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Old 02-05-2017, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

This is my ongoing build of a 1990 Dodge Dakota 2.5 Turbo. Most of this has been done so im writing it as an update, although there is a bunch more that needs to be completed and will update on that in the future. Most of this might be boring to read, but i've encountered some interesting problems and the final build should be pretty awesome.

So I have been posting on this forum for the past few years ever since I got my hands on an already swapped 1990 Dodge dakota with what I was told was an engine from a 92 daytona turbo. The truck didn't run well at all and had a blown head gasket, but I thought it was the coolest thing so I went for it. Im a college student so when I have time I put it into the truck. Last winter, I managed to replace the headgasket and brakes all around, slapped it back together and was happy with it.
About 6 months ago, once the truck was warm I could hear a weird noise that I wasn't comfortable with, I had posted about this around that time, but diagnosis from a video isn't the best way to go about it. I had a suspicion that it was from the lower end just from sticking my head in the engine bay. Being my theory I parked her until this past winter break where I tempted fate and drove her 300 miles to my parents (two car garage!).

Here I have gotten the engine out and prepping it to tear it down:



First things first, and the oil pan comes off to check for any metal bits that may be a good sign of my problem. What do you know, but I find a nice sparkly layer of bearing. In a way I am happy that I found something to start with.



Nice bits and chunks:



I went being Im this far in, I figured that I should just go through the entire thing and have it all properly gone over at a machine shop, so the teardown begins. Once I manage to get the crankshaft and bearings out, I could see what had caused the problem and the damage it brought with it. From the looks of it, when this engine was rebuilt by the previous owner, they just so happened to put the middle bearing in upside down, blocking off the oil passage for the crankshaft. Not sure how exactly you do this, but have also heard that it happens at a surprising rate.

Here is the nicely grooved crankshaft:



and then the reason for all of my issues:



As you can see, the bearing has filled itself in with its own bearing material, which was placed on the bottom and not the top causing a complete lack of lubrication. In all honesty, This truck was probably running a few thousand miles with it like this, and only relying on splash lubrication to keep it going. Bad, but not that bad considering.

With the head and block completely stripped I dropped them off at a local machine shop to have the head redone and the block resurfaced, figuring I might as well throw a bit more boost into it, so best to have everything quality.

----Update 1 week later---

I got a call from the machine shop and they found a crack in both the head and the block.... The head had the usual cracks between the valves which after a bunch of research is hard not to find on these, but it also had cracks around the valve castings itself which I think is a problem if i'm looking for longevity and reliability... The block had a crack between a water jacket and a head bolt hole.. f***. It wasn't until the block was cleaned up that it was pretty apparent. The guess is that it had a big overheat at some point in its life.



This went from a winter break rebuild to something a bit more in depth.

Last edited by administrator; 11-21-2017 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 02-06-2017, 02:21 AM
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Please keep us updated on this. I'm picking up a 87 in about 2 weeks that I want to swap my turbo engine into.
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Old 02-07-2017, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

After a bunch of searching junkyards, I finally found a replacement, or so I think I did. Pulled the engine out of this 89 Dakota to steal the block and crank, which should be the same, and match up with a new head from a turbo. The only issue with this block is that it had coolant sitting in the cylinders. They were completely filled for some reason. The motor definitely had a huge head gasket failure, as it looked like it had almost disintegrated at one end. Whatever happened, the standing coolant has eaten away at the cylinder walls which I will try and get a good picture of later.



On my way our I spotted a 92 lebaron that had a turbo engine still in it, so I marked where it was and left it for another day.

--- Fast Forward 3 days---

It was a busy weekend so I couldn't make the 2 hour drive back to the junkyard when I had planned, but either way, made it back. The only problem with a high functioning yard is that they bring in and dispose of cars quite quickly, or rather, faster than I would have liked. When I went back for my LeBaron, it was simply gone along with the entire row of cars that It was with.
As I was walking back cursing, I looked over the fence at their "To crush" pile to see it on the top of the stack, literally next in line. I could go into the details of how much I grobbled at the knees of the manager to give it back to me but id like to keep my dignity.

Long story short, they brought it out to me:



And it still had its engine in it! Looked like another head gasket failure once I got it off. (Which is an absolute nightmare on these cars! I thought working on the engine in the dakota was a nightmare)



Its a shame they were crushing it regardless after I got the head off, as there were still some good parts left in there. I just ran out of time to grab them.



