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Thread: Just got an '87 Power Ram 50, getting to it

  1. #1

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    Just got an '87 Power Ram 50, getting to it

    Hello,

    I just joined the club, got myself an '87 Power Ram 50 in fairly good shape. I'm learning my way around it, and have some questions (I'm sure I'll have many others later on). If anyone here can point me in the right direction, it would be much appreciated. If these topics have been addressed in older threads, I apologize and would appreciate a link if there is one.

    Thank you

    1. Any idea where I can find an owners manual? I've looked on ebay nut haven't found one for the '87 model, I'm wondering if someone has created a pdf version of one. I do have the Haynes repair manual on order.

    2. I'd like to add some fog lights to the front, but want them to be as close as stock as possible. Anyone knows the original specs for these lights? Like the size, for instance? I'm thinking something like these:
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    3. Anyone knows what the the two nuts (or screw holes, or whatever they're called) on either side of the license plate nut holes on the front bumper are for? I'm thinking maybe they are for mounting a fog light, or something like that? Here you can see the holes I'm referring to, the ones with the square nut is for the license plate, I know that, the ones I'm wondering about are the ones on the outside, the round ones:
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  2. #2

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    Welcome to the forum, Mr. Paco!

    Your questions are out of my league, but be patient: an expert will be along soon enough.
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  3. #3

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    Greetings. I can't answer your questions about the lights, but the three sets of holes in the bumper are there to accommodate the three standardized license plate sizes used world-wide. The widest outside ones are for European plates which are 20" wide by 4+" tall. You might be able to use those tabs in mounting the lights, but if the lights are ahead of the bumper, then your using the lights as a bumper. Not good in parallel parking zones.

  4. #4

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    Thank you all for the warm welcome, and thank you FMS88 for that piece of info on the holes on the bumper, makes total sense!

    I figure that I would take a step back and do a proper introduction, I realized that I just showed up here and started right away with the questions, without much context or details of my new truck.
    First of all, I became an owner, and now an enthusiast (!), of a "mighty ram" by accident. I wasn't looking for one, and to be honest, I wasn't even very aware of them, until I crossed paths with this one. I was just looking for a small pickup truck, so my search was focused around tacomas, rangers, and maybe frontiers, but for whatever reason I stumbled across this power ram 50, and I just had to have it.

    There's a lot I don't know about this truck (not just this make/model, but also specifically my own truck), and I'm looking forward to learning more, and having fun with it. Hopefully you guys can help me with that!
    So far, from what I know, there's some good, and there's some bad. And I don't know a lot about this truck’s past (you'll see why in a second), so I'm trying to pull the pieces of the puzzle together...

    The good-

    • I got it for a good price, at least compared to what similar pickups trucks go for in my area
    • The truck is super clean other than lots of dings on the outside, and lots of paint scratches
    • The inside is ridiculously clean, the fabric seats don't even show any wear
    • The engine is very clean, and it runs very smooth
    • It only had 20,000 miles on it when I bought it, I've put about 200 on it since. I know this is hard to believe, but so far it checks out, based on registration and carfax records, and from the looks of the inside of the engine. Maybe the odometer has been tampered with, maybe not, I have no way of telling, but it seems that someone would’ve had to go through A LOT of trouble for this. The registration records show a slow progression of miles through the years that match where the truck is now… so if someone messed with the odometer, then they had to go and mess with state records as well (right?)


    The bad-

    • This truck was in a wreck and totaled, so it was auctioned and salvaged, which explains why I don’t know much about it’s past, and why I go it for a good price


    From what I can tell the damage was not major, just a fender, the hood, and a wheel/tire. Not a lot, but enough for the insurance company to total it. So far I haven’t found any issues with it that could be related to the accident. But anyway, I bought it knowing that it had been in a wreck, and the price still seemed fair to me considering the shape of the truck (regardless of the miles).

    Since I don't much about the truck's past, I'm curious to see if anyone here might know this truck and it's history... It was Pennsylvania truck, and it looks like it was used as a work or farm truck, but it was driven very little. The guy who I bought it from said that when he got it at auction the bed was filled with top soil...

    Here are some pictures of it, in case anyone here recognizes it... these pictures were taken this past summer and I took them from the add, it still looks the same but I haven't taken any pictures yet.

