Diesel Conversion to Isuzu 4BD1T

Discussion in '60-Series Wagons' started by longbow, May 3, 2011.

  1. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    Well, here goes. This thread could just as easily be called the "Poor boy's route to a diesel cruiser".

    I have been lusting after diesel cruisers for over a decade and unfortunately have never had the money to buy one, so I decided to build my own.

    I really wanted to stay all Toyota but $5500 to $7500 for a used Toyota diesel was just not going to happen. So I started looking at other options and settled on the Isuzu 4bd1t. It is a great engine with a great history and parts are everywhere for them and adapters are available for this swap.

    I started looking around and found a great deal on an engine (so I thought!) on ebay with only 89k on it and the owner really talked it up on the phone before I purchased it. It took him 4 weeks to get the motor shipped and when I received it, I was so excited to get going on this. I got it unloaded off the truck and started to see what kind of condition it was in, only to realize it wouldn't turn over one complete turn! I learned a very valuable lesson on this one. Never buy an engine sight unseen! I started pulling pans and manifolds off and things only got worse.


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  2. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    Well, to say I was pissed would be an understatement. It took a while, but after a few threatening phone calls explaining that I have no problem driving across a few states to shoot him, he refunded half my money back.

    I should back up and explain that I purchased my 60 a month before I bought the engine and I selected it because it was a clean Arizona cruiser that had been converted to a chevy 350 years ago and the engine was pretty worn out so I got the cruiser for a steal of a price also due to a blown brake booster. Here is how she looked when I got her.

    [​IMG]

    It was basically stock other than the engine conversion. I wanted this one because it already had the Downey bell housing that I would need for the Isuzu conversion. I then spent all last summer doing a complete rebuild of the Isuzu engine.

    [​IMG]

    I pulled all the Cylinder liners with my homemade puller and Installed all new pistons, liners and rings and then all new bearings and gaskets. I then reground the valves and put all new seals in the head and put it all back together. I should also mention that I hate rust so I wire wheeled every single part of this engine and painted each part individually before I reassembled it. I then mounted it on my run stand. Here she is when I got it all together.

    [​IMG]

    I should mention that there were a few setbacks throughout this process like the following items were junk. Injectors, Injector pump, turbo was seized and ultimately junk, alternator--Junk. All of this was unexpected expenses and delayed my conversion for months while I made more money and found decent parts to complete this engine as you see it above. I ended up going with an upgraded T3 turbo that came out of an SVO mustang.

    Here is a link of the motor running after I got it all done.
    YouTube - Isuzu 4BD1-T

    If you haven't figured it out, this is a post build thread.

    It was such a drawn out process that I didn't want everyone waiting around for photos and so I just figured I would do the thread after I was done.
  3. MANUCHAO

    MANUCHAO omnea mea mecum porto SILVER Star

    Messages:
    3,540
    Location:
    Sur Cal
    Dude... that's a labor of love eh...
    Dont go round saying is a poorman's diesel conversion.. that is quality work right there !!!!

    Very well done !!!
  4. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    Before I get too far, I need to give some thanks to other mudders who gave me a bunch of technical advice over the last 8 months. Flcruiser, Dougal, Rhino, Doug720, and a bunch of the guys over on the 4BTswaps forum that helped me when I was trying to diagnose my injection problems.

    Once the engine was finished and running I had to do a lift to get this engine to clear my front diff.

    This turned out to be more difficult than the engine installation.

    Anyway, 3 days of hell later and about 100 feet of MIG wire burned, I had an SOA Cruiser. I should also mention that this is my daily driver and I can't have it down for weeks at a time for all this conversion stuff.

    [​IMG]

    This was my first SOA and amazingly, it turned out great and drives straight with no death wobble or any other negatives.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  5. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    MANUCHAO,

    Thanks for the nice comments. Hey where is your link to your alaska trip blog? I've read that thing a bunch of times and love it! You took some great photos on that trip. I love alaska! I am building this rig to take me there when I retire from the Fire Dept. in a few years. I plan on getting my residency there and coming down here to Az. for the winters.

    Don
  6. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    So, back to the build. After the SOA was done, I spent a bunch of time rebuilding an FJ62 Transfer case and H55F that I found used here in town. I then set out to collect a bunch of the little items that I would need to do the conversion so that I would be completely prepared when the time came to do the swap. (remember this is my daily driver) I got the power steering lines from an FJ62 and the throttle cable and pedal assebly as well. I also rigged up my choke with a cable from the hood latch of an FJ60 so it would be long enough to reach the other side of the engine where the shutdown is on the injector pump. I went over everything that I could think of that I might need when doing the swap so that I could get it back on the road as quickly as I could.

