Saturday, May 14, 2011

Project: Dually Conversion on the Pickup—Redneck’s got new Shoes & Fender Fun

Well, Friday was the big busy day, Thursday could have been busy too, but I had to prove to a family member in order to get their financing for the needed body pieces, that 1st generation Dodge Dually fenders are really really hard to find used.

I’d found an add on Craigslist for a 1975 D300 that was being parted out at R&B Auto Wrecking in Molalla, Oregon. It was painted a horrible shade of purple, but it still had its dually fenders. I gave R&B a call and sure enough, the truck still had its fenders on, and they wanted $125 for the pair.

I spoke with said family about the rarity of the part and how I’d been searching parts for this project for well over a year, but no, had to call ALL of the salvage yards in the area.

So, to prove a point that I already knew to be true, I called every salvage yard within a 100 mile radius, as requested.

Not only did NO ONE have the dually fenders from a 1972-1993 1st Generation Dodge Truck, most didn’t even have any 1st generation Dodges, period. Lots and Lots of 2nd Generation and beyond…..

Well, this exercise in the obvious proved what I already knew, but made it so late in the afternoon that getting out to the wrecking yard that day and pulling the fenders before they closed wasn’t possible, bringing the chance that I might lose out on the fenders.

So, that brings us today, got up early, called them back, still had the fenders, zipped out there with my father and pulled the fenders. I debated very briefly pulling one of the rims, but a close examination revealed that all six wheels on the truck were using 16” split rims, uh… no. I’ll keep living, thanks Smile.


Removing the fenders wasn’t too bad, mostly because the screws had rusted in place, so for a number of them, you’d get about two twists with the socket wrench before the top of the screw just broke clean off, made for fairly quick work.

You can see how the wheel opening on the 1st generation Dodge duallies are far larger than the those you see on a single-rear-wheel truck.

Obviously, these fenders won’t directly bolt up to my truck, so, what do I plan to do with them?

Easy, modify them to fit Smile.

So, fenders obtained, check for $125 written, and we’re on our way back to town.

Quick turn around as I unload the tool boxes back into my pickup and the fenders behind the house, a fast shower to remove powdered pickup truck from all my pores, then its off to America’s Tire/Discount Tire to get my new Dunlop A/Ts mounted up.

The boys at the tire shop are on the bounce and have my tires mounted up in close to no time, my brain fart of forgetting to remove the old valve stems before repainting the rims slows them down a bit as the old valve stems (With 2 coats of paint and 2 coats of clear) don’t want to unbolt very easily.

By 6pm, I’m on my way back home with four shiny new tires on their shiny rims in the back of the suburban.

A little time with a breaker bar, my 1-1/8” socket, and two lug nuts, to temporarily mount the tires for clearance checking and I have this:


Looking Good!

Everything checks out, and now its fender modding time!

Several hours with a jigsaw, a drawing compass with a sharpie duct-taped to it and a lot of fine tuning, and I have this:


Remount the tires on the truck for a visual inspection….


Can’t wait to be done!

Tomorrow will involve doing the fine sanding, then epoxying the mounting tabs to the underside of the fender so I can secure to the truck bed. I’ll later tape it off and do a little bondo work to make the two seamless, then the ugly purple will become a nice crisp white.

I’ll still need to find some clearance lights for the fenders, ironically, there was no signs of them ever having had any when they were on the old ‘75 D300, but Stuart’s has identical ones to the originals, but with LED lights in them vs the standard bulbs.

But, that’s a project for another day Smile.

Hopefully tomorrow, my brother will bring home the 300lb rated torque wrench so I can put the final torque on the pinion nut and actually take this girl out for a test drive Winking smile.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Redneck Express get’s interviewed by Truck Camper Magazine!

Hey ya’ll! The articles been out on their site for nearly a week now, but the axle project has kept me rather busy and from posting the rest of my Hoodstock Jamboree entries and that I got interviewed by the lovely Angela White for Truck Camper Magazine!

You can read my interview here, thanks Gordon and Angela for the interview Smile!

Project: Dually Conversion on the Pickup—Axle and Suspension work fully completed

Nothing huge to add today, the rear end is fully completed other than needing to properly torque the pinion nut, which will have to wait till the tires go on.

Got my clamps wrapped around the axle to help hold the e-brake cable and brake lines in place. Used some standard stainless steel 4” hose clamps and wrapped them in plastic wire chafe guard, then secured them around the axle and the lines till the lines were snug, but not crushed.

Factory shocks are back in place, re-installation involved needing to jack the rear of the truck up via the bumper to stretch the suspension out enough that I could simply slide the shocks back on at their maximum extension, compressing those things by hand was just not in the dice.


At some point in the future, I’ll get around to replacing those old shocks with some massive KYB Monomax units or similar. I’ve considered Ranchos, but haven’t decided on them yet, mainly as all things are dictated by the pocket book and mine isn’t very fat.

