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 Syncro Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread) 
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Post Syncro Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread)
At long last, the time has come. Time to attempt to tame the money-sucking beast that is the Big Red $yncro Westfalia.

My relationship with this van over the last 5-6 years or so has been.. well... strained. Granted, before buying a Syncro I had been warned. I was told that when they work right they are the Greatest Thing Ever. And when they break, it's BAD. Usually epically bad.

And indeed, when it *does* work right, driving the Syncro is like a being in a magical world filled with flower petals, Unicorns that fart rainbows, and a thousand moist vaginas upon your nether regions. However when it goes badly... you're now in a world where your life is a spelunking expedition into the deepest, darkest crevices of Satan's butthole. After he just ate a bowl of Everywhere Ed's chile.

Within the fist 24 hours of Syncro ownership, my water pump took a shit. I figured it was karmic retribution for the years of smack-talking Vanagons I had made as a long-haired youth in a splitty, having a go at the "old dudes" in their brand-new Vanagons at early Buses by the Arch events. After that, I thought we'd get along.

Boy was I wrong.

Our first long trip (to Niagara Falls) ended in Columbus OH with a blown front axle. It shouldn't have ended there, but I was n00b and couldn't get ahold of any Vanagon friends who could tell me how you set it up to drive with no axle on the front...

Our next big trip (to the Southwest and Colorado) ended on our way back home in the middle of Kansas with what turned out to be an eaten up valve guide. Intake on #2 was wiggling all around in an ovaled out guide. that required a U-Haul trailer ride home.

Put in a good used head, and it was all good for a while... until our next big trip - to Yellowstone this time. That ended at Devil's Tower with.... wait for it... ANOTHER OVALED OUT VALVE GUIDE!!! This time it was intake on #4... Made it to Rapid City SD, and from there it was once again loaded up on a U-Haul trailer for 1,000 mile and $1,000 ride home.

And since then it's sat in my driveway. 2 years. You can still start it up and move it around. but that valve just tak tak tak taks away and every time you turn right the neighborhood gets mosquito fogged.

So here we are. I would have given up on the thing by now and gone out an bought some conversion van or hell, even a 2wd Vanagon maybe. But the wife has developed a sentimental attachment to Big Red, and it's been decided we're keeping it.

The plan is to do a Subaru conversion. I've frackking HAD IT with this wasserboxer piece of shit. Even on it's best day it BARELY does 70mph and gets crap gas mileage, and it's just damned too stressful to drive on modern roads. 20mph (optimistically) up moderate mountain passes just doesn't cut it.

For a couple years now I've been gung-ho for an SVX job. EG-33, 3.3L 230+ hp. Gobs of power, INSANE POWER. fits well, a well-supported and tested conversion choice. Ideal for heavy Syncro Westies. SVX's can also be had in the mid-west relatively cheap. Examples with about 100k miles and in good working order routinely list in the $2,000 range.

But, there's a new kid on the block. Eric Abercrombie (as well as a few others) have been using the more modern EZ-30 3.0L DOHC six found in 2001-2004 Outbacks, Foresters, etc. 212hp (still plenty for a Syncro Westy), lighter and smaller than the SVX, chain-driven cams vs belt, fits a little better in the Vanagon engine bay, better gas mileage than the EG-33; and while new to the market, the exhaust, mounting brackets, modified harness and ECU are all readily available from the usual conversion kit suppliers. These motors are also more or less still in production, are available with fewer miles on them than an EG-33, parts are readily available from any dealer, and if it all went to hell for some reason you can pick up a JDM or crate motor replacement for as little as $950. The later EZ-30r engines are also usable, but because they are on a CAN-BUS system they require the use of an aftermarket ECU system that is about $2,000 alone. A bit out of my budget. They are swweeeet motors though.. with Variable Valve Timing and Variable Valve Lift they make really insane power and torque. ... maybe one day..

I think the EZ-30 Abercrombie kit may be the way I'm going...

This coming Sunday, the drive train comes out!!

