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Old 09-08-2019, 02:15 PM
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offthebeatenpath offthebeatenpath is offline
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230 tornado engine issues.... brings up big questions

So I've got this '65 J200 with the 230 in it, and I really haven't seen it run much. I bought a "running, driving truck" and drove it 7 miles home. Ran it for about 10 minutes in the driveway and have had issues galore since.

The head gasket was shot, so I've pulled the head off and took it to one of the 3 local machine shops (the one that said they had time) to check it out. They disassembled it, magnafluxed and inspected it, and gave me some bad news. It needs a full rebuild, including having the rockers and the cam reground. New exhaust valves, new valve seats/guides/seals all the way around. Probably looking at something in the neighborhood of $800 when it's all said and done. I can buy a rebuilt 4.0 head for my TJ for $300! I don't know if $800 seems normal or not, it's just way more than I wanted to spend. I know I could do some of that work myself, but definitely not the valve seats, and I'm not sure what else.

That brings up some obvious questions.... $800 and that's just the top end. I haven't had anybody with any know-how or credibility look at the block, crank or pistons. Cylinders aren't scored, but that's about the extent of my knowledge.

I've already decided against going the LS swap route- it's just not in the cards right now, and on top of that I'd still have a manual steering, front disc braked, post mount suspension truck. I've got a wife and four kids that I like to hang out with now and then..... there's no way I've got time or my wife has the patience (or funds) to go full-balls LS swap.

So here's the other options I've been mulling over, some still need some further exploration, but I'm trying to look at all angles. I like the old truck feel, I don't need fuel injection, though it sure would be nice at times. The goal for this is to be a weekend driver, take it into the woods to go fishing or drive it to work on a lazy day. Ideally, it stays as a manual transmission, currently I've got the T98 4 speed/Dana 20, with D44 front and D53 rear axles.

1- Jeep 4.0 Renix fuel injection swap. Easy to find parts for, though sourcing a 5 speed version of a Cherokee is a bit tougher. Don't know the length of the 4.0, or how it would fit in the engine bay, but I know it's been done and that Jeep offered the 4.2 in the later J series, so it can't be all that tough. Would give me sufficient power for my goals. Would still need drivelines, gauges, fuel delivery.

2- Some other Jeep engine. Run a 4.2 and keep it carbed (for simplicity, could change it later). Could drop in a 360, but I'd still have a lot of the other issues to deal with - exhaust, transmission, transfer case, drivelines, with questionable improvment.

3- Some other engine, carbed. Chevy 350? Caddy 500? Give me some ideas?

4- Alternatively, find a J-truck that's got the 258 in it, and swap my Rhino grille over, and call it a day.

I really am looking for some outside input, I'm trying to make the best decision I can. The best thing about this truck is that it was close to home. Montana doesn't have much to choose from. There's a lot of body work to do- floors, bed, tailgate; all the weatherstrip and glass seals. I haven't touched the brakes, transmission or transfer case yet, so there's still some big unknowns.



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Old 09-08-2019, 04:18 PM
wiley-moeracing wiley-moeracing is offline
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Fix it, will be cheaper than doing a engine/drivetrain swap. Hope you did not spend a lot of money for this truck? I have seen a bunch of trucks down here that are rust free project trucks( some run some don't) cheap(500-3500). there is really nothing wrong with that motor if it is in good shape and maintenance is kept up.
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:14 PM
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Mikel Mikel is offline
 
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A good option would be a 4.0/AW4/NP231. Relatively easy swap and with the gearing you have, OD would be nice. There are hundreds of thousands of XJs out there with this powertrain, and can be bought dirt cheap.


Myself, I have a heavy foot and have several Olds 455s waiting for a new home. I suspect that a big engine in a properly geared vehicle can give similar fuel economy as a smaller less powerful engine.
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  #4  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:52 PM
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offthebeatenpath offthebeatenpath is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikel
A good option would be a 4.0/AW4/NP231. Relatively easy swap and with the gearing you have, OD would be nice. There are hundreds of thousands of XJs out there with this powertrain, and can be bought dirt cheap.


Myself, I have a heavy foot and have several Olds 455s waiting for a new home. I suspect that a big engine in a properly geared vehicle can give similar fuel economy as a smaller less powerful engine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a heavy foot too, but a thin wallet!

I had a 98 XJ for about 100k, and I was always irritated by the sluggishness of the AW4, and that was with 4.10’s and 31’s. Somehow the AX-15 feels different in my TJ, maybe that’s all in my head. If I do that 4.0 swap, I’d probably hold out for the 5 speed. They’re out there, just not many of them.
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Old 09-08-2019, 08:39 PM
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PlasticBoob PlasticBoob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by offthebeatenpath
I like the old truck feel, I don't need fuel injection, though it sure would be nice at times. The goal for this is to be a weekend driver, take it into the woods to go fishing or drive it to work on a lazy day. Ideally, it stays as a manual transmission,

You know where I stand on this from that other thread, lol. Few engines are cooler than a Jeep Tornado, especially for that "old truck" feel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfEkE_a_Jrg

I say it's worth rebuilding and keeping. What's going on with the #6 piston though?

