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Thread: New kid on the block

  1. #1

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    New kid on the block

    Hi,

    In 1989 bought a barely used (5,000 miles) 1988 Mighty Max. I drove it for the next 12 years and 260,000 miles, performed nearly all maintenance and repairs myself, and...it was the best vehicle I ever owned. When it failed a smog check miserably with NOx levels off the charts, the state of California classified it as a "gross polluter" and offered to buy it for $1100. At that point in time I was out of work, needed cash, and I took the $1100, a decision I always regretted.

    Last month at an auction of donated vehicles I ran across an '87 Mighty Max, G63B, manual trans., perfectly straight/rust free body, not modified or molested in any way, badly sun damaged paint, aged interior, 190,000 miles, and barely running. I bought it and trailered it home.

    I knew zero about it's history. The plugs were old with a little carbon fouling. Compression in #1 and #2 cylinders was approx. 165 #3 was 150 and #4 about 135. I did a leak-down test of sorts and heard air in the carburetor and felt it at rear of valve cover, where there was also a massive oil leak. The pcv valve was plugged too. My assumption was that i would find a lot of carbon buildup so I bought a flexible scope, looked in each combustion chamber and it did look like a carbon jungle. With the help of jafromobile, Eric the car guy, and the humble mechanic I dove in, pulled the head, stripped it down, cleaned it up and measured everything.

    Now, on the verge of putting everything back together I got around to the egr valve. I know now I should have started there but anyway it was toast, fouled up with a torn diaphragm. So now considering the cost of a new egr valve, the usual belts, hoses, wires, spark plugs, the bottom end with 190,000 miles, the Mikuni (?) carburetor with the spaghetti factory of vacuum lines, plus the fact that I live in California where our politicians hate cars and hate the people who love cars I've decided to go for an engine swap and replace the G63B.

    I'll be cruising the forums and asking questions. I'm not looking to build a hot rod or a show truck but I'm looking for engine ideas---maybe a diesel.
    Last edited by missinglink; 09-19-2018 at 03:15 PM. Reason: typo

  2. #2

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    Hi and welcome to mightyram. Move to another state lol. Cali is not a car people place to live and so many members have hit the dreaded EPA wall and ended up here. You won't be able to do an engine swap on it and get anyone to be interested in trying to pass it. And I have no idea how a diesel made in the 80's would be cleaner. That being said, you will get help here on sorting your emissions. The 'cash for clunkers' deal caused a shortage of spares and wrecks to fix otherwise good vehicles and hurt businesses who ran JY's and restorers. And Jafro is THE man when it comes to Mitsubishi engines, even if it is twin cams and turbos. He inspired me to do my own oil pump and porting mods on my G63B. Even a balance shaft delete on a block I'm holding onto for later.
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  3. #3

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    The smog laws in California might be a pain in the you know what but there is still a strong car culture in this state and legal engine swaps are done daily. Moving to another state is not an option for me right now so I'll have to work with the laws as they are now. For anyone interested here is a summary of the smog regulations in this state https://smogcheck.ca.gov/pdf/Smog_Ch...ence_Guide.pdf

  4. #4

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    i live in arkansas and we don't have any laws like that but i was briefly going through the smog check pdf that missinglink posted btw welcome to the forum i mean wow i feel for you lol i guess my biggest question is does having this smog check really make that much of a difference there? or is this more of filling someone pockets deal. then i went and looked this up and i was blown away but this can't be just from vehicles.
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  5. #5

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    A shame about the bit about engine has to be from a light truck, when the mitsi is ultra lightweight. (Buick V6 and say it's from a vr commodore Ute mate)

  6. #6



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    Funny how the most populated and probably richest state in the country with the 5th largest economy in the world has such strict smog laws and every state around it is allowed to keep blowing out exhaust without a hitch. Makes you think that California politics makes a huge killing off the smog checks and penalties, etc etc.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by BradMph View Post
    Funny how the most populated and probably richest state in the country with the 5th largest economy in the world has such strict smog laws and every state around it is allowed to keep blowing out exhaust without a hitch. Makes you think that California politics makes a huge killing off the smog checks and penalties, etc etc.
    kind of what i was thinking too i think i got into the wrong career back years ago

  8. #8

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    60%+ of grid power is fossil fuel and gas. And when you look at the population relying on it, you now know what is stinking up the sky. I made friends with a guy who lived in the Bay area who'd tell me tales of the 'big brown fart' hanging over SF back in the 80's. IDK what it's like now though. Cali laws are stupid. All they need to do is an emissions test post swap and give you the green light. A newer, bigger capacity engine that runs cleaner will be way more efficient than doing a sideways transplant from something that is basically the same power output/power to weight/same emissions vehicle.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by geezer101 View Post
    tales of the 'big brown fart' hanging over SF .

