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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everyone,
I was wondering if anyone had any engine suggestions for a 2006 Ford F150 (Extended Cab, 6.5 Bed, have a 5.4 now). My 5.4 has 180k miles on it and I think it is rounding the corner to the end of its life. So I'm looking at swapping a diesel in. So far I have looked at a 4.5 V6 Powerstroke (3/4 of a 6.0), a Cummins ISF3.8 (Can't seem to find these anywhere), or a QSB/ISB 4.5. I have looked at the 4bt, but it doesn't have enough power for what I would like. I'm constantly hauling around tools and materials for work, and I drive a lot so MPG is a big reason for a swap, since I get like 10mpg on average. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good engine? I have looked at Cat, Detroit, Cummins, and International engines and I can't really find a good fit. I'm looking for something with 200 ish hp and around 450-500 ft lbs of torque. As long as I get at least 18mpg I will be happy.

The other question I have is legality in western New York. Has anyone done any swaps here? Is it just getting it to pass OBD II test? Or have any of you guys had any issues getting it inspected?

I would just buy a diesel truck but the issue is they are either waaaay overpriced for one in decent shape or cheap for a beat to crap truck with 300k miles on it or something like that. I also would rather have something that I built and that is unique. I don't have a ton of experience turning a wrench but my goal is to learn a ton from a swap like this. The electronics side of things doesn't really scare me because I'm an electrician, but the mechanical side might be a challenge because while I do have mill/lathe/welding experience, I don't really have access to a mill or lathe.

I have asked this question on a couple different forums, but no one really gives an answer other than I shouldn't do it and just stick with the 5.4.
Any help is appreciated.
 

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First off you need to check with your state DMV at to what you can legally do. There is a lot of variation in that from state to state. Now for the engines you are looking at. The V6 powerstroke might work but probably not the best of choices. Very limited availability. The Cummins ISF3.8 is an import engine and don't believe it is US approved yet. Cummins sells the R2.8 in this country and it is 50 state smog legal. Doesn't have the HP level you're looking for. The ISBe 4.5 is not imported into the US. The QSB 4.5 is a commercial model that is. In the US we have the ISBe 3.9. Any of that series of engines are computer controlled and any power mods are very difficult. The ISBe 170 is pretty common in delivery vans. A plain 4bt can have more than enough power. You just have to adjust it. 200 HP is a very common point for lots of installs. We have guys running in the 300 HP range. On most all these engines, you will have the challenge as to what transmission you use. You will have challenges adapting because all of these engines have SAE transmission adapters except the 4bt. There are always the challenges of marrying a computer controlled vehicle to a pure mechanical engine like the 4bt. There are several on the forum doing that now.
 

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I don't see it being legal in NY, but I'm starting a 4BD1T into an 04 F150 project. WA just stopped doing emissions testing, so it's a free for all again for swapping.
 

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In some areas they will allow a swap but the engine must be as new or newer than the vehicle. Some states have no restriction at all. Some states won't allow hardly any change. No standard rule. Since this is a 1/2 ton vehicle, it never came with a diesel, at least not in this country.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
The 2018 and newer F150s do have a diesel as an option, the 3.0 Powerstroke. The 2016 (I believe?) and newer Dodge 1500s have a diesel as an option too, the "ecodiesel".
The 4.5 Powerstroke isn't horribly available but it would bolt up to any transmissions a 6.0 would. I'm probably going for a 5 speed or 6 speed manual transmission. There is also the route of the International version, the VT275 which aren't too hard to find, and they share same transmission compatibility. I could go with a 4bt and turn it up but from what I hear, it is hard to have a working 4x4 setup with them. 4x4 is a must in my area because we get harsh winters. Is that true? Also, are there any Cat diesels that might work?
 

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In 05 it was never an option though.

I'm attempting to retain my electric shift 4wd, I think it will be doable by keeping the ECM functioning. As my back up plan I also have a manual shift transfer case from a late 90s F150, which looks identical to what is in there stock.

Mine is a fully loaded Lariat so I have a lot of luxury stuff I want to keep working.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
In NY afaik on OBD II vehicles they only do emissions testing through OBDII, so as long as I could get it to pass that, would that probably be fine? Or would I have to get it re-registered as a diesel or something? It also looks like they fall back to EPA's rules on switching engines. If that's true, swapping in a 3.0 Powerstroke would be legal, but idk if I'd really want to do that since they are pretty underpowered engines built only for MPG.
 

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Yup you'll be fine. I'm a NYS expat so my experience is 13yrs old but I never had problems engine swaps.

You are OBD II complaint so a scan is mandatory for you. Passing the emissions readiness is all you have to figure out.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
How difficult would it be to reprogram a QSB to make it usable on-road? Also, what about a common rail 4bt? I was able to find these engines pretty easily for a decent price.

