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Please Help!!!Subaru EJ22 -vs- Bostig ZETEC -vs- Wasserboxer
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Chuck77
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:37 pm    Post subject: Please Help!!!Subaru EJ22 -vs- Bostig ZETEC -vs- Wasserboxer Reply with quote

1988 GL 2WD 91,000 miles

Timeline: Bought Van on 4/4/07, loved it, tuned it up, washed and waxed it, started making long term trip plans with the wife and family. Trouble free driving until huge coolant puddle on the driveway ended all that. Got underneath checked head bolts for torque spec, re-filled both coolant reservoirs. One drop of coolant every 8-9 seconds, equating to a loss of 1 inch of coolant out of reservoir everyday. Quit driving it, Pentosin costs more than gas per gallon... I did check all of the hoses, however I do not have access to a pressure tester so I had the wife hold the idle at 3,000 rpm's while I checked all hoses, fittings, and every other thing I could I think of. Looks like I need a set of head gaskets at the very least.

My friendly local VW mechanic doesn't return my calls, apparently he doesn't want to deal with another Vanagon. If I was to head north to Olympia, Washington or south to Portland, Oregon, I'm sure I could find someone that will do this work. How much does it cost? I am very new to VW's. I know my way around an engine, I have rebuilt countless numbers of small block Chevy's, that doesn't really help me here.

I guess the real question I have is where do you draw the line? How many times can you get an underpowered, leak-prone engine patched together? Is it worth it? Should I cut my losses and look to Bostig or Subaru? I do enjoy wrenching on my own vehicles, don't get me wrong but uphill battles are usually hard fought with no true winner. My wife and I just had a baby, time and money are precious, I just want to be able to drive my Vanagon again knowing that the money I put into it will not leave me on the side of the road.

Please impart any wisdom you may have, I want to drive my van-again. No pun intended.

Josh McEllrath
Longview, Washington
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camo westy
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Subaru is tried and true.
2.2 has more power, better fuel milage and is very reliable.
Compared to less power, poor fuel mileage and hand grenade reliability.

If you like the van, do the Subaru.

repeat after me.... V A L U E....

From a business perspective, these Vanagons are a supply and demand commodity, there are no more. The subbie conversion is the gold standard, all other conversions are "less then". Wisdom says, the cost of a an will increase, especiallyone that is a greater value.

IMHO
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fatboypaul
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With just 91,000 miles on that engine, why not just replace the head gaskets for now, you can DIY in a weekend and it will cost you $150 in materials, whereas the Suby conversion is nice, its gonna cost you $2000 or more and take a while, gathering all the various parts may take weeks.
Enjoy the summer and plan on the conversion during the winter months.
Goodluck, Paul.
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ValleyHappy
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Assuming your head gaskets were original they lasted about as long as the average set does. Though their are real upsides to the conversions, they are going to cost you 3Xs (at least) as much as new head gaskets...and quite honestly, their are still many owners or looking to be owners who want a VW Wasser. My advise is...coming from a father of 2 little ones....try and find a good VW mechanic, if you don't want to take care of it yourself, and have him take a look and give you a price..then go from there. Good luck.
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ChesterKV
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you HAVE to have the van running relatively soon then replace the head gaskets to buy yourself some time. I JUST (as in two hours ago) bought a 1992 Subaru Legacy 2.2 liter car. I am now committed to the now famous EJ22 swap. I can't comment on the other conversions. I just know that this one will work and work VERY well.

Good luck
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fix the heads. The engine you have should give at least 60k more good miles on the bottom end. If you can tackle the job yourself, you're looking at $200 total materials tops, add $600-700 if you end up buying two new heads. Replacement heads will be more valuable than OEM, and the job will have been taken care of, so if and when you do decide to convert, your wbx will be worth more to sell to help pay for your conversion.

Meanwhile, you can drive and enjoy your new ride and get to know it better and so know better what you expect from a conversion, what your choices and costs would be, or if you're really just as happy with the wbx. It's a nice little motor, pretty rugged actually, most of whose problems are to blame more on the EFI and wiring than the motor itself. You will have gotten its most classic problem out of the way. Maybe you'll like it enough to want to upgrade it. I think it's a good way to go, myself. I like my upgraded wbx a lot, it drives like a real car, and it's still all VW.
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D Clymer
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I would also recommend doing the headgaskets and enjoying the van for 3-5 more years without having to replace the engine. If you are fairly capable around engines, you can do the head gaskets yourself. The hardest part of the job is removing the exhaust headers. On east coast vans this can be a chore because of rust. On a Washington van you shouldn't have too hard a time with rusted bolts. If the engine was worn out, it would be a good time to consider a Subaru conversion. But with only 88K on your engine, that bottom end still has plenty of miles left on it.

If you do decide to do the heads yourself, there are many of us on here who can talk you through it.


David
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funagon
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 1:02 am    Post subject: Go ahead, fix the heads. Reply with quote

It will seem like a lot of work to replace the gaskets because you have to remove so much stuff to get at the heads. But the gasket kit is only a little over $100 at van-cafe.com.

