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Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50
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ALIKA T3
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 1:36 am    Post subject: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

Aloha everyone!

Grab a beer that`s gonna be a long one to solve...

I`m battling cooling flow issues to the radiator not even 10 days before shipping my van to CA to finally do my dream trip with the Syncro to Central America.

Well, looks like it won`t happen on time now...

If you can help me, that would be awesome. There is clearly something I must be missing somewhere but I`m too stupid to find out what.

So, here`s the deal:

Brand new rebuilt 1.9 Tdi engine by yours truly over a period of 8 years. Finally got on the road, kinda...

JX 1.6 TD style layout.

I cannot bleed the air out of the engine hot hose (the spider hose). When the engine is off, if I squeeze hoses fast, I can hear bubbles in there.

Let me tell you that`s not my first rodeo with diesel engines or Vanagons in general, and I had never had this issue, ever, so I`m really at loss here....

I always bled the engines nose down , expansion tank open, heater loop open, and that`s it. Easy as it gets.

I tried also nose up to move air a bit and while accelerating to avoid sucking air into the radiator.

So far I have almost no flow to the radiator, I can bleed it easily, but the stainless pipes underneath tell me the flow is almost non existent.
The hot pipe after a while get extremely hot on the top of its diameter and warm on the bottom, indicating coolant is barely moving in there.
So I put a brand new Behr of RSA radiator, just in case ( old one was a copper core AKG radiator from 1984, with 17,000 original miles so I had kept it).
Same result.

I replaced the brand new 80*c thermostat ( Wahler brand, made in France) by an 87*c thermostat ( Vernet brand, also made in France).
No improvement.

I ordered an original 87*c VW thermostat ( prolly made by Behr in Czek republic, manufacturer code BCH )
The thermostat arms are oriented vertical at 12 and 6 o`clock as to not interfere with the flow from the lower hose from the expansion tank.

I also spoke to my buddy Felix in Germany who pointed out I had aftermarket silicone hoses and most likely missing the restrictor into the hose that goes to the upper expansion tank nipple. I remembered about this but actually didn`t think much about it. So basically, this 4mm restrictor hose makes sure the coolant flow doesn`t take the path of least resistance by-passing the radiator loop. http://www.t3-pedia.de/index.php?title=K%C3%BChlsystem_bef%C3%BCllen_und_entl%C3%BCften

Genius, right?
I took a 1/2 square drive socket extension, cut it and drilled a 4mm hole in the center and shoved it into the hose, added a clamp.
It made an improvement in how fast I could bleed.
I thought that was it but nope...
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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

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


I had a dual oil heat exchanger set up, one exchanger is just a bigger one for the engine, the other was for warming up a possible veggie oil set up at the fuel filter. I thought it was trapping air, so I was, eff it, go back to stock set up, only the engine oil heat exchanger.
I do not know which way it circulates in there but from touching hoses, it seems like the cold gets sucked in the cooler and goes out into the hot hose then back to radiator.

My heater loop works like a charm, so the water pump must be working. It is a cast impeller water pump made by Graf from what I recall. The pump runs clockwise from the V-belt exactly like from factory. Correct size pulleys down to the part number, correct impeller angle ( in case there was a CCW running pump option out there).

I tried pinching the culprit hose to avoid by-passing the radiator completely and force things to and from the radiator.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



I need to do that next on the heat exchanger loop but I doubt it`s gonna make a difference, I mean in what world do you have to do that to bleed a diesel? This is becoming ridiculous.



I tried the bong method, which I had never needed until now. I used on flat surface and in a slope, nose down. No improvement.

I took all hoses to and from the radiator to blast the garden hose through them to dislodge any potential plug that may have been in there ( unlikely, but out of desperation...)

I made a special additional coolant tank pressurized to bleed things and crack open hose clamps at the oil heat exchanger connections to get air out. No improvement.

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


I removed the extra cooling hoses to the fuel heat exchanger that was in series. No improvement.

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


Here`s the cooling diagram, I must have checked it out a million times hoping I made a mistake, but nope...

