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Bronco Master
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Some will find it sacrilegious, but I’m assembling parts to put a LS engine in my Bronco. I’ve had my Bronco for 22 years, the rest of the truck is well built with long travel coilover suspension in front, 9” rear with disk brakes on leaves in the rear, ARB lockers in both diffs, full cage with Beard seats and harnesses, etc. The motor is the only thing that is holding it back from being exactly what I want. I will be doing to labor myself, so I’m willing to pay for parts that will make the process faster and easier.

Options I’ve considered:

Fixing my 302. My 302 is a 1997 new from Ford short block with about 70K miles on it. I had the head gaskets and heads replaced a couple years back and the engine runs ok, but isn’t reliable for trail use because of other issues. The only thing wrong with the engine itself is a significant rear main seal leak, even though I had the seal replaced with the clutch 1000 miles ago. The reliability issue is that all of the 32 year old electrical connectors, fuel system, etc is falling apart. Every other time I drive it something is failing. When I run the truck my garage reeks of fuel for weeks after because the nylon lines are cracking as I look at them. If I could find an entire new harness and new fuel system I could probably keep this engine, up I don’t really want to. I could try to find a 1996-1997 351W to swap in, but everything is still 20+ years old.

Coyote swap. Cost is high, I found a couple places that will provide a 100K mile F-150 motor converted to run standalone for about $6K. On the good side it would bolt up to my existing T-18 transmission. On the bad side the motor is very wide and I would have to redo my coilover towers/front suspension that is welded to the frame and then do some frame surgery to make everything clear.

Cummins 4BT. Cost is high, and the low revving motor wouldn’t match the way I like to drive the Bronco (think 17 year old being a retard). Weight might be an issue, but I could get different coils for my shocks to compensate.

LS swap. Cost is reasonable, the motor will fit with my existing suspension setup, great aftermarket support and brand new wiring harnesses are readily available. The motors are known for reliability and longevity.

I’m still researching configurations, but here are the possibilities so far:

Engine wise I’m looking at a 2001-2007 6.0L LQ4/LQ9, a 1999-2007 5.3L LM7, or a 2008-2014 6.0 L96. The 5.3 LM7 is the least expensive with 130K yard pullouts selling complete for $1000. The older 6.0 LQ4/LQ9 are usually high mileage and the complete pullouts are $1800-$2000. The newer 6.0 L96 are available with 60-100K miles for $2500-$3000. The L96 does have variable valve timing, but apparently the newer control systems can handle that just fine.

Control systems are prolific. The three ways to go are 1. convert the factory harness yourself and have the ECM reprogrammed. 2. buy a new or redone harness and reprogrammed computer 3. go with a standalone engine management system from Holley, Edelbrock, or Fi Tech. I’m leaning towards option 3 with the Edelbrock Pro 4 system on a 1999-2007 engine or option 2 on a L96.

Transmission and transfer case. My Bronco has a T-18 from the factory, it’s been solid since I bought the truck in 1997. Novak offers all of the adapters necessary to bolt the T-18 to the LS, cost is about $1200 plus the clutch kit. It includes the bellhousing, LS specific flywheel, modified input shaft housing, throwout bearing, clutch fork, space cylinder and adapter plate, etc. This would allow me to keep the 1356 transfer case and my current driveshafts. I’m a little hesitant to spend $1200 on a 4 speed manual with no OD, so I started looking at other options. The easiest option would be an automatic trans like the 4L80 or 6L80 that came in the trucks with the LS, the stock Chevy transfer case is driver side drop, so I could run it and get new drive shafts made. I think the chevy auto setup and transfer case would be too long, and the transfer case uses a slip yoke, so that‘s not a great option for me. I also strongly prefer a manual trans. The other option looks to be a NV4500. Advanced Adapters makes everything I’d need to use the LS engine, Dodge NV4500, and the 1356 transfer case. The adapters would cost about $700, and a rebuilt trans from them is $2500 shipped. I would need to verify the length, but this setup would likely require new drive shafts. The GM version of the NV4500 has a shorter input shaft and would bolt up to the LS, but the output shaft is 32 spline and nothing seems to adapt to it easily. It looks like AA will make a hybrid version with the GM input and Dodge output, but again that $2500 is the same. The other option for a transfer case is the Atlas, but $2800 for the 2 speed is a budget breaker. The $1200 worth of stuff to keep the T-18 is starting to sound reasonable.

