So on Dec 24, 2005; I made the first step in what would forever change the direction of my life: I pulled off the door panel to see why the window would not open. I had planned to work on it for the remainder of the winter working the little bugs out anyways, but little did I know that this would be a bit longer than a few weeks or months.
The issue list consisted of:
Fried tranny, door locks did not work (as I found, lock actuators were missing), power windows didn’t work (regulators seized), a few oil leaks, and rear end (rear had dually adapters bolted to a single rear wheel axle….issue was the axle to adapter lugs were never torque and the wobble damaged the adapters). Another item to look into was the fact the motor was gutless. It would take close to half a mile of wide open speed shifting to get it up to 90 MPH (as I learnt after, the speedo in the truck was out of a salvage yard and the 250,000 KM was actually closer to 600,000 miles….this was confirmed by what I found in other areas of the truck and therefore explained why the motor was so tired)
So work progressed and a rebuilt G360 was located for the truck. PW motors and PDL motors were also sourced. But this is where I got out of hand. See, when it comes to vehicles, I am picky. Add to that I am a perfectionist. Issue three is my love of horsepower (I can’t help that…I grew up around 60s Mopars, burnouts, and drag racing). Really, it all started with the tranny. See, after speaking with a family member who is a class 8 mechanic (as well as the original owner of a factory ordered 1989 W250 Cummins) he spent the time to explain why he had moved on from the G360 to a more robust tranny. After several hours of research after the conversation, it became apparent that if I wanted decent towing power and reliability for long distance hauling, the Getrag was not the right way to go. After a few weeks of research, it was determined that a NV5600 6 speed from a 99-05 truck was the way to go. So the search started, and a 4,000 mile tranny was found from a wrecked 2004. But then I had the next issue. The engine. The engine was a bit tired and also would be limited on top end power due to the Bosch VE injection pump. After looking into a Bosch P7100 injection pump swap, I determined it was better to go with a motor swap as it would give me a complete system that worked together, as well as the fact that it was not far off the same price as just swapping the pump and its related components needed for the install. So the search began for a late build mechanical 12V and a 1997 12V CPL 2174 Cummins motor was found in MA with 10K miles on it. Although it had the 180 HP pump (meaning was from an automatic) instead of the wanted 2175 CPL 215 pump (from a stick), the mileage was hard to pass up. That solved the engine question but then I had the next weak link of my system – the Dana 70 rear end. If I wanted power, the rear axle would need attention as the D70s did not hold up as well to higher tq numbers (not to mention the fact that the rear axle was a non dually axle). So a Dana 80 from the newer T-300 body (94+) second generation 3500 Ram was located and the 11,000 mile Sure Grip unit was located and shipped north from OK. Now that I had changed the rear axle, I had one more item that required attention: the front axle. See, with a DRW rim now being used on the rear but a single wheel rim on the front, I would have to carry two spares and would also still have a front end that did not look right. So the search started for a DRW hubbed Dana 60 front (as it was simpler and cheaper than just swapping hubs) and a 100,000 mile unit was located in OR. That was the basic components that I needed to get the truck reliable and get it into the 200 HP range I calculated as needed for what I wanted to do with the truck.
The truck with no door panels but with all the new driveline components having arrived:
So the prep of the truck began for the driveline swap. First was to remove the fenders and front end for the engine removal, followed by the tranny and rear.
Somewhere in this another issue came up. My father was assessing the truck and said if you are going to do the driveline, you should do a repaint. I said no way I was not going down that road. Conversation sounded like this:
Dad – Needs a repaint.
Me – No its just fine.
Dad – You have gone this far, should repaint it.
Me – No, its just fine.
Dad – There is a hold in the bed floor from a kingpin that missed the good neck hitch at some point, there is some rust on the body, there is scratches in a few places, the truck has stains on it; you should repaint it.
Me – Its just fine.
Dad – But you’ve gone so far…
Me – It’s just fine.
Dad – Well think about it.
Me – Sure. (In my head I was saying, it’s just fine. )
I stood strong with my thoughts and opinions as this was just a daily driver. Issue was the seed was planted. Every time I looked at the body, I could hear dads voice like a little critter on my shoulder. “You should repaint it” the little irritating voice said. I would tell it to buzz off but it would keep nagging and nagging like Fran Dresher. But back to the story….