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Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:35 pm    Post subject: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

This was one of those projects that seemed to never end and has been a few years in the making. As of now, however, it is running and driving without issue and the difference is significant. I should have done this long ago!

It all started with a free ABA inline four engine that was pulled out of a VW rabbit truck and given to me. It's a 1997 OBD2 with approx 140,000 miles on it. At first, it was destined for a MK1 that I had, and was equipped with a turbo and some supporting mods. That idea was scrapped a bit later and I started reading up on the Vanagon ABA conversion. The original 1.9 in my 1984 Adventurwagen was getting tired and I knew some sort of swap was inevitable. I liked the idea of bolting up factory VW parts for the conversion and having a VW heart in such a classic VW. What I didn't like was the overall height of the ABA in this configuration even at 50 degrees. From the get go, I was going to do whatever I could to maintain a stock decklid, all the while maintaining original ground clearance or even improving it. So the journey began.

To get a better understanding of what kind of condition this motor was in, I decided to pull the head and pan to see what the bottom end looked light. It still had crosshatching in the bores and seemed in good shape so I decided to leave well enough alone. I got the head freshened up locally and added larger Techtonics Tuning valves, one of their 260 cams, and new seals because why not right? I also added a Vanagon specific chip to the ecu to work with the new cam with reduced timing to match the Vanagon's weight. I then added a Vanagon diesel specific oil pan and pump, along with a OEM baffle and gasket. I also turned the intermediate shaft with a long 2 degree taper to mitigate harmonics associated with straight turn. While contemplating my next overall move with this ABA, I made a plate to cover the factory fill provision on the oil pan with a standard mag drain plug.

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I painted the block Cummins beige and began the assembly process:
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Also added a TT block breather plate and got that and the oil pan drain plate ano'd:
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IM shaft being turned.
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I tried out a Mk4 AEG intake and exhaust manifold (leftovers from old builds) and liked the direction it was heading, but ultimately both items got nixed because of future fitment issues.
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More to come!
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

Popcorn
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vwhammer
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

Is that the intake air temp sensor in the end of your AEG intake?

I am also using an AEG intake and mine does not have that.
Now I need to drill and tap a new hole to mount the one that came from my ABA.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

looking good! in for more pics
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

At this point something drastic was going to have to be done to deal with the placement of the stock ABA alternator and then possibly the intake manifold in order for them to clear the decklid. I remembered the ABF style alternator sat lower than the stock ABA so after a little digging, I pulled the trigger and ordered up one of iAbed's ABF style alternator kits. He had a stock cast bracket on the shelf so I went with that in lieu of his billet piece (which I regretted later just for appearances sake). Once fitted, it became clear that the intake was now the highpoint. I ordered a BRM fuel rail and FPR adapter and got to work.

A little measuring, machining, and welding I came up with this to flip a stock Mk3 intake the opposite direction. This is about as short as I could safely get the intake down as I didn't want the fuel rail to be the first thing to hit the decklid in the event of an accident.
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Some wrinkle black on the G60 valve cover and everything was starting to look right.
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I didn't like the huge cantilever loads with this now flipped Mk3 plenum, and seeing how even the stock manifold had a brace, something had to be done. Armed with a napkin sketch, I started welding stuff together starting with the upper bracket:
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Then the lower bracket attached to the block breather via standoffs (pic shows scrap turnbuckle):
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Then a simple turnbuckle (also ano'd) connects the two and is easily micro adjusted and aligned with left hand and right hand heim joints:
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At this point I needed to stuff this into the van in order to place all the other components so I started to get my mounts ready. I'm using the later style carrier bars without bushings. I also added Tony's (TS Engineering) hydraulic style mounts to improve driveability. I ended up lowering them from stock placement about .625" for just a bit more clearance from the intake manifold to the decklid.
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More on the way!
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

My trusty old 1.9 WBX with a colorful intake courtesy of my girls Smile
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It's really happening!
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Test fitting the new heart:
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At this point I shifted my focus to my spare transaxle and waited for better weather. I had no history of this unit, and the exterior case was badly corroded, but after I pulled the bellhousing and inspected the ring and pinion, fluid, and shifting mechanisms, I decided it was adequate to move forward with. I knew going into this that some sort of traction device was necessary after being stuck multiple times on flat surfaces...unexceptable! I read about Weddle's mini locker and spoke to the techs on the phone and decided to take the plunge. So I ordered that, a seal kit, along with the HD cross shaft and bushings. Only after it that package arrived did I realize I didn't have a 4 spider diff (Amature!), but luckily Greg Sayers (Mr. Gas) came to the rescue and promptly shipped it and new bearings over.

