Upper Ball Joint Replacement on all Vanagon

By Tom Carrington

First, jack up and secure the Vanagon so that both front tires are off the ground. Remove the tire from the side with t he bad joint. If you are replacing just the upper joint, do not remove the brake rotor or caliper. It is easy enough to work around the rotor and caliper. By not removing them, the brakes will not need bleeding. Use the combination wrench to remove the large nut from the bottom of the joint.

Pickle Fork

With the lower nut removed, drive the ball joint separator tool between the upper control arm and the steering knuckle. The “pickle fork” destroys the rubber boot on the joint, but does a good job of popping the joint loose. As the tool is driven into the joint, the tool’s taper will force the joint up and out of the steering knuckle. Don’t be timid with the hammer – you will need to hit the pickle fork hard.

Separated balljoint

After several good thwacks, the joint will pop free and separate from the upper control arm. Next, take some time to clean the accumulated crud from the heads of the 2 allen bolts on top of the joint. Cleaning out the dirt allows the allen wrench to sit deeper in the socket, reducing the chances of stripping the screw head. On my Canadian-raised Vanagon, corrosion had locked the bolts tight. A few minutes of heating with a propane torch helped loosen the bolts enough to remove them without any damage. Once the bolts are out, raise the upper control arm far enough to slide out the joint.

New balljoint

Installing the new joint is even easier than removing the old one. Start by placing the new joint in the upper control arm and loosely installing the upper bolts. Next, guide the shaft of the balljoint through the hole in the steering knuckle, and install the new nut on the joint. Tighten the nut securely. The Bentley manual specifies 80 ft-lbs of torque, but I was not able to sneak a torque wrench in the tight confines, so I guessed it. The upper screws get torqued to 44 ft-lbs. The upper joint replacement shouldn’t affect your front end alignment, so once all is secure, re-install the tire and take a spin!

Front Wheel Bearing Replacement 2wd Vanagon

By Tom Carrington

Front wheel bearings are usually “serviced” when the disk rotor, caliper or brake pads are replaced. Servicing the wheel bearings includes bearing removal, cleaning and careful inspection. Worn or damaged parts are discarded and replaced. Grease seals should almost always be replaced during this process. The bearings are then packed with fresh grease and re-installed. The procedure is well within the ability of many home mechanics, and can be accomplished on a single weekend day, with proper planning.

Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • 19mm socket and breaker bar
  • 11mm flare-nut wrench
  • 7mm open-end or combination wrench
  • 10″ adjustable wrench or channel locks
  • 1/2″ drive torque wrench (must be capable of 125ft-lbs)
  • Assorted screwdrivers
  • Hammer and assorted punches
  • Sturdy jack and jack stands
  • 1 8oz tub of High temperature/disk brake wheel bearing grease
  • Roll of paper towels or several rags
  • 32oz can of brake fluid
  • 2 new front wheel seals
  • 2 new inner and 2 new outer bearings and races (optional)Dust cap removed
    First, loosen the front lug bolts. Jack up and secure the Vanagon so that the front tire is off the ground. Remove the tire from the rotor, and set it aside. On the driver’s side, remove the circlip securing the speedometer cable. Pry off the dust cap, and use the paper towels to clean the old grease out of the inside of the dust cap and off of the exposed parts. You should now be able to see the nut that holds the rotor in place, as pictured to the left.

    Next, the caliper must be removed in order to get the rotor off the spindle. Loosen the 2 large bolts with a 19mm socket and breaker bar. These bolts are torqued to over 100 ft-lbs, so expect them to be tight! Next, the brake line and it’s bracket must be dealt with. There are 2 basic methods for doing this. One method is to loosen the large nut on the bottom of the upper balljoint. With the nut removed, the brake line bracket can be slid off the balljoint, and the caliper can be hung from the frame with an old wire coat hanger. The advantage to this method is that the brake system is never opened, and the brakes will not need to be bled. The other method is to place a drain pan under the rotor, and remove the threaded brake line fitting from the caliper with the 11mm flare nut wrench. I find this easier than wrestling with the large balljoint nut (see my upper balljoint replacement article for details). If you don’t have a 11mm flare nut wrench, you can use a normal open end wrench on the brake line. Just be careful, as the soft material of the fitting is easy to strip or round off! Once that caliper is off, it’s an easy job to install new brake pads.

