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My Vanagon Saga
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jslew
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:07 pm    Post subject: My Vanagon Saga Reply with quote

I'm needing some kind of therapy - I'm hoping this will help. My van is slowly turning me into the Jack Nicholson character from the Shining...

A year and a half ago, I flew from Denver to Boise & bought an '89 Vanagon GL. Rust free, a few dings, awesome interior, canadian rebuilt engine w/ unknown miles... overall a good base vehicle to make into a cross country driver. I made it home w/o AC in 100* heat in July w/ no problems.

Started doing maintenance, and at some point it developed an idle issue. Being an aircooled guy I've always been hesitant to get a car w/ FI, but i figured it was time to learn. Went thru the whole system testing & replacing parts. Took my time & started w/ the cheap stuff... 3 months later found the AFM was bad.

Drove around testing to make sure it was good before emissions... almost immediately started getting oil pressure alarm. I used 10W40 instead of 15w40 when i changed it. That got me curious how bad was my oil pressure if a small change did that? So, i added an oil pressure gauge. Now i could see how crappy the OP was. Played w/ oil pump shims, pressure relief valve shim, put in 20w50... got it to where there were no alarms, but OP at idle was barely 9psi and 3K RPM was maybe 22psi. Tried moving crankshaft but it seemed solid so I did a poor man rebuild. Changed rods too for no stretch bolts. Took measurements on everything (pistons, cyl, rings, rod bearings, etc...) - nothing was out of spec though things were on the loose side. Had a valve/head job done & realized there were no ridges/grooves under the valve keepers!!! I could have dropped a valve at any time! Changed all of the coolant hoses, put in a new radiator, put it back together and still crappy oil pressure!! OK, mains are shot! The van sat for a year!

Rebuilt the engine! Blueprinted everything. Used micrometers & bore guages & i can tell you any measurement. Balanced rods & had crank/flywheel/clutch done by denver balancing. Rebuild took 4 months. Changed all 28' of heater hose & front heater valve (old one was leaking). Put in new rear heater core w/ RJE adapter & Home Depot brass fittings.

Started break-in & testing of engine... everything went pretty good. Put about 60 miles on it and went for emissions. Noticed it was running a little warmer than normal, but highs were in the 30s and the needle never stopped touching the light. Passed emissions, but my gas cap failed - bastards!

Got a cap & went back for emissions. No cars in line - awesome. They pulled me onto the dyno... then off of the dyno. Tell me there's a coolant leak & say they cant test it. I pull around the corner & tighten up the leaky clamp on the plastic hose to the radiator. Bought some extra coolant across the street & I'm back for another test. Van on dyno - girl is giving it hell. I'm telling a guy that I'm worried about blowing a coolant hose when BLAM... white smoke everywhere!!! She shuts it down & they push it out to the curb. Metal end has pulled out of plastic hose & taken hose with it. I clamp the hose back on as best i can, put in what coolant i have left & drive across the street to get more. Crisis diverted, I feel ok & head for home. 3/4 of the way home temp needle starts climbing to the top. I shut it down & coast as much as i can. Two miles from home - PA-POW! The coolant level sensor has blown out of the expansion tank. I coast into a safe spot & call my wife for a tow. Further testing reveals the fan switch sensor was bad, as well as the brand new thermostat - which i didn't test - cuz it's new right? At this point I broke down & installed a stainless coolant pipe kit.

Finally passed emission!! Now i"m out trying to get some miles on it for break-in. Routine becomes: take it out for drive, then fix leaks... this went on for 3 weeks. First leak was brand new german front heater valve. I was pumped to do that twice! Second leak was in my brass fittings for rear heater core - fixed. Next is leak from both Heater hose Ts into main line - I had reused nice factory clamps, but upon removal a couple of them broke, so obviously they were not applying the correct amount of pressure. Next leak was from loose outlet on rear of passenger head - easy fix. Seems like i'm forgetting a bunch!

