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Thread: Factory Radios for 87-89 Ram 50/Mighty Max

  1. #1

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    Factory Radios for 87-89 Ram 50/Mighty Max

    I thought I would share some pictures of some of my stock radios I have since I finally found an 87' only push button unit and there isn't much info or pictures of them online. I thought it might be good to sorta document these radios since they are part of the history of these trucks and they do sound fairly good for what they are.

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    This is a one year only push button style AM/FM with optional cassette. It is a front speaker only unit since rear speakers were optional but they did have a nearly identical unit with a fader control ring knob outside the tuning knob for 4 speaker trucks. This radio has 2 AM presets and 3 for FM. The way you switch between bands is by using these preset buttons. The presets are set like most push button radios where you pull the button out then tune the radio to the station you want to save and push the button all the way in to lock in the station. The radio i have seems a bit hit and miss as to whether or not the preset buttons will actually tune right to the saved station probably due to wear and Im not sure that the mechanism was very precise to begin with. There is also a small adjustment screw to peak the antenna on the front right next to the far right preset button.

    Will post more as soon as I can get my phone to send pictures of the 88-89 style radio :/

  2. #2

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    i got one of those sitting on a self gathering dust

  3. #3

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    Finally my dang phone is working!

    The next radio was used from 88' to 89' and is much much more common than the last one (at least it seems this way to me lol).

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    This radio seems to preform much better than the previous model with better sensitivity and selectivity thanks to its digitally controlled tuner vs the older slug tuned tuner, In fact it seems to pull in stations better than most aftermarket tuners I've used. It also eliminates the drift that the old unit had since its presets are digitally stored instead of mechanically, plus it has 5 presets per band. It also sounds better than the older unit with separate bass and treble controls plus a loudness button for bass and treble boost at higher volumes. One weak point about this radio is the seek function, it only seems to grab extremely strong stations. I have 2 or 3 of these radios and they all had problems with the small potentiometers for bass/treble and fader/balance. The small wipers inside would become detached from the plastic wheel inside of them causing all sorts of sound problems with the radio. It took some very patient micro surgery to repair but i was able to take the radios and make one good working unit that works and sounds great. Also note the plastic plug on the front of the unit, this is where the fader control would go for 4 speaker trucks.

    The tape player is the same between the two radios and since I only have one tape player I just switch it out between the two units. The tape deck sounds good and has Dolby noise reduction and a metal tape EQ. I had to replace 2 or 3 belts inside and while i was inside i completely disassembled the tape mechanism and lubed all moving parts with a bit of multi-purpose grease and it functions perfectly. I also touched up the motor speed control since it tends to drift over time.

  4. #4

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    Next I would like to talk a little bit about the wiring and mounting of the radio and what speakers work best.

    Many people have asked about how these radios are grounded and If your truck is like mine (and many were!) it didn't even come with a radio, instead it had a radio delete plate and a cubby hole below that.

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    on trucks that came with a radio there will be a heavy gauge wire with a plastic connector at one end and a ring terminal at the other. The ring terminal attaches to the bottom of the lower metal cross brace pictured and the screw head is accessible by removing the black plastic cover below the radio opening or the center console if equipped.

    one way to tell if your truck even had a radio to begin with is whether or not there are any speed clips installed where the 2 metal side brackets attach the radio to the dash. If yours didn't have a radio there will just be holes. If it had a radio but no tape player the top 2 holes will have metal speed clips installed. If it had both a radio and tape player or the radio/cassette combo unit all 4 holes will have speed clips installed.

    The speaker openings can also tell you if a radio was installed. If there is just one speed clip per opening it means your truck didn't come with a radio. The one speed clip was used to attach a small metal retainer for the speaker connector on base model trucks. If both speed clips are present it means your truck came with a stereo.

    One thing i should mention is even if you have no interest in installing an original stereo you will still want to get original mounting hardware for your aftermarket unit. this is a much better way to mount a stereo than using the cheap rectangular metal sleeve to mount your radio and will allow a cleaner looking install. If you look on the side of just about any aftermarket or factory stereo made in the last 30 years you will notice many mounting holes for different brackets, these where a somewhat standardized system used to mount radios.

