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jyl jyl is online now
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Zetec To Vanagon Project Using Bostig Kit

I'm finally making enough progress to post about. Some pics.

My dad helping dress the engine.



Dressed engine, ready for transaxle mating. Mating went pretty smoothly, only took me 20 minutes of mild swearing.



Obligatory "standing in engine bay" shot.



Engine partly lifted into the bay. Though mounts not bolted in yet, because I still have work to do on the engine that will be easier with it only half-lifted.



I still need to source Ford Contour alternator, Focus p/s pump, a/c compressor and block and sundry, mount those peripherals w/ serpentine belt; bolt the engine mounts to the frame; install new throttle cable; install various intake and exhaust parts; connect coolant hoses, shift linkage, clutch slave cyl, CV joints, speed sensor, and other stuff; source and modify a Focus airbox and MAF; install new wiring harness; modify the tachometer; replace original fuel lines and filter (a "while you're in there" task); and various other things. At my glacial pace I figure another few weeks at least. Then hopefully it starts and runs, and I can take it to an a/c shop to connect and recharge the a/c system.

The Bostig kit is well-engineered and the Bostig guys answer the phone 7 days a week 14 hours a day to talk me through confusing stuff. The instructions are very good where it deals w/ the kit's parts, not so good when you're dealing w/ the original vanagon parts, but if one knew more about vanagons than I do, it would probably be no sweat. As it is, I do waste time puzzling over stuff like "do I yank and discard this part, or do I need to save it for the conversion". And they're not that clear about what order to do things in, although there is enough room in the bay even with the engine that it's okay to do things even if it would have been ideal to do them before the engine was in.

I'm pleased to find no "bodging" as I tear into the van. The main wiring harness was all stock, never molested, no mystery wires. I had planned to replace the rear shocks as a "while I'm in there" task, but decided to first see how low/high the converted van rides. I have <2" overhead clearance in the parking garage at work, and new Bilsteins may lift the van, so kind of tricky.

My jack and stands, more than adequate for dropping a 911 motor, are barely adequate for a 2.5 ton van. I barely had enough clearance to slide the Zetec motor under the rear bumper. I've got four jackstands under there and am still a bit nervous. Fortunately, the van has enough ground clearance that I might not actually die if it came down.
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Berkeley CA -> Portland OR
1989 3.2 Carrera coupe
1988 Westy Vanagon, Zetec conversion

Last edited by jyl; 04-26-2010 at 07:47 PM..
Old 04-25-2010, 07:47 PM
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I may have missed earlier posts on this, so what is the end result of the swap? More HP, less weight?
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Should give me about 140 HP from the stock 85 (?). I've driven a Zetec powered vanagon and it was nice - not a speed demon but a lot quicker than the stocker. The Westy Vanagon weighs nearly 6K lb plus over 1K lb of people and gear - that's a lot for 85 HP.

In my case, the head gaskets blew last year, one day before we were to start a week of camping in Vancouver Is. Records show the engine was already on it's second set of heads, with 130K miles, so I decided not to spend $2K or so having the waterboxer fixed. I also decided I didn't want to go to the effort of dropping the engine and fixing it myself, if I wasn't going to end up w/ more power. Finally, when we were up on the island (crammed 5 people and gear into a Prius, that wasn't so fun) I decided I'd feel better w/ a new and presumably very reliable engine, when a $1000 tow from the nearest VW mechanic.

So I bought the Bostig kit, a crate Zetec w/ zero miles, and promptly started procrastinating.

Now that spring is here, I can't dilly dally any more, need the van running again.
Old 04-25-2010, 08:09 PM
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I thought a Subaru swap was the latest rage. Benefits to going with the Zetec? (Sorry for the endless questions, but I want to do the same).
Old 04-25-2010, 08:21 PM
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My neighbor has a synchro with a smog legal for Calif. Audi 5 cyl conversion. The thing drives like a normal vehicle now! The smog laws here are archaic and getting it to pass was definitely a labor of love and $.
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I'm not an expert. From the research I did, it seemed easier to find a low miles Zetec motor for fairly cheap (or, like I did, a zero mile motor for $1K), and the Bostig kit has (almost) everything you need and (almost) completely explicit directions. I didn't want to spend hours on the Internet figuring out how to build a wiring harness for a Subie conversion and where to get each of the needed parts. Finally, the Bostig guys answer every question after three rings - great service. So the Zetec route seemed easier to me. I suspect that the end result is no better or worse than a well done Subie swap.
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After this, I think I'll replace the head gaskets on the waterboxer just so that I can sell it for more than peanuts. With the engine out, can't be that hard.
Old 04-25-2010, 08:47 PM
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thx for posting this

I guess it mates to the VW manual trans. with some sort of adapter?
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Yup. Adapter bolts to the Zetec and has studs for the Vanagon transaxle, and a custom flywheel too. The kit also a custom cradle that bolts to the Zetec and the van's frame. A complete new wiring harness that plugs into the Zetec and it's ECU and into the van's distribution box. An ECU. Lots of other stuff, some custom and some not, and every bolt and shim. It comes in six or seven boxes. You have to buy about ten additional parts (hoses, etc), they give you the part numbers to use at an online parts place. You source the engine w/ peripherals.

