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Looking to start a project, therefore looking at kits rather than built cars.  35 years ago I was big into air cooled VWs, building engines, rebuilding bugs, etc.  Unless I find an unfinished project, it looks like a kit from Beck or Vintage Motors.  Beck has a nice website with a fair amount of detail but the prices for the engines seem high compared to buying a complete engine direct from CB or FAT performance.  Or I build a type 1 or type 4 from one of the many engine kits while waiting for the car kit to arrive (Beck says 18 months...)!  Any experience from those who have built the Beck vs Vintage motors kits would be appreciated.  Also need to consider registration in SC if anyone has had experience there.  Thanks in advance.

Counting down to the arrival of my Special Edition Beck Speedster kit. Summer 1992?

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Not a roller, but close.  I like the idea of the body being painted and the interior installed.  I can bolt on the front chassis parts, brakes, gearbox & swing axles, etc.  I looked at Kitman, but need to do more research on finding the missing pieces, e.g., windshield, brake parts, etc.  Ala carte vs boxes of parts with everything you need.  Of course finding the parts needed can be half the fun.

Not a roller, but close.  I like the idea of the body being painted and the interior installed.  I can bolt on the front chassis parts, brakes, gearbox & swing axles, etc.  I looked at Kitman, but need to do more research on finding the missing pieces, e.g., windshield, brake parts, etc.  Ala carte vs boxes of parts with everything you need.  Of course finding the parts needed can be half the fun.

You should be able to get a complete set of parts to finish a car from Greg at Vintage Motorcars or Carey at Special Edition.

Hahaha!  Spent part of the day trying to research how to put on the doors.  There is nothing in the documentation, and the docs in the library refer to a template that doesn’t seem to exist in the virtual world.  My kit came with two different types of Honda hinges, but no clue as to which goes where.  I finally waved the white flag and asked a guy that worked for the manufacturer to come by and give me a clue.

@Nadodave posted:

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So what is the transmission secret?



Sorry Dave, I was being something of a naughty boy, there.

For a number of reasons, it's hard finding gearing for these cars in a four-speed box that is right for all situations. Most four-speeds are a compromise of some kind.

The 'simple' solution is going to a five-speed, but that turns out not to be simple at all for a whole lot of other reasons, not the least of which is cost.

A large part of the discourse on this forum over the past ten years has revolved around gearing, and that discourse just keeps on revolving and revolving.

I'll try to write up a better explanation, but that will probably take a while, and by the time I get it written, other people will have posted here about it.

In the meantime, try using the search function here for 'gearing' and prepare to be overwhelmed by the great flood of words and passion.

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@DannyP posted:

Yes, aircooled high performance has come a long way. Leave all the Gene Berg stuff in the past, where it belongs.

And as far as performance, make it ride tight, handle and STOP first before you go crazy with power. And then there's the endless transmission questions......

Why you slaggin' on ol' Gene, Danny?  I know he only invented/ originated (or had a hand in) a lot of the VW performance products we use today. And yeah, a couple of his ideas were off base or vastly improved on, but nobody gets it all right and overall he left a pretty good legacy, don't you think?

@Sacto Mitch posted:

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Danny, there's only one real transmission question.

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Spill the beans, Yoda will-

Do you stay content with the struggling masses or liberate yourself and join the Way of 5?

because a 4 speed is not sometimes, but ALWAYS a compromise!

Mitch calls it discourse, the rest of us call it conversation!

Last edited by ALB

@ALB Semi-hemi combustion chambers and low compression were OK with the fuel we had in the 70s. And yes, he did a LOT of good, and came up with a LOT of good parts and furthered the industry in uncountable ways.

But that was then, and the 7.5:1 or 8:1 compression should just go away for NA......too much power left on the table of engine building. I mean, yeah, if turbo mills are your thing, then by all means.

@DannyP posted:

@ALB Semi-hemi combustion chambers and low compression were OK with the fuel we had in the 70s. And yes, he did a LOT of good, and came up with a LOT of good parts and furthered the industry in uncountable ways.

But that was then, and the 7.5:1 or 8:1 compression should just go away for NA......too much power left on the table of engine building. I mean, yeah, if turbo mills are your thing, then by all means.

