A VW Bay Window Story: Rust, Rehab and Restoration- ‘Were these bits supposed to go back on too?’


‘Were these bits supposed to go back on too?’

Now, with a heading like the one above in the ‘Engine rebuild’ section of my story, you know this is going to be good…

This is how we started. Using an A-Frame ladder, loads of cheap pullies and some cheap rope that was NOT load rated at all. That’s how you build an engine hoist to get it up onto the desk. Wile. E. Coyote would have been proud and given it the ACME stamp of approval!

Before we started to strip the engine, we had heard/ read about/ seen a video of an engine being ‘bench started’. This was literally just starting the engine out of the vehicle- weirdly enough- on the bench.

It was easy to do and gave us a good idea about the state of the engine which we had turned over once in the van as a test. for now, knowing it moved freely and sparked properly was enough for us.

Again, our cartoon comedy setup of an ignition button and fuel feed system was enough for pleasing results.

Now the destruction could begin.

There was nut, bolts, pipes, cylinders, pistons heads, oil and fuel everywhere. We had stripped the engine right down to its crank case with expert speed and organisation.

Was that convincing? Yeah, I didn’t buy it either. Our Haynes Manual would later be invaluable for the rebuild as we had strewn parts all over the joint and told ourselves ‘We’d remember where it all went’.

We decided to replace the cylinders, pistons, heads, push rod tubes and a few other more minor components.

This decision was made to achieve a little more power from the engine, making a 1586cc engine into a 1641cc. Plus, also, you know…SHINEY!

All in all it turned out to not be too hard to rebuild an engine and by some miracle not much went wrong. I will admit to a few sphincter tightening moments which torquing bolts and feeling a sudden loose twist.

‘NOOOOOO! I think I’ve just stripped the crankcase threads!’

‘Errrrm, Chris. You have the ratchet set to loosen’.

After only a few days work…

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