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Water to Air conversion
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vw54john
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:41 pm    Post subject: Water to Air conversion Reply with quote

Sorry if this topic has been covered before. I searched but couldn't find what I needed to know. I'm considering buying a watercooled Vanagon with a blown engine. Since I'm kind of an air cooled guy and know these engines better, I was wondering what you folks think about scrapping the water cooled engine and all of it's troublesome components and putting in an aircooled engine. Has anybody done it? What are the pros and cons? Thanks!
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devesvws
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think its a great idea, but i would bet you would love the vw waterboxer motor. i'm an old vw air cooled guy and have come to love the waterboxer. why not give it a try?
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd rather have screws pounded into my toes...

How about removing all of those troublesome pipes from your dwelling and installing a problem free outhouse...

Andrew
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airkooledchris
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sounds like a good candidate for a Subaru conversion!

im an aircooled guy also and also had that thought when shopping some local vans, but for the amount of BS to convert it back to aircooled, your probably going to have more fun rebuilding the waterboxer, or doing a conversion on that van.

personally, from what ive read in the forums of late, id probably go back with a stock waterboxer rebuilt by samba member tencentlife
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a nice clean rust free air cooled Vanagon I would sell you, just needs an engine. Way easier than trying a swap. Unfortunately its on the other side of the continent. I wouldn't want to go the WBX to AC route, especially if you wanted heat. It would be quite the job sealing the engine to the body as well.
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82WestyMan
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool aircooled guy (and drive a A/C Westy)

... but if i had WBX Vanagon that needed a new motor

tencentlife's motors would be my first choice
... they're the gold standard

just go read his posts, you'll understand why it's a 'no-brainer'
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kylemason
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tencentlife fo sho! Custom all the way and a warranty to boot! I hope to get his motor someday, if I could only blow up my motor! It's just so danged indestructable with regular maintenence Laughing
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
I have a nice clean rust free air cooled Vanagon I would sell you, just needs an engine. Way easier than trying a swap. Unfortunately its on the other side of the continent. I wouldn't want to go the WBX to AC route, especially if you wanted heat. It would be quite the job sealing the engine to the body as well.


Shipping an air-cooled vanagon across the the country would cost less than the depreciation of in value of a WBX westy if it was converted to air-cooled power.

Andrew
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airkooledchris
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

theres a nice aircooled westy in need of a motor on the santa cruz craigslist for just 800 bucks.

bring a motor with you, and drive it back!
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind nods, guys. But just for the record, I don't build any stock wbx's, just the upgraded 2.2's. Hoping to build something even bigger for my Syncro, like a super-torque 2.4, and after sufficient testing unleash it on the world!

I would say that it's probably easier to convert an aircooled Vanagon to water than the other way around in most cases. The Vanagons already have the radiator mounting brackets in place up front, the tank is depressed in the middle to allow the pipes to go thru, and as far as I know the heater core airbox fits in place of the air distro box under the dash. No cutting or welding of bodywork involved. Whereas stuffing an AC into a non-AC body, you have to modify the engine bay to accept the engine airseal. No seal, bad cooling, no engine after awhile.

Correct me if any of that is wrong; it's just hearsay by me, as neither are jobs I would ever be crazy enough to do.

Far far far easier than either is to just go out and find the van you want, with whichever power plant turns you on. It's not as if these things are rare, yet. Aircooled ones especially are cheap and abundant, as old cars go.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew A. Libby wrote:
Shipping an air-cooled vanagon across the the country would cost less than the depreciation of in value of a WBX westy if it was converted to air-cooled power.

Andrew


Yeap, I agree totally. Plus I would rather spend money to transport a west coast van across country than deal with the rust on even a good east coaster.
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Vanagon Nut
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tencentlife wrote:


I would say that it's probably easier to convert an aircooled Vanagon to water than the other way around in most cases. The Vanagons already have the radiator mounting brackets in place up front, the tank is depressed in the middle to allow the pipes to go thru, and as far as I know the heater core airbox fits in place of the air distro box under the dash. ......

Correct me if any of that is wrong; it's just hearsay by me, as neither are jobs I would ever be crazy enough to do.



I was crazy enough! Wink

Thanks to a lister on Vanagondahtcalm, (Brady at Bostig IIRC) for helping with this detail.

