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Projects 1958 dodge pickup/Volare suspension

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Wags66, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    Hello to all. New to the H.A.M.B. I read some info here, from a couple years back, about doing Volare suspension conversions on older 50's Dodge trucks.
    I recently purchased a 1958 Dodge 1/2 ton pickup. Originally a 315 RedRam V8/4 speed truck (these drivtrain parts and the original axles are for sale if anyone intrested). I am going to update all the suspension, as well as the engine/trans to make it more enjoyable to drive and drop her down in the weeds.
    I intend to do this coversion myself, as I am a certified welder/fabricator. Already have my donor car, a slant 6/auto 1980 Aspen. The truck will end up with a fresh built LA 318/a833 4speed combo (gear jamming only way to go), and a slightly narrrowed, 4 link, airbagged, 3.55 suregrip 8 3/4 when I am done.
    Been doing some internet research and have found templates that are Ford specific, but none for my Dodge. I also understand that my frame rails are a little narrow at the front, causing some interference issues with the streeing box.
    I gave some consideration to other suspension options, but I have been a MOPAR guy for 30 years. Sticking with the Chrysler parts.
    Anyone with any new info and/or pictures of this swap would be greatly apprecited. Thanks.
     

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  2. nowhereman
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 111

    nowhereman
    Member
    from illinois

    hi waggs

    cool truck i also have a 58 truck, i was going to do the volare front clip. but then i changed gears and put a 92 dakota underneath it instead. this way i got rack and pinion steering coil springs and disc brakes and also the 8.8 rearend. it also came with a 5.2 (318) engine and overdrive automatic transmission

    i'll keep checking in on your build

    richard
     
  3. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    Thought a little about the Dakota thing, but I like the torsion bars. Also still into carbs, only 1 coil, and no computers. I have owned way too many late 60's to mid 70's cars and trucks, it's in the blood. Tweaking and tuning is half the fun for me. Will be posting progress pics as it occurs. Would like to see your 58 nowhereman.
     
  4. Oldskool56
    Joined: Feb 27, 2011
    Posts: 19

    Oldskool56
    Member

    After installing one in a Unibody F100... by the time you replace all the wear parts AND rebuild that big "in the way" steering box you are pretty close to a off the self mustang II setup which is easier to install and resale value of your truck may be more because it just looks cleaner installed. If you REALLY have to keep it Dodge
    "No Limit Engineering" has a good video installing one in a F100 and gives you some helpful tips.
     

  5. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,460

    George
    Member

    The Tex Smith Mopar hot rod book shows putting a 79 Magnum front end under a 53(?) P.U.
     
  6. My 48 Dodge p/u has a late B Body (Cordoba/Charger/Magnum) IFS in it - nice unit, self contained (upper control arms mount to K frame), uses parallel torsion bars, and is pretty tough, wear wise. They ride super nicely, handle very well and you can put the 11.75" brakes on them for awesome stopping power.

    The F/M/J body transverse torsion bar front is not one of Chrysler's finest hours of engineering - Geometry sucks, gets out of whack pretty easily and it is pretty ugly. Some of the k-frames on these were made with old dulling tooling and the lower control arm holes were oval from the factory - slop city. I had a Mirada with a bad K-frame - scary handling, wore tires badly etc.
    They can be made to work very well, but why go through the extra work when the B works so well right out of the box?

    Just my 2¢
     
  7. mitchsfab
    Joined: May 20, 2010
    Posts: 99

    mitchsfab
    Member

    I would agree with ajmopar. I have a Voalre in a '59 f100. Wish I had never done it. The later B body I think is the way to go.
     
  8. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,624

    73RR
    Member

    You might also look at the Jag IFS. Great design, plenty of parts available (unlike the Volare) and complete donor cars are usually cheap. There are several swaps documented in the archives.

    FWIW, in stock trim, the 315 easily matches the 318 power and you have something interesting when you are finished...

    .
     
  9. Willys 77
    Joined: Mar 1, 2010
    Posts: 31

    Willys 77
    Member
    from up north

    Personally, I'd do either the Dakota or later "B" body conversion, myself! Just my two cents worth, EH!
     
  10. i have been mopar for years but i have to agree the HUGE steering boxes really are in the way and when you think about it how often are you going to adjust the stance of the front end? make this a great thread by taking and posting lots of pictures.
     
