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49 Dodge well darn, here we go again!

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  • 49 Dodge well darn, here we go again!

    Some of us are pretty slow to learn, I guess. I'm building a 49 Dodge pickup. This truck is my 4th final build, I don't think my wife believes me, and my son just laughs! Really, its going to be my last build, you all believe me, right? Sigh......

    OK, the back story. I'd just got the 39 Dodge (the 3rd last build) to the point where I could drive it when I discovered it was kind of small for me. I was pretty discouraged, I'd spent a lot of money and it was nice, and drove well, just a bit tight (I'm 6'1" and 270 lbs, and I'm getting old and am not very flexible any more). My wife and I discussed the deal, and she thought I should build a truck I fit in better. Its her fault, how many guys wouldn't build another vehicle if the wife told him to?

    So being the guy I am, I was looking at Facebook marketplace and found this 49 Dodge truck. I've owned a 50, and its the same cab, I know I fit in these better. A 48-53 is the next body style truck after the 39-47. It is 7" longer from the firewall to the back of the cab, and 13" wider at the seat area. It came on the original frame, and included a sandblasted, primed, already shortened, and rolling Dakota 4x4 frame. The truck was a rolling basket case with all the sheet metal except a tailgate, and it came with a MO State Police issued title, and it was dirt cheap! I talked with the guy over the phone and told him it would be two weeks before I could get to his place with money, it was just before Easter 2019, and he was 300 miles away. After the Holiday I made contact with him again, and we made arrangements to meet. I borrowed a truck and trailer with the intent of hauling both the truck and the rolling frame home in one trip. My wife went with me when we made the trip. When we got there, the truck was everything he said it was, but it became very obvious both the truck and the Dakota frame were not coming home on one load. We brought the truck home, and made plans to make another trip to get the extra frame.

    The first 4 pictures are the truck the 1st day at my place.

    It took almost 2 months before my son and I were able to make the return trip to pick up the Dakota frame. That was a challenging trip that included an interstate blocked by a fiery accident and a backtrack and 100 mile go around. The 7 hour trip turned into 21 hours, but we got the frame home!

    A few months after the frame was home, it was time for a test fit. I pulled the sheet metal off the original frame and set it on top of the Dakota 4x4 frame. This process revealed that the original truck had at one time been laid on its side and the passenger side door, front fender, and roof were damaged and covered with lots of filler. Once the filler was removed, I discovered I had a lot of sheet metal straightening to do. I ended up cutting the inner and outer roof apart, then cut, straighten, and re-weld the front roof pillar and inner panel back into the correct position. Then I made a new section of the outer skin. I no longer have pictures of that repair.
    At this point, I knew this truck would be sitting around a while before I could really get started on it, because I needed to sell the 39 to fund this build. After the purchase and the expense of getting everything home, there simply wasn't money available to spend on this truck. In an effort to protect the new and reworked sheet metal, and the now bare metal that was covered with filler before, I went to my spray can collection to see what overstock paint might be there. From a project from a few years before, I had 3 full spray cans of Rustoleum gloss yellow. Yea, when your broke, you use what is available!
    After the metal work, it was time to see what the finished project might look like, yellow spots and all. Pic 5. The truck sat in that condition over the winter.

    Early this spring, I had a guy call me wanting to know if I knew anyone that might be interested in buying a 318 motor and transmission. He had bought, at auction a 44,000 mile Dakota 4x4 pickup that didn't have rear brakes. The truck looked really clean for it being a 96, so he figured the brake lines had rusted through. pics 6 & 7 When he got it home, he discovered the entire truck frame was rusted away, it had several holes through it. So much for fixing a brake line and selling the truck. He offered the entire truck to me for $400, I could use whatever I needed, then junk the rest, and tell him where to take the title.
    So everything has been sitting here for a few months, all the while I'm dying to get started, but everything has to wait because I really have no money until the 39 sells.

    Last Monday the 39 Sold! I have money to spend! Let the party begin! Gene
    Last edited by Gene; 07-25-2020, 11:14 PM.

  • #2
    So, I have a 96 Dakota 4x4 part donor, it runs, drives, and the brake lines have been hammered closed, so it also stops. I can move it around under its own power right up until I start taking it apart, then I will have to drag it around the yard by chain.
    I have the original 49 frame here. I've discovered that it has been bent, but it still rolls fairly good. I can steer it by pushing the tires. I can move it by myself if the tires are up and there isn't much weight on it. Unfortunately, one of the tires only holds air about 10 minutes, and add any weight and I need to pull it around the yard with a chain as well.
    Then I have the "good" Dakota 4x4 frame the 49 sheet metal is sitting on and it also rolls freely. I can steer it by pushing the tires, but its more difficult to steer then the original frame. Moving it with weight on it also requires pulling it with a chain, unless its on the driveway.

    I need to get the "good" frame out from under the sheet metal so I can figure out what will need to be done so its ready to drive, and I need to paint the frame. Someone did brush on some white (or grey) primer, but they forgot to do the bottom, and what they did on the top was pretty quick, It left a lot of area to surface rust. The 49's front sheet metal consists of two fenders and a nose piece that are bolted together, and a hood that bolts on. I can lift off the hood by myself, and I can lift off the fenders and nose piece bolted together by myself, and place both those things on the grass. (pic1 the frame in this picture is a different project) The 49's box is basically both sides, the front panel, a couple of cross members, and the rear section that is welded to the rear box sides. I can lift/slide that off and into the grass as well, if I keep it top side on the grass. (pic2) The cab will have to be lifted off.
    I don't have a hoist here, every time I have to lift something heavy off, I employ my cherry picker (engine hoist). If I lift things like a truck cab, I have a bolt welded on top of the lift beam, a couple inches behind the chain hook, and I have a 7' long 4" x 6" piece of rectangular wood with a hole drilled in the center that sits down on the welded bolt. I open the cab doors, and set the wood against the front corner of the door opening and lift the cab from the inside. It tends to get the cab on a pretty big tilt if I need to lift the cab very high, but this has worked for many years. It can get a bit harry if I really have to lift the cab very high and move the cherry picker while the cab is high in the air. The biggest challenge is the caster wheels on the old cherry picker don't swivel so great any more. Just to add a little more fun to the deal, the driveway isn't flat, it slopes downhill towards the garage. Sometimes when you move stuff across the driveway, the stuff also wants to roll towards the garage. Since I do my heavy lifting with my cherry picker, I have to do that lifting on my driveway.