On my Canadian '81 air cooled Westy there were knockouts for the heater core nipples. And yes. Just remove the plastic diverter (for lack of a better term) that resides in the middle of the box and the heater core fits. At least in mine which had the knockouts. I padded my new heater core with strips of residential type close cell foam to take up the play between the core and the box. (there seemed to be a bit)


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




but, the control flaps were in the way


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


Made my own:


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


Kind of needless in a way if the main flap for the fresh air is working right. Though having control over diverting air to/from foot heat or defrost is handy.

To the OP. It's been said, but good heat is nice. (not knocking the air cooled) IMHO, I would think it's more work to convert from air to water cooled, than water to air, but then I've never been crazy enough to to try the latter. Heh heh heh Very Happy

Cheers,

Neil.
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50 ABA Swap in to '88 Westy: http://tinyurl.com/yap5hpwt

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https://tinyurl.com/2f24rmh

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Microbusdeluxe Premium Member
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:37 am    Post subject: aircooled to h2o Reply with quote

Neil,
I have a cherry '81 Westy Cali model. When my aircooled dies I'm planning on the Bostig conversion. It sounds like you may have done the same thing. Any tips on getting the bus ready for a watercooled engine would be appreciated. Anybody else who's done so feel free to chime in. One thing I'd really like to preserve is the single grill. Can air be effectively routed through there to the radiator?

I live just across the line from Vancouver, BC (Bellingham). In fact we just came back from Whistler this weekend, you guys still have lots of snow!!

Thanks
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:56 am    Post subject: Re: aircooled to h2o Reply with quote

I really don't see too much outside of the PITA connectivity items for the OP to put an aircooled into a watercooled. the 'firewall' by the bellhousing will probably have to be refitted to mate withthe cooling seal.

biggest trouble will be if he wants heat.. as that's well work marginally in an OE aircooled.. I know I owned 2 AC vanagons and one is still in operation and has connected underneath ducting..

the other AC van I have I converted to H2o and love the power and heat.. and sure was a bit of labor and such.. but I've always had the opinion that in a H2o van you should R&R the same parts at some point anyways.. in a conversion you just have to do them all at once. (rad,heater core+blower, cooling lines, etc)

Microbusdelux, you should be able to prep the dash heater, front radiator and cooling lines BEFORE you have to make the H2o plunge. I did my heatercore after the fact because of timeline pressures. my 1st swap was done in ~5weeks while still enjoybg weekend car shows and not 100% of my free time dedicated in the garage.. but I'm far from an amateur shadetree mechanic.

I opened up my lower valence because I thought I should.. but in my next AC to H2o swap I'm not going to.. I feel that the airdamning in front will pass enough thru the radiator at speed. and in stop & go or parked scenarios the rad fan should be able to pull all it needs thru the upper grill.
in the AC vans with A/C they mounted the condensor in the same spot w/o opening the lower valence for airflow.
you can barely see in this image of my van on Watkins glen racetrack..
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/259444.jpg
but I do have my 'camp-sneak' light mounted into the middle most piece of remaining front tin. I had planned to DIY a lower grill but the econo tube gaurd and black stripe really distract from the gaping lower hole(s)

My plan is to install a aux temp gauge at the same time and can always open it after the fact if I notice cooling temps too high, or if the fan comes on too much.. My biggest concern is in long hard grade pulls. where your building heat but may not get enough forced airflow.

Microbusdeluxe wrote:
Neil,
I have a cherry '81 Westy Cali model. When my aircooled dies I'm planning on the Bostig conversion. It sounds like you may have done the same thing. Any tips on getting the bus ready for a watercooled engine would be appreciated. Anybody else who's done so feel free to chime in. One thing I'd really like to preserve is the single grill. Can air be effectively routed through there to the radiator?
Thanks
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Vanagon Nut
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:40 am    Post subject: Re: aircooled to h2o Reply with quote

Microbusdeluxe wrote:
Neil,
I have a cherry '81 Westy Cali model. When my aircooled dies I'm planning on the Bostig conversion. It sounds like you may have done the same thing. Any tips on getting the bus ready for a watercooled engine would be appreciated. Anybody else who's done so feel free to chime in. One thing I'd really like to preserve is the single grill. Can air be effectively routed through there to the radiator?

I live just across the line from Vancouver, BC (Bellingham). In fact we just came back from Whistler this weekend, you guys still have lots of snow!!

Thanks


Yes. Yes we do. And lots of water now too! Shocked

I have heard nothing but good things about Bostig.

Rad grill? Check the archives here. I recall at least one thread with mention of that. One response said something like 'yes. no problem with only one grill' I'd double check that. Personally I would do it with two.