Spare transaxle in racing red (for some reason)
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Disassembly begins:
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Pulling old bearings off:
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Heating ring gear with a hot plate:
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Assembled mini locker and diff:
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To set backlash I needed a tool to load the cups so I hastily came up with this based on what I found on TS:
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Getting real precise over here with a questionable gauge:
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Decent wear pattern with some Prussian blue:
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Coming back together with a spare rebuilt diesel bellhousing:
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Time to rid the red!
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Etching primer and sealer:
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I realized this case was badly oxidized going into this mini rebuild, but somehow missed how bad the shift ears are, dang!
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Minor setback and I overcame with a reinforcement plate (in early stages):
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After some paint, and a TDI starter adapter (thanks Karl at WestyVentures) she was ready to mate to the engine. All in all, it turned out pretty decent, looks anyways. Still had no idea if this thing would spin under load:
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

uberaudi wrote:
At this point something drastic was going to have to be done to deal with the placement of the stock ABA alternator and then possibly the intake manifold in order for them to clear the decklid. I remembered the ABF style alternator sat lower than the stock ABA so after a little digging, I pulled the trigger and ordered up one of iAbed's ABF style alternator kits. He had a stock cast bracket on the shelf so I went with that in lieu of his billet piece (which I regretted later just for appearances sake). Once fitted, it became clear that the intake was now the highpoint. I ordered a BRM fuel rail and FPR adapter and got to work.

A little measuring, machining, and welding I came up with this to flip a stock Mk3 intake the opposite direction. This is about as short as I could safely get the intake down as I didn't want the fuel rail to be the first thing to hit the decklid in the event of an accident.

More on the way!


Hmmmm. Someone clearly has better tools, and much better skills, than I! Looking sweet so far!

Popcorn
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

Now to replace the rear main seal and clearance the bellhousing for the DMF. Thanks to Joe T. for highlighting another one of iAbed's superior upgrades to these simple engines. I went ahead and ordered the rear main billet upgrade and installed it without a paper gasket, just aviation gasket maker:
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With the DMF installed. You can also see I went back to the stock Mk3 exhaust manifold as the AEG interfered with the stock diesel engine mount. Thanks to Hoodrat for the flange!:
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Mk4 Aluminum coolant flange with another blockoff plate:
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Commence Holy Matrimony!:
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The slight interference I wrote about earlier. A little black spraypaint highlights the scraped aluminum that the flywheel created:
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Wash, rinse, repeat with Dykem:
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And now to blend with some surface finisher:
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Success!
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

After trimming the Mk3 intake manifold a bit further I got to start placing components. I saw somewhere on TS that a mustang air cleaner is pretty slick, so I got one coming. Some more measuring, cutting and welding and I came up with this:
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Fast forward a bit further and more components are placed and others got the wrinkle blacked treatment. Coolant lines are starting to take shape:
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For the coolant lines I used primarily silicone bends but have a couple rubber hoses sprinkled in there too. I made the sharp 90's out of some stainless I had lying around. Beaded the ends to ensure no slipping with the hoses:
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Started mocking up an old oil cooler I had lying around in the passenger D pillar. Not sure why the mounting ears were cut off. Oh well, simple enough to rivet some new ones on:
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Drilled through the rear cargo floor and mounted with rubber bushings:
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Relationship between oil cooler and mustang air filter inlet:
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 2:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

Now for the exhaust: This took a while, but with some stainless mandrel bends I was able to construct something that fit within my design parameters. I asked Colin at TT what were optimal diameters and lengths that would work with my setup. He said do a 1.75" diameter dual outlet for a length of 32", but no more than 38", then merge to a 2.25" diameter single out. So that's what I did. I ended up with unequal lengths 34.5 and 36" but that's good enough for now.
I used Chinese stainless steel V-bands, a flex section, HoodRat's dual outlet flange, a Vibrant merge collector, and a Flowmaster Hushpower muffler which still might be a bit loud for my tastes. The o2 bung is welded right after the merge. This is all mounted with brackets that bolt to factory diesel mounts.
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

The wiring was the easiest part of this whole ordeal because I didn't attempt to modify the harness myself! I had the ABA pro Turbo Dave at TDC Shop make quick work of the stock harness.

I did wrap it though, poorly, with help from my old Heeler:
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I placed the ECU, relays, extra wiring and OBD2 connecter (along with BT reader) under the bench in a bin I had lying around:
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Drilled a couple holes and zip tied it to the bed frame to secure the whole shebang in place:
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I didn't detail everything involved with this conversion, but you get the general scope of it if you made it this far. An ABA that fits under the decklid in a 2wd and has 11.5" of ground clearance (with Schwenk springs)...that's 1.5" more than my stock Syncro!
Overall, this whole project was a fun build and after getting the coolant finally bled (steady 190F), it drives wonderfully! Smooth, waaaay more power than my tired unknown mileage 1.9 and the driveability is so modern feeling. The immediate startup, the stable idle, the off throttle response and the highway pulls are all very welcome. OBD2 functionality is great, and I have a Scangauge on the way to keep tabs on the engines health while driving.

