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custer_h 03-30-2009 05:15 PM

Old Shell and new chassis versus upgrading old Chassis
 
I've been planning to mate my 54 Dodge Town Panel with my 88 Ramcharger to get the body lines of the old panel and the running gear technology of the Ramcharger. The plan was to plant the shell of the 54 on floorboards and chassis (including running gear) of the Ramcharger. When I mentioned the plan to a friend and bodyman, he proposed that modifying the old chassis to accommodate the Ramcharger running gear would be easier and simpler. Does anyone have experience in this area?

Henry Highrise 03-30-2009 05:30 PM

Whatever chassis you are going to use....the wheelbase as well as the track width needs to be the same or very close to the same as the orignal frame. For example...I have a 52 Plymouth two door...the wheelbase and the track width is within a half an inch of a Dodge Dakota pick up frame. So with a lot of work it would make a good swap.

techinspector1 03-30-2009 07:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by custer_h
I've been planning to mate my 54 Dodge Town Panel with my 88 Ramcharger to get the body lines of the old panel and the running gear technology of the Ramcharger. The plan was to plant the shell of the 54 on floorboards and chassis (including running gear) of the Ramcharger. When I mentioned the plan to a friend and bodyman, he proposed that modifying the old chassis to accommodate the Ramcharger running gear would be easier and simpler. Does anyone have experience in this area?

I don't know if your friend has ever done anything like this, but I have and believe me, it's way simpler to use the entire Ramcharger frame and all, even if you have to cut the frame somewhere in the middle to make the wheelbase work. You can't appreciate how much better this approach works until you have had to drop plumb bobs and line up the Ramcharger components onto the 54 frame.

custer_h 03-30-2009 08:03 PM

Old Shell and new chassis versus upgrading old Chassis Reply to Thread
 
That was one of the first things I researched before purchasing the Ramcharger and the 54 is very close track and wheelbase. I learned a lot about the 54's in the process, but that's a whole other thread. Thanks for the advice! It's greatly appreciated!

custer_h 03-30-2009 08:11 PM

Old Shell and new chassis versus upgrading old Chassis
 
Techinspector1, I am glad to hear you say that! I hadn't even considered using plumb bobs but can see how they'd be useful. I was just considering the engine, tranny, driveshaft, and rearend and all the trimmings are already in place with no fuss or muss. All I'd have to do is line up the body. Simple, right? Not so fast! The Floor contours are way different and how do you support either body as you disconnect it from the floor, or weld it to it's new floor?

techinspector1 03-30-2009 09:00 PM

Both vehicles are framed, not unibody, right?

custer_h 03-30-2009 10:20 PM

Old Shell and new chassis versus upgrading old Chassi
 
Right! I've heard that concern before and looked.

techinspector1 03-30-2009 11:38 PM

I don't understand your statement about using the Ramcharger floor. You won't be doing that. You'll use the 54 floor.

Position your A-frame where you're going to do the swap. Move the Ramcharger inside the A-frame. Run 2 nylon straps through the front windows, one at the front of the window opening and one at the rear. Run 2 nylon straps through the rear windows, one at the front of the window opening and one at the rear. Now you have four nylon straps making four complete circles through the window openings and across the top of the vehicle. Remove all body mount bolts/nuts.

Get a piece of 2x3 or 2x4 steel tubing, long enough to go through all four loops with maybe two feet hanging out on each end past the loops. Drill a hole through the tube on the short sides (long sides vertical) and insert an eye bolt. Weld it, nut it or whatever. Slide the tube under the nylon loops. Attach your come-along to the A-frame and to the eye hook. Take up the slack and see if the car is balanced front to rear. If not, slide the tube forward or rearward to get the balance. Worst case, you may have to add some cylinder heads to the front or rear of the vehicle. Raise body off frame and roll frame outside. Back your flatbed trailer under the body and lower the body down onto the bed. Haul it to where you will store it or to the scrapper or to the guy who answered your craigslist ad for pristine Ramcharger sheetmetal.

Do the same thing with the 54, leaving the body hanging from the A-frame and rolling the frame outside. Roll the Ramcharger frame in and position it under the 54. Drop the body down and begin eyeballing where you will have to weld crossmembers and such to attach the Ramcharger frame to the 54 body, using the 54 body attaching holes. It sounds harder than it is. It's really a slam dunk once you get the 54 body hung over the Ramcharger frame. A little measuring and a little eyeballin' and you're there. Don't forget the four heavy duty jackstands under the frame on each corner. If the body drops while you're underneath, it could bottom the suspension and give you a headache.

custer_h 03-31-2009 09:17 AM

Old Shell and new chassis versus upgrading old Chassis Reply to Thread
 
Again, Thank you Techinspector1. The lift technique should work well. About the floor, there are all sorts of gadgets already attached to and sprung to the underside of the Ramcharger floor. Also, there's all sorts of plumbing and such (steering column) lined up in the fire wall. My thought was to cut and leave as much of the firewall and floor as possible and weld the 54 body to it using the already mounted floor. Another reason for doing this is that the 54's floor is a straight run front to back but the Ramcharger has a 9" rise just behind the front seats that is necessary to clear the frame and rearend which would give the 54 a funky stance in the rear. In most 54's the front floor is rusted through and this one is no exception. I suppose I could replace the 54's front floor and cut out the rear from where the Ramcharger would require the 9" rise. It just seemed easier to use the entire good floor of the Ramcharger but I'm open to other ideas.

timothale 03-31-2009 09:37 AM

frame swap
 
We had an old 48 jeepster with SBC and old jeep truck 4 X 4 parts. My son needed to rebuild the brakes and the parts he needed cost $ 500. We saw a 51 willys pickup at a car show on a blazer chassis. The guy said it was easy so junior bought a rusty blazer less engine for $ 150. The blazer had disc brakes and heavier drive train parts. It wasn't as easy as we were told. We lined up the rear wheels in the wheel wells and dropped the body down. We had to trim off the rear of the frame. the crosmembers and frame humps hit the floor. The engine had to come back 8 in to fit in the bay. that meant new motor and trans mounts, new drive shafts, E brake. clutch and brake pedal mount steering changes neither the willys or blazer gas tank fit. A friend dropped his 49 merc on a monte carlo chassis and his was easy.

techinspector1 03-31-2009 10:23 AM

Yep, every one of these swaps is different. You just keep cutting stuff out of the way until you get the body down where you want it.

Chevrolet4x4s 03-31-2009 10:35 AM

Your going from 2wd to 4wd right?
Shane

custer_h 03-31-2009 10:37 AM

Old Shell and new chassis versus upgrading old Chassis
 
Nope. Staying with 2 WD.

Chevrolet4x4s 03-31-2009 10:34 PM

Are you just wanting to get away from the solid axle? The frames on the Town Wagons/Town Panels are pretty stout. I have a 63 TW

Shane

custer_h 04-01-2009 08:37 AM

Old Shell and new chassis versus upgrading old Chassis
 
I'm actually wanting to get away from no power steering, power brakes, no AC, low geared tranny and rearend, and more.


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