Motor mounts. Autofab makes a set of LS specific mounts for the Bronco, I have already purchased these rather than fabbing my own.

There are plenty of other issues like converting the AC, cooling system, fuel system, etc that will need to be addressed. I’m not breaking any new ground with this swap idea, so much of it is already on the web. Fortunately I already have a Saginaw converted power steering pump that will bolt on.

I’m at the shopping for a motor phase right now. The 5.3 LM7 with the OEM or Edelbrock standalone computer system and Novak adapted T-18 would be the least expensive setup and probably work just fine. I’m thinking $4000 should get it most of the way there (Engine $1000, computer $$600-850, trans adapters and clutch $1500, motor mounts $300). The L96 adds some significant cost, around $6000 ($2800 engine, $1300 computer system, trans adapters and clutch $1500, motor mounts $300). Doing the L96 with NV4500 would be closer to $9000 ($2800 engine, $1300 computer system, trans with adapters and clutch $3500, new driveshafts $700, motor mounts $300). I could afford to spend whatever is needed to get this done, but I’m aware that the truck probably books for $4000 and is not my daily driver. I will use this thread to update the build as it happens. I’m all for constructive criticism, but telling me I’m wrong for putting a chevy engine in my ford isn’t helpful.
 

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Ford-a-Holic
1996 EB w/5.8 TOO much lift, 44" Mudders & 5:43-5:38's
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Addicted to Junk
85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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Boooooo! Hissssss! Blasphemy! Lol just joshing ya

Dude, welcome back to FSB! Been a long time. It's not quite the same rib poking crowd it used to be, but we still have some fun. And steve83 is gone...

@Blue1551 just swapped an LS into his 90s bronco, and he is in AZ in the mountains somewhere. I think he went L9Q but hell idk. I dont like the LS because it's chevy, and a great engine lol. But for your application, it fits great. He is a great guy and would love to share any info he can.

I'm ignorant to GM stuff but... I know many 80 and later GM trannies came with a 6 bolt round flange for the transfer case. You might be able to use a ford TC behind the gm trans. The two issues that could arise is input shaft spline count and I dont think the 6 bolt circle is the exact same as Ford's.

Been doing some research on 203/205 doublers. For them, it's as simple as swapping to the correct input gears. I've also noticed a lot of driver side axles under newer chevies in the yards.

@curtwow recently did a Cummins 4bt in his 70s FSB. He could share some personal insight too
 

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1989 Eddie Bauer 5.8, C6, True Trac diffs, 4.56 gears, 4" C&T lift, 130A 3G Alt, 35" Grabber AT2s
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Ecoboost? 365 hp and 420 lbft stock.
 

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Just curious, why did you rule out the 351W upgrade option?
 

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Or could you simplify your existing motor by removing the factory EFI and going with an aftermarket CFI system (Holley Sniper, FITech), and save all the swap stuff?
 

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I have a 71 Land Cruiser that I dropped an LS into (2001 LM7 from a Suburban). Best thing I ever did to that rig. I also added an RV cam. The guy that tuned it says its around 330 hp with lots of low end torque. I could easily go up in HP from there, but it has plenty for what I'm doing with it. I think I was in about $6k on my swap, but I scored the engine, tranny (4L60e), transfer case, wiring harness and computer for $800. Adapters, driveshafts, exhaust, plumbing, etc all add up pretty quick. I also resealed the engine, put on a new intake, new water pump, new sensors, rebuilt the tranny, new torque converter and some other things that I didn't HAVE to do, but it was easy to do before installation.

