1998 Durango - The Purple Nurple

Ianfd1

New member
Little backstory on the Durango. I acquired it from my grandfather back in 2017, he bought it new off the dealer lot in Vancouver with pretty much every option (from what I can tell). He originally used it to tow his boats and as a DD from his home to his work, all highway miles surprisingly enough. When I first got it I didn't know much about 4x4's but I had always really liked them, so this opened the door for me in a lot of ways. I used it as a DD and tow vehicle, for me and my fathers snowmobiles when needed, its been decently reliable aside from a few issues with the ABS early on. Its a 1998 SLT PLUS, 5.9L 46RE (With 5th speed O/D) NV231, Chrysler 9.25 (Rear) Dana 35 IFS (Front). Not quite sure on the gear ratios but it does have the tow package so i'm sure its somewhere around 3.53 or 3.73. This thing has brought me on many adventures, but its definitely getting old with almost 300k kilometres on the clock, so its due for a rebuild soon.

The eventual plan is to do a full SAS with either one ton or half ton axles (haven't quite decided yet) with a linked front and a spring over rear with a shackle flip, locked, np205 and to build up the 5.9L, however still keep all the electronics and luxury this thing has. So kinda a bit of a Rocklander really!

Here is how it looked when I first got it!

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(I know it's dirty but...) I put the ski rack on top because at the time I had been taking friends down to the ski hill on the weekend, and with five dudes in the back of the truck you couldn't really fit skis in there. Otherwise it was bone stock.

Once the snow melted I really started itching to get out on some adventures, so I called up a few buddies and convinced them to go on an overnight camping trip to the local P.L.U.Z (Public Land Use Zone) where I knew there were a couple trails. I slept in the back and they had to tent it out, anyways turns out it got pretty windy in the middle of the night as I woke up to them knocking on the window telling me that the tent was about to fly away (I didn't put up the tent, so I'm blaming that on them =D) we eventually got it all sorted out and i woke up the next day and took a couple shots of camp.
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See the little Hello Kitty bobble head on the dash? Yeah that was a joke gift given to me by my mother, I threw it on there because I thought it was funny. Don't worry it eventually fell off.
Well after that trip I was hooked!

It was itching at me so bad that I called up a few work friends who I knew had 4wds and planned another trip!
Unfortunately it turned out to just be a day trip, which I was fine with, I really just wanted to explore some trails and have a bit of an adventure (did I ever get that). Well last minute my buddy who has a Nismo Frontier with lockers and the whole works had to bail for family issues, which was no problem until me and my other friend got stuck (Coulda used a third truck to pull us out). We were following this trail which seemed pretty tame until we came to a clearing, about 40 metres in there is a huge mud hole (for trucks with 31" street tires) that was half frozen, half mucky from the shade covering half the hole. Well we took one look at that and promptly said "Nope!" and decided to go around, well that plan would've been great had there been a trail to go around on. 20 metres into our amazing plan I dug in, sunk to the frame with the wheels spinning in bog, I look back in my mirror and my buddy is stuck too, time to get digging. We had been digging about 2 hours and had made some progress when all the sudden SNAP a couple trigger happy rednecks had woken up and started shooting skeets right over our head! At this point I ran behind the engine and pulled out the map, we were in the right area, these guys were just shooting in the wrong direction. So we started honking and revving and yelling trying to get their attention, no use. So we start digging faster and pushing and using everything we had to get traction, eventually getting my truck out. Right after we got mine out a guy on an ATV comes by, so he winches my friend out, we say thanks and start on our way. Well the adventure still wasn't over on our little walk around got us past the first mud hole but there was a second one with a huge hill behind it. Our only option was to floor it, my friend goes first and gets through, then it was my turn, I gun it and make it through however I can't stop and run right into his hitch receiver (oh brother). At this point we were just laughing at the irony of the situation and just wanted to get away from the gunfire, we could assess the damage later. Well we start the trucks up and make it up this hill to safety!
here is what the rigs looked like after we stopped for lunch!Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 10.58.07 PM.png

Fast forward a bit here... I ended up moving off to university in the Okanagan (I'm originally from southern Alberta) and decided the Durango needed a few upgrades. I found a Cherry Bomb glass pack and installed that, along with a CAI my good friend found in a junkyard and I bought some 32.5"x11.5" BfGoodrich K02s and lifted the front ~1" by tightening the torsion bars, surprisingly this ended up levelling the whole truck! With the K02s -

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Well the next day (literally) I decided that I needed to be able to see better on dark backroads and the logging roads in BC so I bought a little light-bar and hacked it into the front bumper. I had to get on the road so I didn't take any pictures for a little while until I got comfortable in the Okanagan, here it is at an overlook over Lake Kalmalka

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If you notice the front passengers fog light is not in the bumper, thats because I broke it when I smashed it out driving into an icy puddle. The bumper itself is shattered but I figured I would eventually get a proper high clearance piece so I have since just wired it into place with some balling wire.

