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Old 01-04-2016, 04:17 PM   #1
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Ford e450 engine swap

Hello,
I have just bought a 2004 ford e450 bluebird short bus from a US Air Force base here in England, and it was a 6.0 diesel, but this damaged engine is in bits in the back so I have also bought a 2001 ford e350 7.3 pick up from the same base and intend to put the 7.3 in the bus. Does anyone have any tips like can I just swap the engine or do I need to swap the gearbox too? Can this even be done?
I am making it into a campervan (RV) and start the transformation this week!

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-04-2016, 05:35 PM   #2
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You'll find better information on Ford engine swaps on one of the Ford van forums. Here's a thread about swapping them:

Swapping a 6.0l powerstroke for a 7.3l powerstroke - PowerStrokeArmy

The 6.0L was one of Ford's biggest mistakes, especially since it followed the successful 7.3L, but the 5R100 trans that came with the 6.0L was a big improvement over the previous trans that came with the 7.3L. If you can get them to play together you'll have the best of both worlds.

One potential problem is that the van chassis doesn't allow for the intercooler that the pickups have. That means the PCM (engine computer) for the 7.3l engine will be tuned too hot and you'll have to get a computer from a 7.3 van engine. The wire loom connectors are likely to be different too.

Depending on the condition of the original 6.0l engine it may be easier to rebuild it and fix the original design problems instead of swapping.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:37 PM   #3
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You're going to have some fun.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:41 PM   #4
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I've changed the motor in my E-450. Big job. And there was a few small problems to overcome just going from a pick up truck engine vs. a van engine. ( 1 exhaust manifold -1 valve cover-oil cooler + turbo off the top of my head.) And I can't even imagine how much odd ball things you'd find trying to back date a motor like that.
You'd be far better off to redo a 6.0. Search "bullet-proofed." There are fixes that make the 6.0 a decent motor.
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Old 01-05-2016, 02:11 AM   #5
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I can't rebuilt the 6.0l as the block is missing and the pistons have been cut in half with a grinder!? And I don't know why they took it out in the first place. Sourcing another 6.0 over here is impossible, and to buy and ship one to England is big money.
I think the swap may be my only option, even though problematic. If I can get the 7.3 in, and use computers from the donor vehicle I hope it's do able as I don't have many options.
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Old 01-05-2016, 12:42 PM   #6
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If you have an intact donor vehicle you might be able to make things work.

But if you don't have all of the parts and pieces you are going to have a hard time getting the engine and transmission to talk to each other.

A friend of mine has had some issues with swapping a 7.3L out of a newer rig into his. The newer engine had different parameters that didn't allow it to talk to his control module or transmission. He could get it to start but just barely and it wouldn't run well enough to go anywhere. He ended up having to get a remanufactured engine that was specific to the model and year of his rig.

Back in the day with everything mechanical it was relatively easy to swap stuff around. But with the advent of electronics it is very difficult to swap stuff around unless you are able to get all of the donor vehicle's electronics to swap in as well.

Good luck.
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Old 01-05-2016, 01:09 PM   #7
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Roger that --- All the new-fangled electronics and computers have made swapping a nightmare. There are several guys over on one of the diesel forums who have been working on trying to make 4th gen Allison trannies play nice with their engines for about three years now. And one of the biggest hangups are the wiring harnesses. Getting all the right pins on each end is no simple matter. Then there are the programming issues which can be even more complex. Seems GM and a few others will NOT release any data regarding their proprietary languages. They can be hacked, but they can also take years to work out the many kinks. I paid extra to find and rebuild one of the older, all mechanical Cummins for just that reason. Seems very few people want to deal with the newer computer powered wonders for some reason.
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Old 01-05-2016, 01:16 PM   #8
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Bluebird in England

