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Old 06-04-2012, 08:33 PM   #1
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Default World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota

OK, since you're here on LS1Tech, you know there is no such thing as an easy engine swap. So, let's call this one, "The world's least difficult 5.3 engine swap".

So many of the difficulties with engine swaps just don't exist with this Chevy-Kota swap:
1. Oil pan clears the crossmember with no mods to either. Oil pan only hangs down below the crossmember about 3/4".
2. Number 7 coil pack clears the brake booster.
3. Steering shaft has plenty of room next to the exhaust manifold.
4. Battery is in the right spot for Chevy cables.
5. Chevy ECM and fuse panel tuck in nicely around battery.
6. Transmission mount is right in the middle of the Dakota crossmember.
7. Trans tunnel only needs pinch weld hammered a little for easy bellhousing bolt access.
8. Dodge column shifter works with some minor linkage mods.
9. Plenty of electric fan clearance (at least in the 91-96 models, 87-90 might need Corvette or Camaro accessories)
10. And the motor mounts are simple plates double drilled for the Chevy block and the Dodge rubber mounts.

There is one clearance issue--the passenger side exhaust manifold has to have the EGR boss removed and a patch welded in to clear the upper control arm. And the down tube has a couple of tight bends to get past the frame rail.

There's a lot to like about this swap beside the relative lack of difficulty. You end up with a truck that's roomier than an S10, can carry more, has bigger brakes, has an 8.25" diff, and still weighs about a thousand pounds less than a full size pickup.

And they are cheap. You'll probably need to invest in paint--we're all familar with scabby Dodge paint in the late '80s and '90s.

Here's a photo of almost finished swap.
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World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-008-1.jpg  
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:07 PM   #2
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Dah...why can't I be that lucky?

Aren't you the guy that did the LS swap in the BMW? Your youtube videos are what pushed me over the edge to do my own LS swap
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:56 AM   #3
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Nice!! Might be one of these in My future!

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Old 06-05-2012, 10:16 AM   #4
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Default 5.3 in Dakota motor mounts

Here are some pix of the motor mount plates. You'll see that a couple of bolts almost overlap. We tried to actually make that hole common but it didn't work. There is one perfect location for the engine to clear the crossmember and firewall.

I believe these photos are our first version and the final one has the two close holes a little further apart but the one Chevy block bolt still needs a flat head in a counter sunk hole.

The Dodge rubber isolators are simple and make engine installation really easy. They slide down into a vertical slot in the frame brackets and then a flange bolt head and washer tighten under a lip. No issues with trying to line up bolt holes.

And yes, SuperDave, I'm the Geezer on YouTube. Sorry about pushing you over the edge. But, if I have to suffer from this LS engine swap sickness, so do you.
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World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-398.jpg   World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-402.jpg   World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-406.jpg  
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:36 AM   #5
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Nice work, I'm driving a 99 Dakota with an lq4 and a tko. Really an easy swap (as far as swapping engines) for all the reasons you've mentioned. I made the plates on the stock mounts again super easy amd free. Using the stock lq4 manifolds no egr problems and i just fit the exhaust using a couple bends, once i had it together theres more room than I thought. If you have any question ask away. Tim
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:38 PM   #6
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Would it work on a 4X4? 6.0L/4L80 in a 4X4 would flat rock!
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:46 PM   #7
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Mines a 2wd and I haven't looked closely at a 4x4, not sure
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Old 06-05-2012, 02:40 PM   #8
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Hey tnewton, thanks for your reply. Do you have pix of your passenger side manifold? I'm wondering if the '97 and later trucks have more room than the '91-96.

And 1CAMWNDR, the 4X4 Dakotas used the NP231 transfer case as did Chevrolet so the output shaft is on the correct side. Shouldn't be too tough.
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:37 PM   #9
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Man im glad I waited until now to pick up a Dakota to swap since all these pics/threads/info is now showing up available for me to save for reference. Good job on the swap as it looks right at home in there.
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:36 PM   #10
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Default Bottom view of 5.3 in Dakota

Here's what I mean about excellent pan to crossmember clearance. Both the Dodge 3.9 V6 and the 5.3 have extreme rear oil sumps. The Chevy pan hangs down about 3/4" below the crossmember--no biggie on a stock height Dakota. And probably not even on a mildly lowered one.

Also shown is the 4L60E mount sticking through the middle of the Dakota crossmember. We hadn't yet made an adapter plate. It is a simple piece of strap with two holes for the Dakota and one for the Chevy. It has a slight "Z" bend due to the rear Dakota hole being higher than the front one.
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World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-426.jpg   World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-433.jpg  
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:54 AM   #11
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I wonder about the placement of the front diff vs oil pan clearance. That would be a fun truck if the wiring for the gauges wouldn't be too tuff.
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:19 AM   #12
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What gauges are you using the factory dodge or swap?
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:09 AM   #13
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I'm running auto meter gauges, seemed easier
to me.

