Replacing the Ignition Switch and Door Handle (Temporarily)

Since I was able to successfully break into my Beetle earlier after losing my only key, now I have to swap the old ignition switch and door handle with ones that I have keys for. Once I get a new key made, I will be able to swap the matching set back in.

As mentioned in the Replacing the Ignition Switch post last year, the new switch I purchased doesn’t allow the key to be removed when it is fully clipped into place. It’s therefore really easy (too easy, actually) to remove. It only took the tip of a pick.

Back in the house, I inventoried all of my key related parts to find the old ignition switch and door handle with mismatched keys.

Using the same pick in the appropriate spot, I was able to release the old ignition tumbler from the switch.

And it slotted right back into place.

Since I have already changed door handles so many times, I didn’t bother taking pictures of the process, but here that is installed.

And for my own future reference (or for a talented thief to take this thing off my hands) here are the details from the ignition cylinder with key code.

I had a brainstorm shortly after this and called AAA to clarify if getting a replacement key cut was a covered service. They confirmed that they would cover up to $150, so great! They transferred me over to Roadside Assistance, who scheduled the service.

Spoiler alert, twelve hours later, AAA called me back (after midnight) to apologize that no one ever called or came and rescheduled for the next day. Spoiler alert #2, they called back thirteen hours later and cancelled the service because “You’re in Asheville and the locksmith is in Fletcher.”

It’s now my problem to go have a key cut and turn in the receipt to AAA for reimbursement. Excellent service, as expected these days.

I. Lost. My. Only. Key.

I’m an idiot. We have established this. My key ring is a Harbor Freight carabiner. Keys fall off of it in my pocket all the time.

While I was out of town at my mom’s house, one day I happened to notice the Beetlebug key was nowhere to be found. I searched all through my dirty laundry, inside and around all of the cars and trucks that I had driven, in the yard, etc. When I got back to Asheville, I searched my yard and driveway, around the house, etc.

The key was gone. It could have been dropped at any variety of grocery stores, gas stations, I-40 rest areas, and restaurants spanning 170 miles between Asheville and Thomasville.

I purchased that key with matching door locks and ignition cylinder while visiting Thomasville last summer in Replacing Door Lock Cylinders (Again). As further proof of my idiocy, I purchased two new key blanks to have new keys cut, but clearly never did have those keys cut, so here we are.

Let’s Break In!

I gathered some break-in supplies: mechanics wire, plastic trim tools, and a Harbor Freight pick set.

My first attempt failed, because the mechanics wire is very thin. Once it would get a bend in it, all leverage was lost.

As mentioned previously, I’m an idiot and tried the same approach two more times with similar results.

After doubling (and later tripling) the mechanics wire, I was finally making some progress.

Worst crane game ever, but I finally got it!

Replacing Door Lock Cylinders (again)

I made a trip back to my parents’ in Thomasville for the weekend. It was my birthday. Now I’m older than I was then.

I was googling around to see if there were any Beetle Boneyards in the area that were open to the public. My dad and I like walking around junkyards and I need a lot of parts! I found Bugs & Buggies Kustom Autowerks in Denton, NC, which is only 20 minutes or so away. Nice. Their website said they have a graveyard of around 40 cars. Nice.

So, we headed over there Friday afternoon to see what’s up. Super nice people! I ended up with a matched set of door handles and ignition switch, all working off the same key. Very reasonable price, especially considering I just randomly popped in and interrupted their work day to go pull parts for me.

I think he said the donor car was a ’70, which used the same hardware. It had the same kind of key that my ’68 came with. I wasn’t ever sure if that was an appropriate era key or not, since it didn’t actually fit any of the keyholes in the car. Apparently, it was.

I have mentioned previously that I replaced the door handles with a pair I bought on Amazon (Amazon link), but the keys that came with them were generic universal keys, like those you find on the Dorman wall at the parts store. Luckily, the cylinder sizes were the same. I re-keyed the original driver side door lock cylinder to match the key that came with the car. The passenger side cylinder was too far gone to do anything but rob wafers out of. So, the passenger side was still keyed to the generic Amazon key. The ignition key was yet another era of VW key. Dude said it was likely aftermarket as well.

Anyway, I finally found an excuse to buy a bucket of Berryman Chem-Dip (O’Reilly link). I soaked the new/old handles in there for a few hours and it did a bang-up job of cleaning them up. One of the door handles had even been painted white. The paint was stripped clean and everything shined up quite nicely.

Did I mention free key ring?

The key was very rusty, as you can see in the picture above. I soaked it in PB Blaster for a little while this evening, then hit it with some 300 grit sandpaper.

It’s still crusty looking, but that’s fitting for the car. I also have two Pacific key blanks (cencaldistributors ebay link) waiting to be cut.

I took the driver side door handle off and swapped the cylinder over.

Then I swapped the cylinder over on the passenger side.

No dramas. Everything worked as expected and now I’ve got two spare sets of door handles. The spring on one of the triggers is rusted and busted. One of the cylinders is shot. The other two have universal Amazon keys.

The ignition switch is another job for another day. I need to take the horn ring assembly back apart and get that working better. It only makes partial contact in certain areas some of the time since I had it apart to replace the horn ring and center cap.

Key and Rekey

One of the first projects I took on was to buy new door handles (Amazon link). Neither door lock worked when I got the car. The key would fit in the driver’s door, but wasn’t keyed the same. The passenger side was frozen solid and wouldn’t even allow the key to be inserted.

When I tried to mount the new handles, they were shaped a little different than the originals – more square edges – and just not as comfortable in hand. So, I swapped the new lock cylinders into the old handles. I didn’t realize at the time, the new keys don’t match the old keys. They are a standard double sided key, likely the same kind that you get with universal ignition switches at the parts store.

A few months ago, I sat down with the old cylinders and disassembled them, soaking them down in PB Blaster. I had read online that it is really easy to re-key them. There are nine tumblers and springs in each cylinder. Four on the front and five on the back.

I re-keyed them, arranging the tumblers to fit the old school VW door key that came with the car. Two tumblers in each cylinder were too long and were easily ground down to work.

Finally, today, I got back to it and swapped the re-keyed cylinder back into the driver’s door.

It’s a little notchy, but it works!

I wasn’t able to replace the one on the passenger side. I forgot that there weren’t any springs in the original cylinder on that side. Just the tumblers. Taking apart one of the cylinders from Amazon, it was a similar design, but the springs were twice as long and wouldn’t work. Another thing to add to the list.

At least I was able to delete another black plastic key head from my key chain. It’s nice having two VW keys. I would like to have them all keyed the same, but the ignition key is a different cut, obviously having been replaced at some point. The car has a locking glove box and none of the above keys will even fit into it.

Junk.