Dodge RamCharger Central banner

Rebuilding a 84 318

8820 Views 32 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Pat88ramcharger
I tried searching before I posted this, but had no luck with it.

I recently became the proud new owner of an 84 RC Prospector 4x4. It had been sitting for a couple of years not getting to run much at all. Old man had it on his farm and used it to hunt and fish. Only thing that doesn't work is the cruise control. Anyway, she's got 158k miles on her and feels like she's getting a bit tired. Runs fairly good, smokes a little, and likes to burn some oil. My plans are to fix the rust in the floor pan on the drivers side, put down some indoor/outdoor carpet from Lowe's, and make a hunting/fishing/pull a camper ride. I don't have to depend on it to be a daily driver so I'm not too worried about down time. I do plan on keeping it for a LONG time though.

Now, since I am going to keep her, I've thought about rebuilding the 318 while I have the $$. I don't want to throw in a 360 so that's not an option. I've never had an engine rebuilt before, so I'm looking for a little help here. I can't do it myself. I don't have the shop or the tools to do it. So, I'm going to have someone do it for me. I've got a couple in mind.

For those of you who have rebuilt their 318's, you got any suggestions? Things you wish you would have done or wish you wouldn't have done... I'm not going to hot rod it and hop the motor up a bunch, so what kind of price range should I be looking at? I know there's a lot of variables in there, but ballpark figures. I want to make it a good dependable ride that if I want to play a little, then I can play, but if I want to pull my camper 500-600 miles I don't have much to worry about either. It's already got a trans cooler that came on it too. FYI - my camper weighs about 4200 lbs.

I know this is kinda broad, but any help, suggestions, comments, and heads up would be VERY appreciated!!
See less See more
1 - 20 of 33 Posts

see that site, you can get a crate motor for about 1500. your choice of 318 or 360 (i think you would be crazy to keep it 318 if you get a crate.) but for that price it just may be cheaper to get the new crate motor then to have the old motor rebuilt.

Yeah what is your reason not to go with the 60? the 60 has more hp & torque, me personally i say stroke it, i wouldn't play with a 18 or 60 unless it had to do with rules, get a 408 crate
I'd definitely keep the 318. One of the most dependable engines ever built. You can rebuild from the top and not have to pull the engine. Put the Ramcharger on stands. Take off the hood and start with the carb and intake manifold. Remove the heads. Drop the oil pan and remove the connecting rods. Remove the pistons from the top using a wooden block and hammer. Hone the cylinders as required. You may not need to replace any of the pistons unless you see damage. Put on new piston rings and like the manuals say, "Reinstall in reverse order". This is just another way to go if you don't have available an engine crane or engine stand.
My first RC was an 84. I rebuilt the 318 to pretty much stock specs. I did it myself except for the hot-tanking and machining. I bought a book on rebuilding Mopar small blocks to help me.

The only thing I did different than stock was I put a factory 4bbl intake and a 4bbl carb on it. Also, I removed the smog pump and associated emissions stuff because I thought it was too complicated. I've since learned it's not.

When having it rebuilt, remember that Ramchargers are heavy and 4x4. There's no need to have a motor built for top end. You need good low end grunt. Once you start looking at all the different parts available, your head may start to spin. That's why I rebuilt to basically stock specs. It was cheaper, too. Once you start getting into high performance parts, it seems like there's always something else you need.

I would go and visit as many shops as I could in your area. Talk to the people there and get a feel about them and their shop. See if they listen to you needs instead of trying to tell you what you want. If a place feels wrong, go on the next one.

Good luck. There's quite a few people here who have extensive knowledge about engine rebuilding (I'm not one of them, though). If you have any questions about what you hear at a shop, go ahead and ask.


See less See more
the main reason for not wanting a 360 was durability. I know the 318 is near bullet proof. Plus with gas prices these days.... I thought about the crate motor, but then thought about if I rebuilt it I could learn from it to. Not too sure about dropping it off at a shop. I've got some fairly good friends that I trust and I know they'd let me play a part in the rebuild. It's just deciding on which one I take it to. Mainly I was looking to get some good feedback from those who have done it and maybe something they wished they did or didn't do for the final rebuild. thanks for the feedback I've gotten so far.
Why does the 60 have a durability problem, i have run every size and then modified sizes with no issue of durability in any of them, street or race
Get the book Cooper30 said. "How to rebuild small block Mopar engines" by HP publications, a book store can order it for you (or online through the books link on this site) Read it, even if you don't do the engine yourself, it's a very good book.
As far as what to do - do everything you can afford - it's the only way, bearings, rings (new pistion if you need them), cam, lifters, timing chain and gears, good valve job etc, etc - reading that book will help you understand the 'big picture'
Another idea is to check with your parts houses on a good rebuilt 'short block'.
Take your TIME - and clean everything 3 times....
Good luck

