Windshield Wiper/Washer Switch – Part 2

In Part 1, I connected a windshield wiper/washer switch from a Peterbilt truck in my 1968 Beetle and greatly improved functionality by adding intermittent wiper speeds.

When I opened the bonnet, I noticed the new seal I mounted had pulled out of the channel. I fixed that and moved on.

I got the new switch mounted, but the shaft is just a little too short for the knob to mount and push button work properly.

There’s a little set screw on the bottom of the knob. I struggled finding a screwdriver that would fit it. I eventually used one that came with a pair of glasses I bought.

In following with the quality level of other parts I have bought in the last year, the threads on the new switch were toast after test fitting it the first time. The threads are 11 x 1.0. Ask me how I know…

There was a double nut, one on the back side and a washer/nut on the front side. The shaft was almost long enough to work, so I may have gotten away with just removing the back nut, but I decided to file down those cross markings on the face of the switch to gain an extra 1/32″ of an inch or so.

I got that mounted and the switch was physically functional, so mission accomplished. Next, I moved on to mounting the washer tank. There’s no flat surface in there, since the original tank sat in a cubby hole behind the spare tire. The metal return line for the gas tank has solid body brackets in place and I was able to assemble an array of zip ties (seven of them, to be exact) and got the tank mounted.

And now for the last two wires, running power from the push button on the switch to the fluid pump in the tank and a ground. The original switch was grounded on its face to the dash metal, so there was no specific ground wire.

On the end of the blue (blue?) ground wire on the pump, I added some green wire (green?) and attached a female spade connector for the ground wire on the new switch, a forked adapter to attach to the body ground. On the power line, I added an inline fuse holder with a 10 amp fuse.

Once that was connected and routed around the front trunk, I added a little washer fluid and tried it out.

If the video embed isn’t showing, here’s the link:

As you can see, either the original nozzles are missing from the spray head or it was just that way by design. In either case, it’s kind of a gusher. The tank/pump came with two spray heads, so I mounted one of them.

And then buttoned everything back up. Success.

Windshield Wiper/Washer Switch – Part 1

I had previously (twice) ordered new windshield wiper/washer knobs and buttons. I need a new knob because the old one tends to spin on the threads when I try to turn the wipers off. I wanted a new button just for vanity reasons, the print has mostly worn off.

The new knobs had differing belly depths, neither of which would work. The new buttons also both had differing pin lengths, neither of which would work with either the new or old knobs. More junk.

The original plan was to keep the existing switch and find an original washer tank and hook it all back up to the spare tire to get it all functional. It’s such a charming and weird setup.

As I was googling around looking for alternatives, Amazon pops up with this item (Amazon link) from Peterbilt models 378/379/387/220.

I did some further reading and it had the right number of wires (6) and right number of speeds (2), so I decided to give it a try. With all the aftermarket parts failures I’ve had in the last year, I guess that’s where I’m at. Peterbilt? Sure.

There’s just as much of a chance it will work as something that is listed specifically for my model and year of Beetle.

I also ordered an add-on washer fluid tank and pump (Amazon link). We’ll get to that later.

First, I need to figure out the wiring for the switch and see if it’s going to work. I found a bunch of info on the samba, with various wiring diagrams.

I clearly don’t understand how to read wiring diagrams, because the notes below are what I wrote down on my cheat sheet before heading outside. The Pete switch came with connector pinouts with wire colors.

Step one in the car was to get the old switch out. This is all much easier (though still not easy) with the radio opening in the dash still empty.

When I pulled the switch out, there were extra wires that weren’t on the diagrams or my notes.

So, I got out my test light and mapped each connector.

Vape in the ashtray is a nice touch.

When I went back through and started connecting wires to the new switch, clearly my notes above had a couple of problems. Eventually, I found a magical combination:

With these four pairs of wires connected, I have what appears to be a huge variety of intermittent wiper speeds (on the slow end, like 30 seconds, and up to like one second), then a click for low speed and a second click for high speed. Of course, it’s an old Beetle, so high speed would be overwhelmed by a light shower, but anyway…

WOW. Another win!

Ironically, it’s about to start raining, so I’ll pick this up tomorrow and finish the job.

Reinstalling the Dash Pad – Part 1

Back out in the car, it’s time to mount this monstrosity and try to put the end result into perspective. It’s hard to tell how it looks when it’s on its own. You need to see it in context. So, off we go.

First, I mounted those long bolts in the corners.

I put all of the knobs and ash tray back in place.

Some of the knobs didn’t fit properly through the new holes with the additional vinyl pushed down through.

I mounted the grab handle and soon realized some of the cuts I had made in the vinyl below the glove box were too close. That’s a job for another day.

My goal has always been not to have visible patches, where I had to add vinyl after the fact, but that looks really bad. It’s a job for another day.

I don’t remember the ash tray being difficult to open before, but it’s really stiff. Like really stiff. The dash pad and extra layer of vinyl aren’t making contact with it, it’s just super tight.

