bought them via ebay from Premier Auto ACC - they're 1" adapters/spacers, 8-lug, with the matching GM 14x1.5 thread. They were $49.95 for the pair - not sure why they're listed for $999.99 - I guess contact them to confirm prices. Nice stuff - perfect for what I needed (I'm OCD about matching front/rear track widths and needed an inch per side in the rear to match the front)
...since I'm getting ready to bolt stuff to the firewall I figured now was the time to prep, prime and paint it. First I used sander deglosser ("liquid sandpaper") to give the old but good paint tome 'tooth', then a coat of good ole Rustoleum rusty metal primer, and then two coats of 'my' color, USAF "Strata" Blue. Meanwhile, getting ready to fab up the frame for the center console so the shifter will have something solid to bolt to, locate the t-case shifters, and I'm hitting my hose shop today to get the fittings for the hydrobooster and gearbox...
...fabbed up a mount for the Scout II gearbox, shortened the column by two inches (for additional exhaust manifold clearance), and made two holes in the floor - the forward one for the trio of t-case shifters, and the rearward one for access to linkage. etc. The gearbox had to be mounted 'outward' because the two ram-assist ports unfortunately aim straight towards the engine, so I'm mounting the gearbox far enough away so as not to be affected by engine heat, plus it being further out means less bump steer angle so bonus. Nothing's in the way of the tire - in fact there was tone of room so I used it.
Lots of finish work to do, but the t-case shifters and Winters Sidewinder transmission shifter should be in place in a couple weeks. Also, most of my steering/hydrobooster plumbing is in from PSC so I'll be fabbing all the hydraulic lines soon.
this thing is gonna get a lot of unending stress placed against it so I made it 'big'; main face is 1/2" plate, gusseted by 1/4" -
can't really tell by looking at it...but this section of the column is now 2 inches shorter than it was...
both holes button up nicely - the front via a boss t-case shifter plate I made, and the rear with just regular plate to seal the floor under the custom center console, which is 'on deck'.
I've been jammin' away on a few small but critical items and finally got them 'done' enough to take some pics. First off, in the spirit of keeping things as 'peaceful' as possible in the cab I've been trying to re-use all of the factory insulation I can. Fortunately, my spare Dakota parts truck had a useful but somewhat damaged firewall insulation pad, and I was able to clean it, repair/restore it, and install it.
Look close - you can see the derelict pad in place just before I removed it -
after a very thorough scrubbin' with simple green and the garden hose, the residual heat-reflective foil was almost all the way gone so I peeled off as much of the remnants as I could and repaired two tears/holes with duct tape -
then I (re)covered the whole center area with a sheet of thin DEI peel-n-stick heat insulation -
Ya know when you use a big hole saw...there's decent sized discs that get cut away and fall out the bottom?, well I always keep those in case I want to use them as large washers, and in this case I cleaned up several of the aluminum pieces and used them as retention discs to affix the pad to the firewall. I cleaned the edges, painted them satin black, baked them at 200* for 20 minutes in my toaster oven (my 'poor-man's powder coating system'), and used 1/4 fine thread nuts to bolt it all up clean and secure. Plus I used Flex Glue to secure the outer edges so they wouldn't 'flap around', and used big magnets to 'press' the edges to the firewall - worked great, and now a large part of the firewall and cowl have that much more heat and sound insulation 👍
Next, I borrowed an idea from the 'Book of Nacho' and fabbed up the basic frame for the center console, and after a bunch of small mods/upgrades I got a Winters Performance shifter bolted up.
...after 'merging' (welding) the two separate Atlas t-case shifter bases together and a bunch of small mods I got the triple-stick in place, complete with a trio of matching Winters shift knobs -
...and now that the firewall is 'done', next up is mounting the hydrobooster and steering gearbox
...well crap - turns out with the big engine crammed in there the high-steer tie rod is just too close to the oil pan for my comfort...so...I'm going back to regular crossover and the high-steer kit is for sale, in case anyone wants -
hydrobooster and steering gearbox bolted up hopefully for the final time; core support/fenders/radiator are coming soon, then fitting the rest of the stuff in the engine bay and hi/lo pressure lines. Progress
meh - it's just wires - they all have a beginning and an end - just gotta make sure I don't burn down the truck or inadvertently juice myself . I'm deleting all of the unnecessary wires now that the PCM is 'not appearing in this build' so we cut it open to delete what was just going to take up space. When it's all back together it'll look nice n normal again 👍
...been about a month and time for some updates. Been jammin' hard on all of the 'small stuff', to include making lots of brackets for the engine bay components (PSC reservoir and vent, coolant reservoir, washer reservoir, fuse box/panel, air box, heater hoses), and the steering wheel is now connected to the tires and the ram is mounted.
