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VG30 vs VG33 Engine Block Differences


gamellott
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BLUF, If I were to get a VG33 short block (Block, Crank, rods and Pistons) , can I take everything off of my VG30 in my 92' Pathfinder and still work on the VG33 block?

 

I have read some instances where this is true, but I have seen conflicting information on interchangeability.

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Because I am in the process of doing this myself you will need to do some modifications to your Water pump, the adjustment brackets for the alt & power steering and will need an adapter for the crank to reuse your VG30 crank pulley.. I got that all done by MR 510 so made it all pretty much a simple swap. I use the VG33 heads w/ the VG30 cams since had them. 

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What modification did you need to do to your Harmonic balancer/crank pulleys? I think I can work with modifying the rest of the mounts... maybe.... I'd have to see/figure out what has to be done to them.

 

Based on more recent reading, it appears as though the VG30 heads will bolt up. I have read a little bit about your differences on the camshafts. I'm assuming the clocking of the cams are the same?

 

I'm really exploring my options. I called a couple of wrecking yards. One has one with a blown head gasket and I wouldn't have any idea on the condition of the block. Worth looking at as a donor though. The other one, they just got in and they haven't checked it out yet to see if it's viable. Either way, I'd consider getting the short block and work with it. Baby steps....

 

Do you happen to know if valves are any different between the two? If the 33's valves are bigger, that might be a reason to switch.

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The VG33 Valves are significantly larger so would use those heads if available Just put the VG30 cams in them as the VG30 is a slightly higher lift/duration. Doing so will give you some increased torque on the low end.  Also make a note of the cam gears as yours will have the square toothed gears/belt and the VG33 will have round tooth ones. Use the round tooth ones from the VG33.

The brackets probably wouldn't be a big deal but the water pump housing will also need to be cut down on the right side to fit to the VG33 oil pump housing. It doesn't look to be a problem if you have some experience doing that sort of thing but  if it was me id take an old pump and test cut/fit first before i went and cut on a new one.

 

The harmonic balancer adapter is not something the average person can just make up since the VG33 crank has a larger snout than the VG30 in that has to be a tight tolerance or you'll create some major problems in a short time  That also means you have to have the VG33 oil pump and lower timing gear cover available to reuse. Would definitely recommend you getting in touch w MR 510 about that. PM me an Email and I will send you the Info as I don't know how to add a link here to his member profile. if someone reads this that does, please feel free to do so.

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I've heard that the VG30 heads will fit a VG33 block, but the coolant passages don't match up, so there's some screwing around you have to do to make them work. Easier (and almost certainly better) to use the right heads. I'd be concerned about what else was wrong with an engine with a blown head gasket or that was already stripped to a short block.

 

Your VG30 intake will bolt to the VG33. Use the VG30 intake gasket set. The VG33 exhaust manifold studs are larger, so you'll have to enlarge the holes in your manifolds if you're re-using them. IIRC the oil pan and possibly the pickup tube need either swapping or modification to clear the front diff, depending on what your donor is. Rockclymr's correct on the sprockets. Make sure you get the round-tooth belt to match the round-tooth sprockets.


The balancer is the biggest stumbling block to the VG33 swap. The VG33 crank snout is thicker, so your VG30 balancer won't fit. I've heard of people using the VG30 crank and oil pump in the VG33, so they can keep the stock balancer, but that's an awful lot of work just to use inferior parts. Boring out the VG30 balancer leaves it scary thin from what I've read. There was a one-year-only Canada-only factory balancer that would marry the VG33 crank to the VG30 pulleys, but naturally they're unobtanium now. Mr. 510 makes an aluminum ring that replaces the balancer and allows you to bolt the V-belt pulleys to the VG33 crank without modifying anything else. He reckons the engine is fine without the balancer. The other option is to forget about keeping the v-belts and run the engine just like it was in the donor, accessories and all. Xterra/Frontier VG33s have their accessories in the same places and are supposed to fit pretty well. R50 VG33s swapped stuff around, so they'll fight you more, but I think someone on here made it work anyway. I'm not sure whether the later aircon pump will take the WD21 lines, but the alt and the power steering should be pretty easy to set up.
 

