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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!
Cue remix of "Bad to the Bone" and "I am Ironman" mashup...
Now that the mood is set let's look at the easiest and cheapest way to enhance the performance of your A1 whether Cabby or Rabbit.
The ABA/JH hybrid motor swap.
Is that ol' JH is leaking like a sieve and can't outrun the family station wagon any more? Time to swap engines. But it's not as hard to do as you might think.
You must have a modicum of mechanical skills. If you can change your own clutch you can do this swap.
First you need an ABA engine. I got mine from a junkyard for $150, complete
with serpentine belt drives and other bolted on stuff. You WON'T need the fuel injection harness and parts unless you plan to swap over all that stuff but for this swap we won't be doing that. I've seen several $250 ABAs for sale lately with complete harnesses and parts so that's your price range. Detemining the mileage on an ABA is a bit difficult since the A3s these engines were in had electronic odometers which won't be working in the junkyard.

ABA's are 2.0 liter 4 cylinder 8v engines ( 114 hp) found in 1992-present Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Passat and Volkswagen New Beetles. The heads are crossflow types. meaning the exhaust and intakes are on opposite sides of the head. While you can make that work in an A1 you're asking for more work. Our swap will use the existing JH head (solid lifter or hydraulic doesn't matter) That allows us to not have to do any rewiring, no plumbing changes to the fuel injection regardless of DigiFant or CIS, no relocation of components.
Once you have your engine you'll need to clean it up and verify it's reasonably in good shape. Once that's done I pull the head. Leave the intake and exhaust manifolds on it it still attached. It makes it easier to handle and they won't be needed. Removal of the head is the same as any 8V VW engine. Drain the coolant out first. While you're at it drain the oil. Eventually you'll have this block upside down and all the oil will drain out and make a mess. Trust me on this.

Check out the bores. You should be able to see a light crosshatching and not
much if any carbon build-up on the pistons. Turn the engine upside down and pull the flywheel and pressure plate off. The usual ABA flywheel and clutch is too big to use with your 020 transmission. You won't need it anyway. Now pull off the oil pan. Inspect the pan for frothy brown stuff, shavings, small parts, rodents and sludge. If you want to get really crazy pull the bearing caps and check the crank journals for wear. Or not if you trust the source of your engine. Clean out the oil pan and paint it while it's off.
Clean up the engine and paint it. Pull the serp belt brackets off if you are so
inclined. They bolt back on easy enough.
NEW PARTS
You'll need a few things to make this work.
1. 16V head gasket. Only way to make the JH head work on the ABA.
2. Breather block off kit.

Not actually mandatory but makes life much easier on you later. Make sure you install the freeze plug but you'll need to remove the serp belt bracket to get access. See Techtonics Tuning for the kit.
http://techtonicstuning.com/sh...3.135

3. Distributor gear and bushing Kit.

http://techtonicstuning.com/sh....146
This is required if you use a distributor from a usual 8V engine. You can also
decide to swap a CIS or Digifant shutter wheel onto the ABA distributor. Here
are some links to study while you make your decision.

4. Knock sensor ECU and harness. See above links for more information. This
combo should give you a compression ratio of 10:1 which will cause
predetonation if the gas is bad and timing isn't right. And it destroys engines
so VW came up with this to solve the problem.
5. Exhaust "solution"
The ABA is 16mm taller than your old block. This causes 2 problems. The
throttle lever may hit on the rain tray and catch/stick. You'll need to bend it
out of the way. The stock A1 exhaust may no longer be able to reach the exhaust manifold without bumping into the body. Solutions are to cut and extend the pipe, put in longer studs and make a 16mm spacer. Most 4 into 1 headers and 4-2-1 headers will clear fine. TT used to make a race downpipe for the dual outlet manifold and it clears fine as well. You could also use the ABA exhaust manifold on your JH head and Techtonic's stainless steel flex downpipe.
Expensive but comes with a short shift kit as well and should last forever.

http://techtonicstuning.com/sh...1.223
6. Serp belt AC delete kit.
http://techtonicstuning.com/sh...0.040

