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My First Engine Swap

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Old 08-12-2013, 06:15 PM
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Default My First Engine Swap

Hi guys,

This is a thread i'm creating to ask questions, and show you how to do a direct 3.9 -> 3.9 swap.

Sadly, this isn't a v6 to v8 swap which I would have loved to do. After searching for a month at local pick and pulls, classifieds, and shops I was unable to find a donor 5.9 engine and tranny, but I did find a used 3.9.

Background info: I have a 2002 Dakota 4x4 with the 3.9 and I killed the motor while being stupid mudding.

The donor engine I found came out of a 2000 Dakota RWD which I picked up for basically free. I went to look at it and the guy originally wanted $200 for it which I thought was a steal, but after looking at it turns out it was stored with no oil outside with only a tarp around it for a year. The engine has 150,000 kms according to the seller.

I was going to walk away and the guy said I could take it for free. He told me I was the only one who actually came to look at it and used the famous words "pay it forward". He was confident id get it running again so I figured why not. It isn't seized - I can crank it by hand, I pulled the valve covers and the valves werent rusty - a little gunky but I think thats normal. I pulled the spark plugs and the passenger side ones were a little rusty, but the driver side ones were fine. I imagine there to be a little rust on the cylinder walls but I'll find out for sure soon enough.

This is my first engine swap like the title says, and aside from basic stuff such as brakes, oil changes, and engine accessory replacements I'm pretty new, so this will definitely be a learning experience.

I ordered a complete engine gasket and seal kit including the timing cover gasket and new head bolts to tear down the engine, give it a proper inspection, and hopefully put it back together again. This by no means is going to be a project I will rush... I have transportation in the meantime and will mainly be working on it during the weekends, so I'll be constantly updating this thread.

Heres where I started, picked up the engine complete with a RWD 42RE tranny that lost reverse.... I'm not using the transmission btw.



When I got it off the truck, I proceeded to pull the transmission off of the engine which I had a HELL of a time doing. I made sure I removed all bolts and made sure nothing was catching. I could get the transmission separated from the engine about 2 inches and that was all I could get.



I ended up using a block and tackle to separate it the rest of the way which isn't wasn't easy. Now that the transmission is off I have 2 questions.

1) How do I go about removing the torque converter from the flex plate? Doesn't appear to be any bolts that I can see.

2) Is it normal for there to be this much rust? I don't understand why there would be this much in a sealed area.

Once the gasket kit arrives I will begin disassembling the engine.

Cheers
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:18 PM
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Cool. Looking forward to following this thread.

The torque converter bolts go in from the front. Try removing that metal plate behind the oil pan or the starter (if it's still in) to gain access. The rust doesn't look bad to me. I wouldn't worry about it. Maybe clean it up and repaint back there.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:23 PM
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Thanks Tom,

I found a video where a guy was trying to pull the TC off a jeep tranny, I see where the bolts would be now... tight fit!

I'll clean it up and shoot some paint or something back there too.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:54 PM
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Usually, you can get at the bolts through the starter hole. It's much easier if you can do it that way.
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:10 PM
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Nice score. It's a wonder it's not seized. Be sure to go back and give the guy a ride once it's installed.

You will be miles ahead if you go get an engine stand for it. If you were in the US, I'd suggest you get one at Harbor Freight. In Ontario, I don't know. But it's nice to be able to work at waist/lower chest height and be able to flip the engine over and have it stable.

Some degreaser suggestions. Again in the US--Dollar Tree has an outstanding detergent-degreaser $1 for a half gallon. Dawn dish detergent (use the specific brand) and a stiff brush will do it--you can preclean with a scraper and a straight screwdriver. And Easy Off oven cleaner works well, too. A pressure washer will help, but if you can't get one, hook a garden hose to the hot water outlet for your clothes washer. Hot water helps. As you pull off the pan, and other sheet metal parts, be very diligent about getting the crud out of the low points.

You won't know the actual condition of the cylinders 'til you get the heads off. If the cylinders are fairly rusty, a bore and hone will take care of that (new pistons.) If that's the case, the machine shop will hot tank the engine and you'll also need cam bearings installed. There are some sub-routines in this, but the machine shop can go over that with you if need be.

