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Stigma attached to the WBX?
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seabeesMCB9
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:55 am    Post subject: Stigma attached to the WBX? Reply with quote

First off, please know that this post is not being written to flame anyone.There are more posts every day inquiring into engine swaps and I was wondering why. I have owned a Syncro and was pleased with the way it ran. It was not a Westy so I do not know of the lack of power because of the added weight. This seems to be one of the major complaints. The other is obviously the head gasket issue. We now know the causes of the lack of power and gasket failures (i.e. too low of a compression ratio and incorrect coolant), and yet there still seems to be few rebuilds going on. These little engines seem quite durable and I feel that with a updated approach, (balancing, higher compression, cam specs, headers,etc.) they could still be a viable alternative to a swap. Am I way off base? It also seems more cost effective than most swaps. What do you guys think? Please educate me.
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240Gordy
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you will still have the old air/fuel system, the old ignition system, the old electrical harness . . . the NLA engine compartment hoses. All that vacuum hose stuff all over the place.
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Perales
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love my 2.1L WBX.
I have no plans to swap anything. With that said, it is a 25 year old obsolete engine with a growing number of parts either NLA or made in China. Many of the conversion options tend to address the problem of vanishing parts supply by going to a more modern motor with available parts. (Subaru for instance). As I see it, the added power that they offer is a bonus, not the prime reason.
Flame on.
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madmax25
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no complaints about either of my 2.1s, except that they're getting old and leak a bit. Already done the top end of one of them, someday I'll have to do the other to fix the head gaskets. As far as power, I just keep in mind that I'm working with 90 hp and don't drive like it's a new car. They are what they are. (and I happen to love the sound of the 2.1s- kinda loud and throaty, but no actual muscle behind it Laughing )
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ccisco
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:11 am    Post subject: engine swap Reply with quote

Very Happy Just my two cents: It would be hard to take a 2.1, roughly 90 HP and get it up to the 135 or so hp that the older 2.2 subies give you. In addition, you are still looking at the old pushrod technology with the WB's, while with the subies, or Ztech you are looking at overhead cam, and many other modernizations. Despite this, I think you are correct: when maintained, the waterboxer has been a pretty good, although grossly underpowered engine. What has made me move towards a subie conversion are: More power and the ability to find affordable parts. Parts for the waterboxer are becoming less and less available, the cases are starting to show a high degree of metal fatigue, like the head studs breaking, and the parts you do find are becoming lower and lower in quality yet higher and higher in price.
My subie conversion is going to end up costing me about 2000 dollars (all lobor by me), which is jus a little bit more than doing a cheapo rebuild on a boxer...
Charles
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onwardtothestars
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

one could easily replace all the old systems with something new like 034 IA/B/C or megasquirt, vems, etc... There's ways around all the NLA hoses too.

I've had my Syncro for almost a year and coming from no previous WBX experience I'm actually impressed with my WBX despite it's lack of power. If I had the money burning a hole in my pocket now I'd buy a engine from tencent, for a simple upgrade in power.
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jeroland
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I would agree that it's almost always more financially viable to fix the problem you're having, than to swap out the entire engine, which is why I'm still running a WBX in my van. However, if you're faced with having to replace the engine anyway, then why not spend a couple grand extra and get a nice, reliable more powerful engine (either Subaru or VW) put in that will ultimately greatly increase the value of your van. Also, 90hp may have been sufficient in the 1980s but by today's standards it is simply not enough to keep up on the highways, especially for a syncro. If my engine blew up, I probably wouldn't even consider putting in another WBX.
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0to60in6min
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have 89' non-westy vanagon, WBX. It runs fine...

It runs fine.....till I load it up for camping trip and start to climb a moderate incline.... and then I feel like the whole rig IS a road hazard.... and get hassled even by a heavy loaded 18 wheeler...

for those who never go where the road climb .. please forget this post...

Sooo....I am toying with the idea of a conversion... and the above is 90% of the reason.. the other sad 10% is my favorite mechanic do not service any Subie.. don't even want to hear about a conversion...

Cool
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240Gordy
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

onwardtothestars wrote:
one could easily replace all the old systems with something new like 034 IA/B/C or megasquirt, vems, etc... There's ways around all the NLA hoses too.

I've had my Syncro for almost a year and coming from no previous WBX experience I'm actually impressed with my WBX despite it's lack of power. If I had the money burning a hole in my pocket now I'd buy a engine from tencent, for a simple upgrade in power.


ya so bring it on. Lets see somebody put together a plug and play FI and ignition kit. CB Performance has one for air cooleds for +- $1800.00
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WestyBob
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:03 am    Post subject: Re: Stigma attached to the WBX? Reply with quote

There's nothing wrong or bad about the 2.1 wbxer. In fact it turned out to be as good as any other engine of it's era.

It is underpowered for the vanagon in some applications.

Due to what others said about age and parts, people are converting to keep their rigs alive.

Plenty of good conver options depending on your skill level, performance needs and finances.

Subie engines are the most popular conver largely because of their availability, fitment and reliability (if you get a clean one to begin with).

