New head gasket or new engine

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New head gasket or new engine

Postby almo » 16 Jan 2014, 09:26

Hi all

I've an 89 T25 Syncro 2.1 petrol Caravelle with LPG conversion and tow bar. It's been leaking water for a while and now I've been told it may be the head gasket. Trouble is I've been told from a couple of garages that it's too fiddled to fix and that I should just buy a reconditioned engine, either cheapo 1.5-2k from eBay or a pucks job for 2.8k from JK. On the other hand I've been told by a couple of other petrol heads (tho not VW enthusiasts) that it should be vfairky straight forward to repair the head gasket. So, who is right and is there a head gasket T25 specialist out there I should speak to? Any comments welcome!

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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby Simon Baxter » 16 Jan 2014, 10:46

It's the cost.
I have one on my bench at work at the moment that has cracked heads and due to poor assembly the metal sealing ring between the barrel and the head was squashed out into the combustion space. The piston has come up and hit the metal ring and damaged the piston.
By the time you have bought a pair of heads, a piston and a gasket set you a long way towards the cost of a new engine that's without the labour of rebuilding the top end.
My customer has found a company he's happy with and he's having his engine rebuilt and returned to us.
This happens quite regularly.
To us, if it's any more than heads then it's not worth doing.

Please remember this guy is paying us £47.50 per hour plus vat, if you have the tools and skills to do it yourself it does make it affordable.
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby itchyfeet » 16 Jan 2014, 13:08

Put your location up and i'm sure somebody will be able to suggest a local old school mechanic who will do it for a reasonable price i'd GUESS at £500 labour +£100 head gasket set assuming it's just water jacket seals ( never paid for it but done it myself)

if the engine runs well, doesn't smoke or use oil and has been run with high concentrate coolant then personally I would get the gaskets changed.

on the WBX there isn't a head gasket as such, you have liners on each piston with an o ring top and bottom, a compression ring between the liner and the head and then a water jacket seal.

Heads need to come off and the liners and pistons need removing to replace the lower seal, its a flat engine so its probably easier to remove the engine to do this work, you need to factor in things like head bolts can snap, exhaust bolts that may sheer or the exhaust may crumble and they may find rusty metal water pipes fail when being removed so there could be extras.
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby toomanytoys » 16 Jan 2014, 16:02

As said..
depending on how it comes apart and what damage is in there..
It will be the jacket seal.. not really a head gasket.. the engine isn't quite the same as a "normal" engine and hence why a lot of garages get themselves into situations if they are not familier with them..

If its in good condition and comes apart nicely, then its possible its essentially a top end refresh.. soon as you start to need heads or have to delve deeper etc.. you are stuffed..
Biggest problem is the quality of the engines out there.. I prev had a rebuilt engine from what was at the time the best supplier.. it had to come apart under warranty and I have had one side apart since.. its now going to need opening up again on the other side........ I ended up building my own for the other truck....

Where are you in the country.??
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby almo » 16 Jan 2014, 21:36

Thanks for the advice so far. I'm in the South Wales area and need an expert to sort as not a hands-on person, although it may be time to move it on. Any thoughts on how much it's worth as is, advising of the potential gasket issue? Fair condition, few dinks and bubbles but runs well.

Any suggestions for best p,ace to advertise it too? (One of the VW mags or EBay?!)
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby itchyfeet » 17 Jan 2014, 07:50

Can't believe you would sell the van over a water jacket seal but if you do decide to sell I'd say best place to sell at a fair price is here ( as people here know what a fair price is) , if you want to ask over the odds ebay.
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby almo » 17 Jan 2014, 18:02

I'd rather not sell it, I'd rather give it the love and attention that it deserves, but it is just starting to need a little more of that than I can provide. New MoT but starting to look a little tired now and I just don't have the time or talents to keep her tidy. When I bought her the plan was to run as is (Caravelle) for a couple of years then convert to camper, but now it seems a shame to convert a rare beasty like this when there are plenty of good campers out there. Second opinion on engine next week so will report back their findings and on the garage...
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby almo » 17 Feb 2014, 22:47

Eek! Help me pleeeesse! So the latest is that I took it (89 syncro caravelle, 2.1 litre petrol with LPG conversion) to a VW specialist who has dropped it out, changed the manky old jacket/gasket (depending who you speak to) all well and good. BUT when bolting it all back together one of the head bolts snapped. It has been suggested to me that they try reassembling it and running it with just the three headbolts tensioned. The alternative is a new engine, but there's a lot of labour cash wasted if we try and it fails (ie. engine back out agin, then new one back in again).

So does running it on 3 head bolts sound sensible, doable, possible or just crazy?!
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby toomanytoys » 17 Feb 2014, 23:07

It wont run with 3..

As I said in my prev post.. opening it up can be a can of worms... and surely they must have looked at the head studs and checked them for corrosion.... cant believe they would even suggest such an idea to be honest..
If.. the rest of the head studs are ok.. then better to remove head and remove the broken stud.. replace it with a new one.. but.. if its snapped off at the case.. then its either a complete strip and rebiuld.. or another engine I am afraid...
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby toomanytoys » 17 Feb 2014, 23:08

And where in the world are you????
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby almo » 17 Feb 2014, 23:37

Hi Toomanytoys, thanks for all your input btw. I'm near Barry, South Wales.
What would happen with just 3 bolts? Mechanic suggested it may be possible to just have the three bolts but never heard of it. Is that a definite "won't" based on pressure? (I'm a believer in thinking outside the box and occasionally stupid sounding questions actually have merit...occasionally!)
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby itchyfeet » 18 Feb 2014, 07:59

toomanytoys wrote: but.. if its snapped off at the case.. then its either a complete strip and rebiuld.. or another engine I am afraid...


You can remove a stud snapped at the base by welding a nut on.

What2d did this for me on the worst stud of all which is the one next to a case Nut so there was very little room.

I'd say snapping a stud on reassembly means they either didn't inspect the studs and replace or they didn't clean the threads and the nut locked up.
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby toomanytoys » 18 Feb 2014, 08:04

Well.. its up to you..

How do they propose to stop coolant peeing out of the missing head bolt?
And which bolt? if its in the rocker cover then your sump will fill with water...
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby almo » 19 Feb 2014, 00:18

toomanytoys wrote:Well.. its up to you..

How do they propose to stop coolant peeing out of the missing head bolt?
And which bolt? if its in the rocker cover then your sump will fill with water...


It's a corner head bolt I think. I'm not very technical I'm afraid! Plan now is to try to remove the sheared part. The 3 bolt option would mean a new but shorter bolt being fixed on place as a plug to stop the water leaking out. (Murphy's law in full swing here as we were just thinking about selling or part-exing for a T5 camper as a syncro caravelle seems too rare to turn into a standard camper!)
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Re: New head gasket or new engine

Postby Peninsulakid » 19 Feb 2014, 07:44

Sorry to hear about all your engine troubles.

Put some photos up on here with your asking price. You may get lucky. There's still plenty of people out there after a Syncro
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