1996 Dodge 3/4 ton V10
When my son wrecked the Dodge, the insurance company ended up totaling it,
primarily because the parts price was so high for a truck that old;
new parts were generally not available, except at "last melon" prices:
$12,000 and climbing. Well, this truck, which had almost
every necessary part on it, was only $2,124 in puny, but
ready-to-drive condition. That $10,000 off the price of repair parts
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
No news on the truck, but for the last week or
so I had been eyeing a local 1996 V10, automatic, 207kmi, as a
potential parts donor. (It has the same body configuration, and
because of the 8.0ℓ [488 cid] V10, the same stronger frame. It
also has auxiliary suspension air bags, and a Tekonsha brake
controller.) With a 'weak transmission', I negotiated $1,450 for the
truck at UGM Motors as a fixer-upper. $1,784 out the door ready to
drive, followed immediately (as in drive directly there, at low speed)
by $340 worth of used 10-ply tires from Liberty Tire; the
ones on the truck were bad, bad, bad. (Lumpy, unsafe at any speed.)
If it doesn't end up being used for parts, at least we have a truck for
hauling things around in for awhile (hence the new tires).
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
I fabricated a loop handle from a section of dead V-belt to serve in
place of the broken and missing door pull cup on the driver's side of
the donor truck. It works fairly well, and is strong, and will keep
me from ripping the door panel off trying to close the door. A new
replacement is $25-ish, and not worth considering on a parts truck,
unless sourced at a junkyard.
Saturday, May 5, 2018
The messed-up passenger door latch was causing real problems as
regards the donor truck's temporary duty with us, so I took the door
apart and used two big hammers to flatten out the bends where the
metal had cracked and deformed at the latch. I then used the
wire-feed welder to close the cracks. I used two hammers to flatten
out the welds and the general area, and ground some of the excess off.
The latch went back together easily. The missing attachment screw
will need to be replaced. Once reassembled the door worked well, as
did the locks. (But not the electric locks, which strain but can't
manage to move things.)
I looked closer, and the driver's door has the same cracking problem,
though a fat washer added to one of the screws is preventing the
bending. It may not need a better repair, the donor truck is not
expected to live very much longer.
Monday, May 7, 2018
I went to Pull-N-Save, and wandered the Dodge pen until I found a
vehicle that used the same door latch screws. I grabbed two, one for
the missing screw and another just in case the weird one on the
driver's side should need replacement. There were none of these
trucks in the yard, so no model-specific items like a door pull cup
The fuel pump wouldn't start on the donor truck, stranding me briefly.
Banging on the tank, a trick I've heard about, seemed to get it going
again. Scary. (Not the first time it would not start, but I finally
was able to chase it to the fuel pump. Could be the relay, but is
probably the pump.) The real problem with this truck, though, is the
box-of-rocks sound that you get at RPM as you float between
acceleration and deceleration; I think the engine is on its last legs,
which is not a problem except it means that I probably cannot use this
truck to go fetch the wreck home.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
I brought the donor truck to a shop we have a relationship with, and
borrowed an ear. He confirmed that it was probably rod noise, and
when presented with my plan of using it for one more cross-State trip
to pick up the truck carcass, suggested that I dump some Lucas in it
and try to keep it out of rattle range as much as possible. He
thought that this would not be an overly risky proposition, so long as
I did not expect a great deal more life out of the engine.
When leaving there, the truck would not crank. As I had recently
swapped the starter and fuel pump relays, this was a good
thing! (The problem followed the relay, which means that the problem
is the relay.) I swapped relays around again, and got the
truck running. My next stop was FLAPS, where $32 bought me a
replacement relay and a jug of Lucas oil treatment. Having a definite
thing to blame means that it is unlikely to need a hard-to-replace
fuel pump before the operation.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
The little battery clock I'd stuck in the dash cubby of the other
truck died some time ago, I stopped by the thrift shop and got another
clock. $1, it seems to work. I taped it to the same wooden block I'd
used on the last one, to try to hold it in place, put in a battery,
and parked it in this truck's cubby. It's a clock you can read easily
while napping, without having to turn something electronic on.
Friday, May 18, 2018
I used the truck to pick up the out-for-repair lawn mower, and the transmission
chose today, on the pickup run, to work perfectly! All four gears,
and a locked torque converter at higher speeds. (I could feel/hear
all four transitions.) About 1,500 RPM at
55 MPH, staying well away from the bearing noise
zone. It also lit the low-fuel light on the way, and I filled up at
334 miles, the truck turned in 10.8 MPG. Wa-hoo!
Double digits! (I wasn't expecting it to be even that good.)
I am concerned that the transmission reverted to limp-home behavior
after the fill-up. I think that in order for a haul-the-carcass-home
trip to be practical I need to be sure of keeping the engine out of
the rattle zone most of the way, and for that I really need fourth
gear and the TC lockup.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
I cleaned and treated (De-Ox-It) the big relay contacts in the power
distribution module, opened and cleaned/treated the contacts in the
intermittent relay I'd replaced and put it in the glove box as a
spare, and opened/cleaned/treated the transmission control relay. I
opened and treated the big three connectors by the brake booster
(C125/C126/C127) and looked for where the loose orange wire that is
right there should go. Looks like maybe it's supposed to be loose,
which seems odd. The only orange wire in the loom I could identify
(in my 1997 manual) is the +5V line for the transmission solenoids.
I didn't measure anything on it, though.
I cut a stick to wedge under the seat cushion to keep it from sagging.
Now it's a bit high-feeling, but probably less annoying. We'll see,
it's not like a stick is hard to remove or anything.
