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 cantilever aspect of the original lower bracket design, transferring some of the load to the right cylinder head via a very strong triangular bracket. 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.
In 2015, we changed the material of the bracket above from stainless steel to powder-coated mild steel. This material change improved the durability of the bracket. In 2016, we introduced the GoWesty Monster Bracket.
Whereas the first bracket picked up some of the load at the front (head) of the carriage bolt and distributed it to the right cylinder head, this new monster bracket picks up some of the load at the rear (nut) end of the carriage bolt and distributes that load to the two studs that hold the coolant elbow directly below the alternator on all waterboxer engines. This second bracket was a bit trickier to execute, requiring much tighter tolerances and custom fasteners to attach it to the existing coolant elbow studs. The combination of BOTH brackets, plus the original alternator bracket in good condition, can not only save a precious waterboxer engine block, but actually make an otherwise too-badly-damaged one useful again.
GoWesty alternator brackets are designed to strengthen the system, especially in cases where the block surface has been compromised. These brackets are not intended to replace the original bracket or compensate 100% for a badly-vibrating alternator. It is imperative to have a known-good alternator (preferably a freshly-rebuilt unit) to ensure the system works reliably for the long haul.
UPDATE: As of December 2020 our monster bracket only fits engines fitted with the later, 1986-91 type cooling system. We are working on a new design that will also fit the earlier, 1983-85 cooling system, ETA TBD.