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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have this 07 Ford Escape that’s dying out on me. My wife won’t let me get rid of it since it’s “her baby” but she says she’ll let me turn it into a project. I’m moving to East Texas soon and I wanna turn this thing into a mudder. Nothing super crazy thats gonna require countless of hours of custom fab work but I do want a diesel build. With how small this thing is I imagine the 4BT/4BTA is my only practical choice for a diesel swap. Just wanna know what else I should be considering for transmission, tires, axles, etc... this will be my first ever project and I wanna make this build something original that I can be proud of and actually want to keep. Thanks in advance for all the help. I just don’t know enough about this to do it all on my own
 

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  1. Welcome to the forum. The Escape isn't exactly a giant vehicle. The Cummins 4bt 3.9 is not a small engine. It is long, very tall, and weighs in the 750 lb range. You'll need to think about what transmission and axles to use as well as frame strengthening. You can fit most any engine within reason into any vehicle it may take some of those countless hours of custom fab work. There is a Cummins 3.3 that is a bit lighter and smaller that might be a possible. Probably one of the ideal engine candidates would be the new Cummins R2.8 but that isn't a cheap option. Base engine is $8000. Other engines that might have potential are VW or Kubota.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
  1. Welcome to the forum. The Escape isn't exactly a giant vehicle. The Cummins 4bt 3.9 is not a small engine. It is long, very tall, and weighs in the 750 lb range. You'll need to think about what transmission and axles to use as well as frame strengthening. You can fit most any engine within reason into any vehicle it may take some of those countless hours of custom fab work. There is a Cummins 3.3 that is a bit lighter and smaller that might be a possible. Probably one of the ideal engine candidates would be the new Cummins R2.8 but that isn't a cheap option. Base engine is $8000. Other engines that might have potential are VW or Kubota.
What are some of the better options for transmissions and axles? I know I’ll need to upgrade all that as well as tires, suspension lift, and brakes but i don’t really know enough about this to go at it alone and unafraid
 

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Transmission selection is sort of going to depend on how much abuse this thing will see. Generally you want something with an OD gear as diesels generally are not high revving engines. Now if it's going to be strictly off road and crawling around then that may not apply. The 4bt likes to live in the 1700-2000 RPM range. It can go higher but fuel mileage starts to suffer once you pass 2000 RPM. If you use a manual transmission, we have seen the Ford M5R2-OD or the ZF S5-42 used a good bit because all the Ford 4bt's were manual with a small block Ford bellhousing. Another commonly used one is the Dodge NV4500. Assuming this will be a 4x4, you have to decide what axles you plan to use. What is stock in the Escape will probably be a bit weak for a 4bt. A bare bones stock 105 HP 4bt has 265 lb ft of torque. That's only 5 lb ft less than a 185 HP 302 V8. If you start pushing the power level up that torque goes up too. At 200 HP the 4bt will pushing around 450 lb ft which is in big block gas engine territory. That torque happens around 1800 RPM. As for axles, I'm not really sure. A Ford 9" out back can handle a reasonable amount of power and has tons of gear ratios available. Up front a Dana 44 might be OK but it's not unbreakable. Lots of guys use a Dana 60 up front. If you use a Ford axle, you will have a limit in gear ratios for the front. Nothing higher than 3.55 was offered for the high pinion axles. 4.11 was common on those too. You need to start looking at what tires you plan to run and see what gears you need to make it all work. Will you be traveling at highway speeds or just slogging around off road? One first step would be to do some measuring of the engine compartment to see what kind of space you have. Check like from the back of the radiator to the firewall and from the front cross member to the hood. When installing a pure mechanical diesel into your computer controlled Escape you will find a few headaches there as well. Lots of things to think on before you turn the first wrench. Also, you got to find an engine and do some rebuilding on it. Never trust the phrase "good running engine" unless it come with a warranty.
 

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I’m assuming that means if I plan on doing any performance upgrades I’ll need one?
Only the 105 HP versions came without some form of intercooling. If you up the governor spring, an intercooler is recommended if you work the engine hard. I recommend the following gauges:

1. Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) gauge - Aluminum pistons can melt - not a pretty sight
2. Boost gauge - Lets you know how your turbo is working
3. Tachometer - Great for learning shift points and diagnostics. I and several others are happy with the Tiny-Tach.
4. Fuel pressure gauge - Great for diagnosing failing lift pumps and plugged fuel filters
 

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Do yourself a favor, buy 1 ton axles from the start. They'll hold up to the amount of torque you'll put into them with your 4bt and hold up well to a 44" tire.

My opinion, shop around and find a set of superduty axles. They'll have the sensors needed for speedo and Abs system.

It would be a really sweet build, I'd be tuned in to see it ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do y
Do yourself a favor, buy 1 ton axles from the start. They'll hold up to the amount of torque you'll put into them with your 4bt and hold up well to a 44" tire.

My opinion, shop around and find a set of superduty axles. They'll have the sensors needed for speedo and Abs system.

It would be a really sweet build, I'd be tuned in to see it ?
Do you think 1 Ton axles will fit under it? I’m thinking lifting it about 4-6” and putting 35’s would be about what I want. My biggest worry for this build is “Is everything gonna fit in such a small vehicle?”
 

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Best advice would be get out the ruler and do some measuring. Lifting the vehicle doesn't gain you any space under the hood. Might help with oil pan to ground or axle clearance. Would take a body lift to gain space under the hood. Does that vehicle have a separate frame or is it part of the body?
 

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1978 Jeep CJ 5 Cummins 4BTI
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I have a 2010 Ford Escape V6 AWD -- and-- a 4BT that I put in my CJ5. The 07 and 10 Escape should be the same body style. BUT--the Escape has a sideways engine and no room for a bell housing in the firewall. Looking at my 4BT and my Escape--I just don't see how you'll get it to fit, let alone deal with the large weight differences for the suspension. I suppose with massive modifications--and limited visibility over your hood (which you will have)--it's possible.
 

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I see that these thing have a horizontal engine mount. My guess this would come under the title of a major install. Might have part of the engine in the passenger's compartment. Would involve some serious sheet metal work to get it in there. Must remember you need to be able to remove the valve covers to adjust the valves. My guess that something on the order of a smaller, lighter diesel would be more appropriate.
 

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With the fact it is a transverse engine/transmission setup I would look at the VW TDI. There is a lot of info out there on how to stand alone the PCM on the ALH engines used between '98 and '03. That would give you a good standard trans but the automatics leave a lot to be desired.

I'm running one in an '02 Ranger and it rocks!
 

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You can make anything work. Measure first, and just note you will have to build a trans tunnel, which is very doable.

Is the Escape unibody or frame? I'm not sure but I'm assuming frame, if so no prob. Coilovers will save you the most space but probably have to inboard the rears.

Check out Pirate4x4.com for some ideas
 

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A 4BT just isn't going to happen realistically unless you're just using the Escape as a body set on a Bronco frame or something. Focus on the small engines, the VWs, the Kubotas, maybe a 4cyl Mercedes.

You won't find an adapter for the v6 or i4 transmission, nobody likes to deal with those patterns. So plan for custom there.
 
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