    So, to get the cab off the frame, I need to pull the good frame onto the driveway to lift the cab, then I'm going to need something to put the cab on, so I can move it out of the way until I'm ready for it, and i can't tie up the driveway. And its getting hot, and rainy.

    I have a plan! I'll roll the good frame onto the east side of the driveway, lift off the cab, and pull the loaded cherry picker towards the west side of the driveway. Then I can hand push the good frame into the garage. (pic 3) I can then get the original frame onto the east side of the driveway, and move the loaded cherry picker towards the east, and set the cab onto the original frame, then pull the empty cherry picker back from under the frame and back on the west side of the drive. Then I can pull the original frame with the 49 cab back off the driveway, out of the way.

    With the frame in the garage, I can assess what needs to be done. I want to use as many parts off the donor 44K frame as possible, because I have driven that truck around the yard and know everything works on it (except the gas gauge). The good frame has a power steering box with a pump attached. The pump is empty, and I have no history on the steering box itself other then the fact it wasn't bolted to the frame when it came here. Without a doubt, I'll be using the pump and box off the 96 donor. I also knew there was no fuel tank. I plan to repair the fuel gauge, and use the 96 donor's fuel tank. A check of the brakes on the good frame tells me one caliper is froze up, but the other is OK and that bleeder screw is good. I'll probably just replace both calipers. It looks like both the rotors are almost new, and the brake pads are also pretty new, I'll reuse both of those. Both the bleeder screws on the rear wheel cylinders are free, after I check the condition of the rear brakes, I'll determine if I'm rebuilding those, or replacing them. All the brake hoses and lines are junk. I've ordered my 1st parts, both calipers, all the brake hoses, and all new steel lines.
    A quick sand, and bath and the semi gloss black is ready to brush on. I'm brushing it on because I think it gives me a better coating of paint, no one will probably ever see it, so I'm OK with a few runs. The frame is painted (yes, I did the bottom as well) and the new hard lines, new hoses, and new calipers are on.
    Next up, stripping the donor truck. This one I drove into place (west side of the driveway). My son and grand daughter helped me. Pretty much everything is coming out of the cab (the seats and seat belts were already robbed for the coupe). I intend to use the instrument cluster, the wiring, the computer, the switches, the steering column, the heater/AC box, and anything else of value. I may also use the firewall, and the floor pan/tunnel since it is still really clean. Its hard to imagine a spotless floor pan with no rust from inside or under it, but a frame with gapping holes you can break with your fingers. If i wasn't looking at it myself, I'd swear the frame and the body were from different trucks!
    The plan is to strip everything out of the inside (in case I need something), strip everything out from under the hood (I'm using most of that) then pull the front fenders (Junk), lift off the cab, and pull the box. I'm going to use the floor and the front panel off the box and merge it with the 49 box pieces. Once the sheet meal is off it will be easier to pull the motor, trans fuel tank, and steering box. I believe I can even incorporate the radiator and radiator support into the nose piece on the 49. I can lift the box off the rear of the donor frame, and pull the original frame with the 49 cab sitting on it, back onto the driveway, spin the cherry picker around and set the box behind the 49 cab, and roll that frame back off the driveway. (pic 4) The cab will sit on 4 cement blocks up the driveway from the frame. Once the front sheet metal is off, and the box is off, I will lift the cab. pull the loaded cherry picker towards the east side of the driveway, roll the frame towards the garage and push the loaded cherry picker back towards the west side of the driveway and set the cab on the cement blocks behind the donor frame.

    With the sheet metal off, (pic5) I dropped the fuel tank and move it into the garage and made new gas tank straps to mount the tank on the good frame. It was about that time I discovered I was missing a cross member that supports the rear of the fuel tank. I had to remove that cross member from the donor frame and clean it up and paint it (it bolts in place) before I could mount the tank into the good frame. Then I pulled the steering box (I drained the fluid out of the pump and box) and painted it and bolted it onto the good frame. Then it was time to pull the motor and trans. Once the motor was off the frame and in the garage, out of the weather, I discovered the trans cross members were different. The donor frame is a 96, but the good frame is a 92. Between those 4 years, the trans cross member changed. I had to pull the cross member off the donor frame, clean it up and paint it before I could install it. I also installed both new motor mounts and a new trans mount. The motor and trans are bolted to the frame. Gene
    Last edited by Gene; 07-26-2020, 06:26 PM.


    • #3
      I probably should point out that each process was done in the order stated, but many times, the steps were mixed in real time. After the good frame was painted, it took 3 days for the paint to dry. While the paint was drying on the good frame, I was dissembling the 96 donor truck. If it happened to rain on a particular day, I had things in the shop I could do, and if the weather was cooperative, I did things I could do outside. I started out every morning about 8:30 am, but when it got hot and humid, I'd call it a day. Sometimes the day ended at 11 am, and other days it ended at 3:30 or 4 pm. I figured this might be hard enough to track, and I also figured if I did an actual craniological order, it could get real confusing. I sided on the keep it as simple as possible rule.

      So, with the drive train bolted to the painted good frame, and most of the stuff I thought I might need off the donor truck its time to clear the driveway, and prepare to set the 49 cab on the good frame.

