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Project D350 Build Thread.

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Project D350 Build Thread.

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/28/08
12:32 AM

I've seen a lot of cool build threads so I figured I'd share my own.

This isn't a new project.  I purchased an 86 Dodge D50 on March 1st 2008 and have been cutting away on it since.  It'll take me a bit to get you all up to speed.

I hope you find it as cool as I do.

Introducing Project D350!  

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/28/08
12:44 AM

March 1, 2008

I bought the truck and drove it across town to my shop. (Bout 14 miles)  It ran great!  Not really peppy though.  I plan to fix that.

Those 14 miles are the only miles I put on it since I owned it.  I bought the truck for one purpose and one purpose only.  It went under the knife immediately!

Here's my blank canvas.  Those without imagination should skip these photos...

IMG 4370Medium
IMG 4368Medium
IMG 4377Medium  

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/28/08
01:10 AM

March 8, 2008

The main focus of this project is simply to squeeze a bunch of go-fastness into a tiny frame.

Not long before I bought the truck, a had purchased an 88 Chevy 5.7 350 TPI V8 and transmission.  It was originally going to go in my Chevy Astro (almost a direct bolt in) but then I realized, even after selling my first and only mildly custom small truck over 7 years ago... I was still a Minitrucker at heart.

After this realization, and discovering some leaky intake valves, I decided I wasn't going to cut any corners, and began a complete overhaul of the Chevy motor.  New bearings, forged aluminum pistons and rings, machined block, 3 angle valve job on the heads, port matched everything, and painted every last nut, bolt, and washer.

IMG 3717
IMG 4445
IMG 4443
IMG 4455  

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/28/08
01:52 AM

March 14, 2008

I ripped into it.  After removing everything damaged, useless, or nasty... there was practically nothing left!

The smashed passenger core support, the motor, and all of the interior are gone.  GONE!

Lastly, I removed the bed so I could rip out more stuff.
IMG 5105
IMG 5109
IMG 5111
IMG 5280
IMG 5286
IMG 5287  

burnzya burnzya
Moderator | Posts: 1332 | Joined: 10/07
Posted: 09/28/08
10:34 AM

man that motor looks badass all painted, i want a d-50 now. keep us updated.  
it's more like a pebble crawler

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/28/08
01:15 PM

Thank you Burnzya.  I think it's time you get one.  They look bad ass on the ground.

April 5, 2008

Still stripping stuff down.  I decided to removed the cab without help using an engine hoist.  That almost turned out really bad.  I attached the chains to the bolts that hold in the seats.  Everything went just fine until I pulled the cab over the side of the frame rails.  Apparently the front was still pretty heavy and the whole cab pitched forward.  I think I pooped as I watched the windshield dive toward the concrete.  The entire cab was now suspended 3 inches off the ground and hanging from only two of the small seat bolts.  Luckily they held and I still have front glass.

IMG 7083Medium  

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/28/08
02:10 PM

OH yeah!  I forgot to add... during the previous week I found a guy selling his 17" 05 Mustang GT Bullitt wheels.  I somehow talked him down to $200.  Stoked!

April 6, 2008

The frame is all clear now so I can start hacking it into pieces.

The thing about the D50 (perhaps the same with most trucks) is ALL of the cross members hang down below the frame rails preventing you from laying out true frame.  This includes the engine cross member.  Instead of rebuilding the cross member, I decided to Z the frame.  Z'ing the frame helps out with front suspension geometry, and since I want this truck to handle in the turns and not just the drag strip, I figured it would be worth it.  Here's a little "how to" on Z'ing a D50 frame the Aaron way.  (I say that because I've had people tell me they've never seen it done that way.)  

Find out where the Z is going to be.  If you're keeping the stock steering you need to watch the steering box, but you need to make sure it's far enough forward to clear the cab floor.

Once you find the spot put jack stands solidly under the frame behind the cut mark.  It's very important that the back half of the frame doesn't move until the front is welded back on.  The front section of the frame is now hanging freely.
(Forgive the cell phone pics.  I wasn't going to waste a day of work just because I didn't have my good camera.)

IMG 7086

What I did was temporarily weld 4 heavy duty legs onto the front from the frame to the ground.  They're not supporting weight at this point but they are all touching the ground firmly.



Now it's time to make the cut and let the legs take over.  After cutting, the front will remain at the exact height and angle as the rest of the frame.



Ta DA!

