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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
So what is the cutaway actually donating at this point? Just the front end and wiring/dash?
Rear Axle (Dana 80)
Entire Fuel System including tank
Larger Master cylinder and have a spare hydroboost
Towing mirrors
All the van specific duramax engine bolt ons (intake/turbo tubes, dipsticks, intake box, brackets, etc...) which is hard stuff to find.
A spare brand new turbo
Core support cooling stack (it has a brand new radiator)
Front clip(with wiring harness and bumper
probably the engine access floor and firewall opening for the engine cover.
Throttle pedal
Steering column
Wiring/dash
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But really what it does is allow me to use the cutaway cab to produce a running version of the final chassis, I'll be able to solve all the problems on that vehicle before I have to lay a hand on the hightop. That has a lot of value to me.
The cutaway frame will be scrap... and in the end the cutaway cab will be also, and that is a bit of a waste that I hadn't(totally) planned but I can live with it.
On the positive I'll have the entire rolling chassis from the hightop including full engine and transmission to sell of and recoup some expense.
I can sell off doors, front brakes, injectors, and whatever other leftovers there are...it's not a perfect system but it should be workable.
 

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I forgot your engine wasn't already a van specific piece. Makes more sense to me now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
Picked up a (local)low mileage AAM 9.25" front axle(2004 3500 Ram donor) assembly today (came with the front driveshaft as well) for $750. I think it's going to be the best fit (of the available coil spring fronts that are out there). It uses the same speed sensors so the ABS will play nice with it. The coil spring spread is 42" which is about as close to a match as there is (in stock form).
I'll have to modify/fab link and track bar mounts.
Other than a quick clean up it doesn't need much, the brake rotors and pads are even in good shape.
Project total is $18350 now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Looking Good.
You should drive around with just the Cab and Chassis SAS'ed for science.
exactly what I have planned(will probably be quick as hell with just a cab on it!)...I'll make all the mistakes on that set up then move the hightop over when I know it all works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 · (Edited)
Made the run out to Phoenix to pick up the 06 155"wb rolling chassis. 86k mile Arizona van so its really clean. Still has all the ABS plumbing and wire harness installed.
I'll get to work on mating the AAM 9.25 to it in a couple weeks.
If anyone out there has a half ton rig that they've been dreaming of upping to the 3/4ton I'll be able to help you out, all the suspension/steering related stuff on this will be removed(minus the nice leak free steering box which I need..
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
Grabbed some dimensions today:
Coil spring bucket width is 41" on center.
AAM 9.25" Front axle coil mounts 42 1/4" on center (should work great with the 41" bucket width)
Rear leaf springs (passenger and cargo) 50 3/8" on center
Rear leaf springs (cutaway) 47 7/8" on center
Rear leaf springs 2500hd Pickup 11.5" AAM 49 3/8" on center.
Looks like no matter what I'll be cutting spring perches and welding on new. I'd keep the 14bolt that's in the hightop now except that it's drum brakes..

Fuel tank on the new chassis is 31 gallon and on the cutaway it's 33gal and different shape, but, the opening for the pickup/sending unit is identical and the depth of the tanks is the same so it looks like that will be a direct swap.
I'll need to pull the fuel cooler/pump and filter assy from the cutaway and probably mount it where the evap canister is on the new 155" chassis.
 

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You need to buy another frame so you can register it as a 1997.
What is one more frame?
You can always resell one of your others,
But then you are smog free, clear sailing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Had a little time to work on it this weekend so I fired up the plasma torch and made some room for the AAM 9.25" axle.
I got rid of anything that was related to the control arm suspension.
I had briefly considered working with the stock dodge link arms but I think I'm just going to built a heavy duty adjustable radius arm set up and go with a longer lower arm.
I had the stock ram springs installed I may still use them (or a version of them) but they are just a bit too large in o.d. and would probably rub on the frame when compressed (larger diameter at the bottom than the top) if I shift the upper bucket center out .5" on each side it would be fine and that might be what I do. I am going to research smaller o.d springs.
As it sets in the pictures it is at desired ride height (6" lift as compared to my current hightop van).
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I made some progress this past week, I'll post up some more pics this coming weekend.
I pulled the cab loose on the cutaway van so that I could get to all the van specific duramax stuff (and got most of that swapped on to my new engine) and I also got a start on the front radius arms for the new chassis. Also got the front inner fender structure cut off the cutaway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 · (Edited)
Got the radius arms/mounts fabbed up, went with square tube, it was my first time using it for links. it's pretty easy to work with; I used 1.25" forged urethane joints and prefabbed link brackets from Ruffstuff Specialties.
I did catch a pretty serious error in my set up, I got tunnel vision on the coil buckets/perches lining up and didn't bother to think about the fact that the wheel center is offset (forward) considerably on the express van from the coil spring center. I fortunately had only tacked the lower link bracket on the outrigger so I was able to shift it forward (1.5"), I'd already burned in the outrigger so I'll just add some to the front of it.
The dodge wheels have 285/75r17 tires(same size I plan to run) and a lot of backspace so it was no surprise that I get some rub at full turn, I'll run some 1.5" spacers (or swap to a wheel with less backspace) to cure it.
My plasma torch crapped out or I would have had that body mount trimmed back out of the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Nice! Square tube is super strong so your good to go... on the wheel center offset will that keep the coil from sitting flat? since you moved the axle forward...
Yeah, it's 2" x 1/4" wall, it's ridiculously beefy...no strength issues at all.
No, the offset is small enough that it wouldn't affect how the spring set, but, you can also see in my pictures that I cut the spring perches off, they were for the larger (2004 Ram) 7.5" dia. springs that are just too big to use. I ordered a set of later Ram lift/leveling springs that are only 6" dia so I'll either modify these perches for the smaller diameter or get new. With that smaller perch I can shift it a bit to make up for some of the offset.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 · (Edited)
I also got the cab separated from the cutaway and out of the way so that I could access the van specific Duramax parts (more than you would think)
I cut the entire front inner fender structure out as I'll need that for the front clip sway and it makes rolling the chassis in and out much easier (don't have to lift it very high). I'll just re-attach it with some rivets when I use the cutaway cab for a test bed, it will end up being welded in on the hightop.
Got a good portion of the van parts installed on my new engine, I'm going to run a bit of a hybrid, I'm staying with the truck harness so both the ECM and the TCM will be on the drivers side (vice the TCM on the passenger side in the van configuration), and I'm keeping the truck intake bridge (will fab my own egr delete intake tube), it's a tight fit but with the egr cooler removed there is a lot more space on top of the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
I fell a bit behind on my budget reporting, last report I was at $18350
since then I've spent a fair amount
06 Rolling chassis-$600
Dodge wheels-$200
Radius arm parts/link mounts and steel $440
4.30 gears and master kits for both axles $1100
Detroit truetrac for AAM9.25 $600
heavy duty tire rod and pitman arm $150
skyjacker r25 front springs $160
New total is $21600.
 
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