Vanagon – Doka dash off

Last weekend I pulled the dash off the yellow Doka so that I could do a refurb of the heater box. It could have been worse, but of the six machine screws that hold the heater box on, the heads of two twisted off, and another had to have head drilled off and stub removed with vice grips.

Hey look at this heater box. I think my 82 diesel Westy was the same, and that is the box is not welded together at those tabs. Yeah, there were metal clips, but no plastic welding. My 86 syncro and Simon’s 91 syncro heater boxes had the halves welded together.

The fan motor was seized. I did loosen it up and I click get it to run, but it will be replaced. The foam on the flaps was all disintegrated. The heater core was dirty but sound. I’ll get back to the box later, next post will be about the pedal assembly.

  1. #1 by John B on November 23, 2015 - 10:27 pm

    Hi Alistair, what kind of a mission is it to get dash off? I gotta do it one day to redo squeaking fan, pedal play etc. I’ve been putting it off for a few years now as it looks quite a thing? Any tips for doing it quick and easy (not that anything Syncro should be easy if course!)
    Cheers John

    • #2 by albell on November 23, 2015 - 10:44 pm


      It’s not hard, just a pain. The highlights are:

      – being careful with removing the heater control sliders. But then again you probably have the rotary controls on your SA van. I have no idea what booby traps lie there

      – the anti theft shear bolts on the upper part of steering column. I use vice grips to get them out and replace with plain old M8 bolts

      – the rats nest of what ever radio you have installed

      Really that’s about all the annoying parts. But you want to pull the pedal assembly. The brake master cylinder can be left attached to its lines when separated from the booster. Remove the rubber pedal pads to make it a bit easier to get the pedal assembly up and out. The assembly is pretty well obvious who it comes apart. You can have fun repairing it, I mean that. One thing I noticed on the Doka was that the main shaft that goes through the aluminum bracket and holds the pedals had ovalised the aluminum bracket slightly. I didn’t bother to repair that. It would mean some welding and then drilling and reaming. I was not sure I had correct size reamer and it wasn’t really worth the effort.

      Btw, you do know the trick of swapping in a BMW brake booster? Shoot, forgot the BMW model code, 30? The three series after the ugly 70s 3 series. Booster is I think 10% bigger diameter and just needs different thread in the yoke/rod

      If you dig around in my blog I think I show what I’d did on my syncro to eliminate pedal play. Instead of welding and drilling as I did on the Doka, I drilled the ovalised hole larger and turned a new pin.

      This any help?


  2. #3 by John B on December 6, 2015 - 10:09 pm

    Thanks Alistair, I’ll give it a bash soon. SA buses also got slide levers for heating system that break very easily if messed with!

    Time to take out old radio rats nest anyway and replace with something that talks to modern tech like iPhones as music player I think. Just don’t do the cd thing anymore in my other vehicle. Going to miss the rattle of all those old cd cases!

    • #4 by albell on December 7, 2015 - 7:51 am

      So some SA vans came with rotary heater controls and some with the sliders? The sliders can be a pain. They can be stuck on the metal parts very firmly. Gotta grab the lever with pliers on shaft, not end knob, and pull with constrained pull. You know, bracing your hand so when the slider does come loose it only moves a little. An old table knife slid in there guiding the plastic lever through thr panel slot helps prevent the lever catching and breaking the faceplate when the leaver finally lets go.



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