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1998 Mod Thread- Engine, Trans, Brakes, Steering, Radio

14573 Views 92 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  This name is al
1998 Mod Thread- Engine, Trans, Brakes, Radio

I'll start by saying I love my Durango. I've owned it since it was 3 years old. It started life with us as my wife's truck- her second of three we'd eventually own. After it was hit in a crash (minor front end damage while stopped at a stop sign), she wanted another truck- which turned out to be a 2001 R/T, since sold.

This was posted since I'm committing heresy by putting a Chevy V8 and OD trans into my beloved truck. It would have been a lot cheaper to buy a 2003 model that needed an engine (there are a few within towing range for well under $1K), but I like to mod vehicles and have a lot of experience with swapping the Gen 3 Chevy engines into other vehicles. Did I mention I love my Durango? 馃槃

I have decided against the rack & pinion conversion as there is no way for the head of the unit to co-exist with the driver side motor mount.

"While I'm at it" (famous last words) I am doing some other functional mods. These include:
1) 340 LPH in tank fuel pump upgrade w/ 3/8 nylon lines,
2) 2003 larger brake upgrade,
3) Steering wheel radio control upgrade, and
4) Double din radio upgrade.
5) 242 full time transfer case upgrade

At some point I will add a 3.55 12 bolt posi rear axle with disk brakes. My current one is an open 3.92 12 bolt.

The engine swap will allow the GM computer to control the engine, trans, fuel pump, AC, and fan, while the Dodge computer controls the cruise control.

2020 update: I found a way to use a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) fan without going through the PCM. Link for a great seller on eBay. The $55 controller takes input from the GM coolant sensor, and I used a Ford combo (binary) high pressure switch with fan control. It has the same size fitting, so it screws into place on the compressor fitting. The current plan also allows the Dodge PCM to control the AC. I have been updating my guide as I go, so version 8-3 is attached now. The guide also has a page for oil and trans temp gauges as well as an AEM wideband O2 sensor.

The radio mod is really the least difficult since Metra sells a kit (95-6542) with templates you use to cut your dash. I had an Android double din from another car to use.
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Engine, Transmission, and Transfer Case

Gear Position Indicator
This is relatively simple. The 4L80 uses a 7 position gear indicator, while all Dodges seem to use 6 positions. I took my gear position indicator apart while I was doing the radio mod, it comes off the rear of the dash with just 2 screws. The indicator panel is black plastic overlay with the letters being opaque for light transmission at night, and it peels off easily. There is room for a 7th position between P and R, but making a letter there & modding the others is not feasible. The indicator is simply an orange tab that slides based upon the shifter cable position. I am attaching a couple of pics here for reference.

After looking at a lot of Dodge, GM, and Ford dash pics, what I have decided to do is make a hybrid unit using the dash overlay from a GM product. Many GM products from the 90's on use a 7 position indicator, and some of them appear similar to the Dodge setup- holes under the letters for indication. Some appear to use LEDs there, while others do not use the proper P-R-N-OD-D-2-1 sequence.

I found a good deal on the dash from a 1994 Chevy Astro that has the desired pattern and holes under it. Looks like 93-95 were the same for these with analog gauges. I plan to cut it up and size the overlay to the Dodge indicator and then re-glue it.

After cutting it to size and testing it, I had to section the panel between P and R so it would line up with the notches on the Dodge shifter. It's not perfect, but it is close. There is a very slight line between P and R, but I can live with that to be able to see the proper gear.

Transfer Case
Since I have decided to retain the 4WD setup, I did some more reading on transfer cases. AFAIK, I can use my NP231D HD by simply changing the input shaft to a late (narrow bearing) NP241 32 spline shaft. "While I'm at it", I plan to replace the chain, bearings, and seals since they have 20 years and over 160K miles on them. As it turns out, this is the least costly option- the shaft is about $45, and a rebuild kit with chain about $145. The cheapest NP241 TC I found was almost $200, and there is no telling if it is any good. Another advantage to retaining the 231 is I can keep my front driveshaft. I found some helpful videos on YouTube for TC rebuilding. The unknown factor here as of now is the "clocking" of the TC off the 4L80, but clocking rings area available if this is an issue.


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340 LPH in tank fuel pump upgrade w/ 3/8 nylon lines modifications-

1. Pump mounting
2. Pump outlet fitings
3. Return fittings
4. Fuel lines (feed & return) and filter

Parts needed
a. Pump mounting
Quantum fuel pump #QFS-324FT , about $80
Insulated stainless clamp, McMaster.com #11355T72 , about $5
1x 5/16 x 3" stainless "button head" bolt with SS washers and brass/nylon locknut (Boltdepot.com or McMaster)
2x 5/16 x 1" stainless bolts with brass/nylon lohttp://www.dakota-durango.com/forum/images/editor/menupop.gifcknuts (clamp to angle)
1x 3/4" stainless angle (McMaster #1321T19 , 6", cut to length), about $5
1x 3/4" OD x 5/16 ID nylon spacer (McMaster #94639A865 , bag of 10, use the others for your next project such as spacing your GM PCM!), about $10