      With the good frame sitting in the garage, out of the way, I lifted the 96 cab with the cherry picker and sat it back on its original frame, and pulled it off the driveway and out of the way. Then I pulled the frame holding the 49 cab and the donor truck box back on the east side of the driveway, and lifted the 49 cab with the cherry picker and rolled the loaded cherry picker onto the west side of the driveway, and pulled that frame off the driveway with the donor box still sitting on it. Once the driveway was clear again, I had to rotate the loaded cherry picker 180 degrees because the cab was facing the wrong direction to sit it on the good frame in the correct position. Once the cab was facing the correct direction, I sat it down on the 4 cement blocks the previously held the 96 cab.
      When I first did the test fit for the 49 cab on the Dakota 4x4 frame, I cut all 4 original Dakota cab mounting brackets off the good frame, and welded the front two cab mounts for the 49 cab onto the good frame, so I would have a location for the cab that would position the cab to where the front fenders matched the front tires, and the box fenders matched up with the frames rear tires. It sat really well without the drivetrain in place. I expected I was going to have to modify the firewall to clear the motor, and probably would also have to cut the center of the floor out to clear the transmission. I also knew I would have to cut the driver side rear of the cab to clear the Dakotas fuel tank. A guy can measure and guess all day long how things will fit without a motor and trans mounted, but until you have the motor and trans in place and can actually measure things, its all speculation.
      I spent a day measuring how the drivetrain was located, compared to the front cab mounts welded onto the frame. I needed to determine what would have to be cut out of the firewall, and what needed to be cut out of the floor pan to clear the trans and the fuel tank. I needed height, width, and location based off a center line on the cab floor, and the only thing I had to measure from was the two 3/4" cab mount holes in the floor pan and the cab mounting brackets on the frame. I have a couple of the old cab rubber bushings I can use to determine how far off the frame brackets the cab will be. I transferred the measurements to the 49 cab floor, and dragged out my plasma cutter and cut holes in the complete floor pan. (pic1) That was the end of that day. The cab sat outside on the driveway and it started to rain. I spent the rest of the day picking up parts I was going to need.

      The next morning was cooler and sunny. I lifted the 49 cab with the cherry picker and then rolled the good chassis out onto the west side of the driveway. Then I rolled the frame out of the garage and blocked a wheel so it wouldn't roll back into the garage. I lifted the cab and rolled it over top of the good frame and set it down slowly. (more pics) I only had to lift that cab up, and move it off the frame to cut more floor out, then move it back above the frame and lower it down slowly 4 times before I got enough trimmed from the floor for the cab to sit on the rubber mounts! It took all morning.
      Then I rolled the frame, with the cab sitting on top of it (with 2 bolts through the front mounting holes) back into the garage. I spent the afternoon getting the cab level at the height I wanted it at. When I was happy with the cab height, I cleaned the paint off the frame and welded the rear cab mount brackets to the frame. Then I ordered new cab mounts.

      With the cab positioned where it will be, the next move is to figure out how to cover the holes in the floor to clear the trans and fuel tank that I just cut. This involves more thought then one would expect.

      I want to use the Dakota heat and AC box intact if I can, this truck may actually get AC (yea, I'm getting old and soft), and it would be cheaper to use the Dakota stuff I have then it would be to buy an after market setup, even if I buy a replacement heater core and AC condenser. If I use the box intact (the cab is wide enough to not have to cut it), then I can also use the duct work for the heat, AC, and defroster (this will be a truck that gets used all year around). The Dakota firewall is basically flat, and has the mounting pins for the heater box to attach to. The 49 cab has an inward indentation that was needed to clear the original inline 6 motor. That indentation will not let the heater box sit against the firewall, and with the way this truck is set up, I don't need the indentation. I can cut the original firewall out of the 49, and weld in the firewall from the Dakota, and not only will I have the mounting brackets for the heater box, I also already have the correctly positioned holes for the AC hoses and the correct position openings for the heater hoses. As a bonus, I also get the mounting flange, holes and brackets for the brake booster, gas pedal mounting & hole, and the steering column hole. If you look at the 2nd picture, you can see there is a step ledge all around the original firewall. I can save enough steel inside that step ledge to weld the Dakota firewall to, and everything I need from the Dakota firewall will still be intact. Sounds like a no brainier to me.
      Then it occurred to me I will be cutting the entire firewall out of the Dakota cab, maybe I should see how the trans tunnel would fit. One of the things I had to cut the 49's floor around was the 4x4 shift lever, and the trans sits about 5" above the original flat floor pan. The Dakota tunnel already has the hole cut for the 4x4 shift lever, and the tunnel is pretty deep. It looks like with a bit of trimming that tunnel will work too. I cut both pieces out of the Dakota cab. I may also hijack the door latches and handles off the Dakota doors as well. The 49 doesn't have functioning locks, the handles are pretty rough, and the door latches are the old tapered retracting stud and then can come open on rough roads. The Dakota latches have functioning locks (with keys) and the latches are the bear claw latches modern vehicles have.

      That brings me up to where I'm at right now. I will need to lift off the cab to install the Dakota firewall and floor pan. I'll see what the weather looks like tomorrow. Gene


      • #4
        At 8:30 this morning, our outdoor thermometer said it was 78 degrees with 87% humidity, it was dark and cloudy, and looked like it could rain at any minute. So much for cooler, sunny and a lot less humid like the weather guy said it was going to be. It was pretty hard to get motivated to pull the 49 out of the garage and lift off the cab so I could cut the firewall out and fit in the Dakota firewall. I did the retired guy thing, I sat on our porch swing with my wife while she had coffee.

