Engine Work

While Bode and Angela stayed home and made cake, I went to the shop and built the engine. I’ll leave out the minutia of building the engine – there’s already enough VW porn in the world and I’m already a major offender. However, I’ll offer a few random thoughts and observations.

The machine shop screwed up the case. That’s a bit strong, I guess, but they did over-machine it. I started with a formerly new standard case and crank that should have been machined to 0.25. It was machined to 0.50. Earlier in the week, we called when it was supposed to be done and they said they couldn’t find the right bearings. I think what they probably meant was that they screwed it up and had to run it again – and go find the next size bearings. The machine work is fine, but I’m a little miffed that I just lost one rev on the motor… and they didn’t say a word about it.

Since we couldn’t ever find a new piston/cylinder set, we have to just go with new rings and honed cylinders. But, the ‘honing’ looks a lot like somebody just went over them with steel wool. And, one cylinder has a pretty serious gouge down it. But, what to do? I’ve been told repeatedly that I have to go to Chile or Buenos Aires to buy new cylinders*. All the tolerances on the cylinders with the new rings check out, so we’ll just put them back in and see what happens. Maybe we’ll be able to drive to Chile to get those new cylinders.

Boiling oil. When assembling your crank, dip your camshaft drive and worm gear in boiling oil. They slide right on. Besides, when else are you going to boil oil for something?

The beard is seriously kicking in. I’ve never been a beard guy and this is probably the longest I’ve ever let it go. It definitely adds to the bum look I’ve been fostering lately – I even think people are starting to treat me differently. Someone literally walked up to me and offered me farm work the other day – they thought I might be looking for a job.

Mendoza is the world capital of Ford Falcons. Seriously. There’s one on every block. The 60’s must have the heyday for importing vehicles. Cool old cars everywhere – just no old VW’s.

The machine shop total was 1800 pesos. That included line boring the case, re-working the heads and new valve guides, honing the cylinders, new rings, and new bearings. Throw in another 80 pesos for gaskets (bought from Beto – no one had them), 100 pesos for adhesives/oil/etc and 300 pesos for a new muffler (random and welded on). So, the total cost for the rebuild was about $550 USD. Not bad… but we still probably need to replace the pistons and cylinders. We’ll see.


*we’ve been told by multiple people to not attempt shipping anything from the US. We might be charged huge arbitrary ‘taxes’ that far exceed the value of the stuff once it arrives, or the parts may simply disappear somewhere in the system. The major international carriers like UPS and Fed-Ex use 3rd party couriers here, which we are told are not trustworthy. Even if the contents couldn’t possibly have any value to the courier, they might still take it. We have no idea if any of this is correct, but we decided to not take our chances.

11 thoughts on “Engine Work

  • September 14, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Hey Bro. I am liking the beard. It’s a good look for you.

  • September 14, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    readers want more cake pics! OK, THIS reader wants more cake pics.

  • September 14, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Beard makes you look like Mike — imho — certainly not bad, but makes me want to ask you to buy me whiskey.

  • September 14, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    okay, now I wondering if Mike likes it because I look more like him?

  • September 14, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    hey jason linebores are done in .050mm increments that is .020 in cranks are done in .025mm or .010 in so they did that part right. Shame you can’t get somebody to ship the P&Ls to you later mark d

  • September 14, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    mark – thanks for clearing that up – I feel much better now! So that means they did the crank twice?

  • September 15, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Thanks for the cool old car pics & nice beard.

    Take care & have fun!


  • September 16, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    Wait until you come to Uruguay – you gonna marvel at all the old cars there…
    BTW: I left a comment with “mappas” post, which contained some links – this needs your approval 9it might be already lost in the system).

  • September 16, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    Hey Guys,

    When we were in Ecuador at Diego’s repair shop, we saw your sticker there. I am not sure what work you had done there but they said it was similar to what we had done.

    Here’s the story. We barely had any power going up hills. Diego did a compression test on our engine and noticed a pressure loss in on of the cylinders. He thought the best move was to take the engine out and see what was happening. After removing the engine (which is considerably more complicated for our engine as it is watercooled, however the rest of the engine is the same) he figured that the valves needed to be remachined. He had a guy do this and in the meantime we ordered the gasket set from the USA. When they arrived, the work began to put the engine back together. He used the same piston rings as were originally there except for one that broke- he had an extra lying around and used it to replace the broken one. The reassembly went without a hitch and within a day or so the engine was back in and he had it purring like a kitten- better than before! Wicked and we were on our way. He charged us $120 US in labour for the 12 days we spent there (learning about engines) and with the gasket set and remachining of the engine the total came to around $450 US.

    Driving south we noticed that we were burning a considerable amount of oil (1 quart for every tank of gas). By the time we realized we were too far to go back and decided to take our chances with another mechanic. THis time we were in Peru. After discussions, we found out that it could only be two things: either the valve seal wasn’t good or the piston rings weren’t doing their job. To find out for sure we had to take the engine apart. After doing the math, the oil to finish the trip and get home would have cost us more than another engine rebuild. So with that, our engine came out again. THe valves were in fact fine as they were just done in Ecuador, leaving the piston rings to be the only problem. We replaced these (and another gasket set) and our engine was up and running like new!!! Cost was another $420.

    From what I can figure, 1 either Diego didn’t know the importance of putting new piston rings in (which I find hard to believe), 2 he wanted to save us the money on the new piston rings or 3 (which I think is the most likely scenario) he didn’t have any and couldn’t find any around town – he knew we were anxious to get going and thought he would just chance the old ones…….

    I am not sure if your scenario is the same or not, sounds like there is another complication with the engine too.

    As for the shipping of the gaskets from the US. It really wasn’t a big issue. We paid a little tax, but remember we were in Ecuador… I am not sure what the deal is where you are now…

    If you get a sec, can you send me an email as to what you had done at Diego’s place near Quito – and the result. Just kinda curious

    Not sure if this helps at all …..

    Andrew and Shona

  • September 17, 2011 at 5:01 AM

    Juergen- I saw it an approved it. Now missing in the ether?

    Andrew – Diego was supposed to replace the rings and re-work the heads/valves. Our first trip out of the shop was short-lived and we had to return by tow-truck.


    I’m guessing that the rings weren’t actually replaced until our second visit (or were the wrong size or out of spec – or the heads weren’t torqued properly), and I also now suspect the valves/heads were never re-done.
    I know he was a good guy and had good intentions, but sometimes that just isn’t enough 😉

    We’ve met several well-intentioned people on this trip who want to help us in one way or another, but we’ve found that you really have to pay close attention and verify that their capabilities match their offer. This is one of the reasons I’m building the engine. At least, if I screw something up or do poor-quality work (like not replacing the piston/cylinders) – I know it and can address it later.

  • September 17, 2011 at 5:13 AM

    And, for the Falcon fans out there, I received an interesting piece of info from a reader:

    “the Ford Falcon was made in Argentina until 1991. It was both loved because it was a tough family car good for the rough roads of the pampas, and hated because the dictatorship of the 70s used them when kidnapping and murdering people” – Juan


    he also verified the shipping worries – better to avoid it.

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