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Post-mortem - a water-cooled conversion in a 1972
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Sloride
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 5:31 pm    Post subject: Post-mortem - a water-cooled conversion in a 1972 Reply with quote

Part 1 - I'll post the rest later......



Normally most people post their project pictures and provide updates as they are working on it. I on the other hand have been too busy in the garage to post and besides I had to wait until I had the project sorted to my liking before sharing. I hope this post, albeit long, will help others thinking of doing the same.
Before I start, I want to thank Tristessa, Krautski, Cooknbus, Greenbuspilot, Bansheelos, Bendejo, Vanagon Nut, Mr.Unpopular, Denwood and anyone else from the Samba that has posted their projects and/or responded to my PMís. You all know how it can get a little lonely in the garage without having someone to steal/borrow ideas from. Thank you.

Iíd also like to thank my neighbour for being my sounding board and taking over the welding when it needed to not only be strong enough to hold the motor but also look a little better.

Lastly, this is starting to sound like an Oscar speech I know, Iíd like to thank my family, including my brother, for providing me with the encouragement and all the garage time I needed.

I bought this bus almost 13 years ago. I got it from a friend of my brother who had purchased it from an older gentleman who had it for years. It was very solid but wasnít running. Like most of you, I purchased it on a gut feeling and said Iíll get it running and see if I like it. Since then I have never looked back.

Here is the first picture I have of the bus the night the flatbed dropped it off back at my brother's place in Newfoundland. This was December 27th, 2000. My Xmas gift to me.

We were trying to figure out how to get it up the hill and into his garage without it running. Put his dog behind the wheel and used a come-a-long.

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I travelled back and forth to Newfoundland from Ottawa over the next few months working on the bus with my Dad and my brother.

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I originally had it repainted and ran it at stock height for a couple of years.

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Here it is fresh out of paint and reassembled.

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Then I decided to lower it with dropped spindles and adjusting the torsion bars. I also added the BRMs.

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After a while, I removed the stock 1700 and replaced it with an 1800 and dual webers. It ran well for a few years and last year it dropped a valve and left me stranded for the first time since purchasing it on the side of the 401 outside of Toronto.

Tow dolly back to my place in Ottawa and ironically enough had to use the same come-a-long to pull it into my garage.

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Here is what the block looked like.

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I had been contemplating an engine conversion for some time and decided Iíd take the plunge. I had owned MK2 GTIís before and my brother is an early water-cooled guy so I went on the hunt for another. I posted a want ad on a local VW forum and found a one-owner low mileage car that was rusted beyond repair. It came with every receipt since new and ironically enough about 12 years ago I had purchased an identical car from this ownerís sister.

There were a couple of conditions that I had to meet when doing the conversion and I believe for the most part I respected them all.

1. The bus couldnít appear to have an engine swap i.e. no rad on the front bumper.
2. The least amount of modifications to the bus the better. Everything had to be easily reversible if I wanted to go back to air-cooled.
3. Lastly the motor had to fairly inexpensive, a decent power upgrade, all conversion parts needed to be readily available and it had to be easy to work on. Ideally it would be VW. Silly I know - but somehow I felt I need to respect this.

My two sons helped me strip the car. They really enjoyed it and from the sale of the parts and scrap metal I was able to make $1500 dollars. Minus the $500 purchase price I had a $ 1000 to offset the cost of the conversion.

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I cleaned up the motor, replaced valve stem seals, head gasket, rear-main seal and whatever else needed to be done including buying a new alternator and water pump.

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I ordered an adapter plate from kennedy and began reading every thread and web page on conversions I could find.

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I decided I would upgrade the 3 rib for a good used 6 rib transmission. I replaced all the seals and gave it a fresh coat of paint. I kept the 3 rib bell-housing and starter. Ordered a 200mm kennedy stage 1 pressure plate and sachs clutch disc.


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While I had the transmission removed I cleaned up the shifter rod and replaced all the bushings.

Having a 72 and no engine access panel was a challenge I wasnít ready to take on with an engine swap. Out came the grinder and in went the access panel. I donít know why I didnít do it years ago. Maybe it was because I was 13 years younger and crawling through the back hatch to change plugs and tune the carburetors wasnít as hard as it is today.

I tried using a bay access hatch and decided that it was too small especially given the effort required to install it. I wanted something that would be larger and went with a metal vanagon hatch. I removed three or four inches in width and in length. Removed the support brace and welded it on the vertical plane so it wouldnít interfere with the throttle linkage of new motor.

