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Old 01-10-2012, 02:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Geo Tracker Kubota Diesel Engine Swap

I've been working on this project since about September 2011. On Labor Day, my wife's uncle gave me a disused Jacobson lawnmower, which was powered by a Kubota D950 diesel engine. (21.5HP, 41 ft-lb torque). At the time, I had been continuously improving my Yanmar-powered Ford Festiva, but was plagued by a few nagging issues that I hadn't been able to resolve, like only being able to achieve speeds over 60MPH downhill, with the wind.

The Festy is powered by a 2 cylinder, 750cc Yanmar, with a placard hp of 13.4, and about 20lb-ft of torque. I added a turbo, but without increasing the maximum fuel delivered by the injector pump, the boost was minimal. So, naturally, I was excited about the prospects of installing a free, substantially more powerful engine.
Now about the same time, I had been mysteriously compelled to browse Craigslist for econo-boxes, and stumbled upon a 1990 Geo Tracker base model (hard top) that was listed for $800. I thought, "that must be in tough shape for that price", but I went to have a look anyway, cash in pocket. What I found was a young man, living in a mobile home, who had abused the Tracker until it wouldn't go any more, but importantly, there was no rust at all, just a burnt-out clutch, broken shift lever, bald tires, broken mirrors, a ripped-off door handle, filthy interior, a driver's side window being held up by hand tools jammed between the glass and the door panel seal, and a factory trailer hitch hanging on for dear life. I bought the Tracker for $600, and had my wife help me drag it back to the house using my Wrangler as a tow vehicle (she drove that; a new experience for her, to say the least. As a side note, I experimented with suspending the tow rope with rubber bungee cords, held on by zip ties, which made keeping proper rope tension worlds easier than normal)
I cleaned the Tracker up, pleased with my purchase, and started to dig into the most concerning mechanical problem; the broken shifter.
It turns out the only shifty thing about the Tracker was the saga provided by the young man. After all, either a broken shifter or a burnt out clutch should have disabled the vehicle totally, and yet both conditions were present. My forensic analysis postulates that the shifter pivot bolt broke (the reason why is explained later) allowing only the [very difficult] use of gears 2, 4, and reverse, yet he continued driving it, thus frying the clutch by starting in second gear all the time.
Why would someone wang on the shifter so hard that the pivot bolts break? I discovered the polymer socket, which receives the ball on the end of the shift lever, had split and fallen out if it's home. After replacing the pivot bolts, this missing bushing made the shift lever feel like you could almost-but not quite-fully engage gears 1,3, and 5. I machined a new socket out of firm polyurethane, and the transmission was a good as new.
Then using the factory service manual that cost about $30 on Ebay, I located, tagged, and removed everything related to the gasoline engine, which required taking apart all relevant wiring harnesses, the dashboard, gauge cluster, and steering column. by carefully removing and labeling all the engine controls and systems, my intent is [because I'm a masochist, apparently] to create a ready-to-go, stand-alone engine that could be used for just about anything.
After all that, I hoisted out the engine (the transmission/t-case combo was already out) and cleaned the engine compartment with Purple Power heavy-duty cleaner. Let me tell you, that stuff is strong enough to clean the schmutz off of Hugh Hefner!
Now it was on the the tricky bits. Using AutoCad installed on a decrepit computer in the garage, I carefully measured out all the critical dimensions of the old engine, new engine, transmission and clutch. I took all my flywheels and clutch parts to O'Reilly's, and the wonderful people there helped me locate a clutch disk and pressure plate that matched the transmission and new flywheel (from a Mazda 323, I believe). Now with all required dimensions, I was able to determine the distance to space the engine and transmission, and where to drill all the holes.
Fabricating from 1/4" x 8" steel plate and 5/8" bar stock, I built a plate that bolts to the engine and bell housing.

Next came the first engine fit-up trial, where I discovered that the diesel oil pan interferes with the front axle housing.

I spent the majority of my free time during the Christmas break dealing with that little setback, but at last ended up with a re-shaped pan that fits fine.
Now, I have the engine mounted in the Tracker with engine mounts fabricated and the clutch cable installed and working. Now, after I do the throttle cable and fuel cutoff system, all I have left is "plumbing and electrical" , that is; radiator, maybe an oil cooler (decreased oil capacity from modded pan), electric rad fan, alternator, starter, oil and water gauge sensors, tachometer (which will need some custom circuitry), re-assembly of the dash and interior, fuel supply routing, and exhaust routing.
It sounds like a lot, but it's all easier than everything I've done up to this point. There are some videos on my YouTube channel, with more to come soon, but my ecomodder status won't allow me to share links or photos yet. Google search "diesel festiva" and videos on my channel will be the fist results.

I have added photos later in this thread

Last edited by DieselDrewski; 01-11-2012 at 02:39 PM.. Reason: photos note
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Cool little car (the Festiva) but I know what you mean about driving around something that doesn't have any guts. My Chevette was pretty darn slow by LA traffic standards, and that was with 37.5hp at the wheels! Best mpg I could ever get in town was about 40mpg, but it could go 80mph as long as the ground was flat

Good luck on the Tracker project, turn up the pump a little and give 'er some fuel!
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Old 01-10-2012, 05:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You, my man, are seriously committed to these projects. Keep up the good work and please keep us posted of the progress and results.

I can probably speak for 95% of the people here (if I may be so bold) that we seriously envy your skills, tools, workspace and patient wife. You are a fortunate man to tackle projects like this. Keep up the good work!

Any chance of creating a diesel motorcycle?
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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That's a lot of work already done
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You the man, DieselDrewski! Keep us updated on that Tracker.
Diesel Dave

My version of energy storage is called "momentum".
My version of regenerative braking is called "bump starting".

1 Year Avg (Every Mile Traveled) = 47.8 mpg

BEST TANK: 2,009.6 mi on 35 gal (57.42 mpg): http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthrea...5-a-26259.html

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Old 01-10-2012, 08:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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What fuel economy does the Festiva give?

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Old 01-10-2012, 08:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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cool projects!
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Here is a link to his YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/asayle3r5?feature=watch
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by DieselDrewski View Post
The Festy is powered by a 2 cylinder, 750cc Yanmar, with a placard hp of 13.4, and about 20lb-ft of torque. I added a turbo, but without increasing the maximum fuel delivered by the injector pump, the boost was minimal.
You can get around that pretty easy with propane fumigation.
You may want to try a VW K03 turbo with that kabota 950. If I can ever pick up a kabota 950 to build a generator I plan on using one of my K03 turbos on it.
The Kabota with a turbo may be just large enough to try water methanol injection.
1984 chevy suburban, custom made 6.5L diesel turbocharged with a Garrett T76 and Holset HE351VE, 22:1 compression 13psi of intercooled boost.
1989 firebird mostly stock. Aside from the 6-speed manual trans, corvette gen 5 front brakes, 1LE drive shaft, 4th Gen disc brake fbody rear end.
2011 leaf SL, white, portable 240v CHAdeMO, trailer hitch, new batt as of 2014.
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Frank Lee View Post
What fuel economy does the Festiva give?
I saw as high as the upper 60's. 67, I think. It takes for-ev-ver to go through a tank of fuel to get the results, I probably only filled up 4 times over all my driving in that car.

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