Power Wagon fendersI haven’t updated my progress on the power wagon for awhile so I decided to post some of the odds and ends I have been working  on recently. I spent some time welding cracks and holes in the fenders, did some body work and prepped the fenders for paint. The next day I sprayed them. I let the fenders sit for several days and when I went back to the garage the paint and clear-coat looked great. I decided to install the passenger fender, but to wait on installing the driver’s side until the wiring was completely finished and the windshield was re-installed.

fender installed on power wagonMy impatience resulted in a couple chips in the newly painted fender from trying to install the fender myself. I managed to get it in position and hand start two bolts with no problems, but when I attempted to line the third bolt up the fender came off, hitting the lift and then the floor. Now I need to do some spot painting on what was a perfectly good fender. And it will take some big tires to fill that wheel well sice I added the lift!

prep hood for paintI figured with the fenders and inner fenders painted it was time to start on the hood. My initial thought was to clean and scuff the underside of the hood and simply paint it black, but then I thought it would look much better if I took more time and effort to clean, sand and paint the underside  of the hood the same color as the truck. I ended up taking 43 years worth of paint, rust and grease down to almost bare metal and smoothing some of the pitting out with body filler.

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

Mopar Charging System Wiring Headaches

Mopar wiring harnessIf you ever worked on old mopar wiring, especially the charging system, you are in for a treat. When I rewired the Power Wagon project truck I wanted to upgrade the wiring to handle modern day loads. This involved installing a new blade style 12 circuit fuse box, electronic ignition, new alternator and electronic regulator just for starters. The wiring upgrade was not too difficult and upon initial start-up of the rebuilt poly 318 everything seemed okay except for the charging system. It seemed like no matter what I tried the battery was not getting a charge from the alternator.

After some indepth research on the topic I learned that Mopars old school wiring for the charging system was just that, old school. It was probably one of the worst wiring configurations for long term dependability ever,  so you can imagine how it functioned on a 43 year-old truck.

Basically Chrysler took 12 VDC from the battery and routed it through the bulkhead (#1 connection) went up to an ammeter on the dash (#2 connection), out the other side of the ammeter (#3 connection), to three branch wires off the main wire (#4 to headlight switch, #5 to fuse box, #6 to ignition switch) and then  the main wire goes back through the bulkhead (#7 connection) and the circuit completes itself at the alternator battery post (#8 connection)

So, you can only imagine what could possibly go wrong on a 43 year-old truck’s wiring system when the wire carrying all of the current to the system and back to the battery goes through 8 separate connections. In addition to this problem when you install electronic ignition and an electronic regulator the metal casings need to have good grounds to the newly painted vehicle body for everything to work. My first step was to make absolutely sure there was a good ground at these 2 boxes and since it was a fresh rebuilt engine installation I also double checked for a good ground from the engine to the vehicle frame, and from the engine to the truck’s cab. I will tell you that before you waste any time troubleshooting any wiring problem on an old Mopar make sure all these grounds are good. If not you will never find the problem you are looking for.

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It has taken longer to get to this point than I expected, but that happens when you have a job and a hobby. I was finally ready to start the rebuilt 318 poly head engine in the Power Wagon. I bought the three deuce Rochester set-up on ebay and the seller said the carburetors were rebuilt and set up for a progressive linkage, but before trying to start the engine I took all three carburetors apart and cleaned them thoroughly just in case. I double checked all my wiring, double checked the timing, checked for fuel at the pump and topped the engine oil and antifreeze off.

With today’s engine oil lacking in the zinc department I decided to use Royal Purple break-in oil and I added a break-in additive from Schneider Racing Cams, where I bought my camshaft. Everything checked out okay so I hooked the battery up and attempted to start the engine for the first time. It turned over but there was no sign of it trying to start so I stopped cranking it within a few seconds. I decided to pull the number 1 spark plug and check the timing again. When I pulled the plug I noticed the electrode on the end of the plug was completety bent over, there was no gap. I just finished gapping all of the plugs for the new electronic ignition so I thought that was really odd. I decided to pull the other plugs and check them. It’s a good thing I did because almost every spark plug had the electrodes bent over. Turns out the plugs were for a LA 318 and not a poly 318 engine. If you are building a poly 318 A series engine be careful when it comes to interchanging LA series and A series parts. I have run into several situations where the parts did not work and it can be very frustrating, time consuming and costly.

