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Old 03-11-2013, 08:29 AM   #1
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'89 Wrangler YJ Mercedes Diesel Swap OM 617 - My First Swap

I bought this '89 YJ back in April of last year. Not my first Jeep, but my first Wrangler, and it has pretty much consumed me ever since. The stock 258 barely ran with the carb, so I added the Howell TBI kit and HEI on and it ran absolutely awesome after. I did see a significant jump in MPG but for this to be a daily driver and be able to take on long trips, I wanted better.

My buddy told me about these 3.0L 5 Cyl Mercedes Diesel engines being put into Wranglers, and I decided I had to do it. There are a lot of threads out there from tons of others who have done this same swap, but I had to do a lot of scouring to find some of the info I needed. So here it goes:

The engine:

Model: OM 617.951 - The OM 617 engines are found in late 70s-mid 80s Mercedes 300d 300sd 300cd etc... The key here is to make sure it has the turbo. I believe the 70s models did not. The last three digits of the engine code vary between years/models. From my searching, the best ones to get are the 617.951 or 617.952 since they have the most hp and torque (125hp and 195 ft-lbs). There are so many of these out there that you should not settle for the lesser hp models...

Price: For the engine, already pulled, anywhere from $500 to $1000 for a complete engine, you should NOT pay for than $1000. I paid $738 for a complete OM 617.951 shipped to my front door from a salvage yard in Florida. It was out of an 85 300SD with 158k miles and runs great.

Mileage: These motors last forever with basic maintenance and 500,000 miles is an average life expectancy, but with care, they can last much longer. So getting one out of a donor with 200k miles, as long as it is running good, is no big deal...

Components: The engine is unbelievably simple. I would try to buy one with all the components, because it gets a little expensive to try and find/buy some of the stuff by itself. The biggest things to make sure you get if you are pulling the engine from a vehicle are the following:

Glow Plug Relay - found in the engine bay on the driver side fender, black plastic box with a large bunch of wires going to the engine. You need this to run the glow plugs, if you cant get it, you can buy aftermarket ones, but the original is better in my opinion.
Power Steering Line - you need the high pressure power steering line from the Mercedes engine, or at least the first one foot of it from where it connects to the power steering pump. You will take the YJ power steering hose and the Mercedes one to a hydraulic shop and they can join the two, so that you can connect the mercedes power steering pump to the YJ steering box...
Exhause Header Pipe - You need to get the exhaust header pipe/downpipe from the mercedes so that you can then connect the exhaust to the YJs exhaust. This pipe costs $150 on Amazon and I was quoted at $300 from my local parts store to order it. So make sure you get it from the donor vehicle.


More to come with pictures of the progress I made this weekend....

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Old 03-11-2013, 09:24 AM   #2
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Here are pictures of the motor sitting on a pallet in my garage. Later I will mark these up to identify each component.

Driver Side of OM 617.951
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Passenger Side of OM 617.951
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I started this weekend by pulling the 4.2 out of the Jeep. I decided to leave the automatic transmission in rather than pulling it with the motor. You definitely need to pull the front bumper and grill off in my opinion. It makes things soooo much easier. I bought an engine crane from Harbor Freight for $150, it worked great.

Removing the 4.2
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I have an automatic transmission and it shifts perfectly, so I decided not to pull it. Either way, I would strongly recommend, at a minimum, to change the front pump seal on the trans when you do the swap. It is a $6 part and takes 5 minutes, but you can only change it with the trans separated from the engine, so now is a great time to go ahead and do it.

Adapting the Transmission: I bought a transmission adapter kit from mercedesdiesel4x4.com for $380 plus shipping. You can make all of it on your own, however, for that price, it was worth it to me to just buy the premade package that is already proven to work. It comes will all hardware you need, and you will end up reusing your Jeep flywheel and starter. Here is the adapter kit mounted to the OM 617

Adapter kit mounted to engine:

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At this point, I now need to cut off the existing Jeep motor mounts from the frame, I plan on doing that tonight.