Next I welded a cap plate onto the freshly cut frame on the back section.  Since I did a 2 inch Z I made the cap plate 2" taller than the frame itself.  Make sure if you weld this plate to the front the plate hangs down and if you weld it to the rear it sticks up (like mine) or you will be Z'ing the frame in the wrong direction.  Think 4x4.



Now you have a bit of inner strength and a gauge to make sure everything is lining up.

Then what I did, again since I was doing a 2 inch Z, I cut 4 pieces of 2x4" steel.  (Note: a steel 2x4 is actually 2 inches by 4 inches unlike a wood 2x4.  So don't use wood unless you're doing a 1.746273" Z  Grin )  I put a 2" block under each of the four temporary legs.  It is now exactly 2 inches higher.  Align everything and notice how the top lines up nicely with that cap plate from earlier.



Weld it!!!  But don't remove the legs yet.  It might not sag, but if it does your screwed.

My next step was to make 4 matching reinforcement plates for the sides.  I drilled holes in the plates for plug welds for even more strength.  (People say I over build stuff, but if you think about it, this Z holds up the weight of the rear of the frame, the cab, and everything in it including you and your big boned girlfriend.  When you hit a bump all that weight is exaggerated.  Summarized, make sure it's strong.)



After welding the side plates on, I welded on some 2.5" strip steel to the top and bottom and I cleaned it up.  

A finished Z!

IMG 0059Medium

Hope that was worth posting.  Let me know!

Also in the same day I did the 8 inch step notch... but I think that's at least somewhat self explanatory.  If not, I'll just say... first weld on the notch, THEN cut the frame out.  Don't cut the frame and try to put it back together using the notch.

IMG 0060Medium

I had a few extra minutes so I cut out the other two cross members that kept the frame hoovering.

I can now fully lay frame.

IMG 0062Medium  

burnzya burnzya
Moderator | Posts: 1332 | Joined: 10/07
Posted: 09/28/08
03:23 PM

sweet, there have been several people post up wandering how to z a frame so i think the pics are good. i've never seen the square stock idea but it makes sense. before i get a d-50 i need to finish my 86 and 79 yotas and my 95 dime.  
it's more like a pebble crawler

DRLZ_Droopy DRLZ_Droopy
User | Posts: 146 | Joined: 08/07
Posted: 09/28/08
07:05 PM

nice man very nice  
'68 c-10 is my ride now
check me out on

5569 5569
Administrator | Posts: 7613 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 09/29/08
11:09 AM

cool! so if this was all in April, where are you now?  

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/30/08
02:29 AM

Easy Administrator #5569!  I've got a LOT of photos and a lot of esplaining to do!  I'll get to my current state as soon as I can.  Pull up a chair have a beer and watch the thread grow!   Grin

Here's a quicky update cuz it's bedtime at 2 am.

May 23, 2008

I picked up an old Chevy 350 block to use as a mock up block to build motor mounts.  (It's a *** trying to maneuver the fully built TPI while trying not to scratch it.)  This makes things MUCH easier.

IMG 0859

The engine cross member was in the way of where the oil pan sump needs to rest.  Go figure.  The point of the Z was to avoid rebuilding the cross member.  Oh well.

I cut it out.  It's gone.

IMG 0867

Now I can move the mock up block into place and see what needs to be done.  I had hoped I was going to be able to use the stock motor mount pedestals but that's not going to happen either.  If I used them the motor would stick out of the hood a good 10 inches or more.

So yay. I cut those off too.  I have to build custom mounts too. Things aren't going well.

IMG 0866

On the other end of the frame, though, I've started to construct the 4 link system and the heavy duty cross member that is going to bare all the forward force the V8 will create.  After doing a lot of reading about 4 link systems, specifically anti-squat, I found I need to mount the forward 4 link mounts rather high.  I'm using the bed mounts to perch the 4 link cross member and since I don't think they're meant for that kind of force, so I'm reinforcing them with some heavy tubing across the tops.  (I don't plan on using these bed mounts for mounting the bed anymore)  I will also box in the sides for added strength later.

IMG 0860

IMG 0863

To finish this update, I decided on the best way to construct my upper bag mounts for the front suspension.  This required cutting a good portion of the spring cups off.  I left enough there though to keep everything strong.  But doing that means when everything is put together the front will still be 1.5 inches off the ground when the bags are fully deflated.  Easily solved with 2" drop spindles.

