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TurnerX19 Reader
3/17/19 8:15 p.m.

Fuel tank plastic is high density polyethylene. One of the few plastics that refuse all glue. What you can do is "weld" it with a soldering iron and some scraps of similar PE. I have had success with this technique on a tank even older than yours. You have to have it completely clean on the outside surface where the melting will occur. Use the tip from your soldering iron that looks like a flat circle. Old Scalextric brand slot car track was my filler material. I can send you some if you can't source something similar local to you.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/18/19 8:07 a.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

I'll have to look into this, and thanks for the offer! I'm just puzzled that no one makes a tank for these trucks. I can buy just about anything else for it, from brake lines to bed sides, but not a fuel tank. It's so odd.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/24/19 6:29 p.m.

It didn't hurt my face to be outside this weekend, so I spent some quality time with the truck. laugh On the agenda were to figure out what was up with the tank, find and fix the leak, and tackle some other stuff. 

First up, the tank. After realizing that I would have to pull the bed to get to the tank strap bolts, I decided to look for cracks and try to make it leak before going through with that. After poking around, I noticed two things: 

-The vent hose had no clamp on the sender end, was cracked, and was pinching off when hooking it up to the filler neck

-The fuel feed line was spliced together out of various steel and rubber bits, clamps were missing, and it was really sketchy

Seriously, look at this stuff!

Since the lines were old and crappy, I pulled them and replaced them with new stuff. The fuel feed line to the engine is downright scary, so I'm glad I did that!

Like I said, SCARY. 

With that done, I decided to pour some gas in it and check for leaks. This time, instead of fuel coming out on the top or side of the tank, I was greeted with fuel coming out of the filler neck! Was the tank full? That's what I'm thinking. I'm also thinking that vent line may have been pinching enough to force fuel to "burp" out of the other end of the filler hose (at the tank) or even the crappy cracked lines when I was getting gas at the pump. If it was indeed full or not vented properly, it needed to go somewhere. 

Even though the gauge says empty, the wiring is fixed, and the needle sorta moves, I'm thinking it's wrong. I'll have to dig into that further later. The gauge lights also do not work, so it's entirely possible that it's related. Mopars are weird like that, so who knows.

With the fuel leak situation hopefully fixed, the next thing on the list was doing something about the exhaust. A few pages back, I mentioned getting some pipes and a turbo muffler, so I grabbed that stuff and went to town. The old muffler was a 2.5" inlet/outlet muffler hanging out on a stock 2.25" pipe with no adapters. Yeah, it leaked big time. The turbo muffler is a lot shorter, but it was the right diameter in/out, so on it went. The mid-pipe I got fits some sort of D150/W150, but without a couple feet of straight pipe after the muffler, it didn't fit. The tailpipe, however, is just a 90 degree bend, so I used it off the muffler as a side-exit. It's a couple inches short and exits before the tire, but that should be good for now. No more leaks, and it's all sorts of burbly now. 

Next up: the stuck transfer case shifter. There's not a whole lot that can go wrong here, so I figured it was just rusty. Yup, confirmed:

I hosed down the linkage with PB Blaster and let it soak for about an hour. After that, I hopped in and fired it up, hoping to be able to shift it. And it worked! I shifted through all the gears in the case, and yes, it was in 4 Hi-Lock this whole time. I shifted to 4-Hi (remember, it's full-time 4WD) and took it for a ride. It drove better than ever, probably thanks to the transfer case being happier.

About 20 minutes into my ride, I noticed it pulling to the right when stopping, and then the truck started jittering and bucking. After pointing it toward home, I smelled burning ferrous material. Yup, locked up caliper. When I got home, the front passenger side caliper was smoking and the wheel was scalding hot. I picked up a set of calipers locally, but no one had anything else, so I ordered some rotors, pads, and some other goodies for next weekend. 

Even though the fuel gauge still isn't reading right and locked up caliper happened, I'm chalking up this weekend as a win. 


TurnerX19 HalfDork
3/24/19 7:54 p.m.

After you fix the brakes you need to put a full 5 gallon fuel can in the bed and drive until it stops to confirm tank level.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/25/19 9:19 a.m.
TurnerX19 said:

After you fix the brakes you need to put a full 5 gallon fuel can in the bed and drive until it stops to confirm tank level.

Yeah, that's the plan!

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/27/19 11:01 a.m.

So, here's a dumb question: How do I replace the transmission mounts on this truck?

This is why I want to replace them. They look like this:

Those piles of greasy dirt are what's left of my mounts. And yes, the oil leak situation will be fixed soon so the new ones don't end up like this.

My Google-Fu has failed me. I'm guessing that I jack up the trans, loosen two big bolts, remove the upper and lower mounts, slip new ones in there, and tighten the bolts, right? I really should find a service manual for this truck. 