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    Does anyone know this truck, and it's history? I'm really curious, and would love to know!

    I'm looking forward to learning more about these truck in general, and enjoying this little guy while I do what I can to make it better.

    There will be lots of more questions to come

    Thank you.
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  5. #5

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    Also, sorry for the messy post, with extra pictures, and the title was supposed to end with "...getting to know it", not "...getting to it".
    Seems like I don't have editing privileges

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPaco View Post
    Also, sorry for the messy post, with extra pictures, and the title was supposed to end with "...getting to know it", not "...getting to it".
    Seems like I don't have editing privileges
    If you donate to the site, you'll unlock the edit function
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  7. #7

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    ...and this is a really nice find. Your truck is a 2.6 (the timing chain is the give-away detail). The good thing about these trucks is the separate ladder frame/body on them. Unless you trash the frame, you should be able to resuscitate one as long as you can find a donor. It's in way better shape than some of them around. Column shift auto with the range shift on the floor is pretty quirky too.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by geezer101 View Post
    If you donate to the site, you'll unlock the edit function
    Ah, good to know! Will do, thanks.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by geezer101 View Post
    ...and this is a really nice find. Your truck is a 2.6 (the timing chain is the give-away detail).
    Thank you, I'm really happy with it! Although, I still don't know if there's something seriously wrong with it (like a cracked frame...), but will know soon.
    Right now it's at a local shop getting a full examination (I'm not as mechanically savy as some of the members here, and I dont have the space/tools to do it on my own), plus getting all of the fluids and other wear and tear parts replaced, using this helpful guide as a starting point, so thank you to whoever put it together.
    http://www.mightyram50.net/vbulletin...and-do-it-ASAP

    Thank you for the spotting the engine type, now I know one more piece. Pardon the ignorance, but does this truck have an ECU? Or do only models with fuel injection have one?
    As for the comment about the shifter, did these also come with a floor mounted auto shifter? Was the steering column mounted shifter an option?

    I know that this is a "Sport", from the side badge and also the vin. I know that the different trims were Base, Sport and Custom, but haven't been able to find any information about the differences betweens these trims. Does anyone know?

    Any thoughts on carburetor upgrades? Would a Weber (an original, I've read the thread about the fake ones out there) improve power?

    More questions to come, I'm sure...

    Thank you for the help

  10. #10




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    To answer your questions - the automatic in the 2nd gen trucks like yours only came with column mounted shifters. There is not an ecu per se because it is carbureted, but it does have a brain box for the electronic controlled carb. A weber is a great addition to these trucks, but since yours is an automatic, you will need to be sure to get the right redline weber kit with the kickdown lever for the cable that goes to the transmission. I have a sales brochure for this year of truck that I could scan if you are interested, or if you ask nice, I could send it to you for the cost of postage...welcome to the forum!
    Pennyman1
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  11. #11

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  12. #12


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    If you search back in the insurance salvage sites you can find some pics. of your truck with the damage. I bid on it but was outbid by the guy you bought it from. I would have the frame checked for alignment. It is a very clean truck, I pretty much let it go b/c without a/c wasn't that appealing to me. Truck came from state of PA and think that is where the auction was. Try a search on 1987 Dodge Ram 50 insurance auction etc...If I can find anything further, I'll pm you.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by yamahlr View Post
    If you search back in the insurance salvage sites you can find some pics.

    Nice, I was hoping someone would recognize the truck.
    Yeah, I found some pics on line (just googled the vin) with the damage. I'm having the frame checked, like you said. There's a small dent on the back of the cab, on both sides, that looks like it could've been caused by the cab and the bed bumping into each other, probably form the force of the impact. The bed was full of soil, so probably pretty heavy at the time. I'm hoping that this didn't cause any issues with the frame... Is there any flexibility in these trucks, to where it would be possible for the bed and cab to bump into each other and not damage the frame?
    Thanks

    Here's a picture of the damage from the collision
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  14. #14

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    My synopsis would be the cab and bed mounts are far more likely to bend before the frame would crush. That being said, the main issue will be the frame warping/twisting. Not an impossible fix, but would mean it'd have to be bolted down to a floor jig and hydraulically pulled straight.
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by geezer101 View Post
    Not an impossible fix, but would mean it'd have to be bolted down to a floor jig and hydraulically pulled straight.
    That sounds like a big job... In the event that the frame is a little twisted, nut not cracked, is that something I could live with? Other than messing with the wheel alignment from time to time, what other problems can a twisted frame mean?

