Summer time gearbox recondition.
Having owned my Vw camper van for the last 12 years, itís been through many breakdowns and repairs over the years.
The latest problem with the vehicle is the worn out wining from the gearbox whilst in fourth gear and excessive play in the Differential bearings noticeable by being able to waggle the CV joints at the gearbox end of the driveshafts.
Although weíre into the summer season, I donít want to cause any more excessive wear and make to the gearbox un-serviceable so itís got to come out for a rebuild.
Iíve opted to change to final drive ratio to decrease the RPM of the engine to promote better fuel consumption. My engine already achieves 40+ mpg being a small 1.7 turbo diesel lump, but if I can drop the revs it might lengthen the life of the engine.
There arenít many people out there who are willing to tackle the Vw gearbox. I spoke with a number of transmission specialists who said theyíd have a go but couldnít guarantee to be able to make any changes let alone find the parts to recondition the box.
At some point I must have spoken to a gearbox specialist at one of the Vw shows and stored his number in my phone.
I still have the same phone luckily and gave him a ring last week.
I also had a conversation with Cog box who said they could build me a 2.0ltr gearbox. But Iím not sure if itís worth the extra money to find my engine isnít powerful enough to pull up the hills fully laden with camping gear and trailers.
I suppose I can always keep an eye out for a worn 2.0 litre gearbox to try sometime in the future.
This weekend I was on the scrounge for tools and engine lift to do the job next week.
Monday and Wednesday night will be left clear to remove the engine and gearbox.
Well what can i say ! It's certainly worth talking to strangers at the shows !
Somewhere along the lines I'd ended up with a mobile number in my phone with Gearbox John as the name. Only found it by chance whilst I was looking for something else.
Gave the number a call and the gentleman on the end of the phone was as surprised as I was that I'd got his number.
Having discussed my options I decided that John was the man to sort my gearbox and agreed to drop it with him at Tatton Park Vw Show.
The work to be carried out would be to make fourth gear taller, tighten up the diff which seemed very sloppy to me and suss out why there was a lot of whining in each of the gears.
As agreed I met John at Tatton Pk and dropped off my box, this also gave me chance to meet and look at other work carried out by John. I must say I was quite impressed and was confident my gearbox was in safe hands.
We agreed the job would be done (provided the parts were available) in 2 weeks.
Imagine my surprise when he phoned me on the Wednesday and told me all was done and it was ready to collect. Flipping heck I thought, what about all the other jobs I'd wanted to do whilst the engine and box were out.
It was all a bit of a rush but I'd managed to get some sound proofing around the fuel tank once it had been inspected and replaced the fuel breather hoses which I suspected were leaking diesel when the pressure in the tank rose under high heat conditions ( and nothing smells worse than evapourating diesel). Also I painted the inside of the rear engine bay and waxoiled everything in sight.
Replacement of the gearbox was straight forward, new top mounting bushes were used and a good front mount too. (does anyone know where you can source new ones of these ?).
Drive shaft cv joints were re-greased and gear selector shaft reconnected.
I must be getting better at putting the engine back in as I did it on my own. Removal of the roofrack was essensial as once the camper was jacked up this was touching the roof of the garage and there wasn't enough clearance to get the engine in.
The engine went in without a hitch and once all the hoses and electrical connections were made it started first time.
Fine adjustments to the clutch and out on the road.
During the road test I couldn't believe what a difference there was, I could hear myself think as there wasn't any whining or grating noises coming from the transmission, gear selection was smooth and once on the motorway 2900rpm in fourth gear provided me with 60mph.
This was a big improvement from the 3400rpm before.
With the engine not reving as much I'd hoped for better fuel ecconomy, but on the next 2 long runs I was towing a boat full of camping and fishing stuff and didn't notice a massive improvement although there was a little.
After a couple more runs I had a problem selecting the gears and I thought the worst but after a quick look the grubscrew that connects the gear lever selector rod to the gearbox had come loose . Phew!!
I will be using the camper a fair bit this winter so if you see me smile and waive.
Throughout 2010 the gearbox has proved to have been a worthwhile job. It's a little harder to climb really extreme hills in fourth ,even with the torque of the Turbo Diesel I have to drop down a gear or two.
Driving is much quieter and more comfortable especially on long journeys down to the ferry or through France.