Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
10/22/22 10:01 p.m.

After searching for weeks, I finally found the correct Grant wheel spacer for my steering wheel. 



Yeah, that fixed a lot of issues I had with the wheel, especially this one:

When I turn the wheel, my hands don't bump into the column shifter or turn signal stalk. 

The horn still doesn't function, but I'll tackle that later. Once I lower the seat down a bit more, the positioning will be perfect. 

In other news, I needed to drive the truck about 60mi today to snag a set of wheels. Truck did great, but man, I need to tweak the tune for the colder weather! I've pulled some logs and I'll evaluate this week. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
10/31/22 2:55 p.m.

Today, while running some errands, I noticed that there's a distinct tick going on with the driver's side of the engine. Sometimes, it sounds like an exhaust leak, and other times, it sounds like a lifter tick. Honestly, it sounds more like the former rather than the latter. I do have a set of Remflex header gaskets and a new set of header bolts in case that's what's going on. I'll also change the oil, as I'm still running the oil I put in over the summer when I swapped the engine in. 

Other than that, still working on the tune and determining what the truck wants. I've noticed that cold starting, it wants a big shot of fuel, but hot starting, not so much, so I'll have to figure that out. I feel like the tune itself needs more fuel across the board. It is running great overall, save for those few small hiccups. The new (to me) gas pedal has made a world of difference in driveability. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
11/3/22 1:42 p.m.

So about that ticking noise...

I popped the hood today to see if maybe a header bolt or two got loose. 

Yeah, I'd say that's loose! 

In fact, when I touched it, it fell off in my hand! I went around both headers and snugged everything down to see if the noise went away, and it did. About half of the bolts were loose. Sometimes, it really is the easiest thing. 

I did pull some logs prior to this, and noticed that in many scenarios, there could be more fuel in the map and there was some strange timing issues off-idle. But after driving it today after tightening the header bolts, it runs noticeably better. I'll have to pull more logs, but I know exhaust leaks can wreak havoc on Sniper/Atomic EFI systems, and that seems to be the case here. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
11/6/22 6:54 p.m.

After nearly 4 years of looking, I finally scored a set of better door panels for the truck locally. 

As far as I can tell, no one makes reproductions of these. Most of them are like mine: cracked and brittle. When they are in decent shape, they go for a good chunk of change. A guy in a neighboring town posted these up this morning for $30. SNAG!!!

These ones aren't perfect, but they are in serviceable condition. And after a repaint and attaching my wood placards in the panels, they will look great. The armrest pads aren't in the best shape, and neither are the ones in my truck, but I may try wrapping them in marine-grade vinyl or some sort of fabric to spruce them up. 

DarkMonohue HalfDork
11/7/22 1:48 p.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

Nice find on those panels. A little prep work and some SEM Color Coat will have them looking like new.

On the armrest pads, take a look at this YT channel. This guy puts out some incredible upholstery content. Odds are he has something in here that will help you do way better than you thought possible.

For what it's worth, I've never stitched anything in my life, and I still find myself watching his videos just for the joy of seeing a master craftsman at work.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
11/7/22 4:54 p.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

Thanks for the heads-up on that channel! I've always been interested in reupholstering things, but never got around to actually trying. My wife has a nice Singer sewing machine and has taken some courses, so she will also be helping out here. She did a few diner chairs a few years back that came out really great, and those were likely a lot harder to do than some armrests. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
11/11/22 3:37 p.m.

Today is Fun Car Friday, so I participated by getting new winter tires mounted for my Forte GT. My nephew did the honors. 

On the trip to the shop, I've noticed the ticking getting louder in the engine, and after I got home, I confirmed that the header bolts were all still tight from the other day. So the only other culprit is low oil. Could it be low? Pulled the dipstick, and it was over full. I wanted to do an oil change anyway, so I went ahead with that. And boy, I'm glad I did! 

Exactly one quart came out. ONE. 

When I installed the engine, there was a mishap with the oil sending unit and A LOT of oil came out. Since I was having issues with the dipstick, I guesstimated that I needed to add maybe a couple quarts. Apparently, my math was off. It did leak a couple other times from various places, but I fixed all that. So all that was left was a single quart! 

PRO TIP: Engines run a lot better with a full crankcase. No more ticking and oil pressure is good now. 

But that leaves me to the real issue at hand: the stupid dipstick (again). If you recall, I went through the ringer already with the dipstick on this thing. The stock one didn't play nice with the new oil pan and snapped in half, so I ordered a replacement one. I also tried the two LA ones I have, and neither of those are the right length, either (too short). When I pull the new replacement Magnum one, it typically looks like this: 

Oil goes WAY up the stick. 

