Volkswagen 1600 1969


Briannen’s Beetle: Engine stripping, the taste of petrol, and homework

The last time we caught up with Briannen and her Beetle restoration project was before Christmas, so it's time to see how much she has progressed.

The 16-year old is restoring her first car, a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle, with her VW mechanic dad, Mark, who is teaching her all the tricks along the way, and we will be following her every step.

Catch up: Briannen’s Beetle: Meet the 16-year-old restoring her first car

Bree has struggled to spend time in the workshop the last five months, with Year 11 schoolwork being her main focus. She is essentially doing the same amount of work a Year 12 student does.

"The school recommends you do two portfolios as a maximum, but I'm doing four," Bree says.

"I did not have a day in the holidays where I wasn't doing homework. I feel like a burnt out uni student. I'm living off two-minute noodles at the moment."

When she does find the time to work on 'Apis', she appreciates every moment.

"It's good to come in here and chill, but I also remember that I have a pile of history homework to do."

The body of the Beetle hasn't been touched since the first time we caught up with her, but she has bought some bits and pieces for it, including parts for the radio and dash.

"I've also bought the 15 millionth special edition Beetle badge for the glovebox. I don't know where it is. It's in a box somewhere. Might even be sitting in the car, but I kind of can't get to it because the car is sitting on the hoist at the moment!"

When I arrived, Bree had just moved parts of the engine from a bench and was mopping up a big puddle of oil with an old rag. Her hands were filthy. She stripped the engine and spent an hour and a half cleaning it, and it's still not clean.

It wasn't just her hands that were affected by the cleaning. "I could taste the petrol in the back of my throat, but I washed that down with a cup of tea. It's an oddly sweet taste, but it's not nice." She screws up her nose.

And then Mark and Bree discovered an issue with bits of metal scattered throughout the engine.

"It did a big end bearing and destroyed the crank and conrod, so we will get another crank and set of conrods, and away we go!" Mark says.

But there was a silver lining.

"The case was good, and that's what we were chasing."

Bree's understanding of the mechanics of an engine is starting to fall into place, with thanks to her dad.

"When we pulled the motor down, I was telling her what certain engine components did as we went through it, and it started to make sense to her," Mark concludes.

What's next? Find a crank and good set of rods, building the bottom end, and then the rest of the engine.

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