I know this is a budget job, but while you have it off you might have the heads cleaned and the valves ground. You have new seals in your gasket set. I'd use every gasket in the set, btw, so you'll need to find/borrow/buy a steering wheel puller to get the harmonic balance off to replace the front main seal & timing cover gasket.

A random thought, when you pull the engine out of your truck, the accepted practice is to unbolt the torque converter from the truck and leave it in the transmission. Otherwise you can damage the torque converter seal on the front of the trannie.

Treat the engine as if it's a fresh rebuild--retorque & lube the bearings, re-prime the oil pump, with the plenum (intake manifold) off pour some motor oil down over the lifters and cam lobes.

Last edited by Brian in Tucson; 08-13-2013 at 12:13 PM..
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian in Tucson View Post
Nice score. It's a wonder it's not seized. Be sure to go back and give the guy a ride once it's installed.

You will be miles ahead if you go get an engine stand for it. If you were in the US, I'd suggest you get one at Harbor Freight. In Ontario, I don't know. But it's nice to be able to work at waist/lower chest height and be able to flip the engine over and have it stable.

Some degreaser suggestions. Again in the US--Dollar Tree has an outstanding detergent-degreaser $1 for a half gallon. Dawn dish detergent (use the specific brand) and a stiff brush will do it--you can preclean with a scraper and a straight screwdriver. And Easy Off oven cleaner works well, too. A pressure washer will help, but if you can't get one, hook a garden hose to the hot water outlet for your clothes washer. Hot water helps. As you pull off the pan, and other sheet metal parts, be very diligent about getting the crud out of the low points.

You won't know the actual condition of the cylinders 'til you get the heads off. If the cylinders are fairly rusty, a bore and hone will take care of that (new pistons.) If that's the case, the machine shop will hot tank the engine and you'll also need cam bearings installed. There are some sub-routines in this, but the machine shop can go over that with you if need be.

I know this is a budget job, but while you have it off you might have the heads cleaned and the valves ground. You have new seals in your gasket set. I'd use every gasket in the set, btw, so you'll need to find/borrow/buy a steering wheel puller to get the harmonic balance off to replace the front main seal & timing cover gasket.

A random thought, when you pull the engine out of your truck, the accepted practice is to unbolt the torque converter from the truck and leave it in the transmission. Otherwise you can damage the torque converter seal on the front of the trannie.

Treat the engine as if it's a fresh rebuild--retorque & lube the bearings, re-prime the oil pump, with the plenum (intake manifold) off pour some motor oil down over the lifters and cam lobes.
I borrowed an engine stand from my neighbour, I just don't have it bolted up to it yet because I still need to find the proper bolt size I need and also because I dont have the torque converter off yet.

For degreaser I use Simple Green - stuff works wonders.

I'm hoping the heads and cylinders are OK, I really didn't want to have to take it to a machine shop. I read that when motors are stored a little rust is expected to develop, but that just burns up while the motor is first started. It has only been stored fora year so I figure they'll be kay, when I pull the heads I'll snap a picture and get some opinions first.

For the seals, aside from the simple ones where you wouldn't need a special tool such as the head gasket, valve covers, and oil pan I feel confident. As for the ones that require a special tool to install such as the rear main seal and the front I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet, but Ill definitely research your recommendation.

When I pull the engine out of the truck I will definately make sure to unbolt the torque converter first. I was unaware that you were supposed to pull it out with the transmission - probably expains why it was so hard to get it off?

I'll definitely make sure to prelube the engine to the best of my ability.

Appreciate all the comments and suggestions and definitely open to more!
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:20 PM
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Rear main doesn't require a special tool. But you would need a torque wrench to torque the bearing caps back down.

Maybe you can borrow the puller from the guy that's loaning you the engine stand. Maybe a torque wrench, too. And get some tech support from him. The thing is, with the engine on a stand, this is the easiest it can be to make sure that all the seals are first rate and in good shape, so replacing the front and rear main seals would be high priority for me.

Replacing the head gaskets will require a torque wrench. I think I would go ahead and have a peek at the inside of the cylinders and heads, if I were you.
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:51 PM
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So I pulled off the torque converter today and thats really all I accomplished - thanks for the suggestion through the starter hole Tom.

Brian,

I do indeed have a torque wrench but it is a 1/2 drive I use for my wheels, I'm sure my neighbour has a 3/8 drive for the tight areas.