    Clean spindle

    The next step is to remove the nut that secures the rotor to the spindle. If you look closely at the first picture up above, you can see that the round collar on the nut is “peened” to prevent it from loosening. In other words, the nut has been whacked with a chisel. Use a small screwdriver or punch with a hammer to push the collar back into it’s original shape. The nut can then be unscrewed with a large adjustable wrench or channel locks. Once the nut is removed, pull the rotor straight off the spindle. The outer bearing and the thrust washer may fall out as you remove the rotor, so be ready to catch them. With the rotor removed, use some more paper towels to clean all the old grease from the spindle, as pictured to the right. In this picture, you can also see the threaded mounting points for the caliper bolts.

    Removing the grease seal

    While the outer bearing pratically falls out of the rotor, the inner bearing is retained by the grease seal. To get the inner bearing out, that grease seal must be removed first. Turn the rotor over on it’s back, and pry out the seal with a screwdriver, small pry bar or seal removal tool. With the seal removed, the inner bearing can be lifted out.

    Bearing race

    Now, it is time for some cleaning. Using your favorite solvent, wash all the grease from the bearings. Use a bunch of paper towels to remove the old grease from inside the rotor. Once all the parts are clean, close inspection is necessary. Check the rollers in the bearings for any signs of pitting, scoring or discoloration. In addition to inspecting the bearings, take a close look at the bearing races. The bearing races are hardened steel carriers that are pressed into the relatively soft cast iron of the rotor, as seen here to the right. They are examined for signs of wear just like the bearings. If there are any serious wear marks on either the bearings or races, they should be discarded and replaced as a set. Do not install new bearings into old races! This can lead to premature wear and/or failure of the new bearing!

    Slide hammer

    Replacing the bearing races is not too difficult. The only slight challenge is getting the old races out of the rotor. Since I have a slide hammer (pictured to the left) puller in my tool collection, I use it to pull the old races out. The slide hammer works by securing the brake rotor, and then inserting the jaws of the puller into small recesses behind the race in the rotor casing. The weight on the hammer is then forcefully slid the length of the shaft, until the weight impacts the end. The force generated by the impact will pop the race out of the rotor in one or 2 strokes.

    Detail of rotor

    If you do not have access to a slide hammer or other puller, the races can be driven out with a hammer and a long punch. The trick to doing this is to strike against the back side of the race, alternating blows on either side. Once again, the small recesses in the rotor casting give you a good spot to strike against. One of these recesses can be seen in the picture to the right, which shows a closeup of the area where the inner race will sit.

    Clean bearings and parts

    Here is a photo of all my parts laid out on the table. Notice how I have them on a clean paper towel, instead of directly on my grungy workbench. On the far left of the picture is the inner bearing and race. To the right of the inner bearing is the smaller outer bearing and race. On the far right is the securing nut and thrust washer. Missing from this picture is the new grease seal.

    Hydraulic press

    Once the old races are out, the new races can be installed with a hydraulic press. I place a socket that is of a slightly smaller diameter than the race on top, and press against it, as seen in the picture on the right. Another perfectly acceptable method is to use the same socket, and drive the race into the rotor by striking the socket with a hammer. When the race is fully seated, the sound of the blow will change from a “thud” to a more solid sounding “ring”.

