Vanagon – quick and dirty head reconditioning

In my last one before last post I mentioned that I had been given a Subie 2.5 engine from good friend Simon. The engine needs to be gone over carefully before using and because I work so slowly and also because I am still not 100% convinced about putting a subie engine in the van (don’t start, I know my feelings are irrational) it won’t be going in my van any time soon. But I need to fix things on my current WBX engine, namely a rotten exhaust and a weeping headgasket (cold weather weep on one side).

I have a spare WBX, of unknown provenance, and I decided to take the heads from it, clean them up, and pop them on my current WBX. At the same time I can replace the parts of the exhaust system that have rusted away and also replace some seals and gaskets.

So I took the heads off that spare engine and noted that one head had some pitting and corrosion, the other looked like it was a newish addition. Both heads checked out ok in regards to valves and valve guide tolerance. I set about filling the pitted head with some JB Weld.

Here is the pitted head after a quick fly past with a sand blaster.


JB Weld smeared on the pitted areas.


Head weighted down on parchment paper on a marble slab.


After the JB Weld had cured.


100 grit sandpaper glued to marble slab and head being “lapped”


The result.


All the pits now filled with JB Weld. Even the ones in the pic that still look unfilled.


The other head, looking pretty nice.


And with its old gasket. A lot of sealant squeeze out, note that the sealant had blocked hole on upper left hand side.


Gasket flipped, squeeze out apparent, as is the “cast” that blocked the hole, now on the lower left hand side.


I’m taking the rest of the week off work (well work is slow anyway) to drop my  engine and tranny and get these heads and the the rest of the needed stuff on.

  1. #1 by tanami on May 23, 2013 - 6:12 pm

    Nice, but my favorite part was “I’m taking the rest iof the week off work”…

    • #2 by albell on May 23, 2013 - 7:56 pm

      Me too, and what do you know? I’m treating it like a holiday. I’m not busting my ass on this 🙂



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