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Syncro Westy + Subaru EJ25 in 31 Days?
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ranchero
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:51 am    Post subject: Syncro Westy + Subaru EJ25 in 31 Days? Reply with quote

Day 0 (or T-1 or 2)
OK, here is the start of another Subaru swap thread. I hope it proves useful for someone. Iíve already received some great advice from Seth Hatfield, Tom Shiels, and numerous posters on the subaruvanagon list . It would be hard to top Chesterís excellent thread (http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=237938) or Mr. Weideís great website (http://www.weidefamily.net/vanagon/) , so Iíll offer the reality TV version, blood, guts, disappointment and all. With any luck we can throw in some brief nudity for a PG-13 rating as well. Iíll get back to you on that.

My goal is to do a complete (relatively speaking) swap of a 2001 EJ25 into a 1990 Syncro in 31 days. Iíll be doing this in true partsmonkey fashion Ė líll have the engine prepped and have all the parts (I think), including harness on hand before I start the swap. I plan to begin on May 1st. Of the range of possible swap methods from true homebrew of everything to the Vanaru.com turn-key conversion, this is closer to the Vanaru turn-key, but not quite.

After having purchased what I believe to be all of the major parts, I think the Vanaru method will turn out to be a bargain, but Iíll do a post on my parts costs on another day. Iím sure that other than the great deal I got from Seth on the engine and a few conversion goodies, my parts cost will be on the high side. Maybe not.

Will I be able to accomplish this task? The smart money (my wife) says no. Two months at least she says. I think I can. Before you make your bets, I should also disclose that I donít have a garage. Iíll be doing the swap in the location of my future garage. Not even a carport. Heck not even pavement. Otherwise, I have a full set of tools. I do have a solid spot for jackstands and have devised a way to roll jacks and an engine hoist around. I also have a few good friends who can be counted on to pop open a beer and laugh at me while I toil.

Why am I doing this? I love my van. I am a cheapskate. I love my family and friends. I love to ride my bike. Iím more interested in my family and bike than saving money, and any money and time spent on the van is not available to spend on bikes. As a recovering economist, I know that Adam Smith tells us that specialization, comparative advantage, etc, say that we should specialize Ė I should do what Iím good at and let someone else stuff the engine into the van. But, like much of economics, theory and reality are two different beasts. I enjoy stuff like this. That enjoyment doesnít enter into the calculus of efficiency. Somewhere in all that there is a balance to be had between money and quality of life. I think.

To summarize...
The goal is to replace this
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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

and these shiny bits
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


in 31 days.

I'll start tomorrow, Thursday May 1, 2008.
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rs4-380
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it's very doable. I had mine in and run in just under 5 weeks, and that included time to drop the fuel tank and do some rust stuff, clean and paint the tranny, and do the whole wiring harness. Plus, I was working a 50 hour/week job, and it was done outside in maine in november.
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ranchero
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Dave...but you're supposed to say that "it can't be done" Now I know it can!...it sure seems feasible. I partially work on contract and I have a short month, so I'll likely only work about 30 Hrs week for the next month, so I should have no excuses.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine took me 90 days working nights and weekends, but a lot of that time was spent accumulating parts (I didn't have everything when I started) and working out conundrums here and there (mainly wiring stuff.) I think if I had every single thing I needed and of course the knowledge that I have now, I could do it in a month.

Good luck! Keep us updated!!
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ChesterKV
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's see the nude shots... Surprised





.
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ChesterKV
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dude,

My one bit of advise would be to NOT post anything on TheSamba until you're done. It takes a lot of time and effort to post photos and text and that's time that you can spend on the actual conversion. I didn't have a deadline so it was fine if I spent three hours working on the van followed by two hours posting photos and text. My project was far from efficient but that absolutely didn't matter. So post later, take notes while you're doing the conversion, and take photos like a crazy man.


- Chester
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1992 Subaru Legacy EJ22 boxer motor installed.... van is now sold.... currently playing with a 1987 Toyota MR2 with 1.6 liter twin-cam motor. Better than the Subaru boxers....... I'm impressed. Well, okay, in an "apples and oranges" kind of way. Smile
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Crughy
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine was done in like 4 days...


