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Diesel Vanagon as donor vehicle for Subaru conversion?
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DiscoSquirrel
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:39 am    Post subject: Diesel Vanagon as donor vehicle for Subaru conversion? Reply with quote

Brief back story: my daily hack, a Subaru Outback, 2.5L SOHC, has just been totalled. The engine is unharmed, so my intention of using it in a Vanagon might become a reality sooner than anticipated. I do not yet have a Vanagon to use as the basis for the project, so I am on the hunt but am trying to narrow down my options for the donor vehicle. My question is this: are there any downsides to using a diesel vehicle for conversion to the Subaru unit? If it helps to answer the question: ideally I would like a transporter/weekender/perhaps double cab if I find the right one. My preference is manual. Lastly I am also considering converting to the manual Subaru transmission.

Many thanks in advance for any help.
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kalispell365
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have done this and there are both positives and negatives...heres a few of each:

Positives:
Battery is in the rear which will allow a clean install using the Subaru cable set. It fits like it came in there by turning the battery 90 degrees and using your Subaru battery hold down and rods.

Heater tunnel in between the seats is nice.

Glow plug light and wiring convert to check engine light clean and easy.Even the orange LED is correct if you use the Small car gauge panel.

Snorkel is already up the passenger pillar, so hooking up your air box to it is easy.

There are several more benefits, but right now they escape me..

Negatives:

The big one is you will essentially need a gas parts donor, preferably late model. You will need the plastic coolant tubes from front to rear ,overflow bottle, etc. You will want the gas van rear engine tin, so you can mount the overflow bottle in the factory inserts that are on it, as you don't have the air filter shelf to mount it like a gas van.

You will want the gas 4 speed and all the shift linkage.

You will want all the gas lines/ filter/ fuel pump/ mounting bracket.

Gas accelerator cable.

Again, there are a few other items. If you actually do this feel free to contact me and ill look at my files.
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DiscoSquirrel
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kalispell365, this is great info, many thanks. I'm still looking at potential vanagons, and this will help me in the selection process. Thanks again for the input.
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kalispell365
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have it all documented in detail...if you go that route ill get it together for you.Best piece of advice is to find a wrecked/ rusty donor van.You will be glad you did!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant, thanks!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kalispell365 wrote:
I have done this and there are both positives and negatives...heres a few of each:

Positives:
Battery is in the rear which will allow a clean install using the Subaru cable set. It fits like it came in there by turning the battery 90 degrees and using your Subaru battery hold down and rods.

Heater tunnel in between the seats is nice.

Glow plug light and wiring convert to check engine light clean and easy.Even the orange LED is correct if you use the Small car gauge panel.

Snorkel is already up the passenger pillar, so hooking up your air box to it is easy.

There are several more benefits, but right now they escape me..

Negatives:

The big one is you will essentially need a gas parts donor, preferably late model. You will need the plastic coolant tubes from front to rear ,overflow bottle, etc. You will want the gas van rear engine tin, so you can mount the overflow bottle in the factory inserts that are on it, as you don't have the air filter shelf to mount it like a gas van.

You will want the gas 4 speed and all the shift linkage.

You will want all the gas lines/ filter/ fuel pump/ mounting bracket.

Gas accelerator cable.

Again, there are a few other items. If you actually do this feel free to contact me and ill look at my files.


Why would you need to source the cooling bits if you are using a diesel body?

They are water cooled already......

Dave
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2015 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't understand either. If you're doing a Subaru engine conversion, why would you need the various stock WBX bits? Purchasing a whole van for those bits seems like purchasing a city in order to live in an apartment. Why would you install the stock plastic coolant lines in an early van? The stainless/aluminum replacement coolant lines are readily available and won't fall apart like the plastic ones.
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WLD*WSTY
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The earlier vans locate the engine closer to the firewall, around 2". A later van gives more space for the throttle body intake tube. That being said, I put a 2.5 in my '82, just needed to use a tube that fit in the reduced space. I think it's an early Sube 2.2 one.
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kalispell365
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew A. Libby wrote:
I don't understand either. If you're doing a Subaru engine conversion, why would you need the various stock WBX bits? Purchasing a whole van for those bits seems like purchasing a city in order to live in an apartment. Why would you install the stock plastic coolant lines in an early van? The stainless/aluminum replacement coolant lines are readily available and won't fall apart like the plastic ones.


As listed above there are a whole bunch more parts required than the coolant tubes. Another possibility is to find a junk yard van and get all those items from there. Rereading my own post, Im not even sure why this was asked there Andrew...

OP will also need all the evap lines from the tee at the tank back, including the canister mount.(and the canister and valve if you go that route. I use the Subaru canister attached to the Vanagon mount)
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kalispell365
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WLD*WSTY wrote:
The earlier vans locate the engine closer to the firewall, around 2". A later van gives more space for the throttle body intake tube. That being said, I put a 2.5 in my '82, just needed to use a tube that fit in the reduced space. I think it's an early Sube 2.2 one.


It doesn't in mine...maybe because I am using a gas transmission? I never had the diesel trans, so I don't know for sure. My van was a basket case with a 1.9 with dual Dellorto carburetors (?) when I got it. What a mess!
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kalispell365 wrote:
As listed above there are a whole bunch more parts required than the coolant tubes. Another possibility is to find a junk yard van and get all those items from there. Rereading my own post, Im not even sure why this was asked there Andrew...

OP will also need all the evap lines from the tee at the tank back, including the canister mount.(and the canister and valve if you go that route. I use the Subaru canister attached to the Vanagon mount)


I read your post and saw the other items listed. Notice in my post I said, 'Why would you need all the WBX bits?'. I only specifically mentioned the plastic coolant pipes because using those struck me as the biggest folly listed. Perhaps I opted for too much brevity in my critique.

