ENGINE & GEARBOX

How to repair a 4 cylinder air cooled Volkswagen engine and gearbox

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VW combi van or camper wagon.

 

OCEAN PLASTIC TOUR BUS - VW Camper, or Combi vans are symbolic of the earth movement, made famous by the likes of Joss Stone, Jamie Oliver and BBC Top Gear presenter, Richard Hammond - all great fans of Volkswagen campers. The Volkswagen van uses the same air cooled 4-cylinder boxer engine as the famed Beetle designed by Professor Ferdinand Porsche. Seen here the front bumper mount was rusted so badly that it was decided to remove it and weld in more substantial panels. This was long before we were given use of the vehicle. Copyright photograph Blueplanet Universal Holdings Ltd 2007, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of BUH Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

Production of the air cooled VW T2 kombi van, or camper wagon, ceased in Germany after 1980. Our van was one of the last to roll off the production lines and is unusual in that it has twin sliding doors and an alternator instead of a dynamo, for which we are thankful. Twin doors is very useful for events and showing.

 

The engine and gearbox remained largely unchanged over the years, except for detail improvements in the design and increase in capacity of the cylinders from 1,200 cc to 1,600 cc. There are of course kits to increase the capacity from 1,600cc to 2,200cc. But we are content to stay with the 1.6 litres that is standard for now, and simply upgrade the carb, intakes and exhaust system of our type 2 power plant. So nothing radical, we just want a reliable lump for our tours, and spares available anywhere in the world - if that is ever on the cards.

 

 

 

TOWBAR - Before we could remove the engine we had to unbolt this custom made towbar. There are four bolts on each side, that came undone easily. This unit is good to tow a large trailer lightly loaded or a small caravan, but you can't buy one because it's a special and so unique. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

STANDARD LUMP - With the towbar removed you can see that there is no need to jack up this bus to remove the engine because the tow bar replaces the lower bodywork. On VW vans there is a cross-member with rubber mounts that bolts to the rear of the engine casings in the center and chassis rails at the ends - so another couple of bolts to remove before we can inspect the engine bay for issues. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

BELL HOUSING - Okay. It's a little rusty under the hood, but not so badly corroded that some careful cleaning and a little welding will not put it right. In this picture you can see the steel (tin) bulkhead, behind which is the fuel tank. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

FUEL TANK BAY - This is what it looks like with the fuel tank removed. Be sure to disconnect the electrical connection to the sender unit and jubilee clip securing the rubber filler hose before attempting removal. Oh yes, and you'll need to drain the fuel tank. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

ENGINE REBUILD

 

We'd not planned on rebuilding the engine, but three of the exhaust studs would not budge, even with heat and a deal of whacking. Then one stud sheared in each head. If you are lucky you can remove the studs with careful drilling and screw extractors, but the cost of doing that when you are on a tight schedule is prohibitive. We bit the bullet and ordered some Empi heads with stainless steel valves. It is quicker to fit new heads than to spend hours rebuilding the originals. We will though save the originals and when the heat is off, a volunteer can try to rescue them.

 

Meantime, we are looking at finned rocker covers and a higher flow oil pump - all of which helps to prolong the life of an air cooled engine. We may even stretch to an oil change .......

 

 

 

AIR COOLED - This is what the standard engine looks like. The heater exhaust vents have been blocked. You can get these fan cooling shrouds without heater take off, and that improves the cooling and the look - if for a Beach Buggy for example. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

TINWARE - Rusty or what! This is the side that nobody sees. It is also the side that deals with all the road spray and salt in winter. We have to consider whether to paint this lot up, or if it might be worth investing in something more in keeping with the event nature of this classic vehicle. There are hundreds of VW shows every year all over the world. The Cleaner Oceans Foundation will be attending some of the more popular events. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

 

 

BLUE ENAMEL - The old rusty fan housing was replaced with a new unit that has no heater take of ducts to improve the engine cooling. First the steel was primed with a rust inhibitor, then a heat resistant enamel was applied. The only colour that would do for this engine is ocean blue of course. When installed you don't get to see the conch like sculpture at the rear, so enjoy those curves while you can. Copyright photograph 10 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Cleaner Oceans Foundation Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

HOIST AND STAND - You don't really need an engine hoist or stand for these engines, as they are so light one man can lift one easily. Having said that, it makes it a lot easier to move stuff around if you have the right equipment. Also, the engine comes straight out on a trolley jack - so you could work on the garage floor if your workshop is large enough. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

RUSTY - The fuel tank was wire brushed to remove any flaky paint and rust and then coated with a chemical that neutralizes the oxalic acid that makes rust eat away more of the precious steel. This van is fifty years old next year. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

FUEL SENDER

 

One of those niggling jobs was to replace the fuel sender. Incredibly, in order to do this you need to remove the engine and fuel tank completely. Wow! We'd not planned on that, but without a fuel gauge it would be difficult to plan journeys and get to events on time. You can see the effort involved from the pictures on this page.

