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Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/8/19 9:36 a.m.

Looked into this a little more. I should be able to do this while the motor's in the truck, and although it's not necessary, I may have to use my friend's lift to make things easier. Looks like the oil pump needs to come out, so at the very least I will be replacing that while I'm in there. It shouldn't be all that bad to do.

Another thing: The starter has to come down to do this. The one that's in there is covered in oil and has been for almost half a century now, so I was thinking of replacing it soon. I've heard that I can get a later "Magnum" mini-starter and it's a direct replacement. Is this true? Might be a worthwhile upgrade to do.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
4/8/19 9:41 a.m.

Yes. V6 dakota is actually a little better fit due to where the lugs are if you plan headers down the road 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/8/19 10:16 a.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael :

Good to know! I'll have to snag one of those ones.

TurnerX19 HalfDork
4/8/19 4:14 p.m.

Don't spend money on an oil pump just because you have it off to do something else. The last thing that fails if the system has not been pumping iron particles is the pump. It gets lubricated first.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/30/19 7:14 p.m.

A couple things have happened since my last post:

-The truck has become an official BangShift.com Project Vehicle. Since I write for those guys, we decided it would be cool to follow along as I make it better at doing truck things, and then some. Don't worry, I'll still be updating here as well! If you want to follow along over there as well, here's a link to the first post: https://bangshift.com/bangshiftxl/bangshiftxl-project-trucks/introducing-project-power-laggin-a-1979-dodge-w150-power-wagon-for-weekend-workhorse-duty/

Brian Lohnes dubbed it the "Power Laggin" because many of the 318's ponies have left the stable for greener pastures over the last 40 years. We will be addressing that down the road once the basics get sorted.

-Tonight, I went to go start the truck to take it out for a quick cruise, and... nope. frown It cranks, gets fuel, air, and spark, but won't catch. It's been sitting for a couple weeks, bit it has never done this since I brought it home. After some continuous cranking, the starter started to smoke, so I stopped. Not sure what could be the culprit, but this is annoying. I'll be giving it a closer look over the weekend. 

EDIT: I just ordered a mini-starter. It's been on my list, and the current one is covered in 40 years of sludge, so I might as well just replace the thing if I have to go near it. 

Crackers Dork
4/30/19 9:01 p.m.

What kind of ignition is on these?

I'd probably start by checkt voltage at the coil while cranking. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/5/19 7:25 p.m.

So, I had a day yesterday...

I started off with changing out the fuel filter and all the rubber hoses near it. On Friday night, I noticed that the fuel filter was leaking, and since I didn't want the truck to self-immolate, it should be changed. 

As you can see, gas was just pouring out of the thing. No bueno!

So, that was easy enough. Got it all changed out within about 15 minutes with new rubber. Here's the old rubber:

While under there, I started inspecting around the oil pan to see where my massive oil leak was coming from. I think I found most of it:

Under that sludge is the rubber end of the oil pan gasket, at least what's left of it. It is extremely brittle and chunks are missing. I'm thinking that it's less the rear main seal and more the oil pan gasket needing replacement. I have both already, so they are getting replaced soon. 

After buttoning up the filter situation, it fired up and ran a bit smoother. Nice! So, I hopped in to take it up the block and back. And then this happened. 

It broke down. sad

I got to the end of my street, stopped at a stop sign, and it just died. The battery was weak, and even with a jump, it wouldn't start. Starting fluid didn't help, even with the help from my wife's car's battery. Just dead. 

About a half hour later, my buddy Greg (Pseudosport on here) showed up with his truck and dragged it via a tow strap back to my house. A quick look at the truck indicated that the alternator may have smoked itself and/or multiple ignition components failed. Some of the potting material came out of some sort of spark control box on the fender, so I bet that's part of it. I plan on picking up some new parts tomorrow and trying to get it going again. 

oldopelguy UberDork
5/6/19 9:22 a.m.

And that's why I always drive my old Dodge trucks with two voltage regulators screwed to the firewall and a spare ignition module in the glovebox. 

Actually, that's what I used to do.  There's a write up out there for replacing the ignition module with a GM HEI one and it's just a matter of stacking enough washers to swap in a GM alternator too unless you have the double pulley setup. Back in the day the Dodge stuff was pretty decent but lately I've had better luck with the GM repair parts.

Oh, and I have a set of bumper brackets for you if you are still looking. 

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
5/6/19 10:37 a.m.

Yup. A late model gm alternator (90s) solved all sorts of issues in multiple mopars for me. Instead of washers i use a cut off piece of gas line tubing (black iron pipe)

I have never personally done the hei module, but can't see it being a bad idea. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/7/19 6:21 a.m.
oldopelguy said:

And that's why I always drive my old Dodge trucks with two voltage regulators screwed to the firewall and a spare ignition module in the glovebox. 

Actually, that's what I used to do.  There's a write up out there for replacing the ignition module with a GM HEI one and it's just a matter of stacking enough washers to swap in a GM alternator too unless you have the double pulley setup. Back in the day the Dodge stuff was pretty decent but lately I've had better luck with the GM repair parts.

