I have owned a lot of VW Things since 1981. Some were used in our outfitting business here on the high desert of southern Idaho. One thing that became evident to me early on was the fact the screw-in lug nuts were a weak point. The highly unpleasant experience of losing a rear wheel while traveling with my wife & son in the car made this a real safety upgrade for me as well. The combination of the drums being threaded and most tire shops having impact air wrenches creates a good chance of them over-torqueing the lug nuts and stripping out the drums.
The front drums were for the most part trouble-free, but the rear type 181 drums were always having issues with the lug nuts stripping out the threads. This was especially common when the tire service work was done at a local tire store, where they used impact wrenches. Just about every time I went in to have a tie rod changed or new tires put on, they would just slap the impact on and strip a couple out before they understood I said not to use the impact and to go with a torque wrench set at 82 foot pounds.
I started putting studs into the drums back in 1988. These were for the off-road rigs and they do require a little work, but the results are well worth the effort of doing the project. EMPI studs were readily available so we tried them. We stopped using the EMPI studs after a few of the studs were not heat tempered. They were too soft for us to use, and we switched to Race Ready studs that were tempered and a better product. Race Ready part numbers are: Front studs SAW 8030, Rear Studs SAW 8040, using the SAW 8050 lug nuts. In most cases we use the SAW 8030 for front & rear. The SAW 8030 are long enough for both front & rear application.
Figure 1 Stock Lug Nuts
First, in Figure 1 you see the wimpy stock screw in the lug nuts. I guess they were okay in their day, but they had their problems as well when the rig went in to the tire shop with impact wrenches.
Here’s how to do it – start with a new set of drums if you have the cash. It’s better to put these into drums that are going to last for years. Don’t put these in marginal drums that have been used up. It is very important to use German drums on the fronts as well as the rear. You don’t have much choice on the rears – they are German. But for the fronts, there are drums being made in China, as well as Mexico and Brazil. Some of these don’t even have threaded holes in the right places. I’ll say this again – get good drums for this project.
Using a 37/64 sharp drill bit, drill out the old threads (Figure 4). Just make sure you have the drum in a vise or use a drill press or some other way to keep the drill bit square with the world going in.
Now take the studs and grind down just a tad on one edge to make sure it will not come into contact with the brake shoe (Figure 5).
Now you can press the stud in with the flat side in position to clear the brake shoe (Figure 6).
Larry Green and I picked up this little 20-ton press at a garage sale a few years back, and it works well for this. When you press them in, make sure they are all the way in. They will look just like Figure 7.
The best part about these is they make putting on or taking off the wheel quick and easy. They are an added safety factor as well. If you need more information, feel free to contact me at mike @ vwthing.us .