The other option I'm seriously considering is the 4.5 powerstroke/VT275. They are harder to find parts for but bulletproofing them like a 6.0 and fixing their issues, they can be powerhouses like the 6.0. The ability to use 6.0 parts is awesome too. However, does anyone have experience with these engines?
 

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A Powerstroke 4.5 or IHC VT275 (also called the MaxxForce 5) probably has plenty of power for an F150. Engine has 200 HP and 440 lb ft torque. Engine weighs 835 lbs dry so it's not a feather. The engine was manufactured from 2006-2010. At one point I think Ford was considering this engine for the F150 but when they broke ranks with IHC that Idea went away.
 

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How difficult would it be to reprogram a QSB to make it usable on-road? Also, what about a common rail 4bt?
You would have to flash the calibration of a variable speed throttle on to the QSB, which is simple. The challenge is getting your hands on Cummins INSITE, INLINE 7 adapter and the communication cables.

A Cummins Service center would be able to do this for you as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Man, I still can't really decide. It's pretty tempting to go with the Powerstroke, but the reliability and upgradeability of the Cummins engines is pretty awesome. The flaws with the Powerstroke are kinda pushing me away as well, and the fact that to get parts you have to deal with International or Ford Commercial. For the QSB engines, there are ones from JLG lifts for the same price as a 4bt, so that's pretty tempting. Would a 6.7 adapter plate work for these, or would I have to figure something else out? And if they are from a JLG lift, do they still need the ECU reprogrammed with variable throttle?

The other option would be a Cat industrial diesel like a C4.4 which has the same hp range as the QSB (170-200hp) but around 500-600ftlbs of torque (damb, that's 6bt territory from a 4 cylinder!) They are stupid heavy though at 900lbs dry, which is not really much of an issue since I will be going with heavier axles and heavy duty struts. I have found a couple for $4500-$5000 ish but they probably would have to have variable throttle reprogrammed onto the ECU like the QSB since they are from generators. There is also the earlier version, the 3054e but idk if they made that up to 2006 (Only could find up to 2004 models) that was made by Cat/Perkins. They are cheaper and a little easier to find.

What about the emissions stuff? For the QSB do I just put the stuff from an ISB on it? Or how is offroad EPA tiering different from on-road? For example the C4.4 is Tier 4 Final but that's not on-road right? And how is it to deal with Cat for parts?

So far I'm between 3 choices:
1. Cummins QSB 4.5
2. Caterpillar C4.4 (Or Cat/Perkins 3054e?)
3. Cummins 4BT/4BTA/4BT CR

I'm planning on spending somewhere between $3000-4500 for an engine, and then I would like to go with a ZF5/NV4500 transmission. Are there SAE adapter plates for these? Or will I have to go with an Eaton or something like that?

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Thank you all for your help so far. Right now I'm just in the planning stages so I know how much to start setting aside to buy the stuff I need.
 

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There are SAE adapter plates available with typical trans. mounting bolt patterns, I can send a pictuture if interested.

Ed in Co.
 

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If you consider a QSB engine, it is not highway smog rated. The ISB is essentially the same engine only for highway use. In the US we get the ISBe 3.9 where the rest of the world has the ISBe 4.5. Have no clue why Cummins does that. Both those engines only come with SAE transmission adapters. Usually SAE3 but SAE2 does exist. There are adapters made now for the NV4500 to SAE. The ZF Ford transmission don't have replaceable bellhousings. You might be able to get an adapter for a SB Ford ZF to SAE from Phoenix Casting. There are commercial transmissions that will bolt direct to SAE but if this truck is 4x4 that becomes another headache. One big thing that crops up with the ISB/QSB series is the computer controls. We have several guys who have done or are doing those engines.One big headache has been a power steering pump. Those engines are all rear gear train and the power steering pump seems to be as rare as hens teeth. Not sure what smog issues may crop up. That varies from state to state. Some places don't have any rules and some it's darn near impossible to do a swap. Need to talk to your local DMV and find out what you can or cannot do. With diesels, there have been several smog devices used in the last few years. Catalytic converters and particulate filters are out there and maybe others.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I guess I need to phone up a DMV office near me and see what is involved. If I can use an industrial engine, I would probably go for the Cat C4.4 over the QSB 4.5 because the Cat puts out a lot more torque. (Not sure if i'd really need it though, I probably won't be towing a lot, mainly just hauling stuff in my bed, although I eventually plan to get a plow) They are a 100lbs heavier than the QSB though, but that is about the same as the 4.5 PSD. I have found a couple of ISBe 4.5 engines on ebay, but they cost like $10k which is waaaay more than what I would like to spend, or there is an ISB 4.5 long block for $5500.