Oh, and I have a set of bumper brackets for you if you are still looking. 

You were close with the voltage regulator. Big post incoming soon. 

And yes, I still need the bumper brackets! I'll shoot you a PM. smiley

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/7/19 7:00 a.m.

Last I left the truck, it was dead in the yard after getting dragged back in shame from breaking down and had a weak battery that wouldn't crank it over. Quick roadside diagnosis showed that it had intermittent spark, which was part of the problem. 

I went out to the truck yesterday to see if it turned over, and it fired up. Huh? Ok, while it was running, I wanted to test charging voltage. 

At idle, it was hovering between 13 and 14, but after letting it run for a few minutes, things went south. 

This voltage drop and some black soot on the outside of the alternator led me to believe that the alternator was not doing alternator things anymore. 

Also, I wanted to change out the ignition control box on the firewall, since it showed evidence of leaking it's potting material. This is what it looked like: 

The one on the left is how it's supposed to look, if you couldn't tell. 

I also found this thing leaking on the fender: 

Turns out this is an EGR timer for the Lean Burn system that's long gone. I removed it, as it hasn't done anything in years by the looks of it!

After replacing the ignition module and ballast resistor, it still wouldn't fire up, even with a fully charged battery. This was odd and frustrating. I decided at that point to make a run to the parts store to get an alternator, voltage regulator, and an ignition coil. Once I got there, I had them bench test the alternator, and it failed miserably. That confirmed my thoughts on that! The alternator they had was a dual pulley unit, but identical otherwise , so I grabbed it. The only coil they had was one of those chrome Accel Super Stock coils, so I snagged that and the other stuff and headed home. 

Once back, I pulled the coil. It was the original, 40 year old OEM coil. Like everything else under the hood, it was covered in oil. 

I also noticed that there was some oil pooling on the intake. There's this hole next to the choke thermostat here:

Is this supposed to be exposed? Looks like someone just RTV'ed the intake in with no gaskets at one point. 

While removing the coil, the radio suppressor/condenser fell apart on me. Bummer. I'll have to find one of these somewhere. 

After replacing everything else, I tackled the starter. Last week, I ordered a new starter for a later 90's Ram 1500 after reading they were a direct swap for the giant starters that came on these things. 

Seriously, the thing is so much smaller and probably weighs 1/3rd of the heft of the old one. And it bolts right in without any mods! 

While I was under there, I found the block casting number. While I was hoping someone swapped in a 360, it's the original 318. I like that they stamp the engine size on the block! 

After putting in a solid 12 hour shift wrenching on the truck, it fired up instantly. The new starter cranks about 3x as fast! It ran better than it ever has. Charging system is now showing 14 volts as it should. Hopefully it stays this way this time. 

meareweird New Reader
5/7/19 7:41 a.m.

I struggled with the same ignition issues on my 76, for myself the spark seemed intermittent until i realized the distributor was worn out and not doing its job right. Other wise no electrical issues on mine but I am just catching up on all the maintenance ujoints, brakes, leaks everywhere.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/8/19 11:38 a.m.

One thing that's been on my list since bringing this old beast home is de-crudding it, specifically the engine and driveline. This is hands down the most leaky, sludgy, flat-out gross vehicle I've ever owned. I can get dirty just by looking at it from 20ft away! So yesterday, I bagged up the electrical components and the carb and emptied one can of enigine degreaser and a half bottle of citrus-based all purpose cleaner, let it marinate for about a half hour, and busted out the pressure washer.

Here's some before pics:

And some after pics:

While it's still pretty gross under the hood, it's a huge improvement. The biggest surprise was the underside. The front crossmember still retains some factory paint and chalk marks, which was a shock! Hopefully, I'll be able to see what's leaking from where a little easier.



Mazdax605 UberDork
5/8/19 12:11 p.m.

Well done Tony. That clean up must have been very satisfying for you.  My wife and I were up your way last night going to Dairy Queen, and I swung by, but it was just getting dark, and you were all done it seemed.

TurnerX19 HalfDork
5/8/19 12:17 p.m.

Now you have washed all of the rust proofing offlaugh

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/8/19 12:17 p.m.

In reply to Mazdax605 :

Yeah, I was probably wrapped up by then. And yes, making it less gross is immensely satisfying!

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/8/19 12:22 p.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

I'm fully expecting it to have broken in half by the time I arrive home tonight. laugh

It will be "Fluid Filmed" voluntarily (not through leakage of fluids) before next winter. The frame on this truck is cleaner than most 10 year old trucks here, and I plan on keeping it that way.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/10/19 1:02 p.m.

Last night, I decided to take the truck out for a ride. I was a little nervous after the last time, but I had my friend Greg on speed dial just in case it broke down again.

I didn't have to call him.

The truck feels completely different now. It idles better, it runs much smoother, there's a lot less hesitation, and dare I say it actually has some power! It will even downshift now and go up hills without a problem. It's even quieter than it was before. I probably put about 15-20 miles on it, and it ran great. Glad to see all that work actually made a difference.

