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Thread: Vanagon 1.9 to 2.1 liter conversions (& reverse)

  1. #1
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    I am considering to replace my broken 2,1 injection with a 1.9 carburator-engine that I can have for free. Is it difficult to do this switch, and what things should I pay special attention?

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  3. #2
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    First, I always ask "why" as this is a major step backwards, both to the lower power & torque of the 1.9 and the inferiority of the carbs vs. FI. I will concede "free" is always some inducement, but it is not free -- just lower initial outlay.

    The usual conversion is to attempt to up a 1.9 to 2.1. There is an article describing such a conversion at http://wetwesties.tripod.com/oldvolkshome/19to21.htm which might give you some insight by 'reverse engineering.' However I caution that it may not be completely accurate as my VW sources tell me the FI's are NOT interchangeable. Difference also include intake manifolds, and I believe even the starter.

  4. #3
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    I agree with Capt. Mike - going from a 2.1 down to a 1.9 is a step backwards - especially if you like the power of the 2.1. In regards to your possible swap, there are a number of things to consider - first off, everything that came on the 2.1 will need to be put on the 1.9. We are talking everything, example: water pump, hoses, distributor, fuel injection, thermostat housing, etc. Second thing - throw the carburetor away (or at least sell it to someone with a Baja Bug). The carburetor system for these engines are lousy - with a good fuel injection system, the carb is ancient technology and not any better. Besides that, if you have to smog your Vanagon, the carb is going to be a real problem. Anyway, I'm guessing that you are just considering the engine swap only and not fuel system as well. If this is not the case - the electric fuel pump is to high a pressure for a carb - you will need to get a different pump with less pressure or a good pressure regulator - basically just to much work and not worth it in my book. I hope this answers your question - but as you stated, for the right price and due to a lack of an engine - this would be a fairly good temporary engine till you can do it right. Good luck and hope this helps. CGOTTS

  5. #4
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    So basically what you are saying is that I should keep the injection system, and that fit it on to the 1.9? I am looking for the easiest and fastest way to get the car on the road again, and this engine is available. I am aware of the loss of power and torque, but as you guessed is this only a temporary solution. The 2.1 engines are hard to get a hand on here in Norway, at least to a reasonable price, so i hope the 1.9 do the job until I get a "new" 2.1, or have the time to rebuild the broken one...
    I think I`ll give it a shot, thanks for the replies!

  6. #5
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    There is a good reference for upgrading the 1.9 liter engine in the Vanagon to the later 2.1 liter located at www.oldvolkshome.com .

    My resource tells me it has some errors but should be a very good starter for upgrading (or retrofitting). I believe the questions my source (VW trained expert) has are with regard to the FI system. He says there are sufficient differences between Digijet and Digifant that use of one FI on the other can create problems. One is an analog system and the other a digital so you can expect differences in some senders and computer programming.

    So tread cautiously and get some expert opinion/help. My guy ventures his personal opinion that the small gains aren't worth it in the long run, assuming of course one is paying retail for parts. I suppose a free engine vs. a factory reman has its appeal!

  7. #6
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    Fairfield Glade, TN USA
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    I've been reading the information about installing the 2.1 in a pre 86 Westy. It seems kind of complicated. For those of us who are torque challenged (as well as mechanically inept), couldn't VW have adapted the change to 2.1 on it's reman engines? Seems VW originally increased the displacement 200 CCs in 1986 by simply increasing the stroke 7mm (the bore is the same). Does this mean the basic configuration change on the newer engine is the crankshaft? Digijet F.I. appears to be adaptable. The major pay-back probably results from the displacement increase. If, when installing a reman engine for other reasons, 2.1 could be painlessly substituted it sure would help justify the cost. I suppose I'm displaying my ignorance and it's more complicated (like core charge, etc.). But I am considering a new engine and would appreciate your thoughts before I discuss the matter with my VW dealer.
    GaryB

  8. #7
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    Not all corporate decisions are purely technical. For instance, there is a major tax change when going over 2.0 liters in many European countries. So they may not want them and you'd have to continue both sets anyway.

    Any configuration for the US or Canadian markets has to be government certified and changes require complete recertification, a very costly and time consuming procedure. Within states, changes from original configuration may run afoul of state inspection laws. Some laws are arbitrary, but the customer has little recourse. So often what seems like a logical supercession, just becomes more hassle than it's worth.

    On the after-sale side, you have a complete parts system set up for a particular engine. But with some engines superceded and others not, how do you assure the right parts are provided? The same applies to the changes necessary in FI -- mechanics suddenly have multiple systems and settings for the same model, thus requiring additional training. And another set of documents, manuals and tech publications.

    Finally, I guess you'd have to throw in the oldfashioned business consideration. Supply & demand; cost of conversion vs. numbers sold; and customer acceptance (not everybody may want the change). So would it pay?
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 07-15-2008 at 07:43 PM.

  9. #8
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    Fort Worth
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    what are the differences between a 86 2.1 from a two wheel drive, and an 87 2.1 from a syncro??


    any?? a lot?

    please help

    thanks
    Last edited by Capt. Mike; 07-15-2008 at 07:44 PM.

  10. #9
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    Eugene, Oregon, USA
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    Should be the same. Transmission is different. See the Bentley for details.
    -judlandis

  11. #10
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    Fort Worth
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    well, i assume that it would have been the same as well, but it seems as lots of stuff has had to be changed! thanks for your help

    J

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