GM/Chevy 250 Conversion in 90/110/130

RDavisinVA

Technical Excellence Contributor
Starting a separate thread on the 230 & 250 inline 6 cylinder engine conversions.
This engine conversion will bolt in and out of a 90/119/130 without vehicle modifications, like the 292 making it an easy, inexpensive weekend conversion.
Since the 230 and 250 blocks are 2" shorter than the 292, and the ancillary mounts are different, this thread should eliminate any confusion with the 292.

Why convert?
The performance and ease of conversion is remarkable and well suited to a Defender style vehicle.
After driving small diesels for over 15 years and having to deal with the high maintenance and poor performance coupled with reliability issues it was time for something better.
We built conversions for the Diahatsu 2.8 TD, the Iveco 2.8 TDI, the Isuzu 2.8 and 3.1 TDI, the OM617, and drove Land Rovers with 200 and 300 TDI engines.
These mechanical diesels are generally loud and smoky while the GM inline 6 is smooth and so quiet, you often don't hear it idling or driving.

The Chevy 250 was used in cars, trucks, vans, and had many industrial uses being manufactured from 1962 to 1990.
A good used GM inline 6 cylinder engine typically sells for under $500 and is usually less than $250.
The cam is driven by metal timing gears eliminating the need to change a timing belt or timing chain.
The GM High Energy Ignition (HEI) systems are extremely reliable and were used on military vehicles with out issue when submerged.
Parts are inexpensive with over the counter support from any local parts store.

There were several different versions of the 250 engine with different cylinder heads.
Some of the heads had separate bolt on manifolds, while other versions had the inlet manifold integrated into the head casting.
Both versions will fit into a 90/110/130 using our conversion kit.

If you want Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), the Holley Sniper is a good choice.
We have installed the BBD Sniper onto our prototype 250 (which we paid $125 for) with integrated head in our 110.
The other good news is that the stock Chevrolet air filter fits under the stock Land Rover hood when it's closed.

The other deciding factor was the accessibility to the engine and all the components.
Everything is within easy reach making for much shorter work intervals.
I timed changing a starter with hand tools that took 12 minutes.

With HEI and EFI, the only maintenance is changing the oil along with the rare wires, plugs, cap, rotor, and air filter renewals.

As of the date of this post, we RHD kits available if you have the factory power steering, alternator brackets.
We are waiting on the LHD brackets to be manufactured.
WILL BE UPDATING THIS THREAD AS THE OTHER COMPONENTS BECOME AVAILABLE.
For pricing, please send a PM or email.

All kits work in a Defender that left the factory with a 2.25, 2.5 Petrol or diesel engine, a 2.5 TD (19J), or a 200TDI.
The engine adapter will fit between the short belhousing LT77 or the R380 stumpy.
A 1.22 transfer case is recommended.
 

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RDavisinVA

Technical Excellence Contributor
We paid $125 for a 250 that came out of a wrecked Chevy Silverado and installed it into a RHD 110.
Because the engine already had the factory power steering pump and alternator with mounts for both, we used the RHD conversion kit without ancillary brackets which contains:
RH Metal Motor Mount 4 Cyl Frame 230 250 Engines
LH Metal Motor Mount 4 Cyl Frame 230 250 Engines
Belhousing adapter, All Inline 6 Engines
Belhousing adapter dust shield, All Inline 6 Engines
Pilot Bushing, All Inline 6 Engines.

THIS KIT IS AVAILABLE and can be purchased.

We spent a few hours connecting the engine to the R380 Stumpy transmission and 1.22 Discovery transfer case.
It took another hour to install the entire power train into the RHD 110.

It took me longer to remove the diesel radiator and intercooler, diesel fuel filter, 12V fuel pump, sedimenter, and flush the fuel tank; than it did to prep and install the Chevy 250.
The power steering return line went right on the factory Saignaw PS pump, the original pressure line will be mated to the factory pressure line at a hydraulic shop.
The alternator wires reach.
What an easy install.
Am convinced it can be accomplished in a weekend by any DIY guy.
Will post more pictures when I have time to finish up the rest of the install.
The engine had a carburetor for prototyping purposes which we will soon replace with a Holley Sniper.
Note the adapter for the Holley sniper sitting on the inlet manifold allowing for a bolt on conversion...
Again, the install was sooooo easy.
 

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RDavisinVA

Technical Excellence Contributor
If you want to purchase the RHD conversion kit without ancillary brackets now:

Shipping is not included, but I will send you a total once everything is packed and you can send the shipping payment via paypal.

There is also a pre-purchase terms and conditions that needs to be signed before you can receive a kit.
I am still working on the installation guide.
 

RDavisinVA

Technical Excellence Contributor
Here is a video Brian Took of his 250 powered defender with 1.4 TC.
He's switching to a 1.22 which is a better choice.

