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 the Ignition Switch

As mentioned in Replacing Door Lock Cylinders (Again), I purchased a pair of door handles and ignition switch with matching key at Bugs & Buggies Kustom Autowerks in Denton, NC. I replaced the door lock cylinders in that post last month, but had moved on to other things and never got around to replacing the ignition switch.

Yesterday evening after work, I started disassembling the steering wheel/horn/turn signal assembly to be able to get to the ignition switch.

I only got so far before I found that I didn’t have the right size socket. My largest Stanley set only goes up to 22mm. Then of course, I have a 32mm impact socket for the axle nuts. Anyway, the info I found online said it was either going to be a 24mm or 27mm, with 27mm being the appropriate one for a 1968.

I went to O’Reilly and picked up both 24mm and 27mm deep well sockets. It was dusk by the time I got home and settled. So, I put it off until this evening.

It was a 27mm nut after all.

The metal cover/trim piece around the ignition switch was only held on by one screw. The other one was missing. That’s fine. One screw appears to be plenty. It isn’t exactly a comfortable fit to get back in there. When I removed the screw, it fell off the end of the screwdriver and tried to fall down into the steering column cover.

With the key in the ignition, I was able to pull the switch assembly out a little bit. From there I got a pick down into a hole and released the tumbler/switch.

The new tumbler/switch mounted up with no issues.

So I then started buttoning it all back up.

From what I have read, 1968 is a unique year in this area. The ignitions are supposed to be interchangeable 1968 through 1970. This new one is from a 1970 model. I’m not sure what’s happening. Once I got it all reassembled (with the horn working perfectly, BTW) I found that the key wouldn’t pull back out of the ignition.

I have heard that the 1969-70 models had a steering lock on the ignition and 1968 does not. That may be what’s happening here. The two cylinders appear to be physically identical. Once the new one is slotted all the way back in and tight, the key won’t come out when in the Off position.

I had to completely disassemble it, including undoing my masterful horn ring adjustment…

I found that if I don’t fully seat the switch – with just a tiny gap – everything functions properly. However, in that state, you can pull the ignition switch out with the key when the car is on. I will have to be careful not to leave the switch hanging on my key ring. It happened with the car running a couple of times already.

When I got it all buttoned up, the horn wasn’t working properly. I had this problem last time I had it apart, when replacing the horn ring. After fussing with the three screws for a long while, I could only achieve one of the following. One side works, the other side works, or constantly honking. I never actually got it fully functional again.

I’m going to put this away for now. I will tear it all back apart soon to get those contacts cleaned up. I have some WD-40 Electrical Contact cleaner spray. I’ll hose everything down with and scuff up the contact surfaces to get them all shiny.

Hopefully, I don’t need to replace the plastic/nylon isolators around the horn ring screws. They are available to order online if it comes to that.