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Syncro, conversion and body work = my dream van
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MrNeatguy
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:10 pm    Post subject: Syncro, conversion and body work = my dream van Reply with quote

I recently sold my 87 Vanagon after deciding to pick up a slightly damaged 89 Syncro Westfalia that was for sale. The thinking was I wanted a Subaru engine and well if I was going to go that far why not got for it and pick up the Syncro? The 89 Syncro had a little seam rust, body damage and was in in Wyoming (I live in Portland OR) so me and a couple of buddies flew out to WY to drive it back in a nice snow storm. The Teton Pass was a total blizzard and was close to being closed down due to the snow. The van was sure footed in the snow and had zero trouble traction wise. The drive back was difficult because there was an electrical problem that drained the battery to the point that the van would not start at all. So we push started it back through Idaho, however later even push starting would not work so we had to do AAA and get a recharge and never shut off the van the whole way back. I made it back to Portland and my mechanic found that the battery had the ground wire severed and was surprised we even made it back.

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I hired Stephen Auto Body (http://stephensauto-body.com/) to take care of the elk hit and seam rust. If you’re looking for a good body shop in Portland Oregon to work on your Van I have zero reasons to not fully recommend Stephens shop. They were quick and the price was very reasonable for the work completed. I was worried about the seam rust originating from the inside out. They shop removed all the rust and found that it was not from the inside out, I guess I got lucky. Stephen also installed a new front windshield.

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I had the shop repair the elk hit and install the South African grill, with the extra headlight I can actually now see at night. The body shop did a awesome job.

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I then had some steel rims powder coated and I bought some Nokian 15 inch tires. I looked all over Portland to buy the tires but could not find them locally so ordered them from Van-Café.com . I tried to have the tired mounted and balanced at Les Schwab but they refused to do this because I bought them off the internet I tried to explain that this brand was recommended to me and I was unable to buy them locally but they were rude and total a holes to me. I could hear the guys in the garage making smart-ass comments about me buying them off the Internet. This was not a question of me being cheap, these were the tires I wanted and could not be found in town. I ended up going 2 blocks away to Firestone and they were great and took care of everything. I had them also do a full inspection of all my brakes, install wipers, alignments etc. Gave them plenty of business that the Les Schwab did not apparently want. Please support this business.

Firestone Complete Auto Care Store
Store #14117
4601 Se Powell Blvd
Portland, OR 97206-3141
(503) 777-3945

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The van was looking great, not so great was the DEQ smog check because while trying to get my plates the Van failed the smog check. Since the plan was to put a new Subaru engine in no worries.

I was thinking of having the motor replaced locally but after checking with 3 or 4 local shops I opted to have www.smallcar.com do the conversion. I own a small business and have zero time to do any work on my van, well even if I had time to work on it, it is completely out of my know how to do so. Brian at Smallcar.com answered all my questions. They guys at smallcar were quick and got the job done. Brian was very accommodating, knowing that I had no plates and was unable to take to day off to get the van to their shop he arranged for a flat bed to pick it up and drive it to him in Tacoma.

I had a 2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5l engine installed; it had about 1500 miles on the engine so like new.

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The other items I had them install was the SS exhaust, propane heater, scan gauge and the small car white gauges. I have no reason to not fully recommend the conversion from Smallcar.com

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During the conversion this pieces was recovered from the transmission fluid. Brian recommended that the transmission be rebuilt while everything was apart. Ok well over budget now Wink

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I have had the van for a week now and I could not be happier. The sensation of accelerating while going UP a hill was awesome. Plenty of power, speed and the gas mileage is better. The only negative thing I can report is the clutch is more sensitive and the transmission has a louder whining sound. Reverse was odd as well and took some getting use to.
I already have 4 camping trips planned (I have a 6 year old daughter who loved the first van) and we cannot wait.

Yes everything cost a lot of dough but the van is pretty much my dream van and has some good resale value, we are sure to have tons of fun using it. I have had it one week and already have harvested one "I would like to buy your van" windshield note Laughing

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joetiger Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Astonishingly good! Congratulations!
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wjjr
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SWEET!!! Applause Applause To you sir.
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epaddler
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro, conversion and body work = my dream van Reply with quote

Quote:
I recently sold my 87 Vanagon after deciding to pick up a slightly damaged 89 Syncro Westfalia that was for sale. The thinking was I wanted a Subaru engine and well if I was going to go that far why not got for it and pick up the Syncro? The 89 Syncro had a little seam rust, body damage and was in in Wyoming (I live in Portland OR) so me and a couple of buddies flew out to WY to drive it back in a nice snow storm.



Hey MrNeatguy, was that the Syncro that was for sale in Jackson Hole? I often wondered about that one. Your van is looking great and it gives me something to look forward to. I also found an 89 white Syncro Westy, but this one was in California. Just got it home about 9 days ago and have very similar plans to yours.
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markz2004
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jesus. It's like you have a brand new van.

Nice job!!
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JeffDenson
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job! you are where I want to be! Sweet!
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Sir Sam
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good looking van.
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ALIKA T3
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing what money can do Cool

Neat van!! It is very beautiful and hope you'll enjoy it more and more.

