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Discussion Starter #1
Like the sig mentions, have a 95 Dak V8 auto 4x4 xcab with 3.55 gears.

I think I'm going to slowly convert it into more of an Off Road truck, since it's not a daily driver, and I really don't want to part with it since I've taken good care of it and it's nice shape. (yes I know there are much more capable off-road trucks out there)

When I say off-road, I don't mean rock crawling or mudding by the way. I mean dunes/desert/trails, etc.

I'm curious though where people have run into issues or weaknesses in the truck, and wanted to compare notes with others.

1: I know the A518 is not up to par in stock form (will beef it up!)
2: I realize there is almost no aftermarket support for this truck, off-road wise
3: 318 motor is a great platform to work off with sufficient aftermarket help

What I don't know is the below. Need ideas/opinions, experiences on the below...

1: How strong is the drivetrain, other than the tranny?? Where are the limitations? I.E... Transfer case, front and rear axles/diffs, drivelines, front a-arms, etc?

2: What size tire can the drivetrain easily handle? I was thinking of running a 32" tire, I'm running a 30" now. I will throw on front fiberglass to make room for the tires, as my 30" all terrain tires barely fit now with a 1.5" lift.

3: Is there a limited slip that works really well in these trucks? Or, should I go with a user friendly locker?

4: Was curious, does both my front wheels engage in 4WD or is there an open diff or posi up there. Sure seems like both wheels are engaged up there, whereas I know in my rear, only my rear passenger engages, as in open.

5: The frame seems pretty sturdy, yes? "Small" jumps, anyone having any issues?

6: Would you go 3.92's or 4.10's with 32's?

Ok, please let me hear your feedback and possible areas of concern....

Thanks!
 

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Crazy4x4RT
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Okay That was a long post. Now here is my turn. I go offroading with my truck all the time. Weekly. I have done rock crawling to mudd. to snow. and of coarse the sand. I live in the desert. This trucks can take it all. No there not the most polpular trucks to make into an offroader like you said, but they are narrower than full size and they have more than enough power,(unlike jeeps). So to me they are perfect! I have slowly making mine to an offroader too. As far as any weekness! I cant think of any. As long as everything is in good condition. I have not had any brakege even on rocks. the engine of coarse is great power. the tranny can take any abuse. even in stock form. The tranny is a 46rh. It is the same as the a518. just a newer version. I Belive the differance is the eletronic lockup torque converter and the eletronic overdive activation. Trust me it can take it. I have a 5.9 Mag. .030 overbord engine. and stock tranny and transfercase. The transfercase is stronger than Sh*t too. I love the low range. They are the same that come stock on rams and jeeps. they even make a 4:1 low gears for it. I cant imagine what that would feel like when you hit the gas. There is enough aftermarket for it. Hell there is a selectable locker made for it(8.25). The 2nd gen. rams still dont have any slectable lockers for them(9.25). You just gota keep seaching around. even if you have to by parts for differnt years and modles. The front axle is a small ring size but if it is properly installed it can take any abuse you throw at it. it is an open diff. there are limited slips made for it. If it is not going to see the pavment much then you will be okay with it. on the streets turning may be tough with it, since we dont have central axle disconnects. the older daks do. the rear is known to be as good as a dana 44. there are selectable locker to fully automatic lockers to limited slips. I personaly dont like LSD they dont give enough trackion when you need it the most. I have a richmond no slip locker. I love it. This should be your first mod. trust me nothing will give you as much traction as this will. Driveshaft is storng. Just make sure you got good u-joints in. And it is IFS but ours is beafy. The CV axles are strong. they have 6 points of contact vs 4 on a solid axle. so you tell me what is stronger. the only bad thing of IFS is if your at a crazy angle where your CV axle is extended there is a chance it it poping out. but I have had one side in the air several times. and its held up. even on the rocks. Control arms beafy. make sure your bushings are good shape. and your motor mounts too. and shocks too. As for tires I have 33x12.5. I have enough room to fit 35s. the width of 12.5 rubs just a little bit on the frame. just like a 1/4 in at full lock. just back the steering wheel off a 1/4 in and you will be fine. I do have a 2in body lift. and lift keys installed. But for the 33s just need 2in body lift. you can get body kits 2in.
http://store.summitracing.com/partd...2&N=700+-59186+-59416+-42535+115&autoview=sku
you can get full sup. kit 4in.
http://www.performancecenter.com/pr...n/0/5/0/DODGE/1993/Dakota/4WD/4-Inch+Lift+Kit
or get lift keys
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1991...tcZphotoQQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
or just crank ur torsion bar and and rear blocks
Ya you can get blocks just about everywhere. You can do add a leaf too. check out http://www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/...005974/N-111+1993+200728540+600003409/c-10101
You can get air shocks too. These are not air bags. So you dont need an onboard compressor. Check out http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?MfrCode=MON&MfrPartNumber=MA816&PartType=50&PTSet=A
I have a rams 2500 rear springs. So thats how I have my rear lift. no blocks for me. all suspention lift.
And as for gearing. It depends on what size tire and if your going to do any highway. I had 3.55 now I have 3.9 I did notice more power even with the 33s. I only wish I went more to have more power. YOU COULD NEVER HAVE ENOUGH. But I do alot of freeway driving so I needed a medum. so go 4.10s if you dont care about gas milage. just remember you got to do both axles. let me say that I have only gotten stock once in my truck. it was more than 2feet of snow. and I got out easly just a little diggin. And Like I said I do offroad alot. Check out my youtube page for offroadin videos and my gallary for pics. If you need more info let me know.
 

