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Old 08-18-2014, 03:47 PM   #1
II_Slow
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55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

I have a pretty cool project working. About 2 years into with about 2 more to go.
It all started about 4 years ago - about an hour before this picture was taken. My 16 YO son crashed me beloved 1994 Ram 2500 with a 12-V Cummins.


He was fine, the truck - well, no so much. Had it dropped off at home because it had liability only, and even if the insurance paid it wouldn't have been much. The engine was fine, and the transmission freshly rebuilt a few weeks before, and the suspension had been rebuilt a year or so before. It sat for a couple of years, and drove by an abandoned 55 pick-up project every day a few miles from home. Stopped by and asked about it one day and $300 later I was the proud owner. The deal included a seperate big window cab, and I'm partial to those.


My plan was simple, find another Dodge frame, shorten it little, drop the 1994 drivetrain over in it, nothing to it. Found a 1999 roll-over on Craigslist for $400, parted out what I could, then stripped it down to a frame.



Had to lop off about 6 or 8 inches on both ends and a bunch more out of the middle. Z-Cut the frame to remove about 14 inches.

Removing this much on both sides.

Pulled it back together with a come-long, squared it back up, and welded it back together. Obviously, I'm not a professional welder.


With the wheelbase corrected, I sat the cab down on it. Great, the tires are hanging out on both sides. Guess I didn't thit that all the way through. Oh well, I'm this far into, just narrow the frame and every stinking crossmember.


Now that caused me plenty of fit issues. Motor supports won't work any more, starter is fitting the frame, so is the power steering pump, oil pan, Serpentine belt tensioner, etc. No place for the AC compressor. What a mess.
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Old 08-18-2014, 04:08 PM   #2
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Fabricated new mounts and frame support.


Pulled the front cover ont he engine to install a "killer dowell pin" kit - basically a clamp for one paticular alignment dowel that has been known to come loose and tear up many otherwise good Cummins engines. Engine was surprisingly clean for 275,000 miles. I needed to replace the valve cover gaskets as well. Wow - this thing looks brand new inside.





Did a clean-up and Krylon rebuild on the old girl.


These 12-Valve Cummins engines are actually sexy beast when cleaned up. I'm really digging the engine!

I found some information on 4BTSwaps.com on high-mount A/C with all of the parts available from Cummins to move of the A/C compressor, belt tensioner, and wafer outlet above the framerails - big rig stuff. Ordered is all, including new water pump, A/C compressor, 160-amp Alternator, damper, different belt tensioner, serviced the fan hub and modified it for no fan (basically just an idler at this point) so the engine is ready to rock. I have left the cover off until I decide what to do with the fuel timing (stock setting or advanced a little).

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Old 08-18-2014, 04:46 PM   #3
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

I notched the frame is several places. I made sure the horizontal section of the notch replacement went all the way to the back side of the frame, and boxed them all back in on all four sides so I don't think I weakened anything. Cleaned all of the welds back up with a grinder. Sectioned the fron cross-member and re-capped it to clear the oil pan.


Engine fits fine now



Other than being much more narrow than a modern truck, the next biggest issue was less overhang at the front. I needed room for the radiator, intercooler, A/C condenser, transmission cooler, etc. at the fron of the engine and it just wasn;t there so the engine is set back aboout 6 inches. This Cummins is already a monster, so I had to cut out practically the whole friggin' firewall to get the cab set down over the engine and transmission (shich is also much larger than a 60 year-old transmission).





The ride height was also way higher than I wanted it to be, so the fenders/core support, cab, and bed are all modified to set down lower on the frame. The bed is actually raised about 6-inches, and the floor is cut out of the cab.





Even after narrowing the frame, the front tired were still not inside the fenders, so I bought some 2103 17-inch take-offs (craigslist again).



