My project Dakota isn't the usual lowrider, lifted 4x4, or custom. It was originally used for medium duty towing and utility work, which is why it has th... Show moree custom steel flatbed I built. It did very well for towing work, up to around 6k lbs. The little 3.9 V-6 towed the loads just fine, although it had to really work hard on hills, and it got terrible fuel economy while towing. At 80,000 miles the second automatic transmission let go, leaving me looking for a more durable option.
I finally found a killer deal on a crashed 4x4 Ram with a 5.7 Hemi and 5-speed automatic. I'll be undertaking this project over the next several weeks. Photos of the ongoing project will follow.
The pic of the donor Ram above was actually taken this morning. As you can see, I have removed as much as possible, while still being able to run the truck to move it into place when I pull the engine. I started pulling the engine from the Dakota this afternoon, but had to stop early because of other commitments. Tomorrow I'll be able to put in a full day of work, so I hope to have the Dakota engine out and get the Ram moved into place to pull the engine.
As a side note, I have been pondering the differential clearance issue, and I almost have myself talked into swapping the Ram's axles into the Dakota. This will be a much bigger project, but would get rid of the problem-prone IFS in the Dakota, and give me plenty of clearance for the oilpan.
Out with the old:
In with the new:
Removed motor mounts:
New motor mounts in and painted with POR-15. I would have painted the entire front of the frame, but that will have to wait until after I do the solid axle/leaf spring conversion. After the mounts were dry I installed the engine for the final time.
I welded a section of the Ram's trans crossmember to the Dakota's crossmember with square tubing for strength. I had to notch the front of the Dakota's crossmember for pan clearance. I reinforced the area with steel plate. Tomorrow I'll install the crossmember and begin the long job of hooking up all of the plumbing and sorting out the wiring harnesses.
Not a whole lot to report, but I did make a little progress with the wiring. While testing circuits, I found that the fuel pump wasn't working when I sent power to it. Luckily with the custom flat bed, all I had to do was remove 2 bolts, loosen 2 others, and tilt the front of the bed high enough to access the pump. I pulled the pump from the Ram, and found that it looks identical! I was wondering if the Dakota pump would provide the correct pressure for the MPI of the Hemi, now I don't have to worry about it. I installed the pump, added power, and instant fuel pressure. While working on the plumbing for the engine, I lucked out and the power steering pump pressure line from the Ram's steering pump bolted right to the Dakota's steering box. I had to tweak the metal line in a couple places to get it lined up, but it was simple and now the pressure line is done. I had to make up an adapter for the low pressure line, and I will be using the Ram's cooler since I happen to have it. I doubt its necessary for a Dakota, but I plan to have the added steering effort of larger tires soon, so this will add some peace of mind.
Its been a while, but I've been busy with other things. I was finally able to start the engine, and it fired right up! There is still a bit of final electrical work to do, but the worse is behind me. I have cut the old IFS out, and have the spring mounts almost completely welded in. The front axle is a Dana 44 from an '85 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Its 61" wide from WMS to WMS (Wheel Mounting Surface). I'll be using a GM 14-bolt rear axle from a Cab & Chassis, which is 63" from WMS to WMS. Because the 5-speed automatic has a double overdrive, I'll be able to run 4.88 gears and have just about stock overall gearing if I use 34" Super Swampers.
Here you can see the IFS cut out (with alot of cleanup left to do). Below that are shots with the new axle set in place. The final height after doing a SPOA lift is actually a couple inches higher than these shots. Show Less