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Thread: Updates on the Bumbledee

  1. #1

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    1979 Dodge D-50
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    G54B

    Updates on the Bumbledee

    This is going to be a long winded update post for anyone who cares. I figure some of you will get a kick out of my adventures.

    I've had lots of fun working on and driving this little truck.
    I posted a couple pictures in an album on my page. I'll add some to this post and more to the gallery tomorrow if I remember to. So, i bought the thing in San Diego, about a 2 hour drive from home. 2 hours turned into 5 when the thing wouldn't go over 55mph because of a poorly jetted mikuni and lack of fuel delivery, so i decided to take backroads home. All in all pretty enjoyable.
    I did the little things(oil change, coolant flush, thermostat, etc) right away.

    I've been driving it since, and luckily for me it somehow passed smog on the second or third try. I think the nice Oriental guy at the smog place cut me a break, because it was running so bad it smelled up his whole shop. So with that I was able to take it out of non op status and register it. But for some reason the CA DMV had it labeled as a car. The guy said I could register it like that but I'd most likely end up with a ticket. So to switch it into a commercial truck I had to take it to a semi truck scale to get it weighed(Cali has to charge for everything, even weight). For those curious, it clocked in at an even 2500lbs. The weight fee ended up being like $6 or something stupid like that . But now it's legal and I've been driving it as much as I can.

    I never could find a jet kit for the mikuni and it was impossible to tune, not to mention the thermal choke making it idle around 3000rpm when cold. So more recently I bought a Weber K610-M kit to put in it. Super simple install, did it in probably 6 hours over the span of 3 or so days. I know it's not legal in CA, but it already passed smog so it wont be inspected for another 2 years. I'll most likely be in South Carolina in Navy Nuke school by then anyways. Anyways, now it runs amazing and I'm glad I did it.

    Quirks I've noticed:
    - The shifter is pretty loose. I've just gotten used to it.

    - Funny story, The previous owner had a sub in it at one point but took it out and left all the wiring. Like a dummy, I assumed that none of the loose wires had power because the main in line fuse was blown. One day I get the thing about a mile from home and smoke starts dumping out of the vents. My genius quick thinking led me to stop on the side of the road, shut it off and bail out into traffic. Ooops! I thought the thing was about to blow up lmao. To my surprise it fired right back up after all the smoke cleared. I limped it back home very carefully. Took me a while to figure out what did it but apparently one of the amp wires shorted out on the seat mount and burned all the insulation off the wire and left a pretty good mark in the carpet.

    - The paint is pretty faded. I want to try wiping boiled linseed oil on it. People do it to protect and shine up patinas on older cars, so I wonder if it would bring some shine back to this girl.

    - I still haven't found a grill for it.

    - The wiring all around is super dodgy. The rear running lights weren't working right and I was out of time that day so I afro-engineered a new ground and ran an inline switch. Super ghetto but it works.

    -By far the worst thing driveability wise is the steering. I have about a 20 degree area of play in the steering wheel. I changed the tie rod ends and that made it a little better but it's still pretty bad. The only play anywhere is in the steering gearbox itself, and I've had a hard time locating a replacement. And it doesn't have any kind of adjustment that I've found.

    - The speedo cable broke. It was always pretty shaky, which I later learned that that was it sticking.

    - The night time dash illumination is nonexistant

    - reverse lights don't work.

    -The driveshaft carrier bearing is shot, so it shakes a little when taking off. oddly it isn't noticable at speed. I have a replacement, but I've never taken out a driveshaft before, so I'm kinda nervous.

    - The window seals are pretty worn so any little bump makes them rattle loudly



    Things I want to do:
    - Get a grill

    - New steering box

    - There's lots of surface rust in the bed, so my plan is to eventually hit it with a wire wheel and spray or roll bedliner in it.

    - Distant future, get a couple inches of lift and some nice offroad tires

    - Either get a limited slip rear end or a higher geared one. It could be me, but it seems to have a waay to low final drive.

    - LED Headlights for sure

    - replace the dash lights with LEDs

    - Maybe put a sub back in

    - find a way to insulate it some. The road noise is pretty loud.



    I'd like to hear what you guys think of my plans and what else I should do with it. She has good bones and I can see myself driving it for a long long time.