Another thing I decided to do was remove everything from the engine bay that I could and degrease and paint the engine compartment. It was well worth a couple hours of my time to do it, its so much cleaner and will look 100 times better once the new engine is installed.

More to come
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:06 PM   #3
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looks good keep the pics coming.
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:37 AM   #4
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Cutting off the old motor mounts did not go as planned last night. Not very easy to get a good angle on them with the fenders still on. So in hindsight, I would say it is a good idea to go ahead and remove the fenders at the same time you remove the front grill... Buying more cut off and grinding disks today and going back at it tonight....
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Old 03-13-2013, 08:06 AM   #5
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I decided to strip the motor, clean it and paint it. Good opportunity to change all the gaskets... Good thing too because there was definitely a leak in the intake manifold gasket.

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Old 03-14-2013, 12:26 AM   #6
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Looking good man! My engine mounts were a PITA. I spent quite a few hours hours grinding down the old ones and forming up my custom mounts before I got to weld them in place.

Thats going to be a pretty engine!

I have two of these engines with ~200k on them. One is still in the original car and one is in my jeep. Both engines have leaking front crankshaft seals so if I were you I'd replace it while it is accessible and the engine is nice and clean.

I was just in Marlyland! I do contract work as a nurse, so I spend a month or two in random places. If I had known of you sooner I would have offered my help while I was there.
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Old 03-14-2013, 07:54 AM   #7
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Yeah I must say that the OEM motor mounts are about as solid as can be, took me several hours of grinding as well. Thanks for the headsup on the crankshaft seals, I will be looking into that today. I'm just counting down the hours till the weekend when I can really go to town on it. By the time I get home from work at around 6, doesnt leave much time to work on it before it gets too cold...
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:20 PM   #8
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Took the Jeep power steering hose and the MB hose end down to a hydraulic hose shop today. They used the two ends to make a new hose, cost $45.

Decided not to paint the engine, it cleaned up really nice with the wire wheel and drill, too difficult to get it clean enough for the paint to stick and actually last... Have half the engine put back together, going to put the rest together tonight. I am happy I took it all apart, now i actually know how everything is bolted on in case i need to do future repairs.

Also as an FYI, you should really take off the intake manifold and clean it before you install the engine. There was a good 1/4" of caked on sludge in the entire intake manifold. Its from the EGR and I have now deleted the EGR so hopefully it wont build up more crap in there in the future. It was unreal how nasty it was and just how much was in there.

To clean the intake I shot a bunch of degreaser in it first, let is sit. hosed it out. Then filled a 5 gal bucket with scalding hot water and a ton of dish soap. Let it soak in there for a few hours. Then shot hot water through it. Giant chunks of sludge were pouring out...
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:12 PM   #9
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Engine is now bolted to the tranny and hanging in the engine bay. I'm trying to get a friend to come help me weld the mounts to the frame rails tomorrow, but I may end up doing it myself with my 120 amp arc welder. I just don't really trust my welding abilities on something like motor mounts...
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:34 AM   #10
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what did you do for mounts? did you get the ones off the cars frame then plan to weld them on the jeep frame?
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:45 AM   #11
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No I bought the mounts and adapter for the Trans from Mercedesdiesel4x4.com
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Old 03-18-2013, 08:33 AM   #12
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I tried to weld the motor mounts yesterday, and by tried, I mean failed. I just could not get a good arc with the stick welder and I figured that meant any weld I could get on there would not be safe. So I drilled two 1/2" holes through the frame rails and brackets and put in some 1/2" grade 8 3" bolts. As soon as one of my welding friends is available, I will have them weld the edges for added peace of mind. But the grade 8 bolts are holding pretty damn solid...

