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What should I do?

  • 4bt and 6bt later

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I'm a student in High school planning on buying a K20 this year, but I'd also like to swap a Cummins in it. I don't have a lot of fabrication experience but I do have the people and resources to help me out. This will be my first truck and first swap. Since my budget is tight I thought of doing the 4BT first and then doing the 6bt down the road because it could easier, cheaper, etc. Or should I just do the 6bt? I really think doing the 4bt would be really helpful to get the experience and make the 6bt an easier swap. I don't plan on towing anything for a few years, but I will be hauling a lot of steel and stuff in the bed. Is there any suggestions or advice anyone can give me?
 

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A 6 will be less expensive than a 4 will be,so if you have the room and can deal with the extra weight..........a D-60 front minimum a 4BT is as heavy or heavier than any big block and the 6BT is ~1,200#.Your best bet would be to find a dodge truck with the 6 and drive train you want and start there you will be able to get almost everything needed in one place,the days of finding a running bread van with a 4bt for $3Kor $4K are over the prices that are being asked for a 4bt that "was a good running engine when pulled"and is on a pallet are steep to me I would me leery to pay whats being asked for most I see for sale..........just my two cents on that.
If you have the room ie; length in the engine compartment a 6 is no more work than a 4 is smoother running and will do what you need it to do in stock trim,In my 8K rig I went with the 4 but my 4 has been turned up to about where the the 24 valve 6's were to do the job needed I chose the 4 solely for size/weight reasons my Crewcab is over 8K and the front axle is carries 4,600# of it so a 6 would have made it a nose heavy pig.To get a rig that you will be happy with is a series of compromises hit the stickies to get the basic info you need to get a plan then start with the ??? specific to your build and while doing that start looking for donor vehicles/parts...research is your best friend every hour spent doing it will pay you back tenfold if the overall drive ability of your rig and the cost to do it and how happy you will be.
Where in AZ are you? Good luck and welcome aboard
 

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Steve pretty well summed it up. The 6bt will be the cheapest route unless you find a very cheap 4bt. There are plenty of builds so you can get a picture of what's involved. Also, since you're dealing with a GM there are prefabricated parts already available from several sources. Auto World in Montana does all kinds of GM/Cummins swap parts. Members CrewCab59 and Rube Bonet are others. Need to think on the end use of the truck. For most general use the 4bt is more than adequate. If you plan on towing your house the 6bt would probably be better. The fuel mileage difference between a 4bt and 6bt won't be all that much. With proper gearing and driving, the 6bt can get into the low 20 mpg rage and the 4bt the mid 20's.
 

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I agree with both of the above posts. The Arizona supply of running 4bt engines dried up a while ago, after the Hostess bread bankruptcy auction, the trucks were scrapped in Phoenix and the engines were sold. You might get lucky and find a 4bt takeout engine that is sitting in someones storage.

If the K20 is a long wheelbase truck (i.e. 8 foot bed), swapping over the complete drive train from a Dodge/Cummins might be the way to go. I do not have 4x4 fabrication experience
 

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A 6 will be less expensive than a 4 will be,so if you have the room and can deal with the extra weight..........a D-60 front minimum a 4BT is as heavy or heavier than any big block and the 6BT is ~1,200#.Your best bet would be to find a dodge truck with the 6 and drive train you want and start there you will be able to get almost everything needed in one place,the days of finding a running bread van with a 4bt for $3Kor $4K are over the prices that are being asked for a 4bt that "was a good running engine when pulled"and is on a pallet are steep to me I would me leery to pay whats being asked for most I see for sale..........just my two cents on that.
If you have the room ie; length in the engine compartment a 6 is no more work than a 4 is smoother running and will do what you need it to do in stock trim,In my 8K rig I went with the 4 but my 4 has been turned up to about where the the 24 valve 6's were to do the job needed I chose the 4 solely for size/weight reasons my Crewcab is over 8K and the front axle is carries 4,600# of it so a 6 would have made it a nose heavy pig.To get a rig that you will be happy with is a series of compromises hit the stickies to get the basic info you need to get a plan then start with the ??? specific to your build and while doing that start looking for donor vehicles/parts...research is your best friend every hour spent doing it will pay you back tenfold if the overall drive ability of your rig and the cost to do it and how happy you will be.
Where in AZ are you? Good luck and welcome aboard
Been In Maricopa for about 12 years now
 

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Do you have a particular K20 in mind? Or, do you just want the Chevy, rather than Dodge, look?