But it's Hans of Vanaru.com that did it (before he started its business).

The conversion came from his van (syncro into a 2wd). It took a couple of days to take it out and re-prep the engine.

I arrived with my van and 4 long days later, we were off to scavenge some parts in junkyard with it.

Some parts were built along the way (cooling and exhaust). Most of them were ready.

It was not state of the art as he does now. An old engine he had for free. We redid last summer, with a cleaner install, and a newer engine.


JP
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enlitnme28
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep us posted on the process if you can!


Details are VERY NICE!


Im planning a swap by the end of summer, so your knowledge will help me!


Thanks
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levi
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm.... there's something in my memory banks about a particular problem with installing the ej25 into a syncro.... what is it? I don't remember, probably something from long ago that's easily taken care of now.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yea this is going to be fun to watch!!! Good idea on not posting while your in the heat of things! BTW- I definitely would like to help out as I am contemplating this same swap on my own. I can bring frosty's and help out when needed one of these weekends, let me know if you could use an extra hand!!! GOOD LUCK!!!
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool! I probably could have done that before we had our son Brendan but after that every project takes 10 times longer (he was three and a very good 'helper'). So with that ratio at work I'd say your time frame is just about right! Very Happy Rolling Eyes Laughing

You will absolutely love the result. I've got 15,000 miles on my conversion in 2 years and everyone who has driven it just falls in love, including me of course. Razz
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FNGRUVN
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How hard is it to get the correct wiring harness/ECU if you buy just the engine and not the whole donor car? I've been looking at donor cars on the web and they're going for around 2K for a late model 2.5. Is there a cheaper way to do this?
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rs4-380
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FNGRUVN wrote:
How hard is it to get the correct wiring harness/ECU if you buy just the engine and not the whole donor car? I've been looking at donor cars on the web and they're going for around 2K for a late model 2.5. Is there a cheaper way to do this?


often times you can find salvage yard engines that have been pulled from the car, but the car is still sitting outside in the yard with all the wiring and ecu. When this happens, they will often let you pull the wiring (if you do it yourself) for free if you buy the engine.

You can use wiring out of a different car, and it often times does work without issues, but if you want to assure yourself the best chance of getting something compatible, pull the wiring out of the car the engine came out of.
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Crughy
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FNGRUVN wrote:
How hard is it to get the correct wiring harness/ECU if you buy just the engine and not the whole donor car? I've been looking at donor cars on the web and they're going for around 2K for a late model 2.5. Is there a cheaper way to do this?



I would again recommend the yahoo subaruvanagon for such questions.

But the word of wisdom is to try to get the whole component from the same donor car. In the worst case, the engine long block can easily be swapped, especially by a JDM engine. But having all the outer components ( intake manifold, injectors, harness, ecu etc) from the same US donor car is the best bet for compatibility.


JP
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Mofus
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you sign up for the Yahoo Subaru Vanagon conversion list and post a question like that, four people would have already responded "Oh, I can get that for you". Very helpful knowledgeable people over there, most of whom you run into over here too. I am in the collection phase right know. I am going to order a JDM engine today. Then adapter and flywheel from Outfront motors. Can't wait to get started, but I am going to try and take my time and make sure everything is right. When I turn that key for the first time I want to hear Vroom.
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Volksaholic
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rs4-380 wrote:
FNGRUVN wrote:
How hard is it to get the correct wiring harness/ECU if you buy just the engine and not the whole donor car? I've been looking at donor cars on the web and they're going for around 2K for a late model 2.5. Is there a cheaper way to do this?


often times you can find salvage yard engines that have been pulled from the car, but the car is still sitting outside in the yard with all the wiring and ecu. When this happens, they will often let you pull the wiring (if you do it yourself) for free if you buy the engine.

You can use wiring out of a different car, and it often times does work without issues, but if you want to assure yourself the best chance of getting something compatible, pull the wiring out of the car the engine came out of.