The stock diesel steel pipes will work, but if, for some reason you want the later style/size pipes, using one of the readily available upgrades over the plastic pipes is, IMO, a no-brainer.

Diesel vans have the overflow bottle already.

The coolant bottle location is 'up for grabs' in a conversion. We're talking about performing an engine conversion here. If someone doesn't have the capacity to mount the coolant bottle without the factory tin, they really shouldn't be doing the conversion to start with.

All of the trans stuff is irrelevant if he uses the Subaru trans. If he does decide to use a vanagon trans, it still doesn't make sense to me to purchase a parts van with those components in mind. Being totally familiar with the gas and diesel shift linkages I do not see why you would want to swap the linkage unless going from the 094 to the 091/1 which is not necessary or desirable IMO. If the diesel van has the 091 ('82), I would use a DK for better gearing than the 091/1. If it has the 094('83 5-speed) I would swap the R+P as a first choice and swap in an 091/1 4-speed as a second choice. If going with an 091/1 4-speed, you would need to swap some of the shift linkage parts and please notify me as I would like to purchase the 094 5-speed and specific shifter bits and I have the 091/1 4-speed and linkage parts to trade.

I would use a new fuel pump and filters, and run metal lines instead of the stock plastic fuel lines for that added bit of fire protection. Obviously all the rubber lines would be replaced.

Do the various subaru conversions use the stock VW accelerator cable? If so, then I can understand swapping it, but at less than $20 for a new one, using one off a parts van is silly. The labor of removing it from a donor van is hardly worth the effort.

I wouldn't even take a trip to the junkyard for the 'necessary' parts listed. Buying a complete parts van for those bits strikes me as absurd unless you want a side job of parting out a van.
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kalispell365
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This still doesn't cover the evap lines, canister mount, etc. that I have listed. As well as all the little items like the factory line mounting clips...unless you prefer the homemade zip tie look which I do not. It would seem to me the cost/ labor involved with purchasing and swapping a ring and pinion would negate the parts van cost altogether..kind of stepping over a dollar to get to a dime. The ease of removing all the hard plastic fuel lines and simply reinstalling them on his van is way less work vs. fabricating steel lines which is redundant considering there was never a problem with the originals. Also, OP would have a ton of parts to either resell and recoup most of the cost OR have all those spares for himself. He also then has a much more common transmission.He also now has the option of late model spindles/ tach/etc. etc. all included with a late donor.
The gas overflow setup is also easy and cheap to replace on the road for example vs. waiting to get the diesel part in the middle of nowhere. As far as the coolant pipes, he might be lucky and get a clean set with the donor, once again saving money. Each nut, bolt and clip at retail adds up rather quickly, and rarely is as clean as the original bits.

Also, there are about 50 other little things that can/ should be used off the donor for a correct conversion, like the correct gas fuel filler,etc. that I simply haven't shared yet. If the OP wants a complete list, I will provide that to him when he is ready.

I get there is more than one way to go about this, but after about the hundredth trip to the parts store to get that "one more thing" for all the homemade fabrication...the donor will sound better and better.
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A 5-speed with swapped R+P would be my preference not to save money but in order to have fantastic gearing with 5-speeds. It would be a vast step up over any of the stock 4-speed vanagon gearing options.

As far as upgraded spindles and other late model parts, you're off on a tangent that has nothing to do with the subaru into diesel vanagon subject.

If the diesel overflow bottle fails, then that would be an ideal time to install the gas version. The work less in the short term and the same as what you propose in the long run.

There is no need to change the fuel filler tube for the gas version. The only difference is that the hole is larger in the diesel one so that the larger diesel pump nozzle will fit. The gas fuel pump nozzle will fit just fine into the diesel filler. The only concern about using the diesel filler would be if someone doesn't have the wits to differentiate between which fuel nozzle they use and decide to fill up their gas van with diesel.

Again, if someone wants the side job of parting out a van, it might be worth it but a whole lot of folks don't want or need to part out a van to end up with worse trans gearing, plastic coolant pipes, some plastic evap/fuel lines, 30 year old line clips and a small amount of $ for the time and effort involved. Having seen both sides I'm sure the OP (or anyone else attempting the same conversion) can decide for themselves where their priorities lie.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess ultimately Andrew, the differences in our method boils down to my desire for as close to a factory look and feel as possible, vs. your method of doing as much homemade fabrication as possible. We simply have different standards and expectations from our vans. Just because I don't "need" the correct filler tube, I prefer it as it is what was intended for a GAS Vanagon. The spindles, etc. are another BENEFIT to my method, not a necessity. You are interested in spending all that cash on rehabbing an obscure transmission, but not interested in all the other correct factory GAS parts. That's your option and opinion.

I will no longer be responding to this, if the OP would like further assistance, please feel free to contact me directly as this is a waste of time.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is quite presumptuous of you to assume you know what my methods or standards are. If I'm to be similarly presumptuous, it sounds like you prefer wasting a whole lot more time and effort in order to end up with a worse end product and gamble on making back some money from the effort of parting out a van. There's irony to your desire "for as close to a factory look and feel as possible" when discussing the parts required/desirable for installing a Subaru gas engine into a diesel vanagon using as many late-model gas vanagon parts as possible. I personally prefer higher quality (form, function, longevity) over whether or not the part was used stock.

The 094 5-speed is not obscure and all the rebuild parts are readily available. Weddle is now even offering the kit that includes all the parts to convert the 091/1 into an 094.

It doesn't appear that you've factored the cost of a complete late model parts van into your calculations. Late model vans to part out are not free for the taking.

I appreciate your desire to stop wasting time and thank you for that.
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