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Old 14th February 2008, 19:59   #1
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Default Isuzu Diesel in a CJ3B

ISUZU DIESEL IN A CJ3B JEEP

For many of us over the age of 30, the CJ3B was our first introduction to 4x4 's. While I'd used these extensively in the village, borrowing from uncles/ cousins I ended up with a Gypsy to start with ('87) and another one to replace it when it was stolen ('95). However, in my heart what I really wanted was a CJ3B Jeep and I got my chance a couple of years later

After purchasing my CJ3B in mid-97 I came to know that the Delhi Govt. was putting in place measures to restrict/ deny permission for converting existing petrol vehicles into diesel engined ones (these measures are now a fact and converted vehicles cannot be registered in Delhi). This along with the fact that pretty much everyone was egging me on, to replace the greedy petrol engine with a more frugal diesel, led me to make the first of what would be many trips to Mayapuri. Mayapuri for those not from Delhi, is one of Asia's biggest (if not THE biggest) junk yard, with plenty of old petrol and diesel engines available.

In those days, it was common practice for people to purchase old military surplus Jeeps and replace the original petrol engines with diesel ones. One of the most common choices was the Mahindra manufactured "Inter" DI engine. Basically an old design by International of USA built under license by Mahindra - initially for use in its tractors and later on used on many different models of Jeeps sold by them in the civilian market. This is a fairly underpowered and noisy engine, generating horrible vibrations - a real shake rattle and roll machine! The engine does have the advantage of being available brand new as well as second hand (widening the choice according to budget), it is also extremely frugal, fits into the vehicle with a minimal of modifications required - even the original gearbox and transfer case can be reused.

The other popular option was the Mahindra Peugeot XDP engine, once again a dated design manufactured by Mahindra under license in India - for use primarily in its range of civilian Jeeps. I believe a variant of this design is now being used to power the new Mahindra CJ5 type Jeeps being supplied to the Indian Army. In fact it is this very vehicle which along with limited numbers of the Maruti Gypsy has now replaced both the old CJ3B and the legendary Jonga (a 60's Nissan Patrol G60 manufactured under license at Govt. owned factories). The Peugeot engine is definitely smoother and less noisy in comparison to the DI "Inter" engine, as well as being a bit more powerful, even though it does consume more fuel. This engine too fits into the vehicle with a minimal of modifications required - as with the "Inter" engine the original gearbox and transfer case can be reused.

Finally there was the option of buying one of the many second hand Japanese engines available - Nissan, Toyota, Isuzu, etc. These engines in their "as is" condition are usually good for 100,000 kms (or so depending on your luck) before requiring a major overhaul, are much smoother, more powerful and most come with 5 speed synchromesh gear boxes (some even have turbos). Since the Isuzu 2200 cc engines I came across shared a lot of parts with the Hindustan Motors Isuzu diesels (as sold with the Contessa and later Ambassador cars), I was leaning towards buying one of them, then I came across a 2500cc variant of the same engine, with a 5 speed gearbox and matched transfer case! Since I had no intention of throwing out the 4x4, this seemed like a good choice and I bought it on the spot.

The next two weeks were spent with me almost living at the Mechanics while he planned and executed this engine transplant. There were a couple of unforeseen problems that cropped up - first and most importantly, the geometry of the shafts coming out from the new transfer case did not match the placement of the front axle differential. This was solved by flipping the front axle, which meant the mountings for the leaf springs had to be un-welded from the axle and re-welded to match its new position. So now the front differential was towards the right hand side (as opposed to it being on the left earlier) this created a new and (for any kind of off road use) disturbing problem - the engine oil filter and mounting was now directly above the differential and on heavy suspension travel (read BIG bumps) the differential would "knock" against the oil filter. This problem was solved by changing the oil filter bracket to a different type of design (making the filter point sideways as opposed to downwards) as well as raising the suspension by a few inches, but as I was to find out over 3 years of off road use (and abuse), this was one solution that just DID NOT work! Of course this meant that the oil cooler had to go, another mistake (given our climatic conditions).

Anyhow, at the end of two weeks the new (and as I hoped) improved Jeep was ready. More on how it performed in the next post...

