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Old 09-22-2010, 08:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Quick performance upgrades to a 1977 Dodge 440

I just acquired a 1977 Class A motorhome (25ft) with a stock 440 engine, 4bbl carb, and the previous owner commented "if you could make the engine get all the air it needs, the more powerful it would get".

So the question is: what are a few quick (and reasonable cost, say under $600, without taking down the engine) upgrades to make the engine (and the driver :-) happy?

Questions:
1. Do bigger air intake boxes and filters exist for this beast?
2. Is there such a thing as "cold air intake" for this beast?
3. How simple/complex/costly is it to swap fuel-injection for it?

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77 Dodge Xplorer 307 Frank Ind 25-ft Class A Motorhome 1st Gen '93 Cummins swapped in, stock '95 47RH/NP241, stock turbo, PS intercooler, Dana 60 front, Dana 70 rear, 4.10:1 gears, ARB lockers front and rear, 19.5 Rickson wheels, 33-inch tires, High-Angle driveline.

Last edited by asonico; 09-22-2010 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 09-22-2010, 10:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Something like one of these universal muscle car types or similar would do the trick for cool airflow in http://www.spectreperformance.com/#CATALOG.7168 . You might look into a set of headers like the hedman shorties that Tinker is using on the Power Ram 50 Royale build and minimun 2.5" dual exhaust to free up the exhaust side. Fuel injection would either be aftermarket, or swap on a GM 454 TBI unit on the cheap maybe.
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Headers, intake, carb and cam w/ matching valve springs is the best way to upgrade though it's a bit out of the budget listed. I'd do the headers first, then the intake and carb then the cam and valve springs. An upgrade to the ignition wouldn't hurt either. Then if you really want more power you can increase the compression and port the heads a bit. Typical big block mods work great just make sure you get an intake, carb, and cam with the use of the enigne in mind. Also be aware that in most cases, the more power you make, the more fuel you are going to burn which may cut into your range.
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Old 09-23-2010, 05:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If you want EFI, there are a few options, but Edelbrock has a NICE EFI system for the big block Mopar, it includes ignition, but it costs 3000.00. http://www.edelbrock.com/automotive_...chrysler.shtml On a tighter budget I would go with Elwenil's suggestions as stated above, start with headers, but I'd go mild cam/lifters/springs before I went intake / carb if you learn how to tune the thermoquad, it is a good carb as it has small primaries for a little better MPG while cruising, and the big secondaries for power. The cylinder heads with some porting will make big imporvements in power output. Find someone familiar with Mopar big block heads and get a GOOD 3 angle valve job and mild porting and it will really wake the sleeping giant up. As for an ignition upgread start with an "Orange" Box from Mopar Performance, its cheap and a 2 minute install. Definately get a dual snorkel air cleaner, and figure out how to get cool air to it, that will make a big difference.
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Old 09-23-2010, 05:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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For a quick no cost mod and to see if better airflow to the carb is really going to make much difference you can simply flip the air cleaner lid upside down. It's fine to run that way in nice weather but in rain it can soak the filter element.

On a similar note, I would avoid K&N and similar oil soaked "high performance" filters as they tend to let in more dirt in addition to more air. That's fine for a racing engine that doesn't need to run 150k miles between rebuilds but not good for a daily driver or work engine.
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Old 09-23-2010, 07:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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if thats the 8.2:1 compression engine you might want to try and get that up about 1 point. that would help quite a bit. those 440 engines in the motorhomes are tanks and they are hard to hurt.

im not sure about the dodges of the times but the late 70's ford's all had retarded timing sets. you put in a straight up timing set and it would really wake them up too.
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Old 09-23-2010, 10:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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OK, great. Look like headers first is the consensus.

I'm in ASAP for:
1. Headers, along with bigger dia exhaust pipes. Any suggestions in addition to the Hedman Shorties?
2. Dual Snorkel air cleaner box (found one in ebay) and plumbing to a cold air source in front of the motorhome

BTW, what's the ideal Octane gasoline for this beast?

EDIT: I'm having difficulty finding a header for a 440-3, does anybody has a part#?

