Welcome back to our coverage of Project Power Laggin’! Follow along as we take a tired 1979 Dodge W150 Power Wagon we found in Central Maine and transform it from a derelict roadside attraction to a dependable, powerful weekend workhorse that lives up to it’s given name! In this installment, we continue to make improvements to the truck, finally fix a nagging problem, and almost burn it to the ground!
It’s been a while since the ol’ Power Laggin project series got an update. Since the last installment, we celebrated two years of cool old truck ownership, but we still have a long way to go with bringing it back to its former glory. Last we left it, it was looking better, running quieter, but consuming an ungodly amount of fuel and not always running well. Also, it was getting driven more, so improvements to driveability and efficiency were at the top of the list.
As far as the fixes go, let’s start with an easy one: door weatherstripping.
With that done, it is slightly quieter while rumbling down the road. The window sweeps still need to be replaced, along with the vent window seals, but it’s an improvement!
Next up was to figure out what was going on with the heat. In the colder weather, I noticed the heater was acting weird. No matter what the dash settings were, it was like having a wood burning stove in the cab. Not only that, I would catch a whiff of coolant every once in a while, so I got down to business to examine the issue.
What else would make the truck more enjoyable to drive? How about some working, dependable brakes? Yeah, the brakes. They have been mushy since I replaced the rear lines last year, and I was never able to get a good bleed out of them. After doing some research, and watching a friend go through the same ordeal with his vintage Mopar, I turned my attention here:
So, it’s quieter and more comfortable on the inside, it stops, but there was a glaring problem still on the list: why was it so hard to get started, and why was I getting just 5mpg? I had replaced the fuel pump last summer after the original Carter pump failed from a case split after about 40 years of service. Was the new pump bad?
With it running much better, I drove the truck more and more. One night, my wife asked me to run an errand with her, grabbing a very large item for her work that wouldn’t fit in her car. We drove all around and even took it on the highway! Ol’ Power Laggin’ didn’t complain and got the job done and ran great! Then, on the way home, we both turned to each other and said, “I smell burning plastic”. We chalked it up to a plastic bag getting wedged under the heater box, since the smell went away when she moved the bag. The next day, I had to run an errand, and went out to the truck. I twisted the key and CLACKCKCKCKCKCKCKCKCK. Nothing. So I popped the hood to investigate, and I see this:
So, where does that leave us now? There’s a huge list of future projects slated for the truck, with three of the biggest ones being the following:
-The front leaf springs that we bought nearly two years ago need to be installed
-The ammeter still needs to be bypassed and replaced with a more dependable voltmeter
-The floors and interior could use some help
That said, we thought it was high time to focus on the “Power” part of the truck’s name while reducing the “Laggin’”. With it driving much better than it ever has, we can finally turn our attention to some of the fun stuff. Our next few installments are going to be a blast, so stay tuned for more!