Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer (440 Mopar Swap)

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Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer (440 Mopar Swap)

Post by WT91 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 3:40 pm

Now with PICTURES! YAY!

Ok, I've had this truck now for about 5 years. I picked it up in December of 2010 for the astronomical sum of $600 :shock: from a little shady used car lot that doesn't exist anymore here in New Jersey. I had just crashed my daily driver/off roader 1994 Ford Explorer and needed something to get to school and back. I was unemployed, I had $0 to my name most of the time, and I needed to be able to drive to college and back. I only had the cash I was able to scrounge by selling bits off of the Explorer, so my budget was essentially non-existent. It was either the Wagoneer or one of those indestructible Buick grandma cars.


Being an irresponsible 19 year old, which one did I logically pick? Oh yeah. The Wagoneer baby. 8-)

When I first saw it, my mildly-mechanically-experienced-self thought that the truck was in sad shape: the paint clear coat was gone, the headliner was tattered and dusting the inside of the truck with gross moldy foam, the radio was gone. It had 200+k on the clock and the title read as 290k, not sure if it was a titling error or an odometer error. But, all of the basics were there. It ran, it drove, it steered and stopped. We paid the man and brought the truck home.

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It died on the way home. Gas gauge lies. Still does 5 years later...I think I should fix that. Meh.

So began my love/hate relationship with a truck that has thoroughly become part of my family.

Being completely financially destitute, I had to plan what I did to the truck very carefully. At first the only parts purchased were ones that I needed anyway, or could justify that way. We did a full tune-up on the old Wag with new wires, plugs, fuel filter, carb rebuild, etc. It seemed to run good. The truck already had new 235/75/15 Pep boys Mud Terrains, so in that department we were set. It was, however, missing a front driveshaft. After calling around local salvage yards, we managed to find one for the grand total of $35 and lunch for my buddy who drove me to get it.

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With the front driveline in, it was now time to do what any responsible 19 year old would do with his only means of transportation: Get in touch with the local Wagoneer owners and take the truck out in the woods.

It hissed, it coughed, and it died numerous times. The rebuilt MC2150 was not up to the task for some reason. But we had a blast wheeling in the snow. We limped home and parked the truck, and it was time to start planning the build. Around this time I also got a full time job at a local convenience store chain named Wawa, so the budget went from $0 to about 90% of my paychecks. As any responsible 19 year old would.

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My first steps were to try and get the truck running better and with some more power. To that end, I installed a Skipwhite HEI distributor with some Accell wires and standard copper plugs. I also picked up an Edelbrock Performer Intake Manifold and a used Eddie Performer 4-barrel carburetor. We chopped the exhaust to ditch the rotted out muffler and tossed a $30 Thrush Turbo in its place. I felt like a hot rod with my tired old 360 ripping around the block. Around this time we started to notice the body rust in certain spots, and the moisture bubbling behind the woodgrain. To save the body panels from any more rot caused by trapped moisture behind the vinyl; we made the decision to de-wood my Woody. Like any budget-minded frugal teenager, I spent $100 on an old Rhino grille setup and tossed that on too.

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Now that the truck was at least running decent and looking the part, it was time to get working on the important parts: The off-road parts.

I did my research and planned my build in what I think was, surprisingly, a semi-responsible fashion. Instead of haphazardly ordering parts and slapping things together, I put down a set of goals that still stand to this day. I wanted a truck that could:

Comfortably/Safely carry 4 people and all their gear for a weekend
Drive to and from the trails (30 min to a maximum of 3~hrs) on its own
Keep up with any other truck on the trail
Be able to at least attempt any obstacle and safely back out if necessary

Now these goals started to dictate how the truck would shape up. My local off-road park (Rausch Creek Off-road Park in PA) had their own “suggested” limits for certain trails. 33” tires for certain trails, 33” tires and a locker for other trails, etc. So with that in mind, I set my sight on a minimum tire size of 33” and started planning how to get my truck high enough to fit those 33s.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to lifting Wagoneers. The SOA guys and the spring lift guys. I did my research and compared my findings to my expected budget. A 6” spring lift would provide the needed height to fit my tires, but would ride harsher and provide less than ideal articulation off road. The SOA setup would be more expensive overall, but had the potential to ride like a stock truck and provide maximum flex due to the flatter springs. But the cost of the SOA steering was going to be a killer for me and my still extremely limited college kid budget. But my mind was made up. I was going to go SOA with a shackle flip in the rear end. We had to plan the build in stages to minimize vehicle down time so I could still get to work and school; we couldn’t have the truck down for 4-5 days while we did it all at once.

