View original topic: Vee Dub Nut's 74 Bay Transporter (& Subaru EJ25 Swap) Page: 1, 2, 3 ... 17, 18, 19  Next
Vee Dub Nut Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:19 pm

Hey everyone, I'm back...

Some of you might remember my previous on-going build thread on my 68 Westy...

Several folks who followed that thread have seen a few pics floating around of my newest Bus and have asked if I had a build thread anywhere on it. I've been meaning to get one started for a while now, but with the photobucket crapout of 2017, I haven't had much motivation to get photos uploaded here and get a thread started (because lets be honest, the samba galley is a bit of a pain). Well today I'm finally getting around to doing it..

I'm going to do sort of a Tarantino in this thread and show you as it sits right now, and then I'll back up and go over all the changes until now. Here is how it sits currently. Yes it is lowered.. spare me. Its going to be far from stock before its all said and done. If that causes some sort of problem for you, keep you comments to yourself and move on (you know who you are). IF however you can appreciate a good build thread, even if its not something you would build personally, I encourage you to follow along.

So far this build is right on track for me. I've had this vision of a late bay transporter build in my head for a long time (even back before the Westy), and I'm very excited to be getting the chance to build my dream Bus. Even better than that, this Bus is SOOOO much better for our family. I certainly miss the old Westy, and it will always be the one I wish I could have back, but honestly this Bus fits us much better.

I still have quite quite a few big changes coming on it, so let's get caught up to now before we start talking about what's next...

Vee Dub Nut Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:37 pm

So it all started simple enough.. As I often do, I was cruising TheSamba classifieds and I ran across these pics. I started clicking through them, reading the ad, and it didn't take long to get the juices flowing. It was ticking all the boxes. It was from west Texas (read DRY), it was in original paint (in this case Kasan red), and it was (at least originally) a late model transporter.

After making contact with the PO, I got the story that he had originally bought it as an empty shell and built it back up to what you see here. Mechanically it was pretty sorted with good brakes, a very fresh 2.0 T4 built and retrofitted L-jet, and a recent change to an 091. The exterior sported a nice natural fade in the original paint, and was essentially original all around, but had new window rubbers and door seals to keep the elements at bay. As for the interior, it was pretty sparse with a partial camper setup and not much else. Despite it being currently set up as a tin-top, I could see MY transporter sitting there in the rough. I decided I needed to give it a try.

After a bit of negotiating, I loaded up the next weekend and made the LONG drive across the emptiness of west Texas out to Lubbock. There I met the owner who was an absolute great guy, made the deal, and then turned back home. Here are a few pics of it loaded behind my trusty 20 year old steed of a truck. We didn't win any races on the way home, but it made the trip.

TitoMX Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:41 pm

Looks sweet. Standing by for more ... :popcorn:

Vee Dub Nut Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:14 pm

I'm glossing over a lot of details here, but the first goal of this new project was to get it back as a transporter. I was lucky enough to score a full set of benches from a friend just up the road in Austin, along with a set of slider windows to replace the jalousies. My trusty steed to the rescue again.

Starting with the windows, I was happy to find really clean openings after removing the jalousies. After a quick cleaning and a couple of spot touch-ups, th the sliders were ready to go in.

Just a tip, if you ever work with glass that is particularly stubborn to clean, I found that warm water, bar keepers friend, and a NON-SCRATCH scotchbrite can do wonders with some elbow grease. Just check out this before and after.

After getting the bus dried in, I shifted focus to the interior and stared with installing a new rubber cargo mat from WW. Its a decent mat, but is a little overly thick compared to OG, and it needs to have all of the holes cut open. A little tedious, but I got it trimmed up for the seats and belt mounts. What worked the best was a rough cut with a box cutter, and then fine tuning with a sanding drum on a dremel to smooth out the edges and round the corners (never mind that burnt rubber smell :lol: )

About this time my Werksberg ABS interior panels showed up. I've had my eye on these for a while, as they look really nice and sharp, and I knew they would be very durable for a Bus full of kids. Nothing could happen to them that a quick wipe with a wet rag couldn't fix. If any of you guys are considering these panels, I HIGHLY recommend them. I went all out, and got panels for all of the interior.

Installation was pretty easy. The plastic molys that they install with were about as good as any plastic trim panel clip (read, just OK), and a few of the holes in the panels needed to be massaged a bit, but it all went together quick.