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Posted by: Mark Polk | 2014

Mopar Modern Day Muscle Car

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

I have always been a Mopar fan and when you talk about modern day muscle cars the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat comes to mind.  Billed as “America’s most powerful muscle car ever” this newly designed 707 horspower supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat is expected to do 0-60 in the mid-three second range, and can reach speeds of 199 mph.  The car recently achieved an NHRA-certified 10.8 second quarter mile. You can get one starting at $59,995.

Read the entire article here

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

My goal at this point in the build is to get the newly rebuilt engine started, but I am having some part’s fitment issues.

The old poly 318 engine came out of a 63 model vehicle and of course the truck is a 71 model. When I bought the engine it didn’t have many of the external components like the pulleys, alternator, throttle linkage,  starter etc.

 

Old Radiator

Old Radiator

Now that I am in the process of putting things back together I am hitting some speed bumps. The first problem was the radiator hoses. I installed a new water pump on the rebuilt engine and I ordered a new all-aluminum radiator from Genesis Auto Parts.  When I went to install the radiator hoses neither of them worked. My first thought, for the lower hose was that the water pump was different from the original. The water pump outlet was on the driver’s side and needed to be on the passenger side for the radiator hose to work. But when I checked the old pump the outlet was on the same side as the new one. Next I thought maybe a water pump from an LA 318, with the outlet on the passenger side, would work but it had a different bolt pattern.

 

New Radiator

New Radiator

There is no radiator hose made for a small block mopar that goes from the lower passenger side radiator location, under the engine and back up to the water pump on the driver’s side. I was driving myself  crazy trying to sort this out when it occured to me to look at the original radiator out of the truck. There was my answer to the mystery. The original radiator had both top and bottom radiator hose locations on the driver’s side. What really bothered me about this is the Genesis Auto Parts website stated these radiators are exact fits with no modification required. Not only did it not bolt up to the original radiator mounting holes on the truck (it was about 1/2″ off and I had to drill new holes) but now I need to “modify” the lower radiator hose to fit somehow. I thought if I called the company they would have the correct radiator in stock. I was informed the majority of radiators used on older Dodge trucks had the outlets on opposite sides so that is the radiator they stock. When I asked about getting a refund I was told I could only get a store credit. The problem with a store credit is there is nothing in the store for my 71 Dodge Power Wagon! If you purchase a radiator from Genesis Auto Parts make sure it is an “exact fit” before you pay for it.

The radiator hose issue is still unresolved while I search for a bottom radiator hose solution, and I ran into a couple other fitment issues too like the crankshaft and water pump pulleys and the starter. Hopefully I can sort this stuff out soon so we can finally hear it run.

I’ll keep you posted on starting the engine.

Read Next: 71 Power Wagon – 318 Poly Engine Start-Up Woes

Read about the full build HERE

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

 

Poly 318 & 727 going in 71 Dodge Power WagonAfter completing some preliminary wiring in the truck’s cab and under the hood it was time to install the engine and transmission. Just for good measure I added a quart of transmission fluid to the new torque converter and mated the transmission to the engine via the flex plate. I was working by myself, so I needed to be extra careful working around the freshly painted firewall. The engine and transmission went in without a hitch except for re-positioning the motor mounts to give the clearance I needed.

318 Poly Installed in Power Wagon

With the engine and transmission in the truck I did some additional wiring and hooked some of the transmission shift linkage up. When I bought the old 63 Poly 318 engine it didn’t have any of the throttle linkage or transmission kickdown linkage on it so the plan is to see what I can salvage and fabricate from the 383 and 727 that came out of the truck. Once that’s done I can install the starter and alternator and double check the timing. Then the only thing stopping me from firing the new engine (besides my day job)  is installing the fuel tank and radiator and a few miscellaneous items.

Poly 318 Semi Hemi Installed in Power wagon project

Stayed tuned and I’ll keep you posted when I start the engine.

Read about the full build HERE

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

My goal now is to get the engine and transmission in the truck and fire it up for the first time. To do that I need to get the wiring done, and to do that I need the dashboard back in the truck. The so called professional bodyman/painter I paid to paint the cab was also supposed to paint the dashboard. After he screwed up the cab’s paint job I told hime he needed to fix the cab and paint the dashboard, which was part of the original deal. He quit taking my phone calls and texts, and to be honest with you I don’t have the time or patience to deal with someone like this right now, but it’s okay  Karma will get him in the long run.

dashboard painted So to remedy the problem I did some horse trading for a nice SATA spray gun and painted the dash myself. I have the skills, I just needed the right equipment for the job. The dash turned out great. If I had this spray gun sooner I could have painted the entire cab and saved myself lots of time, money and headaches.