The first parts I ordered were two 70’s Wagoneer Dana 44 front flat top steering knuckles that I nabbed off of the IFSJA classified section for $35 for the pair. My ultimate plan was full high steer, but I knew that was beyond my means at the time. So, instead I aimed for a budget crossover steering setup. I sent both knuckles out to get machined and ordered a passenger side high steer arm, 1” spacer block, and the 1” extended hardware. I had that steering arm set up for the FSJ drag link taper, my plan being to use the original drag link with my new steering setup. More on that later.

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Upon receiving my freshly milled crossover steering parts, I made the big purchase. I ordered 8” extended brake lines and a TTsFabworks SOA/SF kit from BJ’s Off-road. I had no idea what I was going to do with the shocks, but I figured that shocks were optional. When the parts arrived I scheduled some time with my buddy who has a garage and concrete pad (as opposed to the dirt I normally work on) and we got busy. We installed the new passenger side steering knuckle with fresh ball joints and while we were in there we welded the new spring perches onto the front axle. We buttoned everything up with the axle still SUA, but with our eventual goal one step closer.

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It was at that time that I realized in order to use the stock drag link; we needed to make it longer. I measured the threads on the FSJ drag link and realized that they were the same as the common 7/8 tie rods that many off roaders use to build their steering. I ordered up two 7/8-18 threaded inserts and built a longer adjusting collar out of some DOM tubing. Wallah, we had our extension. Now that we had the steering figured out, it was time to get the springs over the axle and run into a whole bunch of other problems. We started on a Friday, setting up an EZ-Up in my mother’s driveway and pulling the tools out. We had the whole lift, minus shocks and driveshafts, done by Sunday.

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We tossed some bald 35x12.50 BFG A/T’s on it to roll it around and then headed off to the local driveshaft shop. While the shop (R-Way Tooling in Vineland, NJ) did the shafts we went to the local NAPA and rifled through their boxes of shocks. Since I was a poor college kid, we had re-used the stock U bolt plates and simply flipped them upside down. The stock sway bar stud on the spring plate was now mounted towards the rear of the truck instead of the front and it just lined up with the upper shock mount oh so perfectly. So we grabbed some shocks that seemed to be an OK length and tossed those puppies on there. By the end of the week our driveshaft was done and I was just about done walking to work, so we picked it up and tossed it in there.

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The beast was mobile again. Gosh; 2.73 gears and 35” of tire. Kill me now.

The bald 35s just weren’t cutting it, so I managed to craigslist a set of relatively worn out 33x12.50 Mastercraft Muds. They weren’t bald, and that’s all that mattered at the time. Those got tossed on my sweet freebie black steel wheels and we were on the road. I took the truck to my first Mid-Atlantic Full Size Jeep Club “Jeep-In” off-roading/camping trip. There was an absolute ton of water but we did well and the Wagoneer proved herself well.
Some time passed with everything going well. I teamed up with my buddy and we built some bumpers for my truck to carry my spare tire and the 12k Harbor Freight winch I had picked up on a whim on sale. My truck was slowly starting to look and feel like it could reasonably accomplish the goals I had set forth when we started. I tossed a Lockright “Lunchbox” locker in the rear axle and we went to our second Jeep-In in 2012, where the Jeep performed wonderfully.

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It was around this time that I made my first stupid decision, that decision being that I wanted to regear my truck to 4.10’s and didn’t want to pay to do it right. I picked up some 4.10 thick gears out of Isuzu Rodeos and tossed them in my axles. They howled, but everything seemed generally OK. I also took the opportunity to replace my completely clapped out leaf springs with a wonderful new set from Team Grand Wagoneer. My truck went from barely 4.5" over stock with sad frowny-face springs to 7 or 8" over stock with big beefy 1" over stock springs! YAY! Now my rigged shocks were even more inadequate. I ran the truck that way for at least a year, and she did extremely well off-road.

