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October 2007 4x4 Tech Questions - Tech Line

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on October 1, 2007
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Address your correspondence to: Techline
Four Wheeler
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Question: I have a '74 stock Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser that I just love. However, my knee has failed me and I am in need of help finding out the best choice for me. I need to get an automatic transmission installed. Is there an option with keeping the F-series engine? If not, what would be the simplest engine and transmission combo to install? I will be keeping it mostly stock. I am also looking for someone in the San Francisco area that could help with this.
Chuck Kinsman
Sunnyvale, CA

Answer: I remembered a 700R4 being swapped into an FJ some years back but just couldn't quite remember much about it or where I had seen it done. Then I happened to find a note that I had sent to former editor Mark Williams about it. It seems he had done a story on just such a conversion, like lots of years ago, in these very pages. Downey Off-Road (562/949-9494, had built a prototype adapter for this project. I gave them a call and it seems that the adapter never went into production. More searching came up with absolutely nothing in the way to hook an automatic-shifter to your present engine.

OK, so now it's engine swap time. A small-block Chevy V-8 is the most common engine conversion and is relatively simple to install. Engine mounts and transmission-to-transfer-case adapters are available from several sources such as Downey Off-Road or Advance Adapters (800/350-2223,

While I was looking into this, I also thought about a diesel engine/automatic combination for the Land Cruiser and remembered a company in Colorado, Proffitt's Cruisers (877/776-3348,, that had done just that using a Cummins 4BT (the four-cylinder little cousin to the same diesel used in Dodge trucks) along with the GM 700R4 transmission. They also do Chevy V-8 conversions.

One other source that is, well, kind of close to your home, is TLC in Van Nuys, California (800/579-9776, They do V-8 conversions with automatic transmissions as well as an interesting diesel conversion using a 2.8L Brazilian-built four-cylinder engine that can be used with an automatic trans. For a diesel, this probably is a much better conversion engine as it is lighter than the 4BT Cummins and comes as a brand-new crate engine. Parts are not a problem, and it has proven to be as reliable as the Cummins.

Question: I have an '89 Dodge Power Ram W250 4x4 with a very worn-out 318 V-8, and I want to put a Cummins 6BT or 4BT diesel in it. Is this a doable swap, and which engine would be better to use? I also do not know what transmission I need to use. Is there an adapter for my 241 transfer case, or will I need a 205? Also, is the Dana 44 in the front of the truck stout enough for one of these engines, or will I need to upgrade to a Dana 60 like the rear? I'm running 36s on the truck.
Dustin Niccum

Answer: Yes, it is possible to swap out the engine for a diesel. The 4BT would of course be a lot easier to install and weigh a lot less, and naturally will produce a lot less power. As I think about the amount of work involved from modifications to the fuel system, mounting the engine, sound insulation (you must know how noisy these engines are), stronger front springs, larger radiator, and so on, it seems to me that it's just not a practical swap.

With the six-cylinder, the front axle strength would be marginal, especially with 36-inch tires. I think that you're going to be a lot better off if you just rebuild your 318, or maybe even upgrade to a 360. Sure, it won't get the fuel mileage, but if you're looking for a payback on mileage alone, then my guess is that the truck will be ready for the junkyard well before an overall difference is seen. If you're after a diesel truck, then sell what you have and buy a factory-installed diesel. In reality, you will be way ahead in the long run.

Question: I have a '93 Ford Explorer that I recently bought. After I've been in four-wheel drive and shift back into two-wheel drive, I hear a weird noise coming from the front end of my truck. It's kind of hard to describe, maybe like someone sawing wood with a continuous handsaw. After a while, it goes away. This is the first four-wheel drive I have ever owned, and I really don't want to take it back to the dealer where I bought it. What is making this noise, and how do I find it?
D. W. Right
Daytona Beach, FL

Answer: I had to do some searching to find this answer and finally did in Ford Service Bulletin 95-5-18. It's something that you may ask the Ford service department to run you a copy of. What happens is that one of the auto-locking hubs has failed to totally release. The rotary motion of the wheel with the still-locked hub is driving the axleshaft, which in turn drives the differential, which then turns the opposite-side axle in a reverse direction and tries to engage that side's hub-hence the noise.