    With the new races installed in the rotor, it’s time to prepare the bearings by packing them with grease. Force fresh grease into the cavities of the bearings until the grease oozes out from the sides of the rollers along it’s entire circumfrence. The inner (larger) bearing is installed first. Simply drop it into the bearing race. A new grease seal is then installed on the inside of the rotor. The rotor is now placed back on the spindle. Pack in more fresh grease into the void between the rotor and the spindle. Then place the inner on the spindle, and push it into the rotor until it seats. Next comes the thrust washer, and then the securing nut. If you are wondering why there is no picture next to this paragraph, it’s because my hands are too greasy to pick up the camera! While turning the rotor to prevent the bearings from binding, tighten the nut the adjustable wrench or channel locks. The nut should be snugged until there is no wobble in the rotor.

    The proper amount of torque is something you have to get a feel for. One test is that you should be just barely able to wiggle the thrust washer with a screwdriver. Also, when installing new bearings, I tend to tighten the nut a little more, assuming that new bearings will “wear in” after a few miles. Once you have the nut to your desired tightness, strike the top of the collar of the nut with a chisel to lock it in place. Don’t forget this step – If that nut gets loose or falls off while you are driving, your wheel could fall off!

    With the bearings installed, re-install the brake calipers. Those large caliper bolts get torqued to 100 ft-lbs. If you opened the brake lines to remove the caliper, you will need to bleed your brakes. I’ll cover that process in a future article. Use a hammer to tap the dust cap back on the rotor, and re-install the tire. Once you have the front wheel back on the ground, tighten the lug bolts. Now either move to the other side to finish the job, or if you are done – hit the road! Properly done, you will not need to mess with your front bearings again for many thousand miles.


Water pump replacement for 1.9l Waterboxer Vanagon

By Tom Carrington
I should have known it was coming. The signs were there. I just chose to ignore them. What signs? For the past month or so, I have been topping off the coolant reservoir. Not much, just maybe a pint every couple of weeks. I was kinda worried that I might have a head gasket problem (most Wasserboxer owners live with this constant fear) but there were no drips or puddles in the driveway, or strange smells from the exhaust. The temperature gauge always read fine, so I happily fed my engine’s habit. Life was good.

Or so I thought.

Note: Click on thumbnails for expanded images!

Just a week ago, the habit turned ugly. I noticed a slight smell of antifreeze after parking the van, but still no drips or other visible signs of a leak. I was more concerned, but not enough to fully investigate the problem. I should have. A day later, my Van was leaving a distintive coolant trail along the path I drove. Hansel and Gretel would have been proud. Bottom view of leaky pumpThat night, I got under the Van to assess the problem. With the engine running, coolant was spewing out of a small hole in engine, just behind one of the pulleys. No ordinary hole, coolant from this one indicates that one of the seals in the water pump had failed. My preferred FLAPS (Olympic Auto Parts, College Park, MD (301) 474-1030) had a brand new German-made pump in stock, complete with new gaskets and an O-ring for $62.00. A quick check at The Bus Depot web site showed they had a similar pump for $50.00. Since I needed it *now*, off to Olympic it was! 20 minutes later, I had a new pump. Follow along as I go through the steps for replacement!

Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • 12mm and 13mm wrenches and sockets
  • 3/8″ drive ratchet, 3″ and 6″ extensions and universal joint
  • Screwdrivers
  • Slip-joint pliers
  • Gasket scraper, putty knife or razor blade
  • Sturdy jack and jack stands
  • New water pump (comes with O-ring and gaskets)
  • 2 coolant pipe gaskets
  • 2 gallons antifreeze
  • RTV silicone sealer
  • Large bucket or wide dishpan (To collect old coolant)

    Buried pumpThe worst part about replacing the water pump is it’s location. Down near the heat shield in front of the muffler with not too much room to work. Mentally prepare yourself for some fancy fingerwork. Some of the work you will do from above the engine, some from through the license plate door, and a little bit from below. In the picture to the right, the pump is behind that single-groove pulley with the belt riding on the top of it. The multi-grooved pulley is bolted on the end of the crankshaft.

    Step 1 – Disconnect the Battery:
    First things first. We will be working near the alternator, so go ahead and disconnect the battery ground strap. The battery is under the front passenger seat. Sure, you could leave it connected, buy why risk it?