Eventually, after inserting it and wiping it about 20 times, I ended up with a closer to actual reading: 

Guess it's back to the drawing board with the dipstick. I know there's 5qts in there now, at least. Glad the engine is OK! 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
11/12/22 7:44 p.m.

Two quick updates: 

-After futzing around with the dipstick (again), I've realized that part of the problem is the new dipstick itself. It's really flimsy compared to an OEM one, which is causing it to go in wrong once it hits the pan. It goes in right sometimes, but more often than not, I think it's missing the pan guide and just going wherever. The OEM LA 318 one I have which is a bit too short with the Magnum dipstick tube goes right in. Which got me to thinking, why don't I just swap the LA tube onto the Magnum engine? And of course, while trying to remove it, the thing snapped in half. Because dipsticks are my automotive kryptonite. At this point, either I'll try to get an OEM dipstick or another LA tube and use my old 318 dipstick. Havent decided yet. 

-Also, turns out engines with the correct amount of oil in them run a lot better than ones that don't. Who knew? Oil pressure is now about 60psi cold and 40 hot, and no more ticking noises. Feeling good about it, I also took it on the highway today. At about 60mph, the engine turns at about 2600rpm and it cruises right along. It tends to ever so slightly lean pop out the exhaust though, which is odd. I'll have to pull some logs to see what's up. Could be normal since it's got long tubes and exhaust on it. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
11/15/22 12:41 p.m.

So, funny thing....

While I did have a hell of a time with getting the dipstick to actually go in the engine, I've been reading it wrong. Most engines I've owned don't care when you check the oil, but I usually check it when it's either idling or after running for a while. Apparently on these Magnum V8's, to get an accurate reading, the engine needs to be ice cold. If you read it at any other time, you'll get oil all the way up the stick, like what was happening to me, due to the crank slinging oil everywhere. 

And apparently, this is like Gearhead 101. Somehow I missed this after messing with internal combustion engines for about 32 of my 40 years on this planet. I even asked my dad, and he responded by saying "You don't check it cold? What's wrong with you? I thought I taught you that?". 

So yeah, engine is fine, the nut behind the wheel needs the adjustment! 

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
11/22/22 7:10 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

Somehow I missed this after messing with internal combustion engines for about 32 of my 40 years on this planet. I even asked my dad, and he responded by saying, "Chooch! Wassamattawitchoo? Don'bea stunod!"


I thought translating it into the mother tongue of our shared heritage would foster warm feelings of rememberance.  Whatever I can do to help.....

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
11/22/22 8:25 p.m.

In reply to Jerry From LA :

Yup, my dad has definitely called me a chooch a few times. laugh

In other news, I took the wife out in the truck last weekend (her idea!) to go grab lunch and run errands. She hasn't been in it since I did the seats, and her feet couldn't touch the ground, so I will definitely be lowering it a few inches when I do the floors. 

Oh, and we found a pay phone! I decided to call Chrysler Corp and inquire about the paint warranty. wink

DarkMonohue HalfDork
11/23/22 2:05 a.m.
Tony Sestito said:

Oh, and we found a pay phone! I decided to call Chrysler Corp and inquire about the paint warranty. 


"We're sorry. The number you have dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service. If you feel you have reached this recording in error..."

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
12/8/22 9:31 a.m.

Got a quick update on the truck:

When I dropped the Magnum 360 in, I was shocked that I pretty much didn't have to do any tuning to the existing tune to get it to run. It ran well, but sometimes, it would get funky and stumble or surge. After pulling some logs, I noticed that the places where it would get weird showed that there wasn't nearly enough fuel in that part of the tune. It was running about 14.5-16 for AFR most of the time, which is a bit lean for my liking, and when you asked for more fuel (aka press the gas pedal), it would scramble and stumble until it overcompensated and gave you a big shot to keep it from stalling. I started getting ready to scale the fuel up all over the fuel map when I thought of something:

When I did the initial setup of the truck, I had to plug in what size the engine is. Apparently, it uses the engine size to calculate overall fuel needs, and these needs scale the entire tune, even if you make adjustments. I figured that manual adjustment would take precedence over this parameter, but this is not the case. So, I downloaded and opened up the tune and saw this:

I changed that to 360 CI and immediately the truck ran better. It now hangs around 13.5 AFR and there's plenty of fuel when you need it. It starts easier and cruises better, too. And I didn't have to turn a single wrench! 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
1/12/23 11:34 a.m.

Today marks 4 years since I brought the truck home, rescuing it from lot plow truck purgatory in central Maine. Reflecting back on that time, the thing has been through a lot! This past year was no exception, from performing an engine swap and picking up some hard-to-find parts that I had been looking for since day one. It's still plugging along, doing Truck Stuff anytime I need it to. 

