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TDI Conversions Discussions on converting non TDIs into TDIS. More general items can be answered better in other sections. This is ideal for issues that don't have an overlap and are very special to swaping engines.

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Old April 19th, 2008, 20:22   #1
Frankendiesel
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Default TDI Town & Country

For those who haven't caught wind of my project yet (code named Project Frankendiesel) I am swapping a '98 TDI drivetrain from a Jetta into a '98 Town & Country LXi. Some history - 2 years ago I put our Mercedes 300SD on veggie. My wife loved it. She could go all over the city on veggie and not worry about gas prices. Then we had our second child last October. Suddenly that big sedan got really small and she went back to driving the minivan. Well, 20mpg didn't impress us much, so we decided it was time to do something. A Jetta wagon was still too small for cross country trips (both parents live 13 hours away) so I decided to give an enginectomy to a highly utilitarian minivan. I found this beast at a repair shop by where I work. It sat for about 8 months before I called them up and struck a deal for $500. The 3.8L had already been pulled along with a lot of other engine bay parts so that work was already done for me!


Today I finally powered up the heart of the beast; the TDI runs! I put together a gallery of pictures, so I'll just drop that link here. (I'm still trying to figure out how to imbed pics in a post...)


It powered up and talked on the VAG-COM and only logged a few faults: Since I didn't have a dash, it told me all the indicator lights were burned out and I also don't have EGR or Wastegate solenoids yet so it flagged them as well.


What I've done to the engine so far: New timing belt, tensioner, idler, water pump, rocker cover gasket, clutch throw-out bearing, and soon new alternator V-reg/brushes and the coolant hose set on the front side of the engine.

The next step is to remove as many pieces as I can from the engine and lower it into the chassis. I'll start dreaming up engine mounts and possibly fabricate them or have a shop do it, haven't decided yet. If I do take it to a shop, I want to mount the clutch pedal ass'y first. For that, I scored an ass'y off a '83 BMW 5-series. The master cylinder is in the cabin - perfect because I don't have any firewall whatsoever to mount a master cylinder to. I also have a console ass'y from a MKIV that I'm going to put in the T&C. That should make it look pretty respectable.

That's all for now - stay tuned for further details.

Travis
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1998 Chrysler Town & Country LXi with a TDI transplant from a '98 Jetta "Frankendiesel" 37mpg; mufflerectomy, 2.5" pipe cat-back, EGR delete, more to come...
2000 NB race pipe & Panzer plate.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 20:31   #2
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Can't wait to see it! I've always thought it's a no-brainer to put a TDI in a minivan. We rented a VW TDI minivan in europe and I was hooked from that point.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 23:15   #3
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My dad has a T+C with like 270k, still runs good and he can average 30-31 mpg highway.

Still, I have told him how cool a TDI swap would be, keep us posted!
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 10:43   #4
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What are you going to do about axles?
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 12:10   #5
Frankendiesel
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Ah yes, the half-shafts...well, those will be frankenaxles as well. I plan on taking measurements of the Chrysler half-shafts before removal of the tranny so I get an idea on length and location. I will then whack the VW half-shaft in half (a 1/4 shaft?? ) then measure how much of the Chrysler half-shaft needs to be cut. I will take the pieces down to the custom drivetrain shop and have them marry up the two pieces and balance the assembly.

I also might just take the two sets down to the shop, untouched, and give them the overall dimensions and turn them loose. I still need to get the Chrysler parts off the van - if they appear to be in need of replacement, I will probably purchase a new set of half shafts or have the CV joints rebuilt before installation. That just seems to be the smartest move right now.

That's the plan - open to suggestions.

Travis
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1998 Chrysler Town & Country LXi with a TDI transplant from a '98 Jetta "Frankendiesel" 37mpg; mufflerectomy, 2.5" pipe cat-back, EGR delete, more to come...
2000 NB race pipe & Panzer plate.
1985 Mercedes 300SD on SVO since 2006 (Sold)

Last edited by Frankendiesel; April 22nd, 2008 at 12:19.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 12:22   #6
markward
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As long as they are true, that should work. One minor thing to mention. The VW R/S shaft is longer than the left. They weight identical to each other. How did they do that? The R/S shaft is hollow. The reasoning was to control torque steer. The Japanese used a relay shaft for the r/s with equal cv shafts right and left. You may want to get some sacrificial shafts to experiment on. Ideally your frankenaxels would weigh the same right to left. The current shaft length won't be as important because the transaxle width at the flanges and the final location of the transaxle should determine the shaft length. With the suspension drooped, you should be able to unbolt the cv from the flanges and move axle away. If not, then most likely you made them too long. You could make sleeves that allow you to position the shafts with the boots off. That way you know exactly how long they need to be. With the suspension loaded, ideally the inner cvs would be centered to themselves.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 12:59   #7
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Great job done, keep us posted on updates. I always had this idea in my head about TDI swap into our Caravan Flex-fuel 17mpg gas drinker, but couldn'g find any info if anyone done this before. Are you planning to use chrysler tranny or tdi one?
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 13:10   #8
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I am actually throwing around this idea, but was going to pick the second gen MPV as the conversion. Smaller, lighter, and seem to have less general crappiness than the Chryslers. And since Mazda decided for the US market to curse their MPVs with Ford engines, I figure it won't be too long before I can find one in need of a transplant

