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February 1998 Nuts & Bolts

Posted in How To on February 1, 1998 Comment (0)
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February 1998 Nuts & Bolts

Monster Motor
I have a '78 Ford F-250 4x4 with a 400M engine and a C6 tranny. It has all the trick stuff like a Dana 60 rear, power steering, and a Dana 44 front. I want to swap in a Ford 460 but don't know much about the details. Do I need different motor mounts or a different oil pan, or will the 460 bolt right in?
Max Steenbergen
Glasgow, KY

This engine swap has become very popular over the years and is relatively simple if you have the information and the correct swap parts. L&L Products (Dept. 4WOR, 3210 Century Dr., Rowlett, TX 75088, 972/475-5202) specializes in these conversions and has developed a complete line of parts and accessories to make the swap easier. The motor mounts are the critical items-must-haves to do the job right. The L&L units bolt to the factory frame brackets for a properly placed engine and feature a lifetime guarantee.

L&L carries other parts, such as special headers that clear the framerails (rather than the stock exhaust that won't) and a special rear-sump oil pan to clear the axle. Other helpful pieces are the alternator and power steering brackets, also available from L&L, which will clear the crossmember that the stock 460-style brackets hit. For swaps such as this, it's always a good bet to go with a specialist in the field for the best info, and engineered parts for the cleanest swap possible.

Sammy Swap
My '86 Suzuki Samurai has gone through three engines so I'm considering an economical engine swap. My choices are a straight-six or a V-6 of some type, but I'm not sure what problems I'll encounter. The transmission and transfer case are coupled by a driveshaft so I figure that with a little bit of ingenuity I can fit something in. Do you know anyone who has done this or has any information?
Monty Rasco
Larue, TX

The diminutive Samurai is a great 4x4 but lacks a little in the power department, and since yours has burned up three engines, another powerplant is in order. Most straight-six engines are going to be way too long to fit into the Suzi's engine bay, but we've seen a number of clean V-6 swaps that work extremely well. The strength of the rest of the powertrain is questionable with V-6 power, and the extra weight up front will lead to an unbalanced vehicle.

The hot ticket for Sammy swaps seems to be the larger G16 eight-valve Suzuki engine from an '89-'94 Sidekick or Geo Tracker. Steve Kramer at Calmini Manufacturing (Dept. 4WOR, 6600-B McDivitt Dr., Bakersfield, CA 93313, 800/345-3305) offers a bolt-in kit for these popular engines for a mere 250 smackers (at press time). Although the horsepower increase is only around 25, that's a big difference you can really feel in a lightweight 4x4.

According to Kramer, your original G13 (1324cc) engine shares the same configuration with the larger G16 (1598cc) engine which has a longer stroke. The kit comes with an adapter plate to bolt the engine to the stock Samurai housing, using the original flywheel and clutch from the Sammy. While the top two bolts of the bellhousing need to be drilled out a little bit, it's still a virtual bolt-in kit that doesn't involve welding-which isn't the case with Samurai engine swaps. Even the motor mounts are easy to modify, with a new mount supplied for the right side and a spacer for the left. Because the new engine is a fuel-injected design, the block doesn't have a place for a mechanical pump so a new electric fuel pump is included. Your old intake and carb bolt right on to the new block.

Calmini is currently working on using the later 16-valve injected engine, but the hood will need to be modified to clear the extra parts, which is the same as if you used the early-style injection on the G16 engine. Other plans include a heavier flywheel for the conversion and other engine mods. If you're planning to lift your Suzi or make any other additions, Calmini offers an assortment of Samurai goodies.

Tall Toy
The tie rod ends on my '87 Toyota pickup seem to be at a steeper pitch since I installed a 4-inch lift kit, even with new control arms. Is this going to be no problem or should I get new or different ends?
Kerry Cameron
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

When an independent front suspension vehicle is lifted, the steering links will generally point up toward the centerlink from the steering knuckles. In most cases, the angle isn't so great as to present a problem, especially since the amount of downtravel is fairly small after a lift. Most well-designed lift kits stay within the bounds of generally accepted safe engineering practices, but we've seen angles so bad that the tires wobble back and forth (shimmy) because the steering links don't have a direct stabilizing force. If this is the case with your Toy, something needs to be done to correct it, such as lowering the steering arrangement. Superlift (Dept. 4WOR, 211 Horne Ln., West Monroe, LA 71292, 318/322-3458) offers a Superunner kit for GM products with IFS, which is a great improvement. But as far as we know, nothing is available for Toyota trucks. Look at the Superlift design and see if you can fabricate a similar system for your Toy, if it's necessary. Be sure any steering changes are done in a safe and sane manner.

Mileage Woes
I have one complaint about my '87 Jeep Grand Wagoneer: the gas mileage. Equipped with the stock 360 V-8 with a two-barrel carb and the Chrysler automatic, the Jeep won't get out of the 10-12 mpg range. It has plenty of power, but I'm thinking of swapping in an overdrive automatic or maybe fuel injection to up the mileage. I'm not sure what to do.
Ed Miller
Las Vegas, NV

One of the reasons Jeep quit producing the big Wagoneers was the gas mileage figures the 360 produced, which hurt its Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard. The government demanded better figures for cleaner air, and it just wasn't economical to do that with a carburetor and old technology. So now you have late-model 4x4s with higher figures and smaller engines that get 12-20 mpg if you're lucky, and cost three times as much to buy and maintain. Swapping on a four-barrel carb and a better intake manifold, along with a better ignition system and headers or free-flowing exhaust, will improve your mileage figures if you keep your foot off the throttle. So will swapping in an overdrive transmission if most of your driving is on the highway where the overdrive can be engaged. The tips and tricks on improving fuel economy are endless, and the standard joke is if you used all the gimmicks, you'd be making more gas than you used.

The biggest problem, though, is the cost-to-benefit ratio. By the time you sink all that time, trouble, and money into your older vehicle, you'll be lucky to get a 10 percent increase in fuel economy. That's not bad, but it's only about 1 mpg better. Have you ever figured out how much driving it would take to recoup your investment of the aforementioned modifications? It's something like driving twice around the moon and back, or halfway to Mars. In other words, it just isn't worth it. Be happy you have a great example of good, old American iron for fun, and buy an econobox for commuting to save the environment.

Chevy High
My '87 Chevy K10 has 31-inch tires on it now, and I want to run 33s. Will an add-a-leaf kit lift it enough to run that size or will it need more? Should I change the gear ratio to match the tires? I have a TH700-R4 tranny in it so I was thinking of lower gears anyway.
Nate Gilkey
Address withheld

Most charts for tire size versus lift indicate a 2 1/2-inch lift to clear 33-inch tires, but it depends on the true diameter of the tires and the condition of your old springs. You might be able to get away with a 1 1/2-inch add-a-leaf and maybe just trimming your fenders a bit. The replacement springs of a true suspension lift will clear the tires easily and give you a better ride, but will also be more expensive.

As far as the gear change goes, the fact that you have an overdrive transmission means you can go low on a gear swap and retain the highway cruisability and mileage. Depending on the engine you have and what rpm you want to turn on the road, 3.73 gears will be somewhat close to stock for your increased tire size, but dropping to 4.11 or 4.56 will give your truck better off-road performance.

Submission information: Questions should be as brief and concise as possible. We will answer as many letters as possible each month, but due to the large volume of mail, we cannot send personal replies. Letters are subject to editing for length, as space permits. Always check state regulations before modifying a vehicle with pollution controls or one that will be driven on the street. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515, fax 213/782-2704, e-mail quinnelc@petersenpub.com.

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