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Old 03-25-2017, 11:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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vandle - '93 Ford E-350 Xlt
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Another Frugal Heavy Hauler build

Well, my 1992 E350 7.3 diesel 6 speed manual transmission swap didn't even get to be driven by me. I was offered enough money to make a down payment on a house for it, by another mpg enthusiast. I know they lurk here, so you may see additional info about it on here, I'll leave that up to them.

Anyway, I am always working on fuel efficient projects, I've been slowed down by a diagnosis of multiple schlerosis two years ago, but still enjoy puttering around the shop. Current projects are a 100mpg hummelbird airplane, a 1976 honda goldwing that is going to get a supertall gearing swap, a 14' micro cruiser sailboat, and a lot of this stuff gets built with reclaimed/scrounged materials. My wife's prius does it's best, but I'm the kind of guy who needs a truck. I'd just get another 4 cyl 5 speed ranger and call it good, I've had 4 of them over the last 10 years, all still chugging along for different friends or family members. But A friend and I just recently started a side business selling really high end, sustainably harvested, hardwood lumber, the catch, our supplier is 1500 miles away. so 3000 miles for each trip. a minimum load to make it worth while is about 2000lbs. maximum would be about 8000 lbs, after that we run into storage issues at this end.

So, A little beyond the scope of a ford ranger. A few weeks after the van sold (sob) I found another great deal that might just fit the bill: a 1982 gmc c1500 with a 6.2 diesel th350, and a lift gate, for $350! It was owned by a guy who did custom body kits on cars, He had bought the truck as a frugal shop truck, to go pick up parts from the freight depot. Unfortunately he did not know much about diesels, and could not it to run. The owner of the property his shop was on had raised his rent, he needed to move soon, and so all whacky projects must go! I talked him down to $300 delivered across town, since I saw he had a big flatbed trailer and another hauling truck.

The project began. I saw he had installed some tiny battery cables, so made some up out of some big welding leads I had left over from an old stick welder I had picked up for cheap. Chevy's have a similar bolt pattern for the gas and diesel engines, but the diesel starter has around 2x the amps. Sure enough, he had put a gas starter on there, poor thing had burnt out. With a fathersday coupon, combined with an in store sale, I got a killer deal on a nice strong starter, with a lifetime warrentee! Threw in Some nice big batteries from the diesel van and called it good.

A few days later I ran into another 6.2 diesel enthusiast, and he mentioned he was looking for a mechanical fan. I asked if he had an electrical one to swap me. He said he didn't know, but I could come check out the cars on his back 40 and see what he had. I found a jeep grand cherokee with the towing package, massive 4500 cfm electric fan with relay and some wiring. Cost:$0
it was almost the same size as the opening in my mechanical fan shroud, so I was able to graft the two together, giving a clean look, and good fit to the radiator for cooling efficiency. This was an important mod to me, cause these early 6.2 motors where designed for efficiency not power. they have 130hp, and I was going to use it to haul thousands of pounds. Mechanical fans can take up a bunch of hp, at highway speeds when you actually need power, and when you don't need cooling. not to mention a big part of the noise heard in the cab of old trucks is from the mechanical fan. So I swapped that in, just with a simple on switch while I looked for a good deal on a thermostatic control for it.

well, with some new glow plugs and fuel filters, she fired right up. did a few victory laps around the neighborhood, I was feeling pretty confident. All of a sudden I saw an ad for a first gen honda goldwing project with title for $200, 50 miles away. I couldn't resist. Had to try out the new lift gate truck on a 650 lb motorcycle. With my multiple sclerosis, my days of chucking 450lb engines into the back of my truck is done. I was hoping this lift gate would allow me a bunch more good years of wrenching on wacky projects. So away I went. I had to go at rush hour, I knew this deal wouldn't last long. In my area a complete motorcycle project with title has a base value of about $500, doesn't matter if it runs or not. So $200 was a steal. The early goldwings had a lot of design help from the car engineering team, so they are able to go a lot more miles than a typical motorcycle at the time before an engine rebuild.

Got most of the way there, and start dumping radiator coolant all over the place! Oh no! my redneck electric fan system had malfunctioned, or the temp gauge is faulty, cause it had come up to temp but stayed reasonable, even in stop and go traffic in the hot texas sun. Pull into a gas station, and notice that while I had checked the radiator hoses, I had not checked the radiator hose clamps. One had been removed and not replaced. I walked a few blocks to the auto parts store, and picked up a pack of clamps, couple gallons of water from my stash in the bed, and we were off again. Picked up the motorcycle, the lift gate worked great, and headed back home.

