Last week I wrote about how I broke the KM132 transmission in my truck. Luckily for me, I am an auto parts hoarder, and had a couple spare KM132 transmissions “just in case”. My life isn’t as easy as pulling the old transmission out and slapping a spare one in though because the one in my truck was fairly heavily customized. Not only that, but the spare KM132’s I had were intended for a wide block…. You know what, let’s back up the train a bit. (more…)
The other day I was doing a bit of “spirited” driving in my truck. While in the process of doing a rolling burnout, a slight bit o’ mayhem found its way into my transmission. It drove & shifted perfectly fine, and I didn’t even notice an issue until I was done driving. I dropped the transmission into neutral and heard “WHHIIIIIRRRRRRRR” whenever I let the clutch pedal up. When I pushed the clutch pedal back down, the input shaft on the transmission would slow down, stop, and the sound would go away. So right off the bat I knew it was input shaft related, probably a bearing. Sadly, my guess was wrong.
The first step was to pull the already Frankenstein’ed KM132 transmission out, and toss it up on the work bench. Tada! Some time ago, I decided that I needed a hydraulically activated clutch, so I cut out the bottom section of the ’87 2.0L bell housing and welded in a portion of a bell housing from a 1983 (?) Dodge Ram 50 Turbo diesel 4wd. They had hydraulic clutches, and my cable clutch transmission was very similar in size and shape, so it was the obvious choice. It was by far, one of the best upgrades I have done. The back half of the transmission is from a Mitsubishi Starion because they had the shifter about 3″ further back than the Dodge Ram 50’s did. Since my 4G63 turbo engine swap just so happened to be about 3″ forward from the stock engine location, this tail section put my shifter right where it was intended to be.
Sometimes vehicles are just not made the way that you want them to be, so you are forced to take matters into your own hands and correct it. Today’s blog is one of those situations. See, my truck came with a cable actuated clutch, which works absolutely great for a stock clutch. Unfortunately, I inserted Frankenstein into the equation and ruined all chances of clutch cable survival. To be honest, I feel like all clutches should be hydraulically actuated. I know, I know, mustangs are yadda yadda, and they work fine. I know, it’s just my opinion. Anyway, the firewall of my truck was not up for the challenge of a cable pushing harder than normal on it. The truck is likely made from recycled beer cans (sometimes the truth hurts), and would have destroyed itself if I had used it that way much longer. Not to mention, my left leg was getting an unnecessary workout, which made driving in traffic miserable. I knew that there was a better way – hydraulics.
I started by commandeering a hydraulic clutch system from an early 1980’s Dodge Ram turbo diesel (yes, they really existed). This pile of parts included a bell housing cutout that would need to be hacked into my non-hydraulic bell housing. Cool right?
I knew that the only way to keep ambition high all day was to start off with easy stuff. Naturally installing the clutch pedal and clutch master cylinder was the first step. The cool thing about this was that the firewall already had a spot for the clutch master cylinder to be mounted because the V6 models came with hydraulic clutches. Sweeeeeet Action!! Some drilling, grinding, and bending happened, and Poof! It was done.
Next up was the transmission itself. I pulled the transmission out, and chased it around with a sawzall and a cut-off wheel. The TIG welder made a brief appearance on the scene, and then two pieces of aluminum became one. It was as if it was meant to be. The next issue was that factory 2.0L KM132 transmission didn’t have a spot for a pivot ball to be mounted. Uh Oh…. Luckily I had some old 2.6L transmissions hanging around waiting to be stripped of their valuable parts. Off came the front case that can be seen in this picture, some grinding ensued, and VIOLA! Pivot ball in place Hydraulic lines were plumbed, and fluids were topped off. Time to celebrate? Nah.
Once wrapped up, the clutch felt better than ever before. The pedal was about 100x easier to push down, it engaged and disengaged perfectly, and sure enough, the firewall no longer flexes at all. I will officially declare this as the 2nd best upgrade that has been done to the truck. The only thing that it falls behind is the engine swap itself.
Over the past weekend, while making a new alternator mount for my truck on the wrong side of the engine, I began thinking ….. just how many vehicles have donated parts to this Ram 50 truck project? Hmmm, maybe I will start a list?
