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Stupid 66 Gladiator thinger

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If it seems like I haven't been posting much, it's because I've been busy with this time/money/emotion pit.


I bought this thing out of a field for $500.  I think I paid about $600 too much for it.  It actually looked like a real truck when I bought it.  It didn't come with a title.  Or a box.  Or run.  Or pretty much most of the other things you might want in a truck.


The day it came home:



I think we dated the tires from being molded in '78.


Anyways, I managed to appease the Gods of ICBC and get a title for it.  It only cost me half of what I overpaid for the truck.  So that meant the project was a go at that point, no matter how little sense it made.


From there I took the whole thing apart and realized I had bought well, umm, a rusted cab, a bent hood, fenders that couldn't be fixed, and a torch cut header/valence panel.  BUT, it had a Rhino grill, and the title said it was a Gladiator!  With visions of Marcus Aurelius shouting "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?!" I began the process of scrounging parts.


Enter the Dodge donor.


This was a 99 Dodge Ram 2500 with the Cummins diesel and a slush-o-matic tranny.  It didn't owe me a dime.  Or anyone.  I had it on a third world maintenance program for years, and finally parked it when the doors rusted to the point you could unlock them from reaching through them from the outside.  For those that remember, I rolled a 99 Dodge, that was the truck that replaced this one since it actually still had a body.


Anyways, here's the frame washed and back in the shop:


Luckily the Cummins had slobbered enough oil on it that it preserved the factory paint on the front portion.  The rest of it is a little rusty, but nothing to worry about.

And I squared up the cab with some fenders I'd found on it and blocked it on the frame to build mounts:




Oh, and the previous owner of those fenders wanted the emblems off them, so he cut the entire area around the emblem out with an angle grinder...  The other fender is worse.

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Made some progress on the rear cab mounts.  I decided to reuse the Dodge stuff, which may or may not be a good idea.


Marked the old mid mount for recycling:


Bucked it off, cut it down, and hard tacked it in place where it should be:


Other side:


I'll clean up the remains of the crap on the frame sometime later.  This looks pretty hideous right now, but everything has to come apart/go together multiple times, so there's plenty of opportunity to grind things clean later.  I left the part of the mount that holds the ebrake cable as I figured I might need that later, of course I did get a little heavy handed with the plasma...  The mounts will need a little extra work once I know I want them there, and have the cab off, etc, but for now they're in.

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Stuffed the header panel on it and tried to shim it up to figure out the rest of the body mounts.  However, my header panel is so screwed the Rhino grill won't actually fit (it's just sitting leaning against it) and I'm not sure I should be using it to position mounts based on that.



Old front cab mounts are removed and repositioned for the new cab.




One thing that upsets me is if I ever go looking for the weight of a component I get wildly varying answers, most I think are total bull$#!& based on guesses that were passed around until they became fact.  So I bought a strain gauge type scale for my hoist.


Anyways, I got this AAM 11.5" (I think?) out of an 06? Dodge?  3rd gen truck at least.  Not sure if I'm going to use it, but it was cheap, and has factory disk brakes, BUT it didn't include the calipers.



It weighs 470lbs without the brake calipers!


And I picked up a 5.3 out of an 04 1500 truck for not a lot of money...  Gotta go back and pull the gas pedal and the O2 sensors because $#!& went haywire when we pulled it so I forgot.



614lbs including the ECM and most of the wiring, A/C comp, stock manifolds, etc, just not including the O2 sensors and the gas pedal.

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So, trying to build the front body mounts I realized that the Dodge ones just wouldn't work there, and I bought some generic ones from Energy Suspension.  I probably should have just bought a bunch from them to begin with.


Then I realized that the front clip was way too screwed up to locate mounts off of, so I went scrounging and found some slightly better metal to work from.


Got everything all bolted up and aligned decently:

(My phone hates those LED lights)


Of course I figured I was going to need to clearance the inner fenders for the shock mounts.  So I did this.


I can always just flange it and Dzus it back on, right?


As it turns out I really didn't need to do that.