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nice write up. i noticed in my dakota which is a 89 and my friends which is the same year we both have frame rust, his is really bad, its under the cab, and mines is pretty weak is the common? could i fab up a cap or something just to help stengthin it up for the time being?
 

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Im with dodgef25 here, I havn't owned my truck long but I put it through hell and it just eats it up. The first time I got REALLY stuck was when I tired to go through a swamp with the water up to my headlights, it was coming into the cab. My buddy has a brand new FX4 Level 2 Ranger and he blew his motor pulling me out.

I go offroading, mostly mudding, with this buddy with the Ranger. His truck stock has 33" BFG MT's, posi rear diff, and a bunch of skid plates and all that offroading stuff...my truck has 30" winter tires, and open diffs and I get through more than his Ranger can. Our Dakotas are tough and are definately capable offroad, theres not a massive aftermarket for them, but if you can build yourself some skid plates and bumper, maybe a winch mount...you;ve got one pretty awesome truck for wheeling.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Great write-up!

That's the info I'm looking for in order to make some decisions! Thank you for taking the time to write that up.

When I was off-roading it this weekend, which was really its first off-road adventure since I've owned it, it did amazingly well. Any hill that "I wanted" to go up, I could, and I did so with ease. I was impressed at just how well my open diff truck did, and I don't even have super aggressive tires.

Nice to hear about the axle's/TC/ and CV's! Very encouraging!

I'm looking forward to making this truck even more capable as time goes on.

I'll re-read your posts guys and will ask a few more pointed questions if no one minds after I've had a chance to chew on all of this.

Thanks again for bringing all of this to light for me,

Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I spent like $75 and I purchased a new torsion key set off ebay....which are made for our trucks. Worked great and installed with ease too.

I've read that post before. Nice to always see people doing thing with the Gen 1. It always seems I'm searching hard for answers when it comes to these trucks. When it comes to my other cars/trucks, it's easy to find answers, as people have been there done that. Not so much with these gen 1 Daks.
 

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whats the easiest way to take the keys off, im not new to mopar, but ive never taken off the torsin bar/key. so in blakdak91's post(good post btw) on post 4 where the key is pictured with the plates mounted, the bolt(that i would tighten, runs threw the smaller end to the left, then that big hole under the plates is what connects to the tbar right....i dont know if that made sence or not.

To explain my thoughts i drew a pic :D

red bolt: tbar bolt that i had to loosen to raise my truck
Blue: where the tbar connects into, so when (red) bolt is turned it turns the tbar
orange: represents where the plates are on blakdak91's tbar keys, i dont get why these are on there. :huh: :help:

and another thing, since everyone is cranking there tbars so much, how hard is this on the cv axles, i can imagine cranking the stock keys isnt so bad but what about the aftermarket keys n whatnot.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wish I could tell you the easiest way to do it, but my mechanic does all my work on my cars (I don't have a garage anymore). Hopefully someone else can add their 2¢.
 