        By 10:30, the humidity had dropped, and the temp was down to the mid 70s. The clouds were lightening up a lot. I got busy. I pushed the 49 out of the garage onto the east side of the driveway, and lifted the cab off the frame with the cherry picker. I moved the cab to the west side of the driveway, and set the cab down on 4 jack stands that were set as high as I could set them. Then I rolled the frame back into the shop and drug out my plasma cutter. Before any cutting took place, I determined where the holes for the brake booster would need to be mounted, and also where the cut out for the AC stuff had to be located. Once those positions were determined, it didn't take long before the original 49 firewall was laying on the ground (pic 1). Then I had to trim the edges of the Dakota firewall so it would fit into the opening, and would allow me to have the brake booster holes and the AC hole positioned correctly. After the trimming, and I could clamp the "new" firewall into place, a more accurate placement, and measurement could be made, and that final trimming could also be made. The bottom of the Dakota firewall extends lower then the cut out section of the 49 firewall. The intent here is to bend the over hang, and attach it to the existing 49 floor where it will be welded. Fitment of the Dakota brake booster, master cylinder, and on the inside, fitment of the swinging Dakota brake pedal bracket and steering column without interfering contact with anything else is critical. Clearances are tight both inside and outside. The forward edge of the firewall lip on the 49 extends out nearly an inch from the flat surface the booster sits against, and there are also fender support brackets riveted to the flat surface I may still need to use, and the booster will still need to miss the 318's valve cover. Before the cab came off the frame, I made a measurement that would be as close to the motor that the booster could be mounted. after that, the lip and the fender support brackets will determine the boosters final location. Inside the truck, the biggest concern is clearance for the pedal to swing freely, and to have contact with the bracket itself at the back stop. I need to be sure the pedal doesn't bottom out against the floor or anything else before it makes contact with the bracket. If the pedal contacts the floor first, it will make bleeding the brakes more difficult (if it can be done at all) and it may cause a problem should there be a brake line failure at some point and the pedal can't travel far enough to activate the remaining brakes. The brake pedal can be modified to make extra clearance, but I would rather have the intact unaltered pedal work correctly if possible.

        Once I can secularly clamp the firewall in place, I can test the booster and the pedal clearance, and adjustments can be made if required. Should adjustments be required, new marks and measurements will need to be made as well, and the old marks should be removed. Its not like I've ever positioned something on the old marks rather then the new correct marks and had to cut things apart before, its just that it could happen.....

        OK the marks have been made, the measurements have been checked, the bottom edge has been bent and everything fits together nice and tight when clamped. Now is the time to mark all the inside and outside edges, and clearly mark any final trimming that still may need to be done. There has been a lot of trimming that has happened. Sometimes through the process of straightening edges, and the trimming process, we wined up with places there are gaps where the edges just miss each other. This is the point where I make pieces to fill those gaps. I have two sections at the top center where the original firewall leaned in to that notch I eliminated, that after straightening out the edges, I was left a gap of about 1/2" wide for about a 6" run in the two locations. Since both gaps are fairly close to each other, and there are a few places between where the edges are pretty close, I will insert a single piece 1 1/2" wide by 21" long 18 gauge sheet metal. I will plug weld the top of the piece to the original firewall, then plug weld the "new" firewall to the bottom edge. The position of this patch piece is also marked for height and side to side position and holes are punched on the top edge. Now its time to pull the firewall piece back off, and grind the edges, both inside and outside, clean to shiny metal. I'm going to plug weld the "new" firewall to the "old" firewall edges, then I will solidly weld the floor pan seam, after the tunnel is fit into place. Once everything is cleaned up, holes are punched (or drilled) into the edges of the "new" firewall. The 1st piece welded in is the patch piece, its position won't change. Once the patch is welded in, the new firewall is clamped to the old firewall and positioned according to the marks. It may sound pretty dumb, but once again I'm going to check the booster clearance and the brake pedal swing. If those are good, I'm gong to put about 10 plug welds spaced out around the outside edge of the firewall joint, then stop. (pic2) The reason for stopping at this point is two fold.

        The first reason is I want to be sure this firewall still clears the motor before its all welded in wrong and I have to cut it apart and change something. If I have to cut it apart, I'd rather cut 10 plug welds then have to cut 30 (or however many there are) plug welds.

        The 2nd reason is some dummy forgot to make the position of the trans tunnel. (pic 3).

        Wednesday when I can get back at the 49, I will put the cab back on the frame (the new body mount bushings came in today) to be sure the booster (and pedal) is going to clear everything, then I will fit the trans tunnel while the cab is on the frame, I may even tack it into place. After the trans tunnel's position is determined, I will pull the cab one more time and finish welding the firewall, floor pan seam, and the tunnel (assuming everything clears everything). Gene
        Last edited by Gene; 07-28-2020, 12:21 AM.


        • #5
          1) I absolutely love that body style. the nose is just too cool to me for whatever reason.
          2) Love that you take the swing time with your bride. Priorities!
          3) If I ever build a Dodge truck (which I'd like to some day) I will be re-reading all your build threads!

          Keep on truckin Gene!
 1930 Chevy truck build link:


          • #6
            Thanks man, me and the wife spend a lot of time in that old swing. Its one of the best investments I've ever made.

            This 49 is almost like going full circle for me. Almost 20 years ago I built a 50 Dodge truck on a full sized Dodge 4x4 frame, that one required a lot of modifications to the sheet metal to make work, but that truck served me very well for over 12 years before it got totalled in a head on crash when some lady turned right in front of me. This Dakota chassis is a ton less work so far. Gene


            • #7
              Wed I was able to push the frame back out on the east side of the driveway and set the cab back onto the frame with the cherry picker. The clearance between the "new" firewall and the motor was a bit tight, but the cab went back on and the bolts fit back through the body mount holes. I pushed the frame back into the garage. Some measuring reviled the center of the new firewall was bellied out towards the motor, hooking a small ratchet strap onto the steering column hole on the firewall and a place at the back of the cab solved the problem with just very minor tightening of the ratchet strap. There is roughly a 59" seam all across the bottom of the firewall that isn't attached to anything right now (and the firewall is only tacked into place). Once the floor is welded to the original firewall and to the bottom of the new firewall, there won't be a problem. Next up was to check the clearance of everything between the motor and the firewall, and that was all OK. Then it was time to bolt the brake booster back on the firewall and then bolt the brake pedal in and make sure everything there cleared. The brake booster is close to the valve cover, but when it was bolted up tight, I could still get my fingers between the booster (about 3/4" clearance at the tightest point) and the valve cover, another inch might be nice, but then it will set the steering column over another inch as well. I even bolted the master cylinder onto the booster to see if that was going to make any difference. I could split the difference, but I'm not sure I want to rip it all apart and put it back together for a 1/2" more clearance to the valve cover. The 1st time I need to change that valve cover, I will probably wish I would have done it. To assist in the decision making process, I did install the steering column and made sure it was going to be right. Moving the firewall towards the driver side of the cab would have misaligned the column however much it was moved. When I weld the floor pan to the firewall, the brake pedal is going to work nicely. Right or wrong, I made the decision to weld the firewall in as it was. I had to pull everything back out to weld up the firewall, and I made a few tacks where the firewall and floor meet. I was able to weld the firewall in and I was able to weld up both sides of the firewall to floor pan seems, while the cab was on the frame.

