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Replacing the Crankshaft Seal

In our last tech article we installed a new clutch. Many times when we pull the motor and clutch we find that the biggest problem with the clutch is that it is covered with oil due to a worn or hardened crank seal. A worn seal is usually evident by an oil spot on the ground under the car at about the point where the engine and transmission come together. In this article we will interrupt the clutch job to see how to replace that seal.

The seal is behind the flywheel.

But before you remove the flywheel, put your fingers inside the upper rim and pull it up.
By doing this you can actually feel how much wear there is on the rear main bearing. When new you can only faintly feel any movement if at all. If there is a definite clunking noise the bearing and case bore may be too worn for a new seal to be any help. It may be time for a rebuild. Let’s hope yours is OK. To remove the flywheel to replace the seal you will need to remove the 36mm gland nut in the middle of the flywheel.

The easiest way to do this is with a 36mm socket on a good impact wrench.
But you can do it with your socket on a ½” or ¾” breaker bar.
You can use a length of pipe, maybe your jack handle, for leverage.
You will need to drill and bolt a 4’ piece of angle iron to the flywheel to hold it still as you loosen the nut.

With the glad nut out you can easily pry the flywheel off the end of the crank with a long screwdriver.
The old seal can be pried out with a ‘crow’s foot’ pry bar...
...or whatever you have handy.
It comes out easily. Leave the same 3 shims on the crank and be sure that the bore is clean before installing the new seal. (Don’t try to reset the end play on a worn motor) Install the new seal by tapping it evenly in place until it is flush or a little recessed into the case.

Put a little oil around the lip of the seal.
A hardened seal can actually wear a groove in the surface of the flywheel. If this happens replace it.
On ’66 and newer flywheels be sure to replace the O-ring in the middle of the flywheel. Just pry the old one out, clean out the groove and slip the new one into place.
Now put a little grease in the gland nut and bolt the (clean) flywheel back onto the crank. Tighten it the same way you removed it. The suggested torque for the 1200cc and 1500cc motors 217 ft lbs. And 253ft.lbs. For the 1600cc. I usually go about 270 ft.lbs. With no trouble. Now you would be ready to move on to the rest of the clutch job we showed you last time. This info can be seen in Vol.2 of the Bug Me Video series, available at my web site. I hope this has added a little more to your VW savvy, keep in touch.

Rick Higgins and Crew
Bug Me Video, Inc

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