JBugs Video Series

VW Super Beetle Short Block Assembly:

Video Overview:

In our last video we started our 1800cc stroked engine build for our 1971 Super Beetle. We continue the engine assembly by dropping the crankshaft, camshaft, bearings other engine internals into the case half on our stand. Then we'll drop the opposite case half in place and get the short block torqued together.

Video Tips:

The tools you will need are:

3/8" Ratchet
1/2" Ratchet
6" Extension
10mm Socket
13mm Socket
19mm Socket
Torque Wrench
10mm Wrench
13mm Wrench
22mm Wrench
30mm Socket
Aviation Sealant
Parts Cleaner
Assembly Lube
Blue/Medium Threadlocker
Large Flat Screwdriver or Ground Down Chisel

Video Transcript:

Hi! Sam here with JBugs.com

We're in the midst of building a 1800cc engine for our 1971 Euro Look Super Beetle.

In our last video, we assembled a crankshaft. It is set aside for the moment so we can view the engine case and get ready to drop the crank and the other engine internals into the case. By the end of this video, we'll have the short block assembled and torqued together.


We have our freshly machined engine case back from the machine shop. It's been machined half a millimeter, or twenty thousandths over, on the line bore and the thrust area has been machined down to fix the previous ware. The machine shop cut down the number one bearing, after the case was cut, to match the new thrust size of the case. If your case needs machine work done to the thrust surface, make sure that your machine shop cuts an appropriate sized bearing down for you.


Our engine case had been cleaned thoroughly and so we don't have to mention it every step; every part we install is cleaned with parts cleaner before its fit or test fit to the case. We start with the case already mounted to our engine stand, as it was in our last video, and we'll begin by installing our new distributor drive gear shims. Two shims are coated with assembly lube and set inside the case on the drive gear shelf. The pinion drive gear spring is pressed into place on the gear; the gear is coated in assembly lube, and slid into the engine case through the shims and into the lower shelf inside the lower case.


For the next step ideally, you'll want to use the distributor that will be used in the engine later. In our case, a new SVDA distributor from PerTronix with an Ignitor 3 module is prepped with a distributor clamp. The distributor, with the cap removed, is slid into the case and drive gear by rotating the distributor shaft until it lines up with the gear. What we're doing here is lining up the timing for top dead center for the number one cylinder. At this point, wherever you point the rotor will be the number one top dead center. We make note of this as originally VW distributors typically line up in the opposite directions of aftermarket distributors.


Once we have the rotor pointing to where we would like the number one top dead center to be, we attach the clamp to the case and install the rotor and distributor cap. Next, we install new oil sup plate studs. Note that the oil pickup stud is longer than the other studs as it has a nut inside that holds the pickup tube in place. I actually like to use the longer studs at all six holes along with a nyloc nut inside the case to hold the studs in place.


I also put a little blue thread locker to ensure the studs will not un-thread when changing the oil years down the road. With the three studs and nuts installed on each case half, we can drop our crankshaft assembly in place into the left case half. We've already installed all four dowel pins and the number two bearing in the left case half and the bearing is lubed. The crank is lightly set into the case while holding the number one and two connecting rods.


With the crank in place, the three full circle bearings are rotated until they align with the dowel pins in the case. We start with the number one bearing, then the front bearings are aligned. With all the bearings lined up with the dowel pins, the crank will settle fully in the case. We spin the crank over by hand to verify the bearings are set in place. The bearings should not spin. An additional check would be to set the remaining center half circle bearing onto the crank and check for a gap by trying to push the bearing towards either side. If the bearing moves, there's a gap and the other bearings are not lined up.


New lifters are covered with assembly lube and we run a small bead around each lifter bore before dropping four lifters into the case. Three new cam bearings are set into the case noting that the cam thrust bearing, the only bearing that has lips on either side, sits in the saddle closest to the oil pump bore of the case.


We can prep for the cam by spinning the crank over until the timing marks on the drive gear are just above the split in the case. The cam is set into place in the case and the timing mark on the cam is lined up between the two marks on the drive gear. With the cam in place, rotate the crank back and forth to check the thrust on the cam gear. If the cam were to pop out of the case, you'd want a different camshaft as if the thrust cut or the angle of the cut on the gear, is incorrect.


Our cam spins over smoothly and does not pop out of the case so we will continue. A new camshaft plug is coated with GasGaCinch around the perimeter and set into place into the cam groove in the case. The six main stud O-rings are slid onto the studs down to the case groove and coated with a bit of assembly lube. We're almost ready to set the right side case half in place. So we get it prepped at the bench by installing the three remaining cam bearings into the saddles and coat them with assembly lube.


Just like we did on the left side the lifters are covered with assembly lube, as are the lifter bores and the lifters are dropped into the case. The lifter clips are installed from the outside of the case to hold the lifters in place when we lift the case over. We apply GasGaCinch around the outside perimeter of the case and wipe up any excess sealant.

The sealant only needs to be on the outer flat surfaces of the case and into the cam plug saddle at the rear.


Now, it's time to put the two case halves together for good. The number one and two connecting rods are pointed straight up and the right side case half is dropped onto the left side and tapped down gently. The six main, and the two camshaft case washers are coated with aviation sealant and set in place onto the studs which are coated with the sealant as well. The case nuts are threaded on by hand then a torque wrench is used to tighten the two 13mm nuts at the cam studs to 14-foot-pounds. The six main studs are tightened in the displayed pattern. Starting at the two center studs then crisscrossing each of the outer four studs. In a step tightening sequence of 15, 20, and finally 24-foot-pounds.


Rotate the crank in between each step to make sure the crank does not lock up. If the crank does not spin, stop. Pull the right side case half off and check the alignment of the bearings and dowel pins.


All of the outside perimeter case bolts, studs, and washers are coated with aviation sealant just like we did with the mains. All the outside hardware, with the exception of the two nuts above and the bolt below the oil pump, are tightened to 14-foot-pounds. The nuts and bolts above and below the oil pump will be tightened after the oil pump is installed.


Next, we flip the case upside down and remove the lifter clips. We'll install the pressure relief valves. We start at the rear valve and squirt some assembly lube into the port before lubing the valve and the short spring and dropping them in, the valve going first with the open end towards the bottom of the engine. We follow that by installing a new crush ring on the relief port screw and then threading that in place firmly. We're going to run an oil temperature gauge so we swap out the stock screw for a VDO temperature sending unit.


At the front bleed port, we'd normally install a valve, followed by the long spring and cap it with a gasket and screw. However, we're going to install a bolt on full flow kit which installs at the front port and does not use the valve or spring. The kit consists of a threaded sleeve bolt which installs through a banjo fitting and sealing washers install at either side of the fitting before the assembly is threaded into the engine case. The bolt head is tightened down while keeping the banjo fitting pointed towards the left side of the engine case.


We'll finish up the bottom side of the engine by installing the oil screen and sump plate. I like to use an oil suction kit which has an aluminum sump plate and a billet aluminum pick up extension. The pick-up has a removable mesh screen that is held in place with a spiral lock spring. The pick-up slides in first and has internal O-rings for a very tight fit.

A single sump plate gasket is coated with GasGaCinch and pushed into place onto the studs. The sump plate is set onto the engine, followed by sealing washers and nuts.


The six sump plate nuts are tightened down to five-foot-pounds and we'll take a break here until our next video where we'll drill, tap and install our g pump for the full flow system, set the crankshaft end play, and install the flywheel. Until then, check out some of our other how-to videos or stop by JBugs.com for all your vintage Volkswagen parts and accessories.