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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I just got Crusty back to running and driving after his Cummins swap and figured I should capture the story, the details, my learnings and my failures on the project before I forget stuff.

So strap in and pour yourself 3 fingers, because this is gonna be a long tale of frustration, triumph, and questionable financial decisions...


Background on the build

Crusty is a 1998 Chevy K2500 extended cab short bed truck in loaded, Silverado trim. I bought it with a guesstimated 300k original miles (and all the “patina” you’d expect with all those miles), a very poorly rebuilt 5.7 that barely ran, and a 4L80E with only reverse.

This is the day I bought it:
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I swapped in a used trans and drove it around for year while fixing tons of little things and swapping in some pretty mint suburban front seats and a very mint 96 dash. But eventually reverse let go on the used trans and I started to prepare for the Cummins swap and drove around with no reverse for another 6-8 months.

Original powertrain was a 5.7 Vortec, 4L80E auto, NP243 electric shift transfer case, a semi-float 14 bolt rear axle, and the 9.25” GM IFS. New hardware is a 1991 non-intercooled Cummins 6BT VE pump, a 1995 Dodge NV4500, and a 1978 Ford NP205.

This build was partially inspired by Fred Williams’ Ultimate Adventure Tug Truck. Big, heavy truck with big, dumb parts:
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I plan to use Crusty primarily for camping/kayaking/overlanding/road tripping and regular truck stuff like picking up lumber or an engine. Maybe pull a camper or trailer once and awhile. Durability, simplicity, fuel economy, and reliability are the cornerstones of the build. For now anyway... Additionally, since we drive the truck long distances, interior comfort is key. Hence, the year of improving or replacing the interior to becoming pretty mint. A stark contrast to the crusty exterior. I also incorporated a handful of military/WWII bomber theme elements here and there. More on that later though.

Crusty in his element at North Padre Island National Seashore:
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I bought the Cummins and the NV4500 as part of a hack job swap 1991 Chevy C3500 crew cab dually (that we named Rocky because the truck looked like it had been hit with a ton of rocks). I pulled the engine and trans and scrapped the roller. Now before the OBS crew cab guys get their guns, trust me when I say this truck was really terrible and only the chassis might have been worth saving.


The Engine Rebuild Phase

Rocky ran and drove when I bought it but the Cummins had a lot of blow-by and needed a rebuild pretty bad. Tearing down the Cummins was both my first time working on a diesel and my first time completely disassembling an engine. The 6BT is a super simple, completely overbuilt design and aside from being huge and heavy, it's really easy to work on. Just keep a sharpie or paint pen handy to mark everything and a clean and clear table or work bench to lay everything out as you take it apart. After disassembly, the following machining was performed:
  • Block was magnafluxed, and bored .020 over
  • New cam bearing installed
  • Head was cracked at a valve seat so it was replaced with an assembled ProMaxx head that the shop looked over and tested
  • Crank and cam were both magnafluxed and polished
  • Rods were magnafluxed and had new bushings installed
Engine reassembly went pretty smooth with a buddy and involved the following new parts:
  • Cummins complete upper and lower gasket kits
  • Cummins main bearings
  • Cummins rod bearings
  • Mahle 0.020 pistons and rings
  • Clevite wrist pin bushings
  • Cummins oil pump (NOTE: be sure to pack the oil pump with vaseline before assembly or you may not make oil pressure on start up)
  • Water pump
  • Fuel lift pump
  • GM power steering pump
  • Bosch injectors (oem spec)
  • M&D rebuilt the VE rotary pump (oem spec)
  • KDP fix
  • ACDelco starter
  • Cummins vacuum pump gasket kit
You'll notice that head bolts/studs were not included in that list. I actually contacted my local Cummins distributer and they assured me that with stock or near stock power, the old bolts could be reused as long as they passed the stretch gauge that was included in my upper gasket kit. They were all well within spec and I plan to keep power at stock levels for the foreseeable future so I reused them.

