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A few months back, a customer approached me about doing some work on an a truck many may remember from the 90's 4 wheeling magazines... Soni's Warwagon! I remember when Soni owned it, and fielded it during top truck challenge, then finally sold it. It has changed hands several times, from what I understand, it has traveled from soni's posession to Saudi Arabia, Texas, to Arizona where a prospector was using it , then finally to my customer. It has gone from having a old school hemi in it, to at some point along the line geting a cummins 6bt "swapped" into it. It has been kept amazingly original since Soni's build. I usually don't like coming into projects half done, or trying to redo stuff... but I would definitely make an exception for this truck.

The goal is to update the truck, fix the many problem the previous owners have created, but most importantly, stay true to the original vision of the truck. Alot of the challenge will be trying to change things without taking away from this trucks personality. In other words--I am going to try to play army as well as Soni does, which is a tall order indeed!

I've taken this project on at my home shop, so progress will be notedly slower than my normal shop builds, which is to say at times it has been moving at a snail's pace!



The truck now:




The truck in 1998:

 

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Trucks kinda wimpy,.....;) hee hee


Planning on keeping it Cummins Powered I assume?

Sweet Truck!
 

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I remember this truck!

my neighbors would love me to park something like this out front...that front end is totaly over the top.needs a cummins with twins and 2-1/2 tons...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
:DIt hard to forget this truck!


Plan is to keep the cummins/ existing drivetrain (727 and a 203 case) for now. After this round of "restoration", it will most likely be getting a 47rh and dual case (203/ 205 combo).


Initial teardown pics:


 

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Teardown revealed alot of interesting "build techniques". Instead of using wrenches to disassemble, a plasma cutter and cut off wheel were required, as everything was welded together. As in, the grill was welded to the bumper and the frame. Core support was welded to the frame, RADIATOR (NOT radiator MOUNT) was welded to the core support:confused:.... I guess replacement of parts in the future was not a consideration.

Also, frame crossmembers were considered an unnecessary luxury, and removed (hacked) to make room for the intercooler. The only crossmembers that weren't removed was a lightweight brace between the front spring hangers, and the factory trans crossmember mount. The massive front bumper mounts and frame braces had been removed, if any winching had been done it would have simply removed the bumper from its frame:eek: The giant peterbilt steering box was also hanging out by itself, mounted to the end of the frame rail almost completely unsupported.


Some creativity in the motor mounts were also noted. Pieces of 1" channel were "welded" to parts of old receiver hitches to support the 1200 lb motor assembly. The quality of welds were soooooo bad, I truly don't know how they hadn't failed yet!

All of the "new fab" was such a contrast to the original incredible overkill fab of Soni's (frame completely boxed, interesting double frame under the midsection, etc)... it was a shame to see this truck treated that way. Time to cut out all the hack work!


original motor mounts:





Frame hacked out for intercooler where original crossmember was. The new steel is the temp supports I put in to support motor while cutting out old mounts, building new mounts.

 

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1989 Jeep Wagoneer, 360v8, 727, stock for now,
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Oh I remember that truck very well. Always wanted to recreate the look and functionality on my 92 W250.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Frame was already boxed and reinforced, just had to cut the old "motor mounts" out. I built new ones and crossmember out of 1/4 plate. Crossmember is removeable for oil pan removal in vehicle.


Motor mounts mocked up:








Final welding and gusseting in place:



 

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Discussion Starter #10
Got the mounts painted an appropriate color of green, motor is hanging in final position.







Removeable section of crossmember

 

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Now those are what you call engine mounts. My lawn mower has stronger mounts than the ones you removed. Wouldn't you have loved to built this thing from scratch?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wouldn't you have loved to built this thing from scratch?

Hmmm...my first "car" was a "scratchbuilt" 1952 M-37, so yes, I've always liked playing army! The original build on this was very unique, and was very creative with Soni's use of resources. I will try to post up some highlight pics of original fab. Truth be told, the entire time I've worked on this, I keep trying to stay true to the original concept. I just keep thinking "What Would Soni Do?":D
 

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Im really watchin this one close as I have a 96 reg cab that I made into a short bed with d60/80 combo as soon as I get my Super Duty done!

Great Job of the Re-rebuild! bouncebouncebounce
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
New front frame crossmember, 2x4 .188 rec, unnecessary notch in frame filled in, and corner gussets.






Intercooler (out of 3rd gen dodge?) and 1st gen dodge radiator mocked up. Intercooler had to be cut down and capped a few inches to fit under hood

 

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Discussion Starter #17
Beuatifull welds, MIG or TIG?

Fab work has to be darn good too, or it wouldn't weld that pretty.
Thanks, mig welding.

Good welding starts with good fit up and clean parts.







A little more progress, lower radiator and intercooler mounts fabbed up



I also built some simple mounts for the condensor.



 

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You do Nice Work!. Glad to see this truck getting put together as tough as it looks!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
You do Nice Work!. Glad to see this truck getting put together as tough as it looks!

Thanks! It was a shame seeing shoddy work in such an otherwise massively overbuilt truck.


Anyways, with the truck pulled apart, it became obvious the "thermostat housing leak" was actually a head gasket leak.
Soooo, I pulled the head, sent it out to be rebuilt ( it also had several cracked valve seats), did the kdp fix, and changed the oil cooler. It was leaking pretty badly, the radiator was full of oil.

After that I sealed up the open motor, and decided to do some other things on my fab list while waiting for the head to come back.

 

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Discussion Starter #20
Soni had originally planned to put some rock sliders on, but never got around to it. The rear mounts are in place, but nothing else was done. I decided to incorporate the existing mounts and design the new ones to look similar...



in this pic you can see the original mount painted green near the back of the rail




The 2x4 rock slider looked a litle plain by itself, so we decided to add some steps.




 
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