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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
A couple of thoughts from someone who has been down this path before. I was involved in some of the early design for the ACE D2 LS kit. The Disco is not an easy car to swap, particularly from scratch. To do it correctly in my opinion, you really have to think about everything as a system starting with the axles and work forward from there.

The axles are offset to the passenger side front/rear, which is a somewhat uncommon configuration for modern-day stuff. This means you have limited transfer case options. Center output rear transfer boxes would be require a somewhat extreme rear driveshaft sideways angle that would likely cause excess vibration, which makes most other options not usable for a daily driver.

The LT230 is a pretty stout transfer case, all things considered, and already bolts into the frame, making it somewhat of a logical choice. It can move back a couple inches before driveshaft lengths start to become a problem. It also can be converted to selectable 2/4wd (not that I would really recommend that in the short wheelbase Disco though). Overall package length is important - With the ACE swap, it was great to be able to get the engine to sit far enough back that a viscous fan could still be used in the front and for weight distribution / driving dynamics.

The Volvo engine you mentioned I believe(?) were all used in transverse applications. It would be easier to start with an engine designed for longitudinal applications. I personally feel like going that route is asking for more work (just look at the trussmount setup Cody Built manufactures to fit transverse VW TDIs into Jeeps). Also, you need to consider potential oil pan clearance issues with the front diff and front driveshaft. A transverse engine may require a heavily modified or custom pan.

As for the electrical side, make sure the engine you choose has a lot of aftermarket support, particularly tuners that support building standalone engine harnesses and standalone ECU operation, so you don’t need all the body modules from the donor car. Having to drag along clusters from donor vehicles is a major pain and wiring nightmare.

Point is, before you buy anything, try to have as much as you can planned out. This is nothing short of a massive undertaking to do correctly. 100s of hours for research, then execution.

If / when you get to the Discovery electrical part, I helped ACE with their Gen 5 /6L80 Disco electronics interface as well as some other engine swaps in D2s. Happy to help as able.
Sounds like you really know your stuff. I appreciate the post.

Transfer case - I haven't decided on transmission or transfer case, so I appreciate the insight. How stout is the R380? Since it bolts up to the LT230 that could be a good option for the swap, as it is a direct bolt-in on the chassis side, I could use the original transfer case, and I'd just have to make a bellhousing adaptor and figure out the flywheel/clutch situation.

Engine - Correct, they are all transverse engines. The N and RN Volvo 5 cylinder engine uses a very strange engine mount solution for a transverse engine, so there are actually mounts on the sides of the engine that mount to the front and rear of the subframe in the factory application. Later RNC blocks use a similar setup to the VW you mentioned, which is why I'm avoiding them. They also aren't super tall engines, but I will certainly keep oil pan clearance in mind.

Electrical - Aftermarket support isn't huge like it is for the LS platform, but is certainly there. Swapping these engines into RWD Volvo 240s is a common practice both in the US and especially in Sweden (swap kits for this swap do exist). Most of these builds run standalone ECUs and are typically bolted to Ford Mustang T5 transmissions, so I wouldn't be starting from scratch with an unknown engine that has never been swapped. It will obviously be a challenge, as this is a totally different platform, but one I'm willing to take on. Standalone harnesses and ECUs are available for these engines.

Planning/timeframe - The current plan is to get a donor car, pull the engine, save anything engine/engine electricals related, and built the engine over the next 9 months or so. Of course, during this time I will be researching everything about swapping one of these engines, electricals on both the Volvo and Disco side of things, transmission possibilities, etc, and hopefully sourcing a transmission/possibly transfer case. I'm hoping to actually start the swap next summer.
 

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Sounds like you really know your stuff. I appreciate the post.

Transfer case - I haven't decided on transmission or transfer case, so I appreciate the insight. How stout is the R380? Since it bolts up to the LT230 that could be a good option for the swap, as it is a direct bolt-in on the chassis side, I could use the original transfer case, and I'd just have to make a bellhousing adaptor and figure out the flywheel/clutch situation.

Engine - Correct, they are all transverse engines. The N and RN Volvo 5 cylinder engine uses a very strange engine mount solution for a transverse engine, so there are actually mounts on the sides of the engine that mount to the front and rear of the subframe in the factory application. Later RNC blocks use a similar setup to the VW you mentioned, which is why I'm avoiding them. They also aren't super tall engines, but I will certainly keep oil pan clearance in mind.

Electrical - Aftermarket support isn't huge like it is for the LS platform, but is certainly there. Swapping these engines into RWD Volvo 240s is a common practice both in the US and especially in Sweden (swap kits for this swap do exist). Most of these builds run standalone ECUs and are typically bolted to Ford Mustang T5 transmissions, so I wouldn't be starting from scratch with an unknown engine that has never been swapped. It will obviously be a challenge, as this is a totally different platform, but one I'm willing to take on. Standalone harnesses and ECUs are available for these engines.

