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Discussion Starter #1
Working removing the 3.8L from our '08 Rubicon. It's going pretty much as expected. I'm looking for advice on removing the top bell housing bolts. I searched and found a few different answers. The threads were old so I didn't want to resurrect them.

Some say an 18mm swivel head ratcheting wrench can be used for the top bolts. They're not e-torx so I don't know if they've been out in the past.

I saw a youtube vid where a guy unhooked the motor mounts and lowered the engine.

Then there's threads here that say to remove the tranny crossmember and let the trans drop enough so you can reach them.

Which method works best? When dropping the trans do I need to take the driveshaft or anything else off?
 

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When I changed the clutch on an 07 JKU, I took off the driveshaft, exhaust, removed the transmission cross member, lowered the rear of the transmission, and used about three or five feet of 1/2" extensions to reach the bolt heads (not e-torx either). I probably had a good swivel between the socket and last extension too. I have two feet and three feet long 1/2" extensions. I first tried it with 3/8" extensions, and they twisted way too much.

One of the most frustrating things was the metal clips under some of the bolts that secured wiring harnesses. They get hung when you're trying to separate the transmission and engine block, and are difficult to replace when reassembling. I did it on jackstands, so it's probably better if you are using a lift.
 

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Here's what the 07 looked like before pulling the transmission for the clutch. In your case, you may be able to get away with less, but it's going to be easier to work on everything with driveshafts, shiFter cables, etc. out of the way.

 

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How about lifting the tub? On an 85 Chevy s10 that’s how I got to the top two bolts. Since folks put body lifts on easily seems like four or six body bolts and accessories could be granted?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies. Evidently I'm not getting notifications.

I don't have a lift. My intention was to remove the front clip and just pull the engine out. I think the boom on my hoist would clear it, but for the little bit of time it would take to remove the front clip I think I'll just go that route.

I do not have a lot of 1/2" extensions but I can borrow some. I would agree that 3/8" would get wobbly, plus my impact wrench is 1/2".

I saw a youtube video where a guy said the unbolted the motor mounts and let the engine down to get at the bolts. I asked him if he unhooked anything else, like the trans crossmember, and he said no. If that works, it would seem to be the easiest. I'm going to try it tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay - it turns out that my dad has a wicked assortment of 1/2" stuff, including a 36" extension and an 18" wobble extension. But....I didn't need them.

I read somewhere that you can get at those bolts with a swivel head ratcheting wrench. So I bought one. And you can get at them so long as the plenum is removed (I had already removed mine). The trouble is that they're in there REALLY tight. I was able to break the left one loose with some grunting and profanity, but the right one required that I slip a 1 1/2" steel pipe over the wrench to break the bolt loose. This method required removing the fuel rail because it interfered with the swing I needed for the pipe.

Anyway, that's the hard part. I have 4 more bell housing bolts to take out, all of which are easy to get at.

Next I have to decide where to attach the hoist. I'm thinking of chaining it up ot the intake manifold runners. They look pretty sturdy.
 

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Enjoying this thread and looking forward to your updates. I'm assuming I'll need to engine work at some point with 3.8l as well in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Enjoying this thread and looking forward to your updates. I'm assuming I'll need to engine work at some point with 3.8l as well in the future.
Well I can tell you it's not any fun. I've done a lot of engine swaps and this one has been the biggest PITA yet. Right now the only thing holding me back is one starter bolt. It's in there ridiculously tight and I can't get on it with the impact wrench. I think I'm going to have to remove the front driveshaft to get the swing room for the breaker bar.

While the engine is at the machine shop I'm going to pull the transmission out. I should have just removed the engine and trans together - it would have been a lot quicker. I'll install the engine and trans together rather than wrestling with all the bellhousing bolts with the trans in place.

 

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Ok! The engine is out. I had to remove the front driveshaft to get enough leverage on that starter bolt. There were 2 wiring harnesses we missed - one bolted to the back of the engine and another set of grounds on the RH side under a heat shield. Once we took care of those it came right out. I'm glad I removed the front clip. There's no way it would have come out if I hadn't. I wouldn't have had the clearance between the boom on the hoist and the open garage door.

So now it's off to the machine shop for a rebuild.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I took the oil pan off today and some of the bearing caps. There was a lot of bearing material in the pan. Main bearings looked ok, but the first couple of rod caps I took off revealed hammered bearings. I didn't bother looking at the rest.