The transaxle seems to be great too. I couldn't resist the urge to try out the new locker in some breakup mud (shouldn't have done that!) but it seems to work great. A couple roosters shooting out back told me so. It does have some noise and pawling action on the dry, but less than I was expecting. So far so good, I'm happy with it in this application. I've changed the engine oil already as I was breaking in the cam, and I'll go ahead and change the gear and engine oil in a bout 500 miles and that will really tell me how everything is wearing, or not! Hopefully the latter. Still a few more items to button up like routing the PCV system, but I did hook up my charcoal canister so that's functioning and making me feel better about not running a cat, ha!

Did you know that the new redline is chip limited at 7200 with this cam? After about 2500 rpm it doesn't stop pullng...all the way into the stock Vanagon fuel gauge! Now that's a success in my book!

That's all for now, more updates as stuff breaks Smile

Many thanks to The Samba, and of course all those who documented their own ABA builds pioneering the way. This wouldn't be running without all of you. Neil, Hoodrat, Turbo Dave, Ryan Gracem Tony Sanchez, Joe T. Thank you! Let the roadtrips begin!
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

uberaudi wrote:
The wiring was the easiest part of this whole ordeal because I didn't attempt to modify the harness myself! I had the ABA pro Turbo Dave at TDC Shop make quick work of the stock harness.

I did hook up my charcoal canister so that's functioning and making me feel better about not running a cat, ha!


Did Dave eliminate the Evap purge valve on your ECU harness.
If he did how did you get the Evap and charcoal canister working?

He removed the Evap, SAI and secondary O2 sensor on my harness but I would like to actually run the evap system and am just trying to sort out how to do so.

I think it is just one wire and I can probably put that back in but of you did something different I am curious.

Top notch work on the exhaust by the way.
I will be placing my engine in the bay this weekend to begin all the engine mounts and exhaust.
Pretty pumped to do the exhaust and now I have specs to borrow. Very Happy
I am surprised that TT suggested 1.75 inch tubes though.
I was only going to do 1.625.
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Pretty normal daily driver build
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=708418&highlight=

4x4 build
https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/volkswagen-vanagon-4x4-conversion.162055/
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

vwhammer wrote:
Is that the intake air temp sensor in the end of your AEG intake?

I am also using an AEG intake and mine does not have that.
Now I need to drill and tap a new hole to mount the one that came from my ABA.


Yeah that's right. It was from an older build so that wasn't necessarily Vanagon specific...but it certainly could be. I just turned a bung and pressed it in...what that spot was originally for I can't recall, ha! It happened years ago!
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

valvecovergasket wrote:
looking good! in for more pics


Quote:
"Hmmmm. Someone clearly has better tools, and much better skills, than I! Looking sweet so far!


Thanks fellas!
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uberaudi
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

vwhammer wrote:
uberaudi wrote:
The wiring was the easiest part of this whole ordeal because I didn't attempt to modify the harness myself! I had the ABA pro Turbo Dave at TDC Shop make quick work of the stock harness.

I did hook up my charcoal canister so that's functioning and making me feel better about not running a cat, ha!


Did Dave eliminate the Evap purge valve on your ECU harness.
If he did how did you get the Evap and charcoal canister working?

He removed the Evap, SAI and secondary O2 sensor on my harness but I would like to actually run the evap system and am just trying to sort out how to do so.

I think it is just one wire and I can probably put that back in but of you did something different I am curious.

Top notch work on the exhaust by the way.
I will be placing my engine in the bay this weekend to begin all the engine mounts and exhaust.
Pretty pumped to do the exhaust and now I have specs to borrow. Very Happy
I am surprised that TT suggested 1.75 inch tubes though.
I was only going to do 1.625.


Yes, electronic evap valve removed. I ran mine similar to the stock Vanagon setup using the existing analog Vanagon purge valve like so. It tested out fine so I went with it.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The top vac line of the Vanagon purge valve goes to the nipple coming off the throttle body (no vac at idle) and the bottom of the purge valve goes to the intake plenum. There happens to be two nipples on the mk3 plenum (one for the fpr, one for the purge valve on my setup). The large diameter hose coming off the charcoal canister goes to the remaining connection on this valve.

Another shout out to Tencent for shining some light on how it all functions via this thread:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=401566

The exhaust was fun, but very time consuming! I needed another set of hands more than once. A lot of my stainless tubing came from siliconeintakes.com (no affiliation). I went with the 'thick wall' variety which measured to be about .070". A true Chinese 2mm no doubt Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

Nicely done sir!
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

Great work! Looks beautiful.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

Applause

Nice!

I like the use of intake upper plenum!

Some mad skills going on!

Neil.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

Ahaha thanks, it's all a big experiment!
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 5:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Uberaudi's lo-pro ABA swap Reply with quote

uberaudi wrote:
Ahaha thanks, it's all a big experiment!


Oh, I totally understand. Wink

Interesting to see your adaptation of the Vanagon purge valve. I'd commented in vwhammer's post about that but my "WAG" thinking may've been skewed and/or I didn't think it all the way through.

Neil.
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50 ABA Swap in to '88 Westy: http://tinyurl.com/yap5hpwt

Vanagon VAG GAS engine swap Google Group:
https://tinyurl.com/2f24rmh

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