Use this if you don't have/want an AC compressor in the serp belt system. It
uses a VR6 serp belt "pulley' for the water pump. And a shorter serp belt.
That's about it. Simple list.
Pull your JH head off the engine that's still in the car. Again do not remove
the intake and exhaust manifolds unless you really have a need to. Drain the fluids now. It'll make a mess later if you don't. Trust me.
Disconnect everything. Careful with the wiring since it's 25 years old and will
crack on you if bent too far. Pull the engine and transmission out. Separate
the two. Pull the old engine off to the side.
Clean up the engine bay while it's empty. You'll thank yourself later.
Put together the ABA except for the head/manifolds. The upper timing cover will not fit correctly, frankly I got rid of mine. Modify it if you feel the need.
Make sure the serp belt system is together and working. This is a good time to put on a new timing belt. Use clutch, flywheel and pressure plate from original engine. Tip: good time to put in new clutch. While you're at it put in a new 16V pressure plate to handle the new power levels you'll be rocking. What the heck use a lightened flywheel as well it has it's advantage if only to make it easier to remove the oilpan screws. Paint the timing marks now while you have a chance.

Take the oil sensors and temp sensors out of the old block and put them into the proper holes on the ABA. You'll need to reuse the black water pipe that wraps around the engine.
Last time, go around the engine and make sure it's clean, tight, painted and
ready to go. Put the new block in the car. Bolt up the tranny. Now put on the 16V headgasket. It may not fit since the line up pilot stud was too big to fit in
the hole in the gasket. Very carefully drill it out to fit. Deburr it as well. http://merlyyn.com/images/swap/gaskethole.jpg[/IMG]
Once it's on you can put the head on. Once torqued on correctly you can start hooking things up. Feed it water and oil as needed.
Set the static timing. Install the distributor. Time it. If you use the knock
sensor setup make sure it's hooked up correctly.
Since you never replaced the fuel injection system it's ready to go. Once
everything is hooked up you're ready to go!
Notes:
If you choose to use the distributor gear kit you'll need to drill out the pin.
Look at both ends of the pin. One side is obviously split. On that side
centerpunch a hole (and make sure it's centered!) Drill there with a 5/16"
drill bit. If it's a fresh bit it'll go thru with no problem. The shaft is much
harder than the pin and if the drill bits a bit off it'll recenter rather than
drill into the shaft. Hammering out the pin is a major pain, don't bother
trying. Put the bushing on first then the gear. The roll pin in the kit can be
removed later and easily. http://merlyyn.com/images/swap/distrib.jpg

The throttle cable end will bump into the rain tray. You must dent this
otherwise the cable will stick or fall off. Neither is good. I cut out a notch to make it work. [IMG]http://merlyyn.com/images/swap/throttle.jpg
The passenger side motor mount needs t either have the old alternator mount under it or a spacer of some sort. I chose to eliminate the old mount and used 8mm nuts, drilled out, as spacers. Nice and clean.


Use the ABA power steering brackets and pump. You KUST use the Mk3 pump as the pully spacing is different. The cabby's hoses will hook right up. You will need a belt that fits and that 'snot the ABA belt or the JH belt. Go to the autostore and tell them you need a belt about so long. They'll eventually find what you need. And buy an extra.

This is a strong setup. Lots of comfortable torque. Very rev happy.
I'll add more as I think of it.






Modified by Moljinar at 9:34 PM 10-19-2009
 

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Re: ABA/JH Swap (MrBailey)

Oran, no issues on your car with the serp belt tensioner and the unibody rail? Just got my ABA in this weekend and my freaking belt tensioner just barely hits the unibody rail. Jus thinking about it, maybe try loosening up the mount bolts and trying to just "adjust" the engine to the driver's side a bit? IIRC I'm pretty far that way already. Maybe it's my wrinkled up rail causing the issues.
 

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Re: ABA/JH Swap (Moljinar)

Excellent writeup, Oran... This swap is likely what I'll prefer on the next go 'round with mine just for the sheer ease with which it can be done compared to others (you realize that I just jinxed myself, of course...). Looking forward to seeing how the power steering ultimately works out, too. http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
 

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Re: ABA/JH Swap (native-texan_in_tn)

Yup, BFH is the plan. Doesn't need much. Like I said, I may try to wiggle the whole shootin' match over to the driver's side a bit, first. Also going to look at the ABF setups, as I still might have some alt/carb issues. Need to get a manifold to at least test fit.
 

