The joys of wasserboxer ownership

Hi all,
Seems my good luck run with the Syncro has run out. And here I thought it would be the GB to let me down first…
Have confirmed the dreaded head leak (exhaust gasses in coolant). Still nursing the van along at the moment, but preparing myself for a re-built.
One some initial estimates on parts cost, looks like it’s going to put a decent dent in the keeping the Syncro alive budget.

I have not made a detailed list of parts needed, or where to find the best parts from, but any suggestions would be welcomed.
I’m happy with stock, but if there are better parts out there, happy to consider them.

I do not know much about the oversized P&C sets some vendors sell, but not sure they would achieve much (not worth the hassle??)
Similar on the AMC heads, there are no options out there, but not sure if there’s any benefits in having them checked before using.

One thing I did do for my T2 (type4 motor) was to put a ceramic coating inside the heads, and piston crowns, so am thinking to have this done again.


Do you really need a full rebuild? Most people just change the heads. You may be replacing good parts with new bad.


Sad to hear about your head gaskets.

If you go with the AMC heads, I have always been advised to get a better set of valves.

However, I have AMC heads on my 2wd and they are all stock I was told when it was rebuilt and they have been going fine.

You will need to assess whether you need new heads once you get yours off.

Corrosion is common causing severe pitting so you may need the AMC heads.

Thanks for the reply guy’s.
As I currently need the van, I was hoping to nurse it along and re-build another engine to fit in. I have a long block I had picked up some time ago. Unfortunately stripping it down over the week end it does not look good. The engine looks like it suffered from a shoddy re-build. Looks like it had not had a lot of use before a head stud let go. The water jacket has pitting, a couple of lugs on the case have been snapped off, and looks like water/coolant was left in the engine. Add to that, there are a lot of missing parts, I think that engine is not really worth saving.

So I’m back to square one. Anyone aware of a complete motor for sale? Happy for an engine that needs a re-build, but would really like a complete engine (ideally for a Syncro), not a long block.
Surely with all the Subaru conversions, there must be plenty of engines out there??

Phil, yes my engine otherwise drives well, so if I can get another engine to install or re-build, I will evaluate the condition this one before doing too much.

On a related note, so there are three ways you can have a head leak, a compression leak (barrel to head leaks), a head stud let go and the head to water jack seal can let go.
Are all three common?
And what would cause the head to barrel leak like I have??
This has otherwise been a good engine. It’s done ~80k km since I have had it, unsure how many KM it had done before I got it. It’s been re-build before (has AMC heads)

Sorry to hear Richard.

I was in the same boat a few months ago.

When I brought the van I didn’t notice a slight weep in the l/h head (and jumping out of 2nd lol) - Must have been too exited, i drove the wheels off it for two years with radiator seal in it until it finally went pop literally.

I was lucky to find an engine from Vic, Andy “Turtle”, Swapped them over to get me by until i can afford a rebuild.

Now this engine had developed a leak on the r/h jacket.

Im on the hunt for a gasket kit, was going to attempt the head seals myself in the near future hopefully it gets me by until i can afford the motor rebuild.

Im not keen on a Subi swap, I love the note of the vee dub engine and history behind them.

Was looking at buying a running low klm Auto van from the GC with 115k on the clock for $6k…If the head seal replacement goes south this might be my plan B.

Thanks Joe,
Yes, sorry to hear you have similar issues. So if head to case rubber seal leaks, I assume it will be from corrosion under the rubber seal?
If everything else is good, a simple reseal kit may get you by.

The van option might be a good one, sounds like an excellent price for a low km van!! Could be an investment for you :slight_smile:

Yeah brickwerx sells top end gasket kits for around 80gbp. Hopefully the head studs are in good condition. Wish me luck! I figure if im gonna have these vans for many years best learn to do it myself.

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Yes, it seems these are getting to an age you need to be self sufficient. Yes, in the looking around I have done, brickwerx seem very good.
I don;t know enough about the head studs, other than you hear a lot let go. I’m not sure if that is always due to corrosion, or if there is a risk re-using them.
I have also heard they can be hard (impossible?) to remove. I have not tried to remove the ones in the engine I’ve started stripping down, but one head stud is snapped, is the reason it was removed.
Yes, good luck!! I’m in Brissy, but happy to help if I can
0457 760 455

Hi all,
I have not had time to get back to sorting the syncro out. Still running, but not using it much at the moment.

Just having another check if anyone has, or knows of a complete syncro motor for sale? Prefer complete so it’s a simple swap over. Don’t mind if it needs work, Previous hunting around did not find one.


I haven’t seen any sign of one since Valla.

They are not the most common things. A few 2.1 MV 2wd engines have come up but mainly in a poor state and a 1.9 is currently listed on gumtree but that would be of no use to you.

Andrew Edwards (South Australia) had 2 for sale recently. I’m not sure if either was a “drop it in and drive” proposition. I also wander if we could locate Luke who used to do Subaru transplants in Moorabbin VIC but I hear he’s relocated to the Central Coast NSW. He surely would have had some laying around.

Hi Martin,

Luke now works at Retro RV in Gosford.

Still doing Subie conversions - not sure how many VW engines he would have lying around though.

Hi all, quick update, I have not gotten back to the poor Syncro, and I can tell you I’m missing it!! (it is/was my daily driver). Just had other priorities soaking up all of my time.
None of my searching found a motor and I have not ordered parts to rebuild my motor yet. I have not used the van much, so still it’s drivable at the moment.
Hopefully I will get parts and pull the motor out over the next few months. Current plan is to do a top end rebuild myself to get it back on the road.
Not sure what parts to order yet, but will get heads, gaskets etc. Not sure if I will look at other parts to have just in case they need replacing while the motor is out. It was running fine, so the rest of the motor is sound.
The exhaust is the only scary bit, the original system on there is fine, but am sure it will not come apart willingly, and scared what might fall to pieces when removed.

Gaetan on the forum here has some parts for sale in Fremantle

Good plan Richard,

New heads are hard to get - always out of stock and are about $500US each.

So Gaetan’s second hand heads seem like a great idea.

I totally agree - those exhausts are exhausting!

Hi Richard. I am in awe of your skill in being able to do a rebuild yourself. Good luck with the exhaust. I saw a post on Facebook of a guy heating the bolts so they were red hot and then unscrewing. Looked like it worked. Good luck. Cheers, Peter

Richard, when you get to the stage of installing your exhaust consider using copper nuts to fasten the brackets. Copper will not rust or fuse onto the steel bolts, hence easier to undo in the future if necessary.

Spot on. I replaced some exhaust gaskets with a kit from Go Westy. All the nuts that were attached to hot parts of the exhaust were copper.

Thanks all, still not finding the time to push this project along but will get there.
Thanks on the exhaust nut info. I have always used brass and a good anti sieze on all threads which has always worked well.