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Until it broke.

My truck had no oil pressure issues in all the time I owned it. Easily 40+ psi of pressure at warm idle. Driving home from that fateful 2012 trip, however, things started going downhill. The coil in my HEI distributor exploded which stranded us, necessitating a AAA tow home. Upon replacing the coil, the Jeep had no oil pressure. I had wisely procured a 2nd vehicle over the preceding months so the Jeep being sidelined wasn’t a terribly huge ordeal. We rebuilt the oil pump and that didn’t help. It seemed like the jeep just didn’t want to prime. We finally made the decision to drop the oil pan, and with the help of my then girlfriend (now wife) we got started.

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And then the problems started, one after another in a wonderfully terrible chain of events.

We had to remove the exhaust Y pipe to get the oil pan to clear the oil pickup. In removing the Y pipe, we snapped a stud on the exhaust manifold. I said what the heck; why not just toss headers on since we broke the manifold. Well, in trying to remove the manifold we snapped a bolt off in the head. Now we were pulling the heads. We had the heads done at a local machine shop and then tossed them back in with new Hedman Headers. Our lack of oil pressure, which was the original problem, turned out to be caused by a clogged oil pickup. We replaced that and cleaned out the oil passages, which had some gunk buildup. We re-sealed the oil pan and bolted everything back together. We primed the pump and started the truck, and immediately noticed a massive oil leak and coolant mixing with the oil. We had botched at least one of the head gaskets and the oil pan gasket. Well BEEP.

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Upon confirming my fears with a buddy, I ripped back into the engine. I broke down both heads again and meticulously cleaned all of the gasket mating surfaces. I was determined to not have to do this again. Once I was finished up top I tackled the bottom, dropping the oil pan again to figure out why it wouldn’t seal. I put that oil pan up there at least half a dozen times before I realized the lip was warped, making it impossible for it to seal properly. A little time with a punch and hammer on a flat surface worked that warped surface flat again, and the engine was finally buttoned up and leak free. We started it up and it ran great, it didn’t leak, and life was good. Somewhere around here we also went over the truck’s complete electrical system and half-assed fixed it, adding in a master circuit breaker to kill all power and a fuse block to replace the fusible links. Since we had the interior and carpet out to work on the electrical, we also bedlinered the floor.

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It was a little after that (Fall/Winter 2012-2013) that I decided I was done exploding front driveshafts and wanted to upgrade to my full high steer setup. I ordered some 7/8-18 threaded inserts and some 1 ton Dodge tie rod ends and got to work, replacing my budget crossover setup with a much stouter 1 ton full high steer system. I was in the market for new tires, and we found those new tires on craigslist in the shape of 4 brand spankin' new 33x12.50x15 Procomp Mud Terrains. We also took the time to perform a cut-and-turn on my front axle, fixing my terrible caster angle and pinion angle all at once. My truck would now cruise down the road at 60mph in 4x4 and not shake. At all.

It was kinda scary.

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It didn’t get driven much, but we took it off-roading here and there for fun on the weekends. We attended Jeep-In 2013 and life went on. The howling from the gears got progressively worse, until we finally decided to fix the rear axle gears so it would be quiet on the road at least. I borrowed a trailer from a friend and hitched the Wagoneer up to my daily driver Chevy G20 van and towed it up to my other buddy’s shop in the ice and snow of Winter Early 2014. It was downright scary. At one point we almost ate a small Honda when he decided to stop and turn left right over the crest of a hill. I have never panicked to hit the surge button on the brake controller like that in my life.

Ultimately we survived the whole ordeal and the jeep got regeared with a fresh set of 4.10 gears and a proper 3.92 and up open carrier for my Lockright to ride in. While we were in there doing the gears we noticed that one of my rear wheel bearings was completely shot, so once again the Wagoneer was sidelined until that could get fixed. We towed it home and it promptly snowed for a few weeks, limiting wrenching time outside in the dirt. Both rear wheel bearings were replaced, and the truck was back in action for the 2014 “Snowball Fun Run” with the MAFSJC. It was on the way home from this run, with the truck running quieter than ever now that the gears were taken care of, that we heard “The Noise” that would throw a wrench in our plans forever. The engine had a rod knock. It was slight at first, only showed its face over 2500 RPM, but it was there. Like an ominous cloud constantly hanging over me whenever I drove the truck. Considering that by this point it had 209k on the odometer and according to the title potentially 300k+, I knew the time was coming sooner or later.

