The way that VW mounted the alternator on a Vanagon water boxer was less than ideal. The lower bracket—which bears most of the load—is a simple cantilever design, held to the block by two 8mm studs. Just behind these studs is the cylinder coolant jacket.
When the alternator is fresh and new, it spins nicely and with little to no vibration. However, as the bearings wear out over time, the alternator starts to vibrate. This vibration leads to a wobbling... which eventually leads to the mounting bracket loosening... which leads to severe engine block damage (see photo below).
When this happens, the engine block is very difficult to repair. In many cases, cracks lead into the cylinder coolant jacket. When that happens, you might as well toss the engine block into the recycling bin. It is DONE.
Even an alternator that does not vibrate is very heavy, and the factory mounting is simply inadequate. VW realized there was a problem, and the very last engine blocks produced had an extra strengthening rib added.
But even this later design is not enough to withstand a heavy, badly vibrating alternator. That's why we came up with the GoWesty Alternator Bracket Fix Kit.
This bracket kit eliminates the totally cantilever aspect of the original lower bracket design, transferring some of the load to the right cylinder head via a very strong triangular bracket. Beginning in August 2009, all GoWesty rebuilt engines come with this kit as standard issue. Problem solved, right? Well... not quite.
We got a handful of complaints about the brackets breaking. Clearly, in order for this added bracket to break, it has to be subjected to force. And, as stated above, this bracket is not designed to remedy a bad alternator; rather, it is there to help distribute normal loads generated by an otherwise properly-working alternator/bracket/block system, which is the same thinking VW had in mind when they added the extra gusset in the block.
The GoWesty bracket is very rigid in the fore/aft direction because of its triangular design. When subjected to fore/aft cyclical loading (vibration), it simply cannot move. So, when coupled with a system that is compromised in some way, our bracket acts like a fuse. If this added bracket is broken, you know for sure that the original bracket is being subjected to vibration and that the alternator is probably bad, and it will also break if the rest of the system (alternator and/or original bracket and/or surface of the block) is not 100%. Essentially, our added bracket just increased the amperage of the fuse.
GoWesty alternator brackets are designed to strengthen the system and help out—especially in cases where the block surface has been compromised. These brackets are not intended to compensate 100% for a badly-vibrating alternator. It is imperative to have a known good alternator (preferably a freshly-rebuilt one) to ensure the system works reliably for the long term.