IMG 0869

All is well.  

5569 5569
Administrator | Posts: 7613 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 09/30/08
10:56 AM

ok ok. I've got time so yeah let's go in order  Wink  

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/30/08
08:10 PM

June 13, 2008

Lets make things a little more exciting.  Even though I haven't built the engine mounts yet, I can still set my motor in place.  And I can see that my headers aren't going to fit!  The frame rails hug the motor too snuggly.

It makes sense.  They were designed for the Chevy Astro V8 swap.  Not a little D50.  I looked through some catalogues to find headers that would work and nothing would.  Except maybe the stock exhaust manifolds but I'd rather save gas money and put the 4 cylinder back in.

So then I started thinking...  The headers don't fit.  It's going to be a *** squeezing in the steering linkage between the motor and the frame rails. The left valve cover is right where the brake booster needs to be.  The enlarged trans tunnel is going cause problems with my gas pedal placement, and the posi Mustang axle I plan to use is going to need to be shortened to tuck into the bed wheel wells.

Screw all that!  I bet I could solve every one of those problems and create something unique with one major mod.  I could widen the entire truck 4 inches!

After doing the mod in my head over and over in search of possible problems, I decided the windsheild would be the only challenging part of the whole process.  I have no idea what to do with the windsheild.

But I don't care.  I'm widening the thing 4 inches!  Cuz it'll be fun.

And so cutting ensued.

I used heavy duty steel 2x4s to space out the frame in the front-most cross member (radiator support, I cut some heavy square tubing to connect the back of the frame at the proper width, and for the 4 link cross member, I decided this would be a good opertunity to create a notch for the drive shaft to fit in when the truck is layed out.  (Something I over looked when I first welded it in.)

This is everything clamped and ready to be welded.  This was probably the easiest part of the whole project.

IMG 3484Medium

IMG 3486Medium

The remainder of the day I spent upgrading the front brakes.  The 86 D50 came with a 6 lug hub with solid rotors.  I learned from some fine people at that the 94/95 5 lug Toyota pickup hubs fit the D50 spindle, and Tacoma rotors will fit nicely inside the D50 caliper bracket.  The big benifit for me is the Toyota 5 lug pattern is the same as the Mustang axle I plan to use.  So I'll be able to bolt my GT Bullitts up front and rear.

IMG 3487Medium  

5569 5569
Administrator | Posts: 7613 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 10/01/08
04:07 PM

hmmmmm interesting solution! Keep going! and then...  

D350 D350
User | Posts: 56 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 02/03/09
11:02 PM

Aight... I'm going to get back into it.  I took a huge break from the thread.  I've been spending so many long nights working on the truck that I just don't have the energy to update as often.  But I'll see if I can catch you up.

July 6, 2008

I got two days off for Independence Day giving 4 days from sun up to sun down to work on this beast.  It was in these 4 days that it started to take shape and proved to everyone that I kinda knew what I was doing and I was serious about this project.

In those 4 days I:  
Built front upper bag mounts that make changing bags at the side of the road a breeze,  Triangulated my lower control arms to keep my toe-in in check throughout travel, Welded the link cross memember and cleaned it up to make it pretty, Built the new custom engine crossmember,  Welded in a simple but meaty two-bar notch bridge, Fabricated monster motor mounts, MOUNTED the 350, and smoothed and painted the parts of the frame that won't be accessed again.  Finally I mounted my Mustang wheels, plumbed some half inch line to a schrader valve so I could air up the new Slam Specialties RE7s.

IMG 5069
Link Cross Member and Notch Bridge.
IMG 5061
RE7 with Triangulated Lower Control Arm
IMG 5054
Motor Mount with 1/4" Thick Gussets
IMG 5058
Headers Now Fit Nicely!!!
IMG 5074
The Project as a Whole.
IMG 5079
IMG 5077
DOWN!  Still need drop spindles to set it on the ground.

Also!  On the 4th day, my good friend Erik delivered my second cab for me to butcher.  I hacked it in half just off center as well as the original cab and welded them together.  The final product... a cab that is 4 inches wider than stock.  (Pointless bonuses are two rear view mirror mounts and two dome lights!  WOOO!!)  On the 5th day, I rested.  Actually no... I went to work.

Here's a video for you... I hope the link works...

Cut Equals Custom!

IMG 5051
Two Halves Make One
IMG 5050

I'll close with my slightly arty shot..

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