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Old 07-16-2022, 07:38 PM   #1
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1977 Dodge American Clipper Engine Rebuild

Hi all,

I have been renovating my American Clipper, it had issues passing smog and when I took it to a shop I was told the engine needed to be rebuilt in order to pass. However I was granted a smog waiver but am still looking into rebuilding the engine possibly in the near future.
The shop quoted me at around $10,000 for the job. Just wondering if anyone has any shop recommendations here in California. And does that sound reasonable? I had another estimate of $5000 for the rebuild itself but that was without extracting the engine. All info is helpful thanks everyone
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Old 07-16-2022, 08:55 PM   #2
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I would get 2nd opinion before dropping 10,000.00 but that is up to you.. how many miles.. ? why does it not pass? Are all the emissions equipment in place..?
Is it failing that sniffer test.. ? If so.. what is that part of exhaust gasses that is over limit ? Next... are you able to pull engine out yourself ?
You could just have a rotten rubber hoses.. that old.. critters love to eat up rv hoses and lines.. so you could have small leak in vacuum hose..
1st thing.. is stuck egr. Valve.. put about 4ft new vacuum line on egr valve and suck on other end feel if egr diaphragm is moving.. if it does.. take it off.. and see if plugged up..
Does it have cats? The cats of that era are not as good as now.. 1st.. I should have asked.. How is it running ?? That is most important..
2nd add a new carb.. better yet..just check the carb and air cleaner..? how is air cleaner.. is it new?
Have you done basic tune up and timing ? When was last time carb was cleaned ?

Point is.. why did they say it needs new engine ? Is it running ok? If you get back to us.. better opinions will follow.. THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE JUST ACCEPTING THAT YOU NEED NEW ENGINE.. JUST BECAUSE RV FAILED SMOG TESTING ..
Good luck and keep us posted
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Old 07-16-2022, 09:16 PM   #3
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A compression check is easy to do. If it has good compression I do not see a reason to go that deep even if say the valves did need work.
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Old 07-16-2022, 09:28 PM   #4
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What engine ? 440-3 ? 440-1 ?
Class A chassis ?

Need to know which smog readings were bad and have you had a compression check done ?
Has any tune up work been done ?
How old was the gas when the testing was done ?
The 440 engines of that vintage , both the HD -3 and the LD-1 were bad for valve seals , leaking oil into the combustion chamber; via intake valves; or the exhaust manifold , either spot will mess up your emissions test .

You need more diagnosis ; dry/wet compression test , and a cylinder leak down test if compression is low. It's way too early to be opening up your wallet to the tune of $10,000.
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Old 07-17-2022, 06:10 PM   #5
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Hydrocarbons too high at idle. Mechanic said it had low compression. As for the emissions equipment I do Neil I’ve the exhaust has been modified from single to dual. She runs fine I’ve driven her only a few times, a little loud but she runs. I haven’t had the carb cleaned or a tune up, nothings been done yet. Rebuilding the engine is the last result but I rather not continuing working on it if that’s necessary.
Second time it failed smog as Gross Polluter.
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Old 07-17-2022, 06:14 PM   #6
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Class C Dodge Mopar 440. I was told the compression was low. Gas wasnít too old a couple of weeks maybe. Havenít had a tune up yet.
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Old 07-17-2022, 06:15 PM   #7
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Mechanic also said it has a power brake booster leak
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Old 07-17-2022, 06:23 PM   #8
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65,000 miles
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Old 07-17-2022, 08:47 PM   #9
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Compression was always little low on these engines.. you need to get it to different shop.. do full good tune up.. wires.. plugs.. cap.. rotor.. adjust timing. Clean carb.. while on engine.. . New air cleaner.. check choke linkage.. than re check.. sniffer test.. next fix vacuum leak at booster very important.. bet you will pass.. there is more you can do.. but that is where I would start.. are you doing the work? Do you want to keep it ? Oh.. finally got picture in.. that is so close.. I might even run some octane booster through it.. but good Tune up.. should get you there..
Good luck and keep us posted
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Old 07-17-2022, 09:01 PM   #10
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Most everything donr103 has mentioned would be required for a re-man engine so no harm in doing it now .
Keep the old plugs and number them for the cylinder they were removed from , any build up on the plugs will tell you if you have a valve seal problem .
Lay them out in order and post a close up picture and I can tell you what's up.

EDIT: The carburetor on your 440-1 a Carter Thermoquad were known for saturating the composite floats ; which leads to high fuel levels in the float chamber , dripping of fuel into the intake at idle = high hydrocarbons at idle.
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Old 07-17-2022, 09:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwilly View Post
Mechanic also said it has a power brake booster leak
Power brake booster leak is a vacuum leak. Vacuum leak will throw engine fuel mixture lean. Lean mixture causes higher hydrocarbon emissions. Likely a big part of your problem.

Power brake boosters are available rebuilt and relatively easy to exchange. I would get a new check valve as well. It's the 90 degree fitting at the booster.

I doubt you need the engine overhauled just to pass emissions. Carburetor can be rebuilt with a kit and floats. Start with both mixture screws turned in lightly to seat and back out 1.5 turns. If ignition system is in decent shape and timing is set properly. I bet she will pass. Looked at your test results and she's not failing by much and passes at raised RPM. Tells me the engine is doing ok.

I am a retired professional mechanic with over 50 years experience. Worked on these since they were new models. Only thing that 440 can't pass is a gas station.
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Old 07-18-2022, 07:14 AM   #12
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I would like to keep it! I have the smog waiver for two years but am just concerned with driving her in the meantime moving her here and there and just wondering if sheíll continue to run with these issues. The low compression was in two cylinders I believe. I am looking at other shops who can work on rvís. Although the second smog test was much worse and it tested as gross polluter.
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Old 07-18-2022, 07:17 AM   #13
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Thanks! Apparently adjusting the idle screws didn’t affect the idle mix or rpm. That’s great to hear, I was told by a shop they would have to cut the front out to replace the power brake booster or remove it myself
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Old 07-18-2022, 09:49 AM   #14
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You really need a different shop.. please get it away from there.. take to another place.. you may want to pull inner fender.. and drivers side tire.. maybe take off front fender.. that would be extreme.. that picture above is from a shop that wanted 10 grand to replace the eng.. so I would not trust that.. anyone that would not do a tune up 1st.. run it.. you will not hurt it..
Good luck and keep us posted
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