Getting closer!

May 23rd-June 1st, 1998: I had last worked on the Vanagon in August of 1997. The engine from the '86 Golf was installed, but nothing had been hooked up. Thanks to the long Memorial Day holiday weekend, great weather and a supportive wife, I have managed to make good progress on my project. For 2 consecutive weekends, I have managed to spend some serious quality time working on the Vanagon. The results are as follows:

The first issue I had to tackle were the high pressure fuel lines for the fuel injection. These are the stainless steel covered hoses that carry the fuel from the fuel distributor to the injectors on the engine. The problem is that they are several feet too short with the location that I chose to place the air intake/fuel disributor assembly. I went ahead and removed a single line from the engine to see how it was constructed. I knew that I would ruin it, but I figured that I could always stop by the junkyard to get some spares, if needed. The fittings are crimped on to the hose with a metal sleeve. I was able to use a hacksaw to score the crimped metal sleeve, and then split it open with a small screwdriver. It turns out that the hoses are made of plastic with the stainless steel wrapped around them. After pushing back the stainless steel outer braid, I was able to expose the plastic core. I sliced open the plastic core with a new razor blade to remove it from the barbed end of the banjo fitting.

At this point, I needed to find a suitable replacement hose. The inside diameter of the hose is 3mm, and needs to be able to withstand a pressure of 60-70 PSI. I tried local parts stores, speed shops and a hydraulic supply house but came up short. The VW dealer only sold the lines pre-made with the fittings already attached, not by the foot. Fellow listmember, Garth Woolstenhulme, wrote that when he did his conversion that he had high pressure fuel lines custom made byTroutman, an automotive performace shop that specializes in Porsche engines. I chopped off the ends of my old hoses, and sent them to Troutman with instructions to make the new ones 6 feet long. They used the old fittings for comparison purposes only, my lines had new fittings when they arrived. Total cost, including shipping, was under $150. Installing the hoses was easy. After installing the fuel lines I temporarily hooked up the fuel pump. As the pump ran up the pressure, I looked for leaks..none!

Spaghetti system. With the fuel lines installed, I started on wiring up the ignition and fuel injection system. I decided to hook up everything outside of the Vanagon, and test run the engine before mounting the components. When I pulled the engine from the donor car, a 1986 Golf, I also got the brain boxes, the entire wiring harness and the components from under the dash. I ended up using the wire cutters to cut the harness, fuse block and relay panel free from under the dash. I had tossed all of this stuff on top of the engine to store it over the winter - what a mess! The next step was to trace the circuits and remove the unnecessary wires. This process was slow and laborious. After many hours tracing the current paths in the Bentley manual for the Golf, I was able to hook up all the ignition and fuel injection components. Time for a test run!!

Before starting the engine, I removed the coil wire and cranked the engine over. Since the last time the engine was run was in November of 1996, I wanted to establish some oil pressure before starting the engine. To my dismay, the oil pressure light never went out. At this point, I was not sure if I could trust the oil pressure sender, so I removed it and cranked the engine again (and again). I was hoping to see great spurts of oil spraying out of the hole where the sender used to be. Nada. Now I was questioning myself...had I installed the oil pump correctly? Should I pull the oil pan and check the pump? After a few minutes of looking at the old oil pump that I had removed, I decided to remove the distributor and try to spin the pump with an electric drill. I found a socket that fit on the end of the oil pump shaft, and chucked it (along with an extension) into a 1/2" drill. After spinning the pump for about 15 seconds, I was getting worried- no oil out the sender hole yet. Suddenly, the drill motor bogged down, and oil started spraying out the sender hole! It's a gusher!! What a relief! I guess the oil pump just needed some help re-establishing its prime. I re-installed the pressure sender and distributor, then cranked the engine with the starter. Oil pressure light went out, just like I hoped for.

The next system to test was the ignition. While cranking the engine, I held the high-tension wire from the coil next to the engine block. I expected to see sparks as the ignition fired. Nothing. I did notice that every time I powered up the ignition module, the coil fired once. After another hour of circuit tracing and testing, I found that the knock sensor was not grounded properly. I cleaned the mounting surface and reinstalled the sensor. This time when cranking the engine, I was rewarded with a nice blue spark.

Ready to start? The engine was now ready for starting. I powered up all the ignition and fuel injection components, and cranked the engine over. The engine caught, then died after about 2 seconds. I could repeat this over and over. I was able to keep the engine running by spraying carb cleaner down the intake, so I know that I have a fuel starvation problem. At this point, it was nearly 11:00PM on a Sunday night, and the Van has no muffler. I decided to clean up, and attack the van again next weekend. I'll pour over the Bentley this week, and try to figure out the fuel injector problem. I could be something as simple as clogged injectors from sitting for over 18 months. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to mail me! Thanks!

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Tom Carrington