View original topic: Rebuilding transaxle with Samba help! 091/1 (fun starts pg 4) Page: 1, 2, 3 ... 9, 10, 11  Next
old_man Sat Mar 07, 2020 7:36 am


There is nothing wrong with my transmission but I am thinking about rebuilding it now when I have the chance and time. It's eventually going to have to be done and I would rather control the timing vice having to deal with it on the side of the road.

I found a local place that can do it, has all the tools, and does vanagon transmissions often enough. Price is more than fair. I'm also tempted to do it myself but I am on the fence about that.

Is this a good kit? I am not overly impressed that there is no detailed list of what is in the kit.

I would rather buy all the stuff ahead of time. I know it's a better call to tear everything appart and then figure out what it needs but shipping can be a lengthy delay out here. Are there any vendors that provide similar kits? Does weddle or the like have such a thing?

It's a 4 speed manual being driven by a JX. I already have a spare ring and pinion should it need it.

MarkWard Sat Mar 07, 2020 7:53 am

I purchased what I needed from Weddle and our member Gears, Paul Guard. I saw the kit on GW, but it seemed priced a bit high to me. Your paying for them to put a kit together.

There are 2 tools that you really need to go through it yourself. The fixture for torqueing the pinion bearing race and the socket for torqueing the pinion into the case. Another handy tool is the tool for the differential carrier support collars. Plenty of folks have come up with a tool for that purpose.

Weddle sells the tools above.

old_man Sat Mar 07, 2020 8:29 am

Thanks for the reply Mark.

I've got a Peisler 381/14 and this thing for the pinion nut. Are those the two tools you are talking about? I already took care of the diff once with an improvised tool. The only thing I worry about if if I want to swap out the R&P with the spare I have. Current one showed a tiny bit of what looked like spalling. The replacement one I have came with one shim but I have no way to measure if it is correct. I'm assuming I am going to need a press with a lot of adapters?

That being said the shop told me 3-4hrs at $95 an hour.

Sodo Sat Mar 07, 2020 9:22 am

You are wise to rebuild it while it's still quiet.
By the time it leaves you on the roadside, you've fooked up lots of other stuff, and have been grinding all your quality OEM gears down for a LONG time.

Everyone should do that, especially with a Syncro.
After a reasonable 'service' (150k mi?) renew the bearings.
And "start" a proper maintenance regime respectful of an antique specialty vehicle full of NLA wear items.

The bearings should be changed before they loosen up, because when the shafts move apart, the gear faces start 'sliding contact' instead of 'rolling contact' and they wear out much faster.
And the oil starts to get sparkles in it which accelerates the wear, which makes more sparkles too, a vicious cycle.

If you renew your bearings while they are still tight, your gears could "last almost forever".
Last thing you want to do is squander the high quality OEM gears you have, replacing them with other used POS .... or "new" gears that might not go the distance.
Lucklily theres a current option of GT Porsche quality gears but they're spendy.
Point being, its prudent to preserve your OEM gears.

There are a couple SUPER details here:
- 3-4 hours is whambamthankyouma'am. Don't do it.
- there are several aspects of a Syncro trans that require a Syncro specialist to inspect. If your granny gear syncro rivets fail...chunks go thru your granny and reverse gears, cracking your low-gear housing and destroying $600 gears. Low-gearhousings are NLA and the used one you find for $1200 (if at all) will be a POS compared to your current (pristine?) unit.
Thats just two details. There's lots more to worry about.

Your Syncro trans has a bunch of no longer available parts in it, the last thing you want is ^^that^^.

Your mechanical ability is up to the task, I think. (?)
I would say letting someone who thinks "its 3-4 hours", even TOUCH it, is an absolute no-no.
Doing it yourself is way way better because you can get help from TheSamba on the current problems to watch for.

I'm positive that you can do a better job yourself than the 3-4 hour guy.

MarkWard Sat Mar 07, 2020 9:35 am

3-4 hours? It takes that long to disassemble, inspect, and clean.

Oddly enough, there is no shim to set the pinion bearing preload. All you set is pinion depth. I haven't done enough to have an idea of the tolerances case to case and ring and pinions to know how interchangeable parts are as is.

In my experience, pinion depth is the "quietest" point that it will run. If you miss it slightly oh well. Back lash is more important and you don't want to tighten backlash on a used ring and pinion. If you don't know the backlash of the used ring and pinion, set it to the loose end of the spec assuming some wear. I know that is not much help.

When you get yours apart. Check the shim thickness and compare against what your got with your used one. They might be very close. On the crown side there is a thick spacer under the nut that is not a shim.

old_man Sat Mar 07, 2020 9:46 am

Thank you for the comments. It's a 2WD.

