Vanagon – Q and D head replacement – closing in

A few more odds and ends before the engine goes back into the van. In no particular order…

My diff lock light has not been coming on for a while now. I narrowed the cause down to either a broken wire, a faulty switch on transmission, or a bad connection at switch. I had planned on pulling the switch, but as I didn’t pull the tranny with the engine, and as is (ie the vacuum actuator still attached to tranny) I could not get a wrench or a socket on the switch to remove it. See how tight (ie little clearance) it is?


So as I stand there, kicking myself for not pulling tranny, I decide to cut open the bundled wire sheath to see if there is a broken wire where they make some tight bends. No luck, all is good, so I pull back the rubber boot on the connector and one wire comes with it. Did I just pull it off or was it broken already? Of course I am pumping for the latter. I fixed the connection and put it all back in place. Fingers crossed.

I forgot to mention before this that I found a bent pushrod when I took the heads off. If I remember correctly, it was on the side with the (leaking) spring loaded pushrod tubes. How does a bent pushrod affect the engine if the valve adjustment is done correctly?


I’m re-using the clutch drive disk and pressure plate and I measured things to check if that was a good idea. There is still some good life in the disk and the pressure plate has all its finger and is flat. The flywheel is ok too, I de-glazed with fine emery and I replaced the O-ring. The old one was quite stiff.


I did some head scratching when it came to the support bracket on the rear exhaust manifold. Seems that the syncro muffler carrier has extra holes in it to attach the bracket. As I have home made aluminum muffler carriers I had to drill some new holes. Pretty tight, not much wrench clearance. I’ll curse myself if and when I have to get the bracket or carriers off.


Boy am I happy to see the engine finally in this state.


Oh, and when I was in the engine bay I looked into the holes in the frame members on either side of the bay. The frame members that further back house the bumper mounts. A lot of dirt in there.


Next job is to move the engine from the stand to the hoist so that I can get the flywheel and clutch back on.

  1. #1 by famillysyncro on June 2, 2013 - 5:58 am

    That push rod is really bent. Not sure if it could affect anything. Or it might flex a little more in that case (instead when beeing straight) and you might loose some valve opening range…..
    Looks nice to see your motor in that state. Just curious, how many gallons of that red paint do you have?

    I was looking at the picture of your diff switch. Isn’t there enough room right now for you to put a long socket and extension to get it out?


    • #2 by albell on June 2, 2013 - 8:49 am


      you’re probably right about the bent rod affecting spring range.

      The paint – well I had 2 cans of orange tremclad and I went through most of that over the last couple of years on suspension stuff. Anything I took off for any amount of time I painted. I’ve got one spray can of engine enamel (chevy orange) that I sued on the engine parts.

      I like orange πŸ™‚

      The diff switch – yes i looks like you can get a socket in there but you can’t. A rib on the case prevents the socket from getting down onto switch. So you have to use an open end wrench but no access unless you take off actuator. Grrr.

      If my connection repair doesn’t work I’ll live with it until one day I feel like lowering tranny a bit and deal with getting actuator off. Maybe the next time I do cv joints.



  2. #3 by famillysyncro on June 16, 2013 - 6:45 am

    Morning Alistair

    Where are your project at?
    I guess you weren’t happy with the way it was going and your Subie engine is rebuilt and ready to go in the van?
    Or you got too many father’s day gift and you are too busy to play with them…… life could be tough sometimes….;-)


    • #4 by albell on June 16, 2013 - 6:59 am


      I’ve been driving the van for a week now. Not had a chance to update blog, but will try to do so today.



      • #5 by famillysyncro on June 16, 2013 - 7:12 am

        No emergency Alistair. Good to know the van is in working order and you are enjoying it. I wanted to see the Subie in that van….. I guess we’ll wait another 100,000kms or more to see that….
        Is your diff light working now?

      • #6 by albell on June 16, 2013 - 7:43 am

        I do have some catching up to do, I should’ve posted updates these last couple of weeks. Ah, the diff lock light switch – no, my wiring repair did not fix it. I suppose it was a faint hope. But the other day I had the rear end of van on ramps (looking at things, checking etc) and really, it won’t be to hard to get at the switch with tranny in place (or even lowered a tad). Why did I not do it when engine out? Well, the way the van was parked made that side hard to get at and my mind really was on other things (lame excuse).

        Oh the subie, one thing that would spur me on would be a measured drawing of an engine adapter. Call me cheap, but 400 bucks or so for that chunk or Al plate makes me cringe πŸ™‚



  3. #7 by famillysyncro on June 18, 2013 - 3:53 pm

    I really understand, especially with a good running motor. It was different for me with a bad motor even not rebuildable, no core and not able to find another motor in Calgary…..

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