Don't take this the wrong way, but having any old vehicle around is going to cost way more than $800 to stay in the game. If you can't afford any of this stuff right now, just keep it off to the side and save, save, save. $800 for all that head work isn't too bad, in my opinion. I paid $1,100 for a full rebuild on my 401 17 years ago.
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  #6  
Old 09-09-2019, 09:05 AM
offthebeatenpath's Avatar
offthebeatenpath offthebeatenpath is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley-moeracing
Fix it, will be cheaper than doing a engine/drivetrain swap. Hope you did not spend a lot of money for this truck? I have seen a bunch of trucks down here that are rust free project trucks( some run some don't) cheap(500-3500). there is really nothing wrong with that motor if it is in good shape and maintenance is kept up.

Like I said, the best thing about this truck is that it was close. I think I probably overpaid for it ($2500), but I thought I was buying a running driving truck, not a basketcase. The body is quite straight, aside from the rusty floor pans, bed seams and tailgate. Nothing I can't handle with enough time.
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  #7  
Old 09-09-2019, 09:18 AM
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offthebeatenpath offthebeatenpath is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasticBoob
You know where I stand on this from that other thread, lol. Few engines are cooler than a Jeep Tornado, especially for that "old truck" feel.

I know it! There's just nothing cool about a Cherokee 4.0. But it would start. Every day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasticBoob
I say it's worth rebuilding and keeping. What's going on with the #6 piston though?

That's a great question! Are you referring to what looks like a hole in the top of it? From the damage to the oil pan, it looks like it threw a rod at some point, so that may be mis-matched piston. That's my guess, but I haven't inspected it too closely yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlasticBoob
Don't take this the wrong way, but having any old vehicle around is going to cost way more than $800 to stay in the game. If you can't afford any of this stuff right now, just keep it off to the side and save, save, save. $800 for all that head work isn't too bad, in my opinion. I paid $1,100 for a full rebuild on my 401 17 years ago.

I know you're right, I think I'm just a little bummed at how disillusioned I was. On the other hand, I don't have a context for the cost of machine shop work. I couldn't tell you if $800 is high or not, sounds like it's right in the ball park. I was hoping that by buying a running/driving truck, I could eliminate some of those expenses, and maybe I did. It does have a new master cylinder and electronic fuel pump, so those are two headaches I didn't have to deal with. Maybe if I'd have planned a little better, I'd have bought something that would be worth more than the sum of the parts I'd put into it, not less. Say an FJ40? Sorry..... I'm a Jeep/Toyota guy. I like my Jeeps for playing, but my two reliable rigs are Toyotas. I like wrenching enough, but I don't like needing to turn wrenches at 11pm at night so I can drive my truck to work in the AM. There's something quite nice about only having to deal with oil and filter changes on at least one rig.
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:34 AM
joe joe is offline
 
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$800 doesn't sound outrageous for a complete pro rebuild of an OHC I-6 head. Fix the head, it's cheaper than a "good" motor swap. The 230 OHC motor is a good motor and in good condition plenty adequate for normal use...BUT... they are maint intensive motors. Frequent valve adjustments, new timing chains, constant oil leaks from the timing cover. Bad rigid motor mount design trashes the timing cover gasket. MOST critical is check oil level "OFTEN!" As in don't rely on the oil light.
Low oil level starves the top end first and eats the cam...$$$ and hard to find new. Was main cause for 230 failure back in their day.
Kanters Auto 'used' to sell them but don't know if they still do? Spec out the crank on yours and if still good, fix the head.
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Old 09-09-2019, 05:45 PM
wiley-moeracing wiley-moeracing is offline
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In this day and age you can not expect to find a good vehicle for $2500 and expect it needs nothing. Even if you found an old Honda car, or Toyota truck you would still need to put money into it to make it drivable and somewhat reliable. I think you over payed a little but not to bad for where your are. If you take the time and fix this truck up doing most of the work yourself you will still be ahead money wise. Also, $800 for head work is not bad.
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  #10  
Old 09-10-2019, 07:19 PM
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KaiserMan KaiserMan is offline
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I'd fix it myself. I paid around $400 to shave the head on my 230, new valve guides (I supplied them) and the valve job. No magnaflux, no grind on the cam.

230's are great motors when taken care of. Plenty of power, decent fuel mileage (I was getting around 14mpg) and are really good looking motors.