The transmission is getting a full seal job, drive shaft de-coupler, and a SmallCar bellhousing.
Fuel tank is coming out, and getting refurbished with new seals, tipover valves, thermal blanket and Stainless hanger brakets
Rear trailing arms are coming off, getting R&R'ed, POR-15'ed and Audi 5000 rear disk brakes are going on.
Up front the radiator is getting replaced, the fan bracket repaired and POR-15'd and the disintegrated cardboard bits around the radiator are getting replaced the the new plastic ones available.
rusted out and jerry-rigged power steering lines are being removed and replaced with new braided stainless lines from pump to rack.
and a million other little things that I'm sure will be found along the way.

This Sunday Roy, Bill and Chris (so far) are headed over and gettin' dirty.
Home brew is ready, and shop is cleaned.

Pictures to come!

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Brian W. | St. Louis MO
'64 SO-33 Hatch-Top Westy
'73 Thing
'87 Vanagon Syncro Westy / Subaru EZ30d conversion


Last edited by stl_stadtroller on Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:06 pm
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
Hell Yeah Brian!

I don't know about subi and synchro talk on an aircooled site... :mrgreen: But i am all for it! It is a Bad-ass Rig fo' Sho'

I remember the day following you to Kents shop watching your newly aquired stynchro sitting at a stoplight steaming/smoking away. and the puddle it left in his shop.
Looking forward to this build. I may be able to sneak over for a bit, but have a 1 year old birthday party to go to in the afronoon.

Lets tear some shit up!

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SeeYa. Ted.


Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:23 pm
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
stl_stadtroller wrote:

And indeed, when it *does* work right, driving the Syncro is like a being in a magical world filled with flower petals, Unicorns that fart rainbows, and a thousand moist vaginas upon your nether regions. However when it goes badly... you're now in a world where your life is a spelunking expedition into the deepest, darkest crevices of Satan's butthole. After he just ate a bowl of Everywhere Ed's chile.


Damn that's some funny shit early on a Thrusday morning....I get the syncro attraction now thanks to your explanation....not sure I'd want to take the risk of satans sphincter though...guess I'll stick with splits and fat chicks :twisted:

See youz Sunday!


Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:19 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
Love the start of this thread. Looking forward to the build and seeing Big Red next summer??


Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:19 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
rjonas wrote:
stl_stadtroller wrote:

And indeed, when it *does* work right, driving the Syncro is like a being in a magical world filled with flower petals, Unicorns that fart rainbows, and a thousand moist vaginas upon your nether regions. However when it goes badly... you're now in a world where your life is a spelunking expedition into the deepest, darkest crevices of Satan's butthole. After he just ate a bowl of Everywhere Ed's chile.


Damn that's some funny shit early on a Thrusday morning....I get the syncro attraction now thanks to your explanation....not sure I'd want to take the risk of satans sphincter though...guess I'll stick with splits and fat chicks :twisted:

See youz Sunday!



when I first read this my mind didnt process it as satan... it was processed as santa. I must be in the holiday spirit. I just kept thinking... man whats he have against santa


Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:20 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
Excellent! Great read, Brian. You have "the beast" figured out. Why does VW consistently to do it just right enough to get one hooked, but fall flat on their face in every other respect, simply to drive one crazy?? Good for you sticking with it, I on the other hand opted out, TWICE! Will be back in a shitty splitty tin can soon enough :).

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Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:03 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
Thorbus wrote:
I don't know about subi and synchro talk on an aircooled site... :mrgreen: But i am all for it! It is a Bad-ass Rig fo' Sho'


Yeah just don't mention the completely off-subject toyota jibber jabber :roll: :oops: ...
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Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:05 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
That sounds like a huge pain in the dick!
Good luck! :lol:

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Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:39 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
This is going to be a awesome winter project. Post lots of pics on the way. I will have to get down on another garage night after i get home from deer season. Have a good time tearing it apart this Sunday.


Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:41 pm
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love subie synchro's

out of curiosity have you seen this: www.subarugears.com

never even thought about that but it's interesting...high prices but very interesting thought.

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Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:19 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
i_am_cool_fred wrote:
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love subie synchro's

out of curiosity have you seen this: http://www.subarugears.com

never even thought about that but it's interesting...high prices but very interesting thought.


interesting indeed... seems like those are some pretty lofty claims they're making about the Vanagon and Syncro installs...

As far as I know, no one has ever adapted the Subaru trans into a Vanagon, and there is only one build in progress now on the Samba. It's not even a Syncro and he's run into some pretty significant issues already.