This coming year, I have some more projects planned for the truck. The two big ones are replacing the floor pans and replacing all of the u-joints. I'll also be tackling the interior with new flooring and installing those door panels that I picked up a while back. Looking forward to improving the truck for its 5 year anniversary next year! 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
3/3/23 2:59 p.m.

Things have been fairly quiet with the Power Wagon lately, as it's just doing Truck Stuff when needed as it waits for more stable weather for some of the big projects I have planned. Today, a buddy messaged me that there was a late 80's Ram 1500 Club Cab in the junkyard up the street, so I took a ride over there to see what was left. And to my surprise, I saw these: 

I forgot that the later "1st Gen Rams" had these cab corner speaker mounts if you got the Club Cab, and they are pretty much unobtanium. So naturally, I snagged them. 

They hold 4x10's, and I'm not sure if I want to (or can) use them or not. I have 6x9 truck boxes wedged into the cab corners now, and they work, but these would provide a cleaner install. If I don't end up using them, they do sell for a good chunk of change. 

There were a number of other parts I may go back and snag, including a remote hood release setup, an under-hood light that pulls out and retracts, and the rear bumper assembly. The thing even had a Reese hitch in decent shape, but I don't think I'll be towing anything with my truck anytime soon.  

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
3/7/23 12:19 p.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

While these certainly would make a cleaner install, I'm not sure the sound could be as good as what you have now.  Even with aftermarket speakers (and your choices would be few), a 4x10 stretches a few too many laws of physics for good sound.

Looking forward to seeing the new floor go in.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
3/7/23 1:02 p.m.

In reply to Jerry From LA :

They make a 4x10 to 6x9 speaker adapter, which is likely what I'd use if these make it into the truck. Not a big fan of 4x10's myself. Again, I could always just turn around and sell these for a decent chunk of change.

And yes, waiting for some better, more stable weather so I can get into the floors. 

Norma66-Brent HalfDork
3/7/23 7:37 p.m.

Your a brave man for putting floors in this.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
3/7/23 9:52 p.m.

In reply to Norma66-Brent :

I've done floors in my old Shelby CSX and my Trans Am. Both of those were really, really tough. This one should hopefully be a bit easier. Kinda part of the deal with any New England project vehicle. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
3/8/23 3:05 p.m.

I went back to the junkyard today to get a better look at that bumper. Was it worth grabbing?

It seemed a little off last time I looked at it, but I had to be sure. And yeah, something is not right. 

This side looks tweaked...

And sure enough, it was. Underneath, there was evidence of an impact, which pushed this side in and down, twisting the bumper. At $75, it wasn't that much better than mine. Better investing that $75 toward a straighter one at some point. 

You should be grabbing that tailgate.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
3/9/23 8:38 a.m.

In reply to Russian Warship, Go Berkeley Yourself :

Those go for money, don't they? I'm sure this yard would want the moon for it though, so not sure if it's worth the hassle to grab and resell it. Also, it was stuck closed anyway. 

Russian Warship, Go Berkeley Yourself
Russian Warship, Go Berkeley Yourself PowerDork
3/9/23 10:10 a.m.

Well if you can talk them down (JYs LOVE haggling /s) then this simple little trick works ro open most tin and 1st gen tailgates.

The busness side of the tailgate has the latches here-


And you canoperate them independantly of the handle by moving this these.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
3/13/23 11:13 a.m.

Last Friday, I spent some quality time in and around the truck, mostly behind the wheel, since I was going to get tires mounted for the Kia 20+ miles away from home. Before I left, I decided to take a look over the truck, check fluids, etc. I noticed some oil on the intake valley, so I'll keep an eye on that. It hasn't used any oil since the last mishap, and there are no leaks onto the ground, so it could be remnants from when I forgot to hook up the oil pressure sending unit after installing the engine last summer. Also, I found two pinholes near the windshield drip rail on the roof, so I'll have to fill those before they get any worse. These trucks are notorious for roof rot, and this is better than most up here. The good news is that the truck continues to run great! 

While I was getting the tires done, my nephew who was doing the install commented on the "gangsta lean" the truck had. Even though it's better than it used to be since I did the front leaf springs, the bed looks like it's drooping to the driver's side. After examining further, my nephew noticed that the bands that hold the leaf springs together were missing completely from the driver's side leaf and it appeared to be collapsing. So yeah, I'll have to replace those at some point, which should even that out. 

I have a healthy to-do list for the truck this year:
-Floor pans
-Interior refresh
-Remount the seat lower
-Ball joints and axle U-joints (and everything that goes with it)
-Rear leaf springs

And I have a short time to get it done. We are moving out of our house around mid-summer for about a year to perform extensive renovations. And we're going to need the truck to help us move to wherever we're going. As soon as the weather stabilizes around here, it's going under the knife. 

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) UberDork
3/13/23 11:27 a.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

Good to see the progress, the floors will be fun, gearing up to do some also. 

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