- Oct 29, 2008
- Dallas, Texas
(Long story, you may want to skip to the end.) For about a year now a buddy of mine has had this 1980 Dodge Van with 318 8cyl engine and 3 speed auto transmission that is chopped and lengthened into a 20 passenger bus. The story behind it is that it belonged to a church his father attended, and after a few years the church wrote it off and gave it to his father, who repaired it and took care of it. It sat in a pasture for 2 years before my buddy asked his father if he could use it for his homeless ministry. So a year ago my buddy received this Bus. Knowing how I like to turn wrenches, most of the time because I have nothing better to do, he called me in. With the knowledge that I have gained from BITOG I have been draining and filling the transmission regularly. A list of items that we have done to the bus are: 1. Replace the fluid in the rear differential. 2. We did a cooler line flush to the transmission, followed by a pan drop, cleaning the pan, add some high temp neodymium magnets. The initial cooler line flush was last year, we did another 2 months ago. 3. While we were at it we added a Magnefine inline filter and an extra cooler to the transmission cooler lines. We have had a small pinhole radiator leak, but have stayed on top of it and it hasn’t been an issue. The REAL issue has been that when my buddy picked it up a year ago, summer of 2009, his father said “Uhh, yeah I have only changed the oil in it ONCE, just keep it topped off.” The thing has 30 years of short trips and sludge built up in it. The thing ran and ran well for what it was. I did 3 oil changes to it in the past year as it only gets driven 2x a week. 1st oil change was right after my buddy got it. It drove significantly better and had more power afterwards. I put in Quaker State 10w30 so that it would flow better and hopefully clean up some deposits. Many short OCI’s were planned, but things don’t always work out the way you plan them to. 2nd a few weeks after the first oil change, the oil came out black as tar. I changed the oil out, again Quaker State 10w30 with a bottle of Auto RX, the filter was changed in December just to make sure it was not totally clogged. This is the oil that has been in there for 6 months. This oil lasted all winter and it ran well. From all the research I have read up on Auto RX works best on an engine that is severely sludged like this old carbureted 318. MY ISSUE. The 3rd oil change was a month ago. It was the first rinse phase of the Auto RX cycle. I used a Fram Extended guard filter, the FL1A size as it has more capacity, for both Junk and Oil than the Mopar brand. Along with Motorcraft 15w40 Powerstroke oil, the Bus has no emissions equipment but a PCV valve that we replaced, and it ran much smoother on the thicker 40 weight oil. I figured that between the 15w40 and the Auto RX, along with the extra holding capacity of the Extended Guard that the Bus would be alright going on a 2 hour trip. 1 Hour there, 1 hour back. I figured that I would change the oil as soon as the bus got back from the trip knowing that there would be a bunch of sludge in that filter. I did not go on this trip, so I do not know how the bus was driven, but according to another friend who was on the bus they were going 70mph-80mph all the way there and back. My Buddy, who owns and drives the bus, was following people in sports cars, and did not tell them to keep the speed down. He did not get directions, and so was following them. Poor Planning Promotes [censored] Poor Performance. It was their time to shine. And on the way home the bus threw a bearing. I’m sure it is a bit of both of our faults. My fault for not anticipating he would try to race a vehicle that is as aerodynamic as a brick while on the rinse phase of Auto RX. His fault for planning so poorly and driving the vehicle in a way it was not meant to perform. (The bus drops into 3rd gear at 40, and you have to really push it to get to 60, I only imagine he hat the gas pedal to the floor for all the way there and back.) I went to the field outside of an acquaintance’s house where they had the bus towed to in order to take a look first hand. I am 99% sure that it is a bearing, it will turnover and start, but the knock is there, and it stalls out at idle due to its terrible terrible timing. My buddy, the owner, wants a new engine. He has already found a 318 online. However, I am concerned that a 318 will not meet the driving conditions he is putting it though. That and I am not so sure it is worth my time anymore. If I was to tackle this job, what should I expect from pulling a Dodge 318 out the front end of a Dodge Van? Also, will changing out the old motor to a new motor overpower the older transmission? My buddy, the owner, is worried about this, but wants the van to run. Questions and comments are welcome.