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Thread: What to do with a MINT truck?!?!

  1. #1

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    What to do with a MINT truck?!?!

    This will be my first post ever on a forum so bear with me..

    I Recently purchase a 1988 Power Ram 50 in near showroom condition. Hardly any rust (virginia truck) on the tailgaite and drivers side cab corner. I have since Patched the rust and had the shell (not the door jams or interior) repainted in the original color. Matching codes and all. Also changed the Grille because the original was cracked. Everything works except the stereo. 77k original miles... with original owners manual/stereo manual/Window sticker is even still in the glovebox.

    I thought about swapping a 318 into it but im not sure if i can do it with this nice of an original truck.

    So my question is can you make the little 2.6L have any more get up and go? or is it even worth going through? Are swaps a good idea? Besides the fun factor of course. I have no idea how much these things are worth and dont want to screw up a piece of Dodge/Mitsibishi history here. If I can help it.

    Pictures can be posted if you guys are interested. I'll just have to download them from my phone. Thank you for any input!

  2. #2

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    Hi and welcome to mightyram. First up: If you go cutting up a pristine truck there is no trial - straight to execution... The 2.6 is a tough lump but not the most inspiring drive, after all this is a workhorse. However they can be tweaked enough that they're able to get out of their own way with a few tried and tested mods. The factory Mikuni carb is the main noose around it's neck. Swapping the Mikuni for a Weber (either the old school 32/36 DFEV or the more modern 38 DGES) will gain power and economy across the rev range. Add some aftermarket headers, a wider duration cam, port work on the head and intake manifold + delete the EGR garbage and it will make decent enough power in NA trim. If you want horses and torque you could swap the engine from a turbo Conquest. It'll make plenty of power. I personally think it would be a shame to mess with this truck, but hey it's yours so nobody's got the right to tell you what to do with it. These things are addictive though and you may find yourself with 'Gremlins syndrome' where they start mysteriously multiplying. It might lead you to getting a project truck and going all out on it. An abandoned truck project might come up and you happen to be in the right place at the right time...
    support the forum that supports you - join and donate to MightyRam50.Net today! donations unlock the edit function

  3. #3

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    I.D.K.?
    IMG_0423.jpgIMG_0424.jpgIMG_0425.jpgIMG_0431.jpgIMG_0430.jpgIMG_0428.jpgIMG_0432.jpgPZWX7926.jpgIMG_0433.jpgIMG_0736.jpgThese are all the Photos I could find. Last one is after the paint job. All ideas are welcome! I'm just glad I found this forum! Not much info on these things. Thank you geezer101 ive looked into all that and im worried it will turn into a HUGE project with only gaining a little bit of pep you know..

  4. #4

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    Nice truck.

  5. #5


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    Welcome, enjoy that truck, it looks great... The last photo 10 of 10 (painted truck) has the POWER RAM 50 logo correctly applied in original configuration...

  6. #6

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    That's a very nice truck! My vote since you're asking to keep the original engine or do a swap would be to keep the truck stock since it is very very nice but that's just me. You might go with the recommended carb swap or at least check out the vacuum diaphragm for the secondary at least to make sure it holds vacuum since they often go bad causing a lack of power. your other post mentions possible blow by and original exhaust. I would if it were me, check out the compression and possibly the exhaust for restrictions. I know my cat disintegrated and plugged itself up. 77k miles isn't much though so the blow by does seem strange. I wonder if the truck has sat parked for some time and the rings may have just gotten sticky/fouled maybe? I once pulled the head off an 84' dodge 400 (same engine as these trucks, well mostly) that had something like 50k and it had lots of carbon build up in the head and on the pistons like it just got driven many short trips which didn't burn off the carbon. I kinda wonder if maybe an oil flush and some seafoam in the oil and fuel and an hours drive may clean things up? how do the hydraulic lifters sound are they noisy? looks like your truck is a base model like mine. I have never seen one with the cigarette lighter delete still there before! the radio looks like either a dealer add on or an aftermarket unit which may be repairable if you wanted too or there are many factory and non factory options that go right in, hopefully yours has the radio brackets to securely mount the radio, if not they are easy enough to get but you will want them even if you go with an aftermarket deck to keep the radio from hanging on the brittle bezel. hope all of this helps!

