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84 vanagon coolant fill / What am I doing wrong?!
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rrawlings1
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:59 pm    Post subject: 84 vanagon coolant fill / What am I doing wrong?! Reply with quote

My 84 westy hasn't seen much action over the past couple years and I thought it would be a good idea to flush / replace the coolant in my van before driving it this summer (along with brake fluid and oil etc).

I followed these instructions although I didn't jack my van up, but I did park it on the steepest incline on my driveway which is pretty close:

1.
Set heater controls to maximum heating position.
2.
Open control valve for auxiliary heater under rear seat.
3.
Remove radiator grille.
4.
Raise vehicle approx. 15 3/4" (40cm) at front under the cross-member with floor jack and wooden support.
5.
Open bleeder valve on radiator.
6.
Open bleeder valve in engine compartment.
7.
Fill cooling system via expansion tank until tank is filled to the brim and remains full.
8.
Run engine @2000 rpm, top up tank until coolant flows at radiator breather valve with NO air bubbles.
9.
Add coolant until tank is full and close tank with cap.
10.
Turn off ignition & restart engine after about 20 seconds.
11.
At about 2000 rpm oen cap of expansion tank.
12.
Close radiator bleeder valve when coolant flows out.
13.
Add coolant until tank is full and close tank with cap.
14.
Close bleeder valve in engine compartment.
15.
Turn off engine.
16.
Check coolant level in expansion tank and top up.
17.
Close expansion tank with cap.

Except at step 8, coolant doesn't ever seem to flow to the radiator, regardless of how hot the engine gets. I've done a lot of reading and watched videos of people doing this, but my coolant doesn't seem to be reaching the radiator. My radiator doesn't even get warm. Help! I'm usually pretty handy, so this is very frustrating.
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=234192

See if this helps.

Your instructions keep saying the expansion tank, is the reservoir tank full with no air in it?
Fill that 1st, then fill the expansion tank and go from there.

Edit: I haven't filled by the expansion tank. I use the reservoir tank and when the radiator is happy then I refill the expansion tank to it's level.
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AKWesty
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just coming off of an engine conversion I can tell you that the coolant systems on these vans love to lock up when there is air in the system.

First pull your thermostat and check it in a pot of water brought up to boil with a thermometer.

If you are positive that it is not your thermostat than here is a common problem I found when doing the conversion. Yes before the thermostat opens the coolant system uses your heater loop to circulate coolant. Make sure your heater valve is opening and closing. (Not sure if this is a daily driver or a project) If it is closed then your coolant will not circulate as well through the bypass and the engine will overheat before the thermostat opens.

If you have air in your coolant lines then you will probably need to pressurize your system to get the "vapor lock" or air obstruction out of your system.

I have the KEP fittings mounted to my radiator and reservoir tank so that I can easily pressurize my system and get the air out. I fought this for a week and finally spent the money and bought the fittings to pressurize my system and push the coolant from the reservoir through radiator.

Not sure you will have to go this route but do know that air in the system does cause it to lock up and it is a bear to get it to flow and get the air all the way out.
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey RRawlings

Here's your problem: Coolant will not flow uphill. When bleeding the rad, the front of the van needs to be LOWER than the back. You thus make the expansion tank filler neck the highest point in the system. Most of the bleeding is done with the engine not running. Remember where the hoses enter the Vanagon radiator - - at the bottom and at the middle. This is why the rad can hold so much air and why it is important to bleed the rad with the top of the rad lower than the filler neck of the expansion tank. This is the only way (except for the Libby Bong, which simulates the Van being on an incline) to force air out of the rad.

The reason for running the engine and revving it is to force air bubbles out of the front and rear heater cores.
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From reading the previous reply maybe you could remove the bleed fitting on the radiator and make a vacuum fitting adaptable to a wetvac & put a vacuum on it?

