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Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy
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samuelvincentvella
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is that the end of the conversion thread Josh? Have you moved on the the rear yet? Or that all pretty much the same...?
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thread Bump, bmwmango or AT3619 have either of you completed your conversions? I just ended up with a donor syncro tintop unexpectedly. I won't be able to start on this till the fall, but would like to know how these two conversions came out. I realize there are businesses doing this, but I was interested in how it worked out for the DIYer's. Thank you for any updates. markw
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure if this is of any help, 2wd to 4wd conversions seem quite commonplace now, I've been driving mine for years, San Francisco to Cabo, Yellowstone, Utah, several Death Valley trips have all been successful. A few mechanical skills, some time and hopefully a level concrete driveway is all it takes. I do it again in a heartbeat.

Go for it....or sell me the donor Syncro.
Good luck, Paul.
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul, thank you for the reply. I was enjoying this thread and it just ended without a final outcome. Sounds like you have nice ride. I have more than just a flat driveway and all of the tasks seem to be well within my skill set. The problem is just finding the time. Sorry the Syncro tin top is not for sale at this time. They are very difficult to come by here in S. Fla. I've had my eye on a few including this one since about when this thread was started. markw
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boroko
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I knew it had to be here somewhere!
Finally found the definitive explanation and visual aids for removing a syncro fuel tank. I'm at that point in restoring Smokey ('87 Syncro Westy) and have only found references..."its tight..", "have to pry it out...", etc.
I vote that this be added to the Vanagon Essentials FAQhttp://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=525798 referenced as a tank r&r.

mark
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

boroko wrote:
I knew it had to be here somewhere!
Finally found the definitive explanation and visual aids for removing a syncro fuel tank. I'm at that point in restoring Smokey ('87 Syncro Westy) and have only found references..."its tight..", "have to pry it out...", etc.
I vote that this be added to the Vanagon Essentials FAQhttp://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=525798 referenced as a tank r&r.

mark



http://syncro.org/removing-the-syncro-gas-tank/

try this one!
No pictures, but his description is more then adequate.
Now, when your pulling the steel fill tube back into the steel tube running down from the gas fill-wear gloves because when it does pop out and if you have you hand near the end going into the the other steel tube your thumb is going to take a hit on the tube it fits into! I saw that one coming and put gloves on, but still...ouch! You do not need to be slicing your thumb open on dirty steel.

Also, the bolt you took off from top the shock to get it out of your way will fit nicely into the fuel hose coming off the bottom of the tank to the fuel pump to plug it up.
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boroko
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you. it all helps loads. Now to actually do the work...
Mark
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Popcorn Red Vanagon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any updates? The suspense is killing me! Shocked
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Volkska wrote:
Any updates? The suspense is killing me! Shocked

The OP last logged in November 21, 2012..... I'd love to know what happened as well.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:42 am    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

I started my 2WD camper to syncro project last weekend. I have a donor beat up tin top syncro and an nice solid 90 automatic camper. Both are drivers. My method of attacking this will be to handle the conversion in stages to limit the project from becoming overwhelming.

First step is to remove the front driveline, suspension, and steering rack support from the donor syncro. I am going leave the rear suspension etc so that the syncro can be rolled out of the shop with our forklift. 6 hours in and I have first step completed.

Next step will be to get the camper on the lift, remove the fuel tank and front suspension. I will then concentrate on installing the syncro front driveline and steering rack so that the camper can be moved on 4 wheels. I may rig up a temporary fuel supply to make moving the camper easier.


Next step will be to get the syncro back in the shop to tackle the rear. Once everything minus the rear trailing arms are removed, I will roll the syncro back out and bring the camper back into the shop to start installing the syncro rear engine and driveline into the camper.


Final step once the camper is running and sorted with the WBX engine, I plan to convert the engine to TDI power. I have a 99 Jetta complete for the donor. I will most likely use a diesel bellhousing and I have a pair of syncro diesel carrier bars and a diesel syncro fuel tank thanks to Karl at Westy Ventures.

It feels good to finally start this project. I have been thinking about it for years and pack ratting the parts. We will leave our 82 Camper intact so that incase this project gets abandoned, we will still have a rockin camper to use. Hopefully life won't get in the way. Mark


Step 1
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Driveline Removed
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Steering Rack Support Removed
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:01 am    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

MarkWard wrote:
I started my 2WD camper to syncro project last weekend. I have a donor beat up tin top syncro and an nice solid 90 automatic camper. Both are drivers. My method of attacking this will be to handle the conversion in stages to limit the project from becoming overwhelming.