Plus, you can tell people you have a hemi!
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  #11  
Old 09-10-2019, 08:00 PM
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Herk Herk is offline
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The cheapest swap is to fix the factory engine. And, if that $800 includes 12 valves, 12 guides, 6 exhaust seats, new springs and seals plus a reground cam, you're getting a pretty good deal. Half of that is probably parts. Add a timing chain and gasket set and you're right at a grand.


If you do swap, I'd suggest a non-Renix 4.0/AX-15/D300 drivetrain. AX-15's are common in Dakotas and Ram 1500s as well as YJs and TJs. NP231's, especially the common Jeep or Chevy truck versions are drivers side drop.
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  #12  
Old 09-11-2019, 02:43 AM
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FSJunkie FSJunkie is offline
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No way in hell a valve job on a 230 head should cost $800. The parts to do it costs about $150. The only reason the $800 is because they've never seen a 230 head before and they are trying to talk you out of making them fix it because they don't want to do it. They'd rather you bring them something easy and boring that they can knock out in an hour, like another bloody Chevy head.

In other words, they don't deserve your business. Find a machine shop that says, "Ohhh, this is interesting. I'd love to give this a shot."

Saying you'll just swap it sounds cheaper and easier but it's not.

There is also a very macho image about driving a stock 1960's pickup truck. While everyone is convinced they absolutely 100% need radial tires and disk brakes just to pick up the kids from school, here you are hauling 3000 pounds of water on bias ply knobbies and manual drum brakes. It makes a statement. Some people will say you are stupid and foolish, but many more people (including some people secretly) will have great respect and admiration for a person with the guts and the balls to do something like that. Any wimp can haul a load with a new Silverado Duramax. Not everybody can haul a load, granted slower, in an old International Harvester 1200 with a 304 and a Fuller 5-speed. It's a prestige.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:42 AM
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offthebeatenpath offthebeatenpath is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FSJunkie
No way in hell a valve job on a 230 head should cost $800. The parts to do it costs about $150. The only reason the $800 is because they've never seen a 230 head before and they are trying to talk you out of making them fix it because they don't want to do it. They'd rather you bring them something easy and boring that they can knock out in an hour, like another bloody Chevy head.

In other words, they don't deserve your business. Find a machine shop that says, "Ohhh, this is interesting. I'd love to give this a shot."

Saying you'll just swap it sounds cheaper and easier but it's not.

There is also a very macho image about driving a stock 1960's pickup truck. While everyone is convinced they absolutely 100% need radial tires and disk brakes just to pick up the kids from school, here you are hauling 3000 pounds of water on bias ply knobbies and manual drum brakes. It makes a statement. Some people will say you are stupid and foolish, but many more people (including some people secretly) will have great respect and admiration for a person with the guts and the balls to do something like that. Any wimp can haul a load with a new Silverado Duramax. Not everybody can haul a load, granted slower, in an old International Harvester 1200 with a 304 and a Fuller 5-speed. It's a prestige.


I beg to differ on the cost of parts.
The cheapest valves I've found are $10+/piece, shipped that's $150.
I haven't been able to find springs for it, so that's not even figured in.
Seats, seals, keepers are relatively cheap - $50
Guides are $6/pop, so there's another $75.
New grind on cam and rockers - $200-250.
That makes $475 with no labor.

I did find the guy that was excited to build my head, his name is Wes and he's 65 and knew exactly what he was looking at. The problem is he's in a dying business. He's 65, working six 10 hour days a week and can't find good help. He straight up told me that he has to cater to the repair shops that bring him work, and he just can't get ahead enough to make time for my 'ol Jeep. I wound up taking my head to a different shop just to get it looked at, after it sat untouched at Wes's shop for 3 weeks. I don't live in an area where I've got many choices for shops, but the direction this is headed, I'm going to have to do some further digging and find somebody that can work with me.

Swapping the head sounded like a possible option, but sourcing one of those isn't exactly ordering with 1-click from Amazon.

Point well made about driving a stock 60's truck. That's by far the direction I'm leaning, both because of that overall image of it and because of the complexity and vortex of sequences that are present with opening Pandora's box of modern engine swaps. Do I really want a 300hp LS engine with those same front drums and manual steering? I think not. The same reasons go for why I want to keep the bench seat. Are buckets more comfortable for a long day on the road? Absolutely. Nobody wants to see a pair of Recaro's in a truck like this, they expect a big cushy vinyl bench, maybe with a saddle blanket on it.

