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Thread: Build Log: Cleaning Up An Old Parts Truck

  1. #1

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    1986 Dodge Ram 50
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    Post Build Log: Cleaning Up An Old Parts Truck

    I recently inherited a 1986 Dodge Ram 50 from my ailing grandfather. The pickup was purchased new in '87 and was used by my grandfather's tractor dealership to run spare parts from place to place until the dealership closed down in '90. It's spent the last two decades parked under a tree out in the country-side. It was used about once a week by my grandfather to run into town when my grandmother had driven off with their primary car.

    I picked up the Ram 50 about a week ago and I've been trying to whip it into shape ever since. It had been sitting under a pine tree for most of it's life and I washed a small army of pine needles out of the front fenders. The bed of the truck had a pile of rotting wood in it, so that had to go. The chrome rear bumper had faded a bit and was tarnished by some rust. Of course after almost thirty years without a fresh coat of pain the stock red color had faded considerably. The rims on the truck were originally pained white, but over the years the white paint had chipped off in spots and the rims have quite a bit of rust on them now.

    Shortly after my grandfather bought the truck he painted the top of the cab white to match the rims. He wanted his little red pickup to look special so he could find it in large parking lots, and it certainly stands out when I go to the store.

    Moss and dirt had built in the cabin air system so I had to peel off some of the dash panels to clean that mess up. Mold had also built up on the door edge covers so that had to be scrubbed off. I found a pile of tie-down cables and tarps behind the seat. A pair of oil filters and a set of ancient brake pads were below the bench. Then I vacuumed out as many of the pine needles as I could from the seat and the carpet. The headline had some mold and mildew near the sun visors, which were just covered in mold. I removed and bleached the visors until I was satisfied that they were clean and the headliner got a good scrub too.

    There was one big problem with my Ram 50 when I got it. At low RPMs and when shifting gears the engine made a terrible screeching noise. Until I revved the engine higher or the new gear got settled in. It was pretty embarrassing to drive around. Luckily it was a quick fix to swap out the worn and cracked alternator belt for a new one and end the squeaking forever.

    The engine bay was in pretty rough shape. Soot, grease, and dirt had built up on almost all of the surfaces in the engine bay. The break-in instructions and the vacuum diagram on the underside of the hood were almost completely obscured by the build up. I took the truck to a friends house and we broke out his pressure washer and proceeded to blast out the engine bay, the truck bed, the rim, the gas bay, and just about everything we could think of to clean. It's amazing how stubborn twenty year old mildew can be. Anyway, the pickup looked a lot better when we were done.

    But of course it wouldn't start. We let it dry out for about eight hours and the another friend and I came back to pick it up. The pickup would start up just fine, but it would sputter out after ten or 20 seconds and if you tried to give it any gas it would die immediately. We pushed the truck to a long hillside and then started down the hill side in an attempt to get the thing into gear. It died about two dozen times going down that hill but I was able to continuously restart the engine by dropping it into gear every time it died using the momentum I'd built up. Eventually I got it into second gear and the problem seemed to work itself out. I haven't had any start-up issues since.

    The other problem that I ran into with this truck was the oil pan bolt. Whoever changed the oil last managed to strip the bolt pretty badly and I count get it to come off. So I ended up taking it down to the local shop to have then replace the bolt.

    I've order a new performance air filter and some aftermarket speakers which should be coming early next week so I'll update when I get that all worked out.

    This is the story of my RAM 50 its a work in progress, thanks for reading.

  2. #2


    Array
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    Welcome to the site. nice to see another one of these trucks being saved.Take some pic's and post them.

  3. #3

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    great story....now we need to see pix

  4. #4

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    1986 Dodge Ram 50
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    Post Some Pictures

    I went down to the park today and took a few pictures. I hope you like them!
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  5. #5

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    Post Doing More Work

    As it turns out today's been a big day for my RAM 50. I swapped out the air filter and the gas cap after I made the last post.
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    I changed out the old dingy air filter for a K&N E-2810 High Performance Replacement Air Filter that I got on Amazon for ~$20 when it was on sale. I nabbed a Motorad MGC-817 Fuel Cap for about $5 while I was at it, because the old gas cap felt a bit lose to me.

