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BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/5/18 2:07 p.m.

Ok, so a quick tour of the shop. 

Outside, The small garage on the right is mostly just storage. 

Starting from the right side: Chemical storage and paint supplies.

Under the stairs: Nuts/ Bolts/ zip ties/ clips/ anything small enough to fit in a bin. 

Also on the left you can see my brother's "REAL WELDER" hiding under the stairs.

The lift itself, also monopolized by project storage. 

The next bay is where 'Patches' lives. One day this should be a parking space instead of a work space. 

Also, You can see the rolls of plastic hanging from the ceiling. These are to drop down for painting/ media blasting. 

In front of the second Bay: Workbench, tool boxes, Parts Washer, compressor and vertical Mill. 

Last two bays: DD parking, HF Bandsaw, Mig welder, Lathe, Beer Fridge and the WC. 

And inside of the WC: Slop sink, Battery storage (to keep them away from freezing temps), stereo and Urinal.

As for the project itself... I really don't have any great photos since it came apart almost as soon as I got it. 

Here are some of the more complete ones I haven't posted yet though. 

(Safety Third!) 

Don't worry, those TWO leaky fuel tanks right behind my brother are full of diesel.

The interior was not bad for the 10 minutes I sat in it. 

maschinenbau Dork
1/5/18 3:38 p.m.

LOVE your shop! I could get into big trouble with a workspace like that. 

Dirtydog Reader
1/5/18 4:44 p.m.

Nice shop.  I'd love to have one of those doors that was actually attached to something.

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/6/18 9:02 a.m.

Didn't get a whole lot done in the garage yesterday, but I did finish machining the axles.

I also disassembled them fully for cleaning. 

Here you can see the difference between the two passenger side axles. 

New boots are in the mail so I finished wire brushing off all the old paint. 

I am going to powder coat them but the oven/ powder coat gun are in the unheated part of the garage... It's 4 degrees. I'll find something else to do till next week. 

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/7/18 2:11 p.m.

My brother and I attempted to work on the truck last night. Temperatures were in the single digits though and even with the heat running full blast for 5 hours it only got up to 45 in there. Which isn't bad except the tools, parts, floor and truck were still at 25. 

Oh well, some progress was made. 

I put the axles together sans boots or grease and... 

They look a little crooked but the suspension is at full droop. They were centered and equally angled so the engine is in the right spot, far as I can tell. 

With that cleared up, time to move on to the last engine mount. 

Step one, install the steering rack. It's pretty close to where the engine mount goes and I wanted to be sure there ws no interference. 

My brother made a CAD template of the side of the transmission while I was doing that. 

Then we traced it out on for 3/16 steel.

While I was laying under the engine I noticed that the bottom of the transmission was still filthy so I used some brake clean and a wire brush on it. 

 Before on right, after on left. 

It's not perfect but trying to get ALL the dirt off of a diesel engine is the road to madness. 

Well after that I tried to put the correct bend in the rear engine mount but I really derped it up. 

I didn't take any pictures of the bent metal because of previously mentioned derping. So here is a picture of my glove warmer. I highly recommend you pick one up. 

I guess I'm starting over on the engine mount bracket...

einy HalfDork
1/7/18 5:48 p.m.

Nice work!  I really dig the pics you are posting ... they are a great reminder of a base 1980 Rabbit build into something alot more fun that I did way back in 1990 while having the use of an awesome auto hobby shop at Offutt AFB.  We could rent a bay with a lift for $2.50 an hour with free use of shop tools, or the paint booth for a three day stretch for $45.  Good times ... !

AWSX1686 Dork
1/8/18 12:36 p.m.

Personally not a VW fan, but the diesels are cool. This is a cool project. Keep on!


Also, my co-worker has one of these, also in green, but with an Audi TT drivetrain. 

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/8/18 1:28 p.m.

In reply to AWSX1686 :

I've never seen one with that swap but I suppose it's the same as the VW 1.8T. 200HP is a lot in a truck that weights 2100 lbs. 

