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Projects 1953 Dodge Pilothouse Build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ford Mike, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. Well I've been waiting to post this until we started making decent progress so here it is. I've been planning this thing in my head for a year or so and alot has changed but I'm still hoping it turns out alright. This is my first build and I wanted to keep a log of my progress so I hope it isnt too boring! :eek:

    Here is basically what I started with...

    The original plan was too lower it a bit and get it moving highway speed with the old flathead 6. While of course updating the brakes.

    Soooo... First thing we did was get a dropped axle from Sid along with new king pins. It was a little confusing at first but we cut up another pack of leaf springs to make crude spacers. This dropped the truck down and gave it a slight rake. I have a few pictures of this step but for some reason I cant get them to load. On to the engine, like I said the original idea was to run the flathead with a t-5 behind it but when we took the head off there was a big chunk out of one of the cylinders. We tossed around the idea of putting a big block flathead 6 in it but then my dad suggested an old gmc van our neighbor had. He asked him about it and he said if you can get it out of here, you can have it. So I guess the Dodge is gonna get a small block! :D All you super tradition sticklers look away. I know its O/T but come on it was one heck of a deal and it RUNS!

    One more thing about the van, it will recoupe the money that was in the truck for the frontend plus a little more when it gets junked! :D

    Enough of that ugly thing. Dropping the engine in for the first time...
    With the front clip on...

    The engine originally had a throttlebody and a computer and shit but that isnt going to be on there for long. The exhaust manifolds that were on it arent going to work but it fits nicely inside the engine bay.

    We are working on mounts for the engine and then hopefully on the weekend we can get it fired up. Regular updates to come!
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  2. rod rialto
    Joined: Apr 10, 2011
    Posts: 59

    rod rialto
    from rialto, ca

    Looks like you're using the GM slushbox too?
  3. Yeah, assuming there isn't anything major wrong with it.
  4. I little update this weekend. Some new parts for the engine and we started messing around with the motor mount. The mount we came up with use the rubber from the original flathead mounts along with some ques from the hurst style mount. The new mount also bolts up to the stock holes on the front crossmember Hopefully it will be all finish welded this week.


    Also pulled a Jeep rearend from a U-pull it today. I wanted to use the stock wheels so I borrowed the idea for the Jeep rear from DanBabb's thread about his Hemi powered Pilothouse.
    I also got a complete dash from a Ford firetruck from the U-pull it, I thought it was pretty cool and the price was right. Maybe I'll use it in this maybe not, I haven't really decided yet, any suggestions?

  5. deadgearhead
    Joined: Mar 14, 2009
    Posts: 315

    from Washington

    That cluster looks cool.
  6. I like old trucks. Keep up the good work.

    If your using the GM trans, think again about your motor mounts. That is quite a spread from the front engine mount to the trans mount.

    Gm cars and trucks that used the front style mounts, had side mounts on the bellhousing. Many will tell you about breaking the bellhousing with the mounts that far apart, although I've only seen 1 (my BBC Blazer 4wd with factory mounts but it was flying through the air right before the trans broke)

    Also if you use the Ford cluster make sure it has the factory voltage modulator on the back. Ford gauges into the early 1980's are 6 volt and need the modulator or a voltage drop of some kind. The best factory style modulator came on 1956-1971 cars and trucks.

    Looks like this:

    BTW that's a fairly rare cluster since it has a factory tach.
  7. rockguy92
    Joined: Jul 18, 2009
    Posts: 1,141


    Looks like you have a good start on your Dodge truck. Good luck.

    The Rock
  8. Alienbaby17
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 918


    I had a '50 B2B for a few years. It was a lot of fun and definitely different. I think you'll like it.
  9. A small update, not much groundbreaking but we got the rear mounted in and re-built the brakes. We did a little head scratching as far as the drive shaft was concerned. We tried a few things but it seemed the drive shaft off a '93 Dodge Dakota was the right fit (plus there was one handy so it was free!) We used the yoke off the Dakota rear and then put the slip yoke from the chevy tranny on the other end of the shaft. We also started on the tranny mount but that is still in the works for hopefully this week. I cant wait to hit it hard over Christmas vacation.

    Jeep on the left, Dakota on the right.

    The rearend with the new brakes and U-bolts


    I was also contemplating using 15" mopar police car wheels all around for the radials. If nothing else, they really dropped the rear down compared the the 7.50-16s.

    Oh yeah I kinda like the ugly hubcaps more than the wheels, too bad I only have 3 of them!:mad:


    Like I said I'm not 100% on the 15" radials but there is still a long way to decide. Any thoughts?
  10. Took LowKat's advice and went back to the drawing board on the motor mounts. It is a really tight fit but the old mounts from the van seem like they will be a better bet than the original plan of using the front mount. Thanks LowKat for the advice about the dash too!

    I'd also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas
  11. Ernie Pintor III
    Joined: Dec 12, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Ernie Pintor III

    How's it going? Yes my spelling sucks but I work on cars not computers. Anyways cool project. I recently got a 49 pilothouse. I didn't need another project but I couldn't see it going to scrap yard. If you need parts let me know
  12. keep us posted, I am also doing a 53 Pilothouse, but using a totally different direction.
  13. I've checked your truck out before, it makes me want to try a chop on mine but it all seems a little bit overwhelming! :eek:
  14. Well the motor mounts are a little further along so now it is a little more buttoned up into a roller. We put the front clip and hood on for the last time to see the stance and I have to say, it looks pretty cool!

    All the head scratching we did with the dropped axle was worth it in my opinion. It took alot to get it this far but it is nice to see it all together for once.

