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Jason 11-27-2012 08:33 AM

Ugly Betty - TJ Magnum V8 Conversion and more
Ugly Betty - TJ Magnum V8 conversion, Auto transmission swap and more, if I survive this.


I have a 2005 TJ with the I6 that I built running 35s. When I bought it, I was looking for a super clean, low mile, unmolested Jeep to build on. It has D44 / HPD30 / Tummy Tucked / 4.56s and a bunch of other goodies. It functions really well for the kind of stuff we do around here, but is still comfortable enough to drive daily if necessary.
^^ As dirty as it ever gets. ^^

The problem is it's too nice for me to damage or drill a bunch of holes in. It gets stored in the winter because of the destructive salt used on the road 6 months out of the year. The 05 has some pinstripes and nicks from the trails, but I want to get on some harder trails and really push what I can build. I'm going to continue to "build" it, but the upgrades will be fairly minor at this point. Brakes, steering and the like.

So I set out to buy a cheap TJ. I want something that I don't feel bad about cutting holes in or generally abusing. Around here, it's next to impossible to find a running TJ of any year that isn't falling apart for under $5K. Most times cheap TJs in my area were plagued with cancerous rust. I researched insurance auctions, but found that to be very difficult without an inside man, public auctions had pretty big fees, and even wrecked Wranglers can go for close to retail cost. I checked out Davey's Jeeps, and the one that I found with potential sold the day after I called about it. I even found a few folks with bare frames and bodies, but once you add up the odds and ends, it gets just as expensive as buying a complete TJ. Needless to say, I spent much time searching.

I finally happened across a fairly solid 97 TJ with a 4 cylinder. It had a new factory style top, new tires, and the frame and body were mostly rust free. The carpet was long gone and interior was lined with the spray in liner. It was about 2.5 hours away. I took an afternoon off work and drove out to see it, pocket full of cash and trailer in tow.

It was located just north of Detroit. I met the guy at his shop near the corner of a busy intersection. I ended up parking in the lot next door to his place because it looked easier to get the truck + trailer in and out. The Jeep started, and drove around the parking lot without much fuss, so I handed the guy some money. I didn't want to try to turn left into the traffic, then left again to get into the parking lot where my truck and trailer were parked, and I don't know the area, so I did what any good Jeeper would do and just drove it over the curb through the grass. (It wasn't that big, but I still thought it was funny.) On to the trailer and home we went.

The paint scheme was unique, and certainly not what I would have chosen. She's got a few other minor bumps and bruises too. Since I am now a two-Jeep household again, I couldn't simply refer to either as "the Jeep" anymore. I started calling it Ugly Betty, and the name kind of stuck.
^^ Beauty, in the eye of the beholder. I guess. ^^

Jason 11-27-2012 08:33 AM

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

There are a lot of cool builds out there, but the good stuff gets buried in the chit chat BS. The discussion can be constructive, and the knowledge from the collective can be priceless, but the really cool stuff sometimes gets buried. As developments warrant, I'll update this post with a link to the post where it occurs to keep things organized. A few other builds have an index (like Sundownwer's awesome thread) or first few posts dedicated to uninterrupted progress (like Hendrix's truck build), and I feel that is helpful, so I will try to emulate that with mine. Hopefully this will be a cool project and a fun read.

= 1 = Prologue
= 2 = Table of Contents
= 3 = Current Status
= 4 = Plan, Purpose and Disclaimer

Phase 1: Engine/transmission swap and related issues/repairs
= 5 = List of engine/transmission swap issues
= 7 = Little stuff
= 8 = Engine swap begins
= 29 = Ram V8 is removed
= 32 = Transfer case options; using the Dodge and/or Jeep case
= 69 = Jeep four cylinder is removed
= 88 = Write-up: Transfer case input shaft and Dodge wide chain swap into the Jeep case
= 131 = Issues with the shifter cable and bracket
= 132 = Differences in the stop lamp switch
= 154 = Engine is supported by the mounts for the first time
= 177 = Write-up: Adding the 46RE transmission control relay to the Jeep PDC
= 187 = Turned the key on for the first time with the V8 installed
= 190 = Ran the transmission cooler lines to new radiator and installed auxiliary transmission cooler from the Ram inside the Jeep grille.
= 194 = Jeep started for the first time after the swap
= 202 = Poor quality video of the Jeep starting
= 269 = Write-up: Fixing the broken nuts for the front bumper better than new
= 283 = Parts list for fabricating the exhaust
= 290 = Dodge Dakota V6 air intake
= 291 = Exhaust downpipe fabrication
= 299 = Transmission shift cable issues resolved
= 344 = Short video of the Jeep in the snowy backyard
= 456 = Write-up: Replacing the 46RE shift shaft seal without removing the valve body or pan