    Step 2 – Drain the Coolant:
    Unless you are determined to replace *all* the coolant on your engine, don’t bother following the Bentley procedures for draining your coolant. What I did was remove the hoses from the thermostat housing by loosening the hose clamps and tugging them off. I had a large bucket underneath, T-stat housingand managed to capture almost all of the coolant. As long as you are there, you might as well disconnect the 2 temperature senders. Once the flow of coolant had subsided, I raised the passenger side of the van with a jack under the frame just forward of the rear tire to get more to coolant to drain out. After the flow slowed to a small trickle, I lowered the Van back down on all fours. The point of all this was to get the coolant level in the engine low enough so that none would spill out when I removed the pump.

    Step 3 – Remove the Water Pump Pulley
    The new water pump does not come with a pulley, WP pulleyso the one on the old pump needs to be removed. The pulley is held on to the pump with 3 13mm head bolts. The problem with removing the pulley is that there is no good way to hold the pulley still while removing the bolts. If you have an air compressor, no big deal – just use an impact wrench to “zip” the bolts right off. But here’s a trick for the rest Alternatorof us. First, loosen the pivot and adjustment bolts on the alternator just slightly. Lever against the housing of the alternator to tighten the belt *much* tighter than you would normally do. Re-tighten the bolts on the alternator and place the Van in gear. With the belt that tight, and the transmission in gear, the pump pulley should be held still while removing the bolts. A 13mm combination wrench will work just fine.

    Step 4 – Remove the Coolant Pipes
    There are 2 steel pipes that carry coolant from one side of the engine to the other. Coolant pipeOn the passenger side of the Van, both pipes are secured to the water jacket with bolts or PITA boltsnuts/studs, as pictured to the right. Remove both the bolts and nuts. On the driver’s side, the upper pipe slip-fits into the thermostat housing with an O-ring seal and the lower is bolted to the front of the water pump. It is the bolts that secure the lower pipe to the water pump that will try your patience, seen here to the left. You can just get a 12mm wrench on the bolts, but only about 1/8 of a turn can be made at a time. Take a deep breath, prepare to spend some quality time flipping your combination wrench again and again, and remove the lower bolts.

    Step 5 – Loosen Hose Clamps
    Tstat hoseAfter completing Step 4, you deserve a break, so here’s an easy one. The thermostat housing is connected to the driver’s side cylinder head by a short hose. Loosen the clamps on the hose. You will be removing the water pump and thermoststat housing as a single unit. Now is also a good time to remove the hose that goes from the expansion tank to the top of the water pump. Use a regular pair of pliers to squeeze and and hold the clamps open while you work the hose off the casting.

    Step 6 – Remove Water Pump
    The water pump itself is held on to the WP boltsengine by a single bolt and 2 studs with nuts. Use a 13mm socket with a universal joint and extension to remove these. At this point, there should be Water pumpnothing holding the pump to the block, as seen on the right. Once the bolt/nuts are gone, the pump and thermostat housing assembly can be pulled straight back towards the rear of the Van. You may have to wiggle the assembly to get the hose connection from the thermostat housing to the water jacket to break free.

    Step 7 – Separate Water Pump from Thermostat Housing
    The thermostat housing is attached to the water pump by two long, 13mm head bolts. T-stat boltsI had to apply a little of heat with a propane torch to get the bolts to turn freely. The heat helps expand the aluminum of the housing, which releases the housing’s grip on the bolt. Once free, I used a wire brush to clean the bolts, and a drill bit to clean out the bores in the housing. At this point, the disassembly phase of the project is over. If you were thinking of installing a new thermostat, now would be the best time.

    Step 8 – Clean All Mating Surfaces
    Having clean mating surfaces Old sealerClean surfaceis the key to preventing leaks around gaskets. Nothing worse than putting everything together and seeing a leak! Use a scaper of some sort to remove any traces of old gasket material from the thermostat housing and the mating surfaces for the coolant pipes. The area on the engine where the water pump mounts should also be cleaned to ensure a good seal. On the left, you can see the sealant residue from the water pump. The view to the right shows the same area, after a good cleaning.

