Reverse Engine Rebuilding

Rebuilding Diesel Tractor/Ag Engines

When it comes to agricultural equipment, specifically tractors, many of them are used for decades upon decades due to durable, well-made engines and machinery that lasts. For this reason, agricultural equipment comes with a price tag – a big price tag.

New tractors, ranging in size from compact to 4- and 6-cylinder engines, can cost $30,000 all the way up to several hundred thousand dollars. According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, 184,000 tractors were sold in 2013, up 10% from the prior year. The biggest jump in sales in 2013, however, was in tractors with less than 40 hp.

Despite the fact that new tractor sales were up in 2013, industry experts report that the business of rebuilding and remanufacturing older tractor engines and ag equipment was still very prevalent. In fact, most ag equipment doesn’t need rebuilding or remanufacturing for 10 to 15 years, so the increased number of new tractors being sold today means good news down the line for engine rebuilders and parts suppliers.

Due to the prohibitive expense of buying a new tractor or piece of ag equipment, many people, when their machines see engine issues, will opt for rebuilding the engine to get longer life out of their equipment.

“People are not only scared of the price, they are scared of the equipment because they don’t know it,” Kelly says. “We think people are going to be rebuilding their engines and giving them a longer life than they would have done in the past. I think it’s going to be a positive impact on the engine rebuilding world.”


DIY Engine Rebuilding?

As I was working on my Exlpoder this weekend, I was thinking about how much I like the old truck, and the fact that with over 200k miles, the possibility of an engine rebuild may be in the future somewhere. I’ve considered rebuilding it myself, but I’ve never done one

What machine work has to be done?

I’m basically trying to evaluate cost / value of leaning to do a rebuild myself, gaining a valuable skill and a better engine, verses buying a junkyard, verses a reman, verses a crate.

Other than an engine hoist and ideally an engine stand, the only tools you would need are standard engine repair tools. Ie, sockets, wrenches, ratchet, a good breaker bar, etc. Hopefully you already have everything you would really need if you’re contemplating this level of repair. Air or battery impact helps too. The machine work you would want to farm out. A good machine shop would evaluate things and tell you what machine work needs done. At the least I would want to do a valve job with all new valve stem seals. The level of bottom end work needed really depends on the engine. At 238k miles my GS430’s bottom end was tight as a drum so I left it untouched when I did the heads. I imagine a Ford 302 pulling a truck around might be a little more worn at that point, but that’s not necessarily true.

Ring compressor, Ring spreading pliers, feeler guage, 3/8′ and 1/2″ torque wrench and a valve spring compressor would be a good start. I read this guy’s info several years ago when I was rebuilding a 351W and he mentioned a book on rebuilding SBF engines (How to Rebuild Small-Block Ford Engines). I subsequently bought the same book and recommend it. It’s a little dated and doesn’t cover the roller lifter change Ford made in mid-1985 nor the roller lifter-ized 351W but it’s still a useful reference to have.

Not much in the way of special tools needed here, and those that are can usually be rented. As for machine work, I’d suggest getting it hot tanked and an overbore. Heads hot tanked and inspected. MAybe have them milled if need be and a valve job.


Mileage and buying a used car with rebuilt engine

If I’m looking to buy a used car and an ad says 210,000 mileage engine rebuilt at 170,000. What does that actually mean ? Should I consider the rebuilt engine as only having 40,000 miles on it ? That sounds a bit too good to be true.

It is. The engine may have a lot of life in it, IF it was done right. However, the transmission has 210,000 miles on it, the axles have 210,000 miles on them, the suspension has 210,000 miles on it, the steering components have 210,000 miles on them

That means that at 170,000 someone rebuilt the engine. However, because everything else on the car still has 210,000 miles it actually doesn’t add as much value to a used car as you might think. Also, a rebuild can mean a lot of different things, so it’s generally not the same as having an engine with only 40k on it and without documentation of what was done you don’t really know at all. Also keep in mind that most cars these days don’t “die” from a worn out engine– the other stuff wears out and you get sick of spending money on such an old car.