    Thank you for the input, as you can see from my questions, my knowledge is very basic.

  16. #16

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    MrPaco - Still looking for an owner's manual?

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1987-DODGE-...AAAOSw6DtYTMRX

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Bishko-OEM-...EAAOSwMudbkYHc

    If too pricey, here's for an '88 which should be very similar:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dodge-Ram-5...vjA:rk:13:pf:0

  17. #17


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    A reputable frame shop can do basic measurements for not a lot of $$$. Had I bought the truck, I had budgeted a frame pull. Generally the frame alignment issue can manifest itself with improper tracking going down the road, excessive and uneven tire wear, binding in the steering etc... The cab damage could also be the load shifting. The pics I had showed a pretty full load in the bed. Don't be scared about this, it is fixable. Had the price been right with A/C I would have bought it and had it shipped to NC. where I live. Really like the truck.Good luck with it!

  18. #18


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    The Sport is the "premium" in the VIN. This was as good as it got in 1987. Mine is identical but black over gold w/5sp. stick. Bought it new off the dealer lot 9/1987. Overall it is a good truck but has it's short comings. I would go the Weber route, factory carb is a nightmare.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by FMS88 View Post
    MrPaco - Still looking for an owner's manual?

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1987-DODGE-...AAAOSw6DtYTMRX

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Bishko-OEM-...EAAOSwMudbkYHc

    If too pricey, here's for an '88 which should be very similar:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dodge-Ram-5...vjA:rk:13:pf:0
    These are great, thank you.
    Do you know if there's any good/useful info on these that wouldn't be in the Haynes manual? And, do you know if these owners manuals were the same for the 2wd and 4wd versions?
    I might get one just for the hell of it, even if they are not that useful anyway...
    Thanks for the tips.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by yamahlr View Post
    A reputable frame shop can do basic measurements for not a lot of $$$. Had I bought the truck, I had budgeted a frame pull. Generally the frame alignment issue can manifest itself with improper tracking going down the road, excessive and uneven tire wear, binding in the steering etc... The cab damage could also be the load shifting. The pics I had showed a pretty full load in the bed. Don't be scared about this, it is fixable. Had the price been right with A/C I would have bought it and had it shipped to NC. where I live. Really like the truck.Good luck with it!
    Yeah, the bed was full of soil...
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Ill take a picture of the dent on the cab, once it gets back from the shop, and post it here in case you can tell something from it.
    How much do you think it would cost to do the frame pull? (by this i'm guessing you mean getting straightened out)
    And, how bad would it be to just "let it be", generally speaking, if is a little bent? (other than going through tires faster than normal)

    Thank you

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by yamahlr View Post
    The Sport is the "premium" in the VIN. This was as good as it got in 1987. Mine is identical but black over gold w/5sp. stick. Bought it new off the dealer lot 9/1987. Overall it is a good truck but has it's short comings. I would go the Weber route, factory carb is a nightmare.
    That's a very nice color combo. I will look into the the weber carb, especially if it can increase power. Did you do it? if so, how noticeable is the difference?

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPaco View Post
    And, do you know if these owners manuals were the same for the 2wd and 4wd versions?
    .
    Never mind, answered my own question. looked closer at the pics and the manual has 4wd instructions.

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPaco View Post
    Never mind, answered my own question. looked closer at the pics and the manual has 4wd instructions.
    Great! The owner's manuals apply to all models of the year (2wd, 4wd, auto, manual, etc) and tend to overstate the obvious, but they can have a few helpful details specific to the vehicle and are good for quick info like where the hell the fuses are, various capacities and specs. They don't have much repair info. The Haynes is good, well written, and illustrated, but it has it's limits, too. If you really want to dive into it and turn some serious wrenches, get the Chrysler service manuals (available on eBay). They'll tell you 80+% of what you could ever want to know, but they assume you know your way around the block.
    Have fun and enjoy the truck. I think you've got a winner!

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