I moved the truck closer to the air compressor, and went under the
truck again. I pulled the transmission connector and flushed it out
with brake cleaner, again, and puddled some into the upwards-facing
socket. I used compressed air to blow it out, and definitely felt
some dirt moving around. Not sure whether it was in the connector, or
just sitting on top of the transmission flange where the connector
lives. I used De-Ox-It on the connector and plugged it back in. I
think the connector seated deeper than before, with a more positive
'snick'. I drove the truck downtown and back, to the evening's parade
activity, and the transmission operated properly. Looks good, but
I'm going to need to put a few more miles on it before I call it
fixed. You can definitely feel all four shifts now, going into fourth
gear and then having the torque converter lockup engage at freeway
speeds. Engine turns now at about 1,500 RPM at
55 MPH, which is very nice. Plenty of torque,
it's happy loafing along like that.
The replacement battery clock sucks, its hands stick at around 7, so
it's always showing the wrong time. Better luck next time!
Sunday, May 20, 2018
I drove the truck today, and the transmission behaved perfectly at all
times. I think we can say that it is fixed! The seat feels a little
weird, it could probably use some more work. Will it get it?
Monday, May 21, 2018
The tailgate had an incorrect bolt for one of the cable stops, so that
it did not pivot correctly, causing it to bind up when closing. (It
was a regular bolt, not the correct shoulder bolt, so it was pinched
tightly into place rather than pivoting as the gate closes.) I
stopped by the U-Pull and nabbed the correct bolt off of a Dakota.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
They charged a little too much for the license and registration, and
refunded me $22.75 today. (Reflected in the numbers above.) I picked
up the license plates too. The paper tag is good until June 15,
I wonder if I'll actually have to put the plates on?
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Got the final offer on the wrecked truck today.
They are throwing in transporting the wreck from Seattle to Spokane,
which is more than 300 miles. Such a deal. I have made arrangements
to drop the wreck directly at the shop, I won't need to be involved at
The V10's days are numbered. Small ones.
Friday, May 25, 2018
I talked to Bryan Long at Spokane Frame & Auto, (509) 868-2605,
and he said that while he needed more parts laying around like a hole
in the head, he'd take $750 off the price of the job if he got to keep
the remains of the donor. That's half what I paid for the entire
truck, and well over what I could get at the junkyard. Sold! (I'm
sure that careful parting out of the remains could yield more than
this, but I am personally not interested in stretching out this
process any longer, and certainly don't need yet another carcass
laying around here, or another project.) The bed is not included in
this deal as the neighbor wants it. I might charge him
$1, to make it all legal. (Is that still a thing?)
Tueesday, May 29, 2018
The low-fuel light came on again, and I just couldn't stand not
knowing the fuel mileage improvement due to the repaired transmission,
even though the donor operation is imminent. I filled up, the third
and probably last tank, at 381 miles, the truck turned in a whopping
12.3 MPG. Wa-hoo, a 14% improvement!
Gaining this knowledge was a $100 indulgence, unless I can drive it
down to near empty again before it goes in. If I can't, I see some
siphoning in my future, no way I'm giving away $100 in fuel with the
I've got to say I've enjoyed my tenure with this truck, especially
since I fixed the transmission. I could easily see owning another
one, under the right circumstances. (Translation: a price as right as
this one, and a need for a big truck like this.) I like
large-displacement low-revving engines, they're torquey and easy to
drive. You just have to find a way to stomach the large fuel bills!
Saturday, June 2, 2018
Some friends were taking down several dead trees in their back yard
and gave us the wood, all we had to do was haul it. Two full loads.
The truck barely noticed the weight. I did have a fair amount of
trouble shifting in and out of 4wd, but that's due to my unfamiliarity
with this process on an automatic transmission vehicle.
There was some grunching noise up front when in 4wd, that's a bit
disturbing since that's part of what's moving to the other truck.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
The title finally came in the mail. Unless I miss my guess, barely
Friday, June 8, 2018
This truck has been my daily driver all week, trying to run the fuel
out. (Siphoning turns out to be intentionally difficult on this.)
Unless something comes up where we need this truck, I think I
just drove it for the penultimate time. It's down to 1/8 tank
indicated, and the light is coming on. 330 miles, and at $100 a pop I
don't want to feed it again. (Probably only about 5 gallons of fuel
left, based on the prior two fill-ups. That's 50-odd miles, or a
couple of trips to town and back before it sucks air.) At this point
I only expect the one more trip: to the gallows. I enjoyed driving
this truck far more than I ever expected to, perhaps because it is
actually fairly clean inside and it has the same nap-worthy back seat
as the other truck, in addition to its torquey low-revving-ness.
Time to fire up the Mazcedes, I guess. Not
at all nap-worthy, near as I can tell at this point, and pretty
unrefined in comparison. But I don't expect it to be a daily driver,
either. It is planned for a different role in my life.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Reprieve? The dead truck finally showed up
yesterday. The shop doesn't think a donor frame is necessary at all,
and if this is true this truck will not be parted out. Flip it,
instead? Keep it as the non-RV truck, circumventing 90% of the scary
and tedious camper on/off dance? Most of our non-camper uses of a
truck are infrequent, and local, so the terrible gas mileage of the
V10 really wouldn't be a big issue. My guess is that we'd
probably only put a few hundred miles a year on it. Certainly not
worth buying a truck for, but we've already got this one, and it
wasn't very expensive. It's also in a configuration that my wife
prefers, if she's the driver.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
The dead truck is repaired, and I'm going to go
pick it up tomorrow, leaving this one in its place for now. He's
going to estimate a cheap-ass in-frame bearing job. For now I brought it
up top, ready to drive tomorrow. (After I put the license plates on it.)
