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Rocky Mountain Westy SVX conversion journal
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Rubber Tramp
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:12 pm    Post subject: Rocky Mountain Westy SVX conversion journal Reply with quote

I've been out traveling the Rockies in my 85 2wd 1.9L westy and am very unhappy at the performance of the stock engine. I've been interested in the svx conversion ever since I first had the van, but after driving mountain passes in a 1.9 I've been dying for an upgrade.

The other day when I got home from work I noticed a stream of coolant coming from the engine.. I'm not exactly sure where it's coming from, I think my water pump is bad. Instead of hunting down the problem and fixing it, I think it's the perfect time to do the svx conversion Very Happy

I ordered the RMW conversion kit today, along with the stage 2 clutch. Mike is very helpful! thanks!

I may have found my engine as well, I should know for sure in a couple days. It's a '95 3.3 OBD1 with 81,000 miles. Complete engine for $1,100 and I can get the ecu and harness for a couple hundred more. The engine is from a car with a shot tranny.

I plan on doing all maintenance work while the engine is out... replace sensors, filters, gaskets, hoses, belts, water pump, all those goodies. I'll be chopping the wiring harness myself. Also adding the small car Stage 1 v5 ECUTune kit.

I'm still debating on whether to send my trans to AA transaxle for a rebuild and taller 3rd and 4th gears.. I'm on a somewhat tight budget so I'm not sure yet.

I'll keep a price list going and update as soon as things get going.
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1985 SVX powered Westy - soon to be converted to syncro


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^^^Rocky Mountain Westy SVX rebuild and conversion^^^
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Alaric.H
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

3rd 4th and oiling plates upgraded 3-4 slider 2 1.88 if you can find it.
Taller tires.
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j_dirge
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:20 am    Post subject: Re: Rocky Mountain Westy SVX conversion journal Reply with quote

Rubber Tramp wrote:


I'm still debating on whether to send my trans to AA transaxle for a rebuild and taller 3rd and 4th gears.. I'm on a somewhat tight budget so I'm not sure yet.

Unless your transmission has been complaining you can get by for awhile without rebuilding. (Or so the wise ones have told me..)

Do the engine swap.. get it running.. drive it.. see how you like the power range, as it relates to your type of driving.. THEN rebuid the transmission and change gearing as you see fit. That buys you a year or two before you have to come up with another stack of Vanagon bucks.

Just avoid burnouts and mud boggin until you do.

At least thats my plan. But I'm rebuilidng my suspension and upgrading brakes first.. just installed 225/75r16, which will likely "correct" most of my gearing issues for HWY cruising/mpg)

One step at a time.


Congrats on the SVX. 81,000 mles? WOW!
Tough to find those low mile engines.. especially ODBI.
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-89 GL Westy, still humming along under the power of a used "WBXer of mystery"
-57 pan f/g buggy with a 67 pancake Type 3 "S"

"Jimi Hendrix owned one. Richard Nixon did not"
-Grand Tour, Season 1, episodes 4 and 5

danfromsyr wrote:
those are straight line runs with light weight race cars for only 1/4mile at a time..
not pushing a loaded brick up a mountain pass with a family of 4+ inside expecting to have an event free vacation..
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Raynor Shine
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with j-dirge here. consider it a project. as long as your tranny is ok, you could wait on it and start saving the 1,000 t0 1400 bucks.

I had mine rebuilt by AAA, but didnt get the taller gears. My initial path was a 2.2, but the svx was local and too temping. I havent had any issues climbing the Az/UT/nm mountain grades.

RMW- is a good crew to deal with too.
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Mr. Electric Wizard
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RT, I know a guy in Wells Branch (north of Austin) that's running an SVX.
If you want the guys phone number I can get it to you.
BTW, are you a member of the Texas Coalition of Buses yet?
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funagon
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The taller transmission gearing may not be necessary if your new engine revs to higher RPM's. I agree with jdirge: drive it with the SVX and then decide whether you need different gearing. Replacing a transmission is easier than an engine conversion, so you can always decide to upgrade the trans later.
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Rubber Tramp
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll be upgrading to 15 inch wheels and BFG A/T tires by the end of this year.

