1991 VW T3 Syncro — Transmission & Fuel Tank

I decided to get a late start  in the shop. The previous day’s struggle with the shock left me feeling depleted. I was meeting with a new client and felt the shop wasn’t looking as presentable as I’d like it to, so I spent a good part of my first stint out there cleaning up. As I was doing this, I was quite amazed at how many parts were on the van and no longer in bins, boxes or stashed around the shop floor. What a nice feeling!

I dove back into the van by setting up the transmission. I replaced the clutch throwout shaft and its bushings. The original shaft was damaged by rust and I had to cut part of it off to remove it. GoWesty sold me a nice used one and I also bought an upgraded bushing for it. The original was a plastic sleeve with two rubber bushings that were exhausted. The replacement is a sold bronze bushing that is a much nicer affair. After that, I installed the clutch slave cylinder brackets and the actuation arm and clutch slave cylinder. I opted for a braided stainless line to replace the original plastic line for the slave cylinder and installed that, too. The Syncro has a pair of metal coolant crossover pipes that bolt to the transmission and I installed that assembly. The hoses will be attached once the engine is back in the van. I also changed the seal on the locking differential vacuum solenoid and installed it on its freshly painted bracket. I had a nice GoWesty high-torque starter that I bought a year or so ago, but it was for the automatic, so I had purchased a new one for the Syncro. It required some reconfiguration per GoWesty’s instructions to allow it to fit. With that completed, I bolted it to the transmission.

I saw the other front CV axle sitting on the bench and decided now was a good time to assemble and install it on the left side in preparation for getting the front end done Thursday when the new spring compressor arrives.

The next big thing was drilling two holes for bolts to be run through the firewall to hang the rear fuel tank straps from. The original mild steel fuel tank straps/saddles are the first thing to deteriorate on a Syncro. They just don’t stand the test of time. GoWesty sells a complete stainless steel set that are a welcome change. I installed the rear straps and also a little bracket for holding the fuel lines. I then set about sorting out the routing and retaining of wiring, pneumatic lines and front differential vent tube back where the fuel tank lives.The vent tube is a plastic tube the runs from a fitting on the front differential. The tube is then routed high up and above the rear mounted fuel tank. This is to allow the differential to vent and not allow foreign material (e.g. water) to be introduced to it. There is a similar vent for the transmission and another for the clutch. The military influenced 4WD touches are really pretty cool. Once I was certain of how these all needed to be routed and they were secured, I installed the fuel tank. The fuel tank is much easier to put in than it is to take out. It is sort of a wedge fit and once it is up in there, it stays put on its own. I installed the forward fuel tank saddles and then attached them to the straps and cinched them up tight. With the fuel tank in, I hooked up the sending unit wiring and installed the fuel pump on its mount of the left fuel tank saddle. I re-ran the fuel pump wiring harness and plumbed the fuel pump’s inlet and outlet. I installed the fuel filter into its bracket and connected the fuel hoses. I still need to drill two holes for the filter’s mount to be attached. From there it was a matter of running the fuel tank’s vent hose to the filler neck. I installed the metal filler pipe and connected that to the rubber fill hose coming down from the filler neck. The filler neck was then attached to its mount. I filled the fuel tank with the 5 or so gallons I’d saved from when I’d drained the original tank. No leaks!

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Fuel Tank Installed and Strapped in

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Left Saddle with Integrated Fuel Pump Mount

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Connections at Filler Neck

It was getting pretty late, but I decided to install the aluminum coolant junction at the firewall (another GoWesty upgrade from the original plastic) and the right rear shock, now that the fuel tank was in.

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Coolant Junction

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Right Rear Shock

I then gathered the two skid rails and connected them to their mounts on the front subframe. They run back to the rear crossmember and are attached to two brackets that are welded to the crossmember. The rails have a little crossmember of their own that ties them together, which I installed. I then attached the two brackets that I’d removed from the donor. I swung the whole assembly up to the rear crossmember. The idea here was to find the location for the two brackets in order for me to weld them on. Interestingly enough they had been spot welded to the frame of the donor and I’d drilled out the two very large welds, which left holes in them. One hole on each bracket lined up perfectly with the threaded holes in the crossmember for the 2WD transmission mount, so I bolted them up in place. This will hold them for tack welding, prior to fully welding them in.

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Skid Rails Bolted up

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Skid Rail Mounts to be Welded in

Day Ten complete!