1989 Dodge Ram 50 macro cab.
The vehicles that have donated to the truck & their donations:
1983? Mitsubishi Mightymax Bellhousing Cut-out, Clutch Fork, Pivot Ball, Slave Cylinder, Clutch Master Cylinder
1985 Mitsubishi Montero Limited Slip Differential
1986? Mitsubishi Starion Transmission Tail Section & Shifter
1987 Dodge Ram 50 5-Speed Manual Transmission & Manual Steering Box
1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse Ignition Coil
1991 Plymouth Laser AWD 4G63 2.0L Turbo Engine
1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse 2.0L Front Wheel Drive Flywheel & Pressure Plate
1991 Mitsubishi Mightymax 2.4L Waterpump (modified)
1992 Mitsubishi Eclipse 1.8L Thermostat Housing Cap
1993 Honda Accord Wagon Bucket Seats.
1993-96 Mitsubishi Mightymax Grille & Front Bumper
2002 Dodge Viper Front/Rear Brake Calipers, 13″ Rear Rotors, Brake Master Cylinder
2005 Cadillac CTS-V Front Cross Drill Rotors
2006 Mitsubishi Evolution 16G Turbo, Exhaust Manifold & Intercooler
2007 Cadillac Escalade 18″ Wheels
Got A Frankenstein’ed car or truck? I want to know about it! Post a Comment or Send Pictures & Info to me at email@example.com
14B VS. EVO VIII 16G Photo Comparison
Recently I installed an EVO VIII 16G turbo on my 6-bolt 4G63 engine swapped 1989 Dodge Ram 50 truck. Since I love seeing how things work, I decided to take them apart and compare them. As you can see in the pictures below, the EVO 8 turbo is a twin scroll and the 14B is not. The wastegate is far larger on the EVO turbo as well, which is very good news because the 14B internal gate is less than impressive. Naturally the compressor and turbine wheels are a bit more elaborate on the 16G as well.
My Hypothesis: Math says the EVO VIII 16G should flow about 50% more air than the 14B did, which means more air at less pressure, less heat soak, and twin scroll should make the spool time between the 16G and 14B negligible.
Results from the butt dyno: The 14B was set at 18PSI and was a lot of fun, because it could break the rear tires loose in 1st and 2nd gear when the turbo spooled. With the new turbo on and the wastegate plugged directly into the intercooler piping (stock actuator pressure is about 12psi I believe), the truck was neeeearly as fast as the 14B at 18PSI. It spools at about 150 rpm more than the 14B, and the boost came on so much smoother. Once I got used to the new turbo, and made sure everything was functioning properly, I cranked the boost up to 20 to see what would happen.
Tire spin in 3rd is what happened.
Traction Bars: Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had a vision of my rear differential wrapping up and ripping my driveshaft apart. I knew that my truck’s suspension wasn’t exactly designed for 250+ hp, and since I know my stock / lowered suspension was on borrowed time, I decided traction bars would be a smart idea. Not only would they prevent my truck’s axle from flipping over backward and turning my driveshaft into a pogo stick, but, it might actually provide traction through my Z rated 255/45/18’s! In went the new traction bars.
As if by some miracle, almost all of my missing traction was back again! I couldn’t believe it! These things really work! Now I can keep traction in 2nd gear (if I want), and spinning the tires in 3rd just plain won’t happen no matter how hard I try.
WIN is the word, EVO VIII is the reason, TRACTION BARS is how.
I recently decided that I hated the stock brakes on my 1989 Dodge Ram 50. In the 4 + years that I have owned the truck, they have never been quite right. Rather than putting time, effort, and money into the stock brakes, I decided to do a little bit of an upgrade. A good friend of mine gave me four super low mileage calipers and rotors from a early 2000’s Dodge Viper, so I really had no choice with what to do with them. One way or another, I was going to get them onto my truck.
I began the swap by purchasing a 2008 Dodge Viper master cylinder and designed a way to mate it to my truck’s brake booster. Then I had my brother in law build the adapter with his absolutely amazing machining skills. While he was working hard, I provided the moral support, entertaining banter, a delicious meal, and beverages. After a few hours and some serious mathematics, the adapter was complete.
I then started working on the front brake setup, and it was not looking good. The front Viper rotors were going to hit the tie rod ends. There was no way that the Viper rotors were going to work. So, the research ensued. I measured the night away and decided what the perfect size rotor would be. It turns out that 14″ Cadillac CTS-V rotors were what I need. Overkill much? A short time passed and I was the proud owner of cross drilled and slotted CTS-V rotors. They were massive, so massive that I began questioning my own sanity. Ah well, too late. I began fitting them on the truck and all was looking well. I just needed to bore out the center of the rotor and redrill the mounting holes. Back up to my brother in laws I went…. Food, drink, entertaining banter, and machining happened. Viola! The rotors were now a bolt on affair.
Next up was caliper brackets. There were a bit on the tricky side to make, luckily I was good in geometry class, and I had a brother in law that wasn’t sick of me yet. You know how it goes, food, banter, drink, caliper brackets = done.