    Step 9 – Let the Assembly Begin!
    Start by installing the thermostat housing onto the water pump. Next, put a *very light* coating of RTV sealer (I like Permatex Ultra Copper) in the o-ring groove on the back of the water pump. Push New Pumpthe o-ring into the groove, and smear a *thin* coating on the face of the o-ring. Do not use more than a paper-thin coating of sealer! If you do, the excess sealer can get into your cooling system and clog things up!! Put the water pump and thermostat housing assembly back on the engine, and tighten the nuts and bolt. The next step was the worse part for me. Using a new gasket, re-install the lower coolant tube. The bolts are tricky to line up and get started, but take your time. Once both of those are tightened down, take a break….you will want one! The upper coolant pipe goes in much easier. Coat the o-ring with a little RTV, and slide it into the thermostat housing. The other end bolts to the cylinder head on the passenger side. Reinstall the water pump pulley and alternator belt. Put the belt on extra tight to help while torquing the pulley bolts, then loosen the belt back to normal (1/2″ deflection). Re-install all the hoses and tighten the clamps. Hook up the wires for both temperature senders. You are almost done!

    Step 10 – Adding Coolant & Bleeding Air
    Before adding a single drop of coolant, open the engine-mounted bleeder valve located on the “H” shaped housing above the engine, seen here on the right. This will help prevent air from being trapped in the cooling system. Bleeder valveOnce you have filled the expansion tank, start the engine. Look for leaks at the pump and all of the hose and pipe connections. As the engine is running, the coolant level in the expansion tank will drop. Keep adding coolant until the level does not drop, and you no longer see air bubbles appearing. Close the bleeder valve.The next step is to get any trapped air out of the radiator. Screw the cap on the expansion tank, and turn off the engine. At the front of the Van, remove the grille around the headlights by turning each of the slotted fasteners about 1/2 turn. Jack up the front of the Van a foot or so and restart the engine. By raising the front of the Van, air bubbles should collect in the top of the radiator. Loosen (not remove) the bleeder screw on top of the radiator Bleeder Valve(seen here on the left) until you see or hear air being pushed out. If you see bubbles, then there is still air escaping. Once only a solid flow of coolant is escaping, tighten the bleeder. Get behind the wheel and rev the engine to about 2000 RPM for a minute or so, then loosen the bleeder again and check for air. Repeat this process several times until no more air is being pushed out when you open the bleeder. Shut down the engine and lower it to the ground. Fill the coolant reservior to the top, and put away all your tools, except for the 13mm wrench. As the engine cools, a vacum will develop in the cooling system, which will cause coolant to be sucked out of the reservoir, and into the system. After an hour or so of cooling time, check the coolant level in the reservoir, and fill if needed.

    Once done with the bleeding process, I tend to leave the grille off for a few days. New pumpUpon arriving at work or home, I will leave the engine running and crack open the bleeder valve on the radiator. It usually takes about 4 or 6 times before all the air has been purged from the system, in my experience. My new water pump is working just fine….although without the tell-tale trail behind me, I may have troubles finding my way back home! ­čÖé


Vanagon Clutch Replacement

By Tom Carrington

The clutch is responsible for taking the power produced by the engine and relaying it to the transmission, which ultimately turns the wheels. Ever since the first night I drove my 1985 Crew Cab in late 1998, I knew the clutch needed work. I was on a long uphill stretch leaving Fredericton, NB (Canada) for when it started slipping. Easing up on the gas would allow the clutch to regain its grip. I also found that the clutch would slip under moderate acceleration or any time I carried a heavy load. Since I haven’t had much free time lately, I resigned myself to driving gently in order to extend what time the clutch had left. Finally, in December 1999, it got so bad that I had to stop driving the van at all. It’s now April 2000, and I am in the process of replacing the clutch. Follow along as I wrestle the tranny out of the van and replace the worn parts. That’s right, you can pull the transmission without removing the engine!