Since we might be keeping this, I removed the lump-inducing stick from
the seat frame, and substituted a 2" piece of closed-cell packing
foam. It wedged into place pretty securely, we'll see how it feels
with a bit of seat time. The foam certainly has more 'give' to it
than a stick does!
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Finally installed the license plates. (The paper tag expired on the
15th.) I had the frame shop guy look at it, and he thinks
he might be able to do an in-frame bearing swap, but not immediately.
Will call July 12-ish to firm up an appointment. Since I had to leave
the repaired truck at the tire shop I drove this one back home.
I did some checking, and a proper seat repair, essentially
undistinguishable from new, will be in the $400 range for the parts.
The foam repair is better than the stick, and probably adequate, but
the seat is just so ugly. The current list of planned
repairs, if we decide to go that way, is:
I'll probably have to eventually do something about:
- Bearings (or whatever that intermittent rattle is)
- ✓ Squeaking/leaking 4wd
- ✓ Seat cushion
- ✓ Door pull
- ✓ Cupholder/power outlet
- ✓ Re-film ripply passenger window
- Bumper pad (used one off wrecked truck)
- Non-dimming rear-view mirror
- ✓ Partially melted left headlight.
- ✓ Peeling paint
- ✓ Rusting gouge on LR wheel arch.
Saturday, June 30, 2018
We wanted to go kayaking. Good thing we have a spare truck!
Sunday, July 1, 2018
We needed to haul a load of chairs and stands to our outdoor band
concert today. Good thing we have a spare truck!
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
I stopped by NAPA today and spent $16.50 on a 2-oz can of PAG 100 oil
and a 12-oz can of R134a. When I had a moment later I dug out the AC
gear, and fired it all up. (Vacuumed out the gauge set before
starting, bleeding refrigerant into it, etc.) When I removed the
high-side cap there was a bit of hissing, so I think the fitting leaks
there. The compressor was short-cycling, and sounded kind of noisy,
so I started with the oil can. I then fed it the can of refrigerant,
and partway through eating that it started cycling longer and longer.
With the entire can in the system there was no more short cycling, the
compressor sounded much quieter, and vent temperatures were 48°F
at idle. (Ambient was only 70°F, so not much of a challenge.)
If it's warm tomorrow at the parade, it'll be nice to have the AC
The malfunctioning left brake light on the trailer turned out to be
a bent contact in the socket on the truck. I used a pick to spread
out the contact a bit more, which seemed to cure the problem.
One of the safety chain attachement points on the hitch had been bent,
looked like maybe somebody backed into something quite some time ago
(rust). I used a big crescent wrench to bend it back into
place, and all the paint came off the rust. I brushed it off and
dabbed some black paint on. With this straightened it's easier to
get the trailer on.
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
The truck handled towing the trailer to and from the parade well. I
was a bit surprised how much the transmission reacted to the nominal
weight of the empty trailer, it was a lot more shifty than I would
have expected. It was a challenge, at times, to keep
the RPM's out of the rattle zone. But do-able. It was
an overall cool day, but we did use the AC some on the way home. It
was nice to have it, and to know that it is there if we need it.
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Daniel went to drive this truck, and it would fire but not stay
running. (He drove something else.) Later in the day I got it started,
and it would run so long as you kept some gas on. It refused to idle,
and would die on its own. After a bit of pedal feathering it seemed to
return to normality, and would idle. Odd.
... I am told that this is not uncommon, and that "brushing its
teeth", using spray carb cleaner and a toothbrush on the idle air
motor in the air intake, will likely cure it. Unlike the
spring-loaded Mercedes system that is open at rest, which thus tends
to stick at high-idle, this one is closed at rest and so sticks shut,
resulting in a no-run condition instead of a stable (if high) idle.
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Yesterday's parts procurement run for the diesel
truck yielded a door pull cup, but it turned out it was for the
wrong side. When I went back today to swap it, we couldn't find a
driver's-side cup, which isn't really that surprising. (They're the
ones that are going to break, after all.) I swapped the incorrect
door pull cup straight across for a power distribution center cover,
to keep dirt out of the underhood fuses and relays. (Roughly $7.50
Thursday, October 18, 2018
The frame shop guy was never able to coordinate with me as regards
scheduling the bearing job, so I gave up on him. I tasked
Rob (from work) with the
job, and he determined, with his dad's help, that it wasn't bearing
noise at all. (He dropped the pan and had a look.) He and my brother
think that it's pre-ignition, Steve suspects it might be because the
EGR system is not working correctly. Rob said the spark plugs were
shot, and replaced them. (Pre-ignition could certainly contribute to
their poor condition.)
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Rob also somewhat independently determined that the front axle needed
a rebuild, the seals were bad and rust was starting in the bearings.
He pulled it all apart and restored things.
Below is a list of all the new parts installed on your truck. Total
came to $403.14.
I'd chosen Rob because he was out of work, throwing him a bone as it
were, and it sounded like he knew what he was doing. I'm fairly
unhappy with the magnitude of the total bill, I hadn't been intending
to put this much into the vehicle. I feel like I paid for him to
learn on my truck, and I would have preferred doing the
fiddly stuff rather than paying to have it done. And, the engine
still rattles. It is nice to have the front axle in good
shape, though I probably would have opted for just new seals and call
it good enough.
After adding everything up, I am asking for 20 hours of labor @
$50.00 an hour for a total of $1000.00.
The labor time includes: Diagnostic/troubleshooting time, installation
of the new parts, tear down, flushing/cleaning and rebuild of the
front differential. Due to the condition of the front differential,
this was an almost 2 day job alone.
