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Introducing Project Wasserboxer 2500E
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D Clymer
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:39 pm    Post subject: Introducing Project Wasserboxer 2500E Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

This month I will be starting to assemble a very special wasserboxer and I thought some of you might find some of it interesting. Last year I stumbled upon a NOS set of original Oettinger 2500E pistons and cylinders. I had always dreamed of owning one of these engines, so I wasted no time in snapping up the set. The pistons turned out to be forged Kolbenschmidt brand units with a very shallow and flat combustion chamber - very much like the factory 2.1 10,3:1 DJ code pistons. These have a lower compression ratio of 9.7:1.

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


They measure a full 98mm, so they are too large for bored out stock cylinder liners. I knew this at the time I purchased the set, and knew that the old Oettinger literature mentioned "special cylinders," so I was very interested to see the cylinders. My prediction was that they would be 4mm larger in diameter than stock with stock wall thickness, and would require case machining. Here's what arrived.

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


These cylinders are indeed nearly 4mm larger in diameter at the base than the stock wbx barrels. Here is an interesting comparison of one of these 2500E barrels next to a slightly overbored (.5mm) 2.1 barrel. 2500E is on the left. 2.1 at right.

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


As you can see the wall thickness is retained with the 2500E barrel. At the top, however, I was surprised to see that they had machined the larger 2500E barrel to the diameter of a standard wbx barrel. There is a little bit of room the wbx heads for a larger diameter cylinder, but they obviously wanted to keep the heads as a standard replacement part. These cylinders were manufactured for Oettinger by J Wisemann Company and, due to their small production run, are actually machined from iron cylinder liner tube rather than originating from a specialized casting as is the case with the standard wbx cylinders. Making them fit the case was obviously the next step. Actually things didn't progress in this order at all, but for the sake of this write-up I think the case mods should be described next.

There is an excellent VW engine builder and machinest located in Walla Walla, Washington. He is someone all wbx engine builders should be aquainted with. His name is Rocky Jennings and he is known for his case mods to wbx cases to make them work with large air-cooled cylinders. After talking with Rocky on the phone, I was very impressed with his depth of knowledge and his willingness to talk with me about my project. I sent a 2.1 wbx case to him for modifications.

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


Rocky actually trial bored an old case he had first to be sure he had the bore size correct. Here is another shot of the finished bores.

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


I don't have a shot of the inside of the case, but the amount of aluminum structure surrounding the cylinder bases is about perfect. Between that and the amount of material between the bore and the head stud holes, it looks like Oettinger took this cylinder base diameter out as far as it safely could go. Here is a shot of the cylinders test fitted. The fit is perfect. You can start to get a feel for just how big these 98mm bores are in this photo.

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


Tomorrow evening I will write another post describing the solution I came up with for rods and a crankshaft. Hope this is interesting to some of you Smile

David
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Hope this is interesting to some of you


This sounds like a cool project and I look forward to following your progress.

I spent some of my younger years in Walla Walla and if memory serves, Rocky has been doing VW for many ... many years. I'll be back in that area later in the month and will have to stop by his shop.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Introducing Project Wasserboxer 2500E Reply with quote

D Clymer wrote:
... Hope this is interesting to some of you Smile


Ya think???
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool!
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I have a question for you. Can you get decent enough performance numbers out of a Built WBX. To make it a better choice than an engine transplant? I mean if it were feasable to make good reliable power out of the wbx it would seem to be the more economic way to go. But is it really that realiable. I figure those of you who build WBX engine would know better than the average vw driver.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey David, nice looking project. I'll be very curious as to how this progresses. Are you planning some headwork as well? How balls to the wall are you going to go with this thing? And I'm curious as to if you have any plans for the factory injection? What did the oettinger kit put out power wise? Awesome stuff, keep it up. Very Happy


allsierra: At this point there are so many options for motor transplants into vanagons that its getting down to personal preference. There are those out there that want to stick with a wbx and build it into something a bit better than factory, then there are others that want to option for a different engine alltogether... I am of the later thinking and broke away from a wbx'r as fast as possible, HOWEVER I give respect to those working with the original motors that came in these vans, and there are a few people on here with some awesome projects that get the wheels in my head turning about how fun it'd be to build up a wbx. Maybe someday Shocked
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NOICE!!! I'm excited! I love this kind of stuff.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking at the pictures, it looks like the stud inserts are right up to the edge after machining the case. That would be my only concern to reliability. There appears to be enough surrounding material to hold the inserts snug. Should be a nice project when completed.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want some! I want some now!!