    It sure isn't a classy merc, but I like it!:D

    We then pulled it apart to finish up the mounts and clean up the frame for some paint and stuff. The frame has some serious rust issues where the gas tank was and it needs some repairs, we are also planning on boxing the frame because you can't be too strong right? Anyway, the last pic for this update is the truck how it sits now. In pieces again.
  15. That's got to be one of the coolest 'engine hoists' I've seen used. Just a bit beefier than you really need.

    The truck looks good sitting low like that. Cool that you got some inspiration from my build (which I've taken a big step backwards on over the last 2 weeks).

    For me, the brake pedal setup was a PITA to figure out since I didn't want to run a firewall setup...PM me if you need part numbers of the stuff I used. Run the brake lines to the rear and and front while you have the body was a bitch to do them with the cab and bed on it.
  16. 4950ford
    Joined: Oct 16, 2007
    Posts: 260

    from cushing,ok

    I'm glad to see another pilothouse being saved, you're coming along nicely on it, I have a 50 model that I built. It's crazy, but I did the same thing you did on the motor, mine came out of an 89 van. I used the engine and 700r4 and converted the engine over to a 2bbl early style manifold and big cap hei, with a rearend out of a 70 model caddy, logging 21 mpg on the hiway. Mine is on a 94 dakota chassis, check out my pics in my album.
    Good luck, and if you have questions, send me a pm.
  17. Thanks, sometimes you just have to use what is at hand when you are liftin engines! About the brakes tho, I understand where you are coming from not wanting a huge master cylinder and booster clogging up your engine bay. I have the master cylinder, pedals and everything else out of the van I would need for the brakes, even the hole in the firewall. Being low budget minded I will more then likely use the firewall setup, but you can expect some questions from me for sure!

    Great minds think alike what can I say. Oh and 21 mpg is music to my budget minded ears, by the way what ratio are the gears in your caddy rear? The rear I have has 3.55 gears, I'm just trying to get a ball park estimate highway speed rpms.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
  18. 4950ford
    Joined: Oct 16, 2007
    Posts: 260

    from cushing,ok

    hey Mike, my rearend has 2.93 gears and is tacking about 1450 rpm which is too low, i'm in the process of changing over to a nine inch with a 3.50 gear to get the rpm's up at hiway speeds, so the rear end ratio you have should be great.
  19. Paul B
    Joined: Sep 29, 2007
    Posts: 904

    Paul B

    Camaro rear in my 51 is geared hi great for messing with tuners or yuppies on the hiway. good luck with the build
  20. blackmopar
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 481

    from fallbrook

    much agreed - i love me some pilothouse!
  21. Big Nick
    Joined: Sep 7, 2005
    Posts: 847

    Big Nick

    Im diggin it! One think that was told to me by Squirrel I believe, was dont box the entire frame, its a pick up and they frames were made to flex!
  22. Thanks for all the kind words guys! Its great to see so many pilothouse guys on here!

    I'm pretty sure it will get boxed from the front crossmember to the crossmember behind the cab. There is a ton of rust there and it is rusted clear through the frame on the drivers side where the gas tank was. We have another chunk of frame from a '39 dodge which is going to be used for patching it up.

  23. wendle
    Joined: Dec 1, 2009
    Posts: 18


    I drew up and CNC cut this pedal box to hang a GM style pedal and MC/booster in my Pilothouse.

    Let me know if you want me to shoot you the DXF to have it cut, might save some time and stress :)


  24. Ok its been awhile since I've updated this, so heres what we've been up to. After a quite a bit of trouble with timing issues but the sbc finally runs. I have a video of the first start up but I have never posted a video before so hopefully it works....

    Other than getting the disk brake kit for the front end we are pretty much ready to start taking it apart for paint and such.
  25. Its been a long time since I've updated this and there has been some progress. I've heard alot of good stuff about KBS coatings so I figured this would be a good place to try it. I have to say the stuff looks great and it is supposed to be as tuff as nails.

    The disc brake kit from rusty hope went on after awhile, it was a little confusing at first but the end result definitely looks like great.

    The only thing was after the discs were on the tie rod was going to need to be cut shorter.

    Other than that there was a little bit of messing around with the battery box. The plan is to use a GM battery because the battery cables from the van are the perfect length to reach to the stock battery location. Why not try using the van battery box? :D


    Its pretty safe to say, if you have one of these trucks, you need a junk GM van! Until next time...
  26. Well I wasn't feeling well over the weekend so not much got done. I did however take some spray and armorall wipes and clean the dash off. I knew there was original paint in the cab but I never thought it was going to be this nice! I am tossing around the idea now of leaving the inside of the cab stock because the green paint was in such good shape.

    What I started with...

    The near finished product...
  27. 4msfam
    Joined: Jun 25, 2011
    Posts: 69


    Great work! Never thought a van could be so useful! Did you have to drill new holes for the spindle cotter pins? I'm about at that stage myself with our '55 Dodge. Seems like I'm going to put a new master and all new lines too. I never thought I'd pull the body off the frame, but it looks like it would make the process easier!
  28. When I did my disc brake conversion, I didn't have to cut the tie rods at all...just loosened up the bolt and turned the tie rod under in further. I was able to turn them in enough to compensate for the thickness of the bracket and got it really close.
  29. No we didn't drill any holes in the spindles although you will have to drill a hole in the nut from the disc brake kit or atleast we did. When the tie rod was adjusted all the way in the wheels were still way out of alignment, so we opted to cut it.
  30. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,356


    Lookin great man----Pilot House Trucks 4-EVER!! Did I mention I like 'em? ~sololobo~

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