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Old 04-09-2010, 03:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Diesel powered WJ

I started building up a diesel powered jeep to be a driver for the wife when she wants to get out of her camry, I should have started a build thread over here since I hardly post but love the tech around here. Anyway here is what I have done so far over the past 2 months, I travel alot for work so its really only about 2 weeks worth of part time work LOL.


I have been wanting to do a modern vehicle for a while now and was looking for an SUV, I would love to have a 2000-2005 Tahoe but I dont want to have $12,000 invested in it after its all said and done so I started looking for a midsized suv. I was originally looking really hard at the 96-2003 ford explorers since they were definately in the price range I wanted to spend but I couldnt find anything to meet my standards ( and I thought my standard was low). I saw alot for decent prices but then I went to look at them and it was a joke, they just werent worth the time to convert. I finally went to an auto auction and found this 2001 Jeep grand cherokee for $2,000 which I thought was a great deal considering all the other vehicles I had been looking at and their condition vs. price.

This thing is super clean for the price I paid, there are about 5 small (dime size or less) dings but the paint is almost perfect. the interior has a small tear about 1" in the drivers side door panel but I fixed that already and you have to really be looking to even notice it, other than that its like new.

I couldnt get any details on why it went for so cheap other than the motor has a tick to it although after much searching on the net it seems to be a common problem with the 4.0L 6cylinder. I really couldnt care less if the motor is bad but it seems to run good it just has a tick and from what I have read on several sites many people drive them for years after the tick develops in the engine. I plan on looking into it a little more to see if its a loose rocker arm or bottom end issue and see if its easily repairable, if it can be repaired easily I will do it and try to sell it for cheap with the stock tranny and harness.

All in all I am very happy with the jeep for 91,000 miles its extremely clean and very smooth riding. I did do some things to it in anticipation of the diesel going in very soon. I changed out all brake pads and rotors since they were thin, changed all shocks to heavier duty ones and installed a new pioneer radio since it didnt have one, oh I also tossed on some Michelin LTX A/T 2's.

Now for the good stuff, I obviously bought this thing to swap a diesel in and shoot for well over 30mpg's (hopeing for 34-35mpg's). I have 2 choices in my shop, either the Nissan 3.5L or an Isuzu 3.9L 4bd2t, both engines make about 130hp and have the bosch A pump so makeing more power wont be too much trouble. I like the architecture of the nissan since its exhaust is on the passenger side and its direct injection, the Isuzu is a nice motor but its indirect injection and the exhaust is on the drivers side right along with the steering and brakes setup. I will be tossing up a poll in the general discussion forum if you guys wanna post up your opinions but feel free to speak up in this thread also, you all know I like hearing your opinions.

Sorry for talking for so long I am just very excited about this project since its such a new vehicle (its all so clean and easy to work on things LOL) and it will eventually be my wifes daily driver, just as soon as we make a 3,000 mile road trip in it this summer just as soon my kiddos get out of school.

Here are some pics of the Booty Fab Jeep!





My pioneer radio from the F100 it will be nice to load all my music on a USB thumb drive and play it on the radio



The enemy LOL 4.0L 6 cylinder 194hp 230 tq @3000rpm


I originally tried to install the isuzu 4bd2t and had major fitment issues with the unibody framerails and the isuzu starter and injection pump not to mention the a/c pump was completely hitting the steering gear box and would have to be relocated. I would have had to toss the upper control arms, hack the unibody on both sides and relocate the a/c pump to make the isuzu fit and I still wouldnt have liked it the way it would have been.

Plan B was to try the nissan FD35T and sure enough it fits perfect, the starter is half the size of the isuzu unit and located much higher so it easily clears the frame rail, the injection pump is higher as well so no fitment issues, and my favorite part the intake is on the drivers side and the exhause is on the passenger side. The only drawback to the nissan is I had to make an adapter to mate up the 4l85e. I used 3/8" 6061 aluminum for the adapter and made a .175" spacer for the nissan flywheel to give me the proper converter depth. I drilled the nissan manual flywheel for the chevy converter patter and machined a special piece and pressed it into the center of the flywheel to help locate the chevy converter. The adapter had .003" runout which is way better than any factory manuall recomends that I can find so its good enough for me.