If you really want just the GM sheet metal, you might consider slipping a Dodge 2500 frame/CTD under your GM body. The list of things you don't have to buy/engineer is long: motor mounts, trans adapter, correct gear ratio, weight capacity of the front end, ..., on and on.

Roy
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Do you have a particular K20 in mind? Or, do you just want the Chevy, rather than Dodge, look?

If you really want just the GM sheet metal, you might consider slipping a Dodge 2500 frame/CTD under your GM body. The list of things you don't have to buy/engineer is long: motor mounts, trans adapter, correct gear ratio, weight capacity of the front end, ..., on and on.

Roy
Well I'm looking for a K20 3/4 long bed, I'd like to keep it all GM besides the power plant and trans, because I've never done a frame swap before and I don't have the space to bring in another truck. I'd have to move to whole operation out to my friends shop and get a lot of help doing everything. Won't be needing a trans adapter because I plan on getting an NV4500 or 5600 and If I can't find a truck with with a 14 bolt and I'd be swapping all that out anyways new gears along with a lsd or a locker. I'll keep your idea in mind though.
 

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Well, you mentioned tight budget in your first post. Maybe you want to keep in mind the ultimate tight-budget solution for a guy wanting a 3/4-ton 8' bed CTD...that is to buy a 2500 Dodge. That is an especially good option for first-time Diesel owners...there are more than a few guys who buy Diesel just to discover they don't really need one or they don't like some aspect of owning one.

Roy
 

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I'm a student in High school planning on buying a K20 this year, but I'd also like to swap a Cummins in it. I don't have a lot of fabrication experience but I do have the people and resources to help me out. This will be my first truck and first swap. Since my budget is tight I thought of doing the 4BT first and then doing the 6bt down the road because it could easier, cheaper, etc. Or should I just do the 6bt? I really think doing the 4bt would be really helpful to get the experience and make the 6bt an easier swap. I don't plan on towing anything for a few years, but I will be hauling a lot of steel and stuff in the bed. Is there any suggestions or advice anyone can give me?
Ok heres the problems I see based on what you are saying. You're a student in high school. You want to buy a K20 and swap a Cummins into it. This would be your first truck and your first engine swap. You don't have a lot of fabrication experience, and you have a tight budget. I have a suggestion for you, but you're probably not going to like it. But I'm gonna give it to you in all sincerity, because I understand what it's like to be young and have a dream. So I tell you this with the advantage of years of experience. You aren't ready to take on this kind of a project. This is a huge undertaking and it's going to take significant amounts of time, money, skill or knowhow and resources to complete. I'm not suggesting you can't do it, anything is possible, but you'll need everything I've already mentioned. First and foremost, you need money. The purchase of a K20 may not be too bad, but you'll actually have to hunt down two different vehicles, and perhaps more for particular parts. The K20 should be in decent shape. Since these are older trucks, expect to have to make repairs to those parts you will be keeping, such as axles, and body work (No sense going thru all the work for a rust bucket) Next you'll need a Cummins donor. This isn't simply going on Craigs list and picking out a rolled truck. Cummins equipped Dodge trucks are rapidly increasing in value because these engines are becoming very popular, and btw forget the 4BT unless you happen to have a trust in your name, that you can cash in on. Next, swaps aren't as simple as dropping in a motor and turning the key and going. There are tons of details to deal with, everything from fitment to what are you going to use as a transmission, to making everything work together in one cohesive package. Besides money, that will take time, and a huge learning curve if you don't know what you're doing. And probably a ton of help. Over a period of time and building a bit of experience, this maybe possible for you, but you have to start were we all do. I would say, get a job in mechanics, better yet, in some sort of automotive/fabrication type of shop or join the military and try to get into something mechanically related, like aircraft mechanics. This will get you experience, also a free education and pay you at the same time. It will also give you time to slowly build resources. When you're ready, you'll have all the confidence you'll need to take on something this complicated.

There is another less difficult option, but you'll have to surrender your loyalty to either the Chevy or the Cummins. There are tons of diesel powered pick ups that have no need for a swap. They are more or less ready to go now, if you can afford the purchase price. You can either get a K20 with the older 6.2/6.5 diesel, or you can get a Dodge W350 or Ram 2500/3500 with a Cummins. This is a cheaper option, than a swap. You can then concentrate on improving the truck when you're ready, whereas with a swap, you'd be still building it, waiting for more money, so you can buy one of the thousands of parts you'd need.

