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Nefarious

VG33E swap into WD21

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Hi all I am in a rush to beat the snow and pulling my current VG30E from my 1993 pathfinder. It was piston slap, bad compression on a cylinder and lifter noise. Needless to say the previous owner was pretty damn hard on it and it needs to be replaced. Anyways the engine is half out of the truck at this point I am only a few hours in really but I wanted to know if anyone else on here has done this swap without touching the internals of the VG33E? Reason I'm asking is I got my 3.3 from a 1996 Pathy which I got in excellent running order (but rotted out unibody) for 400$ which I split with a buddy as he needed the transmission, so I only paid 200 for everything.

 

I pulled the motor and all of the accessories and lines. I grabbed all a/c lines, power steering lines, etc. So my plan is to swap the motor and all accessories in as well, to avoid any mixing and matching of engine parts and generally dismantling the engine down to the crank... not what I really want to be doing. Most of the pump lines look like they will bolt right up and they all seem to go to the same general areas on the truck even though some of the accessories swapped sides.

 

My question is, does anyone have any insight on this and if it will work? lol. The power steering pump should still power the steering box as opposed to the rack in the r50 right? The lines go to the right spot and look like they will fit right on with the banjo fittings. The a/c I'm not really worried about losing as this is mainly a winter truck but I did grab all those lines as well and they also look like they will bolt up as well to the wd21 ac components for the most part, if I ever want to charge the system. Anyways any help or advice is appreciated thanks!

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Hi all I am in a rush to beat the snow and pulling my current VG30E from my 1993 pathfinder. It was piston slap, bad compression on a cylinder and lifter noise. Needless to say the previous owner was pretty damn hard on it and it needs to be replaced. Anyways the engine is half out of the truck at this point I am only a few hours in really but I wanted to know if anyone else on here has done this swap without touching the internals of the VG33E? Reason I'm asking is I got my 3.3 from a 1996 Pathy which I got in excellent running order (but rotted out unibody) for 400$ which I split with a buddy as he needed the transmission, so I only paid 200 for everything.

 

I pulled the motor and all of the accessories and lines. I grabbed all a/c lines, power steering lines, etc. So my plan is to swap the motor and all accessories in as well, to avoid any mixing and matching of engine parts and generally dismantling the engine down to the crank... not what I really want to be doing. Most of the pump lines look like they will bolt right up and they all seem to go to the same general areas on the truck even though some of the accessories swapped sides.

 

My question is, does anyone have any insight on this and if it will work? lol. The power steering pump should still power the steering box as opposed to the rack in the r50 right? The lines go to the right spot and look like they will fit right on with the banjo fittings. The a/c I'm not really worried about losing as this is mainly a winter truck but I did grab all those lines as well and they also look like they will bolt up as well to the wd21 ac components for the most part, if I ever want to charge the system. Anyways any help or advice is appreciated thanks!

You might consider swapping the accessory brackets from the old vg30 to the vg33 so you can mount the new accessories in old position. I don't know if they all mount to the old brackets or not but it might make other things easier later. Also the oil pump needs to be changed IIRC.

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thanks for the reply. I am getting it all laid out next to each other to see what I need to swap over. I will definitely try swapping the brackets, you are right it would make life a lot easier. I'm gunna leave the a/c alone for now too since I noticed it doesn't move locations so hopefully it will just bolt up and then i will just need to modify the bracket to be offset since the rest of the pulleys will be off-set from the rest of them... oh wait maybe I will have to do that for all of them if I use the old brackets, since the crank pulley belt grooves are not in the same place.

Edited by Nefarious

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Also I was going to throw in an aftermarket transmission cooler while I'm at it, any tips for this?? Will it make my auto shift nicer or just last longer?

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So I did some research and found out the early xterras vg33e has the power steering and alternator on the same side as the vg30e. as opposed to the vg33e pathfinder which has them swapped to the opposite sides (the engine i have). does anyone here have an xterra to confirm or take a picture that this would work? if i got xterra ps pump and alternator and bolted them to the 3.3 that i have then just hook up to my existing lines... hmmm just ideas anyone with a 3.3 xterra on the forums??

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the accesory locations are similar but not exact, different belt sizes and such but it should all fit.

I personally want my pump and resivor on the same side as my box and my alty on the same side as my battery. So I think I will be adopting the r50 brackets and accesories...

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So you think the r50 pump will be strong enough to power the wd21 box?? Cause that would be the easiest route for me as I have all the lines from an r50 to hook it up in my wd21. Only thing i will miss is having my alternator a little higher up from water.

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The cooler makes the trans last longer. It does two things. One, it won't clog up like the stock one will. A clogged cooler doesn't let fluid circulate, starving the trans, and making the clutches slip/wear out. Two, it cools the fluid, making the fluid last longer/work better.

 

Is a stock Pathy auto trans strong enough to handle a VG33? :scratchhead:

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Is a stock Pathy auto trans strong enough to handle a VG33? :scratchhead:

 

There isn't a whole lot of difference. They just got rid of the debris issue in the Xterra's revision, and added a drive plate here and there. The Pathfinder transmission would be just as bullet proof as the Xterra's if it were regularly maintained. I feel the Pathfinder trans needs a much more frequent maintenance schedule than any other transmission. And if you really think about it, the majority of Pathfinder transmissions fail anywhere between 170-200k miles. That is a very long time when you think about it, it's just bad for the ones of us that buy used and get them right around this mileage mark.

 

TLDR: Yes, the WD21 trans is strong enough for the VG33.