The rear brakes were a little tricky because I needed to hook the emergency brake cables into the Viper calipers. Amazingly, with a little drilling and reworking of caliper brackets, it all fell into place. It was as if this was all meant to be. With more braking, I knew I needed more rubber on the road, so I also upgraded my wheels and tires to 18″ Cadillac Escalade wheels with 255/45/18 inch Z rated tires.
Naturally, the obvious question comes next…. Do they actually work? You bet they do. I can now stop fast enough to make my tongue stick out. I’m not sure if I can stop as well as a Viper (maybe better? gasp!), but this big brake upgrade has vastly exceeded all of my expectations. The feel of the pedal is at least 4000x better, and the added weight on each corner actually makes the truck feel more stable. I can’t explain it, it just is what it is. Accept it.
Yesterday we reviewed the riveting tale of the triumphant rise and epic fall of my first truck. Today I am presenting you with what I am calling “The Reincarnation”. With my first truck solemnly resting in a junkyard far beyond the point of no return, I found myself in desperate need of that missing flame that my Dodge Ram 50 and I once had. I needed to have the heart and soul of my first truck, but with heaping gobs of horsepower, more interior space, and a clutch pedal. To me, that would be pure perfection.
Being a fairly typical gearhead, I get a thrill when I open my hood for people and surprise them with a power plant that they don’t expect. I’m not talking about Chevy engines in Fords though, that is still bizarre to me… I am talking more about upgrades within the same genre. Like a Dodge minitruck with the same make fuel injected, turbocharged, DOHC engine where a carbureted loaf once puttered. Doubling or tripling the factory horsepower and getting more than 1 horsepower per cubic inch intrigues me. It’s even better when it appears like the vehicle came that way. Onlookers begin to question their own eyes.
As you may or may not know, a Dodge Ram 50 truck is really the same as a Mitsubishi Mightymax truck so most parts are interchangeable. Mitsubishi built them for Dodge in the 1980’s and early 1990’s using all Mitsubishi parts, and Dodge decals. So, I figured that if Dodge equals Mitsubishi and Mitsubishi built 220 horsepower turbocharged Mitsubishi Eclipses, then I could potentially get a 4G63 turbo Mitsubishi Eclipse (DSM) engine swapped into a Dodge Ram 50. Simple! With some bolt on upgrades, I could be in the neighborhood of 250+ horsepower, and I liked that thought, a lot.
One day, many years ago, I was hanging out on some local automotive internet forums when a kid asked if anybody needed parts from a 1989 Dodge Ram 50 Extended cab. I wasn’t actually looking to buy a truck at that time but I sent him a message anyway asking if he had the whole truck and what was wrong with it. He quickly responded letting me know that he had the whole truck, it was in great shape, but had a hole in the engine block. It was currently sitting in a parking lot and it needed to be gone ASAP. Could this be my new Ram 50? I thought. “Oh and 1 more thing” he said, “it’s free and has a clean title”. Yes, everything had officially fallen into place.
I picked up the truck the following weekend, and it was exactly what I had been dreaming about for years. Clean original paint, macro (extended) cab, low mileage, straight body, very little rust, it was perfect in my eyes. Within days, I had ripped the junk engine out and grabbed an engine from a 1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse. I dropped the 4G63 into it’s new home with custom motor mounts, and a variety of other custom accessories. Wiring, plumbing, cutting & welding was intense for a couple months, and at the 3 month mark, the truck was drivable.
Driving it brings back all the happiness and memories that I had in my first truck, but now with more tire burning gross displays of horsepower, and 5 gears to shift through. I have been driving it for several years now, and it never lets me down (unless I deserve it). It starts every time, runs smooth, and generally loves to be a usable truck again.
Current list of modifications:
– 1989 Dodge Ram 50 Macro Cab 5 speed truck
– 1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse 4G63 Engine. DOHC, turbo, intercooled, ~18psi.
– 1985 Mitsubishi Montero Limited Slip Differential, 3:55 gears.
– Cadillac Escalade 17″ wheels
– Custom clutch
– 1987 Dodge Ram 50 2.0L 5 speed transmission
– 1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse FWD Flywheel
– Custom driveshaft, motor mounts, radiator pipes
– 1991 Mitsubishi Mightymax waterpump
– 1993+ Mitsubishi Mightymax Grille + Bumper
After my first truck’s lesson, I can’t see myself ever getting rid of this truck. The fact that it will get sideways at 40+ mph is enough to scare me to death and make me keep it forever.