I dropped the head off at the machine shop to get a full rebuild as that isn't exactly something I have ever gone into, but maybe in the future. I also had them take a look at the block I managed to snag from the old Dakota, asking what could be done about the cylinder wall that was degrading away and they simply said to go 40 over with a bore. New Pistons here we come.
Taking a step back I figured with as much work that I was putting into this engine, I might as well go ahead and get forged pistons. I had researched these before when daydreaming and came to the conclusion that JE were the way to go as the Venolia had the whole, sounds horrible till warm thing going on, and I think it was FWD that said they didn't carry them anymore due to the specs being off by quite a bit. Weiscos were another option but the custom rings put me off a bit, along with mixed reviews across the board. I went with JE as I have yet to hear anything bad about them and people seem to give them quite the beating. Pricey but hopefully worth it.
Its pretty much a waiting game right now for the pistons to come in, at which time I will be able to drop off the block and pistons at the machine shop, bringing on another wait time. Hopefully all worth it, but should be a pretty awesome junkyard build.
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Old 02-10-2017, 05:21 PM
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Looks good! Keep us posted!
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Old 02-10-2017, 09:04 PM
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

wow that was lucky finding another 4cyl dakota and a turbo lebaron that would be almost impossible here
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Old 02-14-2017, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fox View Post
wow that was lucky finding another 4cyl dakota and a turbo lebaron that would be almost impossible here
Definitely a lucky find on the dakota. I was in the yard looking for a turbo block that had the right mounting points cast into it, as I know a few do, and then have a machine shop drill and tap some motor mount holes to fit in the dakota. Atleast that was the idea going through my mind. Luckily I got Lucky!
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Finally have some progress with the addition of delays.

The JE Pistons came in from Forward Motion and most definitely look the part. As stated before, they are 40 over because of the scoring that the junkyard block had in the cylinder walls. The cross hatching was done by myself in a desperate attempt late at night to avoid the whole, new piston and boring process. We all have our weak moments. Along with the pistons, I have a Cometic head gasket that is .075" to account for the resurfacing of the head and block that is to come. I also threw in PT cruiser hydraulic lifters as was recommended by just about everyone, although I still need to read up on how to properly install them as all I currently know is that some sort of washer is involved.

Just a simple picture of the goodies I have going in:

l

The unfortunate part about all of this is that I was planning on having this back together in the next week, but due to a torque plate being stuck in a machine shop in California for the past 4 weeks. Due to this I have not had any luck the with machining progress on the block to be able to fit these pistons and finally make the walls shine. I have been tempted to just take it down without the toque plate, but from what I have found on the forum, is that a 40 over bore is much safer with it installed. Hopefully it comes through soon, as University will start picking up and my time to put this all back together will become very limited.

Cylinder walls as it sits:

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Old 03-15-2017, 05:27 PM
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Looking good!!

Too bad you already have the head gasket.

Some shoot for an ideal .035" squish distance that can be set when decking the block.

.068" - .035" = .033 proud, meaning pistons sticking out of the block.

Decking should be done after boring/test fitting/ crank/rods/pistons.

This allows an accurate method of determining how much to remove off the deck.

Don't forget to port your oil pump hole while its apart!!

Thanks
Randy
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Old 03-15-2017, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glhs60 View Post
Looking good!!

Too bad you already have the head gasket.

Some shoot for an ideal .035" squish distance that can be set when decking the block.

.068" - .035" = .033 proud, meaning pistons sticking out of the block.

Decking should be done after boring/test fitting/ crank/rods/pistons.

This allows an accurate method of determining how much to remove off the deck.

Don't forget to port your oil pump hole while its apart!!

Thanks
Randy
Hmm. I only looked at what size to go for considering my plan of attack, but never really considered squish distance (Which I just researched more into). I guess I didn't really go wrong, but could have gone better. The more you know!
I've heard about porting the oil pump hole but again, havent really looked into it. Im guessing a dremel and a steady hand, but ill research it.
Thanks!
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Old 03-15-2017, 08:02 PM
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Often there's an imprint on the block showing the mis-match.

Thanks
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Machine shop called me a few days ago and said that they found a few cracks in the head that I took from the junk yard. The usual cracks between valves were there, and that's all fine and great, but apparently after cleaning, they also found a few cracks around the valves themselves. Held up to a pressure test that they put it through, but being that Im not too familiar with what it ok and not ok with these heads, the power I plan to put down, and the recommendation of the machine shop, I decided to scrap it. Good news is that the shop im working with has a contact in the area with a brand new head that was ready to go. They wanted about $250 for it, and considering the price of pulling another used head would cost me another $120 and there is no guarantee of finding one or that it is in good condition, I went for the new one.

Its so pretty!