I’ve listed my old Dana 60 axle up on Craigslist, along with the U-Bolts and the old Motorhome rims that came off the Dana 70 I installed. Hopefully, I can sell that stuff to make up enough cash to recoup the $720 (minus $60 later on from the mail-in rebates) for the four rear tires.

Given the fact that the poor Redneck Express only sees a couple hundred miles a month, at best, the tires will hopefully last me at least 10 years (I’m one of those folks that runs tires until they wear out the tread or the sidewalls start failing, the Suburban I’ve been driving around as a “Go-fer” vehicle has Michelins that were put on it back in the late 90s that are still going strong).

Next big undertaking will be getting some dually fenders on the body to cover those extra two tires Smile and adding the extra clearance lights.

Well, that and buying the Reico-Titan Swing out brackets for the jacks so I can actually load the camper back on again Winking smile.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Project: Dually Conversion on the Pickup—cont’d

Well, another day, some more work completed. Had to play a merry game of “Dodge the Rain” yesterday, but the four dually rims being used right now out of the six (I’ll be repainting the others later) have been cleaned and repainted.

I coated them in two coats of Rustoleum Silver Metallic Paint, then two coats of Clear.

This is the end result:


Came out looking pretty good Smile

Now, its off to call Discount Tire/America’s Tire and see what the situation with my rubber is, sooner I get these tired up, the sooner I can test drive the truck Smile.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Project: Dually Conversion on the Pickup

Taking a brief detour from my rather slow entry of my trip report on the Hoodstock Jamboree to post up the project that’s been really consuming my time for the last couple weeks.

For those that have been following along, I moved into my camper about three years ago, and the camper has gradually gotten heavier.

My urge for travel ever present, I decided it would be best to replace the rear end with something beefier to give me a better load rating and braking margin than I originally started out with.

I spent about a year doing research into the differences between my 3/4 ton HD Power Wagon and the 1-ton dually version of similar year. What I discovered was that in those years the 1-ton drive train, frame, brake master cylinder, etc…. was identical between the 3/4 ton HD and 1-ton. The only major difference was axles and brakes under the units.

So, the next step was to round myself up an axle. This took up a decent amount of time and I was beginning to think that it wouldn’t be feasible to find one I could afford until one proverbially dropped in my lap.

A friend of my brothers was moving out of his home and needed to get rid of some old project materials quick. He had the rear end of an old motorhome sitting around that he was going to convert into a trailer, but never did.

In desperation to get rid of it, I bought the axle (A Spicer 70HD) for $75 and my brother brought it home, complete with the original 16.5” rims with period Dayton Thorobred tires on them.

Axle as it was when it was brought homeAxle as it was when it was brought homeP1090793

Dayton ThorobredDua-Load Super EMTs

It took several more months, mostly because of financial constraints, to take the axle to the welders shop to have the old motorhome air bag mounts and shock mounts removed and the spring perches repositioned to fit the truck. Backing plate to backing plate, the axle was the same width as the Spicer 60 currently on the truck, so there’d be no clearance issues.

Then, the axle was disassembled and all the seals were replaced and the brakes completely rebuilt.

Finally, over the past two weeks I got enough dry weather to put the last of the pieces together and install and perform the final reassembly of the axle.

Original Dana 60 Axle from the truckOut with the old…

Spicer 70-B Ready for installationIn with the new!

With the help of a friend, we unbolted and pulled out the old Dana 60, set it aside and then spent about three hours getting the new axle into position and positioned properly back in place under the leaf springs.

Suspension waiting for axleSpicer 70-B in place and new brakes assembled

We had to stop and wait till the next day to take the U-Bolts over to Salem Offroad to buy new ones, two inches longer at price of $14 apiece.


It was worth it Smile

Spicer 70-B Bolted in place, completely reassmbled

Checking out the spacing to make sure the tires I’ll be ordering later this week will fit without rubbing.

Rims in place for measurements

Checking to see how far the wheel comes out beyond the body of the truck….

Outer wheel comes out about 6 inches past body

Making this project work took some ingenuity on my part, one big one was solving the shock mount issue. In the late 80s to the early 90s, the clamp bracket that secured the axle also doubled as the shock absorber mount. However, finding one that would fit would have been next to impossible, as these first generation are rather rare.

My solution?

Use the original clamp brackets that came with the axle and abut the newer D60 brackets underneath, they fit together just like a glove Smile.

Bracket closeupView of spring pack, new ubolts and brackets

The trade-off of using this method is the shock mounts are roughly an inch further down, but the shocks have a decent amount of extra length in them that it shouldn’t be an issue.

Underside of the truck, still some finish work todo

As you can see, I still have some finish work to do, but with luck next week, I should be able to take my first test drive with a dually truck!

I still have more to do, clearance lights to add, fender flares to install, but the big hurdle is cleared, the rear end is installed without any serious hiccups.

Keep an eye out, there'll be more later as I wrap up this project.