7 miles from home, a tire shredded. They all looked fine, good tread, no dry rot/cracks, but it shredded none the less. I'm from Oregon, I can imagine it being a much harder life being a tire in texas. They were over 10 years old by the date code on them. Go to throw the spare on, and...
it's a five lug ford pattern not five lug chevy pattern. FIE! :-)

Called triple A, and got a tow home, since I was on the busy highway.
Got 4 new tires, for $400. So I'm into her about $850 at this point. Still feeling pretty good, Cheapest I've ever seen a lift gate was for about $500, and I am in love with mine.

Went to go help a friend move, and the brand new starter solenoid stuck in the on position, Which fried the questionable original wireing. Starter warrantee covered the starter, but not damage done by the starter. Blast! :-)

Well, if you ever have a wiring issue like that, you know the only safe plan is to replace it all. Fortunately, a lot of hot rod guys use GM steering columns in there scratch built hot rods, so a lot of the cheap "universal" wiring kits fit a gm truck as well as the fancy custom kits fit other cars. I picked one up made by speedway, all the wires are labeled along there whole length, just like fancy expensive kits, at a fraction of the price. I think I payed $180 for their kit with the most circuits. My truck has A/c, power windows, cruise control (on an early diesel, I know!) and all that junk, so wanted to make sure the new harness could handle everything. I bought a complete fan controller kit, because I found one cheaper than I could buy just the thermostat to make my own. And have been slowly wiring it ever since. I have done a bunch of diesel conversions on old classic cars, and was a mechanic before I became disabled, but this wiring job was at about the limit of my abilities with my memory loss and cognitive problems that came along with the M.S. The nice thing about a wireing job is, each wire that you hook up, eliminates 1 wire from the rats nest that is left. So it is most intimidating at the beginning.

Well, It's been slow, I even took about 2 months off while my wife was in the hospital. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just need to hook up tail lights, double check my dash pinout, and solder up the harness for the glow plugs, and she should be done. That was a lot of reading to get to the ecomodder part of the thread, but I figure if I give you guys a little back story, you can give me better advice on my somewhat unique situation.

Planned mods: With the wife's 2 cancers, and my M.S., even though we are in our early 30's we need to have an automatic transmission. I've been brainstorming a way to use an electric actuated ram to act like a powered clutch, and think that would be okay, but it is a little farther out mod, since it will take some r and d. So I'm thinking of just finding a 700r4 trans to rebuild and throw in. Do most of the aero mods from the big orange work truck, and call it good. What do you guys think?

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2007 Silverado 3500 classic duramax diesel, Allison 6 speed auto, extracab long bed. Doing head gaskets, will probably do econo tune and aero mods next.

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Old 03-26-2017, 05:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quite a lot of information in that post. Very sorry to hear about your and your wife's medical issues, hope all goes as well as it can on that front.

Glad to see another GM diesel on here, hope you have better luck with it going forward. Do you know what gears it has? My dad had a 84 k10 with a lift gate, it was his work truck but had a gasser. Took it over 500k miles, just rebuilt or replaced engines and transmissions to get it there.

Sometimes I wonder about whether or not starters should be fused, at least stuck on isn't as bad as completely shorted to ground. Hopefully the replacement solenoid won't repeat the same issues.

Definitely need to look for a correct lug patterned spare if you haven't already. What tires did you end up with?
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Old 03-27-2017, 02:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quite the read, bondvagabond.

I love the list of projects, and congrats on getting the new machine going.
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Old 03-27-2017, 02:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow.

Okay, the health issues suck - you don't need me to tell you that - and I wish the best of luck to you.

As to swapping in the 700r4, I say go for it. For your intended mission profile for the truck, there really aren't any big advantages to a manual over an automatic. You just get on the highway, get up to speed and cruise. I think the 4L60 will work too, just make sure it doesn't have any vacuum-predicated controls. Be sure you have the beefiest lockup torque converter for long-legged cruising and you're good to go.
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Old 03-27-2017, 03:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sorry for wordy opening post. My buddy had a coffee taste testing party. Not your guys' fault I went to it...

I think I was just really excited to be working on the project again. That plus way to much coffee was a devils brew.

I do have something to add to the communal knowledge base. There is a "real" fix that doesn't involve welding, if you crack a starter mount boss off a 6.2 or 6.5 Chevy diesel, or like me, you get a great deal on one because of such a problem. Ill add a link later, but Search on YouTube for "Chevy starter mount repair"
There is a guy who figured out an adapter used to put a 350 Chevy bolt pattern motor into older 50's era bolt pattern trucks with stock trannies, can be used to repair my problem. You have to separate engine and tranny, but only 1/2", don't have to pull trans. It has mounts for old style 3 horizontal bolt starter mount, instead of 2 vertical bolt mounts, so you have to get a dud 3 bolt starter and swap nose cones, but that should be easy if you've ever rebuilt a starter. I plan to do this if my j.b. weld doesn't work. I taught myself to weld cast iron on my bench, was all excited, but just running extension cords to the truck, dropped the current enough it was just stick, stick, stick. Don't have the bucks for a mighty extension cord, so j.b. weld it is. I did enough epoxy work on boats, that I have better than average luck with JB weld.

