New engine - what to add?

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New engine - what to add?

Post by Kossco » Thu Oct 07, 2021 4:48 pm

So, my original engine (2 bottom end rebuilds) is nearing 600,000kms. Its getting tired and running hot. I am having a reputable rebuilder build me a stock engine from a core Ive had. 1980 Fed Mog CV 2.0 Vanagon w/ hydraulic lifters. 091 DK transmission - will be adding a TBD from Pelequin when they are available again.

I am looking for thoughts on what else I could/should add in terms of FI, ignition systems and exhaust for the way I use the van.

I live in British Colombia and live out of the van 90% of the time. Its a daily driver and see lots of mountain passes, dirt roads and long highway stretched with varying elevations from 0-2000 meters above sea level. Its heavily loaded with sporting equipment and sometimes tows a 300# load.

The engine is currently stock aside from Pertronix EIM in a 034 SVDA dizzy and using a Dansk bus muffler. I use heater boxes and the BA6 heater (because driving at -40*C sucks). I run a dakota digital gauge under #3 plug. Tires are kept stock size. 14" wheels in summer, 15" in winter.

I want the engine to be built for reliability. I drive it alot, I drive in remote areas, I dont like being broken down, I am sick of working on this engine in the mud and rain and snow! I drive like it a synchro! My current concerns are constantly high head temps and low engine power on steep inclines (think crawling up a rough 30% grade). I dont mind using 4 way flashers and staying in the slow lane; moving fasters nice and all, but I know building a bigger engine with the weight I am pushing is just a recipe for meltdowns.

So questions...

1) Engine arrangement - builder recommends staying stock with stock crank and cam. Im aware that more HP means more heat. Is there any thought an a mild cam change that would still perform well in an overloaded, extra unaerodynamic van? Paired with alternative ignition/FI system? Head work? Anything? He will be using out of the box AMC heads with minor porting, no valve changes and VW crank/cam cores in spec. No oversizing.

2) Fuel injection - I have learnt alot about L-jet, I have considered carbs (likely wont go that route due to my elevation changes), I have heard about other systems (microsquirt). My L-jet system is in good shape with a new harness, new injectors and original VW components which I also have a pretty healthy spare inventory of everything (AFM, CSV, AAR, TII, Thermotime switch etc). Is there an alternative worth looking at that will help improve fuel efficiency, head temps, power or engine longevity? Does it work well with a stock arrangement or better on hotter engines?

3) Ignition - Builder is selling me on a bluetooth 123Ignition unit. Its expensive but the programable maps seem like a nice feature, especially with the various roads I drive and rapid weight changes I can have in the van. Not alot of talk online about them, seems like an expensive option for something that people arent super excited about. I see more info on Pertronix/Magnaspark and others so wonder what the best option may be there. I prefer a more maintenance free approach, I dont want to be checking dwell, replacing p&c's etc.

4) Exhaust - Keeping the heater box as they are needed for cold weather. Been running the bus muffler with spacers from German Supply. My last one came off completely smashed up and dented from exit angles being too low on deep ditch crossing or just getting smacked by rocks on 4X4 roads so Im not interested in spending $2k on stainless steel that I will have smashed up in 3 years. I have been happy with this muffler but know that exhaust flow contributes to my head temps and power level so would like to know about best arrangements and options for the vanagon AC engine in this situation.

So whats the best balance on this build? Do I stay bone stock? Do I add a dedicated ignition system? Heat up the cam grind? Find some better flowing exhaust? Would like to hear the thoughts!

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Re: New engine - what to add?

Post by SlowLane » Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:50 pm

I think you're on the right track with keeping the engine stock.

My only comment is on the ignition. The 123Ignition has intrigued me since I first heard about it. It appears to be a high-quality product that has an unassuming stealthy appearance. I once had a chat with the owner of a 123-equipped classic 912 that I had accosted in the Fry's parking lot to yak about his car. He was very satisfied with the distributor, happy that point and condenser changes were a thing of the past.

I think the high cost of the 123Ignition distributors is the chief reason why you don't see too many reviews of them on forums like IAC and TheSamba. Folks just don't see the rational for splashing out that kind of coin when they can get a Pertronix that does the same job. So there isn't as large a population of 123 owners to provide feedback.

In your case, it might make sense to spring for the bluetooth-programmable 123Ignition, as it would enable you to adjust the timing for altitude from the comfort of the cabin rather than crawling into the engine compartment. Since your van is experiencing many altitude changes from gallivanting up and down BC's mountains, this might prove to be of value to you.
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Re: New engine - what to add?

Post by TrollFromDownBelow » Thu Oct 14, 2021 8:16 pm

Agree with the general consensus, that for your needs, stay stock. I would spring for a set of Len Hoffman heads. Heads are the Achilles heals of these boxer engines. I would also stick with stock don't need super free flowing exhaust for torque (which is what you want climbing mountains), in fact, it's counter productive.

edit ...just learned something -40C = -40F.... that's pretty freakin' cold!
1976 VW Bus aka tripod
FI ...not leaky, and not so noisy...and she runs awesome!
hambone wrote: There are those out there with no other aim but to bunch panties. It's like arguing with a pretzel.

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