The truck came with a rear chrome bumper, but it had a couple bad dents that would be difficult to straighten, and it would need to be re-chromed. I fabricated a front winch bumper for the truck and now it was time to do something on the back. I thought about fabricating more of a bulky 4X4 type bumper but my son said I should consider a roll pan for a nice clean look. I’ve seen lots of roll pans on trucks but never considered it on the power wagon. After giving it some thought I made the decision to to try fabricating the roll pan.

fabricate roll pan for power wagonThe first thing I did was cut the old license plate section out so I could use it in the new roll pan.  Once that was done there was no turning back, so I found a piece of good heavy gauge metal in the shop and cut it to the length and width I wanted. I left a little extra on the width since it would need to be heated and shaped to match the contour and rear bed corner lines.

roll pan tack license plate holder in placeNext I cut a section out for the license plate holder and tacked the old piece in place. I fabricated the top and side pieces of the roll pan and welded them in place. At first I wanted to design it so the roll pan could be removed, and I didn’t want any bolts to show when it was installed, so I fabricated some brackets that would bolt to the frame and welded them on the back of the roll pan.

roll pan bondo

I clamped the roll pan down to the work bench with a piece of pipe under it so I could heat the metal and shape it to the curve of the pipe. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. I ground all of the welds down smooth and used some Bondo to clean up the edges.

roll pan test fit on truck

The only thing left to do is figure out if I want to install any flush-mounted lights in the roll pan our leave it smooth. Then I can prime and paint it to match the front bumper.

roll pan paintedAt the last minute I decided to weld the roll pan in place and do the body work to get a nice clean finished look. I finished the roll pan, sanded the bed and tailgate and sprayed them. This is how the roll pan turned out. Now I can move on to the custom exhaust system.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

Bushwacker Fender Flare Installation Video

In this informative how-to video Mark Polk installs a set of Bushwacker Pocket-Style fender flares on a Ram truck. The fender flares were painted to match the truck using Bushwacker’s color-matching service. Get started on your Bushwacker project today.

Mark Polk
Auto Education 101
Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

Mopars – Final Resting Place

mopars in fieldIn my search for a Mopar car restoration project I ran across an auction that was less than 30 minutes from where we live. They were selling an old dragstrip and about 60 cars that were parked on the property for many years. The auction ad said there were three Dodge Super Bees  (a 68,69 & 70) and three Plymouth GTXs (one 69 and two 67s) among other cars. I always thought about restoring a Super Bee or GTX and could not believe these cars were this close to us and I never knew it. They also had two Dodge Sweptline trucks (a 67 & 70 model). The day before the auction you could preview the cars and I think I was the first one there that morning. Unfortunately it didn’t take long to see, that except for salvaging a few parts, they were all beyond repair or restoration.

The 70 Super Bee in the picture was a factory 440 six-pack car, but the motor was long gone. By the looks of the hood and the homemade spoiler on the back deck it probably made lots of runs down that old dragstrip in days gone by.

I’ll keep looking for a good Mopar project car.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

Poly 318 upper radiator hoseWhen I rebuilt the poly head 318 engine for the 70 Power Wagon project I added an Edlebrock P600 6-pack manifold with 3 Rochester carburetors. At the time I didn’t think about needing access to water jackets in the manifold for additional temperature sending units. The old gauge cluster required one water temperature sending unit for the electric water temperature gauge and the P600 intake had one threaded hole for a sending unit.

It wasn’t until I decided to add an electric fan and mechanical water temperature gauge into the mix that I realized I had a problem. I need two sending units, but only had one space in the intake to install them. When it comes to water temperature sending units I prefer to install  it in the intake manifold as close to the thermostat housing as possible for accurate readings of the water temperature in the engine. My thoughts are if you put the sending unit at the radiator you get a cooler temperature reading because, number one it’s at the radiator not the engine, and number two you get a temperature reading after the thermostat opens.

This is more of a concern for the electric cooling fan than it is for the water temperature gauge because the cooling fan is designed to come on and turn off at a set temperature.  If the water is cooler at the radiator the cooling fan could possibly come on and stay on if the water temperature, which is somewhat regulated by the thermostat,  does not drop low enough to turn the fan off. A bigger problem could be the water at the radiator never gets hot enough to turn the fan on in the first place.

Because of these concerns my plan was to install the cooling fan sending unit at the intake manifold, but the threaded hole was too small for the sending unit threads. I have not looked into adapters yet, or the possibility of replacing the sending unit with one that has the same temperature settings but smaller threads. This leaves the only option for installing the mechanical temperature sending unit at the upper section of the radiator or by splicing into the upper radiator hose using a hose adapter that has a welded bung adapter for another sending unit.

