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Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
7/13/22 3:21 p.m.

This thread is WINNING. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/13/22 4:37 p.m.

You know what's funny?

This truck has been asking for a Magnum swap since the day I bought it! Those badges were removed long ago, and some lucky GRM'er ended up with one of them in the New Year's Game. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/14/22 6:33 p.m.

Took the truck for a decent drive last night to put it through its paces. Some more thoughts: 

-The engine really does run great and it sounds even better. The tune I'm running, as I said before, is one I worked with Holley Tech to create for the 318. While it's nearly perfect, there are some things I need to tweak, like cranking fuel and idle parameters, as it's a little off on both. 

-Something is leaking oil only when it's running, and I think I know what it is. The oil sending unit adapter has two holes. One of them has the oil sending unit for the gauge, and the other has the oil warning light sending unit for the old idiot light just to plug the hole. I grabbed the adapter from the junkyard after I got the truck, and that adapter has been in and out a number of times as I had to do things near the distributor. I'm going to remove it, get a proper plug for the idiot light sender hole, and use a sealant on the threads. 

-There's definitely an exhaust leak or two that I need to address. I'll go over the exhaust soon. 

-The flywheel cover rattle is really annoying, so that will be addressed as well. 

Speaking of oil pressure things:

Gauge shows 60PSI now at idle, and around 40 while driving. Before, I got about 35-40 when it was cold, and damn near zero while driving. Quite the improvement! I thought the gauge was broken; turns out it was the engine! 

No Time
No Time SuperDork
7/14/22 7:36 p.m.

Both rams with magnums I've owned (5.2 and 5.9) had the oil pressure sensor thread right into the block without any adapter. 

If you have clearance you might want to just eliminate the adapter and remove places where leaks can occur. 

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/14/22 8:22 p.m.

What's that stuff you clean glass with?...

Oh yeah,...Fantastic!

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/14/22 9:39 p.m.

In reply to No Time :

The skinny Magnum sender fits there nicely, but the big LA one I need hits the intake. The Magnum sender is incompatible with my gauges unfortunately, so I'm stuck with the big one.

HotNotch New Reader
7/15/22 9:32 a.m.

Regarding thread sealant, Loctite 545 is magic

I've been using it exclusively and love it.  I had to install a plug twice on my SBF oil pressure sender when the FLAPS oil pressure safety switches kept failing at fire up and they both sealed instantly.  With little to no prep / cure time

Fuel safe too.  It's not exactly cheap, but it's worth the money


Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/15/22 7:21 p.m.

I pulled the adapter out, cleaned the area around the base, taped it up with thread sealant tape, plugged the extra sender, and reinstalled it. Kinda early to tell, but I didn't see any drips while it was running this time. Also, the sender DOES fit without the adapter, but you can't get a wrench under it to tighten it, so I stuck with the adapter. 

EDIT: oil leak is still present, and it's not coming from the sender stuff. I did find oil on the intake near one of the bolts. I'll investigate further soon. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/18/22 9:01 p.m.

Big update! 

So, it turns out that oil leak was actually a number of leaks. The oil sending unit assembly was part of it, and that's all sealed up (see the last post). But the leaks continued. So I left some cardboard under the truck for a day and looked at the color of the drips. It was red. Transmission fluid! 

Yeah, that's not great. Touching the line made fluid squirt out. I swapped out the clamps and that stopped leaking. Now, I get a very slow trans fluid leak from somewhere, but it's possible that it could be residual from this line shooting fluid everywhere. I'll keep an eye on it. 

After fixing the trans line leak, I also swapped the coolant temp sensor and heater hose outlet on the intake. I noticed on some logs I pulled that when I was driving that the timing was a bit high, and it was likely due to the incorrect coolant temp sensor data, since it pulls a little timing when it's at operating temp. After the swap, it runs even better. 

While I was under there, I tightened the header collector bolts and inspected the "flywheel cover noise" I was hearing. Turns out the flywheel cover wasn't the issue. A few pages back in this thread, I was complaining about the oil dipstick not going back in, and how I had to bend it to fit in the pan. Well, I pulled it out while it was running and the noise went away. I think it was missing the slot in the pan and curling up and rattling. It didn't get chewed up and there's no internal damage or anything line that, but I spent over an hour trying to get the dipstick in the pan properly, and after bending it every which way, it ended up breaking. At least it didn't break in the tube! 

On top of that, I went to the junkyard for another dipstick. Turns out, Mopar installed a variety of dipsticks for Magnum V8's and they had zero of the one I needed. I ended up ordering one online that should fit. 

All that said, today was a big day!

It was state inspection day today, and it passed with flying colors! I took it to see my nephew about 30mi away from home, which gave me a good excuse to do a long drive with the new engine. The engine ran great!

