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Discussion Starter #41
Looking out over the same hillside from different vantage points.

view1.JPG


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Discussion Starter #42
Thinking down the road, with the interior built I'll probably want the spare underneath for space reasons. The Dodge vans I've seen at junkyards all seem to use inside rear spare mounts. Did Dodge ever use an under-vehicle bracket and hoist arrangement, or will I need to adapt one from a different brand? I may also need to learn to weld, and perhaps find a door mount spare carrier for one of the rear doors instead.
 

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I'd go for the rear door mount. Easier to get to if you have to.
 

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Discussion Starter #44
I'd prefer undervan mounting to keep stuff out of the way. I found the door-mount Surco TD100 for about $90 but it does not seem to get good reviews, especially for use with tall, heavy spares. That decision is several steps away, though.
 

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The under-body mount as used in the trucks, Durangos, minivans, etc. is a pretty compact unit, you just need something robust to bolt it to. The pickups generally used a long tool through the bumper to raise and lower the spare. The Durango and (at least some) minivans had a knob that stuck up through the floor that you turned with the lug wrench. That was more convenient.
 

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The Dakota has system that is pretty compact, a cable drop system and a hole in the bumper to use the jack rod to raise and lower the wheel by the cable. I'm sure some kind of bracket could be built to attach to the frame to mount it.
 

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Discussion Starter #47
I have the minivan type on my GC and had the pickup kind on my old Nissan. Probably advisable to try one of those instead of the more primitive Vanagon trays that simply drops when you release the catch. That would be a handful with the big spare of one of these vans.
 

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Discussion Starter #48 (Edited)
Finally, finally getting around to beginning a little work on this thing. I thought I'd get some time during one of the 27 goddam rainy days we've had so far this year to work inside the van doing the compression test. During that time the battery ran down, of course, so I was unable to crank the van sufficiently long to get all the cylinders done adequately and I did it cold. So, I went out and bought new plugs while the battery is on a charger and will try again tomorrow.

Findings so far (see pix), the left bank (cylinders 1, 3, 5 and 7) are over 100 PSI, although the variation between cylinders is out of spec, while the right side (cylinders 2, 4, 6 and 8) are low-low-low. I had pulled all the plugs, worried that there might be water in some and wanting to avoid hydraulic lock, so when I cranked it over initially water spewed out of #6 and went all over the passenger side door panel. I would have thought that was the only problem but for the two cylinders reading 0 PSI. I'll retest tomorrow with the new plugs and after I get the engine warmed up, but even if the numbers improve I've got my work cut out for me.

Question: Would I be better off leaving the plug wire off #6 (the suspected spewing cylinder) in order to keep the smoke/steam down or should I let the plug fire to warm that cylinder up as much as I can? Thanks!

Error loading pix, so I'll keep trying. Meanwhile,
#1 - 150 PSI
#2 - 0 PSI
#3 - 130 PSI
#4 - 0 PSI
#5 - 110 PSI
#6 - 30 PSI
#7 - 110 PSI
#8 - 70 PSI
 

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If you had water squirt out of the cylinders, don't even try starting it, more damage might result if you do (extremely likely), so no additional testing is recommended. Time for a tearing off of the heads to fix the head gasket at the absolute minimum, hopefully the water in the cylinder didn't pit the cylinder wall. The leaking head gasket most likely steamed when the engine was shut down and could/most likely surface rusted the valve stems and the likes, and I would say the blow-out was between cylinder 2 and 4, then damaged between 4 and 6 and was starting to hurt number 8 from the looks of it, based on the compression numbers. Hopefully the rings haven't been damaged and no water entered the oil past the rings. You won't know for sure until the top end is removed and you can look at the amount of damage done, hopefully it is minimal.
You now have a major project going on here.
 

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Discussion Starter #50
When we first heard "head gasket" it was already major for us, and for the purchase price figured that even if we needed a replacement long block it would not be unreasonable.
 

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Given she turns over and cranks well enough to squirt water out a cylinder, it is a good sign that even if you have to pull the whole engine and re-ring, damage might not be that bad. As long as water didn't get into the oil and the engine run, main bearings are probably good. If the cylinder walls haven't been damaged with pitting rust, rings and rod bearings, gasket set, and a $300 valve job and resurface, roughly $500 total should get you back on the road, and of course the labor (free if you do it), is a very reasonable price.
 

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Discussion Starter #52
I was hoping to get away with just a top end job but it might get more complicated. I've done engine work in cars and pickups but never in a van and believe the hindered access will bug me. Heading back out now to try testing the right bank compression with a full charge on the battery. More as we learn it.
 

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When I bought my 1993 Dakota 3.9 (similar to your 5.9 but two less cylinders) , the previous owner's son drove it home from college, it overheated and he kept driving until the truck stopped. I was looking for a good body for an engine from a wrecked truck - this one already has 225k. When I looked at this one, it ran so rough, but it ran. The two plugs were washed clean from the coolant going through those cylinders. The oil was clear. I pulled the head, cleaned everything up, put in a new head gasket and drove the truck for several more years. Sold it to a neighbor who drove it at least 4 more years, well over 250k miles by then.
I don't recall the compression check numbers before, but I don't think those cylinders read zero though. I think they still built a little compression. Once it was all back together the compression results were good.
 

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I wouldn't worry about trying any more compression tests, you already know the head gasket is blown. No reason to test any more, start tearing it down. You have more room when you take the two front seats out.
 

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Discussion Starter #55
Did it again, just for the hell of it and got some revised numbers. I was not expecting a miracle but did want a more accurate test with plenty of juice in the battery. It'll be a while before the teardown occurs. We have a few nice days coming up and need to knock out more of the driveway wall before I get to play with the van. I actually need to wait until the gravel gets put down so I can move the van under its own power to a new work spot not in the way of anything else, but that is probably weeks away. Stay tuned!

#1 - 140 PSI
#2 - 0 PSI
#3 - 130 PSI
#4 - 0 PSI
#5 - 125 PSI
#6 - 50 PSI
#7 - 140 PSI
#8 - 105 PSI
 

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Discussion Starter #56
The oil was clear. I pulled the head, cleaned everything up, put in a new head gasket and drove the truck for several more years.
Oil is oldish but appears to be uncontaminated on this one. Did you pull just the one head? I'm thinking this job will be somewhat easier if I do that but will pull both if that's the best way to proceed.
 

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I pulled both heads and put new valve stem seals in. Then I replaced the intake plenum gasket just to be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #58
Damn, and yet ANOTHER highroof Dodge for sale locally, this one with a similar FGME top but with a different door configuration than mine has.

Dodge Ram Van (at https://richmond.craigslist.org/cto/d/richmond-dodge-ram-van/6807761752.html )

Dodge Ram Van - $1500




2000 dodge 1500
condition: good
fuel: gas
size: full-size
title status: clean
transmission: automatic
type: bus

15 passenger van for sale AS IS. Has old gas from sitting and carburetor cleaning possibly needed. Van was running when parked, is not running now. All seats are still in the van.
Reduced $1200
Serious inquiries only! If showing its available....
 

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Doesn't it always figure that once you find a vehicle you start seeing the same thing all over the place?
 
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