So the engine is in, put the driver side fender back on and reinstalled the core support. Hooked up the power steering hoses and bolted the glow plug relay to the fender. Next step is to crawl under there and bolt the torque converter to the flywheel and install the starter. From there it is wiring. I also need to get an oil cooler and figure out how to hook up the throttle linkage.

Another thing I need to find is a lower radiator hose. On the Jeep motor, the lower rad hose came out on the driver side and went to the lower rad opening on driver side. On the MB engine, the rad hose comes out on the pass side. However, I was able to take off the lower radiator hose that was still attached to the MB engine and use it as the upper radiator hose, it fit perfectly. It was too dark to take pics last night, will take some next chance i get and post more...
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Old 03-25-2013, 10:18 AM   #13
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Talking SO much gratitude

I'll be home from Afghanistan soon and have been playing with the idea of dropping a turbo diesel in a Jeep to increase towing capacity, low end torque, and gas mileage. You have saved me a lot of trial and error! This thread is going to be my bible.
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Old 03-25-2013, 12:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I'll be home from Afghanistan soon and have been playing with the idea of dropping a turbo diesel in a Jeep to increase towing capacity, low end torque, and gas mileage. You have saved me a lot of trial and error! This thread is going to be my bible.
Well once it gets warm out I will be towing the boat with it, so I'll post back and report how it does compared to the 4.2.
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Old 03-25-2013, 02:09 PM   #15
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Alright so if you remove the injection pump like I did when you are prepping the engine, be aware that the IP effects engine timing. So you have to reinstall it correctly, thus setting the timing correctly. I did not know this until after the engine was in the Jeep. It was a royal PITA to do it with the engine in the Jeep. But I got it done and set up the timing.

This weekend I got an oil cooler installed, did some wiring, installed the starter, and got started on the exhaust. The exhaust outlet from the turbo is pretty darn close to the firewall, so I am in the process of making an exhaust that will route down to the cat without melting the dash...
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:20 PM   #16
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are you removing the cat?

Also it might pay to put some header wrap on the down pipe even after you re-route the exhaust just for extra heat protection. keep the pics coming. I want to do this soon in my TJ. I was hoping to have an engine by now but other projects get in the way.
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:35 PM   #17
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its a magnaflow high flow cat, so I will probably just keep it on there. I had planned on putting some titanium wrap on the downpipe to keep the firewall and starter from being damaged...
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Old 03-25-2013, 10:58 PM   #18
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Did they use cats on the cars?
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Old 03-26-2013, 08:51 AM   #19
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Looks like they did not have a cat on the Mercedes. I may keep it anyways as I really do not want to drop the skid plate and cut off the cat right now. I dont think there would really be any pro or con to removing the cat
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:43 AM   #20
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:35 PM   #21
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A friend of mine did this swap with a Mercedes with his little Toyota Tacoma. Best of luck!
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Old 03-31-2013, 05:19 PM   #22
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i would worry that the cat would soot up and eventually plug up. but who knows.....only one true way to find out try it and keep us posted
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Old 04-01-2013, 12:11 PM   #23
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Got it running yesterday and took it for a spin. I need to make some adjustments because it has almost no acceleration. Its either not getting enough fuel, or something else is up... But in park/neutral I can rev it up and it sounds great.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:03 AM   #24
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Just a quick guess but leaving the gas cat inplace may not be allowing the turbo to spool up.

I have a 2011 f250 with the DEF and cat system and the diesel cat is HUGE! I mean 4 foot long huge... Even that big, the computer system catalyticly cleans is with the DEF fluid reguarly.

Diesels need lots of free incomming air and open exhaust to run efficently...

Just a wild guess...

Like others, im really interested in how it all turns out. ie, what did you do for your fuel system? Electrical system, gauges, etc....
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:21 PM   #25
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Just a quick guess but leaving the gas cat inplace may not be allowing the turbo to spool up.

I have a 2011 f250 with the DEF and cat system and the diesel cat is HUGE! I mean 4 foot long huge... Even that big, the computer system catalyticly cleans is with the DEF fluid reguarly.