Here's the quick-n-dirty of how it went:
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Clutch and Flywheel
I went with a solid flywheel and 12 inch clutch kit from Luk. I just went with the cheapest option since my power levels are low. The starter teeth on the flywheel were about a half inch or so further forward on the side of the flywheel than the factory one my Cummins came with and required a triangular spacer plate from eBay to go between the starter and the flywheel housing.

Note about the Luk clutch kit:
I would not get this kit again in the future. The fit and finish of the components wasn't great but you get what you pay for. My first kit arrived in a destroyed box and half-assed packaging and there were several large gouges in the flywheel. It also came with the starer spacer I mentioned. When I returned it for a undamaged kit, the second one was missing the starter spacer.

Repurposed Sensors from 5.7 Vortec
I reused the oil pressure sender and simply threaded it into the oil port on the driver side of the Cummins. I also reused the coolant temp sender with a 3/4" NPT male to 3/8" NPT female adapter for the coolant port on the back, driver side of the cylinder head. The 5.7 Vortec has two coolant temp sensors. One near the thermostat (two wires) for the ECU and one on the driver side of the block (one wire) for the temp gauge.

Fuel Heater Delete
In an effort to simplify things as much as possible, I deleted the fuel heater with a fuel heater delete nipple from Geno's.

AC System
I retained the factory AC system and alternator with a kit from Auto World. It was expensive but it included everything and it all works great. I had planned to put together my own "kit" with off-the-shelf components and some fabrication but in the end the cost savings wouldn't have been much and I saved a ton of time with their kit. Their super friendly staff got me squared away over the phone.

Charging System
I kept the factory GM CS130D alternator but needed to change to an 8 rib pulley. Besides having 8 ribs, a Ford 3G 6G 8 rib pulley has the same dimensions as the original GM pulley. My tach is getting signal from the “W” terminal on the alternator. I simply rewired the white signal wire from the 5.7 crank position sensor to the "W" cavity of the factory alternator harness plug. This tachometer works but is not accurate and at the time of writing this I still need to calibrate the signal with a Dakota Digital SGI-100BT box.

I'm currently running a single Odessey Extreme 34-PC1500T battery but plan to run another 34-PC1500T with an isolator in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The Transmission Rebuild Phase

I've owned manual trans vehicles my whole life but this was also my first time rebuilding one. The NV4500 I pulled from Rocky the donor truck was originally a 2wd unit. So I picked up a cast iron 4wd tail housing from eBay, a new 4wd main shaft and master rebuild kit from Allstate Gear, shims and misc. bits from Torque King 4x4, and got started. Torque King 4x4 also has a truly excellent assembly manual with color photos and detailed descriptions for this rebuild process. I used this 5th gear nut tool from Amazon and it worked great.

Get yourself a very heavy duty pair of snap ring pliers with detents on the tips for holding the colossal snap rings. Pay very close attention to the various bearings and races. I got two seemingly identical bearing/race sets mixed up and it caused a ton of frustration before I realized what had happened (the incident actually spurred my first post on this forum). Removing and pressing in certain bearings does require some specialty tools and I ended up having a local transmission shop help with the ones I couldn't do myself.

Cool Tip: For removing pressed in bearing races that must to be pulled out to remove, run a bead of weld around the inside of the old race. As the race cools, it will shrink and literally fall out. Be sure to mask off any nearby machined surfaces to protect them from weld spatter.

The assembly of the main shaft is basically just adding rings on top of rings in a particular order and orientation. I laid everything out in order of assembly and it made things really easy.

It looked a little like this:
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The finished product:
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The Transfer-Case Rebuilding Phase

This was also my first transfer-case rebuild. The NP205 is really simple as well and pretty straight forward. I lucked out and found the NP205 from an online parts recycler for $300 shipped. Crazy. It originally came from a 1978 Ford Bronco.

