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Go with the typical conversion (Engine and Trans into 78') or put 78 Body onto 2015 Ram chassis?

  • Go with the typical conversion (Engine and Trans into 78')

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Discussion Starter #1
I picked up a 1978 W150 with 360ci automatic in exceptional shape. Other than a small rust hole in passenger floor from a leaking windshield it’s virtually rust free. I initially began to correct a host of mechanical conditions. I like it as a survivor truck and it became my daily driver. I always had people commenting on what a great truck it is. The engine pushes blue on startup (likely valve seals) and just constantly leaks oil from anything that takes oil (engine, transmission, transfer case, front axle, rear axle, power steering). It marks it’s territory wherever it goes. It barely passed Smog and I don’t think it’s gonna pass this time. I’d be willing to rebuild the engine, trans, transfer case etc to stop leaking but the 360ci engine in 1978 was a low compression engine and it’s really a dog. At some point I began thinking about doing a current 5.7 Hemi swap and new 8 speed transmission. I began looking for a donor vehicle.

My criteria was a wrecked, low mileage Ram 1500 4X4. I started looking at insurance auction websites. If any of you guys ever bid on those things you’d know the auctions are over in mere seconds. After losing out on trucks you’ve been watching, your plan starts to fall apart and you start to shoot from the hip. I finally saw one that I had a few minutes to decide on that met the criteria and was the successful bidder after paying more than I wanted to. When the truck arrived I suddenly found I had a problem. The truck wasn’t damaged enough. The airbags didn’t even deploy. It was completely repairable. A 2013 Ram 1500 4x4 with only 50K miles, fully appointed. My friends refused to allow me to pull the truck apart. Damn it . . . I just inherited another project. That wasn’t that plan here. Some 4 months later I replaced the wrecked fender rails and all body parts and sent it off for paint. My new daily driver. It’s nice . . . . but I still love that 78 Power Wagon.
I found another Ram 1500 which finally met the criteria. It’s fully wrecked. Despite the abhorrent damage the frame is actually straight. It went under a semi-truck that sheered the body and crumpled the cab but not a scratch on the bumper. Missed the engine too. The seller was lucky to have survived with relatively little injury. It’s a 2015 with only 30K miles 4X4. It’s perfect.

Now my question . . . . which way do I go? Which way would you go?

Option 1 - Typical Conversation? Pull the engine, tranny and all wiring and put it into the Power Wagon?
OR
Option 2 - Put the ‘78 Power Wagon body on top of the 2015 Ram Frame/rolling chassis?

After driving the 2013 I must admit the newer truck/suspension drives and handles really sweet. I wasn’t thinking about Option 2 until having driven the Ram 1500 for the last year. I understand the additional cab length and wheelbase contribute to that nicer ride (I’d have to shorten the frame/drive shaft etc). The ‘78 is a straight axel front and rear with leaf springs. It’s a stiff, squeaky, noisy ride for sure (and that’s after replacing all shocks and bushings, tie rod ends, ball joints etc) yet is stronger than the newer suspensions. Not that I plan to do a lot of 4 wheeling but I must say after looking at so many wrecked trucks the one thing I notice about so many of the Ram 1500’s is the front tires where typically broken off entirely or dangling. It seems that the control arms where always broken. Get into an (even not-too-bad) accident and the wheels seem to pop off. That made me realize the ‘78 straight axel is off course a lot stronger. That’s just an observation and not so much of a deciding factor but there is something cool about the old leaf spring arrangement. Four wheel guys would probably lean this way huh?
If I do decide to put the engine and trans into the ‘78 frame I understand I need to flip the transfer case as the ‘78 front drive shaft goes down the passenger side and the Ram the driver’s side. I suppose I could do it either way but that might require a new Dana axel. Haven’t looked that far ahead. I know I need engine and trans mounts etc.
Cutting 24 inches out of the 2105 frame and making new body mounts would seem easier to me. I guess the real question is which set up would be more desirable? Which way would you go?

The next question is . . . if I do put the ‘78 body on the 2015 frame should I then go full tilt and have the body put on a rotisserie and repainted? Do a full retro-mod/restoration? I’ve already got too much money into this project already but going that deep . . . should I go the extra step? Think it would bring some better return if I ever do sell?
Prior to the conversion idea, I did redo the dash, steering box, all front bushings, alternator, distributor, MSD Ignition, etc so yeah I could just restore it as the survivor it is but that hemi engine and 6 speed trans has a lot of draw.

I can’t decide.

