80-97 Ford with a Cummins engine- Overview
What does it take to put a Cummins engine in my 1980-1997 Ford truck?
General information for all models:
Plan on doing some cutting on your radiator support and also on your 80-91 grille to allow the intercooler to be installed. Some banging on your firewall with a hammer to make some more room for the valve covers and exhaust is also necessary. This is explained more fully in our installation manual.
Diesel radiators are recommended for extra cooling capacity if your truck currently has a gas engine. Stay clear of any radiators that have X braces in between the radiator and the engine, or any that are wider than 31”, and swap in a better choice, such as a 96-97 Powerstroke radiator with the remote fill tank. These radiators have the hose connections on the same side as the Dodge radiators making them easier to connect to the Cummins engine. Diesel and Gas truck radiator supports are different, so if you plan to change radiators plan to change the core support as well. If you have a 92-97 style Ford, use the radiator and core support from a 92-97 Ford that had 7.3 Powerstroke or non- Powerstroke diesel (with a 31” wide radiator). If you have an 80-92 style Ford, use the radiator and core support that held a 31” wide radiator from an 84-92 Ford with a 6.9 or 7.3 diesel if you don’t have it already.
If you have a 91-93 Dodge radiator and intercooler, they have been used before by fabricating mounting brackets.
Usually the 12 or 24 valve Cummins is the engine chosen for the new power plant in these trucks. A few guys have installed a 03 or newer common rail engine. These require a bit more work because the power steering reservoir on the Cummins will hit the steering box and the ECM must be relocated for engine mounting. The 03 Dodge radiator and intercooler work best as well.
Generally, gear ratios that are lower (numerically higher) than 4:10 are too low for the Cummins engine, especially if you don’t have an overdrive transmission. This will limit your top speed and dramatically increase your fuel consumption unless you plan to use some taller tires.
Wiring instructions for 12 or 24 valve engines are sent out with your parts for the specific year of your truck. If you would rather we can offer you modification services for your original Ford engine wire harness for these engines just as we do for the 03 and newer engines.
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C-6: We make adapter plates for the 460 or 6.9 diesel C-6. The small block “M” bolt pattern will also bolt up to a 460 pattern, but requires extra grinding and cutting (using one of these transmissions is not really recommended, but it is possible). If your truck has 3.55 or higher gears you may be happy with keeping this transmission, even though a lock up torque converter and an overdrive is very beneficial with a diesel engine. One of the benefits of using this transmission is that it is completely non-electronic so an aftermarket transmission controller is not needed. The trade off is that you will probably need to rework the governor, and/or valve body. You will also have to either use an adjustable vacuum modulator delete plug or a throttle vacuum valve, which controls the vacuum modulator. These parts control transmission line pressure and shift points, which will need to be different because the Cummins engine has a much lower rpm limit. Currently you are required to grind away some material in the starter pocket to allow clearance for the Cummins starter; you will end up with a small hole in the bell housing of the transmission. We have not heard of any adverse effects from this, except your transmission will probably not be a good core if you ever want to trade it in for a rebuild.
E40D (also 99-02 7.3 4R100) - Unless it’s a Bronco or a F-150, this is what your truck has now if it is a 4 speed automatic. If you are planning on doing a lot of heavy pulling or adding a lot of performance upgrades to your Cummins, you may want to have your transmission beefed up with aftermarket parts and get an aftermarket torque converter.
We have two styles of adapter plates available for the diesel version of the E4OD/4R100. If you buy yourself a Ford 6.0 diesel starter, you can use the adapter plate that does not require any grinding of the transmission. This adapter plate uses the stock Dodge Cummins flexplate and a torque converter adapter. The plate has to be tilted just 2 ½ degrees to accommodate the starter without grinding.
If you have a Cummins starter already and don’t mind grinding, you can use the Cummins starter. You will need to remove enough material just above the starter pocket in the bell housing that you will end up with a hole in the side of the transmission. We have done this many times and have not had any adverse effects.
We recommend that you have performance upgrades done to this transmission if you will be doing heavy towing or making performance upgrades to the Cummins engine.
Transmission control- Although we do not recommend it, some early E40D’s that were behind a non-powerstroke engine do not absolutely require an aftermarket transmission controller. However, do not expect the transmission to shift in the optimum torque range of the Cummins since the Cummins makes its power at a much lower rpm than the 7.3. It also is required for you to make a bracket to mount your original Ford throttle position sensor to the Cummins throttle lever. We do not provide such a bracket. There have been more than a few guys try this option and had not so great results. A few have even burned up their transmission.
We offer two styles of transmission controllers for these transmissions. The Compushift controller does not require a laptop computer. When using this controller, you will have to upgrade to newer E40D components that are compatible with the controller. The PCS controller does require a laptop computer, but has many features that make it a great choice, including a good price.