Maybe I will do it myself. The 3-4hr guy is the shop the Vanagon/VW specialists sends his transmissions to. But maybe all they do is swap the swap the 3-4 slider and slap new syncros on. Who knows.

Besides those two tools I posted is there anything else I need? Anyone have a good parts list to start with?

Sodo Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:12 am

old_man wrote: Thank you for the comments. It's a 2WD.

Maybe I will do it myself. The 3-4hr guy is the shop the Vanagon/VW specialists sends his transmissions to. But maybe all they do is swap the swap the 3-4 slider and slap new syncros on. Who knows.

Besides those two tools I posted is there anything else I need? Anyone have a good parts list to start with?

oops. sorry.
But some aspects apply.
Using an OEM engine makes it easier too, all the gears and bearings operating within their capabilities.
I get so used to seeing the 'enthusiasts" over-engining I forget some have stuck with OEM engines.

I watched a guy do a whambamthankyoumaam.
To do it that fast involves tearing cases off cold, that should be done carefully with thermal expansion methods.
And not cleaning out the polluted oil, infecting the new,,,, etc etc etc.

But that's often what the customer wants and directly asked for, (the low-dollar job).
Actually the customer basically wants to _NOT get ripped off .....but they don't know how to protect themselves from the whambam.
They can't know how.
It's totally understandable.
And many get a whambam that's presented as a 'quality job".

I would enjoy watching you do your own rebuild on theSamba.

old_man Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:35 am

Sodo wrote:

I would enjoy watching you do your own rebuild on theSamba.

Then maybe I will do just that. Hopefully I can do it in time. I am moving in the summer and I am currently using this truck as a winter vehicle so I have a short period between when the snow/salt is gone and moving time comes.

Is the Long Enterprises CD a good thing to get?

MarkWard Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:40 am

You have the tool for holding the 1st gear pinion race/nut, but it's actually a two part tool. There is a hex type adapter that has splines that fits on the shaft. Basically you use your tool to hold the race/nut in a vice and then you turn the shaft to tighten the race/nut. I had to make a tool to grab the hex adapter. I cut a socket in half from harbor freight and welded a piece of roll bar tubing between the halves. I was doing a syncro so it needed to be longer than for a 4 speed.

You also need to come up with a way to heat the case to fit it over the pinion bearing. A torch just doesn't get it hot enough. I made a rig for the shop bbq to heat the case.

You also need to fabricate a support for torqueing the large pinion nut. A simple piece of angle. Using the manual you get an idea of the factory tools and what can be fabricated in place of. The tool I would like to fabricate would be a fixture for holding the transaxle in my engine stand. That would be nice. Don't have enough need though. I have no plans to be rebuilding these. I was really just wanting to save the 2 way shipping cost. That savings paid for the tools. If you can get a quality overhaul for $400 plus parts, that's a pretty good deal.

vwhammer Sat Mar 07, 2020 11:08 am

I've never rebuilt a manual Vanagon trans but I did just rebuild my auto trans.
It's not even in the van yet so I don't know if it all even works.
If it does not I will be crushed.

I only say this because the dread of not knowing whether it's going to work or not after all that work is a real stress.

If I had the money I would have shipped mine off to Matt Steedle for a rebuild.
This guy rebuilds vanagon autos and manuals all day every day.

I actually did have Matt rebuild the diff section of my trans when I ran into issues there and decided that it was a bit out of my scope.

I know it might cost a bit for you to ship but at least he is on the eastern side of the US.

look him up on instagram and you will see just how many of these things he does.
I don't usually blab on about vendors or shops for free but this guy really is doing great things and knows all the tricks.
He helped me out a ton during my rebuild and I can't thank him enough.
My vouching for him is my payment for all the support.

I feel that, no matter how meticulous and competent you might be, there is no replacement for experience when it comes to these things.

Sometimes the only way to get things right is by knowing what it feels like when something twists just right or snaps in place the right way.
The only way to get that is by doing it a lot.

Not trying to discourage you from rebuilding yourself.
Just stating my thoughts on the matter.

To answer your other inquiry, I don't really have any suggestions on where to get parts for the manual trans.

trentb512 Sat Mar 07, 2020 11:10 am

Following :popcorn: - I am planning on rebuilding the transaxle from my van as well, so I would be interested in others doing this! I have the Long Enterprises DVD, and was going to order everything from weddle...

