Hi all. Since I joined a few weeks back I've been posting about the '98 Ram I saved from being hauled off to the salvage yard or donated to Goodwill. The previous owner basically gave me the truck, and I towed it home and have been working on it non-stop since.
I've been putting my "restoration" updates in the Newbie Checkin section, since that's where I first posted. Figured I should move to where these belong.
The original post and all the updates and pics are here if you want to see what I started with: http://www.ramforumz.com/showthread.php?t=110690
And here is the latest novel. Got the truck back on the road this weekend! It is alive again!
First, figured out the brake issue. The rear brake shoes all look the same, but it turns out there is a primary and secondary shoe on each side of the truck. Well in looking at the brakes, it looks like one side had both primaries on it, and the other one had the secondaries. In other words one side was doing all the braking I guess, and that one drum was badly warped. Went and bought new shoes, turned both drums, and the truck has perfect brakes now, no shake, no wobble!
The transmission is also fixed. The new pressure solenoid and sensor did the trick. Shifts fine now, don’t have to let up on the gas, and goes into all gears. Another win. Every once in a while it thunks when slowing down, like coming to a stop and downshifting after only going 20-25mph in a neighborhood….I’ve read these transmissions are goofy so I’m going to chalk it up to sitting for a long time and the general model. It may get better with use, and it’s MUCH better than it was. I thought I was looking at a new transmission last week. Thank goodness I read up on the forum about those electrical parts.
On driving it around, was hearing some belt noise at take-off. I may have to replace the tensioner, but it was $67, so I just bought a new belt for now. The old belt looked ok, but it had been soaked with coolant from the leaking water pump for who knows how long before I got it, and it had also sat unused for all those months. So far I have not heard any noises from the new belt. Hope that fixed it!
Decided to give it a good road test Sunday morning. I used the Ram and went to the salvage yard in Belton/Killeen. Found a lot of Rams there, and pulled a radio, driver’s door speaker, and A-pillar trim panel with tweeter. Also pulled some good license plate lights for the rear bumper, the plastic housings on the truck had dried out cracked. Also found a stock leather steering wheel on a Durango in rally nice shape, and nabbed it to replace the dried and worn one in the Ram.
Got home and got to work Sunday afternoon and now have FM and a working door speaker again (nice!!), working bumper lights, and a much nicer and better looking steering wheel. I think it’s thicker than the old wheel too, it’s the same style but was a newer truck.
I did the mileage after running up and down the highway, and the truck got 17mpg on the trip! Much better than I was expecting. The new tires ride smooth and quiet. Cruise control holds 75mph easily, although the truck is geared low, turning 2K rpm at that speed, where our Suburban turns 1500rpm. A/C works, engine runs very cool now (as it should considering the cooling system is all new), gauge never gets above ¼ way up. Volts, oil, bat, all gauges read normal on the trip.
So it’s really coming along! I do still hear a lot of fan noise when taking off from the new fan clutch, and also when taking off I think I hear a hiss sound that is either a vaccum leak, could be the belt, or could just be the sound of the intake….the airbox is basically under the dashboard there….need to ride in another Dodge to see if this is just how they sound. Underway the truck is very quiet.
So still on the to-do list, I need to get it aligned. It doesn’t pull, but the steering wheel is cocked a little to the side and I want to make sure the new tires wear evenly. I want to change the oil again soon too. The old oil that came out after sitting unused over a year was BLACK, and after only 250 miles the new Castrol GTX I put in is already very dark. Will run one more tank of gas through the truck and change the oil in a week or so. Hopefully that will get it all cleaned out in there. Also still need to change the fuel filter, but again, want to run all the old gas out of the truck first before doing that. Also plan to do the plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Truck runs smooth, but have no idea how old those parts are, and since I’ve done everything else, feel like I need to do those too….fresh start and all.
I’m planning to do cat-back dual exhaust on the truck out at Taylor Muffler. Hopefully can afford that by the end of the month. Give the big 360 a little rumble and add some chrome under the rear bumper.
On the cosmetic side, I’m going to have Allan at Dealer’s Choice replace the two worn leather panels on the driver’s seat and re-pad the cushion while he’s in there. The interior will pretty much look new after that…..just don’t look under the dashmat..ha!
On the exterior I still need to order a set of new fog lights, and also want to order a new upper front bumper trim panel...the one on there now is all faded out. Both the lights and trim can be found cheap on Ebay. The rear bumper also has that dent....but every one at the salvage yard was much worse than mine. Will keep my eyes peeled.
Also planning to get some estimates on re-painting the upper body. Will hit some body shops over my lunch breaks this week. Will have to budget for paint, but once painted, the truck will look like new.
That’s it so far. Took the family to dinner at Chuy’s last night in it. My Aggie wife likes the pickup a lot, as do the kiddos. It’s out in the parking lot here at work today.