Vanagon – more underbody protection

What am I doing screwing around with another project when I have a couple of unfinished ones on my plate? Well it’s just that yesterday’s propshaft protection plate build got me all hot and bothered to add at least one extension to the side. To the right hand side of the propshaft, between the skid rail and the frame rail, the coolant lines, the heater lines, and most importantly the shift linkage are exposed. You all know, but I’ll repeat, the shift linkage is protected by a tube on 16″ syncros, regular syncros with the bad road package, and ’91 (maybe ’90 too?) syncros in North America at least. The tube protects a couple of the joints in the linkage and I think that is a very good thing. In the winter I have had slush and ice build up on the linkage such that the van becomes hard to shift. Rather than try and reproduce the stock protection tube I thought that a plate over that entire section would be the ticket.

I needed a bit of stock roughly 11″ X 53″. I couldn’t find anything in the scrap pile that size so I had to do it the long way. Got these cut offs, bent, 3/16″ 5052 aluminum.

Photo 10-31-2013, 10 28 38 AM

I cut them up.

Photo 10-31-2013, 10 44 17 AM

Then tacked them together. I welded a length of 1/4″ X 2″ 6061 along one side, welded out full on the concave side, then back gouged the convex side.

Photo 10-31-2013, 12 35 00 PM

Welded out those grooves and ground the welds flush. The welded up assembly, and no points for guessing this, did take a curve. I laid a little beatin’ on it but accepted the wow. I think I can make it work for me and pull it out somewhat in the install. Is that my thumb in shot? I was using the iPad to take the pics, left my point and shoot camera at home.

Photo 10-31-2013, 3 37 01 PM

Clamped it in place on the van, to see what’s what. BTW, my welding was shit today. I had a lot of oxides bubbling up, never did get in my groove. Maybe it was the old stock I was using or maybe I was not on the ball.

Photo 10-31-2013, 4 43 25 PM (HDR)

Photo 10-31-2013, 4 43 45 PM

The outboard edge will sit a little higher on the frame rail, I just couldn’t clamp it that way. You know, the curves in the beast makes it stiffer than you’d expect. Now I have to make a few tabs to mount the inside edge to the propshaft protection plate, and I’ll bolt the outside vertical section to the frame rail (there are holes already in the frame that I can use).


  1. #1 by famillysyncro on November 1, 2013 - 7:06 am

    Like it, all aluminum, look sweet.

    Start to look like the bottom of a sports car….. or a boat… 😉

    Hopefully I’ll have time this winter to do something similar, starting from the front bumper until the rear.

    I don’t remember seeing those bad road package you are talking about, I’ll need to take a look at that.


    • #2 by albell on November 1, 2013 - 7:17 am

      Thanks Jerome. I hope you do understand that I’m making it up as I go along, and trying to use up scrap stock.

      Here is a link to pic of the linkage protection tube

      This page lists syncro 16 differences, and mentions the rough road package ( the wonderful German word – Schlechtwegepaket). Somewhere I have more info the package, the M number etc




      • #3 by famillysyncro on November 1, 2013 - 7:27 am

        Thanks Alistair

        I new about some mods on the 16″, but not all of them.

        I’ll be looking one day at the tube since I need to replace some bushings on the rod. I new of boots to protect those bushings.


      • #4 by albell on November 1, 2013 - 7:55 am

        No boot on my rear most linkage joint and that bugs me. Hasn’t bugged me enough to get a boot, or figure out if I can mount boot on the parts I have. I think there re some little differences between the booted and un-booted joints.

        For sure having the joint un booted allows a lot of grit into the joint, and the grease washes out faster. I hope my skid plate will stop much of that.



  2. #5 by Joel on November 1, 2013 - 9:02 am

    Very in impressive, your welds look just fine in these photos. I’m always impressed with your energy and imagination.

    Keep on Truckin!

    • #6 by albell on November 1, 2013 - 9:45 am

      Thanks Joel. To be honest I’m lacking in energy theses days. Making the skid plates did get me going a bit, but I think the dark rainy days ahead will make it even harder to get going on things for the van. Maybe I need to make a SAD light!




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