b. Pressure fittings at tank
1-3/8 OD nylon rod (Amazon)
3/8 pipe x 5/16 barb brass adapter (eBay, see below for cost, I used a 1/4 NPT here since I already had one, it is best if you can find a single barb fitting)
5/16" nylon flex (accordion) hose (eBay)
3/8 NPT "street" elbow (eBay or your hardware store)
3/8 NPT x 3/8 quick-connect fuel fitting (Amazon)
2x small stainless hose clamps for flex hose (normal 5/16 fuel injection clamps are too big)

c. Return fittings at tank
1/2 ID Viton sealing washers (Mcmaster.com, about $5)
1/4 pipe brass "street" elbow (eBay)
1/4 female pipe x 5/16 barb brass adapter (eBay, all 3 brass fittings were about $16 shipped)
5/16" flex fuel hose (use 2 if you want to extend the return line inside the tank)
5/16" x 12" OD brass or stainless tubing (eBay)
2-3x small stainless hose clamps

d. Fuel lines (pressure & return) and filter (using QC fittings, can substitute AN hose if desired, will need to adapt fittings as required)
25' nylon fuel line, Dorman #800-072 , about $35
5x 3/8 QC fittings for above, 4x Dorman 800-082 and 2x 800-086 (2x 800-086 90 degree at tank, 2x 800-082 straight at filter, and 1x 800-082 straight at engine bay), about $45
1x 5/16 QC fitting at fuel rail return line, Dorman 800-084
The QC fittings will vary based upon which system is used. The above all fit into 3/8 nylon line.

1x fuel filter, I used Professional Products #10302 (1/2 pipe in/out on AN12 o-ring ends), the C5 Corvette filter would work here as well and it contains an internal regulator. (eBay, about $30 on clearance, YMMV)
2x Russell [URL=http://www.dakota-durango.com/forum/usertag.php?do=list&action=hash&hash=6]#6 44020[/URL] , 3/8 QC to 3/8 o-ring boss (eBay, about $20 shipped)
1x 1/2 pipe brass male (at filter) to female pipe check valve @ filter inlet- helps to keep pressure for faster starts when engine is warm. (eBay, about $9 shipped)
1x 6410-12-06 #12 SAE/ORB Male x #6 SAE/ORB Female, filter outlet used w/ above Russell fitting (Discount Hydraulic Hose.com about $14
1x 6405-06-08 #6 SAE/ORB Male x 1/2" NPTF Female used with above Russell fitting (Discount Hydraulic Hose.com, about $7)
Bracket & hardware as required to mount filter, usually a 2x2 aluminum angle works well
Adapters as needed for fuel rail (pending)
(Optional) Fiberglass insulation for supply line and 1/2 or 5/8 split loom for insulation and physical protection of nylon line.

e. Other
Pint of POR-15 fuel tank sealer (Amazon), used to treat steel & aluminum parts that are in contact with contaminated fuel
Hylomar sealant, used under Viton washers
Teflon tape for pipe threads

The brass and stainless parts will stand up to fuel that has been contaminated by Ethanol via taxpayer subsidies.

Main performance issues here are the supply line is tiny- like 1/4", and the system is a returnless one that dumps excess fuel at the top of the tank, which aerates it. Aerated fuel can cause problems for pumps, so my design will place returned fuel under the tank fuel level to minimize or eliminate aeration.

1. Pump mounting (completed; see attached PDF):
The Durango uses an in-tank pump and has "Quick Connect" QC) fittings. Drop the tank and remove the pump/sender assembly by rotating the retaining plate/lock ring. To get at the pump, you have to use a couple of screwdrivers and pry the upper part from the lower part. The next problem is the upper part of the lower housing that retains the pump. I used some small screwdrivers to depress the tabs in the small mounting hole and worked it free. The old pump, in my case a Walbro, can then be removed. Save the wiring, as the Quantum pump uses the same connector.

I looked this over & while there is a replacement Walbro setup that looks like it would be a better fit, the pump is not as good and it costs a lot more. After doing some research, I came up with the idea of using an insulated clamp to hold the pump in place via a bolt from the bottom of the housing. The clamp I found has a SS bracket and a TBR rubber insulator that is chemical resistant. See the attached PDF for more details.

To mount it, I drilled out the bottom of the housing to 1.25". This allowed for a snug fit on the pump, and use of a low-profile "button head" bolt allowed the strainer to clear. The 1.5" clamp holds the pump with foam sleeve well and should help insulate it further from noise. I used a piece of 3/4 SS angle to attach to the clamp, and then a 5/16 x 3" bolt from the bottom of the housing. The flex hose will connect to the modified regulator once that part is complete. You can discard the top part that held the pump in place by disconnecting the sender wires or by cutting the plastic. If removing wires, make sure they go back into the same spots.

After calculating maximum amps over distance, I'm running a 10 gauge feed wire back to the pump and will replace the terminal at the pump connector that is on top of the tank (pending).

After the final install, I noticed the larger of the two screens for the pump was a very loose fit, so I used the smaller one.

2. Pump outlet (compete except for QC fitting)
The Durango uses a regulator at the top of the housing. It has a 3/8" QC fitting and it is made from stainless steel. It can be removed by making your own special tool. I used a piece of 1" electrical conduit that had a swaged (bell) end. I used a bench grinder to grind down the end until it fit into the tabs that hold the regulator (see attached photo). Press down on the pipe until the regulator pops free.

