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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I've been in a dilemma, lamenting the lack of seventies/eightes/nineties D-series crew cab diesel from the factory. I've got an '82 that's been a possible conversion candidate, though that sounds like an awful lot of work.

Anyway, I was browsing my local craigslist and I found a '92 upbuilt chassis-cab truck, 159" wheelbase (as opposed to the normal 149" crew cab short bed wheelbase) narrower dually axle typical of the chassis-cab trucks, and with a bunch of upgrades. The seller said the following in the ad:

This is an exceptional custom truck. It has been VERY well maintained with most all service records, documentation and reciepts since new. This truck was custom ordered in 1992 and has 205k original miles with NO LEAKS! It is the intercooled Cummins turbo diesel motor with a Suncoast automatic/overdrive transmission and a stretch/sleeper cab 3 full door conversion on a D350 dually chassis. Everything works with very COLD AC, power windows, power door locks and cruise control. All interior in excellent condition as well. NEVER had any kind of heavy duty hitch installed in the bed at all. Over $10k new and upgraded parts including a $5000 SUNCOAST heavy duty transmission with warranty and receipt. New upgraded HX35 turbo $1200. New upgraded fuel injection pump $1100. Almost new 10 ply tires all the way around $1200. Triple gauge pillar pod with pyrometer, boost and transmission monitors $600. Has a matching fiberglass bed cover $1000. The back seat lays down flat at the push of a button. Has remote TV video entertainment system. Very comfy aftermarket front and rear seats. There is just too much aftermarket and upgraded components to list them all on here. There has been OVER $10k put into this truck in the last couple years alone. Only asking $8995 O.B.O. for this ONE OF A KIND beauty... Intelligible trades and/or cash offers may be considered. Clean, clear title in hand.
Now, I think that the $9000 he's asking is probably too much, and is more than I'm willing to pay. Trying to figure out the right price is what I'm asking for assistance with.

I took a bunch of pictures and have posted them in my "Garage"...

https://www.allpar.com/forums/garage/vehicle/2937-dodge-d300-or-d350/

There are some condition issues. On the outside there's rust around the door lip drip molding, at the roof-to-back seam, and at the rocker seams at the back of the extended aftermarket cab. The front passenger's fender is messed up in front of the wheel, and the trim is coming loose in places. There's also paint issues, peeling clearcoat on the high-top, and something stuck on the flat hood. The plastic grille is cracked. On the inside the front seats are a bit worn, the back is immaculate.

The truck sounded really nice idling, I did not drive it. The oil pressure light is lit and the factory gauge needle is buried on the low end, there's an aftermarket oil pressure gauge that is on the low side but does read. I don't know what oil pressure range is considered normal on this engine.

The construction is interesting. It looks like the upbuilder, I think a company called "Federal", bought regular-cab chassis-cab trucks, cut the back off, bought a crash-repair passenger's side crew cab door frame and rear door, and then fabbed the rest of the cab including the odd extended segment and roof. The floor in the back seat area is higher to clear the frame's upward tilt behind what had been the regular cab, and the raised roof is definitely necessary for an adult of my height to comfortably use the rear. They also seem to have bought short-bed dually beds and dropped them on, so the axle is narrower than a normal pickup truck dually.

If I bought this truck my goal would be to turn it into my "Big Red Express" tribute truck. A utiline bed would go on, probably modified with wider fender flares or some kind of extension piece on each side to kick 'em out a bit, and possibly modifications on the inside fenderwells to make the bed fit the narrowness of the area between the inside dually tires. I'd also swap different fenders, doors (moving over the power accessories and the door panels), radiator core support, and grille to the '79'-80 style for the dual-stacked headlights and the like, keeping the hood that remained from '79-'93 for clearance around the diesel and intercooler. It would be painted red, get the exhaust stacks in the stepside areas, and get the wood, pinstriping, and some modified decals that would say, "Big Red Express Truck".

I could probably sell the existing sweptline bed, dually flares, and cap, and could possibly sell the one good fender and maybe even the core support stuff and doors, but that's probably about all that could be practically sold to recoup some costs.

Any thoughts?
 

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If it were me and I were going to go that far in the resto I'd fix that rocker panel's rust...sounds like you have a nifty plan.
Have you seen the double-cab diesel in the Aug Mopar Action (p. 64; yeah, I don't believe the tech guys over there, but they do have some pretty photos time to time).
 

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Interesting truck! If you are serious, have the engine checked out by a qualified diesel mechanic. Rebuilding it will cost serious money. I'd be concerned about the rust. Rust is always much worse than it appears. Check out above the windshield for rust- a problem area on these trucks. What would it take to remove the custom body parts which I assume are fiberglass? Are you OK with the high rear floor? What are your skills or how much money do you have to spend?
I'm just throwing out questions to make you think. Do you know someone highly skilled to give you an unbiased assessment of what it will take to accomplish your goal?
What condition is your '82 crew in? I think it would be a sleeker looking truck without the raised roof - just my opinion.
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #4
At first I thought that it was fiberglass, but based on the way the rust has bubbled I'm thinking that it's actually steel. I'm not an expert though, and when I knocked on a couple of the panels they didn't ring like I expected fiberglass to, didn't sound like my brother's old '77 'vette did.

I'm not wild about the raised top, but for a sort of tractor-trailer look it kind of works, and there's no good way to change that given the floor raised to clear the frame.