I had stopped at Lowe’s earlier today and bought some new stainless sheet metal screws and washers. All of those that I removed from the dash pad before were mismatched, some were flat head, some were Phillips, some were shorter and longer.

The screw holes along the bottom weren’t lining up properly as I tried to screw them in and I was quickly losing light, so we’ll call it a day and call that a job for another day.

I Give Up.

I came back out this evening after work with renewed determination to get the dash buttoned up.

After five or ten minutes of wrestling with the piece of garbage that is a $110 rubber dash pad, I threw it out into the yard and got busy reassembling the dash without it.

I don’t fully remember the story, but this plastic trim piece from around the glove box opening has been floating around in the car, laying under the passenger side seat. Screwed it back on using some of the now leftover dash pad screws.

I got most of the dash knobs and the ashtray mounted. The brake test button light thing doesn’t snug up into the hole in the dash panel. It is made to fit into the rubber dash pad.

Since the weather stripping wouldn’t stick to the underside of the bonnet, I instead turned it on its side and used that to replace the old gasket in the fresh air intake box.

Making some progress, getting organizized.

Since that mess of wiring is going to be behind and below everything else, I decided to get the stereo and speaker wires connected and routed through the car.

Not all permanently routed, just enough to be out of the way when I’m driving.

I can’t fully wrap my head around where and how those drain hoses work. My setup doesn’t match any of the pictures and diagrams I’m seeing online.

But that’s a problem for another day.

Fresh Air Fail

The overnight rain that was supposed to finish up around 9AM lasted until noon.

Once I was able to get back outside to start piecing together the guts behind the dash pad, the first thing I noticed were these two plastic hoses, all cracked and broken.

They run from the center of the air vent assembly under the bonnet down to a pipe on each side of the car. Being a man of action (seemingly only when that is not what is needed), I went straight to the parts store, hardware store, parts store, hardware store, and hardware store, looking for something suitable to replace them with.

If I knew then what I know now, this afternoon would have been a lot more productive. Once I was in the store and looking at the different varieties of hose by the foot, I was concerned that there may be heat coming in or out through these hoses and didn’t want to risk melting vinyl, or at least heating it up and smelling bad.

So, after a bunch of runaround, I came home empty handed and decided to start googling the part. It turns out, they are just water drain hoses and anything that would fit would work. I found a post on the samba saying that washing machine drain hose worked. Now I have a plan for tomorrow.

All Hopes (Padded) Dashed

I have been putting off recovering this padded dash for a while.

Knowing that I tend to overthink things and that my man hands aren’t well suited for this type of project, I asked my sister to help. She is super crafty and much better at those types of things than I am.

I had a long weekend away visiting family. I brought the dash pad, remaining roll of vinyl, and a bag full of glue, clothes pins, binder clips, and chopsticks with me. The chopsticks were to help push the vinyl down into the tighter creases in the dash.

In doing some further research, we decided that 3m Super 77 spray adhesive (Amazon link) would be the best way to go for long term adhesion.

The plan

My original idea was to get the top edge of the dash pad covered and let that sit. Once the bond is strong enough, move down, from top to bottom, affixing a little bit at a time. That would leave all of the complicated bends and contours on the face of the dash to be tackled later on.

My sister’s idea was to start in the center of the dash face, where the most complicated parts are, and work our way out from there. That was, in theory, a much better way of doing it. Somewhere along the line, we also decided to just spray the whole thing down at once, rather than doing it a little bit at a time.

And we’re off!

The process went exactly as you would expect, a nearly immediate disaster.

For a start, we didn’t get the vinyl positioned properly, to line up with where I had already started cutting in the contours of the air vents in the top edge. We then had to start cutting around the openings, like the glove box, radio, and speedometer to be able to push the vinyl into place. So, with it starting in the wrong position and now being cut even more than it was before, we quickly gave up on it.

Now I have this:

The crumbly old rubber dash pad is also now covered in spray glue for life.

So, I immediately went on the hunt for a better price than the $300 at jbugs. I found a seller on eBay that I had ordered from once or twice before and a new padded dash was only $110.

I will update here once the new dash pad is delivered.

On a brighter note…

My dad and I went out to a local U Pull It junkyard to walk around and look at cars and see if there’s anything we need. Years ago, last time I had a Ranger, it had no bed liner. We picked one up at the junkyard for $30-40, which was a steal.

The Ranger I have now has a nice rubber mat in the bed, but again, no bed liner. Once again, we were able to find a really nice one from a comparable year and it was $43.

I had to laugh, seeing the Ford bed liner in the back of my dad’s old Tundra.

We got it mounted up in the Ranger with little drama.

The rubber mat will need to be cut around the edges for a better fit. It wasn’t designed to be used with a bed liner.

I like the idea of not having stuff slide around back there, especially bags of trash going to the dump.

