Ah, finally. A subject that I have a vast amount of experience with.
First hint: There is no oil filter and while the engine is called air cooled, most of the cooling is done by the oil. Change it very frequently. (Note: it only holds about 2 quarts. Don't overfill!)
Second hint: The valves are not hydraulic. They need to be adjusted frequently. Every 2000 miles is not to often. Fortunately, it's easy to do once you get the hang of it. 15-20 minutes tops.
Third hint: Yes, all of that sheet metal around the engine is necessary, as are the little boots on the spark plug wires. Do not run the engine without them. Serious damage will occur.
Fourth hint: If the steering begins to shake it is not an alignment problem. The fault lies with the "steering damper". It's a small shock absorber-like device attached to the tie rod.
Fifth hint: If you feel like you need front struts first check the tire pressures. 18 psi front, 29 psi rear. Anything higher, particularly in the front and it rides like a lumber wagon.
Sixth and possibly the most important hint: Never, never run the engine without the fan belt installed. If the generator light comes on IMMEDIATELY stop and make sure that the belt hasn't failed. The belt drives not only the alternator but the cooling fan. Remember, air cooled! Your best bet is to carry an extra belt and the tools necessary to replace it. I cannot stress this enough. If that belt is broken you cannot run the engine at all without doing serious damage.
One more thing; the drum brakes are not self-adjusting. I bought a beetle once for $100 because the owner thought it needed a complete brake job. They just needed adjusting.
I just checked, I still have an official factory manual for your car. If you want to pay postage I'll mail it to you. I also have a copy of the excellent John Muir book, "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive". Same deal if you're interested.
To avail yourself of this offer PM me. Likewise if you have any questions. I'm retired and would be happy to help all I can.