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Hi folks
I did this job a few months ago and just haven't had time to turn my own oily hand-written notes into something more presentable that I can share with you lot. Until now.

Here you go:

Difficulty:

Definitely falls into the intermediate to advanced bracket. You should have at least changed a cambelt on your own by now, or even better, have removed or rebuilt a cylinder head. Even getting to the point where you can remove the rocker cover from this vehicle is tricky enough, and you’ll need to have a few tricks up your sleeve for finding and removing fasteners from awkward positions.

Before Starting:
To remove the rocker cover it’s first necessary to get the intake manifold off, and taking enough of the van apart to reach the bolts that secure it is a mammoth and horrible job. There are rumours of a better method of reaching the intake manifold bolts than the one I used. It involves releasing the bottom engine mount and using a jack and a block to rotate the engine back about fifteen degrees to give access to these bolts. In hindsight I’d have seriously considered it because my method turned out to be a real pain.

Also have a look at how to place the radiators in the "Service Position". I have a feeling it'll give you a much better day than the method I used.

You Will Need:

A good tool set.
A set of Torx drivers. Proper drivers, not those little Torx bits you pop into an adapter. Some of the spaces you’ll need to poke them into will be too tight for that.
A big torque wrench that goes up to 150 Ft Lb or so.
A 12-point spline bit set, ideally with nice long bits.
The timing/locking tool set for the engine. I bought one for about £100 and sold it on eBay for £75 afterwards. It took a couple of weeks for somebody to buy it, so have patience. This engine is nothing like the cambelt-driven ones you’re used to and you can’t get away with using a few drill bits and some tipp-ex, so the proper kit is essential.
A long breaker bar, 80cm or so.
Feeler gauges if you’re feeling professional.
Good quality silicone gasket paste. VW stopped using paper gaskets for sumps and rocker covers a while ago, so you have to make your own every time.
Brake & Clutch Cleaner, for cleaning gasket mating surfaces.
Fresh, clean cloths. You need to be surgical for camshaft work so don’t use the crappy old rags off the garage floor.
Darkside Developments camshaft kit, complete with shells, bolts and gaskets. Injector seals optional but you may wish to swap these out if your engine is running poorly.
A crankshaft end cap. Made of metal and has a rubber centre. VW Part no. 070 103 189 A, about £5.
A box of disposable gloves. This is to protect the engine internals from the dirt your hands will collect.
A sachet of assembly oil, for lubing the new camshaft bearings prior to fitting.

Instructions: (I advise you to scribble down your own step-by-step as you go, in case I’ve missed anything.)

1. Ensure washer fluid bottle is less than ¾ full, as the fluid in the filler neck will spill on to the rad fan plugs when removed. It caused the radiator fans to stay on until I’d dried them out again, in my case.
2. Jack the OSF corner up and remove the roadwheel.
3. Thoroughly clean and then remove the OSF mudguard, or at least release the front half so you can get easy access to the end of the crankshaft.
4. Flush the engine with STP Engine Flush or similar, just in case a blocked oil channel was at fault for ruining your camshaft.
5. Clean the engine exterior with engine cleaner and hot water.
6. Remove the undertray (6 x 13mm bolts)
7. Remove the battery
8. Set up portable lamps to illuminate the engine bay.
9. Remove the front grille.
10. Pop the quarter trim panels off.
11. Unscrew the PAS reservoir and tie it well out of the way.
12. Unscrew the screw that holds the washer filler neck on, give it a twist and the neck should come out.
13. Remove the front bumper. This is a pain. Better guides exist than mine, or just search for the diagram that shows where all the screws and bolts are. There are a frankly excessive number of them. A tip: Remove the TX-screws along the top edge last, they support the weight of the bumper while you undo the rest. Also, if you’re not familiar, get used to removing those VAG-type wiring plugs gracefully. If they’re stubborn use a little release oil and wiggle the connector to work it in amongst the seal before re-attempting. Please don’t force them, because if the little plastic release tab snaps off (which they do) then getting the plug off without breaking it has suddenly become a major operation. In a confined space it’s just horrible.

14. Get some more clearance at the front of the engine to reach the intake manifold bolts. To do this:
15. Remove the two TX screws that hold the top radiator mounts in place and push the rubber bungs into the radiator.
16. Push the flimsy corrugated plastic shroud at the bottom of the radiator out of the way.
17. Remove O/S intercooler air hose.
18. Release the coolant header bottle, remove its wiring plug and tie it all well out of the way.
19. Release N/S intercooler hose and its wiring plug.
20. Unbolt the intercooler from the radiator and draw it forward. This exposes the hard-to-reach hose unions and allows you to remove the intercooler air hoses entirely.