Good luck
Ed
 

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When I started my swap I did have the experience/skill set and ALL the tools needed to do the swap and the Wife was working 60-75 hours a week for much of the time as she was a dispatcher for Co. Fire and during wildfire season ~6 months out of 12 OT was mandatory .......so I had the best of conditions to work under and it still took a solid 2 years to do then another year of teething problems. so just be sure your ready for the LONG haul cause it's gonna be one but is it ever really a good time to dive into a project of this magnitude?? I've been helping member mystycal on his swap long distance and hes about smack in the middle between where you and and I was when I started mine and life and projects like this are not compatible so l plan on it costing twice what you plan on and taking three times as long to finish it.....if that sounds like what you want to dive into welcome to the asylum :) and it must not be as bad as I think it is or why have i started to gather the parts for the next project:confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well, you mentioned tight budget in your first post. Maybe you want to keep in mind the ultimate tight-budget solution for a guy wanting a 3/4-ton 8' bed CTD...that is to buy a 2500 Dodge. That is an especially good option for first-time Diesel owners...there are more than a few guys who buy Diesel just to discover they don't really need one or they don't like some aspect of owning one.

Roy
I've thought about buying a Dodge, I even offered to buy a 1st gen 12 valve that's just used to haul water off my friend's dad but he declined. Any 2nd gen 2500 with a diesel here is just out of my price range to at least get rolling by this year. Personally not a big fan of how 2nd gens look, I just think they scream look at how country I am.
 

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Ok heres the problems I see based on what you are saying. You're a student in high school. You want to buy a K20 and swap a Cummins into it. This would be your first truck and your first engine swap. You don't have a lot of fabrication experience, and you have a tight budget. I have a suggestion for you, but you're probably not going to like it. But I'm gonna give it to you in all sincerity, because I understand what it's like to be young and have a dream. So I tell you this with the advantage of years of experience. You aren't ready to take on this kind of a project. This is a huge undertaking and it's going to take significant amounts of time, money, skill or knowhow and resources to complete. I'm not suggesting you can't do it, anything is possible, but you'll need everything I've already mentioned. First and foremost, you need money. The purchase of a K20 may not be too bad, but you'll actually have to hunt down two different vehicles, and perhaps more for particular parts. The K20 should be in decent shape. Since these are older trucks, expect to have to make repairs to those parts you will be keeping, such as axles, and body work (No sense going thru all the work for a rust bucket) Next you'll need a Cummins donor. This isn't simply going on Craigs list and picking out a rolled truck. Cummins equipped Dodge trucks are rapidly increasing in value because these engines are becoming very popular, and btw forget the 4BT unless you happen to have a trust in your name, that you can cash in on. Next, swaps aren't as simple as dropping in a motor and turning the key and going. There are tons of details to deal with, everything from fitment to what are you going to use as a transmission, to making everything work together in one cohesive package. Besides money, that will take time, and a huge learning curve if you don't know what you're doing. And probably a ton of help. Over a period of time and building a bit of experience, this maybe possible for you, but you have to start were we all do. I would say, get a job in mechanics, better yet, in some sort of automotive/fabrication type of shop or join the military and try to get into something mechanically related, like aircraft mechanics. This will get you experience, also a free education and pay you at the same time. It will also give you time to slowly build resources. When you're ready, you'll have all the confidence you'll need to take on something this complicated.

There is another less difficult option, but you'll have to surrender your loyalty to either the Chevy or the Cummins. There are tons of diesel powered pick ups that have no need for a swap. They are more or less ready to go now, if you can afford the purchase price. You can either get a K20 with the older 6.2/6.5 diesel, or you can get a Dodge W350 or Ram 2500/3500 with a Cummins. This is a cheaper option, than a swap. You can then concentrate on improving the truck when you're ready, whereas with a swap, you'd be still building it, waiting for more money, so you can buy one of the thousands of parts you'd need.

Good luck
Ed
I understand what you're saying and I can agree that I'm not ready for a swap right now. I understand things like this take a very long time, but I believe I can get something like this done with the people and resources around me. I'm not trying to build a dream truck like Eric Miller's crew cab or anything, just trying to build something right and that's reliable so it could do anything I need it to. I think everyone thinks I'm trying to do all of this as soon as I get the truck so this is my plan as of right now.

1. Find and buy a decent running K20 (could be a 1/2 or 3/4 ton) by this year
2. Work on it, get more experience, and make it reliable throughout the rest of this and the next year.
3. Spend more time at the shop and practice using the Lincoln.
4. Find some used wheels and tires along with a lift kit (if the truck didn't already have them) Don't plan on having anything bigger than 35s
5. Replace any suspension components along with bushings and other stuff
6. Find a front D60 and a rear 14 bolt axle (if the truck didn't already have them) at the salvage yards or on CL
7. Do any work that's needed on them
8. Swap the front first, test it for a while and then swap in the rear.

