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Old 02-21-2020, 04:28 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 8
Broke Down 6.0 Club: Jackson, WY

Well, it's a membership I didn't want to be a part of but sadly I'm squarely in it. I was returning home to Santa Fe, NM when I broke down near Jackson, WY with possibly a catastrophic engine failure.

The incident: 800 mile drive from NM to WY - no problems. Then began experiencing rough idle after engine warm up for two days with minimum driving around town. Began trip home with warm engine. Left parking lot and a couple miles down the road heard knocking from engine (frequency correlated with RPM) accompanied by tons of white smoke out the tail pipe. Drove 5 miles at minimum RPM/30mph (probably a huge mistake and kicking myself) until I could safely pull over off the busy byway. I did not observe any engine warning lights and did not experience a noticeable loss of power while driving. Turned off engine once parked and would not restart.

A mechanic drove out to me the next day and his scan showed an injector 8 failure and he diagnosed a likely hydrolock as well as diesel in the oil. Was able to get it towed to another mechanic the following day who noticed a lot of engine coolant in the tail pipe. The suspicion is that an injector failed and caused a cascade of problems leading to a blown piston. (I confess I'm not a gear head by any means and have never worked on engines so I'm quite ignorant of a lot of the things that can go wrong, but am trying to get my google mechanic certification )

I had to leave my baby up in Wyoming and fly home to New Mexico and am now having to deal with this issue remotely, so things aren't exactly ideal.

  • Does anyone have any experience with a good mechanic anywhere near Jackson, WY? It is currently at SJ Customs.
  • If I need a new drop in engine, should I consider anything other than the 6.0L? Is a different engine even an option I would have?
  • Would it make any sense to consider not doing the engine replacement and just selling as is? I bought for $45k two years ago. I've been planning to add diesel furnace, solar, inverter, and fix the bent penthouse bars. Was also considering a "bullet proof" job but had not yet bitten that bullet. Probably should have. Engine replacement might be $15k. Add it all up and I might be better off selling it as is and putting that money to something that already has everything I want? How much would an otherwise good condition 2006 no-start RB50 with minimum bells and whistles SMB go for?
Any thoughts/comments/suggested questions I should ask my mechanic would be very much appreciated. This seems like a great forum with an abundance of expertise and I'm at a bit of a loss.


2006 E350
4X4 RB50
6.0 PSD
140k miles

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Old 02-21-2020, 05:11 PM   #2
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Location: FL and VA
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That sucks. Can't offer any help as I'm not familiar with the 6.0, but wish you the best. Hopefully someone with knowledge will be by shortly.

2008 GMC 3500 Quigley Weldtec 4x4 Savana SMB
2006 BMW HP2 Enduro
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:26 PM   #3
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Location: Annapolis, Maryland
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Unfortunate circumstances for sure!

I had the opportunity to purchase my rig from a seller that had essentially the exact same thing happen.
Owner had it listed in multiple places for about 8 months, but was asking entirely too much. Dropped the price slightly a couple times, but at that point I think people stopped paying attention altogether.
Only bring this up if you decide to sell because in my situation I happen to come around at just the right time - owners were completely frustrated and basically gave me the deal of a lifetime. He could have sold the Van easily for $20k more than what I paid if he started the asking price in a reasonable neighborhood.
As for the Engine, if you decide to keep the Van and install a new engine - you enjoy all the benefits! If you have it done at a Ford Dealer, the warranty (think its 3 years) is good at all Ford dealers - very handy! You can have it bullet proofed prior to install. Difference is a "bullet proof" job at about 12K is mostly labor costs, and does nothing to rehab any of the engine. If you buy a new Van (bullet proofed or not) you inherent an engine with wear - to what extent is difficult to measure. So in my opinion, you're much better off if you replace the engine & keep the vehicle...and complete your build.
For a "value" assessment from members here on what its worth (as is,) you'll need to provide more about the Van - list all the upgrades/amenities and attach more Pic's inside & out.
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:34 PM   #4
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Location: Corvallis, OR
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I think you're pretty close on your assessment. Except what I've seen is when the injector starts dumping fuel, is it lifts the head and that's when you start sucking coolant and lose compression. If you didn't drive past this point, it might need only a head gasket (plus injectors of course). But you'd need to drop the oil pan to inspect the bottom end to be sure, as well as scope the affected piston if you don't want to pull the head prior to finding out.

If the piston did get damaged, there's likely other bottom-end damage, possibly to the block too. At this point, a Ford reman is the best option simply because they have no core-return criteria. Other rebuilder sources require a usable core to get credit.