I just used one of those "vacuum heads" you can buy at homedepot to fit their 5 gallon buckets to suck coolant out of a system and it pulled so much it started to collapse the bucket!
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howesight wrote:
hey RRawlings

Here's your problem: Coolant will not flow uphill. When bleeding the rad, the front of the van needs to be LOWER than the back. You thus make the expansion tank filler neck the highest point in the system. Most of the bleeding is done with the engine not running. Remember where the hoses enter the Vanagon radiator - - at the bottom and at the middle. This is why the rad can hold so much air and why it is important to bleed the rad with the top of the rad lower than the filler neck of the expansion tank. This is the only way (except for the Libby Bong, which simulates the Van being on an incline) to force air out of the rad.

The reason for running the engine and revving it is to force air bubbles out of the front and rear heater cores.


So the water pump is not doing anything at 2000 rpm to push water through the radiator?
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atomatom
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the water pump does help a bit if you rev it. But yeah, coolant will want to flow downhill. I forgot that while fixing a leak today and coolant came gushing out when I hit operating temps.

rrawlings1 didn't say how long the engine was run. It can take 10-15 minutes to come up to temp.
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Hammy1
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used a coolant system pressure tester to bleed my system. Worked great, also good for finding leaks in your system. You'll also need and adaptor for the vw coolant tank.

Jon
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the engine cool and the van parked on level use a match book to hold the throttle open so that the engine is revving fast enough to draw down the coolant in the expansion tank. Keep adding coolant until the tank will not take anymore and then walk around front and open the bleeder, removing it fully if need be. You should get air at first followed by coolant. Close off the bleeder and put the cap back on the tank refilling it if necessary.

You will not get any flow through the radiator until the engine is hot enough for the thermostat to open, which will take many minutes of running.
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I fill my system cold using a 12VDC pump (a 3# fuel pump I happen to have).

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


The tube goes to the pressure cap which is still in place on the tank (in fact that tube from the pump is just the stock one pulled off the overflow tank)..

I always drill a small hole in the thermostat (about 3/16") so I can fill the system w/o having to get the engine hot.

Since the nomenclature can be confusing, the tank on the left is the one to be filled whatever method is involved:

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


I usually call the left tank the 'pressurized tank' and the tank on the right the 'overflow reservoir'. I do not recall what the Bentley calls them but (to me) the term 'expansion tank' is ambiguous.

Just to throw another method in the mix -- many use what is commonly called the 'Libby Bong' which employs gravity in lieu of an electric pump but gets a similar result to my method. A search on Libby Bong will turn up details.

Good luck.
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can do a poor mans Libby bong if you have a spare front radiator hose. Just like the Libby bong, this gets the level of the added coolant above the radiator bleed and lets you open the bleeders with the engine not even running to get coolant throughout the system.

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


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

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rrawlings1
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi All,
Originally I had run the engine until the temp gauge was nearly maxed out. Surely we had reached operating temperature by that point, right? My understanding of the cooling system mostly comes from this link:
http://www.gowesty.com/library_article.php?id=52

The van is not my daily driver, but its in good shape and runs well. No overheating issues or anything prior to this. I was just trying to be frugal and thought "how hard can it be?"

I'll try raising the rear of the van, failing that I'll explore the thermostat.
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rrawlings1 wrote:
...Originally I had run the engine until the temp gauge was nearly maxed out. Surely we had reached operating temperature...


Shirley -

In case you are not aware of this -- there is a sensor in the top of the pressurized tank you are filling.

On an 84, if the engine is running and that tank is not filled high enough to submerse that sensor. the blinky light will flash and the temperature gauge will peg at full hot irrespective of the temperature of the coolant.

You might be led to think the engine was much hotter than it really was if you're watching the gauge during this process.

Pointing an IR thermometer at the tstat housing is one way to get a reliable temperature reading.
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atomatom
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition to the above, check the temp guage when you turn the van on when cold. Is it maxed out then? Does it max out within 30 seconds? Very unlikely your van could warm up to operating temp in anything less than 5 minutes, more likely 10.

