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Hello from Ohio

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  • Hello from Ohio

    Hello everyone, My name is Mike I’m from Ohio, close to Lake Erie. My project is a ‘91/‘90 Ford Ranger extended cab, long bed 2WD. I’m here to hopefully gather info about these engines and more importantly get real world opinions/experience from someone or someoneS that have actually used and lived with the R2.8L. I would love to know the Good, the Bad, AND the Ugly. Even though it may not seem like it at times I will try real hard not to be a major PIA. Apologies in advance for any future PIA occurrences.

  • #2
    Hello from Indiana!

    I know I'm biased but I started the program after becoming obsessed with the parent engine to the R2.8 back in 2009 while I was daily driving a 4bt swap. Around 2011, I began driving ISF2.8 test pickup trucks for customer demos quite extensively and eventually got the green light to start the Repower program and develop our own shop order/calibration. I've daily driven R2.8's since 2015 and have never had a mechanical failure on or off road (one hand on the Bible). Depending on the vehicle specs/duty cycle etc, I've seen fuel economy from 18-31mpg while never trying to drive for max fuel economy. I love the low end torque, the sound, the range, and the uniqueness of having a mini heavy duty Cummins in my daily driver.

    The engine shares the same DNA of every Cummins engine from design standards to manufacturing quality processes. Cummins software (INSITE) and web support (QuickServe) etc that are used on all Cummins engines are used on this engine and QuickServe access is included. Something not many utilize because I'm not sure they understand how much is actually there. This isn't marketing BS, this is fact!

    The Bad/Ugly is typically related to installation trial and error on cooling components etc. All solvable but if you don't do your homework up front, it could cost you down the road. Being thoughtful/strategic about the other parts you use for your build and not getting sucked into the "aftermarket means better" when there are lots of heavily engineering OEM parts available to work into your builds. Build your budget first and make sure you can afford to complete the build in a timely fashion. Doing this conversion requires a chunk of change but in my household, we don't do new cars and car payments so I usually end up with something far more valuable than what I started with. The only thing worse than time being the pacing item is for money to be the pacing item of a project. No two swaps are the same so if you're not already, get comfortable with basic fabrication skills.


    • FordRangerSD
      FordRangerSD commented
      Editing a comment
      I really appreciate your response/insight. I can already tell it was a great choice joining this forum. I will do my level best to try to be a productive contributor to the group.

  • #3
    Hi Mike, welcome.

    I've been driving my R2.8 powered Bronco since last spring, so not nearly the seat time that Sanders has, but I have put it through its paces last summer. It was a daily driver from April to ~September when I went back to my truck for work. In that time I was able to do some towing with our camper, some 4-wheeling and log some good mileage data. The truck has gotten many compliments and people seem very impressed when I show them the R2.8. The usual comments are "it's not loud like I expected" or "It doesn't smell like a diesel".

    From my experience, the R2.8 is a good balance of power and economy. Coming from a nearly 400 HP V8 to the the 161HP 4-cyl, there is a noticeable difference in power, but the vehicle moves in traffic very well and when you're up to speed, the difference is negligible due to the torque being at a more usable RPM than the V8 had. (V8 peaked at 3500 rpm) The R2.8 is a real hero off-road! Great low-end torque, great fuel economy and it runs very cool on hot days. I would describe the idle tuning as aggressive. Wheeling a manual transmission, I'm use to the engine stalling when you bump into a rock, but the R2.8 just pours on the throttle. I have not stalled the engine to date.

    Mileage is good. I get a consistent 23 mpg commuting, which is great for a truck that has the aerodynamics of a brick. Towing our camper, I pulled a solid 17 mpg. My F250 diesel only gets 13 mpg towing the same camper.

    The bad? Builder parts/adapters are still few and far between. If you have a Jeep and a big wallet, life is good. For me, I had to carefully read the application guide, which is really good, and engineer my own parts or carefully source quality OEM parts that worked with my application. Being slow and purposeful, it took me 2 yrs to get my rig on the road, but it worked right the first time and I haven't changed or fixed a thing.

    Cummins has done a great job with this package, but us average Joe's have lots of questions and there aren't a ton of answers yet, so some things you need to figure out on your own. This forum is really becoming a great resource as more builders and garage mechanics come together to integrate this system into the aftermarket. Sanders has also stepped up many times to help fill in the gaps from the OEM perspective and has a good engineering approach to problems.


    • FordRangerSD
      FordRangerSD commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you for the acknowledgment. I am curious, if you don’t mind, what is the curb weight of your Bronco by itself and the camper by itself. And the total combination weight of both the Bronco and the camper the way you typically travel down the road, luggage gear etc.

