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A3gorist

Chevy Tracker Iron Duke Conversion?

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I have a 2000 Tracker that has the weedy little 1.7 in there with an automatic. While it has lasted for over 200k miles, it is so underpowered even for the platform it's in that it makes me sad for the 4wd it powers. I was thinking that the Iron Duke in one of its sizes would be fantastic. Not too overpowered for the chassis so little need for reinforcement and it shares a bolt patter with several other platforms allowing me a large pick of transmissions/transfer case mountups. 

Anyone heard of this being done? What size Duke was used out of what platforms and what all would need to be changed? I'd love to just slide an engine and transmission in and have it all bolt up, but since they tossed a 1.7 in there(and I'm pretty sure it's an oddball engine for the brands) that there is little chance of it being that similar to other setups. 

What would be the 'easiest(less custom made needed)' conversion for this just to give this little tracker a little more ass so it doesn't feel like I'm driving a lawnmower on the road(honestly, I have little complaint about the 4x4 driving even with this 1.7). 

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A3gorist...Interesting prospect!  The 2.5L Pontiac "Tech-IV" engine was available with TBI in several applications.  Jeep used the carbureted version of the Iron Duke engine in the late '70s/early '80s.  I had a 1981 Jeep CJ-5 built originally with the carbureted version, and though the Jeep was fun off-road in low range, its highway performance left a lot to be desired.  

I worked as a Pontiac/GMC Truck line mechanic in the 1983/84 model era and knew the Iron Duke well.  The engine itself is "bulletproof" but earlier designs with the rope rear main seal were a leak looking for a place to happen.  Very unfortunate and a plague to the small journal 2.8L V-6 engine (S-truck and Jeep XJ Cherokee variety) through mid-1985 as well.  On these engines, you would need to find an application with the upgraded rear main seal design.  Also, the Iron Duke has a reputation for OE timing gear and (late engines) timing chain and gear problems.  This could be remedied simply with aftermarket upgrade parts*...TBI might be desirable but would involve an ECM/ECU, lots of wiring plus interface with your Tracker chassis.

*Most 2.5L Iron Duke camshaft gears are micarta (fiber) and disintegrate at mileage.  For a new OE gear installation, the micarta gear must be heated in oil for fitting.  I remember doing this on G.M. four-main bearing inline sixes built in the '40s and '50s, amazing that Pontiac drew from that archaic technology.  These engines run quietly...while they're running!

I support the Iron Duke as an great swap choice for a light weight, flat-fender vintage Jeep CJ or military 4x4.  For a Tracker, you might be better off with the Suzuki stable of V-6 engines.  Or a big-journal, one piece main seal 2.8L or 3.4L G.M. 60-degree V-6.  (I could get excited about these G.M. V-6s in either carbureted or TBI/EFI version!)  The Suzuki engines would have more parts interchangeability with your 2000 Tracker.  Isuzu's relationship with G.M., however, would also make the 2.8L or 3.4L V-6 a prospect.

A long shot, depending upon your budget, would be the Cummins R2.8L inline four diesel.  I've covered that engine at the magazine (see SEMA Show interview with AA and Cummins).  Advance Adapters has already mated the R2.8L to the Aisin AX15 5-speed manual transmission for initial launch.

Any members with suggestions or experience with Tracker engine swaps?  Calmini Products is a place for some ideas:  www.calmini.com.  

Moses  

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I grew up in a GM/Mopar family so I a familiar with the pros, and cons, of the lines, at least from the 70's to the 90's. For Mopars, we joked about 'Dodge RUST Red' because of their horrible undercoating and propensity to rust, especially on the bottom, after a couple winters in the Midwest. With GM's, we told people that they were designed to leak oil because it seems like every GM engine ends up springing a leak somewhere. You just top off every couple months and, if you're 'lucky', you only need to change the filter at interval. 
But we loved them. As I got older, I came to love most all cars(except Ford, the one Ford I had I put Mazda parts on because it'd 'run better', lol). 

But I digress. I love the Iron Dukes. They were the first engines I worked on internally and it was an Iron Duke that I did my first rebuild on. I've run into the timing issue, I had an S10 with less than 70k on it that threw the chain. I was astonished because chains are supposed to be, typically, 'life of the vehicle', assuming 200k. I chalked it up to 'mass production fluke' but if what you're saying is true, I'm amazed I haven't run into more timing issues with them. 

I was honestly thinking of pulling a 4 or 6 out of an S10, the problem being that I would want the transmission(assuming 5spd) and, likley, the transfer case(assuming I can get a 4x4 with a 4cyl). Although, as I understand, the 2.8's(truck geared) don't push much more in the way of torque and I assume it wouldn't need much in the way of reinforcement and the space needed should be 'negligible'. 

I'm loathe to put a car engine into it as I want to make a 'Jeep Light' out of it, which brings me to the possibility of the Mopar Duke. But if you're saying it was weak on hwy, I don't know. My biggest complaint with the engine now is twofold:

1. It feels like a lawnmower on the road
2. I worry about over-stressing it as a ranch vehicle(off-road and light towing/pulling). 

I would love to return to a carbed setup though, I grew up working on pre 80's vehicles. My dad and I built an old 76 Trans from the frame up and tossed a blown, bored 464 in there with a 4spd knucklebuster. It was beautiful. I loved that you could get some hp or torque gain with a flathead screwdriver, lol. 

You're probably right that it would be a safer and easier prospect to pull a 6(or beefier 4) from a similar platform such as another Chevy/Geo Tracker or a Sidekick. I would imagine the mounting is fairly straightforward since the platform was designed for those engines and I'd think that the drivetrain, tranny, case and shafts, would be 'virtually' interchangeable reducing the need for fabricated/forged parts. 

What I want is a little more torque for utility and preferably some better gearing/banding for the road. 
 

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A3gorist...I do like the 60-degree V-6s for their overall narrow width.  The G.M. 3.4L would be a nice power gain if you can find a mate-up approach that works. (G.M. offered this as a crate engine for replacing the 2.8L carbureted and TBI engines as well as 3.4Ls.)  Otherwise, sticking with Suzuki products would seem easier...

It will be interesting to see how you achieve the power gain.  Keep us posted!

Moses

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This is all a bit in the future, but when I start moving on it, I'll post. Thanks again. Anyone else with any ideas or experience in this, feel welcome to give your two cents. 

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