Cheers!
Abhijeet
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Old 15th February 2008, 00:02   #2
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Very interesting, am glued
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Old 15th February 2008, 00:06   #3
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ISUZU DIESEL IN A CJ3B JEEP - Part 2 (How it performed)

Well, the conversion seemed to be a real success at the outset, except for the fact that the alternator (which had come with the second hand engine) stopped working! Thankfully this was within the 15 day "warranty" that the engine dealer (read junk dealer) had offered me, so he had it repaired and when that failed, had it replaced with another one. To give credit where credit is due - this old alternator lasted me the next three years without a hitch... as you read on, you will realise the problems were elsewhere!

First out the really great thing about the conversion was that the Jeep now had a 4 speed syncromesh gearbox (the original is a 3 speed with no syncromesh gears) with and integrated High/ low 4WD transfer case. Shifting gears suddenly stopped being a chore and there was that sweet rubber burning low end torque on 1st (even when in 2WD "high" mode) - in fact under normal conditions I would usually have to take off on 2nd, so as not to wear out my tyres! Also, the new power assist brakes were a sweet addition... of course there was also the huge advantage of cheap fuel and a (relatively) frugal engine!

Now for the negatives - naive as I was, while the brakes now had power assist, but they still retained the old master cylinder - which does not have diagonally split circuits (as they do in more modern vehicles - even the Mahindra Classic has them)! So if one line/ brake drum leaks, the brakes would fail completely! This happened to me on more than one occasion, both on road and off... the worst case was when I had to drive back part of the way to Delhi from Pilani (Rajasthan) late at night (well over 100 Km) without any functional brakes! It was 1st gear throughout, since I could only use the engine as a "brake" to stop the car!

Brakes asides, the wiring was the original Mahindra wiring, which was really poor... Blown fuses, indicator bulbs etc. was an everyday thing. One more frequent problem I had was with the "accelerator wire"; the original, or any other ready made one would not match the new configuration and I was forced to adapt a scooter clutch wire to the purpose. These are really cheap at 10 bucks or so, and are widely available, so not an entirely bad choice - BUT they would fail frequently, so I took to carrying a couple of spare sets with me at all times.

BUT BY FAR the BIGGEST problem I faced with the conversion was to do with the new engines' oil filter bracket! As mentioned earlier -

Quote:
the engine oil filter and mounting was now directly above the differential and on heavy suspension travel (read BIG bumps) the differential would "knock" against the oil filter. This problem was solved by changing the oil filter bracket to a different type of design (making the filter point sideways as opposed to downwards) as well as raising the suspension by a few inches
Well this mod (as mentioned above), was far from successful, my intended and actual use of this vehicle was for fairly rough off-roading and invariably, on every second or third off road adventure I would "forget" about this little design defect and end up with the oil filter bracket cracked and engine oil being spewed all over the place - in the middle of nowhere! While the other failings could have been corrected relatively easily, this was a hard one to get around, with available parts and more than anything else - those frequent several (kilometre treks) back to civilization led me to finally sell off the CJ3B in the spring of 2000...

But in all fairness, when it did work it was a real joy to drive and I think I'm going to buy me another one real soon... will be smart and retain the original petrol engine this time though!

Cheers!
Abhijeet
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Old 15th February 2008, 02:47   #4
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Hey Abhijit this was a really good log of what all happened.... any way i would like to ask you how much did it cost i have been planning to go for a jeep lately but that would be a 540 the mahindra... see i am not looking at a off roader... i might like to get a AC and all the good things that car has... i just like the feel ofthe jeep and i want my jeep to run around 100Kmph please suggest me... and is it possible if i can check out your jeep some time
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Old 15th February 2008, 15:34   #5
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What a first post! Great read Abhijeet and nice to meet a fellow CJ fan. The CJ's simple construction offers a plethora of used engine options, most of which can turn horribly unreliable, as in your case as well as my experience with a used 1.8 liter Isuzu petrol in the Classic. Too bad you sold your CJ though. I am currently on the lookout for a diesel engine for my Jeep.