Diesels need lots of free incomming air and open exhaust to run efficently...

Just a wild guess...

Like others, im really interested in how it all turns out. ie, what did you do for your fuel system? Electrical system, gauges, etc....

That is exactly what my buddy was telling me yesterday, I am taking off the cat tonight to give it a try...

For the fuel system, i just ran the old motor till it ran out of gas, then blew the lines out with compressor, then put in one gallon of diesel, pumped it all out, then filled with diesel and hooked up to the motor. I am going to drop the tank in a week or two and run new 5/16th line front to back...

The starter stays wired the exact same as before, put the temp sending unit in the head with an adapter fitting, drilled and tapped the top of the oil filter housing to 1/8" npt and put the oil pressure sending unit on there. Took the yellow ignition wire and hooked it up to the glow plug relay trigger wire, and ran a new 12v line from the glow plug relay straight to the battery. Fired right up, this thing really only needs 4 wires to run...

The tach is tricky, i am still trying to figure that out, the mercedes tach amp outputs 5 volts i think, but i need 12v for the jeep tach. If i can get it up to 12v, I am wondering if i could just print myself a new gauge face for the tach with "adjusted" rpm marks to compensate for 5 cylinders instead of 6....
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:36 AM   #26
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I dropped the skid pan last night and changed the transmission mount. Holy crap was the old one trashed. I then scraped about a 3/4" thick layer of sludge off of the top side of the skid pan. It was disgusting. Since I had the skid pan off, I went ahead and removed the muffler and the cat converter. I just left the downpipe hanging for now, I will need to get exhaust pipe today to run all the way back... I drove it around and did notice it builds boost faster. I still do not get any black smoke when i give it WOT, so I think my timing is off. I am going to check and retime it tonight. I did take it on the highway and got it up to 75-80mph. I tell you what, it ran smoother and quieter (even with the exhaust straight piped and coming out under the passenger door) than the old gas motor did. I also notice I now do not have any driveline vibrations at any speed. I think this is because this motor is installed slightly lower than the old one, thus helping with the pinion angle.

I still need to complete the exhaust, retime, get the tach working, add an exhaust gas temp sensor and gauge so that I can monitor that. Then I am basically done and I can start enjoying it.
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:19 PM   #27
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Sorry to drill down to the details but does the glow plug relay also control the fuel? Why I ask is, diesels don't have an ignition circuit so shut down is usually by stopping fuel flow.

This swap really has my attention. It seems to have a whole lot of positives for very few negatives.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:03 PM   #28
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Sorry to drill down to the details but does the glow plug relay also control the fuel? Why I ask is, diesels don't have an ignition circuit so shut down is usually by stopping fuel flow.

This swap really has my attention. It seems to have a whole lot of positives for very few negatives.
The engine is a fully mechanical diesel. The sole purpose of the glow plug relay is to heat the glow plugs. Then all you need is the starter to start the engine. Once started, the motor needs absolutely no electricity, and it will run endlessly until it runs out of fuel. The fuel pump is mechanical, so there is no way to shut it off. The injection pump has a vacuum operated device that essentially closes the delivery of fuel. When vacuum is applied to it, it actuates and cuts fuel delivery, thus shutting down the engine. There is a 12v normally open switchover valve that comes with the engine. When 12v is applied to it, it closes. When 12v is terminated, it opens. So you hook one side to vacuum source, the other to the vacuum shut off valve. You then hook the positive 12v wire to the yellow ignition wire that you also have triggering the glow plugs. So when you turn the key on, it closes the valve and lets you start and run. Then when you turn the key off, it opens the valve and instantly kills the engine. I have absolutely no run on with this thing, when i turn the key back, it turns off...
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:58 PM   #29
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Ahhh.. thanks.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:30 AM   #30
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You just have to make sure the valve is good and not letting some vacuum by when closed, if it does then it will starve the engine of fuel during operation...

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