Next on the agenda: swap meet hunting this weekend for parts, sealing up some leaks, and making the gauges do stuff.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/11/19 9:06 p.m.

Well, I went to the biggest swap meet around here that happens once a year today. There was not one single thing for the truck there. You could probably build an entire square body Chevy AND both a 70's and 80's F150, but not one thing for a 1972-93 Dodge. 

One thing I was hunting for were a set of dog dishes for the 15" wheels on the truck. I think Cooter said earlier that they were the 9" ones. I did find a set of vintage 10" NOS dishes for an earlier Mopar, but those won't fit. Probably going to have to overpay on Ebay for a set. Blah. frown

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/19/19 8:08 p.m.

The Power Wagon had quite the weekend!

After running some errands yesterday, I popped over to a local truck-specific supply house. A few weeks back, I went there in search of some front leaf springs. While I can order some online, they are typically pricey and shipping is expensive. To my surprise, they had a pair of fronts in stock. Yesterday, I went back to grab them. 

When the counter guy brought them out, he mentioned they were the last pair they had and he couldn't get more since they were discontinued from their supplier. This is why:

OEM NOS SPRINGS! These have been sitting on their shelf for about 20 years. Not only that, but they were far cheaper than anyone online. Score! After that, I quit while I was ahead for the day. 

Today, however, was another day. 

The gauge cluster has really been bothering me. The speedo, fuel gauge, and oil pressure light were not working, and the backlighting wasn't either. I really wanted to get to the bottom of this. 

I started by pulling the cluster, which I've done before. I figured I'd start with the speedometer. The last time I was in there, I noticed the end of the cable that clips on the speedo was cracked, so I ordered a new cable. Sadly, it was the wrong one. 

This made me think about what it would take to get the original working. Stupid me forgot to take pics, but I pulled the cable out of the tube, cleaned it thoroughly, and shoved it in with some lithium grease. I then taped the cracked end up and hose clamped it onto the tube. And it works! That's a major win right there. It's mostly accurate, too. 

Back to the rest of the gauges... wait... what is this? 

The hell? 


It's a coke mirror! That explains A LOT about the things that have befallen this truck over the years. 

Back to the gauges... I scored a cluster out of an earlier 1974 W200 a while back, mainly because it had an oil pressure gauge. I decided I wanted to swap that in while I had it out, and toss in some new bulbs and bulb holders while I was there. I also cleaned up the circuit board a bit, hoping that would help. 

The top is what came out of the truck, and the bottom is the '74 cluster. As you can see, the aluminum holder is different, so it's not a bolt-in affair (they changed the dash around 1976, I believe). The gauges and circuit board are the same. 

After cleaning, swapping bulbs, and even swapping the fuel gauges, nothing improved. In fact, now my left turn signal indicator doesn't work. I checked the harness ground (it was connected) and I can't figure this out. I'll have to tackle this again another day. At least the speedo works now. 

Onto other things... while I was under the truck, I decided to take a look at the leaks again. I pressure washed under there a couple weeks ago, so maybe I could see where they were coming from better. 

Leak #1: The oil pan plug! Of all things, it was dripping at an alarming rate from here.


Leak #2: The transmission cooler lines. The hose here is the wrong size, and all the clamps in the world aren't going to fix that!

While the transmission line is going to require a complete drain and fill to replace that line (I'll do a filter and gasket soon), I could most certainly fix that oil leak. I picked up some new plug gaskets at the parts store, did an oil change, and no more leak!


Next up: transmission service, more gauge troubleshooting, and suspension fun time. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/20/19 12:28 p.m.

One more easy fix I forgot about yesterday:

The passenger side mirror has been all but useless since buying the truck. It sat too low, so I couldn't see the right angle to make it useful. I needed to raise it up, but how?

Simple: I stacked 4 or 5 washers under the mirror arm. Nothing groundbreaking, but now I can see the mirror correctly. laugh

oldopelguy UberDork
5/20/19 7:18 p.m.

You shouldn't need to drain the pan to swap the transmission line, both lines connect above the oil level in the transmission. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/20/19 7:37 p.m.

In reply to oldopelguy :

Yeah, I was being dumb. I'll fix that next weekend. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/21/19 10:01 a.m.

And yet another thing I forgot to mention...

When I was working on it a few weeks back, I noticed that when it was running without the air cleaner, it had a LOUD exhaust leak from the left side of the engine, namely this pipe/valve to the left of the breather:

With the air cleaner on, a rubber hose connects to it and it quiets down. But what is it? I traced the pipe, and I think it just goes to the exhaust manifold:

It's hard to see, but I believe that's where it goes. My smog pump (and cats) are long gone, so basically what I have here is Direct Exhaust Injection, or DEI for short. You know, this:

Yup, it's real! laugh

I can't imagine pumping hot air right back into the carb is doing much for performance. So, uhh... how do I get that to stop? I'm thinking that the easy route for now would be some sort of pipe plug. I really don't want to pull the manifold, as it's not going to come off nicely. Thoughts?

Professor_Brap Dork
5/21/19 10:09 a.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

I always tapped them for a pipe thread and put plugs in them. 

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