I'm the first to admit, Danny, that those ideas/solutions were for times that have come and gone (and I don't get why certain people still insist on hanging on to those beliefs either, but oh well), but it all has it's place in history- knowledge has progressed and we know better now.

It's like the Berg blue book of Technical Articles- lots of people these days will take a casual look and proclaim it's not worth the paper it's printed on.  What they don't realize is those articles were written to educate people who were new to VW performance and even new to cars/mechanics in general, for the most part really only covered the basics (a whole hell of a lot more could be written about most of those topics), if you followed Gene's advice you got performance AND longevity (remember, 40 and 50 years ago most people were driving their VW's as their main transportation) and with some experience under your belt you learned where you could deviate from his plans.  Most of what is in those articles is still applicable today.

Sooo.... somebody mentioned gearing?  I'm rubbing my hands with glee even as I type- 'cause you ALL know it is 1 of my favorite topics!

Last edited by ALB

I haven't been involved in the minutiae of this hobby for all that long, but even in the 90's, when I had my 912 motor rebuilt, an 009, dual Webers, and a 1750 "Big Bore" kit was as good as it got AFAIK.  The thought that I could have had a 2.5L MassIVe Jake Raby motor for the same money as my C/912 rebuild kind of astounds me. These days there are so many options/combos it makes my head hurt.

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So, how to sum up the Speedster gearing dilemma in 25 words or less?

OK, how about 250 words?

The main problem is the gearbox was designed in 1933 for a 25-horsepower economy car. The first three gears are low (first, to a ridiculous degree) and fourth is an overdrive for occasional Sunday jaunts on the autobahn. There is something of a gap between third and fourth.

Another problem is that swapping in custom gear ratios is expensive. About all most of us will do is keep the stock VW gearing (there are a few variants) and lower the final drive (ring and pinion) ratio from 4.12:1 to 3.88:1 (the fabled 'Freeway Flyer' gearbox).

This gives a slightly more usable first and second, and does drop the revs cruising on the freeway, but it also widens the gaps between the gears, so that chasm between third and fourth just gets worse.

A third problem is that VW engines also have their roots in the 1930s, so have a pretty narrow usable torque band. Under 2500 rpm they're weak, and over 4000 they're gasping like, well, like anyone would at ninety years old. The result is that you find yourself in situations where you're either revving the crap out of it in third or lugging it in fourth.

These problems lessen if you have an engine with more beans, but engines with more beans cost more beans. If you have enough beans, you can solve almost any problem.

There's a lot more to be said on this (the membership has been trying for ten years to get it all said and is still trying), but I'll stop here.

Just take from this that if you're planning a new build, gearing should be as important a part of the planning as the engine.

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Last edited by Sacto Mitch
@Sacto Mitch posted:

.Just take from this that if you're planning a new build, gearing should be as important a part of the planning as the engine.

I wish somebody had needlepointed that, framed it and given it to me in 2000 or so, when I was just getting into this hobby, so I could hang it in the bathroom and look at it every morning while I was doing my business. Gearing is not "as important" as the engine, it is "more important". It's one of the things nobody discusses on all of the other forums.

Just like 95% of all carburation problems are ignition, at least 75% of all all engine deficiencies are gearing. One needs to get to a certain level of power, but there is a sweet-spot right around a 2110 making 130-140 hp. Going further with a bigger, more powerful engine results in huge outlays of money and minimal return on investment (to say nothing of the reliability sacrifice made).

Yes, a 5-speed is expensive- but nowhere near as expensive as trying to fill the holes created by the transmission with more power from the engine.

Ask me how I know.

When I pulled the 1bbl Type 1 (50-ish hp) out and plunked the 2.2 Subaru in Bridget (137 hp, 140 ft-lbs, 1920 pounds with me in it) it would never have occurred to me not to change the gearing to better match the engine. Triple the power!

In my case it was an easy decision because the old gearbox was bone stock and I knew I'd need a stronger platform anyway. Putting the 3.44 ring and pinion in it was the obvious call. The .93 4th gear made the most sense also, from a 3-4 "chasm" perspective.*

Since even this most modest of Subys makes torque from idle up there's really no downside to it and no need to pine for a 5 speed. Of course, this car is a cruiser, not a dragster or a track toy.

