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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have had many people ask me about putting an LS engine in a 4wd dakota or durango. So I finally mocked one up. So far, it is just for fitment, but the drivetrain will be on order soon. I don't see any barrier to using any combination of 4wd or awd LS drivetrains for this project. It's almost like this truck was made for an LS engine.

Here are some pictures.

Clean 2000 Durango










Engine out





Stock motor mounts on LS engine using adapter plates









Mock up motor in






 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
So, continuing on with the build in real time. When I did the Dakota R/T build, I had more full days off, and didn't really concentrate on some of the details. This time, I am going to post projects as they happen.


Fuel system teardown - one hour




The Durango has the vent and fill lines on the back of the tank, and uses straps, just like the Dakota. Cut the vent and fill lines (they are soft garbage at this point anyway), and soak the nuts on the straps with PB blaster).
















Siphon the tank through the vent line. The fill line has a grid across it to prevent siphoning.












I was able to get the nuts backed out with an impact, without cutting.










Get that rusted ring off. I am not sure why chrysler uses such junk in places like this. You couldn't give us a stainless ring, aluminum ring, or plastic ring. Assholes!




 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Today, I was able to complete the fuel system, to get the stock tank back in the truck. I used a 255 walbro pump, with AN6 bulkhead fitting passing through what used to be a one-way vent. I used brass fittings and ethanol-resistant fuel line for the return, drilled into the top of the bucket.


Fuel system is done. See the entire thread at Walbro 255 fuel system to AN 6 (3/8) Complete with Pictures | LSDAK.com.


Walbro 255 converted to AN6 fuel line.

















I used a washer, ground down to fit the vent hole. I made two, and put one on each side for the bulkhead fitting to pass through.








 

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LS swaps. LS swaps everywhere. Hide yo Honda, hide yo mustang, hide yo dakota, 'cause they LS swapping 'erything out here! :wink:

This is actually a pretty interesting build! Subscribed!
 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
LS swaps. LS swaps everywhere. Hide yo Honda, hide yo mustang, hide yo dakota, 'cause they LS swapping 'erything out here! :wink:

This is actually a pretty interesting build! Subscribed!
Yep. I did the Dakota R/T a couple of years ago with a 6.0 LS and 6l90 automatic transmission. Haven't looked back.

It's actually too bad they are so popular. I am going to have to pay damn near $5000 for the drivetrain for this one. Would have been $3500 a couple of years ago.
 

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The 6.0 is a dang respectable motor, I dare say it might give a 5.7 Hemi a fair run for it's money.

As for myself, I'm a purist who wouldn't mix GM and Dodge or any brand with another for that matter haha, but I do enjoy watching others like yourself think outside the box. So I won't be contributing to the rising costs haha

Anyway, keep us posted! :waiting:
 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
So, moving on with the fuel system. I purchased this aeromotive 13129 fuel pressure regulator, not realizing that the AN-6 openings are for ORB (O-ring boss), or what is called AN port fittings. These are exactly the same as a male flared AN fitting, without the flare. The AN to ORB fittings are about $10-12 each. Ouch. And I don't want to wait to order them.


So, how do I make my own?


Should look like this:








I have this:






The flared portion bottoms out without sealing the o-ring on the Aeromotive regulator. Other regulators (I think Fuel Labs or Holley), are deep enough to use AN male fittings in them. Not the Aeromotive.


So.....Cut the flare off.








Add an O-ring










The quick disconnect fitting I am going to use don't come AN port to quick-disconnect at all, and AN female to quick disconnect are expensive, and bulky. So cut those also. These are Boostec fittings.







Nice and tidy.




 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Moving on with the fuel system, I terminated the hard line into a flexible braided stainless line. I used the original 5/16 hard fuel line and flexible fuel line for the return from the adjustable fuel pressure regulator. A few bends on the original line, and it looks just like it came from the factory.








Next, I found an old Ikea curtain bracket, and cut one end off. I found a piece of a table leg left over from a worktable I shortened, and cut this also.











Adding a few dimples with a socket in the shop press makes the flat steel plate a little more rigid.








Welded together to make a bracket.










Painted, lines attached, and a couple of cushion clamps to take the tension off.



