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  #1  
Old 04-20-2014, 10:32 PM
Joeinblue Joeinblue is offline
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Default A Ram build of a different sort...1957 Chevy 3100 "Ram-rolet"

Yes you read right. For those on either side of the fence that may consider this as sacrilege, well, you know where the door is at. There is a whole lotta internet out there, go crazy.

Here's the story behind all of this. After exiting the USMC in 1993, I really wanted to get my hands on a tri-five Chevy truck to play with. I had always loved that body style of the 55-57 vintage, but in high school, I was wise enough to realize I would most likely destroy it. That would be bad.

In 1995 or so, I found a good, relatively rust free body at a salvage yard in Phoenix. No motor or transmission, but the frame was straight and un-cut and the body was complete with the long bed, minus the tailgate. I ponied up $1500 and towed it home, title and all.

Over the years I played around with it running a 350 Chevy I built along with a junkyard TH200-4R. The tranny bit the dust and I swapped in a TH-350. Later I decided I wanted better brakes and steering so I did a disc brake conversion on the solid front axle and added PS. The brakes were great, but I ened up with some ugly bump steer.

To kill the bump steer issue and improve handling, I cut the frame and welded in a Camaro front sub-frame I had rebuilt. Handling was improved, but now the nose was in the weeds. I am not a low rider guy and this look never appealed to me, so to the back burner things went. About the same time a was playing around with EFI, first a Cross-Fire Injection unit from a 1983 Z-28, later standard TBI from a 91 Chevy 1/2 ton.



The front suspension really bothered me. This is a pickup truck, it should look like one. I got to thinking about the old NAPCO 4WD conversions of the '50s and how they looked, all business.



These things were WORK trucks, leaf springs at all four corners, manual everything, no comforts, but tough as hell. I liked the look, but again, the ride is crap. I had a 1978 W200 Power Wagon for five years, three of which while stationed at MCAS El Toro. The 91 Freeway could scramble your brain with all the bouncing in that truck.

The W200 was my first truck and my first Dodge. Since then I have lost count of the Dodge products I have owned. It occurred to me though, I could use a chassis from a 1994-2001 Ram 1500 4WD as the basis for my NAPCO looking build. The coil sprung front end is a good design, one I am all too familiar with, as I am a Jeep guy too. The frame width between the 1957 chassis and the Ram is only 1" different and easily managable. The only real big issue is the wheel base. The long bed 3100 has a wheelbase of 121 1/2" as I recall. The Ram long bed single cab is about 11" longer, the short bed is about 8" shorter. It is easier to shorten a frame then lengthen one, so...

I set about to watching CL for a donor Ram 1500, either long bed or club cab short bed, 4WD. I preferred the Magnum 5.9, but either V8 would work. I figured it would be easier to keep the Dodge running gear as a whole than having to match up Chevy powertrain to Chrysler axles. One less problem. At first when I started this, I considered using a Jeep 4.0L engine, AW-4 automatic and NP231J that I had sitting around, all compatable with the Dodge left side drop to the front axle, but 1957 sheet metal is thick (read "heavy"). The 5.9 would be better.

Timing is everything, and last fall I found a 1994 Ram 1500 4WD about 2 hours away. 5.9 V8 (bad), but good automatic and transfer case, straight rust free frame and ok body, not that I needed the sheet metal. $400 brought it home and I had the full wire harness et. al to use for my build.



The prospect of a "blown motor" didn't bother me. I've built all manner of engines over the years, so when the PO of the Dodge told me he had overheated the engine and possibly blown the head gasket, I was hopeful, but not overly so. Worst case, the engine is toast and I get another. at $400 for the whole truck, it was nealy impossible to come out behind.

Since the engine was an unknown, presumed bad, and the cab needed to come off the frame anyway, I took to removing all the sheet metal first so I could have everything clear when I removed the engine from the frame.



The PO had already started to tear in to the engine at some point, but stopped at the throttle body, exhaust and valve covers. It seems friends who had been storing the truck for him on the farm began helping themselves to parts as well, so there was an assortment of missing knick-knacks to be dealt with, somewhere down the road. Still, $400.



More to follow...

-Joe
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Old 04-21-2014, 01:54 AM
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RogerRamJet RogerRamJet is offline
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That's quite the beast of a truck, and story, Joe. Looking forward to following this build.

Semper Fi, Marine!
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Old 04-21-2014, 09:53 AM
Joeinblue Joeinblue is offline
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Thanks Roger and Semper Fi!

So far I have the frame cut down to the right wheel base and I am getting ready to make my cab mounts. Details are soon to follow.

-Joe
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:08 PM
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I'm looking forward to see how this turns out too. Sounds like an awesome project.
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:51 PM
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Heck of a project
i will have to watch your build

I had a similar project once
1956 Chevy 1/2 ton longbed 3200 series, small window
bought all stock, 6 cylinder, 3 speed manual trans,
first mod was a 327 cu in & a Ford 3.30 rear end, bucket seats out of a Buick,
next i had it front clipped with a 1972 Chevelle & a frame mounted master cylinder & booster, had to cut the inner fenders down a bit to fit the shock towers, upper A frame & coil springs
second mod was a cammed 350 cu in, several different 3 & 4 speed manual transmissions
next i gave up & installed the 350 automatic tranny

When i sold it, i had started building a replacement frame, basically the same setup as before, only with a Camaro front clip
I sure miss that truck, it was fun!!