The truck mostly drove fantastic, except on the way home, the trans started acting a little weird. The 1-2 shift was a little odd, and it was not eager to downshift from 3rd to 2nd. I checked the dipstick when I got home, and it barely read anything on the stick. When we pulled the converter for the front pump seal, a lot of fluid was lost. We filled the converter as much as possible, and I filled it a bit after driving it a few times, but that leak must have either been prolific or I didn't add enough fluid back in there. I added almost 3 quarts and things seem to be good now. I'll definitely keep an eye on this as well. 

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
7/19/22 12:09 p.m.

I binge-read the whole thread over a couple of days. Very enjoyable with a lot of plot twists and turns. I'm sure the hero will prevail at the end. It is my belief the trans is not original and would explain why the speedo cable didn't match plus the cooler line butchery.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/19/22 12:34 p.m.

In reply to Jerry From LA :

Thanks for reading! You know, that's entirely possible about the trans! It's definitely a 727, and could be a rebuilt unit judging by the markings I found on the torque converter and the aforementioned weirdness with the speedo cable and trans lines. 

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
7/19/22 12:52 p.m.

There's no other reason to hack up cooler lines like that.  It might be time to bend yourself a new set.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/19/22 1:26 p.m.

In reply to Jerry From LA :

You make a great point. I'll add that to the list of near-future projects.

Scotty Con Queso
Scotty Con Queso SuperDork
7/19/22 4:46 p.m.

I love this truck. What a survivor. 

No Time
No Time SuperDork
7/19/22 9:25 p.m.

This may be old news, but for me as traditionally a GM guy, I found this interesting bit of info on dodge transmissions. 

I'm not sure if your 727 is like my 46RE, but on the 46RE the trans pump doesn't really move fluid through the trans in Park, so it wouldn't refill the torque converter until shifted out of park. To get an accurate reading on fluid level the trans need to be in neutral, so that may be why today it read low even if it read full when first installed. 

The Transgo kit I put in mine changes it somewhat so that it pumps fluid black into the torque converter in park, but I still check it in N. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/19/22 10:05 p.m.

In reply to No Time :

Yeah, you make a great point, and you are correct. I need to check it in neutral, not in park. I'm still learning about Mopars as well apparently!

EDIT: yeah, it's still down a few quarts. I'll get that rectified ASAP. Thanks for the heads-up! 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/20/22 3:50 p.m.

Automatic transmissions work better when they are full of fluid. Who knew? 

The trans took another 2 quarts of fluid, and after a test drive, the issues I was having were gone. Phew! The kickdown cable still needs some slight adjustment, but that's another story. All gears and reverse are present, accounted for, and functioning. 


Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/22/22 6:59 p.m.

Two more quick updates:

-Truck passed the "Wife Test" yesterday with flying colors. She couldn't find the keys to her car, and I was at work with the spare, so she asked to take the truck to visit her sister about 30mi away. I figured it would be a good stress test. Other than the lack of A/C, the two biggest complaints were the bench seat being uncomfortable for her (she is 5ft tall) and the gas pedal kept coming off, so she resorted to using the "gas rod" instead. Otherwise, I told her to keep an eye on temp, oil pressure, and weird behavior, and all was good! 

-I ordered what I thought was another OEM dipstick, but it's an imported knock-off. And guess what? No matter how I bend it, it still won't go in. Just like the factory one! Yet, the LA 318 stick that's much more rigid steel goes right in there. I may just trim the dipstick tube and run the LA stick. I really don't want to have to pull the oil pan again right now. 


Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/24/22 4:28 p.m.

After many hours of contorting, bending, and swearing, the dipstick finally does dipstick things. 

It goes into the pan guide this time, thankfully. A combination of bending the stick itself and the tube did the trick. I think it took more time to fix that than to swap the engine. 

Also, I did my first real fill-up with everything running normally. I have FINALLY gotten double digit mileage for the first time! I mean, I never thought I'd be so excited about getting 10.1 mpg out of a vehicle, but considering at one point I was getting 5-6mpg, that's a huge win. And lots of people told me I'd get worse mileage with the 360... pfft! Most of that tank was with my wife behind the wheel, who is a notorious leadfoot. I bet I can improve on that. 

I have been driving the truck a lot this past week, and I'm loving it. Still need to tweak some things here and there, and I need to address a few items that have been on the list for a while (rear brakes, front/rear diff fluid, U-joints, etc) but it's wonderful having this old rig back in operation. 

Oh, and I did a video! 


Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/26/22 4:14 p.m.