              Next up was the tunnel. The hole I cut out of the 49's floor to clear the 4x4 shift handle, and to accommodate for how much above the floor surface the top of the trans sat, it was a pretty big hole. It was about 16" wide, and almost 30" long. The top of the trans is about 6" above the top of the 49's flat floorpan. The donor Dakota had a nice tunnel, and it even had the hole for the 4x4 shift handle, but it was much deeper then what I was going to need. I cut a chunk out of the donor that was wide enough and long enough. I figured it might be easier then building a tunnel from scratch, and in the donor cab, it was going to be scrapped if I didn't cut it out.

              We probably need to discuss the 49's floor pan. In the original truck, from the firewall, the floor toe board (the part you rest your feet on) angled down at about a 45 degree angle for about 12" off the firewall. The toe board was bolted in place and the driver side had holes cut in it for the the brake pedal and a clutch pedal to protrude through. From there the floor was flat (side to side, and front to back) with no tunnel at all, back to the seat riser. The floor under the seat riser had a 1" step up towards the rear before flattening back out where it stayed basically flat to the back of the cab. On the driver side of the floor between the angled toe board and the seat riser, a couple of holes were covered with a bolt on plates, one for filling the under floor master cylinder, and the other for the battery. A 6" high seat riser metal bracket was welded to the floor behind the 1" step up and formed a rounded corner rectangle that would have matched the seat base. Seat tracks are bolted to the front and rear edges of the seat riser. Under the floor, there were reinforcement brackets the tied the front and rear cab mount areas together on each side, and there was a reinforcement bracket that ran across the cab under the 1" step up at the front edge of the seat riser. There is also a reinforcing plate that ties the two rear cab mounts together, and there is a channel shaped reinforcement where the cab floor joins the back of the cab. Some time during the 49's life, someone cut the original floor pan out of the truck from the 1" step up under the seat riser, side to side and forward to the firewall, and replaced it with two pieces of 1/8" steel plate. One plate replaced the flat floor, and the 2nd piece replaced the toe board. They cut about a 4" diameter hole out of the toe board for the steering column to pass through. They moved the brake master cylinder to the firewall and put in an auto trans.

              When I cut the floor, I had to cut the center out of both pieces of the 1/8" steel, plus I had to cut the center out of the seat riser, and the seat 1" step, and the side to side brace under the step. I also needed to cut a piece of the floor inside the seat riser area out about 6" behind the front edge of the seat riser area, 14" wide. Yes, it was a big hole, and it also cut nearly all the side to side bracing. To make matters worse, I also had to cut a section out of the rear of the cab, and a section of the cab floor in front of the cab's back wall to clear the Dakota fuel tank. The cut out in the cab's back wall was 6" high, and about 15" wide, it started at about the center of the cab, and extended towards the driver side of the cab to about the frame location. I had to cut the floor pan in front of the back wall cut the same width, and about 6" forward of the back of the cab, on the drivers side, which means I also cut the reinforcing channel where the floor meets the back of the cab. The only cab floor reinforcing material that remained was the piece that connected to two rear cab mounts together and the remaining uncut cab floor. Needless to say, there wasn't much cab floor support left. I'm going to have to build some reinforcing back into the cab in addition to putting a tunnel into it. Just adding a sheet metal tunnel isn't going to do the job. What really added to the fun was the fact that when whomever put the 1/8" steel into the floor, they didn't bother repairing the reinforcing plate under the 1" step up, nor did they reattach the seat riser to the new pieces of the floor. I don't intend on using 1/8" steel for the tunnel, so those side to side reinforcing plates will have to be attached to each other somehow.

              First up would be to see how the donor tunnel might fit. Since it was cut off the firewall I was using, I'd hoped I would be able to weld it back together at the same place I cut it apart. It was a great plan, but it was soon discovered it wasn't going to work out that way. For the tunnel to fit the 49's floor, it had to be shifted towards the passenger side (which would have been all wrong for the brake booster to motor clearance). I've concluded the centerline of the Dakota cab is shifted about 1" to 1 1/2" more towards the driver side then the centerline of the 49 cab is. I can use the donor tunnel, but it won't match up exactly to where it was cut off at the firewall. The tunnel was set into position based on how the 4x4 shift lever was centered in the tunnel hole. After several rounds of trimming and bending the bottom edges, I was able to get the tunnel to sit properly on the 49's floor. I had to cut the front edge off at the original pinch weld, and I had to cut the rear 6" off the tunnel. I'll need to make both those pieces. The nice thing about not having to line up the firewall cut is I was able to modify the front edge shape of the tunnel to better fit so there will be a smooth transition. At the rear of the tunnel, I'm going to add floor reinforcing, so after I build all that, I'll cover the hole with sheet metal.