Three of my four have subies, one has the stock. I like them all but a more modern engine with better performance and torque, depending on your needs, enormously increases the enjoyment of retaining and driving a vanagon. And hopefully you'd have substantially improved reliability.
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D Clymer
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the wbx makes a great engine for 2wd passenger vans. It provides a completely adequate power level, is smooth, and can be serviced at any repair shop - a real consideration when it comes to conversions and non-mechanic owners.

IMO, Syncros, campers, and automatics make a good case for considering a conversion since I have found the performance more wanting on all of these.

As others have noted, the basic engine can be quite durable when put together properly. I think the biggest problem facing the wasserboxer is the extremely high cost of replacement accessory parts. Once you start pricing out replacement exhaust components, cooling system parts, and Digifant components you are approaching the price of the conversion parts for a Subaru conversion.

The nice thing about the Vanagon scene is that there is something for everybody at this point when it comes to engine choices. Staying with the wbx is certainly an understandable route. As a VW owner from way back I personally like the fact that the wbx represents the highest evolution of the Type 1 engine. If they'd just done the head gasket design better, it could have been a legendary engine for VW.

David
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PDXWesty
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like my WBX. I have a 5500# Westy and it still climbs over Mt hood at 50 mph. I'll probably go with a 2.2 or a 2.4 if I ever need to rebuild.
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j_dirge
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like my 2.1, fine.. but I want an SVX..
cuz.. well.. its a beast with lots more oomph.

I'm planning on keeping the 2.1, though.
Maybe doing a cursory rebuild with my son, if he's interested.. and putting it into a buggy. A Manx-like rig.

If I wasn't interested in the added power of the SVX and if I wasn't interested in the experience of doing a swap myself.. Well.. I'd be happy with the 2.1. It does need a rebuild though. At 173ish k its getting tired.
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kevtherev
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm enjoying my 2.1 DJ.. 112 bhp.

more than enough power for our camping trips..

it's not a GTO or anything now is it..huh?
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CessnaJon
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love my waterboxer.
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whynotvw
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i have subaru 2.2 ej22 right now. i say to myself how did i ever drive the wassserboxer. it is night and day. there is a used japanese motor shop one minute from my house and a complete ej22 engine with 40-60k miles goes for $700 out the door.


imo, if you can afford the conversion it is worth it.
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levi
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My reason for swapping out was financial, not really about power, or the additional couple 1,000 on the power band, though that's nice to have.

While I was actually satisfied with the power of the 1.9 that I had, it was closing in on 250,000 miles.

To have someone rebuild the wbx would have cost the same as for me to swap out to 2.2 suby myself.

Then add that if the suby motor dies I can replace with another jdm for about 1000$, but the same situation for the wbx would cost about 3x's that.
Seemed like a no-brainer. Smile
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vannygun
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a 90 2wd gl(not westy). It drove adequate(sp) that wasn't my main reason for doing my swap(I am in the first week of the swap), but it was a contributing factor. I also am not happy with the parts situation on the old wbx. I have the subaru2.2 on and engine stand right now and just looking at it I am impressed. There is so much more thought and inovation on this engine. I am happy with the decision to do the swap and I havent even taken out the wbx yet. I will be right around $2k when all said and done. $500 for donor car(drove it home) $1200-1300 in conversion only parts and $200-300 in extras(new gaskets,O-rings,oil filter,belts etc. The price alone is worth it to me. By the way I will have a good engine that needs a new home(heads are pitted though) in a couple weeks. Can't wait to drive it in my 3600 LB van.
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AndyBees
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:47 pm    Post subject: WBX performance Reply with quote

Until a couple of years ago, my experience with the WBX engine was very limited (helped my uncle with tune-ups, etc., at his auto repair service).

I've owned a non-Westy '83 Air-cooled since 1985... driven it to Alaska and back 7 times (also, 225 miles north to the Arctic Circle 3 times). I can remember trips (4 of us) with it loaded so heavy I thought it would not make the trip! It did okay. Of course, I did not drive over 65 mph... occassionally hit 70 mph (real speed).

However, in the fall of '07, I purchased a nice '84 WBX for the purpose of following my dream ....... TDI engine transplant! I've been impressed with the little 1.9 WBX engine... lots of pep and runs smooth as silk! Of course, I did do some tune-up and other maintenace work to it early on.

If anyone is interested in my ALH TDI (VW Diesel) engine transplant, you can follow it at: http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=276798 photos of tranny rebuild, graph on gearing, electrical mod info, oil pan mod, etc.

There are other VW bus/vanagon conversions in progress there as well!


Last edited by AndyBees on Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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RGS Paul
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really like the wasserboxer and plan on keeping it for a long time. I'm getting ready to build one of the GW 2300 kits to replace the slightly tired 2.1 that is in the Syncro now, should be just enough power to help on the hills in Colorado. I haven't seen a conversion that does really well in the Syncro and meets all my criteria. The closest thing is the m-TDI swaps but they are mucho expensive and very custom. My ideal engine? Oettinger 2500E, now that would be a sweet setup.

Paul
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