Anyway, I'm running out of time for today but I'll upload some more tomorrow. I really had forgotten just how much I had done until I tool this little trip back in time. It's actually came a very long way, and most of the heavy work is done. More later...........
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Old 08-18-2014, 05:27 PM   #4
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

You can say that is one unique build. Great work so far. Glad to hear your son is ok and welcome to the site.
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Old 08-18-2014, 05:34 PM   #5
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

This is gonna be nice when you are done. I'm putting my 1957 3100 long bed on a shortened 1994 Ram 1500 4wd chassis right now. My build is in the Projects section.

-Joe
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Old 08-18-2014, 06:06 PM   #6
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Looks good.
The diesel is a good choice but looks like you have a bit of a job on your hands.
Looking forward to more progress updates.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:18 PM   #7
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Welcome.
Very cool build.
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Old 08-18-2014, 10:12 PM   #8
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

I found a few other 55-59 Chevy trucks with diesels, but most are hack jobs - just weld the Cummins in the stock frame or maybe box it and call it done. Not good for much other than a toy. Won't stop or steer well, no A/C or power steering/brakes, etc. I am building this one to be a true daily driver (and toy hauler) with all of the amenities. It's been an ass-whipping because nothing fits without a lot of modification, but it's really coming together nicely. My big hold up is money - I need to buy a steering column, fan/radiator combo, intercooler, glass, electrical/instrumentation, A/C, and the dreaded paint and body work. Actually looking back through all of the build pics and seeing how far it's came has motivated me some more. It's a little further along than the pictures I have posted so far. I'll catch up the thread over the next day or so. I just want it finished by May of 2016. I want to take my daughter on the Hot Rod Power Tour for HS graduation. She loves her some muscle cars.
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Old 08-19-2014, 12:00 PM   #9
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

I was wondering how you were going to solve the bed issue due to the stepped frame on the 1994+ Dodge chassis. Since my build mimics a NAPCO, I relocated the Dodge cab mounts for the Chevy cab and brought the cab up to the bed level. Since you are going the other direction with a 2wd, dropping the bed into the frame makes sense. I am curious to see how the bed will look with the shallow depth.

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Old 08-20-2014, 05:11 PM   #10
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Fabbed up my own motor mounts and motor supports to hang the engine......


Fabbed up a cross member that I hate, ashamed to show it, time for a do-over.

With the frame was narrowed, it was causing several issus with the steering components and had the pitman arm and idler too close together so I stepped the frame back out between the control arm and steering box, then notched the frame rail to clear the steering column and boxed everthng back in. This still required me to shorted the long tie rod by 3 inches on each side. I've moved the suspension though its full range of travel and it does not appear to introduce too much bump steer. The heavy suspension should not move too much under normal operation any way. I still intend to sleeve the tierods where I have them butt welded now.


I had to narrow the rearend 6-inches as well. I had a shop do that with the correct fixtures and jigs to get it straight. Went ahead and centered the pinion sice we were cutting any way. I have left the spring perches floating for now until I establish final ride height and set the pinion angle.

I also bought new tires - a little taller on the back for some "rubber rake" - I'm old school and like them a little higher in the rear.

With the engine and transmission in place, I squared and leveled the cab and bed with the wheels centered in the fenders. Dropped it as low as I could then cut these cab mounts.


Use some 2x2x1 poly pucks to isolate the cab and tacked on the mounts.



Added a frame underneath thr seats to clear the kick-up in the Dodge frame, then started putting together a transmission tunnel.


I really needed to get moving on getting the steering column installed so I hunded down some seats to I could get a better idea of where the steering wheel would be. with the engine set back as far as it is, it's really crowding the area right at my feet and to get the pedals to clear the transmission tunnel, everthing is moved outboard. This also had to happen to get the master cylinder moved further away from the engine. There was no way in hell the vacuum brake booster was going to fit, so I've switched it over to hydroboost. The pedals will swing off of the Dodge hanger, which also bolts to the mastercylinder. I had to rework the gas pedal and brake pedal to allow the steering colum to pass between the two instead of outside of them.