How much did you pay the base?

Have fun!
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240Gordy
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hope you have many happy miles, and many happy days of camping.
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MrNeatguy
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ALIKA T3 wrote:
Amazing what money can do Cool

Neat van!! It is very beautiful and hope you'll enjoy it more and more.

How much did you pay the base?

Have fun!


ALIKA T3,

I reviewed all your posts and photos from your project before having mine done, amazing and I envy the folks that are so inclined!

We go to the big Island every year, I love that place.

The van was not cheap nor was the conversion, I feel like I got a fair deal in the Syncro overall as the interior is immaculate and the body issues looked much worse then they actually were. The great thing about smallcar is they pricing is spot on so you know what the damage will be in the end also the pricing is really broken down well on the website. I asked them to toss the old engine on the floor of the Syncro and I sold it to boot. After looking at the price of some more modern alternative like a Sprinter van or some RV it was pretty clear that dumping the dough into this Syncro was cheaper and way cooler. Plus I sold my old van for more than I paid for it and it financed almost the entire project.

kb
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dobryan Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro, conversion and body work = my dream van Reply with quote

MrNeatguy wrote:
I was worried about the seam rust originating from the inside out. They shop removed all the rust and found that it was not from the inside out, I guess I got lucky.


Just curious.... did they remove the interior panels to confirm no rust coming from the inside? That lower seam rust looks suspiciously like it came from the inside. The only way to know is to remove the kitchen units and see that seam from the inside.

Nice Syncro Westy. Very Happy
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Dave O
'87 Westy w/ 2002 Subaru EJ25 and Peloquin TBD

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MD>Canada>AK>WA>OR>CA>AZ>UT>WY>SD
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=620646

Building a bus for travel in Europe (euroBus)
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=695371

The West Coast Westy
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=746794
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MrNeatguy
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro, conversion and body work = my dream van Reply with quote

dobryan wrote:
MrNeatguy wrote:
I was worried about the seam rust originating from the inside out. They shop removed all the rust and found that it was not from the inside out, I guess I got lucky.


Just curious.... did they remove the interior panels to confirm no rust coming from the inside? That lower seam rust looks suspiciously like it came from the inside. The only way to know is to remove the kitchen units and see that seam from the inside.

Nice Syncro Westy. Very Happy


Negative, they only said that after exterior prep there was no rust left. I asked for photos for verification. I do plan on pulling the fridge and investigating when I pull that to check and see. Stephen assured me the rust would not come back, if it did he said they would fix it no charge. But I will report back if I see any on the inside.

Kb
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John Of the north
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boy that makes me green with envy. One of the things I like about this board are all of the stories of people that enjoy these things so much they'll find a way to extend a van's life and usefulness. I don't think you need to justify spending the money you spent getting this done. I'd do the same thing if I could. Great van.
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dobryan Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro, conversion and body work = my dream van Reply with quote

MrNeatguy wrote:
dobryan wrote:
MrNeatguy wrote:
I was worried about the seam rust originating from the inside out. They shop removed all the rust and found that it was not from the inside out, I guess I got lucky.


Just curious.... did they remove the interior panels to confirm no rust coming from the inside? That lower seam rust looks suspiciously like it came from the inside. The only way to know is to remove the kitchen units and see that seam from the inside.

Nice Syncro Westy. Very Happy


Negative, they only said that after exterior prep there was no rust left. I asked for photos for verification. I do plan on pulling the fridge and investigating when I pull that to check and see. Stephen assured me the rust would not come back, if it did he said they would fix it no charge. But I will report back if I see any on the inside.

Kb


I'll bet Stephen a six pack that there is some rust on the inside as well, but with that small amount showing through the seam it is not likely very bad yet. Pull those cabinets and get it treated and you'll really be good to go. Very Happy
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Dave O
'87 Westy w/ 2002 Subaru EJ25 and Peloquin TBD

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." Robert Louis Stevenson

MD>Canada>AK>WA>OR>CA>AZ>UT>WY>SD
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=620646

Building a bus for travel in Europe (euroBus)
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=695371

The West Coast Westy
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=746794
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guggenheim
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Syncro, conversion and body work = my dream van Reply with quote

Nice looking Syncro.

I totally agree with your thoughts about the Les Schwab on SE Powell. That is the worst tire shop in town. They really give Les Schwab a bad name. The one located on SW Canyon Road is great!
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Oceanpro907
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After four months of tearing all the old stuff out of my syncro to complete the restoration....And two months of wokring every weekend and eveings ahead....I think you made a wise investment of your time by paying someone else to do it right.
not that doing a complete restoration yourself is not a rewarding journey, but it is a fairly burtal undertaking.....Of course i spent the weekend on my back spaying bed liner on the under carrage....

Anyway, really nice Syncro, I am sure it will be great for you.
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1621
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hot Damn! Way to get it done. Knew exactly what you wanted and had it custom built to your specs. I like. Hope to see you around town, or maybe at the next PDX meet-up.
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