Diesel conversions for OTHER than Dodge chassis

Started by Rickf1985, September 05, 2017, 03:58 PM

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How many have done a diesel conversion using a Ford Powerstroke or Chevy 6.5 turbodiesel?


1969 D22, 2 x 1974 D24 Indians, 1977 27' Itasca


I know it has been done, they even made some motorhomes with the 6.2 Chevy diesel in them. Which by the way would be a bolt in swap for the 454. It would also be a BAD idea since they are the most anemic diesel engine made!!! A 6.5 turbo diesel would not be too bad but again, the GM small diesels were not good engines. Any Millennials that were in the service will know them from the HUMVEE's and CUCV's. The Ford 6.9 was not a bad engine but I don't think it is up to pulling a RV. The early Ford 7.3 non-turbo is more than up to it as is the early 12 valve Cummins turbodiesel.
I have a 96 Ford 7.3 Powerstroke diesel pick-up that the body and frame is rusted badly. The engine and transmission are perfect.


I have a friend that bought a ford ambulance for the 7.3L to put in a class C ford chassis mh.   Last I heard he had to deal with swapping in the dash, seemed like a pita.

My daily driver is a 97 gmc suburban with the 6.5L. It's got 315k miles on it.  Honestly these engines would make a great mh motor imo.  There's lots of support out there for the 6.5l, parts are _cheap_ and it's really easy to work on.  Also, look at what the cummins and ford engines weigh.  A 454 bbc weighs ~700lb.   The 6.5l is around 750lb.  The 7.3 is 950, and the cummins is 1100.  Swapping in a 6.5 would require no changes or excess stress on the front end suspension of the mh.  The other advantage is when you could pick up the wiring and computer for the engine it comes with the ability to control a really great transmission, the 4L80E.   Basically this is an electronically shifted TH400 with an overdrive. Really solid tranny, and again cheap and plentiful in parts yards everywhere.   Besides the weight issue, there's the size of the Cummins.  They are long and very tall vs the V8 that the mh came with originally. 

I have a friend with a 7.3L and it's a great engine, but I've helped him work on it and coming from the chevy side that engine just makes me laugh out loud.  To change the glowplugs, we had to take apart all the turbo plumbing that was over the top of the engine.  Then take off the valve covers to get to the glowplugs and injectors.  I couldnt believe they put wiring inside the valve covers.  On my 6.5L, you just reach down on the side of the engine and remove the plug with a socket.  It's on the side of the head, just like a spark plug.  Right next to the injector. It's a 2 minute job vs 2 hours.  Yes the 7.3 is a better engine according to the internet but I've driven both and to me the little bit of extra power isn't worth the headache and cost of maintaining the 7.3.  The fuel mileage is about the same, 20mpg on the highway. 

Was going to look for parts price comparison and found this instead: 


These guys are doing 6.5L swaps on motorhomes with brand new 6500 Optimizer engines.

LOL I just read to the end of your post!  Ignore the above, put in the 7.3L since you have it already.  HP and torque-wise it seems like a great fit, very similar to the 454.  Wish I was closer to you to lend a hand!


The 6.2/6.5 is a fantastic engine for a pickup truck that is not in a hurry to go anywhere. I have been a diesel mechanic for more years than I care to count and I have worked on them from their inception. Up till they got turbocharged they were so under powered it was ridiculous. 160 horsepower and correspondingly low torque. There were Banks turbo kits you could put on them but they had 21:1 compression so you instantly blew the head gaskets out of them. And we will not even talk about the cracked heads between the valves W% W% W% N:( . One out of every three heads! There is a reason that they did not continue to put these engines in the motorhomes once they started, they could not climb a hill. Once they dropped the compression to 18:1 and turbocharged them they got better but still never had the pulling power of the other manufacturers.
Don't get me wrong, I am not a brand specific type of guy. I own three pickup trucks, all diesels. An 84 Chevy Military CUCV 5/4 ton, a 96 Ford Powerstroke F350 and a 98.5 Dodge Cummins 24 valve.

As far as room, there is a TON of room to work with in a class A chassis so that is not an issue. Don't think that I have not toyed with the idea of an old tried and true Detroit! A 4-53T would pull like a mule and sound good doing it. 420 Ft./lbs. of torque at 1600 rpm!


I remember replacing a set of head gaskets on family members 1986 Chevy 3500 with the 6.2, we had to find different cylinder heads due to cracking. Very easy motor to work on. Was a turd, but it kept on running....and it usually smelled like diesel, they called the truck "Smeller". He sold it to a friend of his along time ago, and it's still on the road I guess.
Never get crap happy with a slap happy pappy


They last a long time, as long as the valve seats don't fall out. I had several customers that had diesel Blazers with well over 300,000 on them. And they all had 3.08 gears in the rear, Talk about TURDS! BUT, They got 26 MPG!!! Another issue with these motors is that they almost always need the glow plugs to start, even in hot weather. No plugs, no start. I had a modification involving some resistors that I did on the glow controller to get it to cycle longer to give better starting in cold weather, I also switched to the AC60G glow plugs since the stock ones would swell and break off if they stayed on for more than 20 seconds. I have a push button for my glows.


I dont' even know why you're taking the time to bash the 6.5l  when you've got the donor vehicle all lined up.  Stuff it in, go for it.  And post lots of pictures!


I have access to all kinds of engines but I made this thread up for general information for all members and any searching in the future. I also was asking for information from those who have "been there, done that". It is fine to say it will fit and it can be done. I can physically put any engine in a motor home. Fabricating the mounts is not that big of a deal. But there are other things to consider, mainly the fact that diesels turn much lower RPM than gas engines. That means overdrive transmissions and or gear changes.

As far as slamming the 6.5, I was not doing that. The 6.5 is a good motor for what it is but it is not in the same class as the other small truck diesels. It is not a low speed diesel, it is a high speed diesel. The redline on a 6.5 is 3600 rpm. Try turning a Ford or Cummins that hard. First off you lose power over 2,000-2400 rpm with the others and second they would grenade long before that. The 6.5 does not make it's power band until 1800-2100 rpm where the others are 1200-1800 rpm. They are all diesels but it is like comparing apples to oranges.
It is also the classic "My Chevy is better than your (insert name here)".

As far as "Stuff it in there and take pictures", well, that is not going to happen unless I get an enclosed garage with a concrete floor. I am disabled and I have good days where I can get work done. I have so-so days where I get a little work done but a lot of sitting, bad days where I do my planning on what I want to do but not much doing and then there are the real bad days where I cannot get out of the house. My days of "Stuffing it in there", are unfortunately, gone.