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New Project 6.9 E350, what did I get myself into.

Discussion in '6.9L IH & 7.3L IDI Diesels' started by 6moose9, Mar 20, 2020.

  1. 6moose9

    6moose9 Registered User

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    Hey guys,
    So a friend of mine recently gifted me a 1985 E350 with NA 6.9 in it.




    The motor had an issue and he ended up parking it about 2 years ago until he told me if I wanted it I could take it. So a month ago I got it shipped to California from Arizona. I was able to get it running and from the story he gave me was that “he was replacing glow plugs and snapped a tip off in passenger cylinder number 1 and thought it blew out the exhaust and cracked the head/bent the valve. Was also overheating after he got new plugs in finally”. After scouring the forums and learning as much about IDI’s I decided to dive in. I was able to get it running and there was a pretty loud tick coming from the passenger side. So I decided to pull the heads. After reading the forums, a lot of people talked about just pulling the motor and some said you could do it motor in frame. I decided to leave it in and got to work. Before I pulled the heads I did a compression test and all cylinders were around 350/400(cold) except drivers side #2 which was 200. Tore everything out and pulled the heads. Was able to get both of by hand somehow by myself. I had to jack the passenger side of the motor up to get some room but both heads came out relatively easy. Not as big a fuss as everyone was stating on the internet.

    Upon inspection both heads look good underneath. I haven’t pulled the valves yet.

    BUT upon inspection of the cylinders they all looked good until I got to my low compression cyclinder when I found this.
    [​IMG]

    A pretty big cracked in the cylinder wall and whatever is going on on the piston (the valves for this cyclinder look perfect underneath).

    My question now is do I rebuild it or find a used runner.

    My goal for this van is to build a conversion van so I can take my two sons camping and climbing so I want it to be super reliable.

    Being that the cylinder wall is cracked, I read a little bit about resleeving motors but all the info seemed to be on 7.3’s. Are you able to resleeve 6.9s or and am I better off finding a core and rebuilding?

    This is my first forum post so go easy on me guys. I am super grateful for all the information that this site has given me and would love some feedback!


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  2. 6moose9

    6moose9 Registered User

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    Also here’s a photo of the van looking real spooky the night I got it from Arizona.[​IMG]


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  3. frankenwrench

    frankenwrench overkill is under rated!

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    I have looked in the past plenty on sourcing 6.9 sleeves and have not come up with much luck. The 6.9 and 7 both have their advantages but it has been in my experience that the pros for 7.3 have outweighed those for the 6.9. I have had several 6.9 and have actually went to the 7.3 in all my trucks. That van does look pretty cool but without being able to sleeve that I'm aware of you may consider the 7.3 as a replacement. As well as the fact that the 7.3 parts seem easier to source in my opinion, they also have more to offer in terms of performance. If you decide to stick to the 6.9 I'm afraid you may have to look for another core and rebuild or find a good runner. If you were closer to Texas I've got three 6.9 blocks all in decent shape core wise but I would recommend rebuilding them. To me it looks like that piston may have had a glow plug tip bouncing around in there for a while. I'm sure others will post soon with more information may be different suggestions to take into consideration. Welcome to The forum bud! A plethora of good solid knowledge can be found here and friendly people to help answer questions you may have about your new ride
     
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  4. TahoeTom

    TahoeTom Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    The earlier 6.9 blocks are not good candidates for a rebuild. The earlier blocks had issues with the block cracking at the block heater. Starting with block #237016 bolt in piston cooling nozzles were used. Prior blocks has press in nozzles that required NLA tool and template to install as well as NLA replacements. The block # is on the top of the block on drivers side of injection pump. Good luck with your project. So far your investment is low.
     
  5. 6moose9

    6moose9 Registered User

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    Thanks guys,

    I didn’t even think about a 7.3 but isn’t a bad idea. What years should I look for as far as plug and play of my 6.9 accessories and components and best years of 7.3?


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  6. frankenwrench

    frankenwrench overkill is under rated!

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    87-94. and I may have a complete turbo set up for it in decent condition for an Econoline soon for sale soon;)
     
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  7. u2slow

    u2slow Plan B

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    IMHO, you better love (or be very satisfied) with how a NA diesel and 3spd auto perform, to go down this path of renewing/replacing the IDI.

    I can endure NA diesels with manual transmissions... but that's my minimum.
     
  8. 6moose9

    6moose9 Registered User

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    would love to hear more!


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  9. 6moose9

    6moose9 Registered User

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    [​IMG]
    Got a new motor for the van today boys!


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  10. frankenwrench

    frankenwrench overkill is under rated!

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    Awesome! Any history on the engine? Is it a runner or builder? Idi? Idit? Glad ya found one bud!
     
  11. Knuckledragger

    Knuckledragger blowing chunks

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    Looks like you are going the replacement route. 6.9 sleeves may or may not be available, but a 7.3 sleeve will work, since you need a new piston anyway. Rods are the same. The rest of the engine seems to be in good condition, you do not have to totally give up on it.

    6.9 does not have the 1/2 head studs to keep the engine in one piece if you decide to put on a turbo and push the boost to 30 pounds, but most 7.3 engines do not have the turbo rods, either.

    If your plan is for a recreational vehicle, a 6.9 with C6 is just fine. it will get you anywhere you want to go, maybe not at 90 mph.
     
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  12. 6moose9

    6moose9 Registered User

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    It’s a 87 6.9. Got it for 200 bucks in Reno. PO says it has 70k on it and was a runner that he had as a back up for his truck. Got it home yesterday and got it on a stand. Gonna open it up this week hopefully. If there’s nothing alarming gonna reseal everything, head gaskets and studs and call it a day.

    Thanks man!


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  13. IDIBRONCO

    IDIBRONCO IDIBRONCO

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    Don't forget to switch your van parts over to the "new" engine. Parts such as oil cooler (perfect time to reseal it),exhaust manifold(s?), and motor mounts.
     
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  14. MBP

    MBP CJ/6.9

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    good luck !
     
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  15. 6moose9

    6moose9 Registered User

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    [​IMG]
    Alright, so I got the old motor out. Stripped it down to the block so I could save any good usable parts from it (water pump/oil pump/etc). I was also able to open up the new (to me) motor I got last weekend. Everything looked pretty good inside. Cylinders looked nice, nothing crazy alarming. Underneath the valve covers was full black sludge inside (thinking the PO didn’t do oil changes? Not really sure). I got my ARP studs today and all my gaskets should be here this week so I can start resealing the entire engine. I’m going to disassemble the heads also to clean them and check everything. Then once all that is done I’m going to redo my fuel system with new lines and electric fuel pump along with some of the fuel line upgrades I’ve been reading about on here. (New return lines, delete the return to the filter, separate bleed and mechanic fuel pressure gauge under the hood, etc). Then throw her back in and hopefully have this thing driving by the end of the month.

    I do have a question regarding fuel line stuff, when I was pulling my old motor I forgot to remove the number one hard fuel line and being that the van bay is so tight the line got smashed and I have to replace it. Since the lines from the tank are high pressure lines to a soft line bend to another short hard line on the cross member (the one I crushed) can I just use regular low pressure line from the filter down to the feed line on the frame rail since it’s a short run?


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