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I continued to drive the truck off and on until Spring, when I had a catastrophic rear wheel bearing failure on the road at about 35mph. I was coming home from Walmart when all of a sudden there was a pop, followed by a hiss, then a bang as the truck dropped down.

Time to call AAA again.

The truck was taken off of the insurance and completely sidelined this time as I started to realize it was slowly nickel and diming me. It sat, for almost 14 months as life got ahead of me. I moved out and got my own place, my girlfriend turned into my fiancé who turned into my wife, bills started to pile up and my little job at Wawa wasn’t cutting it now that I was out of college. I ended up buying a 1996 F-350 Crew Cab Dually with the 7.3 Powerstroke as a daily driver/eventual tow rig sometime during the Fall of 2014.

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Then I got a phone call which turned into an interview which turned into a legitimate salaried adult job! SCORE! MORE JEEP PARTS!

I had a deadline now. With the new job starting June 1st of 2015, I set the goal of having the Wagoneer road worthy and offroadable for the 2015 MAFSJC Jeep-In, which would be the last weekend of August. Both rear axle shafts were replaced and new bearings installed. The front axle was completely shot out from my hacked together gear job, so it needed to be rebuilt. I picked up a Yukon ZIP locker and a fresh set of 4.10s and handed the whole axle housing off to my CJ7 buddy to rebuild. While he had the axle I worked on the rest of the truck, removing my rigged up shocks and replacing them with proper offroad shocks mounted to proper shock mounts. I drilled and tapped both axles for NPT pipe fittings, creating strong, permanent breather line solutions. Things got delayed and the front axle wasn’t ready until the week before the Jeep-In.

It was crunch time.

I would work until midnight, sleep until 6am and then get up to turn wrenches. It took the entire week and an extra unplanned day of my vacation to get the truck ready. But we got it ready. My Wagoneer was sadly absent during the 2014 Jeep-In, but we returned with a vengeance this year. I had a massive stupid smile on my face as I pulled into the campground with my busted old Wagoneer, and at least one other club member cheered that I was able to pull it off. We offroaded all weekend, my Jeep not delivering any unexpected surprises. She did well, but that engine knock was not to be ignored anymore. Even with 20w50 and a big jug of Motor Honey, the knock was readily apparent even at idle. Every time I took it through a puddle I half expected a rod to make a guest appearance.

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(My wife had 0 confidence in my truck in that vid)
(I had gotten the distributor wet)

This would be my Wagoneer’s last trip on the stock motor.

But the Waggy got me home, and now she’s sitting comfortably in my Apartment Complexes parking lot.

We needed a plan. Even with the new job I wasn’t made of money. My budget is still almost non-existent with Student Loan repayment and credit card bills. A motor rebuild is not compatible with my current financial situation, nor is it really possible considering my Apartment lifestyle.

Adult life sucks. Can we go back to those awesome 19 year old irresponsible days?

It was at that point, as if directed by the Jeep Gods above, that a good college friend of mine called me. He had a problem and needed my help. His dad had this old 1970’s Dodge Motorhome rotting away in the front yard, and the dad passed the property on to him. He wanted the motorhome gone and asked if I wanted the drivetrain. Upon further inspection, that drivetrain turned out to be nothing other than a Mopar 440 big block backed up by a 727 transmission, both of which have a whopping 17k original miles.

The price? Free. Come get it.

So that’s it kids, the story of my Wagoneer from purchase until now. From here on I’ll be documenting the process of swapping the 440 into the Wag and any other projects that arise. Pull out the popcorn and sit back in your seats, because this is going to be an entertaining show.
Last edited by WT91 on Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:01 pm, edited 8 times in total.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.

