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Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:10 am

I'm re-posting pertinent entries from my build thread on here, since the engine build is mostly complete, and it's a more general-interest project.
Here's the full, original thread:
Started in May, 2009

Enjoy! :)

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:12 am

Since I've finally started to do some actual work on the van, I'll start a build journal as well. :D

1986 Vanagon GL Syncro...Wolfram Grey on blue cloth. Started life as a 7-pax van delivered to a Lufthansa employee here in NY. I'm the second owner, having stumbled across it in the want ads the very day I was going to buy a silver '87 for almost $5K. Tranny was toast, got the van for $800, in very decent shape for an East Coaster, just the usual seam rust and city rash. That was back in '00, I rebuilt the trans locally and drove it for a few years, then the mods started. I really wanted a camper, but at the time, Syncro Westies were way out of my price range (Hell, they still are! :P) so I found a nice Westy interior out in PA, and started tinkering. Then I contacted Country Homes campers in CA, to see if they were still building pop tops; they weren't, but Salim was selling the works to build the tops... with my keen nose for opportunity, I bought the molds. Made myself a nice pop top, along with 7 others and sold... well, two of them, actually, but I still have hopes of clearing my inventory someday. If you're interested, drop me a line.
Anyhoo, at some point I started to distrust the 2.1L wasserleaker, although, to be fair, it was one of the few good ones that escaped VW, it never actually leaked or mechanically failed on me, well over 200K before I yanked it. It was more the wiring, accessories, and general rusty-crustiness of it, it was getting very difficult to keep it running properly, let alone pass emissions tests. I decided to go Subaru powered, bought a motor, and all the crap to convert it... and then changed my mind. That was 2 years ago, and I finally have all the parts, or most of 'em, to go Diesel.

I have a factory crate syncro transmission, from S. Africa. Just finished shortening the input shaft, & put on the diesel vanagon bellhouse. I hope to crack open the motor this week for examination, and to prep for life at a 50 degress left list.

My plans & pipe dreams include;
IP fueling adjustments (Became a Giles pump)
Air/water intercooler
manual boost controller
Full instrumentation
2.5" mandrel-bent SS exhaust
Donaldson air cleaner w/ stock Syncro snorkel
Vintage Air A/C system
On-board air system (tank, compressor, chucks for airing up tires, and big goddamn air horns)
Two or three battery DC system, inverter, charger, shore power connection
...I'll spare you the wilder ideas I've had. ;)

The remains of the tank straps, fuel pump mount, & fuel sender... :P

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:13 am

Spent some time tearing into the AAZ this week. First to come apart was the manifolds; the exhaust came off with suprisingly little protest. I had an issue w/ one intake bolt, but persuaded it out without resorting to the drill.

GOOD LORD what a damn mess inside the intake manifold... I mean, really. :P 2 hours, & 3 cans of hi-power degreaser later, I can call it clean. I ended up with a ball of black snot the size of my fist. THe problem is, the same coating extends into the head ports. I guess the only way to really clean them out is to pull the head & hot-tank it, I don't want to risk leaving a chunk of that stuff in the combustion chamber. I don't think I've been that dirty since my last CV joint party... EGR system is in the trash can.

Cut off the old timing belt, & removed the IP. I had some reservations about it, but I need to learn to set timing anyway. The pump looks like it's brand new! The motor was rebuilt in the recent past, looks like they went all out. One fuel line jammed on the output nozzle & the nozzle loosened before the line did, & rounded the nozzle flats, but I have some spares. I was thinking about doing a re-seal on the pump, but I probably won't need to.

Pulled the oil pan off. Pump pick-up screen has an interesting collection of grit on it. ::) Engine is equipped with a factory windage tray. Stuff in the bottom is black as my soul.

I have a set of ARP head studs on the way, I'm going to pull the head as soon as I get the right driver for the head bolts. Never seen triple-square ones like that except for the cv bolts. The block is rather rusty/shabby-looking, I want to hit it with a 3M wheel and paint it. Going to pull a freeze plug for a block heater as well; any recommendations on which one, or does it matter?