At this point you can either choose to put the rads in the Service Position (I’m not sure exactly how but guides exist) or soldier on regardless. I soldiered on but in hindsight, the proper method would likely have been better.

21. To release the radiator, I got under the van and with a couple of long extension bars and unbolted the radiator lower mounts from the chassis. It seemed easier at the time.
22. Support the radiator well on the front crash structure, using blocks and rope if necessary. This is because there’s wiring down there that takes the full weight of the radiator if it’s allowed to drop.
23. Remove the EGR exhaust pipe, vacuum hose and EGR assy.
24. Remove the vacuum pump hose.
25. This bit is tricky. There’s a wiring loom clipped to the front of the intake manifold that was obviously put on there before the radiator went on. Removing it correctly with the radiator in place is almost impossible. Either wrench the loom carrier loose (some fixings will snap, use cable ties to reassemble) with brute force or drain the coolant and take the radiator out altogether.
26. Remove the intake manifold bolts. Another Herculean task. Without the perfect depth of deep-drive sockets and extension bars it’s almost impossible, and even with them it’s a frustrating and horrible job. Keep track of the intake manifold gaskets, which can drop off.
27. Cable tie all the loose vacuum hoses in the engine bay well out of the way.
28. Remove rocker cover breather hose.
29. Remove the oil fill spout, being careful to keep an eye out for the O-ring. It can be left behind under the acoustic cover and subsequently drop onto the floor.
30. Remove the plastic acoustic cover from the rocker cover. It just pulls off.
31. Remove the airbox.
32. Remove the tandem pump from the side of the cylinder head. Only replace this once the head has been fully reassembled or the pump’s new crush gasket will be damaged.
33. Behind the OSF wheel arch, remove the bolts holding the coolant pipe onto the crankshaft end of the block.
34. Still behind the arch, remove the crankshaft end cap. This is tricky. It’s round and difficult to get to. You must destroy it to remove it so make sure you have another one. To remove it, pierce the centre rubber disc with the short leg of a sturdy Allen key, insert the key through the hole and into the seal and then use a ring spanner around the long end of the key to wrench/pop the cover out.
35. Remove rocker cover.
36. Remove injector rockers and set aside. The rocker assembly comes in two halves, so be careful to remember which half goes on which side.
37. Remove camshaft retaining caps. As with all camshaft bolts, remove these in sequence, a turn each at a time, to prevent damage. Once the camshaft is high enough that the tension from the valve springs no longer registers, you can return to removing the bolts in the normal way.
38. Remove the camshaft and bucket tappets and marvel at the damage.

From here on in the instructions for using the timing kit are your best guide. If your kit is a copy of the Sealey one, then just get the Sealey instructions, they’re amongst the top hits on Google for this problem. Compared to the hassle and pain of getting the rocker cover off, this part is a bit of an anti-climax. Just follow the instructions minutely and it's hard to go wrong.

Putting it all back together again is a classic reassembly-is-the-reverse-of-removal job, but with the added excitement of endless cleaning and gasket paste.

A few tips:
1. Install the new camshaft with the lobes on the leftmost (offside) cylinder pointing upwards in a V shape.
2. Be a bit meticulous about remembering which bolts came from which holes, as some are subtly different lengths.
3. Have some locking pliers to hand as it can be hard to get the crankshaft turning tool back out without them.
4. The main camshaft pulley bolt has to be done up incredibly tight, hence the need for a long breaker bar.
5. My copy of the official Sealey tool kit wasn’t machined quite right and the camshaft locking tool didn’t quite fit. It was a couple of millimetres too long, so I just filed the end off a bit.
6. The end pieces on the left and right ends of the cylinder head cover are a very close and tight fit. Don’t be afraid to persuade them to come off with a dull hammer.
7. On reassembly I was naughty and didn’t check the camshaft-to-injector clearances. The engine didn’t seem to mind.
8. You can also replace the injector seals at this point if you wish. I’d only recommend this if you’re having engine troubles as it seemed to me like an extremely fiddly job, and the hassle of stripping the engine back again to expose the injectors again if something wasn’t assembled properly was just too huge.
9. Take special care to observe all tightening torques. Stretch bolts are demanding like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It took a couple of days in the end, although to be fair most of that was spent scratching my head and going down the occasional dead end.

Definitely look into how to reach the intake manifold bolts by tilting the engine rather than taking the bumper off. It's a total pain.

The second time around it would probably only take a day, and the professional garages quote about 7 hours.
 

