Engine replacement situation critical

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83AC
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Engine replacement situation critical

Post by 83AC » Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:10 pm

Here is the deal: my partner and I are scheduled to leave May 15 on a 2 to 4 month USA road trip in our 83 air cooled CA emissions Vanagon camper. We live in White Salmon, WA. Our mechanic (very vw air cooled savvy) this week diagnosed her with being need of an engine rebuild due to some scoring in cylinder 3 after hearing the clacking in our engine that I had hoped had to do with lifters. There was no metal particulate when he checked the oil screen. We cannot truly delay the trip as we have already leave our jobs May 10 and lease is up May 15.

Always VW has said they have a week to two turnaround and quoted $4k, but that's without removal and install, etc. Time is a major factor here. Money is also, though somewhat less. Nothing about this is ideal and its threatening everything about this experience. I'm looking for suggestions, thoughts, help, recommendations, connections - anything. Talk to me. Help me. I'm wide open and frankly - really not stoked.

Thanks,
Anderson
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1983 AC Vanagon camper - Penny Lane

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Amskeptic
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Re: Engine replacement situation critical

Post by Amskeptic » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:44 pm

83AC wrote:
Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:10 pm
Our mechanic (very vw air cooled savvy) this week diagnosed her with being need of an engine rebuild due to some scoring in cylinder 3 after hearing the clacking in our engine that I had hoped had to do with lifters.


Not sure that scoring and clacking are related. How does anyone even see scoring in a cylinder without tearing the engine down? Or is it torn down?

Did you have a soft knock that suggests a collapsed piston skirt? Are you burning oil? Is the power low? What does your intuition tell you about the condition of the engine? Do you have a timeline as to when this "clacking" arose? Any overheat events? How far do you need to go?
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,820 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 112,220 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,885 miles

83AC
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Re: Engine replacement situation critical

Post by 83AC » Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:22 pm

Same knocking/clacking as we were experiencing when you visited. I had gotten it to go away when I did another valve adjustment, but it has been back. He used a boroscope to look inside the engine (I think I called it the right thing). He did this after taking off spark plug 3 and the noise disappeared, which he says indicated issues in the engine not in the heads/valves. We are meeting at 9am to discuss this with him. We haven't been burning oil really at all - it seems to be doing well with oil. The engine has no temp gauge or tach, so I couldn't tell you about heat issues, but we've done some drives probably pushing a little too hard up hills in the heat. The noise has been present for I would say . . . Maybe a year? Maybe more. I can absolutely say after the last valve adjustment it was totally gone for some amount of miles . . . Maybe a few hundred? I wish I had better knowledge or intuition about this, but it's not my strong suit. I could certainly do another valve adjustment and see where things stand and what impact that has. Power has seemed fine. I'll have to look into what a collapsed piston skirt means, looks like, sounds like. Please continue this discussion. Any possibility that we may not need a rebuild is comforting and hopeful.
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Bleyseng
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Re: Engine replacement situation critical

Post by Bleyseng » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:57 am

How much "blowby" does the engine have? What is the compression reading on the cylinders?
Geoff
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Amskeptic
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Re: Engine replacement situation critical

Post by Amskeptic » Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:18 am

83AC wrote:
Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:22 pm
Same knocking/clacking as we were experiencing when you visited. I had gotten it to go away when I did another valve adjustment, but it has been back. He used a boroscope to look inside the engine (I think I called it the right thing). He did this after taking off spark plug 3 and the noise disappeared, which he says indicated issues in the engine not in the heads/valves. We are meeting at 9am to discuss this with him. We haven't been burning oil really at all - it seems to be doing well with oil. The engine has no temp gauge or tach, so I couldn't tell you about heat issues, but we've done some drives probably pushing a little too hard up hills in the heat. The noise has been present for I would say . . . Maybe a year? Maybe more. I can absolutely say after the last valve adjustment it was totally gone for some amount of miles . . . Maybe a few hundred? I wish I had better knowledge or intuition about this, but it's not my strong suit. I could certainly do another valve adjustment and see where things stand and what impact that has. Power has seemed fine. I'll have to look into what a collapsed piston skirt means, looks like, sounds like. Please continue this discussion. Any possibility that we may not need a rebuild is comforting and hopeful.


Use the power of past precedent, then.

