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Engine Swap in B150

Discussion in 'Vans' started by JULIO RICE, Aug 5, 2015.


    JULIO RICE New Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Hello all. I have a 1987 B150 van that I got hot one too many times and blew the head gaskets in. The whole thing leaked quite a bit, including the transmission. And it was getting about 10 mpg at best before I did it in.
    What I would like to know is if I can just pull a mid 90s engine (360) and transmission out of another van or truck and plug it in with minimal trouble. Computer and all. Is this a viable option or is it more trouble than its worth? Thanks. Julio
  2. valiant67

    valiant67 ...

    Jan 7, 2003
    Any kind of swap is going to require some work.
    If you want the later engine and transmission, you're going to have to do a lot of wiring work. It won't be impossible but you'd need the factory service manuals with wiring diagrams for your van and the donor vehicle. It will be time consuming.
    Or you could convert the newer engine to carb, add an electronic ignition distributor and manually wire up transmission controls (if it's a newer OD transmission), but you need to stay pre-1996 for the donor with this option.
  3. A-Body

    A-Body New Member

    Jun 28, 2018
    If your transmission is ok, why change it. You may have to change out the converter due to a possible balance issue if it is a 5.2 or 318.. You should get around 14 MPG with this set up.
  4. TL Hanson

    TL Hanson New Member

    Jun 14, 2019
    A-body not sure where you are, but I have several yards locally who still have MANY mid 80's Dodge trucks and Vans, also I might recommend to you to check and I have had alot of luck getting parts for my 80, 85's and 90 Dodge Vans. Also if you have to ship an engine I would suggest trying for bids to bring it from wherever to you. Or ask about truck shipping or UPS or FEDEX Ground. One of my shipments from TX to GA came via commercial carrier, who had a depot about 50 miles from me so I went and picked up 2 pallets of parts instead of requiring "home" delivery. Parts and shipping cost me $600, and that was a heck of a deal. I also have an engine coming from a junkyard in FL to me here in GA, from a gent who works off $225 for his services. Off uship you can quite often get a rate about $1 a mile. Sometimes less if the service provider has multiple loads going in similar direction.
    Now the aggravation of changing out an engine in a van is a pain no matter what. I did so yrs back in my 76 B200, Altho I did not change engines just rebuilt mine. Radiator and Support have to come out 1st, then accessories come off. I had a special adapter made for my engine hoist, since clearance is critical, that allowed me to slide my hoist arm in about 1 inch above the intake manifold, carb was off and I attached to intake to head bolts with "X" chain. Then its just a matter of "working" it out slowly and raising it as clearances allow.
    To ME the hassles of going FI and electronic in an 87 is NOT worth it, in most cases I THINK you'd have to do some instrument cluster alterations as well.
    MPG in my 76 after overhauling it,went from normal 13.7 to just over 15, empty, and an amazing 17.8 when carrying close to 2,000lbs. Might have had something to do also with the cam I put in which changed the lift some and having a 3 angle valve job done on the heads so they breathed better.
    Whatever you decide good luck with it, final suggestion, figure out cost of each procedure, changing to FI and electronics including time, versus pulling old engine out and overhauling and putting in new cam, which by the way if you want help you can call the major Cam makers to help you select cam.
    Good Luck with your project.
  5. Junkman George

    Junkman George Active Member

    Apr 15, 2019
    Changing the motor in a Dodge van is a "challenge" at best, a bitch at worst.
    I would never buy and install an unknown in that situation, I would instead buy a donor, drive it around a bit, determine if it was worthy, then do the swap if I was confident of a "win".
    A conventional engine crane does not have the necessary "reach", so you either need a longer top beam, or be prepared to lie on your belly in the van and with a bar and a chain, or two, "curl" the engine the final distance home, with the crane carrying the front of the engine.
  6. dana44

    Ad-Free Member

    Jun 17, 2002
    The donor vehicle works the best in these situations, it can be a bit of a crapshoot just pulling something out of a junkyard and hoping for the best, there is a reason the vehicle is there in the first place unless rebuild is on the agenda to begin with. With injection and computer, gotta remember the whole system works as a unit and does not take kindly to eliminating components for convenience, thus, fuel system with the pump and all, evap system is pretty intertwined into the computer, so that is needed, too, and then all the wiring, to include the ABS system (and hopefully not any more), which is why the donor vehicle that is in good mechanical condition is the best and easiest way to upgrade. Sometimes you can find a rough body vehicle and have it a good runner to start with (and keep the cost down), and afterwards, when everything is swapped and running right, then scrap or sell off the good parts, then scrap the rest, scrap metal is decent price right now, and a sawsall works better than cutting torches or grinding discs to cut what is left into small enough pieces to handle.
    Junkman George likes this.

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