              Since I didn't get any pictures, I'll take a few Monday and will finish this instalment Monday night. Gene


              • #8
                1) This is what the 49's cab floor looks like, it shows the already added reinforcement I've added at the seat riser.
                2) The reinforced area close up. The line down the center of the picture is the front edge of the seat riser that has been cut away. You can see just to the left of the seat riser, on both sides of the trans are two squares of new steel. Under those pieces are where the original reinforcing channel that ran across the cab has been welded to the floor. The two pieces are actually pieces of 1/4" thick 3" x 3" angle with about a 1/2" cut off one edge. Those pieces replace a chunks I cut from the floor pan. They are welded to the reinforcing cross brace at the front edge, and they are welded to the 1" step up at the rear and the upright of the angle forms the bottom 2" of what will be the new section of the middle of the seat riser. I used the 1/4" thick angle because it was the only angle I had that had 3" high walls. The new metal welded to the floor around the rear end of the trans is 1/8" x 2" flat stock. The floor section they are in is actually above the 1" step up and would be on the inside of the seat riser. Its actually made with 2 pieces, a right side and a left side that are welded together at the passenger rear corner. The height of these 2" pieces matches up with the height of the 3" angle that is below the step.
                3) This lovely piece will be the completion of the reinforcing at the seat riser. It is also 1/8" x 2" flat stock
                4) This is the piece from 3 sitting in position. As you see, it sits above the trans and the back edge of the trans tunnel will weld on top of this piece. I will be making another 18 gauge sheet metal cover that will have a flat top that will weld to the sides of the 1/8" x 2" bracing behind the seat riser.
                5) This is the firewall end of the tunnel sitting on the floor. I will have to make a 2 1/2" wide 18 gauge sheet metal filler to go between the front edge of the tunnel and the firewall.
                6) This is both the cross brace above the trans, and the tunnel set in place. The cross brace is actually about 2" below the top edge of the seat riser. Depending on what I end up with for seats, the entire seat riser may get trimmed down, or this center section may get built up with a piece of 18 gauge.
                7) On to the next issue. This is the fuel tank (the black thing with the yellow strap on it) sticking up above the cab floor (about 4", and through the back wall of the cab (also about 4". What you can't see is that there is also a channel formed where the back of the cab and the floor join, and that channel has been cut apart. The vertical piece along the back of the cab is a cab brace as well. Originally the bottom edge was attached to the floor pan.
                8) This piece is a 1/8" x 1" piece of flat stock bent to match the cut edge of the cab back. This piece will be welded to the back of the cab, and also to the floor at the joint of the cab and the floor.
                9) Cut up cardboard! The plan is to make an 18 gauge sheet metal box to cover the hole the gas tank cut out produced. I believe with the 1/9" x 1" strap welded all the way around the edge of the cab back, coupled with an 18 gauge box, it will put enough strength back into what was originally a basic angle joint. This 18 gauge box is going to be a 4" x 4" rectangle about 25" long. Its going to be welded to the 1/8" x 1" at the back, an along both ends, and all across the front edge. If you look, you can see that the area this box will be in at is 1" lower then the floor at the front edge.
                10) This is the 1" flat stock that will be the back edge, laying on what will be the front edge of the 18 gauge. Once the pattern is transferred to the sheet metal, the 1" will be welded to the sheet under where the black line is on the cardboard. Then the outer edges will curve down to the bottom with the rear edge also welded to the 1" flat and the flap edges will be welded to the floor pan. The curved edges of the front panel will be bent over and that edge will be welded to what will be the top edge at the front. At the floor, in front of the new box there is a 1" step up, as you move towards the firewall. The box will actually sit below that step, and directly behind it. That means the front bottom edge is below the floor just in front of the box. I will probably cut the box off below the raised step, then form an 18 gauge angle where one flat on the angle will be welded to that lower edge of the box forming a pinch weld, and the other flat will be welded to the floor. This should give me additional strength at that front edge.
                11) This is pretty much what that finished box is going to look like. That vertical piece will have the bottom cut square and it will be pushed back against the ab back sheet metal and will be welded to the top of the box, directly above the 1" flat stock. All I have to do is cut it, form it, and weld it into place. Gene
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Things look good and sure go smoothly when you can use things like the firewall/trans tunnel etc...
                  sure you can build your own... but people dont appreciate how much time it takes to actually "make" stuff
                  Nice gene!
                  My build thread:


                  • #10
                    Wednesday was a great day to weld! Temps stayed in the mid 70s, but by the end of the week, its suppose to be back into the 90s.

                    I started out working on the gas tank cover. I transferred the cardboard pattern to 18 gauge steel. Cardboard (think 12 or 24 pack canned beverage wrappers) works well, they are easy to cut, and they are thick enough you can actually draw a line and bend them and they will hold a pretty decent form. Their thickness is close enough to sheet metal thickness, you can usually cut it to size and it transfers well. Unfortunately, they can be a bit floppy on longer spans, and they often will conform to surrounding metal much more easily then the steel will. There are times when you just have to adjust the pattern a bit. The cardboard is a lot easier (and much cheaper) to throw away if you screw up. You can also tape a couple pieces together if what you have is too short. I use 1 1/2" painters masking tape on both side, if I need to add extra length. If your going to weld the new sheet metal in place using flanges, your pattern needs to have those flanges in place, and you will have to mark how your going to bend them.

                    I usually add just a little extra metal outside of the cardboard pattern. (often it gets cut back off, but sometimes that extra 1/4" is a life saver). I usually cut sheet metal with a plasma cutter and clean up the edges afterwards, but a cut off wheel, or really good tin snips will also cut 18 gauge. Long cuts with tin snips on 18 gauge is a workout, slightly thinner 20 gauge is easier to cut with tin snips. Once the sheet metal is cut it gets formed, I bend with a home made metal brake, but blocks of wood clamped to a bench works as well. Once the piece is formed, I spend a lot of time fitting the piece in location. I want a good tight fit all around. When I'm happy with the fit, I will mark the edges (and any place that will be welded), remove the piece, and grind all the area to be welded to clean shiny metal. If your going to attach the new piece to the old piece with plug welds, you need to drill/punch the holes in the new piece, and be sure where you will be plug welding on the old piece has also been ground clean to shiny metal. The new piece gets clamped into place and it welded.
                    Pictures 1, 2, & 3 are the new fuel tank cover ready to be welded in place.