I've been driving the truck a lot lately, basically trying to weed out any kinks with the engine swap. So far, the engine is fantastic and has really transformed the truck. But there are definitely some improvements to be made. One thing that will happen very soon is the gas pedal conversion. 

The 1972-80 trucks have what I call the "Gas Rod". Basically, the accelerator "pedal" is just a flat piece of plastic that sits on two ball studs bolted to the floor, and when you press it down, it actuates the hanging rod on the firewall that pulls the throttle cable. 

This design is not great. More times than not, I kick the pedal off the studs by accident and have to resort to using the rod by itself, which feels weird to use at best. Lots of guys would bolt the pedal right into the floor, but there's not much floor to bolt it to right now. In fact, the ball studs (which are in terrible condition) are actually bolted to the carpet because there's a hole underneath! Not great. 

So, the solution is to get a hanging pedal assembly from a 1981-93 truck, drill a couple holes in the firewall, and bolt it in there instead. I found one online and ordered it up today.

This basically fixes the problem forever, and the firewall already has dimples on it on the exact spots you need to drill out for the studs and the throttle cable, from what I've seen with other installs. This should help driveability, and honestly, safety. Fumbling around for the "gas rod" when you kick the pedal away by accident is beyond distracting while you are trying to drive. 

And speaking of interior improvements, I'm also planning on doing the floor pans sooner than later. They are getting really bad on the driver's side and there are some spots on the passenger side that need patching as well. I have the driver's side pan already, but it looks like the 1972-80 passenger side pans are NLA. The 1981-93 pans are readily available and cheap, so I'm probably going to order one of those instead, as long as they fit.

When the floors get done, I'll be sprucing up the interior a little along the way with some new flooring and maybe seat upholstery or at least a cover for the big ol' bench, which has to come out anyway. My wife has expressed interest in me getting buckets for the truck, which I'm not opposed to, but the optional "Buddy Seat" buckets cost an arm and a leg, so I'm keeping watch for a set of Ramcharger seats and console instead. A set of new door panels would be nice, too. 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/26/22 6:49 p.m.

Great job, Tony! 

It's a lot of fun reading about this truck.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
7/26/22 7:41 p.m.

In reply to Woody (Forum Supportum) :

Thanks, Woody! I know it's not the typical GRM fare, but I've been having fun documenting everything I do to the truck here. Hoping what I've learned helps someone else down the road. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
8/1/22 11:50 a.m.

Last week, I exclusively drove the truck every day over the daily driver Forte GT, basically to stress test it and make sure it's dependable. Some observations:

-Man, this thing drives so much better now. Can't say that enough. More power makes this thing WAY more fun!  

-Kickdown situation needs to be addressed. It's slightly out of whack, and it's annoying.

-There's some weirdness at idle sometimes that I believe is a vacuum leak, and I think it's coming from the carb base gasket. I'll get a new one and slap it on. 

-The wife drove it to work one of the days, and she has complaints, mainly from the gas pedal situation (she actually prefers the "gas rod" and doesn't want me to swap the superior later pedal assembly in) and that the bench seat is uncomfortable. I may swap buckets in there at some point as a result. A/C will be happening at some point as well. 

-There's now a weird, oscillating squeak/squeal coming from somewhere up front under throttle that was not there with the 318. I greased the driveshaft U-Joints, but didn't think to do the wheel joints. It does it in gear under load, so I'm thinking it's driveline related, otherwise I'd look at the idler/tensioner pulleys on the belt drive, as they are a little noisy. Either way, I think I need to replace every U-Joint on this truck soon. Not looking forward to this, because the wheel joints are going to require complete disassembly of the whole front hub assembly again, which if you go back into this thread, was a disaster last time I did it and it took about a month to figure out!

-I need to go through the rear brakes. With more power, the brakes leave a lot to be desired. I've been ignoring these because it's going to be a giant pain to do these. They offered 3 different sizes that all have their own setup, and all are special order only, of course. 

-Also still need to order the P/S floor pan, flooring, sound insulation, and get all of that done before winter. 

Lots to do, but it's getting there!

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
8/1/22 12:04 p.m.

Almost forgot: I dragged this back home yesterday. 

I'll be tearing it down to see what happened soon. Depending on what failed, I'll either attempt to sell it or scrap it. Keeping the LA accessories, timing cover, and the intake, in case I need those later down the road for a "stealth" build of the Magnum 360 to make it look like a LA engine. 

Azryael HalfDork
8/1/22 12:24 p.m.

Depending on how you drive it the 360 can get impressive mileage. I average 16.5mpg with mixed driving in the Durango with the exact same motor and transmission. On a long journey between TX and FL I saw as high as 19.5mpg, and that's cruising at 70.

Shame about the LA motor, and curious to know what the failure was after you tear into it.

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