I don't have many problems with the tranny, sometimes it's a bit hard to get into certain gears but I wouldn't say it's a problem just yet. I guess it would be smarter to wait and see how it holds up after I do the conversion. That would save me about $1500.

Mr. Electric Wizard: Thanks I would love that guys phone number! I'm not a member and not even familiar with it but I'll check it out.


update on the engine.. the 81,000 mile engine is from a recycling company. They say the engine is fine and ran tests and that it came from not a wrecked car but one with a broken transmission, as it seems the tranny usually goes out first on SVX's. It sounds like a steal but I'm not sure how comfortable I feel getting an engine not knowing it's history, and then taking the chance of having to spend more money shortly after on repairs..

My other option is going with CCRengines in Denver. They seem like a well respected company as Bill, I think is his name at CCR, told me today that Mike at RMW buys his engines. These are completely remanufactured engines. I can get a complete engine for a quoted price of around $6000.

Since I was planning to replace most of the accessories on the 81,000 engine, it might just be better and more cost efficient later down the road to go with CCR.

Very roughly, it's only about a $3,000 difference in upgrading to CCR. I would also get a 3 year/50,000 mile warranty with CCR.
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1985 SVX powered Westy - soon to be converted to syncro


http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=382910
^^^Rocky Mountain Westy SVX rebuild and conversion^^^
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wildenbeast
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rubber Tramp wrote:
They say the engine is fine and ran tests and that it came from not a wrecked car but one with a broken transmission, as it seems the tranny usually goes out first on SVX's.

Alaric.H wrote:
3rd 4th and oiling plates upgraded 3-4 slider 2 1.88 if you can find it.


For any engine that has higher torque than stock, it would be a good idea to start saving for that transmission, especially the oiling plates and 3-4 slider that Alaric mentioned.
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Escorial Syncro Premium Member
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dang, those are big numbers for acquiring a motor. Are you in a giant hurry? With a little patience I would think you could find a running SVX car that you could get a little more history on for much less cash. Here in CO I frequently see SVX's with bad trannys on craigslist for $1000 or lower. Maybe in different parts of the country they are more scarce. I just checked the Samba classifieds and there's two SVX's there.

I guess with a motor that has a pretty good reputation for reliability I feel just fine about having $1K-$2K into a good used motor with fresh seals and timing belt rather than $6K into one all rebuilt. My SVX long block had 120K on it, and my harness and sensors came from a car with 88K. I've had zero motor issues in the 2 years that setup has been in my van. Uses no oil, just fires right up whenever I need it and loves to be run hard.

But that's just my $.02. I'm sort of cheap, but I totally understand if somebody had the cash and time to do a sweet white-glove conversion with all new/rebuilt stuff. That's a great way to go if you can.

Regardless you'll LOVE the motor. Have fun!
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Current driver: 1987 Syncro Westy poptop, ALH TDI @ 15 degrees
Project: 1985 Westy with 1990 Syncro running gear, ALH @ 50 degrees, Stage 4 "clutch saver" tune, trans with all GT gears, R/P and trans cooler and mainshaft oiling.
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Rubber Tramp
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am in somewhat of a hurry, I have no vehicle until I finish the conversion.

I understand where you're coming from and agree that if you find the right used engine it will last with no problems. I always think about the "what if's" though. Like what if I get this used 81,000 engine and then in a year from now it craps out on me.. at least if I went with CCR the warranty would cover that. You're right it is big numbers, I'm just trying to determine whether it's worth paying the extra.. tough decision Think
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http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=382910
^^^Rocky Mountain Westy SVX rebuild and conversion^^^
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wasserbox
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rubber Tramp wrote:
My other option is going with CCRengines in Denver. They seem like a well respected company as Bill, I think is his name at CCR, told me today that Mike at RMW buys his engines. These are completely remanufactured engines. I can get a complete engine for a quoted price of around $6000.


