The (Almost) Final Chapter in the Saga of the LuvBus

When we last heard about the LuvBus Bil and I had gotten the head out and he was going to send it out to have it flattened so we could re-install it.

Unfortunately the shop he sent it to told him it was too warped to flatten. Damn.

So Bil spent a bunch of time trying to locate a new (used) motor to swap in.

Last week he finally found one. So I arranged to borrow an engine hoist and we made the swap this weekend. We spent all day Saturday and a couple of hours on it Sunday and then had to stop until Bil can get a couple of parts. But it’s about 95% done.

The new motor.

Here is the new (used) motor. It looks like it’s in pretty good shape, and is certainly cleaner than the old one. It’s reportedly got 125,000 miles on it.

Bil does some research.
Bil does some research.

Bil is looking something up in the Bentley manual. Not the most useful manual.

Starting the removal process.

Since we were going to be pulling the block, we had to remove more stuff. The AC pump, the power steering pump, more connectors, etc.

Loosening the transmission bolts.

Bil starts loosening the transmission bolts. Here’s some fun German Engineering for you: the transmission is bolted to the engine with three different size bolts, with two different head styles (hex head and socket head) and inserted in both directions. There were 9 bolts in all I think.

Oh for the days of the original VW bug – undo 4 bolts and disconnect two wires and the motor came out. Took all of 15 minutes.

Hooked up and removing the bolts.

Old block is attached to the hoist, transmission supported with a jack, time to remove the bolts all the way.

Ready to lift.

Unbolt and remove the left motor mount, slide it to the left and hoist it out. Sounds easy. There was much swearing and cussing and wondering how we would be able to get the new one, which had much more bulk to it, in.


But we got it out. The primary cause of pain, in both getting the old one out and putting the new one in is that rigid aluminum air conditioning piping that you can see in the foreground. It’s in the worst possible place and is rigidly attached to the firewall. While we were putting the new motor in we were seriously considering venting the freon and removing the pipe. I had concerns about doing that, and in the end we managed to avoid it.

The crank in the old engine.

The new motor had a crack in the oil pan, so we swapped on the pan from the old motor. I took a photo, just for funzies. I should have taken one of the new motor, it was cleaner inside.

The beginning of the cussing and swearing.

Installing the new engine. That was fun. To start with, it took us a lot of futzing around to figure out how to pick it up and make it hang at the correct angle to even bolt up. According to the manual, it’s supposed to go in from beneath. That wasn’t really an option for us.

I also think that you are supposed to remove the transmission and then the engine, and they should be installed in reverse order. But I didn’t really want to have to jack up the bus, remove the wheels, axles and transmission…

Finally to make it go in we had to remove the belt tensioner, the mounting bracket for the AC and power steering pump, the water pump pulley and anything else we could think of to make some room. Then it was lower, push back, lower, push back. In the end we still needed to shove the motor over another 1/4″ to the left to get the torque converter into the transmission housing and it just wasn’t going. I ended up using a pry bar to lever the converter over enough to get it in.

There was much cussing, swearing and discussion of the engineer’s mother’s marital status.

Yay! It’s in!

We finally got the damned thing into the bay and mated up to the transmission – another exercise in frustration. It was a huge pain in the ass to get the alignment right so we could get all the bolts in.

The exhaust pipes were another huge pain in the ass. They were in the way and then difficult to get reconnected.

Bil is very dirty.

Bil did all the laying on the floor and working underneath the bus, and he got very dirty. Yes, that’s oil in his hair.

Eventually we got the motor in and started hooking every thing back up. While Bil was underneath fighting with the exhaust I got the AC and power steering pumps, the alternator, the belt tensioner and a whole bunch of wiring and piping sorted out. It was looking pretty good, but we were both fried, so we stopped.

About 95% done.

I headed back out there Sunday and we did some more work. We got the bumper frame back on, and ran all the wires across that attach to it. We figured out where all the miscellaneous wires and hoses we had left over were supposed to go. There were not that many, but a couple of them had us scratching our heads. Because we tore down the old motor, we have a lot of extra parts, so we went through all of them and made sure there were none that were supposed to be in the engine bay, and not in a cardboard box.

The new motor came without a throttle body, so we need a new gasket to swap on the one from the old motor.

We got to the point where we could put the radiator back into position and discovered that one end was missing the rubber bushing that it sits on. It must have fallen off and probably got kicked into a corner or swept up. So we had to stop again.

Bil will get the missing parts and required fluids and I expect that we will have this beast running by next Saturday at the latest!


Here are some more fun German Engineering facts for you:

  • The flywheel is bolted to the end of the crank with twelve 10mm bolts. Not only do they have a funky internal 12 point star drive head (for which I had the correct socket drive because it’s the same star drive that my ’82 BMW motorcycle uses for it’s connecting rod cap bolts) but they are not all spaced on the same bolt circle so the holes don’t all line up unless you have it in the correct orientation. That’s cool and all, but they are only off by about 1mm so it’s not obvious unless you are paying close attention. I discovered this because I started a couple of the bolts and then the next one wouldn’t go in….
Star Power
Star Power
  • Even though the flywheel is bolted to the crank with twelve 10mm bolts, the torque converter is only bolted to the flywheel with three 10mm studs. So all that torque that is transferred to the flywheel with 12 bolts then goes through 3 bolts (and then a funky double spline and two pin arrangement) into the transmission.
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