Project Low-Buck 12-Valve: Part 2

June 28th, 2010

Project Low-Buck 12-Valve: Part 2

Inspecting and Servicing Our First-Gen Dodge

By Kevin Wilson

Photography: Terry DeLong

Back in our November issue, we introduced Project Low Buck, a first-gen Dodge D-350 4×4 that was found sitting idle out in a farm field. The truck was parked after a front-end crash that damaged the bumper, grille and left-front fender. The new owner picked it up for $1,500 and was able to drive it away after putting in two new batteries and a fresh load of diesel fuel.

Once back at his garage/shop, the new owner slapped on a $400 junkyard front clip, which included both front fenders, a broken grille and hood. He also added a refurbished brass radiator that cost him an additional $125. From that point, the Dodge 4×4 was pressed into service as primary winter transportation and the family workhorse.

The farm find is a ’92 Dodge 350 1-ton 4×4 fitted with an intercooled 5.9L Cummins, with 204,000 miles showing on the odometer. The 5.9L is backed up by a tired A-518 four-speed automatic and NP205 transfer case with 3.55:1 gearing on each axle. Mechanically, the Cummins runs well with the exception of a temperamental throttle position sensor, which is a common problem on these trucks. Other than the obvious body damage, including rusty rocker panels and a small hole in the bed, which attests to its Midwestern heritage, the truck is in fairly decent shape.

The idea behind this project is to fix all the simple stuff as cheaply as possible, perform simple upgrades you can do yourself and to eventually turn up the wick on the 12-valve without breaking the bank. We want to turn this truck into a reliable daily driver that can be driven to Midwest diesel events and make a respectable showing both on the track and at the show.

The first step to any used truck purchase is to thoroughly inspect what you bought after you get it home. As is the case with most trucks, especially a diesel, part of the process has to include new fluids and filters. With the help of Les Smith and his toy shop at home, the owner got the truck up on the lift and the detailed inspection and fluid changing process began. The truck was treated to all new fluids, courtesy of Royal Purple, including both the front and rear differentials. Since the brake shoes were dragging on the driver side, the axle was pulled and the adjuster was replaced. The only negative on the inspection, other than the rusted and worn-out brake adjuster, there were too many metal bits in the trans pan.

The next stop for the Dodge is Dave’s Diesel in Angola, Indiana, where the valves will be adjusted and new ARP head studs installed. In the meantime, owner Terry DeLong, a custom truck enthusiast from back in the lowered street truck days, who is currently a paint and body instruction for the Four Country Area Vocation Cooperative in Kendallville, Indiana, will be giving his students some hands-on paint and body experience with Project Low Buck, so stay tuned.


Royal Purple


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