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

Here`s a real life view of the radiator connections

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


The water pump left nipple ( top right on the picture here) goes to the cylinder head flange between the injectors. This hose gets closed when the thermostat opens. The gap is about 5mm.
The right nipple is the one from the bottom of the expansion tank, so you can understand without the restrictor on the top hose at the expansion tank it would by-pass the radiator completely. This port is always open fully.

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


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


The cold IN from the radiator is completely shut until the thermostat opens.

So far, I still have air in the engine hoses, unbelievable.
Either it`s creating an air lock and the flow is dead to the radiator as a result or something is not right with the flow from the beginning so I can`t get these bubbles to move out of there since the flow is weak.
Chicken and the egg story.

I checked the impeller, it is not loose from the shaft.

This sh!t`s been killing me, I must have spent over 50 hours on this. I`m dead.

EDIT: I also checked for combustion leaks just in case. Liquid stays blue ...
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 5:04 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock ? cooling system on AHU Tdi JX style 50* Reply with quote

Sorry, I don't know diesels at all.

But I do offer my heartfelt condolences and encouragement.

Maybe get a buddy to cone look, sometimes fresh minds and new eyes see the obvious.

Dave
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:29 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock ? cooling system on AHU Tdi JX style 50* Reply with quote

Three tips. The thermostat is clocked wrong. You want the tabs out of the flow. I always drill an 1/8 hole in the thermostat to ensure you have coolant on both sides of the thermostat. Last tip, I always fill the engine through the top hose on the cylinder head. Then I fill the cooling system. Dont imagine the order matters. Then bleed as usual.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:19 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock ? cooling system on AHU Tdi JX style 50* Reply with quote

The 1/8" hole in the thremostat disc also lets air through it when bleeding, but I've got the feeling you know this already.

My brain is getting dizzy looking at all the hoses! That's a lot of work -looks like a great job getting it all in there.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:25 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock ? cooling system on AHU Tdi JX style 50* Reply with quote

Have you boiled your thermostat to see if it actually opens? There is always the chance of brand new faulty parts. Like Mark said, drilling a small hole in it ensures flow on both sides and if I remember right, older Audis always had a hole in their thermostats.

I had a heck of a time bleeding my 50 degree and ended up having the best luck with parking on a steep hill, nose up, and cracking the radiator bleeder bolt. It's been smooth sailing since.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:03 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

If you have access to a larger air compressor (20-30gal) I'd recommend trying one of the vacuum bleeders. We've had really good luck with them on a couple vans and it does the work of checking for leaks prior to filling as well.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:04 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

since we're playing take a guess....

we've all been there. couple of things to consider:

-did you mix up any hose routing?

-did you leave a rag/plastic plug/tape etc in a hose or over a coolant port?

new doesn't = good as we all know. was the water pump impeller made correctly, or is it slipping on the shaft? yes...i have seen both of those happen

i will think about any other crazy situations i have seen and add as they come to mind
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:25 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

Are you positive you still have air? Is your TDI overheating? Reason I ask is I have found the TDI to be rather efficient. It does not make a lot of heat especially in cool weather unless your are giving it on the highway.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 9:43 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

This is counter intuitive but.....

crack in cooling system part allowing air in as engine cools?

Have you measured temps at various engine parts?

I see the GW tool but have you measured cooling system pressure? i.e. does system maintain pressure?

Neil.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:00 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

As a restrictor in the upper expansion tank hose, I use a fender washer with the appropriate OD and ID. Cheap, easy, and effective.

The only symptom is air in the system. The limited flow to the radiator sounds like the thermostat simply hasn't opened. With a TDI that can take some effort. How much have you run it?

I find these to be remarkably easy to bleed. I use the libby bong for initial bleeding and then when fully up to temp I park with the passenger front side higher and open the bleeder on the radiator. I do that a couple/few times until coolant immediately comes out (no air). I then just top off the expansion tank before each cold start until no air is present there and keep the license plate tank at the appropriate level.

If air is continuing to get into the engine after that point, then you have a leak in the cooling system somewhere.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:05 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock ? cooling system on AHU Tdi JX style 50* Reply with quote

MarkWard wrote:
Three tips. The thermostat is clocked wrong. You want the tabs out of the flow. I always drill an 1/8 hole in the thermostat to ensure you have coolant on both sides of the thermostat. Last tip, I always fill the engine through the top hose on the cylinder head. Then I fill the cooling system. Dont imagine the order matters. Then bleed as usual.