  • #4
    Originally posted by Digger View Post
    Sanders has also stepped up many times to help fill in the gaps from the OEM perspective and has a good engineering approach to problems.
    Thank you for the kind words! Hopefully will continue to do more and more on here! I'm also trying to encourage all those who reach directly out to me on my work email or phone to fire up an account on here so that any answers can be shared with everyone and we can all help one another with our builds from a technical perspective or just good ol' fashioned mental support and encouragement


    • #5
      I've been driving my R2.8 swapped TJ for about 3 and a half years and the only problems I've had were from the builder (me) making mistakes and simply having a worn out 25 year old Jeep. I always think of it as a small block V8 without the power/acceleration and the fuel consumption.

      Real world examples: My wife has a 2014 Tacoma with the 4.0 and the highest gear ratio we could get 3.73 with stock tires and the R2.8 holds speeds massively better and I've got 33" mud tires, equipment rack and 3.73s. I can pull grades without any shifting and the Tacoma can not maintain speed on most inclines and when going down steep hills the R2.8 engine doesn't get pushed like a gas engine. The TJ gets low 20 MPGs. The Tacoma gets high teens MPG on the highway without the rack and A/T tires. Without the rack I could get 26 MPG mixed mostly highway with mud tires. With regular tires and rack I could get about 24 MPG mixed mostly highway. In a race the Tacoma would smoke the TJ (though I hold back because I'm afraid my AX-15 can't handle the abuse).

      It's a well mannered engine and it's pretty lightweight. There is a part of me that would like swap the turbo, stroke it and build the bottom end and tune it with a stronger transmission, but it's just almost perfect for my application.

      The only negative (and it's really not a negative) I've got and why it likely won't be in my next project is that it's not my choice for a 1 ton project that I want to tow fairly heavy stuff with. I've got a bit of an affinity for 300+HP diesels (also a 6BT is just simply an amazing engine), as they just seem so versatile for my needs, but they aren't typically light and nimble either and it's obviously a different category. Now I'd be listening if we're talking about a R3.8 or something, but I haven't heard about that being an option.

      Slight rant warning that reminds me that I'm getting old. When I started my project I was debating to get a brand new truck with one of the smaller diesels and though there is something to be said about rolling off the dealer's floor for just a signature and a payment every month, but as I see these new trucks broken and only the dealer being able to work/service them, I'm absolutely tickled with my project, because it's serviceable and I can do the service or I can get plenty of shops to work on it other than the dealer, though if it's engine related I'll take it to the many Cummins shops that are around. The only caveat I have is that I should have just bitten the bullet and completely rebuilt my Jeep when I was doing the swap. It's not a huge deal, but if I have an issue now it's typically because I have something broken on 25 year old vehicle, but it typically gets fixed very quickly and easily when some of these vehicles take months to get fixed. My wife's car was down for 6 months before anyone was willing to repair it and then everything cost twice as much.


      • FordRangerSD
        FordRangerSD commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you for the reply. With the tire size and ratio you’re using what is the highway cruising RPM at 70 MPH?

    • #6
      My Rover specs are:
      • ~32" tire
      • final drive is 4.32:1 (3.54 R&P in the axles and the Disco's 1.22:1 high range underdrive in the T-case)
      • GM6L80 has a 6th gear ratio .67:1.
      • 75mph I'm around 2200 RPM (my typical interstate speed for that rig)
      • 70mph is just north of 2000 RPM
      In my current Jeep truck build, I'm starting with 3.73's and 35's with the AX15's .79 5th gear. That should knock me down to a little over 70mph @ 2000rpm.


      • #7
        With 3.73:1, .79 5th gear and "33's" at this point they are likely 32" or just under, but my GPS speedometer at 70 I'm just a little over 2100 RPM fairly close to 2200 RPM.

        I actually ended up picking that ratio, by suggestions on this site, plus playing around with different tire sizes when I still had 3.07 gear ratio. I found that when running the really small diameter tires that would have been equivalent to 33's and 3.73s that the Jeep held grades so much better, even during light towing. Since I've got a manual, I don't want to be shifting all the time so IMO 3.55 would have been the minimum I'd suggest with 33s if you're going to be lightweight and do very little towing, but since I'm a bit more loaded I figured 3.73's or 4.10's would have been ideal for 33s, depending on what response you're looking for.

        I think one day (~250k mi when I need to replace the timing chain) I'll actually get something like a Ford/GM 6L80, which I think will be perfect with a slightly tuned R2.8, my current gearing, and to make it easier for my wife to drive (well she can drive a manual, but it's more that I just don't like smelling the burning of my clutch when she drives).


        • #8
          37 inch tires, 4.56 gears.

          2500 rpm @ 75 mph
          ~2300 rpm @ 70 mph


          • #9
            Right now my intent is to run a ford 6R80 six speed auto 2WD behind mine. Has anyone heard ANYTHING good bad or indifferent about a set up like that?