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Recon1342 SuperDork
3/30/24 3:18 p.m.

Where to start... 


The amount of bodgy wiring in this thing is terrifying. It is definitely getting gutted and re-wired. Looks like I am learnin' on the job with this one. 


Cooter- the pad reads 5T 440 and some other indistinguishable numbers. Build date on the door frame says 3/76, so it's probably the original motor. 


Put a bar and socket on the crank and the engine turns freely. Starter just goes clicky clicky. I know a guy with a spare, so next weekend we will see if it'll crank and or fire. 

The bench seat is structurally sound, with good foam and such. Needs recovered, but is otherwise fine.


The cab floor would be in really rough shape, if it was still there. At the moment, there's a whole lot of aftermarket ventilation under the floor mat...

Thankfully, it's only the driver and passenger floor pans; the rear cab floor, firewall, and transmission hump are all solid. The cab mounts are going to need some TLC. I've seen better, and I've seen worse. This is fixable. 

The inner fender liners are in ok condition; they need some cracks and rust repaired. Outer fenders will probably be easier to just replace; I have a friend that may have a couple in his stash of Dodge parts. 

The undercarriage is covered in dirt, crud, and some rust. That's going to be high on the list to clean up and re-finish, as is the cab floor. 

Next weekend I will look into seeing if it starts, so I can find out what problems it has mechanically. 

Finally, one of the things to accomplish today was verifying axle type and gearing. As I thought, Dana 60s under both ends. Surprisingly, the differential tags were still intact on the rear axle, under about a 1/2" of dirt and grease. 


The small tag on the left annotates the gear ratio, which in this case is 4.10:1. The tag on the right is far more special, and made me giggle like an idiot after I got it cleaned up enough to read. It states "Use Limit. Slip Lube Only". 

I have a Dana 60 with a factory LSD in it! 

All in all, a productive day, topped off with finding the original paperwork when I cleaned out the glovebox, and discovering a limited slip differential in the rear axle. 


Stay tuned for more!

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
3/31/24 6:27 p.m.

A little late to the party, but you know I'm in on this! Good luck! 

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) PowerDork
3/31/24 7:04 p.m.

This    I    like.

Recon1342 SuperDork
4/1/24 7:59 p.m.

Teeny tiny update. I brought the rear view mirror home to clean and restore it. It's really minor compared to the scope of the rest of the project, but it's progress.

Took it all apart- 


Lots of hot soapy water, 120 grit sandpaper, and steel wool got rid of all the rusty spots and grunge. 

Rustoleum high performance silver enamel on the silver bits-


Then finally, reassemble-


Not too bad for a 48 year old mirror. 

They certainly don't make them like this anymore...

Recon1342 SuperDork
4/5/24 10:23 a.m.

The plan for tomorrow was to head over, swap starters, see if I could get it to fire, and shop vac the interior. Based on the weather and the fact that I no longer willingly crawl around in the mud, it's gonna have to wait a bit...sad


It is currently snowing, and the rain/snow mix is supposed to continue into tomorrow. 



Recon1342 SuperDork
4/13/24 7:01 p.m.

The weather was absolutely beautiful today. I vacuumed probably 10lbs of dirt and other assorted E36 M3 out of the truck. Scoped out the valve cover and a couple of random cylinders, swapped to the "spare" starter my buddy has, and screwed around with the clusterberkeley that is the wiring in this truck. 



After about 45 minutes with the shop vac, you can now see what is left of my floors-


I've got some investigating to do... the plugs are black with a capital B, and there is carbon all over the face of the pistons.


The cylinder wall, on the other hand, looks pretty good...


The valvetrain also looks good, as much as I can see of it...


Wiring has jumped way up on the list... it's a rat's nest of wiring under the dash, and I really don't feel like watching this one burn. 


1- Get the cab floors replaced. I would really like to get the cab sealed up before next winter. 

2- Rebuild the carb, and see if I can get it to fire up. The spare starter is just as bad as the one we pulled out, with the exception that it will actually turn the motor over for a rotation or two before the bendix freaks out. That will at least allow me to evaluate the rest of the mechanical systems on the truck.  

3- Completely gut and redo the wiring. With all the Redneck re-wiring that has been done, it's just going to be better for my mental health to start over. 

4- We will see after the wiring is done. 

Going forward, I'm going to try to spend at least 2 hours on the truck every Saturday. Additional time will be spent if possible, but life is pretty fast-paced right now.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
4/16/24 11:05 a.m.

A few things:

-Front floor pans are pretty cheap for these. I think mine came from RockAuto or Jegs for around $40/side. Well worth it. 

-When you're doing the floors, you might want to replace the gas pedal assembly. The ones from the 80's trucks are full hangers, so no more floppy gas pedal coming off while you're driving, forcing you to use the "Gas Rod". That used to drive me insane! You have to basically drill one hole and it mounts right to the firewall. I went over this here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/i-have-the-power-1979-dodge-w150-power-wagon-build/148809/page32/

-Not sure anyone has done it to yours yet, but if you are messing with wiring, it might be a good time to bypass the ammeter and install a voltmeter. It helps the truck not self-immolate and increases the reliability of the charging system. I went over this in detail here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/i-have-the-power-1979-dodge-w150-power-wagon-build/148809/page28/

Recon1342 SuperDork
4/16/24 1:06 p.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

Hey, Tony! 

