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Complete rebuild of T3
11-16-2017, 09:44 PM
Post: #1
Complete rebuild of T3
I've been in contact with Stuart about rebuilding a T3 from the chassis up next year.

We have a budget of R150-200k.

What are some of the things that you would do or add if you were doing this?
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11-17-2017, 09:56 AM
Post: #2
RE: Complete rebuild of T3
Replace all parts that wear over time i.e. CV's, wheels bearings, suspension bushings,shocks,gear lever joints,brakes,clutch and rust proof areas which are prone to corrosion. If your gearbox has not had a rebuild recently then have them recondition it.
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11-17-2017, 12:07 PM
Post: #3
RE: Complete rebuild of T3
What is the objective of the re-build?
  • Is the Syncro in poor condition and you want to restore?
  • Do you want 'better', i.e. upgraded items? If so, why?
  • What do you use it for? Is gravel roads the worst you through at it, or do you test the limits?


The above list from Camperholic is a very complete list, and great starting point; but ultimately the answer depends on the Syncros' current state and your objective.
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11-18-2017, 07:15 AM (This post was last modified: 11-18-2017 07:22 AM by Farmer.)
Post: #4
RE: Complete rebuild of T3
(11-17-2017 09:56 AM)Camperholic Wrote:  Replace all parts that wear over time i.e. CV's, wheels bearings, suspension bushings,shocks,gear lever joints,brakes,clutch and rust proof areas which are prone to corrosion. If your gearbox has not had a rebuild recently then have them recondition it.

I reckon that's all good advice. Thanks Camperholic.

(11-17-2017 12:07 PM)Jacobus Wrote:  What is the objective of the re-build?
  • Is the Syncro in poor condition and you want to restore?
  • Do you want 'better', i.e. upgraded items? If so, why?
  • What do you use it for? Is gravel roads the worst you through at it, or do you test the limits?


The above list from Camperholic is a very complete list, and great starting point; but ultimately the answer depends on the Syncros' current state and your objective.

We have owned a Syncro before, but would now be buying one specifically for this project, so what we buy as a base is a big decision. I'm of the opinion that if we're going to do so much work to it, we may as well buy one that needs the work done anyway (read cheap).
Our plan is to do some travelling through Africa for a few months, so we want something clean and reliable. I previously owned a 2.5i, which had sufficient power, but the engine hang quite low, so we're looking for other options.
We would like to raise it slightly and go with bigger tyres so that should we chose to "test the limits", we are able to negotiate bigger obstacles.

I'd like to know what other guys have done to upgrade theirs, and what they've loved, or regretted about their upgrades.
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11-18-2017, 01:36 PM
Post: #5
RE: Complete rebuild of T3
Buying cheap will end up costing far more. Even a good syncro will cost to do the work you mentioned above but a cheap one will land up being a lot more work. Do not buy one that dose not drive as it should. A gearbox rebuild is expensive and one that has broken parts can easily cost double to rebuild. 5 cylinder engines are a waste of time. Old,very heavy, thirsty and get hot in the back of a syncro. Best value for money is the 2L golf engine but a bit underpowered when vehicle is full of all your travel goodies. But as said best value for money conversion. If you can afford the VW 1.8T is an absolute brilliant engine in a syncro. TDI is also great in a syncro but must be installed correctly. This is an expensive undertaking though.
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11-19-2017, 01:23 AM
Post: #6
RE: Complete rebuild of T3
(11-18-2017 01:36 PM)Russel Wrote:  Buying cheap will end up costing far more. Even a good syncro will cost to do the work you mentioned above but a cheap one will land up being a lot more work. Do not buy one that dose not drive as it should. A gearbox rebuild is expensive and one that has broken parts can easily cost double to rebuild. 5 cylinder engines are a waste of time. Old,very heavy, thirsty and get hot in the back of a syncro. Best value for money is the 2L golf engine but a bit underpowered when vehicle is full of all your travel goodies. But as said best value for money conversion. If you can afford the VW 1.8T is an absolute brilliant engine in a syncro. TDI is also great in a syncro but must be installed correctly. This is an expensive undertaking though.

