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Old 09-21-2015, 07:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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2000 Durango SLT 4x4 LS Swap-Build thread

I am not sure if this is in the right section, feel free to move it.

I have had this 2000 Durango SLT since 2001, and always liked the size, the way it rides, and the way it looks. At about 165k miles, the motor began to eat oil and coolant, and run like crap. Of course, it was never stellar in the efficiency department. Used a quart of oil every 1000 miles, achieved a rocking 13 mpg over its lifetime, and probably made 190 hp at the wheels.

Times have changed.

Clean and pretty.










Out comes the motor







Using a set of adapter plates, I attached the original motor mounts to the LS block.








and dropped it in for some measurements. All I had to do was oblong the drivers side about 3/4 inch, and the motor dropped right in.





The Durango isolators will continue to support the front axle, and the motor in the stock location













and gives a nice driveline angle. Rear driveshaft approximate using pvc pipe.




Now it's time to pick a drivetrain. Modify the fuel system, have a wiring harness made, and make a crossmember.
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Old 09-22-2015, 09:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I subbed. So you lifting it, bigger tires or anything or just upgrading the drivetrain?
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Old 09-24-2015, 05:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I subbed. So you lifting it, bigger tires or anything or just upgrading the drivetrain?
Just the drivetrain for now. This is my wife's SUV, so it will be an everyday vehicle.

I have been looking at escalade drivetrains, with 6.2 L, 6-speed auto, and AWD transfer case.

This weekend, I am going to do the fuel system.
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Old 09-24-2015, 08:20 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Jumping right into it on your first post. Welcome to jungle. Interested in the outcome. Sub'd
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:48 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Jumping right into it on your first post. Welcome to jungle. Interested in the outcome. Sub'd

Thanks. This isn't my first rodeo.

So, continuing on with the build in real time. When I did the Dakota R/T build, I had more full days off, and didn't really concentrate on some of the details. This time, I am going to post projects as they happen.

Fuel system - one hour




The Durango has the vent and fill lines on the back of the tank, and uses straps, just like the Dakota. Cut the vent and fill lines (they are soft garbage at this point anyway), and soak the nuts on the straps with PB blaster).
















Siphon the tank through the vent line. The fill line has a grid across it to prevent siphoning.












I was able to get the nuts backed out with an impact, without cutting.










Get that rusted ring off. I am not sure why chrysler uses such junk in places like this. You couldn't give us a stainless ring, aluminum ring, or plastic ring. Assholes!




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Old 10-04-2015, 02:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Today, I was able to complete the fuel system, to get the stock tank back in the truck. I used a 255 walbro pump, with AN6 bulkhead fitting passing through what used to be a one-way vent. I used brass fittings and ethanol-resistant fuel line for the return, drilled into the top of the bucket.


Fuel system is done. See the entire thread at Walbro 255 fuel system to AN 6 (3/8) Complete with Pictures | LSDAK.com.


Walbro 255 converted to AN6 fuel line.

















I used a washer, ground down to fit the vent hole. I made two, and put one on each side for the bulkhead fitting to pass through.








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Last edited by casias; 10-04-2015 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 10-10-2015, 05:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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So, moving on with the fuel system. I purchased this aeromotive 13129 fuel pressure regulator, not realizing that the AN-6 openings are for ORB (O-ring boss), or what is called AN port fittings. These are exactly the same as a male flared AN fitting, without the flare. The AN to ORB fittings are about $10-12 each. Ouch. And I don't want to wait to order them.


So, how do I make my own?


Should look like this:








I have this:






The flared portion bottoms out without sealing the o-ring on the Aeromotive regulator. Other regulators (I think Fuel Labs or Holley), are deep enough to use AN male fittings in them. Not the Aeromotive.


So.....Cut the flare off.








Add an O-ring










The quick disconnect fitting I am going to use don't come AN port to quick-disconnect at all, and AN female to quick disconnect are expensive, and bulky. So cut those also. These are Boostec fittings.







Nice and tidy.




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Old 10-18-2015, 05:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Moving on with the fuel system, I terminated the hard line into a flexible braided stainless line. I used the original 5/16 hard fuel line and flexible fuel line for the return from the adjustable fuel pressure regulator. A few bends on the original line, and it looks just like it came from the factory.








Next, I found an old Ikea curtain bracket, and cut one end off. I found a piece of a table leg left over from a worktable I shortened, and cut this also.











Adding a few dimples with a socket in the shop press makes the flat steel plate a little more rigid.








Welded together to make a bracket.










Painted, lines attached, and a couple of cushion clamps to take the tension off.



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Old 10-25-2015, 11:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The most recent updates to the build are boring, but important. I replaced all of the brake lines with Poly-armour, and got rid of the ABS, which won't be used anymore. The ABS on these trucks was truly awful. At least twice since I have owned this Durango, the ABS has tried to jump in and help with hard braking, only to take away braking at the worst possible time, and "chatter", like crazy. Scray and dangerous. I trust a well-balanced system, and my foot, more than I trust the ABS system on this truck, so it goes away.

I wanted to use the original bracket for the combo valve, but get rid of the ABS electronics. Plasma cutter made quick work of the excess.











