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Piecing together a Subaru kit using RJES Bellhousing
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shagginwagon83
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 9:26 pm    Post subject: Piecing together a Subaru kit using RJES Bellhousing Reply with quote

Long story short, I wired up friend's Vanagon auxiliary battery system in exchange for a running 1991 EJ22 with a Vanagon wiring harness serviced by Jeff at Autoventures. Friend upgraded to EJ25.

Before we pulled the EJ22 I drove the van and power seemed fine. I think eventually I plan to run an EJ25 but I feel this is a good opportunity to invest in Subaru conversion parts.

I know MarkWard has mentioned somewhere if he were to do a Subaru powered van he would run the Subaru trans with a subarugears kit. I do like the idea, but I feel it's somewhat in beta and hasn't been finalized. I mean maybe a perfect install is needed? Not sure but maybe this is something I do later down the road and after I drive someone else's lol.

I reached out before this post to AlikaMotorsports to get his opinion on a couple of things. He recommended going Bellhousing route over adapter. For the oil pan he recommended a shortened steel pan from Outfront motorsports.

On the Bellhousing...I'm not a huge fan of the idea because I do have a brand new VW clutch AND last summer invested in a new Bosch starter and adapter plate. I guess I can sell those items if it means the bellhousing is going to result in a smoother drive.

I do like RMW's Subaru Engine Carrier Bar System with the bushings.

Everything else I was thinking of going with RMW for. I was thinking maybe I could buy the OBD2 exhaust now if I do have intentions of upgrading to EJ25.

Anyone else have any recommendations on some conversion pieces?
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 10:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

i run the adapters with no problems. the bell housing would get sold if you did a 5 speed anyway, so what's the difference (in my book)

honestly i would consider selling the 2.2 to someone in CA and just go 2.5. they need that stuff to stay compliant.

i vote for the adapter. they kinda print their own money and are easily sold for almost what you paid for it
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 10:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

I have done two adapter plate 2.5s and will soon do a third. No issues.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:11 am    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

shagginwagon83 wrote:
.... for a running 1991 EJ22 with a Vanagon wiring harness serviced by Jeff at Autoventures.

I know MarkWard has mentioned somewhere if he were to do a Subaru powered van he would run the Subaru trans with a subarugears kit. I do like the idea, but I feel it's somewhat in beta and hasn't been finalized. I mean maybe a perfect install is needed? Not sure but maybe this is something I do later down the road and after I drive someone else's lol.

On the Bellhousing...I'm not a huge fan of the idea because I do have a brand new VW clutch AND last summer invested in a new Bosch starter and adapter plate. I guess I can sell those items if it means the bellhousing is going to result in a smoother drive.


Is the adaptor plate a KEP? I've been running 2 KEP plates. One purchased in ~ 2008 and other in ~ 2016. No issues, both are the same part and have the same high quality as far as I can see.

Caveat: I don't really know the Suby swap stuff so you may not want to read on but...

I'd suggest a "perfect install" is something one would endeavour to do regardless of engine platform. If there's issues with the design of parts involved, i.e. the end user is doing the lions share of beta testing on them, not much one can do about that. I like tried and true especially if its for my daily driver + long distance trip mobile. I'll sacrifice some aspects for reliability, if it even comes down to that. i.e. were I to do a suby swap, I'd rebuild a 2.2 and use related 2.2 parts that many others have already proven reliable via high mile use.

What is it in the "bell housing" that ensures a smoother drive? Clutch engages smoother?

I like that the Suby tranny is an option.

Neil.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:58 am    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

[email protected] wrote:
i run the adapters with no problems. the bell housing would get sold if you did a 5 speed anyway, so what's the difference (in my book)

honestly i would consider selling the 2.2 to someone in CA and just go 2.5. they need that stuff to stay compliant.

i vote for the adapter. they kinda print their own money and are easily sold for almost what you paid for it


Selling the 2.2 is an option. However not sure how likely I am to sell it being on the east coast. The van we removed the 2.2 from was a CA van - even had the decals/badges in the engine bay talking about the conversion.



Vanagon Nut wrote:


Is the adaptor plate a KEP? I've been running 2 KEP plates. One purchased in ~ 2008 and other in ~ 2016. No issues, both are the same part and have the same high quality as far as I can see.

