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Mercedes 616/617 turbo diesel Astro build

42722 Views 237 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  tinworm
NOTE- This is an old thread where all the images were lost due to broken links to photobucket in 2017. I have attempted to go through and upload images again, but some images may not necessarily apply to posts due to lack of availability years later

I been talking about this project, and after finally finding a "decent condition" Astro, time to start working on it!

The plan is to rip the OM616 65hp MB diesel out of my old Mercedes, adapt it to a NV3500 5-speed tranny, and put it in the astro van. The engine is also being mildly turbo charged. Its not built for it heat wise, but I should be able to get away with it, and a little extra oomph on hills would be much appreciated. Searching around, I discovered that the generation 2 passenger astro is only 600 lbs heavier than the 123 chassis MB I was previously using this engine in. I figure the generation 1 astro in the cargo version is closer to the 2 ton mark. The MB is around 3700 lbs.

Ultimately, for a fun swap project i am trying to build decent MPG manual tranny diesel work van. This engine was capable of 35 mpg in the MB with a .8 overdrive, the NV3500 I think is a .78, and I have to find a GM rear end that is close to 3.46, which was the MB rear end I had ready for my car. Stock, the 240 MB came with a 3.69, but with the turbo, a 3.46 would be better. Im not sure what the 1994 Astro has for a rear end, any ideas? If its not close, I will be grabbing another rear end from somewhere, or changing the gears.

Images of what the donor sedan looks like from wikipedia, the 207D that also was fitted with these motors (about the size of a express van), and a 1989 shorty recipient van-


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S-10 pick-ups is what my buddy says is the deal for clutch pedals. He told me they a perfect match.I been considering a clutch swap myself.
If you can drive it and the wheel when your turning returns to straight, when you let go of the steering wheel. Caster is fine. If the wheel turns to full lock it is off. If your game I can walk you through adjusting that.
I been watching your thread a long time now. Good work and good job.
I like what you have done. Good luck sorting these last few bugs out.
Congrats a little early.
My experience was. What ever bell housing and throw out bearing fork you use. The slave and master cylinder must come from the same vehicle. Distance from the clutch pivot, where it swings, to where the rod mounts in the pedal's bar must stay the same. That way the arc and distance traveled by the master cylinder stays the same.
That pretty much sums it up.
Another issue I have run into with clutches and linkages. Not just hydraulic set ups. Depth of the throw out bearing. Some are shallow and some are deeper. to the tune of being 1/2 inch deeper. The fork arm and the throw out bearing are a matched set. They will not interchange.

Some clutches are flat at the diaphram and others make a cone shape when installed. Overall a different depth in the bellhousing.

I would say disconnect the throw out bearing arm from the slave cylinder. See where it is when in contact with the clutch. And conpare to the slave cylinders pushing rod. See if they in the same ball park in a idle/not used state. If not look into all of the above for discrepancies. Just because all the parts are from the same vehicle. Does not mean they were a matched set.

There were 3 set ups on the old junk I play with. Same year same model car. I have had to bring the old part in to get the correct one before.

The old Look it isn't the same song and dance at the parts counter.
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I can see that by the arm you have. The other throwout bearing will fix you problem.
Clutch plate in backward? The springs will hit the flywheel bolts if it is.
Thar be your noise.
I know I always feel better immediately when I take something apart and it is obvious what it was.
tinworm said:
Steel leaf springs and 97 diff installed!

here is the fiberglass monoleaf compared to the steel- The monoleaf has these rubber blocks glued to it sort of 1/3rd the way through. Curious what their function is, if it has something to do with vibration, noise? interesting concept
I am not going to try it. But they sure look like they are Jack Lift points to me.
Yes he got it straightened out he said somewhere else. He was driving it. Good mileage and NNOOO power. He mentioned maybe a bigger diesel and that the last I remember of it.
tinworm said:
Life got in the way, got married, had a kid, got divorced. Unfortunately lost all the images in the photobucket upcharge thing as well.

Van is now a parts van in my shed.
I miss this one it was a good project. it was alive for a little bit.
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