How much parts commonality do the QSB 4.5 and the ISB 6.7 share? Can you just take parts from the Dodge trucks with these engines? Also, what about stroking a 4bt to 4.5l?

Transmission-wise, would it be better to go for a NV4500 or a ZF5? And would they be able to handle 500-600ftlbs of torque? I'm going to probably swap some Dana 60 axles in too, probably with a 3.55 or 3.73 ratio since I seriously doubt my axles now would ever handle that much torque. I would like to keep 4x4 since winters are horrible here and occasionally I have to drive on mud or gravel for work.

So what do you guys think? Is it worth the effort of going with a Cat/Cummins industrial engine over just the standard 4BT swap?

Also, just found the 5.0 ISV Cummins that is put in Nissan Titan 1/2ton pickups. They are surprisingly cheap on ebay for around $6000.
 

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First off, have you looked at a Cat C4.4? It's oil pan is going to be a big problems on a truck. It can have 173.5 HP and 553 lb ft torque @ 1400 RPM. Plenty of power but its not cheap. One of those may be 2-3 times your budget plan. I see used ones in the $8,000-14,000 range. Also, those came in HP ratings as low as 100 so you'd have to find one in the power range you want. Adapting your vehicle accessories like power steering and ac will likely be a challenge. Think I'd pass on that brand unless I was really a Cat fan. You found a high price on the ISBe 4.5. That's because it's not sold in the USA. The engine you'd need to shop for in this country would be the ISBe 3.9 170. It has 170 HP @ 2300 RPM and 420 lb ft torque. About all the engines you find on the used market will have the Allison 1000 transmission. If you found one with a manual it would likely be an Eaton 5 speed without OD. You ask about parts shared on the 4.5 and 6.7. They are essentially the same but there at 2 different 6.7 engines. The ones used in the Dodge trucks have a front gear train where the ones used in commercial trucks have rear gear train like the 4.5. The Dodge units have transmission adapters to fit their manual and automatics where the others are all SAE. You could convert a rear gear train to front but that involves a lot of work. One of our members is building such an engine. Not a cheap swap. Cummins built a 4.5 4bt. It was an industrial engine but has a different block and crank than the 3.9. The one usually found is the QSB 4.5-30. It's sort of an odd ball engine and we don't see a lot of guys doing one. It has an electronic injection pump and power level is very low. As for the transmissions, I lean toward the ZF but many guys used NV due to ease of adapting. Torque ratings on the ZF S5-42 was 420 lb ft, S5-47 was 470 lb ft, S6-650 was 650 lb ft, and the S6-750 was 750 lb ft. The NV4500 is probably similar to the ZF 5 speeds. Dodge didn't use the NV4500 behind a high torque engine like you're talking. They changed to the NV5600 and later to the Mercedes G56. The 5.0 you mention from the Nissan has been dropped for the 2020 year. In buying an engine like that you'd have to be sure you got all the electronic controls that go with it. That stuff can be big bucks.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I guess I'm back to either a 4bt or a 4.5 Powerstroke/VT275. Now I'm on the fence. VT275s are kinda hard to find. The ability to use the ford parts is pretty tempting though so I'm not really sure what to do, but it would have to be bulletproofed first and I would need to find a 6.0 donor truck for parts at a junk yard or something, which is why I'm leaning towards the 4bt since it would be a lot more reliable and would probably be cheaper. But, at the same time it has more torque and hp than the 4bt. Are these probably my only choices? And what do you guys think?

As for axles, can the stock 9.75 axles on my truck handle the torque of a 4bt/VT275? Or do I need something heavier? Since my rear axle is shot anyways right now I probably might as well replace it while I still have my 5.4 until I can get the stuff to do a swap.
 

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Light duty axles and high torque diesels generally don't match up well. A lot depends on how you drive and treat it.. Just think, a Dodge 6bt with 160 HP and 400 lb ft of torque would have a Dana 70 or 80 rear and a Dana 60 front axle. Maybe a bit over kill but better too much than not enough. If you wanted to stay Ford parts, the 10.25/10.50 F250/350 rear axle is plenty strong enough. If doing a 4x4, the Dana 60 from the F350 is very stout. Might require a bit of work since those on early front models were leaf springs. Newer ones were coils. On the engines, if you get something in the 170-200 HP range, it will have more than adequate power for an F150. Whether you go 4bt, ISBe, or the IHC is going to be your call. 4bt's are getting more scarce and you already know the VT275 isn't super common. Quite a few of the ISBe 170's have been showing up on the used market but adapting those is a bit more challenging.
 

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The 9.75 is very stout, you'll be fine unless you really turn up the power or go to huge tires. The 8.8 front is pretty decent too, there's plenty of 4BT Rangers running around with one in the rear doing just fine.
 
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