Wait what? It’s the end of the year 2021??!!
Just to be clear… just because I haven’t been taking the time to document or update the blog doesn’t mean things aren’t happening! LOL Actually, I’ve been posting fairly regularly (a few times a week) on Instagram. Work on Van Diesel has been pretty extensive and ongoing. That’s what I plan to cover and update in this post! *whew* Let’s go!
I knew that there were “things” which needed to be done. For example, when I gutted the interior, I knew that I needed to swap over to US electric plugs and external shore power outlet. I knew that if I was going to address that part, I was then going to upgrade the fridge. Then upgrading the fridge led to the back of the fridge looking for rust / sound deadening and insulation. That leads to perhaps a battery upgrade to lithium. Well… you kind of see where this is going, right?
The same is true for the engine! In the previous post about “limp mode”, that lead me on a journey of rubber parts. It seems like the van has struggled with keeping cool since I got it. I mean, it never gets close to overheating but it wasn’t really running as cool as I thought as well. I thought that if I’m doing a cross country journey in 2022, I had better look at rubber upgrades and even to silicone! This allowed me to get familiar with the engine as well. HUGE learning curve for a non-mechanical guy! I found a guy on The Samba who makes silicone 1.9 TDI hoses. Now, I generally would put the link however I wouldn’t recommend this guy to anyone! Let’s just say I got most of the hoses I needed. The others I had to figure out and source since he’s “never seen the hose I needed nor anyone ask him for the one” that I needed.
As part of the process to drain the system, I needed to get under to the lowest point to drain the coolant. When underneath, which I noticed before as well when doing the turbo work, the rear shocks looked a bit tired. So, I investigated replacing and going with Bilstein. I met a GREAT guy, Steve Schwenk, which is known for his springs. Long story short is that his springs didn’t work out due to the height of the van (I have Andrias springs on mine; see pic below). Andrias on top, OEM middle and Schwenk on bottom.
So, I stuck with the springs and Steve was able to find the Bilstein set of HD shocks and drop shipped them. This was during a time where NONE could be found due to pandemic shortages everywhere. Somehow, Steve pulled strings and got it done! Yea, it turned out that they were tired! The old one on the left wouldn’t even return back up!
Since I’m working on a sloped driveway outside, the work is a little bit more difficult and sometimes even sketchy! I mean, lifting the van with a Hi Lift jack, to remove a wheel and then start suspension work doesn’t seem like the safest thing to do. However, I managed to get the rears done fairly quick!
However, then weather and life sets in as well as seeing other “opportunities” (problems) to address. As I was scoping out the front, I see that my driver side sway bar has unseated itself! Holy crap! Perhaps that was the clunk I was hearing when going over bumps?! Ya think?? So, since it was already half out, why not take this opportunity to upgrade a 21mm OEM sway bar to the T3 Technique HD 25mm Anti-Roll bar and end link kit?! I ordered it however they had some manufacturing issues with a factory fire. So, that came a little later (still not installed to date).
Then the weather finally broke and I was able to address the front struts. Now, the rears were literally 2 bolts per side. Boom and done. The front needed a bit more work but compressing springs, removing stuff and then making it all fit back in (it’s all already documented on YouTube by many people!). It took me a little bit, but the fronts were about in the same shape as the rear. Needless to say, I can’t wait to give it a drive to see how it feels!
Now, in the meantime, you have to remember I’m doing multiple projects depending on weather and parts that came in! Some things were easier than others! Like the vacuum system for the differentials. There was a leak somewhere. I didn’t know where… I just knew that it worked sometimes. It seemed like the front came on after a decent period of time. The rear almost NEVER came on but there was some dependency with the decoupler. I worked from the actuators back to the console. Thank goodness I did that because it was a SIMPLE fix of hose leading to the rear actuator. Boom. Done.
Meanwhile, I was working on and sourcing parts for the coolant (remember the top of this post?). I was able to figure out which stainless coolant lines to get as I was disassembling the top end hoses as well as front to rear. This is probably my most recent work and where I’m at right now. Still sourcing some hoses but the swap is coming along nicely! The last picture, below, shows the silicone on top and rubber OEM on bottom. Not a huge aesthetic difference but a piece of mind!
I’ve got the intercooler radiator hoses pulled out and sourced. This is the current state of the coolant work. I’ve got hoses and clamps landing now. I’ve got 3 new electric, aux coolant pumps to circulate. New plumbing to bring in fresh air! One of the things I discovered was that the hose going up to the snorkel wasn’t attached! No, it wasn’t that it was blocking fresh air coming in but water was going down into the hose since it wasn’t attached! Ouch! I’m moving towards the work which was documented here. I’ve found this site to be HUGE with lots of documented solutions! So, I’m just replicating someone’s work.
Now my next bit of work will be connecting everything back up. I’ve taken the last two weeks of the year as vacation. So, I should be able to knock it out! Stay tuned!