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electric_olive None
7/30/16 8:35 p.m.

Hey all, I am posting my TDI project in progress. I am great at starting things but tend to loose interest at the 80-90% complete stage - I blame the usual suspects - short attention span and low impulse control to start new projects. Sharing this one here will hopefully provide some motivation and support to get across the finish line.

Let's start at the beginning. I found this '85 Vanagon on Craigslist back in late 2011. A company called East Coast Doka imported a few of these from Germany. Its and ex German Bundeswehr (army) Doppelkabine (doublecab) or Doka for short.

This is a bucket list car for me and the delicate negotiations with my wife lead to both a Disney cruise vacation for the family and me flying to New Hampshire and driving back (slowly) to southeastern PA in this beauty. Top speed was 60 mph with the 1.6L normally aspirated Diesel humming away at redline.

Right away, I addressed the seam rust at the front, some dents, and replaced the headliner and windshield. I did a black out on the front hood too - I think it looks pretty cool - will eventually get more lights up front.

Next up was the stance - the Dokas have taller springs than the Vanagons, so I put Weitec lowering spring on front only and left the rear alone to get a good rake. Front wheels are 5.5x15 with the bus/Vanagon 5x112 bolt pattern from Cip1 with 205/65 tires. I got the black and polished version to match the rear wheels that I found on the Samba which are knock off Porsche Fuchs. The rears are 15" x 8 and I had to use adapters because they have the Porsche lug pattern and that spaces the wheels out a bit further a bit further than I would have liked - by about 1/2". I got some 235/60 tires. Call me an old man, but I prefer the look of 15" tires with the bulging sidewalls to this new-fangled 19 and 20 inch stuff...

I drove the Doka, obviously named Olive, around for a few years like this and had a lot of fun. It's great to have a vehicle that can haul material for construction projects and then go to a car show. But the rear tires promise way more power than the little Diesel can deliver, so I started researching TDI swaps. More on that next post...

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
7/30/16 9:00 p.m.

This should be fun to watch.

de80q Reader
7/31/16 7:48 a.m.

Very interesting, where in southern PA are you located? I'm in York, and would love to check this out some time.

wheelsmithy Dork
7/31/16 3:09 p.m.

Very cool. Watching Intently

Kartoffelbrei UltraDork
7/31/16 5:22 p.m.


electric_olive New Reader
7/31/16 10:20 p.m.

Great - thanks for the interest. de80q, I live in Berwyn and work in Mohnton so let's set something up.

I got serious about the TDI swap 2 years ago. I bought a complete AHU TDI engine, wiring harness, firewall, gauge cluster, and manual trans originally from 98 Jetta for $1200 on Craigslist. The trans is not needed but came in the deal - if you need one let me know!

I have a chain fall hooked up to my ceiling rafters so it was pretty easy to pull out the stock engine. I did this a year and a half ago over the winter. Here is the 1.6 NA hanging above the TDI. There are a lot of similarities in the blocks and some parts like oil pans can interchange. The older VW diesels like my 1.6L are indirect injection. The TDIs are direct injected so the cylinder heads and fuel injection systems are unique and the TDIs are much more efficient and make more torque and power (1.6L NA=48hp/71ft-lbs and stock 1.9L AHU TDI is 90hp/149ft-lbs, and I have plans to tune to higher levels. Some of the early indirect injection engines were turbocharged too, but not mine. I could have added a turbo and some oil squirters to cool the underside of the pistons, but I wasn't was going to get enough performance from that set up.

