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zchase1

'87 P/F vg30i to vg33e engine swap

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I have read a few topics on vg30e to vg33e swaps and am quite familiar with most of what I am in for. What I am uncertain about is not seeing any topics on the vg30i swap. I impulse bought a used engine off e-bay and it arrives in two days. I guess I am just not 100% certain it will bolt to my manual 5 sp. trans. What I have read, all vg's have the same basic block and a few salvage yards have said it will. Any inputs or warnings (he,he)?, Have I missed something and am going to regret my impulse buy???? Any input from the gallery??

I plan to post picks soon, and will post progress reports. Thanks!

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Thank You very much "Slartibartfast", great write up, should tell me everything I need. No longer freaking out (he,he).

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Does anyone know if Mr. 510 is producing the aluminum crank pulley?

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56 minutes ago, zchase1 said:

Does anyone know if Mr. 510 is producing the aluminum crank pulley?

 

Well he hasn't been online since 2012 so even if he does I doubt it'll be easy to get a hold of him.

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He's still active on the NPORA Facebook page, his name's David Carroll. Last I heard he hadn't made a batch in a while. Health issues, apparently.

 

My plan if/when I go for a VG33 swap is to use the accessories/brackets/balancer/serp belt from an Xterra or Frontier. That setup will fit in the WD21 engine bay, from what I've read, and means I don't have to screw around with V-belts. It does mean swapping out the aircon compressor as well, but my aircon needs going through anyway, so that's no great loss.

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Thanks for the info Slartibartfast, good to know. I like your idea on the drive pulleys, that was my thought also. I received my donor engine yesterday but have not had time to really look closely at it but plan to over the next couple of days. I noticed that the engine does have a v-belt groove for the power steering, so I think the p/s might be totally doable with just bracket mods. on vg30 mounting setup(for proper alignment). I am going to measure alt shaft to see if I can just swap pulleys, if the vg30 bracket is adjustable I should be able to eliminate the tensioner setup. That would only leave the a/c compressor pulley to deal with, I am hoping to maybe just swap out the clutch assembly but not sure if that would work. 

I am a little disappointed with my "e-bay impulse buy", the company sent me an engine with a different block # then the engine that was in the ad and it looks to have closer to  150k  miles then the 40-60k they advertise.  I have an e-mail into the company asking why that is?. I have decided that even if I have to completely rebuild it it may still be worth it for the 3.3 block and heads but was hoping for something I could drop in for now and rebuild later. The thought of having two engines apart to me means twice the work. 

Anyway, thanks for the info and for following my project, will keep you posted! Take care, Ron

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Here is a pic of the recipient of the donor engine, my '87 P/F. I included a pic of the engine bay, I removed the fan and shroud to get a better look at the bracket layout for the accessory mounting.

pathy_prjct 001a.jpg

pathy_prjct 004b.jpg

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Here is the donor engine, I think I could do a whole separate thread on buying an E-bay motors engine (he,he). Unfortunately the engine I thought I was purchasing, the one that was shown in the ad (how naive I was to think I would actually get the engine that was pictured) is not the engine I received. I thought I was purchasing a vg33 out of a frontier or xterra, which should have had the alt. on the drivers side and the P/S pump on the passenger side. I seem to have gotten a Pathfinder engine instead, the only model of the three that (just my luck)  had the alt. on drivers side and P/S on passenger. This will make my idea of using a mixed pulley setup a bit of an issue. Hopefully I can find the passenger side bracket off  an xterra or frontier so I can at least measure up the relationship to the harmonic balancer.

The other issue I have is that the engine, which was stated to have between 40 and 60 k miles looks to have closer to 100k on it,  judging by the exhaust outlets and the massive amounts of oil blow by residue that is everywhere on the engine (even after they supposedly steamed cleaned it). Will be able to know more once I get it on the engine stand, haven't even been able to turn it over yet. Guess we'll see what we see (ha,ha).

pathy_prjct 009c.jpg

Edited by zchase1
trying to make pic small enough

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That sucks! Hopefully the engine's good enough to use, that's shady right there.

Nefarious put an R50 VG33 in his, and the steering pump fouled. He modified the brackets and made it work. His build thread is here, but you'll have to figure out what he's talking about from the text as the pictures are dead.