<drool......drooly drooly drool....>

I figger at 98mm to get to 2500cc you need to have a 82.8mm stroke ( my calculator spit that out just before it died from drool saturation). DPR? What's that gonna cost? What did that P&L set cost? I wanna know! I wanna know everything!!! Waaah! I want them now!!!!!
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

David:
Nice stuff. But about as practical as a Rolex watch. I bet the Oettinger parts new cost more than Porsche parts.
Now, if we could get the Chinese to make some 98mm P&L's and sell them for $199....
Al
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

69doublecab wrote:
David:
Nice stuff. But about as practical as a Rolex watch. I bet the Oettinger parts new cost more than Porsche parts.
Now, if we could get the Chinese to make some 98mm P&L's and sell them for $199....
Al


Yes, the retail price on these from Oettinger is prohibitive, but I got a pretty good price on them - about the price of a set of GoWesty 2.4 pistons.



tencentlife wrote:
I figger at 98mm to get to 2500cc you need to have a 82.8mm stroke ( my calculator spit that out just before it died from drool saturation). DPR? What's that gonna cost? What did that P&L set cost? I wanna know! I wanna know everything!!! Waaah! I want them now!!!!!


They are designed to work with an 82mm crank. 98 bore x 82 stroke for a displacement of 2474cc. You guessed it, TC. A nice, affordable DPR counterweighted and stroked crank. The p&c set was a lucky eBay find and something like $850. If this setup turns out to be as good as I think itt will, maybe it would be worth looking into getting some reproduced.



rsxsr wrote:
Looking at the pictures, it looks like the stud inserts are right up to the edge after machining the case. That would be my only concern to reliability. There appears to be enough surrounding material to hold the inserts snug. Should be a nice project when completed.


There's actually more material there than it appears. Rocky dressed the bores, so there is a bevel at the beginning of the bores that appear shiny and one dimensional in the photos. But, yes, this is about as far as you'd want to go.

Bern wrote:
Hey David, nice looking project. I'll be very curious as to how this progresses. Are you planning some headwork as well? How balls to the wall are you going to go with this thing? And I'm curious as to if you have any plans for the factory injection? What did the oettinger kit put out power wise? Awesome stuff, keep it up.


Hey Bern. At the moment I'm not planning on doing any head work. But this engine will be running a performance cam, so for Stage II, headwork and a custom intake manifold are in the plans. For the time being I'm going to use an easy route to avoid using Digifant, but in the future I would like to adapt Motronic 2.9 (OBD1) from a 93-95 Jetta ABA motor. I have finally found an engineering precedent for locating a knock sensor on a freestanding cylinder engine like a wbx. Doing a clean job of mounting the crank position sensor is the biggest issue.

The Oettinger output ratings were 125hp and 151 lb/ft of torque. Pretty good, but I know of at least one Oettinger converted 2500E Beetle convertible with 140hp.

allsiera123 wrote:
So I have a question for you. Can you get decent enough performance numbers out of a Built WBX. To make it a better choice than an engine transplant? I mean if it were feasable to make good reliable power out of the wbx it would seem to be the more economic way to go. But is it really that realiable. I figure those of you who build WBX engine would know better than the average vw driver.


Getting decent output out of a wbx is definitely a realistic goal. The wbx is basically a watercooled Type 1 engine, with some Type 4 engineering details added for durability. And it has the advantage of watercooled heads which allow much higher compression ratios than you can have with a Type 1. CB Performance built a 2200cc bug motor which dynoed at 197 hp. I'm not necessarily recommending tuning a wbx to that level for use in a van, but there is clearly quite a bit of room above the factory 95hp and 112hp of the 2.1 engines. I am one of those who believe the wbx is basically reliable. Even with the substandard rod bolts on the 2.1, the bottom end was good for 150-160K. The headgaskets are obviously the weak link in this design, but with careful maintenance and careful assembly, they'll hang together satisfactorily. I've gone the conversion route before, so I'm not locked into only building the wbx, but I am the most passionate about the wbx and it's nice to see that quite a few others on here also are.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Even with the substandard rod bolts on the 2.1, the bottom end was good for 150-160K. The headgaskets are obviously the weak link in this design, but with careful maintenance and careful assembly, they'll hang together satisfactorily.


I am totally on the bus with David here.

Even though I warn many 2.1 owners of the weakness of the rod bolts and their tendency to fail rather sudddenly in that mileage range, many 2.1's go well over 200k nonetheless. Replacement of the 2.1 stretch-bolts with 1.9 plain bolts or a stronger aftermarket alternative addresses the weakness definitively; once that is done, the 2.1 bottom end is just as rugged as the 1.9's, which is legendary.

The head gasket issue has a lot to do with VW's marketing of the motor with a "lifetime" coolant. What they delivered it with apparently wasn't the right formulation for the motor's aluminum construction, and then they told owners that no cooling system maintenance was going to be needed. If you tell people they don't need to do anything, they're going to take you on your word. Well, we know where that ended up. In spite of that mistake, there are still wbx's running around with original water jacket seals twenty years later; I see them all the time. Ones that have had their seals redone properly and that get good periodic cooling system maintenance with changes of coolant every few years with no-phosphate low-silicate antifreeze, go for very respectable mileages without further problems. Two-hundred thousand miles on a motor is nothing to sniff at, especially one that is working so hard just to make baseload.

