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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
** I am not a professional mechanic, take any advice at your own risk **

This thread is intended not so much to be a guide, but another resource for anyone doing a similar swap looking for pitfalls that I will certainly fall into. It also serves as my own project record, and any future owner of the car would likely find it valuable. Please excuse any long gaps in posting updates, as we have a newborn and a two-year old, so I currently only have a few hours a week at night to work on this project.

As mentioned above, I am not a professional mechanic by any means but have always been somewhat mechanically inclined. This will actually be my first engine swap, and first time dealing with a number of automotive components (e.g. transmission/clutch, fuel system, etc.). Hopefully people can chime in as I go along with any advice or experience.

My goal with this car is to have a semi-track ready NA MR2 that I can take into the mountains on the weekends (CO). My prior weekend/project car was an S54 2001 BMW Z3 M Roadster. I ended up selling that car for a number of reasons, mostly due to the value as a collector car and the roadster was not eligible to join most events at our local track without a roll cage. The car did make me fall in love with high revving NA power, and here we are now.

There will be a number of posts right off the bat, as I am already halfway into the swap.

2GR Acquisition
MR2 Acquisition
Valve Covers & Painting
2GR Swap Goodies
3SGTE Removal Prep
3SGTE Removal
Engine Bay Prep for Paint
Engine Bay Paint
Fuel System

2GRFE from a wrecked 2016 Avalon with 25k miles:



The SW20 I acquired shortly after (yes, I know the racing stripes are horrible):


Current Status:



 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
2GR acquisition:

My wife knew a storm was brewing when an engine showed up on a pallet, but with no car to put it in. I bought the motor before even buying the car. I did a ton of research and landed on a 2GR MR2 SW20 or Spyder as my next project. In my opinion, it represented the best value for a classic Japanese sports car that I could completely dismember without feeling too bad about it. I mean, how cool is it to have a modern 300hp reliable V6, in a 25 year old mid-engine sports car?

Anyways, I knew the 2GR was the motor I was going to buy regardless of the car it was going into. I found eBay was a pretty good place to find motors from various junkyards across the country. Eventually one popped up for a fair price and low mileage, and I made the move. Thankfully, the delivery driver used his pallet jack to slide the motor into my garage. I didn't really want to see the result of plan B, which was to try and winch the pallet up our driveway with cable straps.

2GRFE from a wrecked 2016 Avalon with 25k miles:



The poor donor car:




Admittedly, getting it on the hoist was quite the challenge for me. First issue was find where to even lift the motor from. After a few trips to the hardware store, I had threaded a few grade 8 equivalent bolts into various locations around the engine. Not pictured is me spending 2 hours trying to get the hoist under the pallet and lift the engine.



Getting it on the engine stand was also a PITA, since the engine stand didn't fit inside the hoist legs. No one ever talks about these steps because they are assumed to be common sense, but I really struggled here trying all sorts of sketchy things. Eventually I was able to bolt it on, and it was relieving to be able to wheel the motor around freely.




***Things to note about this particular motor from the 2016 Avalon:
  • There is no factory oil cooler, so you would need a custom solution to run one (e.g. Wilhelm Raceworks).
  • It does have factory hard oil lines running to the cams. Older motors have rubber.
  • This motor came with the #2 intake manifold (see Wilhelm Raceworks).
  • You will need a 5 plug ECU to use the harness that comes with this motor - per Doug at Wiregap.
 

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Yes those stripes are bad. Definitely go with yellow stripes on a red car :)
Looks like a really nice NA chassis to start with. Even has some nice RPF1 wheels.
I have the same engine stand, but a Harbor Freight folding shop crane. It's legs have a wider stance, so getting the stand close enough to the hanging engine isn't a problem.
Finally, get a "swivel shackle" from a marine supply store to use with the shop crane. Makes turning the engine to whatever orientation you need easy.
Tool Bicycle part Household hardware Nickel Font


Might not look that strong, but they're all stainless and rated to over a ton. Not cheap though. I found this at West Marine.
[edit] This one: Ronstan Sailboat Hardware US
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes those stripes are bad. Definitely go with yellow stripes on a red car :)
Looks like a really nice NA chassis to start with. Even has some nice RPF1 wheels.
I have the same engine stand, but a Harbor Freight folding shop crane. It's legs have a wider stance, so getting the stand close enough to the hanging engine isn't a problem.
Finally, get a "swivel shackle" from a marine supply store to use with the shop crane. Makes turning the engine to whatever orientation you need easy.

