1986 Golf Diesel, My First Restoration by bdub

By bdub
( 2 )

1986 Golf Diesel, My First Restoration

So I bought this car May 2012 from a guy north of milwaukee. It was sitting in a field for god knows how long and seemed like an interesting project to take up. I spent the previous year or two stocking up on tools from harbor freight (me being a poor college student). So when I got it engine and trans were running good still at 300,000 miles and I started to slowly break her back in. This consisted of slow drives up and down lake dr to eventually a full highway fun with a top speed of 82! The mpg I was getting was insane, around 60+, I filled the gas tank once from May to December when I finally decided to do the break down. Overall it ran fine, suspension, CA, Tie rods, and bearings were all loose as you would expect.

After starting to drive it frequently, I felt like giving it some new paint

So its December now and she is still running well, its time to start taking everything apart..

So I know I’m skipping through a lot but I will touch upon things that were difficult.
1.The floor was completely rusted though. I had to weld in new floor pans for the rear seats and front.
2.The rear axle beam was difficult to remove and as well pressing in new bearings turned out to be fairly difficult.
3.I had one front CA bolt on the driver side break off the nut inside the sub frame and had to cut open and weld a new nut in place. As well chop up the CA.
4.All engine mounting bolts were corroded, some had to be drilled out.
5.Ball joints were fused to wheel hub, took a lot of heat and hammering.
6.The interior roof had some sort of tar liner? Don’t understand why but took days of chipping
7.Old insulation for most of dash prob took a couple years of my life

Removing engine and trans

Had to do it

After gutting the car I started sanding down the vehicle. I lightly sanded the interior for some new paint and fully stripped the paint on the exterior with a wire wheel attachment for my angle grinder.

So between then and now a lot has happened. I got pretty much new everything. Replaced the rear axle bushings, rear drums, springs, bearings, suspension, mounts, CA, ball joints, tie rods, etc…

So after a week or two and a couple of wire wheels I was ready for a primer coat, heres how she turned out..

U wonder why drivers side isn’t set up? This was the pesky CA bolt that was eventually drilled out..

Went alittle crazy and decided to boom mat the interior…

Got it up passed the rear seats!

So I really wanted my car to be Windsor Blue and I got really lucky. I buddy of mine had a mk3 jetta vr6 which had parts that were plasti-dipped and wanted them painted. In exchange I got to paint the frame with extra paint…

So its been a couple of months, and I had to move…. Which really mixed up a lot of stuff :/ But anyway still here and got a lot done. Reattached the doors and necessary pieces so it could be transported to the new location.

After getting it back on all four wheels I felt it was time to drop in the engine and trans

It was fairly difficult job by myself, would highly recommend having a friend with u.

Now that the engine was in it was time to button up the front and get her ready for paint..

I got the Windsor blue paint in cans, it was fairly difficult but being on a budget it turned out pretty good, heres before clear coat

The clear turned out alright, I believe it needed some more, but it works for now

Did some more odds and ends, painted bumpers and rims..

The wiring wasn't too bad but still messy

Re upholstered the ceiling

I went to Joann Fabrics, they had a fabric with foam layer on the bottom, worked out well, used spray glue

Got all the seats and carpet in, put the ceiling back up and washed the seats and doors

Engine Running!


So been spending a lot of time buttoning up the car. Bled the brakes, attached the inner fender linings, random electrical and etc.. One MAIN problem I had was that all the lights were staying on when the battery was attached, idk why I couldn't figure it out but replaced the brake sensor above the pedal and it didn't work. Eventually I put a little rubber grommet over the end of the sensor and it was pushed in far enough. wow lol. Anyway its snowing a good amount today in Milwaukee and took the car out for a test run. Overall the car handled great, suspension was firm, steering felt great however Ive been having issues with the engine bogging down. I purged the fuel system however I still feel there is a little bit of air in the lines.. As well the shift linkage needs to be adjusted, I believe the main connecting point on the shaft from the box to the trans was loose, causing me to have difficulty shifting into first after flooring it around a bit. I will post some pics tomorrow of it SOMEWHERE ELSE besides my garage

So I drove her home today. Overall it went fairly well, the shift linkage needs to be adjusted, first and second were difficult to get into, as well when the car would come to a stop and drop back down to idle sometimes it would bogg down and die. Overall it went well besides the couple break downs lol. Plan on getting it aligned in the next day or two and going over to my buddies to adjust the shift linkage, e-brake and idle. I might also re-prime the fuel line, I feel there is still alittle bit of air in the lines. Otherwise the ride felt really smooth, the FK street lines are not too bad, hit some pot holes and it didn't rattle my spine. As well the new engine mount make a WORLD of a difference, the whole cabin used to shake fairly violently. After replacing them, adjusting the idle, and boom-matting the dash and floor at one point the car was so quite I didn't know if the car was still running lol! Now that all the mechanical issues are being sorted im excited to fix all the other random parts that are showing their age. The vaccum pump is leaking a tiny bit of coolant, and the hose had a hole which we temporarily sealed. The central air units gasket it corroded to hell, replaced the blower, but the directionals don't work. The rear view mirrors on the side rusted, so new ones are in order. The seats lost their plastic guides that keep the seats snug. Stereo at some point. And my worst fear, rain and gutter trims.... Been having a difficult time locating these. Anyway im excited shes proven herself road worthy, will update with new parts and pics.

