Builds '91 Pickup diesel conversion

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DanS HJ-45

Apr 26, 2007
Dumont, CO
OK, due to some requests, I'll give a quick rundown on the process I used to install a JDM diesel engine into my '91 pickup. This may take me a few days writing this up and uploading pics. But the conversion has been on the road for about a year and 15,000 miles. So at least there's a happy ending. :) There's a lot more info about my and other swaps on

First off, my 1991 shortbed pickup was pretty much stock. 22R-E. No lift, no big exhaust, no body damage, etc... It was high mileage, but worked beautifully. That is until I drove it from Alaska to New Mexico in January 2005. Somewhere around Whitehorse, YT it sprang an oil leak. A massive leak. I would put 3 qts into it every time I filled the gas tank. By the time I got back to the relatively warm temperatures of CO and NM, I got around 35mpg on engine oil. No, that's not an exxageration. But because every time we asked about getting it repaired ont he Alcan, the earliest anyone could even look at it was a couple weeks away, we pressed on and on and eventually made it home. A rolling oil slick, but home.

Once I had it home and in it's shop, I started deciding what to do about it. The engine did have just over 200,000 miles, and it was due for a timing chain, and some other minor work, so I came to the conclusion that my best option was to find another 22R-E core and rebuilt it. But every time I checked prices in the Albuquerque area at the time they wanted around $1,000 just for a core. So I thought to myself: "when I've travelled around the developing world, they've had diesel Toyotas. If they have them in the developing world, they must be cheap. I wonder if I could find one in Mexico or something."

That got me looking into the diesel engine Toyotas. It didn't take long before I decided that I NEEDED a diesel. Not only would I have longer engine life, but I would get better mileage! Sounded like a deal to me. Especially because I was expecting to spend 2 grand to rebuild my 22R-E, finding a low mileage diesel engine for 3 grand seemed like a bargain.

So I got a diesel engine on order, and started removing stuff from the engine bay. I also removed the gas tank, and ground the spot welds off of the restrictor in the filler neck (because that's the only thing that keeps you from putting a diesel nozzle into your filler).

The three pics are: the truck at the southern end of the Alcan, a pic of the engine compartment as I started pulling stuff out, and the fuel filler neck of the gas tank.

before 1.jpg
before 2.jpg
The engine I bought was actually in the form of a half-cut. If you haven't seen a half-cut, they take a vehicle, and simply cut it off just behind the transfer care. The rest of it comes to you in a big box. The reason I went with a half-cut was because it includes not onlly an engine, but EVERYTHING else required to make it work. Also, it gave me the ability to look at what it was supposed to look like, and not try to cobble it up from a pilt of parts.

Some quick diesel engine stuff for you: the L series diesels and the R series gas engines are interchangeable. The motor mounts, the transmission mounts, etc... You can bolt in an L series engine in place of an R. The bellhousing is different (because the starter is on the passenger side for the diesels), but other than that, it's that simple.

First there was the L, which got a little more displacement to become the 2L. When the 2L got a turbo it became the 2L-T. When the engine got some internal improvements, it became the 2LII-T (which makes a lot of parts not interchangeable, but still the same basic block). When the 2LII-T got an EFI setup, it became the 2LT-E. There is also a 3L engine (which has more displacement, but is normally aspirated--but it shared most everything with a 2LII series). I got a 2LT-E.

So, I ordered a half-cut from JARCO, from an LN-130 Surf. The LN-130 is basically a 4 runner.

Here are some pics of the half cut being unloaded, and then 2 pics right as it came out of the box.

half cut 1.jpg
half cut 2.jpg
half cut 3.jpg
The half-cut is complete enough that I was able to sink the cut fuel line at the back of the cut into a bottle with fuel, put some oil in the engine, and hooked up a battery--it started on the first try. It was really nice because I was able to at least hear my engine run, and know that it wasn't just a solid hunk of steel. :)

I really wish I would have put some wheels on the hubs and driven it around dragging the frame rails, because it would have been hilarious.

Here's some pics of the engine compartment as I saw it when I opened the hood of the half-cut.

half cut 4.jpg
half cut 5.jpg
half cut 6.jpg
I pulled the 22R-E by myself. I'm not quite sure why, but it decided to come out at a 90 degree angle. Oh well, it worked just fine.

Pics are the engine coming out (at an angle), and pics of the engine bay without an engine. You can see the amount of oil that was coating everything. On the plus side, it prevented rust like a mofo!

gas engine out 1.jpg
gas engine out 2.jpg
gas engine out 3.jpg
The diesel ECU was mounted on the left (because the truck was RHD). I knew from the get go that the hard part of the swap would be the wiring. At the time I was doing mine, there were a couple of other 2LT-E conversions going on, but I wan't aware of any prior to those of us who started about the same time. I'm sure that someone had done it, but they hadn't made any wisdom about it available.

So when I pulled the ECU plugs out, I was happily surprised to see that the gas and diesel harnesses were largely the same. Now, I had no idea if the same pins corresponded to the same wires between the two, but I suspected they did at this point.

The pics are the ECU in the half-cut, one of the diesel engine harness (the two large plugs) and one of the gas engine harness (a big grey one, a smaller white one).

diesel harness.jpg
gas harness.jpg
diesel ECU.jpg
I pulled the 2LT-E from the half-cut (sorry no good pics). Once i had it off I pulled the clutch off for a couple reasons. First, my half-cut was reportedly scrapped because the clutch had failed. I wanted to know just what was so bad int here, and if I would need to replace the flywheel. I had decided to replace the clutch while I was in there anyway, so I wasn't too worried about it.

I was really hoping to find a solid mass flywheel in there, but it was a dual mass unit. They werent' used for too long, but I knew from others' experience that if they failed, that parts weren't available at any price. So when I heard that the "clutch" had failed, I was afraid that it might mean my dual mass flywheel had failed.

The clutch itself should look familiar to some of you. Its the same as the gas engine clutch. I just got a clutch for a 22R-E and it worked fine, but there have been a couple guys have to use V6 clutches or something.

So the pics are: the dual mass flywheel (2 pics), and the original clutch.

dual mass flywheel 1.jpg
dual mass flywheel 2.jpg
clutch 1.jpg
I was originally planning on using my original transmission. For one, I figured it would be a W56 (yeah, should have looked at my door tag), and when I got the half-cut I found that it had an electrical T-case. I don't particularly mind shifting a little lever every so often, so I didn't see much benefit to using the newer (and lower mileage) transmission from the half-cut.

I scrapped that plan as soon as I tried to bolt the bellhousing onto the transmission. It turns out that the bolts don't line up. (yeah, I'm observant).

Not that I'm complaining, in the end I got to ditch the G58 in favor of an R150f.

The pics here are the two bellhousings side by side (the clean one is the diesel bellhousing), the front of the gas tranny (again notice the oil--it has been scrubbed down a bit at this point too), and the rear of the R150f T-case. I was hoping to find a way to avoid that electric 4WD.

g58 tranny 1.jpg
R150 t-case.jpg
On to the wiring...

Basically there were two problems with the wiring:

1)the diesel harness is slightly different from the gas harness
2)the diesel harness was for a RHD truck, mine was LHD (it's more complicated than just turning it over unfortunately)
3)the LN-130 has lots of gadgets, so the chassis harness has provisions for the shocks, rear windows, power windows, locks, etc... My pickup hasn't got power anything
4)The JDM vehicles have things that US vehicles don't and vice versa (safety and lighting stuff)

So I decided that the easiest way to handle this was to add what I needed to my gas chassis harness from the diesel harness. The vast majority of the wiring is the same (there's only so many ways to run a wire to the horn, you know), and doing some quick checking one against the other, almost everything was the same. For that reason, I cut open the chassis harness on the half cut and went to work trying to isolate what I needed.

I started by labelling anything I KNEW. I removed anything that I knew I didn't need (air conditioning, adjustable shocks, etc...). That started to make it more manageable. I also started isolating the stuff that I knew I would need to add (turbo light, glow plugs, etc...)

The pics here are the half-cut frame (you can see that it is identical to the US frames), the 4WD ECU and wiring (and why I wanted to ditch it, that just looks complicated), and a mess of wire from the chassis harness (I didn't remove it from the body because I needed to see where some of the wires ran forward to identify them)

half cut frame.jpg
mess of wire 1.jpg
4wd wiring and ECU.jpg
Because that much wiring is just depressing (and confusing) I decided to do some mechanical stuff.

I rebuilt my rear diff. Ran out of the good Toyota form in place gasket, so I had to substitude. No leaks yet. Also, the blue looks really good under there--bling!

I also took my fuel pump out of the gas tank. The diesel pumps it's own fuel, and the electric pump is a restriction, so I simply removed the pump from the assembly and replaced it with a copper tube for a pickup. One of these days I'll get the correct diesel pickup, because it includes a screen on it. I have a coarse fuel pre-filter (before it gets to my expensive Toyota filter) and I don't pick up much in it at all, but it's still a concern...

Pics are the shiny rear diff (still, note the oil on most everything :) ), and the fuel pump, and it's replacement.

diff 1.jpg
fuel pump 1.jpg
fuel pump 2.jpg
More procrastinating the wiring :)

I replaced the timing belt (just like the timing chain on the gas engine, it's a doozy if you have it fail). Basically, I took some white out and put a tick mark between the original belt and the various pulleys. I then removed the belt and transferred those marks to the new belt. I then installed the new belt in the same way as the original came off. Worked like a charm! In fact, it worked perfectly three times. The first two I turned it over and saw that all of my marks had moved. That couldn't be right, so I took it off and tried again. When i say that my marks had all moved, I mean that all of MY marks had moved. The timing marks that matter (the ones on the block and the pulleys) were perefect the whole time. d'oh!

While I had the cover off, I replaced just about everything. New idlers, water pump, front main seal, you name it. I basically just didn't want to have to open that up until I need to replace the belt again.

Pics are original belt with the marks still installed, then the two belts together, and the third is the new belt in stalled (and all the other new stuff there too)

t-belt 1.jpg
t-belt 2.jpg
t-belt 3.jpg
The guage clusters are very slightly different between the diesel and gas trucks. Basically, the diesel tach is different (a different signal) and includes the check engine light and turbo light. The diesel speedo actually has a Timing Belt indicator that runs off of the odometer. Basically when you replace the belt, you reset the timer on the odo, and after 60,000 miles or so it turns on a "check T-betl light." I decided that I wanted my original speedo more than that (and I wanted mph--not to mention the legal issues that might arise), so I simply removed the kph/diesel speedo and replaced it with the gas one. Takes maybe five minutes to change out a guage in there.

I also got a lot more progress on the wiring (but it's just not very photogenic). I had decided to not install the engine until the chassis harness was done, because it would be so much easier to trace wires with the engine on the engine stand if I had to.

But here's the entirety of the wiring I had to add to the wiring harness for the guage cluster. No, that's not an illusion, only 4 wires had to be added. So easy it's crazy. you can also see in the background the wiring for the EFI relay (that sits on teh left kickpanel fusebox) that I had to add.

Also, because I still wasn't positive that the R series transmission shift lever holes would be the same, I wasn't sure if my bench seat was going to need some modification. Besides, it had a rip or two in it, and three people in that truck was just never plausible. So I got some buckets out of a 4 runner. Being the world's coolest mom, my mother recovered them for me. She also did some foam work under those covers. That's a marine vinyl blue/grey sort of color. It looks fantastic in person. Also, they are seriously comfy now.

guage cluster 1.jpg
guage wiring.jpg
Because I was doing my swap very much for mileage, I put Aisin lockout hubs on my truck.

I also got the bellhousing on the tranny, and the new throwout bearing installed. I also dealt with the pilot bearing (I had to use the bread trick, grease and a puller both failed) and rear main seal.

Looking at it now, I wish I would have brushed all of that surface rust off just to get it even cleaner.

Pics are the new hubs, the pilot bearing, and the inside of the bellhousing.

pilot bearing.jpg
I was able to find a solid mass flywheel from a 3L engine, so I was able to ditch my dual mass unit. The only difference is that it's just a solid chunk of metal instead of an assembly. It uses the same clutch. It did use different bolts, which is a saga in and of itself--I even expressed the wrong bolts to myself from Australia at one point. But eventually obviously I got it.

With the engine and transmission assembled to one another, we decided to try installing the whole thing in the truck as an assembly. We jacked the back up as high as humanly possible and tilted it all back in. Turns out it doesn't fit, no matter what you do. The t-case is just too big to fit around the IFS stuff. One more reason to eventually get rid of that junk.

Pics are the new flywheel, the new clutch, and the failed install attempt.

flywheel installed.jpg
new clutch.jpg
install attempt.jpg
So, we had to put the engine and tranny in separately.

And we did, easy enough.

Do the shift lever holes in the floor originally used with a G58 work without modification for an R150? Yes, perfectly.

Pics are the engine going in, the shift lever holes, and the engine in place. (cue the beer)

engine install.jpg
engine in.jpg
shift lever holes.jpg
But really, it was back to wiring work.

Remember that the engine was set up for RHD. That means that the wiring harness only went to the left firewall. My harness needed to go the right firewall. I'd rather extend wires than reroute them too wickedly, so I did. I basically extended every wire in the engine harness bundle about five feet to make the harness long enough.

It was a solid six hours of soldering, but I got it done. I'm a certified airplane mechanic, so I've got a little experience splicing wires and keeping them solid and safe. If I would have used crimp connectors the bulge int he harness would have been wicked! You can hardly figure out where I did those splices now (although I did stagger them pretty well). In the pic, I've got maybe half of the wires extended. I used around 450 feet of wire extending that harness. I wish I could have purchased wire as high quality as Toyota originally used, but I just couldn't find any. Toyota doesn't skimp on anything--their wire is noticeably more pliable and measurably lower resistance. Not that I think I'll have a problem with the wire I used, but I wish I could have used the good stuff, that's all.

We also removed all sorts of little bits from the half cut body and installed them on my truck. Brackets and whatnot that were originallhy spotwelded to the body were removed and bolted to mine. All those little ridges and nubs have a purpose--they show you the right place to put brackets for other equipment. you can see the bracket for the air cleaner here that is a slghtly different color than the rest of the truck. Other than that, it looks stock (well, aside from the bolts).

Also I still had some loose ends on the interior. It was at this point that I was able to stand back and be glad that I had chosen a "bolt-in swap." :lol:

Pics are the wiring harness extension in progress, some engine bay details (note the air cleaner bracket color), and the mess on the inside.

wire extension.jpg
engine bay details.jpg
interior wiring.jpg
The coolant hose originally left the bottom of the radiatior, ran to the left side of the frame, and then up to the engine. Unfortunately the factory setup was colocated with my LHD steering box.

I tried a lot of stuff, but the only solution I could come up with at the time was to use a stupid hot rod part. It's really the only non-toyota part on my truck, and I hate it with a passion. I did throw it around the driveway a bit to get some of the shine off of it before I installed it though. It works, but it's the only part of the truck that has given me any problem since I finished the swap. One of the hose clamps backed off a bit and let the coolant leak (which is a HUGE concern with the 2LT-E).

One of these days I'll be able to ditch it, but for now it works allright. I just hate it, that's all. :)

Pics are the outlet of the radiator (which I had moved to make it easier), the solution, and how close the PS pulley comes to the solution. It's got about 1/2" all the way around, but it's still closer than I'd like.

coolant hose problem.jpg
coolant hose solution.jpg
coolant hose solution 2.jpg
After all that work, I couldn't live with the "Unleaded Fuel Only" placard on my guage cluster. So before I reinstalled the dash, I had to deal with that little detail.

Pics are the guage cluster up close, the interior getting more buttoned up, and the guage cluster installed. Fuel only indeed.

guage cluster 1.jpg
cleaning up a bit.jpg
guage cluster installed.jpg
I think these pics speak for themselves. :beer:

It started the first time I tried it (of course, I'd checked and double checked my wiring about a zillion times).

The only things I wasn't sure about were the turbo light and the check engine light. They both came on during the power on self check, and they went out when you started the engine, but that didn't mean they worked.

The lights worked though. :)

running 2.jpg
running 3.jpg
In the whole project, I only had to fabricate one bracket. That absolutely amazed me. The only thing I had to fab was the bracket the fuel filter/primer pump attaches to.

You may notice some white parts (like the fuel filter bracket, the turbo heat guard, the battery holddown, etc... I have a small powdercoating setup, so I can do anything that fits inside an electric oven. I'll never paint anything again. The big benefit is that even I can't mess it up, and that from when I start, 30 minutes later I have a finished part and can use it as soon as it's cool enough to handle. I used the white because I had some extra white powder, and just in case anyone ever wants to wonder why some things are white. I'm especially proud of my white fuel tank brackets--if anyone ever looks under there they can know that "something" is different.

Pics are of the fuel filter bracket/turbo heat guard, and two of the general engine bay.

You mgiht be able to see the electric fan I had to use because the stupid hot rod coolant tube interfered with the shroud. I replaced that fan with a bigger one later. No problems with either of them yet (although I replaced it because that one was just comically undersize).

fuel filter details.jpg
engine bay details 1.jpg
engine bay details 2.jpg
And shortly thereafter I drove it out of the shop for the first time in about a year. Yes, all of that dust is from the time taken to do the swap.

All told, I spent an actual 5 weeks of work on it, but the job I had at the time generally had me working for a month or two, before I got the time off to get home for maybe a week of work. And the first day was usually taken up trying to remember what on earth I was doing, and the last day was spent cleaning up for my absence.

It's now been on the road for about a year and 15,000 miles. My mileage is indeed awesome (about 30-35mpg typically), and it has a LOT more power than the 22R-E ever did. I used to be able to drive up the canyon from town at 53 mph with the gas engine, the first time I drove into town and back with the diesel I did it at the speed limit (65 mph)--I realized a day or two later than my speedo is off by about 16%, so I was actually doing about 75. I had LOTS of power to spare even at that speed.

Torque is obviously impressive. Like all real diesels I let out ont he clutch before I add any gas, mostly to save the clutch. In fact, the torque is so impressive that every time you hit a bump on the highway, your foot bounces a little on the throttle and you quickly skip a heartbeat wondering "did the engine just die?"

The 2LT-E has a serious problem with the head. Mine has not failed yet. I fully expect it to someday. When that happens, I will replace it with a 3L head which should fix the problem for good. Everyone who's heads had failed was right around 2 weeks/200 miles after they got it running (the stop leak fails about that time), about that same mark on mine I was driving it around and the engine would lose power on hills, and the check engine light would come on. Obviouly I was sure my head had just died. But, upon further inspection, it was just the biodiesel cleaning out junk from the fuel system--it was clogging my el cheapo fuel filter and causing the fuel pressure to drop (which caused both the power loss and the ECU light). After cleaning the filter (by blowing through it) the problem went away. Hasn't returned since.

Other than that, there was the leaking hot rod part, but once I tightened that hose clamp, the problem was fixed.

Other than that, it's been maintenance free!

The pics are the truck outside for the first time, a pic of the interior (if you look closely, you can see that I kept the RHD shift levers--not as awkward as it might sound--I also get to feel up passengers a lot :lol:), and a pic of the truck just last month. In fact that's a pic of it on the day I brought the HJ-45 home.

Still to do:

replace that stupid hot rod part
replace head with 3L head
replace the body with a 4 door Hilux body
install correct speedo drive gear (got to find 4.11 drive for an R series, mostly I'm just lazy)
replace fuel lines from filter to IP (want hard line, and to replace all rubber with Viton)

I think that's it, whew! :bounce:

BTW-if anyone is interested, I've got all kids of wierd stuff for sale after this swap. Anyone want a RHD interior? :lol:

interior details 1.jpg

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