Look at the grey hair! What a difference compared to 13 years ago.

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_________________
1972 Westfalia - 1.8 VW in-line h2o conversion
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Link to the engine swap:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=565304&highlight=

1964 Ruby Red Beetle

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=705757&highlight=ruby+red


Last edited by Sloride on Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:16 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Sloride
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 2

Here are some more pictures of the hatch I made.

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I then started fixing the access holes that the PO had put in the rear deck for the fuel lines and fuel filler hose. This gave me a real chance to try my new welder. I couldnít get anywhere with just the flux core and decided to borrow my neighbours argon tank. It was like night and day. I could control the heat much better. Later that week I went to buy a tank for myself.

I think it turned out pretty good for spray can colour match.

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Between welding, sanding and painting the rear deck I tackled the engine mounts. I decided to use the VW fox engine mounts with the bus engine carrier bar and bus engine mounts (cut and flipped). I moved the engine carrier bar forward to line up with the engine and welded it to the frame rails. (If I had my time back I would have drilled and reinforced the frame so the bar could be bolted as per stock mounting points of the air-cooled motor).

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_________________
1972 Westfalia - 1.8 VW in-line h2o conversion
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Link to the engine swap:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=565304&highlight=

1964 Ruby Red Beetle

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=705757&highlight=ruby+red
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Sloride
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 3....

Next on the list was the rad. I wanted it to be tucked up as high as I could go with the fan on the top pushing down. It needed to be hidden but functional.

It was a pain in the butt to work on given my bus is lower than stock. The rad was a kijji find (your version of Craigís list). It was brand new. It is from a v8 dodge Dakota. I also found a good deal on a big single electric fan flex-a-lite 398. I installed it but didnít like the fact it interfered with the shifter rod unless the rad hung down further than I wanted.

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I decided to purchase two smaller flex-a-lites Ė model 392. Combined they have almost the same CFM as the larger fan and they could be placed on the rad to stagger the shift rod and therefore allowing me to tuck the rad up higher. The fans are controlled by a jegs adjustable fan control kit.
Insert rad second version.

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For rad hoses I followed Tristessaís suggestion and used the GATES green stripe hoses that most guys with vanagons use to replace their coolant lines. I routed them over the rear axle and protected them by placing a section of larger hose over them wherever there was contact with anything.

While the engine was out I removed the firewall and fuel tank. Both were cleaned up and painted. The fuel tank had a few surprises in it. I found this small collection of rocks and stick from some beach in Newfoundland where I bought the bus 13 years earlier. Who knows how long they were in the tank.

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I also added a fuel return line to the tank. I ran as much steel fuel line as I could from the fuel rail on the motor back to the tank. It got a little tricky bending it all but I think it worked out. Double-clamped for extra safety. You can see where I damaged my newly painted firewall with the brake booster outlet on the back of the intake. That firewall was painted three times and when I was installing the motor with the intake on it got damaged again. I thought of removing it to repaint again but there is no way that is happening with the motor in.

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I was originally going to use the MK2 fuel pump and fuel box. I tried installing it under the bus and it just didnít look tidy. I actually have two of them and supposedly one is only 6 months old.

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I bit the bullet and bought a late bus/vanagon electric fuel pump and installed it on the frame rail the same way it is done in a FI bay window.

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Once the engine was installed I had to work on the exhaust. This required a little trial and error and in fact Iím still sorting issues with it.

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I first attempted to use the manifold and dual downpipe from a MK2. The angles along with the engine mount didnít work out (or I ran out of patience) so I switched to a single mk3 manifold and single downpipe.
Insert picture of dual downpipe.

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My neighbour helped with the fabrication and welding. We used 2.5 inch mandrel bent stainless left over from his hot rod build for the downpipe ( a tad too large but the price was right and we had it on hand). I ordered a flex pipe for a Chevrolet Malibu from the internet that had the right bend it for the turn and bolted on a magnaflow polished cat and muffler. It looked really good but was too loud.

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_________________
1972 Westfalia - 1.8 VW in-line h2o conversion
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Link to the engine swap:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=565304&highlight=

1964 Ruby Red Beetle

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=705757&highlight=ruby+red


Last edited by Sloride on Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sloride
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 4...

I then moved on to wiring. It was like trying to sort through spaghetti. This was the part of the job that I found most intimidating. I actually finished most of the job myself but called in one of my friends from our local club to help with the wiring of the relays and fans.