With the panels back in, I got all the rear benches installed as well as the kids y-harnesses and some latch mounts for car seats. I didn't do anything in the front except for the ABS door panels, as the PO had already recovered the seats and installed new kick panels, seat stand mats, and front floor mat.

I do plan to eventually recover the rear benches in black so that they match everything, but for now they are functional, and I can divert project money else where.

Vee Dub Nut Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:07 pm

After getting the interior sorted, I shifted my focus on the stance of the Bus. I wanted to lower it and change the wheels, but not go so low as to make the Bus unpractical as a family hauler. I settled on a full suspension setup from Nate at Wagenswest. I went with a 4" beam, 2.5" spindles, and 3.25" horseshoe plates for the rear. The wait for Wagenswest parts is pretty long, but I was pleased with the quality of the parts once they arrived.

During the wait for the suspension I ordered wheels and tires and got them ready. For the front I went with 205/45's, and the rear 205/50's, all mounted on 17x7" re-pop fuchs.

Once I got all the suspension parts in hand, the Bus went under the knife. I started out on the install with the front. It is a pretty straight forward process of removing the oil beam and installing the new narrowed Wagenswest beam and narrowed tie rod ends. While I was there it also got new wheel bearings and seals, and rebuilt torsion arms with new ball joints from Wolfgang Intl. It was a fair amount of work to RnR the beam with all the control components having to be removed up front, but the quality in the Wagenswest parts showed with the ease of install. His parts are truly top notch.

Up on jack stands ready for the disassembly.

Old beam out

New beam prepped and ready to go in. The new beam came with a new center pin installed. All I had to do is move my swing lever over, and install the brake booster from the old beam.

After getting the front reassembled, I couldn't resist trying on a wheel for size. Seeing this motivating, and provided a fresh breath of energy needed to keep plugging away at the rest of the install. It was all coming together exactly as I'd hoped it would, making the slogging in and out from under the Bus worth the work.

Next up was the rear. The horseshoe plates went on pretty quickly. They are pretty much a bolt on affair, and progress was only slowed by a full service and boot replacement of the CV joints, and an RnR of the rear wheels bearings for a grease repack and new seals. Here is a shot of the plates installed prior to the ebrake cables going back on. You do have to cut a small hole through the spring plate for the ebrake cables, but that is a pretty quick job.

Once finished with the front and back, I bolted up the wheels and got it down an all fours. After some fine tuning on the front adjusters to level things out, I landed here:

Since I've already had a chance to live with it at this height for a while, I can confidently say that I'm completely happy with how it came out. I'm at the practical limit height wise for me, without doing any body mods (which I wanted to avoid for now). With some 15's and shorter tires I could go lower, but I love the look of the 17's, and right now my tires are essentially stock diameter which doesn't change my gearing. The ride quality is truly as good as it was stock, and I have no real issues with tire rubbing. To be completely transparent, I do occasionally get a small rub up front on really BIG bumps if the Bus if fully loaded, but by and large no rubbing.

After a trip through the alignment shop to get everything dialed in, it was ready to drive out to its first show, the 2017 VW Harvest in Austin.

richparker Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:55 pm

Dang dude, niice!

No ‘68 tho...

MorkC68 Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:23 am

That looks the part, looks nice on the Fuchs!

Keep the updates coming buddy :D

Vee Dub Nut Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:26 am

richparker wrote: Dang dude, niice!

No ‘68 tho...

Yes its no '68... its better :wink: :lol:

But seriously I do miss that westy... That said, we have 3 kids now and a fourth due at the end of Feb, all of which love to ride in the Bus, so the transporter wins for us hands down. Can't beat a hobby car that the whole family can (and does) enjoy.

Vee Dub Nut Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:27 am

MorkC68 wrote: That looks the part, looks nice on the Fuchs!

Keep the updates coming buddy :D

Thank you! I love the stance and wheel combo. It came out great.

More to come!

Vee Dub Nut Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:52 am

So I know it was a bit fast and choppy, but my posts last night sort of caught us up on the changes so far. Since then we have just been enjoying the Bus while I've been plotting the next changes.

The VW Harvest trip was fun, and was a full weekend round trip with the family from SA to Austin and back. After some initial bad weather that went through, the show itself cleared up and made a beautiful day to hang out with a bunch of other enthusiasts (see last pic above).