Thanks for the advice Russel. You are probably right about not buying cheap. Having a Syncro resprayed is quite an expensive undertaking too; more than I had expected. The money would probably be better spent on one of the engines that you've mentioned.
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11-20-2017, 11:24 AM
Post: #7
RE: Complete rebuild of T3
First off, I think it's great your wanting to restore one. I'm hoping they'll be on our roads for still a few decades!

I agree with Russel, that R150-200k might not go as far as you’d think, especially when considering upgrading and not just restoring. I think I’ve an idea of what you’re requiring, best I can do is to add to what has been said and add my opinion. As such, I can tell you what I’m aiming at with my Syncro. Please note that each ‘upgrade’, such as larger wheels might not be an upgrade at all, depending on what your objectives are. Some general observations:

1. Try to buy a good condition Syncro. Take your time and asses any corrosion. Don’t underestimate the impact of any present corrosion, nor the cost to rectify it. Ask around, and do some searches to the most prominent problem areas are, and be wearisome of any new paint jobs. These might look good, but hide several problems.

2. All must be functional. If you’re planning an engine swop it’s easy to argue that you don’t need a running Syncro; how’d you check if everything else if working though? A problematic transaxle, diffs, or diff lockers for example may be expensive to fix and you’d only know about it after you’ve invested a lot into a new engine. I’m not against such a project, but probably best leave it to people like Stuart etc with the experience, or make sure to get their opinion on the specific vehicle!

Lifting a Syncro:
1. Why? Generally lifting a vehicle decreases it’s performance. Consider carefully the benefits/trade-offs. For example,
a. The benefits are:
i. More ground clearance
ii. Aesthetics?
b. The disadvantages are
i. Higher centre of gravity
ii. Higher component wear (CV’s in particular)
iii. Reduced suspension travel
iv. Increased drag (Ok, probably negligible)
v. Etc…
a. Please note, I’ve lifted mine, as I use my Syncro predominantly on roads that require the extra lift. If I didn’t lift, mine wouldn’t last very long. It’s generally accepted that the best trade-off of the above mentioned is around 500mm centre of wheel hub to bottom of arch. This is what I’m aiming for as well.
3. Larger wheels:
Why? Again, consider your motives carefully.
a. Advantages:
i. Better selection of compatible tyres.
ii. Higher ground clearance
b. Disadvantages
i. Spare tyre won’t fit in clamshell anymore
ii. Higher gear rations (this is subjective, as many people prefer this, however, if you do things that require low range gearing, this could be a show stopper. Personally, I need my low range to be as low as possible (steep rocky terrain). If you play in the sand and other off-road conditions more often, then this might not be a problem, in fact, you might want it to be a bit taller.

4. Engine. If you’re planning on travelling through Africa (BTW, we are in Africa ?). Then make sure the engine is reliable and parts are readily available. This is a highly subjective subject, but I’ll offer my opinion. I enjoy the 2.1 WBX. It’s very under powered and you measure 0-100 I minutes, but it has brilliant torque curve (again, steep rocky stuff… if sand, then it doesn’t matter as much). I’m familiar with the engine (from doing plenty of reading) and I’m quietly confident that’ll be able to at least get to help should something go wrong on my travels. Though I like the engine, I would consider a Subaru engine as it has similar properties, though, be it much improved performance.

I think I’ve blabbered enough, you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. If you’re interested, I’d share my ‘upgrade’ path which I’m considering and my perceived advantages/drawbacks. The critical thing though is, it’ll be MY ideal Syncro.
Final thought. Draft an extensive list of what it is you’re wanting from your Syncro. Realise that there are trade-offs to most of you wants. Understand them and then make an informed decision.
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11-21-2017, 05:29 AM
Post: #8
RE: Complete rebuild of T3
I paid too much for my Syncro. I reality it was the 'cheap' one you talking about. It was due to lack of experience and I spend a lot of money to get it where I wanted.

For many reasons I should have looked for an original, good condition still with its 2.1 motor. Then you know it was cared for. Price then would have been the same as I paid for mine, around R80k.

I would have ended up spending about R52k less on it, and that after I had fitted a 2L Golf motor I reckon.
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