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Old April 3rd 2008, 14:21
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5-speed LSD Thing

I apologize in advance for some of this being open-ended. I am still deciding my new direction after the 1302. A pseudo-GL Thing is one of my thoughts currently in my Top Three. (I say "pseudo" because I am still at the envisioning phase and haven't figured how hard core I want to be -- perhaps, similar to my former 1302.)

What would any of you suggest the best route to go to get a 5-speed with a limited slip differential for a Type 181?

It will most likely have a Type I engine in it when purchased, so that is a consideration. Unless the engine is something very special, I would likely go to a Type IV engine later.

I sort of envisioned a fairly low first gear with two-through-five being driving gears. I also envision setting it up for handling and highway speeds (the GL aspect of it) but I wouldn't want to delete going off-road entirely (although it is not a big concern, and it wouldn't be hard core if I did).

The Thing would most likely be an IRS. I did look at an earlier model with swing axles and trailing arms but the sale of that one is pending. Still, the latter set-up isn't totally out of the question -- just unlikely.

Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
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Last edited by oasis; April 3rd 2008 at 14:22.
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Old April 3rd 2008, 15:28
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How about a Porsche 901 or a 915?
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Old April 4th 2008, 08:01
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How about a Porsche 901 or a 915?
Did either of these come on the 914? And, if yes, did they come on a 1973-76 914? From what I have read so far, these are the better years for trannies on a 914. And, if not, with what Porsche did they originate?

Would either accept a Type I and a Type IV engine? (No, not at the same time. ) Can both be built (or rebuilt if not new) with a variety of gear options, with an LSD, and be suited for a Type 1 vehicle.

This is an area too new for me to gain much from reading other threads as they assume a base knowledge I don't have. With my 1302, Dave (NO_H2O) suggested the specs for one with my 2056 and I simply fetched one for his install. That was fantastic but now I need to learn more.

Thanks.
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Old April 4th 2008, 10:01
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The 901 can be primarily found in the 914 though some early 911's had them as well.

I believe the reason the 73-74 was more highly regarded was due to the change in shifting linkage/mechanism. That fact doesn't really matter due to the nosecone being changed to allow it to be used in a rear engine application.

Virtually any engine can be mated to these transmissions. Kennedy Engineered Products can mate virtually anything to these http://www.kennedyeng.com/. But to mount a T1, TIV or WBX doesn't require anything more than the right combination of clutch, pressure plate and flywheel.

Browse the transmission section here and you'll be amazed at what you find.

Bugat5speed here in the US and Germany have been exceptionally helpful in supplying mounting options for us to be able to install these with minimal 'sex-change operation' antics.

Good luck!
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Old April 5th 2008, 01:22
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That's all the answers I need to know for now. Thanks!
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Old April 6th 2008, 23:47
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The 901 can be primarily found in the 914 though some early 911's had them as well.
Only "some"? What other gearbox do you think early 911s had?

In fact, all 71 and earlier 911s and 912s came with a 901 gearbox. If you are going to install a 901 into a VW, the 914 is not a good start. The side shift 914 gearboxes require a bunch of parts from a 911 gearbox to make it tail shift, so why not start with a 911 version to begin with?

LSDs for 901 gearboxes are quite rare and very expensive. If your project requires a LSD, a stock Thing ZF is the one to get. If that is the route you choose, and you need 5 gears, the Berg 5 conversion of an existing 73 or 74 Thing gearbox will produce a great gearbox.
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Old April 7th 2008, 07:00
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Only "some"? What other gearbox do you think early 911s had?
Sport-o-matic.

Anyway Oaisis, I have an early 914/901 in my Superbeetle and it works fantastic. The ratios were already correct for the Type IV, and the only mods necessary were replacing the front housing, and shiftrod with 911/901 peices, and flipping the diff. Bug@5speed makes the front housings now, so you don't have to beat the bushes for a hard-to-find 911/901 piece. I thought that making those changes were much easier, and less expensive than changing gear ratios in a 911/901 to work best with a four cylinder engine. Using either 901 is cheaper than a Berg 5 speed.

You'll need to find a 914/901 gearbox with a 'tailshifter' configuration. They were used in the earlier 914 cars.