Caveat: I don't really know the Suby swap stuff so you may not want to read on but...

I'd suggest a "perfect install" is something one would endeavour to do regardless of engine platform. If there's issues with the design of parts involved, i.e. the end user is doing the lions share of beta testing on them, not much one can do about that. I like tried and true especially if its for my daily driver + long distance trip mobile. I'll sacrifice some aspects for reliability, if it even comes down to that. i.e. were I to do a suby swap, I'd rebuild a 2.2 and use related 2.2 parts that many others have already proven reliable via high mile use.

What is it in the "bell housing" that ensures a smoother drive? Clutch engages smoother?

I like that the Suby tranny is an option.

Neil.


https://smallcar.com/vanagon/subaru-vanagon-conversion-parts/bellhousing-for-subaru-vanagon-m-t/

Quote:
The ideal interface between the Subaru engine and the Vanagon manual transmission. Made from an aluminum alloy casting, it is precision machined and is designed to use an integrated slave cylinder & release bearing. This housing bolts to your four speed or Syncro transmission and connects directly to any Subaru engine from 1990 onwards.

Also great for sand buggies using the Subaru engine and the 091 VW transmission.

The heavier flywheel allows driving at a lower rpm than with an adapter and the motor seems smoother below 2000 rpm. The transmission also seems quieter, possibly because of the smoother power delivery. The clutch is super smooth on both disengagement and when starting from a stop.


I have not bought an adapter plate or bell housing. Sorry if I mislead you - my friend reused his for his EJ25 install. I was thinking I'd gather opinions from my homies here on the samba. Based on a couple of replies here I'm leaning more towards the adapter plate since I have a new clutch and my starter is almost brand new.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 10:43 am    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

Anecdotally, everybody I've heard from with an RJES bellhousing says its the best solution, including several who have switched from adapter plates.

That said, I have almost 85,000 miles on a 2.5 that I did with the Outfront Motorsports adapter plate, flywheel and shortened pan - and its been invisible. I drive with a firm hand and am very critical and have no complaints. Still on the first clutch, but its on its way out...

I wouldn't use anything from SmallCar.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 11:54 am    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

shagginwagon83 wrote:

Vanagon Nut wrote:


Is the adaptor plate a KEP?

I'd suggest a "perfect install" is something one would endeavour to do regardless of engine platform.

What is it in the "bell housing" that ensures a smoother drive? Clutch engages smoother?


I have not bought an adapter plate or bell housing. Sorry if I mislead you - my friend reused his for his EJ25 install.


Ok, for sure, no prob; that makes sense.

Quote:


https://smallcar.com/vanagon/subaru-vanagon-conversion-parts/bellhousing-for-subaru-vanagon-m-t/

The ideal interface between the Subaru engine and the Vanagon manual transmission. Made from an aluminum alloy casting, it is precision machined and is designed to use an integrated slave cylinder & release bearing. This housing bolts to your four speed or Syncro transmission and connects directly to any Subaru engine from 1990 onwards.


The heavier flywheel allows driving at a lower rpm than with an adapter and the motor seems smoother below 2000 rpm. The transmission also seems quieter, possibly because of the smoother power delivery. The clutch is super smooth on both disengagement and when starting from a stop.


Depending on ones' needs, I seem some virtues to this bell housing. I'm not running a higher HP engine but in my experience, a Vanagon clutch housing that's in good shape works just fine. Regardless of conversion platform, there can be several sources causing noise, shudder. I'm curious of these points:

Much stronger engine to transaxle connection, .....
Better clutch options
A reliable starter with more torque
Super smooth clutch disengagement, no more stiff and glitchy pedal or $100 cross shaft
No relocation or heat issues with the slave cylinder for turbo engined Vans.....