I am still trying to sort this out in my mind and will keep you posted on what I figure works best to sovle the problem.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

Next Project Vehicle – 1980 Jeep CJ7

1980 Jeep CJ7With the 71 Power Wagon project about 75% complete I am planning ahead for the next restoration project. I wanted to find a Mopar project car like a Superbee or GTX, but I stumbled on a true barn find at a good price. It’s a 1980 CJ7 Jeep with a running 304 engine, power steering, a hardtop and not much rust. That makes it a good cndidate for restoration. The Jeep has literally been sitting in a shed since 1999.
 I have owned lots of Jeeps (7) over the years and there was one in particular I wish I would have kept. It was a 1976 Golden Eagle with a 304 engine. I bought it from the original owner when it was less than one year old. It wasn’t long after graduating high school and I landed a good job, but a year later I was laid-off  and couldn’t afford keep it.
Restored 1981 Jeep CJ7About 10 years ago I restored this 1981 base model CJ7 with a 4 cylinder that I bought for $700 in 1997. It’s a nice Jeep, but I always wanted to find another V8 Jeep. The project Jeep is a 1980 model, but I plan to clone it as a Silver Anniversary CJ that came out in 1979. By 1980 the 304 engine was so laden with government imposed emissions BS that the horsepower rating dropped to about 125 hp.  I want the Jeep to be a driver, and we tow it behind our motorhome, so I am not too concerned about the horsepower, but 125 hp is not acceptable for any V8 engine. The Jeep has been sitting for 16 years and after we put a battery in it and an electric fuel pump with fresh gas it fired right up. It had good oil pressure and it ran good with no knocks, but it is burning a little oil which was evident by the blue smoke from the exhaust. Another mechanical issue I noticed when I drove it to the shop was the popping out of gear when you downshift the transmission. This project will not be a full blown restoration since it will be driven and towed on a regular basis.
My preliminary thoughts for this project build are:
1) Do a compression test and open the engine up to take a look. If things are in order I will probably overhaul the engine as opposed to a complete rebuild using a mild cam, new lifters, new rings, and rework the heads.
2) Rebuild the T176/T177 transmission
3) Go through all mechanicals i.e. brakes, steering, axles, hubs and suspension.
4) Add a low restriction free-flowing dual exhaust system.
4) Upgrade the ignition system
4) Add a 4 inch lift and 33 inch tires
5) Do all the bodywork. Paint it and add Renegade decals to match a 79 Silver Anniversary edition Jeep.
My budget for this build is $7,000 and that includes the $2,200 I spent buying it, so I’ll need to pinch pennies. I’ll start looking for good deals on parts now, but won’t start working on it until the 71 Power Wagon is on the road. I’ll keep you posted.
Mark Polk
Auto Education 101


Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

71 Power Wagon – Truck Bed Body Work

When I bought the truck I thought the truck bed was in good shape. There were a few spots with primer, but I didn’t see any signs of rust. At some point in time the truck had two small saddle fuel tanks installed in the bed so there were two fuel doors I wanted to weld patch panels on to conceal. I just cut some pieces of metal out, put it behind the fuel door opening and welded the new panels in place. After a couple light coats of Bondo it was as if they never existed.

bed corner damageThen I got the grinder out to see what was behind the primer. Both rear bed corners were hit and repaired at some point. The driver’s side wasn’t too bad and I managed to straighten the metal and make the repair. The passenger side was another story. First there was more than 1/2 inch thick old Bondo used to fill the damaged area rather than straightening the metal first. The bed corner was in really bad shape.

I knew there was a company that bed corner repair 2made some patch panels for these old Sweptline trucks and they did offer the bed corner panels, so I ordered one for $95 and waited for it to get here. When it arrived I cut the old bed corner out, cleaned everything up and sanded and primered the areas I could get to including the back of the patch panel before moving forward with the repairs. When I set the new bed corner in place I immediately noticed it was about 3/8 of an inch wider then the existing corner.

It was too late to turn back now so I decided to cut the patch panel in half, overlap it and weld it to make it fit. It made the repair job more difficult and more time consuming, but it eliminated dealing with the old bent up bed corner.

truck-bed-in-primerAfter that was done I decided to fill in the line separating the rear bed corner and taillight section from the rest of the bed so it had the appearance of one smooth section with no lines.

My plan is to do all the work on the bottom half of the truck bed while it’s off the truck with easy access. Then I’ll put the bed back on the truck, make any repairs to the top half, prime it and get it to paint.

When all of that is finished I can fabricate the rear bumper and start on the exhaust system.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

71 Power Wagon – LED Light Bar Project

When I decided to add a 12-volt winch to my 71 Power Wagon restoration project my initial thoughts were to mount a LED light bar above the winch or install one under or in the winch bumper I fabricated for the truck. When I was taking measurements for the LED light bar I measured the slots in the truck’s grill and discovered two 21 inch LED light bars would fit in the grill openings.

The grill that came on the truck was pretty beat up from the hood latch sticking and pounding the grill when you close the hood. On one of my sweptline parts hunting missions I found and purchased a NOS grill in perfect condition with NOS grill inserts to match. To install the LED light bars the way I was thinking would require cutting the grill inserts in half which I didn’t want to do with the new grill. My old grill inserts had some broken and craked plastic pieces but with time, patience and some Gorilla glue I was able to repair it, and after some sanding and paint it looked like new.