Up until this point I had been driving the Bus without a single hiccup. Unfortunately on the way home from the Harvest that changed. While on the way back from the show, I started to randomly get some cutting in and out from the engine while cruising on the highway. It was always a quick breakup, and would go right back to normal after a miss or two. I pulled off the freeway and into a parking lot to check it out, but couldn't find anything wrong. After getting back on the access road and running up another light or two, it finally died and stalled out all together. After getting it safely pushed out of the intersection, me and a friend who I was caravanning with started to investigate. I first suspected a fuel issue, but a quick pull of the fuel line proved that the filter was clear and the pump was getting fuel. The fuel pump felt a little hot, but otherwise seemed to be working. After a bit of fiddling trying to identify the problem, it magically fired right back up with no apparent fault identified. The rest of the trip home was fortunately uneventful. Back at home I dug into it further determined to find the actual cause of the issue. I hate trying to ID intermittent problems. They can be tough to find. Fortunately after tearing into the distributor, I found the smoking gun.

Apparently the wires to the ignition module were a little slack under the cap, and one of the wires had its insulation rubbed off by the trigger wheel on the distributor shaft and was shorting out, thus killing the ignition. A quick repair using heat shrink and improved wire routing, and I was back in business. Hasn't missed a lick since.

So as I said, lately I've just been driving it and enjoying it. Here is a shot after putting the Bus "to work" hauling some parts around for a new test stand build. Got a lot comments and folks checking it out while picking up components various places.

Not long after that Christmas rolled around, so I picked up a set of lights and set about decorating for our family Christmas light cruise. Let me tell you, if you don't get enough attention driving a Bus as is, put some Christmas lights on it. We got a kick out of all the smiles, waves, thumbs up, and pics taken of us as we cruised around. It was a riot. Next year I need to add some speakers outside and play Christmas music :lol:

With everything working smoothly, I somehow managed to talk my 7 month pregnant wife into taking the Bus "home" to visit family for our Christmas vac trip. We rolled out of San Antonio for the 2.5hr drive back home late Thur afternoon before Christmas. We stayed off I-10 and cruised the small highways through small towns like Gonzales, Shiner, and Halletsville. This made for a wonderful drive, as all of these little towns do up Christmas big with lights, so there was lots to see. We pulled off for a quick pick in Halletsville by the court house.

After a nice easy drive we made it all the way to Grandma and Grandpas, and settled in for the Holidays. While we were there I got to take all the nieces and nephews for a ride into town in the Bus. They had an absolute blast. It sure was fun watching them experience the Bus.

That's all for now!

Vee Dub Nut Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:08 am

So let's talk about the future plans... Subaru power

Doing a Subaru swap has been something I've wanted to do since I first got into Buses several years ago. I even considered it back when I had the Westy, but I knew that wasn't our "forever" Bus, so it just didn't make sense. However it has always been a part of this late bay transporter idea that's been cooking in my head, so off we go.

Now the 2.0 T4 in this thing is pretty good overall. Its a fresh build with new AMC heads, mahle P/C, a stock hydro cam, and I expect it runs as good as any 2.0 T4. I mean, its certainly MUCH nicer to drive around than the old 1600 in the Westy was. All that said, I still want more from the Bus. I'm looking for more power, modern reliability, all in a QUIET package that I can drive anywhere at a drop of a hat. To that end, its time to pursue the Subaru platform (don't worry, I've got other plans for this 2.0 T4, so its not going to waste 8) ).

After scouring craigslist off and on for several months while I worked on all the other projects on the Bus, last weekend I was finally able to secure a donor car that fit my needs. I was looking for something with a SOHC EJ25, but was trying to find something pretty cheap to start with (i.e. transmission problems/wrecked/high mileage/etc), as my plan has always been to build/rebuild the engine with a new OE Subaru shortblock, get the heads rebuilt, and generally recondition the entire works. Thus, I didn't want to drop a lot of money on the donor if I was going to be rebuilding everything anyways. The reason I am going to go with a new short block, is that I'm personally not too interested in going through all the effort of a swap just to end up with an engine with 150k miles on it already. I want to start fresh. Skills and I think very similarly in this regard.

For my donor I picked up this 99 Forester with the required SOHC 2.5. This particular car has a TON of miles on it (235k) and does need a set of head gaskets (which is not unusual for these at this age), but these are all things I will be addressing with the engine build. Regardless of its current "issues", it runs like a top, the engine is whisper quiet, and had a lot of get up and go on the test drive. For $600, it was the perfect donor to harvest the engine, wiring, ECU, and various other accessories from. So Saturday I loaded up the trailer along with my old trusty steed of a truck, and took a wet drive out west to Kerrville to pick it up.