If the flywheel ever needs replacing, the cost is $30-50 for used or $200 or so for new compared to over $350 for the custom adapter type flywheel


SC release bearing/slave part is ~ $180. In terms of clutch operation, I'd think the potential issue would lie mainly at clutch "engagement". IMO, a good condition Vanagon clutch housing works just fine. There are different clutch options available for VW conversions and I'd guess that's true for the Bostig. re: FW. One would have to work pretty hard to render a FW unserviceable. But to loosely quote the old saying, 'power costs money, more power costs more money.' KEP offers FW resurfacing but then there's shipping costs, down time. A phone call to KEP would reveal actual cost of a possible replacement FW. The option of a used FW is great if the part is ok. How many owners run a dial gauge on a used FW before purchase? Do machine shops even reface FW's these days? I haven't read of any issues regarding failures at the Vanagon clutch housing even with a higher torque/HP engine. e.g. 1.8T or diesel. And does a given turbo engine really run the risk of harming the OE clutch slave? Though I'm happily married to a KEP FW, I prefer not to be married to proprietary parts. As you know, the Mullendore adaptor allows use of several types of starter motor.

Neil.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

Vanagon Nut wrote:
What is it in the "bell housing" that ensures a smoother drive? Clutch engages smoother?


The Smallcar Bellhousing has a few problems. But it does use the Subaru starter, which is nice.

This link goes directly to a list of the problems (as I see it): Smallcar bellhousing clutch options
The thread has a lot of other information too, including how to 'fix' the clutch actuation (not real easy, but 100% successful).
The clutch modulation problem ( I think) is a Syncro Granny situation, a 4WD condition where you need to feather the clutch.
The narrower clutch release band can be "abrupt" when going thru the 6:1 compound gear (the granny).
On the road, you get used to the Smallcar's tight release band and adapt to it.
If you're "buying", look for an RJES Subaru bellhousing or an adapter plate.
You can bet I like how the RJES actually drains all of the old transaxle oil, rather than retaining 1/2 inch of steel trash on the bottom to pre-contaminate your next batch.
The Smallcar bellhousing can be modified easily with a drill and a file to drain properly. But before installing.
It could have been modified easily by Smallcar too.
Before they delivered (or installed) their product (for 11 years now).
Big engine = more steel in the gear oil. Don't need the bellhousing making it worse.

Side-note: Before condemning a VW starter; consider adding a proper, direct starter ground from the cleaned-and-inspectable lower starter bolt -directly to the Van chassis.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 4:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

I'm using the RJES bellhousing, can't recommend it enough. The use of the subaru flywheel, pressure plate, and starter should make future service cheap and easy. This also makes changing over to a Subaru trans in the future easier, as your van will already have those parts.

I'm using it with the smallcar exhaust header, which did require some modification to fit. I'd look at the RMW engine carrier and exhaust to (hopefully) be trouble free.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

As long as we are on the topic of adapter plates, does anyone know if the original Smallcar adapter plate was Kennedy sourced? Mine may need a resurface soon.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

My original Subaru conversion used the adapter plate (Outfront) as provided by Vanaru. I upgraded to the SubaruGears trans several years later. It would have been best to install both at the same time so the mounting of the EJ25 did not have to be moved... I had to make some slight adjustments to the throttle cable mount and the intake plumbing as well.

I only had to move the mustache bar 1/2" when installing the SubaruGears. This was essentially the thickness of the adapter plate I removed. Small Car and Vanaru use the same engine mount approach.

The RMW and Kennedy kits use a different mount so you should may not have the option to make a mounting to the frame adjustment like you can with the mustache bar if you switch to the SubaruGears.

Dave Clymer's SubaruGears transmission mount/linkage kit puts the SubaruGears bellhousing at the same spot as the WBX trans. Not sure where the Small Car bellhousing ends as compared to the stock WBX transaxle.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

Hello Brandon,
I have the RJES bell housing and input shaft. That has been coupled with the small car mount and header. I also had small car do my harness I have 50,000 km on the conversion and Ive never had a problem. Fly wheel and clutch parts are off the shelf subaru the clutch works flawlessly. In the end it was probably more expensive than an adapter, and a adapter probably works fine, but im happy with it.

River
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for your replies!!

I purchased the RJES bell housing, RJES reverse coolant manifold, and a new throttle cable for about $900 shipped today.

Super pumped Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

I went from a Bostig swap (I had it turbo charged and also ran it in NA form) which I enjoyed completely minus the VW trans to a Subi 2.5 with the subaru gears 5 speed trans parts. IMHO the Subi 2.5 with the Subi 5 speed is by far the best option. I used all RMW options and I could not be more happy. Wear parts like clutch is all standard Subi stuff and its been super reliable after 20K miles. I even put a Quaife LSD in it. I geared 5th to be .85 and I am able to easily tow a trailer and my 19' boat.