Ideally a bulkhead fitting could be used here, but the opening is too large and the mounting tabs get in the way for sealing. My first idea of gutting the regulator and pressing in a stainless weld bung did not work out.

After measuring and giving it some thought, I decided to use a 1-3/8" nylon rod cut to 2" long and drilled for 3/8 NPT on one end and 1/4 on the other (it could all be 3/8, I just had 1/4 x 5/16 barb fittings already). The 3/8 elbow goes on the top side and the 5/16 barb on the bottom. I used some PTFE tape and pressure tested the fitting to about 90 PSI using shop air and holding it in a bucket of water- no leaks. The rod with fittings attached is pressed into the regulator opening. After using some 100 grit sandpaper to roughen both parts, I supported the housing from underneath using a large socket so I could press the rod into place. Even at this, I broke off a few of the regulator mounting tabs- no big deal since they are no longer used. I used JB Weld plastic bonder to glue it into place. New pics are attached of this work. All I'm waiting on is the 3/8" QC fitting, then I can put the unit together and reinstall the tank.

3. Return fittings (competed))
I drilled a 1/2" hole (see photos) in the upper housing and used a 1/4 pipe street elbow with a Viton sealing washer on either side of the housing and plan to seal both using Hylomar sealant. The female pipe barb adapter holds it together mechanically. I would not use this setup for the pressure side, but since this is a low pressure return it should not be a problem. After that, I plan to use a combination of the nylon flex hose hose and stainless tubing to make an internal return line. I bent the tubing 90 degrees and drilled a 19/64 hole in the bottom of the lower housing so it can pass through. I then notched the housing leg so the return line can pump fuel away from the pickup under the fuel level. I added a leftover flex hose here to extend it even further. I have attached pics of the completed assembly and the flex hoses attached inside the assembly. These were difficult, I ended up using a heat gun to warm them, and then a forked trim removal tool to push them on. I would have liked to use smooth single-barb fittings but they are difficult to find for some reason- the Russell one I ordered on Amazon came as a multi-barb fitting. The fuel pump seller said the multi-barb works OK with their pump.

(will carryover to another post as this has gotten too long)


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Fuel pump continued
4. Fuel lines and filter (pending)

I am insulating the supply line with some fiberglass insulation from McMaster and then where it is adjacent to a frame member I wrapped it in split loom nylon, 1/2" or 5/8" ID works here. I painted the supply line blue and the return red for later identification.

I found the easiest way to install both the straight and angle fittings was to hold the nylon line in a clamp that is used to make AN flares. You could cut drill a 3/8 hole in a section of wood or nylon and then cut it in half to make a clamp. Once it is in a vice, use some lube (I used WD40) on the fitting and then drive it into the tubing with a socket that fits inside the fitting or just tap the 90 degree with a hammer. I assembled them in about 5 seconds doing this. I

This will be updated as I complete more work.
2003 larger brake upgrade-

This upgrade has been covered in detail elsewhere on this site, so this is a general overview with some notes.

I did a bit of research on fitting larger rotors and concluded the best bang for the buck were the 12.1" 2003 rotors. The calipers used on those were also superior to the older style.

Since these are larger, you'll need larger wheels also. I have 17" R/T wheels on my truck so that was not an issue. I *think* 16" wheels may clear, but you'd have to read other threads to confirm this.

To do this, you'll need a pair of steering knuckles from a 2003 Durango or Dakota. Be sure to get the proper ones- either 2WD or 4WD. Even though I'm converting to rack & pinion and RWD only, I used the 4WD knuckles. I got them at a JY for about $35 each. This is a good time to replace the front hubs. My truck had over 160K miles when I did this. It's also a good time to look at and replace ball joints if needed.

I won't go through the nuts & bolts of this since it has been covered in other threads and also is covered in the manual. In short, you're removing the torsion bars, the shocks, then the nuts for the upper and lower ball joints and tie rod ends, and then removing the knuckles.

I used reman calipers from Rock Auto since they were the best deal that did not require a core return. They came with brackets but w/o mounting bolts, which from what I can tell are 36mm long. I found 14mm x 2.0 x 40mm flange bolts at Boltdepot.com and they fit fine w/o needing to be cut. I went with new braided PTFE brake hoses up front. I made my own using AN3 hose and ends, the part where it attaches to the truck is a standard 3/8-24 inverted flare brake line. You can buy adapters for these to AN3 on eBay, but then you'll need to source a retaining clip since the adapters are smaller where they attach to the truck bracket. I think a snap ring would work here but this part is not finished yet since someone from the post office stole my hose ends. :frown:

It looks like the stock hoses could be used- both calipers attach via banjo bolt. I used a pair of ATE rotors and some Raybestos Element 3 pads.
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Reserved for steering wheel radio control and double din radio upgrades.

Steering wheel radio controls (SWC)-
The 1998 had no option for this, but it became available in 1999. You need a wheel from a 1999 or 2000 Durango or Dakota that has the controls. I found one at the local JY for $27 with tax, the clockspring was broken but I made sure to get the connector that goes to the truck harness. You'll need the two extra wires later.

