Author Topic: US VW Cabriolet 85  (Read 65662 times)

Offline Madone_si

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #60 on: 19 September 2021, 21:11 »
Fixing my dashboard issues!

So while I've been waiting for parts to turn up to finish up my HVAC system, I started to work on fixing few problems I have with the Dashboard.

Since I took the dashboard out to fix my HVAC issues I noticed the following issues on the dashboard. I believe most mk1's cab dashboard will have this issue, so thought I would write this up for others.

Overall the dashboard is in great condition on the visual side when in the car. When you flip it over and start looking at the underside its another matter.

Problems seen - most of the clips and metal structure have rush all over them. The four main clips that hold the dashboard to the main part of the cab body near the wind screen are usually like welded to the dashboard under structure "fiberboard". When you try to pull these off to clean up or remove, they will properly 99% of time rip the fiberboard too. In my case 3 of the 4 did this very thing, so I will show you how to fix that.

The main structure metal of underside of dashboard will over time just rust, most of it will be surface rust but the only way I found to protect that metal is to POR15 it. Its super painful to remove it from dashboard outer skin.

The inside area of fiberboard where the stereo of car goes, always ends up being damaged and in my case it too has screw holes and ripped, so will have to fix that and maybe add more structure in place to help support and secure stereo to dashboard.

The last area I can see being a common problem is the edging of the dashboard and in a lot of the areas of the edge of my dashboard you see parts of the outer cover of dashboard coming away from fiberboard, so will have to protect the edging and glue back the areas coming away.



Clip off dashboard with part of fiberboard :(

I added some liquid glue to the area clips come off from, to protect the area but also to see clearly the damaged area.

Once I got all four main clips off, I put them in a small bucket and used this product to help remove the rust.

LOCTITE - Rust Dissolver

Leave for 24 hours

After 24 hours

Now onto cleaning the clips up and removing the old fiberboard in the smaller clip side area.

Tools used to clean clips…

Each clip too about 10-15 minutes using pick and razor blade to get all fiberboard out.

What I did was put small screwdriver in the bigger clip part and then pulled and pushed using pick and razor blade to get parts out.

And after doing that to all four… end results.

I then used the wire wheel on each of them to get all crap of them and spray painted them with POR 15.
You will see the results on clips after I explain how I fixed the clip areas on underside of dashboard next.

Fixing the fiberboard on underside of mk1 Golf dashboard

As stated above I put glue on the 3 of 4 clip areas of fiberboard that was damaged by removing the clips.

First thing I did was go along and tape around each area of the dashboard, so any repair work I do is limited to that area only. I used blue painters tape, If I did this again I would use green painters tape, as some of the repair work bleed underneath the tape.

Using the free sample flooring you get from like Home-depot, I cut and glues together a 90 degree angle and place under the area broken until its cannot go any further inwards. This will give me a good base to fill in the whole broken area.

I then made sure I tapes this in place and made sure the underside was tapes well too

I repeated this for the other three areas and then it was time fix these areas.

So asking others in this forum and other places… it seems most people have used Fiberglass to fix these areas in the past and it worked well. So I ordered a kit from online and here is what I did.

   1. I used just the fiberglass resin first. Let that set 1 hour and moved onto step 2.
   2. I removed my custom 90 degree supports
   3. I then fiber glassed over the clip areas on top and underside. (this was messy!! Is an understatement - always, always work in area with fresh air and use gloves when working with fiber glass and always wear a mask)
   4. Let fiber glass dry out for several hours, in my case I left overnight.
   5. Sanded down the fiber glass to shape I needed
   6. Added POR15 paint over the area.
   7. Add to clips back onto the underside of dashboard!
Here are some photos of above steps.

No.1 & 2 step

No.3 Step

No.4 step

No.5 Step

No.6 step
Actually re-taped the area and then painted

No.7 step
All clips back on underside of dashboard

The second to left clip was the one that was not damaged, but I ended up painting each area.