                    On this particular piece, the 1/8" x 1" bent flat stock will be welded into place first. It is welded to the back of the cab, and the bottom edges are welded to the edge of the floor. Picture 4.
                    Once the 1" flat stock was welded in the new cover was welded into place. picture 5.
                    The back brace for the cab used to attach to the part of the cab floor that no longer exists. I cut the bottom edge off flush with the new fuel tank cover. I made a little L shaped bracket that will be welded to the brace and then welded to the fuel tank cover, but that will be welded on later. I want to insulate and apply sound deadener to the back of the cab and that will be much easier without this brace held tight against the cab. Once the insulation & sound deadener is done, the the brace will be pushed back against the cab and the lower bracket will be welded into place. Picture 6 shows the bracket laying on the floor to the right of the tank cover, and the black marker lines show where it will be welded to the cover.

                    Next up was welding the tunnel into position. I've decided to weld the tunnel into position then add the filler piece at the base of the firewall in three separate pieces rather then try to do it in a single piece. Doing it this way would allow me to firmly clamp the large tunnel piece into place and weld it, then add smaller pieces on both the right and left side of the tunnel at the firewall so those too could be better clamped. I will finish with a center piece welded between the two smaller corner pieces and will be welded to the firewall and the tunnel piece.I chose to weld the edges of the tunnel to the floor pan rather then plug weld it into place, it will be welded solidly all across both sides of the tunnel to the floor pan, and the top patches will also be welded solidly all around the edge of the patches.
                    Before the tunnel was welded into place, I did re-bend a couple sections of the tunnel for a better fit. The last picture shows the tunnel and the three filler patches welded into place. I started welding in the tank cover at 8:15 am and I shut the welder off at 5:15pm. That is a long day for this old retired guy.

                    Friday was indeed hot. I fabricated the cover for the rear of the tunnel that was inside the seat riser and welded it into place (no pictures). Then spent the rest of the day cleaning up the shop and fixing the charging system issue on the coupe. I'm happy to report the charging system now functions properly.

                    Today was clean up day, both inside and outside of the shop. Gene
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      You've probably mentioned it before but what is that steering column out of? I would normally guess Dakota but noticed the price tag. Under-the-dash part looks interesting and simple.
                      Last edited by Old Stuff; 08-09-2020, 05:24 AM. Reason: re-wording
             1930 Chevy truck build link:


                      • #12
                        Gene got any pictures and details on your homemade metal brake? It's on my to do list and I would appreciate your thoughts on building one.


                        • #13
                          Old Stuff, The column now in the truck came out of the donor 96 Dakota. As for that key with the price tag, one of the projects I bought a few years ago came with an older Dakota column (the ones without the air bags and all the air bag related stuff). That older column key (the only key I had) had the price tag on it that I just never removed (it has info about the column on it). When I threw this truck together, I used that older column because it was here, and the 96 was still intact. The fun part of that was one day I was going to move this truck to a different location on the yard, and coldn't find the stupid key. I must have looked for an hour before I gave up and pulled the mounted column so I could turn the wheels by hand as I moved the truck (yea, that was fun..not!). I put the key to the old column onto the key ring for the 96 and had forgotten about it until I was mounting the 96 column into the truck. Its funny now.....

                          JWD, I built the metal brake a long time ago, its sort of barely accessible in my back room, I'll see if I can get a few pictures of it. I've been using it for more then 25 years, it does OK, but doesn't give those nice crisp line bends like the real metal brakes give you (I don't remember if it ever did). I built the brake to bend 18 gauge up to 48" wide, and that is a work out.
                          Of course, it has never been abused by bending stuff like 11 gauge metal before. I'd have to use a cheater bar to bend anything close to about a foot wide piece of 11 gauge, and I simply couldn't bend a piece that is much more then 15" wide. Gene


                          • #14
                            I've been working on the truck pretty hard, just not much worth taking pictures of.
                            While I was looking at the inside, I decided I needed to cut the dash out of the cab. I cut it about 2" from the windshield pinch weld and all the way to both sides of the cab, including the bottom edge. Yep, I cut pretty much the whole thing out! I did it for several reasons. I'm using the Dakota instrument cluster and the original dash just wouldn't work with that. The truck has a cowl vent, I'd love to keep it, but I'm also using the Dakota heat and AC box. Once that box is in the truck, doing anything with the cowl vent becomes a real pain because the dash would be in the way. The box has to be mounted to the firewall to figure out how, or what needs to be done with the cowl vent. The top of the box is about even with the bottom of the dash and protrudes to almost the outer edge of the dash. Another reason to remove the dash was because the wiper post stick through the cab at the top of the dash. With the dash out of the way, insulating the firewall got a whole lot easier. The original dash was just going to be in the way, it will be easier to build one from scratch, I think.......
                            I got all my floor patches welded in and have installed the insulation/sound deadener on the roof, firewall (except the 2" either side of the windshield pinch weld where I suspect more welding will be taking place. I also have done most of the floor, and the back of the cab. I still need to do inside the seat riser, the piece between the seat riser and the back of the cab, and two small sections between the corner windows and the back window. I'll do those other places at a later date, I need to keep moving forward and those places don't need to be done until I'm almost ready for an interior, and that is a long way off.
                            With the insulation on the firewall complete, there is one more thing I needed to do before putting things on the firewall. I purposely paid extra money (about $2 a box) to get the NOICO in black so I wouldn't have to hurry to get a headliner, the black looks pretty natural up inside the roof. I learned a long time ago that painting the underside of the dash white sure makes life easy if you need to troubleshoot under the dash at night. As a standard practice, I paint everything i can under the dash white. Now, this doesn't have to be a perfect paint job, it just needs to cover most of everything. Hopefully, no one (including yourself) will ever see the paint job, but if the need arises, you sure will be happy you painted it white. Pic 1. This lovely paint job is with a can of the $1 spray paint. This took the whole can. I sprayed it and called it a day.