First step is to remove the front driveline, suspension, and steering rack support from the donor syncro. I am going leave the rear suspension etc so that the syncro can be rolled out of the shop with our forklift. 6 hours in and I have first step completed.

Next step will be to get the camper on the lift, remove the fuel tank and front suspension. I will then concentrate on installing the syncro front driveline and steering rack so that the camper can be moved on 4 wheels. I may rig up a temporary fuel supply to make moving the camper easier.

Next step will be to get the syncro back in the shop to tackle the rear. Once everything minus the rear trailing arms are removed, I will roll the syncro back out and bring the camper back into the shop to start installing the syncro rear engine and driveline into the camper.


Final step once the camper is running and sorted with the WBX engine, I plan to convert the engine to TDI power. I have a 99 Jetta complete for the donor. I will most likely use a diesel bellhousing and I have a pair of syncro diesel carrier bars and a diesel syncro fuel tank thanks to Karl at Westy Ventures.

It feels good to finally start this project. I have been thinking about it for years and pack ratting the parts. We will leave our 82 Camper intact so that incase this project gets abandoned, we will still have a rockin camper to use. Hopefully life won't get in the way. Mark


This is a really fun project to tackle! Please share your progress going forward!

I am in the final throes of my own Westfalia Syncro conversion and have really enjoyed the process. It's taken me about 9 months! Shocked Very Happy

The most challenging parts of the conversion for me have been:
1. Working through small technical details that are different between 2wd & 4wd - For example: slave cylinder piping, fuel pump & fuel tank wiring & instruments. Details too numerous to list, but many.

2. Everything that I've touched on the Syncro needs to be refreshed. Lots and lots of sandblasting, cutting, welding, epoxy coating and painting. Lot's of $$ on new bushings and fasteners. The old "might as well" syndrome!

The reward will be a completely refreshed 4wd Westy Syncro that I know every nut and bolt on.

I plan to add onto my own build thread as time allows. Build threads are my favorite part of The Samba!

Bill
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:20 am    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

The hardest part so far was deciding to dismantle the syncro. There were not many straight panels left on it, but its a solid tub. It also had a Colorado VIN tag issued at some time in it's life. So it's real value is questionable. I do have clean Florida title on it, so I will be able to junk it when the time comes.

I can imagine all the small tasks that will come up, but glad to have a complete donor on hand. I have the room for it till I am completely done.


Next step is to build up my courage to cut up a perfectly fine 2 owner 90 camper. Have to keep the big picture in mind. Original plan was to do this to our camper, but just did not want to risk it.

Bill, Look forward to your thread. I am going to try and not get carried away. Thanks for the encouragement. Mark
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

Here is an update. I won't be retelling bmwmango's story, but will show some pictures of the process as well as some things I have come across. Today I bolted the subframe using the rear bolts to the 2WD chassis as well as fitting the steering rack mount into place. I am waiting on the local metal shop to shear me some plates to weld to the chassis for the front subframe mounting.

So far, this has been pretty straightforward. I am a long ways from being done, but it is much easier to copy a design than to come up with something new and unique which my last project had a lot of. Its a bit hairy cutting up a good chassis.

Notes: I will be welding the steering rack mount to the chassis not bolting. I have had to cut back more of the 2wd chassis than the original thread indicated. It seems obvious though as you go. Its easier to cut more than to add back. I am waiting on the metal shop to shear metal plates that are 11" x 4 1/4" for the front subframe mounting. The syncro attachment rail measures out at 4 1/4" wide not 3" as mentioned earlier.

I am pleased with the progress so far.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

I love these projects, specially when pictures are abundant Smile

I'm doing the same, at my own pace .

Cheers!
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

Update. Well I have certainly used up some time with the subframe adapter plates. Here are the left and right sides fitted with the sway bar attached for mock up.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