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You can see I decided to install the ECM in the driverís battery tray. I thought the wiring harness fell there naturally and looked cleaner. Bendejo has his installed in the same place.

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I stole Krautskiís idea for my intake and welded a small bracket to the alternator bracket. It worked out well.

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I also copied his idea for the overflow bottle and installed it with a bracket I made through the deck lid.

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Finally it was time for start-up. Turned the key and nothing. Realized I had left the positive wire from the bus off the coil. Put it on there and vroom Ė vroom. Sounded great except for an exhaust leak. Turns out we had forgot to finish welding one of the joints. It was only tacked on there.
_________________
1972 Westfalia - 1.8 VW in-line h2o conversion
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Link to the engine swap:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=565304&highlight=

1964 Ruby Red Beetle

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=705757&highlight=ruby+red


Last edited by Sloride on Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nepenthe88
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait, Wait!! So the radiator is mounted underneath between the frame rails? Can you take a pic of that for me as I'm currently mounting my rad and gave up on the undermount solution as it hung down too far... on a stock height bus!

Otherwise, looks great!

So, how does it drive in comparison to stock? Is it a daily driver? How far have you pushed it on a hot day? How well does it cool?

(ps, I'm that guy who posts every day after wrenching in the garage, but mostly it's cause I'm a noob mechanic who likes advice from the peanut gallery, AND cause I have a crap memory... My threads let me go back and see what I did. I'd be lost without it!)
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Sloride
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't worry those pictures are coming. I have been watching your thread and wished I had done the same as you and posted daily.

I have had the bus on the road now for three weeks. It is not a daily driver. I have taken it on a couple of long hauls in hot weather (5 hours on hwy in 100 plus). It didn't run hot but I needed the fans on constantly.

Stay tuned. I'll keep posting...

Craig
_________________
1972 Westfalia - 1.8 VW in-line h2o conversion
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Link to the engine swap:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=565304&highlight=

1964 Ruby Red Beetle

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=705757&highlight=ruby+red
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Nepenthe88
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sloride wrote:
Don't worry those pictures are coming.


Sorry, I jumped the gun a little didn't I, Haha! I think I got worried you were done posting and wanted MORE Very Happy I'll wait patiently from here on out.

Oh, and thanks for tuning in!
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Sloride
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 5.....


Once the engine was running I had to sort out a few of the smaller things. First on the list was the throttle linkage. I moved the original bus cable housing to the passenger side and my friend who helped me with the wiring machined a small adapter that accepted the bus housing on one side and a bicycle cable housing on the other side. I attached this onto the bolt holding the starter and then ran 1/18 wire rope (cable) back to the throttle body and hooked everything up. It is fairly smooth but requires a little more pressure than I would like on the gas pedal. I suspect it has to do with the turns. I did remove one of the throttle return springs so that made it a little better. I also had to add a small extension to the pedal level under the bus so I could get full throttle. While down there I upgraded the throttle pedal pushrod with a piece from Buttyís Bits. Really nice piece and it took the play out of the pedal completely.

http://www.buttysbits.com/throttle-kits1.html


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Having stared at a CHT gauge for the past decade I felt the need to have a water-temperature gauge. I had a small plug machined out of aluminum and drilled to accept the VDO temp sender. I installed it in the gooseneck on the head where the original MK2 sender would have been. A real slick piece and somewhat accurate according to the infrared thermometer.

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I also used a VW fox oil filter bracket. It is angled to clear the engine mount. I need to drill and tap this for my VDO oil temp sender.

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After sorting a bad coil wire that fried a new coil we finally took the bus on our first road trip two weeks ago to a VW show in Toronto. The bus cruises nicely at 70-75 miles an hour and I donít need to make the same run for the hills that I used to with the air-cooled motor. Iím not sure if the difference in cruising speed is more attributed to the 6 rib transmission or engine swap. I suspect it is as a result of both and Iím not complaining. All in all Iíd say it isnít a rocket but it is a fair bit quicker going onto the on-ramps and taking off from lights. I travelled in a convoy with my air-cooled friends. They have yet to disown me and I even think they might have been a little jealous of my new found power.

I ended up winning three awards - furthest travelled (five hours each way), top ten air-cooled with the caveat being it was my last time winning in air-cooled, and that was explained by the third award of best engineered for the conversion.

It ran really well but as suspected above the exhaust was a tad too loud. There was a horrible drone at about 60-65 mph. I couldnít hear the kids in the backseat. Perhaps not always a bad thing.