User avatar

HeavyMetalThunder_81
Posts: 697
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:01 pm
Location: Central Valley, CA

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by HeavyMetalThunder_81 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:13 pm

Great story! It had me smiling and on the edge of my seat the whole time. It is very close to my Jeep story which I will have to document one of these days, although, I am not as good a writer as you haha.
-Jonny B.
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 4" lift, 33x12.5x15
AMC 360 - 4180, TFI, Headers, Dual Exhaust
TH400 - Shift Kit, Deep Pan, Aux Cooler
D20 - Twin Stick'd
F D44 - 3.54, Open
R D44 - 3.54, Lock'd

1979 Cherokee Chief - Parts
1979 Cherokee Chief - Parts
1979 Wagoneer - Sold
1981 Cherokee Chief - Cubed

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MadMax78
Posts: 427
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:40 pm
Location: Guin, AL

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by MadMax78 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:31 pm

Great story. I am waiting for more. Oh yeah :worthless: That 440 is going to move you on down the road. Get to work and post some pics. Well aint that the darndest thing.

Edit: I hit submit and all your pics pop up. I stand corrected.
MadMax78

78 Cherokee S, Wide Track, 360, TH400, Quadra Trac, TAD's SOA, 35" BFG KM2, Edelbrock Carb & Intake, MSD Coil & Ignition


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:58 pm

Thanks gents, more pictures will slowly start showing up in the original post as I can find them and fit them in with the text. Check back for more pics and more edits.

The 440 swap is going to start this Friday with us starting the teardown on the motorhome. Before ripping it out though I plan on taking a video of it running, it hasn't been started in who knows how many years and my buddy (the owner) says that he'll be amazed if I can start it. Seeing as he knows diddly about engines, I'm out to prove him wrong.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.

User avatar

HeavyMetalThunder_81
Posts: 697
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:01 pm
Location: Central Valley, CA

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by HeavyMetalThunder_81 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:09 pm

Trying to copy Roadkill? lol
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JXDcJQqZrA
-Jonny B.
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 4" lift, 33x12.5x15
AMC 360 - 4180, TFI, Headers, Dual Exhaust
TH400 - Shift Kit, Deep Pan, Aux Cooler
D20 - Twin Stick'd
F D44 - 3.54, Open
R D44 - 3.54, Lock'd

1979 Cherokee Chief - Parts
1979 Cherokee Chief - Parts
1979 Wagoneer - Sold
1981 Cherokee Chief - Cubed


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:31 pm

I do love that show, but I was doing the "broke college kid" budget build long before they got started. And some of their "budgets" just confuse me. They claim cheapness, and buy a $4000 muscle car and then dump an easy $4000 into it. I wish I had that budget haha.

My buddy Bonner actually introduced me to Roadkill with the "General Mayhem" episode after I told him about the 440 motorhome swap. Funny how things end up linking together.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.

User avatar

HeavyMetalThunder_81
Posts: 697
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:01 pm
Location: Central Valley, CA

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by HeavyMetalThunder_81 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:55 pm

Yea me too, and I agree.
-Jonny B.
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 4" lift, 33x12.5x15
AMC 360 - 4180, TFI, Headers, Dual Exhaust
TH400 - Shift Kit, Deep Pan, Aux Cooler
D20 - Twin Stick'd
F D44 - 3.54, Open
R D44 - 3.54, Lock'd

1979 Cherokee Chief - Parts
1979 Cherokee Chief - Parts
1979 Wagoneer - Sold
1981 Cherokee Chief - Cubed


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 12:33 pm

So, today we farted around the 440 a bit. Didn't actually "DO" too much other than bullshit with buddies and try to formulate a battle plan for "yank" day, which is this Sunday. I originally wanted to try and fire the motor before pulling it, but upon further inspection the RV's electrical system should be called an electrifail system. Rodents have eaten through a bunch of important looking wires. The throttles on the 440's carb also don't want to open and I wasn't about to force them.

The good news is that the 440's owner drained all the fluids prior to parking it and was even kind enough to duct-tape a plastic bag over the carburetor opening and fully engage the choke to keep debris out of the carb/intake. That plastic bag is LONG gone, about 20 years gone, but it was a solid 4/10 effort.

For laughs I grabbed a nice 40" breaker bar and a 1 1/4 socket and tried to spin the motor with the crank pulley bolt. All of the spark plugs were still in place. Moving clockwise I only got maybe 2-3* of rotation, if I applied any more force I was worried I'd snap the bolt.