Also, this stuff is trivial, but I lubed the the entire front end,
filled the washer fluid reservoir, lubed the U-Joints, added 2 gallons
of no-ethanol super unleaded and 10 ounces of rocket fuel octane
My wife added up the final totals today and came up with $1403.14. I
know this is a different total, but I was on the low side for parts.
I hope you you feel this is reasonable.
1996 Dodge Ram 2500 V-10 Magnum Parts:
Autolite Spark Plugs - $1.97 x 10 = $19.70
Spark Plug Wires - $31.49
Fram Air Filter - $20.69
PVC Valve - $5.99
PVC Grommet - $4.49
Crank Case Breather - $5.50
Crank Case Breather Grommet - $4.04
Oil Filter - $3.99
Dorman AutoGrade Drain Plug - &2.99
Fel-Pro Oil Pan Gasket Set - $50.99
Gates Century Series Micro-V Serpentine Belt - $42.99
Front Differential -
Gasket Material (4x4 vacuum motor seal) - $8.99
Right side Front axle seal - $3.99
Left side Front axle seal - $8.99
Pinion Seal - $24.29
Front Differential U-Joint - $20.99
Fel-Pro 10 Bolt Holes Axle Housing Cover Gasket - $5.69
Oils / Sealants -
1 Gallon 50/50 Pre-Mix Prestone Anti-Freeze - $15.99
Dielectric Grease - $9.89
5QT 10-30 Oil Jug - $23.00
1QT 10-30 Oil - 8.49 x 3 = $25.47
Silicone Gasket Sealer - $18.19
Valvoline Synthetic Bearing Grease - $5.99
MasterPro Chemicals 1 Gallon 80W-90 GL-5 Gear Oil - $15.99
Parts Total = $403.14
Saturday, October 27, 2018
There is a TSB
(18-16-98) on the
V10 spark plug wire routing, which states that there can be crosstalk
between 5 and 7, causing pre-ignition. There is a very specific
routing of wires in the plastic channel over to the driver's side,
where #9 is to lie between #5 and #7 in order to prevent this. Rob
had not even properly fit the wires into the channel, and used zip
ties to hold the mess together. I re-routed them according to the
TSB, and when properly fit no zip ties are required, the channel just
snaps together. Correct routing:
B 3 T
o 9 o
t 1 p
Saturday, November 10, 2018
We used the truck to haul more free firewood. The 4wd worked nicely,
no bad noises anymore.
It turns out that the left headlight problem was caused by some bozo
trying to install a 9007 lamp in a 9004 socket. It doesn't go in
right, and the bulb ended up melting the housing. The used
replacement housing I procured ($24) was a pain to install, mostly
because the bumper is a little bit out of place. Also installed,
earlier, was a new door pull cup, about $29, a Wheelskins leather
steering wheel wrap, about $54, and a replacement (used) cup holder
mechanism, which was about $65. At the same time I fixed the power
outlet, which had been re-installed incorrectly at some point in the
past. All that's really left to do on the presentation front is the
driver's seat. And something about the paint so that it doesn't rust
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
The annual parade is looming, it's time to finish the seat. (This is
our best candidate for the tow vehicle.) Richmond Upholstery has 'the
real deal' materials, as apparently does 'Auto Champ of Texas'. The
trim code is P1D5, quartz gray, according to the door sticker. I
ordered the cover and a new cushion via Amazon Smile, about $330
total, and benefitting the CdA Symphony. Vendors are Auto
Champ of Texas (cover) and The Seat Shop (foam);
sales taxes were collected on both sub-orders, since both were supplied
by Amazon, which has a WA presence. (Shipping to ID also
would have been taxed, so I didn't bother using an alternate address;
the minuscule savings wasn't worth the trouble.)
My brother suggested that this engine might use the EGR valve to
discourage pre-ignition under susceptible conditions, and that I
should test it some time. This morning I had a look for the EGR
valve, but there doesn't seem to be one. I've found conflicting
information on whether or not there actually is one. If it's
there, it appears to live underneath the upper intake manifold, and is
not something you can just poke at, or even see.
Googling suggests that other potential sources of pre-ignition
(besides spark wire routing) could be low fuel
pressure, weak or clogged injectors, and/or air leaks in the intake
Discouraged, I removed the air filter and throttle body, and cleaned
the idle control valve using brake cleaner. This turns out to
be much easier to do by simply removing the throttle body
first, rather than being deceived into trying to remove only the valve
itself, which is very awkwardly positioned up under the cowl. This
all took about 2 hours, and would have been much quicker had I first
removed the throttle body. The idle control needs to work better than
it has been lately, our parade driver can't be expected to have to
feather the throttle in order to keep the engine running if it should
decide to misbehave during the event.
The gasket to the air filter housing was brittle and hard, and broke
during the operation. As I didn't have another gasket on hand, and
didn't want to wait, I just used a bit of RTV gasket sealer to repair
it as I put it back together. Should be good enough. It started and
ran OK, let's hope this surgery did some good.
I used the truck for some errands today, and it didn't die even once.
I got it emissions-tested (for the very last time, the program is
ending here; $15) and it and the trailer re-licensed for the parade.
I then dropped by NW Dent Repair, a place I've used
before for inexpensive body work. I explained what I wanted as
regards the damage at the LR wheel arch. Best summarized:
"Somebody is going to take a hammer to this, I'd rather it
was somebody who knew what they were doing." Once they understood
what I wanted, basically straightening it out some and preventing rust
from really getting going rather than returning it to as-new
condition, they gave me an estimate of $250 to make it better than it
was. This was acceptable, so I left the vehicle with them, with the
proviso that I must have the vehicle back by July 1 for use
in the parade.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
NW Dent Repair called, and said they were done already! Daniel took
me back there, and the repair looks good. Crude, as expected, but the
profile is restored and the rust is stopped, and it's white; just what
I asked for. $200, cash.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
I made an appointment at Quality Auto Trim to have the
bad film on the one window replaced. $65, can be done while I wait.