My 70k miles 2001 Forester EJ25 came from a yard in Missoula, MT. with the harness, ECU, and various needed bolt-ons for $1700 including shipping. A local yard (SLC, UT) wanted about $2200 for the same stuff. That puts my parts in the same price range as you're quoting for an entire car. If you can get the car you won't be in the same boat as I am going to be with rounding up a couple small things the yard forgot to pull, but then there's the time to pull things and scrap the car (my wife would have been very impatient with that part!).

Brian at Small Car Performance really emphasized to me that you want at least the ECU and engine from the same car, and the original or an identical wiring harness is very preferable. If I remember the story, he said they got burned once when they bought an engine, ECU, and harness from an unreliable source to install in a customer's van and it turned into a nightmare to get it to run right. I think he said they determined after the fact that the ECU was not properly matched to the engine. Subaru made enough subtle changes, especially during some of the "transition" years (OBD-I to OBD-II, 2.5 DOHC to 2.5 SOHC, etc) that I can see how you can get burned pretty easily if Subaru didn't match the components at the factory.

You ask if there's a cheaper way to do this... that would be to go with the early EJ22. Entire running cars are often available in the $400 to $1000 range from what I was seeing. On top of that, if you stick with OBD-I the conversion is a little simpler. We wanted a low mile engine and I was not finding an EJ22 with low miles, although it was suggested to me that I could get a high mile EJ22, a JDM engine, and swap the necessary parts, as was suggested above. It probably wouldn't take any more time as I'm pulling the intake manifolds, heads, coolant manifold, etc to do engine prep anyway.
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FNGRUVN
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all that good info. Sorry, I didn't mean to change the direction of the thread.

Well....Ranchero, Day #1. What did we miss? BTW, I'm sure I'm speaking for a lot of us out here, we're drooling over all those shiny new parts. Keep us posted.
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ranchero
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 7:37 pm    Post subject: Day 1 Progress... Reply with quote

Well, Day 1 got off to an inauspicious start. May 1 - snow, rain and wind. I wasn't able to get away from work until 1pm. Still, the day was good and I got almost as much done as I had hoped. Worked on it for about 5 hours. Here's a quick recap - details and pics later

Plan: Get the van up on jackstands, drain fluids, disconnect vacuum and , fuel, coolant hoses as well as wiring. Generally prepare for engine removal.

Was able to drain fluids (coolant, oil, PS, some clutch), disconnected fuel, vacuum, coolant and most of electrical, removed Syncro skid plate, axles, dust shields.

Problem areas: was a beeatch to get the lines on the engine going to the charcoal canister removed -those took about 1/2 hour. Also broke 2 brittle plastic bits - one at the distributor where the electrical plug goes into the dist body - that looks like a spendy part. The other looked like a vacuum line that entered the block on the front side of a plate that pops up from the back of the engine - can you tell I don't know what that was for? I'll post pics later.

I think the only electrical I'm missing is the connections to the starter which look pretty gnarly to access. Any tips on that?

Day 2 plan: remove connections to starter, disconnect driveshaft, slightly loosen trans to bellhousing bolts, drop engine and trans as one piece. I'll probably pull the exhaust off before I drop the engine as well.

Thanks for all your comments so far!
Steve
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ranchero
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Backroadsurfer... let me know if you want to come down. I'll probably be at Great Sand Dunes next weekend, but the others I plan to work at least 1 of the 2 days.

backroadsurfer wrote:
Oh yea this is going to be fun to watch!!! Good idea on not posting while your in the heat of things! BTW- I definitely would like to help out as I am contemplating this same swap on my own. I can bring frosty's and help out when needed one of these weekends, let me know if you could use an extra hand!!! GOOD LUCK!!!

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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Ranchero,

I'm quite interested in doing the same to my '90 Syncro. Do you mind listing your current parts list, sources and costs of the project?

I did an EJ22 in 1999, and it cost $3200 total. My brother and I converted our 2 westies in 12 days. It was fun, a great thing to do with your brother - good old family fun. This time around I will probably buy every pre-made part I can get, (and EJ25 too) so will cost more. But how much more?

Tom

PS A Colorado guy named Cory Zum....? used to own my Syncro....
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