So ive had her driving for a week or so and ran into a couple issues. I replaced all the mechanical shift linkage with new bushings and selector rods. The long selector rods clip broke (cheap Chinese aftermarket) so the shift linkage has gained a lot of play. I found a decent oil leak coming out from the head gasket, removing head today to find what size gasket it is (guessing its a 2 or 3 notch). Overall it would run fine however when I would come to a stop or in the process of slowing down the engine would bogg and die, I read a lot of forums and they discussed mainly impending injector failure or head gasket leak (hope the new head gasket solves the issue). Anyway hopefully in a week or so Ill have her up and running again with a new head gasket, ill post and update then.

-Had to show support for my bros site


So last night me and my buddy got the head off. Bently manual is pretty vague on removing the head lol, did all the preceding steps till my buddy stopping by and there were two allens holding the belt shield to the head. Both were corroded beyond belief, but thanks to my buddy and his nice snap-on tools we broke them loose after bout 25 min. The head gasket was definitely done (turned to be a 3 notch), the belt was fairly worn and the tensioner was not working properly. New parts were ordered in the morning and I hope to post more pics when I head back to the garage in a couple days


The parts came in today, looking forward to putting them in sunday or Monday.

Parts include:
Head gasket (hydraulic 3)
Upper head gasket and seals
Timing belt
Tensioner pulley
Head bolts
Cam lock
Injector locking pin
Dial gauge
Hylomar thread sealant
Clutch alignment tool (for b3 Passat)


So today is the big day! Im in class waiting to get out to head to garage. Im gonna take ALOT of pictures and post them up later tonight, ill try to as well post the steps on replacing the head back on and timing the engine.

So I got there and did some work. Ended up not being able to put head on, spent most of the time cleaning off the leftover gasket with a brillow pad. Started with it around a fender tool and ended up using most of the time a sanding sponge with it wrapped around it

Before picture of head

-Need more brillow pad to make surface 100% clean

Comparing old gasket to new

-Pretty worn out, the main seal wasn't even there! lol as well the lifted blue part of the gasket has been burned away

So I read this interesting DIY on how to properly install your new head gasket. I took the old head bolts and cut off the heads with a sawzall. Then I took my angle grinder and cut a notch so I could later remove them with a screw driver. So all in all your suppose to use your old head bolts like "studs" and once the head is on remove them and replace with new head bolts one by one. This in turn will give you perfect gasket placement.

-Removing bolt heads

-Grinding out notches

-End result

So this is where I pretty much got today. Spent 2 hrs just rubbing at the head, got about half of the block ready for the gasket. I plan on heading back on Friday to hopefully put the head back on and do timing. Ill update with more pics then.


So today I got the head on! I bought some new brillow pads and had a special helper Overall it went smooth, I had to remove the intake manifold cause the old head bolts used as studs created a clearance issue when reinstalling the head.

My special helper (my mama)

The head is now clean!

Now a shot of the block, got it clean and now installing the old head bolts I cut.

I was told by my buddy who works on vdubs to cover the gasket in oil, I was alittle unsure so I decided to oil the head and block surface before gasket install.

Gasket install

Now its time to remove the old head bolts, used a screw driver and took them out in order of torque sequence. I did them one at a time and hand tighten them lightly in sequence. Then I went over back in sequence and somewhat tightened them with a socket. Then I took out the torque wrench and followed the bently book. 30 foot pounds in sequence. 44 foot pounds in sequence. And either 1/2 turn or 1/4 turn in sequence. (I haven't done this yet) and then run the engine for 10-15 minutes then re-torque 1/2 to 1/4 turn.

Diagram of sequence

Mylomar sealant on new head bolts

Changing out the old head bolts with new

Almost done!


Today was kind of a tinkering around day, I worked on the engine put the new valve cover gaskets on, clamped the down pipe to the manifold, reconnected all the wiring and hoses to the head, filled with coolant and oil, attached the pulley shield, injector lines, changed out my long shifter rod, white greased the shift linkage and in the shift box. I haven't put the new belt, tensioner, or timed it yet. I plan on doing it on Sunday

I learned this trick on another DIY awhile ago

One down, one more to go

Next was the intake manifold, this one took me a bit, round 45 minutes.