Our battleplan is this:

We are going to bash out the RV's windshield and "enlarge" the main grille/radiator/front access opening up to the windshield and all the way back through the dash. This way we have full above and forward access to the drivetrain. From there, it's a typically junkyard style motor yank. Once it's home, we are going to pull plugs and soak the cylinders in PB blaster to clear out any corrosion and then hit them with some lubricant. Change the oil, prime the pump, toss a new carb on it and see if we can't get it started. I may pick up one of the new $130 Budget level GoPros and record this whole debacle for laughs.

-Will
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:14 pm

(Pics will be uploaded later after I sort through them all. We DID end up getting a GoPro to document the fun.)

Alright folks, its been exactly 2 weeks since I last updated this thread. A lot of things have happened on what we've started calling Project 440Wagoneer. We're a creative bunch aren't we?

Anyway, the motor pull from the RV went almost exactly as the plan outlined. First and ONLY time that'll happen. We cut a massive hole where the radiator used to be, cut up through the dash and all the way back to the engine cover. From there, we had full frontal/above access to the engine compartment. Was trivial to snip any lines and remove any linkages. We had an issue with the engine lift breaking through our 3/4" plywood we were using to support it, but we managed to make it work.

We had the whole drivetrain free and out of the RV by lunchtime. We dropped it in the bed of my F350 and started tinkering with it. It was here we noticed that the engine was very well stuck. I had simply been tightening the crank bolt when I thought I was spinning the engine. I know, stupid, but it was dark when I tried it and didn't think about it.

Anyway...

Undeterred we headed back to my mother's place for our next move. I live in an apartment, so we had wheeled and dealed to lease a nice section of unfinished basement as a workshop for this engine build.

One major problem.

I hadn't thought about how we were going to get a 700lb engine down a flight of steps into the basement, even from the rear basement door.

At this point, with darkness falling now, we got the bright idea to start breaking the engine down using the bed of my F350 as a work area. We clamped workshop lights to a tree and parked under it and got busy. In the meantime, my friend who donated the engine managed to find us a garage to use! SCORE. His mom, nicest lady you'll ever meet, was so excited that we were "reviving" the old RV's engine that she let us take over her tiny 1 car garage. She even helped man the engine hoist as we unloaded everything. Awesome lady.

With the heads off we started to get a better picture of the engine. There had been a head gasket failure between two combustion chambers, and right where the gasket failed the block had a small imperfection. Once piston was stuck in it's bore, but we managed to free it up. The engine otherwise was in wonderful condition. It made sense that it only had 17,000 miles.

After some soul searching and budgetary discussion with my missus, we decided that no matter what we did we were looking at an engine rebuild. Whether we kept the old rod knocking 360 or the stuck 440, we were looking at minimally a re-ring job with new bearings. So we did the responsible thing and decided to rebuild the 440. Who doesn't like 80 extra cubes?? I finished tearing the whole motor down on the stand in AwesomeMom's garage and took it to the machinist yesterday. He gave it a once over and confirmed what I had originally thought. We were going to need to deck the block to clear up the imperfection that caused the head gasket failure and we were going to hone the cylinders. The bores were in good shape, once again attributing to the 17,000 miles. The piston that had been stuck, though, was beyond saving. It has deep gouges along the skirt on one side and the machinist says if we're going in this far why screw around with a potentially bad piston.

So now we're in for pistons too. Yay.

So that's it so far. I'm shopping around for engine parts trying to build a freshened up stock-ish 440. Stock compression on my motor is 7.45:1, so we're probably going to go with higher compression height pistons to try and bump that up closer to 9:1 for a little extra oompf on 87 octane. I'll upload some pictures and keep you guys fed with information as we go.

Image dump:

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Last edited by WT91 on Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.


Cheap Hobby
Posts: 649
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:53 pm
Location: Central Valley

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by Cheap Hobby » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:52 pm

Check with perfectengine.com. They have complete kits and you can pick and chose some. It's worth the call or email. You will need to know what size the pistons are if you have to machine for the stuck piston. Also make sure you ask for motor home hard gaskets any place you shop. They have steam pockets the non motor home 440s didn't have.
79 Cherokee WT QT Golden Eagle white with gold windows "Pigger" only blows hubs the night before a road trip or the clodest night of year. Has only been towed cause of stupid.