Previous owner had tried to use a smaller gasser starter, the third mount bracket was too short, so he left it off. We who know 6.2 motors know what happens next. Just too much lever arm on a big old starter, and the mounts crack.

I drew myself a wireing diagram for the glow plug harness. That's the only part that did not come with my one size fits all wireing harness kit. Need to measure the run lengths for my diagram, then should be able to solder it up all comfy at my dining room table in the A/c. My wife is the best.

Does anyone know if it will confuse the glow plug controller if I put much larger wires for the glow plug to glow plug relay section of the harness? Like if it uses resistance to measure something? I have the older style cylindrical 6 wire controller if that makes a difference. I inherited a bunch of wire from my grandpa who was way into ham radio. I like to go big on high amp draw 12v stuff.

It's good to hear for intended use of freeway flying, a locking 700r4 should be almost as good as a manual. I will start looking for a core to rebuild.
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Mad max would have driven a metro
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Old 03-27-2017, 03:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Blackfly - '98 Geo Metro
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MPGiata - '90 Mazda Miata
90 day: 52.07 mpg (US)

Winter beater Metro - '00 Chevrolet Metro
90 day: 61.98 mpg (US)

Fancy Metro - '14 Mitsubishi Mirage top spec
90 day: 58.72 mpg (US)

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bondvagabond View Post
Sorry for wordy opening post. My buddy had a coffee taste testing party. Not your guys' fault I went to it...
As someone who only drinks coffee a handful of times each year, I completely understand what you're saying!
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Ecodriving test: Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown



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Old 03-27-2017, 04:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't think the controller has any sort of intelligence to know the wires are up sized. If the 6.2 has the same setup as the 6.5 be careful as the stock glow plug wiring was fusible link, aka there aren't any fuses and the wire acted as a fuse. Thus upsizing to larger wiring would mean there isn't a fuse at all unless you add one. (This is separate from the controller, as I believe the small round controller is telling the relay when to turn on, the relay actually switches the power to the glow plugs on and off.)

If you have to replace glow plugs, look for the positive temperature coefficient ones where the resistance increases when they get really hot so they don't burn up as easily. I am building a "controller" which will be a push switch reliant on me to time which will control eight relays through eight fuses, using the PTC glow plugs should help protect me from frying anything if I hold it on too long.

I had to put a helicoil on the starter bolt on my old block, no bracket on the starter and bolt sheared. PO had broke off a hardened extractor up inside the bolt. Took a carbide drill bit and lots of patience to remove but dinged up the threads, then had to drill it bigger and helicoil it. Worked temporarily, luckily I am not using that block long term.

Last edited by aardvarcus; 03-27-2017 at 04:37 PM..
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I run a 700r4 in my 84 1 ton GMC. The one to build is the 89-91, according to my transmission guy. At least get the pump from one of those. There is a lip that keeps the bushing from sliding. The one I have in now is a fresh 87 case and valve body with a 90 pump. It has 5 pinion planetaries and the Corvette servo with the aftermarket overdrive cover. I tow in overdrive all the time, the last rebuild lasted 10 years until a 4 pinion low planet failed. My truck is set up to tow not for economy, it has a na 6.5 and 4.56 gears.
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Old 03-29-2017, 10:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Found a good deal on a 6.5 turbo setup. Got it about half pulled today, will finish pulling it tomorrow. $114 for turbo and turbo manifold. Not too shabby. Think it might be low miles,smooth like butter and no discernable end play on the shaft. Picked up some bed to frame bolts and a driver's wing window for $13. Tomorrow I'm gonna pull the turbo, and if I have time, the passenger side fuel tank and filler.
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2007 Silverado 3500 classic duramax diesel, Allison 6 speed auto, extracab long bed. Doing head gaskets, will probably do econo tune and aero mods next.

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Old 04-01-2017, 01:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The other day I pulled 6 of 8 exhaust studs on a turbo at the wrecking yard. I was able to swoop in and finish pulling the 6.5 turbo before someone else could steal my hard work.

What do you guys think are the cheapest boost Gauge/pyrometer that aren't garbage? I want to get those on board before adding the turbo.

My th350 didn't kick in when cold till the revs came up a bit, from the research I've been doing that means it needs a reseal at least. Aparently it is from low fluid pressure in the trans from internal leaks. That would fit with the history of the truck. It sat for at least 6 years before I got it running again.

Don't really want to put money into the th350, so will keep my eyes pealed for a good trans deal.

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