If you haven't seen it yet, Mr. 510's VG34 swap thread has a lot of good info for the VG33 swap, even if you're not boring yours out for bigger pistons like he did. He doesn't come around here much anymore but he's active on the NPORA Facebook page (as David Carroll).

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@Rockclymr, @Slartibartfast,

 

Thank You very much for your insight. Now I know what I need to look for. I'll keep y'all posted if I manage to get a donor motor. Sounds like my best option is to find an Xterra or Frontier for a donor and I'll likely get rid of my A/C for the time being since it's an R-12 system. Maybe I can have someone drain and recycle it for a MINT!! These prospective donors are getting kinda old nowadays, so I can probably find one beaten to death, relitively cheap.

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Shame you live so far away. When I went looking for mine took one day to find 2 xterras completely intact  Bought the whole motor for $350 w less than 70K miles on it and they pulled it for me. I get mine back in the truck thinking about getting the other one just to build .If you cant find one though worth using and want to cover shipping, can get it pulled. stripped down to just the things you'll need and send it your way.

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@Rockclymr

 

I'm going to have to start calling around and making trips. Sadly, there aren't many in the region I live in at all. Oh and the couple of places I have called, seem to be awfully proud of their stuff 🤣 

 

I'm just starting, but I'm almost under the impression that I might be better off finding a complete vehicle and then junking it 🤪

 

We shall see....

 

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We have plenty of JY around here. the problem is finding Nissans especially older ones that haven't already been stripped. See plenty on the road but that's the thing about them. if you do routine maintenance they'll run pretty much forever.

 

I haven't babied mine at all and it's spent as much time off the road as on but never overheated it, kept the oil changed, timing belt ,etc. put an external tranny cooler on it and undercoated the entire body/frame right after i bought it new (not to mention all the mods I've done to date) but 320K miles with no major problems and 0 rust issues says alot about the quality of the vehicle. Don't see that in most vehicles these days for sure.

 

There are plenty of other NPORA members in your area so might want to make an effort at getting in touch with a few that could point you in the right direction. maybe even some that are close enough to lend a hand with your project if the need arises

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@Rockclymr

 

My experience with Junkyards in western WA appears to be similar. This week I did a search of what's for sale (vehicle Wise) so I could strip it myself. I found an older Xterra with a blown rear end for sale just a few miles down the road... That being said, I did some soul searching and where this might be somewhat ideal, I don't exactly have the space to accommodate this sort of undertaking... Yet... Yet...

 

There is a workshop in our future, it's just not built yet. Thank you Rona....

 

Sooo...I pulled the trigger and ordered all of the parts I needed to rebuild the VG30. Once I have the space, I will be looking for a viable VG33 to swap out. The VG30 does struggle a bit in the hills which is why I would like the bigger engine. Maybe with the lumpier cams of the VG30, it'll be even stronger????

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I swapped in a 3.3 into my 93 when I killed the original 3.0. the engine I go was from an Xterra(WD22) originally, was installed into a 96 R50, then into my WD21. I installed my plenum and exhaust manifolds from my 3.0, the manifolds fit fine, the holes were big enough to go over the 10mm studs without drilling. I swapped my 3.0 distributor and I believe I did the oil pan as well. Motor mount brackets bolted into the same places. I did get accessory brackets from Frontier/Xterras for the alternator, power steering and ac compressor. I was already running a Quest/Villager alternator that actually fit better with the D22 brackets. My steering pump was leaking so replaced it but only needed the pulley from the D/WD22 to make it work. Water pump is the 3.3 unit and the pulley is for the D/WD22. I had gone electric on the fan long before, but expect the clutch and fan will fit fine. I kept the lower intake manifold and injectors from the 3.3 and simply used parts of both engine wiring harnesses to connect everything. I wound up extending the oil pressure switch wire to reach the switch on the oil filter adapter, but could have simply pulled the plug in the block and put the switch in the same place as the 3.0. I put the sending unit for my aftermarket oil pressure gauge there in mine. 

 

All in all, not that hard a project and has been working fine for almost 20 years. I still don't have an ac compressor, but that is because it hasn't been a a daily driver for a long time and I find other expenses to take my money. Most of the time it isn't hot enough make living without ac in a truck that is mostly used for off pavement recreation. 

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