Opti Dork
3/27/19 3:12 p.m.

that sounds about right but you missed a step at the very beginning.

"soak in simple green, and pressure wash all the things"

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/27/19 3:20 p.m.

In reply to Opti :

Yeah, that's on the agenda too, but I need a working pressure washer first. Mine recently died. frown

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/29/19 11:55 a.m.

One of the strangest things about this truck is that there's not a lot of info on the internet about them. While there are basic specs and things like that, tutorials and maintenance items are not well documented. If it were a GM or Ford truck, there would be countless sources for information! It seems like anyone who is left that owns one of these things "doesn't do computers" and probably lives in a log cabin without electricity in the wilderness somewhere. While I did find a few Facebook groups that have some limited info, most of it is geared toward the later Cummins-powered trucks. Everything has been easy to do so far, but I'd like to have some sort of actual reference for more in-depth procedures and torque specs.

With that in mind, I tried going "old-school" and finding a Haynes manual for the truck locally. My local Advance said they had one in stock, so I ordered one up. I drove all the way there, and "nope, those are all discontinued, no one uses those anymore". I then tried Autozone, and they had ones for every 70's/80's Mopar product EXCEPT this truck. Ugh.

Guess I'll have to hit up some swap meets and hope someone has a factory service manual or something. I've found old Haynes and Chilton's books online, as well as CD's with some service manual data on them, but I'd love to have a real FSM to flip through without spending hundreds on one.

Cooter SuperDork
3/29/19 1:14 p.m.

Plenty of FB groups out there.  I run one called 'Dodge Trucks and Ramchargers"

Most of the info was on forums, but they have died over the years.  Ramcharger Central is still around, but it is pretty dead.

And automotive info in general on t3h intrawebs has disappeared since FB killed forums off, but the D/W Dodge truck is an incredibly simple vehicle to work on.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/29/19 1:31 p.m.

In reply to Cooter :

Well, you have one more group member now. wink

And yes, FB has killed a lot of forums. It's sad.

On the FSM, Rock Auto sells ones on CD, so I think that's what I'll get. I wish there was a simple PDF download of it (free or paid) instead of having to wait a week or more for it to show up, but it's something.

fwingo New Reader
3/29/19 7:20 p.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :


Haynes manuals are available still.


oldopelguy UberDork
3/30/19 7:42 a.m.

I actually have a chrome push/grill guard that would fit that truck if you can figure out how to get it to you.  It's on my dad's '85 but because the bumpers are different it's at a weird angle and has to go.  I'll try and get you a picture if you're interested. I think I have an extra fiberglass windshield visor and sliding rear window as well.

I probably have bumper brackets too, but I don't have any idea where they would be.  I usually swap out the front bumper for a rear step bumper so I have a hitch and a step up for working on stuff. 

As to shop manuals, nothing mechanical changed on these trucks 72-93. Those forum guys talking about 1st gen trucks are essentially talking about your truck. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/31/19 6:39 a.m.

In reply to oldopelguy :

I'd be interested in some front bumper brackets if you come across any. I still haven't been able to find anything locally. I really want a pair of those bumperettes that fit over the bolts too, but I haven't seen any at all since I bought the truck. The other stuff (bumper and window) would be cool, but I have no clue how you would get them to me, so that's likely out.

I did find a Haynes manual yesterday while doing a parts run, so that's off the list. It's not as detailed as I'd like, but it's a start until I find a real factory service manual.

I worked on it all day yesterday, and I'll post a detailed update later on. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
3/31/19 9:18 a.m.

Last weekend, the passenger side front caliper locked up, so over the week, I sourced a pair of calipers and a bunch of other brake parts over the week so I could fix it. I had no idea what I was getting into, but how hard could it be? 

Never ask that question. laugh

First obstacle: neither floor jack I own was tall enough to lift the wheels up off the ground. I had to improvise. I didn't have any scrap wood kicking around, but I did find a tree branch that fell over the winter. I busted out the chainsaw and cut a chunk off, and BAM! Spacer!

With the truck up on jackstands, I got to work. One dumb thing that's been driving me nuts since buying the truck was the one rust-colored wheel:

I figured since the wheels were going to be off anyway, and since it was beautiful and 65 degrees out, I should paint it. I scoured the garage for all my silver spray paint, and did some testing to get the closest match to the rest of the wheels (side note: who the hell paints just three out of four wheels? That's some top level berkery right there.)

From left to right: Rustoleum wheel paint, Rustoleum regular metallic silver paint, and Duplicolor caliper paint. The wheel paint was too metallic, the metallic regular paint was even moreso, and the caliper paint was a dead-on perfect match. 

