'96 Dodge

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 changes everything.

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 for me.

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. Fixed!

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 all.

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 carcass.

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 in time!

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:

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 working.

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 for that.)

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.

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 booster.

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:

ENGINE -

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
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.

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:
    Rear

      7  
B   3     T
o     9   o
t   1     p
      5

    Front

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 further.

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 manifold.

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 two hours.

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 there.

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 coolant.

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.

Goooood Truck!

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 free.

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 bodywork. Nuts!

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 there.

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.

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 before then.

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 fasteners.

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 out.

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 perimeter: 12'.

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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