To make sure everything clears when I convert to 4wheel drive I installed a 4" lift using clayton long arms up front which had a side benefit of adding alot of room up front since it does away with the upper control arms, not that I really need it but its nice to have. I also installed a set of 32" michelin LTX A/T 2 tires to fill out the wheel wells a little better.

anyway here is a shot of the motor, trans and tcase I'm pretty excited this thing should be pretty bullet proof with basicly a 1 ton drivetrain. I just need to upgrade the weak stock axles which will happen after I get the conversion finished. I plan to drive it around for a bit while I build up the axles although I have been considering just installing the dana 30 and maybe a ford 8.8" from an explorer I have laying around, seems to be a popular combo for the grand cherokee guys for the small 32" tires I'm running.





Little update, I finally got the motor mounts installed I used the factory nissan UD1100 mounts and braced them to the unibody, I was going to use the stock nissan rubber mounts but at $80 a piece I had to laugh since they look just like stock dodge square mounts so I went to the local autoparts store and bought some 91 dodge diesel truck mounts for $17 each. I wanted to use the stock jeep mounts but I didnt have room for them, oh well. The trans mount was super simple I just drilled the holes in a piece of 3/8" plate and welded it to the clayton crossmember and added a small triangular support (not that I would need it with 3/8 plate though lol).



Here I am welding the mounts in, you can see there isnt much room in there at all, I am not a big guy but that engine bay is TIGHT!

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Old 04-09-2010, 03:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Here are some porno shots of the engine we are going to have the valve cover, water neck, intake ceramic chromed for a nice polished aluminum look like the twins on my ford.







Here is the overall shot of the jeep after the lift and new tires, the motor is set back far enough that the suspension doesnt drop too much, maybe 1" or so, I will measure it later and check it against the stock hieght.



Here is the new shifter for the Tcase I bought it from smileys, its a local roundy round shop.



Got a few things done today on the jeep. First the Bauman TCM was installed, I made a simple aluminum bracket to hold it in place under the drivers seat and drilled a 1 5/8" hole in the floorboard for the trans wiring then installed a very tight grommet with adhesive to run the wiring through for a nice tight seal. I chose this spot since its protected, easy to get to and plug the laptop into for tuning and underdash is way too clutered from the factory for anything this size.



Next we removed the firewall insulation and sprayed several layers of lizard skin sound deadner over the firewall and trans tunnel past where the transfercase will sit then reinstalled the firewall insulation.



Here is how I am going to get a tach signal, I plan on using a dakota digital magnetic pickup off the injection pump gear along with their programmable box, I will just use my photo tach to play with the signal till I get it right at the factory tach.



We did get several other small things done today but nothing really worth mentioning just little things that needed to be done to tidy things up. Tomorrow we are planning on reinstalling the engine and trans along with the D30 front axle to check for oil pan clearance. We are prepared to do some modifying to the oil pan to clearance the pinion on the D30 but we wont know till we get it all in there. I built the motor mounts using measurements I took off the axle while the stock 2wd axle was still in place so tomorrow will be the first we have ever had a front axle with diff in the jeep. I can only hope no mods will be needed but I know how things usually pan out for me so I am expecting to pull the pan and break out the welder.

any luck and tomorrow you will see a front axle, engine and trans installed for the last time.

I got the engine, trans and D30 front axle in today, no fun doing that stuff at all but at least its done. I have to remove the oil pan tomorrow and chop out some of the sump to clear the diff.
Heres a quick shot of the engine sitting in place.



Made some more progress today. I got the trans and transfer case bolted up, brakes swapped on the front axle, oil pan modded etc. etc. Here are a few pics.

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Old 04-09-2010, 03:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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After finally getting everything on the ground with the full weight of the drivetrain on the suspension I got to see how it really will look. I guess I should have went ahead and picked up the 2" spaces I was gonna get when I ordered my suspension but its not like I cant pick some up this week. from the frame rail to ground its 15" front 17 rear so some 1.5-2" spacers up front will work great, I am leaning towards 2" so when the springs settle eventually it should still sit level. I know the rear springs will settle also but I am betting the added weight of the diesel will settle the fronts even more.



