The ignition switch finally removes itself from the vw bus

Some may recall that for the past couple weeks now, I’ve been waiting for the ignition switch in Vandejo to remove itself so I can put the new one in (I lost the keys recently.) Well, it’s finally out and ready to take the new switch that I picked up. So far, I see two ways to get the old ignition switch out. You can follows these well written instructions, or you can drill out the old ignition switch.  I replaced my old switch with a new unit from Hella, part # 113905855B.

Keep in mind, this is for a ’74 VW bus. For later model VW buses, check out Ratwell’s write up. Before you pick which way you want to do it, I recommend removing the mounting plate from the bus, as others have. It’s just easier this way and you lessen the chances of messing up something else in the bus if you choose to break out the drill bits and dremels. To do this, you’ll need to remove the steering wheel. See ratwells write up that I just linked to a second ago on how to do that. I will add some notes though. If your steering wheel doesn’t want to pop off by hand like some have for me, and you don’t have a steering wheel puller, try this…

The large nut you took off the stearing column, thread that back on just a little bit.  Then, find a socket in your tool set that will sit on top of the nut with out slipping off the sides of it.  18mm worked well for me.  Now, set a wrench on top of the socket, and use two C clamps to pry the stearing wheel up.  It shouldn’t take a whole lot of force to get it done.

Ok, for the next side note.  The mounting plate, yeah that piece that has the ignition switch in it and is sitting over the stearing column….it has to slide all the way down the steering (jeese is it stearing or steering?) column cover to come off.  Oh, if the steering wheel lock is in place, use a screwdriver to push it in and then rotate the mounting plate on the steering column cover to keep it from re-engaging.

Now, I went the way of the drill bit.  We tried for a couple hours to get to the hole on the back side of the housing that would release the ignition switch from the housing, but it just wasn’t happening.  We used a large cotter pin and wrapped it around a large socket wrench to get a good curve to it.  After we got the housing out, we realized we were about an 1/8th of an inch off from the hole.  Oh well. The picture to the right shows the small hole your going after.

Now, if you go about the way of the drill…don’t just go to town.  You don’t want to mess up the ignition switch housing (part# 211905887C.)  They aren’t made anymore.  We drilled out the middle section of the ignition switch, and then with a dremel bit, bore down the side of the switch that had the spring (use the new switch for reference.)  You can drill about an inch into the middle of the ignition switch without messing up the internals of the ignition switch housing.  As you drill it out, more and more pieces will come out.  We drilled on the side of the switch that would allow us to cause the spring to collapse to the interior of the housing and allow the whole switch to be released from the housing.  For reference, I am talking about the same spring that you can try and reach to release the switch without all this drilling.  Use a dremel bit to where down the sides of the housing here.

With the old switch out, I was able to remove the switch housing.  Since it was a good opportunity, I sanded down the mounting plate and put a coat of primer and gloss black paint on it.  It was a bit scratched up.

The new ignition switch went it very easily.  We tested the removal of it while the housing was out and using the j-hook does indeed work, if you find the hole.

Other related pictures:

6 thoughts on “The ignition switch finally removes itself from the vw bus

  1. Hi, just wanted to say thank you for the article you posted re the Camper ignition barrel change.
    Had I not read it I would probably still be doing it!!
    I managed to do the job with the column still in the bus,this was aided by removing the fabricated mounting bracket from the bulkhead.
    With reguard to the special tool for releasing the barrel-a eureka moment- I used an S shaped cup holder with a diameter of 2.5 mm. The only tweak needed was to bend one end through to 45 degrees.
    Once again many thanks.

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