Anyways thats where it's currently at, i'll try to update this pretty regularly.

- Ian
 

Battle

Member
This is a rad truck! I wonder how hard it would be to swap in the front D44 from a 4x4 Ram?

I always forget about Durangos but their spec sheet is super tempting - the running gear in yours is super stout. If I had one, I'd leave it IFS and mostly stock, just have it all skid-platted up underneath.
 
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Ianfd1

New member
This is a rad truck! I wonder how hard it would be to swap in the front D44 from a 4x4 Ram?

I always forget about Durangos but their spec sheet is super tempting - the running gear in yours is super stout. If I had one, I'd leave it IFS and mostly stock, just have it all skid-platted up underneath.
Thanks! I don't think it would be too hard to swap the D44 from the second gen rams, however I worry about the CAD a little. A half ton axle has the benefit of a smaller differential, allowing me to keep the whole setup slightly lower.

as per the IFS I hadn't really thought of skid plating it up! that could be quite good as you said!
 

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Battle

Member
Yeah, IFS may not be as strong, reliable or have as much articulation as a solid axle, but you gain a ton of clearance and with a skid plate, you're safe to pick different lines over obstacles. Last time I went wheeling with a bunch of Toyota's, that advantage became clear to me.

That's not to say a solid axle swap is a bad idea, but if you're just going to run between a 33 and 32, you might not gain much for all the work required, ya know. I'm not sure how strong those Dodge IFS axles are though...
 

Ianfd1

New member
Yeah, IFS may not be as strong, reliable or have as much articulation as a solid axle, but you gain a ton of clearance and with a skid plate, you're safe to pick different lines over obstacles. Last time I went wheeling with a bunch of Toyota's, that advantage became clear to me.

That's not to say a solid axle swap is a bad idea, but if you're just going to run between a 33 and 32, you might not gain much for all the work required, ya know. I'm not sure how strong those Dodge IFS axles are though...
The big thing thats holding me back from skid-plating and modifying the IFS is the lack of aftermarket support and as you said the reliability of it. Ive already replaced ball joints and wheel bearings on it multiple times so I figured going with something a bit more heavy duty would be beneficial
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
Something that has always kinda boggled me, maybe because I never looked into there is an obvious reason.

The second gen Rams have a driver side diff and the same bolt pattern as a older Ford... but are never mentioned for axle swap donors.

People are always picking on old Broncos and F-250's for D44's... and yet yards are full of old solid axle 1500 Rams. :unsure:
 

Ianfd1

New member
Something that has always kinda boggled me, maybe because I never looked into there is an obvious reason.

The second gen Rams have a driver side diff and the same bolt pattern as a older Ford... but are never mentioned for axle swap donors.

People are always picking on old Broncos and F-250's for D44's... and yet yards are full of old solid axle 1500 Rams. :unsure:
Me too! They seem like perfectly stout axles aside from the CAD.

Although you can get a CAD delete kit from certain shops that allow you to remove the two part axle shaft and vacuum system to mimic a standard D44. Guys who are into running large tires and bashing the axle on rocks will point out that the plate covering what used to be the vacuum system is a weak point and can lead to the outer tube buckling. But I think thats a bit of bench-racing really, as i've looked into this axle quite a bit and I haven't seen that actually happen. And like you said its a popular bolt pattern that ram used up until ~2014

Using a '94-'02 Dodge D44 and a '03-'08 9.25" has been my main plan for the SAS on this rig for a while, so thats really what I'm leaning towards
 

Ianfd1

New member
Made a new rear floor the other week. Decided I didn't like hauling 6 other people in the back and that I could use the space where the third row seat was for tools. So here is what I did.

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I used 5/8" thick plywood that I had laying around and using a skillsaw cut it to the size of the rear seat. To keep it at the same level as the rest of the floor I used doweling and cut it to length. I used doweling and not a 2x4 or something similar as i knew it would have the strength I needed while taking up the least amount of space. I was going to paint the whole thing flat black and call it a day but I noticed this black plastic so I decided to only paint half of it black.

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I need to throw some carpentry staples in the plastic on the back there as it has bubbled a bit. oh well

Here is something I did a while ago and for anyone who has a first gen Durango I highly recommend doing this. I used some white wire shelf, trimmed it and painted it black, although you could probably do it better with some mesh steel or something. I have a bunch of liquids in there but if you're not toting oil and things like that around it can fit small groceries and really anything else you want to keep from rolling around in the back.

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Anyways thats about it so far.