Consider the vehicle has 210k miles. The engine mechanically is the least of a vehicles problems at this old age or higher mileage. It has 210k old emmissions controls, sensors, wiring and electrical parts and big one transmission. These are far more likely to fail than an engine mechanically.

And some people’s definition of an “engine rebuild” leaves a lot to be desired. Some consider (seriously) replacing a head gasket or performing a valve job as an engine rebuild. In cases where the engine is actually removed and disassembled there are a dozen ways of rebuilding it but there is only one correct method.


Used Engine Installation Tips and Procedures

Some of these tips are common knowledge to most experience mechanics.  But there are plenty of do it yourselfers out there that could use this information.  This will also help you understand what your mechanic should be doing when installing your salvage engine.  When your spending good money for a used engine and the labor to install it.

Pre-Installation Inspection Tips

Inspect the entire engine thoroughly – If there is an issue, you want to find out before you have it installed in the vehicle.

Match the long-block with your old one.  Make sure they are exactly the same.

After you have the old engine out, set it next to the used engine and identify which components need to switched over.

If you find damaged components in your inspection (timing cover, oil pan, etc.), simply swap the components with your old engine.  Generally, bolt-on accessories can be swapped with no issue.

Don’t install a replacement salvage engine with damaged parts.  This may cause the used engine to fail prematurely.

Inspect timing components on engine, if miles are over factory specification for a timing belt or chain, replace timing components.  Best practice is to always replace the timing belt. It’s generally inexpensive to do when the engine is already out of the vehicle.

Inspect all gaskets for bolt on accessories and replace any gaskets that look brittle or are leaking.

Change over any bolt on accessories needed off your old engine

Installation Tips and Guidelines

Flush cooling system prior to installing engine to remove any debris left over from previous engine.

Clean or replace oil strainer and pick up tube screen.

Replace oil pan gasket & rear main seal.

Drain & replace engine oils to manufacturers suggested levels.

Replace oil filter.

Timing belts/chains, water pump, thermostat, spark plugs, fluids, and seals are routine maintenance items and should be replaced at the time of installation and at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.

Replace any water hoses or vacuum lines that need replacing.

Prior to starting engine prime oil system to check to be sure you have oil pressure.

Proper operation of the cooling and electrical system must be checked during the installation of products that can be affected by those systems.

Replace valve cover gasket as needed.

Install new belts and hoses.

These simple procedures will make sure the you get the most out of your used engine.


When engine is shot, do you go with remanufactured or rebuilt?

I recently inherited the car I spent my childhood washing. It’s a ’94 Ford Explorer with the tow package. I know you’re going to say that Explorers have problems, but I really love this car … even though it has no air bags. It won’t be my commuter car; it will get used when I climb

The head gasket is blown, even though the engine has only 65,000 miles on it. I was leaning toward having a Jasper remanufactured engine put in. My line of thought was that due to the engine’s age and the overheating that caused the blown gasket, other things might be ready to go, and a new engine would cut down on future repairs

If you’re planning to keep the car for a long time, then I think a remanufactured engine always is the best option, if you can get one. There are factories that do nothing but remanufacture engines, and they have the machinery and expertise to do it very well. That means the tolerances (the spaces between the things that really matter) are likely to be more accurate, which produces better results and fewer problems later on.

If you have a car that’s so old, or so rare, that a remanufactured engine is not an option, then you need to decide between having a local shop rebuild it for you and buying a new one (if you can even get it). But your Explorer was common enough that Jasper and other companies can make a good business out of remanufacturing those engines and selling them.

So that’s exactly what I’d get. In fact, we’ve bought dozens of remanufactured engines from Jasper over the years, and I remember only one of them that caused us any trouble. And we called them up and they said, “Oops, sorry, we’ll send you another engine.” Plus I think they come with a three-year, 100,000-mile warranty that includes labor.