  11. captainjunk#2
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 4,417

    captainjunk#2
    Member

    i like the fact you want to keep it all mopar , awesome , hope you post some build photos
     
  12. terrarodder
    Joined: Sep 9, 2005
    Posts: 1,101

    terrarodder
    Member
    from EASTERN PA

    I've been running a Volare front set up with K-Car R&P for 17 years in my 37 Terraplane and loving it, glad I used it, and would again.
     
  13. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    Well after more research and reading of others opinons and ideas, I have decided to move forward with my Volare/Aspen suspension mod to my 58. I will be cutting the framerails at the firewall and trimming all the unecessray extras. 2x4 rectangle tube welded into the rails extending to rear cab mounts appears to be the best way to go. Gives me close outside dimensions to the donor car. Weathers getting cold and I am still doing most work outside, so will post photos as I get them.
     
  14. I saw a 1960 MoPar pickup about a dozen years ago at the Portland Swap Meet. It had a Volare clip and a small block, we talked to the owner at length. He loved the way the truck drove, the tires fit in the wheelwells very nicely, no drawbacks as far as he was concerned.

    I drove a J body with transverse torsion bars for years and years, street raced it alllll the time. Great driving car, I loved it.
     
  15. 50dodge4x4
    Joined: Aug 7, 2004
    Posts: 3,535

    50dodge4x4
    Member

    Years ago, I did a 54 Dodge pickup with a Volare clip. We drove that truck over 44,000 miles before I sold it to buy something else. Of all the rides I ever sold (lots of them) that 54 was the only one i really missed. It drove great, rode nice, and had awesome brakes. If you got a little frisky through corners, the suspension was a little soft and as far as adjusting the ride height by tightening the bars up, forget it. The bars are too soft, they will raise the front end up for a couple months, then be right back where it was. Soon the adjustment is gone, and the ride height is the same as it was to begin with. My truck had the biggest front sway bar I could find, it would break the link bolts almost yearly. All the bent bars support the same weight, there is only 1 to choose from (least there used to be only 1),

    I used the info in the Tex Smith book to do mine. You determine the front end ride height by where you splice the tubing on to the original frame. In the book, Tex suggests you mount the 2 x 4 tubing on top of the original frame for a low front end. That, in deed, is very low. I mounted my tubing 1" into the original frame, I cut the top flange and dropped the tube down so the top surface was 3" above the original frame height. Even then, the bottom of my front bumper scrapped the road a lot and would not clear parking blocks. The leading edge of the running boards is another place the contacts the road surface with a low truck. The front edge of my running boards was the height of a 12 oz Pepsi can, and they too were pretty beat up. Running boards are a pita to try to straighten. Were i to do another Volare clip, I would sink the tubing 2" deep in the original frame. If you mount the tube flush at the top of the original frame, the truck would likely be pretty close to the original ride height.

    Another thing I did differently from the text Smith book was I extended the pieces of tubing that spliced onto the frame 2" longer. That moves the front wheels forward in the wheel openings, but makes connecting the steering a lot easier and improves the steering shaft angles.

    The 360 I ran was mounted on the Volare engine mounts, and required cutting the firewall. I had a 6" deep cutout that was the width of the engine & exhaust manifolds. That puts the interior side fairly close to the passenger edge of the dash. Someone sitting in the center of the bench seat had very little foot room, but the driver and passenger seats had plenty of foot room.

    I ran the truck with 15 x 7 white spoke standard offset wheels for a while with 215 75 x 15 tires and they tucked inside the fenders nicely. Towards the end, the truck had the 15 X 7 Mopar police wheels with a little deeper offset (wheel stuck out a little more) with 225 75 x 15, those would rub just a bit on the fender lip, if the wheels were turned sharp through dips in the road/ground surface. They put the tires close to the fender lip.
    All the pictures i have of the truck. Gene
     

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    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011
  16. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    My wife found a copy of the Tex Smith book on the internet and got it for me, great info and pictures. Trying to decide how low I'm going to go. Plan on building my 2 x 4 frame stubs at work in the next couple weeks so I gotta make up my mind. Want it drivable but looking good too. Dont plan to mess with factory ride spec on the torsion bars any, keep the lower control arms level with ground and build in any drop with my stubs. Already been taking measurements off my donor car for frame width and steering box location. Hoping time spent doing my homework will result in a clean, dependable swap. Thanks for the info and pictures, Gene. Thanks also to the Crazy mopar guy.
     
