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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 09-30-2012, 09:43 PM
johnnyg's Avatar
hold my beer and watch this!
 
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Originally Posted by MARTINSR View Post
Um, the 79 Dodge van is a unibody, it has no frame.

Brian
Oh well I guess he will have to use the 48.

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  #17 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2012, 10:32 AM
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A 79 Dodge full size van DOES have a frame. The steering would have to be re-worked though.

If you want to update with minimal work just pull the engine and drivetrain. A 48 Dodge should have a solid axle in front. Those are easy to maintain. While it won't ride the best on a bumpy road, it will be fine on smooth pavement, and as good as 70-80s 4x4 trucks (solid axles in front) all the time. The engine is the main problem as far as maintenance. The manual trans shouldn't be. With the old engines you could be stuck on the road if you have a problem. Say if a water pump goes out -- you might be stuck for 3-4 days while one is next day aired in, and that won't be cheap (hotel room or shipping!). It would be a lot cheaper to make motor and transmission mounts (or might be a kit!) on the existing frame and change the engine/trans/rear axle (you need to match ratio to the engine and trans used). That takes some work, but not nearly as much as modifying a frame to fit the old body.

That said, what you are asking about CAN be done. A friend has a 50s Studebaker on a Dakota chassis. He cut the floor and firewall out of the Dakota and Studebaker (which needed floors anyway) then trimmed the Dakota to match the Stude dimensions. A "little" welding later he had a good fit. The front clip took a little more work. He used the firewall from the Dakota so he could keep the AC unit and all. He's happy with the work, but it did take a while.
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  #18 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2012, 11:06 AM
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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
 
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"Built on the B platform (later AB), the full-size vans entered production for the 1971 model year. Due to a one-welded-piece "Uniframe" design, the Dodge platform was lighter, stronger and featured a lower cargo floor than the competition, at the expense of NVH, the resulting lower center of gravity improved handling versus the competing products."

Dodge Ram Van - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brian
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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2012, 11:21 AM
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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
 
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I have driven odd ball cars my entire life, never had to rebuild the motor on the side of the road. Honestly, if it's maintained you are good to go. Or have that water pump and a fuel pump in a box under the seat.

Let's face it, are we going to have the tools to change the water pump with us? If so, put a water pump in the tool box.

It's all in what are the expectations of the owner, I understand that. We are all different. It's like when I went looking for a new Mini Van for my wife (new-used) we had one with rear air and a long wheel base. I found a real nice one without the rear air and a short wheelbase. I thought for a minute, "how many times did we NEED that rear air"? A couple of trips a year it made a difference, a small difference. How many times did we NEED that longer body, two or three times the 10 years we owned it! So I chose to get the shorter, rear airless van. My wife immediately noticed how nice it got around parking lots and the tighter turning radius which was welcome in 99.99% of the driving we did! So instead of buying something for the 1% I chose the van that was real nice and ended up with something much better for the 99% of what it will do for us by mistake!

My Rambler, I drive it every single day and on short trips out of town to car shows. That is all I want out of it right now. There is no reason what so ever for changing anything. I have extra parts at home and that is where it will go if I were to break down. No, I don't want to drive it on a thousand mile trip but that is more about the low gearing it has. But with a few changes like an overdrive or a T-5 late model tranny and I could go anywhere and wouldn't hesitate. But right now, my expectations are exactly what I am doing, a daily driver around town.

I always like to point out, a hell of a lot of these cars were driving across country 50 years ago, they must have been "ok" for it.

I am not disagreeing with your Frank, just the other side of the story that's all. I CAN see both sides, I just so much rather have the original frame under it, me personally and I am just tossing out the options to others to think about it so they don't end up doing something that really wasn't their true love.

Brian
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  #20 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2012, 11:41 AM
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My "problem" was that when I was in the USAF my Rambler was my second car. Couldn't keep a collector car to travel over the US with otherwise. Last time I needed a water pump it took two weeks to get the right one. Probably could have called Galvin's and got it in 3-5 days though, and got the right one the first time.

After that I decided the old 196 wasn't going to do for a daily driver that was expected to make long trips on occasion (I was driving it from Warner-Robins GA to Elgin, IL -- just west of Chicago -- once a year for a while). Keeping it maintained wasn't an issue. but a chance water pump, starter, or generator going out could leave me stranded for at least three days, four if it happened on a Friday night. That's not too bad, but I decided I needed a newer engine.

I was at home when the water pump needed replacing. I was on a trip to some training in New York City (Governor's Island Coast Guard Station) from my dad's house in Leesville, SC (where I live now) when one of the caps on a lower trunnion came out. Had to have it towed off the interstate in Maryland. Made arrangements to "store" it at the tow company for the two weeks I'd be gone and rented a car to continue. Only 3-4 hours lost. Ordered the part in NYC, it came in about three days before I had to leave. Rented a car, returned to Maryland, put the cap from the new joint on (didn't change whole joint!) and drove it back to SC. Didn't want another one of those incidents! I always tack weld the caps on the lower joints when rebuilding now -- just enough to keep it from working loose.

There are lots of little things in an old car that can break or fail like that. Some you can work around, some (like the joint!) you can't. You have to figure out how much of a risk is involved and how much you can afford to take. I had to make that call, and simply got a slightly newer Rambler that I could get parts for more readily. I went a bit further and upgraded to the 4.0L EFI Jeep engine (same as a 64 Rambler 6 with EFI added, for all practical purposes) instead of the 232/258 carbed engine, but any of those would have had the same affect. Other things can still go out, but I can work around most of them. a fuel pump quitting on the EFI engine, since I have an in-tank pump, would be a major issue now! You can't get rid of all risks, just minimize the major ones.

In the 14 years I drove my 63 American w/196 I only had that one issue with the lower trunnion joint really leave me stranded. I guess that's minimal risk enough...
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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 10-01-2012, 11:50 AM
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I hear you Frank, there is a gamble. I know that I have never been STRANDED like that in my older cars. My one year old cars, now those I have been stranded and we are talking days at the dealer in some other town and me driving a rental.

The problems with older cars, the parts that fail usually give you a warning. You hear a bearing, you see water dripping down, you get a stumble when you accelerate, there is something telling you to check it out. On the late model cars, they just STOP right where they are at.

Like I said, just want to toss out all the options to people.

Brian
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 10-15-2012, 06:14 PM
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Hello Fellow Dodge truck owner, I have a 46! I too wanted a better drivetrain, more reliable. I'll post a couple pictures if you want. I used a Toyota 4x Rear end, stock pumpkin and axles, drum brakes, welded on a 3 link set up. Then I kept the original straight axle up front with a disc brake conversion kit. I don't know what you are doing with yours, but mines a hot rod truck, so it has a Z'd rear frame and Z'd up front, we boxed the stock frame all the way front to back and kept the cool X members. I'm running 57 De Soto 341 Hemi and it fits great. The stock frame is very useable. Now on another note, I also have a 39 Plymouth sedan, there I used a Camero front clip, 68-72 with a disc brakes kit, but I also have 2" shorter A-Arms because she's low. Rear end I used the Stock 10 bolt with drum. I have Dodge 360 engine that fits very well, headers tuck right in and steering is clean.
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