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awesome write up im going to do the swap same as your and i will add turbo same time too. im curious is there any intake mainfold that have big ports then i can custom weld them to put in my 8v its like i use them as my flange


Modified by boxerpicker at 10:56 PM 10-23-2009
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Re: (boxerpicker)

NY_Fam in the MK1 forum sliced open several dozen 8V intake manifolds and found all of them roughly the same on port size. He has a service where he will take your manifold and open it up and smooth all the transitions as well. Proven good for 6-10 hp on a stock engine!! I'm going to have it done myself someday.
Meanwhile the best thing to do is a larger throttle body such as from an Audi turbo 5000 or an A2 (requires modification) and then open up the manifold opening to match the larger throttle opening. PS I did do this and it was worth it!!
 

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Re: (Moljinar)

Oran, you're a bad influence! <chuckle> You've planted the seeds of another hybrid swap here, especially if I run across an ABA down in Nashville (the primary reason I want to make the trip to their Pull-A-Part location). It just doesn't look like it would cost all that much more than doing a rebuild on the JH I just finished pulling from my parts car last weekend. Downtime on my daily-driver would be minimal, too, since I now have the spare 8-valve head and 1.8 distributor... Engine bay cleanup and rain-tray clearancing wouldn't take long, either... Hmmm...
My questions include Buffy's exhaust size and whether she is purposely loud, as you mentioned. I've been perusing TT's offerings and researching the quietest/non-bumblebee options... I'd use the manifold off the A3 head and one of TT's downpipes if funds allowed, or, failing that, have the extension fabricated locally (we won't discuss my welding/brazing skills!)...
Have you set up your knock sensor yet or is that still on the to-do list? I can't seem to find the write-up (and I'm sure there are several) for adding it to the 1.8's ignition... (EDIT: If I had looked long enough in Kammy's Cabby-Info, I'd have found what I was looking for!
http://www.driversfound.com/sc...nsor/ ).
If one chooses not to delete the a/c, I assume the only issue will be the ongoing power steering conversion that you've been studying, correct?
Considering my recent introduction to passenger motor mount Hades (nothing quite like starting off the very first time at the bottom, eh? <chuckle>), how bad are the mounts on the ABA? And are you using stock or the stiffer mounts? Just curious...
Just a few things that occurred to me as I ponder this... Thanks for sharing the swap with us!




Modified by native-texan_in_tn at 8:52 AM 10-24-2009
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Re: (native-texan_in_tn)

The exhuast is loud because I have a straight thru muffler (Dynomax I think) and with the race downpipe, no cat and TT cat-back system it's failry loud-ish. Add the punch of a ABA and it's louder. Nice bark and crackle. SOunds like a large tractor at intowen cruising but open 'er up and everyone takes notice!
Simply putting a regular hi-po muffler like a Borla on there sound be reasonably quite for you.
KNock sensor wiring gets done tomorrow I think. Would've not been needed but I couldn't get the harness out in one piece so I have wires to splice. I have CIS-E distributor ready to go.
If you are keeping the AC you'll have to use the AC that comes with the ABA IF you intend to keep the serp belt system. AND My info says that the AC lines won't bolt up without modification. You may want to visit someone's A3 to see what's what. If you use the JH's brackets and belts you'll be ok . And at that point powersteering would be no problem.
The ABA in an A3chassis has no passenger side mount. It uses a funky rear/passenger mount you won't need/can't use. The holes were there for my A1 passenger mount but I know recall the threads weren't in good shape. I had to chase the threads with a tap to clean them out. Then my mount went on fine. As for the stock mount I have no issues. In fact the ABA seems to idle smoother and vibrate less. Possibly an effect of the longer rods?
The more I drive this car I'm convinced this is what VW should've put in our cars from the beginning. Or at least made a GT version with it
 

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Re: (Moljinar)

Thanks for the info for this is precisely what I was looking for, Oran...
Quote, originally posted by Moljinar »
The exhuast is loud because I have a straight thru muffler (Dynomax I think) and with the race downpipe, no cat and TT cat-back system it's failry loud-ish.
Simply putting a regular hi-po muffler like a Borla on there sound be reasonably quite for you.