  17. 39plymouth
    Joined: Oct 25, 2009
    Posts: 52

    39plymouth
    Member

    dakota frame swap seems to make as much sense to me.. you get all modernness ifs disc p/s etc and ur not cutting a frame in half and putting back together there is also kits to drop in big blocks or its direct drop for small blocks and its still all mopar... lots of people doing em to..
     
  18. skull
    Joined: Jun 26, 2007
    Posts: 498

    skull
    Member

    l used a 1977 nova sub-frame in my 1948 and l love it.

    l also had to modify the fire wall to make the motor fit. we used a wheelborrow and it worked great.

    good luck, l will be following this build.

    Later:cool:
     

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  19. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    Very cool skull, wheelbarow? I wouldnt have thought of that. I have some floor and firewall rust issues in the cab to deal with, already making some cardboard templates for patch panels on the outer edges. Wont know for sure exactly what I will need to do in the middle till I have engin/trans mocked up.
     
  20. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    To 39 plymouth, had a 79 Aspen donor car given to me. Seen a few Dakota examples and like the idea, but in the end, cash flow (or a lack of) wins out. Besides, when its all done, I can say I built it my way, using the welding/fab skills I've learned over the last decade. Of course, if any wanted to donate a free 90's Dakota to a semi-poor, wana be hot rodder, I'd consider doing it that way. :)
     
  21. I had a customer bring me his 56 Dodge half ton in for a Volare front clip 20 years ago, got the staring axle and springs out of the way,rolled the clip underneath to realize that the steering box was under the floorboards almost. Had the box been ahead of the crossmember it would have worked out fine. I have a friend who used a Dakota chassis out of a cab and a half as he was able to cut the factor welds on the side rails and slide the frame together to get the exact wheelbase he desired. cab almost fell right onto the original mounts with very little fab work to make them bolt up. He went 360 car bed with a 727 trans. V6 front springs leave a very desirable rake and stance is just great! Drives and stops like a let model! I ended up using a Camaro clip in the one I had apart and was the better part of a week just fabbing the thing to fit in,way too much work for the end effort. Wish they had Dakotas out when I did that one too!
     
  22. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    UPDATE. Trucks been home 2 weeks today, still on the trailer. Picked up a bug on trip to go get it, kept getting worse. Ended up 4 days in hospital with pneumonia. Had my wife snap a photo of what we woke up to today here in Montana. SNOW and its still coming down. Made contact with a local HAMBer who owns a glass shop, had him cut 2 new wing windows and have yet to pick them up. This is the only real progress made as of yet, health issue and now the weather, it'll be a while before I get any work done. I work outside since the pickup is too big to fit in my little 12 x 24 garage/workshop (its full of bikes, bike parts, and all my tools). Incidently, the building in my photo will be added on to, 30 x 40 pole barn on concrete slabe in the works by early spring. Will eventually be the replacement for my big shop I lost during an ugly divorce to the first wife. Thanks to those of you who have shown an intrest in my project.
     

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  23. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,624

    73RR
    Member

  24. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    Feeling better and the snows gone for now. Got out and tinkered with the pickup a bit yesterday. I sorted through all the parts in cab and box to see what all I have and dont have. Missing a few little pieces and all the original body panel hardware.
    Put a few misc nuts and bolts through ferders, core support/grill and later today I'll install the hood. Figured since it will be outside where the neighbors see it, make it a little less an eye sore. Comes off the trailer today also. Going to stash it in the dirt floored carport for the winter season.
    After removing engine parts from the cab, found a lot more rust and some really badly done "patches". Took some good measurements and will be making templates for new floor panels. Will also be removing the original seat and taking it to my upholstery man for a rebuild estimate. I have included a few photos for those following.
     
  25. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    try pics again
     

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  26. captainjunk#2
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 4,417

    captainjunk#2
    Member

    nice looking project truck , if you came east the rust would be a lot worse ,
     
  27. Wags66
    Joined: Oct 16, 2011
    Posts: 103

    Wags66
    Member
    from Montana

    Been almost a month since my last post. I have decided to postpone this project until I have my new shop up this spring. Priced a 30 x 40 pole barn with good doors, and insulation a week ago. Will be getting it delivered after 1st of the year. Mud gets poured in March-April. Tired of thrashing outside.
     
  28. fastman614
    Joined: Aug 13, 2015
    Posts: 2

    fastman614

    How did you do or how are you doing with this project?....I live in B.C., Canada and i am working on one with the same suspension etc.
     

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