One thing to think about. I also considered doing a Holley or Edelbrock engine management system on mine. After thinking about it, GM spent millions designing and testing their system. None of the aftermarket systems have invested that kind of money. It works very well. I had my harness reworked and PCM flashed for $500. I have had zero issues with it since installing it 2 years ago. On the other hand, I have read multiple accounts of people fighting with their aftermarket systems trying to get it to run right all the time. It may work great driving around town, but then gain 5000 feet heading into the mountains and it runs like crap. If I were you, I would seriously consider the stock PCM.

Good luck with the swap. Take lots of pics!
 

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Bronco Master
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578 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the great suggestions and info.

Ecoboost? 365 hp and 420 lbft stock.
i briefly considered the Ecoboost as I think it would work great, but it doesn’t seem that the aftermarket support is readily available to make it run standalone.

Or could you simplify your existing motor by removing the factory EFI and going with an aftermarket CFI system (Holley Sniper, FITech), and save all the swap stuff?
This I hadn’t considered that option, but it’s a good suggestion.

I have a 71 Land Cruiser that I dropped an LS into (2001 LM7 from a Suburban). Best thing I ever did to that rig. I also added an RV cam. The guy that tuned it says its around 330 hp with lots of low end torque. I could easily go up in HP from there, but it has plenty for what I'm doing with it. I think I was in about $6k on my swap, but I scored the engine, tranny (4L60e), transfer case, wiring harness and computer for $800. Adapters, driveshafts, exhaust, plumbing, etc all add up pretty quick. I also resealed the engine, put on a new intake, new water pump, new sensors, rebuilt the tranny, new torque converter and some other things that I didn't HAVE to do, but it was easy to do before installation.

One thing to think about. I also considered doing a Holley or Edelbrock engine management system on mine. After thinking about it, GM spent millions designing and testing their system. None of the aftermarket systems have invested that kind of money. It works very well. I had my harness reworked and PCM flashed for $500. I have had zero issues with it since installing it 2 years ago. On the other hand, I have read multiple accounts of people fighting with their aftermarket systems trying to get it to run right all the time. It may work great driving around town, but then gain 5000 feet heading into the mountains and it runs like crap. If I were you, I would seriously consider the stock PCM.

Good luck with the swap. Take lots of pics!
I had similar thoughts on the GM setup vs the aftermarket setup. My buddy is advocating the Edelbrock setup because he knows a guy who used one with good results, but they certainly don’t have the R&D budget that GM does. The more I research the more standalone GM converted setups I find for reasonable money. I’m two hours from the nearest tuning place, as long as I own my diesel truck and car trailer that’s not a big deal, but they are also 5400’ elevation lower than where I live.
 

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Not hating on the ls swap as they are great engines and would be a solid choice but just curious if you considered a 408w build with something like a Holley, edelbrock or megasquirt setup. Then it would be a bolt in. No adapters needed, no new transmission or transfer case compatability problems.

A 408w with good parts will make similar power per liter and similar power band to an ls based engine.

If you go down the ls road I'm sure it will end up great though. Can't really go wrong, it just seems like a lot more work for not much gain.
 

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thinks you will run into. engine wont bolt to the trans. trans wont bolt to the transfercase. so you will have to swap to a 4l60e and a np241. ford runs 355 gearing. gm is 342 or 373 so either some programing which you will need anyhow or a gear swap to match the ecm otherwise thing go nuts when in 4lo. custom drive shafts. speedo is cable driven so you will need to get a vss to cable convertor or custom speedo. tach i have no clue and other gauges are electronic controlled idr on 87 ford whats mechanical. if you want ac its pretty simple. just need custom run and return line. also the ls engines ac compressor is in a odd spot so you need a differnt bracket prob need on for the alt too. custom mounts. oil pan may be an issue in a ford idk on that. in some you have to notch the fram or run a differnt oil pan. you could also run the 6l80e and its transfercase if you get a 07 up truck engine but idk how well it will fit in the fords tunnel.
 

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another option and i mentioned this before to someone is a 3 valve mod motor. similar power of a ls. cheap to buy and the 4r70w will bolt to the bw1356 tc. that saves a lot of headaches right there no mods to gears no driveshafts. idk how well they fit in a square ford but they have alot of room under the hood.
 

