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When you first removed the belt, were the timing marks lined up? Did you use the mark on the flywheel/flex plate to line up the crank, or the mark on the crank damper?
The reason I am asking, is because on these older distributor engines, I have seen the keyway on the crank pulley shear off, and allow the pulley to start to drift slightly on the shaft, despite the crank bolt being torqued to spec. Check the mark through the opening on top of the transmission to line up the crank. On a manual transmission the hole will be round, and the mark will be a hard slash that lines up with a point that hangs down in the center of the hole, on the engine side. On an automatic, the hole is"L" shaped, and the mark is a circle with a line through it- the line will line up right against the lower leg of the "L", allowing you to see half the circle.
Make sure that the distributor rotor is just a hair to the left of the mark on the distributor housing- if it were a minute hand it would be at 59 minutes if the mark is 12:00
Normally it is fine to trust the marks on the damper, but this is a situation I have dealt with numerous times. Despite your precautions in removing and installation, if the pulley is the issue you will not know unless you do these other checks. You want to visually see where the distributor rotor is pointing on the housinh, there is a cut mark if you move the dust shield. And rust will not remove the marks that are cast into the flex plate, they just may be hard to see. If you think you have found the mark, scuff the surface with some emery cloth or sandpaper and the marks will stand out better.
No, that is just a weight added to balance it during rotation to eliminate vibration. Set up the timing according to the mark on the damper to the plastic shield behind it, and use that as a general idea of the location. Watch for the mark to show up when you are nearing that point, if not rotate the crank further a little at a time to watch for it.
Does your engine have a cam sensor behind the cam gear on the head? I'm pretty sure it does not, as it has the distributor, but the 99 and up Cabrios were kind of a mixed creature.
But the vibration damper ***** *****ned up correctly with the mark on the plastic? And you took the toothed gear off the crankshaft and checked the keyway?
Yeah, even though Bentley worked directly with VW to write VW's manuals (and in turn got to publish their own) sometimes the methods that work in the shop are best