The XDP 2.1 is actually pretty competent in urban and off-road duty; its only on the highway that the diesel runs out of breath. Mine ran for 1.4x lakh kms before blowing up, thus I am on the lookout for this exact engine. I did speak to someone from Mahindra but unfortunately, they have stopped production of this engine.
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Old 15th February 2008, 16:06   #6
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wonderfull first post as gto said.i really appreciate you for the patience and as i read through had a feeling of complete story too.now the only thing you missed out was the money involved.hope its a part 3 now.
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Old 15th February 2008, 21:37   #7
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Great write up.

Abhijeet, do you by any chance use the indians for guns forum ?
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Old 15th February 2008, 22:37   #8
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Originally Posted by bigman View Post
Great write up.

Abhijeet, do you by any chance use the indians for guns forum ?
Yep - my user ID there is "mundaire".

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Originally Posted by ram_hyundai
wonderfull first post as gto said.i really appreciate you for the patience and as i read through had a feeling of complete story too.now the only thing you missed out was the money involved.hope its a part 3 now.ram
Ram, the cost of the army disposal CJ3B was ~ 45k (IIRC) in 1997, the cost of the diesel conversion which included the engine+gearbox+transfer case, new front and rear differential to match the changed gear ratios, all new wiring and labour for all of this was ~ 85k, if I'm not mistaken the prices for the Isuzu diesels have taken a bit of a beating since and nowadays the (then) lower priced Toyota 2c diesel engines are the highest priced ones in Mayapuri. This is due to the fact that they use those engines in the Toyota Qualis and thus parts are easily available almost everywhere. I spent additional money on getting all 5 (new) wheel rims, tyres, complete strip and paint job, seats and upholstery, new soft top etc. If memory serves me right, all paid it came to around 1.5-1.6 lacs.

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Originally Posted by desideep View Post
Hey Abhijit this was a really good log of what all happened.... any way i would like to ask you how much did it cost i have been planning to go for a jeep lately but that would be a 540 the mahindra... see i am not looking at a off roader... i might like to get a AC and all the good things that car has... i just like the feel ofthe jeep and i want my jeep to run around 100Kmph please suggest me... and is it possible if i can check out your jeep some time
Desideep, I sold my Jeep after using it for 3 years (in 2000) - it's probably doing duty in some dusty village in Haryana now, and in all probability the 4x4 was the first thing the new owner threw out... :P

The 540 is hardly a vehicle offering any kind of creature comforts! If you want an off roader with creature comforts then you'd need to look at some of the SUV's in the market (either new or used). The CJ3B/ 540/ 340/ 440/ Mahindra classic etc. are utility vehicles and in terms of creature comforts I'd rate them just better than a tractor! The Maruti Gypsy is a shade more comfortable, but only just!

HTH
Cheers!
Abhijeet

Last edited by Rehaan : 15th February 2008 at 22:51.
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Old 15th February 2008, 22:48   #9
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Very interesting, am glued
Hope the second most was up to scratch

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
What a first post! Great read Abhijeet and nice to meet a fellow CJ fan. The CJ's simple construction offers a plethora of used engine options, most of which can turn horribly unreliable, as in your case as well as my experience with a used 1.8 liter Isuzu petrol in the Classic. Too bad you sold your CJ though. I am currently on the lookout for a diesel engine for my Jeep.

The XDP 2.1 is actually pretty competent in urban and off-road duty; its only on the highway that the diesel runs out of breath. Mine ran for 1.4x lakh kms before blowing up, thus I am on the lookout for this exact engine. I did speak to someone from Mahindra but unfortunately, they have stopped production of this engine.

GTO, aren't they manufacturing a version of that engine with a displacement of 2.5 litres these days? AFAIK that's the engine they're planting in the Bolero and the ones being sold to the army, been a while since I checked so I could be wrong...

How was the performance of the 1.8 Isuzu (taken from a Contessa I presume)? Ages back I used to know a guy who'd used that engine to great effect in his Maruti Gypsy.

