Vangon SVX Initial Drivetrain Installation (3 of 3)

Download PDF

Exhaust:

There were a couple of weeks I ran around on the stock exhaust manifolds, if you have looked at the stock manifolds you will notice they are reversible so you can make the outlets face rearwards. The problem however is that there isn’t enough distance between the outlet of the manifold and the back of the vehicle to be able to squeeze a muffler in, as well as ground clearance issues.

The solution? a $450 piece from smallcar that is a conversion header for your SVX swapped Vanagon. It’s stainless and it looks pretty:

Don’t let the shininess fool you.. This baby sits below, and behind everything so unless you take it off every oil change and polish it this is the last time you’ll see it this nice:

It’s nice to look under and see a stainless piece it dresses up the whole engine bay:

I really like how the outlet is set far enough forward that you have a few exhaust system options:

Using my harbor freight el-cheapo welder I was able to fab an exhaust. It was recommended to me to try purchasing a flow-master muffler but unless you want something along the lines of loud and annoying I don’t recommend wasting the $70+ for it. I ended up switching to a muffler from Vibrant Performance that we had laying around for the other Corrado. This is my exhaust when it was the Flowmaster:

8500 Mile Update:

This header cracked on me shortly after installation. I would say about 4,000 – 6,000 miles in the first crack / exhaust leak developed. Since I didn’t have an arc welder I had to source locally a place to repair the damages. Smallcar offered to fix the cracks free of charge but I would have the eat the cost of shipping as well as have the van out of commission for a couple of weeks, not good. I actually got lucky enough to call in a favor to one of my buddies and he did an exceptional job. He actually not only works with stainless but regularly fabricates titanium headers and the like. He is the 2nd best welder I have seen (next to a woman!)His many years of expertise proved key in a failure analysis of this header so here we go.

First after removing the header for repairs a quick inspection of the gaskets reveals some telltale signs of the exhaust leaks:

This type of failure occurred because the flanges were not surfaced after the welding process in manufacturing, measuring with a straight edge confirms this:

Each side cracked at the same joint, one side the crack wraps around more than 3/4 of the circumference:

Driver’s side:

Here are the patches that he had made, he first cleaned and welded the crack itself and then applied a patch because he indicated to me that only welding it will most certainly cause it to crack again. He commented about how the walls of the header were thin and used the lowest power setting on his welder (which it was grumpy about). In his professional opinion the header only cracked because the welds weren’t gas purged. (pressurizing the inside of the tube with a gas during the welding process, which is the methodology he used for making the repairs)

8500 Mile Update:

This header cracked on me shortly after installation. I would say about 4,000 – 6,000 miles in the first crack / exhaust leak developed. Since I didn’t have an arc welder I had to source locally a place to repair the damages. Smallcar offered to fix the cracks free of charge but I would have the eat the cost of shipping as well as have the van out of commission for a couple of weeks, not good. I actually got lucky enough to call in a favor to one of my buddies and he did an exceptional job. He actually not only works with stainless but regularly fabricates titanium headers and the like. He is the 2nd best welder I have seen (next to a woman!)His many years of expertise proved key in a failure analysis of this header so here we go.

First after removing the header for repairs a quick inspection of the gaskets reveals some telltale signs of the exhaust leaks:

This type of failure occurred because the flanges were not surfaced after the welding process in manufacturing, measuring with a straight edge confirms this:

Each side cracked at the same joint, one side the crack wraps around more than 3/4 of the circumference:

Driver’s side:

Here are the patches that he had made, he first cleaned and welded the crack itself and then applied a patch because he indicated to me that only welding it will most certainly cause it to crack again. He commented about how the walls of the header were thin and used the lowest power setting on his welder (which it was grumpy about). In his professional opinion the header only cracked because the welds weren’t gas purged. (pressurizing the inside of the tube with a gas during the welding process, which is the methodology he used for making the repairs)

We did find a third crack starting and only welded it as it was only about 1/4″ long, him and I agree that the header will continue to crack at various stress points so if you have purchased a similar header, BE PREPARED!

We did find a third crack starting and only welded it as it was only about 1/4″ long, him and I agree that the header will continue to crack at various stress points so if you have purchased a similar header, BE PREPARED!

