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Hello Forum!

I have recently acquired a 2002 Thunder Ranch 550A Spyder. The detail of this machine is pretty fantastic but the pedals are off the shelf VW and look as if they intrude several extra inches toward the seat which I would like to get back (I am 6'2"). After seeing the artwork that Vintage, Fibersteel and current Beck Spyders have for a pedal set, I am hoping to elevate this part of my Spyder as a winter project. Hopefully a Member has already done this and can advise specific to Thunder Ranch Spyders as I really do not wish to open a Pandora's Box of complex fabrication. I have spoken with Carey Hines @Beck (very helpful, nice guy!) and have come to learn that their pedal configuration was changed post the sale of their molds to Thunder Ranch so their parts mount differently. A strange but interesting feature of my car is a hydraulic "line lock" for an emergency brake so I probably do not want to disrupt that system.

Any ideas or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate this Holiday!



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I guess, it's the length of the connecting rod to the main break cylinder, which brings your pedal in this position.

For me there are two possible solutions:

You cut the pedals and find someone who can re weld them professionally in a good position.

you check if it is possible to shorten this connection rod behind the break pedal to bring it in a more upright position.


BUT keep in mind: you need enough space behind the pedals, especially when one of the brake circles will have a problem. then you need a lot of space for the extra way of the brake pedal to stop safely with one brake circuit.

Last edited by Jan Peter Stahl

Thunder ranch was only builder to use the hydraulic e-brake. Looks great but unsafe. The whole reason to have a mechanical e-brake is for when the hydraulic system fails.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I think that e-brake uses the car’s hydraulic brake system. Obviously a second hydraulic system might be ok but I think I’d still prefer a separate mechanical system. I’d ditch it. 

As Phil said, the hydraulic line lock doesn't pass most DMV codes. It's popular with the VW Cal Look and drag race crowds- mounted in the front lines, it lets you do great burnouts, but I wouldn't operate a car on the street with it as a replacement for the mechanical emergency brake. 

Nothing really practical to add to the conversation, I know, but that's all I got. Al

I just had a deeper look on your photos and I'm not so sure anymore, if you do not need all the space behind the brake pedal like it is in the position it is now. 

The background of my fear is:

In your car there is property the original beetle brake system with two break circles. this system has a second piston in the master break cylinder. If there is any leak in the one of the two breake circles the cylinder one will drop through to the second cylinder to make sure that you can at least brake on one circle.

For this safety feature you need z lot space behind the pedal to make tis extra way of the pedal possible.

Here at Volkswagen we called these system translated : two inline cylinder safety break cylinder. In the original beetles there was also a indicator lamp installed to show if both  of the circles are working well.

However,what  I wanna say is: please take care if you make any changes that in case your pedal will not end on the firewall an the car in the off-road area...


just saying...

hope you understand cause of my broken English 😀

Last edited by Jan Peter Stahl

Thanks Mark!

A lot of Protein on that thread!

I guess I will have to get a fix on the manufacture of my brakes and see if there is a mechanical option, I really like the silver/drilled e brake look (kind of the look I want with my pedals. My Thunder Ranch has discs all around with cross drilled rotors hidden behind billet drum-esque looking covers.

MVSpyder posted:

Thank you for the thoughtful responses!

As an interim, I will try to make the rod length adjustment. Long term goal is to upgrade the entire pedal assembly (if possible/practical) to something like what Vintage/Seduction/Fibersteel uses if I can make them fit without major surgery. Has anyone attempted this?


Yes, I have attempted it. And yes, it is necessarily major surgery. I detail the process here. (Pedal stuff starts about a third of the way down).

And here.

And here.

And here.

Fifty or so hours into it, here's what I ended up with (Left top is 550-0060; right side is my homemade junk):


Easiest way to do this probably is to spring for the Fibersteel pedal kit. I believe it comes attached to a plate and you could just template that over the bulkhead on your car, drill the holes and weld (or even bolt) the whole thing over top of it. You could saw the stock VW tunnel simulator bit out or maybe even leave it at least partly intact. It's probably helpful to keep the bulkhead from flexing, as I recently discovered.