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Yeah, too bad the pics are not there. I see on mine that the main issue will be aligning the pulleys to fit correctly on the harmonic balancer. The vg30 has the lower radiator down tube right up against the engine and the p/s spaced out to the last v-groove on the harmonic balancer. It looks like my vg30 mounting bracket should work for the drivers side mounting of the alt and a/c, the alt will hopefully line up to the first v-groove on the vg33 harmonic balancer so I should be able to use my alt. with the v-groove. The issue is mainly with the lower radiator down tube, if I run the p/s pump on the first grooved belt pulley of the vg33 harmonic balancer it runs right into the down tube of the radiator. I would have to run the radiator hose out away from block to clear the p/s belt on the vg33 . That would only leave the a/c belt to deal with, I don't know if I can just swap out the clutch or have to buy an a/c unit with a grooved pulley. I have checked rockauto and I can get a grooved pulley (28 bucks) for my existing p/s pump but don't know where the alignment will end up on the harmonic balancer. The same goes for the idler and adjuster, will just have to see where it all lines up. Sorry for the long winded post, you guys probably already know this stuff. Bummer this site only allows small file posts.  

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This is probably a dumb question (i'm not a machinist) , but can the vg33 crank snout be turned down and re-keyed???

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Seems like it could--you'd basically be matching it to the VG30 crank. Some people just swap the VG30 crank and oil pump. Either way, you're tearing down the bottom end. There's also a reason Nissan made the snout bigger on the VG33; it's not super common, but I have seen pictures of VG30s with the crank snout snapped off.

 

You can post larger pictures, but you have to host elsewhere.

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Thanks Slartibartfast , I do want the larger vg33 crank for that reason, although my pathy is going to see more highway cruising then hard wheeling. Plus I don't want too many mix and matched parts. Not sure that matters either, hopefully will only be doing this once, I am old and have only been a "garage mechanic" when I have too (he,he). I actually thought about putting a 4 cyl. with a turbo but seemed like a lot of work sorting through plumbing, wiring and e.c.u.. I still need towing capability though and I really want to get rid of my full size truck (w/v10).

 The complete teardown of the vg33 is probably for the better anyway, just didn't want to rob all the parts off the vg 30, at least below the intake anyway. I'm just whining a bit, was trying not to have 2 motors torn completely apart (not sure if it really matters, just have to find a bit more room).

 I have tried to reach Dave through facebook but he doesn't seem to want to reply. I doubt if he is selling the hubs, have not seen anything current that indicates that he is, "oh well".  I just don't like the heavy bracketry if I go the pulley route, Dave's setup with the crank hub just looks so clean by comparison!

 I haven't gotten the engine on the stand yet, waiting on a friend that has a cherry picker, on that note... if you buy a used engine off e-bay, be careful , I laid mine on it side to remove  brackets and it was still full of fluids. That was quite a messy surprise, oil, p/s fluid and coolant all over the floor before I could get it tipped back, a little too impatient I guess.

 Anyway, thanks for the input, I appreciate it.

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UPDATE; Main thing I have learned so far is; If you buy a JDM engine online be aware that the pictures are a general representation and not necessarily what your going to get (according to the guy at the JDM reseller where I bought my engine). The pic on the page with the engine I purchased showed the engine with Alt on drivers side and P/S on the passenger side, what I got was the opposite. It seems that the accessories dressing between Frontier'98-'04 and Exterra 2000-2004 (I thought I was getting an '02 xterra engine, First big mistake) is different then the Pathfinder '96-'04.This is where the complications started, I started out not wanting to rob everything off my vg30 so I could perhaps sell it as a running long block, I am planning to run the vg30 intake with a weber carb on the vg33.

 

First option; Use serpentine pulley setup (bulky bracketry and heavy). First thing was to find the bracketry, pulleys and adjusters to swap the P/S and Alt. to opposite sides; I got on the Nissan online parts page and found the mounting brackets, approx. $170.00 bucks (2 that bolt to block, and the idler pulley bracket)  hopefully I can use the idler pulley from the donor engine, their a pretty expensive addition to the bracket from the dealer. Then came the pulley issues; My p/s pump would have to be converted to serpentine pulley or buy one for frontier or xterra $100.00 - $200.00 at R/A. I found just the pulley on R/A for approx. $28.00 but not 100% sure they would swap from one P/S unit to the other. Then came the A/C; I would need to buy a new A/C compressor because the vg30 mount up was different and I would not be able to use mine. Approx. $200.00-$270.00 at R/A. Total of $420.00 to $520.00 providing everything would line-up and work, which theoretically it should but I have my doubts.

 

Second option; Buy a re manufactured vg30 crank (still want to keep my vg30 long block intact). Rock Auto has one for $253.00 (no core) plus shipping. R/A has very expensive shipping so probably add another $25.00 for a total of approx. $280.00. It doesn't bother me to have to have to tear down the vg33, although when I started this I was hoping to just swap out. Now that I have received the engine which was supposed to have between 40-60k miles but looks like it has 150k miles I plan to rebuild it anyway. This would mean an additional $450.00 (approx.) for an engine rebuild kit. So approx. $700.00 total (ballpark, prob. on the high side)

 

Third option; Crank pulley (harmonic balancer). The elusive "one stop" fix for this swap (if you don't count water pump snout issue, will get to that later). So after many bleary eyed web searches and forum posts it seems that there is really only a few options for this;  Mr. 510 unfortunately is not producing his infamous pulley so that option is out which leaves either having one made by a machinist or boring out a replacement (still want to keep my vg30 intact). R/A has a replacement for $80.00-$130.00 (dorman) but not 100% sure either can be bored out and re-keyed (I've read both yes/no on the forums so not really sure).I read one post where a guy had one made for $150.00 at a machine shop. The last chance option, apparently, is to find the "rare" canadian D21 harmonic balancer but I have only seen one online on E-bay and it looked to be in pretty rough shape.I plan to talk to a couple of local machine shops to see about having a crank pulley made, will keep you posted.

