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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I need a good farm truck. One option is to hit up Craigslist and find something, or my in-laws have a 1996 Ram 4X4 3/4 ton with the 5.9L that has been sitting in their pasture in Iowa for the past 3 years and hasn't been started. They offered to give to us. The story is it was knocking and they parked it with the intention of getting it fixed but never did.

It has 174,777 and has an automatic trans. It might need a new engine, it might be repairable. He said the trans works fine but I have my doubts as to how long this will be the case. It has some light rust on the doors and a small hole that has rusted through on the drivers side floor board. Under the hood I can see mouse droppings and the padding on the underside of the hood is torn/eaten though/missing in places.

Any idea on what a new engine and transmission would cost as sort of a worst case scenario? I'd actually prefer to swap a manual in it if the auto pukes on me. How difficult would that be and what am I looking at cost-wise?

Is there any code I can look for that will tell me what transmission it has and which rear end it has? I'm a Ford guy and I don't know much about Mopar.
 

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So I need a good farm truck. One option is to hit up Craigslist and find something, or my in-laws have a 1996 Ram 4X4 3/4 ton with the 5.9L that has been sitting in their pasture in Iowa for the past 3 years and hasn't been started. They offered to give to us. The story is it was knocking and they parked it with the intention of getting it fixed but never did.

It has 177,000 miles and has an automatic trans. It might need a new engine, it might be repairable. He said the trans works fine but I have my doubts as to how long this will be the case. It has some light rust on the doors and a small hole that has rusted through on the drivers side floor board. Under the hood I can see mouse droppings and the padding on the underside of the hood is torn/eaten though/missing in places.

Any idea on what a new engine and transmission would cost as sort of a worst case scenario? I'd actually prefer to swap a manual in it if the auto pukes on me. How difficult would that be and what am I looking at cost-wise?

Is there any code I can look for that will tell me what transmission it has and which rear end it has? I'm a Ford guy and I don't know much about Mopar.
the tranny should be ok for another 50k, but i could be wrong.(a friend has 210k on his stock 97 tranny and it is still going strong) As for the engine, my friend bought a 5.9 360 at a junk yard for $450 and he put it in himself. i personally think you should take the truck bc they can take a beating. As for the rust that is common for dodge, i have it on my 01 2500.not rusted holes yet, and worst comes to worse you could just weld in some sheet metal. it doesnt have to look pretty, i mean it is a farm truck :) Now if you want to a manual transmission swap that can be a little bit on the pricey side and a pain in the ass too. I remember when i had a honda civic(i will never drive anything foreign again, let alone a car again) it would have costed me around $1500, so i can only imagine what it would cost to do a conversion on a truck. if it does go you would be better off just buying a used transmission from a junk yard (~$500). hope this helps -eryk
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Pop the hood, or look in the glove-box for the option tag and see if it's still legible
Here's everything I know about it. I never looked in the glove box:

1996 Dodge Ram Laramie SLT

174,777 miles

VIN: 1B7KF23ZXTJ152654

Date of Mfr: 02/96

GVWR 8800lbs

GAWR Front: 4850lbs
GAWR Rear: 6084lbs

Tire size: LT245/75R16x6.5

MDH: 021615 336

Trim P1D5

UNDER HOOD
Model BR7L31

Sport Package AGG

5.9L
TCR5.9A8GBEK
TCR1073AYPBB

Modification: Powertrain Control Module 4886786 on 04/16/98 at dealer 43491
 

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I'd say go for it, but I would plan on changing out all of the fluids before you even try to start or move it. As far as the tranny, yes, it could have some good life left in it yet, it's all about how it's been treated. If they took good care of it, it could go for a long time, but they did have tranny troubles in those years. If it made it to 177k so far, there's a good chance it will go for quite a while yet. I grew up on a NE farm, a lot of guys around here have old dodges around, they're beat to hell, but still kickin!
To change it over to a manual, unless you're looking for a project, I'd say it's not worth it. If nothin else, fix it up and see if you can trade it with a couple grand for a manual or something. 360's are a common engine, I'd say that 450 probably isn't too far out of line, a reliable tranny can be harder to come by in a junk yard, it may be worth the 1200 or so to repair it (worst case scenario). After sitting for 2 years, like I mentioned, I'd strongly consider changing out the fluid etc. The knock in the motor could be something very simple, it doesn't sound like too bad of an idea, unless you're a stickler for looks, the rust is only going to get worse, unless you go above and beyond to take care of it early. Good luck either way.
 

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For free? Hell yes. Expect the following:

-Tires all around, maybe wheels if it has been sitting on the flat tires for 3 years.
-Wheel bearings all around (may not be necessary).
-Trans if it needs it, used from a junkyard for like $500...for one with low mileage, $800.
-other random little stuff-$1000.

So you might be in it a total of 2500-3000, but you will have the pride of having restored it yourself, and you will know its history and roots.
 

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I would say how bad do you need to work it right now. I hate to be the voice of reason, but the OP needs this for a working truck, and not a weekend project. I think you can get off a lot cheaper being a free truck needing some repairs, but how bad do you need a farm truck to work right now. That is the thing to keep in mind.
 

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Free? Hell yes its something you want to tackle! Looking for a farm truck means that whatever you are willing to spend for its purpose will yield a truck that will need work anyway. Why not start from $0? Even if you have to put $2,000 in this truck to start, its still better then putting $2,000 to buy a truck that will need repairs just the same.
 

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With a core return, I paid like 1500 for a new rebuilt 318 for my dakota, heads included. Straight foreward swap, and for 1500 she had a brand new (basically) motor that runs as strong as I could ask for. Found the company on ebay btw. As far as a tranny, junkyards would be your best bet for a manual swap
 

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rats r the biggest thing to wory about i was re-building a 78 trans am and the rats got into it and i ended up selling it because i couldnt find all the wires that had been chewed on 1 chewed wire can ruin the whole thing but hey free u could always get it running half ass and trade it on cl or to a private buyer and then theres money n ur pocket!
 
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