Now here are a few details I would like to point out. These plates are 4 1/4" x 11" 1/8" mild steel. This is the same width as the mounting point on the syncro chassis. The subframe has slotted mounting holes where the front attaches, which complicates marking the plate for drilling. The sheetmetal lip on the 2 wd frame rail is 3/4" wide. It is important to get the holes in the plate so that they center in this lip. Too far out and there is no meat left, to far in and there is not enough room for the nut. The subrame also need to be shifted slightly to the left of the van about a 1/16th". For the holes to be centered in the frame rail lip, I ended up drilling all of the mounting holes to the inside edge of the slotted bolting holes on the inside and the outside. Once the plates were drilled, I reinstalled them and drilled the sheetmetal lip. It came out next to perfect. You can't fit a box end wrench on the nuts, but they do sit flat on the lip both on the inside and outside of the frame rail.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Because BMW mango had a problem with the swaybar mounting, I decided to tackle that as well. The sway bar bolts are slightly further inboard than the subframe mounting bolts, but you have the same issue with drilling so that the nut will sit flat on the plate and the subframe lip. To accomplish the location, I bolted my plate to the syncro rail. I then used a scribe to transfer the front sway bar mounting hole to the plate I made. I then fitted up the plate back on the 2wd van to check where the hole would fall. Both the syncro and 2wd have a factory cutout in the frame rail where the swaybar attaches. On the syncro, the cutout is partially welded to the syncro plate, I will be doing the same. Turns out I needed to move my mounting hole out about an 1/16th more. Remove the plate for the umpteenth time and drilled the 8mm hole for the front swaybar bracket. Reinstalled the plate and verified I got it correct. I then remove the plate and transfered it to the L/S upside down the see if I could mirror the swaybar mounting hole. Verified the front to rear measurement of the swaybar bracket and determined the plate could be used as a template for the L/S drilling. The subframe mounting holes in my plates are not mirrors of each other. It probably has to do with tweaking the subframe over as mentioned above.


I then drilled the left plate for the sway bar mount hole and test fitted again. I then installed the swaybar with just the front bolts along with my plates again to be sure the sway bar moved freely. It did. I remove the sway bar and reinstalled the syncro sway bar aluminum blocks. I used the mounting block once I had block square to the chassis to transfer the rear mounting hole to the frame rail lip. Removed the block and drilled for the rear bolt both sides. Reinstalled the swaybar and tightened all 4 bolts. Swaybar moves freely. Whew, I got it correct.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I have a lot of hours into these two steps. Lots of removing, measuring, installing. I took the time to go into some detail of this step because to do it right, there are a lot of details to consider. I did have 4 plates sheared just incase I missed something, but it looks like I am good to weld these in.

note: I am using conventional nuts for mock up. You have to remove these so many times, the crimp nuts would have been ridiculous to use. Final assembly will get the crimp bolts.

Mark
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

What I am calling Step 1 is basically completed. There was a point last week went I felt like I had just destroyed to perfectly fine Vanagons. That soon passed. I never liked welding overhead.

I am not getting carried away with the expensive stuff for now. New stock suspension bushings and Bilstein front shocks, thanks Bus Depot. New outer Rockford CV boots thanks Christopher at T3. T3 also supplied new hardware for the lower shock mounts and control arm mounts. He also shipped the Outer CV rubber lip seals that I forgot to order originally.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I am feeling pretty good at this point. Next step is to move this van out and get the syncro back into the shop to drop the engine, transmission, and fuel tank. I do have a spare diesel tank that I purchased through Westy Ventures a while back. Final goal is to repower with a TDI, but for now, just trying to get a running WBX powered syncro.

I have to say, I can see why some may believe swapping a camper to a tin top syncro is the way to go. That said, drilling spot welds, and welding blind holes on sheet metal is not my favorite thing to do. Converting 2wd to 4wd is a ton of small tasks, but if you are not a body man has been straightforward so far. Not much else to add at this point.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 3:52 am    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

We had our 2WD Westy converted to a Syncro by CoastVW in the UK - their blog page on the conversion is here: http://www.coastvw.co.uk/Coast-vw-syncro-conversions

There were a few reasons why we converted our camper to Syncro rather than moving the interior over. First, we had a solid camper and a beat up non-running Syncro doner so it made sense to do it that way. Second, we figured that we would at some point need to spend a bunch of money on refurbing the Syncro mechanics to get a reliable van, and realised that it would be most cost effective to do this work in the context of moving the various parts over. Lastly, we wanted to keep the hightop, which would have been a ton of extra work to move.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:47 am    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

Nice looking ride. I got my syncro tintop for a smoking deal, but the front differential pinion was snapped and there was not a straight panel on it. I did originally start to repair the syncro with the idea of converting it to a camper, but I think this will yield an overall better result for us. I think I also mentioned the syncro had a Colorado vin tag, probably a result of the accident damage. Here are a few pictures of the syncro and just one of the many bad areas that were damaged.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:14 am    Post subject: Re: Converting a 2WD Westy into a Syncro Westy Reply with quote

If I recall correctly, they said it was at least 150 hours labour to do the actual conversion. Obviously that didn't include the work that went into stripping the donor vehicle, or into refurbishing the various components which I did most of the work on, etc, before they were re-installed. It would be interesting to know how that ties in with your experience.
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