Parts & Supplies Needed:

  • 6, 8 and 10 mm allen head wrenches, socket version preferred
  • 12-point CV bolt tool (may not be needed on all vans)
  • Assorted metric sockets and wrenches
  • Hydraulic or scizzors floor jack and sturdy jack stands
  • Plastic baggies
  • blah
  • Plenty of rags or paper towels
  • Old clothing

    Step 1 – Prepare the Van:
    Disconnect the battery. Raise the van high enough so that you can both get under it as well as slide the transmission out from under it. Support the van on the jack stands.

    Note:Click on thumbnails for expanded images!

    Step 2 – Unbolt the CV joints:
    CV joint boltsThe CV joints are bolted to the drive flanges of the transmission, as seen in this picture to the left. The bolts (6 per joint) will either be a 6 or 12-point design allen head bolt. I had a mixture, with 12-point on the passenger side, and 6-point on the driver’s side. Before attempting to remove the bolts, spend some time with a small pick and clean out the accumulated crud from the bolt heads. Failure CV joint in a bagto do so may result in you “stripping” out the head of the bolt, making it even more difficult to remove. Once clean, use a the 12-point tool or a 6mm allen head wrench to remove the screws from the joints. Once the joint is disconnected, place a platic bag over the end of the joint. This will accomplish 2 things: First, the plastic bags will keep the cv grease from getting all over you as you work. Second, the bags will help keep dirt from getting in the joints. I also like to take some twine and tie the axle shafts up to the frame to get them out of my way.

    Step 3 – Remove the starter motor:
    StarterDisconnect the cables from the starter motor, if possible. The starter is secured by an easy to remove 17mm nut on a stud at the bottom, and a not so easy bolt that passes through the engine case on the top. To remove the top bolt, open up the engine compartment and find the 17mm nut hidden under/behind the throttle body. Put a box-end wrench on the nut, and have a helper hold it or (in my case) jam the wrench so that it won’t move. Then slide under the van, and remove the upper bolt with a 8mm hex-head socket on the end of a 6″ extension. Once both bolts are removed, the starter can be pulled off and placed out of the way.

    Step 4 – Disconnect the shift linkage:
    Shift linkageLinkage removedUsing a 13mm socket and wrench or pair of 13mm wrenches, remove the bolts that hold the shift linkage to the transmission. One thing I noticed on my Crew Cab is that it was missing the dust boots from the linkage. I’ll be sure to replace those! Once the nuts are removed, the entire shift rod & linkage can be swung out of the way. Don’t bother undoing the linkage anywhere else. On the left is a picture of the shift linkage, and on the right is a picture of what the transmission looks like with it removed.

    Step 5 – Support the engine:
    Supported EngineThe engine is normally held up by the crossbar at the rear, and the transmission nose mount in the front. Before the transmission is removed, you must find another way to support it. What I did was span the engine compartment with a 4×4″ that was laying round. A chain was hooked in a cast hole right at the case seam, ran up and around the 4×4″, and hooked back into itself. Leave enough slack so that the front of the engine can drop about 2-3 inches.

    Step 6 – Unbolt the nose mount:
    Nose mountSlide a jack under the center of the transmission, and raise it so that it just touches the tranny case. Remove the 4 bolts that secure the nose mount to the frame, as seen here to the left. Also disconnect the ground strap while you are there. You can now start lowering the jack, which will cause the whole engine/tansmission assembly to pivot. Continue to lower until all the slack in the chain is taken up.

    Step 7 – Unbolt the slave cylinder:
    Clutch slave cylinderNow that the transmission has pivoted down, it is easier to remove the 2 bolts that secure the clutch slave cylinder to the transmission. You will also need to remove a small bracket that secures the hydraulic line to the side of the transmission. By keeping the system sealed, you avoid having to bleed it later.