I tried the index card trick where you stick them in the space between the wheel and tire to mask off the tire, but they wouldn't stay and kept blowing away. Then I remembered seeing a YouTube video a while back about doing it with a garbage bag, so I figured I'd give that a shot. With the assistance of a bungie cord and some weights on the bag, it worked great! 

Yeah, much better. Only thing to be careful of is that once the paint hits the plastic, it can make it brittle, so make sure to get it all off the tire when you're done. 

And back to the actual task at hand: replacing the calipers.

Having never done a caliper on an old Mopar before, I had no idea what I was getting into. They have a pair of these plates on the top and bottom that hold it on the truck. Remove them and they are off. Super simple. The passenger side caliper seal was cracked, and as a bonus, the brake hose was too. I didn't anticipate that, nor did I anticipate having to remove the axle nut to take off the rotor with a socket I didn't own, so it was wild goose chase time! Took the better part of two hours and four stops all across the South Shore of Boston, but I found two brake hoses (just in case), a role of 3/16" line and ferrules, a Haynes manual, a piece of pipe for the side exit exhaust, and a 1-11/16" socket. As a bonus, the A/C in my Mazda 3 stopped working, but today we are working on the truck, so that has to wait. 

For the record: if you own a 1979 Dodge W150 with the Dana 44 in front, you need this to remove the axle nut. Google again wasn't much of a help, so I measured the nut and it was 1-11/16" which is a hard size to find! Tractor Supply stocked it, but I had to go to two of them to find one. 

So, after getting home and cracking open the Haynes manual, I realized that to get the rotor off, you have to disassemble the outer hub bearing assembly. Since I didn't anticipate that, and I figured that the bearings would likely be smoked, I decided to just replace the calipers and the hose for now and not tempt fate. Someone did the brakes very recently, and even replaced the driver's side caliper and hose (more on that in a minute) so I could get away with just making the calipers work for now. 

This shocked me! I had to replace the passenger side hose, but look at that stock brake line! I was fully anticipating having to make a line, but after brushing away the crud and oil, it looked damn near new underneath! I had zero problems unscrewing the hose. Again, this is a 40 year old New England truck that was used for plowing. I can't believe it. 

The driver's side caliper and hose were newer, but I bought a caliper and hose to replace them just in case, and I'm glad I did. This one had a cap over the bleeder screw, and as soon as I took it off, fluid dribbled out. The screw wasn't tightened all the way, and it was rusted solid in place. Who does that? Probably the same guy who put 3 scotch locks on one wire. New caliper went on without issue, and the hose was good enough to not have to change it. Since the caliper was leaking and not working as it should, the rotor and pads were nearly new.

I didn't have a helper today, so I tried to do a "one man brake bleed" on the brakes using that bottle and clear hose. I haven't had much luck with this method (and yes, I had plenty of fluid in the bottle during the bleed) Needless to say, it still has a lot of air in the system, but they do work. 

While I was under there, I tossed on an extension pipe to the side exit exhaust to make it clear the body. Functional for now, but I'll probably slash cut the pipe closer to the body just to look better. I also took a look at the transmission mounts to figure out how I'm going to replace them. That will be next weekend's adventure. 

Some glamour shots on my test loop to end the day. Having 4 matching wheels is such a bonus. I'm hoping to source some dog dishes during swap meet season. I think 80's/90's Dodge Van ones might fit and will look good. 

Still on the to do on the list:
-Bleed brakes

-Install seat belt mounting plate

-Transmission mounts

-Fix the gauges

-Replace oil pan gasket and rear main seal

-Buy and install new front springs

-Replace shocks

-Install side steps

-Patch driver's side floor

-Make it look better inside and out


Run_Away Dork
3/31/19 11:10 a.m.

Rad! The wheel paint totally transforms the look of the truck

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/2/19 9:13 a.m.

I tried bleeding the brakes a little better than I did over the weekend last night and took it for its first night time drive. While they could still be bled better, they do work a lot better now. The rears tend to want to lock up under heavy braking, but some tweaking should solve that issue. One shocking observation not related to the brakes: the quad sealed beam (and possibly incandescent) headlights light the road a lot better than the composite style lights that were in my Dakota. With the highs on, it's not bad at all.

Also, floor-mounted high beam switches are THE BEST. This must be one of the last production vehicles that has that, and I'm thankful for that. Haven't had this on a car since my first car: a 1964 Buick Skylark!

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/5/19 7:38 a.m.

With the brakes mostly working and the exhaust exiting where it should, I'm trying to finish up the items needed for state inspection. Last night, I turned my attention to the seat belt mounting area on the passenger side. I figured I could get some scrap sheet metal, cut out a chunk, weld it in, and then weld in the plate for the anchor bolt to the patch. Seemed easy!

Well... not exactly.


