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Norton, MA

Obtaining a 3.0L Dodge Monaco/Eagle Premier Engine

Repairs and Maintenance Blog

The DeLorean needs routine maintenance and the occasional, more significant refurbishing.  Beyond that there are also a number of customizations and upgrades to improve performance, reliability and functionality. 

Obtaining a 3.0L Dodge Monaco/Eagle Premier Engine

Joe Angell

With the damaged 2.8L engine removed from the DeLorean, it was time to get a 3.0L to swap in.  Others have had success with Craigslist, but I couldn't find any Dodge Monacos or Eagle Premiers in my area for sale -- either just the engine or the entire car.  Not that the entire car would do me much good, as I didn't have room to dismantle it anyway.

Instead, I went to eBay.  I had the best luck by searching for "Eagle Premier 3.0 engine" and "Dodge Monaco 3.0 engine".  There were a dozen or so engines listed.  Most had between 70k and 100k miles on them, with prices ranging from $250 to $600 (not including shipping), but I managed to find one in Virginia for $250 with only 36k miles on it from M&M Auto Recycling, so I went with that one.

There were no pictures, (I could have asked if I wanted to wait another day), but I wasn't overly worried about that; the pictures I saw on other listings weren't overly useful.  There's a ninety day warranty, but only if it's professionally installed within seven days in its intended application, so obviously I wasn't going to be using that either.


The quite significant lip to get into my garage, rising about 3" above the sidewalk -- there's no way that hand pallet truck would have gotten the engine to my garage.

The quite significant lip to get into my garage, rising about 3" above the sidewalk -- there's no way that hand pallet truck would have gotten the engine to my garage.

I'm a bit new to freight delivery, so I wanted to make this as simple as possible.  I'd had some furniture delivered by freight before, and they were used to dealing with individuals, but I sort of assumed that anyone delivering an engine expected it to be delivered to a commercial area.  They usually came in large box-style trucks, which is what I expected here as well.

Since my rental garage has no driveway and is on a narrow road that would be difficult for a freight truck to maneuver in, I had it delivered to my home instead, with the idea that they'd just leave it in the driveway until I could transport it to the garage myself.  I also wasn't sure if the high lip in front of the garage would interfere with any forklift they had, assuming they even had one.  Residential shipping (or shipping to anywhere that doesn't have a loading dock and a fork lift) was $236 to get it to Massachusetts.

Shipping was fairly quick -- I paid for it on Monday, and M&M Auto Recycling had it on the truck Tuesday morning.  On Wednesday the freight company called me to confirm delivery on Friday between 2 PM and 6 PM.

On delivery day, the driver called me about half an hour before he arrived, just to be sure I was home and ready to accept the shipment.  He pulled up in a full-on forty foot long tractor trailer truck -- there was no way that was going to fit on the narrow road my garage was on.  The engine was also the only thing on the truck.  It was strapped to a small pallet, which was then strapped to a larger pallet more suitable for a forklift.  The driver used a hand pallet truck (a sort of small, hand-operate forklift) to engine to the powered lift on the back of the trailer, and then wheeled it into my driveway.

A hand pallet truck similar to the one used to unload the engine from the semi trailer.

A hand pallet truck similar to the one used to unload the engine from the semi trailer.

Even if the semi could have made it down the road my garage is on, there is no way it would shave made it into the garage itself -- the pallet lift has basically zero ground clearance, and my garage has an annoyingly tall lip that I'm barely abel to get the DeLorean's own wheels over.  Delivering it to my house was definitely the right choice.

Delivery Inspection

With the engine sitting in my driveway I was able to take a quick look around it to see if everything was there.  It was almost completely enclosed in plastic wrap for shipping, and I didn't want to undo before I got it to the garage, but I was still able to see a few things.

There seemed to be no rust on any of the visible metal components, which was good; some other engines on eBay had rusted main pulleys and other components, but this one looked to be in good shape in that respect.  They included the air box, fuel rails, and some other pulleys that were already mounted on the engine, and I saw a plastic-covered wire for part of the electronics, but it was hard to see exactly what else included with the engine wrapped up like that.

The engine as delivered.  The loose plastic in the top photo is from my cutting it open; it was shipped tightly wrapped as in the bottom photo.

A note mentioned that a freeze plug on the left hand cylinder head was bad; some quick googling told me what a freeze plug was (aka a core plug, a hole used as part of the casting process that is plugged when the engine is put into use that can also act as a pressure relief if the coolant freezes, popping out to keep the block from cracking) and I quickly found some videos showing how easy they are to replace.

I also noticed that there was no flex plate or flywheel mounted on the engine.  This wasn't a real problem; it was quite possible that I'd have to swap the flex plate from my 2.8 anyway, since the one from the Monaco might not have bolted up to the DeLorean's torque converter.  My flex plate had been replaced a few years ago during one of the transmission swaps, so it was likely newer than any that would have shipped with the Monaco's engine.