LED light bar mounted on 71 power wagonSo the experiement to mount the light bars in the grill was moving forward. I cut the old grill inserts in half to salvage the lower sections with the turn signal and parking lights. Initially I was going to fabricate mounts for the light bars and install them on the outside of the top grill openings. But, after more measuring I realized I could install them behind the grill leaving the face of the light bars almost flush with the grill. It not only looked better but it was much more secure.

Two LED light bars installed on power wagonWith both light bars securely mounted I installed the lower grill inserts that I repaired and painted, the KC Hi Lite headlights, the turn signals and the grill itself. I was happy with the installation except for the small gap between the light bar and grill on both ends of each light. I had some heavy duty rubber left over from a lift kit installation on a CJ Jeep so I cut pieces to fill the gaps and glued them to the ends of the light bars using weatherstripping adhesive. With everything in place I wired the light bars to a toggle switch on the dash and included a fusible link for good measure.

LED light bar project complete on 71 Power WagonLED light bar project completed, Now it’s time to get to work on the truck’s bed.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101


Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

71 Power Wagon – Tackling the Hood

When I first removed the hood I noticed that one hood hinge had 5 shims on the upper bolt and the other side had 4 shims on the upper bolt, so I knew it would be a challenge re-installing the hood and getting the lines and height straight. Especially when the old hood didn’t close properly and in more than half the Sweptline truck pictures you see the hood doesn’t close right. I also noticed some play in the driver’s side hinge so I picked up a used set of hood hinges that were in a little better shape.

hood painted completeThe first thing I did was clean, sand, primer and paint the hood hinges. I used my favorite POR cast iron paint again. Earlier in the project I fixed some small dents in the hood and sanded, primed and painted it. The hardest part of prepping the hood for paint was the underside because of years of grime and grease getting eveywhere. When I painted the fabricated winch bumper with a darker shade of paint I decided to paint the raised center section of the hood the same color for an accent color on the truck.

hood hinge on 71 dodge truckModern day hoods don’t seem to require as much adjustment as the older hoods, and since I am not an experienced bodyman by trade I knew it would be a challenge. There are 5 bolt holes on the hood hinges (2 that go in the hood itself and 3 that go on the body) and all 5 are adjustable. The first step was to get the hood in position and start some bolts. My son and my wife came to the shop to help with this part. With gthe hood back on the truck, and no scratched paint so far, I started experimenting with the adjustments. The first problem was the back of the hood was raised up too high and it did not go far enough back towards the cowl. When I removed the hood I labeled all the bolts and 2 of them (labeled as top hood hinge bolts) had the shims taped the bolts. This is why it pays to label things when you take it apart.

hood on 1971 Dodge Power WagonI started by shimming the top hood hinge bolts with 2 washers on each side. I noticed the back of the hood lowered with the shims, but not enough so I added a third washer to both sides. With the lines between the hood and the fenders looking better the next problem was the rear of the hood was too far from the cowl and it was raised higher than the cowl. I tried tightening the hinge bolts just tight enough to hold the hood in place and then using my weight to press down on the rear of the hood. It would go into place, but when I raised the hood just far enough to really snug the bolts it still had the same problem. I always use chalk to mark the current location on the hinges so I can at least get it back to the most recent adjustment if things really get out of whack. I tried just about everything, but nothing seeded to work. Then for no good reason I decided to leave 4 of the bolts snug and only loosen the bottom hinge bolt that goes into a bracket mounted on the fender. With that bolt loose and the other four tight I picked up on the hinge and tightened the bolt at the same time. This adjustment lowered the rear of the hood and lined things up with the cowl.

It still needs some fine tuning, but I’m sure I can get it aligned now so I went ahead and installed the hood latch and the safety catch.

Now it’s onto the truck’s bed, which is quite a project in itself. I’ll keep you posted.

Mark Polk

Auto Education 101



















A big mistake I made when I first removed the doors was to not drill a couple holes through the hinges, with the doors on, to help align things when it was time to put the doors back on. If you drill a couple holes through the door hinges before removing the doors you just line the holes up slip a drill bit or bolt in the holes and the doors are back in the original correct position. Without the holes it took me awhile to adjust the lines and gaps between the door, fender and cowl when I re-installed the doors on the truck. Now that the doors are back on it was time to tackle all the door hardware, the window regulators, window glass and the weatherstripping. One thing that made the job easier is the top section of the power wagon’s doors (the part that goes around the windows) unbolt and come off, giving you better access to install the wing window and door glass.

window hardware paintedThe first thing I did was use some leftover bed liner paint I had on the inside bottom sections of the doors. Next I cleaned and sanded the window regulators and door latches and painted them with POR cast iron spray paint. I painted the vent window frames awhile back so they were ready to go. One of my exterior door handles was damaged so I bought two new door handles which are really nice.

Read More…

Posted by: Mark Polk | 2015

640 Horse Power Cadillac CTS-V

2016 Cadillac CTS-V
The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is the most powerful product in the brand’s history. The CTS-V was unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The CTS-V, available in late summer 2015 produces 640 horsepower, 630 lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 200 mph.  This is not you grandfather’s Cadillac!
(Photo by Steve Fecht for Cadillac posted with GMs permission)

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