If you don't have to have it right away, I'd shop around a little more. I ended up with a 100K complete car for $800. Since I got that, I've seen several more come up for $1000 or less. Mine was a little bit of a gamble, but it cost me about $1.50 in a wire jumper to get it running once I got it home...

I mean - if you're in DFW, how much good is a 36K warranty from Denver going to do you?

I'd be curious how much the conversion kit ended up costing you - pmessage if you want. I'm still kicking around RMWesty vs SmallCar - other expenses (like imminent need for a 3/4 ton pickup) have backburnered my conversion... possibly til late next spring.
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mblotz
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Joel, $6K for a rebuilt motor would be pretty sweet, or i can go out and buy 6-7 used motors that are notorious for being bullit proof. I spent $1000 for my whole SVX, even drove it home with 3rd gear only for 30 miles. I actually do plan on picking up a spare motor someday if one comes my way, but not activiely looking. If i planned on spending $6K on a motor, i might rethink everything and look more towards TDI swap, you'll be there $wise. My entire SVX swap was under $3500 i think (need to pull out the receipts).

and leave the tranny for now, i dont think they need regearing with a the SVX (although i am a syncro guy). but when the torque starts to show its wear, send it out or swap in another good used. by then you will know for sure any gearing you may want to change.

and you will love the SVX.
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Rubber Tramp
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well thanks everyone for your opinions, it's all really helping.

I guess I'm still in the wbx mindset and wanting to get the best of the best. If the svx's are really as strong as everyone claims then maybe this 81,000K engine is a good deal. I would also save on shipping charges as this recycle company is local.

wasserbox- I'll start a price list once I get all the purchases made. I'm waiting on an invoice from RMW right now so I should have that up soon. The svx kit itself is 4,100. The stage 2 clutch is about 375
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1985 SVX powered Westy - soon to be converted to syncro


http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=382910
^^^Rocky Mountain Westy SVX rebuild and conversion^^^
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Mr. Electric Wizard
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rubber Tramp wrote:
Well thanks everyone for your opinions, it's all really helping.

I guess I'm still in the wbx mindset and wanting to get the best of the best. If the svx's are really as strong as everyone claims then maybe this 81,000K engine is a good deal. I would also save on shipping charges as this recycle company is local.

wasserbox- I'll start a price list once I get all the purchases made. I'm waiting on an invoice from RMW right now so I should have that up soon. The svx kit itself is 4,100. The stage 2 clutch is about 375


Check your PM's.
I just sent you my buddy's email address.
He can help you.
Very Happy
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izzydog
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Run the VIN on that SVX motor on Car Fax. Yes, there is a VIN on the motor. You won't really know the condition of the motor, ie how it was driven etc, but at least you'll know the mileage. Junkyards and JDM dealers have a nasty habit of be "optimistic" with mileage. Do not trust them. If you can't hear that motor run and do a compression check I would at least do a leak down test. A motor that really has 80K on should do well in a leak down. Don't let the junkyard do the leak down. Take it somewhere. If all of this testing talk makes the junkyard hinky - walk away.

Here's a pic of the stamp. Find the back of the left head. Its across from the head on the engine's tranny flange. In this pic, you are looking at the left side of the engine where it bolts to the tranny, right behind the left head. There are other numbers on that flange but the VIN is on the left side, perpendicular to the floor.

If this is really an 80K motor, its worth pursuing. Start with the VIN and let us know what happens.


http://vickersdesign.com/vanagon/vin_stamp.jpg
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Gorge Runner
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raynor Shine wrote:
I agree with j-dirge here. consider it a project. as long as your tranny is ok, you could wait on it and start saving the 1,000 t0 1400 bucks.

I had mine rebuilt by AAA, but didnt get the taller gears. My initial path was a 2.2, but the svx was local and too temping. I havent had any issues climbing the Az/UT/nm mountain grades.

RMW- is a good crew to deal with too.


