met a guy who I was certain was going to be a fantastic resource. We texted regularly, and I was ready to send him a bunch of parts. He dropped dead in his driveway (at 50) shortly thereafter. There's a guy up there named Prescott Phillips -- who actually wrote a manual on how to rebuild a VW (see how I tied that together? We're not drifting AT ALL), but Prescott was the guy who wasn't feeling it when I called. The muse was not upon him.

95% of the hot-rod VW shops in this country are west of the Rockies, and there are only a handful I'd trust. You're fortunate to live so close to Anthony, but you make it seem like there is an Anthony in every city in America. There isn't. I've had Anthony build a transaxle for me and he's 2000 miles away.

It's really a tiny little hobby outside of the desert cities out west (and Hawaii, obviously). YMMV.

I usually suggest one check out the Samba (the hover over "community" and click on "businesses", then click on "search" and choose your state in the drop down state menu, then click "search" to search all businesses in your state. Scroll through for nearby cities and read the description.  I've found that many no longer exist or may overstate their abilities, and there will be a mix of upholstery shops that once worked on an aircooled VW, EMPI parts drop shippers, etc... so this is not an endorsement, but it is one of the few known listings of aircooled shops and I have found several great shops in client's home state/area this way.

A quick search shows "The Bug Shop" in Azle TX, about 40 miles from your posted zip code.  There may be someone closer, but that's a start.  If you have the car out and are in that direction,  maybe pull into the parking lot and see who walks out and starts a conversation or what other ACVW are there.  Again, I don't now this shop, their abilities, or if they even still exist, but its a start and an example of a 'lil keyboard sleuthing that may or may not open some doors.  ;-)

Heck, it's already worth the cash outlay and three-year wait to now enjoy a rare breed of hand-crafted fun but also access to some of the funniest comments, perspectives, and useful insight one could ever imagine.  Quite a group from all over this great country.  Carey, thank you so much for the Samba recommendation. I will be holding that in my files for future reference.  Happy Memorial Day everyone while remembering a great number of men and women who sacrificed their lives and livelihood over the years protecting the USA and other countries of interest/needs so we can enjoy the freedom to laugh, build, buy and drive unique vehicles while or after feeding our families.  These military angels are a blessing to us all.

And the local military bases (of which there are a bunch along the Low Country Coast) usually salt and sand the bridges, which always freeze first, as a "good Neighbor" policy.

@Stan Galat  wrote, somewhere way back there:

"No blood, no foul, Mr. Toll. But I went to the Vintage Volkswagen Club of America's website and was underwhelmed."

Well, you could do the annual June gathering at Mid America Motorworks in Effingham.  They usually have several hundred aircooleds there and it's, what?  2 hours away?  You've probably driven that far for coffee out there on the edge of the Prairie.

So picture this scenario, as it may have happened in the past:  

Stan finds an air cooled VW event somewhere on the Mid-West Prairie but on the distant edge of his driving distance, so he pulls a "Tour de Smo", loads his Speedster up on one of his trailers (for he is a true "Tim-the-Tool-Man" kinda guy and has several of various sizes, none from Binford Tools, though).

Then, paraphrasing the '60's advice of that Car Guy Band, the Ripcords in 'Hey Little Cobra', He "takes his Speedster down to the show, hitched to the back of his Caddy Limo".  

Causes quite a stir when he arrives, fender flags flying, Chauffeur's hat cocked just the right amout, little GM V6 sweating from the 80mph, 90º trip to get there, Sun-block SPF 50 windows raised all the way up and A/C cranked and, like all of those on the "Group W Bench" in 'Alice's Restaurant', many of the spectators rush over for a better look at the "President-For-Life" and then someone says,

"Hey!  This thing's a Replica!"  

And they all move away from him.....   Until he shouts,

"Yeah, but it's vintage VW underneath!"

And they all move back to get a better look, and there'll be singing and laughing and engine showing and exhaust rev-ing and the guy from the Psychedelic VW Microbus says, "Far OUT Man!  You wanna Toke?" because it is now legal in Illinois to "toke" and Stan finds that he has new-found friends in the vintage VW world.....

Once they get past that Limo thing......

@Helga Speedster   And Paul:  I bet you thought we were a sane bunch for a while there, Didn'cha?    😉

Last edited by Gordon Nichols


Paul, sorry , I had no idea you were anywhere near Azle.

If so, it's just another 15 miles down the road to another place called Fort Worth.

I wouldn't bring that up except that this Fort Worth place is home to the Fort Worth Volks Folks, which appears to be a group of just the sort of volks folks to whom  some of us have alluded in recent posts.




As luck would have it, The Fort Worth Volks Folks web page has a link to a list of local service shops that have helped these volks folks take care of their volks in the past.

And also, as luck would have it, the volks folks' monthly meeting is coming up on June 12th.

Now, I don't know any of these volks folks personally, but I'd wager if you showed up at their next monthly meeting with your shiny, new Beck that you wouldn't need to pay for your own beer for a substantial part of the evening.

Just saying.



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Last edited by Sacto Mitch
@chines1 posted:

I usually suggest one check out the Samba (the hover over "community" and click on "businesses", then click on "search" and choose your state in the drop down state menu, then click "search" to search all businesses in your state. Scroll through for nearby cities and read the description.  I've found that many no longer exist or may overstate their abilities, and there will be a mix of upholstery shops that once worked on an aircooled VW, EMPI parts drop shippers, etc... so this is not an endorsement, but it is one of the few known listings of aircooled shops and I have found several great shops in client's home state/area this way.

A quick search shows "The Bug Shop" in Azle TX, about 40 miles from your posted zip code.  There may be someone closer, but that's a start.  If you have the car out and are in that direction,  maybe pull into the parking lot and see who walks out and starts a conversation or what other ACVW are there.  Again, I don't now this shop, their abilities, or if they even still exist, but its a start and an example of a 'lil keyboard sleuthing that may or may not open some doors.  ;-)

Thread Drift............ Azle, Tx, you don't hear that one very often. I was lucky enough to meet Jim Hamm years back who lives in Axle. Jim has written many books on Native American Bow's and bow making. I took a long bow making class from him in Azle 20 years ago. Great teacher and marksman and his Mothers recipe for beef brisket is out of this world. God love you Effie ............  End of drift !!

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