Close up of repaired area and clip on. Clips perfected went on and holding in place. You can see where paint bleed under the taped up area, this is why I recommend using green tape over blue tape. Yes I have OCD issues haha..

Fixing the dashboard edging
If you have not noticed in some of the photos, a lot of the dashboard edging is lifting up, so went ahead and repaired those areas.

Using 3M Scotch-Weld Super fast Instant Adhesive SF100, I add that to the edging and underneath areas of dashboard lifting and then using super small clamps to hold edging down this fixed all the areas on edging perfectly.

Waiting time on gluing is 5-10 minutes which is perfect.

Idea of edging before and after


After (adhesive you see on top, wipes off nicely with hot water on cloth.

Fixing the area of fiberboard where stereo secures too.

The inside area of fiberboard where the stereo of car goes, always ends up being damaged and in my case it too has screw holes and ripped, so will have to fix that and maybe add more structure in place to help support and secure stereo to dashboard.

Fixed this area with fiber glass and I think later on I will secure a metal bracket in there too so stereo can slot into it. Will provide that update on that solution later on.

Just noticed another area I need to fix in this photo - see more edging of dash cover coming away!

Fiberboard damaged

Taped up ready for fiber glassed applied

Applying fiber glass - I added 3 layers.

All done!

Next fix updates will cover;
Final stage of fixing dashboard - POR15 all metal structure and any last minute edge fixing!
Fixing my rear boot lock
Fixes to HVAC issues and service AC
Draining of engine coolant and service!

Little teaser…
« Last Edit: 19 September 2021, 21:46 by Madone_si »
Old Skool Mk1 Golf Gli (82), Mk1 US Cab 85 and 83

Offline Madone_si

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #61 on: 23 September 2021, 22:41 »
When I bought the cabriolet one of the areas not working was the rear boot lock. I was lucky that it was in the unlocked position so I could open and close it, but I wanted to find out why it was not working with original key.

The outside lock and seal cover was broken and missing so had to order new parts for that too.

Here is what I found.

Here was the situation of rear lock

So time to remove the lock, this has to be done from inside the back side of boot.
Most will have a cover in this area, mine was already off, the cover is only held In place with 6 clips, just pull them out.

Then un-screw the two screws holding the lock in place. Notice there is metal bar attached to lock. Once you have screwed removed and can move lock backwards you can then turn and pull that metal bar out of the plastic clip. Note nearly 99% of time that small plastic clip will break so you will need to order a replacement for that.

See plastic clip on the back of lock in this photo. I actually managed to get the metal  bar out without breaking my clip and then placed it down and clip broke! Typical….

So now you have the lock off the vw, time to take the lock apart and see what is wrong.

There is metal pin at the back of lock - you need to pull out. The best way I did this was put the lock in a vise and then using vice grips pulled on pin. Took at few goes and it come out. Be careful not to lose the pin!!

As you can see in photo the grease was more like jelly…

Now to take the barrel of lock out of its cylinder, do this nice and easy as you don't want to have the lock pins spring out..

Place the key back into the lock. This pulls or you hope all the lock pins down, I had to push down a few with small screw driver before the lock came out.

And lock out! You might not see it in photo but a few of pins are not properly sitting down and this is problem for lock to not work properly.. Time to investigate further

Now remove the key slowly, again making sure no pins spring out and get lost… I actually did this in a small plastic see through bag just in case. As you can see the grease is like jelly - the pins are clearly not moving up and down properly.

Next I took each pin out of the lock and placed on clean piece of paper and mark against the lock positions, I knew where to put the pins back.

I then cleaned the lock thoroughly with WD-40 and then using air compressor, cleaned out all WD-40. I did this 3 or times leaving soaking times of about 15 minutes each time and the amount of dried up grease that came out was not good.

Sadly my photos of this part was lost on my camera, but I have another lock I am doing for someone else and will update this part of my thread with photos from that one soon ( I promise)

I managed to recover one photo of pins out of the lock cylinder after clean up.