The trick here is to use the proper "clockspring" that has the extra wires. I found one new on Roackauto for about $70. The Dorman part # is 525104. It is found in Interior>Air bag clockspring. Be sure to get the one WITH audio controls.

I strongly suggest using a shop manual for this, the clockspring part is on page 8M-10 of the 1998 manual.

To install it, you have to pull the old wheel-
1. Disconnect the battery & let it sit for a few minutes. You are working around an airbag.
2. Remove the screws (2) from the backside of the wheel that hold the airbag in place. Hold it so it does not fall out and damage the connector.
3. Unplug and remove the airbag.
4. Unplug cruise control connectors if so equipped.
5. Remove the center nut and use a puller to remove the wheel.
6. Remove the tilt lever (I couldn't figure out how to do this, I just pulled the top shroud piece to the side over the lever) upper and lower column covers, and lower dash trim under the steering column.
7. Unplug the clockspring wire harness connectors.
8. Remove the clockspring by lifting the locating fingers from the column as needed. It may be helpful to watch a YouTube video on this if you have never done it.

Be careful to center the new clockspring (manual page 8M-11). If it is turned too far one way or another you'll break the connectors inside it. It must be installed with the wheels straight ahead and the steering wheel centered.

The Durango uses 2 switches. They operate over CCD bus via timer module, but since that is not present on my 1998, I used them as a standalone circuit.

Add two new wires to the existing connector from the spare one and route them to the radio area. How these attach will vary by the radio. Some will require an adapter. For my Android radio, it puts out a 5V feed and then looks at the return signal. The SWC switches use resistance to vary the function, so they work with this setup w/o an adapter. My wires were red/black, which I used to supply 5V from the radio through the SWC, and black/lt. green, which I used to return the signal to the radio.

Installation is the reverse of the above.

Double din mod-
The radio upgrade fits a 1998-2000 Durango with the first style of dash. Metra supplies you with templates to cut the inner and outer dash. Requires Metra 95-6542 dash kit, about $30 on eBay. I used a sawzall to cut away the inner dash, a jigsaw may have been a better choice. This part is on hold since I was shorted a bracket to mount the radio. I had to use a flat file to trim up the openings. I have attached some pics of the inner & outer dash parts after cutting.

I have now tested the radio. I initially thought there was a problem since the screen remained blank. It turns out the Android needs to do a lengthy reboot after it has been disconnected for a while. I left it plugged in and on and did some other work for 30 minutes, and when I returned the radio was on.


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242 Transfer Case Upgrade

The 1998-99 Durango (and Dakota) used either a 231 part time 4WD transfer case or a 242 full time unit. While the 2000 models show a 242, my research showed it lacked a 2WD option. My truck had the 231 D HD, and while it was in good condition, it could not do what I wanted. A possible alternative is one from a 2000-03 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The early 2000s Hummer H1 and H2 uses a 242 case, but like the 2000 Durango, it lacks a 2WD position. That case is significant since it bolted to a 4L80 transmission. There are other threads on the net on doing this, so this one will focus on adapting the case to a 4L80.

The challenge here is twofold:
1) Find an affordable used 242 case, and
2) Swap a 32 spline input shaft into it.

I added a bulb to the "Full Time 4WD" indicator and did some electrical testing on 4/25/18 for the transfer case wiring with the dash installed. Both part time and full time lamps light up when the proper wire is grounded. :smile: This will require a wiring mod at the transfer case. The body wiring is the same for either case, so that part is easy. The 231 uses a 2 pin Weatherpack connector, while the 242 uses a 4 pin connector of unknown make at this point. The shifters are also different.

Now if I can find an affordable 242 transfer case!

I looked up a lot of parts listings, and generally transfer cases for these trucks are classified as narrow or wide input bearing. The narrow (.63") is generally for the 1994+ trucks, while the wide (.94") is 1988-94. There is a second consideration in that some have narrow (1") vs wide (1.25") chains.

Many Chevy trucks used a 241 transfer case, and it has a wide variety of input shafts. Since it was also used in some Dodges, it has a 23 spline option as well as a 32 spline option. The planetaries the input shaft goes into all shared the same part numbers from the 231-241-242.

The key data I found looking at input shafts is that the 242 used the same 23 spline 17449 (.94) input shaft in a Dodge as the 231, and the 241 used the same 17949 (.63) input shaft as the 231. According to this, for a 94+ case, a 19019 32 spline input shaft should work in a 242 case.

I have a PDF I'll attach that lists the various parts for interchange.


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Adapting the 231/242 Transfer case to the 4L80 using OEM parts

Conventional wisdom here says you need a $500+ adapter.

My research so far shows otherwise. The trick here is to use Hummer H1 parts, since it used the same 4L80 and a slightly different (but same bolt pattern and input) 242 case. It took some doing to run down all of the parts, but I now have almost all of them in one place. I'll suggest a $ saving alternative for the trans mount also.

Here is what is needed and hopefully some links, I tried to edit out all of the eBay link tracking garbage:
Durango 231/242 to 4L80
You do not need a $500 adapter!

