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'51 Power Wagon - The Racetractor

51388 Views 161 Replies 73 Participants Last post by  mackthehack
This truck has been done-ish for a while, but a few people have been asking me to post up a build thread for it. So here we go...

A few years ago I heard about some old trucks for sale from a friend who lives near Carnation Washington. His neighbor was an old timer who lived alone, off the grid. When he started having trouble surviving on his own, his family took care of him and put his stuff and the property up for sale. The old guy had an awesome collection of vintage tractors, heavy equipment, trucks, and other odd contraptions scattered across the property. I originally went up there to check out a pair of Nissan Patrols, but the old Power Wagon really caught my attention.

According to his daughter and the neighbor, this was his last running vehicle. While he was out gathering fire wood, he broke a rear axleshaft, then winched it up to the top of the hill to rot. I made an offer for the truck (paid 800) and hauled it home.

I originally wanted to restore the truck as a family project with the kids. But when I got it home and really started to look at it, I realized it was better as a parts donor than a project. I'm sure some of you are offended that I cut up a Power Wagon, but you'll have to take my word that it was a rotten piece of junk. Beside the dented up cab with a rusted out floor, every mechanical part was worn out. It looked way better in pictures than in reality.

Meanwhile, bad thoughts were entering my mind. Mostly inspired by Don Brown's Willys truck from a while back, and a pile of Cummins swap parts I had in the garage. A plan started to come together.

I decided to part out the Power Wagon, but kept the sheet metal. The parts sold more than paid for the original cost of the truck, and hopefully are keeping a few more old Dodges running.

Originally I had something like this in mind. Must be from before I decided to use the 12 valve.

I started by attacking the cab. Because I was curious and wanted to keep the weight down, I weighed some of the heavier items. Here's the cab minus doors and seat.

Some sweet wiring. check out the 120 volt light switches.

Hard to tell from this picture, but the entire rear cab wall had separated from the floor.

Cab up on the fab table for surgery. Notice the driver side not touching due to floor being racked/rotten.
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Just the shifter? Lol. I thought for sure you were going to flame me for cutting up an old Dodge.

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
I was tempted, but I figured you knew it was coming, lol.

You cut about a foot out of that shifter and it would be cool. The tall shifter things is about as gay as "ape hanger" handlebars on a bike. But that's just my .02 The rest of the build is brilliant.
The stack needs a flat top and tractor flapper cap. :smokin:

Keeps the old school look, that cut looks to BroDozer IMOP.
I actually agree and have flapper somewhere in the garage. I was afraid the tink-tink-tink would drive me crazy, but it would look better.
Lol, like you could hear it over rattle, rattle, rattle of the engine..:flipoff2:
working on the front shock brackets and checking clearances.

1/4" to spare for spring clearance.

That'll do. :cool:

And they fit under the hood. I originally planned to run bypasses on the front(there's room for them), but I would have to cut into the upper hood, and I really don't want to do that. At least for now I'm going with just the 2 1/2" C.O.'s and bumps. I revalved (they had light shims in them for coil carriers) the shocks, but still haven't had a chance to tune them.

I finished the winch tray/sway bar brackets (pics later), started on the front-mid driveshaft, and did some more welding on the chassis. I also redid the grill/headlight guard. But I needed some make-believe time to get motivated, and rolled a couple tires up and mounted a door to see what its going to look like. I love the proportions. It's exactly what I envisioned. I may have sat in it and made engine noises.

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I needed to build a mid shaft due to the engine set back and flat belly. I used the rear output shaft and 1410 yoke that came in the diesel NP 205. It's designed for multiplied diesel torque, and has a 32 spline output to the yoke. It's the shaft on the left with the weird teeth on it.

I machined off the teeth so it would slide into a tube. I also removed the smaller ID splines near the yoke for the pillow block bearing.

Here it is assembled. I bought a new Spicer slip section, flange yoke, u-joint, and skf pillow block bearing. I've got about $150 into it, which should have saved me quite a bit over having it built.


