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I have just started lurking here and it seems to me that 90% of this site is devoted to figuring out different ways to get custom parts to fit together in tight spaces. I quickly learned I don't have what it takes to do this myself, but figure if I keep reading at least I'll be able to understand the mechanic. (If I can ever find one locally with experience with engine swaps). I know a few people and places who could help me with narrowing a frame and body work so my question is this: Has anyone taken a 3/4 ton 4wd dodge diesel chassis and taken off 7 or 8 inches of width to fit under a wagoneer body? I know nothing is easy but this could keep all your drivetrain and sensors stock. You would have to stretch the wagoneer body and play around with the dashboard but conceptually it is easier for me to wrap my head around. Is this frame swap a viable alternative to an engine swap? What huge idiotic thing am I overlooking?
 

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... Has anyone taken a 3/4 ton 4wd dodge diesel chassis and taken off 7 or 8 inches of width to fit under a wagoneer body?...
that's probably going to be way more work than necessary. instead of trying to narrow a frame, sit the body on top as is and make custom mounts to fit. you won't be able to fit the engine (w/ mounts), trans bellhousing w/ starter, transfer case, or exhaust if you narrow the frame by 8" - it won't fit between them.

stretch the body? no no no. just shorten the dodge frame. there will be plenty of straight frame to shorten after the trans/transfer crossmember and would be a good place to cut.

all in all, it'll still be a ton of work. but, IMO, this is the best way of going about it.

also, get a '94 - '98 truck w/ a stick or '94 - '96 if auto for your donor. all mechanical motors that are super easy for swaps as far as electronics are concerned. these engines will only need 3 wires to wire up and get running. the auto trans went electric in '97, so you'd need to keep the ecm or get a stand alone controller. wiring up to your dash w/ these mechanical motors will be easy as far as sensors/guages are concerned.
 

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I have built custom chassis, done frame swaps, and done engine swaps. Engine swaps are WAAAYYYY less work. The amount of time involved in a complete chassis swap is 200 hours or more for a good fabricator doing quality work where an engine swap should take 40. If I were doing it for a living I would want $50 hour to do that type of work. If you could even find someone to do it, you could expect to spend 10K on labor alone. Parts will cost close to the same if you are just paying someone to locate and install them....that is after you get the chassis and truck paid for. I expect you could do an engine swap for less than half of a chassis swap.

The other side of this is that chassis work is VERY involved and if not done properly could cause big problems down the road. An engine swap is more straight forward.

So, unless you have very deep pockets, I would stick to an engine swap.
 

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...Engine swaps are WAAAYYYY less work...
sure - when the recipient and donors are similar!!!!! :rolleyes:

w/ what the OP wants to do, you can't just stick a cummins in a wagoneer - frame, drivetrain, axles (w/ steering), suspension won't survive. all of these systems would need substantial reinforcement - enough to the point of replacement. so why replace them individually when the whole package can be swapped in??
 

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sure - when the recipient and donors are similar!!!!! :rolleyes:

w/ what the OP wants to do, you can't just stick a cummins in a wagoneer - frame, drivetrain, axles (w/ steering), suspension won't survive. all of these systems would need substantial reinforcement - enough to the point of replacement. so why replace them individually when the whole package can be swapped in??
Perhaps.....

Ever done an chassis swap? They are no cake walk when the "donor and recipient vehicles are similiar". When they are very dissimiliar, it is alot more complicated. It is not as easy is pull one frame out, roll the other under, and bolt 'er down. You are still looking at steering, suspension and just about every mount needing an upgrade....along with shortening the donor frame to fit the short wheel base in this case. Then you have to wire, plumb and connect every mechanical linkage, cable, handle, mounting point in a custom fashion. So, it takes about every fabrication skill you can muster to make it all come together.

And after all that time and money.....you get to start debugging and re-engineering what did not work right the first time.

I am by no means saying it can no be done. But, if I was not doing it myself I would not try it. As a matter of fact if I could utilize the original frame with modification, I would do that. I have done a complete chassis swap and I wish I had modified the original with new suspension instead. It would have been cleaner and easier.
 

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There are alot of variables to consider, however in your case I don't think it would be worth the gains. However, there are some chassis swaps that make alot of sense. If your gaining more than just a mounted drivetrain, i.e. superior axles, superior suspension, superior steering, etc... then a comple chassis swap makes sense.