But no, honetly, I wanted to be able to access the shock tower, so I'm probably going to cut the hole bigger at some points anyways.


The Rhino grill actually mostly fits now, but I believe it's missing the top mount that would go here somewhere?


I looked in my pile of old parts, turns out there's a whole tab mount that's missing...  And the grill is broken, so it has nothing to attach to anyways.

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Engine is hanging there with the NV4500 bolted to it.  It does fit.




Yes, this is now officially an abomination.  Kaiser body, Dodge frame, GM engine and trans.  But don't worry, I'm going to make it even more confusing!!!!

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What's interesting is that the GM NV4500 feet basically line up with the Dodge trans mount...  But it needs to be about 5" higher.


Firewall clearance is tight on the passenger side, and there is no way the factory heater core setup will work.  For those unfamiliar the Jeep heater core is in a box in the engine bay, and it mounts to the rectangular cutout in the firewall.


Steering clears, driver's side manifold clears fine.


Lots of clearance on the driver's side firewall.


I also had the whole front clip on and reasonably lined up, so I could build the core support/front body mounts.



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Boring pictures.  But there is motor mounts hard tacked in place and holding the motor.




I will pull the motor back out and weld them up more and add some other bracing, but I want to tackle the trans mount first, and maybe steering column and brake booster setup.


Also, need to know...  Is there covers available for the lower part of the bellhousing when using a NV4500 with a LSx?  Must be?  Or am I going to have to make them?



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So, sorta progress, er, ish.  And with this we're caught up.


Stock Dodge tranny crossmember...


I spent a bunch of time looking at it, and hating its stamped metal formification, and how screwed up Dodge made removing it.  The sides aren't straight, they taper, it wedges itself into the frame.  I'm guessing this is actually a fairly legit design in regards to ease of assembly at the factory, and overall toughness in service, along with low cost.  But it hung down way farther than it needed to, and just wasn't suitable for modification.  So I tossed it.


Took a piece of 2x2x.188 HSS and threw some 1/2" XHS sleeves into/onto it:


Pretty weld thread?  Nope.  But they're not gonna fall out.


And then after much fiddling around I got this all tacked up.


That way the crossmember can actually be dropped, rather than having to go UP to get out (like Dodge intended).  Dodge did nothing to make this easier, the area on the frame it bolts to isn't even flat, so I had to stack up/weld together pieces of flat bar just to get it to sit correct.  Am I totally happy with this?  No, not really, but I bet it will be fine.


It all has to come back out for final welding/cleanup and a few more braces pieces on where the actual mount attached to the crossmember.


Then I wanted to figure out seats, and the brake booster, and such.  Which meant putting the steering column I actually intend to use in.



Guess what?  An XJ column doesn't fit the 66 dash.  I probably should have known that.  So, the tossup now is if I should swap my 73 dash in, or cut the 66 dash.  I'm leaning towards cutting the 66 dash, as I'd rather keep 'more' of the original parts and character of the truck, since I'm using precious little as is.  Plus my 73 dash isn't in great shape anyways.


Also, I ruined that XJ column because I cut it the wrong way.  Yay me.  Cut the flange off where it bulges out, not at the weld.  Luckily that column was a freebie that was out in the shed and didn't have the steering wheel I wanted, but now I'm actually going to have to go buy a column.  IF I can find one, pre-96 XJs are actually getting harder to find at the wrecker, local yard must have crushed again because it looks like only 97+ body styles...

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I love the old rigs. Love the power plant you’re putting in too. Subscribed!

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Trans crossmember is all welded up.



Still not totally sold on it being the most awesome thing in the world, but it's holding the tranny in place right now, so that's a success...

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Boy are you gonna hate what I have to say now. I have an ‘83 Shortbox J10 frame with a decent cab on it (no brow) that I’m pulling the step side and roll bar off for mine.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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On 1/29/2018 at 6:16 AM, Kickin’Chicken said:

Any progress?


Nope, working on other things for the time being.  It will be a month or two before I am back to this.


I did order clutch parts, I need to see of UPS lost them or not. :brickwall:

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