If you have had a benign year of this, make a note of that.

Also know that that late Type 4 engines develop a lot of piston slap, most noticeable when cold.

Do a valve adjustment, compression test, and try to come up with a number for quarts consumed in x miles.
Let us know if #3 plug is oily or more carbony than the others.

Again, guess how many miles you need to do this journey. We might be able to send you on your way with no more than a warning to drive nice.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,820 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 112,220 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 78,885 miles

83AC
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Re: Engine replacement situation critical

Post by 83AC » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:24 am

Our trip will take us roughly 7k to 9k miles we are estimating. I don't know what "blowby" really means. I can go ahead and get the van and do a valve adjustment this weekend, and replace upper ball joints (unrelated). I can't do a compression test as I don't have the equipment on hand, but maybe will buy it so I don't have to go into the shop. I will ask the mechanic in an hour if he looked at all plugs or not. We can go for some drives this weekend to see how the noise is once I do an adjustment. I'll keep giving feedback. My thought had been possibly to drive nice this trip as we have not had major issues even with the noise. I'll also try to find the numbers from the compression test Colin did with us this summer.

Please describe for me what you mean when you say piston slap to help me understand also.
Say what you mean; do what you say.
1983 AC Vanagon camper - Penny Lane

83AC
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Re: Engine replacement situation critical

Post by 83AC » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:28 am

Compression test numbers for 7/20/16:
1: 135
2: 145
3: 145
4: 155
Say what you mean; do what you say.
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83AC
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Re: Engine replacement situation critical

Post by 83AC » Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:33 pm

Update on our situation after meeting with the mechanic:
The lifter noise did quiet down after he drove the van awhile. The noise he is hearing continued after the lifter tick was gone and stopped only when he pulled plug 3.he said the spark plug looked very healthy, so no major blowby happening, which is a good thing and in line with what I had remembered as far as oil consumption goes (minimal). We do believe that at this point a rebuild is in order based on what he has explained given that the problem will not fix itself. While it is true that the parts will heat while driving and may somewhat self correct, the inevitable is that it will not be smart to let it ride over these several thousand miles.

We have talked with Always VW in Portland and they can start on it late this week. We are taking it in on 4/2. If we were not on such a tight timeline we would definitely look around at other options further from us, but this has to get done soon so that we have enough time to break things in and have them do their 500 mile inspection. Ugh. This was a big unforeseen, but hopefully one that will help us later. . .
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airkooledchris
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Re: Engine replacement situation critical

Post by airkooledchris » Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:10 pm

What cam and lifters are you/they planning on using in the rebuild?

Since you are investing so much into the engine, it would be crazy now to invest a small amount of money, comparatively, to give yourself some piece of mind while out on the road.

http://www.dakotadigital.com/index.cfm/ ... prd347.htm

If you don't already have one, get a Dakota Digital CHT Gauge. Order the 18ft long sender wire. It's an option in their checkout nearly exclusively because of the VW owners with busses and Vanagon's needing them.

Next, get the Innovate MTX-L Wideband Air/Fuel Ratio Gauge Kit: (if you don't see a link below this with a picture of the gauge, your adblocker is hiding it since it shows an Amazon ad)
https://www.amazon.com/Innovate-Motorsp ... B004MDT8MW

You will need the 18ft long cable for the MTX-L as well. Shop around though, I think I got mine a bit cheaper off of eBay than directly from Innovate:
https://www.innovatemotorsports.com/xca ... ctid=16312


If you know what your head temps are at all times and you know what your mixture is set to at all times, then you can keep track of the heath of the new motor and make adjustments along the way, while being able to watch the effects those adjustments have in real world driving scenario's.

It's one full day's worth of work getting it installed. If your Vanagon really is setup for CA emissions, unplug the factory O2 sensor as that sucker will make your mixture lean all the time. You can use the O2 port from the factory system to install your O2 sensor for the MTX-L (or run them both for interesting stats, I do this with my CA specific 79)

$300 and a day's worth of time to give you the tools needed to monitor and adjust your new investment.

Honestly I think every bus out there running the T4 motor in it should be doing the *exact* same things. If you really want to go nuts you can install a dash operated adjustment to your AF mixture, but that's for another day.

Good luck.
1979 California Transporter

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