First - prepped/primed/painted the inner fenders Air Force Blue. Got the steering lines, brake lines, trans cooler lines, radiator coolant hoses and fan shroud 'figured out', and am now in the process of finalizing those and connecting all of those in place.
Should have the engine 'wet' right after that...and then I'll know if there's any coolant leaks anywhere
Fabbed up all of these little brackets to have something to bolt the accessories 'to' (battery(s) are going in the bed) - some use nutzerts, and some use good 'ole pop-rivets
PSC reservoir and coolant reservoir brackets -
Holley Sniper EFI brain box bracket -
Fuse box -
Washer reservoir (generic/Amazon)-
PSC reservoir and vent, engine coolant reservoir (new off-the-shelf/Jeep Cherokee), and the Sniper coil -
PSC vent -
Sniper EFI brain box -
OE fuse box -
this was cool - I needed a way to attach a bracket 'to' the intake manifold to keep the heater hoses from flopping around on top of the intake, and I found these double-ended 'studs' (GM 12550726) that are 3/8-16 'course' thread, same as what a big block Mopar used for the intake manifold bolts, replaced two of 'em towards the front, torqued 'em to 50 lbs, and between them and one of the valve cover studs had a perfect mounting solution for a nice little bracket -
for a little extra cooling system protection I installed a zinc anode in the water pump (only available location) -
RobbMC EFI fuel tank and washer reservoir; this EFI tank is 'fed' low-pressure fuel from the OE gas tank, and inside is a standard Warblo (sp) EFI fuel pump, and that is what the EFI/engine will actually 'run' on -
Meanwhile...back to standard crossover steering - ended up with a nice 4 inches of compression on both sides -
with the ram-bottomed out each way I ended up with about 33* of steering - well below the 42* threshold of the RCV axle shafts, and ended up with about an inch of clearance before the tires rub the leafs -
...also got the core of the rock sliders in place - used 2.5" x 3/16 wall round tubing for the mains, welded to the frame via 6 laterals, each gusseted with 1/4" plate triangles to help the frame from deflecting - should work good. The running boards/rock rails will extend out from these -
I'll have the fan shroud, radiator, rad hoses, and brakes all buttoned up soon.
...needed a fan shroud, and go figure - nothing was available in the aftermarket for a 440-powered 02 Dakota using an OE 19" fan..., so out game the 16g sheet metal, a section of a water tank cylinder, some air flaps, some high-temp peel-n-stick foam seals, Rustoleum primer and Textured Black top coat paint...and viola - instant (not) home-brew fan shroud 🤙
...also included the mounts for a 12" dual-pass in/out power steering cooler -
hmmmm - define 'done' - hoping to fire it within the next couple weeks - then it'll be 'finishing' everything...which'll take months...and realistically I'm hoping it'll be 'fully functional' (fully highway and trail worthy, all armor, and accessories, painted) to start the 2022 season.
...Brake lines - done. Fuel lines - done. Transmission cooler lines - done. Radiator and heater hoses - done. Steering lines - 90% (waiting on two fittings). Engine and radiator are filled with 3.5 leak-free gallons of Zerex G05 50/50 coolant. Battery cables are 80% - getting close to powering things up.
Needed a very custom lower rad hose/tube - ordered the raw tubing, cut to fit, and Wayne glued it together, including a nice 1/8 npt drain plug -
5/16 steel fuel lines run the majority of the length of the truck, with rubber finishing the ends both at the tank and under the hood to the RobbMC EFI tank -
Vibrant Performance 22mm clamps keep the heater hoses from causing a fight with each other -
3/8 JIC(AN) x 5/8-18 bump tube/o-ring fittings and 6an x 3/8 hose barb ends for the OE trans cooler make fabbing flexible trans cooler lines a breeze, and I fabbed two brackets that attach to the oil pan and starter bolt with 1/2" double clamps to secure it all -
...this update is all about the one thing I'll be staring at a lot...the dash. I like analog gauges, and I was able to squeeze in 9 of my favorite Autometer Z-series gauges in the factory Dakota panel area.