Recovering the Dash Pad

It’s Saturday morning. Too early and too cold to be outside working. Luckily, I brought lots of projects inside with me after tearing the dash panel and rear seat apart.

I have just enough of this roll of vinyl patch kit (Amazon link) left to recover this crumbling foam rubber dash pad. I wiped it down, to get some of the old, caked-on dust off, then laid it out on the remainder of the roll of vinyl.

There are some tight bends around the edges of this dash pad and some complicated contours. The vinyl roll was thick enough that I expected to have to use a hair dryer or heat gun to get it shaped in properly. Surprisingly, it actually bends and curves nicely into place.

The self-adhesive 3M backing on the roll of vinyl is surprisingly strong, but I wouldn’t trust it long term in a closed up car in the sun, so I’m going to have to glue it somehow as well.

Approach 1. Push Pins

Last night, I picked up a pack of push pins in the office supplies isle at the grocery store. I was looking for thumb tacks, because they would have been flat enough to leave in place on the back side of the dash pad. These multi-colored plastic handled push pins was all they had at the grocery store.

Approach 2A: Binder Clips

The push pins pulled right out. They wouldn’t hold up against any pressure at all. So, next, I grabbed the last few unused binder clips I had laying around. They worked better, if situated just right, in the right place.

Approach 2B: Clothes Pins

I also have quite a few clothes pins left over from hanging the moving blankets in the basement (to calm down the echos when recording drums).

I started peeling off little bits of the wax paper covering the self-adhesive backing and started trying to snug the vinyl in from the top down.

There are two mile-long screws embedded in the top corners of the dash pad. I figured they would be good anchor points for the vinyl, but it stretched and tore instead.

Cutting in the vent holes

It doesn’t look bad from the front, at least around that top edge and slicing, folding, and fitting around the vent holes on the back edge.

I took that last picture about 30 minutes in. I wasn’t ready to make anything permanent yet. I’m not sure that this is the direction I want to go. Should it fail in a month or two once the summertime heat and humidity come, I don’t want something like Gorilla Glue or whatever smeared all over underneath the vinyl.

I have left it in this state, with most of the wax paper still on the self-adhesive backing. The center vent piece ( link) hasn’t been shipped yet. I may end up searching for a different source for that part. It is still back-ordered and the rest of the items have already arrived.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I’ve got some time until I can actually reassemble the dash panel.

* Update 03/16/2023

As mentioned, I left it in that state, laying on the floor, half of the adhesive backing along the top edge removed and sure enough, it has pulled away from that grimy, crumbly foam rubber.

I think that some really strong, yet flexible, glue will be required. Either that, or abandon the idea and just put the ugly thing back in place as is. Again, there is no way I’m spending $300 for a new one.

That escalated quickly

As mentioned in previous posts, I purchased this roll of self-adhesive vinyl to patch and refinish the seat covers. My plan was once finished with the seats, to take the rest of the roll and recover the crumbly foam rubber dash panel. A new one is around $300 and I’m far too cheap to pay that much.

To get at the dash panel, I removed the visible screws and washers from inside the car. The dash panel wouldn’t budge. The air vents are in really bad shape, so I remove those and set them aside. Removing the center vent meant removing a lot of stuff from under the bonnet, including the glove box, which also contained the stereo. The grills behind the steering wheel had some metal tabs that needed to be untwisted to allow them to push through into the passenger compartment.

With all of that removed, I still couldn’t get the dash pad out. There were a couple of quarter mile long screws in the corners. The grab handle above the glove box had to be removed. There were some very tricky nuts hiding up under, where there was only room for a wrench to make quarter turns.

Then the speedometer/gauge cluster. The chrome trim ring around the speedo had some more metal tabs folded over, under, around the back side edge. The fuel gauge worked the day I bought the car, but the needle disappeared when I filled the car up after lunch three miles from where I picked the car up, so that has been a job that I’ve been putting off for over a year.

The little 4″ kicker speaker on the left side of the steering wheel will need to be removed, but I left it in there for the moment. And finally, success! The dash pad has been liberated.


Those are two separate magnetic parts bowls full of screws, bolts, nuts, and washers. The first one was stuck to the front bumper in one of the earlier pictures.

Once I got the car packed up for the day, I brought the dash pad inside and snapped some more pics to document its current state.

I don’t want to just wipe this down and cover it with vinyl. There are so many structural issues. Also, the speaker hole that is cut out in the left side of the steering wheel will need to be covered over. I can block that off, since I plan to put speakers in the kick panels in the front floor boards.

I made a trip to O’Reilly and picked up some ultra black silicon RTV and JB Weld PlasticWeld.

Somehow, that came to over $22. Anyway…

For the heavier structural problems, I plan to use the PlasticWeld and for the rest of the cracks and surface imperfections, I will fill in with the ultra black. I didn’t realize how many different contours this dash pad had, but I imagine I will be able to stretch the vinyl into shape a little better with the aid of a heat gun.