Last I looked the major challenge is that the engine to axle distance on a Subaru is much shorter than that of the Vanagon creating major engine to firewall clearance issues, which are already very tight, even more so on a Syncro due to the gas tank placement.

Seems like they need a fact checker to me!

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'64 SO-33 Hatch-Top Westy
'73 Thing
'87 Vanagon Syncro Westy / Subaru EZ30d conversion


Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:09 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
Hoo boy, there's no tuning back now!

Got some hours in today tearing out components and draining fluids on the Syncro... Not all that hard so far, but I still only got about 1/2 the work done that I'd hoped to. At least it was shirt-sleeve weather today.

Let's start with a few "before" pictures, eh?

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What a clusterfuck. Let's tear that shit out!

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Gotta drain that "liquid coolant" shit out... only a few gallons spilled. About par for the course. I did take the advice of fellow Syncronaut Andrew Payne though, and once I had the engine drained I disconnected one of the large pipes from the coolant manifold on the right firewall and stuck a shop-vac attachment in there and sucked the rest out. Hopefully it got most of it and there won't be many antifreeze "showers" while putzing around underneath.

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Lookin' better!

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Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster most of this will NEVER return to the van again!

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Draining the gas tank was, uh... adventuresome. Just some slliiiiiigggghttt spillage there. Luckily most of it was soaked up by my hair and clothes.
Managed to capture about 12 gallons of 2 year old gas from Wyoming ... just dumped that right into the in-laws Honda Odyssey. I'm sure it's fine...

Looking forward to twirling wrenches and drinking beer and eating sausage and saying swear words with the guys tomorrow!

More pictures to come!

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Brian W. | St. Louis MO
'64 SO-33 Hatch-Top Westy
'73 Thing
'87 Vanagon Syncro Westy / Subaru EZ30d conversion


Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:31 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
Man Oh Man, Have fun with all that :lol:


Sun Nov 20, 2011 6:24 am
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
Great day today! A big BIG thank you to Roy, Chris and Bill for all the help given today. I could not have done it without you! And not to mention Roy's chili cheese dip and Chris's Austin Beans! so good!

Well, it was about 30 degrees colder than yesterday today, and quite a bit wetter. But, we persevered. I'd set up the kerosene heater in the garage, and the fire pit in the driveway, Did the best I could with a tarp to block out some of the wind... not too bad.. it was at least in the mid 50's inside...

Image

Not long after I got started, Roy arrived and we set to work. Roy un-doing wiring looms and other bits still connected to the engine and trans, and I underneath trying to remove the axles.
First problem encountered was that 1 of the axles had regular 6-point allen bolts, but the other had 12-point. Luckily I noticed this early on and was able to call Bill before he left, and he had the 12-point allen socket for us.

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Took a warm-up break when Bill arrived and everyone pitched in. All but one axle bolt came loose and Chris was thankfully able to get the last stubborn bolt out with vice grips.

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Chris made fast work of dis-connecting the drive shaft, and bot he and Roy worked together to take lose the front transmission mounts.
Once that was done, it was time to start removal! For this we used my "motorcycle/ATV" jack, which is pretty useless in it's designed purpose, but works a treat in rolling out VW engines..

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Time to get serious...

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Almost there.. but even with the jack all the way down we still needed about 4 inches more. My jack stands were not tall enough to keep the van up that high.
Roy manned the floor jack with a 4x4 and together he raised and we pulled and out she came.

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FREE AT LAST! And good riddance, you turd.

Good job guys!

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From here we attempted to remove the gas tank, but that was sadly not accomplished this weekend. My straps were totally rusted through, and I have no idea what's holding up the tank still. We removed the filler tube on the passenger side thinking that would allow it to drop, but not so. It must be really packed in there with the space blanket insulation stuff or something. I guess that will be a project for next weekend.

In the mean time, the engine & trans are resting peacefully in the garage. I'll need to figure out how to get the transmission up on a stand for further work down the road.

Image

Until next time...

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'64 SO-33 Hatch-Top Westy
'73 Thing
'87 Vanagon Syncro Westy / Subaru EZ30d conversion


Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:03 pm
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Post Re: Synco Maximo Destructo! (AKA Brian's Syncro build thread
sounds like a good weekend for all :D


Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:09 am
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