I also had an issue with the cooling system. While it didnít overheat the fans had to be on constantly in order to keep it under 200 degrees.

I decided to remove the cat and replace it with a vibrant performance polished stainless resonator. It really quietened things down but not enough so last weekend I removed the magnaflow and went on the hunt for a quieter muffler. While searching the local u-pick I found a small round muffler on a Chrysler New Yorker. Turns out it was the same one I was contemplating ordering from Summit Racing. It is a walker 18253. This muffler is a perfect fit for a bus. Now it is whisper quiet on idle and much quieter on the highway. No magnaflow drone! Here is the link for it.

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/wlk-18253


To deal with some of the engine compartment heat I covered the downpipe with header wrap. My logic was that the engine canít stay cool if it is sucking in hot air. It lowered the temperature of the downpipe from 700 to 500 degrees. I know some guys donít like it because it can make the pipes rust faster but it certainly has helped. The throttle seems to have a much better response than before. Iím guessing the intake isnít sucking in all that hot air.

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Iím still working on the rad and cooling issues. It has been very hot up here since it has been back on the road (100 degrees) and the fans are on too much. I donít think it is getting enough air-flow. I lowered the rad by about 2 inches in the front, added a small spoiler and sealed the space between the rad and the frame rails the best I could. The spoiler was a u-pull find from a Saturn. It seems to have made an improvement but the fans are still coming on the highway. I may have to lower the rear or go back to the drawing board. The pipe wrap you see zip-tied is there to help stop the hot air from coming back up into rad. It is temporary until I figure things out with the rad.

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Below is an estimate of the approximate cost of the conversion. This doesnít include all the trips to the fastener shop for stainless hardware or the regular maintenance items like new rotor, intake and exhaust gaskets, alternator, coil, distributor, spark plugs and wires. It should, all the same, give the next guy an idea.

Keep in mind I paid 500$ for the donor car and parted it out for 1500$. So all the cost below are to be offset by the 1000$.
Kennedy adapter plate plus shipping to Canada - 500$
Kennedy Stage 1 pressure plate and sachs clutch disc Ė 150$
Used 6 rib transmission and seal kit and shifter bushings Ė 550$
Polished stainless Maganflow cat and muffler 200$ (no longer using it Ė have to try and sell)
Used junkyard near new walker muffler Ė 8$
Various mandrel bent stainless exhaust clamps and pipes Ė 150$
New vibrant performance stainless polished resonator Ė 125$
MK3 exhaust manifold - 10$
Bosch electric fuel pump- 280$
Steel fuel line, fuel hose and clamps - 40$
Used Flex-a-lite 398 fan and fan control unitĖ 125$ (no longer using the 398 fan Ė need to sell)
Two new flex-a-lite 392 fans -275$
New radiator Ė 75$
Gates rad hose - $100
Throttle cable and pedal linkage- 50$
Vanagon hatch Ė 40$


Please feel free to pm me and ask whatever questions you like. Iíll do my best to help out.

I'll try and post some videos and some final engine and rad shots tomorrow.

Craig not so ďSlorideĒ
_________________
1972 Westfalia - 1.8 VW in-line h2o conversion
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Link to the engine swap:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=565304&highlight=

1964 Ruby Red Beetle

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=705757&highlight=ruby+red


Last edited by Sloride on Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:28 pm; edited 5 times in total
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webwalker
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nepenthe88 wrote:
Wait, Wait!! So the radiator is mounted underneath between the frame rails? Can you take a pic of that for me as I'm currently mounting my rad and gave up on the undermount solution as it hung down too far... on a stock height bus!

Otherwise, looks great!

So, how does it drive in comparison to stock? Is it a daily driver? How far have you pushed it on a hot day? How well does it cool?

(ps, I'm that guy who posts every day after wrenching in the garage, but mostly it's cause I'm a noob mechanic who likes advice from the peanut gallery, AND cause I have a crap memory... My threads let me go back and see what I did. I'd be lost without it!)


Take a look at the fellows speed shop design radiator. The scoop barely hangs below the rails, but you must cut a hole in the main leg of the ladder frame for the return. They sell a kit that makes this feasible by gusseting the area around the hole. It is a nice design that isn't too complicated and works quite well for the intended engine.

Marshall
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Sloride
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Webwalker,

I tried searching for fellows speed shop and all I could find was a shop own the uk where the rad costs 400 pounds and there were no pictures of a rad installed.