This is really good advice. I didn't change the ratio of 3rd and 4th, just went with extra strong racing gears. I also upgrade my tire/wheel to roughly 27" diameter and that made a huge difference in low end acceleration.

Last month I traveled to SE Oregon with a friend who had taller 3rd and 4th gears installed and then added 31" tires, so he commonly has to drive in third on a grade, always has to downshift up hills and therefore couldn't keep up with my rig going over the same terrain. To top it off, his mileage isn't so hot either. Now, he has a 2.5l Subie, and I know its a huge difference in torque, etc. The point is don't under estimate the impact of tires on the final drive ratio.


Marc
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Rubber Tramp
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys for the pointers. I'll hold off on the tranny for another time.

izzydog: I could maybe get the VIN, but I'm not sure. The company is local, but the engine is in their warehouse in Atlanta so there's no way I could see the engine until I make the purchase and get it shipped here. I'll call tomorrow and see if I can get the VIN.
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http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=382910
^^^Rocky Mountain Westy SVX rebuild and conversion^^^
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izzydog
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh? If they are telling you that you have to buy it before you see it then you need to walk away from these guys. That is crazy. They should assume the costs of getting their engines shipped around the country so people can see them before they buy them. If they balk at getting you the VIN, you'll know they are weasels. If it were me, I'd tell them to ship the motor so I can look at it. Why would they object if the motor is such a low mileage jewel? A motor with a real 80K will sell quickly. Tell them you'll split the shipping if you buy the motor. Without being able to see the motor and do a visual exam and a leak down, they could be selling you a boat anchor with 80K on it. 80K means nothing if the PO was some street racing yahoo. This whole thing sounds really fishy, IMHO. Get the motor shipped to you and go from there. DO NOT buy it without seeing it and sign NOTHING.
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j_dirge
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

izzydog wrote:
Huh? If they are telling you that you have to buy it before you see it then you need to walk away from these guys. That is crazy. They should assume the costs of getting their engines shipped around the country so people can see them before they buy them. If they balk at getting you the VIN, you'll know they are weasels. If it were me, I'd tell them to ship the motor so I can look at it. Why would they object if the motor is such a low mileage jewel? A motor with a real 80K will sell quickly. Tell them you'll split the shipping if you buy the motor. Without being able to see the motor and do a visual exam and a leak down, they could be selling you a boat anchor with 80K on it. 80K means nothing if the PO was some street racing yahoo. This whole thing sounds really fishy, IMHO. Get the motor shipped to you and go from there. DO NOT buy it without seeing it and sign NOTHING.

word!
_________________
-89 GL Westy, still humming along under the power of a used "WBXer of mystery"
-57 pan f/g buggy with a 67 pancake Type 3 "S"

"Jimi Hendrix owned one. Richard Nixon did not"
-Grand Tour, Season 1, episodes 4 and 5

danfromsyr wrote:
those are straight line runs with light weight race cars for only 1/4mile at a time..
not pushing a loaded brick up a mountain pass with a family of 4+ inside expecting to have an event free vacation..
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levi
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

izzydog wrote:
Huh? If they are telling you that you have to buy it before you see it then you need to walk away from these guys. That is crazy. They should assume the costs of getting their engines shipped around the country so people can see them before they buy them. If they balk at getting you the VIN, you'll know they are weasels. If it were me, I'd tell them to ship the motor so I can look at it. Why would they object if the motor is such a low mileage jewel? A motor with a real 80K will sell quickly. Tell them you'll split the shipping if you buy the motor. Without being able to see the motor and do a visual exam and a leak down, they could be selling you a boat anchor with 80K on it. 80K means nothing if the PO was some street racing yahoo. This whole thing sounds really fishy, IMHO. Get the motor shipped to you and go from there. DO NOT buy it without seeing it and sign NOTHING.


Good advice there. The rarity of an 81,000 mile svx motor combined with this tactic makes it a creepy deal. Happy halloween! Bwahhaaaaaha!
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