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A 3 day long (hopefully), TJ 5.0 V8 Swap

21867 Views 116 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  mallard15
Well my build has been going on for about 2 years now at a relatively slow pace what with being away at college and working around a budget, just like everyone else, but I've managed to build what I think is a pretty solid rig for what I use my Jeep. Currently my 1997 TJ Sahara edition sits as follows:

- 4.0 w/ 172k miles
- ax15
- Rhino-Lined interior
- Rough Country 2.5" suspension lift and 1.25" Body Lift
- JKS motor mount lift
- UndercoverFab High Clearance Belly skid
- Currie rear uppers, but all other arms stock
- Adj rear track bar
- JB SYE and a shortened front driveshaft in the rear
- 33x10.5 BFG All Terrains
- LP Dana 30 and Rubicon Dana 44 - 4.10 gears
- ZJ tie rod

I trashed my motor a couple of weeks ago on a club run to the Badlands and I've been wanting to do this V8 swap for a while anyway, so this is just a perfect time to do it. The motor is going to be a 5.0/302 V8 from a Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer and we are hoping to perform pretty much the whole swap over the course of only 3 days and hope that it will actually take place a couple of weeks from now. More details on all this will be a few posts down from this.

I'm going to copy paste the full story of my Jeep and what not (teaser: it includes the thing catching on fire at a gas station:laugh:) from another build thread I had going, but I decided to start a new one now that its getting the V8 and what not. It might end up being a little long winded, so bear with me, but there should be some cool stuff, or at least I think so, and a lot of pictures from the engine swap when it happens, so enjoy my thread and feel free to post up any comments or questions!:cheers2:

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Well, here is the long overdue build thread for my 1997 Sahara Edition TJ that imped4now has been bugging me to make for months now:shhh:. I bought my Jeep in August of 07, but it stayed pretty much stock except for the bed liner until the next summer. It got a budget boost that summer and it has all snowballed from there, you all know how that goes:laugh:. I suppose I'll just go ahead and start from the beginning, sorry for such a long post, but I have 2.5 years of stuff to cover:laugh:

-------------------Skip this if you don't care to read about my start into Jeeps and what not------------

For back story on me and my Jeep addiction, my first vehicle was a bone stock 2000 XJ, I had it for about 2 years and it was what got me started in wheeling even though it stayed stock. Here's the XJ in all its glory:rofl:

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After I bit the bullet and called my Dad to tow me out, I drove it home and shop vac'ed all the water out, then pulled the passenger seat and lifted the carpet and put a big fan in front of it for 3 days. Amazingly I never had any problems with it smelling bad and they only issues were a shorted door speaker and a soaked ipod.

I liked the XJ a lot but I always wanted a wrangler and I couldn't ignore that, so finally the summer before my senior year of highschool, I put the XJ. I got screwed on the price selling the XJ and payed too much for the TJ, but I still don't care, it was worth it:2thumbsup:.


The TJ I bought was a bone stock 1997 Sahara with a 5 speed, 137k, brand new sail cloth top and a spare black soft top in good shape. It was mint except for the classic rusty fenders. The first few things I did included removing the stock sidesteps and getting the interior Rhino-Lined. FWIW I suggest doing it yourself, it cost me 500 dollars more to have someone else do it rather than use UPOL Raptor and I still had to strip the interior for that price. I paid a shop to do it because I wanted it to look professional... it doesn't. Oh well, nobody works on your rig like you do I suppose. This is a picture of the Jeep at that point, that's my good friend Connor (imped4now) strapping down the JetSki (old and not running, it was a freebie from the neighbors:2thumbsup:)

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After that the wrenching began. I bought a budget boost that had 50 miles on it and supposedly had BDS shocks, although I'm still skeptical they were BDS, for $100. I originally thought I would run 32"s but Connor talked me into (as he usually does :laugh:) going bigger. I didn't want to run 33"s on 3.07s though, so I started hunting for 4cyl axles. I ended up purchasing them from 472cid who has since become a friend of mine, hes always been a great resource for info and always seems to have the right spare part I happen to need laying around, unfortunately that means I have to drive to Ohio to get it:laugh:. After I got the axles I bought a 1.25" BL and used JKS MML spacers and on my winter break of my freshman year at Indiana University, Connor and I and another friend got to work on our first axle swap so I could throw on my 33x10.5 BFG ATs. I'm not gonna lie, it sucked. Not because we didn't know what we were doing, it was our first time, but we had done lifts and read plenty on the forum, but it was under 10 degrees outside and on top of that my TJ had more than 140k miles in the salt belt and none of the suspension had ever been touched so we had a lot of stuck and broken bolts. Along the way I also added my Rock Hard sliders and cut my front bumper. Here are some wheeling pics from that spring after I had completed the axle swap and done the lift and tires:

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I quickly got fed up with the stock brakes last spring and put in EBC Yellowstuff and Centric rotors which made a world of difference. Also changed my front axle U joints which was a massive PITA thanks to rust as usual, I destroyed both unit bearings trying to get them off and then found out the hard way newer unit bearings don't work on older TJs. I also added a ZJ tie-rod.