Same gear ratios work very nicely in the Spyder with the low-drama 1914 (120 hp, 125 ft-lbs, 1700 pounds with me in it). Which is unsurprising give that the power-to-weight ratio is the same in both cars.

I know, I know...I'm a damn broken record. But Dave and Three Pedals are newbies so it's my duty to steer them down the righteous path, toward the shining city of Sanity, before you wolves get to spending all their money and exiling them to the Dark Wilderness Of Ceaseless Want.





*it's not a chasm.

Last edited by edsnova

All of the feedback and advice is much appreciated.  I decided to pull the trigger on a Beck Speedster kit.  Sent my deposit in to Carey Hines, received a receipt and chassis number.  Very excited!  Only downside is that apparently business is booming so it looks like it will be awhile before boxes start showing up.  In the meantime I will be deciding on the engine.  Gearbox will be stock with the 3.88 R&P.   As I am a fan of reliability I will likely be more focused on the lower end of the power spectrum, to be determined.  I have time.

3P-Unless your considering a motor smaller than a 1900cc like Ed's, I'd consider getting a 3.44 R&P rather than a 3.88. I'm 95% certain I have a stock box with a 3.88 in my Spyder, and first gear borders on useless. In a 2500lb Bug with a 1500-1600, (50-60hp?) it made sense. In a lighter car with a more powerful motor, not so much. As you can see, in a stock bug, 1st gear red lines at 15 mph.

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Honestly, it's the main complaint I have with my car. I don't know what the up charge for changing it now would be, but it's got to be less than the $1K + installation it would cost me to change R&Ps.

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@dlearl476, understood, but the stock R&P is 4:12 so I figured 3.88 should help with extending first gear a bit without slowing the cooling fan too much at highway speeds.  I’m likely targeting 1.9L, 90.5 bore x 74 stroke.  Trying to keep the cylinder walls as thick as possible.

A 90.5 Mahle is not the thickest cylinder possible. A 92 mm "thick wall" AA Performance cylinder is quite a bit thicker.

Also, I can almost guarantee you won't have a problem in a speedster with the fan spinning too slowly with a 3.44 RP. If you are concerned, get a 3.44 with a .93 4th gear (which is about the sweetest 4-speed transaxle available for all around use in these cars).

In my 20 years of experience, the only time I've ever had any problem with head temps due to a too slow fan was in 2017 in the mountains in North Carolina. The engine was under constant load due to driving like a maniac with a lot of elevation changes-- and in 3rd gear I was under 2500 RPM and my head temps started getting out of control. Relief required a recalibration of my ears-- screaming along in 2nd at about 4000 RPM (and up) brought everything back in line.

The situation is completely different on the highway in the desert (or anywhere else that is truly hot). Under constant throttle, I've run cooler the lower the RPM is-- as long as the engine has enough power to not be under moderate to heavy load. At 80 mph, a car with 195/60s running a 3.44 and a .93 is turning 3400 RPM.  I run much cooler oil temps at 3400 RPM than I do at 3700 RPM, but it makes no difference to the heads.

Everybody has their own opinions, and mine are all based on a lot of miles in hot weather with a 2L+ engine. Smaller engines with stock heads and restrictive exhausts may be different. But in my observation, the "slow fan" apocrypha is almost never the issue. It's possible, but highly unlikely.

Stan, totally on point here, as usual.

A powerful engine(150hp) is going to run lower temps when lightly loaded, as in highway usage, than a stock 60hp mill that has a LOT more throttle(and load) in the same situation.

What heads you use(which casting matters) and complete engine configuration has more to do with head temps than fan speed. What fan housing/pulley ratio/fan/flaps/thermostat/oil cooler are factors as well.

https://www.speedsterowners.co...1#659272930018802221

Stan, thanks for your response.  My experience on all of this is old school, the last type 1 engine I built was in 1982...  Back then, 92s were bad news and 90.5s did not exist.  I may have to step outside my comfort zone, but the thick wall 92s sound good.  Funny you should mention high CHT while driving in the mountains of NC.   Most of my driving will be in Northwest SC, Northern GA, Western NC, in the mountains.  Interstate travel mixed in as well.  I appreciate the advice, trying to figure out the right engine/transaxle combination.  I have at least 18 months before the Beck kit arrives.

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