The big decisions at this point were what to do with the transmission gear ratios and how to mount the TDI engine. For the transmission I went whole hog to make the ratios right for the TDI engine. It cost close to 4 grand, but in addition to a full rebuild, I decided to change the final drive from 5.86:1 to 4.57:1 and 3rd from 1.26 to 1.14 and 4th from .85 to .7 - that gives nice evenly spaced gears and a comfortable engine RPM at cruising speeds (3500 RPM at 70 mph). With these changes, a stock TDI will deliver 33mpg or so on the highway in a Vanagon. I mapped out the speeds vs RPM and the engine torque in each gear and the loads from Aero, rolling resistance and mass for various grades to make sure the TDI could pull grades without a lot of downshifting - the chart below is loaded to GVWR (5500 lbs), and I also looked at curb weight (3500 lbs) plus 200 lbs for the driver. It all looked good and dropped the trans off with VW guru Joe Langois in MD to do the work.

More info about the TDI mounts and install next time...

T.J. UltimaDork
8/1/16 5:56 a.m.

Cool project. I was unaware that dokas even existed. Do you know how many are even in the states?

electric_olive New Reader
8/1/16 5:23 p.m.

As a result of the chicken tax (I am not making this up!) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tax, the Vanagon Dokas were not sold new in the US. They were sold in Europe and Canada and pretty much all around the world and by now there must be a few hundred in the US brought in one at a time.

For the TDI installation, I bought a kit with motor mounts, oil pan, bellhousing, clutch, flywheel and trans input shaft from Eurospecsport.com. It was over $2k, but made the install pretty straight fwd. I just had to massage the cross member a bit to make it fit and tweak a bracket to stiffen the hydraulic clutch slave bracket. The Vanagon diesel engines are normally laid over at a 50 degree angle to stay below the engine cover and if you upgrade to a TDI with higher cylinder pressures and more engine vibration and higher torque, the stock mounts are inadequate (and they don’t bolt directly to the TDI block because there is a bunch of new stuff in the way). There are upgraded TDI hydraulic mount kits for the leaned over position and because of the angle, you also need a new turbo oil drain tube down to the oil pan instead of the block. The Doka has a higher engine compartment lid integrated into the bed compared to a Vanagon, so I did not need to lean the engine over, so the Eurospecsport kit puts the engine close to vertical which allows the engine mounts to work better - if you have a Vanagon, they supply an engine cover with a bump for engine clearance.

With the big ticket items out of the way, I focused getting the TDI engine ready to drop in. I removed the AC and power steering pump and then got an idler pulley and a length proper belt to simplify the accessory drive - took two tries to get the right pulley. I also updated the alternator pulley to a later vibration absorbing part - the torque pulse from the TDI are apparently hard on the alternator and lead to short life without the isolator - and of course needed to buy special tool to swap the pulley I did the rear main seal and added a windage tray - why not, right? I also updated the terribly restrictive intake to PD150 unit and swapped directions of the inlet so it was facing rear of the truck which will be a better intercooler location and bought the appropriate EGR bypass pipe. And painted everything going back on the engine a contrasting shade of green (seemed like a good idea at the time) or black.

Then, I bolted the engine up to the rebuilt trans and loaded it in from underneath. I had to get the rear of the truck really high in the air to slide it underneath, so I precariously stacked some wood and ramp sections and used the chain hoist and some jacks to get enough clearance - wish I had a picture of that, but I think I was too scared to keep it up there any longer than necessary.

So the engine was in - except, the kit was designed for a US transmission mount and I had a European mount, so I had to change that to get the engine and trans to be straight in the car and the axles would bolt up to transmission. Also, please note that I sprung for the stainless steel coolant pipes and all new heater hose from front to back - just a little more scope creep in the project.

It's about this time, just when I needed one final push to get it across the finish line, that I started getting distracted by shiny objects...

de80q Reader
8/2/16 3:23 a.m.

Well doesn't that figure. I passed you on Saturday going to Philly to visit family. Next time I have a reason to head your way, I'll set up to stop in and check it out.

Any chance you take it to the Carlisle shows?

dextervw New Reader
8/2/16 7:03 a.m.

Moar!! As an ex vanagon with an aba swap owner and a TDI swapped mk3 golf owner.. you must finish or I will have to take this away from you.

ssswitch HalfDork
8/2/16 8:27 a.m.

