Leaking air cooled Vanagon

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davebrossi
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Leaking air cooled Vanagon

Post by davebrossi » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:22 am

Hi All, and thank you for the invite!

I bought an 81 Vanagon in the springtime from Southern Cali and had it delivered here to Idaho. At 129k miles, it had at least one jug rebuilt, and is otherwise reliable save one issue. Surprise! it's leaking oil :sunny:

First, the good;

-The Oil Pressure sender is dry, it was a replacement I first got the van
-the oil cooler is dry as a bone I'm pleased to report
-the oil tubes are largely oil free though one is sweating slightly
-the Oil filter is torqued down firmly and shows no signs of movement

Now; oil that I can find is amassing in a few points
-Oil in a sludge of sorts covers the oil filler neck and cap, and the sheet metal the license plate bolts to
-Oil seems to be collected at the bottom of the main engine fan housing and dribbling down the back of the exhaust
-Oil eventually works its way down to the oil filter and cooling fins before collecting in a small occasional dribble in my parking space.
-Running the heating, I get the distinct smell of oil. (P/O had a habit of starting and abandoning projects midway thru, I solved a lot o problems when I determined the heating system wasn't hooked up :study: )

I've ordered a new gasket for the dipstick tube (no idea how to remove the engine tin just yet) but beyond that I'm hoping other than prayer you all have some suggestions. Most people seem to see "Air Cooled" and run away elsewhere on the internet. Thank you again!

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SlowLane
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Re: Leaking air cooled Vanagon

Post by SlowLane » Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:32 pm

Potential culprits, in no particular order:
  • the crankshaft oil seal lurking behind the fan. Fan removal is easy. Fan hub removal generally much less so, as it's a taper fit to the crankshaft. Be careful not to crack the case trying to pry that sucker off. Use a proper puller,
  • the crankcase ventilation valve o-ring (this one is a weird size. I haven't found a match in my metric o-ring kit).
  • the oil pump gasket.
  • valve cover gaskets
  • oil filler cap gasket
  • plastic oil filler "neck" where it spigots onto the steel oil filler tube
  • oil filler tube gasket where it bolts into the crankcase (this one is a real bugger to get to, because it involves a painful juggling act with the motor mount, fan housing and cooling tin)
  • "taco" plate o-ring & bolt gaskets
'81 Canadian Westfalia (2.0L, manual), now Californiated

"Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom."
- Terry Pratchett

davebrossi
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Re: Leaking air cooled Vanagon

Post by davebrossi » Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:05 pm

Hi there,

Thanks much for the quick response! It helps me to get an itemized list as well as now I can go down the items

I've looked at the taco plate and the assembly appears fine and oil free on the bottom of the motor. I have an oil filler cap and neck assembly on my desk I'll change out with the dipstick tube gasket. Then it's on to the others!

(Knee jerk reaction is that it's the crank seal, hoping it's the dipstick tube gasket!)

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Amskeptic
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Re: Leaking air cooled Vanagon

Post by Amskeptic » Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:54 am

davebrossi wrote:Hi there,

Thanks much for the quick response! It helps me to get an itemized list as well as now I can go down the items

I've looked at the taco plate and the assembly appears fine and oil free on the bottom of the motor. I have an oil filler cap and neck assembly on my desk I'll change out with the dipstick tube gasket. Then it's on to the others!

(Knee jerk reaction is that it's the crank seal, hoping it's the dipstick tube gasket!)
Clean first. We're talking Clean, by the way:

Image

Image

You must clean in order to find the leak source upstream of air flow or gravity.

The dipstick boot does not require the removal of any other parts, but it is a bear nonetheless.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 94,615 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,990 miles

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SlowLane
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Re: Leaking air cooled Vanagon

Post by SlowLane » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:04 am

Amskeptic wrote: The dipstick boot does not require the removal of any other parts, but it is a bear nonetheless.
On my '81, there is no dipstick "boot". There is only an o-ring to seal the tube where it sockets into the crankcase. The fixing screw into the fan housing above the bend in the tube holds the tube firmly enough in the case to maintain the seal.
'81 Canadian Westfalia (2.0L, manual), now Californiated

"Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom."
- Terry Pratchett

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Amskeptic
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Re: Leaking air cooled Vanagon

Post by Amskeptic » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:04 am

SlowLane wrote:
Amskeptic wrote: The dipstick boot does not require the removal of any other parts, but it is a bear nonetheless.
On my '81, there is no dipstick "boot". There is only an o-ring to seal the tube where it sockets into the crankcase. The fixing screw into the fan housing above the bend in the tube holds the tube firmly enough in the case to maintain the seal.
That may very well be true for all Vanagons . . . :blackeye:
ColinStuckInBayMindset
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 94,615 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,990 miles

davebrossi
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Re: Leaking air cooled Vanagon

Post by davebrossi » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:56 am

So following your advice, I cleaned the engine bay thoroughly (and some of the interior unfortunately :flower: and then drove it around a while. What I've discovered is the dipstick slightly pushed out every time I've stopped to peak in, and a line of oil down the heater line into the fan case and all the other places I expected.

So on one hand I have to track down an O-ring for the dipstick to hold it in place, but then the question of crank case pressure comes up. Maybe the crank case ventilator valve is stuck? Of course there's my dreaded fear that the rings are gone, but I don't get any smoke at startup, or while driving.

Knowing my luck I overfilled the engine with oil :geek: (needs an oil change anyhow) but what could the 'flying dipstick' be caused by otherwise? I'm trying to sell the van (not because of this, wanting to find a synchro since I live in snow/poorly plowed country) and I really don't want to leave anyone with a time bomb on their hands. :bom:

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SlowLane
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Re: Leaking air cooled Vanagon

Post by SlowLane » Fri Oct 03, 2014 8:52 am

davebrossi wrote: What I've discovered is the dipstick slightly pushed out every time I've stopped to peek in,
Funny you should mention that. My dipstick does that too, or at least, it used to. Way back after I first got the van in 1999, I noticed this and jury-rigged up a long spring to put tension on the dipstick to keep it in the tube. It's been on there ever since, through two engine changes. I don't even know if it's still needed with this current engine; I've just gotten so used to unhtching the spring from the dipstick handle when I check the oil that it's second nature.

I did get grief from Colin when he saw this, however. He was muttering something about "cowboy engineering" each time he pulled out on the dipstick only to have it snap back into place by itself. :blackeye:

Airhead Parts may very well have the correct o-ring for the dipstick seal. They have lots and lots of obscure VW bits.
'81 Canadian Westfalia (2.0L, manual), now Californiated

"Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom."
- Terry Pratchett

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