  2. #2

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    I'm also not sold on the Bumbledee name so I'm open to name suggestions too

  3. #3

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    1985 Mitsubishi L200
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    What I would do - fix the stuff that was sketchy from factory. First stop is the front brakes. The complete hub assemblies from a Gen 2 are a nut and bolt swap and gets rid of the slide shim style brake calipers and the solid rotors. Second stop is the water pump driven cooling fan. Going for an electric thermofan will cool the engine when it needs it most (heat soak in these trucks is an engine killer) and has a few extra bonuses like freeing up engine bay space, de-governing the engine by taking the rotating resistance off the water pump and preserving the water pump bearings by not having the load passed onto them from the clutch fan assembly. If your truck is the 500kg load capacity version, take the front stabiliser bar and bushes from a Gen 2 - this will stiffen up the front end and improve handling in the twisty stuff. So far this is budget stuff you can do from yard salvage. If the wiring is bad (I mean ghetto fix butchered) try finding another Gen 1 harness that looks cleaner and swap it. If the donor truck has a factory tach and yours doesn't - grab it. It's an nice upgrade.

    You can get H4 headlights from ebay cheap and the LED inserts usually are a separate buy. You'll need headlight adapter harnesses with relays (even without LED inserts the halogen upgrade is a big leap from sealed beams, but LED's are something else - I'd recommend them but be aware the lifespan can be hit and miss). LED back lights on the dash are good, they really lift instruments and you can buy a bag of 10 for as little as $0.99 (buy 2 bags - 1 of white and one of a different colour for the gauges. You'll have spares just in case you get a dud or 2). You'll need to thoroughly clean out the dash cluster, the amount of crap and dust that builds up inside them nerfs the semi reflective white plastic casing and that will affect night time illumination.

    When you do the carrier bearing, expect to do the universal joints as well. Your truck might have the really old design uni joints that were staked in place - these are hell to replace (I had a shop reject a job request to replace mine until I figured out they were held in by circlips) If it's staked, try looking for a whole shaft from a later Gen 1. It might be worth your time to take the whole drive shaft out and let a shop deal with it. I was lucky that my centre yoke retaining nut was so loose I could undo it with my fingers lol.

    The rear axle. This is where you can get a win by using a rear from a Gen 2 as they came with LSD as a factory option. If you can find one that has the yellow stick in the door jamb and has a ratio you're after, you'll get good drivability plus the bonus of traction. The Gen 2 rear drums are better to deal with as the brake shoes are a lot easier to source. *is your truck a 4 or 5 speed? - the extra gear is a life saver on the highway. You loose shifter issue can be fixed by buying replacement shifter bushes for a few bucks and making sure the top cover bolts are firm (don't overtighten them - they are notorious for stripping out)

    For cab noise you'll have to do what everyone else does and use something like dynamat. If you are going to install half decent audio gear, it will need noise deadening anyway. A can of spray glue adhesive is your friend - super easy fix for a roof lining if your truck didn't have it as an option (keep an eye out for Gen 1 wrecks - the 'premium' models came with full interior trim, centre floor console, factory dash clock etc, all nice touches)

    Other than the above recommendations, I'd consider swapping seats and matching seat belts and maybe a nice aftermarket steering wheel. Look at older Mitsubishis for a new rear vision mirror (out of a Monty or a Raider...?) so you have the anti-glare tilt function and a slightly bigger mirror area. It's subtle but it's another nice touch.
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  4. #4

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    Wow, Thank you for all the great suggestions!

    "If your truck is the 500kg load capacity version, take the front stabiliser bar and bushes from a Gen 2 - this will stiffen up the front end and improve handling in the twisty stuff."
    My truck is the long bed with the 2 piece driveshaft. Will that still improve handling?

    "I'd consider swapping seats and matching seat belts and maybe a nice aftermarket steering wheel. Look at older Mitsubishis for a new rear vision mirror (out of a Monty or a Raider...?) so you have the anti-glare tilt function and a slightly bigger mirror area. It's subtle but it's another nice touch."
    Actually the previous owner had the genius idea of swapping in one of those horrendous huge split mirrors out of a golf cart, so any automobile rear view mirror would be a huge upgrade. Some people man.
    My bucket seats are pretty trashed but they are comfortable. I was tossing around the idea of reupholstering them.