Prices for this stuff varies wildly. If you don鈥檛 shop, it will cost you more for the exact same thing. Prices are from July 2018.

1. Adapter for rear of transmission: Hummer PN 12447175, about $75+ shipping. This is the magic part, and the price varies from $75 to well over $130. If you do a part number search for this on eBay, a cheap (<$30) one will turn up that looks the same, but it does not fit.
Source: Adapter link

2. Input shaft, 32 spline with narrow (late) bearing, for 2xx series cases (used in the 241,243,246): NP PN 19019, about $45 shipped on eBay
Source: eBay input shaft link

3. Trans mount for above adapter, Hummer PN 12339178, about $35 shipped on eBay. You won鈥檛 find this by a text search, it only comes up by part number.
Source: eBay trans mount link

An alternative is the H2 mount, which is also used by some GM trucks. It has smaller and wider bolt openings, so it would need to be redrilled. These sell for around $10~12 shipped on eBay.

Total cost of parts: About $155 + shipping.
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8/18/18: Motor & trans mounts, test fit

While I have not posted in a while, I have been making some progress. I found a 2004 Trailblazer 5.3L aluminum block engine complete for $500 that was semi-local. It uses a funky oil pan, so I picked up a new swap oil pan that uses the Hummer H3 Alpha pan, pickup, dipstick, and windage tray. These sell for just under $200 on eBay. After pulling the manifolds, I found one bolt broken off in the driver head. After test fitting my mounts, I suspect a regular truck pan would also work here. I have also picked up C5 Corvette hub & new bolt, PS pump, starter, and alternator bracket along with an AC compressor relocation bracket. I got the alternator from the Trailblazer while I was at the JY. I found a post on LS1tech that shows how to use that alternator on a C5 bracket by notching the alternator.

I've been working on an idea to use the stock motor mounts. I found that I could add in some metal/reinforcement to mirror the OEM style of diff mounts. I do not have pics of the mounts yet since I wanted to check the engine fit first. Basically, on the driver side, I ran a 1/2" wide strip of 1/4" thick steel bar (I used a hydraulic press to bend it to fit) and had it welded into place. I then cut off the lower part of the mount and also the inside edge of the OEM mount so it would clear the oil pan and block. On the passenger side, I again cut off the lower portion of the mount and ran a strip of 3/16" steel down to where the OEM part attached to the axle. I had it welded to the mount.

My plan is to use some 4.5" x 12" x 3/16" plates and bolt these to the block, then weld the cut down mounts to them. I used some cardboard templates today and once it was set in place, they lined up nicely. I am attaching some pics of today's work. Right now I have the engine resting on some scrap wood until my mounting plates arrive. I will add in pics of the mounts once I pull the engine again. The thickness of the steel dictates how low the engine sits. On the cardboard, it was too close to the diff. On the wood blocks, it sits too high, so 3/16" should be a good thickness. In the worst case, I can shim the plates with washers since the engine can be put into place with the OEM mounts attached to it if need be.

I found the trans mount really needs to use the M996 (H1) mount. The later one is too difficult to install due to bolt spacing. I found a group buy on some new in box mounts and ended up with several of them for a great price. I am laying out the trans crossmember and plan to use a 2" x 2" x 3/16" wall steel tube. I have added a couple of 4" x 4" x 1/4" angle brackets in place of the OEM crossmember since it sits too far forward. These are in the pics I took today. I still need to test fit the transfer case and then the driveshafts. I am hopeful I can use the OEM shafts w/o any length modifications.

Lots more work to do. The mounts were a real concern and I'm glad to be most of the way through that part.


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October update-
Progress is very slow but I am getting a few things done, in no particular order. My phone is no longer recognized by my PC so I can't upload pics right now.

Accessory drive, water pump
This week I worked on accessory mounting. I used an LS2 Corvette accessory bracket. The only part I can retain is the PS pump. The alternator would conflict with the battery box. I am using the close-fit Corvette pulley and accessory bracket. I added a new Camaro/Corvette water pump so the water outlet will clear the LS2 intake.

The main problem is the engine sits higher than the Dodge one, so this limits clearance for the hood. What I ended up doing was modding the LS2 bracket. I cut out the part on the top under the alternator so I could bolt in a 1" high x 1.5" wide aluminum bar I had to notch the bar to clear a hump on the bracket). This gave me a flat surface (albeit at an angle) to mount an accessory. I found the OEM AC compressor could fit here I am hoping to be able to use the OEM hose assembly), but I will need thinner hood insulation. I mounted it to a 6" x 6" x 3/8" aluminum plate, with some 1.25" threaded (3/8-16) spacers under it. The plate bolted to the aluminum bar. I used some countersunk bolts so as to maximize clearance. I had to relocate the driver side col bracket lower on the valve cover.

On the PS reservoir, I had to relocate it towards the outside of the engine and space it out from the bracket slightly, but it will fit under the compressor OK, and I can remove the cap with it in place. I like the idea of having easy access to these parts in case one of them wears out.

