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.