 

I have made progress in the garage, the engine is on the stand and ready for cleaning. I want to check the compression and do a leak down to see what kind of shape the pistons and valves are in before I do anything. I don't want to pull the plugs until I get the engine cleaned because there is so much debris and gunk in the plug wells (picture an engine that has a couple hundred thousand miles on it with loose valve covers then stored in a barn for 10 years) . I have tried to turn the engine but it only turns a little bit, not sure if it is because of internal damage or just because the plugs are still in and I am fighting the compression, the upper plenum is removed and all the openings are plugged with shop towels as well. As soon as it gets back up above freezing I will clean the engine and go from there.

 

Expenses so far;

$1053.00 for used engine and e.c.u ( I'm hoping to sell the injection system and e.c.u for $200.00-$250.00 on craigslist)

$480.00 for weber carb. (amazon)

$85.00 for a wd22 oil pan from R/A

$57.00 for a wd22 oil filter mounting bracket from dealer (other problem with a P/F engine as opposed to xterra / frontier)

$25.00 misc. expense for cleaners,brushes and shop towels (autozone)

$1700.00 total

 

Future expenses;

$150.00-$250.00 crank pulley (approx.)

$35.00-$50.00 water pump (short snout so pulleys will line up)

$500.00 (approx.) for engine rebuild kit

$120.00 (approx.) new clutch and pilot bearing

$920.00 Total (prob. on the high side)

 

$2620.00 total (hmmmmm... starting to re-think that re-manufactured vg30 long block) Is the additional 300cc of displacement really worth it????????

 

 

Edited by zchase1

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Why are you planning a carb swap? The VG33 will run with the VG30 EFI, that's why you keep the VG30 intake. If you do a carb swap you'll also need to modify your fuel system and re-do your ignition. JamesRich pulled off a carb swap on his, IIRC he used a milled down Chevy HEI? Might be worth tracking down that thread if you're set on playing this on hard mode.

 

I hear you on the gunk in the plug wells. I pulled the upper intake off mine before changing the plugs just so I could clean out all the rat crap before pulling the plugs. Hopefully it's just got oil in a cylinder or something. When I was doing my timing belt, I was able to turn the crank with a 1/2" ratchet without too much difficulty, so it shouldn't be normal compression that's stopping you.

 

Again I'd probably try and follow what Nefarious did rather than swapping cranks. I'm not 100% on this but I seem to remember his oil filter even cleared somehow? It was a long time ago that I read that, so don't quote me there. You could pick up the accessories and mounts you need (with the exception of the aircon pump, probably best to buy new there) at the wreckers for less than new parts, certainly less than new parts from a dealership. If you swap cranks you'll need the oil pump as well. IIRC you'll also need the oil pump pickup to go with the pan. I'd expect the VG30 pan to fit, not sure about the pickup though.

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Thanks slartibartfast!

Here's the carb story; I had purchased the weber a few months ago after seeing a video of a guy that had done it. Unfortunately sometimes guys don't post follow ups so it's always a chancy thing, you never know if something came up down the road but this guy did the swap and the distributor didn't need to be changed and it had no detrimental effect on the e.c.u.

The kit came with a pressure regulator and return line setup to the tank so no change to the fuel system in that regard. In Nevada, if your car is older then 25 yrs. you can register it as a classic vehicle which doesn't require a smog inspect, the caveat is that it has to pass emissions one-time in order for you to register it as a classic but doesn't require one after that unless you go over the 5k  miles a year requirement.

I have been through the complete emissions system tests and even tried new injector o-rings and reman. injectors from R/A (along with new carbon canister, aiv valve, crank angle sensor, etc, etc...) but could never get CO's to come down at idle. I even tried the little adjusting screw in the e.c.u and that had no effect.

So... (long story even longer) I was hoping to pull intake from my vg30, clean out e.g.r tube and p.c.v, then mount carb (comes w/all needed mounting adapters) and try to adjust the carb. lean to get it to pass emissions just to get it back on the road. It seemed like a good plan but I had been following the vg33 swap for awhile and when I started thinking of repairing my '87 by doing the carb change I just figured I would go ahead and try the swap route instead and started looking for a donor vg33.