The main panel is 16g steel - it took three attempts to get it 'just' right, and it the only thing so far in this build that I've had professionally powdercoated. Here it is, complete with an assortment of indicator LEDs for the various purposes, to include left/right turn, high beams, low oil pressure, alternator no-charge, aux battery engage, and aux fuel transfer -
and installed in the dash frame -
back side -
you may notice the speedo is cable-driven, which was a main source of lots of voodoo. See...the OE setup was all 'electric' - no cable...nor was there a way to route a cable to drive the speedo...and in order to get both a reasonable 120 mph top speed and trip odometer I really wanted...well mechanical was the only option...which meant...well I needed to get a speedo cable up to it. So...I ahhhh...modified a hole saw so it was a 'deep-well' style...aaaand yeah - drilled a hole clean through the whole steering column dash frame...and...the heater duct...and I even got it aimed pretty close to the previously unused firewall clutch panel. THIS...was fun :)
deep-well hole saw -
...never bored a tunnel through a dash frame before - it was pretty fun...but the drill was smoking by the time I got all the way through...
...cleaned up the jagged edges that I could reach, and then had fun playing with my new Harbor Freight plastic welding kit (pretty neat by the way) fabbing up a plastic liner, and shoved it in the hole to keep the cable happy -
...but...another small item that needed to be addressed...was the drivers side upper heater duct - yah it was right in the way so I hogged it out too, made another sleeve, and welded it back together -
back side -
then with everything in place the speedo cable comes right out behind the speedo...and it connects up just like it was built for it 😎
modified the clutch cover to accept a boot for all of the new wiring, and a tube for the speedo cable - all sealed up nicely -
So...now that the gauges are wired and in place, we are potentially within days of firing the engine. We're going to slowly and precisely wake up the newly re-wired main fuse panel, check all circuits one by one, then we'll shove in the key and check switched power, make sure it holds for at least a half hour, and when that's all good and nothing catches fire...well we'll be ready to prime the engine and fire that bitch up 👍
yup hydraulic flat tappet cam, and hoping the Sniper does what it's supposed to do as well as the reviews have indicated.
Big day yesterday - it's been almost 2-1/2 years since I tore it all apart, and yesterday we powered up the electrical system 👍 . We took small methodical steps plugging in more and more fuses and relays, and so far so good - only a very few minor glitches that were easily remedied. The Sniper powered up good, and today I poured 10 gallons of go-go juice in the main tank so we can test the pumps. Gettin' danger close 👍
main fuel tank pump, EFI pump and the Sniper all woke up and tested out great.
Started oil priming the engine for fire-up and so far so good. I wanted to ensure the oil passages up to the rockers were clear and aligned correctly, but because I have the baffles under the oil-fill and breather openings I had to pull the valve covers to get visual confirmation. Then I pulled the dizzy, dumped in 8 quarts of Lucas SAE 30 break-in oil, and we spun r' up - got good pressure, but after a minute or so wasn't getting oil up to the rockers. Possible reasons: cam wasn't in the right orientation (most likely), after sitting for almost 3 years the break in grease/lube had gelled a bit and wasn't allowing oil through the small passageways (contributing factor), or the cam bearing was installed incorrectly (least likely).
So, pulled the rockers to confirm I had the oiling holes aligned correctly and to loosen up the assembly grease - they were good, but yah the grease was a bit 'thick' and rocking them a few times got them all happy again, and reinstalled the rockers. We decided to just spin up the engine and get everything moving, so reinstalled the dizzy, pulled the plugs, we sorted out a few starter and dash electrical gremlins, and hit the key! The engine spun up smooth and easy - cool seeing the big phat serpentine doin' its thing...and eureka - oil started flowing to the p-side rockers. Didn't want it to flood over and soak the manifolds so reinstalled the p-side v-cover, and today we'll spin it again to confirm the d-side.
I read some stuff on Holley's site about cam break in, zeroing out fuel enrichment. I would not do that again. Just leave it as-is and fire it. It's OK to shut down or do cam break-in in pieces. If anything I suggest to keep a bottle of whiskey handy during break in. Mine ran leaner than I wanted but no load and all was OK. Stressful after a lot of work, hence the whiskey.