I'm 38. I respect the hell out of guys twice my age still driving their 1988 Wrangler to the hardware store to run errands. I want to be that guy. Not the guy in the Duramax picking up his kids from soccer practice. Give me the character, the dents and the dings, they all tell stories. But that's just me.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:52 AM
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tgreese tgreese is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FSJunkie
No way in hell a valve job on a 230 head should cost $800. The parts to do it costs about $150. The only reason the $800 is because they've never seen a 230 head before and they are trying to talk you out of making them fix it because they don't want to do it. ...
This is possible. Not uncommon for shops will quote you a sky-high price to make you go away. Either way, they get what they want.

Quote:
... Saying you'll just swap it sounds cheaper and easier but it's not. ...
Also likely true. Although if you found a donor vehicle with a complete drive train to swap in, bought no adapter, did nothing to the replacement components, and had the tools and facilities to build the new driveshafts, engine and transmission mounts, and match the wiring, plumbing and body shape to the new components, you could probably do it.

Note that the engine compartment in this truck was sized for an inline 6, and a V8 or V6 probably won't fit without moving the transmission forward. Jeep addressed this problem by giving their manual transmissions a very long input shaft, and an equally long adapter between the bell and transmission.

I'm not so sanguine about the 230, considering how it was regarded in the '70s when I was first around Jeeps. Then these 230 trucks and wagons were already available fot bargain basement prices, and lots of them got the small block V8 treatment. Even then, people thought this engine was deeply flawed. As Joe mentioned, they ran out of oil pretty often... timing chains stretched, they leaked, cams lobes were flattened... not a huge success. Kaiser got rid of them soon after introduction, in favor of the 232 Rambler engine they bought as a commodity, pre-built from AMC. According to mechanics at the Jeep dealer where I worked, the 230 was a better engine than its reputation, but its reputation was very poor.

Also, if you want a Jeep truck to use daily, Jeep made huge improvements in these vehicles in the late 60s to early 70s, so you'd get a lot more to work with buying a few years newer truck.

However! Technically it is a very interesting engine, with a unique look. If it were for me, as hobby car, I'd fix it up and drive it as-is. Take it to shows. It's really unusual; Jeep did not sell a lot of these trucks, and not a lot of them survive in stock form today. Sadly pickup trucks will always be lower-valued than comparable aged passenger cars, so it's unlikely to make you money. But it would be cool to have in stock form.

I would also mention that the 226 Continental flathead used in Utility Wagons and Trucks supposedly is a drop-in replacement for the 230. They share some internal parts and dimensions. The 230 was introduced as a modern high-powered upgrade to the 226 ... that was Kaiser's idea at the time.
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Last edited by tgreese : 09-11-2019 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:36 AM
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tgreese tgreese is offline
 
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If I were seriously considering a swap, I think probably the easiest approach would be to keep the transmission and transfer case in the same place and run a more modern inline 6-cylinder engine. To me, the prime candidate for this would be the 250 cid Chevy inline 6. They should still be plentiful today, considering they were used in many thousands of Chevy passenger cars, G10 vans, and C10 pickups. The main advantage of the Chevy is it's the same bell pattern as the Chevy V8s, so you can use whatever commercial adapter is available - assuming one exists - to mate the SBC to the T-98.

The T-98 is a good transmission, but it's "anachronistic" to use the term Novak uses. It may have the same stickout, splines and pattern as the M7xx trucks, but that T-98 uses a divorced transfer case, so maybe not. You could call Novak and ask. https://www.novak-adapt.com/knowledg...ns/manual/t98/

Also of interest - I would look around for a spare Dana 53 rear axle to put away. And if you have the 12"x2" drum brakes, replacement drums are entirely unobtainable today.
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Maine beekeeper's truck: '77 J10 LWB, 258/T15/D20/3.54 bone stock, low options (delete radio), PS, hubcaps.
Browless and proud: '82 J20 360/T18/NP208/3.73, Destination ATs, 7600 GVWR
Copper Polly: '75 CJ-6, 304/T15, PS, BFG KM2s, soft top
GTI without the badges: '95 VW Golf Sport 2000cc 2D
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Last edited by tgreese : 09-11-2019 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:35 AM
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jeepdan jeepdan is offline
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Wow, I wish that I could find an unmolested 60's vintage J truck like that around here, complete with all of the unknowns.
My vote is keeping the original engine and drivetrain
But, I would pull the engine, and give it a complete inspection before deciding what to do.

From my own experience, the Tornado isn't a cheap engine to rebuild, the gasket/ seal set alone is $300 from Walks 4 wheel drive (cheapest place I found)
I put together my engine overhaul kit piecemeal, searching out USA Made NOS parts from Willys America, Memphis Equipment, Kanter, and ebay. It took awhile and cost me more in the long run.
While desperately searching for a NOS cam I found the Kanter web sight, their engine overhaul kits for the 230 range from $1300-$1600, so I wasn't too far off in the cost of my piecemeal approach. https://www.kanter.com/productdetail...uter=G allery

Given enough time, Kanter found this NOS cam for me
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