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Revised May 4th, 2012


Fact Sheet - Swing Axle Conversion Kit

The Conversion:

Owners of Buses can now remove those sometimes unreliable reduction gear boxes and obtain engine-saving highway gearing. In addition, your Bus can now have the wide range of aftermarket gear selection with this kit. The basic bolt-on kit comes with our specially modified axle tubes, spring plates, hardware, gaskets and complete instructions necessary for this conversion. This kit does lower the rear end of your Bus approximately 3 to 4 inches, so to fully appreciate the benefits of this conversion, our adjustable beam is strongly recommended so that your ride is fully level. For over 15 years, this has been our most popular and best lowering kit due to it's low cost to the Bus Owner.

Transmission Notes:

While your existing 60-67 Bus Trans can be used, 4th gear can be too tall if a stock 1600 engine is used. We do recommend that at least a stock 67 or 68 Bug Tunnel Trans be used to allow for better gearing overall. Even better is the transmission from a 67 or 68 Type 3 because of the excellent highway gearing of the ring & pinion used during these years. When making this type of transmission changeover, remember to use the nosecone and nosecone shiftrod (hockey stick) from your original Bus Transmission.

In addition, we do not recommend the use of the Split Case Transmission on Buses through 1959. By now many of these are pretty tired and can't take the punishment of a larger engine that is more commonly used these days. If you wish to upgrade to a tunnel-type transmission, an adaptor/front mount will be needed for models through early 1959 and is available separately from Bus Boys. See our parts list further down on this page to order this item, if needed.

Axle Shafts:

The proper axle shafts to utilize in this conversion are those out of a 66-68 Type 3 or a 68 Bug, commonly called the "Long Axles" and are not included in our kit. These are readily available in good used condition from your local auto recycler or can be separately ordered from Bus Boys. In addition, we now have them available in a new, heavy duty style made by EMPI , so see the parts list further down on this page.

Axle Tube Notes:

Don't be fooled by the rumors that the long axle tube from a 67 or 68 Bug or Type 3 can be directly used when making this conversion - It doesn't work! The modified axle tubes we provide are a special length and use a particular bearing housing for the overall correct length in this conversion.

Spring Plates:

The kit shown here comes with NEW Non-Adjustable spring plates that are precision-cut to allow proper torsion clearance. We've seen a lot of "home-brew" modified plates and some from other competitors trying to imitate our kit. Many of these are cut improperly or have very sloppy workmanship that give us pause as to the long-term reliability. Optionally available with Adjustable Spring Plates. Like we say, why fool with imitations when you can have the original?


For Buses made through 1963, you can use your original drums. The drum must be modified to accommodate the rear axle shaft and for the axle nut to tighten properly. This is explained in the instructions provided.

For Buses made from 64 through 67, you cannot use your original drums, backing plates or shoes. You must make the following choices:

A. Install 5 Lug Drums from a 56-63 Bus. Drum must be modified as explained above for the pre 64 models.
B. Install 5 Lug Drums, Shoes and Backing Plates from a 64-65 Type 3 Notch or Squareback. This is highly recommended as the drums and shoes are close to the same size as your originals. The only drawback to this is the scarcity and high price of these drums.
C. Install 4 Lug Drums, Shoes and Backing Plates from either a 68-79 Bug or a 68-73 Type 3. The drawback to this is that adaptors must be used to convert back to the large 5 Lug Pattern. There is one advantage to using 4 Lug Bug Drums and that is that they can be re-drilled for the smaller Porsche 5 Lug Pattern if you're using Porsche Style Alloy Wheels.

Commonly Asked Questions and Answers

1. If I use my stock Bus Transmission, are there any modifications I have to make to the transmission?

Yes - The ring gear must be "flipped" to the opposite side of the pinion. In it's original configuration, the axle shafts are rotating backwards so that the original gear reduction boxes rotate the Bus forward. If you didn't flip the ring gear, your Bus would have 4 reverse speeds!

2. What kind of tires can I use?

If using stock rims, we find that most customers can use up to a 185/70 Series tire without rubbing on the body or the spring plate. When using other rims, the customer must make measurements in regards to rim width to determine the proper tire size. In some instances, when using Porsche Alloys, a "60" Series tire may have to be used for proper clearance.

3. Can I use my current stock shocks?

In most cases, no. Because the the Bus is lowered 3 to 4 inches with this conversion, most stock or aftermarket stock-length shocks will "bottom" out almost immediately. We recommend the installation of "short travel" shocks to compensate for this problem. We do not recommend the use of Oil Shocks or the KYB "GR2" Gas Shocks as they tend to ride too soft and cannot usually take the punishment of the higher weight of a Bus. We offer a specially made KYB Gas-A-Just Shock that comes with a special bushing hardware kit so that the shock bolts will properly fit your existing mounts.

4. With this conversion, can I still use my Hand Brake?

Yes - The conversion kit is provided with special-length tubes to "extend" the cable cover/tube to compensate for the spring length on the end into your brake backing plates. This applies only to 64-67 with stock cables. On Late 60 through 63 models, you must upgrade to the 64-67 style cables and use the extension tubes as well. 56 to Early 60 models will have to modify and upgrade to at least the Late 60 through 63 or 64-67 Hand Brake system, including cables to retain Hand Brake use.

Parts List

210-51011 Swing Axle Kit - Non Adjustable $371.15

210-51011A Swing Axle Kit - Adjustable $474.50

311-501-201DU Long Axleshafts-Good Used $140.00 pair

311-501-201D HD Long Axleshafts - New Heavy Duty NLA

311-501-221 Rear Axle Nut $8.00 each

N 12548.1 Cotter Pin for Axle Nut $0.25 each

311-501-283Z Rear Wheel Bearing  $25.00 each

111-598-021A Axle Boot Kit w/Hardware (2 required) $13.60 each kit

113-501-615J Rear Drum - 4 Lug Bug (New) $62.60 each

311-501-615F Rear Drum - 4 Lug Type 3 (New) $49.00 each

311-501-615E Rear Drum - 5 Lug Type 3 (New) $160.00 each

311-501-581U Rear Hub for Type 3 4 Lug Drum (Used) $15.00 each

113-609-537J Rear Brake Shoes Bug 68-79 $22.47 set

311-609-537E Rear Brake Shoes Type 3 64-73 $34.20 set

131-611-057 BR Wheel Cylinder 22mm (Bug Shoes) $12.00 each

361-611-067A BR Wheel Cylinder 23mm (Type 3 Shoes) $20.80 each

210-30001 Front Trans Adaptor Mount (To mount a Tunnel Trans into a 56-Early 59 Bus) $35.95

211-301-205H New Front Nosecone - Bus to 67 $66.80

ZAP-41312A KYB Gas-A-Just Shocks (Special For Lowered Configuration) $70.00 each

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