 

RDavisinVA

Technical Excellence Contributor
Installed the smaller Sniper BBD.
Runs great and the stock air filter fits under the stock hood.
The more you drive, the more it learns, the smoother it gets.
Had to update the sniper firmware that took 5 minutes to delete the old and unzip the new that was downloaded from the Holley site.
When it comes to fueling, Holley has their act together.
.
IMG_20200110_155823799.jpgIMG_20200110_155830290.jpgIMG_20200110_155934411.jpgIMG_20200110_155937755.jpgIMG_20200110_160000200.jpg
 
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RDavisinVA

Technical Excellence Contributor
No it won't.
This is electronic fuel injection for gasoline engines.
Considering the TDI is 2.5 liters and the Chevy 250 is 4.1 liters, providing 155 HP and 250 ft lbs of torque at 1650 RPM.
The 250 has 64% more swept volume (displacement).
Since I have only driven it about 2 miles since the EFI was installed, I have no benchmark MPG figures.
I suspect the result will be about 15 to 18 MPG based on the larger displacement 292 getting about 14 MPG.
The TDI typically has a 1.4 transfer case while we use a 1.2 with the 250 along with an R380 stumpy with the higher 5th gear.
 
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RBBailey

NAS-ROW Addict
Callsign: KF7KFZ
Not bad on MPG.

So... let me rephrase -- if I had an R380 stumpy, would your conversion work with a LHD 110? Would be interested if I knew I could hoard the parts, then sell my 300Tdi set up as one big piece, and swap in something like this.

I love the diesel, but when you weight the pros and cons of a daily driver....

By the way, I'd be satisfied with a non-EFI set up to get me running, convert to the EFI at a later date.
 

LostChord

Well-known member
Not bad on MPG.

So... let me rephrase -- if I had an R380 stumpy, would your conversion work with a LHD 110? Would be interested if I knew I could hoard the parts, then sell my 300Tdi set up as one big piece, and swap in something like this.

I love the diesel, but when you weight the pros and cons of a daily driver....

By the way, I'd be satisfied with a non-EFI set up to get me running, convert to the EFI at a later date.
As I understand it, RD has (or will have) conversion kits for both the 250 and 292, LHD and RHD.
 

RDavisinVA

Technical Excellence Contributor
We currently have RHD 250 kits available.
We are still working on the LHD alternator and AC brackets for the 250.
I cannot accuse the prototype machinist and fabrication shops of getting small batches of custom parts manufactured too quickly.
But essentially yes to answer your question as long as you can switch to the stumpy belhousing to accommodate the extra 2 cylinders of the inline 6.

After driving Land Rovers with small diesels for 15 years, and having to constantly be distracted by the maintenance and failures, the more powerful GM inline 6 engines are a breath of fresh air.
When you consider the higher price of diesel in VA, the differences in mileage about equal out.
The thing I like is turning the key and going at any temperature, at any time.
My only maintenance for our daily driver in the past 19 months has been oil changes.
Having an engine with metal timing gears, that starts and runs and allows you to pass every car on the highway that is fun to drive has transformed my driving habits.
We even bought a small fiberglass camper to tow, something I was never comfortable doing with a TDI because of the lack of performance.
 

RBBailey

NAS-ROW Addict
Callsign: KF7KFZ
I'm just experimenting with this thought since you did the 292, and now this. Should I be looking at the 292 thread for my truck?
 

RBBailey

NAS-ROW Addict
Callsign: KF7KFZ
OK, just to be clear on this, because although I'm not going to jump right into this right now, there will be a day when my engine needs major work, and the question will be a real-world situation:
  1. The 250 will work for my LHD... in the future, once you get the kit worked out.
  2. Is this true for the 292 as well?
  3. But I would need to get a stubby R380? (Can the R380 have a bell housing swap, or is it just too much work, might as well find a complete replacement.)
  4. The 1.4 is not a problem to keep, but it limits top cruise speed.
  5. Would the low end torque of the 250 or 292 be problematic when off road with a 1.2?
  6. Would the floor/tunnel need to be modified to go from the 300Tdi/R380 to the 250/292 Stubby R380?
  7. In general, how much of the current instrumentation (temp, psi, etc...) be plug and play with the Chevy conversion?
  8. Would the 300Tdi fuel system with electric pump in-line be a problem? I'm thinking specifically of the fuel tank and pick-up.
  9. You probably say this in the thread someplace, but are you using LR V8 radiator? With engine fan, or electric?
  10. What about the 300Tdi ignition set-up vs. the Chevy ignition set-up? (Referring mainly to proper wiring, etc...)
There's certainly something magical about a 110 with that Euro diesel. But practically speaking, your set up seems like a better alternative for daily driving. Personally, I like to get on the highways and go on long trips. Being able to sit at 70 mph is important on many of these modern roads, I don't like feeling like I'm that one guy holding up 10 cars, even if I am pulling over and letting them pass every few minutes. And it really is safer to have some power reserve. Also, if I'm in the Oregon backcountry, I guarantee Bubba will be able to fix the Chevy engine, or have parts, but he won't know a single thing about the Tdi.
 