    So, I had 4 days off to complete this swap and I was determined to get this done by the end of it. Keep in mind also that my buddies were all out of town or working when this all went down so I was on my own on this one.

    I started on a Tuesday morning at 8:00am and began tearing out the old engine and tranny. Here it is with the old clapped out chevy ready to be hoisted out.
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    And here is a nice empty engine bay!
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    Man, Soa cruisers are high! I probably should have lowered the front end by taking the tires off but it came out fine.
    [​IMG]
  7. MANUCHAO

    MANUCHAO omnea mea mecum porto SILVER Star

    Messages:
    3,540
    Location:
    Sur Cal
  8. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    By the end of the first day (1:00AM in the morning) I had the old engine out and the new tranny and transfer bolted to the diesel and the Downey bell housing and ready to go in the next morning.[​IMG] No jokes about my wifes plastic santa!

    The next morning (@5:30AM) I was up and began fabbing out my motor mounts. I had some 4" thickwalled boxbeam laying around so that is what I used for the mounts. I cut them at a 45 and then stabbed the new engine in and attached the tranny crossmember to the tranny and bolted it up to the frame to give me my front to rear location of the engine in the bay. I then adjusted my left to right and height of the engine in the bay and then tacked my mounts in place and then removed the engine to finish welding them in and remounted the engine on the new mounts.
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    A lot of things lined up just right on this second day like the FJ62 power steering lines bolted right up to the power steering pump and also all of the mounting holes on the frame! Throughout the day into the night I mounted all the little things like the power steering res. and hooking up all the throttle cables and pedals and shutdown cable. Into the night I worked on welding up my exhaust and splicing it into my existing pipes and getting the starter wired up. I finished it up enough to drive at about 3:00AM in the morning and then fell into bed. The next morning (4 hours later!) I got up and put the hood and front grill back on and took it for a test drive.
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    As you can see the intake is duct taped together and the heater hose is just a loop to itself and the wiring is all over the place. But it runs and drives! What a great day this was. Here is a video that I shot during that first test drive.
    YouTube - Isuzu Diesel

    I couldn't have been happier with this thing. I finally had my diesel land cruiser and it had an amazing amount of power compared to a 2F or my worn out 350.
  9. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    MANUCHAO,

    Thanks for the link! I had it saved and somehow lost it a while back. I like to look at those great photos you took.

    Yeah, I was up there in '08 and I'm flying up this July to go fishing on the Kenai. I am absolutely in love with that state!!!!
    Thanks for the offer for the MD. I might just take you up on that, since it is one of my favorites.

    Don
  10. LegShot

    LegShot

    Messages:
    124
    Location:
    Bend, OR
    Really nice work and write up. I enjoyed the video links as well. Want to do mine next???
  11. StevoJonesFJ60

    StevoJonesFJ60

    Messages:
    1,987
    Location:
    Central NJ
    That is a fine looking engine, makes me want to go out and get one for myself.
    Keep up the good work.

  12. Drool....what mpgs you seeing? Watched the video...sounds so good...i'm rather jealous
  13. GLTHFJ60

    GLTHFJ60 Rum Runnin' SILVER Star

    Messages:
    14,109
    Location:
    Durham, NC
    EXCELLENT work man:cheers:
  14. richenry

    richenry

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    San Diego
    I don't have any idea about what it takes to do this conversion but I am in awe of your conversion. Please post info about how it drives and what kind of MPG you are getting.
  15. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    So, the engine has been in since last November and since then I have put on about 4500 miles and everything is still working beyond my expectations. It started out getting about 23mpg. and now it has gotten somewhat broken in and it has gone up to about 26mpg! My worn out 350 was getting about 11mpg so this has been a huge improvement for me, especially with fuel prices what they are now.

    Over the past few months I have been working on cleaning up all of the wiring and getting the intake hoses and HJ61 air cleaner (thanks Dirtgypsy!) hooked up.