Tuesday at 1 PM.
Friday, June 21, 2019
Jill needed to drive this while I worked on
her door handle problem.
Unfortunately, the 'new' cup holder fell apart on her. I hate plastic!
The new seat bottom foam came today.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
I took apart the broken cup holder. Cracks everywhere! I hate plastic...
Sunday, June 23, 2019
I used cyanoacrylate glue to put back the broken-off piece of the cup
support. This is not for strength, only positioning.
Monday, June 24, 2019
I cut a piece of heavy steel wire and bent it to fit into one of the
molded channels in the bottom of the cup support, across the break,
then potted it into place with Shoe Goo. After it had set a bit I did
the other side, and then a bridge across the spring perch, and then a
piece in the channel between the two sides. I cut long strips of
sheet steel to go across the bottoms of the lollipops and up the
supporting arms, and glued them into place. (These overlap the wire
spines.) It took several sessions to get things potted as I wanted
them. I also ran a Goo cross on the bottom of each lollipop, to help
strengthen them. I formed sheet steel over the trunnions, as one of
those had broken. Sheet steel also covers the top sides of the
lollipop supporting arms, and two more strips at an angle tie these to
the trunnion braces. Ultimately there were twelve pieces of
reinforcing steel, and lots of Goo. Should be pretty solid now, the
original ABS plastic was clearly starting to crack and deform.
The new seat bottom cover came today. The included paperwork shows
that it is actually a product of Richmond upholstery. Now to pick a
suitable day for the operation.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
With the glue all set I put the cup holder back together and installed
it into the truck. I don't think the lollipops drop quite as far now,
due to lack of clearance since the reinforced supporting arms are
thicker than before, but I think it's working well enough anyway.
I had the two side windows re-tinted today, they up-sold me into doing
both. (The driver's side was scored in places, and had faded to a
purple tint.) $151.37, with a lifetime warrantee. It really does
look a lot better, and having both sides match is preferable. The
unexpected joker is that you're not supposed to move the windows for
several days while it finishes drying, and it was a beautiful warm day
just perfect for driving with the windows down. Too bad.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Daniel and I replaced the seat upholstery. Two bolts and two nuts
release the seat from the truck, but you have to remove two more bolts
to release the center seat from the driver's seat before you can get
the seat out. So, six fasteners in total. After that the job was
very straightforward. The foam slipped on without an issue. The new
cover is almost the same as the original, there is a lack of
a stiffener at the outside back where the upholstery buttons to the
seat frame. I cut the stiffener out of the old cover (it was sewn
into the original) and just fit it in place. (It's not secured, we
will see how well that works.) Hog rings attach the middle of the
bottom to the middle of the foam, that went fairly easily. Reassembly
was just the reverse, and went quickly. The whole job was a bit over
It looks and feels great! You sit considerably higher than before,
but level. The color is a bit more vibrant, of course, but it's not
that bad a match to the remaining original upholstery. The reasonable
condition of the interior is a major part of the resale value of this
truck, I should have no trouble getting my money back out if/when.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
The idle air cleaning has helped, but I'm still
having an intermittent low idle, and it's died once or twice. I
ordered a new idle control valve from carparts.com, $13.11 shipped.
(I should have done this in the first place, but I didn't realize how
inexpensive a new valve was.)
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Daniel and I hooked up the trailer and aired all ten tires. While we
were there, I found an old can of white Rustoleum and a brush in the
garage, and we scraped the worst of the peeling off the hood and roof
and had at it. It might look better now, from a great
distance. It should help slow down the rusting, though.
Thursday, July 4, 2019
We used the truck in the annual Laclede parade, this is its second
year towing the trailer/float. Consensus is that the crappy paint
patch job is a slight improvement, the truck doesn't look quite so
scabrous from a distance, but did garner many laughs once it was
realized what I had done.
Sunday, July 14, 2019
I installed the new idle control valve, it seems to work. Time will
tell if it works better than the old one, but I suspect it will.
Since I had the hood up, I took a look at the low washer fluid
situation. It looked like there was a leak down by the level sensor,
so I pulled the tank. That was messy, you have to remove the upper
radiator hose, which meant a coolant loss. Also, somebody had screwed
the bottom tank mounting tab to the radiator shroud, so it really
didn't want to come out, and following the instructions didn't work.
The reason for the screw appeared once the tank was removed from the
truck: there was a belt/pulley hole rubbed into the tank. Clearance
problems? Misalignment? Motor mounts a problem? Not sure yet, but
the hole was apparent. Somebody had used RTV to plug the hole, but it
was leaking again. The screw allowed the tank to be put into the
truck with more clearance than normal. I'll have a better look once
it's ready to put back together again.
I cleaned the tank using water and a cloth followed by brake cleaner,
then used Shoe Goo to plug the hole. (It sticks better and is
stronger than RTV.) I rubbed some on the inside too, since it was
right next to the level sender hole so I could reach it with a finger.
I used two coats, to get a nice thick patch. The two rubber gaskets
on the tank look like they're still good, no need to spend any money
Monday, July 15, 2019
I slipped the tank back into its correct position, sans extra screw,
and it seems to be OK there. If it should turn out not to be, I can
always reposition it, and repair it again if need be. I filled it
halfway with water, and sluiced off the area to wash down the spilled
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
I took the truck to town for errands and a fillup, and while I was out
I bought some 20/10 washer additive and some blue juice, and filled
the washer tank the rest of the way with a nice mix. (There had been
no signs of leaking, warranting the use of something other than water.)