The conversation with the local rebuilder wasn't really confidence inspiring. He quoted $2,400 if he could reuse the rods and other stuff. The price would go up from there if he couldn't. I found another local business that sells a reman long block for $2,495 delivered and they pick up the core. I'm going that route.
 

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I took the oil pan off today and some of the bearing caps. There was a lot of bearing material in the pan. Main bearings looked ok, but the first couple of rod caps I took off revealed hammered bearings. I didn't bother looking at the rest.

The conversation with the local rebuilder wasn't really confidence inspiring. He quoted $2,400 if he could reuse the rods and other stuff. The price would go up from there if he couldn't. I found another local business that sells a reman long block for $2,495 delivered and they pick up the core. I'm going that route.
Try giving the guys at 505 performance a call.. they have a balanced rotating assembly for rebuilding the 3.8 that takes care of some of the known issues with that motor. They also have complete stroker engines...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Try giving the guys at 505 performance a call.. they have a balanced rotating assembly for rebuilding the 3.8 that takes care of some of the known issues with that motor. They also have complete stroker engines...
I appreciate the advice, but I'm trying to do this as inexpensively as possible. As it stands, a rebuilt longblock is $2,500 by itself. Then there's the incidentals. I'm replacing the clutch (so I don't have to do this job again in the future), starter (broke it), EGR pump (broke that too), LH valve cover (broke), dipstick tube (demolished), fluids, gaskets, etc.

I went with Promar. They're local and deliver the "new" engine for free and pick up the core at the same time. https://www.promarengine.com/engine-details.php?pn=CR3.8-08&year=2008&make=Jeep&model=Wrangler&submodel=Rubicon

They have decent reviews and have a 3-year, unlimited mileage warranty. I get that the original defects may not be corrected, but the main problem is that they leak oil. And when you run them without oil, bad things happen. That's the case with ours anyway. New driver didn't keep an eye on the oil level. He ran it out several times. Every time I got in the thing it was either low on oil or had none on the dipstick at all. In his defense, every other car in the family has a low oil warning (not pressure - oil level). But he HAS to check the oil with every fillup like the good 'ol days.

The longblock will be here sometime next week and I can start putting it back together. Regarding the original topic: the top BH bolts - they're much easier to get at without the intake manifold on it. I'm just wondering where to grab it with the hoist without the intake now.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Okay - it's in there. I only have a couple of bellhousing bolts in it, but it's snugged up to the transmission properly. It wasn't as bad as i had feared to get the input shaft lined up. I did have to turn the engine a bit to get it to go, but when it did everything lined up nicely.

I should have done a better job labeling the bolts. I've got lots that I don't know what to do with, and missing some others. I'll have to go through everything tomorrow before we get too much further.
 

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I finally got to spend some quality time with the Jeep today. It's finally starting to look like an engine. The pile of parts and bolts is getting smaller.

Lessons learned so far:

- You can leave the manual transmission in place. It was not difficult to line up at all. I just needed to rotate the crank to line up the clutch splines in order to get the engine to mate up with the transmission

- The dipstick tube bolt is pretty difficult to install once the motor mount is bolted up. You'd be wise to put that little bolt in first

- Remove the intake and exhaust manifolds. Doing so makes access to everything much, much, much (did I say much) easier. The top bellhousing bolts are a no brainer with the intake removed. When reassembling, the exhaust manifolds can go on close to last

- There is a plug behind the oil filter for bleeding the oiling system when you reinstall the engine. Don't send your core to the engine guy with this plug still installed. You will never see it again

- A swivel-head, ratcheting 18mm wrench will be your new best friend

- The fuel line bracket that attaches to the back of the transmission using the bellhousing bolts is razor sharp and will put a huge gash in your hand when you try to install said bellhousing bolt

- Don't forget the bolt on the back of the LH head that attaches to the starter wiring

- Install the oil pickup tube BEFORE installing the oil pan. Duh.

- The rebuilder zip-tied a card with a warning regarding torquing the water pump to factory specs. They say it's a proven fact that if you don't, you can crack the timing cover and/or break the seal causing coolant to enter the oiling system. Coolant is a horrible lubricant.

I hope to actually fire it up next weekend. There are still a lot of loose ends but I got a bulk of the hard stuff done today
 

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