All for now... got that all done in the one day we've had that didn't the entire month of June >:( Not conducive to project completion.

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:14 am

Pulled the head off and stripped it... Made a compressor tool out of a 3/4" deep Craftsman socket; I ground out a cutout in the side w/ the bench grinder, & chucked it into the drill press. Works like a charm. A magnetized screwdriver helps a lot extracting the keeper halves.
Head looks to have been attended to during the last rebuild; I count 5 new valve guides and 1 new intake valve... The valve guide seals did NOT want to come out, but after I found the right 45-deg. large needle-nose pliers, a squeeze-n-turn attack got them out.
Motor has a 1-hole head gasket, but I'm replacing with a 2-hole to back the C.R. down a tad since I'm going to run upwards of 20lbs of boost max... That, and I can't find a one-hole gasket ::) Typical cracks between valves, all hairlines, nothing opened up, and I peened them all over.

Rough-stripped the block, and hit it with Russell Epoxy frame paint in black. This stuff is the next best thing to powder coating... takes a few days to cure fully and is really tough.
ARP studs are here, waiting for headgasket and seals.

Waiting on a few parts from Germany; a diesel Vanagon turbo drain line (the pan end) and a D.V. dipstick from Jurgen's Vanagon parts emporium.

The AAZ flywheel appears to be identical in all dimensions to the Vanagon diesel flywheel as far as gear ring placement, diameter, pilot hole, etc, except the AAZ is a lot heavier & thicker... so I'm using the AAZ wheel if I can get away with it, the van's bulk calls for some beef in the flywheel.

Shopping for a good weld/fab shop to make new motor mount brackets on the carrier bars; I have Volvo hydraulic mounts I want to use in place of the stock rubber units to damp vibrations.

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:14 am

Just completed my very first DIY port & polish!! ;D

For those interested in the job... Took about 2 days, working slow w/ a Dremel. One straight and one ball carbide burr bits and a couple dozen sanding drums. I erased the cast lip that's inside of every valve opening, it makes a big difference in the smoothness of the approach and exit. It's very apparent to the touch where the material needs to come off; there's no guesswork, you're just in there to make it as smooth as possible. When the lip is gone, stop shaving, then sand it smooth. Don't leave any grinding marks if possible... Unless you have smaller sizes of sanding drums (if they make them) it gets harder to sand effectively the closer you get to the valve guide, so don't go crazy with the carbide up in there. Use the ball bit to erase & smooth out the marks and gouges left by the straight bit before sanding. Inside the port runners I just polished up as much as possible, I didn't try to expand the size of the ports or anything. There's a weird joint line where two castings meet that can be smoothed out. There was only about 1/4" I really couldn't reach comfortably, using the Dremel... If you have the narrower flex-cable attachment you'd probably get all of it. I think the most important thing is to keep the bit moving constantly, whether its carbide or sander, never let it sit in one spot. If you feel a sneeze coming on, move the drill away from the head!

Not difficult, just time-consuming... but it saved me about $800. Take your time, keep feeling your work with a bare fingertip. Don't clean the head too thoroughly before you start; a mild coat of soot in the ports serves wonderfully to highlight what's been ground and what still needs to be. Be very careful with the drill; be conscious of where it's pointing at all times, especially with the carbide tips. You can do the job with just sanding drums, but it will take a lot longer.
When it's all done, you need access to a good parts washer to rinse out all the powder, and then blow-dry with compressed air.

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:15 am

Here's some "after" shots of the head. No "before" shots, you couldn't see anything for the soot anyway...

The motor on the stand:

And then, a funny thing happened:

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:15 am

My Crankshaft... Some scuffing on the mains, and the edges of all of the rod journals show a bit of blueing. Anyone think I should be worried about that? I haven't mic'd anything yet... the bearings were in OK shape, some polished spots on the mains, but all are getting replaced. The scuffs should clean up nicely with fine emory cloth.