After driving the truck I could see some scuffing on the new glue.
Closer examination showed why: the fan shroud was split, allowing more
flexure than it should have and the heavy shroud-mounted washer tank to
swing rearwards under stress, contacting the power steering pulley. I
drained a gallon of coolant into a bucket, allowing clean removal of
the upper hose and swinging the washer tank out of the way. This
allowed access to the two 10mm bolts that are holding that side of the
fan shroud in place, which I removed. With easy access to both sides
of the cracked shroud I washed the area with water and a cloth, let it
dry, then sluiced the breaks with brake cleaner and blew it dry with
compressed air. I then smeared on a first layer of Shoe Goo and
wedged the shroud to close up the breaks so it'd dry in the correct
position. I made sure to smear glue into the cracks, not just on the
surface, I want this repair solid.
After it had set up a bit I potted the entire area in Goo. That
should take care of the problem once it fully cures.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
The shroud seems nice and solid, I reassembled everything and put back
the coolant. The washer tank can't move like it could before, it
should now be safe from pulley bites.
Thursday, July 25, 2019
We actually ended up taking this vehicle to Long Beach this week, due
to various reasons. It behaved admirably, other than its voracious
appetite for fuel. However, it looks like you can get
15 MPG on a long trip like this, if you try.
(Keep your foot out of the throttle, and speeds between
55–60 MPH.) The Spokane⇆Tacoma legs
turned in 14.6 & 15.3 MPG, the lower figure
was due to getting caught in an hour of stop-and-go traffic in Tacoma.
These figures are surprisingly good, and definitely an improvement
over its usual 10–12!
Jill seems somewhat more in favor of keeping this truck now, after
this trip. It was quiet and comfortable, roomy, and the mileage was
better than expected. It has an automatic transmission, cupholders,
and a CD player; all features she likes, and the interior is in good
condition. I'm giving her the choice on this one, I personally don't
care if we have this truck or not, now that we have
Dad's Ford to serve as an extra.
The truck burned a bit of oil on the exhaust manifold, it looks like
the passenger-side valve cover might be leaking.
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
The truck came to us with a [Matt] Shea political bumper sticker on
the tailgate, I couldn't have cared less. Recently Shea's been
protesting against the COVID-19 measures, which deeply offends my
wife; she didn't want to drive the truck if the sticker remained on
it. So, a little session with the heat gun and careful peeling and
the problem is solved! After some cleanup with Goo Gone you can't
even tell the sticker was ever there.
Getting rid of the politicians themselves is somewhat harder...
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Dropped the truck off at Les Schwab to deal with the leaking LF valve
stem. No charge, in time we'll see if this worked.
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Disaster! They oiled the road again today, and Jill was attempting to
drive her convertible on the side in the
un-oiled swath. She missed. She called me and I dashed down with the
truck and a tow strap. I arrived to find the car nearly completely
off the road, and at a very precarious angle in the "almost tumble
sideways down the hill" attitude. Very scary. We called down the
neighbor so that we had a second set of eyes available, to
help guard against mistakes. Jill was pretty rattled.
I wrapped the tow strap around the lower control arm on the uphill
side, the steering was already cranked over to 'drive' back onto the
road. We tied off to the truck and I had Jill and the neighbor climb
into the bed for additional traction, and forward enough to stay away
from the strap if it should snap. I then put it in first and 4wd and
eased out the slack, then slowly pushed on the throttle until it was
floored. It didn't move, or slip, but I don't think we could build
RPM enough to get maximal torque. I then backed off and put it into
low range and tried again. This time it walked forward without any
fuss, dragging the car completely back onto the road; there was no
slipping, even on the oily gravel surface. After that we just
unhooked and everybody drove home.
I washed out the truck, whose carpets had gotten filthy with road oil.
(Not petroleum, I believe. Sticky, black-ish, and smelly.) I used
orange Goop and a scrub brush, and a hose. The Shop-vac did much of
the drying, the sun is finishing the job.
Friday, September 25, 2020
Was told that one of the rear parking lights was out, so I checked and
pulled out the passenger-side housing. The bulb was good, but the
socket was corroded. I wire-brushed and scraped it out and used
Deoxit on it, whereupon it worked fine again.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
The repaired cupholder has been somewhat
unsatisfactory. Though plenty strong, the moving part can't drop
enough therefore the cups sit 'high', which means they want to fall
out on corners. (The mistake was making the support arms too
strong, which made them too thick, which means they interfere with
other parts preventing full extension.) I pulled it back out and used
pliers to bend some sheet metal out of the way. That helped slightly,
but then the support arms contacted the face of the dashboard insert.
I used a knife to mark where the arms hit, then used a coarse file to
cut notches in the face so the arms could drop further. It doesn't
look as bad as it sounds, and now the cup supports are almost down to
where they should be. We'll see if that improves things on corners.
We used the truck to haul a load of free firewood that some
friends gave us. Cottonwood, not the best, but free is
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
While unloading Sunday's firewood I managed to back into a tree,
wiping out the LH taillight and caving in the bed side forward to the
wheel well. (The bumper is slightly bent in as well.) Damn!
I duct-taped the taillight back together sufficiently to be street
legal, and took it to the cheap dent repair place. It's too damaged
for their magic, and it would be $1,400–2,000 for conventional
I stopped by Pull-and-Save, and lucked out. For my $2 entry fee, and
$16 more, I scored three Dodge taillights. One for this broken one
that is in good shape, just a few small chips in the edge of the
backup lens, and two more broken ones for the other side that can
probably be combined, with some cutting and gluing, into one that's
better than the one that's there. Maybe.
