Single Port

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Can a twin port Beetle engine be changed to single port?

I have a 1976 Beelte with a 1600 twin port engine. I've had constant problems with the heads cracking and valve seats falling out. I've been told this is a common problem with twin port heads, so I'm thinking of changing to single ports. Is this possible and what else would I have to change (apart from the intake manifold.
Thanks to all who reply.

Yes they are interchangeable! You would have to change 1) the intake manifold and 2) the top cylinder shrouds. However you wouldn't be able to keep the orignial fuel injection system that all 1976 Beetles came with so you would have to use a carburetor instead. All the other cooling components are interchangeable.

However I don't think that it is the dual port heads that are causing you problems. It sounds like you may be overheating constantly. It could be:

1) If your thermostat doesn't work or has been removed or any of the cooling shrouds, flaps or hoses, especially the little square shrouds under the heads and the heat exchangers, then you may overheat and often. Even the cooling flaps that the thermostat control are important because they point the air torwards your heads. Overheating can cause damage like you have described

2) Also too lean of a mixture will cause this problem. (The richer the cooler the engine runs) A stock 1976 Beetle has fuel injection so it may be a sensor or the injectors or the fuel pump. If you had put on a carb or carbs on it have them/it re-jetted and tuned. Too lean of mixture will cause damage like you have described.

3) Bad timing is another factor (causes knocking) and many after market mechanical advance only distributors don't give the right timing for your car. With these distributors some people try to compensate for that "flat spot" during acceleration by advancing the distributor more than specified. Although this will correct the "flat spot" by giving you advanced timing during low throttle (which is what the vaccum advance does automatically) it will give you too much advancement during full throttle and cause knocking and major engine damage just as in your case. (Vacuum advance retards during full throttle to prevent this). Knocking will damage an engine like in your case.

4) Too high of a compression ratio can also cause knocking. Some heads have been fly cut for higher compression. The higher the compression the more precise the timing has to be to keep the engine from knocking. That is why modern engines with higher compression (as much as 10 to 1 or even higher) use knock sensors and digital timing control to prevent knocking. On your vehicle I would not recomend more than a 7.3 to 1 compression ratio unless you have a fully adjustable distributor and know how to use it (or if you just greatly retard your distributor and lose any advantage that high compression would have given you). Any time you put on new heads, single or double, you should have the compression ratio measured and use cylinder shims to compensate.

5) For slight knocking a higher octane rated fuel might help. Octane retards fuel combustion and so helps prevent knocking. But even then, even if you buy airplane or racing fuel you can only do so much with octane, and your car should be set to where low octane fuel should work just fine anyway.

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