Then the valve cover gaskets

Last was the injector lines


So today turned out to be pretty shitty, I turned the engine over to TDC when I removed the head, however it seems that somehow the engine was cranked slightly. When we were doin a turn over I felt it hit :/ soo anyway tomorrow were gonna have to give it another try, hopefully we can get it all aligned correctly


I finally got around to the garage today after work. I started by realigning the crank to TDC. We had such a hard time getting the belt on without moving the crank. Took us most likely 8 times and round 45 minutes. I got a dial indicator and was gonna time the pump, however a buddy of mine told me just not to touch it so I didn't. Overall it ran a lot better than before, shifting down to neutral to come to a stop almost feels like the engine dies, but it doesn't, ITS JUST SO QUIET!! There are still some air bubbles in the fuel due to disconnecting it but I feel hopefully either by the end of tomorrow or the next couple days it will start running perfectly. There are still some kinks I got to work out, turns out my turn signal isn't working as well as it should, either the fuse or the switch itself, not sure yet. However tomorrow is gonna be a lot different lol, ill be working on my b4 Passat vr to replace the clutch. Looking forward to working on something else for a change

In its natural habitat..

Yesterday the alternator belt snapped off when I was driving it downtown, drove it home stopping once imbetween to let it cool down. And the belt I bought is too small, I believe the guy before me put a belt for a golf with a/c even though mine isn't, which led to their being a lot of slack. Anyway back to the part store to get the right belt.

So today im gonna hopefully get some time to get a proper belt and get it running right. I really don't know what happened but it looks like the water pump pulley is a quarter inch off, (not sure what the hell is goin on), I don't have any leaks or anything to make me think that something shifted or broke. So im gonna do a cheap fix and buy a washer or 2 for each of the 3 bolts holding the water pump pulley on. Hopefully this will make things line up properly. Otherwise I have to say that purging the fuel system really did wonders to the motor, I now know that I most likely had a stuck injector. My buddy told me to fill a Gatorade cup with the purge and dilute it with some diesel, while running pull of fuel line from the fuel filter and drain out the purge and diesel from the cup. I noticed that the bogging almost was non existant, in my normal communte I would bogg down round 3-5 times for a couple mile drive, last 2 times I only died once. Otherwise really looking forward hopefully in the next two weeks having it "really" road worthy, and do some long distance runs

Sooooo....lol, I have this buddy who gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. Turns out the future of this car my be a vr transplant. Ill be able to get 90% of what I need for a vr swap for under $150!! engine and all!! Anyway the diesel will be a diesel for the rest of the season while I build up the vr motor, I have a feeling that there may be a special vr build thread that ill be creating soon. Anyway most of my time has been dedicated to finishing up the Passat, once that's finished, hopefully mid next week ill be able to get the diesel running properly, ill keep posting normal updates about how its performing and what issues I run into. However I got some room in my apartment and my tools are gonna have to go from the shop to my place, I've always wanted to create a detailed schematic of the vr motor, sizes, bolts and all, so that's my plan with the vr rebuild. Hopefully be starting a new build thread by the end of next month.

Its been awhile, ive been working on the Passat and because I haven't done much with the diesel since the accessory belt broke, so I thought I would give an update with the Passat. I had my buddy come by and help break loose all the bolts that most likely havnt been broken since the car was assembled. We got the engine out and I started inspecting. The people before me have had all maintenance done up to the point I bought the car, they said they did timing chain, oil changes, and normal maintenance. However the suspension and brakes were on their last legs and the mechanic wanted to charge them $1700 to fix that. I took the car and first thing I did was new rotors, pads, and OEM suspension. Then I drove it for a year only doing the bare minimum, I believe I changed the fuel filter, oil change, and air filter. Now 2 years later, I decided to fix up the car to make it, at least to my standards, a strong running reliable vehicle. So far I have done the stated above and ball joints, control arm, power steering rack, tie rods, sway bar end links, rear wheel bearings, 1 new front wheel bearing, custom exhaust, reupholstered the ceiling, new sun roof, driver side front window regulator, rear driver window motor, Audi A6 shift box, linkage, and trans tower, MSD ignition, sparks, wires, 500hp rated axles, stage 3 clutch and prob a few other things ive forgotten, anyway heres some pics of whats goin on.



The dizzle!

Posted by miatamatt on 1/6/19 @ 5:36:13 AM

Great job!

Posted by diyauto on 12/18/17 @ 6:01:26 PM

This is sweet!

Posted by diyauto on 12/18/17 @ 6:01:18 PM


Posted by diyauto on 7/18/16 @ 12:32:33 PM