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10degnorth Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:34 pm

This thread was formerly “A Wolfsburg, Two Engines, and a Highschooler”, however it seems to have outgrown that name as I only have one engine. This thread details the build of my 1988 Wolfsburg Vanagon powered by a 2.1 WBXer. So far the entirety of the build has been carried out through me being in highschool. Enjoy :D

Hey, I thought it would be neat to start telling the story of my 1988 Wolfsburg, so here ya go:

After a nearly successful attempt to convince me to give up on my Vanagon dreams by my uncle, who is himself a vanagon owner, I bought my burgundy 1988 Wolfsburg Weekender in late March 2018 for $1200 (everything I had at the time).... with a blown engine.





I worked all summer to build up a sizable budget to be able to get to get it running. I compared the pros and cons of different engine configurations, including Subarus, m-TDI's, etc... And in the end decided that the easiest and most economic in the short term would be a WBXer. So my hunt began, I purchased a "new" engine off craigslist from a reputable local Vanagon mechanic (Karl out in lapine) for $500. But this engine had a catch... An engine bay fire (most likely caused by old and cracked fuel lines) had melted all the rubber and plastic on the passenger side and a sizable amount on the drivers side. But it had great compression, something my original engine was lacking.

Over the course of the summer I began clean up the new engine and strip it down to the bare minimum and take inventory while assembling my list of new parts. Once I had a sizable list of necessary parts I began ordering. I got all new engine compartment coolant lines and the stainless kit for the long lines. I bought new fuel lines and new a new water pump. Anything that couldn't be salvaged from one of the two engine, the original or the engine fired one was bought new.

Over the past 2-3 months I have begun assembling the final engine that will hopefully power my Wolfsburg. I am nearing the end of the mechanical stages of the build. New fuel lines finally went on this afternoon, along with the distributor. The purple tint has since been removed, along with the original engine, the pics are from when I first picked it up.


If you have and comments or questions I would love to hear them.

sanchius Wed Oct 03, 2018 4:08 am

Thanks for sharing.
I admire your resolve and look forward to reading the rest of your restoration story and the adventures that follow.
It sounds like you are off to a great start.

dabaron Wed Oct 03, 2018 4:54 am

Very nice score... Looking forward to the future posts of the engine in and you parked in front of Smith Rock :D

and bravo for taking on the challenge of an engine swap. i would never have tried anything like that when i was in high school.

calo1956 Wed Oct 03, 2018 6:11 am

Cool build, I admire your dream and passion! Don't ever let anyone shatter your dreams!Thats such a cool vehicle for someone your age. I bet none of the other kids at school will be driving around in anything that cool. i think it will be a chick magnet! Theres not a day that goes by that someone doesn't stop to ask about my Westy!

CurtisS Wed Oct 03, 2018 6:22 am

Thanks for sharing your story and i look forward to reading more (with pics! :) ).

Check the Samba Classifieds as well for parts such as that fiberglass skirt piece to the left of the slider.
Cheers!

markswagen Wed Oct 03, 2018 6:44 am

Pay close attention to the rubber head gaskets, I have seen a repaired and re used fire damaged engine, it leaked coolant through the top where the seals had melted, if your look OK then likely they are, this one the seals had clearly suffered, the owner had kept the engine running for years afterwards, knowing he had to add coolant once a week, more if he drove longer distances.

Good luck with your van, and kept the pictures coming.

markswagen Wed Oct 03, 2018 6:50 am

Noticing that you have an auto, please do a transmission cooler swap, take the water to ATF cooler out, and fit an air to AFT cooler.
My vote on that matter would be to use the small car performance cooler, I am going to be fitting one to a customer's vanagon, today.
You do not want other have to deal with a transmission full of coolant, and cooling system with ATF in it, I have, on my wife's carat, not something I want other have to go through again.

https://smallcar.com/vanagon/transmission-cooler-kit.html

dabaron Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:04 am

markswagen wrote: Noticing that you have an auto, please do a transmission cooler swap, take the water to ATF cooler out, and fit an air to AFT cooler.


how prevalent is the ATF cooler failure?

bokonon42 Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:20 am

well done!

jimf909 Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:35 am

Well done. Vanagon owners always seem to try to talk others out of buying a Vanagon.