Oh, and welcome to the site -
Order it through the link on the site. (it helps the site) It's a great book and written in a way that I totally understood everything. And what surprised me was that the truck started after I got everything back together. ;D
I can tell your not really getting the advice your wanting. If your wanting to overhaul your existing engine block pull it out and take it apart to see the existing condition. Its possible that you could just re-ring it and go. If you want new pistons then have it bored out. .020" works for alot of Chrysler engines. Get a kit with mostly Federal-Mogul made parts, but order it for 85 and up 318. Up till 84 318's had pistons with 1.74" pin height, in 85 it was increased to 1.76". 85 up engines have higher compression due to this. The thing is the aftermarket it always makes replacement pistons .020" shorter for some reason. So the aftermarket replacement pistons are 1.72" and 1.74". Going with the 85 up replacement piston of 1.74" pin height will give you the exact compression ratio as you have now. Confused yet? Don't skip on any machine work. If the crank needs turned have it done. Have the engine completely balanced. Chryslers tolerence on balance was huge. Aftermarket pistons weigh different too so more then likely you will have a vibration if its not balanced. 85 up 318's also have a better cylinder head with swirl ports and a heart shape combustion chambers. The casting number ends in '302 so might see if you can get some cores from a salvage yard. I would have 360 valves put into the head. I would also maybe go with a 360 cam and use 360 valve springs. Stock oil pump is all that is needed. Everything I just told you is how to make a cheap reliable engine with a tad more power then stock. If your interested in Higher performance parts then Keith Black pistons and Mopar Performance or Hughes Racing cams could be used. Then i would ditch the 2 bbl cause its only 280-350 cfm and only good for 4000 rpm.
See less See more
Good advise from 300le - but I doubt you can just re-ring a 158k engine. Another reason to get that book if your new to this, it shows you how to check everything, so you know what you need to do. And yes - order it through this site at the Barnes and Noble link (should have said that in the first place :-[)
well everyone has a good pointer or 2
i would look at a heathy doaner engine that runs heathy , i've bought lot's of cars and trucks for 200 and less that the bodys were shot but had good motors and sold them for much more than 200 bucks . When my wifes motor went in her shadow i just bought a parts car and swaped the drive train out and i managed to salvage out enough parts to be only out 140 bucks , not too bad for a whole drivetrain .
If you can afford a crate engine go for it , but i would look at the swaping idea too
For your cruise check your a/c clutch fuse , and replace it , my 84 rc's crusie didn't work when i got it same with the a/c put the fuse in and it works like new , plus it blow's ice cold
Thank you all for the feedback. I've got more time than money, so I'll be checking around and doing some reading before I make my final decision. I'm not going to build a top end motor, I just want some good low end power that's a little better than stock.

Also - I wasn't saying that a 360 isn't durable. I just know of more problems people have with 360's vs. 318's. Plus, when I'm looking at 4-5mpg pulling with a 360 vs.. 10-13mpg pulling with a 318....doesn't take me long to decide what I want to go with. Main reason I got it was to pull my camper. The 4x was an added bonus for me to hunt and play a little with. I'm not building a monster trail truck right now. Who knows, I may decide to in a few years, but that's not what I want or need right now.

Again, thanks for all the comments and I do appreciate the welcome! I'm sure you'll be seeing me around asking questions.
I just rebuilt my 318. I had the blocked bored .030 over and had the crank ground and polished. I ordered a complete gasket kit and a double roller timing chain. I hate cheap timing chains. I did all the disassembly and reassembly but had a shop bore the engine and grind the crank. I also had the heads reworked. I did a mild port job myself. All the emmision stuff is gone and I bought all new water pump, starter, distributer and so on. The head work, boring and grinding cost about $500. The rest went into parts. I would buy a slightly more agressive cam. I purchased a comp cams but dont remember the numbers.

Do the assembely work yourself. If the engines ever does break down you will have an understanding of what may be going on.

Good luck and welcome to the site.
One more thing - how would you suggest buying all the parts? Try buying them separate or all in a master rebuild kit? If buying a kit, which would you recommend one?
Im trying to do the same thing myself, but thinking of buying a longblock to do it. Did some internet research and came up with this site:[email protected]

Im replacing a 360 and it costs less than a 318. I called and got quoted $175 for shipping. ( WA to CA) You might want to check on that. Core charge is $150 so I guess I'll save $25 and keep my old block.
I was impressed by thier parts list too, some of the rebuilders/remanufacturers do not use all new valves etc. I will probably try to get a RV cam and double roller timing chain for an additional cost. I do have somewhat unlimited access to a engine stand and picker, so the gaskets and pan swap will be easy. Total: ~$1700

IM me if you find any other information about what we are trying to accomplish.
Thanks for the site man. That's one BIG reason why I'm kind of torn between rebuilding what I have or just buying one. You can get a 7yr/70,000 mile warranty on a crate engine that cost $1500.00 delivered. This should get a can of worms going.... What do ya'll think? Build or Buy?

BTW - I ordered that book oldman suggested. Should be here sometime next week.
I would say if you have the capability and time.. you can probably end up rebuilding it for less. But $1500 for a crate woudl be so tempting for the sole convenience of it.
If rebuilding.. definitely have everything balanced, rods magnafluxed & resized, Hi-volume oil pump, double roller timing chain set, Clean up the heads a little, use an RV grind can for added torque. I have more faith than most in my Mopars.. I would be looking at primarily rings & bearings at that mileage. A 318 should be no where near worn by then.. That motor should go 3-400K with minimal work. There are exceptions.. but never let anyone tell you that a 318 has a limited lifespan.
As for mileage.. a well tuned 360 in a 4wd would get very similar mileage to a 318; due to the fact that the 60 has to work less to get the same job done; therefor it's under less load and not being run as hard.
Build Build can get it cheaper but you won't have a warranty. The nice thing about building is the pride you will feel when it's done. You will have a good understanding of what's on the inside. I prefer to build. awyseguy said it would be cheaper and I have to agree. BUILD IT AND IT WILL RUN!!!
I talked with one of my buddies last night that I mentioned earlier. He told me to bring it to his home vs. his shop and he'd let me build it there. He'd just coach me along and show me how. All I'd have to do is buy the parts, but I'd want to give him a little boot too...just cause that's the way I am. SO, now my focus is on BUILDING. Any recommendations on a rebuild kit? There's only like 600 to chose from....

I'll be sure to take some pics as we go along. Throw some before and after shots out there. Everybody likes pics.
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.