By the time I'm all done with all that It could either be July or October so I wont actually be doing anything having to do with the engine swap till the middle or end of 2017, just thought it would be a good idea to start planning and getting help now. I do plan on enlisting into the Air Force after I graduate so I was hoping to maybe get something like this done before going basic in 2018 so I don't have to come home and see my truck in pieces.

I really like the 6.2 diesels and the CUCVs that came with them, but If there were more on CL I wouldn't be on here.

Thanks for spending the time typing all that out
 

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I understand what you're saying and I can agree that I'm not ready for a swap right now. I understand things like this take a very long time, but I believe I can get something like this done with the people and resources around me. I'm not trying to build a dream truck like Eric Miller's crew cab or anything, just trying to build something right and that's reliable so it could do anything I need it to. I think everyone thinks I'm trying to do all of this as soon as I get the truck so this is my plan as of right now……….
You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders. I just wanted you to understand that nothing is impossible, but at the same time I don't want you to think that this is that easy. Online everything seems easy. There are people all over the internet showing off their rides and dozens of photos of what it took to build them. They are great because it instills inspiration, but at the same time, it doesn't show the hardships. Most people I know are pretty broke and the realities of life means that you are always having to make tough decisions such as, do you spend money to buy a part for your truck or pay a bill? Let me tell you my story real quick. About 10-12 yrs ago I began a project. I wanted to swap a Cummins into a Ramcharger. At the time it all began, I had the resources and a chunk of money to use. So I bought a D350 donor, I bought a bunch of parts and began the swap which was mostly a bolt in deal. Very little fabrication was required as the Ramcharger and donor were similar types of trucks and many parts were interchangeable. Despite my planning, the project stalled. I found myself unemployed for a short time, but it didn't last long, but just long enough that it absorbed the money intended for the truck. So there it sat, under a big oak tree, in my backyard, while I worked to recover and reestablished my savings. At the time my daughter got her first license, well shortly after, she wrecked her first car. So my wife and I decided to give her my car while we got a truck. We found ourselves really needing a truck, and the Ramcharger just wasn't ready, so we purchased a used Dakota 4x4. With payments and constant home improvements I was always short on cash. As you get older, you'll discover time flies, and it would be ten years before I was able to once again look at the Ramcharger under the tree. But by then it was rusting away. To make matters worse, I had owned the Dakota for several years by this time and it was rusting out too. And to add icing to the cake, we purchased some land with the dream to build a house on it. With a move in our future and a running Dakota with serious cancer, I made a bunch of key decisions. I had decided that rather than buy another vehicle, to replace the Dakota, I would build my Dakota, and another project was born. But by then, I did have the money but not the fabrication skills as very few parts would be interchangeable. So I hired a shop to do a cab swap, solid axle swap, and a Cummins swap. I took the best parts of the Ramcharger project and either sold off or scrapped the rest. Now that was two years ago. As of now, the truck is still in the shop, about 80% done, and so far I've spent about $10K on it. I can tell you that this was really hard. While I didn't do the work myself, I did have to work to make the money. And work I did. At present my wife's dream is happening. We are now building our new home on the property we bought two years ago. So at present, money is flying out the door. Dreams are expensive, but if you want something bad enough, and you're willing to work hard at it, you'll find a way to make it happen. Good luck

Ed
 

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Well said ED............it does look so easy from a distance,but if it were that easy everyone would be driving a rig that they built;) but we all know that user built rigs are few and far between.
There were many times during my build that I was ready to put a rag in the fuel tank light it and walk away:eek: or when I had calmed down to sell it far scrap iron as I didn't want the bad Karma from selling a curse to someone else :crybaby:..............but in the end it was worth it all.The challenge and the sanctification of completion not to mention all the comments you get from people that don't have the skills,drive and dreams to do what you have done are pretty satisfying:)
For me driving a 48 year old truck that is competitive in the mileage game with new computer controlled trucks and more reliable than the newer trucks is just icing on the cake!
 

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A CL search near Phoenix shows a bunch of 1st gen options:

http://phoenix.craigslist.org/search/sss?query=dodge+diesel&sort=rel&min_price=555&max_price=5555

If you can't find the right W250 or 350, I might suggest buying the right D250 or 350, and, then, at your convenience converting it to 4x4. In the meantime, you drive the truck, learn what you like and don't like about Diesel and Dodge, maybe keep an eye out for the perfect truck.

Man, it would be so good to live there...light years from the rust belt.
Roy
 
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