Tear out the rusted line to the distribution blocks.









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Old 10-25-2015, 11:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't know about you, but I can't stand wrestling a flaring tool around the table. So I drilled a 3/4 inch hole in the table, and stuck the end in it. That way, it stays where I want it while I flare line.













I had to make a new bracket for one of the distribution blocks. The rusted bracket broke when I tried to loosen the fitting.













New line bent into place.






New fittings







Done. The combo valve is probably one of the most misunderstood components of the braking system. I know people remove them, and replace them with adjustable proportioning valves. In this case, I kept it for 3 reasons. 1) It proportions the front/rear bias pretty well with the addition of the rear disc swap. The braking on this truck has been very well-balanced since we did the swap a couple of years ago. 2) It causes the rear brakes to apply a fraction of a second before the front brakes. Something a proportioning valve doesn't do, but handy to help maintain stability. 3) It sets the brake warning light in the dash if one half of the circuit loses pressure. This will still activate even after the LS swap.







And I also finished the fuel system by adding a new filler neck hose. It was impossible to find the right size at NAPA, autozone or advanced, so I bought vinyl at Home Depot. That is not a kink in the picture, it is a grease smudge.



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Old 10-27-2015, 07:08 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm liking this thread, and the tech contained within.

Your rear bumpstop has seen better days though. It's ugly.
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Old 11-08-2015, 04:58 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm liking this thread, and the tech contained within.

Your rear bumpstop has seen better days though. It's ugly.
Yep. Bump stop will be replaced.

Sunday was a pretty productive day for moving forward. On Friday, I was told for the second time that the Escalade drivetrain I wanted to buy was "no longer available". I getting pretty tired of waiting for these to be sold out from under me. So...hit craigslist.

I came across this LS3 from a 2014 SS with 14k miles "hydrolocked", that happened to be about 10 miles from my house. And, I knew the guy selling it. He thought it had bent valves, and at least one or two bend connecting rods, but all of the piston sleeves were undamaged. It does not turn over 360 degrees. He decided to take the insurance money, and replace it with a new, take-out ZL1.

When I picked it up, it had all 16 pushrods perfectly straight, so it didn't seem that bent valves was possible.

Get it home, whip of the heads, and Yay! Valves are all ok, and there are no dings on the piston heads. I am pretty sure it was bent conecting rod(s), and may need a new crank. I will get to the shortblock teardown this week.

And...a bonus. He gave me a brand-new LSA cam and springs, and the LS3 intake, rail and injectors. Very nice.

Here are some pics.








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Old 11-09-2015, 06:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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how does someone hydro lock an SS and those valves look pretty corroded
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Old 11-10-2015, 01:43 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Would the stock fuel pump for the 4.7 not work for the ls motor? Or was that a preventive/upgrade on the pump?
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Old 11-12-2015, 02:22 AM   #15 (permalink)
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how does someone hydro lock an SS and those valves look pretty corroded
The valves aren't "corroded", they just have some carbon build-up. Picture doesn't show it well. I will probably just scotch-brite them clean when I put in the new springs. Apparently, the guy was driving in "a little water", when a garbage truck coming the other way created a wave. The aftermarket cold air intake scooped the water right in.

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Would the stock fuel pump for the 4.7 not work for the ls motor? Or was that a preventive/upgrade on the pump?
This had a 5.9, not 4.7. The pump is probably around 180 lph, and not designed for 58 psi. Even NA, with this motor and a cam, the pump would have been on the ragged edge of providing enough flow. I think the pump is an necessity on these swaps.
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Old 11-12-2015, 08:55 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Been looking for inspiration to keep my old V8 Dakota around for a future project. Will be keeping an eye on this.
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Old 11-21-2015, 10:45 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Today it was time to clean up these heads, check for bent valves, and lap the seats.


I had help from my son.


Pulling the springs







Lapping the valves. I didn't buy lapping compound, because I will use about a tablespoon out of the $12 jar, and then leave it on a shelf until it dries out. How about some Turtle Wax rubbing compound?








And Garrett's turn.







Nice Turtle Wax shine on the valve seat.







By the time I was done, the stud had stripped on my puller tool, so I welded the nut in place, and added a stack of washers.




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Old 11-27-2015, 06:26 AM   #18 (permalink)
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So where am I at on the LS3/LSA engine? I bought a set of LSA connecting rods and pistons. The assembly is quite a bit heavier than the LS3 connecting rod and piston. + 64 gm (2.25 oz), which is heavier than the old "2 ounces" balance for a street engine. Being heavier, it would require a lot of mallory to balance this correctly. So now I am looking for an LSA crankshaft. This would also require a new front pulley (LSA is keyed), and flexplate (LSA is 8 bolt vs 6 bolt). But at $550 or so, the LSA crankshaft is a bargain, forged, and correctly weighted option. The LSA connecting rod is much more robust than the LS3, and so are the pistons.