Understand perfectly... From all I've read thus far, the Borla on a high-performance system would be my preferred set-up... I can live with sacrificing a wee bit of hp just to keep a high-flow cat and relatively quiet exhaust.
I'm wondering if the 2-inch upgrade is sufficient or is larger necessary? I'm obviously after functionality instead of simply installing the largest diameter possible... And wouldn't back-pressure be affected at some point, too, by excessive diameter? These are rather basic questions, I realize...
Quote, originally posted by Moljinar »

KNock sensor wiring gets done tomorrow I think. Would've not been needed but I couldn't get the harness out in one piece so I have wires to splice. I have CIS-E distributor ready to go.

I presume that obtaining a distributor from one of the knock sensor-equipped vehicles would be preferable to modifying the CIS distributor? I'll have to read up on this more, obviously...
Quote, originally posted by Moljinar »
If you are keeping the AC you'll have to use the AC that comes with the ABA IF you intend to keep the serp belt system. AND My info says that the AC lines won't bolt up without modification. You may want to visit someone's A3 to see what's what. If you use the JH's brackets and belts you'll be ok . And at that point powersteering would be no problem.

Hmm... Definitely food for thought. I'll have to take a look at the A3 set up and fittings and see what the possibilities are. I love the looks of the serpentine arrangement but an initial swap utilizing the JH belt arrangement and brackets may be the way to go 'til I've got more time to play with it.
Quote, originally posted by Moljinar »
The ABA in an A3chassis has no passenger side mount. It uses a funky rear/passenger mount you won't need/can't use. The holes were there for my A1 passenger mount but I know recall the threads weren't in good shape. I had to chase the threads with a tap to clean them out. Then my mount went on fine. As for the stock mount I have no issues. In fact the ABA seems to idle smoother and vibrate less. Possibly an effect of the longer rods?

Interesting... Is the "new" passenger mount arrangement as inaccessible as the JH's mounts? Obviously, it continues to be tight quarters but are the mount holes on the ABA still blocked by a cover? Just curious in regard to the ease of mount replacement down the road... I'm obviously ignorant of the A3 arrangement aside from what I've read about online. The logic regarding the smoother idle certainly makes sense. The vibration certainly can't be any worse than the dead passenger mount I've been living with and coddling for some time now... <chuckle>
Thanks again for the food for thought and patience with the questions.
 

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Re: (Moljinar)

Johnnie, I'm running a full 2.25" TT w/Dynomax system on my MK3 and it's not terribly loud at all. If you keep a cat and run the full system with the mid-resonator, it shouldn't be obnoxiously loud. Also, on the A/C subject, any decent A/C shop should be able to make a set of custom lines for a reasonable amount of money to retain the ABA compressor. Same with the p/s lines and a hydraulic shop. Many hydraulic shops prefer not to know when it's an automotive application, though I don't quite know why.
BTW, if either of you need/want any pics of a fully dressed ABA as installed in an A3 car, LMK, my daily is a '97 Golf.
 

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Re: (native-texan_in_tn)

You were posting as I was posting, above, so I missed your response to Oran.
The way Oran installed his pass mount there is no cover in the way. The ABA cover is not compatible with the JH head, and the JH lower cover comes up short on the ABA block. I ran into the same issue with the mount hole threads being pretty ugly. They did clean up fine, though. I chose to modify the mount and ABA lower cover to fit since I'm running the full ABA. The A3 arrangement is compeltely different off the back side of the block.
As for the distributor, the knock sensor distributor doesn't use a vacuum advance, it's purely mechanical. If you can find a setup from a Scirocco 16V, it's ideal, as they still use a separate ignition harness. I split my ignition harness from a MKII 8V CIS-E engine bay harness I purchased off of the Vortex calssifieds. I have a whole box full of CIS-E goodies from something. I need to confirm the p/ns for the origins of it, but's def CIS-E. Fuel Dizzy w/lines and injectors, ECM, ignition module and knock box, full harness, etc. that I won't be using.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Re: (native-texan_in_tn)

The usual TT upgrade system is fine, no larger size needed unless you're thinking of turbo'ing it and even then maybe not. Size for size's sake is not really needed. The ABA downpipe TT makes for this swap is hefty in the first place and that's usually the major choke point of most systems. And yeah, too big will kill your back pressure (which actually helps out with torque.)