Last edited by jyl; 04-26-2010 at 03:58 AM..
Old 04-26-2010, 03:36 AM
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When you're done you cam start shopping for a turbo or supercharger kit.

Good luck.
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After this, I need to start working on the kitchen.

The next things for the van will be better brakes, Bilsteins, bigger wheels and tires, and a suspension refresh. The Bostig boys should have their turbo kit ready by then.
Old 04-26-2010, 04:02 AM
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Nice looking project you have going there! By the way.... What in the hell is a Zetec engine?
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Ford 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. Used in Focus and various other models.
Old 04-26-2010, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Ford 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. Used in Focus and various other models.

Ahhh...... I have not paid any attention to American made vehicles in recent years. I assume this engine is nothing like the old engines used in the earlier Ford Escorts. Those things used to go thru heads/headgaskets constantly.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:08 AM
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Escort engines are metal turds. The Zetec is an entirely decent engine. Great aftermarket parts for them as well. The bottom end is pretty stout and will handle significant power upgrades.

Pretty cool that it's $1k in the crate.

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Old 04-26-2010, 05:41 AM
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John, if you need any help, just PM me, I'm just up 33rd ave.
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:28 AM
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Thanks. I plan to get everything hooked up, then invite any interested vanagon (and PPOT) guys over for a beer & burgers - or, if you want, salad & sangria - afternoon. It wouldn't be a wrenching day, I decided that I prefer to do things slowly rather than in a flurry of many hands.

There are some local Zetec conversions, a couple of those guys are willing to come over and check over my conversion for any errors before I turn the key. There are some local wasserboxer guys who are interested in checking out a Zetec conversion to consider doing their own, maybe someone will want to take the old wasserboxer off my hands too. And Porsche guys can drink beer and spin wrenches with the best of them.

With the weather getting nice, it could be pretty fun.
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Berkeley CA -> Portland OR
1989 3.2 Carrera coupe
1988 Westy Vanagon, Zetec conversion

Last edited by jyl; 04-26-2010 at 10:07 AM..
Old 04-26-2010, 07:32 AM
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Nice write-up, John.

I can't help but notice that engine mount plate - it's Massive! ...I take it that there is no rear mount. ...that the engine is then cantilevered?
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Two big engine mounts are bolted to the ends of the adapter plate, and those mounts bolt to the tubular cradle that you see in the pic, the ends of that cradle bolt to existing points on the frame rails. That is all roughly in the middle of the engine/transaxle unit.

The "front" end of that unit (meaning toward the front of the van) is supported by the stock transaxle mount.

The "rear" end of the unit is supported by a hanger that is bolted to a mount point on the nose of the Zetec (right in front of the valve cover) and then bolted to the van's engine bay, just inside from the tailgate latch point. It looks to me like that mount just controls side-to-side rolling (torquing) of the engine, it doesn't look like it needs to support much weight.
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Berkeley CA -> Portland OR
1989 3.2 Carrera coupe
1988 Westy Vanagon, Zetec conversion
Old 04-26-2010, 10:06 AM
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Got some stuff done last weekend.
- Alternator (Ford Contour), p/s pump (Four Focus), belt tensioner, idler pulley installed. Getting the a/c compressor this week, then the belt goes on.
- Connected the p/s lines and re-mounted the Vanagon p/s reservoir.
- Connected the brake booster line.
- Installed the clutch slave cylinder. My God, that was a PITA.
- Re-connected the shifter. All the rubber boots are gone, and worse yet some of them are NLA. Well, I guess nothing's perfect.
- Installed a speed sensor and bolted my CV joints back up. I assembled one wrong so that it was locked up.
- Installed the rear engine mount/stabilizer. Rolled the engine hoist away. Lot easier to get under the van now.
- Installed a spacer under the transmission mount, still need to torque those bolts down.
- Installed the kit's 90-deg intake elbow on the Zetec throttle body.
- Installed the coolant overflow bottle.
- Figured out a nicer, more factory-looking location for the airbox (Ford Focus). I may need to fab up a steel heat shield as the airbox will be 8" from the exhaust manifold.

What's next:
- Throttle cable.
- Intake air hose to airbox, then modify up a hose to connect airbox to Vanagon's snorkel.
- Fuel lines, fuel filter.
- Exhaust, muffler, cat converter, hangers, heat shield.
- Flush remaining coolant, connect coolant and heater hoses, refill coolant.
- Install Ford ECU and wiring harness. Hope I don't have any plugs left over.
- A/C compressor, belt. Have a new receiver/drier to take to the a/c shop when they extend the lines.
- Replace a resistor on the tach.
- Go around and re-torque all key bolts.
- I think that's it. Don't have my checklist handy.
- X fingers and start engine.

And, of course, the "Ford Racing" sticker. All of 140 HP may not deserve such a sticker, but I think there'll be a turbo kit next year . . .

Crawling around under the van has exposed some needed maintenance. I see a set of Koni shocks, suspension bushings, and 16" wheels in my future.

I wonder if the old steering wheel from my Carrera will fit on the Vanagon's steering shaft? I know 928, 924, and 944 wheels are bolt ons, is the 911 wheel compatible?
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Berkeley CA -> Portland OR
1989 3.2 Carrera coupe
1988 Westy Vanagon, Zetec conversion

Last edited by jyl; 05-04-2010 at 05:28 PM..
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