I do have complete donor e350 with gearbox, so might fit both and use all looms and computers and see what happens. I don't have many other options!
I also need to find out what headlamps will fit this, as the ones fitted are left hand drive lights, and I need right hand drive lights to use in uk.
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Old 01-05-2016, 03:41 PM   #9
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Like I said before, you will be in for some fun. If the E350 donor isn't a diesel or the same vintage as the pickup, it won't work. Just because you have a 4R100 in one vehicle, it doesn't mean it's the same as another 4R100 in different vehicle. Some have more sensors which are obviously hooked up to the computer. You can't just run down to your local wrecking yard to scrounge for parts.
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Old 01-05-2016, 06:12 PM   #10
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I've been running thru my head the amount of stuff you'd end up changing. IF-and its a real big IF-the lump will physically fit-and you can get around things like pan clearance-motor mounts-clearance to the body, off the top of my head to make a 7.3 work, you'll need : transmission
computer
wiring harness
VSS (vehicle speed sensor) + possibly the tone ring on the ring gear. (you wont even get the bus to move without this right.)
Gas pedal (which will be different for a van/truck)
Dashboard (again-different van/truck)
a van specific ex. manifold-(can't remember which side)
a van left side valve cover-and oil filler tube
a van tranny dipstick.
The motor + even more so the tranny are VERY computer + sensor dependent.
The motor weighs 900 lbs-and the tranny 350. You need a serious cherry picker to get the motor out. And you can cut the radiator support to make more room. Its a crazy tight squeeze.
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Old 01-06-2016, 10:20 AM   #11
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You are scaring me now! How can I swap the dashboard? Do you mean the clocks or the whole thing? Having read this it may be cheaper to buy a running bus in the USA and ship it over to the UK. A bus and shipping will be approx $7000 though I would rather fix the one I have.
What started simple is turning into a disaster!
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Old 01-06-2016, 10:25 AM   #12
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Sounds almost as much fun as stuffing a Cummins 4BT and Allison 6 speed into a 46 Chevy!
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Sounds almost as much fun as stuffing a Cummins 4BT and Allison 6 speed into a 46 Chevy!
Way more fun. I'd rather do the fabrication on something custom like what you have. Working on vans suck, period. There's no room, everything seems to be in the way, and the pathetic excuse they call a hood might as well not even be there. I'm almost positive they build the chassis and engine first, then lower the van on top, and then laugh at the poor fool that has to work on it.

Simply changing the belt on one requires the removal of the fan, radiator, and all the junk in front of it. Supposedly it's a 2.5 hour job. HA, I'd like to see the person that could have that done perfectly and back on the road in 2.5 hours.

The worse part is that most of these things can be had used for a song and a dance. The buyer thinks they're getting a great deal with it, and it only has one slight little problem like a bad power steering pump, or idler bearing. Then they realize that it wasn't a deal at all.

I'm not saying a swap can't be done, it just won't be done by any old average Joe. If you don't have a good mechanical background, more patience then the Dalai Lama, and a unquenchable desire to succeed at it, then I wouldn't even try it.

GOOD LUCK!
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:26 AM   #14
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As much as I love vans, Booyah is right. They're horrible to work on!
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:44 AM   #15
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I'm almost positive they build the chassis and engine first, then lower the van on top, and then laugh at the poor fool that has to work on it.
That's the way most vehicles are assembled. The running gear (motor, frame, wheels) comes along and the body lowers down over it. I've toured three of the Ford assembly lines and both cars and trucks were built the same way. As you say, no one thinks about ease of maintenance.

Working on the front of my E450 7.3L diesel isn't too awful but certainly much more inconvenient than the same engine in a pickup. Once I remove the air filter cowling I can get to the alternator, steering pump, serpentine belt, etc but it's a tight fit. The sole advantage of a van is that the turbo is very easy to work on from inside where the same job in a pickup is a real bear.

I am extremely jealous of dog nose buses with engines that you can actually see.
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Old 01-06-2016, 02:13 PM   #16
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Oh, they thought about maintenance alright. That's why it is designed in a way that almost no one but a dealer with a couple of hundred grand in computers and special tools can work on the damned things.
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Old 01-06-2016, 08:17 PM   #17
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With a shuttle, the chassis rolls down the assembly line-the PARTIAL body (just the cab) get lowered on the chassis-then the bus company puts on their box. With no thought of ever being able to remove it in one piece. So you're stuck with what you have.
You want an example of how tricky the Fords are with electronics? I've have an off + on problem I've been chasing for a couple of years with how the tranny shifts. There are time it won't go into OD. (Actually its the torque converter locking up.) Searching the Ford diesel forums (Thedieselstop.com and powerstroke.org are 2 good ones) to solve the problem-the first thing they tell you to check is the bulb in the 3rd brake light! I finally just put the the TC lock up on a toggle switch.
I tend to do most all the work on the engine from the back. I can get the turbo off without even opening the hood. Injectors+glow plugs too. I can do a serpintene belt in about 20 minutes. (from the front of course) Just unbolt the fan shroud + let it fall back.
When I say dash- I should have said gauge cluster.
Without knowing your mechanical skills or budget, you would get on the road quicker starting with a running bus shipped over. Or buy a dead 6.0 engine + get it shipped. Replace the defective head bolts with ARP head studs and have a drop in engine.
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Old 01-07-2016, 10:12 AM   #18
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Roach and sdwarf, you both have older vans. Those are easier then the newer ones with a 6 liter. Supposedly there is a little lever you can flip to hold the tensioner in place to be able to change the belt without removing the radiator. I've never gotten it to work though so out comes the radiator, intercooler, AC condenser, tranny cooler, power steering cooler, etc.

Sdwarf, good luck with your wiring. Large oem's seem to be pretty consistent when it come to diagrams but every time I've had to deal with a van body, the wiring diagram might as well have not even been color coded. That and you'll have to have both the chassis(ford) and the van body wiring diagrams and try to correlate between the two, it becomes a headache real quick, and I'm fairly competent at electrical schematics.
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