With the lock clean and pins cleaned too, I greased up the lock and put all pins back and then put the key back into the lock cylinder and guess what? All the pins now are flush with cylinder. Time to test..

See grease applied to lock

And the original key now works in the lock! (video!)

So now installed new lock cover and seal

Part 161827527 - this is the hatch lock seal ring - you have to install this first before you can put the lock back onto the car. This was completely missing on my car.

Before installing!

Installed! Trick for install.. Add little water to inside lip, makes it easier to install

Next installed the lock seal and cover - before (I actually had these as spares from another lock, so not sure if you can buy these individually)

And installed!

Now I just installed the lock back into the vw, place the metal bar into the clip on back of lock and then placed into position slowly - not to push out the new hatch seal in place and then install the two screws and place the cover back in place.

And another item fixed :)
Old Skool Mk1 Golf Gli (82), Mk1 US Cab 85 and 83

Offline Madone_si

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #62 on: 26 September 2021, 00:44 »
Teaser on next update.. rebuilding of air vent unit!

Old Skool Mk1 Golf Gli (82), Mk1 US Cab 85 and 83

Offline Madone_si

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #63 on: 04 October 2021, 03:53 »
Refurb of HVAC engine bay fan motor big cover and Flap box.

I am sure most of our cabs HVAC venting system has a lot of old broken foam, allowing leaks in the system and so this update is refurbing the two main covers that allows the fan motor to push the air from engine bay area into the cabriolet on the passenger side (US spec cars).

Here is diagram of those two covers;
Red box = (4) is the flap box (171-820-551-A)
Blue Box = (5) is the big main cover (171-820-565)
New foam OEM: Seal 321 820 061 D (1)

Started with the Flap box refurb.

Started to remove the old foam, using few tools (primary a big screw driver and Stanley knife)

Few minutes later all old foam is off

Old foam, was very hard

Moved onto dismantling the unit. Removed the middle foam. This was actually was in great condition, just very dirty. Will be able to reuse this one.

Popped out the end cap, so can remove the flap inside the box.

Disconnect the vacuum unit from the flap box side arm and pulled out of the unit (4 plastic clips holding in.)

I then disconnected the inside bar to the center flap pin and pulled the flap out. All parts now apart!

Moved onto the flap itself. It has thin layer of foam on both sides. Foam is actually worn away on both sides not sealing when in closed or open position.

I used a small scrapper to remove the old foam.

Cleaned up the plastic with little car wash and water and then buying new foam, cut the foam to size
(foam size is Foam seal tape, 1/2" Wide x 1/16" thick high density)

Foam installed on both sides.

I noticed that the flap moves around when in place, so did a little mod, you can see the clamp is spread out a little

To secure that clamp more, I drilled out a hole and added a split pin to bring the clamp inwards again. Nice easy fix.

Add split pin through new hole

And on the other side of the split pin opened up the end of pins to bring in the clamp.

Compare before and after.

Now moved onto protecting the vacuum unit. I actually tested it before I metal prepped, taped up and painted this unit. (I will show you how to test these units later in this update)

Sprayed the metal with POR15 prep and the painted with POR15.

Add back onto the flap box

The flap end cover actually is in great shape but the foam has seen better days.

Stripped off the old foam and add new on.
(foam size is Foam seal tape, 1/2" Wide x 1/16" thick high density)

I then installed the flap back into the flap box and put the end cap back on. I moved onto testing the vacuum unit just to make sure it works like before I painted it.

Using a pressure/vacuum meter, connected up pipe to the vacuum unit and set to pull vacuum

Set the pressure to 15in Hg.
If gauge holds steady at 15, then the servo is good, if not servo is faulty. I tested pressure for 5 minutes and it held vacuum.
Useful link for testing each vacuum units here:

One more mod to add to the Flap box. I noticed that the top side of the unit has big hole and that can allow any small animals or leaves get into the covers, so I add a mesh cover to mine.