  7. #7

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    And yes geezer is right about the gremlin syndrome! I started with one and now I have three of the damn things! but they're fun so its cool!

  8. #8

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    You're welcome. To be honest, fitting a small block into a 4x4 would mean a lot of fabrication and drivetrain swapping. Ultimately you wouldn't be left with much of it's originality. It has sharpened up nicely. If you really want a toy to mess with, find a 2WD that's a bit of a beater. Lots of parts interchange across the same generation of Mitsubishi so you could build something that you'd have fun with.
    Wait til you get the 4x4 on the dirt - it will surprise you with what it can handle. Climb ev'ry mountain... recover ev'ry Yota!
    support the forum that supports you - join and donate to MightyRam50.Net today! donations unlock the edit function

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by geezer101 View Post
    Wait til you get the 4x4 on the dirt - it will surprise you with what it can handle. Climb ev'ry mountain... recover ev'ry Yota!
    My brother was very surprised when me and my dad came up to rescue his lifted Tacoma when he was stuck in deep snow way up on the top of a mountain, it was pretty funny since mine was bone stock and had mismatched bald tires

  10. #10

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    Very nice truck. Like everyone else has stated. Weber carb, header, cam and she will drive way better. But yes lots of gremlin chasing but that's the part I love. Call me crazy! No matter what you decide. You have an awesome start to your project!!! Oh and welcome to the site!

  11. #11

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    I'll add my voice to the chorus- welcome to the forum, and nice truck!

    I found myself in the same situation almost exactly a year ago: found a truck in really nice shape (it's an '87 but similar to yours. Check out the gallery section of the forum, there's an album there), and then found this great group. The forum has been extremely helpful to me, an invaluable resource.

    My 2 cents- I agree with the sentiment from others here, with truck in as nice shape as yours you almost have a duty to keep it is original as possible. There a not that many of these trucks that haven't been extensively modified or tinkered with, so it being stock (or close to it) makes it fairly unique.

    And like others, I also endorse on the 4x4 capabilities! It climbs muddy hills covered in slushy snow with no problem, especially if you have a nice set of A/T tires.


    And lastly, sorry xboxrox but I think you're mistaken about this:
    Welcome, enjoy that truck, it looks great... The last photo 10 of 10 (painted truck) has the POWER RAM 50 logo correctly applied in original configuration...

    The side badge was correct before the paint job, on the last photo is out of order....

  12. #12

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    I'd keep it in tip top shape and drive it. There are a few mechanical shortcomings in stock form that can be addressed without chopping it up. I'd keep that one stock as the parts grabber, and go smallblock on a not so nice truck if it was mine. Sweet truck, welcome to the forum!

  13. #13

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    Thanks everyone! Iím actually thinking about just completely rebuilding this 2.6 ( Iíve got another daily and a Newer Silverado already) that now that Iíve gotten all your input. A lot easier to start that way. Just a cylinder hone, new rings, gaskets and various bolt on parts/cam. Might even try my hand at porting heads/intake. But I was wondering, has anyone ever turned one of these 2.6L up? Iíve noticed not much aftermarket support but are there any i threads about tearing one of these apart and making it gain Compression or even maybe some boost? I read somewhere these things run at about 8.5:1 already. Didnít know if there was a thread on that...

