Sheesh, some people. Maybe this little "article" will help someone avoid
Dude wants to soup up his 1200cc single port, buys a ton of parts, big
bore kit, new heads, etc.. basically everything new. Good start.
He takes the heads to a race shop for porting, larger valves, the works.
So far so good (I haven't inspected the heads).
Then the shortblock goes to a reputable machine shop ( I use them
occasionally). They line bore it, and they bore out the cam bearing
saddles to accept bearings. (This is the old type 1200cc that had no cam
bearings from the factory). They balance the crank and flywheel, do the
8-pinning to the flywheel, install new pressure plate and balance that
too. Sounds ok, no?
He gets all the parts back and his father-in-law assembles the engine.
Probably the worst mistake of them all.
He puts the engine in his car, starts it, hears a MASSIVE mechanical
noise and yanks it out in a hurry, bvrings it to me. I tear into it,
marking errors down as I learn more of what it ate.
Ready? It came as a longblock, all cooling stuff and induction
components already removed, so can't say what those were like. So here's
what I found. You may see that I'm a bit picky in some areas, but some
of these things were just too unbelievable... lol..
Here we go:
1. I am tempted to turn the engine over on a bench, with the starter. I
turn it over by hand several times, and feel something weird at every
TDC. Hmm. I pass on the starter test and jump directly to dismantling.
2. I pop off the valve covers. Geometry leaves some room for
improvement. I find solid screws, shims under the rocker towers, and
original 1200 push rods (weak as hell IMHO)
3. I remove head nuts in the proper sequence. I don't bother to check
what torque they required. Most were pretty much equal. No sealant was
used with the lower 4.
4. I pull the head off. Wow, it came off easy. What's this? Large copper
crush gaskets at the step where the FINS of the cylinder begin. WTF? he
used the crush gasket to seal the head to the cylinder, but not at the
combustion chamber joint.. but at the fins :) After carefully measuring
distances here and there, I am able to determine that the cylinder
mating surface hardly met the combustion chamber counterpart. Jeeez.
This gap was there so the cylinder would DEFINITELY mate with the head
at the right spot. Inside the combustion chamber. he eliminated it. :)
5. There was a paper gasket at the base of the cylinder. VW says to
eliminate it and use sealant. There was sealant between gasket and case,
but not between gasket and cylinder.
6. Deck height was too small to my liking. Assuming the cylinder would
reach teh head mating surface. LOL.
Did not measure CR yet, that should be interesting
7. Cylinders removed. Piston skirts show a little damage, found out why
too... they've been hitting against the case, going in too deep at BDC
:) NO WONDER IT WAS NOISY
8. 1 or 2 13mm case nuts missing.
9. Big 19mm case nuts way too loose. No sealant was used. (I use sealant
10. Oil pump cover nuts didn't reach more than half way through the nut.
About to fall off. Great. Tiny 6mm nuts because it's the old style 6V
11. Oil pan (Chrome, LOL) had only one gasket. Cover to strainer mating
surface had no gasket, and no sealant was used anywhere. I was surprised
to find original acorn nuts used however.
12. Flywheel. Clutch was wet with oil. Paper gasket between FW and crank
was missing a chunk. Seal was pressed in properly, which was a surprise
:) Three shims, two of them were nice, one had too big inner diameter,
made larger with some kind of grinding tool that didn't even leave a
round hole :) the shim was broken, and all chewed up and blue. Endplay
was zero. GAG.
13. 8-pinning: no offset, and 3 pins were too long to my liking,
possibly interfering with the FW bolt washer. One was protruding very
little, sitting way too deep. All were too loose to the flywheel,
flywheel came off very easily. (8 pinning effort wasted there, IMHO)
14. Time to split the case. Glue is still sticky. Too much of it was
used. A rubber cam plug was used, and sealant applied all over it quite
15. You know the big case studs in the middle? The later model engines
have a rubber o-ring that goes around them, and get squished between the
case halves to prevent oil leaks. The older cases like this, don't have
a groove machined at the base of the stud saddle to accept the O-ring..
but O-rings were used anyway. In a space that was designed to acdcept
only a thin coat of sealant. OUCH. They were all squished to bits,
pieces sticking out and some of them fallen off. The rest was squished
between the mating surfaces, all I can say it looked HORRIBLE, and it
must have distorted the case.
16. cam bearings. There is no thrust bearing. Just flange-less normal
17. Crank end bearing, closest to the flywheel.. was first not aligned
properly with the locator pin, and the case was tightened anyway.. pin
left an indentation on the bearing surface. The bearing surface on the
inside, shows a hairline crack in it where the pin-caused dimple is.
Bearing had hardened glue particles in it.
18. there's glue, rubber and aluminum particles everywhere inside the
I haven't measured or weighed the rods (stock 1200) yet, looks like
someone tried to balance them. Rods have new wrist pin bushings. They
felt good to the new pins. I haven't inspected the bearing surfaces on
the crank or case. No idea what torque was used on rod bolts.
All in all, looks like a total rebuild is in order after just a few
seconds of running time, a new record maybe?
Sheesh. The story continues.. :)