Trimmed down the mesh to size

Taped up around the mesh, so I can add instant 3M liquid glue.

To hold the mesh down, I used one of my old power tool batteries to put pressure on mesh

I then taped up the middle part of mesh too, so I can add some water sealant to really hold mesh in place.

Few minutes after applying the sealant I removed all the tape. Let the sealant dry out overnight.

Then re-taped up the flap box where I did not want any paint to be exposed too and put Plastic Black paint on the edge of mesh.

And the finished product!

I added all new air pipes to the flap unit and then add the main underside new foam too.
(Foam size 1/2"W x 1/4"D)

Finished flap box refurbed ready to put back into the cabriolet.

Fan Motor big cover refurb
The cover itself was just fine, just required a good clean inside and out and then remove the old foam and apply new foam, which foam size is 1/2" W x 1/4"D)

Both units all done and ready to go back into the Cabriolet

Next up the unseen rust that prevents me from putting all my HVAC setup back in and dashboard!
Old Skool Mk1 Golf Gli (82), Mk1 US Cab 85 and 83

Offline Madone_si

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #64 on: 23 October 2021, 20:51 »
Coolant Flush - VW cabriolet

Finally got around to doing the Coolant flush on cabriolet.

So few reasons I am doing this. 1. No idea previous owner last did this, 2. all the time I've had the car it's had a bad smell from the expansion tank area, 3. the coolant color is just pure black which cannot be good. So here we go.

   • My plan is to take out the radiator completely and flush and clean it inside and outside.
   • Inspect all hoses to see if require to be replaced.
   • Inspect thermostat and replace
   • Take out expansion tank and flush and clean.
   • Flush the system until clear water is appearing out of lower radiator, engine block hose and expansion tank.

Found all my part numbers here: (good diagram and what is what for cab)

There seems to be many great summaries and videos available, so please do your own research, but this is what I did.

Due to I have power steering and AC on my VW cabriolet the easy way for me to get lower and upper pipes off easily from radiator is to remove the fan shroud first. There is 4 screw bolts (2 on each side) to remove this, you will also need to disconnect fan cable and side clamp that holds fan cable securely. With fan shroud out of the way, you can then open the spring clips from hose with vice grips and pull hoses off top/bottom radiator. Undo the two top screws  bolts and you should be able to remove radiator. You can then flush the radiator thoroughly until clean. My radiator was full of black coolant god knows what else.. It was actually really bad. Took a good 20 minutes to flush out, starting with black color, then yellow until it was clear water.

The outside of the radiator had a lot of crap on it, so using a copper brush, cleaned both front and back sides of outside of radiator. Cleaned up well and saw no damaged to radiator and no leaks.

Moved on to checking all hoses, most of the smaller hoses looked to be replaced from original, but the upper and lower main hose to radiator need replacing, so put order in for them.

I actually found that I don't have thermostat installed, which makes for flushing a lot easier and less work as you have to undo the power steering pulley to get to the thermostat housing.

I spent a good 30 minutes flushing the old coolant out of the engine and hoses, using hose pipe method starting at top radiator hose into the engine block. I blocked up the lower hose. Lovely hard yellow stuff came out of the expansion tank, until turned clear. Then did the reserve with flushing through the expansion tank until clear water was coming out of upper and lower radiator hoses.

Next was to remove the expansion tank and clean it. This to me is the one place I feel a lot of crap just stays in the tank and then gets pushed around the whole coolant system. I was amazed at how much crap had stuck to the sides of the expansion tank. After few flushes and using flexi wire brush I actually managed to get 99% of all internal crap out. Of course the tank is not like new (has that yellow color to the plastic), but I've got a new one on order.

After cleaning everything individually, I put all back in place and filled up system with just water and then ran the engine and let the coolant system get up to temperature. Once the fan kicked in and off few times I then shut off the engine. I then disconnected the lower radiator hose, still coolant system was light yellow. Flushed the system again and again about 3-4 times. Each time the coolant system getting cleaner and cleaner until last time coolant was clear and then this was when I actually installed new OEM coolant.