Might not look that strong, but they're all stainless and rated to over a ton. Not cheap though. I found this at West Marine.
[edit] This one: Ronstan Sailboat Hardware US
That shackle would definitely make things a easier with the crane, since you are kind of stuck swinging it one way once the engine is lifted up. Thanks for the recommendation.

The chassis is actually a turbo I sourced locally, and aside from the extremely horrible paint job (the clear coat is peeling everywhere) the car is in extremely good condition. In a way, the paint may have helped me by scaring off any other would-be buyers :D.
 

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That engine choice looks amazing and it will certainly make the SW20 get up and go. Looking forward to your progress. Loads of questions but will patiently wait for you to get more work done.

Jimb
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As mentioned before, I ended up buying a local turbo car for $10k even. It had actually been sitting on Facebook marketplace for some time, probably due to the absolutely horrible paint and racing stripes. I planned on painting the car anyways, so it wasn't a deal breaker. The car has 98k miles on the clock.

Upon further inspection, all other aspects of the car were extremely clean - very little rust, 9/10 interior, covers and trim pieces in place, no major irreversible modifications, and no signs of any major accidents. Most of the work done on the car and motor was performed by Nixspeed Racing here in Colorado. The prior owner advised that of the majority of the work done was reversing prior modifications and performing deferred maintenance. I didn't really care too much since the motor was coming out, but I never found anything contrary to that statement as the project went on. The relevant items to me were basically brand new brakes (calipers, rotors, and pads) , new Bilstein struts, new tires, radiator hoses, and what appeared to be a relatively new Berk exhaust system I could use on the 2GR. The turbo chassis also has a number of parts that I won't have to buy now, which an N/A car would be missing.

Just to say it, the 3SGTE was faster than I was expecting! This thing rips and hits 16psi almost immediately, pulling hard in every gear. Will be interesting to see the difference with the 2GR.



Even has the late model tail lights! Honestly, I like the older style center piece better though. Maybe I'll try to source one later and see if the fitment is acceptable.





I also ditched my Audi A6 for a Lexus LS 460 daily - so looks like our family is team Toyota now.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So I originally was planning on installing the MWR Stage 1 or 2 Camshafts, and just couldn't wait to get the value covers off.



Lots of fun stuff to learn in here - but, been reading about people having a lot of issues with MWR cams lately. Also Frankenstein's video on the power gains or lack thereof. Since this would be my first time installing aftermarket camshafts, I decided against them. It would just be too big of a hurdle for me if there was an issue.

Guess that means I took off the valve covers just to paint them. I don't recommend this approach unless you are doing cams. All the seals and bolts I ended up replacing made it not really worth it. I guess you could use the old seals and gaskets, but why not just replace everything while you are in there?

After tons of prep, I sprayed them down with wrinkle black. If you don't have an oven in your garage (who does??) you can use a heat gun to cure the paint. Mine turned out acceptable, but probably about 75% wrinkled. I think I needed a thicker final coat.



Back on the engine they go! Also, just ask the Toyota parts counter for FIPG, for the valve cover gasket "seams" in the engine block. They will know what you mean. Spent an hour googling the Toyota part # for it, when it is used for just about everything where a gasket cannot provide full coverage.

Also, get a good in/lb torque wrench! I learned that lesson the hard way after breaking the strut studs on my BMW with the long bar.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A little bit of parts accumulation:
  • Wilhelm Raceworks Y-Pipe
  • Wilhelm Raceworks Coolant neck modification.
  • Frankenstein Motorworks Right Engine Mount
  • Frankenstein Motorworks Axle Carrier
  • Frankenstein Motorworks Intake
  • Frankenstein Motorworks tuned ECU (5-Plug for this harness)
  • Frankenstein Motorworks DBW Pedal
  • Fidanza Aluminum Flywheel
  • South Bend Endurance Clutch
Plus a few other odds and ends. Figured I would order the majority of the custom parts now, in case the supply chain issues made things any worse.