 

You have to drain off the petrol into clean buckets. When we did this we found a lot of rust and water in the mix. So, it's just as well we went to all the bother.

 

 

 

SENDER UNIT - We had no idea what the petrol level was because of this [RIGHT] seriously rusted item that has stopped sending some years ago. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

NEW SENDER - That's better, a shiny new fuel gauge sender - and it fits in without too much twist on the bayonet lugs - so do not over tighten. Don't forget to connect up and try the new unit before re-installing the fuel tank completely. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

HEADERS - On any other engine these would be called headers, but because each cast iron cylinder has a single pipe coming from a different angle and direction to the other three pipes, there is no conventional cast iron exhaust manifold. Copyright photograph 30 November 2016, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

EXHAUST FITTING KIT - When ordering your stainless steel exhaust, don't forget that it might be a good idea to fit stainless studs and that you'll need new clamps and gaskets. Copyright photograph 4 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

DISTRIBUTOR - This is the original Bosch 009 and there is nothing wrong with it, but the performance of the engine (and the reliability) can be improved with an electronic unit. If you do go over to the contact less system be sure to fit the right coil to balance the resistance. Copyright photograph 10 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Cleaner Oceans Foundation Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

WOMAN'S TOUCH - Kyla looked over the engine and decided that she might add a little colour to what is a fairly bland piece of machinery - given that the design is a masterpiece by Professor Ferdinand Porsche. Not many people know that Porsche worked on electric vehicles many years before he designed the Beetle for Adolf Hitler's administration. Copyright photograph 11 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Cleaner Oceans Foundation Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

 

EMPI HEADS - These twin port heads from the famous performance parts maker are fitted with stainless steel valves. We will fit stainless steel exhaust studs so that our recent misfortune is not repeated. Copyright photograph 11 May 2017, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of Cleaner Oceans Foundation Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

 

ENGINE MODS - You can dress your lump to look good, or you can up the performance with street cams and big bore kits - and then dress it to look good. Fortunately, there are quite a few engineering shops that specialise in the re-manufacturing and in some cases, new builds of the famed VW engine.

 

 

 

 

MORE COOLING - Finned rocker covers and an extension sump add to the cooling of the engine and the oil capacity - all of which improves the reliability of an already reliable engine. The reason for these mods is that this van will be towing a trailer for events, so will have to work harder than most campers.

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

TINWARE - A diagram of the air cooled engine showing the main steel pressings that go to make up the cooling system of the famous flat four boxer engine.

 

 

 

CARBS & INLET MANIFOLD - This is our Webber carburettor and inlet manifold. Copyright photograph Blueplanet Universal Holdings Ltd 2007, all rights reserved. You will need the permission of BUH Ltd to reproduce this picture.

 

 

 

OVERSIZE BORES - One way of increasing performance is to fit big bore barrels and pistons. Some kits require that the heads and crankcase are machined to take the bigger parts.

 

 

A German aircraft engine conversion from Limbach

 

AIRCRAFT ENGINE - This little beauty from the German maker Limbach has water cooled heads and fuel injection. It is designed to be used in light aircraft.

 

 

WELDING EQUIPMENT

 

We are using the best industrial welding equipment that we could find from R-Tech Welding Equipment. The first thing for our welders to get used to is that the torches are much heavier duty items compared to a lot of other DIY and professional garage equipment and the fittings are superb. We needed production quality equipment for when we produce the AmphiMax and SeaVax machines. We have MIG and TIG machines in single and three-phase, and a spool on gun setup especially for aluminium. You'll see more details of these machines as we move ahead with the project.

 

 

 

 

VW LINKS

 

http://www.limflug.de/

http://www.theengineshop.info/acatalog/Gearboxes.html

http://www.r-techwelding.co.uk/

http://www.alanhschofield.com/

https://www.vwheritage.com/

http://www.coolairvw.co.uk/

http://www.justkampers.com/

http://www.volkszone.com/

http://www.justaircooled.co.uk/bay-window-camper-parts-and-spares/

http://www.aircooled.net/1800cc-vw-engine-no-machine-combo/

http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/


 VW air cooled camper and beetle engine with a stainless steel exhaust systemReplacement engine rebuilds that are fully reconditioned

 

REBUILT ENGINES - If all else fails, a number of specialists recondition and rebuild VW engines so that you can simply do a swap.

 

 

Welding complete, now for some serious preparation before painting

 

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