For the alternator, I'm using a 3" x 3" x 3/16" angle bracket, about 6" wide. I bolted it to the front of the passenger head, and welded an L-shaped support brace under it. I cut the top off a 2.5" x 7" x .25" wall aluminum tube and created a cradle for the alternator. The 2.5" tube nets a 2.0" wide opening, which is just about perfect for the alternator. I will bolt this to a 1.25" high aluminum spacer so the alternator will clear the oil fill cap. I found the tube that was on the truck would hit the alternator, but the cap by itself would clear.

I am still working on a tensioner. The OEM one pushes the wrong way, and uses a ribbed pulley. It will need to tension on the front/smooth side of the belt. I'm going to try one off a Chevy Aveo since it looks like it tensions the opposite direction, plus it has a smooth pulley.

Intake & throttle body
The truck intake is too tall to clear the rear of the engine bay. For the intake, I am using a complete LS2 Corvette one with a China 92mm throttle body. It's true the GM parts do not fit properly onto these, but it's not difficult to mod it so they do. The throttle shaft stuck out too far, so I ground it down. The idle air control valve needed the opening enlarged slightly, so I used a drill bit on that part. The injectors are different, but you can either buy adapter cables or cut off the old connectors and wire on new ones. I elected to do the latter, and there is a complete kit wit 9 connectors, 18 terminals and seals for a good price. These require the proper crimpers for the metri-pack terminals.

Throttle & cruise control cables
The China throttle body has a tab where the throttle cable can attach, and a rounded part where a second cable can attach via a barrel end. The OEM cruise inner cable is too short to work, and it has the wrong type of end. I found a cable repair kit on eBay that should work. It is slightly thinner at 3/64" diameter and 48" long and has the proper barrel end. The trick is to cut it to proper length and then add a lead ball end. I am watching some YouTube videos on how to add the proper end. The OEM cruise control comes apart via 2x 10mm nuts, and then the end inside has a retaining pin that can be removed wit some needle nose pliers. The cable end is a lead ball that fits in a plastic tube that attaches via the pin. I'm planning on cutting off the OEM end and then removing the inner cable. I can tread the new one through and with everything in place cut it to the proper length, then reverse it and add the lead ball end.

I'm laying out a cable bracket, as they are $35 on eBay, which is too much for two pieces of steel welded together, plus they are not made for Dodge cables. I think the OEM Dodge bracket could be cut & welded to some angle.

Cam, timing chain, and oil pump
Since I'm not building the engine to be a high performance one, I picked a low lift truck cam from Summit (SUM-8712). I think it is like a 209/217 with around .500 lift. I added an LS2 chain and a Melling OEM pump.

One of the big problems upcoming will be the headers. I am planing on trying some made for a Trailblazer since that is where the engine came from, and it is a similar size & type of vehicle as the Durango. If I can get a proper alignment, it will be relatively easy to tie in to my existing 3" exhaust.

I still need to reseal the 242 transfer case I picked up and finish rebuilding the 4L80 transmission. I'm using the shell of the transmission and 231 transfer case to test fit everything.

If I can figure out a better way to transfer pics I will eventually post some. Not being able to use Photobucket makes documenting this more difficult.
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November update-
Figured out how to do a WI-fi photo transfer from my phone.

Throttle/cruise bracket was welded up and will mount to the LS2 intake. I still need to add an end to the reworked cruise cable once I get everything in the final position. Pics of the bracket attached. I used the old bracket as a template and made one out of 1/8" steel, then welded some angle to it for reinforcement.

Finding a true (short) affordable LS2 water pump has been a huge hassle. I finally found an eBay vendor that sells one for about $80. By placing this on the engine, I gain about an inch between the MK 8 fan & the pump shaft. Swaps are a game of fractions of inches at times. The engine could actually go further forward, but the pan is hitting the front diff. I plan on trimming two of the ribs there for a little more clearance and also to access the oil drain plug, although I may have a plate welded on the opposite side for a drain. Motor placement is key to the driveshaft. If it is slid all the way back, the existing DS cannot be used, while if it is all the way forward it will fit. The attached pic has the LS2 pump in place.

I scrapped the iron alternator bracket and fabbed up aluminum alternator & tensioner brackets so I can mount the truck alternator by the passenger head. The alternator bracket was 4x6x9" long x.375 (3/8) thick and the tensioner bracket as 2x2x.375. The tensioner is the one from a Chevy Aveo. I tried a series of belts, starting at 101.125" and then 102.125", both too short. I'm waiting on a 102.625" one that should fit.

Lately I am working on figuring out the exhaust. I picked up a pair of cheap ($220) 06+ Trailblazer eBay stainless longtube headers (1.75 tube x 3" collector) that had a Y-pipe. The driver side is a great fit as-is. Clears the diff input perfectly, no problem with the steering shaft. The passenger side is a different story. Since the engine is offset to this side, there is far less room for a header. I beat on it with a hammer and it is just too wide to clear. I also tried a Schoenfeld 1302LS1 passenger side (they sell these individually if you call), but it was also too wide. I had to trim an "ear" from the 4L80. I am attaching some header pics. The stainless header is the TB one I tried to make fit. The main problem here is that the tubes overlap each other right where the frame is close to the engine. If they were staggered I think they would fit. I found what looks to be a perfect pass header called Ultimate Headers, but at $1,000+ for a set, it's beyond my budget. I'm looking at various affordable headers for various applications. I did find some Dynatech Mustang swap headers that have a similar layout, but they are like $600 and have no O2 sensor bungs (extra cost). Once I get a pass side header that will fit, I can tie in the new Y-pipe to my existing 3" exhaust.