 

The Vibrant performance muffler (Take your pick here) was what I eventually switched to, it’s a straight through design that provides a rich, deep exhaust tone. There is still a little rasp but I plan on rectifying that situation by using an exhaust tip that contains a built in resonator. This muffler was twice as quiet as the flow-master and also looks much more appealing.

It’s all covered in water spots but you get the general idea:

For those wondering about the cut out above the exhaust outlet it was for rust removal:

After getting the exhaust squared away it was time to tie up the final loose ends. First off, if you are considering for any reason leaving the original seals in your swap engine DON’T! I replaced everything except the front main and guess what started leaking. Doing stuff like this isn’t all that complicated in the Vanagon because really the SVX engine remains just as easily accessible as the stock VW engine was, it only took about 30 minutes to complete:

Cooling System:

The next thing was the cooling system. Actually, up until this point I ran a home-made set of hoses using a culmination of stock Vanagon and Corrado parts and it worked OK. The cooling system I made was temporary as smallcar makes a nice “cooling system conversion kit” which includes stainless steel lines so I had to have it. This is the diagram I used as a reference when creating my cooling system, note the “reversed” coolant manifold is a service that smallcar can perform to move the water outlet to the passenger side rear corner of the engine. (or front of engine bay however you want to look at it.)

I recommend the smallcar kit because it makes bleeding the cooling system almost as effortless as if it were a front engined / FWD sedan. Their kit utilizes the 86 and up Vanagon cooling bottle and all the pipes are designed to trap the air bubbles in the bottle. Here is everything laid out on the floor:

Actual fitment of the pieces is OK. Remember that this kit is actually made to fit all the Subaru swaps and naturally seems like it fits the 4 cylinder swaps slightly better. Remember to take your time and really play with the lengths of tubing to assure good free-flowing operation.

8500 Mile Update:
The cooling system works remarkably well, I still have not replaced the thermostat since I have discovered that was MIA, however letting the engine warm up it never goes past 180F and even if gets up there once you start moving it will dip well below if it’s chilly outside at all. Expect around 150F water temps on a 60F day, 180-190 range on a 90+F day,and if you have no thermostat it won’t warm up in the winter time. HOWEVER I did experience some minor leaks, the cause of this was determined to be the hoseclamps weren’t beefy enough to deal with the extra thickness of the heavier duty hose. Even later on the regular thickness hose started to leak so I doubled up on every main line hoseclamp, and I haven’t had any leaks since.

Positioning the 86+ coolant bottle:

Here is the bracket for the coolant bottle, this is a part of the smallcar cooling conversion kit and they forgot to send me this piece but a short time later it did arrive. As with most of all aftermarket pieces fitment of stuff is never 100% correct. I can think of countless examples I have had to modify an aftermarket for it to properly fit it’s intended application. This proved to be no exception as I ended up cutting some notches for the “supports” of the bracket it bolts onto:

The final cooling system, note the overflow has been moved to the passenger side scoop-box, for personal preference, because it won’t fit behind the license plate. (the alternator goes there)

This concludes the initial engine installation, minus wiring but all of those details are found under the electrical section. Everything done up to this point is what any typical svx conversion will take, this was easier than most because my 84 doesn’t have power steering and the a/c was damaged beyond repair so that stuff was removed. There are other things you can do with an a/c pump including an on-board air system. (train horns, and for air tools of course!) If you have any questions please let me know, I intend on updating the pages with good / common questions and answers so don’t hesitate.

 

If you like stuff, rate it for us!

One thought on “Vangon SVX Initial Drivetrain Installation (3 of 3)

  1. Hi.

    I would like to contact with you because i’m a SGI lover from a allways…, now finally i wil buy a SGI O2.
    I’m programmer, but i don’t known SGI, so, i’m looking for experience users to get knowledge…, and finally i found you.

    I would like to speak with you about if its possible by email or chat…, my accout of gmail is mr.turbo.bit@gmail.com, i’m almost allways in pidgin (im from spain, so 6 hours more than east coast), so, if you want too, just invite me or write to my email in biessespain@hotmail.com.

    P.S.: I’m also like so much the cars…, I had a racing team in karting and before was pilot too :D.

    Nice to meet you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *