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Radarsonwheels

512 cid C series on Dakota chassis- build thread

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Howdy!

 

Just when I had almost given up looking for a first gen Dakota one popped up on craigslist. It was a complete 1989 standard cab long bed 123.9” wheelbase 2wd. It was local, cheap, and I brought it home three days ago.

 

So far I did some preliminary measuring, cleaned all the ants and pine needles out of it, and pulled the motor, trans, and bench seat.

 

My 400 block failed magnaflux testing (crack in the valley). So I need another or I have a line on a 440/727.

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 If your shortening the frame, be sure that you don’t cut out the piece that has the Vin number stamped in it. The State patrol does not like it when you do that and will not give you a title. Don’t ask me how I know 

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10 hours ago, buds truck said:

 If your shortening the frame, be sure that you don’t cut out the piece that has the Vin number stamped in it. The State patrol does not like it when you do that and will not give you a title. Don’t ask me how I know 

...of course that will vary with each state. 

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12 hours ago, wayfarer said:

...of course that will vary with each state. 

 

I can't think of a single state that would not look for the number on a frame in a licensing situation.  If you get it licensed before you cut up the frame, think of the next owner that might have to make it available for inspection.

Edited by lonejacklarry

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Well some states, like mine, the stamping ends up non exsistant due to rust. I'd dare anyone to find a legible number on the 94 frame for TODD.

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11 hours ago, lonejacklarry said:

 

I can't think of a single state that would not look for the number on a frame in a licensing situation.  If you get it licensed before you cut up the frame, think of the next owner that might have to make it available for inspection.

Having gone through the process to get new titles for the three rigs I have for sale the only 'tag' that was of interest was the one on the door pillar. As mentioned, YRMY.

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If you are going big V8, you will need to evaluate your front springs or ya might be getting into a kidney bustin' buggy in the future :cool:

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7 minutes ago, JBNeal said:

If you are going big V8, you will need to evaluate your front springs or ya might be getting into a kidney bustin' buggy in the future :cool:

could always wear a kidney belt for that   :D

 

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I have a title for the dak but it’s just for verifying that it’s not stolen parts. It is registered by the old truck vin 

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There have been many swaps onto later frames and from the various forums that I visit the Dak seems to be the favorite due to a similar track width, fairy easy ability to shorten at factory splice points and, of course, it remains all Mopar. 

If your existing frame is severely rusted then a swap might be in order, however, the stock frame is plenty stout for most hot-rod applications. 500hp torque monster? even the Dak frame will need help.  Also, if you doing a moderate street driver package you will find that the Dak IFS fits neatly to the stock frame.

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Howdy!

I’ve been busy! I got the dakota chassis stripped foreward of the bed a couple days ago.

 

Today I got a couple friends to lend a hand and we pulled the fenders nose and rad support as a unit. I already had the gullwing hood in the bed when they got here. There are two bolts on each side inside the door jam and two under the rad support.  They all fought but none needed drastic measures. My wheels had to come off then the whole doghouse came away pretty easily. 

 

Then I spent $45 at lowes and made a cab lifting fixture for the engine hoist. The 4 cab bolts were fun- thank goodness for friends to holt the bolt heads under the bench seat while I wailed away at the nuts with an impact. They came off slowly! The fronts one cab box was rusted away and the other I cut off with an angle grinder.

 

We plopped the cab on the dak frame and it looks pretty good. It needs the rear dakota body mount pedestals torched off- they are wider than the frame rails and won’t let the cab slide back where it needs to be. The cab has to be located just right so the wheel arches will be centered over the wheels. I kind of like just a smidge more wheelwell behind the wheel than in front but basically centered.

 

The inner fenders needed a bunch of metal taken out and something has to be done with the front horns they fit all wrong and need to be chopped off and re-imagined. That can happen once the cab and fenders are properly located- only the chopping part is happening soon.

 

The Dakota frame looks pretty stout. In a lot of important places it is already boxed in. I plan to add some more strength when the tranny crossmember gets fabricated, plus I’m thinking a driveshaft loop would be nice.

 

I have a 440 on the way with a 727 for mock up and for parts. That’ll tell me how much I need to relieve the firewall & trans tunnel

 

That’s all for now. I’ll resize a few iphone pics so I can upload them here ;)

 

 

 

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Here it is- first mockup. We already plasma cut a bunch of inner fender out that matched the curved c-series frame. 

 

A bunch of stuff has to get chopped so it will sit right but just setting it all on there is good progress and much easier than taking a thousand measurements. 