My Dodge HD NV4500 was a 29 spline output and Ford NP205s have a 31 spline input so I adapted the two with Advance Adapters' #50-9550 kit. Their input shaft is a quality piece for sure. The kit requires modifying the tail housing of the NV4500. I was able to do it with an angle grinder and a cut off wheel. I didn't end up using their shifter linkage bracket though. I got another master rebuild kit from Allstate Gear, a handful of idler shaft shims from Torque King, watched some YouTube, and rebuilt it with the new input shaft.

I wanted to run the factory speedo and therefore needed to retain the factory electronic speed sensor. The NP205 uses a mechanical speedo cable so I sent my tail housing off to Behemoth Drivetrain to be machined to accept the electronic GM sensor and provided the proper tone ring to replace the mechanical speedo gear. I made a plug for the old mechanical speedo's hole. I also upgraded the 1310 rear yoke to a 1350 unit.

Here's the before and after:
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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
The Prep and Plumbing Phase

Once the engine, trans, and t-case were rebuilt there was nothing left to do but pull the old powertrain from Crusty. I managed to do this with out disassembling the AC system.

Note about order of operations:
Some of the systems I'm about to cover in this section (cooling, electrical, hydraulic, and fuel) were worked on both before and after engine installation but I'm going to describe my complete solution for them now before getting into the engine install.

Here's the old guts:
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Front Axle Work
Next was to pull the front axle. I trimmed some diff housing webbing and countersunk the top housing bolts per Jonesy's engine mount instructions (Joel Jonesy is active on several Cummins swap forums and has an excellent YouTube series on Cummins swapping a GMT400 Suburban). Since the electronic NP243 was now gone, the front axle actuator would no longer receive signal to engage so I replaced it with a 4x4 Posi-Lok (again, simple and mechanical). Installation was straight forward and the parts seem sturdy enough, but fitment of the brackets and hardware is super loose.

Note about Posi-Lok fitment issues:
I used a bunch of washers here and there to get everything to fit more snuggly not rattle and flop around so much. For what you get, the kit is not cheap and suppling hardware with more accurate lengths and tolerances for better fitment of parts would increase production costs by almost nothing.


Engine Bay Restoration
The pinch weld seam where the trans tunnel meets the firewall needs to be folded flat. You cut a few reliefs in the seam with an angle grinder and hammer the seam flat against the trans tunnel. Now is when scope-creep really started to set it. With so much access to everything now I decided to restore the engine bay. Rustoleum Professional Enamel is my go-to spray paint.

Cooling System
Again, keeping things mechanical and simple, I'm running a mechanical Cummins fan, original 5.7 radiator, and no shroud whatsoever. I haven't done any heavy towing or long mountain grades, but it runs very cool, even in traffic.

The coolant outlet on my Cummins is the kind that points up 45 degrees to the driver side so I used a flexible, black stainless steel hose that could easily run behind the fan and under the AC compressor to the rad inlet. The flexible hose came with several sizes of rubber collars for adapting differing diameters of inlet and outlets. Really cool kit all in all. For the lower hose, I trimmed and adapted a Gates 20431 coolant hose to the smaller 5.7 rad outlet diameter with one of the rubber collars from the flexible hose kit. Heater hoses were routed along the passenger fender similar to the original setup with Vibrant silicone hose.

I decided to make a hot rodder style overflow tank:
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ABS Delete
The ABS never worked properly on the truck since I owned it. So with keeping the build as simple and mechanical as possible, I decided to delete the ABS and replace it with a Wilwood adjustable proportioning valve, some custom braided stainless lines, and a Wilwood 10lb residual valve for the rear drums. The system works great and frees up a ton a space and complexity from the engine bay.

I originally tried my hand at bending and flaring stainless hard lines with a multi-piece flaring tool from OTC but could not get my flares to seal. I guess my novice experience, choice of hard stainless tubing, and mediocre flare tool didn't add up in the end. I ended up having lines made locally.

