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Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
1/12/19 7:19 p.m.

For years, I have wanted to buy a cool, older truck to do weekend truck things and to cruise in with the wife and dog. Problem is, EVERYONE wants cool, older trucks to do weekend truck things and to cruise in with the wife and dog, especially in the past few years. That means prices are insane. Another problem is that I live in New England, where cool, older trucks have mostly returned to the earth, which means that even crusty ones sell for thousands more than they should.

Over the fall, a buddy was cruising up in Maine, and saw an old Dodge pickup and shot me a text. At the time, I couldn't swing the asking price, so I put it out of my head.

Fast forward to last week, when he texted me again, while cruising up in Maine, about the same old Dodge pickup. It was now half price, and in the same condition. And being half price meant that it was right in my wheelhouse. I called the seller, and he was as expected: a wily old "Mainer" who was full of stories and had a glut of cool, old stuff, including a vintage Snow Cat that was also for sale. The truck actually belonged to his buddy, who was an even older, wilier (is that a word?) "Mainer", and he parked it at his place because it was on a main route. This thing has not seen the internet, which is probably why it was still there. We talked over the week, and he secured a new registration so it could be sold to me.

Fast forward to today, and my friend and I went up to check it out. It's nowhere near perfect, and it needs some things here and there, but the frame was better than most 5 year old trucks here and it had very minimal rust. What's more, the thing ran amazing and the 4WD seemed to work wonderfully. I was able to climb the seller's ice sheet of a yard and driveway without any issues! I struck a deal, and we loaded it up!

Here's some pics:

The Good Stuff:

-VERY original. Still even has the original AM/FM radio, and it works!

-Interior is mostly there. Some parts are a little ratty, but it's fine for now.

-Engine has a new carb, and I found a tag from an engine builder with a date from 2017 showing some testing, so I think it has been out and refreshed!

-Brand new BFG All Terrain TA KO's, that's $700-800 right there!

-Has a plow frame and controls, but that's coming out and getting sold most likely

-Fuel tank is plastic! Plastic doesn't rust!

-Frame is better than most 5 year old trucks around here, and the body is not too bad

 

Quick list of needs:

-Needs an alternator belt and a battery

-Floor has one hole: where the P/S seat belt bolt was. Should be fixable.

-Needs some bulbs here and there

-P/S door doesn't lock: linkage seems frozen

-It was repainted at some point and terribly; some spots need attention before rust sets in

-Fuel gauge doesn't work right now

All in all, I'm excited to FINALLY have a cool, old truck. Can't wait to dig into it!laugh

 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
1/12/19 7:26 p.m.

Awesome! Looks great!  I wanted a truck like this like crazy when I was in high school.  Does it have full time 4WD?

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
1/12/19 7:28 p.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Yes, it has the full time 4WD setup. It's probably going to get 4mpg, but that's ok for now. laugh

 

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
1/12/19 7:37 p.m.

I had an 84 longed 1 ton.

Great when stock and on 33s.

The skyjacker lift, plate bumpers, and 39s looked great, but sucked in the city.

Headers and a tune up (change timing, desmog, open air cleaner) made the 2bbl 318 pretty decent for what it was.

The ignition box was swapped for a mopar performance unit as well as the plug gaps opened a smidge....

bigfranks84
bigfranks84 Reader
1/12/19 9:36 p.m.

Excited to watch this,  always been a mopar guy. And love those old dodges, I'd really like a swept line one day. 

Woody
Woody MegaDork
1/12/19 10:02 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

All in all, I'm excited to FINALLY have a cool, old truck. Can't wait to dig into it!laugh

 

You have a cool old truck!!

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UltraDork
1/12/19 10:04 p.m.

Grandpa had a '78 (I think, maybe '79), blue, step side, side pipes, 318, 4x4.  My cousin and I learned to drive in that thing.  I have fond memories of driving it around the pasture at around 12 years old, even down the dirt road.  Parents would freak out about letting a kid do that these days.  Heck I was on a tractor at 7 or 8 years old.

My cousin and I would also ride around the pasture hanging off the step sides, grandpa driving, and us diving off to tackle calves that needed caught for ear tagging, or doctoring, or whatever.

Great memories!

NOT A TA
NOT A TA Dork
1/12/19 10:10 p.m.

Cool truck!

Having jumped projects in the past myself, potential winter progress on your Trans Am project isn't looking so good.......

Woody
Woody MegaDork
1/12/19 10:14 p.m.
Woody said:
Tony Sestito said:

All in all, I'm excited to FINALLY have a cool, old truck. Can't wait to dig into it!laugh

 

You have a cool old truck!!

Sorry, I forgot to call you Dulcich!

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/13/19 8:16 a.m.

Nice score.   Check the cab mounts closely if you haven't already.  Looks like the driver's side is sitting low, compared to the bed.

The 203 isn't horrible, and MileMarker used to make a part time kit for it.  Not sure if you can find any of that anymore.

If that glovebox door isn't cracked, take special care of it; they are getting expensive.  Protect it from UV, so it won't crack.

Also, look into the bulkhead connector, and amp guage, as these are two areas that can give you all sorts of grief with a '79.



Congratulations! 

TJL
TJL Reader
1/13/19 8:33 a.m.

Thats quite nice. I rarely see those even in relatively rust free, “land of trucks” Florida. 

wheelsmithy
wheelsmithy SuperDork
1/13/19 8:51 a.m.