  14. #14

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    The main thing is I’m not big on a 4x4 toy because off-roading isn’t really my thing. But it was what I found, for 1200$ And my intentions were to use it as a beater. Now it’s definitely grown on me a lot

  15. #15




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    there is not a lot of aftermarket support for these motors, but there is some. a 38dges weber will help, and a header, free flowing exhaust, and a custom ground cam from Oregon cam grinders or Schneider cams will wake it up. Porting can help, but you can go good to bad quickly on these heads if you are not careful. Having the flywheel lightened will help off the line also - avoid the firdanza aluminum flywheels - they are too light for street driving.
    Pennyman1
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    Living the D-50 lifestyle since 1980

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by pennyman1 View Post
    there is not a lot of aftermarket support for these motors, but there is some. a 38dges weber will help, and a header, free flowing exhaust, and a custom ground cam from Oregon cam grinders or Schneider cams will wake it up. Porting can help, but you can go good to bad quickly on these heads if you are not careful. Having the flywheel lightened will help off the line also - avoid the firdanza aluminum flywheels - they are too light for street driving.
    what kind of grind should be safe? Iím more familiar with typical American V8 specs so the OHC design is like Spanish to me... and what do you mean by the heads can go good to bad? Low tensile strength or very little material to port?

    I read the head gaskets arenít the strongest but other than that couldnít find anything

  17. #17




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    not a lot of material to spare especially around the valve seats. intake port matching helps a lot though. use ARP head studs to ensure a tight seal on the head. Grind will depend on the parts you use and the porting you do.
    Pennyman1
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  18. #18

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    I have a 82 8V motor in my 87 4x4 (will include pics) mine wasnt *MINT* but it was in some good condition. The original owner has a custom camper top with a boat rack installed, he also took it to Ga. to have the whole underside sprayed in a protective coating. he had the head go out on him in 99, and again in 03, it happened again on 06 and he gave it to my uncle. my uncle put a 82 head on it and drove it until the water pump belt broke, and it popped a freeze plug and i think the block cracked. it has one hole in the fender, an aftermarket radio, etc. because my uncle put an 82 head on it he went with a towing cam. thats coming out and going in the 82 motor, and then its going in the 87, of course after i replace all the pumps, belts, timing chain (its at 59k so its about time) gaskets and wash all the mud off of it. i have the weber 38/38. its a syncronous carb, which meand both barrels open at the same time thanks to a gear set on the throttle plate. i had a bunch of jets laying around, and a 115 worked best for me. i have a header that eliminated that egr crap, a swell as the car, and the res and tractor muffler is gone too.

    the 82 had some wagon wheel style 15" rims i really liked, so i had them sand blasted and painted, and for christmas dad wrapped them in 235 75 15 M/T tires. (29 x 9.25) which is like a quarter inch taller and wider than the 225 that were installed factory.

    here are a few pics:driver_side_view.jpgdriver_side_view_1.jpgengine_bay.jpgengine_bay_3.jpgdriver_side_quarter_view.jpgdash_cluster.jpgpassenger_floorboard.jpgpassenger_seat_1.jpgrear_view.jpgwheel_offset.jpgpassenger_front_quarter_view_distant.jpgmikuni_280_carb.jpgengine_bay_2.jpgchristmas_stuff.jpgFront_passenger_quarter_view.jpg

  19. #19

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    *i meant to say will have

  20. #20

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    and i will tell ya that thing sat 8-9 years and i had that poor son of a bitch running on all 3/4 cylinders in 10 minutes

  21. #21

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    Some things you can do for small compression gains. Have the head skimmed, or block decked. you may need an offset key for your timing gear, as you're changing the center to center distance of the sprockets. Another thing you can do is offset crank grinding. It's where the con rod journals are ground, say .030" under, but you remove most of the material from the inside of the journal. This moves the center of the journal outward, giving you a bit more stroke.
    I think the roller rocker arms from the v6 engines will fit on the rocker shaft, but you need the cam ground for it. I recall people saying that Oregon is familiar with doing this for these engines, but don't hold me to it. As I understand it, the 2.6 benefits a lot more from duration than lift, and a roller rocker will let the valve open a lot faster so you can pack in the duration.
    Removing the balance shafts removes a lot of rotating mass from the engine. Some people are not keen on removing them for fear of bearing damage or harsh vibration. Mine have been removed for 65k miles with no issues, but my con rods may have been weight matched when the previous owner had the engine rebuilt years ago.
    Last edited by Giovanni89; 01-17-2020 at 08:20 AM. Reason: typo

  22. #22


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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPaco View Post
    I'll add my voice to the chorus- welcome to the forum, and nice truck!