You can always check with MG to see if he'd be willing to tackle a Cummins Swap again. It's not cheap, but neither is a full 6.0 replacement.
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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Old 02-21-2020, 06:02 PM   #5
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Thanks Twoxentrix, here's a quick summary of the current build/specs from memory:

- RB50 layout

- Original sportsmobile conversion
- Dynatrack Prorock 60 Front diff
- Dana 60 rear diff
- Atlas II transfer case
- New Wrangler DuraTrac Tires (1000mi)
- Spare tire and carrier (DuraTrac - 0mi)
- Lifeline AGM battery (2 years old)
- Two new van batteries (2 months old)
- Electric Pent House

- Fiama F45 awning
- Electric hookup
- City water hookup
- Hot water heat exchanger when engine on

- Outside shower
- Electric AMP Research Powerstep fold out running boards
- Sink
- Norcold Electric Fridge
- 10g water tank
- 2 swivel captains chairs
- 3 seat belts for rear seat
- Privacy windshield curtain, and window drapes
- Compact store away table
- Portable toilet w/ cover (never used)
- Pioneer stereo/nav with premium sound
- Yakima roof rack (2 cross bars)
- New van cover for storage
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Old 02-21-2020, 06:36 PM   #6
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Location: Southern New Mexico
Posts: 9,229
Sorry to hear about your issues. Reach out to member BettyFord who is in Jackson for his recommendation.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 02-21-2020, 06:45 PM   #7
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Location: Annapolis, Maryland
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DESCRIPTION PAINTS IT AS A NICE RIG: How committed are you to owning a Van? If you plan on having one for quite a while, and your travels are truly a therapeutic experience, then I say KEEP IT.

1. You've got a nice $45k base Vehicle.
2. Add $22K for the Engine (the additional would be to have it bullet proofed & then other stuff replaced while its out - possibly Steering box, master cylinder, upgrade to an aluminum radiator, fan, hoses & belts, upgrade alternator, engine harness, etc). I basically didnt pay anything extra for installing these "new" items because they had to do all of it anyway (labor cost already embedded in the engine install - so just paid for the parts)
3. You're probably looking around $7K to finish your build (install Solar, heater, Inverter, and fix bent penthouse poles)

Puts you in the neighbor hood of $74k. That's about what you could expect to pay picking up a similarly appointed Rig in really good shape - without the benefit of all that new stuff mentioned above, especially under your hood (even if its a newer model). I'd say you're ahead of the game if you kept it.
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Old 02-22-2020, 07:56 AM   #8
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Location: TN
Posts: 8,476
Ron's Towing. Ron is Betty Ford here. He'll tow it, store it maybe or tell you where and he knows who to send you to for work. He knows everyone there. Ron has had a couple of 6.0 vans.

His shirts say "Better to know me and not need me than to need me and not know me" so you may want to introduce yourself as a forum member first. Tell him we sent you.
Currently vanless. Weird.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:28 AM   #9
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No need to consider another engine.Once the known issues with a 6.0L are fixed, the 6.0L can last for hundreds of thousands of miles.
We recently had an engine rebuilt and then another engine rebuilt and would do it again...just with a different engine builder.
Removing and installing an engine in an E350 is ~40-45 hours of labor.
If the engine is bad, consider having the vehicle towed home or to a quality mechanic that is well versed in 6.0L's in vans.

Bulletproofdiesel has a list of installers -
The closest bulletproof installer to Jackson, WY is Tip Top Transmission in Salt Lake City.

What about researching how much it will cost to ship the van from Jackson to Sante Fe??
Then it's local and you can approach this onsite?
A mechanic may not be able to tell much until a more intensive investigation.
Is there any maintenance history regarding the engine?
For example - when were the injectors replaced?

1. How attached are you to a SMB E350? Or this SMB??
2. Do you plan to keep this SMB for a long time >>> 5+ years?
***the following questions presume a rebuilt engine is recommended***
3. How much do you want to spend on a rebuilt engine?
4. Would you want more performance or longevity from a rebuilt engine?
5. How much can you spend on a rebuilt engine?
2006 E350 4x4 SMB: 6.0L-5R110-Atlas-D60-D60-yada-yada-yada
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Old 02-22-2020, 10:15 AM   #10
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Not to spend your money but...I would stick with the known quantity. Once you do the motor, you will know everything about the rig. If you buy something else, you have no idea what needs to be addressed or what will fail next or what repairs have been done or by whom. I say fix it and keep going.

Unless you’re considering moving to a different platform.

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