Phase 2: Body/Axle/Suspension Modifications
= 530 = Initial cut on the hood for the highline, and figuring out the tube fender construction
= 546 = Front LED turnsignals; 3 wire signal to 2 wire lights temporarily installed in the bumper
= 575 = Finally got the tube fenders put together
= 590 = Windshield and frame replaced
= 592 = Inner fenders done and flush mount taillights installed
= 595 = Body work complete and in primer
= 597 = Color is sprayed
= 671 = Good outdoor pics of the completed paint

Jason 11-27-2012 08:34 AM

Current Status
Like the weather, sometimes you just want a brief description, or perhaps a picture of what's going on. Well, if that sounds like you, this post is for you.

Ugly Betty:

...May not be so ugly anymore?

^^^ Definitely not sneaking up on anyone anymore. ^^^

Jason 11-27-2012 08:35 AM

Plan, Purpose and Disclaimer
The plan, very loosely, is to build a Jeep that can hit the trails and rocks and be as reliable as possible, without mortgaging the house. Since the subject is a 4 cylinder, a repower is in order as well. I'm staying away from specifying "3 inch lift" or "LCOG" and such intentionally, mostly because I haven't made those decisions yet. I want to take my fab, design and driving skills to the next level. That means modifications I'm not going to do to the 2005. I'd like to keep the lift relatively low, and I only have a 7 foot garage door to work with which dictates my total height. Iíd also like to highline the hood and fenders. This does not have to be a daily driver because I have other means of daily transportation. I can also take it down for days or weeks and loose nothing but garage space. It does have to be street legal enough to have a license plate and driven down a road at 60 MPH. Some of the campsites I stay at require a drive to get to the trails. Luckily, in Michigan, there aren't many restrictions on what's streetable, and even fewer that are actually enforced. As with many projects, money and time are limitations as well. I probably won't work on this every day, but hope to keep some level of continual progress.

I also want to document modifications and challenges thoroughly. This will help me organize my thoughts and I hope this can be helpful for others in the future who embark on similar endeavors. I'm by no means a professional or expert in many areas. I am not responsible for damage or injury to you or others by following my actions or suggestions. If you don't like to read, this probably isn't the thread for you. (Instead, just see the post above.) :D

I hope others will discuss, participate and ask questions.


