Well, $2300 later and Little Blue is back from the shop. I must say, I'm quite taken with the new quickness that the 1600 engine provides over the old 1200. Little Blue is much faster off the line and, the biggest difference, going up hills. Suddenly, Little Blue can keep up with traffic going uphill!
The engine growls a lot more. Think more Harley and less MG. I used to think my bug sounded different than many of the later models I would see driving on the road. Less roughness. I was right. Now Little Blue sounds just like those later model bugs.
Some notes about the conversion that I could glean so far:
1. The heater boxes don't match up with the old heater tubes. So, Harmony Garage did a bit of a patch job with what seems to be heating duct material. I tried the heat and it works as fine as ever
2. The flywheel on the new engine doesn't match up to the older transmission exactly, so some grinding was required on the old transmission housing. I can hear it clipping the sides a little from time to time. Pft pft pft pft.
3. The generator they had on the new engine needs no alternator. Odd.
4. 12 volt lights might be worth the cost during this coming winter's rainy season.
This is not to say that things are perfect. Shifting has become an issue the last 2 days that seems to be getting worse. And it seems to be the longer I run it (say over 20 miles) the shifting becomes even harder. Getting back into first at a dead stop results in considerable grinding on the gears. Even coming up through 2nd and 3rd you get little nicks of grinding gears before it goes into gear. And, if I'm not careful, the gearshift will pop out of my hand going from 2nd to 3rd as it seems to be under pressure to do so in the top of 2nd gear.
Later today I am stopping back by Harmony and picking up my old engine for parts and dissection purposes. I'll discuss the shifting issues then and see what the next step is. I hope it's not them taking the engine back out, but I can't see a way where that is not the case.