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Chassis Restoration
I modified the chassis per Jonesy's instructions. I also convinced myself that since I was removing the old gas tank I should take advantage of the opportunity to restore the whole chassis... The truck came to me with a 3" body lift so I was able to wire wheel and paint probably 95% of the frame without removing the bed or cab. I also replaced the old rotten body mounts with an Energy Suspension set.

I wire wheeled everything, blew it off with a compressor, wiped it down twice with acetone, and followed the application instructions to the letter and the POR15 still peeled off in SHEETS in certain spots as the build continued. I used two coats of POR15 base coat (brushed) and two coats of POR15 top coat (sprayed).

In short, I would not recommend POR15 at all and wish I'd used Rustoleum Professional like I did with everything else. 🤦‍♂️

Steering Attention
The steering gear box on the truck was shot so I opted for a new unit from RedHead Steering Gears. I also picked up new:
  • ACDelco Pro pitman arm
  • ACDelco Pro idler arm pivot bracket
  • ACDelco Pro idler arm
Fuel system
I'm not sure if it was factory original but the gas fuel tank was immaculate inside. I cleaned it out, hit the outside with a coat of paint and reused it. I ended up modifying the gas fuel pump assembly by removing the actual pump and pre-filter and replacing it with a length of SAE 30r10 fuel submersible hose for a pick-up.

Note on modifying and reusing the gas pump assembly:
Maybe it's the way I jerry-rigged mine, but I'm not overly confident in it as a permanent solution. Particularly with off-road use. It's working fine for now but I'll be replacing it with a normal 6.5 fuel sender and pick-up assembly soon.


Diesel fuel filler necks have larger diameter inlet than the gas ones so I sourced a diesel filler neck, fuel cap, and fill/vent hoses off a 6.5 at the junk yard. Everything was a direct swap. I reused the factory fuel lines from the tank to along the frame and ran SAE 30r9 fuel injection hose from the frame hard lines to the lift pump and return line on the engine. I also replaced the gas fuel filter with a short length of fuel injection hose.

Hydraulic System
The hardest part about converting a factory auto GMT400 to manual was finding, removing and installing the clutch pedal and pedal bracket from a 95+ truck from the junk yard.

There are various solutions online to set up the clutch hydraulics on a swap like this but I ended up going with a GMT400 NV4500 master and slave cylinder and a universal braided stainless line from Perfection Clutch. The type of clutch pedal bracket you have will dictate your master cylinder options. I have the round version that bolts to the firewall.

The slave cylinder mounting flange required a little trimming to properly mount to the Dodge NV4500 bell housing. On my first test drive I realized the clutch was slipping and not fully engaged. A quick phone call with Perfection and we concluded that the slave cylinder rod needed to be trimmed about a 1/4". I'm not sure what the normal engagement point for this arrangement is but mine is a little higher in the pedal travel than I'd prefer though otherwise feels great while driving.

Electrical System
I only have a very basic understanding of electricity and electronics so this part of the swap has been the most frustrating, and the most rewarding. I probably removed a mile of unnecessary wiring and a dozen or so sensors when it was done. Unfortunately, I couldn't begin to try and recap all the rewiring, wire clean-up, splicing, soldering, sealing, re-looming, and research that's needed for a clean, factory-ish looking powertrain swap of this nature. I'll have to touch on each of those battles another time.

All I can say here is to get a comprehensive set of wiring diagrams with all the connector pin outs, the circuit numbers, the works. Not a Chilton/Haynes/parts store manual. And learn how to read all of it because when it finally clicks, it's great. When in doubt, go to the junk yard to examine/trace an accessible electrical system. I strongly recommend holding off on trimming or removing any wiring until everything is swapped over and running and driving. I got ahead of myself and had to go back and rewire several things I cut out and ended up still needing...
 