I ordered a set of H-beam TDI rods from I'm building this motor for low-end grunt, mainly because of the weight of the van, and the off-road use I hope to get out of it...I'm going to use the stock T-2 for instant spooling (well, as far as it's possible) and run about 16psi max boost... Later on I plan to incorporate a VNT.

...I also just packed off my fuel pump to Giles. ;D. Hey, I saved a LOT of money doing my own port job, now I can afford the full pump treatment! (That's my logic, and I'm sticking to it ;))

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:16 am

Miscellaneous Pictures & Gratuitous Bling

Zero-mile Syncro tranny

New heavy-duty axles, Porsche 930 CVs race-prepped & polished, and the adaptor flanges

Das Boot

One of the cats, wondering why I'm in the bloody garage all the time and not giving her a treat

The front axle components;

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:18 am

Update pictures :D

Pistons and bearings are back from SwainTech: Ceramic coated domes and lo-friction coat on skirts and all bearings and piston pins

Block cleaned up and honed:

Transmission decoupler...

...which replaces a splined connector shaft;

A vacuum actuator slides a fork, which en/disengages the dog gears;

I also installed the 930 CV joint output flanges:

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:24 am

Turned out the Intengineering I-beam rods required some block clearancing. I also had to clearance one of the rods (#4 if I recall correctly) so it wouldn't hit the intermediate shaft.

The rods & pistons:



Tight quarters, but it doesn't come closer than this, perigee at about 2mm away from the squirter mount tab. (As seen from the intermediate shaft...bad photo angle; it looks closer than it really is.)
This is the rod that ended up hitting the intermediate shaft after it was re-installed... that was a long, frustrating day. :evil:

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:29 am

A few updates & pictures...

Haven't gotten much done last month, just enjoying the last of the summer. :D Re-assembled the bottom end a few days ago; while it was apart I took the opportunity to get ARP studs for the mains caps. All together and rotating freely! Replaced the one oil ring that broke the first time.

Oil Cooler System:

Here's what I'm putting together... B&M 19-row cooler up front in the top opening, I carved out a section of the vent scoop to provide some room for it. I'm keeping the stock oil warmer, but eliminating the filter with a spin-on adapter, the lines then go to a remote dual filter station, I'm going to have a regular filter on one, and the Amsoil 2-micron super filter on the other. Oil then goes to a thermostat, where it's routed either to the cooler, or back to the engine if below 175 deg. Planning on 1/2" line, not sure yet if I'm using AN fittings or just barbed push-on fittings.


This intercooler

and this radiator

The radiator will be mounted up front, in the lower opening, as shown mocked up here;

Almost a perfect fit, could have gone even longer if I'd wanted by opening the sheetmetal on the passenger side more... there's a big void space behind there.

I've already removed the support bars, flush with the bottom of the opening; I'll cap the rod ends, and they will act as supports for the radiator. The mount tabs will attach through the sheetmetal on the bottom lip, and through an inner lip on the top. The rod removal was necessary due to the space they take up, even though the rad is only 2" thick, the rods make installation very difficult... and by tieing the radiator frame into the sheetmetal top and bottom, I figured it would make up most of the structual strength lost (if any). It will have to be offset to the left a few inches to provide room where the stock radiator thermo switch sticks out.

Pump is the Bosch unit used on many different cars (TDIs included)

Now to the engineering project of the week; the IC water resevoir :)

I wanted to have at least a 5-gallon resevoir somewhere in the intercooler system, but was having problems working out where to place a rather large tank. It hit me that I have a large unused space where the spare tire used to live, before I went 15" and big tires. However, that space is shaped... well, like a spare tire, and I could not find any tanks that would fit comfortably and without a lot of modification to the van itself. SO... we had a 55-gal plastic chem drum laying around (as one does) and I thought that might work, so I broke out the Sawzall and got to cutting... I cut off the top lid, leaving a 2" flange, then started with about 10" of the bottom, and cut it down until the flange fit snugly inside the bottom tray. What I was left with is a spare-shaped tank that holds 7 gallons. I have two 3/4" plastic boat fittings for in & out duties.