 

I’m thinking about relocating the stock rear Dak body mount pedestals to the inside of the frame and grafting the front Dak mounts (and a bunch of firewall) into the 54 cab. The one 54 front mount is totally rotten and the other isn’t the best either. The rears I think I can just reinforce the floor and drill a hole wherever I need to- of course the farther they are pushed out to the corners the more stable they will be.

2D09B518-E6AC-40F8-A099-796AC4696E06.jpeg

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Looking good.

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I'm sure you will get a lot of advice and "what I would do" so this will be mine....  If you're good with a tape measure, carpenter's square and protractor.  If the original frame is as good as it looks, clip it with the Dakota front end, install the springs and rear axle in the back, leave the rest of the Dakota frame for the scrappers.  Much easier and the end result might look a little better.

Edited by Adam H P15 D30

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Thanks Adam I’m definitely interested in hearing any kind of comment or ideas. As of now though I am fully invested in the full Dakota frame.  I’m going to center the 727 on the 8.25” pumpkin and let it eat. When and if I break it I have a set of a-body XHD 6-leaf springs that would work well under there. 

 

I screwed up and started looking at shortbeds- since I have to shorten the frame anyway why not tighten up the bed a foot and a half or so? It looks so easy to just cut the bedsides and move the stake pockets in toward the middle.

 

I loaned out my don bunn books but I’m thinking maybe a 6’ ish long bed would be handsome and give the moderately lowered cab a beefier presence.

 

Today I had another buddy come over and we swapped out the beds. The Dak bed is now just sitting on the 54 frame, full of junk and good parts, with a driveline and no cabin. This got the car cover for friendly neighbor-ness so my neighbors don’t think I’m opening a junkyard. 

 

The Dak frame got trimmed a little and now the cab and fenders are sitting pretty close to where they will go. I ordered some energy suspension poly bushings for the body mounts so when they come in I figure the ride height will be about the same since the lift provided by the mounts will get taken up by the running boards.

 

The rad support is sitting on a jackstand right now. A bracket/crossmember will be fabricated to hold it from the center bottom with 2 bolts like stock and also have new box tubing coming through the frame cutouts to hold the bumper. I want to tighten up the bumper to body gap a little too but not get crazy and tuck it in like chip foose building a camaro.

 

As anybody that searched dakota swaps knows the dak bed is way taller than the 54. I have it sitting up there for now, a mile high but still looking like a whole truck to the neighbors. I think the angle iron on the bedsides that locates the crossbraces and the wood bed will have to just get moved up a good bit and I will lose my deep bed. Not the end of the world. 

 

Ok so bla bla bla right? Here’s pictures!

AB8DC6D9-E46E-4EEC-9B47-90C552E0FBA0.jpeg

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Forgot to say- it looks like the shallow offset dakota rims might be the ticket to tuck right on the front. They are a little narrow on the bed tubs so maybe I’ll use my big tires there to get a smidge of rake on her.

 

Here’s with the bed mocked up over the wheelwells sitting up in the clouds. You can see it doesn’t need a ton of frame shortening to close the cab/bed gap but it will need some. I’m trying to concentrate on finishing the chassis swap & engine swap without getting too much in the weeds making everything perfect, but this is my chance to go shortbed while I’m frame hacking.

CAAE5133-07CD-4C3A-9608-5FB5B388C200.jpeg

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One more bunch of tidbits that informs the full chassis swap instead of the front clip:

 

I still might just end up fabricating the rear section with brand new clean box frame tubing anyway and do the hd springs to withstand 500 ft/lbs.

 

Also I got the truck from a buddy and we’ve sold it back and forth adding upgrades every time over about 15 years. Last time he had it he rebuilt the 230 flatty and put a nice T5 trans behind it, and it has new shocks, shackles, and four wheel discs with an 8.25 rear. How it sits right now it is a body and a steering upgrade from being a reliable and strong running chassis for any kind of rat roddish project or preferably ready for somebody to put their 50s dodge truck on.

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It was depressing but I had to cut the floor out of the cab. The mounting areas were just too mushy. I braced it up, cut out the floor, and started building a new floor frame out of 1” .120 wall square tube. It goes along the rocker/door sill and ties in to the A & B pillars. I have the rear mounts in, I still have to make the upper fronts.

 

It’s going to ride much better mounted right, instead of soggy and smashing over bumps, plus once the cab is mounted I can get on with locating the doghouse and the bed- the glamorous part haha

73793ED9-C57D-4DBF-AE9C-2B39CAF272DD.jpeg

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