  10. #10




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    Cali smog laws are not as much about pollution as it is about control - Cali politicians thinks only they are smart and know everything, so they will tell you what you can and can't do. Everyone else in the state is stupid and must be controlled. BTW, the pollution that causes smog is from more than cars, but cars are the easiest to punish because they don't have an organized front, and therefore don't have the money to grease the politicians palms to make this go away like the big polluters. The cash for clunkers deal was a cheap way for mass polluters to get off cheap by buying cars for carbon credits, while doing nothing to fix their polluting plants...
    Pennyman1
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  11. #11

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    ^it's got a lot more to do with trading carbon points. Companies that make a business ripping a hole in the sky buy carbon points off small manufacturers to get away with it. The gov stuffs it's pockets from both directions. Nuff said, the people in power are idiots...
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  12. #12




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    not idiots - they make out on this too by the money they get from the polluters they saved money for. Between their pockets and reelection coffers, they make out plenty...
    Pennyman1
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  13. #13

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    Hi missinglink, maybe PicknPull yards have enough parts to fix your truck? An original truck can still pass California smog test (easily) if it is tuned up and not missing a bunch of parts/hoses... My California truck passed every time for the last six years but no more smog tests here in Hawaii...

    Hope you keep working on & enjoying your truck...

  14. #14

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    Thanks for the comments. I am keeping the truck for sure and it will be back on the road with a new engine/trans. Right now I like the 3.9 Dodge Magnum or the 4.3 Chevy. It's too bad this board doesn't have an "engine swap" sub-forum.

  15. #15




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    There are various swap threads - the problem is dealing with California's smog laws - you have to go to a referee station to get it to pass, and you are at the mercy of the referee - they can fail you for any reason, and you have to deal with it whether it passes the tailpipe or not.
    Pennyman1
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  16. #16

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    Pennyman, I almost (for about 5 seconds) took offense in regards to the negative tone of your comments about California until I realized.....YOU ARE RIGHT!

    I have never had to deal with a so-called smog referee but I have interacted with enough egotistical, power-tripping, arbitrary, and lazy government bureaucrats to know where you are coming from.

    Now with that in mind, and because this is my first ever engine swap (meaning "change" not "replacement"). I dropped by Pick-a-Part this morning and had a look around. it looks to me like a 22R Toyota engine with a manual transmission will slide right in my Mighty Max. I wish I had taken a tape measure but the motor mounting locations on the frame rails and the shifter opening in the transmission tunnel look pretty close.

    A smog referee might just yawn and sign off a Toyota swap without any drama provided the smog controls are in place and functioning.

  17. #17

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    You'll gain maybe 3 kW doing the swap? And you'll still have to ensure all the EPA garbage is connected properly (which means taking all of the emissions stuff from the Yota and fitting it to your Max - sounds like fun) On top of that you'll need to cut and shut a drive shaft to mate the Yota drivetrain up to the rear axle, and then get it passed. I am not intending to throw a blanket over the idea but for a heap of work you're not gaining any ground.

    So what are you allowed to change on your engine? Balance shaft delete, port tidy up, electric thermo fan upgrade...
    There has to be some scope of improvement that won't get a penalty
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  18. #18

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    Just to make things clear---and I've obviously left a few details out---the G63B I pulled out of the truck is not worth rebuilding.

    I went over the head a second time and found a crack between the seats of cylinder two. The valves and valve seats are pitted. I pulled the pistons and found the skirts skuffed, scratched and blackened. The cylinders walls are discolored with vertical scratches. I don't have access to a bore gauge but I'm betting the block would need to be bored and not simply honed out. The main bearings and rod bearings are black and blue and scratched with dirt particles embedded. It's miraculous the engine even started. I don't think the previous owner believed in oil changes. So add up the cost of machine work for the block and crank, sourcing another head from somewhere, pistons, rods, bearings, rings, gaskets, belts, hoses, spark plugs, a new egr valve, rebuilding the carburetor and whatever I've left out and even if the operation is a complete success I would still have a carbureted engine that will be a bitch to get smogged every two years and for which many parts are becoming scarce.

    A 2.4L fuel injected Toyota sounds good to me.

  19. #19

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    Yep, that poor motor has been beat on badly...
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  20. #20

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    Going a different direction

    If nothing else I'm a pragmatist. Staying in California, I will abide by the law, bitching and moaning won't change anything.

    I don't have deep pockets and I want to do something interesting and get this truck on the road again. For me an electric conversion is the way to go. I feel the need to add I am not a tree-hugging, vegan, California hippy---quite the opposite. The internal combustion engine is not fading away but the electric option is filling a niche.

    The previously mentioned California Smog Check Guide makes electric conversions very easy to register (APPENDIX E-Engine Change Guidelines) https://smogcheck.ca.gov/pdf/Smog_Ch...ence_Guide.pdf

    I have some research to do but when I get underway I'll do a build thread if (and only if) any one is interested.

  21. #21

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    Then you will be the first MR50 member that I'm aware of that has taken a step in this direction. And yes, we WILL be interested. The Max is relatively light and depending on on how you set up the electric powertrain, it is gonna haul. The fact that Tesla is around means you potentially have ways to solve battery and onboard system issues.
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  22. #22

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    new diesel engines still being made: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/t...nsplant.79681/

    missinglink, also check your auto insurance company to see if they insure swapped engine vehicles

    some prayers might help?

    wish you the best

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