    Now to talk speakers! for a stock 2 or 4 speaker setup you will want to find a speaker with 2 things: high sensitivity and wide frequency response, mostly a speaker that will go really low. I chose a pair of Boston Acoustic speakers with a sensitivity of 92db and a fairly low frequency response (I forget the number but it was something like 70hz-20khs?) and they sound pretty good for their 4" size. Remember that you will want a good quality set of speakers for the front since they are so close to your ears and they are what really sets the sound stage.

    If anyone is interested I could figure out the pin out on the back of the unit for anyone wanting an AUX input for their stock head unit? I was going to do it for mine but decided not to since I was happy with the tape player

  5. #5


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    You could also upgrade to the Top Of The Line stereo w/cassette and graphic equalizer. I have that in HotRam. It was crazy, to upgrade you had to buy the stereo thru the parts dept. and the dealer would install it and give you back the one in the truck. There was no credit given for the radio already installed. If memory serves... it was about $700.00 upgrade. Great stereo though.

  6. #6

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    The 1979 is a one year only radio as well, the shaft functions are reversed from the 80 and up trucks. This means that the dash bezel is one year only as well because the labels are stamped in and would be backward if you put in an 80 up bezel.

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    You could get an optional cassette player in 81, it mounted below theair vents. The option also came with slightly fifteens and doorcards to fit

  8. #8

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    really? I actually saved a dash bezel from a 79' I had to scrap because it was uncut. maybe someone can use it.

  9. #9

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    I went with an AM/FM/CD unit from a 2002 Galant ( so its still MM branded ).
    But I did use the correct truck radio mounting plates, which had mounting holes that aligned with the Galant unit.
    I knew daredevils and I ain't got nothin' against them, ........it's just they're all dead.

  10. #10

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    anyone have a wiring diagram for the radio wires. THe aftermarket deck the previous owner installed fell out yesterday or slid out and my dash lights went bye bye. I will be putting a new deck in it soon also and Knowing what is what would help me.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by cookieking View Post
    anyone have a wiring diagram for the radio wires. THe aftermarket deck the previous owner installed fell out yesterday or slid out and my dash lights went bye bye. I will be putting a new deck in it soon also and Knowing what is what would help me.
    theres only 5 wires, power, switched power, left/right positive and common speaker ground. the speaker ground IS NOT the chassis ground, the original radio used the shell as ground. a simple light will get you straightened out.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by StarquestMan View Post
    Finally my dang phone is working!

    The next radio was used from 88' to 89' and is much much more common than the last one (at least it seems this way to me lol).

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    .
    Waking up an old thread here...

    Im looking for one of these (or the one w/equalizer). I have the previous model, (4 speaker), the one you show on the original post, and the reception is really crappy, so I'd like to upgrade to the digital model that, as you say, does a better job of grabbing onto stations.
    Since the cassette player part is the same, I guess I only need the top part. I found one on car-part for an '88 Raider, do you know if these are the same?

    Thanks

  13. #13

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    They are different in that the lettering and illumination is orange instead of green other than that i believe they are identical. be aware though that all three or four i bought had bad eq/fadder potentiometers in them and required some micro surgery to repair which involves drilling out the tiny pins holding them together and carfuly super gluing the wipers back on the plastic wheel inside.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by StarquestMan View Post
    They are different in that the lettering and illumination is orange instead of green other than that i believe they are identical. be aware though that all three or four i bought had bad eq/fadder potentiometers in them and required some micro surgery to repair which involves drilling out the tiny pins holding them together and carfuly super gluing the wipers back on the plastic wheel inside.
    Thanks. Good to know, on both counts

  15. #15

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    I spotted one on car-part.com that shows a picture of the top of the unit and when you click on it it shows a picture of the face. Its listed for $15 bucks and has the fader control for a 4 speaker setup. the part number for these radios is MB541097 for the 4 speaker model, sometimes they pop up on ebay too.

  16. #16

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    Ha i was curious and just checked ebay and they have the same radio also listed on ebay for $20 free shipping, I may have some extra pots somewhere for the eq/fader controls if you need em.

  17. #17

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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by StarquestMan View Post
    Nice, thank you

  19. #19

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    Hi StarquestMan, if you're still around, I have some follow up questions.
    I didn't pull the trigger on that one unit for sale that you pointed out. It looked pretty roughed up, and my technical skills in the audio department pretty much extend to turning the unit on and off, so I wouldn't be able to fix it up if it wasn't working proper.

