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No Time
No Time SuperDork
5/8/22 6:00 p.m.

The magnum oil pan has a sheet metal guide in the inside for the dipstick. I found on mine that the dipstick would bind and required some rotation to get it to make the first bend where it enters the guide in the oil pan  


Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
5/9/22 9:05 a.m.

In reply to No Time :

I've tried every rotation and contortion you can think of and it just hits the sheetmetal guide edge inside the pan. I think the sheetmetal guide may need some massaging. I might try bending the dipstick first. 

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
5/9/22 9:14 a.m.

I had to put a bend in the last inch of the dipstick of the neon for it to work with the windage tray, and bevel the corners. 

psteav (Forum Supporter)
psteav (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/9/22 11:33 a.m.

I'm closely following your travails for the upcoming Magnum swap in my Duster.  

Happy 5/9!

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
5/9/22 1:43 p.m.

Ok, after futzing with the dipstick for way too long (again), I got it bent enough in the right places until it went in. No pulling the pan, either. Nice. 

And yes, Happy 5/9! 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
5/11/22 9:05 a.m.

I've been trying to turn wrenches on the 5.9 project every day until it's ready. So yesterday, during my lunch break, I pulled that power steering bracket apart and got things painted. 

(Yes, the paint is still wet on the pulley; it laid down a lot flatter when it dried.)

The pulley puller I bought worked great, as you can see. Aside from disassembling for painting, I need to swap my original pump onto this bracket. From what I'm finding, the pressure lines have metric fittings on the new pump and standard on the original, so I decided instead of making a line, I'll just swap pulleys and run the stock unit. 

In other news, I tried installing the little intake plugs supplied with the intake manifold that plug the LA-style angled bolt holes and immediately realized that the manifoid needs to be OFF to do some of them. D'oh! So another set of intake gaskets are on the way and I'll take care of that by the weekend. For the ones I did install, I coated the inside of the bolt hole and the splines of the plugs with RTV to avoid leaks. 

Once that's done, all that's left before the swap is to finally bypass the ammeter circuit on the truck itself. While things have been OK for 40+ years, I'd anticipate the higher output Magnum alternator will turn things to goo unless I fix that situation. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
6/13/22 9:13 a.m.

It's been about a month since I finished piecing together the Magnum 360, but getting time to do the swap has been tough lately. I've opted to do it at a friend's house who has a shop with a lift to make things easier, so getting his schedule and mine aligned has been a challenge. Also, there was one thing I needed to do to the truck itself before the swap could happen, and it's been something I've been putting off since I brought it home: bypassing the stock ammeter and replacing it with a voltmeter. Way back on page 1 of this thread, there was discussion on why it should be bypassed on these trucks, and with a higher amperage alternator getting swapped in, plus the EFI taxing the 40+ year old wiring, it was time to get it done. 

So I gathered my wiring stuff and got to work!

I've pulled the cluster on this thing so many times that I could do it blindfolded in my sleep. A while back, I already modded the cluster itself for the voltmeter gauge (had to grind down the mounting posts in the cluster) so this should be simple. 

This is the back of the cluster. The ammeter gauge is on the top right. 

The goal here is to go from this: 

To this: 

Basically, you have to re-route the alternator charge wire away from the bulkhead connector and to the starter relay's positive stud, but maintain power to the dash components while getting rid of the weak connection at the bulkhead. Then, (not pictured) you add the voltmeter with switched ignition and ground. 

There are two wires that pass through the connector that go to the ammeter. They are a lot larger than the others, and one is this red one I'm pointing to with the screwdriver... 

And the other is this tan wire. This wire might be black, but it faded over time. It's black inside the cab. As you can see, these are 10ga wires where everything else is 16-18ga.

The connector itself is still set up for smaller wires, so between that and 40 years of things aging, it's a recipe for disaster when you add more amperage to the circuit.

Here are the wires that used to go to the ammeter. Technically, you can just bolt these two loops together, and some do in a pinch, but I wanted to do it right with a soldered connection. 

Heat shrinked and taped. 

On the other end of those wires, you have to do the same thing, as you'll be running new wires through the bulkhead connector, bypassing the terminals. 

With some slight massaging, the wires pass right through.


This clipped wire used to be the one that went to the starter relay. It served to provide power to the old diagnostic connector for the Lean Burn system, but that's all been removed, so I clipped it and capped it. 

Both the new alternator wire and the new bypassed bulkhead connector wiring need some sort of circuit protection, so I added fusible link wires like the factory did. Then, I just routed them to the positive post on the starter relay. 

The old ammeter and the new voltmeter. It's a Sunpro CP7985 that I modded to fit inside the cluster by removing the housing and adding a piece of black paper to mimic the shape of the original gauge. This will keep the cluster lights shining where they should. Some guys remove the blue line so it matches better, but I didn't mind the look since it will match the Sunpro tach I installed. 