 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
The most recent updates to the build are boring, but important. I replaced all of the brake lines with Poly-armour, and got rid of the ABS, which won't be used anymore. The ABS on these trucks was truly awful. At least twice since I have owned this Durango, the ABS has tried to jump in and help with hard braking, only to take away braking at the worst possible time, and "chatter", like crazy. Scray and dangerous. I trust a well-balanced system, and my foot, more than I trust the ABS system on this truck, so it goes away.

I wanted to use the original bracket for the combo valve, but get rid of the ABS electronics. Plasma cutter made quick work of the excess.











Tear out the rusted line to the distribution blocks.














I don't know about you, but I can't stand wrestling a flaring tool around the table. So I drilled a 3/4 inch hole in the table, and stuck the end in it. That way, it stays where I want it while I flare line.













I had to make a new bracket for one of the distribution blocks. The rusted bracket broke when I tried to loosen the fitting.













New line bent into place.






New fittings







Done. The combo valve is probably one of the most misunderstood components of the braking system. I know people remove them, and replace them with adjustable proportioning valves. In this case, I kept it for 3 reasons. 1) It proportions the front/rear bias pretty well with the addition of the rear disc swap. The braking on this truck has been very well-balanced since we did the swap a couple of years ago. 2) It causes the rear brakes to apply a fraction of a second before the front brakes. Something a proportioning valve doesn't do, but handy to help maintain stability. 3) It sets the brake warning light in the dash if one half of the circuit loses pressure. This will still activate even after the LS swap.







And I also finished the fuel system by adding a new filler neck hose. It was impossible to find the right size at NAPA, autozone or advanced, so I bought vinyl at Home Depot. That is not a kink in the picture, it is a grease smudge.



 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Sunday was a pretty productive day for moving forward. On Friday, I was told for the second time that the Escalade drivetrain I wanted to buy was "no longer available". I getting pretty tired of waiting for these to be sold out from under me. So...hit craigslist.

I came across this LS3 from a 2014 SS with 14k miles "hydrolocked", that happened to be about 10 miles from my house. And, I knew the guy selling it. He thought it had bent valves, and at least one or two bend connecting rods, but all of the piston sleeves were undamaged. It does not turn over 360 degrees. He decided to take the insurance money, and replace it with a new, take-out ZL1.

When I picked it up, it had all 16 pushrods perfectly straight, so it didn't seem that bent valves was possible.

Get it home, whip of the heads, and Yay! Valves are all ok, and there are no dings on the piston heads. I am pretty sure it was bent conecting rod(s), and may need a new crank. I will get to the shortblock teardown this week.

And...a bonus. He gave me a brand-new LSA cam and springs, and the LS3 intake, rail and injectors. Very nice.

Here are some pics.








 

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casias
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Discussion Starter #13
Days like today are fun when you are working on a project like this. I had purchased a truck oil pan, which arrived this week. Putting it on my plastic mock-up block, and BOOM, it hits the front axle. After looking at it for a few minutes, it seemed I could move the engine back towards the firewall about an inch, to clear it. I made a new set of adapter plates, and dropped it in. No problem. So I put in the LS3 engine for final fit. There is ample room on all sides, including room for headers. So far, this is even easier than a 2WD, which was pretty easy. So that's saying something.

The real engine sitting in the engine bay.





Looking up from the bottom, driver's side clearance for headers.....HUGE. Oil filter, no problem.






And passenger side. Also plenty of clearance. Check out the room for the starter also !







Front axle clearance.







Driveline angle using pvc pipe.






And the 6l80, AWD transmission. This transmission and transfer case is the same length (46 inches) as the 46re that came out. So the crossmembers clear, and I think I may even get away with using a stock transmission mount. For those wanting selectable high and low range trnasfer case, the dimension is the same as this Borg Warner 4485.










Future.....


 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Update this week is bitter-sweet. I really wanted to use the Borg-Warner transfer case that came with the 6l80 transmission I bought, but......it is too wide. It would fit between the frame rails, if someone was planning a solid front axle swap, but the torsion bars cause interference in the independent front suspension setup. So I went back to the original 231 that came in this truck. Turns out, Novak makes an adapter kit to fit the 231/242 to the 6l80/6l90....fantastic!

So, for anyone wanting to do this swap with the 6l80 or 6l90 and retain the independent front suspension, you can re-use the 231 or 242 transfer case from the Durango (depending on whether it is AWD or 4WD), and save buying a new transfer case. See....bitter/sweet.