What I am most interested in learning from this thread would be the parts needed to do the work - Required at a bare minimum (assuming everything is in relatively good condition inside the transmission) and everyones suggestions on what to do to the transaxle while it is apart - Oiling plates, etc.

16CVs Sat Mar 07, 2020 11:33 am

Not something I would do, especially with a Syncro box. 2WD boxes are still available at a reasonable price. Find a reputable builder and do every update you can.
I think the mechanics of it are basic "Dis assembly and Re Assembly". I've just had two Syncro boxes done and there are tolerances to look at and fixes for some of the wear issues that years of experience give you.
If this was a Muncie or Dana box or something more available I might consider it. But when you miss something it's lights out.
This is a "Suck it up" and do it once type of project.


old_man Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:00 pm

MarkWard wrote:
You also need to come up with a way to heat the case to fit it over the pinion bearing. A torch just doesn't get it hot enough. I made a rig for the shop bbq to heat the case.

I've got a roofing torch that hooks up to a BBQ propane tank. I use it for weeding my gravel driveway. Would that work?

As for shipping it to the states, I can't even fathom what the cost would be.

MarkWard Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:12 pm

The aluminum dissipates the heat pretty quickly when applied to the area where the pinion seats. When the entire case is to temp, you have more working time. The outer pinion race has flats that fit into the case. You got to pay attention. Any movement assembling and it can shift on you and you cant see. Makes more sense when you do it. I use an infrared temp gun. I use a toaster oven and freezer for small part assembly.

Sodo Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:44 pm

Biggest problem with a torch is "the time".
It takes time for the heat to sink in to the bearing bore area. and that torchis HOT.
And during this time, you can heat un-evenly.
And Magnesium is flammable.

The bore is an important (round) feature. You want to heat the case as evenly as possible.
Big flame has the danger of overheating one side of the case, and it takes a lot of hands to follow a big torch around with the IR GUN, to try to heat it evenly.
I have no idea what the right amount of time is.
I've seen it done with a basic propane torch.
With the big torch I'd soak the whole case for a little while, then finish up the heat soak with a small cannister-type torch.

When you get it to appx 180F the pinion bearing just drops out (or in) to the bore.

I can assure you that the "3-4 hour rebuild" they are just pressing the bearing in and out. Not good, and neither is un-even heating.
I can't say which is, worse, or whatever, just that's not how Mr Bentley does it.

But I do know it takes about 15 minutes to heat an empty case to 180F using two 500W halogen lamps, one on each side. These lamps cost less than $15 each, and an IR temp gun is not much $$.

Here's a thermostatically controlled Vanagon case heater that I made. It uses the radiant heat of two 500watt halogen lamps.
Which is "clean heat". It doesn't blow shop dust around etc.

GT Gears asked me to make more of them for his customers.
He said some shops have been just cramming the pinion bearing into that (critical) bore.
Also when it's difficult, then the shop might not take the time to shim the bearing correctly.
With this case cooker tool they can just set it up and walk away, do other tasks.
....even take a nap.

MarkWard Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:01 pm

Cool excuse the pun. I would have never guessed heat lamps could do the job.

old_man Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:09 pm

Interesting set up. I guess I will have to figure something out.

Back to the parts question:
4 syncros, complete seal/gasket set, all new bearings, and an updated 3-4 hub. Am I missing anything? This is all assuming nothing is wrong.

MarkWard Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:23 pm

Id add the 2 oiling plates and a mainshaft bearing retainer. The gasket set from Weddle did not include the cv flange seals and outer caps. You may want to rebush the cross shaft. Mainshaft bearing circlip and the cheap ass shift detent ball clips. In all likelihood the gear carrier will be worn out where the large mainshaft bearing seats. Also, Id plan on replacing the outer ring of the 3/4 slider as well as the 4 wire springs and Syncro catches dogs.

I get wanting to have parts on hand, but its way easier once you have it apart to order. Otherwise youll be placing a second order and double freight.

Sodo Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:31 pm

MarkWard wrote: I get wanting to have parts on hand, but its way easier once you have it apart to order. Otherwise youll be placing a second order and double freight.

Yes Mark that's always the dilemma, but .... there's something to be said for "a bird in hand".

Getting all you can ASAP is kinda good;
....before something "essential" goes on backorder.

There will be a minimum of two orders anyway, and the 2nd order will probably be small stuff, clips, seals, shims, that can be sent in the mail.
(and possibly something that was backordered).

old_man wrote: Back to the parts question:

Consider a hold-down for the Mainshaft bearing.
And look at the remanufactured "gear carrier housing).

old_man Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:33 pm

What do you do with a worn gear carrier. Sleeve it or buy a refurbished one?

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