Is this the one you are talking about?
_________________
1972 Westfalia - 1.8 VW in-line h2o conversion
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Link to the engine swap:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=565304&highlight=

1964 Ruby Red Beetle

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=705757&highlight=ruby+red
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Bendejo
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sloride wrote:
Part 4...

Finally it was time for start-up. Turned the key and nothing. Realized I had left the positive wire from the bus off the coil. Put it on there and vroom Ė vroom.



I had the same problem. Laughing


Nice work, welcome to the club.
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webwalker
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sloride wrote:
Webwalker,

I tried searching for fellows speed shop and all I could find was a shop own the uk where the rad costs 400 pounds and there were no pictures of a rad installed.

Is this the one you are talking about?


That's the one. There are pictures, but the majority are on their Facebook site. As with most solutions, it is custom built. Once you see how it goes together and that it WORKS and keeps the engine cool....well, you can't patent physics. It is simply brilliant in its simplicity.

I've uploaded a summary of the pictures that I've pushed up to the gallery here:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_search.php?...ts=summary

Marshall
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

very nice, and i hear I may be seeing it this weekend in Syracuse VW show..

the 1.8l Digifant engine while not a powerhouse at 95-105hp is a nice little revvy motor that's taken my vanagon NY to fl (towing a 2nd van) to maine, to Tadoussac, Qc and up Mount washington in NH with nearly zero attention outside of oil changes..
reminds me I'm a year overdue on the oil change and I haven't replaced the plugs/cap/rotor since I installed it in 2010 for our NY to Fl trip..
logged over 1000miles on that trip towing a broken down vanagon in 3rd gear @ 55-60mph (4200~4500 roms constant for hours at a time) got 15mpg like that

stout little motors.. you will enjoy..
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till I talk to you about the newest development of 150hp AEB 1.8T engine with a passat 5spd into my 72 Bay project (idea stage at moment) Wink
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Stuartzickefoose
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

looks great! this is on the list for our 72 eventually too Smile


cant wait to put in a hatch on ours also Rolling Eyes so want one...
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tristessa
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stuartzickefoose wrote:
cant wait to put in a hatch on ours also Rolling Eyes so want one...

Keep an eye out for an early (metal) Vanagon hatch at the wreckers -- most of them are plastic.
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Stuartzickefoose
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tristessa wrote:
Stuartzickefoose wrote:
cant wait to put in a hatch on ours also Rolling Eyes so want one...

Keep an eye out for an early (metal) Vanagon hatch at the wreckers -- most of them are plastic.


i have heard that more than once...ill keep my eyes peeled. Smile
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Sloride
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm so relieved to see some familar names responding to my post. I was starting to think I was getting the samba conversion cold shoulder.

I trust you all approve of the project and can appreciate your ideas being paid forward and used elsewhere.

Dan, we are all planning to come to your show this weekend. You'll be able to check it out in person.

As for putting a hatch in a 72 you could make do with a baywindow hatch if you can't find a vanagon one. My orignal plan was to put a bay hatch and surround in but it just seemed like the same amount of trouble to graft it in as the vanagon hatch and the hole isn't quite large enough.

When cutting the hole don't do like I did and make it square and then have to go back and weld the rounded corners back in.

Craig
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1972 Westfalia - 1.8 VW in-line h2o conversion
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Link to the engine swap:
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=565304&highlight=

1964 Ruby Red Beetle

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=705757&highlight=ruby+red
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you can also graft in a Type-III hatch if you have a friend scrapping one out. they fit in w/o needing to be shrunk down like the vanagon hatch.
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Stuartzickefoose
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

danfromsyr wrote:
you can also graft in a Type-III hatch if you have a friend scrapping one out. they fit in w/o needing to be shrunk down like the vanagon hatch.


yeah, i have heard the vanagon hatch hits on the cabinets on campers, so a T3 was on the list as well.
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trevorbrady
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
There were a couple of conditions that I had to meet when doing the conversion and I believe for the most part I respected them all.

1. The bus couldnít appear to have an engine swap i.e. no rad on the front bumper.
2. The least amount of modifications to the bus the better. Everything had to be easily reversible if I wanted to go back to air-cooled.
3. Lastly the motor had to fairly inexpensive, a decent power upgrade, all conversion parts needed to be readily available and it had to be easy to work on. Ideally it would be VW. Silly I know - but somehow I felt I need to respect this.


I took the same approach with my conversion. Yours looks really nice, well done!

Have you considered any ducting under the bus to channel air to and from the radiator?
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