Why is the thermostat clocked wrong? What is correct then?

On this pic, I would call it wrong, so I put the arms vertical to not impact the flow as much from either side ( elbow in and the open nipple connected to the lower expansion tank hose)

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



I mean, I never had to do such extent of work ever on any diesel before, I never even considered clocking the thermostat nor drilling it which is not factory....
Something is not adding up.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:09 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock ? cooling system on AHU Tdi JX style 50* Reply with quote

uberaudi wrote:
Have you boiled your thermostat to see if it actually opens? There is always the chance of brand new faulty parts. Like Mark said, drilling a small hole in it ensures flow on both sides and if I remember right, older Audis always had a hole in their thermostats.

I had a heck of a time bleeding my 50 degree and ended up having the best luck with parking on a steep hill, nose up, and cracking the radiator bleeder bolt. It's been smooth sailing since.


I`m at the 3rd thermostat, now an original VW.

I boiled the 2 first ones, no thermometer.
I didn`t want to stress the VW one, so I didn`t boil it just in case I messed uop the 2 previous ones with that. That`s how silly it`s becoming Rolling Eyes

I tried every bleeding method to get air out different ways. Crying or Very sad
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:14 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

[email protected] wrote:
since we're playing take a guess....

we've all been there. couple of things to consider:

-did you mix up any hose routing? Nope, checked 50 times, double checked with my buddy Felix in Germany, he put everything under the scope, all checks ok, as it should, but I`m open to any suggestion at this point, I dont come crying easily, I`m against the wall here Embarassed

-did you leave a rag/plastic plug/tape etc in a hose or over a coolant port? I considered it, disconnected every hose and pipe to blow the garden hose through them, even replaced the radiator.

new doesn't = good as we all know. was the water pump impeller made correctly, or is it slipping on the shaft? yes...i have seen both of those happen The impeller is cast iron, Graf pump made in Germany I recall, correct impeller angle ( not a CCW model), I also checked the shaft is attached to it. There`s flow in the expansion tank and cabin heater loop, it`s moving in there!

i will think about any other crazy situations i have seen and add as they come to mind

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:21 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

?Waldo? wrote:
As a restrictor in the upper expansion tank hose, I use a fender washer with the appropriate OD and ID. Cheap, easy, and effective.

I did a 4mm restrictor with a socket extension, same idea in the end, as long as it`s restricted.

The only symptom is air in the system. I think so too The limited flow to the radiator sounds like the thermostat simply hasn't opened. Looks like it, but hell I can go drive and get the cabin heater blasting hot, temperature sender at the cylinder head reads 95*c and up to 98*c, the expansion tank lower hose is always flowing by the thermostat, by then it should be way open! With a TDI that can take some effort. How much have you run it?

I find these to be remarkably easy to bleed. Me too until now I use the libby bong for initial bleeding and then when fully up to temp I park with the passenger front side higher But you do accelerate as long as the radiator bleeder is open when you do that, correct? otherwise you`re sucking air in....and open the bleeder on the radiator. I do that a couple/few times until coolant immediately comes out (no air). I then just top off the expansion tank before each cold start until no air is present there and keep the license plate tank at the appropriate level.

If air is continuing to get into the engine after that point, then you have a leak in the cooling system somewhere. I pressurized the sucker with a bicycle pump on static, no leaks I could see Confused

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:25 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock ? cooling system on AHU Tdi JX style 50* Reply with quote

Steve M. wrote:
The 1/8" hole in the thermostat disc also lets air through it when bleeding, but I've got the feeling you know this already. Yeah, but I didn`t drill it bc it is not drilled from factory and never needed before , when it`s open it should just burp it all into the water pump, and out of the engine into the expansion tank or radiator where the rest will be trapped. I mean that`s as easy as it gets after a Ford model A Laughing Embarassed

My brain is getting dizzy looking at all the hoses! That's a lot of work -looks like a great job getting it all in there.



djkeev wrote:
Sorry, I don't know diesels at all.

But I do offer my heartfelt condolences and encouragement.

Maybe get a buddy to cone look, sometimes fresh minds and new eyes see the obvious.