Even in Canada I haven't seen that many Dokas. A lot of the Vanagon ones rusted out and we largely didn't get the T4-based models at all.

This is a great project. Can't believe how good it looks after all these years.

VWguyBruce Dork
8/2/16 9:22 a.m.
electric_olive wrote: I am great at starting things but tend to loose interest at the 80-90% complete stage - I blame the usual suspects - short attention span and low impulse control to start new projects.

No one like that here, no idea what you're talking about.

Cool project. When I was stationed at Ramstein, we had one as our shop truck. Drove the crap out of it for 4 years. One of the most practical vehicles I've ever used.

electric_olive New Reader
8/3/16 12:11 p.m.

Yes, I have taken her to Carlisle a few years ago. Will be much nicer to drive her there next year.

So in reality the distractions started as soon as I began the TDI swap. My brother gave me his '95 Chevy Caprice wagon that he had since new and was going to scrap. I am a sucker for B-body wagons and this is actually the third one of these I have owned. Free cars are never truly free and while working on the TDI swap I managed to spend way more money than the wagon is worth - on the plus side it now has Impala SS rims, grill and trim, new tires and shocks, Hotchkiss anti roll bars and real lower control arms, new opti spark, water pump, manifold leaks fixed and new exhaust with a healthy mellow tone.

Then, I decided that instead of finishing the TDI swap, what I really needed to do was to hack the roof of my daily driver Honda Element and turn it into a post-apocalyptic ride. It was just going to take a few days which grew into several weeks with lots of help from friends and family and then some further tweaking and wound up being the best project ever.

I made a youtube video of the Honda Hack build with lots of time lapse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdxS9MkYD3Y and there is a video of the wagon up there too. Yes, there will be a TDI swap video eventually too.

And more detail on the build here http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133801

So, now I am back and fully focused on the TDI swap (well partially focused because I need to simultaneously complete a home construction project that I stalled out on a few years ago when I was mostly done). And I am embarrassed to even mention the Isetta project that I was just starting and then put aside to do the TDI swap.

Next post will have the improving status of the cooling system, intercooler mounting and plumbing, turbo upgrade, ECU tuning and wiring harness.

JohnRW1621 MegaDork
8/3/16 1:00 p.m.

I really like the VW build and now add the Honda Element Hack to the list of things I did not know I needed in my life! Very Cool

wvumtnbkr SuperDork
8/3/16 4:43 p.m.

Dude, that hack is elementally cool!

electric_olive New Reader
8/17/16 12:17 p.m.

I recently put the cooling system together - its a mix of vanagon and TDI hoses. I only had to use a joiner in one of the radiator hoses and a reducer to mate up the heater hose and I made a bracket to mount the Jetta overflow bottle which is much cleaner than the two Vanagon tanks - there should be enough volume for coolant expansion (alot more coolant with the radiator at the other end of the truck) - we'll see how it goes.

And I also got the intercooler located - using one from a TDI Passat - and the hoses routed. I looked at a few locations and it seems best to hang it down low and duct in some airflow below truck. Need to make the bracket/scoop but I have a decent carboard template started.

Some of the intercooler plumbing will have to change now because I decided to go ahead and upgrade to a VNT17 turbo and higher flow fuel injectors (+86%) and get the ECU tuned and wired for an external 3 bar MAP sensor. Originally I was going to get it running stock and do the upgrade later, but because it affects the wiring harness for the MAP sesnor and a different turbo actuator, it made sense to do it all at once and the TDI goes from 90 to 172 hp and 155 to 308 lb-ft of torque. So now new oil lines for the turbo, new down pipe and remove the intake to mount the 3 bar TMAP sensor.

Here are the VNT-17 and stock turbos side by side.

I just finished installing the higher flow injectors.

Enyar Dork
8/17/16 12:49 p.m.

Oy vey

crankwalk Dork
8/17/16 1:18 p.m.

