TDI Town & Country

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
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
 

cbass94

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2006
Location
Salt Lake City, UT
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS, 2011 JSW
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.
 

VFchicago88

Banned
Joined
May 6, 2006
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!
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
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?? :D ) 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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markward

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2007
Location
Loxahatchee, Florida
TDI
82 Vanagon and 2011 JSW
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.
 

Losha

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2005
Location
Sioux Falls, SD
TDI
06 Jetta TDI DSG, 2001 Golf TDI, 97 Passat TDI, 02 NB 1.8T, 01 A4 1.8T
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?
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
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 :p

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

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Mazda-MPV-MPV-MAZDA-MPV-3RD-SEAT-NON-RUNNING-NEEDS-WORK-SAVE-BIG_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ6318QQihZ019QQitemZ290224618285QQrdZ1QQsspagenameZWDVW

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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Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
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! :cool:

Travis
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
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. :mad:
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
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
 

TDeanI

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2007
Location
Bremerton WA
TDI
'97 Passat TDI Wagon w/ 286K mi.
Chrysler Tranny's

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.
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
I'm back to working on the wiring harness - just a few loose ends to tie up (pun intended :D). 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
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
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.
 

lews930

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2008
Location
tampa,florida
TDI
96 passat
CFM, has it stopped snowing long enough for you to resume working on your project? I must commend you on some really fine work! if my rpoject turns out 1/2 as good as your satrun I'll be happy

lewis
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
Yeah, I think spring has finally gained a foothold for awhile; I've made a good deal of progress on the car, but I've had so much going on with work and school that I haven't updated my thread in awhile...I hope to do that this weekend, as it's starting to look like something and I should have it running soon.
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
FYI - album updated w/pictures of clutch pedal & master cylinder. A little work left to do on it then I'll mount it. I admit, I'm going off an assumption that the throw of the pedal will sufficiently throw the clutch plate. If not.... :( I do plan on testing it first though, don't worry.


Recent work done on engine: New coolant hoses down by the oil filter. Not to rub it in, but that would be a pain to change in the car. ;) Cleaned intake EGR passageway. Not the worst, but it definitely needed it. I also removed all EGR hardware (except the actual valve) and am looking at getting blank plates for the two holes. I could make them, but for $10, it would save me an afternoon. I also want to put an EGT probe in the empty EGR port - anyone done that on an AHU? It looks like the probe needs to be quite long as it doesn't get in the exhasut gas flow until right before the turbo inlet. Perhaps I'm not reading the manifold molding correctly though... :confused: All I see are short probes out there for EGT's.

Thanks!

Travis
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
Update

Quick update tonight: Lots of progress lately - my clutch pedal appears to be in it's final stagel. Funny how it gets easier to remove the 15th time ;) I tested it on the drivetrain before installing and it appears to be releasing the throw-out just fine. This is good. I also have the holes drilled for the shift levers. It looks like the shifter will sit right next to the captains chair just perfectly. Sorry no pictures, severe storm blew in and I had to pick up for the night. Speaking of, the lightening is here. Gotta split!

Travis
 

CFM

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Location
Wells, Maine
TDI
1995 Saturn with a 1997 TDI drivetrain.
I'd love to see some pics of how you handled the shifter and cables; in my Saturn TDI project, I recently discovered that the Jetta TDI shifter fits really nice, just had to make an adapter. This worked out a lot better than my heavily-reworked Saturn shifter that I was going to use. With classes over with, I'll have some time to update my thread with some new pics.
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
The Photo Album has been updated. The shifter is nothing fancy, out of a Mk IV Jetta. I had to drive to Dubuque to get it (amongst a few other parts) and was totally blessed to find it already extracted from the car, laying in a pile in the dirt, just waiting for me to grab it and go! :D

A buddy is coming over Friday and we're hopefully going to transfer the engine from the one garage to the van project garage. I'll hang it on a chain hoist to allow for easy insertion/extraction while doing motor mount fab. I think I'll tackled that myself the more I think of it. The shop I had lined up to install the motor got a scathing review from someone I know. Besides, I'd have to do a lot of work to tow the silly thing down there and back.

