Dodge on jacks? It must be Saturday.
Driveshaft bearings of one sort or another have been an ongoing theme this summer, and in each case what seemed simple and straightforward has been anything but. First came the boat, and I’m happy to report the special-order bearings from Fort Lauderdale Propeller have been machined to our specs and are currently in transit. But in the meantime a quick inspection of the Dodge revealed that after 19 years, the main driveshaft bearing was due for replacement. And since the truck is essential for hauling tools and parts back and forth to the boat, we really can’t work on the boat unless we work on the truck first. But this one should be quick and easy… or so we thought.
In truth, we have no one to blame but ourselves. When we bought this truck back in 1992, we ordered it with a few non-standard features. Rather than the V8, which only came with an automatic, we went with the V6 and 5 speed manual. Four-wheel drive seemed an unnecessary expense, but we opted for the posi-traction rear. We added the heavy duty tow package, which beefed up various parts to handle the additional load. Anti-lock brakes were just coming on the market, and we went with that as well, along with cruise control and a few (very few) amenities. Little did we know we had created a monster. All these years later, whenever we need to replace some standard part, nothing matches what a 2 wheel drive V6 Dakota of this vintage should contain. Our little Dodge is a hodge-podge of parts intended for the V8, the 4 wheel drive, and in some cases, a full-size Ram.
Below: Exhibit A. Note the original driveshaft bearing, (Bottom) slightly toasted and mis-shaped after utilizing a torch and chisel to separate it from driveshaft. Notice that the ‘identical to original’ replacement in the box bears no resemblance to what we removed. Further investigation revealed the old bearing matches those used on the much larger Ram.
Exhibit B. The driveshaft universal joints were getting stiff, so we figured we’d swap them out while the driveshaft was out. What isn’t immediately apparent in this photo is that while they should all be the same size, they aren’t.
Original universal joints – not what the parts books claim. By now we should be used to this.
Coming together at last, though not without the usual modifications. Of course, a job we thought would be wrapped up by lunch dragged into Sunday, at which point it was pouring on a biblical scale that had roads closed and rail lines shut down due to flooding. (Update: the news reported 11 inches of rain fell over a 24 hour period. ELEVEN inches!) And where are we? In the driveway, on our backs under the truck, reinstalling the driveshaft. But the truck is once again back together, which means we can now turn our attention back to the boat. And now that the engine room is wide open, we can pull the transmission, strip down and clean the engine, replace the motor mounts, belts, hoses, thermostat, fuel lines, oil lines, oil cooler, trans fluid cooler, heat exchanger, solenoids, zincs, drive damper plate, relocate the fuel-water separator, replace the cutlass and rudder bearings, rebuild the steering yet again, and by time we’re done with all that it should be cool enough to start rebuilding /fiberglassing the salon ceiling/ bridge deck.
This, kind readers, is the fun of life with an old truck and an even older boat. And it is why ‘weekend’ and ‘relax’ are not synonymous in my vocabulary.