Friday, October 2, 2020
I had some time, so I put in an hour or so seeing what I could do
about the damage. I pulled off the tailgate and the taillights, and
got a crowbar and a long maple 2×4 (from a pallet), and the
Harbor Freight bodywork kit, and had at it. (I opened up the
non-damaged side too so I could use it for reference.) Access to the
damage from below and through the taillight and bed stake openings
is very good, there's really nothing you can't reach. After
some prying and hammering it actually looks a lot better than it did.
Still bad, mind you, but not as bad. I'm hoping I
can do even better with more time.
It's pretty easy when you have very low expectations. I may need to
pull out the wheel well liner to get even better access to the damage.
The rubber tailgate snubbing block on the damaged side was nearly torn
loose (unrelated to the tree damage), so I removed and washed it with
brake cleaner, then glued an aluminum sheet on the back to give the
mounting screw something to grip. (Shoe goo!) The rubber locating
pip was gone, so I drilled a small hole and glued a bit of insulated
solid copper wire in it to take its place. It'll be ready tomorrow.
Saturday, October 3, 2020
I tried some more bodywork, but I don't think I made any material
progress this time. We needed the truck for kayaking, so I put it all
back together, duct-taped taillight and all.
Sunday, October 4, 2020
I spent some quality time with the bumping hammer and heel dolly, and
after a couple of hours I think I'm really making some progress. (I
removed the wheel well liner for better access.) It's starting to
look almost good, in spots. The upper corner, which the body shop
thought was hopelessly creased, looks normal now. (Except for the
paint, of course.)
El stupido time, I decided I needed to pull the bumper back out away
from the sheet metal where it had been bent in, and way
overdid it using a chain and the offending tree. Practically ripped
the end of the bumper off the truck. Oops. No other damage, but will
need another bumper, this thing is pretzeled. Bumpers aren't all that
strong anymore, I should try to remember that. At least it was well
out of the way now, and I could get in with the hammer and fix the
dents (bumper bites) in the lower corner too.
Monday, October 5, 2020
I did a bit more panel beating, though it's very hard to reach up high
with the dolly while hammering. I think it can be made better,
though. I spent most of the morning removing the ruined bumper. It
was straightforward, but not easy. While it might be
possible to hammer out the bumper, it'd never look very good. I
really need a new one.
I then removed the bumper, and removed the chrome cover from the
under-bumper. The under-bumper is slightly damaged, but should hammer
out. The chrome bumper proper is toast.
I went to the junkyard, and they had a good-enough bumper on a 2000
Ram 1500, but I was unable to get two of the (six) bolts off, so I was
skunked. Grr! The bumper wasn't in as good a condition as this
truck's was, last week, but it was much better than it
is this week, and probably good enough. Some scraped dents
in the bottom that would probably hammer out well enough, though the
scrapes in the chrome would remain. Still thinking on what to do
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
I stopped by Lowe's, which now carries Craftsman tools, and picked up
a nut splitter. About $16. I then went back to the junkyard for that
not-very-good bumper, and found that you couldn't quite get the
splitter in place to use it. I then started in on it with the cold
chisel and hammer. After some frustrating and futile work I was
taking a rest and looked closer at the nuts. They're 18mm, not 19mm!
No wonder they rounded over. I had been misled in the very beginning
by surface rust that made the 19mm seem to fit better than it actually
did. I went back to the parking lot to try to find a smaller socket.
Unfortunately I decided to leave my tools in place, pushed well out of
sight under the truck, since I would be gone for just a minute. (No
bag, I had carried them in in my pockets, and nearly lost my pants
doing so.) Some son-of-a-bitch lowlife thief took everything in that
brief time. Lost were:
The first three items fairly distinctve. The latter two's loss was
felt most keenly. I'm very thankful I'd decided to carry my vintage
Snap-on 1/2" ratchet wrench with me.
- 2# sledge. Slightly loose wooden handle, very greasy.
- Pump bottle of PB Blaster. Well used, a bit leaky.
- Brand-new Craftsman nut splitter. Unused.
- Cold chisel, large.
- 19mm Craftsman combination (box & open) wrench. USA made.
- Vise grips. 10", USA.
I reported the theft immediately to the front desk, then went looking
for likely suspects. I monitored the check-out process for a couple
of hours, but no joy. The most likely theory is that the thief hid
the distinctive (larger) items for possible pickup later. The
non-distinctive tools could have been mixed into any tool bag.
Eventually I went back to Lowe's, and bought replacements. Same
brands, but all made in China now. I had to buy a combo wrench set to
get just the 19mm. Irwin now makes Vise-grip, but it looks to be the
same thing. Just not quite as well finished, and a lot rougher
operating. (Typical China.) While there I bought a short 18mm impact
socket, as doing so was probably cheaper, and certainly faster, than
driving the V10 back home to get the socket I already had. And I
bought a cheap/small tool bag to carry it all in. All this was $110,
less than I had thought it might be.
I then went back to the junkyard. With the correct-size 18mm socket I
was able to remove the two rounded-over nuts, even the cold-chiseled
one. (Plenty of hammering was required.) The penetrating oil had had
plenty of time to do its thing by then.
The bumper was about $48, including a $5 core charge. Too bad it's
not in that good a condition. Still, better than the pretzel.
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
I got the bumper installed, after first hammering out the dents in the
replacement somewhat. I also had to grind off the screws for the
trailer socket, they would not come loose.
The mystery of the mounting bolts has been solved: the bumper for the
V10 did use 19mm nuts, but the newer 1500 in the junkyard
used 18mm nuts! I reused the original 19mm fasteners, of course, as
they're both appropriate and not all chewed up. I used anti-sieze
compound on the hardware.