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She ought to be good for another 300,000 miles or more. Just curious, did your replacement head have 7mm or 9mm injector holes. The 9mm heads had a common problem for cracks. Cummins doesn't even sell the 9mm injectors any more. You get a 7mm with 9mm sleeves if you buy replacement from them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
She ought to be good for another 300,000 miles or more. Just curious, did your replacement head have 7mm or 9mm injector holes. The 9mm heads had a common problem for cracks. Cummins doesn't even sell the 9mm injectors any more. You get a 7mm with 9mm sleeves if you buy replacement from them.
I remember having a convo specifically about this with someone at Jegs or ProMaxx or M&D (they sold me the injectors). It’s been awhile and many other technical convos later but I’m pretty sure it has the 7mm holes. I remember being put at ease about the subject...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
very cool project! any idea how many hours you have wrapped up in drivetrain rebuild? also: have you considered a sas swap?
Being my first time completely rebuilding any of these parts, I took my sweet time with everything. I couldn’t really tell you how many hours total, but a lot more than “normal”. All these parts are super simple though and easy to work on and next time around it’ll go twice as fast.

Yes, Crusty is currently on Mark II with this swap completed. A SAS, FF14 bolt, and air lockers are planned for Mark III. I’m gonna run the open IFS and the SF14 for awhile though and just enjoy the truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
The Final Phase: Part I

With the powertrain rebuilt and painted, the frame restored, and all the various vehicle systems addressed, it was time to reassemble the truck. Doing all this in my driveway with a couple buddies, I figured the easiest way to get the powertrain installed was in the following steps:
  1. Remove the hood and radiator support. I managed to not disassemble the AC system by just unbolting and rotating the rad support counter-clockwise to get it out of the way.
  2. Set up the transmission jack underneath engine bay, lower NV4500 onto the jack through the engine bay with the hoist, and roll trans back under cab.
  3. Swing the 6BT onto the Dodge first gen rubber isolators I'd previously attached to the frame and bolt it down. (Be sure that the interlocking tabs on the isolators are pointing rearward on the passenger side and forward on the driver side)
  4. Using the hoist to help pivot the engine fore and aft, we eventually got the transmission bolted up.
  5. At this point we could put the hoist away and rested the tail shaft of the transmission on a jack stand and removed the transmission jack.
  6. Using the transmission jack, we lifted the NP205 up and got it bolted to the back of the trans.

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Note on removing/installing the trans and transfer case:
If I had to do it again I'd remove the torsion bar crossmember first and remove/install the trans and t-case as one unit. An ATV jack would be perfect for this since they are so stable. This was my original plan but the torsion crossmember gets in the way if you try to install it all at once like this.

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Custom Transmission Crossmember
I was able to modify the OEM trans crossmember by trimming and boxing a few areas and drilling new trans mount holes. I used a universal Energy Suspension trans mount. My transmission moved back about a 1/2" from factory so I elongated the holes in the frame the crossmember bolts to. When it was all said and done, the engine sits about 3 degrees tail down.

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Custom Driveshafts
With the powertrain permanently in place, I bought a digital angle finder, took a bunch of measurements, and was ready to give Tom Woods Driveshafts a call for some custom driveshafts. The exact specs of my shafts for this set-up were as follows:
  • Front Driveshaft
    • Type A, Double Cardan, CV
    • 2" tube
    • 28.375" length
    • 1310 series u-joint at t-case
    • 3R series u-joint at front diff
  • Rear Driveshaft
    • Type B, Standard Slip, 2 Joint Shaft
    • 4" tube
    • 71.375" length
    • 1350 series u-joint at t-case and rear diff
The shafts seems really well made and have no noticeable vibrations on the highway. I'd definitely recommend Tom Woods and I'll likely use them again but all the joints were delivered extremely greasy. Even after wiping off all the excess prior to install, the rear shaft still flung grease everywhere under the cab and bed after driving on the highway.

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
The Final Phase: Part II

At this point the powertrain is completely assembled and ready to go and all that's left is a million little plumbing and wiring tasks, hook up the throttle cable, build an intake and exhaust system, and sort out my shifters for the trans and t-case. Electrical and plumbing the fuel and cooling systems has already been covered in the previous Prep and Plumbing Phase.