Sweet!

 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
1/13/19 10:20 a.m.

In reply to Cooter :

Mile Marker still shows a 203 conversion kit in their catalog, but only for Ford and GM.  One would probably need to call them for Dodge compatibility.  Years ago I remember seeing hub conversion kits, but I can't seem to find any today.  Might be easier to just swap the front axle for a part-time version.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
1/13/19 1:20 p.m.

Here's a question about the NP203: Since it's full time 4WD, where should the shifter be for regular driving? I tried looking at the owner's manual (yep, this thing has the original owner's manual!) but I didn't see an answer. 

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/13/19 2:38 p.m.

Should be the position just to the rear of neutral.  (High Range)


The knob usually has the positions on it, but they get swapped or worn off over time.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
1/13/19 2:47 p.m.

In reply to Cooter :

Cool, I'll keep it in HI then. The knob is still there and legible.

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/13/19 3:03 p.m.

Pull it back one notch if you are in a low traction situation and are going at (or near) street speeds.  "Lo" is about a 2-1 (1.96, to be exact) gearing reduction.  

Low range is for low speed work, and some tractor-like pulling. Low Lock is for doing so in low traction situations.

The transfer case is just another differential.  In this case, it is between the front and rear driveshafts.  "Loc" effectively locks the front and rear driveshafts together at the same speed, like a spool.


If you already know all of this, disregard, but it probably will be helpful for some.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
1/13/19 3:15 p.m.

Also, MOAR PICTURES!!!

The stock stereo is still in the truck, and it still works! Pretty sure that even though it says "stereo" on there, there's only a single dash speaker. When it gets a strong FM signal, the Stereo lights up green! I feel really bad about changing this out, so I'll likely leave it in there.

This truck has what I believe to be 113,539 miles on it. Not bad for 40 years old!

Old vehicles are strange sometimes. It has a alternator charging gauge (not really a voltmeter), fuel gauge, coolant temp gauge, but a warning light for the oil pressure. No tach, either, but that's a rarity on these and I could care less if it has one. None of the gauges light up, and the gas gauge doesn't work, so that will need to be addressed.

As you can tell from the pics I posted yesterday, there's a plow frame on the truck. The plow controls are likely as old as the truck. No idea what kind of plow it had, but I'm taking this stuff off the truck.

Not sure what this is, but it's got the Pentastar on it. Maybe a business card holder? No clue.

In September of 1979, someone apparently installed an upgraded fuel tank from Travel Tanks, which is a company that doesn't seem to have any evidence of existing according to the interwebs. I can tell you that it does have a plastic fuel tank under there. Not sure if that's stock. It also lists it here as a tank for a W200, but this is a W150.

So far, these are the goodies I found inside of the truck: An ancient road flare, a tag from an engine rebuilder, a period correct Ballantine Ale can/bottle opener, and the original owner's manual.

I love this stupid thing.

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/13/19 3:46 p.m.

As I mentioned above, the ammeter can cause all sorts of issues, as all the power from the alternator has to travel through it before charging the battery.  This means that there are several possible areas for poor conductivity, including at the ammeter itself, and the bulkhead connector.  This would be the first order of business if this were my truck.   Unreliable charging and at worst, fires have been known to occur from this issue.

The Spot Check is a holder for oil change info.

I don't believe that is the original radio for your truck.  MoPar wouldn't have put a stereo in a truck without stereo speakers.  The speakers would have been in the the lower doors, and 5x7".

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
1/13/19 3:52 p.m.

In reply to Cooter :

Is there any way to bypass this and run an aftermarket gauge instead? Definitely don't want to deal with charging issues, not to mention fires!

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/13/19 3:57 p.m.

Oh, and check your fuses under the glovebox door, to the left of the glovebox itself.

IIRC, there is a 10A fuse for the dash lights.

Cooter
Cooter Dork
1/13/19 4:07 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

In reply to Cooter :

Is there any way to bypass this and run an aftermarket gauge instead? Definitely don't want to deal with charging issues, not to mention fires!

Yes.   Here is one writeup. of what is involved.  

Some folks swap out the guts to a Sunpro Voltmeter to replace the original ammeter.  It takes some fiddling, but works.

Cotton
Cotton PowerDork
1/13/19 5:47 p.m.

Love that truck,  very cool.

neverdone
neverdone None
1/13/19 5:56 p.m.

That's a cool find.   Can’t wait to hear more!

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
1/14/19 1:48 p.m.
Cooter said:
Tony Sestito said:

In reply to Cooter :

Is there any way to bypass this and run an aftermarket gauge instead? Definitely don't want to deal with charging issues, not to mention fires!

Yes.   Here is one writeup. of what is involved.  

Some folks swap out the guts to a Sunpro Voltmeter to replace the original ammeter.  It takes some fiddling, but works.

Now THAT is some super informative info. Thanks man! Also, I keep forgetting that my friend has a 1972 D100 (I mentioned it in the "LERN ME" thread). He went through all of this with his truck, so he has an idea of what I need to do.
 

Since I'm likely getting rid of that gauge, I am thinking of adding one of those 3-gauge pods under the dash with a voltmeter, water temp, and oil pressure. I want electrical oil and water though, and most of the cheapie 3-gauge kits come with mechanical stuff. Maybe I can see if there's a similar gauge (like one of those Sunpros) that fits in the stock cluster for those.

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