Frankly the biggest gotcha with this swap is the distributor setup. Today everyone cringes to think of using a centrifugal/vacuum advanced distributor with a high (10:1) compression engine. Frankly I remember several decades of high compression engines with no knock control but let's just agree that using VWs knock control system is what you want to do.
You can't use a regular CIS distributor because it has cent/vacuum advance and can't be computer controlled. You'll need a CIS-E or Digifant distributor, neither of which have any timing adjustment in them. The both have 4-hole/shutter wheels which you'll need if you are using either the CIS-E knock sensor box (a separate ECU that hooks up to the ignition unit and the distributor) or the Digifant ECU which controls the fuel injection AND the ignition/knock. The ABA distributor has only 1 shutter wheel opening. It signals cylinder #1 while the OBD1 trigger wheel in the crankcase senses the crank position to allow the ECU to figure out the timing advance to use. This could be used if you are using the ABA's native fuel injection system or a standalone such as MegaSquirt or others.
Now with all that in mind and needing to drive the car immediately I put in the usual CIS distributor, set the timing to basic specs and unhooked the vacuum advance. Running premium with no more than 20* of total advance I'm doing fine with no apparent detonation. Ron will tell you that you can't sense the micro detonation that can destroy things and that's probably true. But it's a stop gap that seems to do fine for now. NOT a long -term solution unless you want to re-curve the distributor (lord the 60's and 70's were fun) Also once you put TTs gear on it's easy to remove and put on another distributor
The AC issue is not an issue for me. Do as you feel like. But I will say the serp belt setup is awesome!!
I have no upper timing belt cover ( I spent too much on the pretty timing gear, why cover it up?) so getting to the mount was no big deal. AS I said earlier it bolted right up. Only needed a spacer to make it lie down properly.
 

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Re: (Moljinar)

Quote, originally posted by Moljinar »
The usual TT upgrade system is fine, no larger size needed unless you're thinking of turbo'ing it and even then maybe not. Size for size's sake is not really needed. The ABA downpipe TT makes for this swap is hefty in the first place and that's usually the major choke point of most systems. And yeah, too big will kill your back pressure (which actually helps out with torque.)

Tis what I was inclined to believe, especially since no turbo would be planned (an entirely separate can of worms to delve into...). Thanks for the confirmation.
Quote, originally posted by Moljinar »

Frankly the biggest gotcha with this swap is the distributor setup. Today everyone cringes to think of using a centrifugal/vacuum advanced distributor with a high (10:1) compression engine. Frankly I remember several decades of high compression engines with no knock control but let's just agree that using VWs knock control system is what you want to do.
You can't use a regular CIS distributor because it has cent/vacuum advance and can't be computer controlled. You'll need a CIS-E or Digifant distributor, neither of which have any timing adjustment in them. The both have 4-hole/shutter wheels which you'll need if you are using either the CIS-E knock sensor box (a separate ECU that hooks up to the ignition unit and the distributor) or the Digifant ECU which controls the fuel injection AND the ignition/knock. The ABA distributor has only 1 shutter wheel opening. It signals cylinder #1 while the OBD1 trigger wheel in the crankcase senses the crank position to allow the ECU to figure out the timing advance to use. This could be used if you are using the ABA's native fuel injection system or a standalone such as MegaSquirt or others.

Ok, I believe the light bulb over my head is beginning to light now, albeit with a wee bit of flickering... Tis making perfect sense, though, between what you and Andrew have mentioned. I agree, too, that using the CIS distributor shouldn't be a long-term install. The odd thing is that it took studying mixture control in Cessnas and its effects before I related well to what the knock sensors in some of our VW's was accomplishing.

Quote, originally posted by Moljinar »

I have no upper timing belt cover ( I spent too much on the pretty timing gear, why cover it up?) so getting to the mount was no big deal. AS I said earlier it bolted right up. Only needed a spacer to make it lie down properly.

If I'd been paying closer attention, I'd have noticed this instead of simply admiring the spacer set-up earlier! <chuckle>
 

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Re: (Moljinar)

Quote, originally posted by Moljinar »
NY_Fam in the MK1 forum sliced open several dozen 8V intake manifolds and found all of them roughly the same on port size. He has a service where he will take your manifold and open it up and smooth all the transitions as well. Proven good for 6-10 hp on a stock engine!! I'm going to have it done myself someday.

Is NY_Fam the same guy that does these http://www.scientificrabbit.com/node/26
If so I have been seriously contemplating getting one of these bad boys.
 
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