It looks like you've got a nice van to work on.

Looking forward to seeing the build!

borninabus Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:39 am

dabaron wrote: markswagen wrote: Noticing that you have an auto, please do a transmission cooler swap, take the water to ATF cooler out, and fit an air to AFT cooler.


how prevalent is the ATF cooler failure?
not very.
nice van :)

dabaron Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:05 am

jimf909 wrote: Well done. Vanagon owners always seem to try to talk others out of buying a Vanagon.


i think we are trying to spare others from the misery of ownership :D

my 3k Vanagon is now up to 5k. wheels and sound systems ain't free!

IdahoDoug Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:27 am

Nice van, well done. I get to Bend once a year or so, so if you find you are needing some esoteric part let me know and I may have room to bring it.

On the trans cooler - is there an easy way to bypass it by blocking coolant lines that does not create a circulation issue for the engine coolant? I live in a cooler northern climate and when I'm climbing passes I hold the auto trans in the right gear, put the flashers on and mosey up without a lot of drama.

Doug

T3 Pilot Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:36 am

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=495148&highlight=chick+magnet

SCM Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:47 am

borninabus wrote:
not very.

But it's catastrophic if it does happen.

The OEM cooler is no longer available IFAIK so if you ever even want to replace it you'll end up with one of the safer aftermarket ones anyway. If you've already go the van torn apart it may be wise to do the swap now.

I agree - nice van!

dabaron Wed Oct 03, 2018 10:04 am

SCM wrote: borninabus wrote:
not very.

But it's catastrophic if it does happen.

The OEM cooler is no longer available IFAIK so if you ever even want to replace it you'll end up with one of the safer aftermarket ones anyway. If you've already go the van torn apart it may be wise to do the swap now.

I agree - nice van!

can i borrow $170.00

shagginwagon83 Wed Oct 03, 2018 10:14 am

I went to high school in a retirement town. A lot of $$$ in that town. There was a couple of kids with brand new Jeeps, FJ Cruisers. Really dumb to give a new driver a new car - but anyway - if there was a vanagon in that parking lot - def. would be the coolest. Good luck. I hope you make those new Jeep kids jealous :D

Gnarlodious Wed Oct 03, 2018 10:37 am

Super nifty van!

dabaron wrote: we are trying to spare others from the misery of ownership More likely we are spreading disinformation to keep the prices low!

dobryan Wed Oct 03, 2018 10:57 am

Great start! :D

markswagen Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:05 pm

i guess it depends on who you talk to, i have had to clean two cooling systems, and replace automatic transmissions due to the cooler failing, as far as i see, they are a time bomb, you are right, they may never go off, i know personally of 2 that have, one i got paid to fix, the other, my wifes, i did not, i really hope i never have to do it again, for the cost of the cooler, and a couple of hours, it makes sense, to me at least, the van i went out to do this morning, when i got under there, there was no clean and clear space to mount the cooler where i would be happy with it, due to the added stuff adventure wagens, and a mess AC line install, there is enough space for the go westy transmission cooler, so the customer has decided to go that route instead.

back to flushing out the cooling system, it took a couple of gallons of dishwasher detergent, and about 100 gallons of water, to get it clean, 5 full flushes, all the mixed coolant aft was caught in big concrete mixing trays, and take to the recycling center in 5 gallon buckets, that was 2 full weekends, then was the replacement transmission $1250 for a rebuild, my labor on top of that, would not see a lot less than $2700, my customers, he did a lot of the flushing, i got the worst of it, and he finished up, transmission cast was the same.

it's not a fun job to have to deal with.

borninabus wrote: dabaron wrote: markswagen wrote: Noticing that you have an auto, please do a transmission cooler swap, take the water to ATF cooler out, and fit an air to AFT cooler.


how prevalent is the ATF cooler failure?
not very.
nice van :) [/s]



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