What is causing the problem? My guess is that your Bronco, being some 16 years old, has never had the front hubs serviced. Ford recommends servicing them every 30,000 miles, or more depending on driving conditions. You might want to bug the service guy at your local Ford dealer for a copy of the bulletin. It's something that you can tackle on your own with the proper tools, such as a hub wrench and some snap-ring pliers. Or you can have them do it.

Question: I have a question that I've been exhaustively searching to answer. And the answer seems simple enough, but it is nowhere to be found. How much does the fully assembled 4.2L 258 inline-six weigh? I have been searching the Web and all of my reference manuals on Jeeps and cannot find the answer. Can you guys, the masters of all four-wheeling knowledge, please end my exhaustive search?
Todd Clinard
Dallas, TX

Answer: Wow, I wish all my questions were so easy to answer. The 4.2L/258ci engine weighs in at 525 pounds-and just for your information, the 4.0L version is about 415 pounds.

Why is the 4.0 so much lighter, you're going to ask next? Because of the extensive use of better casting methods, aluminum components, and the stainless steel exhaust manifold.

Question: I have an '89 Dodge 1-ton Cummins 4x4 with power steering. The steering seems OK sometimes, but after a 90-degree turn, the steering doesn't seem to stay on center. Sometimes it pulls left, sometimes it pulls right, and I can't do anything except overcorrect. Any ideas on what I need to do to fix this?
M.J. Gates

Answer: The first place I would look is at the steering coupler. This is a pretty common complaint among Dodge owners. In fact, Dodge has a couple of TSBs about it. Borgeson (860/482-8283, has even made up a special high-strength coupler and shaft. They come in three models: one for the '79-'93 Dodge that uses the factory "rag" joint at the steering box, or one that eliminates the rag joint, and another for the '94-to-present trucks.

Next thing on my list to check would be the condition of the front wheel bearings. Jack up the truck so a tire is off the ground and grab the top of the tire and see if you can move it back and forth. There really shouldn't be any movement. If there is, then it is something that should be addressed.

While you're at it, see if there is any side-to-side slack in the tie-rod ends as you move the tire in and out. While these are not positive tests for wear, they are a pretty good indicator. It doesn't take a whole lot of wear in steering components to stack up and cause the problems you're encountering.

Oh, and while you're looking things over, make sure that the mounting bolts that hold the steering box to the frame haven't loosened up.

Question: I have a '67 Chevy Suburban 4x4. It has a straight body and is in generally good condition for its age. Unfortunately, it has a manual three-speed transmission that leaks oil faster than I can pump it in. The column shifter has expired, and someone has put in a cheap floor shifter that tries to select two gears at once.

I want to replace my three-speed with a granny four-speed. Which transmissions (make/model) will fit without an aftermarket adapter? Will the factory transfer-case adapter from the three-speed work with a 4x2 four-speed?

The truck also has manual steering and needs power steering bad. The steering box is quite worn. Please suggest an available power box that will fit with minimal adapting. Being a retired geezer, I need to do this as cheap as possible.
Gerald Cox

Answer: It seems, if memory serves me right, that the three-speed is hooked up to a Dana 20 transfer case. The four-speed at that time could have been either a rare NP435 or a more standard GM 425, and was most likely connected to a Rockwell T-221 transfer case.

Either way, the three-speed adapter will not work. While you could bolt in one of these early 425/T-221 combinations to your present engine, I would not recommend it. The transfer cases suffer from a transmission-to-transfer-case coupler wear problem, and the 425 shifts like, well, an old truck trans--and parts are getting hard to locate.

Your best bet would be to swap in a complete trans and transfer case such as the SM465/NP205 combination from a '69-'79 GM truck or a '74-'75 SM465/NP203 full-time unit. Plan on changes in driveshaft length.

As to the power steering, nothing is going to bolt directly up, or even come close to it. Your best bet is to look at a later-model Chevy truck and adapt the steering system. You're going to have to build your own mounting plates on the frame. Make sure that the pump that you pick has mounting brackets that will bolt up to your cylinder head, as there have been some changes in where the holes are drilled in the front of the head.

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