I would trade my Harley trike for a 1956 Chevy 3100 series, even if it didn't have an engine, i have a built 327 cu in sitting in my garage right now !!
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Old 04-23-2014, 08:45 PM
Joeinblue Joeinblue is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTyankee View Post
Heck of a project
i will have to watch your build

I had a similar project once
1956 Chevy 1/2 ton longbed 3200 series, small window
bought all stock, 6 cylinder, 3 speed manual trans,
first mod was a 327 cu in & a Ford 3.30 rear end, bucket seats out of a Buick,
next i had it front clipped with a 1972 Chevelle & a frame mounted master cylinder & booster, had to cut the inner fenders down a bit to fit the shock towers, upper A frame & coil springs
second mod was a cammed 350 cu in, several different 3 & 4 speed manual transmissions
next i gave up & installed the 350 automatic tranny

When i sold it, i had started building a replacement frame, basically the same setup as before, only with a Camaro front clip
I sure miss that truck, it was fun!!

I would trade my Harley trike for a 1956 Chevy 3100 series, even if it didn't have an engine, i have a built 327 cu in sitting in my garage right now !!
Ha! I had to do the same thing with my inner fenders GT. I've played with the 350 in this truck a few times, changing the cam to accomdate EFI, etc. When I first started this build, the plan was a big block Chevy. I built one for the wife's pickup truck and I figured a 454 would be a lot of fun. Then gas prices went through the roof, and I decided to go small block instead. In a perfect world, this truck would have a 426 Hemi with a Rat Roaster intake and twin AFBs, just to be different. That is very far removed from my budget though, so I work with what I have.

-Joe
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:25 PM
Joeinblue Joeinblue is offline
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With the cab removed from the frame and the engine sitting in a rolling chassis it was time to get to work. The first order of business was to remove the 5.9 that came with the truck and see if it was worth trying to salvage or if money would be better spent on another block.

I plucked the engine from the frame and put it on my stand before I started the autopsy. The PO stated the engine overheated and he believed he had blown a head gasket. (The long story was he had hit a cow some time back, which caused the radiator to leak. Rather than replace it, he kept it topped off before driving. One night he didn't top it off...)



I pulled the intake manifold off and began unbolting the heads. As I did so, I spotted a telltale sign of potential problems, the camshaft had grooves worn into the lobes. The cam was a factory hydraulic roller camshaft, which pretty much does not wear, unless there is neglect. I counted at least three heavily worn lobes. The cam was toast. A new cam and lifter set runs into the $500 range. Still, there may be hope.



The left engine bank appeared to be in good shape. The cylinder walls still had factory hone marks in the bores, and there was no ridge at the top of the cylinders. Maybe this isn't going to be too bad..perhaps a cracked head.

The right hand head came off and the blown gasket was easy to spot. It had burned through at the top of the first cylinder and the intake manifold, leaking coolant into thelifter valley. The problem was far worse though. The first cylinder on the right bank had sat with water in the bore for a long, long time, and was still full. The cylinder wall had actually started to scale with rust. At this point, the block was done unless I wanted to sleeve the cylinder. The machine shop tab would be more than a running engine, so I scrapped the motor. Good runners are on CL all day long starting at $400.



With the frame empty, it was easy to get a good look at what I was working with. The beauty of this whole deal is the stock Chevy frame is basically two straight, flat lengths of channel iron with crossmembers every so often. All I need to do is shorten the Dodge frame to the right wheel base, fabricate some cab and body mounts and level it all to the bed, since the frame under the Dodge bed it the highest point on the Dodge frame. It sounds pretty simple, and in reality it is, but there is going to be some creative engineering from time to time.

The really cool thing about the Dodge frame that I was not immediately aware of is there is the main frame and a sub-frame in the factory design. The sub-frame is riveted in place and makes up the rear of the truck, behind the cab and under the bed. If I had to guess, I would say it is done to accomodate different cab/bed configurations without having to have multiple frames on hand. The front half of the frame is either a 2wd or 4wd. The subframe is then riveted in place for a quad-cab short bed, a quad cab long bed, a regular cab short or long bed, as needed. I had planned to mark and saw the frame, section it, weld it and then box plate it for strength, behind the cab. Now things became much easier.



All I needed to do was grind and drill out the rivets, slide the sub-frame out of the main frame, shorten the main frame and reinstall the sub-frame, replacing the rivets with Grade 8 blots and washers. For the most part, this was as easy as it sounds.




-Joe

Last edited by Joeinblue; 04-23-2014 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:09 PM
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You're moving right along on this. I kinda feel like I'm reading 4WD Magazine or something along those lines right now with one of their builds.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockemSockemRambot View Post
You're moving right along on this. I kinda feel like I'm reading 4WD Magazine or something along those lines right now with one of their builds.
Kinda feeling the same way. Great start, Joe!
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:48 PM
Joeinblue Joeinblue is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockemSockemRambot View Post
You're moving right along on this. I kinda feel like I'm reading 4WD Magazine or something along those lines right now with one of their builds.
Lol, this is pretty much from where all this got going last summer. I am playing catch up with the build, but things here are moving along pretty well agin now that the weather has thawed again. There's a whole lot more detail coming, trust me.

-Joe
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