You should follow the Haynes or Bentley manual. When I first started working on these engines I liked the Haynes because it gives step-by-step instructions. And it only costs about $15.

I won't write comprehensive instructions (read one of the books above), but here's a few tips:

-- Don't let the cylinders come off with the heads. The cylinder should stay on the piston, in the engine case. The cylinder can move out a little but if you pull the cylinder too far off the piston it will come off the piston rings, which will make everything harder. There's also a small possiblity that pulling the cylinders out will disturb the base seal (on the inside end of the cylinder), but this rarely causes trouble because the base seal is a black piece of rubber that gets pushed back into place when you push the cylinder back in.

So when you start pulling a head off only separate it a little bit from the engine case. Pull the head off a little--like an inch or so--and then you can see if the cylinders are moving off with the head. You can probably go two inches but don't go farther than you have to.

If the cylinder is stuck to the head you can pry it off by using the tabs on the cylinder. I have a flat pry bar (tire iron) that's meant for removing/installing motorcycle tires. I put a thin piece of wood between the pry bar and the head, with the end of the bar under the "tab" on the cylinder. It's hard to get enough leverage so I put a cheater bar over my pry bar. Then the cylinder comes right out of the head, no problem.

--After you get the heads off and clean them up look for pitting around the edge, on the sealing surface. you can fill in the pits with JB weld and let it dry, then sand it flush.

--You will also replace the green seal at the top of the cylinder while you're in there--just pull off the old seal and stretch on the new. When you reinstall the heads, do so carefully so that you don't mess up the green seal. This seal sits in a groove near the end of the cylinder and keeps the coolant out of the combustion chamber. You have to reinstall the head so that the cylinders go into the head evenly and smoothly. The danger is if the head goes on at an angle and scapes the green seal, that damaged seal can allow coolant into the combustion chamber.

So do it like this: place the head on the studs, then position the pushrod tubes (with their seals) and slide the head onto the studs far enough to hold the pushrod tubes in place. You will then have to start turning a head bolt to compress the pushrod tubes and get the head closer to the cylinders/engine case. Do this by tightening the bolts in the center, under the valve cover.

Go ahead and put all the head bolts on (with sealant) but only tighten the lower bolts (under the valve cover) until the push rod tubes are compressed enough that the head is near the case. While you are doing this go slowly and check to make sure that you are guiding the cylinders squarely and evenly into the head.

When the cylinders are in the head and the head makes contact with the case, then follow the torque procedure in the Bently or Haynes.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
Above you see a cylinder about to come off a piston. You can see the wrist pin in the rod. If this cylinder comes off another cm the oil ring will pop out. Note that this piston is at TDC; if the piston were lower in its stroke then the cylinder could not be pulled this far from the case.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
Above you see the cylinders pushed all the way back in the case. The pistons are both half-way through their stroke, one rising, one falling. You can see the green rubber seal in the groove near the top end of the cylinder.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
Looking down on the right head, still in the engine, about to pry the cylinder off the head. (Or is it the head off the cylinder?) There's a wood chip between the prybar and the head to protect the aluminum head.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
Using a cheater bar on the pry bar to push the cylinder out of the head, back into the case. With good leverage, and with a pry tool that fits under the cylinder tab, a cylinder that seems impossibly stuck can be easily separated from the head.
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gears
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

funagon,

This is what I love about this list .... someone taking the time to go WAY beyond just a "few tips".
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Gauche1968
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, make sure it is a head gasket that is leaking. There are other things that can cause coolant leaks that disguise themselves as head gasket leaks, like PO's jacked-up repair job punching a hole through to the water jacket. Crying or Very sad
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Chuck77
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Camo Westy, FatboyPaul, Valley Happy, Freakness, Tencentlife, D Clymer, funagon, and Gauche 1968,

Thanks for the good advice, I think I just might replace the gaskets instead. Well let me rephrase, get them replaced. I'm looking at 6 12 hour days a week for the next 13 or so weeks at work, the last thing I want to do in my downtime is deal with this. From what I got from your posts it can be done with the gasket set from Van Cafe for about $200. What would I expect to pay at a reputable VW shop for parts and labor? And how would I go about finding reputable shop? I live in Longview, Washington 36 miles north of Portland, Oregon, and about 70 miles south of Olympia, Washington. I know there is reputable shops there, I just don't know how to get the van there without running it out of coolant on the way, short of towing it. Seems to be the trend with me lately, nothing is ever easy.

Thanks again for taking the time to help,

Josh
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funagon
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 1:42 pm    Post subject: How long will it take the shop? Reply with quote

I don't know how long it will take a shop to do this job, I'm guessing maybe 6 hours? 8 hours? Someone else chime in here. When I'm doing it at home it takes about four days with distractions and snack breaks!

The gaskets are cheap but a lot of shops assume you're going to need new heads so they add $1,000 in parts. Plus 8 hours labor, gaskets, oil, antifreeze, etc, they may quote you two grand.

Mechanics remember how the aircooled VW vans would eat valves. So a mechanic might think it's a waste of time to pull the heads without doing a job on the top end. And they don't want to do a valve job on your heads when new heads are so easy for the mechanic to bolt on, at only $500-$600 apiece. So they just quote you for new heads.