AWSX1686 Dork
1/8/18 1:53 p.m.

In reply to BirgerBuilder :

Indeed it is! I've gotten a ride in it. I wouldn't call it insane, but it is nice and peppy. 

Gunchsta Reader
1/8/18 3:30 p.m.

Wow. The rust at the start!! I knew these were prone to rust but that seems incredible. Kudos to you sir for saving it! 


Like the rest of the group I'm envious of your shop, looks very nice! 


Keep up the good work, it looks awesome! 

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/14/18 10:56 a.m.

Thanks for all the kind words people!

It's been a slow week but I got out there Friday and yesterday. 

Friday I pulled the axles out and powder coated them.

I started putting them back together, but apparently left my brain in the house. 

Is that missing anything? 

Oh yeah.. A boot. So I pulled it all back apart just to realize that this axle  is all the same diameter and ended up sliding the boot on from the other side anyway. indecision I have made a dumb.

Third set of stupid, I never ordered new inner boots because I was feeling cheap and they all cost $25 a piece. Well, maybe I need to remember that my "new" engine is still old enough to buy a drink this year.


Whatever, on second search I found boots for 6$ a piece that I should have ordered in the first place. 

I think it's time to put the axles down and back away.


BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/15/18 12:29 p.m.

Saturday I was able to finish the last engine mount. 

I started by cutting out a new flat blank after bending the last one wrong. Then I promptly drilled the holes in the wrong spot. It's been one of those weekends...

That's okay though because it made me realize that I was doing the whole thing backwards. So I made the bottom section first.

Or, drilled two holes in a piece of scrap at least. Then laid the side section on top and marked the holes. 

Incorrect holes already drilled; correct holes marked in grease. 

Bolted back together for tack welds. 

Back on the bench for real welds. 

Another piece of C channel for strength. 

And it all fits nicely. I was very happy to unbolt the front mount and have the engine perfectly centered within the other three engine mount's range of motion. 


The welds on the mount don't look amazing because my brother was over and thought that he should get to use the good welding mask because, "He bought it it", and, "It belongs to him".   

Speaking of which, remember that house jack pipe we cut up to make an engine mount? We are using all the parts of the buffalo here. 

It makes a perfect frame brace on a 70's powerwagon. 

After that I pulled the engine back out since I need to do more work on it. Cleaning the intake valves, replacing vaccuum lines and probably replacing the clutch coming up. I'll also need to clearance the front core support to make more room for oil changes and possibly an AC compressor. 

Not a ton of space up there. 

Until next time!

paranoid_android UltraDork
1/16/18 11:33 a.m.

Rabbit life!

i think I’m enjoying your project more than mine wink

If your rear drum goodies are still available I may be able to give them a new home.  Honestly I don’t know what size they are, haven’t taken them apart yet.

Also I’d like to learn more about this junkyard Scirocco.  Is it in Michigan?

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
1/16/18 12:21 p.m.
BirgerBuilder said:

Ok, so a quick tour of the shop. 

Outside, The small garage on the right is mostly just storage. 

Cool shop. Out of curiosity, what's on the second floor? Storage?  living quarters?

Run_Away HalfDork
1/16/18 12:30 p.m.

Excellent! Very envious of your shop.

Does the new clutch mean you're going to be turning up the fuel on the new engine?

xflowgolf Dork
1/16/18 12:52 p.m.
paranoid_android said:


Also I’d like to learn more about this junkyard Scirocco.  Is it in Michigan?


If you're referring to my prior post, the Scirocco was at Weller Self Serve in Grand Rapids, MI.  The Row 52 app doesn't show it in inventory any more though, so it's likely crushed.  

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/16/18 1:24 p.m.

To android,

Thanks! Just let me know if you need those drums, shoes, and parts. 40$ shipped so I'm not loosing all the money I spent on em. 