The 99-02 7.3 4R100 is a bolt in alternative to any E4OD, and these are a better choice if you are swapping in a 4 speed auto in place of a C-6 or manual trans as they have a speed sensor in the tail shaft housing (the E4OD does not). This allows you to use a transmission controller without having to get a speed signal off the rear axle. These transmissions will work with your older transfer case.
5R110- If you want a reliable automatic transmission in your older truck that will handle the power of the Cummins as is you may want to consider the 5R110. These are a 5 speed that come behind the 6.0l Fords. These transmissions are practically a bolt in replacement for the E40D/4R100 (with the 5R110’s transfer case and appropriate FordCummins adapter plate). While the E40D/4R100 transmissions can be beefed up to handle the power, the 5R110 can handle it as is. If you can find a good used 5R110 and transfer case cheaper than beefing up your existing tranny, it may make more sense to use the 5R110.
See our 5R110 conversion information for more information about the 5R110.
Ford Manual Transmissions
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Ford 5 speed- we make adapter plates for these transmissions as long as they were behind a 7.3 diesel or a 460 big block. We have two styles of plates available for the 7.3 version of this transmission; the Ford 6.0 starter and Cummins starter versions. The Cummins starter version requires grinding of the starter pocket on the transmission bell housing for starter clearance. The Ford 6.0 starter version does not require any grinding of the transmission bell housing for clearance. Both styles of these adapter plates use the Dodge Cummins flywheel and clutch. This transmission was introduced in 1987. It is rated for 420 ft.lb of torque. 95 and newer transmissions are rated for 470 ft/lbs of torque.
Ford 6 speed- Although this transmission did not come as original equipment in these years it can be used in these trucks as we make adapters for the 7.3 and 6.0 diesel six speeds. We do not currently make an adapter to the V10 6 speed. Ford started using this transmission in ’99. They are rated for 520 ft/lbs of torque. Using one of these transmissions is possible in your 80-97 Ford by modifying the transmission cross member and floor. We have transplanted the ZF-6 speed into 97 era trucks. If you have a fuel tank directly behind the transmission you also have to hammer one end of it to make room for the six speed transfer case if your truck is a four wheel drive. Your transfer case shifter can be replaced with a Super Duty version which works better by modifying the Super Duty bracket. You can still use the existing hole in the floor. Currently we only make a versions of the plates that use the Cummins starter, which require grinding of the transmission bell housing for starter clearance.
NP 435/T-18/T-19 4 speed- The 435 is identified by an aluminum shift tower. The T-18 and 19 both had cast iron shift towers. The T-18’s have a case number of 1301. We can adapt to these with our custom flywheel (FCPN 1406, $595.00) and one of our adapter plates. You will also need to get a bell housing from a T19 (case number 1309) from behind a 460 or a Ford diesel (6.9/7.3) for the necessary clutch clearance (if you don’t already have one). You will need a 12” clutch disc and pressure plate for a Ford diesel (6.9/7.3) that had a T19. You will also need a ½” starter spacer. Keep in mind without an overdrive your top speed can be very limited, and although these transmissions have a reputation for being tough, they are not as tough as the newer ZF transmissions because of their smaller input shaft.
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We sell two different styles of adapter plates for automatic and ZF-5 speed transmissions that were behind a 7.3 diesel version, depending on the starter used. If you get a Ford 6.0 diesel starter you can avoid grinding on your transmission. If you already have a Dodge Cummins starter, and don’t mind grinding the transmission out for starter clearance (we’ve done a pile of them that way with no problems), you may use that starter. Currently all 460 and 6 speed transmission adapters must use the Cummins starter only, and require grinding for starter clearance. Minor grinding of insignificant areas on the engine block is also required for starter clearance.
All adapter plates for automatic transmissions original to these years use our torque converter adapter ring along with the Dodge flexplate. Manual transmissions use the appropriate Dodge Cummins flywheel.
Our adapter plates are built out of aircraft quality aluminum and they replace the existing adapter on the Cummins Engine, making a factory quality connection between the engine and the Ford transmission.
Mounts are designed for mounting in two original mount plate holes on your cross member You will need to move the transmission back about 2 ½ inches, requiring your drive shaft lengths to be changed at a machine shop. This allows you to use the engine driven fan on the Cummins. Some of our customers choose to leave the transmission in the stock location and use electric fans; however, we do not usually recommend this as we do hear back from more than a few who have cooling problems. Electric fans probably don’t save you any money or time in the long run, but they are possible to use if you would prefer. You would need to do some work on the cross member for the different mounting placement, as there is no flat spot on the cross member for the engine mounts to sit when leaving the transmission in the stock location.
Bushing kits include adapters to put your Ford gauge sending units into the Cummins engine, along with a vacuum line tee and a compression coupler for your power steering line.
Alternator Regulator Kit:
When using the 12 or 24 valve Dodge alternator, an external voltage regulator is needed to replace the Dodge’s PCM regulating function. In our experience these work better than an internal regulator that is available for these alternators. The kit also includes a wire pigtail connector and a condenser. 99-02 Cummins swaps may use the optional Dodge PCM to regulate the alternator. 03 and newer engines use the required Cummins ECM so the regulator isn’t needed. Some 80-97 trucks already have an external alternator regulator on the passenger side inner fender. If it does you can use it by re-wiring it to the Dodge Cummins alternator.