Pretty cool little truck. Is this one FWD?

electric_olive New Reader
8/17/16 2:47 p.m.

Vanagon was the last of rear wheel drive VW vans - hopefuly some power slides in my future. The holy grail of the Double Cabs are the syncro 4WD versions.

I am a little obsessed with powerslides - the mid post diversion Honda Hack is AWD but has a funky gear pump mechanism to apply torque to the rear tires. It's not enough torque at the rear wheels for a decent power slide, but I am thinking about ways to lock up the mechanism up to get even torque and speed and the front and rear wheels. I know there will be some binding during turns on pavement, but I wonder how bad would it be and if it's a worthwhile trade off for the joy of powersliding around on loose surfaces. I think yes...

crankwalk Dork
8/17/16 4:00 p.m.

Oh duh, I can see now how the layout is done now.

dextervw New Reader
8/18/16 7:12 a.m.

Did someone say power sliding a TDI!? You are going to love it!

tdrrally Reader
8/18/16 10:41 a.m.

would it be possible to convert a tdi to rear sump oil pan?

electric_olive New Reader
9/7/16 1:07 p.m.

I think the TDI sump location can be changed with a different oil pick up and pan - here is a shot of mine without the pan. I guess mine technically is a rear sump because the crank pulley is at the rear of the truck!

So I made some more progress on the swap. Drilled some holes in the intake to mount the 3 bar TMAP sensor.

Got the new turbo and oil drain and feed lines installed. Need an adapter for the AHL oil feed line because the hard plastic PCV hose going to breather is in the way.

Noticed there is not enough clearance between the crossmember and the oil pan - ouch. I think I can fix this with some spacers between the hydraulic mounts and the brackets on the engine. Hopefully I can lift the engine up enough to intall them without unbolting the driveshafts - I hate taking things off and back on a second time.

Exhaust, Intercooler and wiring next...

Also, I bought another car - but not to worry - I will finish the Doka swap before I start on this. My first car was a '70 Torino - it was a 4 door with 302 handed down from my dad. I always wished it was a 2 door with a sportroof, so I just had to buy this Torino Cobra when I saw it for cheap on Craigslist near by house. My wife is thrilled with this latest round of impulsive decision making. Its a drag car that hasn't run in a bunch of years, but supposedly has a 500HP 460 cu in engine and ran low 11s. My plan is to do the bare minimum to get it running and street legal and then take it drag racing, Ohio mile top speed racing, autocross and then rally cross. I will have to change the high stall converter and spool rear end after the drag racing, but otherwise want to keep component changes and costs down.

electric_olive New Reader
11/7/16 1:29 p.m.

Steady but slow progress since the last update. I spaced the motor mount brackets up and now have good clearance between the oil pan and cross member.

Mounted the intercooler so it hangs down a bit below the rear valence. It should have OK airflow down there - there are not a whole lot of great options at the rear of the rig and I was not going to run any more plumbing up to the front. I used a stock Passat intercooler and bracket with three rubber grommets and made two brackets from bar stock to attach it to the engine block and motor mount. Vacuum line for wastegate control passes conveniently through a hole it the bracket from the motor mount. Also have the intake plumbing mocked up. Need to add a bracket to stop the air cleaner from flopping around and add a fitting and hose to the PCV thing on the valve cover. Only took six orders from SiliconeIntakes.com to get all the correct parts…

And I got AEM gauges for Boost and EGT – went metric – seemed like the thing to do even though my speedo from the Jetta will be in MPH. I drilled and tapped the EGR block off plate for the thermocouple probe.

Started installing the wiring harness, there is a bit of work there. Also the shifter linkage is not lining up right – the cup on the linkage is too low for the shifter ball on the transmission. Not sure if this is related to the different transmission mount that I had to use (changed from the European to the US version which uses different mounting locations.) If anyone has any ideas or the rear most portion of a Vanagon shift linkage for sale let me know…

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
11/7/16 3:02 p.m.

This is awesome.

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