    "is your truck a 4 or 5 speed? - the extra gear is a life saver on the highway. "
    It's a 5 speed but it seems like there's barely a difference between 4th and 5th. Just because I was curious, I downshifted to 4th at 55ish mph and it only jumped about 500rpm(its a sport so it does have a factory tach). It'll do 55 at 2500rpm in 5th and 3000rpm in 4th. And to be fair, I haven't had the chance to get it up to hwy speeds since I did the weber. I'm betting it feels so much better.

    Other than that, I guess I need to do some ebaying as well as finding a junked second gen somewhere. Thanks again!

  5. #5

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    1979 Dodge D-50
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    OH, and another interesting thing. The 2.6 is supposed to like about 7 deg btdc right? well mine likes more like 15-20. I was tuning based on engine vacuum and the best smoothest vaccuum at idle is with the distributor advanced as far as it will go without taking the stud out.
    The previous owner said he "Simplified" the timing. He did the balance shaft delete and the cam .10 over. So he knew somewhat what he was doing. But I'm guessing he didn't line something up quite right somewhere. Either way it runs good and it's happy, just something interesting

  6. #6

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    1985 Mitsubishi L200
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    G63B
    An uprated front stabiliser bar will help keep the front end level on turns. If it hasn't been done, swap the rubber LCA + stabiliser, radius rod and end links for urethane. It will improve handling and feedback. It's good to know that the PO did start on making worthwhile mods like the balance shaft delete. The Weber is more vacuum sensitive than the Mikuni and requires dialing in by trial and error. It will need more initial advance but if you want to nail near optimal midrange torque and you can handle old school tuning, try this - set your plug gaps to about 0.85mm, start the engine and loosen off the distributor lock nut. Hold the throttle open to around 2,000 rpm and gently swing the distributor between advance and retard until the rpm's increase by themselves like a small spike in power and lock up the distributor, then test drive. If you get a sign of detonation, back the timing off a little. It is recommended that these engines are run on premium fuel as they are reasonably high compression from factory. You might not get any difference in power if the PO has put the time into tuning it. The jetting might not be 'spot on' for the 4G54/G54B either.

    *tips for using a Weber - don't use an 'open air' filter as it'll suck in all of the hot air from the engine bay (good for throttle response, crap for torque and fuel economy). Technically the mechanical advance on the distributor needs to be modified to match the Webers' throttle curve but you can get it in the ball park by trial and error. The Weber works best as part of a package - porting and port matching, polish, headers and EGR delete/disable. A wider duration cam will finish the job (big lift can and most likely will kill power - it is not advised on Mitsubishi SOHC engines like the G52B/G54B/G63B/4G64) The Weber does it's best at open throttle so once you get it up over 3000-3500 rpm it should really come to life.

    DON'T BEAT ON IT IN 5TH GEAR. Guys can destroy 5th in stock factory trim but it's not due to the gears being fragile. The gearbox housings flex which causes the shafts to wander out of alignment. Once only the outer sections of the gear teeth do all the work, it stresses them and then ping, teeth get sheared off. A reinforced cover plate will strengthen the rigidity of the gearbox. A gadget called the 'TUFFPAN' will ensure your gearbox can soak up 500 hp no sweat. It's over kill and I'm pretty sure there are factory alternatives.
    support the forum that supports you - join and donate to MightyRam50.Net Get perks and donations $15 USD and over receive official MightyRam50.Net window decals

  7. #7




    Array
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    1980 Dodge D-50
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    I have an 1980 D50 (Geronimo) and he is a sport model with 2.6 and 5 spd. I run him at 10BTDC, and currently have a weber DGEV 32/36 tuned by a friend who works with Webers everyday on foreign and exotic cars. Later 1st gen trucks have the day / night mirrors, or you can get an aftermarket replacement on eBay. Since it is a 2.6, it has the larger u joints held in with clips. You can still join MightyRam50.net, but the decals are NLA as far as I know. I have owned Geronimo since new in 1980, so I know a thing or 2 about the early model 1st gens - Have a 79, 80, 81, and 2 86 1st gens at the moment.
    Pennyman1
    The best Dodge that Dodge never made
    Living the D-50 lifestyle since 1980

  8. #8

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    1986 Dodge Power Ram 50
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    welcome ZacSmith,

    Curtis Pruitt on Beale AFB does a great job repainting these trucks... Google the base MWR for body & paint shop
    got photos ?

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