Planning/timeframe - The current plan is to get a donor car, pull the engine, save anything engine/engine electricals related, and built the engine over the next 9 months or so. Of course, during this time I will be researching everything about swapping one of these engines, electricals on both the Volvo and Disco side of things, transmission possibilities, etc, and hopefully sourcing a transmission/possibly transfer case. I'm hoping to actually start the swap next summer.
I’d recommend keeping the LT230 if at all possible since it’s already setup for the Disco. It is a stout unit and keeps the ‘heritage’ of the vehicle in my opinion. There also just are really no good replacements with the correct driveshaft configuration that are not old or rare.

For the transmission, if you want to stick with a manual, the R380 is a decent option since it bolts to the LT230. It is reasonably reliable, but supposedly can’t take more than around 300-350 ft-lbs of torque. Other options that have (or in the past had) adapters to the LT230 are:

NV3500 (not particularly strong, maybe a little less than R380 strength, paired only with 4.8 LS from factory)
NV4500 (strong, for full size trucks, expensive, but not the nicest shifting from what I hear)
AX15

I would definitely stick with a truck or SUV transmission for the ratios /rear housing over something designed for a car. Good to hear the Volvo has a good aftermarket for electronics. You definitely don’t want to be sorting out that as well as figuring out the rest of the swap if you can avoid it.

The ACE D2 LS electronics setup / ECB box was designed to be flexible and adaptable, so chances are with minor fiddling, it could be adapted to work a Volvo engine/ ECU and get the dash and most other features back. I did one prototype not that long ago for a BMW engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I’ll research alternatives in case I can’t find one or it’s super expensive to get for some reason, but it sounds like the R380 is the way to go. I only plan on making around 300-320 lb ft, and somewhere around 320-350 hp. The Volvo engines don’t like huge torque numbers without new rods, which I don’t plan on upgrading, and I want to keep the tuning relatively conservative to keep it reliable. The R380 also seems to be the best option from a fitment standpoint as well, as like you said, keeping the LT230 is the best option for a multitude of reasons.
Also good to know about the ACE ECB box - thanks. I’ll certainly look into that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
So it's turned into quite a project to find a suitable parts car for the engine & wiring for this swap. I had planned on spending no more than $1k on a car, but even really rough examples are bringing more than that, and I think I've figured out why.
  1. The current used car market is bananas right now, and that's trickling down to cheap garbage, and
  2. Junkyards are paying up to $800 for cars due to parts shortages.
Why deal with idiots on Marketplace when you can just send it to the junkyard for a couple hundred less? I think I need to up my budget a little bit. Oh well.

Finding someone with a suitable car that actually responds to any messages is surprisingly difficult too. Like why list the car if you aren't gonna answer your messages? It's not like its a scam, because you can't scam someone if you don't contact them. I don't know. Buying cheap cars is a process. I'll get there soon hopefully. I have a couple leads I'm following currently, two of which have the Volvo 2.4T engine (B5244T2), which is a decent starting point for this build. There's also another possible car with the stronger 2.3 turbo (B5234T) engine and simpler electronics that I'm also looking into. I'll update again once I finally have a car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
I have a car! It’s a 1999 Volvo V70 XC, with the B5244T 2.4 liter turbocharged 5 cylinder. Stock, it makes 190 hp and 199 lb ft. This will be bumped way higher with mods, but for now, here’s the car. I’m super excited to get this engine pulled and built properly for around 300 hp and begin the process of the swap.
Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Sky
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
The LAST thing I’d be worried about is the transfer case!
That’s what I figured based on previous posts - it will be staying (and converted for CDL capability, and maybe selectable 2WD/4WD if I feel like it and it’s relatively simple). Now to find an R380 that’s not stupid expensive and manual pedal box/shifter/etc
 

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and maybe selectable 2WD/4WD if I feel like it and it’s relatively simple
IMO You can't make the it 2WD with the LT230 transfer case without removing a propshaft, it's permannent 4WD with the two propshafts... all you can do is to lock the central diff to have the same rotation at both axle diffs
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
IMO You can't make the it 2WD with the LT230 transfer case without removing a propshaft, it's permannent 4WD with the two propshafts... all you can do is to lock the central diff to have the same rotation at both axle diffs
Makes sense. Someone earlier in this thread says it is possible with some internal changes but not recommended due to the short wheelbase. I’ll probably leave it, but if I can find how to do it while it’s out I might - I like having a 2WD setting for fuel economy, less tire wear in the front, and to make it more fun to drive on loose surfaces. Would also put an LSD or auto locker in the rear if I went that direction. That’s all way down the road though. First I have to get an R380, build the Volvo engine, and figure out how to get the two to mate up
 

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I like having a 2WD setting for fuel economy, less tire wear in the front, and to make it more fun to drive on loose surfaces.
You'll have not much fun with that cos let's say you make it 2WD with front traction, if those wheels will spin the TC kicks in on the front to equalise the wheel speeds with the rear ones while you'll have no power on the rear to turn the wheels and you'll end up pushing the throttle and not move at all, same if it's rear 2WD.... unless you want to kill the ABS system too.
 

