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paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/10/23 11:58 a.m.

Like most everyone here, our family has car afflictions. Old Volvos. Weird AWD like the Mazda Protege. VW vans. AWD VW vans. With engine swaps.

And now FWD vans with transmission swaps.

When my sister Eileen (aka The Bean, aka Cimirarlia, aka Igaun) was diagnosed with unusual thyroid cancer in 2011 she decided to buy the van she'd wanted and travel the western US and Canada. As anthropologist and long-time Alaskan she named her vessel Iglaaq, which means Traveler in Iñupiaq. In the 5 or so years she had to travel she rocked this lovely Eurovan MV camper everywhere from New Mexico to Florida to Alberta to NJ to the Mayo Clinic, and beyond. 

All good things come to an end, sometimes a lot sooner than anyone wants - in 2017 Eileen went to travel on another plane and Iglaaq came to live with me. Bean and I had talked over the years about the inevitable failure of the auto trans in these things, and during covid I sourced a rebuild 5 speed and the rest of the kit for a manual swap. This winter I started into the job.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/10/23 12:10 p.m.

So much fun! Looks pretty clean for 140k miles; Eileen was fanatical about maintenance and I think the PO must have been pretty good, too. Lots of pix of sludgy VR6s online to compare with.

Not only tearing into the existing drivetrain, but prepping the new one. The inner CV joints on the MT axles had seen better days. New Eurovan CVs are about 200 bucks a side and were hard to find in stock. But they looked a lot like the 993 units I'd repacked a couple of years ago. Some studying of the GKN/Loebro catalog says they're very, very close: both 108mm Ø, 28 spline axles. Eurovan are 31.5mm thick, 993 32mm, so they'd barely move the axle out. At $75 each for good GKN/Loebros (GKN 302303) I took a chance. The Porsche unit doesn't have space for the inside gasket, so will need a little schmear of Curil-T. Also, the inner race of the Porsche unit is about 4mm shorter than the Eurovan part. So we'll see but I'm pretty sure it's a safe bet.

There's odd rust on this van, which lived in Massachussets for a while so must have had salted roads. The body is super clean. Cast iron parts are pretty pitted, and some e-coated parts like the trans pan and rear bumper were pretty rusty. The torsion bar adjusters were frozen solid but aren't too expensive from Bus Depot. Running the Spinning Wheel of Death between my face and the gas tank was the worst part of replacing them.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/10/23 12:18 p.m.

Iglaaq has had an oil leak for a while, hasn't been too bad but has gotten worse recently and unfortunately it wasn't the cheap and easy oil filter housing o-rings. The VR6 is a marvel of compactness, but I wish they hadn't been so clever with the timing chain box: the seal between the lower and upper box is a section of the head gasket. When that leaks you have only one choice.

My Porsche mechanic got me into his machinist, so we had the head rebuilt. Just as well - all the exhaust valve guides needed replacing, as well as one intake valve. Once back together this'll be a nice touring machine: fresh top end & timing chains, fresh flywheel, clutch, transaxle and axles, and as many hoses replaced as are still in stock at VW.

dannyp84
dannyp84 HalfDork
4/10/23 10:28 p.m.

I always thought these were cool but never understood why they cost so much more in the used market than other vans of comparable size. Are they built to a higher degree of quality/durability ?

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/11/23 6:35 a.m.

I suspect the used price is more about uniqueness than build quality, but the T4/Eurovan isn't just an inflated passenger car like most minivans. It's a light commercial vehicle.

Unibody construction, but very heavy duty - outside the US it was sold in pickup and cab&chassis. The transaxle is specific to the van and the larger ring and pinion mean it won't fit in a VW car. Suspension is by torsion bar and A arm up front and platform-specific trailing arms in the rear.

Net: built more like a truck, drives very German, and fitted out for camping.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/11/23 7:07 a.m.

Very cool. I've wondered about manual swaps for these vans. 

That head looks like the owners were diligent about always using the correct synthetic oil.  The top of my TDI looked about the same after 300K miles. 

Sorry about your sister. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/11/23 10:47 a.m.

In reply to paddygarcia :

CV question:  108 mm is the diameter of what?  the OD?  or the bolt circle?

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/11/23 12:20 p.m.

Ian F, thanks. Life is unpredictable. The life of a Eurovan autotrans, also - some failed early, this one has 140k on it and works pretty well but one never knows. Total cost of the swap is about the same as a quality autotrans rebuild by a Eurovan expert, if you do your own labor. There's always been a question about how to adjust the stability and ABS systems, but a fellow on The Samba worked up a clever emulator for the autotrans solenoids that makes the computers happy without any hacking.

AngryCorvair - 108mm outside diameter, catalog says 94mm bolt circle.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/15/23 7:20 p.m.

Injectors came back from RC Fuel Injection. Money well spent.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/22/23 5:26 p.m.

The drivetrain won't come out until next week but at least it's starting to look the part with a proper shifter and pedals.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/30/23 7:25 p.m.

VW peeps! Can you learn me on VR6 sealing?