Made it to 300 miles & decided to do compression test to establish baseline. Got good numbers: 1)120 2)130 3) 130 4)125. With altitude correction that translates to like 143%-156%. But whats up with #1? Did leak down test & obvious hissing from intake valve. 16% leak on #1, #2 was 5%, #3 was 12% & #4 was 10%. Backed out adjusters, removed springs - still 16% leak. Tried spinning valves in seat - #1 exhaust moved smooth. #1 intake was very rough - so I pulled the head. There was a ridge on top of the used valve that the shop put in my #1 intake valve which wasn't allowing the valve to close all the way. An experienced, good machinist caught it in 2 secs. My new guy said that was one of the worst "valve jobs" he had ever seen. What sucks is it's a reputable VW shop. I took pics and plan on giving them hell next time i'm in.

Finally, another valve job and 2 gasket kits later, everything is back together. I'm pouring the oil (w 300 miles on it) thru a filter before i reuse it, and what do I see in the oil? Aaaarrrrrgggghhhhhhhh!!!!! COOLANT!

What sucks is on my second trip into the head i didn't change the black ring at the base of the cylinder. The old one has 300 miles on it, and i used reinzosil on it (sparingly). Had i known there was coolant in the oil i would have inspected them better and/or pulled them. I pretty much put my tail between my legs and admitted defeat!! I'm ready to put this thing in the barn for a few months! I filtered the oil and will do some driving tomorrow - then drain & see if there's any new coolant. Maybe it's a fluke... maybe when removing the head some coolant went down the cylinder? I know realistically I'm about to disassemble everything for the 3rd time, but I'll start w/ the easy stuff. Gonna look at the oil cooler... I wonder if the overheating episode may have caused some of my leaks - maybe it fried the oil cooler too? Beyond that I guess I'll try lightly pressurizing each coolant chamber & see if i hear any leaks into the main part of the case. So, the saga continues... Hope some of you got a kick out of my babbling. Always good to hear from someone who has it worse than you! I feel a little better. And now for some Crown.
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IdahoDoug
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! All I can say for the moment is that the Vanagon community needs more people like you!!
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kbeefy
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mmm.... Crown.... (there are no drunk, or drink emoticons. Someone fix this!)

you sound like you know your way around an engine bay. Should've swapped in a different motor to start with, then you could justify all the hassle!
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furrylittleotter
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therapy Question

Ok, sure, here goes:

Congratulations on displaying some pretty incredible sticktoitiveness!

You rock.

Neil2
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frau clink
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:32 am    Post subject: "YOUR SAGA" Reply with quote

If I were u, with all your problems, I couldn't sleep until I changed the Fuel Hoses!!! Smile Of coarse you appear to have covered that.
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These old Vans are a "Where do you Stop" conumdrum!

They need just a little bit more than you gave!

These are a "Modern" Antique. An early venture by the Automotive World into plastics, too much electronics, light weight fuel / cost saving components and failure prone items. These aren't at all simple and Solid like older Beetles / Buses were!

I've been doing engine / mechanical work for nigh unto a half century Shocked

One thing that I was taught is that you never EVER reuse seals and gaskets.

If you tightened it once and need to remove it for some reason...... Install a new one!

Maybe I'm all wet and you really don't need to replace these as I do.....but it's worked successfully for me for a longer time period than the majority of our Nation's population (and probably most reading this post) have been alive!

Keep at it, you've come this far! There's no backing down now!

Although.........
Your post is making me rethink about my decision to NOT install new Stainless Coolant Pipes! Think

Dave
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Zebu Fellenz
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the club! I've been sorely tempted a time ...or twenty to wash my van in gas and dry it with a match. Twisted Evil

Keep your head up, it gets better or so I've been told. Laughing
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RCB
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zebu Fellenz wrote:
Welcome to the club! I've been sorely tempted a time ...or twenty to wash my van in gas and dry it with a match. Twisted Evil

Keep your head up, it gets better or so I've been told. Laughing


That there was kinda funny. Wink
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JudoJeff
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unless you're into suffering, put in a Bostig conversion.
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vanaru
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:38 am    Post subject: Wow Reply with quote

Bright side. Your not welding up rust holes.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JudoJeff wrote:
Unless you're into suffering, put in a Bostig conversion.


Funny how people push engine conversions whenever a problem arises and not only do they push just "conversions" in general but each one's particular flavor of conversion is pushed!

What "conversion pushers" fail to realize is that many of us with air cooled or WBX's ENJOY having the stock setup.

We all know that we can convert, but please listen........

WE DO NOT WANT TO!