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You'll love the first gen Dak's. I beat the crap out of her and she asked for more. I did rock, sand, mud & water. I did get airborne a couple times. I also had a trailmaster 5" Lift And a home made CAI. No other performance Mods. the 318 was/is Great for that size truck. Now i did go thru tires because of Rock impacts, I did break the front sway bar mounts on both sides at different times. A welder an 1/4" plate steel fixed that issues. The trans saw 2 services in it lifetime, one done by dealer when I bought it (32K MIles) Another around 110K miles, It was time for overhaul when I got rid of her, The transfer case went thru 2 simple repairs, stretched chain and seals. 1 radiator, thought it would help in towing, it did help alittle. Went thru 1 CV joint only because the shop that added the lift to my truck use a cutting torch to cut out the upper control arms dripped slag on one of the boots, but didn't fess up to it. I drove it 30K more miles until it started popping, then replaced, the other one was still going. And in the end, I was hoping to keep it for my Kids, but 12 years was too far away to hold on to her, traded her for my new ram. She had 167000 miles on her, a good 10K of 'hard miles' another 40K of trail miles. 2 good accidents, 1 hitting a utility truck rim, laying flat on the freeway going 70mph, the other was a curb shot to avoid an idiot driver, Stopped in middle of road with no warning. The only thing I noticed was around the upper control arms welds, their were some signs of cracking. I did replace a lower control arm for a broken lower shock mount bolt. I was very impressed on how long She stayed with me, 12 years, up until March of this year, amof.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I've had two Gen 1 Daks now since like 2000, a 91 just like my newer 95. My old 91 is still one of the most reliable Dodge's we've ever had.

How did you manage to break off the sway bar mounts? Are these the ones on the frame or the lower control arms?

What size tires were you running on the lifted application?

Thanks for the feedback!
 

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It was the trailmaster lift kit w/ sway bar. This whole lift kit requires cutting frame and installing bolt on stiffiners to reinforce the frame cuts. Well, TM never perfected the new sway bar mounts, I did, however, by welding 1/4 plate steel on.
For a year and a half, I ran 31 10.5 15's BFg at's (B4 the KO's), got tired of replacing the rock caused flats, I drove crazy on rocks, I always carried 2 or 3 spares on trips. the 31's had minimal rubbing at full turn on the back outside lower fender and fenderwell. I took a sawzall to compensate, then I had an accident w/ the freeway rim on left front, pushed the front wheel back a 1/2 inch. I did want to cut anymore, put 30's on and got away with rubbing.
The crazy driving I did stressed the new TM sway bar frame mounts. I liked pitching the truck in the dirt and drift.
 

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Troubleshooter
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nice write up. i noticed in my dakota which is a 89 and my friends which is the same year we both have frame rust, his is really bad, its under the cab, and mines is pretty weak is the common? could i fab up a cap or something just to help stengthin it up for the time being?
I see this more on the earlier 1st gens and it seems to be common depending on where you live, for the time being you can fab up some caps or brackets (if that's the right word) to strengthen it for now, however I wouldn't consider this as a fix, eventually the frame will rust thru again and fail, and once the rust on these frames starts it's like a cancer, it will continue despite every attempt to stop it, if you have the time and patience and you really love your truck you can swap out the frame, or you can invest in a replacement truck. But as I said earlier, caps will only help you so much, frames are tricky.
 

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yeah i can understand its like putting a band aid on a broken leg :lol: but its at least an atempt to stengthen the frame. since i off road with it a lil i dont wanna go over something and have the frame buckle w/o me at least attempting to do something, my frame is bad, my friends is horrible...im talking the bottom of the frame is GONE! :eek:
 

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long, black, lean
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mopar_jack said:
whats the easiest way to take the keys off, im not new to mopar, but ive never taken off the torsin bar/key. so in blakdak91's post(good post btw) on post 4 where the key is pictured with the plates mounted, the bolt(that i would tighten, runs threw the smaller end to the left, then that big hole under the plates is what connects to the tbar right....i dont know if that made sence or not.

To explain my thoughts i drew a pic :D
completely back out the bolt... the key and bar will then fall out (but it needs a little help, its a little snug)

just be sure you mark the key to the bar (grease pencil, fingernail polish)
BEFORE you pull the key off the end of the bar.

the orange part in your drawing is the part of the key you build up... giving it a higher lift lobe sort to speak....
 
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