Site owner dieselcruiserhead is doing a chassis swap on his build... and a drivetrain swap at the same time. In his case he gains the coils suspension and locking differntials of the 80 Series Landcruiser, combined with the nostalgic looks of the 55 Series. Gonna be neat :cool:
 

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sure - when the recipient and donors are similar!!!!! :rolleyes:

w/ what the OP wants to do, you can't just stick a cummins in a wagoneer - frame, drivetrain, axles (w/ steering), suspension won't survive. all of these systems would need substantial reinforcement - enough to the point of replacement. so why replace them individually when the whole package can be swapped in??

I chose to do an engine swap in my jeep pickup instead of a chassis swap.(everyone kept saying i should do a chassis swap) but after crunching some numbers it was a heck of a lot less work to just do the engine swap.

The placement of the cummins in the dodge chassis with the location of the dodge front axle would in no shape or form line up with the engine compartment of the jeep and have the tires lined up in the wheel well.

I was going to have to relocate the engine in the factory dodge frame and build all custom body mounts and butcher the heck out of the jeep firewall to do a chassis swap. By doing the engine swap, I beefed up the frame and made new motor mounts and did some fab work to the tranny mount.

when doing either one, I would measure measure measure before hand and see which would be best.

just a thought
 

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definitely easier to do a engine swap if you ask me... Chassis swaps take a long time and a lot more variables than a simple custom motor mount and cross member swap..
 

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stretch the body? no no no. ...
I did have a first hand look at an SJ Cherokee(2-door Wagoneer, not the later compact) that was stretched and very nicely done too. It wasn't stretched much though so I thought it was a heck of a lot of work for little gain but it was what the owner wanted. He did have some money to spend as evidenced by this work that was farmed out, the freshly built Dynatrac D60s front and rear and the fact that it was in his airplane hangar.

Ken
 

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...I have done a complete chassis swap and I wish I had modified the original with new suspension instead. It would have been cleaner and easier.
Likewise here though I didn't have much choice with the condition of the body's original frame. I did mine with what I had and some of my skills were, aaahhhmmm, early in their development, and I was accordingly equipped tool wise.

It's still running around today and was a daily driver as recently as this past summer/fall so I didn't do too terribly bad. But I'd not relish the thought of doing it again.

Ken
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the input

I wasn't aware that the custom fabrication involved in modifying the steering, cables, mounting points etc. for a chassis swap would be any more involved than what seems to be involved for the engine swap. My wagoneer's axles are Dana 44 in the rear and Dana Spicer 27AF. From what I gather that is not enough to handle even the 4bt. I just thought that if I needed new axles, engine, transmission, transfer case, and suspension that taking it all from one place might be easier and cheaper. These parts would minimally add up to $5k (plus the hassle of shopping/assembly) or I can pick up an old donor for about $6-7K, minus whatever I can get back for the body. I was also thinking that this would make it easier for me to have repairs done on it at any shop. I could just roll in anywhere and say it was 92 d250 for example as opposed to having to provide a yard long list of custom parts to the mechanic.

I appreciate the input about shortening the frame rather than stretching the wagoneer, I didn't know you could 'cut' the drive shaft. That does nip in the bud any dreams of third row seating or extra tanks but is probably more practical. One poster did bring up the problem of the steering needing modification and I appreciate that as well.

Unfortunately the two local shops who may help me with this are also divided as to the best route to take. I definitely want to go the most affordable route (my pockets are more often inside out than deep). I have been quoted as much as 10k just for the engine swap labor, parts not included. I guess that is why I started considering the chassis switch instead.
 

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4bt in Grand Wagoneer

More detail on the Cummins wagoneer swap, please. I have an '89 Grand Wagoneer that I am planning on doing a 4bt with a 5 or 6 speed Allison transmission swap. The GW was a pretty tough vehicle with the 360. I don't understand the problem with putting a 4bt in that chassy. The GW has leaf springs in the front and the an extra leaf should handle the 200 pounds more weight of the 4bt.
 

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Phlorentz, there have been several Wagoneers done on the forum. Most use the stock chassis. Need to search a bit more. The one you landed on is 10 years old. One thing that's pretty sure is you'll have to do a bit of transmission tunnel mods to install the Allison. They are huge. Another issue may be the transfer case. I assume your Jeep is a passenger's side drop. Most all 4x4 Allisons were driver's side, but that can be worked out. Unless you're dealing with the ISB version of the 4bt, they didn't come with the Allison. That means an outboard controller will be necessary. The main reason we don't see a lot of that transmission is the shear cost of it. The Dodge 46RH or 47RH that came behind the 6bt Dodge is a whole lot cheaper to adapt and Dodge had a passenger's side drop NP205 that will bolt up.
 

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I got a '96 Dodge pickup complete running gear less engine, it sure makes it suitable to have all the running gear, brakes, driveshafts already done, just waiting for a suitable body to put on it.

Ed
 
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