Question: I have a Jeep Wrangler, and after reading about your Ultimate Adventure Rubi Wagon Jeep buildup with the Cummins diesel swapped in, I really want to put a diesel in my Jeep. However, since the Cummins is so darn big and heavy, are there any smaller versions available that will give me diesel mileage and torque?
Answer: I understand your dilemma. There are a bunch of great diesels available, but most are heavy as anchors and demand tons of work to stuff in a Jeep. Even the elusive four-cylinder Cummins weighs more than a big-block gas engine and will require a complete drivetrain swap to survive in a 1/4-ton Wrangler. I've seen some awesome smaller diesels in the works for future 1/2-ton trucks (such as the new Dodge Ram 1/2-ton), and great little foreign diesels, but those are all still out of reach due to time, space, and importing regulations. However there may be another option on the horizon. I recently got this photo from a super-secret OEM performance research facility where we see a Jeep chassis from a long-wheelbase military TJ Wrangler with a 2.8L, four-cylinder VM Motori turbo-diesel engine that my research found produces 158 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This is nearly identical to the diesel as found in the diesel Liberty, which I felt was a great running powerplant, but if it's military I doubt it's as complicated as the KJ Liberty version. Now this might not sound like much, but when stuffed in a Wrangler I bet it's a hoot to drive and it should work with some of the factory transmissions, at least the later manual transmissions. Hmm, why would a performance accessory division of an OEM be messing around with a diesel engine and why would there be a Rubicon TJ there as well with the hood up? I couldn't get a straight answer when I started asking the hard questions to the marketing reps, but when I learn more I'll let you know.
Next start looking at trucks and 4x4 parts and try to figure out why they are built the way they are built. Ask questions. Whether it's the guys who sell the parts, install the parts, or design and engineer the parts, they can all give you insight on why stuff does or doesn't work. And at the same time, don't stick to the 4x4 world only. Look outside the industry at other neat products-maybe a tractor has a strong axle, or a lawn chair has a comfortable shape, or a tow truck has a special winch-any and all of these will spur on ideas that can someday be applied to an engineering position. I would recommend taking some business classes along with your engineering. It will be very valuable to know how to make a product work, make it within a budget, and sell it. Even if you are never in sales it's good to understand the big picture when working for a business.
Question: I have a '94 4Runner and plan on installing a Marlin or all-Pro solidaxle swap. i see articles about people using '85 Toyota front axles. Will a '69-'89 Land Cruiser front axle work? I would assume the 9.5 front end would be stronger, allowing me to run 37-inch or bigger tires without any mods to the axle. Can you shed some light on this matter?
Answer: I contacted the folks at all Pro Off Road (951.658.7077, www.allprooffroad. com)and we discussed your idea of using a Land Cruiser axle. They recommended using a mini-truck axle first because of the stronger selectable hubs and the wider variety and lower cost of aftermarket support for everything from gears and bearings to trusses and housings, and because the leaf springs are already on top of the axle whereas the Land Cruiser axles were spring-under from the factory. also the FJ-80 high-pinion drop-out centersection is stronger than the earlier Cruiser low-pinion even though it is only 8-inch versus 91/2, and it can be fitted into the mini-truck housing and will help with driveshaft issues when used in a v-6-equipped 4Runner. if you do decide on the Land Cruiser axle, we recommend a '79-or-newer version since it has knuckles that accept high-steer arms. Make sure you get the fine-spline pinion variant. However, the first choice would be a built mini-truck axle or aftermarket housing with mini-truck internals.