Cheers!
Abhijeet
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Old 15th February 2008, 23:52   #10
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Guys please let me know wheat you do for RTO approval. What happens if you get caught with an over sized engine in your car and whose engine number does not match the RC book. I am not considering bribes as an option.
Bye and wear your seat belts.
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Old 16th February 2008, 08:22   #11
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First and foremost, your insurance stands cancelled. That itself is reason enough not to consider it!!!!!
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Old 16th February 2008, 09:52   #12
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Originally Posted by abhijeet View Post
Anyhow, at the end of two weeks the new (and as I hoped) improved Jeep was ready. More on how it performed in the next post...

Cheers!
Abhijeet

Are you who I think you are?? No guess needed your signature revealed it all...Nice to bump in to you here Abhijeet ;-)
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Old 16th February 2008, 10:23   #13
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Guys please let me know wheat you do for RTO approval. What happens if you get caught with an over sized engine in your car and whose engine number does not match the RC book. I am not considering bribes as an option.
Bye and wear your seat belts.
This was in 1997, up to that time it was still legal in Delhi to convert your car to a diesel. I'll try to put down the process as followed in Delhi and maybe if your jurisdiction allows the conversion - it may be of some help. Even though I would strongly recommend that you consider keeping the original petrol engine and maybe combine it with a gas-kit (if fuel economy is crucial).

Anyhow, I had to fill out a form - show them the bill of purchase for the engine. This bill of purchase has to have the engine no. clearly entered as well as traced on it with a pencil (by placing the bill on the engine block where the engine no. is stamped). There was a fee that had to be paid (I can't recall how much) and yes, I had to get the (converted) vehicle pollution checked/ passed, which as it turned out was the hardest part of it all... Once all of this was done, I got back the RC the same day (later afternoon), with the entry etc. done. NOT a single paisa was demanded/ or paid as bribe! I did end up paying some money to a mechanic to detune the engine for the pollution test though... the only unethical episode in the entire process.

Many people DO NOT bother to get the engine no. modified in their RC - which IMHO is just begging for trouble!

Cheers!
Abhijeet
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Old 16th February 2008, 11:39   #14
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Originally Posted by abhijeet View Post
GTO, aren't they manufacturing a version of that engine with a displacement of 2.5 litres these days? AFAIK that's the engine they're planting in the Bolero and the ones being sold to the army, been a while since I checked so I could be wrong...

How was the performance of the 1.8 Isuzu (taken from a Contessa I presume)? Ages back I used to know a guy who'd used that engine to great effect in his Maruti Gypsy.

Cheers!
Abhijeet
Yup, they have a 2.5 DI Turbo. But fitting it with a 4x4 tranny is a problem due to the small size of the Classic. Plus, I much prefer the power delivery of the 2.1 XDP to the 2.5, and can use the gearbox + 4x4 tranny that are still lying around in my garage.

The 1.8 had decent pep, although no road burning capability thanks to the Jeeps inherent limitations. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to fit a 4x4 on it while the smell of petrol and overheating problems make it undriveable in the city. Plans are to fit a simple XDP on it and restore the Jeep to the way it was.
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Old 16th February 2008, 14:04   #15
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Yup, they have a 2.5 DI Turbo. But fitting it with a 4x4 tranny is a problem due to the small size of the Classic. Plus, I much prefer the power delivery of the 2.1 XDP to the 2.5, and can use the gearbox + 4x4 tranny that are still lying around in my garage.

The 1.8 had decent pep, although no road burning capability thanks to the Jeeps inherent limitations. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to fit a 4x4 on it while the smell of petrol and overheating problems make it undriveable in the city. Plans are to fit a simple XDP on it and restore the Jeep to the way it was.
Depending on how many kms you do in a year, you could consider putting in the 2.2 litre F-head "Hurricane" engine. Plenty of these can be found at cheap prices as almost all of the military disposal Jeeps had theirs replaced with diesels... The original tranny and transfer case could be reused in this case... The way I finally figured it out in my own case was, after marriage (and kids) my total amount of off-road use per year went down (in the city I drive a sedan) so the cost per km advantage of diesel ceased to be attractive... and there is something pure about a petrol engined Jeep, besides the inherent smoothness and better power to weight... One of the chaps at Indians for guns recently converted his Granddad's (1950's vintage) LHD Willys back to petrol and he's quite pleased with the result.

Cheers!
Abhijeet
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