Early this summer, I had pretty much decided I was going to go to a Ford 8.8 and was honestly a few days away from going to a junkyard when my boss, a fellow Jeep guy, called me and said he had a line on a Rubi Dana 44. Some guy he had bought parts off of before had called him and asked if he was interested in it, but he has a CJ so he told me about it. The real kicker was that the axle was already painted, complete brake to brake, had the diff tubes welded, and supposedly had new bearings and seals and the guy only wanted $400! While this worried me a little because why the hell would it be so cheap, but I figured it was worth the gamble. Connor and I got up at 6 am the next morning and drove 2 hours to pick it up and I started ordering parts: RC 2.5" lift, EBC Greenstuff pads, RC front swaybar discos, and an adjustable rear track bar.

Once again, rust was our enemy here, but we had never fought anything like this before. What should have taken a day or two to do, spread out over 6 weeks of wrenching after work and on weekends. From all the skid plate nutserts being rusted on, to my driveshaft being literally rusted on to the output shaft, the Jeep fought me every step of the way. The driveshaft was the worst, long story short, we had to pull out the T case, grind three cuts lengthwise through the slip yoke and then chisel it open and off. Finally we finished though and went for a test drive and of course, something is wrong with the axle, its clicking and bucking around turns. We trailered the Jeep to a trusted offroad shop and I was fully expecting to have to buy a new locker, but to my surprise they said someone had just messed with it and it was out of alignment or something and was therefore sort of partially locked and clanking around. $150 was all it took to make the thing tip top, so all in all i was only into my Rubi 44 for $550 :D.

Now we get to the part that inspired my thread title. It was the first day I had the Jeep running and driving in about 6 weeks, so a good friend and I just went out and were cruising around enjoying the summer weather. We stopped for gas and when I heard the pump click off when the tank was full, I turned around to find 3-4ft of flames coming out of both the rear wheel wells. There was enough fire that my friend had to crawl over the center console and get out on the driver's side because her door was blocked by flames. I quickly ran inside and got a fire extinguisher and had the fire out in well under a minute. Amazingly, the only damage sustained was to one of the fender well liners, so I just pulled it out and didn't worry about it. I eventually found out that I had somehow gotten a mysterious hole in the top of the tank that gas splashed out off when the tank filled up. That gas was ignited somehow and my Jeep went up in flames, I was so frustrated at that point that half of me wished it had burned right down to the frame.:laugh:
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More recently I built my Rokmen DIY rear bumper with the help of a club member (I had never welded anything structurally important before) and I received a JB SYE, Currie rear uppers, and an Undercover Fab TT for Christmas. These all went in along with cut down front drive shaft that Connor bent at the Badlands. Connor also did most of the work with the SYE and what not because I was on vacation with my family visiting my grandparents in Florida. He said he was bored and offered to wrench on my rig and I of course accepted. Here is a pic of the bumper and pics from the installs:

I let our friend Scott have some fun with the spray paint, he did the negative space writing on the skid.

And here is the Jeep as it sits now:

Thats it for now, feel free to comment, discuss, and generally get entirely off topic, I know I've done my fair share of derailing my friends build threads, its time to let them return the favor:laugh::cheers2:
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Motor Swap Preparation Time!

Anyway 2 weeks ago our club, IndyORV, went on a big 3 day long run to the Badlands, and even though I was only able to go for 1 day, I still managed to mangle my motor. Ever since I got stuck in a rather deceivingly deep "puddle", my motor has been having some serious oil pressure issues and has been making some nasty noises at RPMs above about 2500. Luckily, I have been wanting to do a V8 swap for some time now and had already started purchasing parts, so all this will mean is I don't get to sell my motor as a working unit and it will speed up the pace of the build a little.

Key people involved in this V8 swap are going to mostly be Amos (472cid) and Connor (Imped) and myself with help along the way from other friends occasionally, Amos is going to be by far the most important player in this swap as he is the resident guru of the swap, expect to see a separate and very detailed write-up/thread for the swap that he and I are going to put together when its all said and done. The swap itself is going to take place at Amos' home which is about 2 hours away from me, which is why we have set the 3 day work schedule, the plan is for me to show up on a Friday and work a hell of a lot Friday-Sunday so that I leave with a running 5.0 on Sunday. I will most likely be pulling out the 4.0 along with taking off basically the whole front clip at my house and then trailering the Jeep to his house like that so that we can save some time since we have such a small window to perform the actual swap while I'm at his house.

Anyway, today, Connor and I went to a local junkyard and picked up a 5.0 V8 from a 2000 Ford Explorer, its got 100k miles and had all accessories for $350. The ideal motor for this swap is going to come from a 1996-2000 Explorer or Mountaineer, but the 96-97.5 motors are a bit different (different heads and what not) than the newer motors. The newer motors like mine make a little more horsepower, but you also have to "modify" the headers to get them to clear things just right. Amos purchased a wiring harness and computer out of a Mustang on my behalf and he has been preparing that for the swap, and other than that, I still have a few things to purchase, mainly a bellhousing, advance adapters adapter plate to go from 5.0 to ax15 tranny, and headers, then comes little stuff like exhaust and things like that.