Here is a shot of the massive D30 lol. you can also see the clearance I now have with the oil pan. I had to clearance alot which I didnt really want to do but I wanted the engine as low and rearward as possible for weight distribution and handling. With the axle on the bumpstops I still have at least 1" of clearance at any point on the oil pan to axle. I filled the pan with water to check for leaks and luckily no leaks (maybe I can weld... nah!)






Here is the piece I took out of the oil pan for clearance its big maybe 2 quarts worth but its better than the axle self clearancing lol.



Yeah, mine was like yours just bigger LOL. The wife and I spent 2 days non stop working on that thing to get everything organized and cleaned up. We took a trailer load of junk out also no fun at all.

I have a few little updates but I havent done much in the past several days besides clean, fish and build my dad a badass steel table, I will be building me one soon around 20ft long

Here is the stainless steel upper radiator hose I whipped up, it will get ceramic coated like the other few parts so it matches.


Here are the new tranny lines. I dont know much about the tranny lines other than they are braided stainless with a cotton weave rated to 2200psi, 250* constant temp, and 3/8" going into -6 JIC (-AN) fittings. I am also running TCI (ugh cringe) 4l80e coolant line fittings (the purple things) that have the extended tube for the rear port and instead of the normal GM pushlock fittings it uses -6an males. I normally stay away from tci but these were priced right and are very nice.



Heres a quick shot of the new sanden a/c compressor thats going on as soon as I make a bracket for it tonight.



This is the dakota digital magnetic pickup I will be using for my tach signal. I made the aluminum piece from 3/8" and threaded it to fit the sensor the nut is there to lock it in place. Hopefully this will read the number of teeth on the injection pump gear and give me a signal to convert for the factory jeep tach to use. I still need to clean up the aluminum piece a little more and paint it.
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Old 04-09-2010, 03:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I bought Stothews hx30 from him and should make for a nice upgrade from the ht15b. You can see the visual difference in the pics but the compressor side is a little bigger especially the exducer, the turbine side looks a little bigger but pretty close. I am expecting fast spoolup and good power out of this setup but wont know for sure till I get it up and running. I am glad I didnt go with a bigger turbo since I only have about 3/4" of clearance between the comp cover and exhaust manifold.





Turbo is bolted in but I need to fab the oil feed, the return from the ht15b will probably work just glancing at it.



I converted all the tranny line fittings over to -6an (JIC since they are cheaper) with 3/8" line. The jeep radiator cooler had some sort of proprietary fittings that none of the local hydraulic shops could match so I removed the fittings to find they used standard 1/4" npt fittings to screw into the cooler itself, I just installed some 1/4" to -6jic fittings and away I went. I was really wanting to maintain the radiator tranny cooler to go along with the external cooler when I am wheelin or just sitting in traffic it should help alot.



As you can see the external tranny cooler is decent size, I bought it at autozone part number 911516 think its rated at 30,000gvw hope it will handle my little jeep and 4l85e



Just a few more things to do and it will be on the roadbounce I cant wait.



That pretty much brings it up to date so far, let me know what you guys think.
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Over here most WJ's are 3.1 VM diesels or 2.7 Mercedes diesels. Guess there aren't many in the U.S.
What truck did that Nissan engine come out of?

Nice work btw, i love these diesel swaps
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Old 04-10-2010, 06:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Nice build I love the attention to detail and how clean it looks
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Old 04-10-2010, 06:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm diggin the project name on the white board...very cool build...we loved our WJ...
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Old 04-10-2010, 11:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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You cant buy diesel powered WJ's over here so I just built my own lol. The power will be upgraded slightly from stock, we are going for mpg's over power (but still wanna easily merge into traffic) so I went with a small but bigger than stock turbo and will be turning the screws on the injection pump for more fuel. I would like to see around 200hp eventually but its not that important really.
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Old 04-10-2010, 08:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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very cool, cant wait to see and hear about how it all works out. what are you planning on running for mufflers? certainly not practical, but id love to see the looks on peoples faces when you pull up next to em at the red in a straight piped turbo diesel wj
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I havent decided on mufflers yet, I will be running 3" exhaust for sure and more than likely making it from 316 stainless steel since I can get it for way cheaper than I can buy mild steel (I know it doesnt make sense but its true). I have been considering just straight piping it for now and adding a muffler later on if needed, time will tell. If I find a muffler that will be quiet enough and compact enough before I start the exhaust I will install it if not I will straight pipe it for now, see how I like it and if I dont will keep looking for the right muffler and add it later on.
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Old 04-11-2010, 01:44 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I have been considering just straight piping it for now
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Old 04-11-2010, 03:12 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Subscribed! Very cool build. I'm extremely interested in how quiet this thing is in the cab and what kind of mpg's you see. Should be a fun driver.
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Old 04-12-2010, 04:36 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I hope its quiet from the get go but if not I will make it quiet with enough dynamat. I sprayed lizard skin on it to help it out for now we will see how it goes. I plan on several different videos both outside and inside while sitting and accelerating.