                            Yesterday morning I installed the brake booster on the outside firewall, and the brake pedal bracket on the inside (it was also painted white). Then I installed the steering column. Pic 2 & 3. and a pic 4 of the outside with the booster and master cylinder bolted in place.

                            This morning I bolted up the new cab mounts. The cab is finally attached to the frame. No pic of this. This afternoon I took apart the rear brakes. What a mess! I'm using the rear axle that came with the 4x4 frame that came with the 49 truck. At some point in its life, it blew a wheel cylinder, and someone kept feeding it brake fluid. It took a while, but I finally got the tire off, someone really tightened two lug nuts, my impact wouldn't budge them. I had to get my 24" 1/2" drive breaker bar out, and I had to jump up and down on the breaker bar a couple times on each lug before they came loose. I'm about 270 lbs, with a 24" breaker bar, you do the math! When I got the drum off, all I saw was a large block of black sludge, Ping pong size balls of this crud fell out when the drum slid off. I actually had to take a screwdriver and scrape the crud away so I could see the springs to remove the brake shoes. Once the shoes and the crud was removed, it was easy to see both sides of the wheel cylinder were blown out. A call to the parts house got me everything from the backing plate outwards for both sides. I have the backing plates cleaned up and will install the new rear brakes tomorrow.

                            JD. I'm going to post a thread on the tools section covering my sheet metal break, maybe tomorrow night. Gene
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Another update without pictures. Pictures are getting difficult. My computer is on life support, I'm lucky it still functions enough to get on line with it. The motherboard is at about 50% and it looses some everyday. I have a scan disc that has a Linux Mint installation program on it that I can still run my computer off of, but the computer is so messed up I can't even load the operating system. That means, every time I start my computer, its like starting all over, I can't save anything on the computer. I bought a new scan disc hoping I could load the pictures off my camera onto it, but I can't even do that with my computer. My camera card is now full, so if I want to take more pictures, I have to delete some of my build pictures. I know at some point I'm going to be buying a new computer, but as long as this one limps along, I'm spending my money buying truck parts.

                              So anyway, update time. The new brakes are installed. The new brake lines are installed, the master cylinder and brake pedal are installed, and the brakes are bled. The pedal feels good, so if I ever get it running again, I should be able to stop it. I have the new shocks installed, and the frame, springs and axle have been painted semi gloss black.
                              Drive shaft time, well almost... The Dakota came with a long driveshaft with the big U joints, about 19" to long, if I'm measuring right. I've shortened drive shafts before, but usually only be 3" - 4" max, never as much as 19". This Dakota shaft is 4" in diameter, my past experience with large diameter long drive shafts is most have an inner shaft often mounted in rubber on both ends. Usually cutting them more the 4" is a no go. So I have a pile of Mopar driveshafts and in that pile is a short shaft that should be pretty close to the length I will need. The problem is, this driveshaft has the small U joints. There are conversion U joints that would allow me to install the small joint shaft with the big joint yoke on the trans end, and connect to the big joint end on the rear end, but those joints are about 3x the price of a "normal" U joint. Buying 2 of them is pretty crazy. So option 2 is put a small joint trans yoke on the small joint shaft with a new joint and then put a conversion joint at the rear to connect to the rear end. Great plan.

                              Back in the old days, all Mopar transmissions either had the light duty 904 style trans yoke, or they had the big 727 style yoke. The 727 style yoke came with either the small U joint, or the big U joint, the 904 style yoke only came with the small U joint. I just happen to have both the 727 style and the 904 style yokes with the small U joint, but of course I need to remove both from a longer driveshaft. I'm suspecting I needed the 727 style yoke with the small joint, so I pulled one of those off a long shaft first. So I wiggle under the truck with the 727 small joint yoke in hand, and it doesn't fit in the trans?!?! Well darned. Then I pulled a 904 style small joint yoke off another long driveshaft and wiggle back under the truck with the yoke in hand, at it doesn't fit either! Now I'm stumped. I dig the original Dakota shaft out of the scrap pile (this is why you don't throw anything away until the project is on the road), and grab my caliper and start comparing the 3 yokes. Sure enough, they are different! Apparently, the trans in the this 96 Dakota is a modern version overdrive, the the trans yokes are specific to the modern OD transmissions. I have to use the yoke from the original driveshaft. I needed to clean it up, it was sitting outside. I made my measurements, and cut 19" off the original Dakota driveshaft, and there was nothing inside of it. I may be able to shorten it after all. I have it cut to length, and the area that will need to be welded is cleaned up, now if the weather ever cools off a little, I'll weld it together and see how it works.

                              About a month ago I ordered all new glass and all new weatherstripping for the truck. All of the glass except the two corner windows came in about 2 weeks ago, and the weatherstripping came in last week. The two corner windows are curved, and seldom available used, but are pricey if you can find them used (about $200 for the pair used). Bob's Classic Auto Glass has made a run of the corner windows, and was selling brand new corner windows for $200 for the pair + $25 shipping, and it was available in clear, green tint, or smoke grey tint for the same price. I ordered all the glass (green tint), as well as all the rubber for the glass from them. I don't have any corner windows, so I was pretty happy I could but a pair new. The rest of the glass is flat and I can get that cut locally, for about the same money as Bob's, the corner windows I would have had to search for. Those two corner windows came in yesterday. They are nice. There is also a center piece for the windshield (two piece glass) that I don't have. I found a pretty nice one on ebay, it came in today. At the front center of the hood, there is a top polished stainless steel top grille bar that covers an opening between the nose piece and the hood. This piece only fits 48, 49 and 50. The hood was redesigned in 51 to eliminate this top grille piece. There have only been two of these pieces I've been able to find, one was very nice at over $300 and the other was pretty rough at over $150. Neither was thrilling me much, I figured I'd probable have to make something to fill the hole. then last week a listing came up on ebay for a nice piece for $79, but it was an auction and they wouldn't end it early. I was the winning bidder, its suppose to be here between tomorrow and Tuesday. Gene