To Ed; 

Upstairs of the smaller garage is storage. The larger one was originally going to house my wife's bakery but she lost her interest so now it's bead blasting, powder coating and wood shop. 


To Run Away,

Eventually I'll be adding injectors and a tune for 25% power or so. Nothing major so I'll probably run the stock clutch. I'm not sure how many miles are on the one hiding under there though.


To XflowGolf,

Thanks for answering that question because I had no idea what he was talking about! 

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/23/18 10:37 a.m.

Saturday afternoon I had a free hour so I sand blasted the new engine mounts. 

Unfortunately, the powder coating didn't go too well because of all the concaved spaces.

It's hard to see here but the insides are all uncoated. It's tough to get powder to travel past other sections metal since it's static charged. 

So I just rattle canned them over the powder coat, the high wear sections will still have better protection from the 'base coat'

Also, I was able to finish putting the axles together. Those inside boots were TIGHT. It took me like half an hour just to wrestle them on. 

Little extra lube on the shaft and I was finally able to squeeze in there... 

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/24/18 3:05 p.m.

Sunday I was able to pull the transmission off and check out the clutch. It's not awful.. but I'm gonna replace it anyway. 

The Throw out bearing is definitely knackered so it probably didn't get replaced last time the clutch was. 

Needs a wash too. Also, for the same money and effort, you can drop in the VR6 clutch good up 300 lb/ft of torque so I guess I am planning for extra power. wink

Now the real progress I got done on Sunday happened because we had warm weather. The truck and the engine got rolled outside and it's time to address... this. 

Yup, that's what the intake ports on the head look like. Mmm, mmm. 

Step one; cover all the openings and such till the engine looks like it's into BDSM.

Step two; Dig. 

Step three: Walnuts!

I had to add this piece of flared tubing to the media blaster to get inside the ports but..

not bad results. You just have to make sure each valve is closed when you're cleaning it and as far as I know, the engine isn't full of walnut shells.

Not perfect, but so much better. 

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/28/18 5:58 p.m.

Nothing very exciting done this weekend mostly just a lot of cleaning. 

I feel like I already mentioned that cleaning a diesel engine is a pointless endeavor but for some reason all of the accessories and wiring fell off anyway...

 Then I made these little blanking plates to cover up the oil and coolant passageways. 

My brother had a pint of POR-15 engine enamel sitting around for me to steal. 

I didn't take the injection pump off because you have to re-time it and I'm not all about that noise. 

I also started cleaning the transmission but am having a hell of a time getting the Aluminum clean. It all looks about the same as the injection pump and brackets in the photo above.

Any tips on how to clean up and polish bare aluminum, guys? 

JoeTR6 HalfDork
1/28/18 6:48 p.m.

I usually degrease aluminum with Simple Green and either blast it with glass beads at lower pressure or wire brush it.  Neither of those would work very well here, so you could try something like Eagle etching aluminum wheel cleaner.  It's fairly acidic and may cause problems with stuff nearby, but it does get raw aluminum very clean.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/28/18 9:41 p.m.

RE: aluminum cleaning. Carb/brake cleaner followed by wire brush, followed by pressure washer (preferably heated). Repeat until desired result is attained.

BirgerBuilder New Reader
1/29/18 2:11 p.m.

I used Brake clean inside the bell housing and it made a hell of a difference. 


And After:

I'm not getting near the same results on the outside though. Also, it took nearly two cans of the stuff to get that done. I think I'll grab a bottle of that etching cleaner JoeTR6 mentioned, it's got great reviews on amazon, one guy even specifically mentions using it on his transmission. 

Thanks all.


Crackers Dork
1/29/18 2:50 p.m.

I've been using Ospho rust converter for cleaning oxidized aluminum with great results. 

I wouldn't leave it on for long before rinsing though. 

Stefan MegaDork
1/29/18 2:51 p.m.

Castrol Super Clean works great for me.  Just make sure to wash it well afterward.

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