    I found two specimens for sale (same vendor on ebay) that look very clean, and at least are described as being in "great working condition". They are on the pricey side, but they look very good and might be worth it if no work is required. The curious thing is that this seller appears to have several of the same units. Maybe he found an old box full of them?

    My question is what is the difference between these two models, and the model in the picture in your post (your truck?)?

    Here are the units up for sale, they are almost identical, but notice the slight difference in the model number:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/14300796630...m=143007966300
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mitsubishi-...4AAOSwj2dXj9-P

    There is no explanation of the difference in the description (I contacted the seller but haven't heard back), and the only difference I can spot visually is that the first one (J981), has a gray looking display and the lettering is white, and the second one (J982) appears to have orange lettering and display. They are both off in the picture, so it's hard to tell for sure, but I'm guessing that one lights up green, for our trucks, and the other one lights up orange, for the Monteros.
    Then I zoomed in to your photo to see which model you have (model number is printed right under the display), and it looks to be J987... is that right?

    Out of the two for sale I would go for the J981, since I don't want the one with the orange lights, but wanted to see if you knew what the difference between that one, and the J987 you have is.

    Thanks
    Last edited by MrPaco; 03-09-2019 at 08:13 AM.

  20. #20

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    ^^UPDATE

    I ordered one of these radios. Arrived today, installed, and working great.

    Posting this in case anyone out there wants to get their hands on a mint early 2nd Gen AM/FM radio (I don't know if later model years had more advanced radios, but it would make sense).
    I don't know why or how, but this seller seems to have a few of these original radios. They are not the cheapest, but for anyone looking for OEM equipment in excellent condition, it might be worth it (compare prices and condition to what's on car-part and you'll see what I mean). I'm not associated to the seller, btw.

    This is the one I bought (J891), it arrived as advertised, very very clean condition, and everything works. This guy had 3 more of these AM/FM digital radios, as of this posting.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/143007966300

    Here's a picture of the one I just installed. Just the top part, the cassette player I already had.
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    For those of you with Monteros/Raiders out there, he also has some with the orange lights (J892). These are labeled as "new":
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mitsubishi-....c100005.m1851

    Remember-
    J981: Green lights
    J982: Orange lights


    OH! This has nothing to do with any of this, but I just discovered that apparently Mitsubishi made my boots, too!

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    Last edited by MrPaco; 03-15-2019 at 04:44 AM.

  21. #21

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    Awesome! did the bass/treble/fader/balance knobs work properly? they will do all sorts of weird things if they don't like crackle and loose all bass or treble and if the balance goes out most sound will drop out of one side. that was what mine did. but maybe the J891 has improved potentiometers over the 3 J987 (2 speaker) or J989 (4 speaker) models that i have?

  22. #22

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    I should add for anyone else that may find it useful, when i checked my 87-88 parts catalog it lists the digital 4 speaker radio for these trucks as being part number MB488544 this is incorrect since it is the orange illuminated J892 used in the Montero/Raider that MrPaco mentioned in a previous post. The radio he bought can be found in Colts and Colt Vistas of similar vintage and so far we haven't been able to figure out what the difference is between these radios and the MB541097 J989 4 speaker ones that came in our pickups and strangely my catalog doesn't even list the MB541097 at all for any vehicles even though i know mine came from an 88' Ram 50. I was talking to MrPaco earlier and I had mentioned that the J891 may have a slightly higher power output to drive bigger speakers in a car or a different EQ circuit board to change the sound output to suit a larger interior but this is just a wild guess.

  23. #23

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    The bass and treble knobs work properly,they do the job. The sound coming out of it is probably as good as can be expected from a 30+ year old stock radio, it's definitely not a high end stereo, but it sounds very good.
    The fader knob works, but I would say that it only takes the power down to about 10% on the opposite speakers to where the knob is turned to, it doesn't silence them completely. The balance knob doesn't seem to be doing anything, sound comes out of both sides no matter where the knob is turned to.
    Is it possible that these two knobs are functioning funny because the speakers in the truck are undersized for the radio, maybe?
    In any case, it doesn't make a difference, I have no need to balance or fade the sounds from one side of the cab to the other one. Come to think of it, I don't know why anyone would need to do that anyway.

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