I'll get a picture showing the passenger exhaust clearance when I get a chance, maybe tonight
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:12 AM   #14
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Tim if you could also post up pics of your gauges thatd be helpful...im thinking of going speedhut and using their GPS Speedo but itd be nice to see how you have yours setup
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:43 PM   #15
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What I've done so far for gauges is adapt the Dakota senders to the 5.3.

The first photo shows the Chevy oil pressure sender that alway breaks off anyway. I drilled and tapped the metal base to match the threads on the Dakota sender (the one at the top).

The second photo shows the Dakota temp sender which screws into an Equus adapter which in turn screws into the port at the rear of the passenger side head.

Third photo shows the Equus part number for a bag of metric adapters.

I still haven't figured out the speedo and tach. I should be able to match up tach wires OK. Two speedo possibilities are 1.) '94-'96 Dakotas have the same instrument cluster as my '92 but supposedly use an electronic speedo, and 2.) use the converter one of the LS1 Tech members is currently developing that converts VSS signals and then controls a small motor that drives the mechanical speedo.
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World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-569.jpg   World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-571.jpg   World's easiest 5.3 swap--Dodge Dakota-573.jpg  
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:08 AM   #16
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My gauges are really simply, old school oil and water temp hung below the radio, tach on the dash, speedo is a old GPS unit. Over the winter I'd like to remodel the dash and install my gauges into it, not a priority at the moment though.

Here's a picture showing my truck and I in winners circle, gotta love winning tools...


And here's the passenger exhaust, pretty simple, stock manifolds then I built about 12in of pipe to go to my old exhaust, really just two small bent sections to clear the frame welded together with flanges on both ends.
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:16 PM   #17
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Hey TNEWTON, nice looking truck. We started with a $500 beater so it's going to be functional but not pretty like yours.

Update: We had a fuel delivery problem. The Dakota pump would make the engine run but not accellerate. Since the Dakota only needed about 40 psi we decided to install an in-tank Walbro 255. Keyed it up and we instantly had our 58 psi. Started the engine and it gradually lost pressure and died.

Finally dawned on us that we were still commanding the fuel pump from the Dodge computer. It was turning on initially but didn't see any signals to keep pumping. So we tapped into the GM PCM fuel pump power source and we were in business.

Yesterday we had a local muffler shop rig up a temporary exhaust system into the stock Dakota muffler so we can get it inspected and licensed. Way too quiet but we had a chance for some road testing. Conclusion? This is going to be exactly what we wanted--an inexpensive, reliable parts chaser with enough power to have some fun.
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Old 06-11-2012, 02:56 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geezer's Garage View Post
Hey TNEWTON, nice looking truck. We started with a $500 beater so it's going to be functional but not pretty like yours.

Update: We had a fuel delivery problem. The Dakota pump would make the engine run but not accellerate. Since the Dakota only needed about 40 psi we decided to install an in-tank Walbro 255. Keyed it up and we instantly had our 58 psi. Started the engine and it gradually lost pressure and died.

Finally dawned on us that we were still commanding the fuel pump from the Dodge computer. It was turning on initially but didn't see any signals to keep pumping. So we tapped into the GM PCM fuel pump power source and we were in business.

Yesterday we had a local muffler shop rig up a temporary exhaust system into the stock Dakota muffler so we can get it inspected and licensed. Way too quiet but we had a chance for some road testing. Conclusion? This is going to be exactly what we wanted--an inexpensive, reliable parts chaser with enough power to have some fun.
Nice post. Doing a 1998 F150/5.3 swap and I was fixing to have the same problem. I also used a Walbro 255 for the F150 for the same reason. The original motor only needs 45 lbs of pressure. Wasn't sure it was capable of the necessary 60 psi needed to run the 5.3. Didn't think to change the wiring to the GM ECU.
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Old 06-11-2012, 03:01 PM   #19
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Now how did you tackle the speedometer differences between the two transmissions? Which of your options you posted are you actually using?
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Old 06-11-2012, 04:44 PM   #20
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Hi Bilster,

I haven't hooked up the speedo yet. Been using a new Android app called "Torque". Displays almost all real time info, plus fault codes plus speed and distance charts.

The first display shows speed (in kilometers/hour), rpm, coolant temp, vacuum, throttle percentage.

App is $4.99 and the Bluetooth sender is about $30. This will suffice til I get the gauges hooked up.
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Old 06-11-2012, 04:44 PM
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45lbs, 53, 92, bellhousing, dakota, dodge, engine, frame, fuel, ls, ls1tech, motor, pressure, run, swap, swaps


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