 

 

wiring harness resizedAfter speding hours fixing runs, dirt and bugs in a poor paint job it was time to move on to re-wiring the truck. I am making some upgrades to the wiring like a new 13 circuit fuse box, adding electronic ignition and some other electronic equipment that will bring the truck’s wiring into the 21st century.

 

 

re-wiring power wagonThe plan at this point is to install all the wiring, but leave the wiring harnesses open and accessible until the truck is running and all circuits check out. Then I can tape everything up and cover it in some nice loom.

I’ll keep you posted on when the engine and transmission go back in the SEMI HEMI project truck.

Next Post: 71 Power Wagon – Install the 318 Poly SEMI HEMI

Read about the full build HERE

 

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

I am sure you have heard the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It simply means that a picture can convey an entire story with few words being said. I am having a difficult time getting past what happened with the paint job on my truck. I am restoring a 71 Dodge Power Wagon and had the cab and doors painted at Mill Creek Auto Body in Harrells, NC. I paid the body shop owner what I consider to be a lot of money for just a truck cab and doors, and ended up with a bad paint job and an owner who was paid in full and won’t fix the shoddy work.

14 Weeks, $3,700 and here is the final product.

Runs in Paint Job   Run on cab corner

paint runs

truck run 6

paint run 3

bugs in paint job

truck run 7

truck run 3

seam sealer defect

This is totally unacceptable work from a professional body shop. There are over two dozen runs, bugs and dirt in a job that I was charged $3,700 for. The pictures speak volumes.

Next Post 71 Power Wagon – Time to Start on the Wiring

Read about the full build HERE

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

Cab in paint

This post is about getting the truck’s cab in paint, but it’s also about not getting taken advantage of by a business. I am doing 99% of the restoration work on the 71 Power Wagon myself. The 1% I was not planning on doing was painting the truck. I have done body work off and on since I was 17 years-old, but I do not have a spray booth or other equipment needed to do a quality paint job.  So, I took the Power Wagon cab and doors to a Mill Creek Aut Body in Harrells NC to be prepped and painted over 13 weeks ago. I did not expect it to take 13 weeks and I did not expect it to cost almost $4,000. To add insult to injury after waiting 13 weeks and doing almost all of the sanding on the truck myself the paint job had a couple dozen runs in the clear-coat and possiblly in the paint itself.

How it all unfolded:

The body shop is close to where I live and I was impressed with the guy’s paint work. One day I stopped by and asked him to come over to my shop and give me a price on the bodywork and paint for the truck cab and doors. I needed to get the cab sprayed so I could get the engine and transmission installed in the truck, and so I could put the wiring and interior back together.

10 hours or 100 hours plus, that’s the question

The initial assessment from the Mill Creek Auto Body shop owner was the truck cab could be ready for primer in 10 hours. Now I thought that was a bit unrealistic, but I liked what I heard. He also said he could get it in his  shop right now since he was between jobs.  I stopped what I was doing on the truck and took it to him the next day thinking it would be in and out. When I dropped the truck off at his shop I had it completely disassembled to make the job easier. He told me he would discount his normal rate if I would pay in cash as the progress on the truck moved along. I agreed to pay in cash for his so called discount. I told him I would like to come over on the days I could and do some of the work myself to keep costs down, and keep an eye on what was happening with my truck. He agreed.

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Wheels of Yesteryear Car MuseumIf you’re a muscle car  enthusiast, especially Mopar, and you go to Myrtle Beach SC you need to make a point of visiting the Wheels of Yesteryear car museum.

Cars on Display

The museum, located off of highway 501 between the Tanger Oulet Mall and the Myrtle Beach Speedway, showcases one of the Southeasts most impressive collections of Americam-made automobiles.  It consists of cars and trucks owned and restored by car enthusiast Paul Cummings, many of which Paul raced during his racing days. The museum houses about one-third of Paul’s collection so each January vehicles are rotated to display the many different cars and trucks.

If you are a Mopar fan like me you may never see more Hemi-powered cars in one building during your lifetime. Paul told me he was and still is an avid GM enthusiast, but during his racing days he only saw the back end of Mopars so he made the switch.

69 Charger Daytona

The museum also has the one-and-only 69 Dodge Daytona Charger used in the hit comedy movie “The Adventures of Joe Dirt” If you ever get to Myrtle Beach SC stop in and check Paul’s collection out. It’s well worth the time.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

 

biles in one location

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