All said, an IR thermometer is a fantastic tool to have and can be had for $20-30. It can help rule out all sorts of issues.
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
With the engine cool and the van parked on level use a match book to hold the throttle open so that the engine is revving fast enough to draw down the coolant in the expansion tank. Keep adding coolant until the tank will not take anymore and then walk around front and open the bleeder, removing it fully if need be. You should get air at first followed by coolant. Close off the bleeder and put the cap back on the tank refilling it if necessary.

You will not get any flow through the radiator until the engine is hot enough for the thermostat to open, which will take many minutes of running.



I would advise practice putting the bleed screw back in a few times, it can be an annoying thing to do fast when the coolant is coming out!
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rrawlings1 wrote:
Hi All,
Originally I had run the engine until the temp gauge was nearly maxed out. Surely we had reached operating temperature by that point, right? My understanding of the cooling system mostly comes from this link:
http://www.gowesty.com/library_article.php?id=52

The van is not my daily driver, but its in good shape and runs well. No overheating issues or anything prior to this. I was just trying to be frugal and thought "how hard can it be?"

I'll try raising the rear of the van, failing that I'll explore the thermostat.


Are you 100% certain your thermostat is opening? Have you tested it in a pot of hot water to see it move?

I think you answered the how hard could it be part!
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rrawlings1
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahwahnee wrote:
rrawlings1 wrote:
...Originally I had run the engine until the temp gauge was nearly maxed out. Surely we had reached operating temperature...


Shirley -

In case you are not aware of this -- there is a sensor in the top of the pressurized tank you are filling.

On an 84, if the engine is running and that tank is not filled high enough to submerse that sensor. the blinky light will flash and the temperature gauge will peg at full hot irrespective of the temperature of the coolant.

You might be led to think the engine was much hotter than it really was if you're watching the gauge during this process.

Pointing an IR thermometer at the tstat housing is one way to get a reliable temperature reading.


Yep, I'm familiar with the sensor, as when I bought the van it had the constant blinking light problem, which I corrected. I made sure that the tank had sufficient coolant (i.e. well above the minimum line which should be the threshold for the sensor) Also, I think it would be possible to heat the engine up quite a bit if the coolant isn't making it to the radiator, but then again I could be wrong. I may snag a HF IR thermometer, that's not a bad idea, plus it's an excuse to get another tool.... I'll try tinkering a bit more tonight when I get home from work!
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rrawlings1 wrote:

Yep, I'm familiar with the sensor, as when I bought the van it had the constant blinking light problem, which I corrected. I made sure that the tank had sufficient coolant (i.e. well above the minimum line which should be the threshold for the sensor)


Can you show us a picture of this 'minimum line'? Unless it is an '84 model year thing. There is no such thing on my '87.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had great luck bleeding the system on my van by parking on an incline on the side of my driveway with the nose down, then jacking up the rear a little further. With the engine cool I open the 3 bleeders. The engine bay one flows almost immediately, under the rear seat flows almost immediately and the radiator bleeder takes a few more seconds to flow solid. I usually close the 2 rear ones then let the radiator flow for a bit, refilling the expansion tank as needed.

After doing this about 4 different times over a few day period my van's cooling system hasn't given me any issues for some time now. Before this my van would randomly overheat or the needle would go almost all the way up. Now it holds steady just above the red led when warmed up Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

greenraVR6 wrote:
I've had great luck bleeding the system on my van by parking on an incline on the side of my driveway with the nose down, then jacking up the rear a little further. With the engine cool I open the 3 bleeders. The engine bay one flows almost immediately, under the rear seat flows almost immediately and the radiator bleeder takes a few more seconds to flow solid. I usually close the 2 rear ones then let the radiator flow for a bit, refilling the expansion tank as needed.

After doing this about 4 different times over a few day period my van's cooling system hasn't given me any issues for some time now. Before this my van would randomly overheat or the needle would go almost all the way up. Now it holds steady just above the red led when warmed up Very Happy


And you didn't burn your fingers with hot coolant or build a bong. That's why I use the "nose down, tail up" method too.
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