Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Step by Step....

So, it has come up quite a bit on Ruffrodders.com and the HAMB (jalopyjournal.com/forum), guys asking about swapping a V8 into their old Mopar. There are a lot of questions out there because it really hasn't been done a lot, and if it has, not really documented. That's were I come in, hopefully clearing up any misconseptions and mystery behind doing one of these swaps. When I bought my Dodge, I had two options. Try to resurect the old flathead 6, or swap in a V8. I chose the later. Below, in my previous posts, you will find all the pics I took documenting what I did. I will try to explain here, though, step by step, how I did it.

It was just more cost effective and less time consuming to drop in a V8 instead of rebuilding the old motor. In my honest opinion, the best thing to do if your planning on dropping a V8 in your 49-51 Dodge or Plymouth and your on a budget(I'm not sure if it will work exactly the same on previous or later years) is to use a Small Block Mopar, and not just because of the "Keep it Mopar!" thing, but because it WORKS with a lot less headaches. Any time I've seen someone drop in a Small Block Chevy in their old Dodge or Plymouth, they've had to change out the whole front clip, cut the firewall, and do some serious re-engineering. You don't have to touch the steering box if you drop in a small block mopar, 273 or 318, from a sixties Valiant or Dart. Mid Sixties Mopar A bodies, Dart and Valiant, have special exhaust manifolds on the drivers side to clear the steering box and column. A bodies are small cars, so these engines were designed for tight spaces. I didn't have to modify anything except for new motor and trans mounts. Keep in mind, that when I did this, I was only 18 with a two car garage and the basic tools. If you can weld and wrench, you can do it, too.

Oh, and another thing. If your ready to do this, I would seriously consider buying a donor car instead of just the motor and transmision by itself. All in all, it makes things so much easier. There is a lot less parts chasing and trying to figure out where things go or how it works because it's all right there. This is your best bet.

This is what I did:

I bought my 1966 Plymouth Valiant off of Craigslist for $250. Besides looking butt ugly, it ran great. I pulled the entire driveline. Motor, trans, rear, and driveshaft, and a bunch of other stuff like the headlights (which fit perfectly in my '50 dodge and are 12 volt which you'll need later), and other micelaneous stuff. After I stripped it of everything I could think of, I junked it.

I cleaned up the motor, put in new freeze plugs, cam and lifters, roller timing chain, gaskets, but since it was already running good, I didn't have to do much else. I also put a shift kit in the transmission. (I got all of this from Summit Racing)

The rearend from the valiant fit, too, after a little bit of coaxing. (Cutting the spring pads off and welding them back to match up with my stock leaf springs.)

If your planning on dropping a motor in a car, any car, and need some kind of motor mounts, I would HIGHLY recommend Chassis Engineering Inc. I bought the Engine Mounts, the Universal Frame Adapters, and the cushion kit. I was going to get their Universal Transmission Mount, but I found out that I could make my own for a lot less.

After welding in the motor mounts and transmission mount, I went ahead and wired it up. This another thing that can take forever or just the weekend based on what kit you buy. This, again, is just my opinion, but if you want to do it right, without cutting corners, get a good kit. I bought the Mopar Powered Bare Bones Wiring Harness from Ron Francis. It was almost as if the Harness was made specifically for my project. Everything had its place, the instructions were so easy to follow, and the quality of the kit was way above expectations. My Dodge fired up the first time, too. Do your research...

Now all that was left was fuel. This is when I went to Summit Racing. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to do this, I'm only letting you know what I did, and what worked for me. I bought Summit's Complete Fuel System Kit. Everything was matched and was cake to hook up. I got a Fuel Cell from Summit, too, only because it was easy and works.

The last thing I did was have a custom drive shaft made at a local drive shaft shop from the drive shaft I got from the Valiant. I needed it just a little longer.

I used a Floor Shifter from B&M only becuase I was on a budget. It looks good though and works. If I had more money I would have totally gone with a Tall Genie or Lokar shifter.

Another thing I forgot to mention earlier. Throttle Cable. Hooking one up was A LOT easier than I thought it was going to be. I got mine from Speedway Motors. If you've got the cash, though, you could always upgrade to a Hight Tech Lokar Throttle Cable. Both of these, though, hook up to the stock throttle pedal.

For cooling I used a 65-66 mustang 302 swap radiator from Mustangs Plus. It fit between the radiator supports instead of in front of it to make room for the motor. I hooked up a frame rail style transmission cooler from Summit Racing, too.

Oh, and don't forget about exhaust. I did drive around for about a week "open headers" but eventually took it into a local shop and got some glass packs put on it. What you chose is up to you, though.

I hope all that helps. It can be done, cheap and easy, without a lot of headaches. Just do your research. Good luck!