Not cheap but the enjoyment is well beyond that old 4 speed. The VW trans I had was a fully built GW model and was reliable but just not a good match for a Westy for my needs.

This van drives like a modern vehicle, shifts like butter and passes traffic like any other vehicle within reason. Getting properly matched gearset and an added gear made this perfect for me.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2021 6:54 am    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

I did an adapter plate with my first 2.2 back when they were still "Outback" Motorsports and the guy I sold it to along with the entire conversion still runs it with no problems.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2021 6:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

I run the RJES bell and can't say enough good things about it. I use it with the SmallCar mount, Burley shortened steel pan, and Stan's header. Everything fit well.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 2:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

pbrown wrote:
I run the RJES bell and can't say enough good things about it. I use it with the SmallCar mount, Burley shortened steel pan, and Stan's header. Everything fit well.


Burley shortened steel pan is OOS.

Looking into smallcar mount vs RMW. RMW has bushings and I believe use subaru engine mounts.

The RJES order is already in! Incredible shipping speed!
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 4:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

shagginwagon83 wrote:

Burley shortened steel pan is OOS.


The Outfront Motorsports pan is very similar and should work well.

https://www.outfrontmotorsports.com/oil-pans/outfr...-non-turbo

shagginwagon83 wrote:

Looking into smallcar mount vs RMW. RMW has bushings and I believe use subaru engine mounts.


The SmallCar mount uses stock Vanagon motor mounts and the rear bar. I do wish I had powder coated the mount. I think they just rattle can paint it but I'm not 100% sure.

shagginwagon83 wrote:

The RJES order is already in! Incredible shipping speed!


Great! You'll need to use an OEM throwout bearing. The machined adapter is machined to fit perfectly.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
Stan's Header Installed by Patrick Brown, on Flickr
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 5:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

XXXX on the RJES, it is very good.

BUT, it was not so readily available when I did the deed.

It was my van which was used to perfect the Fred clutch linkage pedal mod tooling.

The Smallcar bell housing, with the Subaru clutch and starter, modded clutch linkage has been working flawlessly for many many years now.

My clutch is buttery smooth and easier on my leg than the stock Vanagon.

My setup works really well. Otherwise I would have changed it a LONG time ago.

As far as the engine mount goes, the Smallcar has gone through enough iterations now, that it is good. It is what I have. It feels very Vanagon with the stock mustache bar. Kennedy is a no no. It feels all wrong. The Rocky Mountaiin one is OK, but I do not like the mounting.

BTW: I LOVE my SC aluminum oil pan.

I forget who sold me the perfect stainless headers now, which have just been so perfect all these years.....but it is NOT Small Car....

I guess I just choose wisely because all my stuff works just fine. No breaks. Not cracks. No nothing other than simply working great.

I am happy.....
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 9:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Piecing together the best Subaru kit. Bellhousing vs Adapter? Reply with quote

I'll be honest. I have never split an engine from a transaxle. Never replaced a clutch replacement either. I sorta jumped head in when going with piecing together my own conversion kit.

I have done some research and found a great thread Chris at t3 technique made when he converted his van using RJES bellhousing.

I still have not made a decision on the oil pan / engine mount. I think I'm sold on keeping the "vangon" engine bar and going with the small car mount - especially after I'm seeing some people add an additional engine mount.

On the oil pan, I'd love the ability to check the oil through the license plate door. Smallcar has a kit. I read and I don't think this is oil pan specific. If that is the case then I'll pick up a outfrontmotorsports one. They said it would be an extra $110 to modify a brand new pan (opposed to a used core). I just dropped them an email.

I still need to do more research. Here are somethings I need to figure out
-Exhaust system (or kit?)
-Subaru starter
-Subaru throwout bearing
-Subaru Flywheel
-Subaru clutch kit (I have a brand new Sach clutch kit for vanagon, I guess I should sell this and get a subaru one?)
-Bellhousing, Starter and Clutch Bolt

-maybe Slave Cylinder/Release Bearing for Bellhousing?
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