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Wed Oct 07, 2015 5:50 pm

Ok, its been a few weeks. Nothing has really happened other than research for the 440 build. Been driving the Waggy to work occassionally, I can report that the knocking hasn't magically fixed itself.

We have a build plan and the motor goes to the machinist next week. We are going to use 440 "six pack" pistons which have a higher compression height vs the stock motorhome 440 pistons. That plus the decking my block needs will get us to about 9.5:1 compression ratio with my cylinder heads. The internet isn't too sure how many cc's these heads really are, so I took a large syringe (courtesy of my veterinary technician sister) and measured it with water. It came out to roughly 90cc, which is backed up by a few posts on the mopar forums. The most commonly tossed numbers are 88-90cc, so I did my math with 88cc in mind. Absolute worst case will be if my cc measurement is off and these end up being 83cc heads, but even then it'll only bump the comp ratio to 9.9:1. I'm trying to build this motor with decent quench to help with octane vs pinging issues, so by zero decking and using a .044 head gasket I should be spot on.

The part that was the hardest to figure out was what cam I wanted. I've decided to go with Comp Cam's XE250H grind, which should provide tons of low end power. RPM range is 600-4800 and with the right supporting mods this cam could easily make 330HP/500~ftlb in my application according to Comp Cams. Coming from a completely worn out 360 that maybe made 140 HP new at the factory, 330HP sounds REALLY nice :D

More info will come as I get things taken care of. The actual swap is going to be done fast and dirty, my goal is to take the Wagoneer off the road on a Friday and have it back on the road with the 440 in it come Sunday night. I need to do it this way because I don't have a shop I can work out of for weeks at a time, all I have are shops I can borrow from friends and I can't in good conscience leave my project taking up space in their shops.

Beyond the motor build, the swap itself is actually going to be relatively simple compared to all the LS swaps and such that people talk about on here. The hardest part will be physically fitting the engine between the heater box and the brake booster, which would involve a relocated heater box and hydroboosted brakes. We've decided to forgo all that custom junk in favor of a 2" body lift, which should raise the heater and brake booster above the 440's valve covers and provide us with plenty of clearance. Made sense, since my truck needs new body bushings anyway.

The 440 motor mounts are the simplest things you could imagine, literally rubber squares with studs on either side. Fabricating some new mounts for the engine should be relatively simple. Fuel and electrical will be simple as well, we are going with the Quadrajet that is already on my engine for fuel with the stock 440 mechanical pump. Distributor will be a 1-wire GM HEI style distributor for ease of installation. For oil pressure and temp sensors, we will see if the 440 units will talk with the Waggy gauges. If not, we will convert the 440 to the Waggy style senders. The 440 will also be getting the Waggy alternator and power steering pump.

Now the part that makes this whole swap possible is the transmission. Both trucks had 727s in them. One is an AMC case 4wd 727, the other is a Mopar RB 2wd 727. Other than the bellhousings, the transmissions are identical. Our plan is to gut the AMC trans and transplant it's output shaft and tail housing onto the Mopar trans. This will give us a Mopar RB 4x4 727 that will bolt right up to the NP229 and the existing driveshafts without any unnecessary modifications. Even the shifters will work with 0 messing around.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Tue Dec 01, 2015 7:43 pm

We really broke it this time:

Image
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.


will e
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:21 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by will e » Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:31 pm

I read this thread for the first time. Great write up. I loved the first video of the water crossing. That must have been exciting!

Getting the 440 in there is going to be some work. I am impressed. I would have wimped out and rebuilt the 360. (or found one) and it would have taken me a couple of weekends to do the swap.

Funny how a chance purchase of a cheap FSJ turns into part of your life huh?
81 Waggy 'WILL E' Retired
82 Cherokee WT - SOA/SF/high steer/Alcan springs/agr box/Borgeson steering shaft/AMC 401/performer/holley TA/HEI/BeCool/727/ALTAS (2.0/2.72/5.44)/D60 Snofighter(Yukon Zip,hubs,stubs,4.56)/14 Bolt (FF,BF shave, Discs, ARB,Artec Truss)/MTR 37X12.5/Corbeau XRS Baja & 5 point retractable harness/Hella Aux lights/tuffy console/killer32 sliders/Evil Twin bumpers, rack and roll cage/WARN 8000/TT Fabworks steering brace/dual batts/custom TC skid plate/ARB fridge


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:01 pm

Well, the funny thing is my wife is the one who was all for the 440. The conversation went something like this:

"The 440 is bigger and has more power right?"