One thing I noticed is that after I pulled the transmission off, there only appears to be bolt holes to mount the engine to the stand near the top, and nothing for the bottom. Is it safe to use all 4 near the top, but nothing near the bottom?

I've read that its best to place all 4 bolts in an X pattern for better weight distribution.

Any suggestions here?
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Old 08-14-2013, 05:50 PM
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There are 4 at the top. You can use two of them. Then there are two at the very bottom of the casting--they are unthreaded, so you need bolts that will reach all the way thru and then put nuts on them.

For this project, your 1/2 inch drive will do most of it. You will need a 1/4 or 3/8 inch drive torque wrench for torking down the plenum--they should be torqued to a max of 12 ft. lb., require a 1/2 socket (or 13mm) and need to be done progressively--a little at a time. I use a 1/4" torque wrench for this.

If you don't have a manual, you can download one from the FAQs or ask and I'll provide you with the various torque spec.'s you'll need. On the heads and the plenum, basically you torque progressively starting at the middle and working from the center, crossing from side to side. After everything is torqued down on a head or the intake, retorque the last step til there's no additional torquing at the final setting.
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:35 PM
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So I had some time after work today, I got the engine up on the stand - it's held sturdy by the 2 top holes which holds the bell housing on, and the two holes next to each dowel.. Thanks Brian!



Next, I proceeded to take off the alternator, water pump, fuel rail etc so I could pull the intake off, I noticed that its a little sludgy, but I don't see any nicks or groves anywhere on the valves which is good (including under the valve covers - I have them on because I was wire brushing away the mating surfaces for the intake gaskets and didn't want crap falling in them). I also pulled off the exhaust manifold which was surprisingly easier than I expected, I did have to hammer on a socket to 2 bolts cause the heads were rusted and stripped, but no bolt broke



Here's with the intake off, and a close up of the crap sitting under it. Most of it I'm sure is what fell in there after removing the cover. Before doing anything I took a vacuum and screwdriver and chipped off all lose dirt and rust but on an engine that sat for a year stored outside, there was a ton of crap in every nook and cranny. I proceeded to use the vacuum to suck up most of the dirt you see here.





Tomorrow I plan on removing the heads, pulling the timing cover and oil pan off and begin installing new gaskets and swapping the accessories over from my truck.

Hope it all goes well.
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:35 AM
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Take a look under the lifter retainer and take a good look at the cam and check for wear.
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Old 08-28-2013, 09:55 AM
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Annnddd.... this thread is toast.

Kind of had a feeling this engine was too good to be true. Pulled the heads off and my god there is about half a pound of rusted sludge. On cylinder 1 and 3 it looks like someone keyed the inside walls.

Found another engine at a scrapper for 850 with 80,000 miles. This one comes with a 6 month warranty. Gonna consider getting this but if not I'll be cutting my losses and selling the Dak.

Will keep ya posted.
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:51 PM
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Sorry, man. Been there, done that.

I wouldn't do the $850 engine tho. For about $500 more, you can get a remanufactured longblock (yes there's shipping and probably import duties, but I can't address that part) from Rock Auto. Look it up, it's $1288 plus refundable core charge and shipping. And you will have a clean, basically new engine. Is 80,000 fewer miles on the engine worth the extra $$--it would be for me.

Or have your core engine with the rusty cylinders bored and new rings. If the crank is okay, and the rods are okay, you'd probably be in for hot tanking it and having new cam bearings installed. Do a quick valve job, too.

Again, sorry for your misfortune, this has happened to me more than once. Nice to learn from mistakes, but sometime I forget what I've learned.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:04 PM
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Just checked what freight would cost for me in AZ around $150 remember you need to send your engine to them also.

So ad about $300 to that


I say go local if you can usually cheaper just be sure you get a good warrantee with it.

I forget why cant you have your engine rebuilt?

Can you use the free block and get it over bored and new pistons?
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Old 08-28-2013, 03:12 PM
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Just checked what freight would cost for me in AZ around $150 remember you need to send your engine to them also.

So ad about $300 to that


I say go local if you can usually cheaper just be sure you get a good warrantee with it.

I forget why cant you have your engine rebuilt?