Stand by for news,

Travis
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
Some Wiring Questions

On to some of the finer points....thinking ahead as to how the wiring is going to work - is there an ambient air temp sensor in the ECU that would be thrown off if I were to stuff the ECU in the cab instead of under the hood (or cowl, as it were)? I'm thinking about keeping it in the cab, but if that will throw off things like glow-plug preglow time, coolant glow plug signal, etc. I'd consider finding a home under the hood afterall.

Also, can anyone confirm two signals for me - I show the VSS coming out of the ECU at pin 43 and the Tach at pin 2; is that right? They are both heading up to the instrument cluster for display.

Thanks!

Travis
 

Losha

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2005
Location
Sioux Falls, SD
TDI
06 Jetta TDI DSG, 2001 Golf TDI, 97 Passat TDI, 02 NB 1.8T, 01 A4 1.8T
Yes, there is ambient air temp sensor that reads air temp and sends signal to ECU. Its located on driver side under wiper cover across from hood strut. Its just little plastic/aliminum round sensor with two wires. If you don't have one I two spare ones so I can mail one.
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
Ah, I see, so it is external to the ECU. I knew there was an ambient sensor somewhere, I just didn't know if it was external to the ECU or not - you have answered my question! One disadvantage of not getting the whole car - I am indeed missing the sensor. I think I know which connector it goes on though. I'll PM you later for details - thanks for the offer!

Travis
 
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Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
One more photo updated over in the gallery - tonight I lowered the engine into the beast. Now the fun begins. I think I'll make up some mock mounts out of cardboard or Aluminum and then fab the real deal out of steel. As I mentioned in CFM's thread, right now the alternator is hitting the cooling fan so that will need to be addressed soon. Otherwise, everything else should fit pretty well with minimal adapters/plumbing. Then on to the wiring harness...

I'm going to have the A/C interface point just before the VW cooling fan relay. If I am looking correctly, the cooling fan relay actually runs the A/C clutch as well as the cooling fans. So I'll feed the +12V signal into the cooling fan relay and let it run the show from there.

More updates to follow - hitting it hard this week.

Travis
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
The ECU needs to see an A/C request signal as well as the fan controller. Cannot remember for the life of me how the wiring is arranged for that, but I think the ECU needs to know the extra load is on the engine, etc.
 

Frankendiesel

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2008
Location
Cedar Rapids, IA
TDI
2000 Beetle TDI
Yeah, I saw that input as well. I'll be sure to hook it up too. This wiring thing is going to take days to get all the signals hooked up!

Tonight, I almost have one motor mount fabricated. I had to come in to watch my girls, and am about to go back out and finish the one. The other two should be OK. I did have to cut out the pass side radiator fan. I may be able to modify the bracket to allow it to fit again, but we'll see. I shouldn't have to worry about extra cooling capacity until next month ;).

I am certainly relieve on how work is progressing smoothly. I'm worried that throwing my family in it and trecking 800 miles up to South Dakota next month may be a bit hasty - how about you fellow TDI conversionists out there - what are some of the startup glitches you experienced?

Thanks!

Travis
 

bikeprof

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2005
Location
Pagosa Springs, Colorado(YEAH!)
TDI
1996 Passat B4 Variant white, 1996 Town & Country 3.8 LXI
Frankendiesel:

Maybe the first thing that you need to do that would REALLY help is to get the ECU chipped 'cause the Crhysler is heavier than any TDI out there.

Of course, get the minivan running smoothly first...
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
The 90hp 1.9L TDI was the standard engine in the T4 in Europe for years, which is easily larger and heavier than the Caravan. The difference was in the gearing. Might not be a bad idea to find a 2.0L gasser transmission to install, that would knock the gearing down some and probably make it feel better around town.
 
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