The limited slip will be ungodly expensive any way you do it in a 901, unless you luck up, and find a gearbox that already has one that the race car guys haven't found yet.
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Old April 7th 2008, 08:18
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Originally Posted by yetibone View Post
I have an early 914/901 in my Superbeetle and it works fantastic. The ratios were already correct for the Type IV, and the only mods necessary were replacing the front housing, and shiftrod with 911/901 peices, and flipping the diff. Bug@5speed makes the front housings now, so you don't have to beat the bushes for a hard-to-find 911/901 piece. I thought that making those changes were much easier, and less expensive than changing gear ratios in a 911/901 to work best with a four cylinder engine.
Noted. Thanks!

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Originally Posted by yetibone View Post
You'll need to find a 914/901 gearbox with a 'tailshifter' configuration. They were used in the earlier 914 cars.
It was my understanding from investigating 914s that these were known for their vagueness and "slop," and that's why they were changed for the 1973 model year.

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Originally Posted by yetibone View Post
Using either 901 is cheaper than a Berg 5 speed ... The limited slip will be ungodly expensive any way you do it in a 901, unless you luck up, and find a gearbox that already has one that the race car guys haven't found yet.
So, no one makes a limited slip for a 901? I need to scrounge, beg, or steal? Does the LSD consideration make the Berg more plausible if I decide to be set in that frame of mind? (I am not a Berg fan but I will do what I have to do.)
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Old April 7th 2008, 12:24
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The sloppyness of a tailshifter has to do with the linkage between the shifter, and the transmission in a 914. The gearbox itself isn't a problem. I wouldn't say that mine shifts as tightly as a 915 in a Carrera, but it's a good shifting unit.

Quaiffe makes a LSD for a 901. There's a recent thread about it. http://www.germanlook.com/Forums/showthread.php?t=9429 $1600, or something like that.
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Old April 8th 2008, 11:35
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I don't even remember what site where I thought I saw it (and a quick search here came up empty) but I thought a limited slip in one of Jake's trannies was a $1,500 extra. At least that is how I remembered it, and that was before I found the Type IV for my 1302 and went with one of his trannies with a super diff.

(Don't get me wrong. I'm not scoffing at $1,600 as chump change. I'm just rimmaging through my head what I might want to do, and this price is not totally unexpected.)

Again sticking with the 5-speed theme and an LSD, you would recommend a 901 from a 914 and a Quaiffe. Would you recommend a different transmission or a different linkage to get rid of the sloppiness? Is a short shifter another possible consideration? And would I be able to custom gear it to whatever the remaining parameters of the Thing would be?

(Please bear with me if some of this requires repeating answers. I also don't mind other approaches to consider.)
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Old April 9th 2008, 06:52
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For ease of installation, and being relatively inexpensive, a 901 is the best choice in my opinion. A 915 installed would require more modification to the car, and a Hewland transaxle would cost way to much for civilian use. The LSD in anything will add the price you've expected to any option, unless you just luck up on finding one in the 5 speed you choose. A berg 5 conversion will likely cost more than a LSD for any Porsche transaxle.

You won't be using any of an early 914's linkages, so the sloppiness associated with them will not be an issue. Most of the linkage parts you'll need for a conversion is from a Type I, with the exceptions of the coupler to connect the shift rod to the gearbox which is needed from a 911, and the shifter itself coming from a 914, or early 911 because of the wider gate for a three rail shift pattern.

I consider the shifting quality in mine to be on par with a stock Beetle. I haven't missed shifts, or had to row at the shifter to get into the next gear. It always feels positive, and easy to use. The shift pattern takes getting used to. I've never had a car with a dogleg shift pattern before.

Theres a technical article in this site, and some print articles from magazines floating around outlining the installation in a Beetle. Doing the same in a 181 shouldn't be much different.
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Old April 10th 2008, 13:29
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Excellent. That sums things up very nicely for now. With that as a base, I can search a little more confidently if I get to an area I want to pursue.

I kind of like first gear in the dogleg position. My stream of consciousness led me to thinking about a real low first and using second through fifth as most would use first through fourth in a four-speed. (I kind of like it in 914s as well as I can see second through fifth being "driving gears" and first as a "get started" gear.)

