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Projects Getting started on '55 Dodge truck

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by endoftrail, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. endoftrail
    Joined: Nov 14, 2014
    Posts: 7

    endoftrail

    I have a '55 that is is pretty good shape. The body is solid. I am looking to get it going. I plan on keeping it a sleeper. I have a 440 already built waiting on a place to go. My main goal is to go fast and stop quick. I want this to be a fun ride, but don't want to spend a lot on modifications that aren't really necessary.

    So my question is do I modify the existing frame or do a swap? If it's a swap, is the S10 my best bet? Pros/Cons?

    Help a GIRL out!
     
  2. 50dodge4x4
    Joined: Aug 7, 2004
    Posts: 3,535

    50dodge4x4
    Member

    If your going with the 440, a Dakota clip or frame swap will fit the truck well, and will be more user friendly for the motor swap then the S10. That said, S10s seem to be everywhere, and may be less costly.

    As far as weather to upgrade the existing frame or clip or swap it, my question to you is: Do you need power steering, and would you be comfortable with the beam axle? The 55 has no power steering, and adding it is a major undertaking, and the 55 has a beam axle, if you want an independent front suspension, the change is a major project. Upgrading the 55's drum brakes to disc brakes are less of a project, but all 3 of these items are covered with a frame clip or swap, or an aftermarket suspension upgrade that can be done on your existing frame. If done correctly, by replacing all suspension and brake components on the clip or frame swap, or upgrading your existing frame with a suspension kit adds up to about the same money. How much money will depend on how much of the work you can do yourself.

    Personally, on a pickup, I would lean towards a frame swap, if a good rust free doner can be found. My blue and white coupe is mounted on a Dakota frame.

    Probably not much help, but at least food for thought. Gene
     
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  3. MoparFinman
    Joined: Feb 6, 2011
    Posts: 363

    MoparFinman
    Member
    from Okla

    Please don't desecrate your MoPar with a chevy frame! No really the Dakota is the best way to go with a frame swap on a 55 Dodge. There are three different wheel bases on the Dakota frame. if the frame you get is too long it can be shorten by cutting some out of the center because the center is straight. Some of the Dakotas came with V-8s making it easier to drop in your 440. but if you get one of the V6 or 4 cly. ones you might want to change out the front springs.
    If you get one of the earlier frames, than the wheel lugs will be just like your charger, otherwise they are 6 lug. this still can be up graded because the front rotors can be changed out and rear-end replaced with something that will stand up to your 440. If I remember right the ones after 90 or 91 are the 6 lug. I have a 88 and its 5 lug where the 93 I have is a 6 lug. I have a 55 Dodge pickup also which I'm going to swap out. If you do a search on here it should bring up some guys who have done it. I'm uploading a frame scan to help you. Good luck. upload_2014-11-14_17-50-14.png
     
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  4. 50dodge4x4
    Joined: Aug 7, 2004
    Posts: 3,535

    50dodge4x4
    Member

    Dakota up through 90 are 5 lug. 91 through 96 are 6 lug, but can be changed by swapping the rotors and rear axle. 97 and newer are also 6 lug, but are a different design, swapping to the 5 lug wheels on 97 and newer is a major project involving most of the suspension.
    V8s were first installed in 91 or 92 I believe. Gene
     

  5. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,624

    73RR
    Member

  6. Wolfman1
    Joined: Jul 8, 2010
    Posts: 265

    Wolfman1
    Member

    Just box your original frame
    Here's a shot of my friends 54 with a 360 and stock boxed frame
    image.jpg
     
  7. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,168

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    ^^^^^^^^^^uuuhhhhh........you forgot to mention the MMII suspension conversion when you said "boxed stock frame" :D

    That is the easiest of the up grades mentioned, and could be the least money.

    But a well done Dakota chassis swap would, in my opinion, be a much better final result than an S-10.

    Ray
     
  8. Pinstripe_Chuck
    Joined: Feb 3, 2009
    Posts: 40

    Pinstripe_Chuck
    Member

    I think the dakota chassis would be a good choice. Keep your dodge a dodge and it could handle the 440's power. Plus, with a chassis swap, not only do you get a solid platform for your truck but along with that comes upgraded brakes ad suspension over stock. Kill tons of birds with one stone.
     
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  9. luckystiff
    Joined: Mar 20, 2002
    Posts: 1,465

    luckystiff
    Member

    keep the stock frame/box it/ jag xj ifs swap........ i sold my 55 before doing anything with it but from memory the outside to outside frame rail measurement was like 33" or so making it a good candidate for the jag swap. theres a good social group here on the hamb full of info on doing it....
     