That's the hole I need to patch. As you can see, it's in a tough spot. I figured that for now, I could just tack in a patch and go back later to weld it in better. I only have flux wire right now (the community MIG tank is being used by a friend right now) but I figured with some clean-up to the area, it should stick it to the truck.

I made this patch out of some scrap floor pan left over from working on my Trans Am. I drilled holes around the perimeter to spot weld it in. In theory, this seemed like it would work well.

I don't have any pics of the results, because frankly, they are embarrassing. I was only able to get one tack to successfully stick. All the others I tried blew right through the floor. I even caught the truck on fire for a few seconds during the process! Not great. I think for now, I'm going to just use sheet metal screws to get it in place so I can get the sticker. I'll then go back and use the MIG tank to properly stitch it in.

Also, I was an idiot and didn't disconnect the battery, and now my headlights are doing the same thing they were doing before where the high beams only light up on one side, and I get a little static electricity shock when I get out of the truck. I'm going to have to go over all my grounds and clean them up again. Hope I didn't damage anything else. frown

The one thing that was a positive out of this is I got to try out my new welding helmet! I bought this Metal Man auto-darkening helmet on clearance at Tractor Supply a few months ago for just $22:

Yes, it totally looks like this guy:

But aside from that, it's great! The auto-darkening works just as it should, the viewing area is plenty big so I can see what I'm doing, it fits my big dumb head great, and I like the adjustability and all the settings. Now I just need to get better at welding.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/6/19 8:24 p.m.

This morning, I got up nice and early, temporarily mounted the seat belt anchor, checked some grounds, got all the lights working, and went to the shady inspection station I used to take my old truck to. I was expecting even these guys to fail it, especially with the stringent new MA inspection rules. 

Uhh... that's not a Type R sticker; that means it passed! In the words of my good friend Greg (aka Pseudosport on here), "That means it's totally safe to drive, right?" 

With that hurdle out of the way, I was able to FINALLY do some Saturday Truck Stuff (tm)! 

I loaded the ol' beast up with a crapload of scrap and went to the scrapyard. I also popped in to visit a couple friends, did a dump run, and went to the store with it. It did all of that without a hiccup. I got a number of compliments along the way, and I swear it kept driving better and better the more I drove it around. Also, I was extremely entertained at the paint literally flying off the truck as I ran errands all morning. There's definitely less of it now than it started the day with. laugh

Also, I'm definitely thinking it had a full tank of gas, because I drove around and idled the truck a bunch today and I didn't run out. I did, however, pick up a 5 gallon fuel jug for the truck for when I take it out, just in case.

And one more thing: a guy in one of the Dodge groups I belong to posted up this low mileage 1979 Power Wagon that he saw at an auction today: 

Yup, that seals the deal: I need those dog dishes for mine. 

Cooter SuperDork
4/6/19 8:53 p.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

The 89-90s Dodge vans have a 5 on 5 1/2" lug pattern, and their hubcaps won't fit.

However, the caps you want are very easily found. (You want the 9" ones)

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/6/19 10:56 p.m.

In reply to Cooter :

Good to know! I am hitting up a swap meet later this month, so I will keep my eyes peeled for some 9" dishes. 

thestig99 Dork
4/7/19 8:59 a.m.

Watching this. I spent a lot of my childhood in old Mopar trucks and have a real soft spot for them. smiley Dad currently plows his driveway with a '78 W400 ex Navy ambulance that has less than 2000 miles.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/7/19 7:22 p.m.

The Mrs wanted a new patio set to replace our old, decrepit one we got from the side of the road about 8 years ago, which was a great excuse to do more "truck stuff" with the Power Wagon. This time, we drove it about 20 miles away to pick it up at a store, and it did it well! This was her first time in the truck, and other than the musty interior bothering her allergies, she didn't completely hate it. I chalked that up as a win.

One thing though: the oil leak is getting worse. I had to stop and put a quart in on the trip after I noticed it marking its territory in the store parking lot.

I have already bought a new oil pan gasket and a rear main seal, and I am hoping that I can do it with the engine in the truck in my driveway. Not sure what I'm getting myself into, but it needs to be done ASAP. 

bigfranks84 Reader
4/8/19 12:58 a.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

Personally I hate working under a vehicle. I'd take the 20 extra minutes and pull the motor out. 

I'd also rering and bearing it and reseal it buts that's me. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/8/19 7:55 a.m.

In reply to bigfranks84 :

I'm actively trying to avoid "project creep" and "while I'm in there" things, as it's springtime and I need the truck to do stuff on the weekends. Every time I've taken a project apart, it turns into months of fixing other stuff and typically snowballs into Project Car Hell. See my Trans Am project thread for evidence of that.

Eventually, if I like the truck enough to really fix it up nice, I'll probably swap in a later Magnum 360 and do all of that then.

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