The Yearly Rebuild

Didn’t we just rebuild the engine, like, a year ago?


You shouldn’t have to do this. Somehow, we do.

The bus wasn’t starting after getting warmed up, was running poorly and the power was down. After multiple tune-ups and lots of poking around, I finally did a compression check. This is always the last thing on my list – the news is always bad.

I’ve forgotten the exact numbers, but it was something like 90-120-90-90. Not exactly a goner, but on the way. The imbalance from #2 wasn’t going to help things. Then, after running it for a while, I checked again to be sure.  When hot, the compression was 60-60-90-60.  And, oil on the #1 plug. I don’t completely understand it, but that’s a goner in my book.

So, I sent out some feelers for some help. I contacted the guys I met in Olinda and posted on a Brazilian VW forum. Basically something like “I’m near Natal and need space to rebuild my engine. I you can recommend a place to buy parts, that would be good too.”

Within a few days, I was in contact with Marcello – the president of the Club do Fusca in Natal – and then he put me in contact with Marcio – a local friend with a shop.

I showed up at Marcio’s place and tried my best with Portuguese. After agreeing on a space to do the work (right in the middle), I crawled under the bus and started getting dirty. I had an audience.

I dropped the engine and had it on the bench and down to the case in about 2 hours. Not a record time, but I think I impressed a few of the guys in the shop. Maybe it was just the amount I was sweating. Still, I was offered a job.

Marcio grabbed the heads and took off, while I went to a por kilo lunch with a few of the guys. After lunch, I scrubbed everything that could be scrubbed. In the back of the shop was a tank that looked like ‘the dip‘ from Roger Rabbit. They warned me not to put anything in for too long.

The heads came back in the afternoon and Marcio produced a Mahle rebuild kit. Pistons, cylinders, rings, pushrod tubes, and gasket set.  All in one box.

On day 2, the engine went back in, and I did a little more poking around and taking advantage of everything the shop had to offer. All my broken bolts and stripped threads were taken care of. I finally had a puller to fix my leaky steering box (new seals were another thing in the goody bag from Mike). I even managed to weld the broken seat springs – for us, this is a quality of life improvement.

Then – the way every engine rebuild should conclude – a barbeque!

Thanks, Marcio!

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7 thoughts on “The Yearly Rebuild

  • May 1, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    Is this in English? Yo no hablo automobile.

  • May 1, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Yep, we know all about serious repairs even though the last one was only a little while ago.
    But… the great thing about Brazil is they do know how to properly finish their job, don’t they? Love those Brazilian BBQs!

  • May 6, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    have you ever changue the rods bearings? the valves? cylinder heads? or only pistons and cylinders?
    i remember the time that you rebuild your engine in our house… you dind’t do it.
    every time we rebuild an engine, we send the block to the rectifier, and we changue the connecting rods and the rod bearings…

  • May 6, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Ignacio – I had the block reworked in Mendoza, Argentina and used all new bearings. I also had the valves/heads redone there. Otherwise, there were no new VW parts in Mendoza – no piston/cylinder set! So, I had to wait until we arrived in Santiago – thanks again for your help!
    This time, I checked the play on the crank and the rods with the block still assembled and everything seemed good. Hopefully, it will get us off the continent this time!

  • May 7, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Nice! well, nothing to say thanks for, that’s what a VW friend would do..

    keep on moving! we wanna see Bodeswell all around the world!

  • June 7, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    I’m going to have to pull the motor soon on the 66 bug soon. There’s an oil leak coming from under the fan shroud which I hope is just coming from the oil cooler seals. While I’m on the subject and you know more than a bit about vw motors, there’s also some valve lash noise on hills and acceleration when the motor warms up. Any predictions?

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