To Simplify... the pursuit of happiness through simple living on the open road

Friday, April 26, 2013

Bostig in Review

I picked up a stretch of 3 inch flexible air hose at the friendly neighborhood auto parts store the other day, and after plastic welding a 3 inch inlet to my Zetec's airbox, I connected said hose, and snaked it up the rear passenger side pillar up to just behind the vent cover...


It remains to be seen what effect this will have, but the idea is to pull in cooler air from above the engine, rather than the warmer air inside the engine bay. All part of the ongoing tweak that is my van. A cool new skid plate is set to arrive from Bostig early next week, and once that protective layer is in place, I'll officially close the door on this chapter of the project. With not much to report otherwise, except for the pile of interior components that I've been busy tracking down and ordering, I figured I'd take this opportunity to share some final thoughts on the Bostig kit for all the engine conversion grasshoppers that may stumble this way in the future.

Cue yet another shot of the 16 valve, dual overhead cam goodness...


I suspect that the one thing most people will wonder about the Bostig kit is the very same thing that I first asked – specifically, "do I really have a snowball's chance in hell of successfully finishing this?" After all, we're talking about removing an engine and replacing it with one that didn't even exist yet when the the van first rolled off the assembly line. When you stop and think about all the myriad considerations that must be taken into account for such an endeavor to work, it's only natural for all but the most seasoned of backyard mechanics to question the wisdom in taking on such a project.

Fortunately, the good folks at Bostig have already worked out that overwhelming myriad – and at a level of detail and accuracy that I bet is completely unheard of in the world of DIY engine conversion kits. At varying times throughout my Bostig adventure, while I was immersed in the half-inch thick manual or any of the incredibly helpful installation videos, Q would walk by, harumph, and mumble something about the measly single mimeographed sheet of instructions that came with the MG transmission swap he did several years ago.

Bottom line, thanks to Bostig's having documented every single step of the process, yes, you probably can do this. That is, assuming you can read, follow instructions, and aren't too proud to call upon Bostig's excellent technical support whenever you get stuck. They'll calmly walk you through even your darkest and most boneheaded moments, trust me.

Sure, you'll need a fair number of tools, space to stretch out and work, time, patience, willingness to learn, and an extra set of hands for a few of the more physical parts of the conversion (pretty much anything that involves moving either the old or the new engine). I was certainly fortunate to have both Q's workshop at my disposal, but he and I have discussed it, and agree that there's no reason I couldn't have completed the conversion entirely on my own, even if it had to be in a rented garage somewhere. That would've raised the total cost a bit, but not prohibitively so.

As to the cost, the entire project, including kit (which even included a few optional upgrades), engine, and all necessary parts totaled right around $7500. Not exactly chump change, but when you consider that my van now has an engine that's practically new (only around 15,000 miles), along with the enormous wealth of knowledge, confidence, and self-sufficiency that I gained from the whole experience, it could actually be seen as a bargain.

Factoring in the net cost of the van itself (minus the various parts I was able to sell), for only around $11,000, I now have a rock solid van of which I have a very solid understanding. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a rig of any make in comparable condition for that price, and even if you did, it wouldn't come with the unparalleled learning experience that the Bostig kit provides.

In case it's not abundantly clear, Bostig gets a huge thumbs-up from me, and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. Driving the van is a total blast now, she has the satisfying hum of a modern car, has plenty of pep, and I actually understand what I'm looking at now when I lift up the engine cover. Best of all, down the road, even in the worst case scenario, I can just swap in another low mileage Zetec engine for only around $500. For a guy who relies on his vehicle as much as I do, that's some seriously empowering stuff right there.

I could go on and on, but I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record. The enormous amount of work that must have gone into putting the Bostig conversion kit together in such a clear and accessible format is difficult for me to imagine, but I sure am insanely glad these guys didn't shrink from the challenge. I expect my rolling adventures to be made richer for it, and as I turn down the homestretch and get the van's interior completed, I'm as excited as ever to get back out on the open road soon. Thanks Bostig!

14 comments:

  1. I've been interested in similar airbox redirection components from vendors and notice many say 'not CARB compliant'.

    I wonder if modifying your airbox will cause any headaches when it's time to smog the vehicle?

    It's the visual inspection portion of the smog test, but maybe your vehicle is old enough to be exempted anyway?

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    1. No smog tests is just one of many fine benefits of South Dakota residency.

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  2. Well done Glenn... quite a project, especially for a first endeavor for a DIY mechanic. Don't underestimate (not that you have done so) that having the facilities and tools that Q put at your disposal would not only be very expensive overall, but would a tough bit to manage for a nomad - even one with as luxurious of a homebase as the Chinook. But on the shoulders of giants... just make sure not to chew Q's ear off telling him how nice it is to be so unburdened by worldly possessions!

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    1. I'd figure a total of around $1k to rent garage space for a month and get the necessary tools through some combination of buying, renting, and using the loaner tools that most big auto parts stores offer. And you could recoup some costs by selling many of the tools afterwards. If you found them used to begin with, you might even break even on that part of it. $1k isn't cheap, but relative to the cost of the overall project, it's not unreasonable.

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  3. wondering about rain going down the hose to the box
    and where does the Bostig bumper sticker go ? ;)

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  4. Cost of the van: $11,000. Unbelievable sense of accomplishment.....priceless!

    Good for you. I admire your determination.

    The enormity of what you did putted things into perspective for me yesterday. You see I was fixing a dent on our Precious (that's her name) van. I was using Bondo for the first time. The process was way messier and difficult than I had anticipated. I was working myself to quite a frustrated stage when all of a sudden you, and everything you did on your van, came to mind. The frustration immediately vanish. Thanks Glenn.

    Blue Skies and wonderful adventures awaits you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Nicole

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  5. A year down the road the work you did fades into memory, you rarely have to look at the engine so that fades into the background too, but every time you merge into traffic like a real car rather than a VW bus you'll remember and smile.

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  6. Hell of a learning experience. Sounds like you have acquired the skills and confidence to keep your vehicle going for a long time. I'll try to remember your project the next time I'm looking at a long/difficult task.

    A question about the cost. Was it $11,000 total for van, engine and kit or was it $18,500 for everything?

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  7. Maybe put in some sort of filter on that hose end to keep debris out.

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    Replies
    1. It's on the list, though between the vent cover and air filter on the other end, may be overkill.

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    2. Probably, but bugs get into the darndest places at times.

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  8. Hi Glenn. Any concerns about the legality of the dark windows? I think that some states have laws stating the precentage of acceptable tint. Not sure if that applies to vans or it's just cars.

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    Replies
    1. Only the passenger and driver side have restrictions. And the windshield, of course.

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