I don't see a general discussion forum for the 2nd gens so if this isn't the right place please feel free to move.
Kind of a long post but I'm interested in opinions on what to do next with this truck as I'm sure some of you have been here also.
I have a 1996 2500 Extended Cab Long Bed. I bought it from a local fire department in TX for $5k with 274,000 miles on it. I currently have about 285,000 miles on it. Truck is pretty much stock although at some point someone was in the AFC housing as you get a little black smoke when you step on it. Stock injectors, etc. though.
I bought it as I wanted a reliable truck, 4x4 with a manual transmission that I could work on myself. It also had some cool extras on it like a gear vendors overdrive unit, 60 gallon fuel tank, ranch hand bumper, AT tires, etc. I bought it thinking I'd need to put $6-7k into it to get a decent truck that I'd just need to do regular maintainence on (and also be able to fix any other issue on myself when they inevitably came up).
So far I've put an additional $10k in it and while I'm closer to the "end" I'm also at the point where I really need to evaluate what I want to do before continuing down the rabbit hole as the next jump is pretty expensive.
The last major thing I thought I needed to do was replace the rear main seal. I pulled everything apart in my garage but when I got to the back of the block I noticed coolant leaking from above. I wasn't into the DIY head gasket so I had it towed to my local shop and pressure tested to confirm that it was a HG leak. They confirmed this, pulled the head and sent it to a local machine shop to pressure test the head. Got a call this morning that the head is cracked at the valve seat. Waiting on a call back with some $ figures and options but it seems to be a pretty common issue. That said I'm expecting the repair cost to go up...
I have some $ left to keep going down this road if I want but at some point I imagine it becomes pointless. I like the truck in that it meets my wants of a 4x4 manual truck that I can work on myself, but it also exceeds my "needs" and I've spent 1/3 of the time that I've had it with it inoperable in my garage while I do something to it so I'm trying to weigh out where to go next. I also have a kid now and the carseat won't fit in the back so that's a major pain. I do occasionally do some light to mid towing (5-10k lbs, usually on the lower side of that). More often I make use of the bed for work but I could also get stuff delivered so it's not the end of the world if I lost some of that capacity. I do like that parts are cheap and I can do pretty much everything myself to it.
At this point
I'm in the truck for just under $15k.
Currently have Trans/Transfer Case/Gear Vendors Out of the truck
Trans was gone through and in good shape
Transfer Case needs rebuild
Gear Vendors hasn't been used as the power was disconnected but supposed to be in good shape.
I know it needs a head gasket and probably a new head.
I know I need a new oil pan gasket.
Block was inspected and is in good shape per the shop.
If I go down the road of repairing it I'll have been through pretty much everything but the suspension and the injector pump.
So at this point I'm trying to get an idea from guys who have been here what I'm actually looking at. My concern is that another $3k of work makes the truck worth about $500 more than it is as it sits currently? What is the truck actually worth as it sits vs fixed up in your opinion? Is there anyway it's worth more as it sits than it is for parts? I recognize that it's not worth the $15k I'm in it for so I'm not going to come back telling you your number is low because I've put so much $ into it. I definitely don't want to be that guy.
Below is a list of what's on the truck/what's been done since I bought it 10k miles ago for reference. I put brands where I remember what I got. Pretty much everything came from Geno's and was OEM or Gates.
Gear vendors overdrive unit (I never hooked it up)
Ranch hand style front and rear bumper
Viper Alarm (horn is currently removed)
5" exhaust system (not sure brand as was on truck when I got it)
New tow hitches (B&W Class V bumper pull and turnover ball gooseneck)
Replace ALL fluids (oil, power steering, coolant, differential fluids, trans fluid with the OEM Mopar Fluid, etc.)
New ac compressor, evaporator (OEM), drier, etc.
New heater core (oem) and all radiator/coolant lines and hoses
Killer dowel pin tabbed
New water pump (gates)
New thermostat (gates or cummins) don't remember
New front main seal (cummins)
Re-seal timing Case cover (Permatex)
New spare tire
New wiring from behind the cab back to the tail lights, etc.
New 7/4 Pin tow adapter
New Trailer Brake Controller (not installed)
New steering gearbox (blue top)
New steering lines (gates I think?)
Steering gear brace (Dodge Off-Road)
New valve cover gaskets (cummins)
New oil pressure sensor (cummins)
New fuel sending unit (OEM (think cummins)
60 gallon aftermarket metal fuel tank
New engine speed sensor (Cummins)
New running boards
Install fuel pressure and boost pressure gauges (hewitt industries)
New rubber fuel hoses
New lift pump (cummins)
New water in fuel sensor (cummins)
Delete fuel pre heater
New belts (gates)
New overflow valve (cummins)
Rebuild vacuum pump (Gould)
New Slave Cylinder (Val-air)
Timbren SES on the front and rear axles (came with the truck)
South Bend Dual Disc Clutch (Unsure which exact model as it was installed prior to me getting the truck)
The truck was bought new in TX and has been in TX an NM until I moved to Wisconsin in March. The paint has some scratches but there is no rust and the body is straight, etc. Interior is decently worn although the dash only has 1 cracked area. Truck was stored indoors by the fired department and a mix of inside/outside by me. No center console in it.