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Old 05-31-2009, 11:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Find!

So I was browsing my local craigslist, and this is somewhat pre-emptive, as I haven't actually taken possession of the item yet, but I found an old (early 90's) self contained diesel engine unit from a reefer trailer... the mechanic I spoke to said it was probably about 40 HP, and could easily benefit from a turbocharger properly suited for the application (if it needed it).

I spoke awhile back to the idea of swapping in a diesel into my MiniVan, and found that it would take approximately 36 HP to make the van go 65 MPH. If this engine is 40 HP, it should have a decent chance at holding 55 up hills and such, I assume.

I'm going today to pick it up with the trailer, and pics will come soon after, but provided all is smooth, the engine is a 4 cylinder Mercedes, in running condition.

After some preliminary measurements are taken, I'll make sure it fits in the van's engine bay, then check local and state laws on the swap, to make sure everything is "kosher" so to speak. As long as everything is a go, I'll start gathering the parts, like the 5 speed transmission, etc.

Unfortunately, this means that the manual valve body automatic is probably a lost venture, at least for the time being.

Oh - the cost of the engine... well, I'll get to that when I post pics.

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Old 05-31-2009, 12:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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sweet! sounds good, I love motor swaps. Does this mean you will have to go flat out to hit 65 mph?
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Old 05-31-2009, 02:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Boldly going where others have gone before

1.6L TD in a Dodge Caravan

might help you with your swap
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Good luck, Christ!!
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Piwoslaw's Peugeot 307sw modding thread

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Old 06-01-2009, 03:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Christ -

Cool beans! It will be neat to see the process. 40 HP sounds like a VW Microbus.

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Old 06-01-2009, 09:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Nice find indeed. Let me know if you ever see some Insight guts on there
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Old 06-01-2009, 12:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, I got the motor...

Here's why I neglected to name the price in the first post: I ended up getting it free.

No Joke. I didn't want to jinx the deal I thought I was making... I offered the guy $150 and he took the offer, so I told him I'd be back with the trailer to pick up the 400+ lb engine.

The next day, as I was wiring the tail lights and placing the safety chains on the trailer, I got a phone call from my wife, letting me know that she was going to call our midwife, because she began having contractions - false alarm... but it stopped me from going the 1/2 hour or more further from her than I already was, in order to pick up an engine. I'd rather be a part of my Son's birth, frankly.

As a result, I wasn't able to make the time that I gave the man... so he called to make sure everything was OK... during this phone call, he told me that he liked my idea about swapping it either into Cara, or into a small truck to use as a daily driver, so that I could get the best possible fuel economy and use (potentially) free fuel (WVO).

After speaking to his wife, apparently, who is somewhat of a treehugger her self, I'd guess, and telling her what kind of personality he saw in me, and the things that we discussed, she told him that he should just give me the engine.

Now, I was a bit displaced by this phone call... It caught me off guard, obviously. I show up, and right as rain, we loaded up the free engine and radiator. Along with that, we loaded about 30 feet of chains, a tire changing machine, two 7.00x20 tires with tubes, a motor dolly, and some other random bits and pieces that he thought we could use. (My Father and I). This man, having only met my Father and I twice, decided to let my Father take a 500 Gallon fuel tank with 50 or more gallons of #1 diesel fuel in it, including the electric meter-pump, for $400, payable "whenever"... in payments over the next year.

The backstory on the lot of items that the man is selling, is that his wife's father owned the building, and did all kinds of different things, from wood working to railroad repairs... over the years, he collected all kinds of items, and they were in his place of business when he died. The company that owned the buildings adjacent to this one had bought it several years before hand, with "lifetime use" rights left on the deed. Now that the man was dead, the "stuff" needed to be cleaned out, so the building could be turned over. I checked with the owner of the other buildings before accepting anything more from this man, whom I'd never met before. It's legitimate... surprisingly.

So, without further adieu:

It's a Mercedes engine, from an older Refrigerated Truck unit. It came with the insanely large radiator (nearly 3 ft by 3 ft), which I plan to use for a cold water A/C unit in my home (after I build it).

The engine itself comes with everything necessary to start it up. The oil pan must hold about 3 gallons... given that it was constantly running at nearly full load, and in a small area, it would need such a large volume of oil to maintain lubricity... it won't need that in the van, but I don't think I'll bother changing it.

I haven't found the service numbers on the engine, but I wasn't really interested in looking it over any more after moving it around by hand three or four times, decidedly leaving it next to an old truck in a dry spot of the barn at my father's house, until it can be moved to a better location, probably next weekend, at which point I will take pics of it... sorry guys, I kinda let you all down on that one.

The question comes in here: Given the opportunity, I could do the following:

Buy another small truck, such as a Mitsu Mighty Max, Dodge D50, Mazda B-series, Ford Ranger, Chevy S-10, etc.. and install the engine... this is something I'd have to look into, as cost will soon become an issue with money being tight as it is.

Secondly, I could get a 5 speed transmission from a Neon Highline (1st gen) which has the longest gears I know of in a Neon, and will basically bolt directly into my van. I can then build an adapter plate and mount the diesel engine to the transmission, and mount them in the van... I have to check legality, etc on doing this conversion, however.

Suggestions are more than welcome, in fact, on a project of this magnitude, they're kind of compulsory!

(One idea was to swap the diesel engine into the van, using the FWD configuration, then get the AWD rear axle and swap it in, using an electric motor for the rear drive unit, with 8 12V batteries in a box across the back, and a simple relay/contact setup to turn the ~15HP electric motor on/off, just to keep it so that I can drive around town w/o using fuel at all... 15HP should get me ~30MPH...)

Those other parts are going to be not-so-easy to find, but may come in time, if all works out. Plans change, and ideas get refined, so lets hear what everyone has to say, and pics will come after this coming weekend, as long as I don't take delivery on a newborn Son!
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Ahhh - to answer the question about running "flat out" to get to 65...

I don't quite think it would take 36 HP to get me to 65... it was a number that came up in a discussion with someone else, given completely stock specs and a worst case scenario.

The engine is actually slightly over powered for what I need for the van, but it will work out in my favor, since I use Cara to haul things weighing in far beyond what the van should actually be carrying. I may even go with some boost, to up the efficiency and HP figures.

So, no, I don't think that I'll be flat out at 65 MPH - but I don't go that fast anyway... 55MPH is plenty fast for me, with a normal peak of 60 MPH, and very few stints above that.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Very cool story. Definitely a great find! I'm hoping your plan is to document whatever it is you decide to do with it.

My inclination would be to put it in the smallest, lightest vehicle you think you can use. If that's a small pickup, so be it. (You can at least aeromod a pickup down to a reasonable Cd, so your 40 hp is more effective.)

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