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IMO You can't make the it 2WD with the LT230 transfer case without removing a propshaft, it's permannent 4WD with the two propshafts... all you can do is to lock the central diff to have the same rotation at both axle diffs
there used to be a company making a conversion setup that permitted two wheel drive or four wheel drive with locked center diff.

I was told handling was horrible in two wheel drive, but having run hundreds of miles without a front prop shaft, I wonder if true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
You'll have not much fun with that cos let's say you make it 2WD with front traction, if those wheels will spin the TC kicks in on the front to equalise the wheel speeds with the rear ones while you'll have no power on the rear to turn the wheels and you'll end up pushing the throttle and not move at all, same if it's rear 2WD.... unless you want to kill the ABS system too.
I’d make it 2WD powering the rear. Would just pull the ABS relay to prevent traction control from ruining my fun.

there used to be a company making a conversion setup that permitted two wheel drive or four wheel drive with locked center diff.

I was told handling was horrible in two wheel drive, but having run hundreds of miles without a front prop shaft, I wonder if true.
I’ll look into that. I can’t imagine handling being worse with 2WD. My dad has a Mitsubishi Pajero with the Super Select system that allows for 2WD, AWD, 4WD w/ a locked center diff, and 4Lo. It handles best in 2WD. It also has a 90 inch wheelbase, so I’m not worried about concerns with short wheelbase if converting
 

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I have never used them but this company makes the 2wd/4wd selector, and Ashcroft used to make one. As far as transmissions go I out an old SM465 out of a delivery truck in mine using advanced adapters. They make tail shafts to convert several different transmissions to the Jeep 23 spline, which is about the only adapter that they make for the LT230. I have an LS in mine but if you can get a GM transmission in it you can probably find a bellhousing or bellhousing adapter to get whatever engine you need.
 

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I have never used them but this company makes the 2wd/4wd selector, and Ashcroft used to make one. As far as transmissions go I out an old SM465 out of a delivery truck in mine using advanced adapters. They make tail shafts to convert several different transmissions to the Jeep 23 spline, which is about the only adapter that they make for the LT230. I have an LS in mine but if you can get a GM transmission in it you can probably find a bellhousing or bellhousing adapter to get whatever engine you need.
Ok, they sell that kit but what about the selector linkage? they show how to fit it to the central diff but how do you select 2WD then? no linkage or explanation at the related products, without that the whole thing is wasted money IMO
 

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Ok, they sell that kit but what about the selector linkage? they show how to fit it to the central diff but how do you select 2WD then? no linkage or explanation at the related products, without that the whole thing is wasted money IMO
I am not sure. I assumed you would just move the T-case shifter from locked to unlock to go from 4wd to 2wd as this kit takes the planetary gears out completely.
 

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I am not sure. I assumed you would just move the T-case shifter from locked to unlock to go from 4wd to 2wd as this kit takes the planetary gears out completely.
In theyr description is:
Once converted you will have:
2 Wheel Drive High
2 Wheel Drive Low
4 Wheel Drive High Diff Lock
4 Wheel Drive Low Diff Lock

so if it uses the existing linkage then the vehicle will have only 4WD low or high with locked diff as with unlocked diff it will be only 2WD which IMO is a downgrade for big money
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
In theyr description is:
Once converted you will have:
2 Wheel Drive High
2 Wheel Drive Low
4 Wheel Drive High Diff Lock
4 Wheel Drive Low Diff Lock

so if it uses the existing linkage then the vehicle will have only 4WD low or high with locked diff as with unlocked diff it will be only 2WD which IMO is a downgrade for big money
True. But if it adds locking capability to my open-diff-only 03 with just this and a new linkage, then it could be worth it
 

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True. But if it adds locking capability to my open-diff-only 03 with just this and a new linkage, then it could be worth it
IMO this kit will work only if your TB already has the diff lock spigot which is in the front output housing not part of the central diff so without an already existing diff lock i doubt that you can do much with it cos there's nothing to connect a diff-lock linkage. So beside a new linkage with diff lock yo might need this too https://ashcroft-transmissions.co.uk/product/cdl-update-kit/ . You should ask those who sell it.

might be much cheaper if you find a used TB with diff lock at a breaker, like this Land Rover Discovery 2 2004 OEM Locking Transfer Case T-Case Box IAB500103 | eBay
 

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I was told handling was horrible in two wheel drive, but having run hundreds of miles without a front prop shaft, I wonder if true.
Same - I went without mine for a very long time as well and never really noticed any horrible handling. Wasn't ideal but the handling was fine on the streets while I waited for the HD front shaft.
 
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