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Winch tray. The slot in the bottom is so the rope can be routed to the axle for suck down.

The tray also incorporates a mount for a front Anti-rock bar. I'm not sure if I'm going to need/want one, but it seemed like a good idea.

Boom. Done.

Since most of the big stuff was done, I planned on moving the truck to my garage. It would be very convenient to have it right outside the door, and save me some rent and fuel money. I will miss the taco truck that's down the street from Devin's shop though.

Rockin' the cup on my link welds. Not perfect, but getting better.

Installed some tube couplers.

Lots of space to pull the engine.

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Put the hubs together, bolted the wheels up, and set it on the ground for the first time. Track width is 80.5" at the tire bulge.

Crappy picture, but the stance on the bumps looks killer. I was very happy with it.

A couple pics from the morning I brought this thing home. This was a huge deal for me. I also thought I'd have it done in a couple months. Boy was I wrong.

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Dear God I need this. So much want. This and the trophy rat are 2 of my favorite all time rigs.

VERY cool build. That thing is badass.
sub'd, very nice build. I really dig the interior/exo cage work.
Thanks again for the compliments. Its weird revisiting all of this stuff and realizing how much time I've got into it. I need to remember that every time I think about selling it. :laughing: Also, every tab, plate, gusset, hole was cut by hand. I killed a lot of drill bits and hole saws. I used a torch or plaz for some of it, but the majority of it was cut with .045 cut off wheels and dressed with flapper wheels or die grinder. But mostly lots and lots of cut-off wheels.:shaking:

Ok, back to the build. What I thought would be the last 10% of the build in my garage was really the last 50%. Every little detail took so much time. After I moved the truck home from Devin's shop I wasn't very good at taking pictures, but I'll post up what I have.

Here's the intercooler mounted on the back side of the removable nose structure. The intercooler is a 4" bar and plate with 3" in/out from CX racing(ebay).

Pulling apart the original windshield frame. It was worse than I thought.

Windshield frame after beadblasting.

After a bunch of weld repair, and gussets added to the bottom middle.

After the frame was repainted, I replaced the glass with scratch resistant poly from Auburn Car Repair and Offroad.
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Aluminum Northern radiator from Speedway Motors. It was originally set up for Mopar cars, so I had to cut and re-angle the inlet and outlet for my truck.

All done.

How it sits in the truck. Sorry the picture sucks. I left a decent air gap to draw air from below. Part of the exhaust also passes through here. You can see how the coolant tubing comes up from the frame. You might also notice the notches in the lower frame tube for spring clearance while articulated.

After building frame mounts for the radiator, I built a shroud with the fans mounted on top to allow for some cargo room between it and the fuel tank. Those are Flex-A-Lite 12" fans. You can also see the shoulder harness mounts that I added.

Radiator installed before the in/outs where modified.

Some interior stuff:

Starting on dash layout and passenger grab bar. I eventually changed out the grips for some cooler chopper style grips that I found. You can also see where the cutting brakes ended up. Because of space restraints, I turned it around and you push the handle to operate them. Works great. The seats are Race Trims that my friend Lee at G&R Autosports recovered.

Drivers dash with the bitchin' new Autometer GT series gauge. Left side is winch controls, and button on right is for engine start.

I love these gauges.

So shiny, so new.
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Mocking up spare tire location. I knew the truck would be nose heavy, so I planned to mount the spare as far back as possible for better weight distribution.

Here's the tire mount. I don't have a picture of it installed for some reason, but the heim ends mount where the rear cab diagonals meet the horizontal "bed rails", and the other end uses alumium bushings and is clamped between two flanges above the middle of the "tailgate".

All of the little detail crap that takes forever. Fuel filler mount, radiator mount, fuel pump and prefilter mount, upper harness tabs, bedside tabs, and spare tire mount.

Getting ready to pull the engine for paint. You can see the door diagonals are in, and steering and brake booster are mocked up.

Door diagonals. I only originally planned on just those for structural strength instead of an X for easier access to the cab.