As most know adding fresh coolant will add air into the system, so I have bleeding funnel that you add to the expansion tank so you can always have enough coolant and when systems gets up to temperature (remember to set heater to HOT and turn air on so blows into the car) the air will force it way to the highest point which will be expansion tank and in the funnel. I actually had a lot of air bubble up with-in the first 5 minutes and then about 30 minutes later smaller bubbles.

I took off the funnel and sealed the system with the expansion tank cap and took the VW for drive about 20 minutes. I then inspected whole system, no leaks, color is nice OEM Coolant color now and steady temp showing through the dash cluster. The Fan kicks perfectly.

The only thing I have to do now, is installed the new higher and lower pipes, new expansion tank, (maybe a new thermostat) once they arrive. In long term I will treat and paint the fan shroud with POR15, when I do most of the rest of the engine clean up and painting.

So here is coolant in the system.

Made little video of steps I did and you can see the mess that comes out of radiator, expansion tank and system Vw Mk1 coolant flush

Undo screws bolts for Radiator shroud

Fan cable disconnect

Fan shroud removed

Un-clip upper and lower hoses and remove radiator screw bolts

Radiator out!

Cleaning of radiator

What came off radiator on outside.

Then Flushed out radiator and this is the mess coming out of it first of all (Black!) and then rust color and did this several times before clear water came out

After black mess, this is what came out of radiator after filling up with water and moving radiator up, down, back and forward to try and loosen up anything inside.

Expansion tank



Flushing system with hose method, force water through top upper hole and then through expansion tank

Look at the mess coming out of expansion tank

Clean water now coming out of the expansion tank, after several flushing.

Now showing clear water in bleeding funnel.

The evidence of before, during and after flushing

Adding new coolant. Note all pre 96 vw's use G11 (Blue) coolant, so make sure you use the right coolant. I am using later coolant as I've done a complete flush of the complete system.

Coolant temperature just perfect

And the before and after coolant color

And onto the area that is now stopping me from putting back in the dashboard and all the HVAC setup, I saw some paint bubbled up near front windscreen, dug a little at it and bingo load of rust and its gone all the way through and checked underneath and it needs fixing, so I am planning on pulling out the windscreen, getting this fixed, primed and painted and then new window rubber and window back. Update on that soon.

From underneath, you can see a line of rust, this runs along the bottom of where the front windscreen is and is very common rust area over time on vw mk1's.
« Last Edit: 25 October 2021, 00:53 by Madone_si »
Old Skool Mk1 Golf Gli (82), Mk1 US Cab 85 and 83

Offline Mr_Orange

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #65 on: 19 December 2021, 13:18 »
Top work as always. Amazing attention to detail  :cool:

Build thread clicky

Offline Madone_si

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #66 on: 04 January 2022, 01:01 »
Happy new year everyone!!

Well few change of plans for 2022, was planning on updating about upgrading engine to 20v from Audi TT 225HP, but that is going to be stored for now for another project and managed to get a complete setup of 16v engine, manual gearbox, with powering steering and AC setup, brakes, loom - so I can keep all that setup in cab as part of engine conversion. Happy days... I think long term this is much better engine for this kind of car anyhow.

Engine pic for excitement

Start the dismantle of engine and rebuild in coming weeks.... question now is do I go OEM or mod engine?

Old Skool Mk1 Golf Gli (82), Mk1 US Cab 85 and 83

Offline Madone_si

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #67 on: 04 January 2022, 01:22 »
Top work as always. Amazing attention to detail  :cool:

Thank you for kind words..
Old Skool Mk1 Golf Gli (82), Mk1 US Cab 85 and 83

Offline Simeon

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Re: US VW Cabriolet 85
« Reply #68 on: 22 February 2024, 13:46 »
How have you got on in the last couple of years? Be great to see some up to date pics  :smiley: