lj78 13bt Failed swap, need advice (1 Viewer)

Joined
Sep 27, 2016
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44
Location
Livingston Montana
I know this is going to be a contentious thread, because I'm about to speak some truth about a shop owned by a beloved and prolific member of the forum, but it is what it is. I'm going to commit up front to not getting into a flamewar. That isn't why I'm here. I need some solid advice on how to push forward with my rig (which is currently dead with no compression in the front-cylinder), and I'm going to lay out my situation and name names because honestly it feels like a sick joke to worry about protecting people's feelings at this point (unlike several other posts I made, trying to walk the tightrope of diagnosing my rig in one hand while safeguarding Steve's reputation in my other.)

Anyway, to make a very long story shorter, a few years ago, I went to Land Cruisers Direct, to swap out the 2lte in my lj78 with something that wouldn't overheat and explode. We'd been running with a replaced/improved head, wide-open exhaust, and keeping a close eye on the egt-meter. Wife and I had a very fun overland tour of the US with a rooftent, and fell deeply in love with the truck, but it was dangerously slow on eg.. two lane highways in the high-desert of Wyoming. We told LandCruisers Direct we wanted more power, but we wanted to stay toyota/diesel. We eventually settled on a 13-bt swap.

The initial swap cost over 17 thousand dollars and took over a year, and the truck came out not running right. The main problem was that it idled very rough in the 800-1000 rpm range. The problem was apparent to us on the initial drive home, but we were anxious to have our truck back so we drove it home and did some research in here to see if we could figure the problem out ourselves. Trying the normal 70-series fixes for air-in-the-fuel-line related problems didn't help, so we took it to an LC specialist nearby (Mike Daja), and eventually gave up and drove the truck 700 miles back to LandCruisers Direct. I say "main" problem because there were many others. For example, the crank-pully and main drive pully were warped, the harmonic stabilizer wobbled visibly when running and there is what looks like welding-slag in the belt-slot of the main drive pully. The AC belt was rubbing against the drive belt when we first got the truck back, coating the inside of the engine bay with burnt belt-rubber. The Spal electrical fan, necessitated by the swap, kept blowing fuses and shorting relays, probably because the heat-sender had been over-tweaked into the side of the engine block, cracking its enclosure. Also the mechanical voltage regulator wouldn't charge the battery reliably. I replaced it with an electronic version, and fixed many other problems with the help of various mud threads and advice, but I was never able to get it idling correctly. There were times the problem wasn't as bad, but it was never **Right**.

LandCruisers Direct kept the truck for 3+ months and drove it back to Texas for us, but within a week it was idling rough again. Total time in shop 1 year 4 months. I'll also mention that every other mechanic who pops the hood of this truck physically winces at the sight of the swap. Huge, taped-off bundles of the original lj78 wiring harness that didn't meet up to the 13bt hang loosely in the engine bay. Too-long vacuum hoses looping around, resting against hot engine block, sometimes not connecting to anything. To say nothing of seal replacements, the engine hadn't even been cleaned up, scrubbed down, or de-greased when it had been on the pallet. The ~2" hoses connecting the air-intake components are obviously original to the previous truck, and cracking with age. One-off unprotected 18-gauge wires run here and there, connecting to sensors and relays like the electric radiator fan relay, temp-senders and the A/C compressor.

I'd read several threads about the benefits of the Italian Tune-up, with respect to direct-injected diesel engines like the 13bt, so despite our discomfort around the idle problem, we tried to take a short road-trip with the truck, heat-saturating it, but keeping the egt's below 950 as always. We had less than 4k miles on the swap when we started. The engine blew less than 1k miles later. Completely losing compression in the forward-most cylinder. We towed it to a uhaul, threw it on a carrier and limped it back home. In hindsight I believe the 13bt was installed with an intermittent compression problem (LCD claimed to have performed a compression test initially).

I'll also mention, communicating with LandCruisers Direct during the swap was a further exercise in frustration. Like I said we were 700 miles away, so not being able to visit, I emailed regularly, and phoned when that didn't work, but trying not to make a nuisance of myself. Steve seemed invariably to be somewhere else (utah, california, wyoming, narnia, etc...), at a show, preparing for a show, working on something else, somewhere else. I'm pretty sure the actual work of the swap was performed by the other mechanic in the shop for whom we had no phone number or email address.

This meant we never really had any pictures or first-hand updates during the swap, but rather an irregular series of second-hand descriptions of work being performed, or problems being worked around, and always the estimate was that they were a few weeks, or a month at most away from completion. In the entire year the truck initially spent in the shop we got a single cell-phone photo of a 13-bt engine sitting in our truck, attached to an email suddenly announcing that the truck was ready for pickup.

I know reading those paragraphs is going to inspire some of you to recommend legal-related courses of action, and I feel you trust me, but again, I'm not really interested in arguing or lawsuits. It's been so long and I really just want my truck back. To that end I'm trying to plan and save up for yet another swap, and trying to figure out what comes next. Given my experience thus far, I'm thinking about going to a gasoline engine with highway power and readily available parts in the US, probably a single-turbo 2jz. I know many of you have had swaps performed, and many of you run shops that perform swaps. I'd like to do a little pricing diligence and discuss some options with a few different shops this time around, and I'd also like to hear some technical opinions about the 2jz/lj78 combo, which is evidently a bolt-in option. I've read the available threads on the combo, which are sparse. I'm not really worried about killing myself or destroying trail with the overabundance of power -- I'm not that kind of a driver. The truck will be used for long-distance highway hauls between Montana and Texas multiple times per year in all kinds of weather, with a good deal of non-recreational off-roading in both of those locations.

So mud..
  1. Who should I be talking to?
  2. Is there a better toyota gas engine option to balance performance and reliability in an lj78? (also interested to hear some real world 2jz gas-mileage experience)
Thanks in advance
-pradoblivious
 

GTSSportCoupe

2LTE abuser
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Victoria, BC, Canada
Well, sorry to hear about your bad experience with said shop. Shoulda just cranked up the boost/fuel of the 2LTE and replaced heads every 100,000km. LOL.

Normally B engines are really good. Sounds like the particular motor you ended up with had issues to start with.

2JZ is a sports car motor. Totally not suitable for a long haul truck chassis in my opinion. Complicated engines too. Definitely not bolt in. And because they're only 3.0l displacement, they are in boost all the time. I've heard they get terrible fuel economy in landcruisers. If you want a Toyota gas motor, look into the 5VZFE V6 or the 1UZFE/2UZFE V8. V motors fit well into the LJ78.

Honestly though, a 13BT in an LJ78 is a nice combo. I think you just need to find the right person to sort it out for you.

Or you could part the whole truck out and move on....
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2004
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812
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Calgary
Do a 1FZ-FE swap. it's a proper Land Cruiser engine, and the big torquey brother of the 2JZ, which is fast revving sports car engine.
1FZ-FE's are dime a dozen, very reliable, take boost incredibly well, make good torque and decent power, relatively low tech so swaps are not too hard. Their only problem, like all Toyota gas engines, is that they suck fuel. Mated to a 5 speed, I bet they would be darn good in a 78.
 
Joined
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Whitefish/Bozeman, MT
Bummer, sorry to hear about your misfortune. As far as alternate swaps are concerned I would recommend either a 1UZ or a 5VZ for gas engines. The 1UZ is actually a pretty well documented swap and apparently works very nicely in the 78. However, both those options would require a transmission swap at the same time. The issue with any large inline 6 is that the engine bay is not long enough to fit the engine and things like AC. Or you could put in a fuel sipping TDI ;)

Have you found out what actually went wrong with your 13BT? It might be worth having it rebuilt if the damage isn't too extensive, it seems like a 13BT would be an awesome engine in a Prado if it was set up right.

Is the vehicle currently in Montana or Texas? If its in MT you could go to Overland Cruisers in Bozeman for an opinion.
 

SNLC

OCD
Supporting Vendor
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Boise - Idaho
2UZ for petrol engine all the way. I wouldn’t even look at anything else although the 5vz is a good engine too.

R2.8, 1KZ or fix the 13BT if you want to stay diesel.

Put a hd front clip on and in-line 6cyls fit.

Cheers
 

FJBen

SILVER Star
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Having just rebuilt a 13BT, i would go that way. would Probabaly be your simplest route since it’s already in there.
without seeing It or any photos it’s hard for me to comment on install quality or issues but another swap outside the B family is going to start building up costs, and if not new, possible other engine issues.

that said, a rebuild kit from Engines Australia isaround $1000 I believe. I hear the exchange rate is good right Now. Might even be cheaper than that. Find a good old school diesel rebuilder/machine shop and they can knock it out correctly in no time.
ifnthe engine was questionable, do the injectors and IP just to make sure it’s tip top with a new rebuild.

If you could fit a 2UZ for gasser, I would do that I have that in a tundra and it’s it pretty dang good engine. It would be killer AND a Toyota Engine in a Land Cruiser.
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2016
Messages
44
Location
Livingston Montana
Some answers; The current 13-bt is mated to an a440 from a bj74. The truck is currently in Texas (DFW area). I haven't bothered to dig in to the cause of the compression issue, mostly because I don't have the space/tools and figured if I was going to pay for it, it'd just be money sunk into an already dead engine. Sounds like the UZ series is a winner. I'll see if I can find a diesel rebuilder in the area to get a price from; sounds like despite how much trouble it's given me, maybe it's worth considering resurrecting the BT
 
Joined
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Perth Western Australia
I would probably rebuild 13BT Im hoping others who buy LJ7* take heed, they are not fast enough for North American highways and the swaps are neither cheap nor easy if you want them done to a high standard.
Im hoping someone from Landcruisers Direct can tell their side of the story.
 
Joined
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This isn't going to be a popular answer but if you are going to go the 2UZ route I would look into the GM LS swap also and compare the two. LS is going to be better bang for the buck and future maintenance is going to be far easier and cheaper. You will also get better fuel mileage and power out of an LS, join that with a 6 speed auto and you can cruise at 80-90 all day long.
 

FJBen

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I would probably rebuild 13BT Im hoping others who buy LJ7* take heed, they are not fast enough for North American highways and the swaps are neither cheap nor easy if you want them done to a high standard.
Im hoping someone from Landcruisers Direct can tell their side of the story.

Good advice. The 13BT is a great engine, but imo not an interstate 75+ Engine. If you are wanting that, then a 2UZ or something else that likes the revs. Mine seems fine at 65, 70 sounds like it’s working more and 75 feels pushing it with 33’s.
mom at 2350rpms at 65mph.

however, you can get overdrive gears in your transfer case along with better low range to drop those RPMs down on the highway
 
Joined
Mar 11, 2007
Messages
2,341
As above, I would find the issue with compression and fix it. As for rpm at high speed running, I also would not be to concerned, I have run mine at 2800rpm for many hours, was its most economical while towing I have ever had it.
 
Joined
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Sakhalin, Russia
just fyi
the same swap (click auto-translation for English)
 

FJBen

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Correct, these are just transfer case gears like @AirheadNut stated.

for my setup 13BT, H55f, stock gears and 33” (32.7 actual) I should be at 2700rpms at 75mph. 8% overdrive t case gears would drop me to around 2500 rpms.

it will be a little different for the auto and your tire size but a possibility for sure.
 

John Young

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If money were no object, I would love to see you do a Cummins 2.8 liter crate turbo engine. I recall they are about 7500 USD out the door, and are designed for retrofit installations. I intend to do that swap in a couple of years with our 1991 Model 77, currently in repose in Salt Lake. I'd love to have someone be the pathfinder on this.

But I echo the others here--getting the existing toyota diesel sorted has got to be possible.
 

rhah

Admit it, your cruisers jealous
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This isn't going to be a popular answer but if you are going to go the 2UZ route I would look into the GM LS swap also and compare the two. LS is going to be better bang for the buck and future maintenance is going to be far easier and cheaper. You will also get better fuel mileage and power out of an LS, join that with a 6 speed auto and you can cruise at 80-90 all day long.
Cheapest bang for you buck for sure

pushing 100k since my swap in my 60 now
 
Joined
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Seattle, WA
Yeah, I forgot about this one. I'd love to hear an update on it. What was decided? Has there been any progress?
 

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