I just need to find one of these only closer to home:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Mazda...spagenameZWDVW

Good luck on you conversion though! Also, they sell diesel Caravans outside the US, manual trans and all. Perhaps someone on the other side of the pond could source you some odd bits and pieces that could make your conversion easier. Chrysler also uses VAG diesels in many other models, like the Caliber, Compass, etc.
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Last edited by oilhammer; April 22nd, 2008 at 13:14.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 18:40   #9
Frankendiesel
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So they did sell these vans w/manual tranny's. I wondered about that... Any idea where I can get ahold of someone to talk about clutch/shifters/cables?? I've searched Google and have come up with nothing except the old domestic turbo Caravans from the late 80's (optional 5-speed).

Also, great comment on the equal weight of the half-shafts - had no idea. I'll keep that in mind when I have the powertrain folks fab these up. And the idea about setting the distance with the boot off - I like it. I wasn't thinking very straight when I said I was going to measure the distance on the Chrysler transmission, that would get me no where since it would not represent what the VW transmission will be spacing-wise.

Thanks all!

Travis
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1998 Chrysler Town & Country LXi with a TDI transplant from a '98 Jetta "Frankendiesel" 37mpg; mufflerectomy, 2.5" pipe cat-back, EGR delete, more to come...
2000 NB race pipe & Panzer plate.
1985 Mercedes 300SD on SVO since 2006 (Sold)
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 04:51   #10
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They marketed the Caravan early on with a manual trans here, with the 2.2L engine. But in the rest of the world, up until just this year I think, most Caravans were not only manual trans equipped, but were diesels as well.

And you know what is REALLY sad? They build some of these right here in Missouri, I pass the plant every day. Sometimes I even see truckloads of them leaving, with the little "CRD" tag on the back.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 21:02   #11
firehorse66
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Here's a video on youtube where they did a similar project, it might give you some ideas.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkf4cxAaTmA
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Old April 24th, 2008, 08:12   #12
Frankendiesel
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Yeah, I've seen that video before. Stumbled onto it while watching the Redneck Rollercoaster (that guys has too much time on his hands!) I also have an article from a farm journal of a guy over in Illinois who put a 2.2L Isuzu in his '97 Grand Caravan. I have a phone number and was meaning to call him sometime about it. I also have a .jpg of the article if anyone is interested in reading it. He gets 39mpg with his 2.2L and the factory Chrysler automatic tranny. I'm shooting for 40 or better.

Travis
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2000 NB race pipe & Panzer plate.
1985 Mercedes 300SD on SVO since 2006 (Sold)
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Old April 24th, 2008, 12:25   #13
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I would shy away from using the Caravan tranny's they are as bad as VW automatic tranny's. Hard to get 150K out of one. The new ones are better, but you'll probably only find the older ones reasonably priced. Look at consumer reports, only the 2002 tranny did not get the dreaded black circle. If you go cable shifter from a TDI you just need a creative place to mount it. Steal a clutch pedal assembly from gasser VW. Frankendiesel needs many donors to be keep that prestigeous Title . I've heard of retrofitters who mock up their shafts in the car so they can prove they work (prototypes), before they sub out the work to get balanced etc. You never know if is too short or too long or knocks under full turn radius, or full suspension load until you use it. You can pay someone to build a balanced one later once you get a working prototype.

I'll be watching this conversion, I think it is a great idea. You ever think about swapping the whole front subframe assembly? Would have to fabricate some sort of tube frame though.more trouble than it probably is worth. I know people do that from swapping the front wheel drive assembly with v8 motor, tranny, steering etc. from eldorados, toronados and put them in all sorts of vehicles.
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Old April 28th, 2008, 19:56   #14
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I'm back to working on the wiring harness - just a few loose ends to tie up (pun intended ). I need a detailed schematic of the air conditioning circuit. The Mitchell Manuals at the library don't have them and I don't have a Bentley manual for the A3. BTW, The schematics from Haywood seem to be the same material as Bentley, and there's no A/C details. Any help is, as always, appreciated.

Just an update - the clutch pedal is in the van now (sorry - don't have pic's yet) and I just need to mount the master cylinder. I'm going to go junkyard digging for a reservoir but may purchase new - a coworker found one for a motorcycle for $22 that should work fine. After the clutch is mounted, I'll drop the Chrysler tranny out. Then I'll lower in the TDI and get a feel for motor mounts.

The list goes on from there...I'll spare the details. Stay tuned...

Travis
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2000 NB race pipe & Panzer plate.
1985 Mercedes 300SD on SVO since 2006 (Sold)
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Old April 29th, 2008, 17:16   #15
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Finally got to check out some of your progress pics...looks really good! When I did my Saturn TDI mounts, I used some urethane biscuits from Energy Suspension...I'll get you the P/N later, but they made my life a lot simpler. I've been putting the coolant lines together, and just got the fan shroud and radiator in place; I discovered that the oil filter that came with my TDI was too big, but I found a shorter one that cleared the shroud, although I had to space the fan motor forward about a half inch to clear the filter. You may have more room in your van than I do in the Saturn, but wanted to pass the info along to you.
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