Jason 11-27-2012 08:35 AM

List of engine/transmission swap issues
This is the exhaustive list of issues related to the engine and transmission swap only. I will keep this up to date as things change or solutions evolve:
  1. DONE: Headers. There are apparently some clearance issues with the stock 360 headers. (Went with the Summit jug huggers that others have used. I was able to clearance the seam on the tub so that the Ram truck exhaust manifold and downpipe would work fine, but the down pipe would not clear the shifter linkage, so I needed to re-route the exhaust.)
  2. DONE?? Wiring. I have a 97 TJ FSM and a 2001 Ram FSM. I'm too cheap to pay someone else to do it. It's a good learning opportunity. So I'm basically screwed. (Wiring is all hooked up, ATM, and the dash lights up when I turn the key. Will know for sure when I can actually start the engine.)
  3. DONE: Clutch safety switch on the AX-5 vs. the Park safety switch on the auto. (Even with the Ram auto transmission equipped PCM, I still had to jumper the clutch safety switch to get the engine to start. Right now there is just a jumper wire in the plug. I need to make a permanent solution. Update; I just clipped the wire off the clutch master cylinder and spliced the wires together with a butt splice. Afterwards, while digging around in under the Dodge hood, I found a plug that might fit, so I grabbed it. Update #2; while digging around under the dash for something unrelated, I found a loose plug with a jumper taped to another bundle of wires. This looks like the jumper used for the clutch safety switch in the autos. I unplugged my hacked up jumper and put this one in instead.) (Pics of these plugs are found on post .)
  4. DONE: Engine mounts; need (Purchased from Advance Adapters. Worked well. I ended up with the frame mounts angled rearward bay about 3ļ. This was with the drivetrain pushed up into the tub where I imagine it will ultimately be.)
  5. DONE: Radiator: TJ inlet and outlet are on opposite sides (Pass vs. driver.) than the Ram. (Purchased from Oconee Offroad, a JF vendor. Went with a thicker 2 inch core based on their suggestion. Additional cost vs the 1 7/16" core was minimal. It took about 5 weeks to get it. Quality is not as impressive as I had hoped; wings on the drain were bent, inlet side is out of round, included fittings were very rusty.)
  6. DONE: Fan: Electric or mechanical, depends on the placement of the engine. To use the stock t-case location, an electric fan must be used. Update; the Ram mechanical fan doesn't seem to clear the upper radiator hose, but distance to the radiator seems fine. A ZJ fan might work, as others have used it in the past. Need to see if it's smaller than the Ram truck fan, or do electric. Update 2; The Ram fan is 10 inches from the center of the clutch to the edge of the blade. I have a 6 cyl TJ fan that measured about 9. Even the smaller TJ fan doesn't work with a TJ shroud. Update 3; I found an electric fan that will work. It's not ideal, but it should have no problems cooling the engine. I have a few other ideas, so I may revisit this in the future.
  7. DONE: Shifter for the auto; need. A Cherokee shifter and cables may work here. (Scored a TJ shifter and cables from a part out.)
  8. Momentary button for the 46RE overdrive defeat. Update; planning on using the button from the end of the Ram's column shift. I'd like to have an "O/D OFF" light, but I believe this signal travels over the CCD bus. Since the defeat button is momentary, it will be a little more difficult to have a light bulb light up.
  9. DONE: VSS; where does the Dodge pick up the VSS signal (rear diff and I believe there is a speed sensor on the transmission output. Jeep speed is picked up at the transfer case output, so this is what I used for a speed signal.)
  10. DONE: Security system an issue? (Apparently this wasn't an issue. Engine started just fine with the Jeep key and ignition and no modification required for the security system.)
  11. DONE: T-case. Jeep has 21 spline input, 46 RE is 23 spline. (Broke the Ram t-case housing during removal, so I'm going to take the Ram input gear and put it into the Jeep case and use it. Also swapped in the larger chain and shift forks from the Dodge to the Jeep case.)
  12. DONE: Brake switch; Manual pedal set (with clutch) has a 4 pin switch. Auto brake pedal has 6 pins. Harness and plug are identical except the middle two pins and wires are missing on the manual transmission set. Need to figure out if this matters. (97 TJ FSM says the middle pins aren't used. This middle pair is another normally open circuit that closes when the plunger is depressed. I'm going to use the 6-pin that came on the auto in case I need to control something else with the brake pedal.)
  13. DONE: Shifting the transmission; This is causing some problems. The shift arm on the transmission is too long and too low to use the 30/32RH cable mount that I have. I believe the Durango bracket mounts the cable lower, possibly solving this issue. The throw of the arm is also incorrect; if I put both the cable and transmission in park, when I shift the floor lever to 1, the transmission is only in 2. I'm going to try to source a ZJ or Ram Van arm as they might work. (I found a Ram Van in a junkyard with a bracket that looks like it may work. I am having the guy pull the bracket, cable, shifter arm and TV cable. Still waiting on the parts. Update: The Dodge Ram Van shift arm and cable bracket worked fine. I used the Jeep 30RH/32RH cable and it all snapped together fine. The cable bracket needed a little tweaking but it hits all the gears just fine.)