    Step 8 – Separate the engine and transmission:
    lower studRemove the nuts from the 2 lower engine studs, and the remaining nut/bolt combination from the top (The other upper bolt was removed with the starter). Lower the jack just slightly, and the transmission should start to separate from the engine. Now for the fun part – Push the transmission away transmission exposed!from the engine, without knocking it off the jack. You may have to lower the jack a little bit more as the transmission slides forward. Once you see the input shaft is clear of the clutch, go ahead and lower the trans all the way down to the ground. Drag that pig out from under the van!

    Step 9 – Remove clutch pressure plate:
    oily flywheelThe pressure plate is secured to the flywheel by 6 bolts with 13mm heads. Loosen each bolt evenly a few turns at a time until the tension is off the pressure plate. Once the tension is relieved, go ahead and finish removing them and pull off the pressure plate. The clutch disc is easily removed now as well. What you can now see is the surface of the flywheel that the clutch contacts. In my case, the reason for the slippage is pretty obvious…the surface of the flywheel is covered with engine oil. It looks like I will have to replace the crankshaft oil seal as well.

    Step 10 – Remove flywheel:
    Flyweel off!The flywheel is held on to the crankshaft by 6 large bolts with 10mm hex-heads. If you are going to remove them, either use an air impact gun or get a “flywheel lock” to prevent the engine from turning and use a 10mm allen head socket on a long breaker bar to loosen them. Once the flywheel is off, the seal can be seen. I’m now sending my flywheel out to a machine shop to have it resurfaced at a cost of $30.

    Step 11 – Remove oil seal and pilot bearing:
    Seal & pilot bearing removedI have a seal puller tool that works really well for prying out oil seals. You can also use a regular screwdriver to do the same thing. You want the tip of the puller/screwdriver just barely under the inside lip of the seal when you pry it out. This will help prevent engine case from getting scratched. When the seal comes out, make sure you don’t accidentally remove any of the shims that go on the crankshaft. To remove the pilot bearing, I use a simple tool that was made out of an old shaft. I ground the end of the shaft to form a hook that will catch on the inside lip of the bearing. I clamp Vise-grips onto the shaft, then whack the side of the Vise-grips to pull out the bearing. Simple and inexpensive, yet effective!

    Step 12 – Change tranny oil:
    Fill plugIt’s easiest to change the transmission lube while the unit is out of the van. No tranny lube running Drain plugdown you arm this way! A 17mm hex-head wrench is needed to get the drain and fill plugs out. If the tranny is still in the van, make sure you start by loosening the fill plug before you drain it. Because if you can’t get that plug out, you won’t be able to refill the transmission!The fill plug is on the side of the transmission case, near the shift linkage as seen on the left. The drain plug is located under the bellhousing, as seen on the right.

    GL-4 gear lubeOnce all the old oil has drained, it’s time to refill. The oil capacity of the tranny is about 4.5 US quarts. Be sure to use transmission oil that is rated GL-4 ONLY! Do not use GL-5 or combination GL-4/GL-5 rated oil! The difference is that GL-5 transmission oil has more “Extreme Pressure” or “EP” additives to help it lubricate all the gears and bearings. The problem is that the higher concentration of EP additives can corrode the brass synchronizers in the transmission. When filling the transmission, you want to add just enough oil so that it is up level with the bottom of the fill plug. There is a service bulletin from VW that recommends filling it until the oil level is 1/2″ below the fill plug to make it easier to shift. I have never had a hard time shifting any of my Vanagon transmissions, so I am staying with the “fill it level with the plug” spec.