I found a muffler, its a dynomax 3" in/out ultraflow, its a straight through design that should still help quiet things down. I know a buddy that has one on is isuzu diesel and he said it makes things much quieter (not that they are that lound to begin with).

This should be a very practical rig, it should get upper 20's no porblem, have enough power to tow our 20ft bass boat, go camping in and make our trip to yellow stone this summer, do some mild off roading with the family and be super reliable thanks to the 1 ton drivetrain. Oh I forgot to mention I have under $6500 in the ENTIRE thing up to this point and if I was to just get home and do some work on it I could have it driving without spending another dime on it. The $6500 includes buying the jeep as well so I would say for something that should get this kind of mpg's and can go pretty much anywhere you would ever take a daily driver while hauling a family of 4 comfortably for that price its pretty practical.
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Old 04-18-2010, 01:46 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The new driveshaft arrived for the rear axle, looks very nice and fit like a dream.



Shot of the hx30 installed, I had to modify the flange bolted to the rear of the exhaust and welded the 3" downpipe straight to it due to lack of room between the firewall and turbo.



Quick shot of the a/c bracket I made from 3/8" steel, it is braced on the back side with 2 1/4" triangulated pieces. I doubt I will ever have to worry about this thing flexing



Here is an overall shot of the engine bay as it sits right now. We chose to go without an intercooler right now so we could complete the build quickly, I will add one later. The turbo to intake pipe is 3" (since I didnt have any 2.5"). I need to cut the pipe down since plans changed for the intake setup, I will have to shorten it about 3.5". Right now we are on schedule to have it finished in a day or two if I can just get to work on it (busy with several other things right now) and will be starting it soon.



The oil pan has had oil in it for about a week now and took 9qts with a fresh filter so I guess it didnt take a whole lot of oil capacity out of the pan and the welds seem to be holding with no leaks. The list on the white board is getting pretty short.
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Old 04-18-2010, 09:49 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Made the intake horn, it looks pretty simple but trust me it was a HUGE pain to make and took a few hourse. I was going to make the spacer part out of a solid piece of steel or aluminum but figured that was gonna take 10 years or so with no mill, instead I chose to make it all out of 1/4" steel. I made the top and bottom out of 1/4" plate 4"x4" and the sides are 1 piece of 1/4" X 1" wide steel I bent into a square. I welded the sides to the bottom plate then welded in some 1/2" tube into each corner, drilled the holes flipped the plate over then welded on the top plate, after all that cut the holes top and bottom to fit the grid heater and 3" pipe.



Here is the intake horn installed, I welded in the fitting for the boost aneroid on the back of the injection pump to the side. You can also see the remade intake to turbo piping, I had to shorten it up 3.5" to line up with the intake horn and I also added a small 1/8"X 1" strap to it that bolts to the intake manifold to help hold the pipe in place. Adding the strap does a couple things, one it holds the pipe up so it doesnt beat against an injector on valve cover, two it helps hold the pipe into the tripple ply silicone boots incase I run too much boost, I have seen pipe blow out of thier boots with good quality clamps and as little as 20psi of boost.








I have about 4.5" of clearance between the hood and intake piping. Guess I could have raised the engine up a few inches maybe then I wouldnt have had to install a lift things that make you go hmm......