  14. DONE: Shifting the transfer case; I haven't even attempted to get this working. (The transfer case ended up being an inch or so toward the rear. When I hooked up the shift linkage, it bound so bad I couldn't shift it. I welded the holes in the body mount bracket and redrilled the holes where I needed them to be.)
  15. DONE: Throttle cable; The Jeep cable doesn't work with the Ram bracket. Basically, when the pedal is to the floor, it doesn't even open the throttle body. Either need to fab a new bracket or see if the Ram cable will transfer over. (Ram cable transferred over and clipped into the Jeep firewall and accelerator pedal. Removing the accelerator from the Ram was a *****. Cable was way up high on the firewall and hard to reach. Jeep firewall needed a little filing for the clip to fit.)
  16. DONE: Evap and LDP; Need to bring over at least the LDP from the Ram truck, but it may be easier to bring all the Evap related equipment. (I pulled the canisters from the Dodge, but it turns out there is no LDP on this truck. I found the plug that's supposed to go to the LDP, and it's just capped off. I am going to try to use the Jeep Evap solenoid and canister if possible. UPDATE; Jeep Evap canister and solenoid seems to be working fine. No check engine light.)
  17. DONE: Starter; Dodge is on the driver side, Jeep on the passenger. Need to wire up and route the wire out of harms way. Likely between the oil pan and bell housing. (Plenty enough wire to connect to the PDC on the driver side. Note the starter trigger connector is backwards on the Jeep vs. Dodge. The male end is on the PDC for the Jeep and the male end is on the starter for the Dodge, so you can't just plug one into the other. I cut the plug off the Dodge PDC and spliced it to the Jeep PDC so it would work. Still need to secure the wire. UPDATE, the wire is a secure as it's getting. I ran it tight to the bellhousing to keep it away from the exhaust.)
  18. DONE: Tranny cooler lines and aux cooler; Dodge had all the inlets and outlets on the passenger side of the radiator, so all the lines are cut/bent for that. (I had to do some significant bending to get the lines to the radiator. I installed the aux cooler from the Dodge behind the Jeep grille. In the future, I may re-run all of the tranny cooler lines to simplify the routing, because they are bent all over the place, and starting to kink in a few places. Should work fine for now. I can monitor fluid temps with my scan gauge to make sure there are no problems. UPDATE; I replaced all the cooler lines. I didn't like how the old lines were routed and kinked a bit.)
  19. DONE: Upper and lower radiator hoses: The Dodge hoses are molded, and will not route to the custom radiator without kinking. Not sure yet how to resolve this. (Used a Dayco #70480 for the upper, which need to be cut, and a Dayco #D71954 for the lower. The Dayco #D71727 was too tall and a little too long, but might work for other setups.)
  20. LOW PRIORITY: Power steering cooler; I have a small power steering cooler I took off the Ram. Routing the PS lines was somewhat problematic because of the location of the Jeep steering box and Dodge pump. I have the lines hooked up currently just to run, but I want to add the cooler later.
  21. LOW PRIORITY: Fuel smell. I get a whiff of fuel every once in a when I'm near the tank. No puddles. There's a small leak somewhere I need to find.
  22. DONE: Exhaust: I originally planned on using most of the stock stuff, but the OEM routing will interfere with the transmission shifter. I need to make new down pipe an exhaust. Plan is 2.25 down pipe to 3" exhaust. I have a high flow cat from the truck I can reuse, and maybe the muffler too. (I ran the aforementioned headers into a custom 2.25 (???) downpipe, then to a 3" collector. Welded in O2 bungs and a high flow cat. I have an exhaust cut out that I planned on using, but it wouldn't fit with the muffler. I couldn't use the old Magnaflow muffler off the truck because it was 2.5". I used a Flowmaster 40 Delta Flow muffler, which is allegedly the quietest 40 series muffler. It's still plenty loud.)
  23. Fan wiring: I would like to use a Volvo two-speed relay pack, but I am having a hard time finding one. For now, I'm going to use a single relay to the low speed until I come up with a permanent solution. (I did get a relay of Ebay. Temporarily wired the low speed to a switch.)
  24. Motor mount interference: The front upper control arms can contact the frame side engine mounts if bounced hard enough. I will need to be careful with the suspension set up to avoid any issues. (I've ordered some 2" spring spacers as a temporary fix.)
  25. DONE: Windshield washer bottle relocation: The factory location for the washer bottle interferes with the Dodge power steering pump. Plan is to relocate to the unused ABS tray, but waiting on my highline fenders to finalize placement. (I ordered a 2 qt bottle off Ebay that includes a pump.) Instead of using the Ebay unit, I got a small bottle with pump out of an old Dodge Dakota (I think?) and will mount it to the driver side inner fender.
  26. DONE: Coolant overflow bottle: Both the Jeep and the Dodge overflow bottles are tall and skinny. Neither fits real well anywhere. Both normally clip into the fan shroud. I have no fan shroud so I'll need to do something creative. May just get a small aftermarket bottle and/or relocate to a non-traditional location (rear of engine for example). I ended up using the Dodge overflow. I put a two slots in my inner fenders to hold it. It has a curve in the bottle, meant to go around the fan shroud, but it fit nicely around a bend in my fenders.