I know that the vg30 was a workhorse for me and if rebuilt would probably be fine, but something about getting an additional 25 or so H.P. seemed pretty cool and it has been starting to get difficult finding parts anymore. I was thinking that the vg33 route would be the upgrade that would last me the longest as far as parts availability were concerned (whew, sorry that was so long winded).

As far as brackets from a salvage yard goes, I have talked to 2 local wreckers and they don't even mess with anything prior to '06. The 2 local pick-n-pulls near me seldomly have anything that hasn't been picked apart before I could get there. Hard to believe that the local dealer is pretty much my best option but it seems to be that way.

I was leaning towards the direct swap with upgraded pulley and belt setup but getting the incorrect engine from the start really messed me up, having the alt and p/s swapped really opened up a whole new can of worms and kinda snowballed from there.

I blame it all on Mr.510 (he,he, just kidding), if he had produced the crank pulley "life would be good" (he,he). Anyway, I'll solder on, winter came back in a big way and I am slowing my jets a bit til it starts getting above freezing again. Will pick it back up when I get the engine cleaned and tested and go from there.

Thanks again for following and all your input. It's nice to have a sounding board as well a different perspective, I appreciate it. Take care man!

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Cool, sounds like you're set then, provided it's just a sniffer test and they don't open the hood. I've been considering a similar mod on an '87 Ford F150 (300-6) to get rid of the janky speed density EFI that I'm not convinced ever worked properly. No smog checks out here and it can't help but run better than it does now!

 

Here's the link to James's writeup. I guess the advantage to the HEI is that it gives you a vacuum advance. I've read that the TBI system's timing is locked at 12° under all conditions but haven't checked the manual to confirm. Good to hear you can get it working with the stock dizzy, though. Probably wouldn't be hard to upgrade down the line if you wanted to.

You might see if you can find a privately owned wrecker (not a chain), possibly one a ways out of town. There's an old yard near where I used to live that doesn't have much newer stuff, mostly 80s, 90s, some stripped-out 70s stuff, some even older towards the back fence.

:aok: You too man, let us know how it goes!

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Weather finally broke and was able to start the teardown of the donor JDM engine. I was really hoping to just swap engine into my P/F, now I am just hoping that the block is salvageable. Have all plugs out and intake off and I still can't get the crank to turn more then about 10 degrees. If anyone is thinking about a JDM import engine be aware!, this is what I got. I think I need a bigger parts washer ! (he,he). I am soooooo bummed! 

pathy_prjct-023a.jpg

pathy_prjct-026a.jpg

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Posted (edited)

At least I know it wasn't the timing belt that was the problem! Bummer is... got the heads scraped out and removed the rockers and head and guess what? Block is still seized up, guess it's time to roll it over and start on the bottom end. I am totally bummed now!!!!

pathy_prjct-027a.jpg

Edited by zchase1
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Wishing you luck

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N920A using Tapatalk

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Those heads look awful! Looks like it lost a head gasket.

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Thanks you guys! Not sure what I am going to do from here, the engine appears to be total junk. I just sent an e-mail to the company I bought it from but not sure what their response will be. The engine must have been starved for oil, soaked the cylinders over night with lube and it still will not budge with a 1/2 inch breaker and a 4' cheater bar. Still cleaning up the mess and will probably be pulling pan soon to see if it is a rod problem or if the pistons are welded to the cylinders. It's looking like a total write off and a waste of $1100.00 dollars, total set back in my effort to get her back on the road again. I may just be putting everything up for sale soon... way, way bummed out!

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Posted (edited)

Yea !!! a glimmer of hope , the engine is not seized after all! Was out cleaning up rocker and head parts and my girlfriend came out and I was pitching a fit about it and

I told her "look, it is seized up" (still had the breaker and cheater bar on the crank). As I was cranking down on the thing to show her,  it let loose and almost dumped me on my butt.

We both got a good laugh (maybe her more then me) but I can now turn the crank about 90 degrees. It does look like some surface rust on the cylinders but doesn't look to be any

major pitting that I can see yet. My despair has given way to slight optimism (he,he), but it looks like I will be able to use this block and get my additional "300 cc's of displacement".

Now to just figure out the pulley situation. (Damn you Mr. 510 for not doing the crank pulleys) he,he.

Edited by zchase1

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How many times can I be wrong???  Got the engine down to bare block, took to machine shop. They did a "test" bore on the cylinder with the most rust, their verdict was... the block cannot be used. Well hell ... the thing I needed the most off  the donor engine and I can't even use that! I might as well have set 12 $100.00 dollar bills on fire, would have saved a lot of greasy cleanup!

LESSON LEARNED, NEVER BUY A JDM ENGINE AGAIN!

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