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Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment
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1981Sedona
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:38 pm    Post subject: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

I have an '81 air cooled vanagon with rusted heat exchangers. I am hoping to replace them. Is it possible to remove/reattach them without dropping the engine out? I think I will be able to remove them fine, but I am worried about the reattachment. It looks like there is minimal clearance to tighten the bolt/nut to reattach.

Has anybody ever done this before and have any advice?

Cheers!
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:13 am    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

You should be able to remove the entire exhaust with the engine installed. Be careful not to snap an exhaust port stud on the head.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:20 am    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

It comes down to how rusty they are and how deformed by the heat. Ideally you just remove a few nuts and bolts and lower the exhaust system down with a jack, but realistically you are going to be dealing with a lot of stuff that may put up quite a fight.
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4Gears4Tires
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:17 am    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

Is the air cooled motor hard to remove? What's attached to the van? A few electrical lines, fuel, the air skirt, and the cv axles? It honestly might be faster to drop the motor. You break one stud and you'll most likely need to drop it anyway. Having the space to be more careful could save you some real headaches.

If it looks that bad in terms of rust, soak everything 2x a day with PB blaster for a few days.
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:50 am    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

Unlike the WBX, the air cooled exhaust ports come out the bottom of the engine. So, if the engine is out of the van, you'll need a way to lift it and get it into an engine stand, and then flip it upside down.

So, my advice would be to drop the exhaust with the engine installed, but be careful with the exhaust studs.
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wbailey2112
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:34 am    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

Went though this with our air cooled '83 earlier this year in order to replace all of the rear heating and exhaust components. We soaked the nuts with penetrating oil. We bought a MAPP torch and heated the nuts. We Rounded off the nuts and bought a set of rounded nut sockets. We snapped off a couple of exhaust studs at the nuts so we bought a set of stud removers. We were eventually able to remove the heater boxes but decided not to completely break off the remainder of the broken studs so we took it to a professional shop where it could be put on a lift and repaired more easily than us laying on the ground. In the end all of the exhaust studs were replaced with new studs (and yes they are step studs from the factory - 8mm on one end and 9mm on the other). The bottom line is that even with the right tools and know how this is not an easy job and the odds of your success if you are a driveway mechanic are very low.
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Last edited by wbailey2112 on Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:52 am    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

wbailey2112 wrote:
The bottom line is that even with the right tools and know how this is not an easy job and the odds of your success if you are a driveway mechanic are very low.


British Columbia and Ohio are worlds apart though when it comes to working on an old engine. I would likely attempt to do the job with the engine installed on a BC rig, and likely not on an Ohio one.
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1981Sedona
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

I am hoping to save on labour costs and do the work myself. However, I dont have the proper tools or space to drop the engine out.

For the stud bolts, mine dont appear to be too rusted but it is hard to tell for sure. My plan was to remove the heat exchangers/exhaust as one piece and replace them. I was going to just spray the nuts at the heads with PB blaster and hope for the best.
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

1981Sedona wrote:
I am hoping to save on labour costs and do the work myself. However, I dont have the proper tools or space to drop the engine out.

For the stud bolts, mine dont appear to be too rusted but it is hard to tell for sure. My plan was to remove the heat exchangers/exhaust as one piece and replace them. I was going to just spray the nuts at the heads with PB blaster and hope for the best.


Good plan. Good luck.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

1981Sedona wrote:
I am hoping to save on labour costs and do the work myself. However, I dont have the proper tools or space to drop the engine out.

For the stud bolts, mine dont appear to be too rusted but it is hard to tell for sure. My plan was to remove the heat exchangers/exhaust as one piece and replace them. I was going to just spray the nuts at the heads with PB blaster and hope for the best.


If you have a buddy with an oxy-act torch you can very likely gets the nuts removed without too much risk of snapping a stud. Maybe you could even rent one of the miniature torch sets for a reasonable amount.

When going back together use copper plated "Mercedes" nuts. Also double nutting will cover any extra thread sticking out and make removal that much easier the next time.
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1981Sedona
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
1981Sedona wrote:
I am hoping to save on labour costs and do the work myself. However, I dont have the proper tools or space to drop the engine out.

For the stud bolts, mine dont appear to be too rusted but it is hard to tell for sure. My plan was to remove the heat exchangers/exhaust as one piece and replace them. I was going to just spray the nuts at the heads with PB blaster and hope for the best.


If you have a buddy with an oxy-act torch you can very likely gets the nuts removed without too much risk of snapping a stud. Maybe you could even rent one of the miniature torch sets for a reasonable amount.

When going back together use copper plated "Mercedes" nuts. Also double nutting will cover any extra thread sticking out and make removal that much easier the next time.



Thanks for the advice! Unfortunately I dont know anyone with an oxy-act torch. Do you think a propane torch would be able to get the nut hot enough for expansion?
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

1981Sedona wrote:
Wildthings wrote:
1981Sedona wrote:
I am hoping to save on labour costs and do the work myself. However, I dont have the proper tools or space to drop the engine out.

For the stud bolts, mine dont appear to be too rusted but it is hard to tell for sure. My plan was to remove the heat exchangers/exhaust as one piece and replace them. I was going to just spray the nuts at the heads with PB blaster and hope for the best.


If you have a buddy with an oxy-act torch you can very likely gets the nuts removed without too much risk of snapping a stud. Maybe you could even rent one of the miniature torch sets for a reasonable amount.

When going back together use copper plated "Mercedes" nuts. Also double nutting will cover any extra thread sticking out and make removal that much easier the next time.



Thanks for the advice! Unfortunately I dont know anyone with an oxy-act torch. Do you think a propane torch would be able to get the nut hot enough for expansion?


Nether propane or mapp gas do very well here. They are marginal at best with getting the nuts hot enough while dumping lots of heat into the general area and maybe doing things like smoking the oil in the pushrod tubes.

Having a small but quality Oxy-Act torch with a not so large set of tanks makes the life of the home mechanic easier in many ways. I used one of my first paychecks to buy a set 45ish years ago, and have never looked back.
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MarkWard
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Heat Exchanger Removal/Re-attachment Reply with quote

Harbor Freight and Home Depot down here sell a nice portable acetylene torch set. Snap one stud, and this torch set would have paid for itself. Plus you can cut steel, weld and braze with them. Comes in handy.
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