Thursday, October 8, 2020
More hammering, I think I'm through. With a lot more work it could
probably be returned to near good as new condition, but I'm sick of
working on it. I think it'll look good enough now, after primer and
some paint. If it turns out I'm wrong, it's no big deal to begin
working on it again.
I scuffed the area up with some sandpaper and washed it. The
weather's about to turn this weekend, I'd like to be done with this
In the afternoon, after it was dry, I went to the FLAPS and bought
some spray primer, and some Dupli-color white paint, in Dodge PW7
white. About $20. I rattle-canned primer on the parts that looked
like it needed it, then followed that with the white. Doesn't look
too bad. Several coats were necessary to cover the primer, I ended up
using the whole can. You're supposed to put on a shiny clearcoat
afterwards, but I think we can dispense with that $10 expense.
Friday, October 9, 2020
I put in the 'new' taillight, and glued the trim strip back on with
the good black weatherstrip cement. Done, except for fixing the
wiring and putting back the wheel well liner, for which I need new
While out I bought some matching clearcoat and some possibly-suitable
plastic fasteners at the FLAPS. I sprayed on the clearcoat right
there in the parking lot.
Monday, October 12, 2020
There was a break in the bad weather, so I went out and installed the
wheel well liner, using the new fasteners. They worked great, and at
$4 for a pack of 9 1/4" push-in fasteners they weren't even all
that expensive. I reinstalled the mud flap too. While I was under
there I removed that wretched motorcycle mount from the bed, so the
bed is now unencumbered.
I had a look at the license plate marker lamps, and it appears that
the sockets have decomposed. There are aftermarket replacements,
but... I got out the Shoe Goo and re-built them, it took several
sessions. I put them back in place while they were still a little bit
flexible so they'd mold to the site. A PITA, but basically cost
nothing but some spare time, and they're done today, not next week.
All that's left is to put back the trailer wiring plug.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Was skunked at the junkyard today looking for wheels and/or a spare
seat for the E320, but they had a nice matching
white canopy for the truck. $32. At that price I couldn't resist.
Fiberglass, and with a painted steel luggage rack on top. Made by
SNUGToP, I believe it's the Cab-Hi model
and is apparently a top-tier product. The glass door needs some work,
but it's all there. I got the wiring too, including a bridge
rectifier (for the high-mount brake light).
Saturday, November 7, 2020
I bought a game hoist (gambrel) at Cabelas recently, for lifting the
canopy off. ($40, more than the canopy! But it had nice braided rope
rather than the twisty crap of the cheapest online options.)
Yesterday I'd picked out two trees on level ground I could drive
between, and cut the side branches off well above truck level. I used
a pole to bridge between them, lodged in upper branch crotches. (It's
all a bit flimsy, but the trees are still growing.) I hung the hoist
from the pole using a scrap length of galvanized barbed wire. It
should be fairly weatherproof. The gambrel bridges between two of the
rails on the canopy's rack, I moved it back and forth until it
balanced well, then paint-marked where the gambrel should go for next
time. It lifted right off with ease, though it takes quite a tug on
the 8-pulley block and tackle to lift it. (7× force
multiplier?) I'd left some branch stubs on one of the two trees which
can be used to cleat the rope. Doing so I could then drive the truck
With the truck out of the way I could see that I have lost some of the
canopy's bed gasket, so I'll have to get another new length. (6'
long, 1½×½", two-rib EPDM.) I got out my last
four cinder blocks and lowered the canopy onto those, to keep it from
direct ground contact. While I had the clamps free I greased the
screw threads to make them easier to operate. I stowed the clamps and
other canopy bits underneath. The canopy can be left there when it's
off the truck. My hope is that Jill could do this herself if she ever
needed to. By putting boards across the top of the rack, and blocks
on top of that, I could reach the top pulley and lift it off the wire
hanger, which I did. I stowed that under the canopy too.
The canopy door locks are marked PRM450, not sure what that means.
Looks like I can get a replacement pair of T-handle latches, with
keys, for $20–30, so I doubt that I could do better taking them
in to get re-keyed.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
We needed the canopy today (rain) so I put it back on. It goes on
easily enough, and you can do it alone, but it's not trivial. And,
it's heavy enough that the hoist has some difficulty. I glued the
torn-off weatherstrip back on, but it's short because there is a chunk
missing. I'll have to see if I can scare up some more. I stored the
hoist in the garage, hanging from the rafters.
Friday, January 8, 2021
I tried the cruise control, and it actually worked. The on-wheel
buttons look to be a little dirty, it didn't always respond to them.
The truck has been working well for our weekly Wednesday food drive
duties. Thirsty, though.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
While out delivering food (for the Church) today the rear canopy
window fell out! I'd flipped it down as normal after loading, and
when we arrived at the destination I discovered that the glass was no
longer there. Something like two hours later I was able to backtrack,
looking for glass all over the road, but while in the muddy alley
where we'd started out after loading I saw it lying there, gleaming
like a puddle. Unbroken. It's amazing that it didn't break when it
fell out, and that no one had driven over it in the interim. It's a
steep dirt alley, wet, not an attractive thoroughfare I guess. It had
been held into the open-bottomed frame only by the grip of the rubbery
channel liner, which was getting old and tired.
Measurements: Glass thickness: 0.135"/3.5mm. Channel width:
0.250"/6.4mm. Channel depth: 0.300"7.6mm. Approximate
Thursday, June 10, 2021
I'd washed the truck's horizontal surfaces recently, preparing to
touch up the peeled places. The hose alone peeled off a lot more
paint. Today I used the gloss white Rustoleum that I'm using on
the parade float to cover the exposed primer, using a brush. Looks
a lot better!
At some point it would make sense to brush-paint the entire truck.
Not yet, I think.
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