But the watercooled engine with hydraulic lifters is not so hard on the top end. If your engine has been taken care of your valves and heads may be all right. You may not have to replace them. This is why people like me and other folks on the Samba end up doing our own work. Unless you really know and trust your mechanic, there's a good chance they're just going to say you need new heads, no matter what. I like to see it myself, lap the valves in by hand, or if it looks bad I'll take the heads to a machine shop that knows VW's.

Anyhow, there's nothing wrong with letting a shop do the work. It's time vs. money. If they can do in a day what would have taken you a week then it's worth it to go to the shop. And only you can decide what it's worth to spend time with the family instead of wrenching the car!

Whatever the shop quotes you, ask them to break down the costs.

If you need new heads you might want to have the shop buy them from someplace like Gowesty or Boston Bob (boston engine exchange). It's common to replace with AMC heads. The AMC heads are good, but the valves that come in them are not. They need new valves and a valve job before they go in the van. That's what the two businesses mentioned above do, and there are others as well, I'm sure. Depending where you go they may or may not know about the quality of the AMC valves.
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mcsyncro
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'll respectively and wholeheartedly disagree with this statement:

Quote:
The subbie conversion is the gold standard, all other conversions are "less then". Wisdom says, the cost of a an will increase, especiallyone that is a greater value.
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vwmaniaman
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Be sure to check that thermostat housing as a leak source. Mine had a small crack which leaked everytime the van was shut off and that was the only time I saw it leak since while I was driving it leaked on the exhaust and vaporized. Also the heater valve in front over the spare tire will leak in the back of the wheel and slosh out while driving so you don't see it leaking.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seen this?
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2...p;start=40
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shenan-agon
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chuck77 wrote:
Camo Westy, FatboyPaul, Valley Happy, Freakness, Tencentlife, D Clymer, funagon, and Gauche 1968,

Thanks for the good advice, I think I just might replace the gaskets instead. Well let me rephrase, get them replaced. I'm looking at 6 12 hour days a week for the next 13 or so weeks at work, the last thing I want to do in my downtime is deal with this. From what I got from your posts it can be done with the gasket set from Van Cafe for about $200. What would I expect to pay at a reputable VW shop for parts and labor? And how would I go about finding reputable shop? I live in Longview, Washington 36 miles north of Portland, Oregon, and about 70 miles south of Olympia, Washington. I know there is reputable shops there, I just don't know how to get the van there without running it out of coolant on the way, short of towing it. Seems to be the trend with me lately, nothing is ever easy.

Thanks again for taking the time to help,

Josh


Step 1: Get a AAA Gold membership
Step 2: Have them tow it to Halsey Imports or Precision in Portland. There are a few other reputable shops in town as well - others might be able to chime in with recommendations.
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MichaelP
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My '86 Syncro was converted to 2.2 Suby. It was not reliable and was expensive to maintain.
The Subaru converters are friendly and enthusiastic and if you like to work on the van, that's certainly a good way to go.
I have since had my syncro re-converted to Zetec. The van is now fun to drive again and I take it everywhere, no worries.
My ultra-reliable 4Runner (that I bought because I could not trust the syncro) is just sitting in the driveway.
I am, so far, totally satisfies with the Zetec. I was never, even when it ran OK, totally satisfied with the 2.2 Suby.
If you want a large support community, the 2.2 is a great choice. If you want a rock-solid and reliable van, out of everything I've seen so farm the Zetec is the way I'd go.
This is my experience and not second-hand.
You asked,
Mike
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syncroid
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MichaelP wrote:
My '86 Syncro was converted to 2.2 Suby. It was not reliable and was expensive to maintain.
The Subaru converters are friendly and enthusiastic and if you like to work on the van, that's certainly a good way to go.
I have since had my syncro re-converted to Zetec. The van is now fun to drive again and I take it everywhere, no worries.....
Mike


Mike, What do think about the ground clearance on that Zetec? I also have a syncro. I know what they say about it on theier web site, but what do you think?
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MichaelP
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The ground clearance on my syncro is better than I had with the 2.2 but my 2.2 did NOT have a short sump. I used to leave three tracks in the deep snow!
Compared to a stock syncro the ground clearance is the same BUT the departure angle is not as good. The engine is longer and would/could drag as you transition from a steep slope to level ground.
Does that make sense?
I drive 99% of the time on road so this is not a problem for me. I do have the ultra-heavy skid plate for my conversion but I do not run with it installed. If/when I go offroad, I will put the plate back on.
The header and muffler is protected by the engine cradle which is really clever as well.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MichaelP wrote:
My '86 Syncro was converted to 2.2 Suby. It was not reliable and was expensive to maintain.


I did my 2.2 Subaru conversion myself and mine has been as reliable as any car I have ever owned. The only problem I had was a bad Temp sensor. I love the added power and reliability. I am getting better gas mileage with the Suby. And parts are just as easy to get local as any VW part. And I only spent $3300 including $500 for the donor car.
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