As for the state of mine, it's rough. 276K miles on a 318, someone bolted a GM bench seat in the front, one of the crew cab doors is bashed (though I do have an extra one) and the rockers are TRASHED under the doors. I also don't know how good the floor itself is, right now the truck has been storage for parts from other cars. Back top of the cab is messed up from idiots loading boards or pipe leaning against the cab. Mine's also a stick with granny gear and no air conditioning, and the dash doesn't have any vents in it either surprisingly. The bed was from a different truck, it's got a minor ding at the back of one fender and the tailgate could use some attention, but it's otherwise solid and fully repairable. There are some cracks in the structure up front, I don't know how serious. Hood isn't wanting to align right so the hinges may have problems, and the truck had a blowout on the way home from buying it and one of the fenders and fender liners are messed up, though those would be replaced with earlier style along with the doors anyway.

If I could find a nice '79-'80 crew cab SRW short bed 2wd truck with air conditioning, either a 3/4 ton or a 1 ton, I'd jump on it if the price was at all reasonable. Then I wouldn't have to change the fenders and doors, the grille swap would be a breeze as I have parts, and my bed would just drop on. Even better would be a '79-'80 crew cab long bed utiline 2wd with air conditioning, but only if it's a utiline, as I could put a bed fender with the tire cutout on and still have it clear the exhaust stack. If the truck is in good shape then it's worth the effort of finding and cannibalizing a diesel to make it into one.

Lastly, if I found a 2wd SRW club cab long bed diesel then I could notch my cab to fit that trucks' frame, and since the crew/short and the club/long both have 149" wheelbases it would be fairly simple to do a cab and bed swap, with the hardest part being getting rid of the extra parts before my wife murders me for having so much junk around...

I paid only $700 for the one that I have now, but perhaps I should have held off.
 

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KOG
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You'll probably get better answers regarding price if you post this on TDR. It does appear that a LOT of money has been put into this thing, but the presence of rust is a big problem, particularly on a custom body. I notice that no mention of current power output has been made. The Suncoast transmission would indicate a serious increase as the stock transmission is known to not like more than about 240HP, the stock rating was 160 on this model.
 

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If you are good at cutting around rust and making your own sheet metal patch panels, no big deal. You aren't going to find that cab in a junkyard for a replacement, so it could be a lot of metal work to tackle.

Anything can be done with work though. I thought you were referring to this by the thread title. A widebody 1.5 cab D-50 with a 350 in it...
http://www.streetsource.com/Groups/34/Topic/69284
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, I've never done any serious sheet metal fabrication, nor do I own a welder or even know how to weld. Given the bolt-on sheet metal changes and paint that I seek, I figure that rust, if it isn't horrid, can be corrected by the body shop when it's time for paint if it isn't too serious. I did take several underside rocker/frame pics and the only rust seemed to be typical surface stuff on the bare metal frame, the underside of the cab in the rockers seemed clean.

It's annoying. I keep finding trucks that are similar to what I want, but not close enough. I found a claimed-to-have-30,000-miles '82 D250 crew cab with a short utility bed, but it's essentially equipped just like mine without AC and with manual transmission, and apparently the roof is dented up from when it had a different service bed and stuff got dropped on it. I found a '72 or '73 down in Tucson which the owner claimed was a shorbed, but I'm pretty sure it's a longbed, and there are apparently issues with trying to shoehorn the Cummins into the very first of these trucks. This truck is obviously quite unique, but is pricey and between the rust, mileage, and questionable oil pressure, isn't quite what I want either.

Anyone have an already-converted crew cab short bed 2wd Cummins they'd like to sell to me? :)
 

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Tannon: you might be wise in moseying on over to a Cummins Diesel Forum and ask those same questions here. I'm 100% sure that quite a few guys/gals did similar conversions that you've been contemplating on your 1982...................
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, I'm thinking about doing that.

All of this would have been solved if they'd just continued making crew-cabs until '93... *grin*
 

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Another good source for conversion info is DieselTruckResource.com. Check out the 1st Gen forum and the conversions forum. There is someone on there who has grafted the back section of a club cab onto a crew cab. The basic conversion of a gasser to Cummins power is pretty much a nuts and bolts affair. you're right about some of the 70's trucks, they need a later engine cross member to fit the Cummins.
I'd bet that the roof section and possibly the left side is fiberglass. If one were to take a wire wheel in a mini grinder to that rust on the right side I'd bet you find it rusted all the way thru.
I have an '80 2wd short bed crew but I got rid of the front clip and front doors because I want to convert it to the square nose sheet metal!
 

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And rusted out doors is not a big issue, swap them out with good ones. It would be a shame to have to move a firewall to get a diesel to fit in there, moving the radiator and having electric fans would be so much easier I would think.
 

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KOG
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Sheet metal isn't that much of a problem, but 91.5 diesel models got a deeper (stronger) frame which you really need so you don't want to go any older than that for a conversion.
 

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You don't have to move the firewall to fit the Cummins. Some have fit the intercooler behind the early grills which does take some modification. I didn't research that since it doesn't apply to my plans.
As far as frames go, I haven't heard of any frame problems with '85 and older crews that have been converted to Cummins power. Also using the '91.5 up frame (or any non-crew frame) presents problems for a crew cab in that you either have to notch the rear floor around the frame rails or use a body lift to clear the frame - or a combination of both. IIRC, the '91.5-'93 frame is deeper in the area behind the front seat to the kick-up at the rear axle. I suppose if one were concerned about frame strength it could be boxed, but then what do you do at cross-members?
 
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