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BCgee Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:30 pm

Cheers to all who offered advice, apropos, and warnings - each is appreciated. Here are a few photos that I snagged from the original C-list posting I found (since taken down).

A few responses to questions above:

-Yes, mileage does seem high with only a top-end done, thus much of my apprehension being a long-distance buyer. I'm looking at my notes and remembering the seller say it has a "cam rattle" noise that occurs when warm, but doesn't allegedly affect performance and therefore he never took everything apart to go on the goose chase. My searching on TS led me to, among other things, a GoWesty article on crank issues and stories of others' WBX's fantastically exploding.
-My ideal would be an 89-91, but damn this particular opportunity is tempting with some maintenance and no rust... If I do purchase, a subaru swap and clutch/tranny upgrade is in the near future for better or worse. As someone said above purchase price is the cost of admission, and purist I am not.
-The lack of full exhaust system replacement had me sketched a bit too, and I agree it yells deferred maintenance. Sketch level increases when I consider the cost of a RMW/TenCent WBX performance kit (which should be done if the WBX stays).
-Sadly shipping the van looks to be about prohibitively expensive...but then again so is blowing a radiator or dropping a transaxle in Idaho...

Appreciate this community and all the food feedback - keep it coming! May even share this with the Wife tonight (she likes the family van idea, but the idea of me being stranded on the road or us paying another 5k in the near future, not so much...)







[email protected] Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:54 pm

16CVs wrote: Just because the guy is a Mechanic does not mean the van is perfect. Most Mechanics I know fix their own cars as minimally as possible. They work on crap all day and few want to dig into theirs after that.
He is probably selling this to buy a new Dodge F150 Yukon. Me personally, I'd fly in and put the key in it and head towards home. Every mile you get closer to home is one less mile to have it transported.
You're going to learn about this van "Trial by Fire" anyway and this will just speed up the process.
Post some pictures after you buy it, join the Road Haus site and have a nice trip.
Just remember that the purchase price is just the cost of Admission.


Good Luck


Stacy

Agreed. Get it done. Get AAA premium you get 300 miles towing. Enjoy the adventure.

SSWesty Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:15 pm

Here are some points to think about:
-Just because he is a mechanic doesn't mean he is a good one. Also he may have good reputation but that may be coming from people that know nothing about mechanical stuff. He just may be really good at communicating, calling people back and having their cars ready on time and clean. His work may be nothing more than a hack job, a second opinion or PPI would be good. I once was buying a fiberglass camping trailer. At one point the frame cracked and the seller told me he had a welder repair it and the welder did a fabulous job. I looked at the repair and the welder used part of an interior door hinge to repair the crack. Yes it worked but it was a total hack.
-I like to drive stuff before I buy it. You also have that option to drive it and say no thanks. Don't let a return airline ticket force you into buying a lemon. You could buy two one-way tickets, if you don't need the return ticket suck up the change fee and use the airline credit on a later flight. Consider the change fee as part of the cost of buying this van and it may give you piece of mind. This could work if you have a need to fly again within the next year.
-As far as fly and drive into the vast unknown, you could also add some more miles and play it safe by coming up Interstate 5. Yes you will be heading out in an untested van but you will be around resources. Once you get north into central Oregon on I-5 there are many VW shops that AAA can take you to. Once you get some confidence with the van then you could head east. Travel wise this may only cost you an extra day to run up I-5 before heading east.
-I bought my westy in a sellers market and had about an hour to figure out if I was going to buy it or let it one of the dozen folks in line after me go for it. Sometimes you have to just get your info together and make a decision. Some folks go for years before making a decision. We only get so many seasons for adventures in a lifetime, once you flip the calendar over to the next year you don't get that season back. Go for it if your research looks good and you feel good about the deal.

Phaedrus Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:27 pm

I'm a mechanic. IMO, I'd still get a 3rd party inspection, especially buying at such a great distance. I want a business to put their name alongside some compression numbers, oil pressure, and overall itemized condition of the vehicle. Otherwise, budget a replacement WBX ($2500-$5000) and another $2-3k for odds and ends, imo. May not need to dig into either, but you could buy and drive with peace of mind.

Stuartzickefoose Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:08 pm

IM in Cali depending on where the van is I could go take a look and shake a hand for you. Let me know.

SyncroChrick Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:08 pm

Thanks for posting the pictures. I think it's a good van.

Should you buy it? yes. it looks fairly original and unmolested. The A/C compressor is still hooked up, which is typically a good sign because it's the first thing to go. I don't see any obvious rust. I also don't see any sign of abuse or inappropriate modification.