  10. MoparFinman
    Joined: Feb 6, 2011
    Posts: 363

    MoparFinman
    Member
    from Okla

    Some of the Slick 60s Guys(1961-1964 Ford truck Club) use the Dodge Dakota steering just like people use the Mustang II stuff., They have told me that the Dakota steering makes the truck handle better than the mustang parts.
     
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  11. Imperial66
    Joined: Jul 16, 2012
    Posts: 76

    Imperial66
    Member
    from NC

    The 91-96 Dakota is 6x4.5 bolt circle, but like mentioned earlier, the 5x4.5 rotor swap from the 87-90 will fix the front, for the rear and the 440, a 9" from a fairlane,mustang, or even a Versailles will work good, those are about an inch narrower, but wheels can fix that. The Dakota has rack and pinion steering also. The only advantage an S10 has is the turning radius, You might even be able to use an 8.8 rear dick rear from an exploder. The Versailles and exploder rear are 58.5" and I think the others are 61", where as the Dakota in 59.5", But every rear listed will give you matching small 5x4.5 bolt patterm to match the front.
     
  12. Imperial66
    Joined: Jul 16, 2012
    Posts: 76

    Imperial66
    Member
    from NC

    Also, if you go 8.8, make sure you get one out of an exploder, they are 31 spline vs the Ranger 28.
     
  13. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,168

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    ^^^^^^^^^you are correct on the Versailles rear @ 58.5", but the Explorer is 59.75".

    Ray
     
  14. Imperial66
    Joined: Jul 16, 2012
    Posts: 76

    Imperial66
    Member
    from NC

    Yes Sir, My mistake. it is the Ranger that 58.5, but it only has the 28 spline axles. On a plus note, most exploders 4wds came 3.73s. pretty good gear set.
     
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  15. MoparFinman
    Joined: Feb 6, 2011
    Posts: 363

    MoparFinman
    Member
    from Okla

    Well Endoftrail did we give you enough information to help you build your 55 Truck? we have not heard from you!!
     
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  16. 29essex
    Joined: Feb 24, 2007
    Posts: 199

    29essex
    Member

    Another rear end that can be used is one from an 88 to early 2000's Jeep Cherokee and I'm sure some Jeep Libertys from early 2000's. Track width is close to spot on and pinion is centered unlike some of the Explorer rear ends I looked at. The years mentioned all have 5 x 4.5" bolt pattern and dodge/plymouth rims bolt right up. Gear ratios are usually 3.50 or 3.73 if I remember right. They were made with Dana 35, Dana 44, Chrysler 3.25 rear ends. The Dana 44 is the heaviest and best of the three but harder to find. Then the Chrysler 3.25. In 97 all the axles were made a little better with 31 splines and heavier axle housing tubes and the Chrysler 3.25 was built like the old Dana44's. Each style rear end has it's own third member cover to help tell them apart. Plus the Dana35 is noticeably smaller because of smaller axle housing tubes which make it more prone to bending but the off road guys are the main ones that seem to care. If you look at late 90's early 2000's can find one already setup with disk brakes. I found a Chrysler 8.25 from a 97 and installed it in my 56 Dodge panel truck. Kept the original frame and front suspension. Driving it with original steering and made my own setup for front disc brakes. Steering isn't fun at low speed but handles really well and stops great. Setup with a 360 magnum and a 727. Put 4,000 miles on it this year.
     
  17. drptop70ss
    Joined: May 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,184

    drptop70ss
    Member
    from NY

    Watching this one, I just picked up a 56 Dodge pickup and am considering the same dakota frame swap. I used Jag IFS in both of my Ford F1 builds but it doesnt look like the Jag would work well with the way the Dodge frame rails are pinched in at the front axle area.
    Anyone know of companies that make parts for these trucks? They seem to be unsupported from what I can find.
     
  18. stevethepreacher
    Joined: Nov 16, 2011
    Posts: 213

    stevethepreacher
    Member

    That's why I sold my '55 Dodge truck this past May. Parts are almost impossible to find for these old trucks. I loved the uniqueness of the truck, but parts were non-existent or very expensive. You have to get creative or be creative to do much with them, and have a reasonable amount of $$$. LMC could make $$$$$ if they could offer parts. Good luck to all who have Dodges...they are cool old trucks.
     
  19. endoftrail
    Joined: Nov 14, 2014
    Posts: 7

    endoftrail

    Sorry to just be catching up. This past week has been a little on the crazy side. My everyday car was totaled (with me in it).

    Looks like I'm going to be looking for a Dakota. I had thought of that before, but wasn't sure... and, of course the S10 are easy to find and have "kits".

    I'll be coming back and asking more questions, so be ready!
     

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