"Well yeah, the 360 isn't exactly a monster."

"Ok, well we have to rebuild the 360 anyway right?"

"Yeah."

"OK, well the 440 is free and we have to rebuild a motor anyway, so I don't see any real cost difference here. Just build the 440 and put that in it."

"Uh...okay? If you say so!"

The 440 should be done at the machinist sometime very soon. I'll be assembling it with a buddy who has built a number of motors both by himself and with his father. They're both race car guys. After that, the motor will be going to my other buddy's shop about an hour away where it will sit and wait for the Wagoneer to get towed up to join it. We've altered our plan of attack slightly and are going to forego the body lift plan and instead hydroboost the brake. I didn't like the idea of the big 2" gap between the bumpers and the body since I want to wrap the bumpers around one day and tuck everything up close for protection.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.


will e
Posts: 3855
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:21 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by will e » Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:50 am

I think your change in plan is a good one. I am not a big fan of body lifts on rigs that get wheel'd a lot. If the heater box gets in the way you can always remove it and put in one of those electric heaters some folks use.
81 Waggy 'WILL E' Retired
82 Cherokee WT - SOA/SF/high steer/Alcan springs/agr box/Borgeson steering shaft/AMC 401/performer/holley TA/HEI/BeCool/727/ALTAS (2.0/2.72/5.44)/D60 Snofighter(Yukon Zip,hubs,stubs,4.56)/14 Bolt (FF,BF shave, Discs, ARB,Artec Truss)/MTR 37X12.5/Corbeau XRS Baja & 5 point retractable harness/Hella Aux lights/tuffy console/killer32 sliders/Evil Twin bumpers, rack and roll cage/WARN 8000/TT Fabworks steering brace/dual batts/custom TC skid plate/ARB fridge


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:02 pm

Machine shop called, motor is ready for pick up. Will post up some pics when I swing down there to pay the gentleman. Motor assembly is on the books with my buddy for the 15th/16th.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.


twisted frame
Posts: 539
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:41 am
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by twisted frame » Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:22 pm

Sounds awesome. Is it a stock-ish rebuild? What cam?
73 J4000. 360, MC 2100, T18A, D20, stock closed knuckle Dana 44 front, 60-2 rear. Warn Lock-O-Matics, Warn/Belleview electric winch, true duals with glasspacks, old-school front diff skid plate, used 265 Toyos on 16" AR wheels.


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:45 pm

The cam is a Comp Cams XE250H. The rebuild consists of....

Forged L2355F pistons for 9.8:1 compression
Stock forged crank
Stock "Six Pack" rods (severe duty)
452 Cylinder Heads with the hardened seats for unleaded gas
Comp Cams XE250H cam/lifter/spring/timing kit
Standard bearings/bore

Intake and exhaust I'm not too sure on yet. Might run standard intake and some shorty headers. Depends on what fits.

Should look like 330-350 HP @2500rpm and something like 500 ftlb of torque.

Image
Last edited by WT91 on Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer

Post by WT91 » Tue Dec 08, 2015 9:39 am

Image

Did a junkyard run yesterday for some swap-necessary parts. Got an astro van hydrboost+master cylinder setup with the lines, got a 99 Dodge 5.9L ND alternator (apparently an easy upgrade for the 440?) and a high torque mini starter out of the same dodge 5.9 truck. Next week is motor assembly and trans frankenstein job. Have a bunch of time off to burn before the 31st, so taking the week off to play with the jeep.
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.


Topic author
WT91
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:00 am

Re: Will's $600 Grand Wagoneer (440 Mopar Swap)

Post by WT91 » Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:45 pm

Image

Image

Image
1990 Grand Wagoneer (Toy)
440 9.5:1, XE250H Cam, Hedman Shorty Headers, '7427 TBI
727/208/D44 4.10 Locked F&R, SOA/SF, 33's, 12k Winch, Custom Bumpers F&R, OBA


1994 Ford F350 Crew Cab Dually
7.3 Powerstroke/ZF5 5 Speed/2WD 4.10 LS. Daily driver/toy hauler.

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