Here are a few handy ‘How to’ guides for maintenance and customisation of your VW bus.
Installing a new sunroof cover
Click the images to view steps
6 to 12 Volt Conversion
- The wiring harness should not require replacement. However, this would be a good time to check for breaks in the insulation, or in the wire where connectors attach. Any problems along those lines should be addressed, particularly semi-broken wire. Cleaning up any corrosion would be a good idea, too.
- The flywheel on stock 12 volt engines is larger than on stock 6 volt engines. Keeping the 6 volt flywheel (and corresponding `bendix’ on the starter solenoid) works fine. As a corollary, using the 6 volt starter works very well in a 12 volt system. This is because you aren’t running the starter motor for very long, so the higher voltage doesn’t cause it much of a problem. It also causes the thing to spin faster, which makes for easier starting.
- Remember to replace everything that even vaguely resembles a light- emitting device (head lights, tail lights, running lights,). In particular, don’t forget the oil pressure warning light. Ignoring this might cause some serious engine problems. You might even face – Engine burn out and engine leaks, and you know how it goes from on there. Not good at all.
- You’ll need a new generator. The VW Trends article suggests the Bosch GR26X. It has the advantage of being the same size as your existing generator, so you can use the generator stand, pulley, and belts that you’ve already got as you may have problems finding belts that fit larger generators.
- If you have an electric choke, you’ll need to get a 12 volt version. They’re the same size on Solex carbs, so if that’s what you have, you’re in luck. Since you have a 6 volt system, you probably have a Solex carb.
- You’ve got a couple of choices for handling the 6 volt motor things (primarily the windshield wipers, but also the heater assist fan if you’ve got one). Choice A is to put in a voltage-dropping resistor. This solution is quick and easy, but not a good one in my experience. First of all, you end up throwing away quite a bit of electrical power in the form of heat in the resistor. Secondly, using a resistor as a voltage drop only works if you know how much current you are going to be pulling (voltage = resistance * current). So, you either have to measure the existing resistances and do some math, or hope that the off-the-shelf unit you get is close enough. And you are still left with the painfully-slow 6 volt wipers. Choice B is to replace the motors with their 12 volt equivalents. This is certainly more work, because you have to physically remove the existing motor(s), find replacements that will fit (both into the mounting brackets, and into the shaft attachments).
- Although not really required, this would be a good opportunity to replace the plugs, wires, points, and condenser. There’s no difference between the 6 and 12 volt versions of these (i.e., there are no separate versions), but these components are subject to extreme conditions, and replacing them just eliminates one more potential problem.
- Parts list: headlights, coil, turn signal/emergency flasher unit, all the other light bulbs, battery, voltage regulator.
- The 6 volt horn will last a while, but will eventually burn out.
- Depending on what year you have, swapping the entire wiper gear and motor assembly out may cause your wipers to stop in the opposite position than they used to. There are replacement switches and such available to fix this. This problem is why it might be a good idea to just replacing the motor above.