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Old 01-08-2017, 08:17 PM
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Crazy motor swap idea!

Hey guys this is my first post! I have a 96 zj Laredo 5.2 4x4. To keep it short I'll say my engine and wiring is shot. My brother has given me a low mileage running 318la from an 85 2wd Dodge pickup. I want to put the old carbed motor in my Jeep. I know I will be told it's a dumb idea and I will lose HP and mpgs but I don't care. It's strictly a trail rig and only gets about 500 highway miles per year. I have heard that the engine will bolt right up to my 44re trans. I was told that the trans is controlled by the pcm and I would need to get a separate transmission controller. Is this info correct? Where can I get this controller? Also I would like to keep all my gauges working and all the power options. Finally, what about fuel.? I wanna run the mechanical pump so would I just remove the electronic pump and install a sending unit? Thanx so much for the input!

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Old 01-10-2017, 11:25 AM
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Come on guys I'm sure this has been done before!
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:44 PM
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Re: Crazy motor swap idea!

It's not a crazy idea. But you do face some challenges. The 85 donor engine has a computer controlled carb, & timing. See anything that says 'lean burn' on the donor engine or in the donor vehicle engine compartment? That's the trucks 'puter. You have a few choices: if you want sort of simple - put the 5.2 computer stuff on the donor; or if you never want to deal with a computer again, find a pre 80s carb and maybe an early 70's distributor, coil etc for an LA V8. For a trans, find a 727 from a 4wd. As for all your stock gauges etc working - hah ha. It would be faster to get the SW or Autometer catalog out and retrofit the car with mechanical gauges. It's all do-able, you'll just need piles of determination & cash. Unless you had an under-hood fire, it is most likely that the simplest most straightforward way to get your jeep running is to retrofit the donor 318 with the 5.2 stuff. They are the same basic engine - and a good engine at that. But before you start tearing things out, do a good thorough diagnosis on the failed engine. The fix may be simpler that you expect, unless there's a hole in the block...then it's yank & swap time.
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:17 PM
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Thanks for the reply. So the engine will bolt up? The la motor must be older because there is no computer. Is there even a such thing as a separate controller for the transmission? I really would like to get rid of the entire computer without changing the transmission....if that's even possible. What about keeping the computer and bypassing the crap that goes to the engine? I know it's alot of questions. I just want to get a good game plan. Honestly I don't even care about the gauges, but I do need my power windows to work. Thanks again and any more advice is welcomed and appreciated.
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:28 PM
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O yeah one more thing....will the older 727 trans bolt up? Will I have any clearance/cross member/driveshaft issues? Thanx again
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Old 01-14-2017, 05:00 PM
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Re: Crazy motor swap idea!

The 5.2 is a 318. You may not recognize the computer, but lean burn (ignition control) was used by Mopar from about 77 on. Starting with 80 the carbs were 'feed back' type. This means the exhaust is analyzed using an O2 sensor sending data to a fuel mixture computer that in turn directs adjustments to the mixture in the carb up to 10 cycles per second. Before computer controlled transmissions, Mopar used the 727 on its rwd V8s. The 4wd 727 trans may be a good fit in the jeep (I don't have one on hand to measure - try google). The jeep 4wd trans has a different tailshaft (shorter) that bolts up to the transfer case. My guess is that the 4wd 727 does the same. Now the 318 was used for years before computers, first with points & a standard carb, later with an electronic ignition with a normal carb (2 & 4 bbl). Your standard gauges in the jeep may be an issue because they may be fed &/or tied to/from the on board computer. As an example, the alternator functions (voltage regulation, charging, etc) are routed through the computer. It can be controlled from an earlier version of Chrysler voltage regulator, but this will trigger the 'check engine' light. So you can see that eliminating the on board computer system will give you challenges, but there are 'work arounds'. (Just wait till you try to get the ac system to work - that's a REAL challenge. Ha ha.) As for trans controller that allow you to eliminate the stock system, I don't know, but I'll bet that there are some out there. You ask about clearance, drive shaft, etc issues. I'm sure there will be some challenges, but nothing a pile of greenbacks can't handle. Remember you are making major changes, but most are do-able. Custom length driveshafts are made every day. Cross members can be modified. You may find that a Dodge Ram Charger 727 w/transfer case assembly may be shorter or similar in length than the jeep unit. Linkage will have to be fabricated (I'd go for a cable unit). BTW why have you condemned the jeep's wiring &/or engine? Unless the jeep was in a fire or a flood, most issues are fixable. The jeep/Mopar computer based fuel management, timing & transmission management system is pretty good especially when compared to the 'good old days' carb & distributor. I know first hand - I owned them, drove them, and worked on them professionally. Those old systems were horrible, and maintenance hogs. Really difficult cold weather starting, stumbling acceleration, flooding, vapor lock, and on and on. The newer (post renix) systems start & run very well. The only system from the 'good old days' (sarcasm alert) was the trans - the 727 was/is great. Good enough that its still the base for Mopar rwd auto trans up to the 2000s.
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