Anyway, thanks for the valuable information. It's going into my folder.
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Old April 12th 2008, 14:43
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..... Bug@5speed makes the front housings now,..... Using either 901 is cheaper than a Berg 5 speed.
How do you figure?
The Bug@5speed conversion bits are just as much $$$$ as the Berg 5 kit. Construction of either gearbox requires typical rebuild parts, which are quite a bit more expensive for the 901 trans. A LSD for a VW is a lot cheaper than for a 901. The cost of a 901 ZF isn't the only problem. Just try to find one.

Gearing is another issue. For a Thing that sees some off roading, low gears is what you want. With a VW gearbox, you can pick your gears at no extra cost. The aerodynamic shape of a Thing means you won't be cruising at high speeds, so tall Porsche gears are not wanted.

So with a 901 mit-ZF in a Thing, it costs more, takes way more work to adapt, and is geared wrong.
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Old April 12th 2008, 18:24
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See the Berg website here and see the price of a conversion kit. Also see the cost of a Quaife for a VW transmission. Remember, ZF doesn't make them anymore, so he'll have to count on the stock one being intact, and not robbed away for someone's drag car. So, just the parts, minus the Quaife comes to $1819.30, because you have to have the Berg shifter too. Quaife included, the price is $2893.30. Just parts.

Installing a Berg 5 in a VW transmission isn't a weekend job. It takes more knowhow than most average, mechanically inclined men can muster. It also requires special tools, jigs, and fixtures. Figure up the labor to build one as being over the price of a stock transmission rebuild by a good margin, and a rebuild is manditory to install the parts to convert the VW tranny to a 5 speed.

See bug@5speed site here and see the price of a nose cone. You can even buy a front mount, a Quaife to put in the 901 and be at $2231.98 for the parts to do the job. Without a Quaife, it's $679 for the conversion parts. You can even add the most outrageous price you can think of for a 911/901 shift rod, or labor to make one, and be under Berg's price. I didn't have to rebuild mine before I installed it. No new bearings, or blocker rings. It works perfectly.

Given your vast knowledge of these cars, I'm quite sure you know how it is to open up a 901, remove the intermediate plate and gears, flip the diff, and install the whole works back again with a 911/901 housing, and rod. It took me 3 hours. That's including making a shift rod, replacing seals, and relocating the vent.
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Last edited by yetibone; April 12th 2008 at 19:38. Reason: added a sentence
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Old April 14th 2008, 04:26
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.....open up a 901, remove the intermediate plate and gears, flip the diff, and install the whole works back again with a 911/901 housing, and rod. It took me 3 hours. That's including making a shift rod, replacing seals, and relocating the vent.
How did you set the backlash?
Does that 3 hrs include the fab time for the chassis and shifter/tunnel?

You and everyone here always seem to ignore the cost to rebuild that 40 year old 901 gearbox, but never forget the cost to rebuild the Bug 'box. The fact that you got lucky and found a well cared for, low mileage gearbox is irrelevant. Unless everyone here thinks it is perfectly acceptable to tolerate a worn out gearbox in such a project build.

bugat5speed prices:
nosecone 225 Euros
transverse front mount 215 E
shifter 350 E
output flanges for 944 CVs 298E

Then there's the rebuild parts:

Synchro sleeves 1st gear/ reverse 901/914 - 360 Euro
Synchro ring 901/914 - 65 Euro
dogteeth 901/914 - 130 Euro
Sealant kit 901/914 - 68 Euro
throw out bearing 914 - 180 €

If you're gonna compare a rebuilt Berg 5, compare it to a rebuilt 901 converted to install in a Bug.

If you insist on stating you must use a Berg shifter, then the comparison must include the Bug@5speed shifter. If you say you don't need the Bug@5speed shifter, then I say you don't need the Berg 5 shifter. I don't have a Berg shifter in my car with it's Berg 5.

Then there's the core price. I've seen plenty of 901 5 speeds offered at swap meets. They are always $450-$500 minimum. Late Beetle gearboxes can be had for under $100.
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