    And lastly, sorry xboxrox but I think you're mistaken about this:
    Welcome, enjoy that truck, it looks great... The last photo 10 of 10 (painted truck) has the POWER RAM 50 logo correctly applied in original configuration...

    The side badge was correct before the paint job, on the last photo is out of order....
    MrPaco, I just posted a big reply 'n it disappeared, so here is a shorter reply about the emblems...

    Internet photos show Ram 50 trucks have emblems placed all sorts of different ways (did the Japanese not follow instructions..?) Full size Dodge Ram 150 pickup trucks of similar years pretty much all have the same emblem placement (Made-in-USA by Americanos)... My truck seems wrong on the Left side and 88powerram's truck seems same as a full size truck correct on both sides... But not until after it was painted, someone changed the Right side emblem placement on his truck... My truck emblem photos today: Thanks for pointing me in the Right direction MrPaco

    Ram 50 Emblem L.jpgRam 50 Emblem R.jpg

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by xboxrox View Post
    MrPaco, I just posted a big reply 'n it disappeared, so here is a shorter reply about the emblems...

    Internet photos show Ram 50 trucks have emblems placed all sorts of different ways (did the Japanese not follow instructions..?) Full size Dodge Ram 150 pickup trucks of similar years pretty much all have the same emblem placement (Made-in-USA by Americanos)... My truck seems wrong on the Left side and 88powerram's truck seems same as a full size truck correct on both sides... But not until after it was painted, someone changed the Right side emblem placement on his truck... My truck emblem photos today: Thanks for pointing me in the Right direction MrPaco

    Ram 50 Emblem L.jpgRam 50 Emblem R.jpg
    Makes sense that there would be inconsistencies on the placement of these badges, after all they basically stickers that someone is applying by hand, so plenty of room for error.
    My observation was based on what the '87 brochure shows, I assume that those are correct, but who knows. I think the confusion to the eye comes from the two elements of the group being reversed from one side to the other, meaning that on one side the square emblem is to the left of the RAM logo, and on the other is to the right of it.
    The way I'm reading this is that the correct placement has to do with the square emblem being towards the front of the truck (at least on gen 2, gen 1 might be different) on both sides, which means that it's on opposite sides of the RAM logo, if that makes sense.

    Here are two pics form the official brochure showing both sides that this, two different trucks, but you get the idea.

    right side.JPGleft side.JPG

  24. #24

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    i saw a ram truck with the emblem on the door like where the 1500 logo would go, but it was a Ram 50, and the 50 badge was moved to the B pillar, like where a trim badge would go, except thats the model! idiots!

  25. #25


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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPaco View Post
    Makes sense that there would be inconsistencies on the placement of these badges, after all they basically stickers that someone is applying by hand, so plenty of room for error.
    My observation was based on what the '87 brochure shows, I assume that those are correct, but who knows. I think the confusion to the eye comes from the two elements of the group being reversed from one side to the other, meaning that on one side the square emblem is to the left of the RAM logo, and on the other is to the right of it.
    The way I'm reading this is that the correct placement has to do with the square emblem being towards the front of the truck (at least on gen 2, gen 1 might be different) on both sides, which means that it's on opposite sides of the RAM logo, if that makes sense.

    Here are two pics form the official brochure showing both sides that this, two different trucks, but you get the idea.

    right side.JPGleft side.JPG
    The way I'm reading this is that the correct placement has to do with the square emblem being towards the front of the truck (at least on gen 2, gen 1 might be different) on both sides, which means that it's on opposite sides of the RAM logo, if that makes sense.

    You nailed it MrPaco, I think you're right (correct) I'm a little bummed though coz it makes my truck wrong on both sides now

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