Screwing around with a VW Eurovan!
Well, I have always loved the VW vans, especially the Vanagon Westfalias. Unfortunately, they are getting old, expensive for a nice one and can't fit a motorcycle in the back:lol3
With my first kiddo on the way I figured I should start nesting by building a family camper:clap
I really wanted something that I could park in my driveway in an HOA controlled neighborhood that doesn't allow "Commercial" vehicles or Campers. Which kinda eliminated just doing a slide-in in my pickup or a Sprinter Van. Both would have been cool, but this is going to be fun for now too!
Over in the UK they build these T4 vans into campers all the time.
First off I found a deal on a 2002 GLS, hardtop 7 passenger van, diagnosed with needing a timing chain tensioner. Original owner van. Well cared for but he did not want to spend the $5k they quoted to do the timing job:deal I offered him $1,350 and he took it:freaky
So here is the project van !
I also stumbled on a wrecked 1993 "Weekender" Poptop. Picked this one up for $1250:freaky
Now ll I had to do was make the first one run and convert it to a pop top:lol3
I couldn't store the parts van more than a few days without causing issues with the HOA so I posted it up for parts on TheSamba and Ev_Update. I put the extra parts out there for "any reasonable offer"! I literally took anything people offered and did zero negotiation just to get the parts gone and off to a good home!
Within 3-4 days I had the van stripped and $1400 back in my pocket:clap
Took the empty shell off to the recycler.
Now for the rear fun!
The next step was to tear down the 2002 and figure out the issue.
.....and clean up some parts while I was in there:wink:
Take apart two 7 passenger vehicles and you will have plenty of seating for the next garage party:lol3
Gotta love a design where the timing chains are on the back side of the motor so the transmission has to come out to change them.
Long story short, the chains, tensioners and guides were fine:huh So this part of the job ended up being preventative maintenance since these vans will eventually need chains.
The real issue turned out to be this tiny steel screen jamming the cam adjuster. (Only had to take it apart twice to figure this out:cry)
Engine was Sea Foamed and all of the crud inside it is now gone too!
First test drive went well:clap
A buddy of mine came over to help me put the transmission back in the Eurovan and fell in love with my wife's F650 Dakar:lol3 He had (and hasn't ) ever ridden before. But fell so in love with the idea of riding something like the Dakar that he went out and bought one:clap Of course, I was happy to put the van project on hold and go help him pick it up. (Notice the lack of headliner as I was just about to cut the top open)
Josh is now a member here and waiting to go take his MFS course in a few weeks:clap
Slight problem after picking up his motorcycle. :lol3 I apparently didn't get one of the axle shafts torqued enough and dropped it on the way home in 10* weather. Abandoned the van in favor of margaritas for the night and came back and fixed it in the day light:lol3
This is where the real fun is! Nothing quite as fun a cutting a giant hole in the top of a van you just bought:lol3
Now through the power of the Internet I'm going to skip lots of boring details and TA DA!
One of the big things I was able to do with this build so far was retain the rear AC unit that GLS vans came with and factory pop tops did not! :clap
This right now is a giant AC blower. I will duct it up to the trim pieces later:clap
I currently have this set up like a stock Weekender with the 4 person sleeping and a table. I will now start converting it to a true camper. :lol3
that thing is choked full of badassery.
also, i totally understand about the 650 dakar. it looks like serious business.:clap
:lurk my hero!
Okay, I have to share this.
While I was searching for my Eurovan I would save all sorts of cool photos of Eurovans and Vanagons I found along the way. Mostly just to remember ideas of builds, mods etc.
I stumbled on a cool cartoon sketch of one and saved it. This is it!
After I found the black 2002 van online it started a long email conversation with the owner while we were negotiated the price and discussed the condition of the van.
In our exchange of emails he sent me this sketch below through email.
I replied and said...."Hey, that's pretty cool" and shared the one I had found earlier. His reply was "yeah, I drew that one too" :shock:
So we have continued to talk and I have been emailing him updates on the van. At one point I kinds mentioned doing a "Transsyberia " theme like the Porsche Cayenne Transsyberia race cars.
He then emailed me this.
This showed up in my mailbox!!!!
Think I may need to finish the framing and find a place to mount it in the van when its done!
Current interior set up is fairly close to a stock Westfalia Weekender. The rear seat folds to a bed, there is a food out table in the wall, bed in the Poptop. I'm not going to install the rear facing jump seats in favor of some seat swivels on the front seats.
The goal is to build something like this!
So, I did some reading on the Eurovan maintenance schedule. The indication that I got was that there's a timing belt, but no mention of a chain.
Looking at the picture, it appears to be a VR6.
So, what is the mileage interval for that chain to be adjusted/changed?
VW claims the chains are "lifetime" but end user experience shows that they need replaced at some point around 150k miles.
In the rest of the world the T4 van got all kinds of diesel versions 1.9, 2.4, 2.5 etc. Also came in syncro 4wd in other parts of the world.
But, obviously, you picked your van up at a very good price. Did she not run because the chain tensioner was having issues? Or, was it making nasty noises that scared the previous owner into dumping it?
The "tensioner" issue is pretty well known if you go look at vwvortex, EV_Update, etc. The plastic gets old and and breaks.
Some of the 99-00 VR6 Eurovans had an intermediate sprocket failure too.
The van I bought wouldn't idle and the VAGCOM showed the timing all over the place and had several timing related codes. So the mechanic diagnosed it as needing a chain. Basically it would smooth out at 3k rpm and run fine. They figured a tensioner had broken that allowed the chain to flop below 3k and then above that it would tighten and run right.m
I did my own research and diagnosis when I got it and agreed that it was timing related and "probably" a chain issue. When I took it apart the chains, guides and tensioners were all finer I replaced them anyway as preventative maintenance. It did not cure the issue so I took it back apart and dug into the cam adjuster pistons thinking they must be stuck. That is when I found the metal screen stuck in the intake cam adjuster piston. Which, cured the issue,
Great looking project.
What a build! Former 01 Weekender owner here.
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