The very last request we got at the Greaser workshop before we moved out was quite the unusual and quirky one.
A topic that is frequently discussed between car guys, is the crazy unusual and stupid conversions we’ve done, heard about or thought of doing (mostly the later), so when a class mate- Richard brought up the idea of engine swapping a 3SGTE into a RAV4, I had to humour him.
“hey John, you have a workshop right?”, he asked me.
“uh huh, whhhhy?”
“I have a friend (Rhys) who wants to do an engine conversion.”
“Oh yeah?! What car and engine?” I asked him.
“Do you know what a Caldina is?”
“Yep, its got a 3SGTE in it.”
“Yep, that's the one! Well, he bought a written-off Caldina and wants to engine swap it into his RAV4!”
We both laughed out loud.
"No but seriously, he wants to do it.”
Weeks go by and Richard slowly wears me down to the point where I am 90% committed to the idea. We talk during class and on facebook, always making sure he finishes off by saying “apparently it’s pretty easy”. He shows me a website of a guy with a 3SGTE converted RAV4 telling me how easy it is, but with some many un-answered questions I wasn’t ready to jump into the deep end. I needed to do my own research and find answers.
I spend 4 weeks reading everything RAV4 trying to gain any useful information that would help with the conversion. In its hey day the RAV4 was a popular car, I remember seeing them every where, but it never was a “tuner car”. I troll old forum threads of people "modifying", read the wiki links, I find an online copy of the RAV4 workshop manual to cross reference any of useful information and even go as far as ToyoDIY.com to cross reference part numbers to see if parts were interchangeable with other models.
I needed answers like would the stock engine mounts work, what transmission to use, how to tackle the drive train, what was involved in wiring the factory Caldina ECU to the RAV4, clearance for the turbo dump pipe, clearance for the top mount intercooler, turbo clearance, etc. To spice things up the RAV4 was an auto that also needed to be converted to a manual, that in itself had a separate list of questions.
The thing is, you can read all you want but until you do it you won’t know, so I got Rhys to drop off the RAV4, the Caldina and got stuck into it.
The first job was to remove the 3SGTE and gearbox from the Caldina.
Straight off the bat we needed to figure out how we were going to get a speed reading from the 3SGTE to the RAV4 as the E150F gearbox from the Caldina uses a digital signal via the ABS system, compared to the RAV4's traditional old school analog worm gear drive that converts an analog signal into a digital one. Being a Toyota, both the Caldina and the RAV4 shares the E-series family gearbox, so most parts are interchangeable. Sources claim that the speedo ring gear and speedo drive from the RAV4 could be used. All that needs to be done is dissemble the RAV4 Gearbox, steal the required parts and fit them onto the Caldina box and the RAV4 wouldn't know any better. Great! This keeps everything stock and we would have an OEM working gauge cluster. Our only issue was that Rhys(s) RAV4 was an auto, (FAIL) even though it would have the parts needed, they weren’t going to fit because the differential of the auto box and manual are different. What we needed was a speedo ring gear and matching speedo drive from a manual RAV4. How hard could it be? Being a vehicle made for the masses, spare parts are plentiful and cheap (so we thought), to save time and keep the project moving forward we tore down the Caldina’s E150F gearbox in preparation. So we thought, maybe 10 years ago parts were plentiful, but the RAV4 is now a 15+ year old car, most have gone to the scrap yard and 90% of new RAV4 SXA10 parts have been discontinued- it was a sucky situation when the Australian, Japanese, and American Toyota parts dealers came back to us with the bad news.
The good news was that at least we got to inspect the gears, synchros and bearings. All was in good condition- PHEW!
So what we ended up doing was a retro fit - by that we mean; sending one of the steering knuckles to a machine shop to accurately drill out a hole so we could mount the ABS sensor in its normal ( above the outer CV shaft) and use a universal Dakota Digital speedometer signal interface to send an signal to the speedometer.
BUT, what actually happened was that when Rhys took the RAV4 to get wired and dyno tuned, he ended up with a Haltech, this should have solved his speedo problem but even the almighty Haltech couldn’t get the speedo to work, so for now its a GPS speed reading until he gets around to wiring up the Dakota speedometer signal interface.
With the gearbox and engine out of the car, it was the best time to throw out the tired OEM clutch for an Exedy HD clutch, replace the rear main seal and install new ARP Flywheel bolts.
Next was to get the stock A/C, power-steering and water system working. We used a combination of the Caldinas power steering pump, thermostat water outlet, A/C bracket and the RAV4’s A/C compressor and lines. A small amount of material from the A/C bracket was required to be removed along with the thermostat housing to make way for the A/C hard lines and dipstick.
The Caldina’s stock dipstick was clocked a couple of degrees out to stop it from fouling the thermostat housing and A/C compressor. It now shares the same bolt hole as the A/C hard line.
With all that sorted, we moved our attention onto the thermo fans and turbo clearance.
In the foreground of the above picture is the stock Caldina Thermo fan and in the background is the stock RAV4 thermo fan. The RAV4 thermo fan is twice the height of the Caldina and would not fit in between the radiator and turbo. However, the stock Caldina thermo fans was an almost perfect fit with the correct height. After a slight trim, a test fit to make sure the thermo fan blades would not foul against the turbo, brackets were made up and welded onto the fan Shroud. The cool thing about the setup is the turbo inlet is positioned directly in front of one of the thermo fans, and with the top mount intercooler acting more like a heat sink, any extra form of cooling to the charged air entering the inlet manifold is a bonus.
Next we tackle the fuel system, brakes and make more things fit.