    Step 13 – Install new oil seal and pilot bearing:
    Before installing the new seal, use some “zero residue” electronics cleaner to degrease where the seal will be installed as well as the threaded holes in the back of the crankshaft. While you are at it, use the same cleaner to remove any traces of dirt/oil from the flywheel bolts. I like to install the pilot bearing before the seal by simply tapping the bearing into place. Don’t tap on it directly, use a socket that has the same outside diameter. I use a small steel plate to install the seal evenly, which will get it flush with the surface. Then I take the same plate and turn it on it’s end, and tap several more times around the circumfrence to seat the seal in the bore. Now’s a good time to put some hi-temp wheel bearing grease in the bore of the pilot bearing and on the inside lip of the seal.

    Step 14 – Re-install flywheel:
    Once the flywheel is back from being resurfaced, give it a good cleaning to get any grit from the machine shop rinsed off. To help prevent oil leaks, remove the O-ring from the inside of the flywheel. The old O-ring in my flywheel was hard as a rock, and may have been the source of my oil leak! I have seen too many “mechanics” ignore the O-ring, and simply reuse it. I say replace it…it’s cheap insurance! Be sure to clean out the groove the O-ring sits in. All sorts of crud gets built up in that groove, which can prevent a good seal from being made. Install a new O-ring in it’s place, and wipe a thin film of grease over it.

    Another commonly neglected but important part is the small felt washer that sits between the flywheel and the pilot bearing. This washer acts as a seal, which both keeps the grease in the pilot bearing, and the abrasive clutch dust out. Leaving it out is an invitation to early pilot bearing failure. If you look closely at the inside of the flywheel, you will see the ridge that retains this washer. I tried to get a picture, but my digital camera would not take a shot up that close.

    To install the flywheel, line up the roll pin hole in the back of the crankshaft with the corresponding hole in the flywheel. Use a rubber mallet to tap the flywheel into place. Once the flywheel is on a little, thread the flywheel bolts into the Resurfaced flywheelcrankshaft and use them to evenly pull the flywheel in until it seats against the crank. In the picture to the left, you can see the resurfaced flywheel. Notice that both the clutch surface and the raised surface where the pressure plate bolts to have been cut. This is important! For any thickness of material that is removed from the clutch surface, the exact same amount must be removed from the pressure plate mounting surface. This ensures that the proper distance relationship between the clutch disc and pressure plate is maintained. If this is not done, the clutch will fail prematurely. Probably not right away, but it will happen sooner than if the flywheel was machined properly.

    Next up, time to install the flywheel.

    According to Bob Donalds of Boston Engine, “The flywheel has 2 torque specs depending on the how old the manual you are using. The newest Bentley lists a torque spec of 44 ft pds and a 1/4 turn and the older books have a spec of 80 ft pds. This applys to all type 2 and was the orignal spec for the Vanagons. 80 pds is the spec I use on all type 2 and Vanagon torque plates and flywheels and yes I do reuse the bolts with no loctite when they are not to beat up as some times happens when removed.”

    I took Bob’s advice with one slight change. Once the flywheel was seated, I removed the bolts, and applied Loctite┬« #271 (Red – high strength) to the threads. Then I re-installed them and torqued the bolts to 80 Ft-Lbs.

    Step 15 – Install new clutch disc and pressure plate:
    Clutch disc held in place with alignment toolThe clutch kit that I bought from the Bus Depot included a new clutch disc, pressure plate, throwout bearing, pilot bearing and a nifty clutch alignment tool. The purpose of the tool is to hold the clutch disc in the proper position while the pressure plate is installed. This makes it easier to mate the engine and transmission back together. Place the clutch disc against the flywheel, and simply insert the alignment tool to hold it in place, perfectly centered on the flywheel.

    Pressure plateNext up is the pressure plate. Line up the pins sticking out of the flywheel with the holes in the pressure plate, slide it on. The pins will hold it in place while you get the bolts started. Apply Loctite┬« #242 (blue – low strength) to the threads of each bolt. Snug down each bolt until they are all finger tight and just touching the pressure plate. The tighten them evenly a few turns at a time until they have fully seated the pressure plate. Torque the bolts to 20 Ft-Lbs. Once the plate is secured, go ahead and pull the alignment tool back out of the disc.