I really don't want to do this oil leak job again and haven't been able to find the canonical answer to how to seal the timing chain boxes. Based on my 911 research I'm thinking of sealing the chain boxes to the block and head with Loctite 518 anaerobic sealer. But what to use on the section of MLS head gasket that seals between the upper and lower chain boxes? Most sources say to use a high-temp RTV at the corners, which makes sense. Some smear the RTV around the section of head gasket, which seems like a bad idea with RTV. 

On the 911 folks use a semi-hardening compound like Curil-T in places that have some clearance. That seems like the right answer for the MLS between the upper and lower chain boxes, but since that's where the leak occurred I want to be right.

What says the hivemind?

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/4/23 2:15 p.m.

One of the longtime hurdles for this swap is that removing the autotragic trans also disables the stability control and ABS. For a long time people accepted that, then Foreign Auto Supply in Maine figured out a way to reprogram around it. I had figured on taking this thing from VA to ME to have that done, or maybe trying to figure out how to help them do it remotely, but Dean S on thesamba worked up a very neat solution after determining that the removal of the transmission controller is actually what triggers the problem (https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=765099 ).

By scoping out the wires to and from the trans he put together a simple emulator: a set of OEM solenoids and connectors that let the controller think it's shifting the trans, and a few wires shunted together to convince the controller that the car is in drive. Needs a workaround to allow the starter to function since the controller thinks it's in D, but much easier than driving to Maine. Not too hard to build but Dean's assembled box means one less thing to get this beast out of the garage.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/7/23 4:10 p.m.

Houston, we have reached Maximum Disassembly. It's all uphill from here.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/9/23 12:45 p.m.

A litte quality time with a plastic scraper, wd40 and solvent probably shaved a point off the effective compression ratio.

I really like the squarish pan scrapers from Pampered Chef. They have a variety of corner radii and are very tough.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/15/23 9:03 p.m.

Inch by inch, single row chain by single row chain... Next up: cylinder head and upper timing chain, then start buttoning things up and fitting the trans. 

It looks like the old trans is sold. I thought about buying a cheap van with a busted trans but this is too much work to do again, so I found a busted van and offered the owner my good working trans.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/20/23 7:48 p.m.

Just about ready to hook up the trans and start installation.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/22/23 1:29 p.m.

It's like they were made for each other.

 

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/22/23 11:15 p.m.

But..... one important piece was NOT made for the other. It turns out the bracket for the auto trans stub axle won't work with the manual stub axle, so back to the supplier for a missing part (02G 409 905A if you care). Rats. At least it doesn't derail the job yet - that's not terrible to work on with everything back in place.

 

ShawneeCreek
ShawneeCreek GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/23/23 5:33 p.m.

It's always something, isn't it? Nice progress though.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/27/23 11:14 a.m.

It is. I think it could be made to work but future me or someone else will benefit from waiting for the factory parts. 

After today I'll have only one Eurovan trans for the first time in a couple of years, which is a good place to be.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/31/23 3:19 p.m.

I got all but one downpipe stud out safely, one snapped. Easy enough to drill out the steel stud but HOLY COW was it a PITA to drill and tap the SS flange for a helicoil. I think they must make the flanges out of airplane black box material ("why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?").

I almost took it to the machine shop when the metal laughed at the craptastic tap from the Amazon helicoil knockoff. Fortunately I had a real Helicoil kit in M10x1.5 stashed away in a drawer (so many questions. why did I buy it? when? and why couldn't I find it before ordering another that didn't do the job?) but that one was able to cut a thread in about 100 1/4-turn increments that chattered like crazy while making little chips. Definitely not as satisfying as cast iron, but it's done and I didn't have to take it to the shop with a snapped tap stuck inside.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/3/23 5:04 p.m.

Time to hook up all the things.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/15/23 12:56 p.m.

The power steering pressure hose was leaking - not much, but too much to ignore with everything out of the way. Hard to find a new replacement (and $350+), and used pieces go for $100+ with who knows how much life is left. The local hose place wasn't interested in fitting a new crimped hose to the original stubs. I probably could have found replacement ends,  but the pump end of the hose is curved like that for a reason.

Enter youtube. This nice Ozzie gent has a nice step-by-step for building PS hoses using specialized hose and AN fittings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyHh2-UdCro

So I ordered up a few feet of Earl's PS hose, some straight -6 ends, and some weld-on -6 bungs, for about $75. After carefully measuring the stubs and some drill bits I found a very close fit and opened up the bungs to accept the stubs. In the video they mention hard silver soldering, which I could do and is probably plenty strong, but I think I'll have these tig'd. Total cost should be about $100.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/22/23 10:41 p.m.

I found my hard silver solder and flux before I got to calling welders. Hopefully these don't leak, but it won't be hard to rework if they do.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/25/23 10:46 p.m.

I reworked the straight one since it looked a little dry. Now it has a nice fillet of brazing material. Hopefully the hose works as good as it looks and my brazing fu is good - it turns out there are aftermarket hoses available for about what the fittings cost...

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