Here's a couple of links from my website (this is for my Jetta 2.0 install. Some of this obviously doesn't apply to the Zetec)

http://tubaneil.googlepages.com/partsyouneed

http://tubaneil.googlepages.com/linkstoconversionworkdone

There are things that could be done ahead of time, though some of this will cause loss of heat due to big paper tube removal.

Procure and prep/paint parts. Install rad+fan and rough-in/test fan and relay+thermal sensor wiring. Rough-in wires/gauges for coolant temp etc., and wires for hi/low oil pressure (assuming Zetec has both senders) etc. (I used the Vanagon hi/low warning unit with my Jetta engine. Works fine) Install heater core, or better yet rebuild a WBX heat exchange box and install the heater core in that. I'm guessing (as I used my '81 box) but a WBX heat exchange box w/o AC would be the way to go. Still it would be nice to have ready to bolt in when dash off. Install heater core hoses and deal with "cover" at hole through to exterior underneath. Heat control valve. (in hindsight, I should have used a Home Drippo valve..... f'n new VW Vanagon valve is leaking) FWIW, on my '81, the long cables to the air cooled heat control flaps at rear, contained the same type of control cables as used up front. Maybe the Cali '80 does too. Handy if you need to redo the cables from control levers to heat exchange box. And FWIW, I used an '85 WBX parts Vanagon. Though not a big deal, it helped keep the cooling system true to one design. If that makes sense. Long pipes and hoses to rad could be pre-installed, (POR-15 !) maybe even heater core hoses though personally I'd wait till I knew where connections "were at" in the engine bay first before doing that.

Whew! I'd forgotten how much work it was! Wink

Neil.
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1981 Westy air cooled to 15 ABA swap: http://tinyurl.com/y9n4xob8

50 ABA Swap in to '88 Westy: http://tinyurl.com/yap5hpwt

Vanagon VAG GAS engine swap Google Group:
https://tinyurl.com/2f24rmh

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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:41 am    Post subject: Re: aircooled to h2o Reply with quote

danfromsyr wrote:
in the AC vans with A/C they mounted the condensor in the same spot w/o opening the lower valence for airflow.


I've seen air-cooled vans with A/C that indeed had the lower grille added. My theory as to why many don't is that the A/C was a dealer add-on and many dealers didn't bother with cutting and adding the lower grille.

Andrew
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ChesterKV
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:57 am    Post subject: Re: Water to Air conversion Reply with quote

vw54john wrote:
Sorry if this topic has been covered before. I searched but couldn't find what I needed to know. I'm considering buying a watercooled Vanagon with a blown engine. Since I'm kind of an air cooled guy and know these engines better, I was wondering what you folks think about scrapping the water cooled engine and all of it's troublesome components and putting in an aircooled engine. Has anybody done it? What are the pros and cons? Thanks!



Lol.... I vote this the worst idea for 2009 - so far. Shocked



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tencentlife wrote:
Hoping to build something even bigger for my Syncro, like a super-torque 2.4, and after sufficient testing unleash it on the world.


Put me on the waiting list for that beyatch! Seriously
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oasis
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just sort of reading away here and I have a very basic question and a very basic suggestion with the usual caveats ...

Is there a site that explains what tencentlife does with water-coolers?

With the main caveats being I don't know diddly squat about this, I have never considered this, and in fact, I have never even read anything about this ... there is a special forum at the ShopTalkForums for using a water-cooled engine as the basis of an air-cooled engine. They have tabbed it (rather cleverly in my opinion) as a Type V engine.

This is the link to that particular forum's sticky. You can back out and view any thread by left-clicking the "Wasserboxer/Oxyboxer Type V Forum" portion of "Shoptalkforums.com Forum Index -> Wasserboxer/Oxyboxer Type V Forum" near the top of the page.
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vw54john
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for your input! I don't care about heat in the winter, cause I'll only be driving it in the summer and I don't much care about any air conditioning. Concensus among you folks, I guess, is to put some kinda H2O engine it it, which I'm really not intereseted in undertaking. I just wanted to know if an AC engine would be a simple bolt-up. Sounds like the biggest obstacle is sealing up the engine compartment.

Chester - I've owned watercooled Vanagons before. I wouldn't agree that this is the worst idea in the world, as I got fed up with leaky heads and plumbing and overheating. I also have access to a nice AC engine. I was just wondering what kind of effort it would be to do this.

Again, thanks all. Maybe I'll just skip the idea.
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