Dave

Mahalo Dave! I`ve been talking to a few friends in PM, we went through everything til I decided to bring it to a broader audience.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:28 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

have you tried, while warm and under pressure to just barely crack open the offending hose?

do it slow and carefully. i have a tractor that is a fucking bitch to bleed. what i do is get it warm, cap on so pressure is built. loosen the hose clamp just enough to get a hose pick tool in there.

once i get a good few psssshhhhh of air coolant generally follows. after i'm happy with the amount of coolant that puked it's usually good to go.

you may just need the pump to catch a good prime
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:30 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

ALIKA T3 wrote:
...Looks like it, but hell I can go drive and get the cabin heater blasting hot, temperature sender at the cylinder head reads 95*c and up to 98*c, the expansion tank lower hose is always flowing by the thermostat, by then it should be way open!


The thermostat will blend that hot coolant with cold coolant from the radiator in order to maintain the coolant temperature of the thermostat rating. It does not take much ambient temperature coolant to drop 98C coolant to 87C. The thermostat will TRICKLE in a bit of cold coolant. The coolant pipes are BIG and the radiator is BIG. It can take a long time at high load in hot weather to fully heat the pipes and radiator beyond what you describe.

ALIKA T3 wrote:
But you do accelerate as long as the radiator bleeder is open when you do that, correct? otherwise you`re sucking air in...


Nope. With the engine fully up to temp and the engine OFF, there is high enough pressure in the cooling system that it will push out air or coolant (whichever is at the top of the radiator). No ambient pressure air will flow against that higher pressure into the higher pressure system.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:44 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

?Waldo? wrote:
ALIKA T3 wrote:
...Looks like it, but hell I can go drive and get the cabin heater blasting hot, temperature sender at the cylinder head reads 95*c and up to 98*c, the expansion tank lower hose is always flowing by the thermostat, by then it should be way open!


The thermostat will blend that hot coolant with cold coolant from the radiator in order to maintain the coolant temperature of the thermostat rating. It does not take much ambient temperature coolant to drop 98C coolant to 87C. The thermostat will TRICKLE in a bit of cold coolant. The coolant pipes are BIG and the radiator is BIG. It can take a long time at high load in hot weather to fully heat the pipes and radiator beyond what you describe.

ALIKA T3 wrote:
But you do accelerate as long as the radiator bleeder is open when you do that, correct? otherwise you`re sucking air in...


Nope. With the engine fully up to temp and the engine OFF, there is high enough pressure in the cooling system that it will push out air or coolant (whichever is at the top of the radiator). No ambient pressure air will flow against that higher pressure into the higher pressure system.


I cannot even touch the stainless steel pipe under the van, it`s blazing hot, 98*c out of the cylinder head man, can`t get any hotter than that. I drive and heat it up fully Crying or Very sad
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:46 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

[email protected] wrote:
have you tried, while warm and under pressure to just barely crack open the offending hose?

do it slow and carefully. i have a tractor that is a fucking bitch to bleed. what i do is get it warm, cap on so pressure is built. loosen the hose clamp just enough to get a hose pick tool in there.

once i get a good few psssshhhhh of air coolant generally follows. after i'm happy with the amount of coolant that puked it's usually good to go.

you may just need the pump to catch a good prime


I like your style.
I was a plumber back then and I`m used to do stuff like that on house heaters.
I did open the hose clamp engine running, and also engine off with expansion tank pressurized from another full tank all rigged up ( see pics in original post) as to not introduce air. I did get some but I spent all day yesterday doing shit like that going nowhere, it`s killing me.
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syncroserge
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Joined: November 26, 2005
Posts: 417
Location: Okotos, Alberta, Canada
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2021 11:49 am    Post subject: Re: Unsolvable airlock? Cooling system issue on AHU TDI JX style 50 Reply with quote

I think you have 2 things adding up to trouble..

1. air in the block from fresh rebuild,

2. it's a TDI.. Wink

I use external heat to start/bleed fresh filled diesels. Coolant block heater, oil pan heater, Espar hydronic..

Being in Hawaii you might not have any of those but anything will do..heat gun even..

I bet nothing's wrong with the engine, hoses, themostat etc..

Get the block as warm as you can artificially...
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