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Whizzbang, great post mate. The fans run all the time when you remove the bumper, disconnecting the the wiring! I doubt it was the washer fluid causing it. I always use cardboard and push the bolts through when I remove them, numbering where they go. It's far to easy to forget other wise where they go.

Did you have any bolts/ nuts left over? It amazing how often that happens.

You could take Haynes on head to head mateT:
Btw, welcome to the forum
 

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One thing that is worth mentioning is the proper running in on flat tappet cams.
As soon as you start the engine with the new cam fitted if everything sounds ok run the engine at 2000-2500rpm for about 20-30 minutes.
Running the engine at idle is the worst thing you can do.
 

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One thing that is worth mentioning is the proper running in on flat tappet cams.
As soon as you start the engine with the new cam fitted if everything sounds ok run the engine at 2000-2500rpm for about 20-30 minutes.
Running the engine at idle is the worst thing you can do.
Hi Martin I'll be doing my van engine freshen next week.. Going to go with the cam you recommended.. Will I have to do this too... What's the best procedure... Fire engine up and check it sounds ok and no leaks etc.. And wedge the throttle in place and run it at said rpm.. Then drop the oil? What would you do? Cheers
 

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Hi Martin I'll be doing my van engine freshen next week.. Going to go with the cam you recommended.. Will I have to do this too... What's the best procedure... Fire engine up and check it sounds ok and no leaks etc.. And wedge the throttle in place and run it at said rpm.. Then drop the oil? What would you do? Cheers
When I changed my cam I made sure everything was ok and then reved it straight away to about 2000-2500, I think I changed the oil after 1K but can't remember as it was a couple of years back.

This is the running in procedure from Piper Cams:-

Do not idle engine during the first twenty minutes of operation; rpm should be kept at 2500 or above. In pushrod engines oil throw-off from the crank may not be sufficient to lubricate the cam followers. Also contact stresses at the nose of the cam are very high at low speed. If adjustments need to be made during the twenty minutes break-in period, shut the engine down. DO NOT IDLE.
 

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When I changed my cam I made sure everything was ok and then reved it straight away to about 2000-2500, I think I changed the oil after 1K but can't remember as it was a couple of years back.

This is the running in procedure from Piper Cams:-

Do not idle engine during the first twenty minutes of operation; rpm should be kept at 2500 or above. In pushrod engines oil throw-off from the crank may not be sufficient to lubricate the cam followers. Also contact stresses at the nose of the cam are very high at low speed. If adjustments need to be made during the twenty minutes break-in period, shut the engine down. DO NOT IDLE.
Cheers man
 

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When you say replace the camshaft, was this after failure or pre emotive? I'm looking at a 2007 2.5 t5, and hear nothing but camshaft failure, is it something should be carried out with a heavier duty or upgraded part? Van has 160k on it
 

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When you say replace the camshaft, was this after failure or pre emotive? I'm looking at a 2007 2.5 t5, and hear nothing but camshaft failure, is it something should be carried out with a heavier duty or upgraded part? Van has 160k on it
There's no uprated camshaft for this engine other than having a camshaft reprofiled but that's for performance rather than extending the life. It's the cam followers that fail which increases lobe wear on thae camshaft, oil change a bit more frequent helps with the correct oil.
 

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hear nothing but camshaft failure
Of course you never, ever hear about the camshafts that don't fail.

Certainly, the design could be better, but nothing is better than a 5-pot when it's pulling well & "on song".

If I can keep my 5-pot running until I'm on my final journey then I will (& the tree huggers can clear off).
 

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When you say replace the camshaft, was this after failure or pre emotive? I'm looking at a 2007 2.5 t5, and hear nothing but camshaft failure, is it something should be carried out with a heavier duty or upgraded part? Van has 160k on it
Some cams do mega miles and some don't, mine failed at 122k and that was also using the correct 506.01 oil changed every 10k.
Most of the wear is due to the design, VW had to make the inlet and exhaust cam lobe narrower to fit the PD injector cam lobe in the middle of them.
This puts more face loading onto the lifters due to less surface area, also the inlet and exhaust cam lobe is quite big so that also increases the surface running area.
 

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On a slightly related note ....have a 2.5 tdi T5 and noticed that the rocker cover at the top of the engine seems loose , with a couple of mm play when wiggled. Is this normal ? The securing bolts seem tight and there are no obvious leaks but seems wrong !
 

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On a slightly related note ....have a 2.5 tdi T5 and noticed that the rocker cover at the top of the engine seems loose , with a couple of mm play when wiggled. Is this normal ? The securing bolts seem tight and there are no obvious leaks but seems wrong !
Hi, I think you are just talking about the plastic top soundproofing cover that sits over the cam box cover, this slight movement is quite normal.
 
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