Transport to the Garage

Now that the engine was sitting in my driveway, I had to get it to my garage.  The plan was simple: I would rented a pickup truck from Home Depot and use it to bring my engine hoist home.  I'd set up the engine hoist around the pallet, and ran chains under the pallet to the hook to the hoist.  Once the engine was in the air, I'd backed the pickup truck under the engine and lowered into the bed, using ratchet straps to secure it to the bed during the 20 minute drive tot he garage.

Getting the engine into the garage would be the reverse -- I'd assembled the hoist in the garage and back the pickup truck in as far as I could.  I'd ran the chains back under the pallet and lift the engine off the bed with the hoist, drive the truck out, and lower the engine back onto the ground.  My only real concern with this plan was that the engine hoist be able to lift the engine high enough to clear the bed without hitting the open garage door.

My first stop was to Harbor Freight to get some ratchet straps and chains.  I got some grade 70 tow chains -- way overkill for this task, but they were easy to find and inexpensive.  Then it was off then get a truck.

Renting the Truck

Home Depot (top) and Lowe's (bottom) rental trucks.

Home Depot (top) and Lowe's (bottom) rental trucks.

After realizing I'd lost my garage key and getting a one from the landlord, I drove down to Home Depot ant took a look at their rental truck.  It's a nice design with fold-down side, but the large flat bed means that the lift height is pretty high -- more than three feet off the ground.  I was worried about having enough clearance to lift the engine once the truck was backed into the garage.  There were also what looked like two anchor points in the back and two square holes in the front for attaching ratchet straps.

I drove down to Lowe's to see what thay had.  It was a Chevy pickup with a crew cab.  While it had a conventional pickup bed, ti was also about three feet off the ground; again, the bed was completely above the wheels, which meant there were no wheel wells blocking the cargo area, but I really wanted the lower bed height for my applicate.  I decided this was going to be good enough, although in retrospect I should have checked UHaul to see how their trucks were.

I'd rented vans and pickups from Home Depot before; there you just go to the tool rental area with your driver's license and registration, and they set you up.  I expected the same from Lowe's, but it seems they've partnered with Hertz.  There's a kiosk with a camera, a phone handset and two monitors.  You video chat with a Hertz representative at the kiosk, scanning or swiping your driver's license and swiping your credit card for authorization.  This worked fine, although my credit card company immediately flagged the transaction due to the fact that Hertz handles all rentals from their offices in Oklahoma.  My bank quickly called me and asked me to confirm the authorization, although we then had to wait another ten minutes before the card was unlocked.

Instead of giving you a key, the kiosk dispenses a member card and a piece of paper with instructions and a member code.  This code is also used with the gas card found in the truck -- gas is included with Lowe's rentals (with Home Depot you have to pay extra).  You place the member card over the reader on the windshield to unlock the doors, and then confirm your identity via the small terminal next to the steering wheel.  The keys are attached with a retractable line near the ignition, and won't work until the terminal authorizes you.  If you need to restart the truck, you have to hold the card near the reader on the windshield again.

I told them I'd need about an hour and a half of rental time.  I wound up being pretty far off.  It took me 15 minutes just to get out of the parking lot, between hacking the frozen snow off the truck bed, almost twisting my ankle as I slipped on the ice in front of the cab, gunning it over the bank of snow that had built up behind the wheels, and nearly backing into a car as I tried to leave.  Luckily a nearby Lowe's employee saw my trouble helped direct me and the long truck out of the space without breaking anything.

Loading up the Engine Hoist

I took the truck back to the garage to load up the engine hoist.  The legs and extendable arm come off easily, and the crew cab came in handy for holding these smaller pieces.  I had to use a shovel to knock the snow out of the bed, and this is when I noticed that the plastic bed liner they installed completely covered an kind of tie-down points.  I didn't really know what the point was in having a rental truck when you couldn't secure anything into the bed.  I decided to just make due and, once I remembered how to use the ratchet straps, hooked them under the fenders.

Even with the extendable arm and legs removed, the hoist is still quite heavy, but not so heavy that I couldn't get it in the truck.  I also loaded up some of the pallets that I use to keep the car in the air while I'm working on it, some scrap wood, and some bins of assorted nuts and bolts in case I decided to lift the engine from above instead of running the chains through the pallets.  I used ratchet straps to keep the hoist from moving around the bed, and put everything else in the back of the cab.

I got a mile from the garage before I realized I forgot to bring the bolts.  A more worrying issue was that there was a storm coming tonight, and it was already beginning to snow.  I was now an hour and a half into my rental time.

Picking up the Engine

Back at the house, the snow had started to pick up a bit.  I got the hoist off the truck and immediately saw that the pallet was far too wide to fit between the hoist's legs.  Luckily I already knew this because I'd thought to measure it earlier, and this is why I'd brought the pallets from the garage.  Since I didn't need the hoist to move, I assembled it on top of one of my pallets, allowing the legs to sit between the smaller pallet the engine was sitting on.