Pulling this bitch out for paint. I was at the very limit(maybe passed?) the capacity and reach for this engine puller.
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Meanwhile, John Herrick from Crawl was following the build thread over on PNWJeep, and asked if I could have it ready for the Crawl booth at the Moonshiners Swap Meet(a huge *******/wheeler swap meet in Washington State) a month or two away. Since I'm an idiot and like punishment, I said yes, and didn't get much sleep for the next two months trying to get it done.

The guts.

Finished welding out the front tubing and firewall.

Masked off.

front axle prepped for paint. I had previously dropped it off at Jantz engineering and they set up the 40 spline ARB, 10" Super Duty gears(cryoed and polished) their load bolt and cover girdle. :grinpimp:

After paint, it started going back together. This maybe 8-9 days before it was supposed to be ready and running for the swapmeet in March! :eek:

Custom clutch disc from Southbend.

Heat and sound insulation from DEI. So far its working great, but the tape seems to be losing its grip. The holes in the upper left of the firewall are the air inlets to the air filter. I'm still planning on making an aluminum baffle that separates the engine area from the cowl vent for cooler intake air.

Going back in.
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Another look at the trans/ tcase mount.

Exhaust wrap and heat insulation on top of the frame rails because of coolant heat.

Tight fit. The black tube coming out of the firewall is the turbo air inlet from the filter.

Making sure the limit straps are the right length.

Just because I like this picture.

Coming together. It felt good to be putting some of this together for the last time.

Starter, steering, and mid driveshaft going in.

Fuel plumbing. I'm not sure why I decided to put a valve on the fuel return. I may remove that.

My buddy Lee working on wiring early in the morning. Starting with a universal harness from Painless, he basically wired the truck in a few nights. This is probably 1 or 2 nights before the Swap meet, and I was a day into not sleeping. The aluminum bedsides are on, and you might be able to see my buddy Ryan Barrett between the rear links working on the driveshaft. I owe a lot to these guys, and the truck wouldn't have been done without them.

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O'dark thirty. Lots of beers and Monsters were consumed.

More wiring, and the underdash airbox with Volant/Donaldson filter.

Aluminum panels going in.

Starting to look like it might run.
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Baddass Ramsey Sierra 15000. I built the truck for a Warn Zeon 12k, but the slightly bigger Ramsey actually fit. Barely.

I did chip a little of the paint squeezing it in though.

That's all I had before I took it to the swapmeet. We tried to get it running the night before I left, but gave up before all of the air was bled out of the fuel system. I had it running a couple days later.

We did run into a few problems assembling the front axle before the Swapmeet though. Jantz engineering did the diff set up and installed their diff cover girdle and load bolt in the housing. Unfortunately they didn't size the axle seal guide correctly on one side, and the seal was pushed into the housing when I tried to install the shaft.

Brown chicken brown cow? Nope.

All this fun at the last moment. I was pissed, but that's what you get for last minute projects.

Then we ran into another problem. This time it was the RCV stubs.

That's not right. I ordered Ford length stubs, and got Chevys.

There was some ridiculous customer service issues with RCV, but in the end, Maxx at Northridge 4x4 straightened it out. I'm very grateful to him for taking care of this in a timely manner even though RCV wasn't cooperating before I left for EJS.

More wiring detail.
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Pushed it off the trailer into the Crawl booth minutes before they opened the gates. I had been awake at this point for 68 hours.

One of the problems with working on projects while not sleeping is making stupid mistakes. Before the swapmeet I had put the wrong set of springs on front to rear, and the rear of the truck sagged with the lighter rate. So a couple days later I swapped them back.

The truck sits better, but I still wasn't happy. The initial spring choice was just an educated guess.

So I spent the next couple hours re-reading the spring tech thread on pirate.:D

First drive out of the garage. A lot of the rattle you hear is unsupported sheet metal that eventually got fixed. But yeah, its loud. Click on the pics for video.
20150311_170421 by Jeremy Benson, on Flickr
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Gawsh dayum dass a sexxay mother fawker.... :smokin: :smokin: :smokin:
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