Yes, we are strange creatures, maybe a little stubborn as well..........
I'm happy you converted, it went well and that you are happy. But your happy pill is not for everyone to swallow.

It is actually tiresome to read the simplistic stock phrases..... "Put in a Subie", "put in a TDI", "put in a BOSTIG" ...... these answers don't help the OP.

When you conversion folk end up with a running problem, a leak, or similar...... Rest assured, I will NEVER tell you to put in a WBX'er.

Dave
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No conversion needed with the availability of a Vanistan rebuild.
Worth every penny and the wait.

Long live the Waterboxer.

Sure you can DIY, but be prepared for DIY issues.
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jslew
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, thanks for the positive comments. I'm headed out to work on the puzzle some more.

insyncro wrote:
No conversion needed with the availability of a Vanistan rebuild. Worth every penny and the wait.
Long live the Waterboxer.

Sure you can DIY, but be prepared for DIY issues.


This sounds mean, but i'm just asking... even w/ a vanistan engine, is tencentlife going to come repair your van when you're in Maine on vacation and the faulty reinzosil gasket around the base of the cylinder starts leaking? New quality parts fail - no matter who builds the engine. I know i can fix my own!

One day I may do a 6 cyl conversion on a westy, but i have no problem w/ wbx engines. IMO the only reason wbx engines have a bad reputation is because of non-mechanical owners. You cant drive a 30 year old car w/o replacing EVERYTHING!! You can do it all at once, or break down once a month for the next 2 years. If i was the mechanic for some guy who kept bringing his van back every week I would prob grow to hate them too!

Fuel lines were the first thing i replaced - and one was almost cracked thru, so that was good!
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally have not heard of any gasket failures on one of Chris's rebuilds, nor do I plan too.
He is a master craftsman.
Just my opinion.
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If truly interested in an H6...EZ30d is your answer, the others are either too old or too new.
Just my opinion....based on a shop full of H6s Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And after yet another engine conversion comment...

jslew, I too have chased problem after problem on my waterboxer Vanagon. Sometimes it does seem as if its never ending. Coolant issues? EFI issues? Yep and Yep. Been there. I'm happy to say that after 2 years of tinkering the problems have been in remission for a few months now.

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


On the bright side I now know much more about fuel injection than I ever planned on learning.

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

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FLO- just gotta say, die antwoord rocks
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jslew
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm so comfortable w/ FI now that I went and bought a scirocco and a corrado! Knocking some of the cars I've always wanted off my list! And the cool thing about them is the longest coolant pipe is like 3'!!!
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
even w/ a vanistan engine, is tencentlife going to come repair your van when you're in Maine on vacation and the faulty reinzosil gasket around the base of the cylinder starts leaking?


No, tencentlife won't need to because tencentlife requires his customer to install a new bench-tested coolant tank pressure cap as a basic condition of warranty. Did you?
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jslew
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

tencentlife wrote:
Quote:
even w/ a vanistan engine, is tencentlife going to come repair your van when you're in Maine on vacation and the faulty reinzosil gasket around the base of the cylinder starts leaking?


No, tencentlife won't need to because tencentlife requires his customer to install a new bench-tested coolant tank pressure cap as a basic condition of warranty. Did you?


Yes, forgot to mention that! New one that actually sealed. At this point, the only things i haven't replaced in the whole coolant system are the thermostat housing, expansion tank, add-coolant tank, and the coolant distribution tower.

And might i add thank you for doing what you do!! I studied your build sheet long before i ever started this process. Between comments from you and Rocky, I think i've got a pretty sweet engine. Main bearing clearances between .022-.028", con rods all around .018. After 2nd valve job, leak down numbers cold are all 5-7%. I used the 2.2 GW kit w/ their 108* cam. This thing runs strong! I can run 75-80 on the hwy w/ no problem, and the torque is noticable going up hills. Oil pressure w/ 10w30 is 18psi at idle and 50psi above 2500RPM. Anyway, I'm in no way comparing what i did to one of your builds, but thanks for all of the info you supply. Your post about valve spring rates was the only place on the internet i could find that info!

Quick update... no coolant in the oil filter. Went on test drive & will drain oil after lunch.
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'67 Cal Look Bug
'70 Westy
'73 Baja
'74 Spec Ed Love Bug - my first car bought in '86!
'89 Vanagon GL
'92 Corrado SLC
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