Knowing Your Ass From Your Alternator

Even though I’ve been around air cooled Volkswagens for most of my life, I am still woefully under prepared to ever have to fix one out in the middle of the desert. I mean, I’ve been out there and watched guys replace a tie rod in a class 11, or adjust the jetting on our class 5 unlimited. I think the only two things I would trust myself to do in a pinch would be changing a tire and replacing a belt. And let me tell you, that ain’t right. I’ve got this new 2/1600 race car (see previous post) and I owe it to her and my team to build my skills.

I’ve looked at junior colleges and trade schools within commuting distance (read 100 miles) from DC and come up empty. There are plenty of places that teach automotive tech, but I haven’t found anything that focused specifically on air cooled VWs. So I started researching actual repair shops. I figured there has to be SOMEPLACE around DC that caters to, or least services old skool VWs. And finally, I found one. Metric Autohaus.

The license plate? DA 8BALL


So it came to pass that an unseasonably warm Saturday found me with Robert and his pals up at Metric. They were happy to have me hang out for the day, although I’m sure stunning good looks didn’t have anything to do with it. I walked into a large, 2 part garage with VWs in varied states of repair crowding the space. Ghias, Bugs, Vans, and my favorite, Things! He even had a water cooled VW in the corner.

ZOMG Thing!

Have you ever been to one of those shops where everyone is cool? Well this is that shop. It’s not open all the time, and Robert is hoping to turn the place around by renting space to individual wrenchers, turning it into a VW co-op, if you will. The shop has a large parking lot that will one day become the site of air cooled VW meetups and hopefully the starting point for many a summer road rally.

Need a carburator?

So, what exactly do I hope to get by hanging out there? I just want to learn more. My first day there I helped put on a bumper and observed some creative welding and problem solving. I also put my design skills to use, offering up my suggestions for interior and convertible top colors to a gentleman restoring his Superbeetle. In the future I hope to be able to tear down and engine and put it back together. Robert says he has a Type 1 engine that was in a flood and has no hope of ever working again, so I should be able to doink around with that one.

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