    I was hoping that my pickup would sound a bit better and have more consistent power with a new air filter. The cool looking K&H filter I used certainly delivered on those goals. The truck sounds better at idle and at full throttle. Power delivery is more consistent. I'm hesitant to say that it's faster now, because I don't have any numbers to back that up, but the truck drives subtly better than it used to. I'm would definitely buy an aftermarket filter again, totally worth the $20 I paid. Plus the cost of getting a regular filter isn't much less.

    This new gas cap also did what I expected. It has a firmer, more solid feeling grip on the car than the old one. Plus I like the color better. All in all I'm happy with how these two upgrades turned out.

  6. #6


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    looks like a good solid little project truck.Just needs some TLC and time.

  7. #7

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    Looks like a good start. I was inquiring localy about wheels very similar to those, white steel 14x7. They look good on there, I may have to go get em. lol.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by sleeps View Post
    Looks like a good start. I was inquiring localy about wheels very similar to those, white steel 14x7. They look good on there, I may have to go get em. lol.
    Yeah, I like the wheels, but I'm having a hard time cleaning up the chrome and knocking the rust off of them. It's a pretty slow going and labor intensive process.

  9. #9

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    Post New Sound System

    I just finished installing the new stereo system today. Up until now my Ram 50 had no sound system what-so-ever which made long distance driving rather dull.
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    Back in the late 80's someone installed a sound system using the stock head unit and a pair of 4" speakers in the doors. But the speakers were stolen out of the car shortly after they were installed, and my grandfather never felt a need to replace them.

    For this build I opted to go with a four speaker system. In the doors I chose a pair of 6.5" speakers, which I mounted on the doors with 3.5" screws and two 1/2" spacer brackets. I used the brackets for two reasons: I didn't want to enlarge the 4" hole that was already cut into the door, and because I didn't want the speaker to block the window from fully retracting into the door.

    For the rear speakers I went with 6" X 9"'s which I mounted in some low-profile truck boxes that I found on Amazon. I'm a tallish guy at about 6'1" so retaining as much leg room as possible is really important to me, and is why I didn't go with a more robust set of boxes.

    I have all four of these speakers hooked up to a Kenwood head-unit which I got for 30% off as a factory refurbished unit.

    Here's what I used in total:

    [top]Precision Power BI.694

    [top]Precision Power BI.653

    [top]Xscorpion SP-DE65

    [top]Hitron SPW-1650

    [top]Soundquest 69PUG 6x9 Box Pick-Up, Gray

    [top]Kenwood Excelon KDC-X597

    All in all I'm really pleased with how this system sounds. I'm going to have to sound deaden the doors at some point though. I'm just not looking forward to the cost involved with doing that.

  10. #10


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    I used this for the doors, hell of a lot cheaper then dynomat http://www.thermotec.com/products/14...tical-mat.html a 36x60" sheet cost me $42.00 and I still have 1/3rd of a roll left. also used their thermo shield for above my mufflers.

  11. #11

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    Looking good.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fordubishi View Post
    I used this for the doors, hell of a lot cheaper then dynomat http://www.thermotec.com/products/14...tical-mat.html a 36x60" sheet cost me $42.00 and I still have 1/3rd of a roll left. also used their thermo shield for above my mufflers.
    My mom asked me the other day if there was anyway I could quiet the truck down so I don't wake her up when I start it up. Since then I've been looking for some quality hood insulation. It looks like thermotec has just the right thing with the Cool-It mat.

    As far as deadening goes I've been doing a lot of research on the subject and I've come to like this site: http://www.sounddeadenershowdown.com/

    Basically this guy recommends using butyl tiles to reduce sheet metal vibration and then applying a mass loaded vinyl sheet over the door but under the interior panel. It's mostly the rattling that the door speakers are causing that bothers me. I still haven't made up my mind on about what I'm going to do.

  13. #13

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    Alright here's a update. I swapped out the spark plugs, replaced the distributor cap, and cleaned up my exhaust. I also reconnected a couple of vacuum hoses that had fallen off and were just kind of laying about in the engine bay.
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    And here's a before and after video of my exhaust.



    I'm pretty happy with how far I've gotten.

  14. #14

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    nicccc

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