The engine was secured to the pallet with steel bands, with the band itself crimped with a ferrule of some sort.  The ferrule came off with a bit of prying and bending from my Leatherman.  The smaller pallet was tied to the engine mounts with nylon rope, which I left in place.

With the hoist assembled, I decided to lift the engine from the top, rather than running the chain through the pallet. I had the hoist's arm extended out most of the way so that I could get the engine as far into the truck as possible.  The 3.0L engine has the same lift points as the DeLorean's 2.8L.  I used some of the bolts I brought to attach about a foot of tow chain to two diagonally opposite lift points.  I only hand tightened the nuts on the bolts, and then only a few turns -- not exactly safe, but I wasn't moving the hoist.  I ran the chain through the hook, which meant that the chain would slip on the hook a little as it was lifted -- again, not exactly safe; you should loop the chain or hook the chain links through the hook itself so that if one end fails the engine won't fall, but my chain was exactly the wrong size to do either of these, and it was starting to snow harder.

The engine lifted easily.  The weight of the engine kept the nuts form turning off and the chain stayed right where I needed it to.  Unfortunately, the pickup truck was so high that I had to cut off the ropes holding the smaller pallet to the engine.

With the engine all the way up, my wife Zoe guided me as I backed the truck under the engine as far as I could.I was able to slip a piece of scrap wood under the engine in the truck before lowering it down, and was able to use a piece of 2x4 to push them back into the bed a bit.  I disassembled the hoist and placed it behind the engine to keep it from tipping over.  I then packed pallets and scrap wood around the engine to make sure that it stayed upright, with the small shipping pallet between the engine and the tailgate.  Finally I used one ratchet strap to secure the hoist while another ran over the top of the engine to keep it from bouncing up.

I was now about three hours into my truck rental.  Hertz called about two hours in to ask if I needed the truck longer; I told them I'd probably need it for a total of four hours.

Unloading the Engine

The drive to the garage was uneventful, but slow.  We also had to stop and get gas, which was my first experience with a company gas card.  After swiping the card at the pump, I had to enter my membership code ("driver number", as the pump said) and the odometer reading.  I hadn't realized that gas stations were set up fro this sort of thing.  The gas card also seemed to be capped at about $60 per fill up, which is a little over a half tank for this pickup.

Zoe again guided me as I backed the pickup into the garage.  This took about ten minutes or so, as the garage is just a few inches narrower than the truck.  It was also a good thing the truck had four wheel drive -- between the built-up snow on the edge of the road that we had to back over and the three inch lip into the garage, the extra traction and power was a big help.

That three inch lip was a bit of a problem.  When I finally cleared it and slammed on the brakes, I was maybe two inches from hitting the bumper of the DeLorean.  I had pushed the transmission out of the way of the truck, but apparently not quite far enough -- the bumper snapped the handle off the dipstick.  That's easy to replace, and no other damage was done.

The truck was so wide that I had to climb into the bed to get into the garage.  Everything in the bed was covered with snow after the thirty minute drive, and I was regretting not bringing a tarp with me to keep the engine dry.  After dragging the hoist out and assembling it, I hooked it up to the engine in the same way as before and lifted it as high as it would go, with the fully-extended arm just touching the open garage door.  Zoe pulled the truck out, and the engine was hanging free in the air.  With the hoist lowered to the floor and the pallets and other materials brought back into the garage, we were done.

Further Inspection

I spent a few minutes trying to get the snow off the engine, but this was pretty pointless; it was everywhere.  I seriously doubt this will cause any problems, though, especially since it's mostly aluminum.  I'm going to spend some time cleaning the rest of the snow off next weekend, and probably bring my heat gun to melt off any that remains.  There's some kind of pipe that runs from one of the headers to the back of the engine; I'm not sure what that's for.

With the plastic removed, though, I could see a bit more of the engine's condition.  The only part that was really rusted was the exhaust headers, and I'm going to place those with the DPI Spec I Exhaust anyway on my 2.8L anyway.  It'll probably be a pain to get the rusted studs out, though.

The plastic oil filler cap was broken.  I'm not sure if this happened before hand, during shipping or when I was tightening the ratchet straps.  I figure if it was that brittle, it probably needed to be replaced anyway.

A more complete inspection would have to wait until next week; it was snowing harder out, and I had to return the truck.

Returning the Truck

This was pretty uneventful -- just before leaving the garage, Hertz called and asked if I needed more time, as I was now at about four hours and fifteen minutes.  We added another fifteen minutes to get back to Lowe's.  It actually took about twenty five minutes, as I somehow forgot about the snowstorm.  When I turned off the truck, I just had to answer "yes" to the "are you done with your rental?" question posed by the terminal, get out, and hold my card over the sensor until he door locked.  It seems I get to keep the card for future rentals.  The four and a half hours cost me just a little over $90.

Although the that truck is ridiculously large and the high bed annoyingly impractical, its four wheel drive was quite a bit nicer in the snow.  The contrast was quite obvious when we drove the Hyundai home.  Or maybe I just need some better tires on the Hyundai.