Early Wiper Upgrade
Upgrading your pre-'67 Beetle's wiper shafts to late style shafts
Most folks don't give their wipers a second thought. When you turn the knob, they wipe and that's all they need to know. However, those of us driving 1967 and earlier Beetles know that the wiper shafts get worn and the wipers get really sloppy and just barely work. The main reason for the slop is wear at the tip of the shafts where the wiper arm clamps on to the shaft. The early wiper arms are held in place on the shaft by just a simple set-crew which dimples the shaft. After 40+ years, the shafts get grooves worn into them and the wipers begin to fail to tighten properly. The result is floppy, loose wipers that not only wipe a smaller area of the windshield, but the force being applied to the blades is reduced so what they do wipe is not as good.
In 1968, VW upgraded the wiper shafts and arms to a more modern type which incorporate a tapered spline and a cap nut. These later model cars have very reliable wiper shafts and arms which rarely give any problems for the life of the vehicle. My solution for the earlier cars is to adapt the late style wiper shafts and arms to fit the earlier cars. The difference between the two wiper shafts is (1) the outer diameter of the shaft is larger on the late style and (2) the linkage pins on the late style shafts are larger as well. These two issues will be dealt with in this article.
NOTE: If you are wishing to retain a perfectly stock appearance for your car, be aware that the late style wiper arms are larger at the base and will not look period correct. If you can live with the look of the late style arms, then you will love this upgrade.
I begin by ensuring the distance between the center of the shaft to the center of the linkage pin are equal. These were the same length, so just mark the cut line in the center of each. The goal is to have the arm the same length when they are welded back together. If after welding, the arm is too short, the wiper will wipe a larger arc on the window. If it's too long, it will wipe a smaller arc on the window.
I use a die grinder fitted with a cutting wheel to cut the ends off BOTH of the shafts. Just hold them in a vise and cut on the line. Below is a photo of the left-over parts which will be discarded (the worn early shafts, and the late, large linkage pins
The next step is to weld the early ends onto the late shafts. I use a magnet to hold the ends in place while I tack it together with my TIG welder. If you don't have a TIG welder, a smaller MIG or gas-less wire-feed welder will do the job just fine. Once tacked, I finish weld on both sides to ensure it's good and strong.
Now you need to slightly enlarge the hole in the wiper assembly plate. I used a burr, but you can also use a rat-tail file to get the job done.
Now, either file or cut a notch into the flat part of the shaft's base This locks the shaft to the wiper frame assembly and ensures it won't spin.
Now that the wiper frame and new late style shafts are modified, it's ready to assemble the shafts on the frame adn get the assembly ready to fit into the car. Below are a couple shots of the new modified shafts installed into the frame; lubed and ready to go.
Now you must slightly enlarge the holes in the body where the wiper shafts poke through. Again, you can use a rat-tail file, or a burr to enlarge the hole. Before you install the wiper assembly into the car, be sure to install new late wiper shaft grommets in the holes in the body.
The result of your efforts is a wiper system that will perform flawlessly and without thought.
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Revised: June 11, 2008 .