The upside of these transfer cases is that they are plentiful, strong, and have huge aftermarket support to make them stronger. So I bought a 242 off of ebay for $165 shipped to my door.

Moving on...... The transmission is in, and has plenty of clearance. The tunnel on the 4wd Durango is generous, just like the engine bay. No interference issues at all.


Transmission went in. Took about 10 minutes with the usual wrestling and wiggling.














Now, how about that driveline angle. I use string and gravity. I have this diy gauge, made with string, a piece of aluminum tube and a washer.







I don't like lying on the floor, so I compress the rear axle using a 2x4 and floor jack, until the rear springs are fully compressed and the frame is just lifting off of the lift pads.








And make a mark on each side of the string (it's hard to accurately mark directly under the string).




Any question about how much the rear axle angle changes when it is not compressed? Here is the angle when not compressed. Set up the transmission to match that, and your driveshaft would wobble for sure.



And jacking the transmission up to match still leaves enough room in the tunnel. It is snug, but won't require any cutting or hammering. The engine has about and inch clearance to the firewall. Perfect.



 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Ok, time for some updates from the holiday weekend. The Novak adapter arrived, so I swapped out the input shaft from 27 spline (?) to 32 spline to match with the 6l80 transmission. The adapter is billet aluminum, and really high quality. Kind of expensive, but......



I didn't want to wrestle the NP 242 around the table, and it should be flat when it is opened so the pieces don't spill out. So I cut a hole in the worktable and stood it on its tailshaft, using the front yoke as a spacer.

















Opening up the case and pulling out the shift fork. There is a right way, and a pry-bar way.





Planetary and input shaft.








And time for another stupid pet trick. LS engines mostly use 10M X 1.5 metric bolts, but come in sizes from 23 mm to 135 mm. Dealers charge $ 2-3 for each bolt. Ouch. Also, if they don't have it in stock, you wait. If no one can figure out which one it is, you guess. And in my case, I drive 45 minutes round-trip for that experience.

I went on ebay, and bought full-thread M10 X 1.5 bolts 135 mm long. I measure the bolt I need, thread a M10 die on the bolt, and cut it to length. Custom. Takes 2 minutes. Cost...a about .35 cents each. I think I bought 100 for around $35 shipped. Zoro.com or find them on ebay. Check it out.



Pile of bolts.






Thead the appropriate die on. The handle helps hold the bolt while you cut it, and the die corrects the threads when you take it off.





I use a 4 1/2 inch angle grinder with a flap wheel to bevel the nose, and thread a nut on and off to check it before I use it. Quality assurance.








And, I made this Idler pulley bracket from 2 X 5 inch 1/2 inch thick 6061 aluminum stock. I put a small locator pin in, and put a small hole in the water pump mounting boss to keep the bracket from rotating. It doesn't take much.













And I had to add a shim to make the idler pulley true.








Tapped for the lower pulley. They upper pulley went into the other water pump boss



 

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casias
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Discussion Starter #17
Time for a few updates. With the holiday, busy work schedule and extra call, I haven't been able to post stuff. But I have been moving forward. This week, it is all about driveline angles.

After setting the motor where it would fit with the stock truck oil pan, I liked the clearances all the way around. If I wanted to spend $400 on a Holley oil pan, I could move the motor forward about an inch, and use the front and rear driveshafts again without modifying them. Crazy, huh? But, these driveshafts have 180k miles on them, so I figure having them rebuilt, modified and balanced is worth the $400 or so to have the work done. So, here are the pictures.

After getting the NP242 installed using the Novak adapter, I made a transmission mount which is a combination of the GM mount (Flippded over, studs cut off) with the Novak-supplied adapter welded on. I welded a clean piece of 1/4 inch steel to the top of the transmission cross member (also flipped over), to give me a stable base. I drilled two 11/32 holes, and tapped for M10 bolts. The assembly is connected to the adapter with the supplied studs and nuts.












Here is the oil pan clearance to front axle.






Front axle about an inch short






Rear driveshaft installed









Needs to be a little shorter. The rubber seal is completely compressed, with the suspension at full extension.








