time for an update -
so this truck...like all the ones before it...is intended to be our family 'overlanding' off-road machine - multi-day backwoods camping/adventure wheeling with no support vehicle, and with that in mind...as I pondered how best to box the frame...well I had a couple other thoughts pop into my mad brain...which prompted me to do a couple other minor frame mods to increase the overall overlanding potential while also making the most of the available room between the frame/under the body.
The OE design of the Dakota's frame was for a single long gas tank on the driver side...which 'forces' both the driveshaft and exhaust over to the passenger side, and also angles the whole engine/transmission also the passenger side. Now, that's okay...but as I pondered how thirsty the 440 was gonna be (and it's gonna be thirsty) the thought popped into my head of 'Gee - wouldn't it be sweet if there was room for a second Dakota gas tank along the passenger side'...and about that same time I was also trying to forecast where the heck to stow the big 40" spare tire. I learned from Bud that putting a giant tire in the bed essentially renders 80% of the bed useless for stowing gear...and we'd sure like to have the whole bed to stow camping gear, etc, soooo...hmmm - if the frame were wide enough for a second gas tank...maybe it could also fit a 40" spare tire back there more or less how the factory does it...and that my friends led to a few beers with my buddy Ben to discuss how stupid of an idea it would be to widen the frame, pros and cons, etc...and we determined it wouldn't be any big deal so...naturally...out came the deathwheel...
I've been able to squeeze in about 8-10 hrs a week over the last 6 weeks widening the frame 3.5" per side, as well as boxing it all the way back, whilst also 'in-boarding' 4 of the 6 cab mounts...whilst also incorporating a 1.5" body lift on all of them. The frame was already factory boxed up to just before the front edge of the gas tanks, so that's where I cut the frame, plated and gusseted it, then capped off the top and bottom.
It's been quite the 'procedure', but now I'll be able to carry 48 gallons of fuel and a 40" spare - all under the body, with (according to both eyeball and paper math) plenty of room for rear axle articulation...and the entire bed is open for all the gear the family might need. Boyahh
Here's the end result -
and for reference here's how it looked before -
Here's how I did it -
First, surgically remove 1/4" of frame via two parallel cuts with the trusty deathwheel to sever the frame completely -
1/4" plate main extension -