my gowesty 2400cc engine conversion
i called a few places in san francisco, but finally opted to get the work done at gowesty in los osos, ca.
as you probably know, these vans are horribly underpowered and while browsing around the gowesty web site i noticed that they offer a 115 hp 2400cc high output engine, for around $5.5K. This engine promised greater power, efficiency and reliability.
how could i resist? i couldn't. i decided to go for the complete make-over; new engine, new paint. so on late January 2006, i shipped her down to central california to have the work done.
the folks at gowesty were extremely organized and helpful. they kept me informed (by email) of the work being done on my van, offered me options on the restoration and engine, and completed the work on time and to spec. by the first of april, the van was ready to pickup and i made the journey down to los osos to pick her up.
from what i could tell, they'd done a great job with the restoration, the paint job looked great. they'd replaced all the tired and worn trim on my van. i was very happy. i paid up and headed for home.
the van didn't run as well as i would have liked. when cold it had hardly enough power to get moving at low engine speeds and even when warm, was extremely sluggish. on the drive back it completely lost power on several occasions, forcing me to pull over to the side of the road. i began to feel a little foolish, since my van had run perfectly for years and was still running perfectly when i decided to improve the engine.
i did make it home on my own steam and the next day contacted gowesty, who were again, extremely professional and helpful. they arranged for me to take it to a local shop to diagnose the issue. the local shop were unable to do so, and i arranged to send it back down.
it's been down another twice since then, and, to be honest has never really run properly. it only runs o.k. when completely warmed up, which makes it an annoyance to move the 1/2 block to accommodate the bi-weekly san francisco street cleaning. it developed the dreaded highway hiccups, which was solved by removing the AFM and converting to the hotwire system. this had the unfortunate side effect of reducing the cold engine power to the point where i need to run it for several minutes before driving it or it stalls as soon as you give it any gas. gas mileage has dropped only slightly from around 18mpg on the highway to 16-17mpg.
in summary, i'm very pleased with the body work done on my van but slightly regret having the engine conversion, since the original 2100cc engine ran better. shipping the van back to them several times was inconvenient and expensive. i do believe that gowesty tried hard to resolve my issues, but were ultimately unable to completely do so. i understand that engine replacements are complicated and that not every job goes to plan.
i've read accounts of people very happy with this conversion. i guess i just got unlucky.
if you've had an vanagon engine replacement experience, at gowesty or elsewhere, i'd love to hear it.