Looks pretty good in there!

One fun part: there's no markings on the gauge posts for positive and negative. I figured the left post with the resistors was the business side, and confirmed with the truck battery. 

And by coincidence, the printed circuit board also says RED right above where the red wire goes! 

For ignition-on power, I referred to this note I wrote myself last year during the EFI swap. 

And here we are: a bypassed bulkhead connector and a working voltmeter. Why it took me over 3 years to do this, I'll never know. Also, this truck really has honed my wiring skills. That's a side effect of old Mopar ownership. 

Next stop: Magnum Time. 

No Time
No Time SuperDork
6/13/22 10:47 a.m.

I'm going to be putting my 2001 parts truck up with the 5.9 magnum on Market place, but let me know if there's something you need before I do that. 

Also reach out you need photo of wiring or other items. The hood and fenders are off so it's easy to see a lot of what's going on with routing of wiring, lines, and hoses. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
6/15/22 12:29 p.m.

In reply to No Time :

Thanks for the offer, but I think I have everything I need for the swap. The engine I grabbed came with an entire wiring harness (minus ECU) in case I ever want to swap to the factory MPFI setup instead of the Atomic 2. Hoping you sell your parts rig quick! 

6/23/22 10:23 a.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

ik where this junkyard is i go to it sometimes with my dad that truck been there for years it used to not be crushed but then they crushed it somewhat its near the blue squarebody wrecker if im not mistaken theres also a w400 there with a massive push bumper


Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/1/22 9:44 a.m.

Soon. Very soon. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/4/22 10:02 a.m.

Around every 4th of July, my friends and I have a tradition of wrenching on one of my projects. This goes all the way back to high school, when I decided to clean the upper intake plenum of my 5.0-equipped '87 Cougar XR7 to see if I could make it run better. Other years, I've done 4x4 hub swaps on my old '92 F150, body mounts on my Trans Am, and a lot more. This year, we decided to yank the dying 318 out of the Power Wagon and swap in the Magnum 360. What's more American than swapping out an engine for a bigger one? 

We decided that it was in our best interest to do this at my friend's house a couple towns over from mine. He's got a lift. Lifts make access to stuff underneath a lot easier. And the best part is that I was able to load up the engine, parts, and the tools/stuff I need to bring right in the truck and take it there. It just barely made it. 

43 years, untold amounts of ham-fisted Maine backwoods fixes, and dealing with me trying to bring it into the 21st century with EFI and headers/exhaust... happy retirement LA 318! You deserve it. 

Again, lifts make everything easier. Unbolting the exhaust, bellhousing and converter bolts, etc while standing up is a huge plus (and morale boost)! Not rolling around on the ground and cursing because I'm old probably saved time, too. 

Pulling the engine was easy. Remove the throttle body and set it aside, remove the radiator, remove the distributor, unbolt the exhaust (in this case, we removed the P/S header), remove bellhousing and converter bolts, unbolt the engine mounts from the frame, and yank! 

And OUT!

The engine bay was a little grungy, so I scraped up the gunk and called it good. So much room for activities in here! 

Mopars are weird. The ring gears are part of the torque converter. Instead of being bolted on and part of the flexplate or flywheel, they are welded to this thing. 

While the engine was out, we replaced the front seal on the transmission. The old one (left) is the original, and while there was nothing wrong with it, I guarantee that the thing would be leaking a week after the swap if I didn't replace it. 

New seal IN. All of that gunk is from decades of leaky 318. 

One of the things that requires modification to install a Magnum 360 where a LA 318 was is the flexplate. As you can see, one hole does not line up. You have to elongate it to make it fit. 

That'll do. 

I bought new engine mount rubbers 3 years ago, and now I get to use them. As you can see, the original ones have seen better days. They were also covered in tar-like goop. Weird.

Getting the 360 in there fought us a bit. Lining up the engine and trans took some time, and we ran into issues with the engine mounts. They are off in this pic because we couldn't get them to line up.

It's a little hard to see here, but there was a sizeable gap between the block mounting tab on the driver's side mount and the bracket. Even though the Magnum 360s still have the LA-style front mounting tabs, the engine mounts themselves just didn't line up. Apparently, LA318 mounts and LA360 mounts are different on this side. After rummaging through some miscellaneous hardware kicking around in the garage, I found a perfect spacer bushing, sandwiched it with a couple washers, and it looks like it was meant to be there. I'll keep an eye on this and replace with a proper 360 bracket if needed. 

And there it is. The Magnum 360 now lives in the engine bay. While it's bolted in, there's still a lot to do. I'll be reinstalling the rest of the bits over the next week. 


Norma66-Brent HalfDork
7/4/22 2:30 p.m.

looks good man!

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
7/4/22 2:38 p.m.


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