Finally, the intake... PD150 right-hooker and TDI Parts intake tube. The DieselGeek part (on the left) is too small. (PD130)

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:31 am

Mated up the engine & trans this weekend. I was unsure whether I had enough or the correct hardware to pull this off; I got nothing with the engine or mounts when I bought them. ...And I wouldn't have, except I installed ARP head studs, and so have a pile of triple-square grade-10 bolts laying about, which fit the engine-trans interface perfectly. ;D The starter bolts were a bit short for my liking, so I cut off the thick washers and gave them a few extra threads to hang onto.

I had to re-task the original gasser clutch cylinder bracket support rod, which meant hammering it flat, then bending it into exciting new shapes & drilling a new mount hole. I do have a diesel cylinder bracket, it needed some extensive rehab; welded up a ripped upper mount hole and stripped all the rust.

I used the stock DV dustshield, hammered flat with the center section cut out, and just elongated the mount holes a bit... no rubbing so far.

So... apparently a 1.6td oil filter mount is NOT compatible with the AAZ block, still looking for one of these for AAZ or 1Z block...

On to the pictures. Sorry about the soft-focus shots, looks like the lense was dirty. Note the Brickwerks throttle linkage.

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:34 am

...and yet more progress.

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:58 am

Well, that last set of photos was from November, last year. Nothing was done until lately when the weather & spare time allowed. This past weekend I got back into the engine bay, doing some minor tasks, then filled the crankcase with oil, and pre-lubed the motor by spinning the oil pump with a drill & 13mm socket, in preparation for first turnover using the starter...

I guess I should have done this a bit sooner. :oops: The motor froze up during the long hiatus, I was unable to budge it via the crank bolt or starter motor. I'm guessing the rings rusted onto the cylinder walls; every bearing surface was slathered in assembly lube, but the cylinders were only lightly coated with motor oil after honing.

:evil: :evil: :evil: Grrrrrr. I'm going to pull the injectors and dump some Kroil into the cylinders, but that may not help since it's tilted over, unless I really flood each cyl with a half liter of liquid so it can get into all of the piston's circumference.
If that doesn't work, the head's going to have to come off, and probably a re-hone of the cylinders.

xoo00oox Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:01 am

Nice project!

You have a gas fuel tank with a diesel bell housing? How does the starter fit? Or did I miss something?

MKIII and Sons Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:35 am

that was my question.

trailnewt Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:30 am

Very nice work!

I'm in the planning stages of switching my AHU over from an air-to-air intercooler to the same air to water setup you are installing. Why the large (and heavy) reservoir? Are you expecting that the settling time in the reservoir will further cool the water or am I missing some key concept here?


Farfrumwork Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:52 pm

Nice work.

I remember all your RS-RA adventures on legacycentral. You have a thing for rarity - I love it! (and I'm afflicted as well).

and I second the question on the 5GA reservoir. That's alwfully big and very heavy. I don't have any reservoir on my legacy (awic - vf12 pushing 12-14psi) and it hasn't been an issues - very consistent 1/4mile times. Not to say that A reservoir wouldn't be good, but 5ga might be overkill. 1ga would be >adequate, with a large/good heat exchanger.


BlackDogVan Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:50 pm

I just have a 2" pipe with a lid for my res. More of a stand pipe really. Volume will help with heatsoak for a while but its a losing battle in the end without a decent sized heat exchanger; which you have! Bummer about the stuck motor, was it free for sure after you 1st put it together?

Syncroincity Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:58 pm

xoo00oox wrote: Nice project!

You have a gas fuel tank with a diesel bell housing? How does the starter fit? Or did I miss something?

No, I put in a Syncro Diesel fuel tank, neglected to mention that anywhere.... I got it from Quality German in California. Those tank pics are from when the gasser tank first came out, the new sender made it's way into the diesel tank.

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