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Old 04-18-2010, 09:49 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Just some photos of the oil burner





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Old 04-18-2010, 09:52 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Yes I had to customize the battery. Apparently optima doesnt make a detroit diesel green top battery so I had to make my own it was getting time to stop for the evening and I was writing on the white board thinking when I saw it sitting there all red then I realized I cant have a red battery with a green engine.



Speaking of the white board there sure is alot of white on there and not so much writing. OH happy day.

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Old 04-19-2010, 07:51 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Wow! That is gonna be bad-ass when it get's done. Can't wait to see the results...
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Old 04-19-2010, 09:32 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Nicely done! It looks like a factory job
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:41 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Thanks, the factory look has been the goal the whole time. The wife wants to be able to take it in for an inspection or just pop the hood to show it off and have it look like it came that way, were even cooking up some badging for the tailgate and fenders that will be our version of factory

Ok I finally have the air box the way I want it, right now the last layer of fiberglass is drying but I snapped a couple quick shots anyway to see what you guys think. I know it looks bad still but I havent even put the first layer of putty on it or sanded all the fiberglass down. The plan is to sand down all the fiberglass then fill it in with putty shoot it with some heavy textured paint (the grey textured paint is on the top already as you can see) then respray it with some satin black to give it that factory textured black appearance again and hopefully with a little luck noone will ever even know it was modified.









I have a good 1.5" of clearance between the hood and air box after severely reshaping the bottom of the air box to fit the inner fender with the fiberglass. I did reinforce the fiberglass with some metal weaver I had laying around to further reinforce it so I can screw it to the inner fender without worry of cracking the fiberglass.

Did I mention I love how it says Jeep on it, I think it adds some cool factor to it.

The optima battery is also in. The battery tray has the mount for the fuse box integrated into it also, I just cut the mount off for the fuse box cleaned it up and reinstalled it on the passenger side, you cant even see the cut with the new air box in. The factory battery tray fits on the drivers side pretty good, I did have to cut a corner out because of the inner fender curve. I also fabbed up a simple V shaped mount to hold up one of the corners, its made from 1/8" strap and should be plenty strong to hold the battery up, I only have about 3/4" clearance between the battery and hood but that should be plenty.

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Old 04-22-2010, 10:15 PM   #21 (permalink)
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We finished up alot of little things today like the fuel tank sending unit with AN fittings, new rubber fuel lines going from the new bent hard line I made yesterday and lots of other little things we just hadnt finished yet. I got the new V band flanges in today so I welded them up, one from the turbo and the other to the rest of the exhaust, it turned out pretty nice and very tight up against the engine with plenty of clearance to the crossmember and body with the 3" mandrel bent tubing I am making the exhaust from.

I will post some pics up later.

Tomorrows plan is to tackle the last few things we have on the list (only 8 things left till we are ready to drive around) the main thing being the wiring and shift linkages for the trans and Tcase. We plan to take it for a spin this weekend as long as all goes well and hopefully will have some video up tomorrow night of it running in our shop.
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Old 04-23-2010, 07:22 PM   #22 (permalink)
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YouTube - Diesel powered Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ

Well we finally started the jeep today, I havent had a chance to get to the wiring yet since we finished up several other things like the "kill solenoid", throttle, lokar trans dipstick and tube, etc. etc.

One big obstacle I had to get over was the starter. I had to add a spacer between the crank and flywheel to get the right distance between the flywheel and converter in doing so I didnt pay attention to the starters worn out gear and how this would affect things. The starter teeth were very badly worn at the tips so pushing the flywheel further away compounded the problem. I wound up disassembling the starter to remove the gear and welded extra material to the starter gear then ground it all down to match the original part of the gear.

There is still air in the lines so it was a little hard to start at first, we will get all the air bled out of the lines before we go on the first test drive, we still need to get the shift linkage setup and all the wiring.
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:03 PM   #23 (permalink)
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NICE RIG MAN!!! Sounds AWESOME!
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Old 04-24-2010, 08:23 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Nice work! Looks factory, I hope my XJ that I am putting a Mercedes OM617t in turns out as sweet as yours is. Looking foreward to seeing the fuel milage results, as I am hoping for simallar goals.
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:24 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Very cool! The Nissan looks like it belongs there.
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