Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stripping and dismantling: 1969 Karmann Ghia engine overhaul, Part 2

Well, here it is: the engine is out of my Ghia. I am pleased to report that I was able to get this far on my own. (David did help me jack the car up, though.) The engine, with all the stuff still attached as shown here, weighs something over 200 pounds. First, I had a piano dolly blocked in place under the engine. Two scissors jacks on the dolly were then raised to where they were in contact with the oil pan, to support the engine once it came off the upper and lower mounting bolts, which hold the engine onto the transmission. With one hand on the fan housing (the curved black box at the top center of the photo) and the other on one of the tailpipes, I carefully wiggled the engine off the bolts until it was resting on the jacks. I then lowered the jacks so the engine could be rolled out from under the car.

Now the engine stripping begins! This photo shows the engine after I took off the fan belt, fan housing, intake manifold and carburetor. The tall black skyscraper-looking thing is the oil cooler. I had suspected the oil cooler was leaking, and sure enough, one of the two seals at its base was bad. Since the cooler lives inside the fan housing, when it leaks, the fan tends to fling oil all over the engine area, hence my suspicion.

After I took off the oil cooler, I removed the muffler (the rusty-looking thing at the bottom of this photo) and the two heat exchangers. The weight of the engine was now down to around 150 pounds, and I rolled it on its dolly into the shed so I could get it up onto the Workmate and be under cover as well. Between David and I we had no problems lifting it up onto the Workmate.

So here's the stripped-down engine, up at a good working height. What you're looking at in the middle of this photo is the clutch plate, which is attached to the flywheel. On either side are the cylinder heads with valve covers still in place. next job is to remove the clutch plate and the pressure plate under it, then the flywheel.

With the clutch removed, I used this nifty little flywheel lock to clamp the flywheel in place prior to removing the large gland nut that attaches the flywheel to the crankshaft. At this point I had a surprise: The 36mm gland nut, which is supposed to be torqued to 220 foot-pounds, was actually loose. I had expected to need a breaker bar and someone stronger and heavier than me to loosen the thing. Instead, after barely a quarter turn with the socket wrench, I was able to unscrew it the rest of the way by hand.

Aha, I thought. I bet the ka-thunk ka-thunk ka-thunk noise I was hearing (thinking this was a thrown connecting rod) was coming from this loose flywheel. The good news is I took the thing apart before the flywheel came all the way off. The bad news is that, because of the way the thing was wobbling around in there, I'll almost for sure have to replace the crankshaft. No doubt I'll have a list of things to take to the machine shop.

In the meantime, I next removed the rocker arm assemblies and cylinder heads. The rocker arm is the pipe thing going from left to right, with four little arms attached. Here I've removed the two nuts holding it in place. Then it is simple to lift the assembly up and out.

After the rocker arms are out, the eight nuts holding the cylinder head in place are easy to reach and loosen. Here you can see I've taken off one of the cylinder heads (on the bench to the right). Toward the top center of the photo, the round black things are two of the four cylinders, with pistons inside. The only thing left to do before opening up the crankcase is to remove the cylinders and pistons.

I was fortunate to discover a shop in Port Angeles (about half an hour away) that specializes in air-cooled Volkswagen repair. I will be taking the cylinder heads there to have the valves done (something I do not have the specialized equipment to do). They will also check the flywheel for possible damage, since it was loose, along with the crankshaft. After that, I will be able to start putting it all back together!

The thing that has surprised me the most about this project is that I have only spent about seven hours so far. Considering I had never done anything like this before, I'm kind of amazed that it has seemed so relatively easy. I've been taking my time, too.

I'll have another update after the machine shop does its work. I'm starting to think I'll be driving my Ghia again before long! What a fascinating project.


  1. Looks like a big project to me... any idea how much you might be saving by doing most of this yourself?

  2. Well, not really. It's taking me longer than someone who's done it before, because I'm learning as I go. Still, I've been keeping track of my hours, just for the heck of it. Labor around here is $75 per hour. Even if it took someone else half the time, it seems to me that I'm saving substantially on labor costs. I'm also sourcing my own parts, so there's no additional middleman markup there. Once the project is finished, I'll total the hours and parts and figure out what it cost.