I think they also made a lot of mistakes in the design of the 1.9's cooling system, although obviously not fatal as so many 1.9's run to very high mieages. The changes made in late '85 to the water plumbing took care of most of the problems inherent in the earlier configuration, and made maintenance of common wear items like the thermostat and water pump much easier.

Overall, these are quite rugged motors, simple and dependable, incorporating most of the things that we loved about the aircooled flat fours without that marginal aircooling. Evidence of the wbx cooling system's efficacy is that the pistons and cylinders are almost always reusable; I've never seen a jug with a prominent ridge, and I've yet to see pistons with skirt galling, the surest sign of cylinder overheating. I wish the heads were a bit stronger, but they're still better than the Type 1 design they are based on because they don't run nearly as hot. Burnt valves are pretty rare as a result.

I think the motors' stigma of undependability is undeserved. The great fault that is always associated with it was basically a marketing mistake. Unfortunately that doomed one of the best imported light trucks ever seen in this market to always wearing an albatross hood ornament.
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D Clymer
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part II: A Stout Bottom End.

When the pistons arrived the first thing I did was check the wrist pin location to see if Oettinger had used stock length rods or if maybe he had taken the opportunity to use 139mm rods. I was mildly disappointed to find that these pistons were definitely set up to run with stock 137mm rods. However, when I calculated the rod ratios for the two rod lengths I found that the stock rods yielded a 1.67 rod ratio, while a 139mm rod would have only bumped it to 1.70. A stock 2.1 has a rod ratio of 1.8 and a 1.9 wbx has a ratio of 1.99 - which is practically ideal. However, all of the VW/Audi inline four engines have rod ratios between 1.55 and 1.67 so there are definitely bullet proof bottom ends with rod ratios in the same range as this 2500E.

As most of you know, the 2.1 is notorious for being hard on rods. The rods are physically the same as the 1.9 wbx rods, but 2.1s usually have ovaled out big ends by the time they are torn down, while 1.9s typically do not. Some think the increased rod ratio of the 2.1 overstresses the VW forging. Others feel that over revving with a non-counterweighted crank and the increased rod ratio causes the wear. The most reasonable explanation is that the stretch bolts on the 2.1 stretch a little at higher rpms and allow a hammering force to occur, which eventually pounds out the rods. With the increased rod ratio of this engine, I wanted to make sure I had this potential weakness covered. There had been some discussion over on Shoptalk Forums about modifying Type 1 performance rods to work in a wbx, so I decided to go that route. I ordered a set of Unitech+ I beam rods. Here is a comparison between a Unitech+ and the standard wbx rod.

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


The Unitech+ rods come with ARP 3/8 - 24 rod bolts and are forged from 4140 chromoly steel. WBX rods resemble late style Type 1 rods, except their small end is larger and they are bushed for 24mm wrist pins rather than the 22mm T1 pins. The big end is however the same as Type 1. The Unitechs have enough material to allow overboring. It took a while to locate someone who was willing to convert these Unitechs to 24mm pins. Finally, I called Frank Stamos, who supplies the Van-Cafe rebuilt rods. He said he could do it, but would need to buy a new boring head for his mill. Frank is a great guy, and it speaks volumes about him that he was willing to buy tooling to do the job, when he could just as easily turned me away like Rimco and so many others had. Anyway, here's what he came up with.

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


The bushings he used are thicker walled than the 22mm ones originally installed in the Unitechs, so the surrounding material looks a little thinner than I had expected. However, that's only when comparing them to the stock wbx rod small ends. I'm satisfied that these will be strong rods in this application.

I was obviously in need of a crankshaft for this larger displacement motor. These pistons are designed to run with an 82mm stroke crank. A stock wbx crank is either 69mm for the 1.9, or 76mm for the 2.1 The original Oettinger (Okrasa) crankshaft used in these engines is an amazing piece of work - forged chromoly steel with integrated counterweights, specially nitride toughened. There was no way I was going to find one of those, so having the stock 76mm crank stroked out to 82mm and counterweighted was the next best option. DPR Machine Shop in Santa Ana does a lot of the VW welded stroker work these days, so I put in a call to them. Jose, the owner, was helpful and his price for a welded and counterweighted 82mm crank was $425. Not bad, considering all the labor involved. Here is what it looks like.

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This crank has .010" undersized main bearings and standard sized rod bearings. You start to appreciate what a good value this crank was after you see how much hand work is involved in welding on the counterweights, rough grinding them, machining, hardening, finish grinding, balancing, and polishing the journals. It's nice that this service is available to wbx engine builders. Jose can also do a standard crank rebuild, provide a variety of stroke increases, and even counterweight and regrind a crank of stock stroke.

In my next post, I'll show you what I came up with for a camshaft and lifters.

David

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:34 pm    Post subject: 2500E Reply with quote

Wow, amazing.

How are you planning on running the FI. I know you used Digifant for your DJ motor without apparent problems. Would you use a stock VW system for this motor too? Do we even know how the engine management was originally accomplished? Hmmmm.

I agree with some of TC's other posts about the perpetuation of the VW low end CR motor design by GW motor offerings, albeit in larger displacement. The real question is how higher CR affects engine longevity and whether the NOS sets like the one you have picked up would have better inherent design and engineering that has accommodated for the increased stresses on the motor.

This leads to the ultimate question. What is the maximum displacement and most ideal CR that can be accomplished within the VW WBX 4 cyl design? Perhaps this set is Oettinger's answer to that question.

jealous Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey David,

Would you be willing to spend some time giving some more detailed information about those Oettinger pistons? Not just diameter, but CCs, and some of the important piston dimensions, so those thinking of custom pistons in the future could have a reference?

I'm really looking forward to this build.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I just peed my pants!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

loogy wrote:
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Wasser Boxers!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simply gorgeous.

I'm wondering about DPR, David. Is that price for the crank outright? I'm wondering if they can take 1.9 crank cores and stroke them. Otherwise these 1.9 cranks are worthless to me except for future turbo apps, and consequently I can't give my customers any core credit for them. I'd rather be able to pay people fairly for their 1.9 cranks even when they leave with a 2.1 crank. If I could have DPR turn them into stroked cranks then they would be worth something. Guess I'll have to give them a call, unless you know. Otherwise, my lazy dog does a pretty good job of keeping the shop door open, and I don't own a boat.

What I would really like are some large pistons with 22mm pins, so we could use the array of great aftermarket rods without the trouble of modifying them. I've even been considering bushing the pistons down to 22mm. The 24mm pin is total overkill, and using a smaller pin would be one more reduction in reciprocating weight. Already going to 4140 rods over stock cuts down recip weight a lot, several ounces per rod.

As to otiswestys musings about engine stresses, what I'm seeing is that you can safely put nearly twice the power thru these bottom ends without perceptible wear penalty provided you start tight and balanced and keep the oiling in top shape. Oil cooling is absolutely essential with higher rev use. Anecdotal support for my double-the-hp assertion comes from the numerous Euro tuners with turbocharged road motors and folks like Rocky Jennings who put upward of 200hp thru these things in drag motors. They're not complaining of bottom end deficiencies; they selected the wbx specifically because it's the toughest boxer platform VW ever built. I also don't see why using rod ratios down to 1.67 would cause any premature wear. That's a normal ratio for modern designs; many are much lower. I think David's right that the stretch bolts used in the 2.1 were a big contributor to the ovalling under high revs, and part of the equation is also the heaviness of the rods. The stock rods are very heavy. If you're gaining strength thru more mass it can bite you in the ass once things start moving really fast. That is why I aim to reduce those stresses in my motors by using modified rods that are much lighter and at the same time much stronger, with high-tensile fasteners. Other factory motors making big power run rod ratios far lower than 1.8 and have great longevity. The geometry of stresses is the same whether the pistons go up and down or side to side; what was different was those damn bolts, and the high mass of the rods didn't help.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tencentlife wrote:
Simply gorgeous.


What I would really like are some large pistons with 22mm pins, so we could use the array of great aftermarket rods without the trouble of modifying them. I've even been considering bushing the pistons down to 22mm. The 24mm pin is total overkill, and using a smaller pin would be one more reduction in reciprocating weight. Already going to 4140 rods over stock cuts down recip weight a lot, several ounces per rod.


Yes, I think this makes a lot of sense. I wonder if the manufacturer would sell them with the pin hole blanked? May have to order a small quantity to get them this way. It should not be hard to bore that hole where and how big YOU need it.
Getting the assembly lighter by any small amount would be beneficial.
High end engines sometimes used titanium rods just for this reason. (Titanium would be overkill here, but the principal is the same.)
Al
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83 1.6TD Vanagon, 87 Wolfie Westy daily driver, swap meet home
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Joined: June 29, 2005
Posts: 357
Location: blacksburg, va
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

david- good score and good luck

dimer- i emailed dpr not long ago when they stopped mentioning cores on their site.....response i got was that price was outright and that they will still take cores....he did not mention what the core reimbursement was....last i remember it hovered around 140 er so which makes for a pretty good deal....as for 22mm pin pistons i dont know off the top of my head but on the type4rum they have a slugs database thread that might help ya out

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