Should you drive it 1000 miles right away...well that depends of how much adventure you are ready to take on.

SyncroChrick Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:18 pm

levi wrote:
The 2.1 is known for stretching rod bolts and throwing the bearing, I thought the "watch out" mileage number on that was 175,000.



Levi,

I think this is overblown and a recurring theme pretty much only here on The Samba. There are plenty of WBX engines with more miles than that and I wish people would stop just repeating this. It is not "known for"....and there is no "watch out' number.

it does happen, but you see right here on this thread that this engine has 260000 miles and still running without that issue. There is a guy on Facebook with 330k miles on his original block. And that's for a 30 years old engine.

Not very many engine goes that far without some sort of failure - in any car. The WBX is a fairly reliable engine for it's size and what people are asking of it...half of of these runs with bad O2 sensor, bad injectors, bad idling valve, etc, etc...and it just keeps running.

Or look at it a different way - if you have a WBX and you drive it enough that you have connecting rod problem, that means you have had 200000 miles of enjoyment.

jimf909 Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:45 pm

Lots of good advice here. The fact that the seller is a mechanic should not reduce the need for a PPI by yourself or a different shop. The fact that the front end bushing install is incomplete suggests that this car is the last in line for work at the shop.

Given the choice of driving my van or my excellent mechsnic's van 3,000 miles I'd choose mine every time. He does great work on my van. His van is cool but it's a local car and he knows he can repair it when he needs to. Preventative maintenance on his personal van comes after work, after family, after sleep, after everything.

The cobbler's children have no shoes...

4mymalamute Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:34 am

Its funny because I did the complete opposite trip this past year for a tin top syncro (I am in Ca and the van was in Co way up in Silverton). I towed a trailer from Ca to Co, only saw pictures of the beast, got there, it was ok (hard to tell in pictures), said screw it, lets live the adventure and purchased it. Paid a bit more than some due to items on van etc BUT happy in the end. Fun road trip in 48 hours (literally drove there and back in less than 48 hours!). Point being, if you want the adventure, I say go for it. I would suggest renting a trailer (I did and cost me a few hundred bucks...way cheaper than paying a company to haul it home). With the trailer you dont have to worry about breaking down in it, etc. Now, is the van worth it? That is a personal judgement call. Based on what is around, what the van has on it, whats been done, etc etc then you have to decide that.
Cheers man and good luck. Its an adventure for sure though either way!!

alaskadan Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:08 am

Go for it. Maybe plan your route in line with u haul branches. Break down, rent a one way truck and trailer combo to finish the trip.

levi Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:03 pm

SyncroChrick wrote: levi wrote:
The 2.1 is known for stretching rod bolts and throwing the bearing, I thought the "watch out" mileage number on that was 175,000.



Levi,

I think this is overblown and a recurring theme pretty much only here on The Samba. There are plenty of WBX engines with more miles than that and I wish people would stop just repeating this. It is not "known for"....and there is no "watch out' number.

.

Ok. Fair enough.

As I said, I'm not a very talented mechanic, I just work under the shade of a tree, so I look for guidance from those who are, like tencent.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=331890&highlight=rod+bearings

Not doubting they can go further, I'd just not be expecting much.

crazyvwvanman Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:48 pm

That misguided thread was 10 years ago. Time has now shown that they typically go a lot farther. Tencent has changed his stated opinion as well. This quote is from him yesterday in another thread.

tencentlife wrote: ....

But no, there were plenty of factory-built failures, enough to see a pattern, but not as many as is commonly believed. I had a factory engine that chucked a rod, and I used to think it was more prevalent, but my ten years up to my eyeballs in these things changed my view on that.

Another common belief is that the rod big ends ovalled out and lead to loss of oil pressure and higher heat, hastening fatigue. It's been posited that the longer stroke of the 2.1 caused this, but the rod/stroke ratio of the 2.1 at 1.8 is pretty moderate for production engines. I've never seen any unusual ovalling, factory-assembled high mileage big ends coming thru my hands that I mic-ed were always comfortably within roundness specs, and rod and main bearings in these engines were typically in such fine condition that you'd be tempted to run them again.

The actual rod bolt failure rate is probably not far out of line with other engine types that used TTY rod bolts and were run to high mileages. If it was notably higher I would say the chronic high cruise rpm's that the Vanagon's low gearing required, the unusually high oil temps that produces, and the loss of oil pump efficiency with wear and high-temp slip were as much to blame as the rod bolts themselves.

levi wrote:
Ok. Fair enough.

