1991 VW T3 Syncro — Final Welding, Transmission Install & Loose Ends

Overnight, I’d remembered that I hadn’t installed the Syncro-specific engine cradle yet (the engine and transmission sit a bit lower in the Syncro), which means I could bolt on the entire skid assembly since the engine/transmission guard mounts to the engine cradle. Getting it all bolted up located the crossmember mounts to be welded in perfectly. I did a couple of quick tack welds, removed the entire skid assembly and welded the mounts fully on. When they had cooled, I hit them with some black engine enamel. I also needed to install the rivet nuts for the transmission mounting brackets into the same crossmember, so I got that done and bolted in the brackets. I grabbed the two new urethane transmission mounts, greased them and installed them into the brackets.

Skid Rail Mounting Brackets Welded In & Transmission Mounts Bolted In

The automatic’s rear CV axles are different than the manual transmission ones in that they are different lengths left and right. The manual transmission has equal length axles. Since I had recently done CV joints and boots, I removed them from the automatic’s axles and transplanted them on the manual’s axles.

At that point, I’d heard the mail carrier drive off and, thinking it Thursday, went to see if my spring compressor had arrived. Well, it may as well have been Thursday, as it arrived a day early. Wanting to put my mind at ease about installing the left front shock/spring, I set up the compressor and used it on the right side. What a massive improvement over my old setup. I set the ride height by adjusting the spring perch to my pre-determined measurement and removed the compressor. I then bolted up the upper ball joint, installed the brake rotor, caliper and bolted up the front wheel. I left the sway bar disconnected, as it will be easier to hook it up at the same time as the left side. Seeing a wheel back on the van definitely felt like progress.

Right Front Suspension Assembled

I needed to finish the prep-work on the transmission. I replaced the drive flange seals and the input shaft seal. I greased the throwout bearing shaft and installed the bearing. I also remembered the accelerator cable bracket needed to be bolted on, so I installed it. The transmission was ready to install, so I called for my lovely assistant and she helped me remove the automatic transmission from my transmission jack and heave the manual up onto it. I got the transmission in place, attached the vent line fitting and jacked it into position. After bolting the mounts to the transmission, I installed both CV axles and removed the transmission jack.

Transmission on Jack and in Position

Transmission Installed

Once the transmission was in, the rest of my day was spent on many little tasks. I started with hooking up the electrical connections to the transmission’s reverse light switch, locking differential engaged light switch, decoupler engaged light switch and the starter. I also hooked up the pneumatic lines to the locking differential air solenoid. The decoupler lines needed to be final routed, as they are a new addition and aren’t pre-cut.. I’d previously run them back there, but without the transmission in place, they were left long. The new lines are both white. Originally, one would be blue (disconnect) and one white (engage); as was the case with my locking differential lines. I had some blue heat shrink tubing, so I shrunk a piece onto the end of one of the lines to mark it as the disconnect line. Once I fit the other end of the lines to the dash switch, I’ll use the heat shrink up there, too. For now a piece of blue masking tape would serve to ID the other end of the line. I also installed the rear half of the shift rod and bolted it to the transmission. I’d replaced all the wear parts with new parts with GoWesty’s various improved shift linkage bits. I connected the stainless braided clutch line to the hard line and used the original clamp to secure it to the crossmember.

Next, I set about gathering and tidying the wiring harnesses. I used lots of cable ties, including some with eyelets and sheet metal screws to secure them firmly to the frame. With the transmission in, I installed the rear half of the stainless steel coolant pipes. Once they were in place, I then tidied the heater hoses by cable tying them to the coolant pipes. I moved up front and did the same treatment for the speedometer cable and the coolant lines leading up to the heater valve and radiator. The undercarriage of the van is really looking sorted!

Coolant Hoses & Wiring Tidied

The final part of my day was spent drilling mounting holes and mounting the fuel filter, EVAP charcoal canister and AC receiver/drier. The Syncro’s fuel filter is sort of hidden up behind the left upper spring perch. The EVAP canister lives in the right rear wheel well on a 2WD, but is on the left side on a Syncro. The receiver/drier has to be moved a bit to make room for the EVAP canister. I initially thought I was going to have to fabricate a longer AC line, but after some creative massaging, I was able to successfully relocate the reciever/drier without doing so.

EVAP Canister & Receiver/Drier Installed

There really is very little left to do. I need to install the flywheel, clutch, Syncro-specific crank pulley seal, engine cradle and Syncro muffler saddles. Once that is done the engine can be installed. After that, I need to fabricate the metal brake lines for the trailing arms, bleed the brakes and clutch, install the left front shock/spring, connect the upper ball joint, install the rotor and caliper and hook up the sway bar. I still need to run the pneumatic lines for the front differential lock and then connect both those lines and the ones for the decoupler to the dash switches. I’ll need to recharge the AC, too. All of that really isn’t all that much.

Day Eleven complete!