Jason 11-27-2012 08:36 AM


I sold the Jeep on 2/15/15 :(. We may be moving, so I needed to trim down a little. If we stay, or when we get settled in to a new spot, there will be another build on something else. Feel free to ask questions about the build and I will answer them best I can recall.


July 2017 Update:

Due the Photobucket Ransom Situation, the photos may stop displaying at any time. At the time of this update, the photos are still appearing, but I fear that may change soon. I am going to fix them as soon as possible, but it is a monumental task to say the least. I have copies of the originals and can provide them upon request. Thanks.

Jason 11-27-2012 08:37 AM

Little stuff
As I got to know Ugly Betty more, I noticed the little stuff that needed to be fixed. The drain plugs in the floor were missing. The center HVAC vents were also missing. The wipers weren't attached and the wiper motor was out (PO told me the motor was shot). It idles like crap because the rear O2 sensor is missing. (No idea where it’s at.) Fan shroud is long gone, but no temperature issues. If there ever was an interior light, it's long gone. The front sway bar is completely missing. (I notice immediately when my 2005 is disconnected. I didn't even notice it missing on the 97.)

And it reeks of cigarette smoke.

I smoked for years, but have long since quit, so I try not to get all high-and-mighty about it, but this effer stunk. I left the windows unzipped in my garage overnight, and the whole thing smelled of it. Eventually I found the ashtray full of butts. I proceeded to disassemble most of the dashboard and clean it thoroughly.

I replaced the wiper motor and replaced the million little missing screws when I put the dash back together.

This is why you should pull the cowl cover and clean out the drains. I pulled out several fistfuls of this junk:
^^ Unknown substance in cowl. Not quite solid, not quite liquid, fully disgusting. ^^

Despite these flaws, it does drive ok for an old Jeep, although severely underpowered.

Jason 11-27-2012 08:37 AM

Engine Swap Begins
Engine Swap begins:

I've wanted to get more power for a long time; however, it didn't make sense to rip the I6 out of the 05 with only 50K miles on it to stroke or replace it. I toyed with the idea of a supercharger, but I have some concerns about reliability on the stock I6 internals. A V8 powered Wrangler has always been a dream of mine.

A good friend of mine wrecked his 2000 Dodge Ram with a 360 under the hood. I actually bought this a few weeks before I bought Ugly Betty thinking I could fix it enough to be drivable and just offroad it, and if not I had a good running 360 for a future project.

So I began doing my homework on what would be involved in swapping the engine out. I've never swapped a motor before, so it's uncharted territory for me. I've been reading all that I can absorb and taking notes.
^^ Normal wear and tear? ^^

The engine is a 5.9L Magnum (360ci) mated to a 46RE auto and a Dodge NP231 t-case. My buddy had this truck for a long time and it was always a strong runner. The only issues that I know of are a leaking freeze plug on the rear of the motor, and the tranny pan is damp, but doesn't seem to drip. Axles are Dana 44 front and C9.25 in the rear. Rust has obviously taken hold of the panels not damaged in the accident. After I've taken what I need, I'm going to sell what useful parts I can and scrap the rest.

Jason 11-27-2012 08:38 AM

Edited, moved to post #5

Jason 11-27-2012 08:38 AM

Begin ripping out the Magnum
So, for better or worse, I got going on removing the Ram engine. I figured it would probably be easiest to get the Ram engine out first. I pulled most of the wiring off the top side of the engine. I did this on a Sunday, so football interrupted some progress. I labeled each wire with some masking tape so I'll later know where everything went. Most of the wires on the top of the engine have been removed.

Once I get both engines removed, Iím going to compare the wiring harnesses and see what itís going to take to marry the two together.

Jason 11-27-2012 08:39 AM

Purchases for swap:

I called Oconee Offroad, a vendor here, for a radiator. I had one picked out, but the guy on the phone wanted to check on the fitment and make sure I get the right thing. He talked to the radiator shop and called me a few hours later. We had the right size and configuration, but the radiator guys suggested and upgraded radiator for the 360. I don't want to take any chances in the cooling department since I can't just walk into AutoZone and buy a replacement. The cost difference was minimal, about $40, so I figured it's cheap insurance to get the thicker cored radiator. I picked up some trans fluid and a filter kit for the transmission. No luck on the freeze plugs yet. I didnít have the size on hand when I went to the auto parts store and the parts jockey couldnít find the right one.

--chris-- 11-27-2012 09:06 AM


Jason 11-27-2012 09:59 AM

Chris, I don't remember if you bought the plastic fuel line disconnect tools or not, but I remember talking about it. My plastic "size E" one was pretty torn up and wouldn't break one of these lines on the Dodge. I fiddled with it for a little while Sunday night and just gave up. I bought a metal one yesterday that works much better. About 6 seconds and I had that stubborn line free. So, skip the plastic set if you havent bought one yet. I've yet to use any size other than the two included on the metal tool.
^^ Steel > Plastic ^^

--chris-- 11-27-2012 10:40 AM

I bought the plastic deal. The metal look like its about 50x easier to use though.

So I know you have this week off, what have you got done so far today?

Jason 11-27-2012 10:53 AM

Radiator, tranny cooler, upper rad support all removed. Fussing with the condenser right now. Basically clearing a path for the engine to come out.

The time now is 03:02 AM.

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