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Old 11-28-2005, 07:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Cummins 4BT Performance

What kind of HP can a guy get out of a Cummins 4BT and still have a reliable, 300,000 mile engine? I am talking about a light duty application, commuting back and forth to work under the hood of a Chevy Tahoe (or something similar) towing maybe 5 times a year maybe 30 miles a pop (a 20' boat). Of course it will have guages and all of the typical stuff.

Also, what sort of cash am I looking at to mod it? I know it is similar to the 12V Cummins, which makes HP rather cheap. Are any 12V parts compatible with the 4BT, like the throttle plate (or whatever it is called) or performance injectors?

I started out thinking that an Isuzu engine out of an NPR would be the way to go (3.9 liter 4-cylinder) because I thought it would be more compatible with the Chevy, but it did not seem to be. Coupled with the fact that it is electronic, I decided that the only way to make it happen would be to buy a donor NPR and strip it of the stuff needed to make it run. Sounded like too much work, so the Cummins just got more interesting.

Just so you know, the reason for all of this goes something along the lines of:

1.) because I can, and it would be cool;
2.) biodiesel, biodiesel, biodiesel;
3.) because they did not put a factory diesel in anything but the 2-door tahoes (as far as I can tell) and we want a 4-door;
4.) because I am counting on the 4BT getting better fuel economy than the 6.5 anyway;
5.) because I can, and it would be cool; [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smokin.gif[/img]

This would be so much easier if they would just put diesels into these rigs to begine with!!!
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

basic HP with a turbo is 105 HP. If your looking to put it in a Tahoe, then your best bet would be finding one out of a delivery van like Frito Lay or something like that. Those came with the adapters and a TH400 tranny behind them. Not sure what all can be done with them for increase in performance though or how much abuse they can take.
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

In the marine world we see a lot of 250HP 4BTs and they are grenades. They don't last more than a couple of hundred hours at most without some sort of problem. Usually burn up injector tips or overheat plus they shake, rattle and roll so much all sorts of parts and pieces break off. Over 80HP/cyl is too much. I think 150-170HP should be max for this size engine for what you want to do with it.
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Old 11-28-2005, 10:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

The newer 4bt with an inline pump make 120hp and 300 lbs. I think you can use the same fuel plate to stoke it up some. People want a premium for these engines you coud probably do a 6bt for not much more money and there wouldnt be any problem with power. I think it would be fine just driving but maybe lacking when it comes to towing.
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:09 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

I have a Cummins 4bta in my 1996 Bandit chipper and it's rated at 116hp.
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Old 11-29-2005, 05:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

Have you thought about the 4.5 liter baby stroke. That would give you alot more oomph and will probably last longer since they are specifically made for those type of stop and go applications as our autos. Dual exhaust out the back.
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Old 11-29-2005, 07:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

I doubt he wants to spend that much and he was wanting something without electronics.
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Old 11-29-2005, 11:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

[ QUOTE ]
I think 150-170HP should be max for this size engine for what you want to do with it.

[/ QUOTE ]

That would be just about perfect. I am looking for something similar to the 6.5 power-wise, and this is getting close enough. Not looking to build a drag racer. Also, in your marine applications, at 250 HP, they are probably running 90% power full-time (or close to it), where in this tahoe, it would not be at 90% power for any more than a couple seconds a day. I wonder if a 190-200 HP 4bt would hold up under these conditions? It is such a light application.....
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Old 11-29-2005, 11:43 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

[ QUOTE ]
The newer 4bt with an inline pump make 120hp and 300 lbs. I think you can use the same fuel plate to stoke it up some. People want a premium for these engines you coud probably do a 6bt for not much more money and there wouldnt be any problem with power. I think it would be fine just driving but maybe lacking when it comes to towing.

[/ QUOTE ]

I considered this, but the problem is twofold:
1.) the tahoe is a half-ton, and I don't want to go to a 3/4 ton suburban, so the weight issues associated with a 6 would all but eliminate the possibility of sticking it in a tahoe

2.) this would probably not do me a whole lot of good fuel economy wise. I am hoping that by going a bit underpowered, I can get good fuel economy.

I appreciate the help! Keep it coming, guys!
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Old Truck - '95 PSD 5 spd 4x4
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2004 Polaris 500 HO (For the Wife)
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Old 11-29-2005, 11:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

[ QUOTE ]
Have you thought about the 4.5 liter baby stroke. That would give you alot more oomph and will probably last longer since they are specifically made for those type of stop and go applications as our autos. Dual exhaust out the back.

[/ QUOTE ]

Considered, but I don't want to spend more for the engine than for the truck. Also, I was seriously hoping to get away from the electronics issues associated with the newer model engines (even the 6.5 liter TD, for that matter) because that ususally means finding a donor vehicle, if you don't want to mortgage your house buying everything new. Finding a donor vehicle with a 4.5L would be next to impossible, and then i would have to have a donor vehicle in the yard, and I just wouldn't like that at all... I have seen 4BT's for sale in the $3,500 range. A 4.5 baby stroke would probably end up costing me 15K at least.

I am not all that concerned with it being a drag racer. 180 HP with the amount of torque and low RPM power band you get out of these diesels would be PLENTY. At that HP level, it would probably feel pretty peppy because you would get into the power band so much faster and at lower RPM than a gasser. The 350 in the tahoes used to only make 200 HP with less torque than a comparable 4BT, and they did fine.

I am just curious if in such a light duty application, the 4BT would hold up at 180 to 200 HP. (figuring use of guages, pyrometer, etc)
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Old Truck - '95 PSD 5 spd 4x4
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2004 Grizzly 660 Yamaha (For Me)
2004 Polaris 500 HO (For the Wife)
Spokane, WA

"I don't ride bulls, but I have fought some men" Hank Williams, Jr.

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Old 11-29-2005, 01:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

You should check out some of the Toyota landcruiser/jeep forums. cummins swaps are very popular and some of them have the wisdom of having run these engines for a while. I think in the right application they would do a great job.
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Old 11-29-2005, 10:10 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

Yeah marine is a different ballgame. Not comparable at all.
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Old 11-30-2005, 03:39 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

Another option, but I still think it might be too heavy and large for a 1/2 ton, is a Detroit Diesel 4-53? Here are the specs I was able to find: 140hp, 2800 rpm, LxWxH = 39 x 27 x 37 inches, 1110 lbs. Noise supression is advised!
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Old 11-30-2005, 05:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

A 4-53T makes about 170 but I think a 4bt would be more user friendly. No problems with cracked heads. Don't have to adjust the rack. I knew a guy with one in a half ton it did alright just loud. He got about 28mpg out of it.
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Old 11-30-2005, 10:44 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Cummins 4BT Performance

Ever thought of using a Peninsular Diesel 6.5 crate motor? Its a bolt-up and you can get 240-300 HP, depending on which turbo you use.

At this HP, it might be more reliable.
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