This week I hope to reseal the used 242 transfer case I picked up and get the valve body & pump done on the 4L80.


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It's a month later & it seems like not much progress. I did work out the belt drive, it uses a K0610200 (102") belt. I had to use a smaller pulley on the tensioner & file down the outer diameter part where the pulley was rubbing, but it spins OK and looks like it should work.

I've spent a lot of time & too much money trying to fit a passenger side longtube header. I've given up on the idea- it looks either like the Sanderson C7LS or Doug Thorley THY-335Y-C may have worked, but I can't afford the $500+ price tag if they didn't. After reading some dyno tests, I'm going with a generic set of eBay stainless 1-5/8" shorties. I can make up a 2.5" y-pipe with 3x O2 bungs so I can run a wideband. I'll likely use a Flowmaster 2.5 x 3" pipe to connect to my existing 3" system. Once the exhaust is worked out I plan on moving forward with the trans & transfer case rebuild- both shells are in place for trial fitment.

Other issues are the transfer case shifter and switch. I didn't realize it bolts to the 46RE transmission, so I'm going to have to make a bracket to attach it. I'm thinking an L-bracket with some legs that bolts to the transfer case studs should work. I discovered the 2002+ Jeep WJ 242 transfer case uses a different switch that is far shorter than the Dodge one. Best advice is to stick with a Dodge case, but I got this one cheap so I can maybe fab a spacer for the Dodge switch (the 2002+ Jeep uses the computer for this function). I have to assemble the case and try the switch to make sure the proper lights come on. I did add a second bulb to my dash for the 242, and have added an extra wire to the harness. I tested both and they work as they should, so it is just a matter of getting the proper signal at the proper time.

I'm planning on pushing the motor as far forward as possible so I can reuse both driveshafts. I may need to trim the fins on the front diff for oil pan drain plug access, or I may have my welder friend add a plate to the passenger side and relocate the drain.

I got a set of eBay cheap shorty headers and they fit like they were made for this swap. The passenger side outlet is just about centered for the opening. I'll get some 2.5" pipes and have them custom bent to fit, plus I'll add some O2 bungs on them. I'm getting a Flowmaster dual 2.5" x 3" Y-pipe (Y250300) to connect to my existing 3" system and will mount a bung for a wideband O2 there. Now that I have an exhaust that will fit, I can move on to finalizing other parts of the swap. :smile:
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I have not been here in a while, the project as with many ran out of money & time plus it's like 100 degrees every day now. The current logjam I have now is adapting the Dodge transmission-mounted transfer case lever to the 4L80. LOL I thought adapting an automatic trans swap would be easy! I have a few ideas about welding some ears or brackets on the trans. Hopefully I'll see if they work within a few months.
Next update, the project has back-burnered while I tried to figure out how to mount the transfer case shifter. I did some work today using some cardboard mockups and think I may have an idea using some 3/16" plate steel that will bolt to the side of the TC adapter via some drilled & tapped holes. I'm not sure how high the shifter is supposed to go, I'll start with the shift rod being level. Here's a couple of pics of the shifter being held in place.

This is a sketch I made of the overall layout:

Using a scrap bracket I welded from some 3/16 plate and 1/4 x 3/4 bar, I made a test fit and with the entire trans, TC, and driveshaft in place the shifter sat really nice, about where I remembered it being. It looks like a flag, and the leg bolts to the side of the TC adapter, which is 3/4" thick aluminum. The shift rod was about level and also pretty well aligned to the TC (not pulled to one side). I did have a clearance issue with a mounting boss near the trans pan, but bending the bracket slightly will clear that. I laid out the bracket here using 1 piece of 7 x 8 x 1/4" steel plate:

The shifter needs a 1" OD x 12mm ID x 1" high bushing to sit level. I found one on eBay for about $8 shipped. It will have to be welded to the shifter. I plan on drilling & tapping the bracket so the shifter can bolt to it like it did on the Dodge transmission.

Using the welded bracket, I had about 1/2" of driveshaft beyond where it had been (the trans was a little too far forward), so this final bracket has the shifter moved forward by a corresponding amount so the trans can be moved back slightly. Once I get the final bracket in place I'll try and snap a pic of it. The only clearance concern here is the rear mounted speed sensor.
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Transfer case update

I'm making more progress. This weekend I got the remaining parts (bushing and bearings) out of the case and gave it a cleaning. I then repainted it with some silver wheel paint I had leftover from another project. I found when ordering parts that there is a lot of variation in these cases. The bushing I needed was not listed even though my tag says 242J. I know I have a HD case since the chain is 1.25" wide, and the code on the tag corresponds to a 242WJ (HD) case. Anyhow, I found the correct bushing in a 241 listing.