Throttle Cable Modification
My solution for modding and adapting the throttle cable was super. I just looped the factory 5.7 throttle cable and plugged it straight into the factory location on the Cummins. I cut the actual cable down to the proper length, secured a loop in the end of the cable and hooked it to the throttle linkage. I used couple of thick and very snug square o-rings to secure the loop to the linkage. Works great.

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Intake
My intake only consists of a 3" to 4" 90 degree silicone elbow to a Fleetguard AH1141 BHAF with a very short length of 4" aluminum tubing to couple to the two together. The filter rests on the fender, and after removing a tiny piece of the hood insulation, is held down perfectly snug with the hood down. Everything about this arrangement fits just great and I highly recommend it. Just for kicks, I installed a Wix air filter service gauge on the elbow.

Here's the Cummins fully plumbed and wired:
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Exhaust System
In hopes of future proofing the exhaust system for increased power later on I decided on 4" T304 stainless for the whole system after the 3" down pipe. For the time being, the whole system is clamped together with exhaust sealer and at the time of this writing (300 miles) it doesn't show signs of leaks. The whole system goes as follows:
To hang all this I modified the fore-most factory exhaust hanger and fabricated one from scratch that mounts up in the bed side above the exit hole. This system was achieved only needing to cut the short length of tube between the resonator and muffler and the even short length for the tip. Both bends were used intact and everything clamps together.

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Routing this setup required a little trimming on the forward edge of the underside of the bed. The 3" body lift also played a part in my routing options.The fender exit exhaust is one of my favorite homages to the air force/bomber theme of this build. Eventually I'll be changing the tip to a dual 3" with a proper bezel.

I was inspired by the exhaust on P-51 Mustangs and similar aircraft:
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Transmission Shifter
Cutting a hole in the floor and installing a shift boot is pretty straight forward. I found a factory shift boot and trim plate at the junk yard. All the GMT400s have the hole for a factory manual stamped in the floor. The Cummins and Dodge NV4500 put the shifter about an inch to the passenger side and about a 1/2 inch back from factory. I could have cut out the factory stamping but I chose to used a 4" hole saw where my shifter needed to come through. Using the trim plate as a template, I put four rivnuts in the floor and it was done.

Aside from the glorious Cummins, the real pièce de résistance for this build and what really hits the aviation theme home is the shift knob. I have a 60s-80s era Air Force control stick from my grandfather's time as pilot. I modified the NV4500 shifter with collar to hold the control stick with a pair of set screws. I'll be wiring it control accessories in the future.

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Transfer Case Shifter Linkage
Crusty was originally had an electric shift t-case but I wanted the shifter for the NP205 to look factory so I grabbed the lever and trim from a manual shift truck at the junk yard and installed it on mine. When doing a conversion like this I'd recommend taking measurements and reference photos of the donor vehicle as you disassemble it. The stamping of the floor was not super obvious to me where cut. With my measurements though I was able to position the lever backing plate as a template to mark my cut on the floor.

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Now for the hard part. Making the factory shifter actuate the NP205. There's mounting boss on the tail housing of the NV4500 that I knew would be my pivot point. So I took lots of measurements and made a pivot arm jig in a vice and using very simple math (I have a degree in Graphic Design kind of simple) I calculated where on my pivot arm my linkages needed to be to get both the proper leverage and range of motion to shift the NP205.

It ended up looking like this:
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I fabbed the pivot arm from scratch and built the linkages with some stainless all-thread, some eBay rod ends, and a bunch of various hardware. There's probably some mechanical engineers out there might barf if they saw this but everything operates smoothly with no binding. Though I already have plans to revise the system in the future to get those leverage angles more perpendicular.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
The End

And just like that, 15 months of work, research, and questionable financial choices came to an end. Crusty, Mk II was fully operational and I've put 300 miles on it as of this moment. There's a handful of little things I'm still sorting out while everything breaks in but he runs and drives great. Starts immediately. Doesn't smoke at all. Diesel smell is lessening. Mixed driving fuel economy has increased from 15mpg for the first 50 miles to 17.