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Last edited by asonico; 09-23-2010 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It's a late '70s engine and also a truck version so it's designed to run on crappy low octane gas. You may get a little better mileage from higher octane gas but due to the increased cost it balances out most of the time. I wouldn't run high octane gas unless you notice it pinging and even then I'd probably try something like MSD ignition to dial the timing in for the conditions and to help with the burn.
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Orange box

From Murfman: "As for an ignition upgread start with an "Orange" Box from Mopar Performance, its cheap and a 2 minute install. "

I've been browsing through the moparracing website and found the Orange Box for $40 cheap. Can I use it with my existing distributor or I may as well upgrade the entire ignition system to electronic (a $226 investment, includes distributor and Orange box)?

Also, what's the difference between the Electronic Ign system ($226) and the MSD Capacitive Discharge system ($350)? Does the MSD unit also require a new distributor?
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77 Dodge Xplorer 307 Frank Ind 25-ft Class A Motorhome 1st Gen '93 Cummins swapped in, stock '95 47RH/NP241, stock turbo, PS intercooler, Dana 60 front, Dana 70 rear, 4.10:1 gears, ARB lockers front and rear, 19.5 Rickson wheels, 33-inch tires, High-Angle driveline.

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Old 09-23-2010, 04:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The Orange Box is a direct swap for the stock ignition control, no other mods needed.

MSD is a racing style ignition system that instead of firing one spark to ignite the fuel and air charge int he cylinder it fires multiple sparks for a more complete burn. I have run an MSD 6AL on most of my vehicles and love them but they don't do a whole lot for a stock engine other than easier starting and it smooths out the idle a bit.
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Old 09-23-2010, 06:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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If your going to leave it in the motorhome I would not change the cam. The cams in those engines make a lot of low end torque. Needed to move the heavy motorhome. I would put a E-brock performer intake and a 750 demon on it good headers (truck headers should fit) and exhaust and be done.
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Old 09-23-2010, 06:45 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mopartyson View Post
If your going to leave it in the motorhome I would not change the cam. The cams in those engines make a lot of low end torque. Needed to move the heavy motorhome. I would put a E-brock performer intake and a 750 demon on it good headers (truck headers should fit) and exhaust and be done.

Could you please point me to where I can get 440-3 headers? Headers that I'm finding in the internet say "doesn't fit 440-3".

Also, if I get an E-brock Performer intake, can I use my existing carb on it(not the 750 demon)?

Thanks.
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77 Dodge Xplorer 307 Frank Ind 25-ft Class A Motorhome 1st Gen '93 Cummins swapped in, stock '95 47RH/NP241, stock turbo, PS intercooler, Dana 60 front, Dana 70 rear, 4.10:1 gears, ARB lockers front and rear, 19.5 Rickson wheels, 33-inch tires, High-Angle driveline.

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Old 09-23-2010, 07:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I doubt a performer would net you any benefit, the stock mopar 4bbl intakes are actually pretty decent. I have heard good things about the Performer RPM on a 440 though, still makes good torque but helps it breath better up top. I don't know if a bigger intake will help much with your stock cam though. I bet if you get some cooler air in and better exhaust out, it will make a noticeable difference. Can you snap a pic of the head where the manifolds bolt up? Unless they are the funky heavy duty heads (don't look to be), I don't know why regular old 440 headers wouldn't fit. The later heads have a ledge at the top of the machined manifold surface that interferes with the header flange sitting flat, but you can just chamfer the flange and they bolt right up.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:26 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Yes you can use the carter on the performer. The performer does actually have better flow over the TQ intake. Plus it is aluminum and dissipates heat much faster which helps. I'm not sure why they say that the headers won't fit. Order the headers to fit a 70s big block truck. I'm almost positive they will fit no problem. Some of the industrial big blocks had a weird small valve, big combustion chamber head with a unique exhaust manifold. I've only seen these on the 413 industrial but that may be why they are saying they won't fit. As a precaution in case your engine has these heads. But looking at the picture above your engine does not have the heads I've described. You should be fine with the truck headers.

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