Everything is still waiting on my torque plate to come in. I've been promised it every week for the past month and a half, so im a bit put off by the whole situation, but it is what it is. Once that comes in, I can take the block in and have the work on that end done. Fingers crossed that they don't find a problem with the junkyard block I pulled, but im just going for positive vibes right now.
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Old 03-23-2017, 04:35 PM
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

I don't mean to dampen your enthusiasm but have you compared the new head to your old one??

Many new heads are not cast with performance in mind.

Ports are often tiny, hopefully your new one isn't like this one.

Thanks
Randy
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glhs60 View Post
I don't mean to dampen your enthusiasm but have you compared the new head to your old one??

Many new heads are not cast with performance in mind.

Ports are often tiny, hopefully your new one isn't like this one.

Thanks
Randy
Haven't had the time to check, but I have heard about that before. Right now, it is what it is. Im still on a money and time budget, so cant really afford to be scavenging other used heads. could find someone on here, but the option was open so I just went for it.
Thanks for the insight tho!
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Old 11-21-2017, 10:37 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Alright,

So it has been nearly a year since I started this build. Things got severely delayed due to waiting for a torque plate to be available from a California machine shop, not to mention the fact that I went through graduation and decided to travel for a few months, nonetheless I am back at the build in full force.

I went ahead and painted the block to keep it looking somewhat presentable in the engine bay, and started on putting the head back together. I installed the PT-lifters as was recommended by many people, and threw a brand new camshaft I found laying around as well.



Right now I am going through my new seals and trying to decide what goes where, but I should be able to figure it out fairly quick with google at my side.

To recap, the block has been bored to 40 over, and have a set of JE pistons to match. The rods have been modified to accept the larger wrist pins, and the crank that I stole from the junkyard Dakota has been tested and polished. I plasti gauged everything to ensure that the tolerances came out correctly, and threw it back together. Ill have to do some searching on the main cap bolt torque settings. My manual states that it is 30 ft-lbs, and then a quarter turn, but that pushed the torque up above 90 ft-lbs by the time I get there. Seems a little excessive to me, but maybe i'm wrong



I got the pistons onto the rods last night. Took some doing to understand how the spiro locks worked, and also that I needed two from each side on these pistons, but after a few It went by fairly easily.



I won't go ahead and say when I plan on having everything back together, because you always run into problems that set you back further than you would like, but I've got a bunch on time in the next few weeks to go full force onto this so we shall see.
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1990 Dodge Dakota Turbo Build

Been pretty productive the past few days. I'm currently at a standstill as I am waiting for my intermediate shaft bushings to come in. They seemed to be harder to find than expected, but I'm pretty sure I ordered the correct things. Earlier I went ahead and ported the oil passage in the block to free up some flow, as was recommended by just about everyone. The crank has been installed and torqued down. Last night I managed to file down the piston rings to the correct sizes and installed the pistons into the block. Popped right in without any issues. Once I get the bushings in, I will be able to throw in the oil pump and finish up the bottom end. Being that the Dakota block doesnt come with a drain plug for the turbo built into the block like all of the turbo blocks, I just found a bulkhead fitting and drilled out a hole into the oil pan. It should work out without any issues, as this is what just about everyone does when installing a turbo on an NA car.



Ive had my FWD calibration sitting around for ages now, and finally went ahead and installed it into the place of the old, stock calibration. Its a stage 5, but I will be controlling the boost with a manual boost controller. My plan is to keep it on wastegate pressure for its break-in period and then slowly turn it up. If anyone has any recommendations for a good break-in, let me know, otherwise its a warmup and then an oil change, and then about 100 miles, another oil change, and then a thousand or so, Maybe this is a bit too many changes, but Id rather be safe than sorry.



I know from searching through all of the post online, that freeing up the exhaust is an extremely helpful thing to do when looking for some power gains. I thought I had this taken care of, as I had a 2.5" swingvalve laying around that I was going to put on, and then a 3" out the back, but I didnt really think about how my engine was positioned as compared to how these engines came. The 2.5" swing would be pointed in the opposite direction as to what I need, and Im not sure what my current swingvalve is off of. Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated. Also it would appear that I have a turbonetics swingvalve for sale.....



Finally, if anyone has actually spent the time to read my ramblings on this build, I have come accross what seems like the age old question. To spray the cometic head gasket with copper spray, or to leave it stock. Obviously Cometic recommends not spraying anything onto it, but so many people have commented about coolant or oil leaking through the layers and recommend the spray to avoid it. One thing to note is that I do have the block resurfaced to 50RA or better, along with the head, so it is prepped to the correct specifications. Any experience or recommendations on the matter?

Thanks!
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