I appreciate any input and opinion.
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I picked up a 1978 W150 with 360ci automatic in exceptional shape. Other than a small rust hole in passenger floor from a leaking windshield it’s virtually rust free. I initially began to correct a host of mechanical conditions. I like it as a survivor truck and it became my daily driver. I always had people commenting on what a great truck it is. The engine pushes blue on startup (likely valve seals) and just constantly leaks oil from anything that takes oil (engine, transmission, transfer case, front axle, rear axle, power steering). It marks it’s territory wherever it goes. It barely passed Smog and I don’t think it’s gonna pass this time. I’d be willing to rebuild the engine, trans, transfer case etc to stop leaking but the 360ci engine in 1978 was a low compression engine and it’s really a dog. At some point I began thinking about doing a current 5.7 Hemi swap and new 8 speed transmission. I began looking for a donor vehicle.

My criteria was a wrecked, low mileage Ram 1500 4X4. I started looking at insurance auction websites. If any of you guys ever bid on those things you’d know the auctions are over in mere seconds. After losing out on trucks you’ve been watching, your plan starts to fall apart and you start to shoot from the hip. I finally saw one that I had a few minutes to decide on that met the criteria and was the successful bidder after paying more than I wanted to. When the truck arrived I suddenly found I had a problem. The truck wasn’t damaged enough. The airbags didn’t even deploy. It was completely repairable. A 2013 Ram 1500 4x4 with only 50K miles, fully appointed. My friends refused to allow me to pull the truck apart. Damn it . . . I just inherited another project. That wasn’t that plan here. Some 4 months later I replaced the wrecked fender rails and all body parts and sent it off for paint. My new daily driver. It’s nice . . . . but I still love that 78 Power Wagon.
I found another Ram 1500 which finally met the criteria. It’s fully wrecked. Despite the abhorrent damage the frame is actually straight. It went under a semi-truck that sheered the body and crumpled the cab but not a scratch on the bumper. Missed the engine too. The seller was lucky to have survived with relatively little injury. It’s a 2015 with only 30K miles 4X4. It’s perfect.

Now my question . . . . which way do I go? Which way would you go?

Option 1 - Typical Conversation? Pull the engine, tranny and all wiring and put it into the Power Wagon?
OR
Option 2 - Put the ‘78 Power Wagon body on top of the 2015 Ram Frame/rolling chassis?

After driving the 2013 I must admit the newer truck/suspension drives and handles really sweet. I wasn’t thinking about Option 2 until having driven the Ram 1500 for the last year. I understand the additional cab length and wheelbase contribute to that nicer ride (I’d have to shorten the frame/drive shaft etc). The ‘78 is a straight axel front and rear with leaf springs. It’s a stiff, squeaky, noisy ride for sure (and that’s after replacing all shocks and bushings, tie rod ends, ball joints etc) yet is stronger than the newer suspensions. Not that I plan to do a lot of 4 wheeling but I must say after looking at so many wrecked trucks the one thing I notice about so many of the Ram 1500’s is the front tires where typically broken off entirely or dangling. It seems that the control arms where always broken. Get into an (even not-too-bad) accident and the wheels seem to pop off. That made me realize the ‘78 straight axel is off course a lot stronger. That’s just an observation and not so much of a deciding factor but there is something cool about the old leaf spring arrangement. Four wheel guys would probably lean this way huh?
If I do decide to put the engine and trans into the ‘78 frame I understand I need to flip the transfer case as the ‘78 front drive shaft goes down the passenger side and the Ram the driver’s side. I suppose I could do it either way but that might require a new Dana axel. Haven’t looked that far ahead. I know I need engine and trans mounts etc.
Cutting 24 inches out of the 2105 frame and making new body mounts would seem easier to me. I guess the real question is which set up would be more desirable? Which way would you go?

The next question is . . . if I do put the ‘78 body on the 2015 frame should I then go full tilt and have the body put on a rotisserie and repainted? Do a full retro-mod/restoration? I’ve already got too much money into this project already but going that deep . . . should I go the extra step? Think it would bring some better return if I ever do sell?
Prior to the conversion idea, I did redo the dash, steering box, all front bushings, alternator, distributor, MSD Ignition, etc so yeah I could just restore it as the survivor it is but that hemi engine and 6 speed trans has a lot of draw.

I can’t decide.

I appreciate any input and opinion.
View attachment 628650 View attachment 628651 View attachment 628654 View attachment 628655
I picked up a 1978 W150 with 360ci automatic in exceptional shape. Other than a small rust hole in passenger floor from a leaking windshield it’s virtually rust free. I initially began to correct a host of mechanical conditions. I like it as a survivor truck and it became my daily driver. I always had people commenting on what a great truck it is. The engine pushes blue on startup (likely valve seals) and just constantly leaks oil from anything that takes oil (engine, transmission, transfer case, front axle, rear axle, power steering). It marks it’s territory wherever it goes. It barely passed Smog and I don’t think it’s gonna pass this time. I’d be willing to rebuild the engine, trans, transfer case etc to stop leaking but the 360ci engine in 1978 was a low compression engine and it’s really a dog. At some point I began thinking about doing a current 5.7 Hemi swap and new 8 speed transmission. I began looking for a donor vehicle.