Currently debating getting the Y-Pipe/headers ceramic coated or not.



This thing looks fantastic!



Also received a set of Greddy Gracer side skirts for later. Not going to go overboard on aero, but I think the Greddy sides look great. Will probably also add a 94+ front lip, and some spats on the rear. Need to order wheels at some point too, because you know, priorities. Thinking either white Regamasters or Gunmetal BBS LM.

 

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Hey Mkydsm,

I'm in CO as well and am thinking about starting my SW20 build as well. Since you seem to have a lot of hands on experience, maybe you can share some pointers on first steps?

Sorry, I tried sending a PM but I don't know if will let me since I just joined recently.

Thanks,
PB
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hey Mkydsm,

I'm in CO as well and am thinking about starting my SW20 build as well. Since you seem to have a lot of hands on experience, maybe you can share some pointers on first steps?

Sorry, I tried sending a PM but I don't know if will let me since I just joined recently.

Thanks,
PB
Hey there, yeah, I don't know if there is some rule about new users not being able to send PMs. I can't seem to find the option either, and have only been able to respond to PMs.

I guess I am not sure what you mean by first steps? Do you mean in regards to the 2GR swap specifically? If so, I would highly recommend watching Frankenstein Motorworks entire 2GR swap series on YouTube before anything.

Also, I really don't have a lot of hands on experience per se, really just learning as I go here. But if you need a hand locally, I would be more than willing! Dropping the engine can get a little sketchy by yourself...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
While the engine is on the stand, I changed out the thermostat and seals, and made sure to order a new O-ring and gaskets for the coolant tree. Maybe unnecessary, but for peace of mind.



I also ordered this cool set of bolts for the valve covers from Rat 2 Motorsports. It's really cheaper than ordering new bolts from Toyota, and fills all of the holes that likely will not be used. The 2GR lift plate is also a pretty neat idea, and I figured it was worth it to avoid the headache of positioning bolts around the motor to lift it. It just screws into where the intake manifold was.

Also mocked up the headers received from Frankenstein - definitely calling it a Lotus engine now.




Bonus photo of the pile of tools required to change the control arms/axles/tie rods on the GX470. Midwest corrosion is no joke, everything metal was permanently fused together. What a nightmare. Thankfully the MR2 is pretty much rust free.

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Time to start taking out the 3SGTE...

Burgundy and wrenching, a great combination



I took the low hanging fruit first, and made quick work of taking the charge pipes off.



DO NOT UNSCREW THE MAF - it will break the the solder inside (thank you MR2OC). Just get the retainer off and wiggle it free.



Really from here it is just disconnecting everything attached to the car, don't over complicate it. What I would not recommend is procrastinating draining all of the fluids like I did. You need to do it anyways, and it will end up being a bottleneck when you find time to work on the car. More on that later...

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
After pulling all the intake parts and removing any electrical connectors I could reach, I started taking off the hubs/brakes to remove the axles.

Why does the brake line go through a CLOSED bracket on the strut??? I really wanted to get the struts out of the way and avoid opening the brake lines.



Guess I will just keep the struts on and hang the caliper. The only recommendations I could find was to cut the bracket, which I am not doing with the brake line there.




If you have ever done suspension work, the MR2 is super simple. Really just two control arm rods and the sway bar. Spin off those and the strut bolts, and you are ready to pull the axles out.

FYI - the axle nut is 32mm for a car with turbo axles, so I had to take a trip to the store. I think NA axles have a smaller nut.

If you don't want to invest in air tools just yet, I highly recommended a corded impact gun. They are not that expensive compared to battery powered ones, and they save you some serious pain as you get older. Also, they spin the axle nut right off.




The only other thing holding the longer axle in is a C-clip in a bearing. Mine popped right out and wasn't much trouble, but I guess it can be a pain. My only advice for getting axles out of any transmission is to NOT tug on the axle. Bad things can happen if you do. Things like pulling the boot off and spilling grease everywhere, to watching bearings go scattering across the garage. Learn from my mistakes!