As I said, I'm not a very talented mechanic, I just work under the shade of a tree, so I look for guidance from those who are, like tencent.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=331890&highlight=rod+bearings

Not doubting they can go further, I'd just not be expecting much.

levi Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:13 pm

crazyvwvanman wrote: That misguided thread was 10 years ago. Time has now shown that they typically go a lot farther. Tencent has changed his stated opinion as well. This quote is from him yesterday in another thread.

tencentlife wrote: ....

But no, there were plenty of factory-built failures, enough to see a pattern, but not as many as is commonly believed. I had a factory engine that chucked a rod, and I used to think it was more prevalent, but my ten years up to my eyeballs in these things changed my view on that.

Another common belief is that the rod big ends ovalled out and lead to loss of oil pressure and higher heat, hastening fatigue. It's been posited that the longer stroke of the 2.1 caused this, but the rod/stroke ratio of the 2.1 at 1.8 is pretty moderate for production engines. I've never seen any unusual ovalling, factory-assembled high mileage big ends coming thru my hands that I mic-ed were always comfortably within roundness specs, and rod and main bearings in these engines were typically in such fine condition that you'd be tempted to run them again.

The actual rod bolt failure rate is probably not far out of line with other engine types that used TTY rod bolts and were run to high mileages. If it was notably higher I would say the chronic high cruise rpm's that the Vanagon's low gearing required, the unusually high oil temps that produces, and the loss of oil pump efficiency with wear and high-temp slip were as much to blame as the rod bolts themselves.

levi wrote:
Ok. Fair enough.

As I said, I'm not a very talented mechanic, I just work under the shade of a tree, so I look for guidance from those who are, like tencent.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=331890&highlight=rod+bearings

Not doubting they can go further, I'd just not be expecting much.

Ok, glad to know that.

Grahamlandguru Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:44 pm

Heck, I bought a Syncro Adventurewagon earlier this year site unseen in California. My dad flew in from Missouri to Denver and me and my 4 year old got on his layover. We flew to California and the guy picked us up and drove us back to his house. About an hour and a half later, we were on the road back home. Site unseen. Supposedly had a newer moter and no rust. But had been repainted...first big warning sign. We actually drove west for 30 min to get a start from the ocean. My son had never been before so a must. It certainly was an interesting trip. No heater worked at all. Front blower motor was shot and didn't even turn. Rear only blew cold. And the propane heater didn't work either. Bummer as we got to Nevada we hit a huge blizzard with over 2ft of snow. Had to buy a buddy heater and a 12v mini windshield defroster. Oh yeah windshield wipers switch needed to be massively cleaned and didn't work either. We drove while wearing our sleeping bags over our legs. Just as we were going up Vail Pass, so close to home, I blew the exaust manifold completely off. Well it broke in half, but didn't fall off. I taped it up and babied her home. It was a great trip, wouldn't trade it for anything. Not sure if I'll ever get to go on a road trip again with my dad and my son. Truely a priceless trip. A bit stressful at times. Get a bently manual, take the appropriate tools, buy a fire extinguisher, and get AAA. Adventure awits. Oh yeah, the first time I turned on the high beams, my whole electrical system turned off. Funny we were four wheeling looking for a camp spot, pretty far out. We slept right there on the dirt road where she stalled out. Luckily she started in the morning. It's never happened since. Damn electrical Gremlins? And I now have Subaru 2.5 as well as a slew of other parts needing attention. Almost every time we go out on a trip, something else seems to pop up. Broke my antisway arm last month. It seemingly never ends. Be ready $$$. Just saying. But oh so worth it.

dobryan Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:25 am

^^^ I love this story. :D

Abscate Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:45 am

If you read Grahams story and consider that a success, go for it.

Otherwise, inspect and flatbed home.

If you can budget a PPI Aand flatbed, then Vanagon isnít for you.

A mechanic who avoids smog is no mechanic, these cars arenít that hard to pass if they are maintained.

BavarianWrench Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:14 am

Check the guy in Grand junction. Nice Tin Top with a Subaru 2.5. I wouldn't do a Subaru swap, but lots of people are happy with them. If I like a van one was already in and had no plans to move to Cali, I would check it out. It's in your state and looked very dry. 12k, I think is what he wanted? He was on FB.

updated my post. I was off on the 12k
Don't know the guy, but the FB post seemed like he was a chill Vanagon fellow?
Good Luck

https://westslope.craigslist.org/cto/d/1987-vw-volkswagen-vanagon/6715663676.html



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