Pictures of the motor and what not should be up either tonight or tomorrow
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Well here is how the engine looked after bringing it home from the yard and getting it onto an engine stand and how the bottom end looked after we pulled the pan off. I was quite pleased to see that the only thing in the oil pan was oil, no sludge at all! We also pulled the headers off since those will be getting replaced and in doing so I twisted the pipe for the EGR, luckily that is getting ditched anyway.


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I did this swap over the winter. the 5.0 is a great running motor
I think your going to really like it. I'm really surprised that more
guys don't use the 5.0. It fits nicely under the hood.
I was hooked on this motor immediately when I first heard about the swap for a few main reasons. The first of course was getting to ride in 472cid's Jeep with this motor, second was the relatively low price compared to other swaps, and the third was getting to keep all my stock running gear besides the motor and having working gauges.

As for progress, plans have changed a bit, I'm taking the Jeep to 472's house tomorrow morning and we are going to start the tear down and see how far we can get and then I'll have to go back to his house to finish everything another weekend. The end of my summer is packed between work, an obligation I have from a boys and girls club fundraiser I volunteered for, getting the Jeep worked on, turning 21 on the 31st, and having family in town. It makes me tired just thinking about it all! :laugh:
FINALLY! The engine has been sitting in Robby's garage for what seems like an eternity.....two weeks.
FINALLY! The engine has been sitting in Robby's garage for what seems like an eternity.....two weeks.
Um you're telling me, we have had all this gorgeous whether and I'm stuck with a Jeep that I don't feel comfortable driving more than a few miles at a time, hell I don't even feel comfortable doing that! I can't wait to have this thing running right again:2thumbsup:
soon as parts are here it will be ready to go. Hopefully no more fires!!!!
Hey! Come on. Done yet?? lol

Hope it goes well. I'll be following along. :2thumbsup:
I just remebered I haven't updated this thread with this weekends progress. We got a lot accomplished I think considering we were only able to put in 6 or 7 working hours, it just sucks that it took two full days to accomplish that since its a two hour drive each way to Amos and we had to trailer the jeep there and what not. We did manage to pull the front clip and get the engine tranny and computer pulled out though and we got almost all my parts ordered from advance. I still need to come up with a bellhousing, slave, and pressure plate though and AA is jerkin me around with the adapter plate. Photos will come tonight when I get home from work and am not posting from my phone
awesome dave, that was a little nancy boy puddle for you to lose your 4.0 in! Cant wait to take a spin in the finished product!
awesome dave, that was a little nancy boy puddle for you to lose your 4.0 in! Cant wait to take a spin in the finished product!
I still think he did it on purpose just so he'd HAVE to put a 5.0 in.
This is awesome! I can't wait to see it finished!
Keep up the good work... hope with your busy schedule you have time to get it done as fast as you want...
Soon as we get parts this will get done. Advance adapters has some back order issue with the adapter
I'm glad to see someone is posting an engine swap thread here. I'm saving up for a crate motor but don't have one picked out yet. Do you have recommendations for a motor and adapters that I can buy and have installed? I prefer a V8.

Unfortunately I can't do this stuff myself so I've been saving for a couple of years for the crate motor and labor to install it. I get a kick out of your project. I have a '98 Sahara with 170k miles. Bad thing is that I have the highway gears, so I don't know it the V8 will make much difference.
where are you in the midwest? the gm ls series motors are awesome, hemi is a great one too. Could also build you a wicked little 302 to put in there. If you with in a reasonable distancce i could install your engine and all that. A v8 will make all the difference in the world no matter what gears you have.
Thanks for all the support everyone! Alright, sorry for the delay guys, I'm awful at updating threads sometimes :laugh:, but I'm taking time out of my 21st Birthday today to go ahead and post some pics. As I said, last weekend we got the Jeep pretty well gutted and I am planning to head back to 472cid's to work some more next weekend, our 3 day swap has obviously changed course, instead of hammering it out in 3 days in a row working day and night, were trying to get as much as we can done and I have just been commuting there, which sucks, but we will get it done and it will be worth it in the end! It will be done soon one way or another since it is my dd and I've got to be back at school in 4 weeks. Hopefully Advance Adapters stops giving me the runaround on this plate and I get it this week, since I was told I was going to have it 3 weeks ago..., still gotta get a bell housing, slave and pressure plate, but other than that I'm set parts wise. As promised here are some pics! If it wasn't for Amos, that last pic would be terrifying to me :rofl:
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Well nevermind, it seems I couldn't upload the pics for some reason, I'm gonna have to try again on my computer or something tomorrow or do it the old fashioned way and upload them to photobucket. Sorry about that everyone!
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