We sell exhaust manifolds that work much better than the stock Dodge Cummins manifolds in the conversion for the 12 valve and 98.5-02 24 valve engines. These manifolds place the turbo in a quite better place for a/c box clearance, and they also make exhaust and turbo oil drain connections easier as well. For the 24 valve engines, other exhaust pieces are necessary as well when using our exhaust manifolds. Using these manifolds requires re-orientation of the turbo housings for proper oil draining. This also requires fixing the waste gate shut in most cases- which does not adversely affect the engine, although we recommend using a boost gauge to make sure you avoid boost pressures over 40 psi. We also offer a flexible oil drain tube for the turbo that makes the drain tube a snap, and gaskets for the new manifold for a reasonable extra cost. The manifolds do not come with turbo mounting studs, but you may use the studs in your original manifold. It may take some heat to get them out, so if you would rather not fight them we can sell you new ones.
Tach kit- these parts are necessary to make your factory tachometer work:
A tach sensor (not needed for 6.9 trucks since you can use your 6.9 sensor).
A tach mount base- the 91-98 Dodge Cummins engines should already have one of these, unless it’s been taken off. The Dodge Cummins base is bolted to the front cover- about 11 O’clock to the balancer. If you have one, it can be used if you drill and tap a hole in it to bolt the tach mount to it. You will need a tach base if you have any of the following engines: 89-91 Dodge application (usually did not have a tach), 98.5 and newer Cummins Dodge, and all bus or commercial/industrial applications.
The tach mount- this is the part that holds the sensor
A tach ring – the part that bolts to the front of your Cummins balancer. Trucks with gas engines don’t need the tach ring if you want to grind notches in your Cummins harmonic balancer.
The Compushift controller for the E40D is user friendly and does not require a laptop computer. It is very helpful to have the programmer/display box so it is highly recommended that you purchase one with the controller.
We also offer the PCS controller that works very well, but a laptop computer is required. If you do have a laptop, we recommend this controller as it has many good features- including two switchable calibrations and fully adjustable shift and torque converter lock up points.
Both controllers are shipped pre-programmed with wiring instructions specific to the year of your truck, and we are available for technical assistance with installation and use of them.
Air filter kit: We sell a K&N air filter, pipe and hose to connect to your turbocharger. Two versions are available; one style puts the air filter right between your passenger side battery and the radiator, while the other puts it right behind the passenger side headlight where the passenger side battery is now (this requires the passenger side battery to be moved over to the driver’s side).
A/C manifold: This manifold bolts to the back of a ’94 and newer Dodge a/c pump, making the a/c plumbing less of a challenge. All you will need to do is have some new hoses crimped between our manifold and your Ford pieces at the drier and evaporator. If you would like, you may send your Ford lines and have us crimp the new hoses to the new manifold for a reasonable price.
The 94 and newer pump works fine in these trucks, but you may have to move the power steering lines on the engine cross member and cut a hole in the cross member to allow access to the manifold mounting bolt.
Radiator Hose kit: We can also provide you with radiator hoses, along with a custom bent lower hose connector tube. Most of the hoses that are included in the kit are not hoses your local parts house will usually stock, but we have what works in stock at a reasonable price. (Cutting the hoses and the tube to the right length is necessary.)
Some other parts you will need to get on your own:
Intercooler- any Super Duty diesel intercooler can be added to your truck, welding and cutting is required. There are some rare versions of the Super Duty intercooler that have one neck that angles out instead of straight back- stay away from this one, unless you are running a 460 radiator. The 93 Dodge intercooler and radiator is also an option.
Additional battery- not completely required for previously gas powered trucks, but certainly not a bad idea.
Intercooler pipes- usually modified Dodge pipes work or you can sometimes get some bent out of scratch.
Cruise servo- If your truck was a 94-97 Diesel it used the Ford PCM for cruise control. You will have to install a gas powered truck’s cruise servo according to our wiring instructions. If your truck already has a cable operated cruise control, you will just need to weld the Ford throttle cable bracket onto the Cummins throttle bracket and reuse your original throttle and cruise cables.
Gas pedal- Some years of trucks will need a gas powered truck’s gas pedal. This pedal will replace your Ford diesel’s “fly by wire” pedal so that you can connect the Dodge Cummins throttle cable.
Exhaust downpipe- usually the Dodge Cummins downpipe for an engine the same year as you have is a good start to get the exhaust under your cab. Be prepared you will most likely have to make some modifications to it, but it’s nothing an exhaust shop can’t handle or yourself if you have a mig welder.
For more detailed information on the rest of the Ford Cummins diesel conversion order the Installation Manual.
*click here to see more info on our ADAPTER PLATES
80-97 Ford Pictures
Here are a few pictures of 80-97 Fords with a Cummins engine.