Here is a quick vid of the engine. The PO has regular service records for it, and its has a host of nearly new parts that I can reuse in the swap. On top of that, the car and engine itself is super clean, and appeared to be obviously well cared for. The guy I bought it from has had a bunch of other Subi's (as well as a new Forester replacement for this car), and he seemed genuinely intrigued with my plans for the car.

After getting it home I wasted no time tearing into it. I'm in a bit on a time crunch to at least get what I need harvested and get the rest of the car hauled off. Out came the dash and everything behind it, so I gain access to and pull the main harness and get it ready to be modified.

And finally nothing left...

The goods ready to be modified.

So I am going to be modifying this harness myself. There are several good folks out there offering that service at reasonable prices, however I'm a DIY kind of guy, and the wiring of this nature is something I've got experience with already. I've already been through the factory Subaru service manual wiring diagrams plus those on Mitchell ProDemand, and have identified what needs to go and what needs to stay, and where it all should terminate. Its just going to take some time to sit down and sort through it all.

In the mean time I have a VSS and interface board on their way from Small Car, and an OBDII Scan Gauge in hand to check out the system and read any codes once its all back together. With the engine and engine sub harness still in the car, I can test out the reduced/modified main wiring harness and ECU by testing firing the engine before pulling it and hauling off the rest of the shell.

Well everyone is 100% caught up now. More info to come as things progress.

NOTE: These images had to be hosted on Flickr since they didn't contain "VW content" per the Samba gallery. Hopefully these links will stay alive for the long run.

white74westy Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:46 pm

Sweet bus! Really looking forward to what you do with her! Keep up the great work!


Col_Forbin Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:55 pm

I love this bus! looking forward to the subi swap :lol:

[email protected] Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:06 pm

of all the Subaru conversions I have done, dumpy bus has to be my all time favorite. love the look of your bus, and nice to see another one swapped!

Vee Dub Nut Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:19 pm

white74westy wrote: Sweet bus! Really looking forward to what you do with her! Keep up the great work!


Col_Forbin wrote: I love this bus! looking forward to the subi swap :lol:

Thanks guys!

Vee Dub Nut Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:22 pm

[email protected] wrote: of all the Subaru conversions I have done, dumpy bus has to be my all time favorite. love the look of your bus, and nice to see another one swapped!

Thanks Skills.. I've admired your work. You and I think a lot alike on this stuff. I'm sure looking forward to taking that maiden drive on the EJ25. Its going to be great!

appetite Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:32 pm

Cool bus!

Question about the kids y-harnesses and latch mounts for car seat: how and where did you install them?

Could I trouble you for photos of those mounts?



Vee Dub Nut Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:04 pm

appetite wrote: Cool bus!

Question about the kids y-harnesses and latch mounts for car seat: how and where did you install them?

Could I trouble you for photos of those mounts?




So the harness and latch points are two different things, but use the same mounting hardware.

For my "latch" mounts, I installed two of them on the middle bench to mount one of the car seats. The latch mount bolts in on the same holes as the seat belts do. In fact I have both the seatbelt and latch mount bolted in together. Just required a slightly longer bolt, and a spacer between the two bolted segments. Note, I also had to buy some longer latch straps since the clips now have to reach all the way to the floor.

For the kids Y-harnesses, they use the same latch style mount for the harness to clip in to, but I had to drill holes and mount them to the rear deck over the engine. I mounted them right in next to a structural rib of the rear deck, so they are good and strong.

Here is the left side without the rear mat in place

And here is the left and right sides with the mat back in.

The only real downside is that they interfere a bit with cargo in the back. Not a huge deal, but something to consider. I think the added safety is worth it though.

I used these harness in my old Westy to, but the mounting scheme had to be different due to the cushions/cabinets. I really like these harnesses, as they offer a lot of added protection and work well with existing lap belts. The harnesses can be purchased here:

Note, they also offer a larger y-harness for bigger kids too. They spec them by the Childs weight.

Hope that helps

[email protected] Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:13 pm

Vee Dub Nut wrote: I'm sure looking forward to taking that maiden drive on the EJ25. Its going to be great!

you have no idea how tingly your man bits will be when you grab a hand full of second....and actually accelerate :D

airschooled Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:24 pm

[email protected] wrote: Vee Dub Nut wrote: I'm sure looking forward to taking that maiden drive on the EJ25. Its going to be great!

you have no idea how tingly your man bits will be when you grab a hand full of second....and actually accelerate :D

…can attest!!

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group