Getting this done, by the way, will almost certainly require that a section of floor be cut out. I tapped the steel framework in mine for 1/4x20 threads and will return the floor to service with something like two dozen stainless buttonhead screws.

With correct-looking pedals you'll be the envy of all your Spyder friends. You'll walk a little taller, speak to girls more confidently, stand by with a quiet proudness whenever anyone leans into your tub to check out the goods. 

What you won't gain is much leg room.

From what I have read, the standard VW type dual circuit master cylinders require 8 inches of pedal travel in order to operate the brakes in the event of a circuit failure. That's 8 inches at the pedal face. 

That's what I get with mine where it is. I'm 5'7" and sit comfy with the seat adjusted  three notches forward. A while back I put my 6'1" neighbor in the driver's seat and he fit, but didn't love the driving position. The car's only so long, the cockpit is only so deep. The original cars were even shorter and they got away with the stunted pedal rig they used because they didn't have and probably had never heard of dual circuit brake systems. Carey Hines tried to put one in a properly-dimensioned replica in recent times—and couldn't do it


All that said, I lend my voice to the chorus of those telling you to upgrade asap from the line lock system currently serving as your parking brake. This was not one of McBurnie's better ideas. 

It is likely that you'll find your rear brakes are discs (which is good) but are not provisioned for a cable pull (very bad! Off-road use only!) If this is the case you'll have to replace them with either expensive disc calipers that have the requisite fittings for a proper e-brake, or with stock old-school VW rear drums (which actually work just fine, it is reported).

You might get lucky: my car came with the proper disc brakes provisioned for the cables.

From there you can either source a bug handle, as was the replica standard until recently, or spring for the Vintage Speed replica 550 parking brake.

Welcome to the madness, by the way.



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I've done it as well. My install was comprised a little bit because, unlike yours and Ed's cars, my early Beck has a tunnel.  I can pretty much second all of Ed's comments wrt leg room and access, although rather than removing the floor in mine, I removed the panel underneath the master cylinder/beam area to gain access. Actually, I did this the SECOND time I did it, after I bottomed out on a curb and knocked my master cylinder hard enough to cause one of the lines to loosen and lose my front brake circuit, so yes, as Ed stated, you need all that travel in case your front circuit loses fluid. After fighting with the limited access the first time, I just pulled the panel off so I could get better leverage with the wrenches and visually check for leaks  

I bought my pedals from Greg at Vintage and he helped me a lot. For one thing, the standard Brazillian beetle master cylinder didn't fit in my car, so he traded me for a super beetle MC which fit sideways. The vintage Neal gas pedal came in a box of parts I got when I purchased the car. Unfortunately, I don't have the mad fabrication skills Ed does, so my pedals are stock CNC pedals the way they came from Greg.


I mounted a Tilton triple reservoir to the bulkhead just in front of the beam and ran lines through it back to the M/Cs. image

Redoing  the pedals also required redoing the RF brake line, as it wasn't long enough to reach the new position of the master cylinder. 

I also ended up having to run a new accelerator cable because along with my pedal mods, I installed a Thing shroud on my engine and consequently the old cable was about 3" too short. 


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Last edited by dlearl476
@DannyP posted:

Paint the Neal black, chop off the left corner of the throttle pedal and buy some cheap OMP pedal covers. They look really nice, and even though they are dimpled, work well barefoot for hours. Or give you good traction with shoes.

LOL, I already have a set I bought for my 911 and never used. 


If school ever gets going again, I'm going to try and make some like Ed's. I was enrolled in just the right welding/fab class this spring when the 'Rona hit. I'll use the OMP covers when I do that. 

Plus, I kind of like the Neal pedal. It's a piece of kit car/dune buggy history. According to something I read somewhere, Neal was the "N" in CNC back when CB Performance was Claude's Buggies and Gene Berg was just, well, Gene Berg. 

Last edited by dlearl476

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