Ammeter bypass was done(ish?), and both RockAuto and LMC have floor pans, as well as the fender patches I'll eventually need. 

That being said, I'm going to be putting in a Power Plus 20 system from American Auto Wire. (Thanks Dusterbd13!) There will not be a scrap of OEM wire left when I am done. 

It's every bit as bad as the Wire Nut bandit stuff you had to deal with (maybe even worse), and since this truck does not have to be running anytime soon, I'm going nuclear on it.

bmw88rider UberDork
4/16/24 2:49 p.m.

What is it about a late 70's dodge that I just love. I need another one of these in my life at some point. 

Awesome project! 

Recon1342 SuperDork
4/16/24 2:53 p.m.
bmw88rider said:

What is it about a late 70's dodge that I just love. I need another one of these in my life at some point. 

Awesome project! 

Yeah, it's definitely a disease...

bmw88rider UberDork
4/16/24 3:55 p.m.

In reply to Recon1342 :

I blame my dad. The first car I ever drove was a 79 trail duster I believe it was a sport because it did have the factory rollbar. It's the first car of my dad's I remember. We would go all over the woods of PA in that thing. 

Recon1342 SuperDork
4/25/24 10:22 a.m.

Dodge is waiting for parts right now, so not much to update. 

The wheels that are currently on it appear to be rubbing on the calipers. They are OE  8 slot steelies from a 94+ Dodge, 16x6.5" with an offset of 26mm. 

I like the way they look, but the offset has got to be what's causing them to rub. 


Thoughts on a US Wheels Rat Rod wheel (steel disc style) powdercoated bronze? Any photoshop gurus that can whip up a pic? I'd like to maintain the late '70s 4x4 vibe.

Sonic UberDork
4/25/24 10:35 a.m.

I feel like any late 70s 4x4 needs turbine wheels with white letter tires.  

Recon1342 SuperDork
4/25/24 10:44 a.m.

In reply to Sonic :

That would be awesome... But all the 8-lug turbines from the '70s are 16.5" rim diameter.

The tire selection for 17" rims is much more affordable.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
4/25/24 11:09 a.m.

Take a set of vintage aluminum Bullet Hole Wheels, spray them black, and polish the inside lips of the bullet holes. I think that would look barking awesome on an orange full size. With chrome lug nuts

Recon1342 SuperDork
4/25/24 1:05 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael :

Dunno. I kinda dig the idea of bronze with red/white body.

(The paint was originally red, it's just faded to orange like every other Mopar from that era)

Recon1342 SuperDork
4/26/24 4:22 p.m.

I actually purchased some parts today, so it's time for a budget update...

Towpar- $100

Starter and relay- $142.71

Total- $242.71


No work on the old Dodge tomorrow... Reconkid#1's Durango blew up its heater core, so I'm working on a newer Dodge.

Recon1342 UltraDork
5/4/24 4:29 p.m.

Progress is happening. New starter has been installed, as well as a new relay and new cable. Engine turns over, fuel from the gas can makes it to the carburetor. Unfortunately, we have zero sparklys... so it didn't fire today. After a couple of hours diagnosing sub-par wiring, I discovered that the coil is bad. Tune in next time!

Recon1342 UltraDork
5/15/24 8:28 p.m.

Went on a parts acquisition run today, came back with some hella stout drivetrain bits and a new-ish ignition module. 

Total parts cost: Labor to haul it away. 



Recon1342 UltraDork
5/24/24 12:38 p.m.

The new magic sparkly tube showed up and will be installed tomorrow, provided things work out. 

Recon1342 UltraDork
5/25/24 2:13 p.m.

I installed new ignition parts this morning. 

Shiny new coil-

New ignition module-


Tossed the jumper cables on it, turned the key, and...


Switched to heavier cables, a bigger jump vehicle, turned the key, and...

It coughed and sputtered for a couple of seconds.

After that, nothing. I suspect that I need to bite the bullet and buy a good battery to eliminate that as a cause. 


Proof that it will fire was nice, though!

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
5/27/24 10:40 a.m.

Does Year One offer one of the M&H wiring harnesses for those? M&H are the option from what I hear if you want good, easy to install, but decide to drop "cheap" from the triangle of chose any two.

Recon1342 UltraDork
5/28/24 11:12 a.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

Does Year One offer one of the M&H wiring harnesses for those? M&H are the option from what I hear if you want good, easy to install, but decide to drop "cheap" from the triangle of chose any two.

They do not offer one for the D/W series trucks. 

I am probably going to use Kwik Wire's 14 circuit budget harness. That will give me enough headroom to run A/C, electric fans, and EFI. Another big pro is that the harness is not terminated, which will allow me enough wire to maintain the OEM fuse panel location in the glove box. Finally, it's relatively inexpensive (and USA made!), which allows more money for things like EFI and such. 

Recon1342 UltraDork
6/5/24 10:24 a.m.

Time for a budget update... since I forgot to do it when I ordered the coil.

Towpar- $100

Starter and relay- $142.71

Coil- $33.91

Total- $276.62

I'm hoping to pick up hood, inner fenders, and cowl panel sometime in the next week. 

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