Reminds me of the hotrodding chapter of John Muirs venerable How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive [...] for the Compleat Idiot that starts describing the interplay between various systems and how just throwing a hot cam into an engine and calling it a day is a bad idea. Basically - How to hotrod your engine:
2) if you must here’s what you really need to know
I second this. They are straight forward and would be great to learn on.
That said - you do know on todays highways they are death traps. The drum brakes don't stop for $%^&, it handles like a tractor, has tiny skinny tires with no grip, and the only crumple zone is your skull. Really, if a texting soccer mom in a Tahoe T bones you its probably over
It’s called How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot by John Muir.
To be fair, while VW has a history of, ahh, indifferent build quality, going back practically to its inception, in early air cooled models such as the OP’s, there wasn’t much in the car to break. Later VW’s (like the Vanagon based Westi’s) dispensed with the countervailing mechanical simplicity and serviceability, while doing nothing to improve product quality.
two suggestions -- invest in the john muir book and check the return spring as it might have come off or broke. links on how to adjust the pedal and troubleshoot vw-resource.com or the-samba.com
Yes, there a good first car to restore.
Buy a copy of, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot
Parts are a black hole of aways finding some where to sink more money, but major money items should easy to see before car purchase.
(It's never "just a $50 fix", that part is totally broken some how)
The only manual you’ll ever need
It sounds like you're after the basics of how mechanical things work. These aren't bike specific but the principles remain the same.
How oil systems work and what your engine oil does
Gearboxes and what gears do
Early braking systems and what brake fluid does
Yes these are old but I think explain things in such an easy to understand method. Some things are far outdated by today but all basic principles are exactly the same.
If you're after some books. How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by John Muir is one of the best mechanical guides around. Sure it's about VW stuff but it explains things is such a great way and how to think when working on something, mechanical problem solving etc. It's helped me when I worked as a race car mechanic and it just provides advice that sticks with you and applies to anything mechanical.