I find its best to have a few different sized pry bars, a big hammer chisel, and have a very heavy hammer (the ones that are like a hybrid hammer/sledge hammer). Find a good ridge on the inner CV that won't damage anything and put the chisel on it (some axles have dedicated ridges). Then give it a few taps with that heavy hammer, and it should start moving, then you can pry it out.



Once that was done, I just kept disconnecting stuff.

To be honest, aside from the fuse box, I am not entirely sure what these electrical components are or if I need them for the swap. I need to go back and hit the repair manuals for some study.




Finally decided to drain the fluids. The oil is straightforward, the coolant is the major pain. You literally have to drain the coolant in four places!
  1. Radiator plug
  2. Two hard lines underneath the car (you have to take the skid panels off)
  3. Engine Plug.
Beware, every one of them exploded coolant everywhere, despite my best effort to finesse the plugs. The engine drain plug requires an extension, and it can be difficult to find. I did not take a picture, but this forum post does a great job of pointing them out and explaining the process. Once that is done, you can getting all the hoses out of the way.

The transmission shift cables just pop out after removing the pins.



My clutch cylinder line broke off at the mounting point on the chassis. The trans connection is fine, but the hardlines on my car were completely toast. Looks like I will be ordering a new line from TCS. Love that there are still vendors supporting this car.

After all the hoses, electrical connectors, brackets, etc. were disconnected, it was time to do the deed. As I mentioned before, I really did not take too much time here. Just look for anything that attaches the engine/trans to the car, and remove it. I started by removing the ancillary bolts and brackets on the all of the motor/trans mounts (there are 3 trans mounts, and one on the engine). Just keep the long bolts in that go through the mounts.

Note: Most of the trans/engine/support mount bolts are not available from Toyota anymore. So even if you are ditching the stock mounts, it may be best to keep those big bolts.

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If you made it this far, you have probably gathered that the engine comes out of the bottom with the MR2. There are some methods that take it out from the top, but they did not seem feasible in a normal garage with a Harbor Freight lift. This takes a little bit of sketchy equipment, residential garage ingenuity, and luck I guess.

The basic premise was to lower the car down so that the engine was resting on this 1000lb wheeled cart I had. Because once you unbolt the engine, you have to be able to slide it out somehow. Those wooden furniture dollys will not work. The motor/trans from the 3SGTE weighs probably about 500lbs, but those furniture carts are not designed to have all the weight hit a single spot as the assembly is lowered (I tried, they snapped instantly). This plastic cart I bought from HD on the other hand, spread the weight across the whole cart.

Once the plastic dolly thing was under the motor, I placed place floor jacks on both sides of the chassis to raise it up a notch to take the jackstands out. Then slowly lowered the car until the motor was resting on the dolly (making sure it didn't break it). I added a few wood blocks to support the motor on the side of the oil pan. Then unbolt the motor mounts, and slowly raise the chassis. You'll quickly find out if anything else is attached or hanging up the motor.

Well, turns out jacks cannot get the car high enough to slide the motor out. So I had to improvise.



This felt absurdly sketchy, and I kept jackstands under as much as I could. The engine crane could not slide under the car far enough with the dolly in the way to grab the strut towers or anything. So the rear tow hooks ended up being the best option. The foam padding worked and there was no body damage after.

Stupid struts... in hindsight I should have just removed the brake lines and the struts. Also, if you need the harness for the 2GR, you have to take the intake manifold off anyways.



Then just slide her out on the cart!



Victory... but I have a feeling this was the easy part.

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I am gathering the parts to do this myself. What flywheel and clutch do you plan on running?
I bought the following:

Fidanza Aluminum Flywheel #130881 - Per Frankenstein's recommendation, although he's come out with his own steel option now.
South Bend Endurance Stage 2 (rated 350 ft/lbs) - seems like people have had good experiences and should be streetable.

 

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Quite a comprehensive build, lots of pics of the process - I dig it.
As far as the brake lines and that bracket. I MAY have cut my bracket with a dremel with the line in it. The metal nut provides some safety, just take it slow and it's not that bad. Or maybe I didnt, I forget now. But I def cut those things because it sucks having to bleed the lines because you did suspension work
 
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