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Old 12-04-2015, 05:13 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Days like today are fun when you are working on a project like this. I had purchased a truck oil pan, which arrived this week. Putting it on my plastic mock-up block, and BOOM, it hits the front axle. After looking at it for a few minutes, it seemed I could move the engine back towards the firewall about an inch, to clear it. I made a new set of adapter plates, and dropped it in. No problem. So I put in the LS3 engine for final fit. There is ample room on all sides, including room for headers. So far, this is even easier than a 2WD, which was pretty easy. So that's saying something.

The real engine sitting in the engine bay.





Looking up from the bottom, driver's side clearance for headers.....HUGE. Oil filter, no problem.






And passenger side. Also plenty of clearance. Check out the room for the starter also !







Front axle clearance.







Driveline angle using pvc pipe.






And the 6l80, AWD transmission. This transmission and transfer case is the same length (46 inches) as the 46re that came out. So the crossmembers clear, and I think I may even get away with using a stock transmission mount.










Future.....


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Old 12-12-2015, 10:45 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Update this week is bitter-sweet. I really wanted to use the Borg-Warner transfer case that came with the 6l80 transmission I bought, but......it is too wide. It would fit between the frame rails, if someone was planning a solid front axle swap, but the torsion bars cause interference in the independent front suspension setup. So I went back to the original 231 that came in this truck. Turns out, Novak makes an adapter kit to fit the 231/242 to the 6l80/6l90....fantastic!

So, for anyone wanting to do this swap with the 6l80 or 6l90 and retain the independent front suspension, you can re-use the 231 or 242 transfer case from the Durango (depending on whether it is AWD or 4WD), and save buying a new transfer case. See....bitter/sweet.


The upside of these transfer cases is that they are plentiful, strong, and have huge aftermarket support to make them stronger. So I bought a 242 off of ebay for $165 shipped to my door.

Moving on...... The transmission is in, and has plenty of clearance. The tunnel on the 4wd Durango is generous, just like the engine bay. No interference issues at all.


Transmission went in. Took about 10 minutes with the usual wrestling and wiggling.














Now, how about that driveline angle. I use string and gravity. I have this diy gauge, made with string, a piece of aluminum tube and a washer.







I don't like lying on the floor, so I compress the rear axle using a 2x4 and floor jack, until the rear springs are fully compressed and the frame is just lifting off of the lift pads.








And make a mark on each side of the string (it's hard to accurately mark directly under the string).




Any question about how much the rear axle angle changes when it is not compressed? Here is the angle when not compressed. Set up the transmission to match that, and your driveshaft would wobble for sure.



And jacking the transmission up to match still leaves enough room in the tunnel. It is snug, but won't require any cutting or hammering. The engine has about and inch clearance to the firewall. Perfect.



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Old 12-12-2015, 11:17 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I'm sure that will get your driveline angles close enough--but your rear suspension will compress more when you set the whole car on the ground, since the front lift points are behind the front suspension.
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Old 12-13-2015, 06:01 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I'm sure that will get your driveline angles close enough--but your rear suspension will compress more when you set the whole car on the ground, since the front lift points are behind the front suspension.
I thought of that. So I had your mom sit in the back seat while I was making my measurements. .
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Old 12-13-2015, 06:54 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I thought of that. So I had your mom sit in the back seat while I was making my measurements. .
Nicely done.
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Old 12-27-2015, 12:55 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Ok, time for some updates from the holiday weekend. The Novak adapter arrived, so I swapped out the input shaft from 27 spline (?) to 32 spline to match with the 6l80 transmission. The adapter is billet aluminum, and really high quality. Kind of expensive, but......



I didn't want to wrestle the NP 242 around the table, and it should be flat when it is opened so the pieces don't spill out. So I cut a hole in the worktable and stood it on its tailshaft, using the front yoke as a spacer.

















Opening up the case and pulling out the shift fork. There is a right way, and a pry-bar way.





Planetary and input shaft.








And time for another stupid pet trick. LS engines mostly use 10M X 1.5 metric bolts, but come in sizes from 23 mm to 135 mm. Dealers charge $ 2-3 for each bolt. Ouch. Also, if they don't have it in stock, you wait. If no one can figure out which one it is, you guess. And in my case, I drive 45 minutes round-trip for that experience.

I went on ebay, and bought full-thread M10 X 1.5 bolts 135 mm long. I measure the bolt I need, thread a M10 die on the bolt, and cut it to length. Custom. Takes 2 minutes. Cost...a about .35 cents each. I think I bought 100 for around $35 shipped. Zoro.com or find them on ebay. Check it out.



Pile of bolts.






Thead the appropriate die on. The handle helps hold the bolt while you cut it, and the die corrects the threads when you take it off.





I use a 4 1/2 inch angle grinder with a flap wheel to bevel the nose, and thread a nut on and off to check it before I use it. Quality assurance.








And, I made this Idler pulley bracket from 2 X 5 inch 1/2 inch thick 6061 aluminum stock. I put a small locator pin in, and put a small hole in the water pump mounting boss to keep the bracket from rotating. It doesn't take much.









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Old 12-27-2015, 12:57 PM   #25 (permalink)
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And I had to add a shim to make the idler pulley true.








Tapped for the lower pulley. They upper pulley went into the other water pump boss







As shown here. Pretend the drill is the crankshaft.



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