Out of time again today - will try to get build pics caught up tomorrow.
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Old 08-20-2014, 05:26 PM   #11
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

You're doing a nice job on the fab work.
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:34 PM   #12
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Thanks, Kim. I'm just winging it. But I'm convinced if I can complete this one to the level I'm intending, a regular restoration should be a snap. I have no intentions of building it anywhere near show quality. Just daily driver / toy hauler quality.
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Old 08-22-2014, 04:57 PM   #13
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Had multiple interference issues with the vacuum brake booster. Best solution seemed to be a hydroboost conversion. Found a 2004 Ram 2500 being parted out locally, purchased hydroboost and master cylinder for $100. Solved a lot of problems.

Sure feels like more like a real truck with the cab, bed, and fenders permanently mounted (still have more work to do on the core support, just tacked on for now). I can now grab the pillar and rock the truck and push it around by the bed and front fenders - just like a real truck! I can even sit on the tailgate.

Assembled....

I was not able to channel the cab down as low as I had hoped, and didn't want the cut out the whole floor so I just bought some 2-inch drop springs. Springs are Belltechs bought through Jegs and Amazon pricing - I love Jegs price matching feature!!!!

Here's with the drop...

It could stand to be a little lower, but I'm Ok with it as is. Going to be a daily driver and hauler so I don't need it dragging the ground.

Engine fits fine with the firewall cut out, custom engine mounts, and several frame notches. The Radiator and intercooler are mocked up and should be OK.



I got pretty jazzed after getting all of the body parts hung and my firewall (brake booster, pedals, steering column) issues resolved and blew it all back apart Tuedsay night. I had planned on doing all of the paint and body work myself, but I can pull in the timeline significantly by having some of the work done in parallel. I have some more work to do on the frame (transmission cross member do-over, finish bracing the engine mounts, notch for the belt tensioner, etc) and I need to get the engine ready to fire so while I'm doing that the cab went to an industrial blaster, and the fenders (all four) went to the body shop for blasting, smoothing, and sealer/primer.

Plans are to leave the engine stock and try a few things to get the mileage up. I got 20-21 in the original truck. I'm hoping for 25-26 in this truck with the taller gears, lighter weight, advance the fuel a little, and conversion to electric fan.

Already picked out my license plate. I will have it registered as a '99 Dodge - Reconstructed according to the the DMV.



Soon I'll have my Cummins powered, Dodge framed, Chevrolet truck to pull my Chevrolet powered Ford (Mustang) to the track.

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Old 08-22-2014, 05:32 PM   #14
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Damn, what's your wife drive? A Harley powered Volkswagen?

Very cool stuff.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:51 PM   #15
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Quote:
Originally Posted by II_Slow View Post
Soon I'll have my Cummins powered, Dodge framed, Chevrolet truck to pull my Chevrolet powered Ford (Mustang) to the track.
i like how you roll

i'm not a frame swap fan for 55-59 chevy trucks, but you had your reasons and looks like it's coming together fine.
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Old 08-22-2014, 08:16 PM   #16
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Looking real nice.
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:41 PM   #17
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Subd for updates. This thing is awesome.
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Old 08-23-2014, 10:13 AM   #18
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Quote:
Originally Posted by II_Slow View Post
Here's with the drop...

It could stand to be a little lower, but I'm Ok with it as is. Going to be a daily driver and hauler so I don't need it dragging the ground.
No matter the ride height, if the dog can lay under the truck it's the right height. Dogs love that, especially white ones.
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Old 08-27-2014, 07:59 AM   #19
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

I thought rust was something that happened in months or year. Holy crap, this this flash rusted in minutes after I sprayed on the phosphate, let it start to flash over, then wiped it off with a damp rag. Didn't read the instructions on the phosphate etch/prep - it said leave it overnight before wiping it off. Hit it with the phosphate prep and scotchbrite pad, wiped off the excess with a dry rag, then lightly coated again and left it overnight. Should be ready to clean off today, then start some patch work.