Front axle support welded in. The original Durango drivetrain had a cast connector that secured the front axle to the transmission bell housing. This prevents the front axle from wrapping. I don't have that option this time, so I chose to attach it to the frame. This is temporary. Once the engine is out, I will make a more permanent brace using smaller tubing and webbing.





Front axle angle. With a double cardan on the transfer case side, this angle has to be 0-degree. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't show that this is actually 0-degree. It was hard to hold it exact and take a picture.




Now it's time to take it all out, build the motor, clean and paint, and put it all back in. Then wiring. More on that next week.
 

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casias
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330 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Moving on this week, I had to notch the frame for the AC compressor. In the last picture, I had outlined the cut. So I cut it, and boxed it in with 1/4 inch steel.

I don't know how other people use their plasma cutter, but I am not good with free-hand. So I use a 4 1/2 inch angle grinder and die grinder with carbide bit to score the steel, then follow the groove with the cutter. I still leaves a jagged edge that has to be cleaned up, but it sure is quick.

Also, despite being sent two input shafts by Novak for the 242 transfer case, neither is right. Turns out, in this 2000 Durango transfer case, Dodge used the thicker 24 mm input bearing (which is good), but used the newer cut gears. Looks like I am going to have to get a new planetary with older gears. I am going to step up to a 6 gear planetary for this. Something else I have to order and wait for.


Also, I had to make an access panel in the windshield wiper cowl so I could reach the back bolts on the supercharger lid. So I made a cover for it.


Here is a really nice article about the 231 and 242 transfer cases.


http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f13/transfer-case-swap-info-np249-np231-np242-685644/


Mark for ac compressor





Engine out, hole cut.






Fits nice. The lines will lie right on the frame. Nice and tidy.









I reinforced the inside of the frame where the front crossmember attaches. I didn't clean up the jagged edges from the plasma cutter because it is hidden anyway. Fully welded, this should be pretty strong.





Top plate.







And closed in. I left the gap in the back for a reason.






Groove for plasma cutter.










Novak input shafts. The older 24 mm bearing needs the lower shoulder, but the planetary I have needs the newer gear cut.






Windshield cowl access hole and cover.







 

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casias
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Discussion Starter #19
The transfer case has been a real time-killer. I started with a Borg-Warner out of a Cadillac Escalade, but it wouldn't fit between the torsion bars. So I moved on to a NP242 out of a 2000 Durango R/T. When I ordered the Novak conversion kit, I had the choice of "early cut" or "late cut" gear for the input shaft. Since this took place around 1994, I figured I was safe with the "late cut gear". But Dodge did things differently. There is a full write-up about the inside of these transfer cases on Novak's website.

Anyway..... The Dodge uses a "late cut" gear, but an early, 24 mm wide input shaft bearing. This meant the input shaft they sent me wouldn't allow the case to close. No one makes a "late cut" gear with a low shoulder. So I cruised the internet forums looking for an answer. At one point, I considered replacing the front half of the case with a later case that had a narrow, 16 mm bearing. I also considered buying an "early cut" planetary, but I had already spent $70 on a 6 gear planetary that had "late cut" gears.

Then I ran across someone's thread. "Putting the thin bearing in place of the thick one. The case doesn't care". So I bought a 16mm bearing from Quadratec, and pushed it right in. No clearance issues, no problem.


Input shafts. Late cut (back, thick shoulder), early cut (front, thin shoulder)




6 gear planetary





Thin 16mm bearing




Getting ready to put the shift forks back in. The 242 has this stupid roll pin at the bottom, with a little access hole to get to it. Following the advice online, I used a pry bar to pull the forks out. Getting them back in is not the reverse order, unfortunately. I couldn't "pry" the shift fork back in. So I used a matching size drill bit and hammer to drive the roll pin out now.









There is no reason to try to find a new roll pin. They come in rebuild kits, but are otherwise not worth looking for, in my opinion. Clean it up on the bench grinder, give it a tapered end, and drive it back in. I used a drill bit that would fit through it to line it up in the holes, and a small screwdriver to reach beside it and get it started. Then a big drill bit to drive it all the way in.





Shift fork lined up






Shaft in position in the shift fork, hole lined up (as seen though the access hole).






Tool set to install roll pin






After assembling the case completely, I pull it apart and insert small wood blocks on 3 sides, and squeeze in the RTV, with input shaft stuck through the hole in my table.







 
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