Aircooled VW Engine Build/Re-build

Instruction for building a type 1, 2 & 3 engine.  You can do it!!


   These pages chronicle the build-up of my 1776cc engine for my 1966 E-Z Camper of America.  The main purpose of these pages is to provide first time builders with some basic insight into the correct building of an air-cooled, VW (type 1 or 2) based, up-right engine.  It's VERY intimidating for those who have never attempted this before to jump right in and get greasy for the first time, so my hope is to help de-mystify the whole process and possibly answer a few of your questions as well as provide encouragement.  With a job like this, it's easy to get overwhelmed if it's looked at as one whole job.  If you break it down into small bits like I've tried to do here, it soon becomes clear that this job is doable even for the novice or first-time builder with only basic tools.  

    Speaking of tools, there are only a few "special tools" that you will need to accomplish your build-up (i.e. torque wrench, ring compressor, 36mm socket w/ 3/4" drive breaker bar, feeler gauge set, etc.).  Before I bought the tools I now use, I would rent them from the local tool rental store for just a few dollars a day.  If you plan ahead, you can often times only rent tools for a few hours and save money. 

    I always recommend that folks do their own maintenance on their cars because YOU are the best mechanic that you know.  No one cares more about your motor or how well it runs than YOU DO.  Don't blindly trust some guy at the corner repair shop to build you a "KILLER MOTOR" for $495.00 or even $695.00; I've been there & done that and I'm telling you, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN!!  To do a job right takes time, and in the auto repair business, time runs about $75+ per hour.  What do you think about the quality of that $495.00 motor now??

    Two things must be stated up front:

1.  DO NOT CONSIDER THIS A STEP-BY-STEP PROCEDURE!!  Some procedures contained ARE step-by-step and others are NOT.  I'll identify those that are, with the words "Step-By-Step" in red, at the top of the page under the title.  While I've tried to include everything I thought was important as well as put things in a semi-logical sequence, some things may have been left out during the making of these pages.  Nothing replaces a good technical manual like the appropriate Robert Bentley manual or the "Idiot Manual"  for your year of car.

2.  While I have been a paid professional mechanic and engine builder since October 2003, I have NO FORMAL TRAINING in building engines.  I like to refer to myself as "an avid VW enthusiast who now earns a living money doing what I love".  I've built my fair share of motors over the past 3 decades for myself and friends and have tried to learn all I can about these unique engines.  I don't consider myself an expert and won't even try get you all to believe I am; that's not what I'm about :-)  I've acquired most of what little knowledge I do have, through my own first-hand experiences as well as reading all I can about these amazing little engines. 

    Links with a red " * " denote topics which have multiple sub-pages.

Before You Begin

Engine Build/Re-build Parts List

Buying Your Parts

* Engine Case Inspection Tips step-by-step

The Short Block

Static Engine Balancing


Cam Basics

Checking Cam Clearances & Installing Double Thrust Cam Bearings

Oil Pump Basics

Crankshaft Drive Gears

Checking Bearing Clearances With Plastigage step-by-step

Short Block Assembly

The Top End

Removing Casting Flash step-by-step

Checking Piston Ring Gaps  step-by-step

Checking Deck Height step-by-step

* Porting & Polishing Your Heads - The very basics

CCing Your Heads step-by-step

Calculating & Adjusting Compression Ratio step-by-step

Checking & Setting End Play step-by-step

Top End Assembly


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Revised: April 26, 2005 .