My criteria was a wrecked, low mileage Ram 1500 4X4. I started looking at insurance auction websites. If any of you guys ever bid on those things you’d know the auctions are over in mere seconds. After losing out on trucks you’ve been watching, your plan starts to fall apart and you start to shoot from the hip. I finally saw one that I had a few minutes to decide on that met the criteria and was the successful bidder after paying more than I wanted to. When the truck arrived I suddenly found I had a problem. The truck wasn’t damaged enough. The airbags didn’t even deploy. It was completely repairable. A 2013 Ram 1500 4x4 with only 50K miles, fully appointed. My friends refused to allow me to pull the truck apart. Damn it . . . I just inherited another project. That wasn’t that plan here. Some 4 months later I replaced the wrecked fender rails and all body parts and sent it off for paint. My new daily driver. It’s nice . . . . but I still love that 78 Power Wagon.
I found another Ram 1500 which finally met the criteria. It’s fully wrecked. Despite the abhorrent damage the frame is actually straight. It went under a semi-truck that sheered the body and crumpled the cab but not a scratch on the bumper. Missed the engine too. The seller was lucky to have survived with relatively little injury. It’s a 2015 with only 30K miles 4X4. It’s perfect.

Now my question . . . . which way do I go? Which way would you go?

Option 1 - Typical Conversation? Pull the engine, tranny and all wiring and put it into the Power Wagon?
OR
Option 2 - Put the ‘78 Power Wagon body on top of the 2015 Ram Frame/rolling chassis?

After driving the 2013 I must admit the newer truck/suspension drives and handles really sweet. I wasn’t thinking about Option 2 until having driven the Ram 1500 for the last year. I understand the additional cab length and wheelbase contribute to that nicer ride (I’d have to shorten the frame/drive shaft etc). The ‘78 is a straight axel front and rear with leaf springs. It’s a stiff, squeaky, noisy ride for sure (and that’s after replacing all shocks and bushings, tie rod ends, ball joints etc) yet is stronger than the newer suspensions. Not that I plan to do a lot of 4 wheeling but I must say after looking at so many wrecked trucks the one thing I notice about so many of the Ram 1500’s is the front tires where typically broken off entirely or dangling. It seems that the control arms where always broken. Get into an (even not-too-bad) accident and the wheels seem to pop off. That made me realize the ‘78 straight axel is off course a lot stronger. That’s just an observation and not so much of a deciding factor but there is something cool about the old leaf spring arrangement. Four wheel guys would probably lean this way huh?
If I do decide to put the engine and trans into the ‘78 frame I understand I need to flip the transfer case as the ‘78 front drive shaft goes down the passenger side and the Ram the driver’s side. I suppose I could do it either way but that might require a new Dana axel. Haven’t looked that far ahead. I know I need engine and trans mounts etc.
Cutting 24 inches out of the 2105 frame and making new body mounts would seem easier to me. I guess the real question is which set up would be more desirable? Which way would you go?

The next question is . . . if I do put the ‘78 body on the 2015 frame should I then go full tilt and have the body put on a rotisserie and repainted? Do a full retro-mod/restoration? I’ve already got too much money into this project already but going that deep . . . should I go the extra step? Think it would bring some better return if I ever do sell?
Prior to the conversion idea, I did redo the dash, steering box, all front bushings, alternator, distributor, MSD Ignition, etc so yeah I could just restore it as the survivor it is but that hemi engine and 6 speed trans has a lot of draw.

I can’t decide.

I appreciate any input and opinion.
View attachment 628650 View attachment 628651 View attachment 628654 View attachment 628655
 

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Nice truck, Are those factory wheels? I so, could you send me a close-up picture of the wheel and insert? I am missing the inserts on my truck and have it in an as built condition. I am in need of those so would like to know just what I am suppose to shop for. Thanks in advance.
MachoNodak
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hey MachoNodak,

Sorry for the late reply, my computer crashed.

Yes those are factory wheels. I'll take a few close ups tomorrow.

I've decided to go the route of putting the 78 Powerwagon Body on the 2105 frame so I'll soon have a rolling chassis of the 78 and can sell you the inserts. Lots of good parts on the 78 as I was in the midst of restoring it when I decided to to the resto mod. Hard to argue with a 5.7 Hemi with an 8 speed 4X4 Tranny.


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Nice and thanks for your reply. Now I must try to figure out how you & I can continue this conversation with out the whole message being transferred over the web forums. Have any experience? Dewey
 

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Nice, keep the pictures coming. Grady
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Several weekends later. Next step a nice power-wash and then cut 25.5 inches out of the frame and rejoin. Likely need to cut off existing body mounts.


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