I'm super stoked to answer any questions or go into greater detail about anything. I will continue updating this thread with future build progress. The Crusty Mk III game plan includes a SAS and the full float 14 bolt waiting in my garage...

This was just the last leg of the journey:
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More bomber theme cues with State and Nat'l Park "kills" decals I designed for our excursions:
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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
New Wheels & Spare Mounting Solution

Wheel Upgrade
Crusty came to me with standard steel wheels and a fresh set of 285 75R 16 Falken Wildpeak A/Ts. One of the steelies has always had a slight wobble that couldn’t be balanced so I finally did something about it. I found a used set of 99-10 alloys.

In case anyone is wondering, the alloys weigh 15lbs each and the steelies weigh 33lbs each.

Their clear coat on the alloys was in bad shape and silver/chrome/aluminum wheels have never been my thing so I knew they were getting painted. I’ve always thought black or white trucks looked good with bronze or gold wheels though so I painted mine bronze. Prep consisted of wire wheeling hand sanding with 400 grit, blown off with compressed air, and wiped down with acetone.

Three coats of Rustoleum Professional red primer:
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Three coats of Rustoleum bronze:
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I’m still on the fence about the bronze but I think it’s growing on me. I’m gonna leave it for awhile and if I’m not feeling it I’ll just paint them black.

Bed Mounted Spare
The current spare is old, undersized (31”), and for emergency use only but I moved it to the bed and came up with a super simple mounting solution. It’s comprised of just three d-ring mounting points and a ratchet strap.

The top two mounts use the existing mounting bolts for the headache rack and I drilled a hole in the inner bedside for the lower mount. It should all be pretty self explanatory with the pictures.

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It’s very secure and takes almost no time to remove or strap down. Lifting the tire into the bed is a bitch though...

Once these 33” Falkens wear down Crusty will step up to 35s, five new wheels, and a matching spare. This mounting solution may or may not need to be adjusted with a larger spare but for now, I like it. Minimal impact on visibility too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Crusty's 300k mile front suspension was in really rough shape and the added weight of the Cummins only made it more obvious. So this past week the entire front end got rebuilt with the following ACDelco Pro part numbers:
  • Inner tie rods - 45A0428
  • Outer tie rods - 45A0422
  • Upper control arm ball joints - 45D0064
  • Lower control arm ball joints (forged arms)- 45D2233
  • Upper control arm bushings (sold in sets)- 45G8057
  • Lower control arm bushings (sold individually and different for front and rear)
    • Rear bushing - 45G11076
    • Front bushing - 45G9213
There's a few things beyond basic hand tools needed to do this job:
  • Either a hydraulic press or a ball joint press (I rented the latter from Autozone)
  • An expanded adapter set for the press (also rented from Autozone)
  • Loctite 680 when pressing in the lower ball joints
  • 36mm axle nut socket
Disassembly was pretty straight forward and there's a very good video on YouTube covering everything but the lower control arm bushings for this job. I managed to remove the LCAs without needing to remove the torsion bars. Just let them droop all the way down and wrangle them out of their brackets. Pressing the bushings and ball joints in and out is just as you would expect.

Note on pressing in the new UCA bushings:
Measure and note the overall width of the arm and bushings prior to pressing the old bushings out. I pressed the new bushings in too far and one arm and it wouldn't fit back in the brackets until I pressed them back out a few mm on each side.

Removing the upper ball joints from the control arms was the most difficult part. Since the factory ball joints are riveted to the control arm, you need to grind or drill off the rivet heads and use a chisel and sledge to separate the ball joint mounting plate from the arm and pull the rivets out with it. Honestly, if your budget allows, just buy the UCAs that come pre-loaded with new bushings and a new ball joint and save yourself the trouble.

Here is everything cleaned, painted, and reassembled:
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Nice work man. Very well organized.

Those torsion bars are beefy enough to hold up the 6BT?
 
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