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Addicted to Junk
85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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another option and i mentioned this before to someone is a 3 valve mod motor. similar power of a ls. cheap to buy and the 4r70w will bolt to the bw1356 tc. that saves a lot of headaches right there no mods to gears no driveshafts. idk how well they fit in a square ford but they have alot of room under the hood.
A properly built 5.4L 3v is a great option. Preferably one from a late 08 or newer F350. 300 hp from the factory. In mid 08, they fixed the spark plug issue. If the engine has brown coil boots, it's the revised engine. I've also head the F350 engines didnt have as many issues with cam phasers as the others, but I cant actually confirm that.

A real screamer would be a 5.4 4v out of a navigator or lincoln car. My 4.6 4v was an absolute screamer up to 6800 rpms. With truck style cams they can be built to 450 hp safely on the stock bottom end. My 4.6 4v is 30 inches wide at the valve covers. Add maybe an inch for the 5.4. These 4v mod motors will make 1000 hp with some boost and the right parts.

And a mod motor can be bolted to any SBF transmission with swapping around the alignment dowels and a set of bolt holes. The bellhousing shape is the same.
 

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When I did my LS swap, I used a 4L60E transmission instead of a 4L80E. I thought there would be drive line length problems for the rear drive shaft. The 4L80E is about 3" longer than the 4L60E. I was wrong the drive shaft has plenty of length. I should have used the 4L80E because of strength. I am now worrying if the 4L60E will stand up the stress I will be putting it under. I guess this year at MOAB will tell the test.
 

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When I did my LS swap, I used a 4L60E transmission instead of a 4L80E. I thought there would be drive line length problems for the rear drive shaft. The 4L80E is about 3" longer than the 4L60E. I was wrong the drive shaft has plenty of length. I should have used the 4L80E because of strength. I am now worrying if the 4L60E will stand up the stress I will be putting it under. I guess this year at MOAB will tell the test.
stock engine a 4l60e should be ok. 4l80e is alot heavy takes alot more power and doesnt have as good of gearing. is strong as heck though.
 

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LS is proven and the jokes of every car is made better with an LS swap is not far from the truth. Getting past the Ford vs Chevy thing a stock factory engine will net you one of the best combination of reliability, parts availability, and ease of transplant than any modern engine right now. Check out the Hoonigans jumping a McLaren with the LS powered pre runner.

If you want modern and do not want to crack open the engine the LS just plain works. The Coyote is wider, more expensive, less electronic wiring harness and computers available for reasonable prices. The Eco Boost Is awesome and the smaller ones package well however, the turbo plumbing and more complex non stand alone may be more of a nightmare then worth. I certainly hope in the future we see greater DIY support for the new Ford engines.

Time and money no object I want to rip out a diesel from a Ford Transit or newer F150.
 

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I'm down to see the LS swap myself. I had considered it years ago and then I decided to buy a house, so all my toys went to new homes. I'm in the middle of an odd conversion of my own and have run into and found answers to some of your same questions. I used a NV4500 from a 92 Chevy 1 ton behind a 6.2 detroit diesel. The trans bolts right up to the chevy/detroit bellhousing (and the LS engines as they use the same pattern plus 1 extra top bolt) and the output shaft is the same as a turbo 400/4L80. I'm using a NP241 transfer case and found a couple companies that make slip yoke eliminators for the 241. 1 option is for a 1350 size flange which will use a super duty CV style driveshaft. Yes, the driveshafts will need to be modified, but any competent driveshaft shop can take care of that for you. The length change is minimal and it's not too short to cause any issues. I like the stoker SBF option just for the ease of installation, but it's hard to argue with the power/reliability of the LS platform. I'd use the 5.3 and jam a small cam upgrade in it. The 6.0's are great, but for a stock-ish build, not worth the extra expense in my opinion. I'd prefer to use the extra $ to upgrade the 5.3 a bit, or save for future repairs/upgrades. Good luck and keep us posted!
 
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