    [​IMG]

    I also had to get a new AC compressor that was smaller than the original cruiser compressor because there just wasn't enough clearance between the steering box. I ended up using a Sanden 709 compressor and having to build all new lines because the compressor is mounted on the opposite side of the engine now.
    [​IMG]

    Anyway, I have been very happy with the power and gearing of this setup. H55f with 3.70 gears and 35" tires puts my 70mph rpms at 2150 and that is about as fast as I drive on the highway with this thing anyway so it seems just about right.
    I used to want a long range tank but now that I am getting this kind of mileage my range is over 500 miles and I really don't see the need any more.
  16. primer7

    primer7

    Messages:
    869
    Location:
    Sparks, NV
    Beautiful job, much to be proud of!
  17. MANUCHAO

    MANUCHAO omnea mea mecum porto SILVER Star

    Messages:
    3,540
    Location:
    Sur Cal
    WOW !!!
    Those numbers are amazing !!!!
    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  18. longbow

    longbow

    Messages:
    571
    Location:
    Tucson
    Ok, so how much did this cost to do you ask? Well, I have to say first, that like most guys on this forum, I am one cheap son of a gun and if I can build it instead of buying it, I will. I set out to do this conversion for $2500 and that just didn't happen. Having to buy the rebuild kit and alternator, water pump, ac compressor, Injectors, Injector pump, turbo, all these added up to quite a bit and ran the bill to about $3200 total. Not the price I wanted but still a reasonable price for a complete diesel conversion in my book.

    One thing I think I should mention is the simplicity of this engine. I have been around gas engines my whole life and grew up working on dirtbikes and gocarts and such but I had never had any experience with a diesel engine before and this one was pretty amazing to work on. This engine has a completely gear driven valvetrain, crank, cam and injector timining. There are no belts or chains, only heavy duty gears that all line up simply with simple letter timing marks on each gear. This was such a simple and straightforward engine to work on and I did all the work in my garage with no need for a machine shop. If I can rebuild this engine in my garage, anybody can. I had a factory manual and the help of all the experts like Dougal on the 4BTSwaps forum to answer my questions and it was really not that tough, just time consuming as I had to do all on my days off from work.

    As more people do this conversion, I think you will see it become a lot more popular for cruisers due to the cost compared to a Toyota diesel for those of us on a "working man with a family" budget. Nothing against a Toyota diesel, I would probably have bought one if I had that kind of money, but I just didn't. That being said, I don't think I would be any happier than I am with this engine anyway.

    One other thing to mention is the quietness of this engine compared to some others I have seen used. This engine is suprisingly quiet for an industrial diesel engine. I have a friend that has a Cummins 4bt in his jeep and this motor is much quieter than it is. I think the Cummins is a great engine, but holy cow are they loud!

    Another thing that I have been working on for the last month or so is my fuel filtration. I have a couple of buddies with Dodge diesels and they are using the Airdog systems on their trucks and they love them. The Airdog system is a air/fuel separator system that is supposed to increase your mileage per gallon by making your fuel more efficient and making your injectors last longer by removing contaminants and air from your fuel.

    Anyone who has looked into this system has probably noticed that the Airdog has a pretty hefty pricetag of $500. Well, I don't have that kind of money to put into fuel filter systems, but I am pretty good at building stuff other people have developed and so I set out to build my own Fuel /Air Seperator like the Airdog. I did some research on the internet and diesel forums for Dodge and Ford diesels and low and behold somebody has already done it themselves. One of the guys even had the patent drawing of it. It basically is a two filter system that uses a 12 micron water seperator on one filter and a 2 micron fuel filter on the other. The way the system works is that it uses an extension tube down the middle of the 2 micron filter housing to pick up the fuel at the bottom of the filter instead of at the top as usual. It then has another port at the top of tht filter housing to allow the fuel with air in it to be bypassed back to the fuel tank via a return hose. That's it! I built mine for about $85 including all lines and filters and housings and fittings. I plumbed an inline electric fuel pump between my tank and the filter housings to help push fuel through the filters since I run a blend of veggie oil and diesel fuel. I also use this pump to help prime the filters when I change them as well.
    [​IMG]

    This is a super filtration system and hopefully helps preserve my investment over the years to come.
  19. TobyB

    TobyB SILVER Star

    Messages:
    1,147
    Location:
    Seattle
    Wow- great write- up.

    But I have a question- how's the power? Specifically, how does it do climbing an on- ramp, going from
    35 to, say, 65?

    Thanks!

    t
  20. FL cruiser

    FL cruiser

    Messages:
    1,353
    Location:
    West coast Florida
    Outstanding conversion all the way around!

    What brand engine components and gaskets did you use?

    What kind of oil filter mount/housing is that you used? Is that custom?

    Again, great job!

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