RDavisinVA

Technical Excellence Contributor
You asked:
  1. The 250 will work for my LHD... in the future, once you get the kit worked out. ~Yes. Hopefully it won't be too much longer~
  2. Is this true for the 292 as well? ~Yes - we have LHD 292 kits available with AC~
  3. But I would need to get a stubby R380? (Can the R380 have a bell housing swap, or is it just too much work, might as well find a complete replacement.) ~an R380 belhousing swap is an option that requires basic mechanical skills and the ability to analyze the transmission and replace the necessary parts~
  4. The 1.4 is not a problem to keep, but it limits top cruise speed. ~The 1.4 needs to go to take advantage of the more powerful engine. If you run the 1.4, you'll be starting off the line in 2nd or 3rd and looking around for a 6th gear that doesn't exist when you are in 5th and then check to see if you're in 4th.
  5. Would the low end torque of the 250 or 292 be problematic when off road with a 1.2? ~no - an asset~
  6. Would the floor/tunnel need to be modified to go from the 300Tdi/R380 to the 250/292 Stubby R380? ~It's actually called stumpy and don't think so~
  7. In general, how much of the current instrumentation (temp, psi, etc...) be plug and play with the Chevy conversion? ~all of it~
  8. Would the 300Tdi fuel system with electric pump in-line be a problem? I'm thinking specifically of the fuel tank and pick-up. ~depends on if you use the recommended Holley sniper or a carb~
  9. You probably say this in the thread someplace, but are you using LR V8 radiator? With engine fan, or electric? ~I don't think what I used on the prototype is of any importance. A TDI radiator will not work, but a V8 radiator or one from any non-TDI 4 cylinder will work fine. We have a V8 radiator in the 292 110 because we replaced a 3.5 V8. We have a 2.5 petrol radiator in our 250 powered 110 because it was in the shop and not being used~
  10. What about the 300Tdi ignition set-up vs. the Chevy ignition set-up? (Referring mainly to proper wiring, etc...) ~non-issue, the HEI Distributor gets 1 wire, unless you run a tachometer which adds a second wire. The female spade connector for the 300TDI IP will plug right into the Chevy 250 HEI distributor, couldn't be easier or more simple. Brian (Brrrrt) didn't use HEI and has a distributor with external coil, but it was still a 1 wire connection to the coil~
There's certainly something magical about a 110 with that Euro diesel. But practically speaking, your set up seems like a better alternative for daily driving. Personally, I like to get on the highways and go on long trips. Being able to sit at 70 mph is important on many of these modern roads, I don't like feeling like I'm that one guy holding up 10 cars, even if I am pulling over and letting them pass every few minutes. And it really is safer to have some power reserve. Also, if I'm in the Oregon backcountry, I guarantee Bubba will be able to fix the Chevy engine, or have parts, but he won't know a single thing about the Tdi. ~this is huge for many that convert~
 
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RBBailey

NAS-ROW Addict
Callsign: KF7KFZ
Thanks. Good to see all these answers at once.
I'll certainly keep this in mind for the future. Would be looking for non-AC 250 or 292, LHD.
 

Brrrrt

Member
So I swapped my old 12J 2.5 NA diesel for the Chevy 250/4.1L conversion after Robert inspired me with his 292 conversion postings last year and I couldn’t be happier. I would highly recommend this conversion for anyone who is not a fan of diesels and doesn’t want to get into a LS swap due to cost or complexity. I can finally keep up with traffic, cruise on the highway, and have a conversation (also nice not to have the fumes and vibration of the diesel...I’m not a diesel guy). The engine fits in like it was meant to be there and there is plenty of room to access everything. I had the engine rebuilt and it runs super smooth, so I’m very happy with the decision. I currently have a 1.4 ratio LT230 and it drives great, but I do have a new Ashcroft LT230 with a 1.2 ratio coming later this month to make it even better (good winter project). I’m currently running a 1 bbl Rochester monojet carb, but will likely eventually upgrade to the Holly Sniper EFI. I have 2 Revotec electric fans intended for the Rover V8 (with brackets) on my original radiator, which does a great job keeping it cool. I’m still making some small tweaks here and there after 500 or so miles this summer/fall, but everything is pretty straight forward and so easy to work on. Robert posted a video of it driving already, but here are a few pics as well...

-Brian
10335
 

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RBBailey

NAS-ROW Addict
Callsign: KF7KFZ
Looks good! Starting with the carb, and moving up to EFI and a 1.2 is what I would probably do as well.

So no LHD version is merely due to a lack of brackets and mounts, not because the engine would not fit, correct?

Although you are in a 90, I'm curious what kind of MPG you are getting. I'm stuck on MPG because the Tdi has been a bit less than I thought it would be, but the RRC is currently at something like 10... (long story). And most of my driving is fairly short, so I don't get the best mileage anyway.
 
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