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Where are you finding used cummins engines for that price?
All over my area
One thing to keep in mind with a Cummins swap is weight. They’re 1100 lbs and IMO the pre 90 dodge truck platform is not properly set up to handle that weight. I had an 89 CTD that tore the LCA Mount right through the rivets. I had noticed cracking around the rivets but didn’t think enough to do anything about it. My friend with an 89 CTD had the same cracks at the LCA mounts. My fix was to buy an entire front chassis from a 91. They redesigned the front cross member and LCA mounts to be a single stamped piece. Just a thought. 6BT is an awesome engine, but it’s also a heavy pig.
Coincidentally someone just posted a rebuilt 6bt and 4500 trany for 5k on craigslist here.
IMO, The problem with the aftermarket heads for this type of application is that the ports are bigger than stock, and so are the valves. Neither of those two things are going to be desirable for high load, low rpm situations. The only “good” way around that is add a bunch of cubes so the proportions between the cylinder size and the port/valve size don’t get skewed too far out of whack. Of course, the stroker kit and heads makes the motor cost about twice as much. I’d probably risk it with some stock heads myself. I’d look for some 516’s that didn’t have a ton of core shift.
Here’s my old 89 CTD that broke
I don't recall seeing any high mileage used 6bt on craigslist for any less around here. You could just about buy a whole used pickup for the same asking price.
92 5.9 Cummins w/nv4500