Learning as I go.....
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:25 AM   #20
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Just a little curious about access to the #6 cylinder. Will you be able to access the injector and valve cover as far back as the Cummins needs to sit? Perhaps an access panel under the dashboard?

-Joe
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:41 AM   #21
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Yeah the back cylinders, starter, even the fuel filter / water separator will be a ***** to get to. I'm pretty sure the filter will be accessible from under the hood. Geeting at the back cylinders may require lifting the cab. That's pretty common on diesel applications and anyone accomplished enough to work on a diesel engine and unbolt the cab and raise it up 4 inches. But it's a 12-valve Cummins, it shouldn't need any maintenance. It's had 275,000 troublefree miles so far - never had the valve covers off. Did get a new rear main seal while the transmission was out once. I will set the valve lash and replace the gaskets before final install. If you look at the pictures of the internals above - it's crazy. This thing looks like a fresh rebuild but it's untouched. No sludge anywhere. I would have at least expected to see sludge in some nooks and crannies where it doesn't flow well but really nothing. That's with routine oil changes every 5000 miles with Shell Rotella. I suppose the 15-quart capacity keeps the oil cleaner as well, never really thought of that.
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Old 08-27-2014, 11:29 AM   #22
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

i'd suggest hitting the cab with epoxy primer to keep rust at bay while you patch and do body work.
my cab went directly from the sandblaster to the shop for primer
it's easy to knock off the primer if you need to weld a patch in
as in all things related to trucks, it will take longer than planned
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Old 08-27-2014, 12:33 PM   #23
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

I already have the expoxy primer - I just know it needs to be thoroughly cleaned and the phosphate applied before applying the primer. My damp rag clean-up before the phosphate I tink is what generated the flash rust. I'll spray the epoxy as soon as I get the phosphate off.
Or are you impying that the phosphate rust converter is not necessary? This is my first blasted body parts so I honestly don't know, just doing what I've read that makes the most sense. I've heard the blasting doesn't get absolutely aoff of the rust off, and more forms immediately after blasting and must be "converted". Not sure how long it can wait between the treatmet and primer. I intend to do it right away - but what if I didn't?

I know most ot all of the epoxy primer I put on will end up coming back off for the metal work. And the epoxy primer wasn't cheap either!

PPG DP40LF-QT Gray-Green 2:1 w/ DP402LF activator is what I bought.
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Old 08-28-2014, 10:54 AM   #24
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

Lifting the cab off the frame for engine maintenance is par for the course on late model Ford trucks, so I guess that is part of modern design, lol.

In the seven years and 185k miles we had our 12v Cummins, we only had to replace the fuel shut-off solenoid and the valve cover gaskets. With everything sealed up fresh, you are not likely to have to lift the cab anytime soon, not that it would be too much of a task with this truck.

-Joe
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Old 09-02-2014, 09:53 AM   #25
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Re: 55*6BT My 55 w/ Cummins power

I went ahead and added fishplates over the Z-cut in the frame. I don't think is was really necessary, but it was easy to do and I was wrapping up the last of the frame mods so I knocked it out real quick. I just had to get the frame in a condition that I could leave outside when I needed the floorspace in the shop.




I rolled her out of the shop for the first time Saturday. I finished cleaning up some of the welds a little on the notches, where I cut off the old cab mounts, where I had added "legs" to the frame while I was shortening/narrowing it, etc. I had to turn it around and nose it back itno the shop to pull the engine - again.



I put the old junk wheels and tires back on and painted the frame with Eastwood Chassis Black Extreme. I have the old upper and lower a-arms and steering components from the wrecked truck which were pretty fresh when it was crashed. I need to prep and paint them, then clean up the differential and paint it. I just about have the cab in primer, and need to check in with the body shop for progress on the fenders. Bedsides and inner fenders need to go to the blaster next.



A 7-inch side grinder with a 80-grit flap disk is a beast. Makes short work weld clean-up.
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