"While I'm at it", I'm adding a used 6 pinion planetary and replacing the chain along with the bearings and the tailshaft bushing. I found the input bearing is the 6010 and the other two rollers are 6207. Most of the bearing kits I saw for the 95+ 242 seem to have a smaller bearing. Since I already have a seal kit, all I needed were the bearings and bushing. There is a needle bearing for the rear of the front output shaft. Watching a 242 overhaul video, the fellow had to cut it out. I tried a propane torch and was able to heat the case to where it came out easily. Another enclosed needle bearing is in the input shaft, and since I'm swapping the Chevy input shaft, I ordered one of those. The remaining bearings are needles on the main shaft. Doing some shopping and aggressive cross-referencing I was able to get all of the bearings and the bushing for right at $69 shipped.

I'm also working on a heim joint shifter linkage using some 7/16 rod ends and 7/16 threaded rod. If that works out as planned, I'll try to post some pics of the setup.

Here's a list with numbers from the bearings/bushing, their locations, and metric measurements (OD/ID/Height)-
6010N x 1 (transmission input), 80x50x16
6207 x 2 (front driveshaft front and main shaft rear), 72x35x17
SCE-2416 (front driveshaft rear), 47.6x38x25.4
DB-59656 (input shaft internal), 38x28x22 (this has a raised "cap" on one end)
83503543 (needle rollers for main shaft), NA. JC Whitney had the best price on these shipped via eBay.
WT297-62 (tailshaft bushing), 51.3 (2.01") x 48 (1.89") x 25.4 (1") The listed 242J bushing is too small in OD, it's made for the 27 spline shaft. This one is for the larger 32 spline shaft. The eBay listing for it does not list the 242 at all, but the measurements match what came out of mine.

I tried to attach some more pics but have hit my quota, so unfortunately no more pics. :frown:

Once the TC is completed, the main obstacle will be getting the motor mount adapters welded and then a trans crossmember. Still working on that one and will finalize what I'm doing once the driveline is in place.
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Transfer case rebuild- pics?

I signed up with Imgur, which is supposed to be a free photo hosting service. I'll try & link some transfer case pics below.

I got the case halves cleaned, wire brushed, and painted them with some silver wheel paint I had leftover. For something that will not be seen, it came out pretty good. :wink:

JC Whitney screwed me on the needle bearings. There are 53 of them, and they managed to send me one. Now I'm in the "item not as described" loop with them. All the other bearings and the bushing came except for the input 6010, it should be here today. I got them pressed in, I used the freezer for the bushing & heated the tail cone to 250F in my shop oven (wife's surplus toaster oven :smile: ). I also have received the new chain and 6-pinion planetary, so once the needle bearings get here I can make some more progress.

I've also received the rod ends for the shift linkage. They are nylon so I hope they will hold up in this application. The supply house was out of stock of the 9/16-18 rod I was going to use to make threaded inserts, so I had to find another supplier. Once I get those in place, I need to measure for proper bolt shoulder length so the shoulder contacts the rod end. EDIT- added a shift linkage pic.

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Well apparently all 242 transfer cases are not created equal. I put this one together only to find out it would not go into neutral. I'm doing some reading now to see the parts differences between the Durango 242 and the Jeep 242. I confirmed my "242J" case came out of a 2002 Grand Cherokee (WJ). It had the wide chain & solid extension (not the rubber boot), so it's a HD case. Hindsight sure is 20/20.

Option 1 looks like finding the Durango parts used (I already have the shift sector and position switch), option 2 is buying a Durango 242 case used. Since I have all new bearings & seals, I'd just as soon "fix" this case, but I have more research to do.
I went over parts lists that included discontinued parts and compared numbers. The OEM parts site breaks the parts down into three relevant areas- case, gear train, and forks and rails. Here are the differences I found:
242D vs 242J internal part differences
1. Rear output shaft oil seal (may be due to Jeep case shown being LD w/ rubber boot even though I input a 2002 Grand Cherokee w/ 4.7 V8)
2. Position switch
3. Rear case half-? Why, possibly LD version as above

Shift rails & forks
1. Shift lever & sector shaft seal- external linkage is different
2. Shift sector
3. Shift fork & shift rail bushings

Gear Train
1. Input shaft snap ring
2. Shift range sleeve
3. Snap ring on front of main shaft
4. Main shaft rear sprocket (not the one the chain uses, the one by the differential which appears to be the main difference)
5. Differential sprocket
6. Differential drive gear
7. Needle bearing roller cage
8. Oil pump
9. Output shaft

It's worth noting parts like the forks and main shaft are the same.

Since a lot of these have been discontinued and since most if not all of the seals & bearing I have installed will stay with the case halves, I think I'll source a used Durango 242 case and use the guts from it along with my new parts. Between the 231HD I have and either parting or putting this one back together I should be able to sell & break even.
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The problem was user error. I had installed the input shaft spacers in the wrong order. Once I put them in correctly, I was able to get all 5 ranges properly including neutral. Feels real smooth with the new bearings. I noticed the front output shaft was turning at a different speed when I was in 4 low, so that's a good sign. In the process of doing this, I found some of the snap rings needed to be replaced, so I ordered some from McMaster-Carr since they are discontinued by Dodge.

Now it's just a matter of cleaning everything up again and resealing.
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