Can you use the free block and get it over bored and new pistons?
Return freight on the core is included.
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Old 08-28-2013, 04:22 PM
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To buy a long block, I'm looking at $2600 to my door with QUESTIONABLE return freight on the core. I called RockAuto and the woman on the other end said she wasn't sure if the return core shipping would be provided since I'm a Canadian... I'm expecting a call back soon.

Dakaz,

A rebuild was a possibility but I'm looking at $500 for a master rebuild kit, plus $500 to have the block machined and a whole lot of time trying to rebuild it.

I got the price down to $700 for the used engine... tested for 25 mins & comes with 6 month warranty.

I was looking to get 2 more years out of this truck before I purchased a newer one - I think I can get 2 years out of this used one, what do you guys think?
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:36 PM
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First of all, I'm not trying to tell you what to do. Just provide some input into alternatives.

How close to the US do you live? First alternative--a US longblock, would probably require 2 trips to a shipping/receiving point in the US. One to pick up the longblock, one to return the core. Someplace with a forklift for loading your engine into a pickup. You can get my drift. I used to ship Fiero parts to Ontario customers--to a Buffalo area address. Would save brokerage fees, you could pay the duty at the border.

Second alternative. Spend the grand, build the engine. This is the alternative I like the best, but I like to rebuild engines--always interesting, and you can control the outcome. You already have a rebuild-able core (the one with the corroded cylinders)that didn't cost you anything to acquire, and you can do it at your own pace (and maybe with input from your neighbor.) If the inside of the engine is relatively clean otherwise, just get an over-bore and install oversized pistons & rings. The $500 labor charge seems a little high to me, but it's been a while and I may be out of touch with machine shop prices. I'd want a valve job, tho.

Third alternative--get a used, unknown factor engine. How many miles? How much preventive maintenance? If it dies before the 6 months are up, you still have to pull it back out and take it back--and the yard probably will try to weasel out by saying you killed it. One of the things I've learned (having twice bought bad engines) is I wanna hear it run--I don't want a video of it running, I want to see it start and run, and if possible see it's oil pressure. And then I still want to pull the covers off and eyeball the valve train and the crank and bottoms of the cylinders.

Fourth alternative, give up and junk the truck.

Last edited by Brian in Tucson; 08-28-2013 at 05:47 PM..
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:30 PM
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I agree with Brian. Bite the bullet, and get the block at least honed. You may not need to have it bored, if a simple hone can clean the walls up enough. We have a hone that chucks into the electric drill, works wonders.

Also, I have a feeling that Wes Garrett and I might call divs on whatever you have left over :P He can cross the border then ship stuff to me xD
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:26 PM
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Well I couldn't pass up that engine I found with 80k miles and a 6 month warranty. Went to pick it up and it looks like a great engine, they stored it with every hole plugged and even comes with a distributor, waterpump, wires, alternator and cap and rotor... can't go wrong for $650 there.

I plan on having the old engine out this weekend... I've already removed the air box, fan shroud, front crossmember, front bumper, drained the coolant, all I have left is to remove the radiator and AC condenser and I have a clear path to drop in the used one... but I'm stumped on where to put the AC condenser.

I would really like to leave the whole AC system in tact but there is extremely little play between the condenser and compressor, and also the AC canister and compressor... atleast on the 3.9...

Any solution to this or will I have to discharge the system?

Cheers
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sxrsil3nt View Post
Well I couldn't pass up that engine I found with 80k miles and a 6 month warranty. Went to pick it up and it looks like a great engine, they stored it with every hole plugged and even comes with a distributor, waterpump, wires, alternator and cap and rotor... can't go wrong for $650 there.

I plan on having the old engine out this weekend... I've already removed the air box, fan shroud, front crossmember, front bumper, drained the coolant, all I have left is to remove the radiator and AC condenser and I have a clear path to drop in the used one... but I'm stumped on where to put the AC condenser.

I would really like to leave the whole AC system in tact but there is extremely little play between the condenser and compressor, and also the AC canister and compressor... atleast on the 3.9...

Any solution to this or will I have to discharge the system?

Cheers
Yeah, don't take the condenser out. You can pull the engine out above the condenser with plenty of clearance. Wire the compressor up and out of the way. Same with the power steering pump.

On the Gen 1's like mine, the top radiator support is not removeable--when we remove the engine, we have to make sure the oil pan clears that.
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:15 PM
 
 
 
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