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Yeah I think I will use an external cooler, I might as well now that it's all apart. My auto shifts a little hard into 2nd sometimes but other than that it's fine so hopefully it will hold up for a while. If not I'll swap in the 5 speed from a pathy or hardbody.

 

Hey on another note I am going to swap in a LSD 3rd member. Is there any way to tell just by looking at a truck if it has one?? I know to look for a sticker but I imagine a LSD OIL ONLY sticker might be worn off after the years... What should I look for on the door tag?

 

Thanks everyone this place is awesome.

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The LSD oil sticker is the most durable part on the truck! Probably the best way to find one...

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oh really, haha. that must be some tough plastic then indeed! ill keep an eye out for that magical sticker as well as some oem manual lockers. it is any hardbody 90 something and up right?? 28 spline is what i am looking for am i correct?? anyone know which years the hardbody went to 28 spline front??

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excellent ya thanks man I ran across that afterwards. Going to look at the local jap scrap yard tomorrow for a 4.6 lsd and manual lockers :)

 

on that note.... what is going to be the easiest way to swap the LSD into my truck??? Never done any differential work before... Is there just a cover to take off and slide out the axles and take it out?? or swap the whole 3rd member would be easier? lots of questions I know but I want to get this right... thanks

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I haven't done it, but I think you will want/need to replace the entire third member. Remove driveshaft, slide axles out, remove and replace third member. Make sure you get the same gear ratio as your front diff...

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The oil pump only needs to be replaced for the old water pump to fit but you can grind the old water pump to make it look like the new one and keep the 3.3 oil pump. The biggest challenge in this project is you need to get a v-belt pulley adapter in place of the serpentine belt pulley.

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but im planning on using the entire vg33e engine/accessories the same as it was assembled in the r50 and adapting the power steering lines instead of using the vg30e accessories. why would i have to touch the water/oil pump??? im confused.

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but im planning on using the entire vg33e engine/accessories the same as it was assembled in the r50 and adapting the power steering lines instead of using the vg30e accessories. why would i have to touch the water/oil pump??? im confused.

 

If you're keeping all the VG33 accessories, belts, and brackets you don't need to mess with the water or oil pumps.

 

The major issue with VG33 swaps is there is no way with factory parts to make the VG30 accessories work with a VG33 crankshaft. This is why most of the Z31 guys swap out the crank, oil pump, and water pump when they do a VG33 swap. I'm now producing a crank pulley adapter that solves this problem. The prototype is in my VG34i build thread that's around here somewhere.

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hey okay now I gotcha. Thanks for clearing that up. Yeah I have a 3" BL in my truck as well so there is ample engine bay space to relocate lines/res tanks to make the r50 accessories work. I could definitely see in a z31 that would be a lot harder to do with the much tighter space confines. Actually my moms boyfriend is building a z31 though and I believe he is looking for a 3.3 as well. I will let him know you make an adapter as that would probably make his life a lot easier. Is it released for the public yet or are you still on prototype stage??? billet aluminum?? what about the damper? any issues known with vg30s and running no damper pulley? I guess it's a pretty well balanced v6 so I couldn't see it being too bad.

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Actually my moms boyfriend is building a z31 though and I believe he is looking for a 3.3 as well. I will let him know you make an adapter as that would probably make his life a lot easier. Is it released for the public yet or are you still on prototype stage??? billet aluminum?? what about the damper? any issues known with vg30s and running no damper pulley? I guess it's a pretty well balanced v6 so I couldn't see it being too bad.

 

I don't have production crank pulley adapters ready to go yet, they are probably a month out. It is a billet aluminum hub that replaces the VG33 harmonic balancer and accepts VG30 six bolt steel accessory pulleys. There's no issue with eliminating the balancer, many people have run aluminum crank pulleys that do the same thing for hundreds of thousands of miles. You cannot tell a difference in vibration between my engine and one with a balancer. Please let him know that I also build oil pickup tubes for the VG33 into Z31 swap.

 

I looked at your pics. Be sure you unbolt the torque converter from the flex plate and properly index it into the transmission per the FSM or you'll ruin the transmission when you start the engine! I would not have pulled the engine with the TC attached to the flex plate but it probably didn't hurt anything. Take a good look at the front seal of the transmission and replace it if you have any doubts whatsoever! Doing the TC bolts is the biggest PITA in a Pathy engine or trans swap. I leave the RH motor mount off until the engine and trans are mated together so I can use a long extension to torque the TC bolts from in front of the engine.

Edited by Mr.510

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yeah I was about fed up with the torque converter I just wanted it out lol so sick of being under that thing but yes I am definitely going to reindex it into the trans before re installing. it broke loose really easilly it came out just as easy as any manual ever has and everything looks clean and tight still. I will definitely inspect the tranny seal but it looks good. the motor came out really smooth it just kind of slid out. no pulling or tugging or shaking.

 

yes my 240sx tow car came in handy there!! i got a bad shoulder I been working with for the last 6 months from a work accident so i wasnt about to try and hand bomb that hoist back on a gravel driveway lol. KA24DE towing power!!! lol

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mr 510 - yeah man the torque converter is a pain!!! i couldnt believe there was no access. I just remembered how easy it was to pull the 3.3 we just pulled it with the converter attached as well. I was already so bloody and cold i just wanted it out. if it was stiff if any way i was gunna keep at it but it just slid off once i got the last engine bolt out so i think it's fine. there was no real pressure on it. hey if it ever goes that's just more reason to swap in a 5 speed manual right ? :P

 

actually there are new plans accumulating now as my mom's boyfriend has a spare z31 turbo, ecu, and exhaust manifolds sitting around which might be getting fitted to my new 3.3 with an exhaust stack and a snorkle for underwateryness :)

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