- Ian
 

Ianfd1

New member
Well I seem to have a bad habit of going wheeling right before I embark on roadtrips. I moved back to BC earlier this week and right before then I met up with a buddy who had just bought a new (to him) 2014 Ram 1500, didn't get any real photos but we tugged a guy with an h3 out from a snowbank so that was pretty good
 

Ianfd1

New member
Well, its been a long time since I've been on here. I have been very busy in a way and had little time to document the truck stuff I've been doing. I'll probably section this into two or more posts just based on the length and such. In regards to use, I put 30'000km on the truck this past spring/ early summer. It ticked over to 322k and I didn't get a chance to video the truck hitting 300'000km :( but its been good otherwise!

Adventures and Mishaps:

I spent a few weeks out west, and stayed with my grandparents. My grandfather is hugely into boats - really any watercraft, but especially ski boats and - of all things - Hydrofoils! He very kindly allowed me to use the Durango as the tow pig for the daily trips to the boat launch and the Durango worked great. The first image is his homebrewed Hydrofoil and the latter is his 1988 Glastron Carlson. Im not a boat guy so I really don't know much about either however I know he bought the Glastron new in '88 as a ski boat and it is in immaculate condition. Most boats I've seen from that era are beat to a pulp or completely neglected - not this thing and coolest of all it absolutely rips!

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later, went on a bit of a camping/ wheeling trip in August. The night before I left, I had shut the door and the window fell. turns out the regulator had broken and the glass had fallen out of its track so I spent the night trying to fix it without any parts. with no luck I resorted to the classic duct tape to hold the window up for my trip. It certainly made it annoying when driving on the floodplain as I couldn't see the large rocks and had a few instances where I almost bumped into things. Here is a few poser shots from that trip:

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I'm not sure why these have a black border but oh well.

A few days after the trip disaster struck, I was sitting in traffic on my way home from work when I noticed a lime scent in the cab. I checked the engine temp and it seemed fine (maybe a little warm but not overheating). I looked up and the entire front of the truck was in a cloud of steam. I immediately shut the truck off and threw on the hazards. once the steam died down a little I popped the hood, and there was coolant everywhere. it just so happened that my mother was also coming home from work and she pulled over and helped me push the truck into an adjacent parking lot. Where it stayed until I could get it towed to my house. At this point i decided to start it up just to see if it would still run. the magnum was ticking, and knocking.

I turned out to be lucky. I brought it to my mechanic as I didn't know what was the deal and I wanted to see if it was truly toast. He found a broken coolant line and multiple large bubbles in the cooling system, and to my complete surprise the knock was gone along with the tick! he said that when the pulled it into the shop he didn't notice a knock but he did notice the tick. The Durango lived once again!

From there until November the truck was mostly left in 2wd and, as most trucks are, was used as a commuter. It wasn't until I took it to a known "trail" (its really an unmaintained muddy range road, however it was used frequently as a little 4wd spot) where I encountered some problems. I've gone to this spot countless amounts of times and never had an issue so I figured it wouldn't be any different. Me and my father went with his Ram after a session at the skatepark to which we found a locked gate. According to a buddy of mine the road had been bought by a private buyer and he hated seeing trucks on the road (mostly due to the littering happening) and locked it up. Well I turned around, drove back from where we came and BOOM - Death Wobble! pulled the truck over and checked the steering, it was fine. Checked if it was in 2wd - Yep. Checked the tires and wheels - all good. I thought "uh okay maybe the rear end finally blew up?" (The rear end has been needing an overhaul for a while now. Pinion bearing is screaming and a rebuild wouldn't hurt) well dad pulled over as well and we drove around a gravel parking lot to see. Rear end was fine. He suggested the Transfer case could be stuck in 4 High but after a bit of driving we discovered that wasn't the case. Turns out I blew up the Dana 35 IFS. The CV shaft out to the hub was destroyed along with most of the internals of the axle. When the axle was spinning half of it was trying to rotate the other half was stuck still. Shoulda seen that one coming. This solidified my desire for a SAS and One Tons for said SAS.

Once the truck was up and running again it was sent back to commuter duty / road trip machine.

Pt 1.
 
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Ianfd1

New member
Well after all the drama with the breakage this past summer / fall the truck has (so far) been really good to me. Earlier in the winter I needed to get a certification for work at a local ski hill. The course I took was out of town so the Durango got some more much needed highway hours. It really wasn't a 'truck trip' so I didn't get any photos of the scenery or the truck aside from one:

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No parking! No problem! - I know its really a dorky shot on a small pile of dirt, but its the little things in life.

Then, about a week before Christmas the truck got to put in some real work. We got about a foot of heavy snow and drivers were getting stuck everywhere. I pulled a total of 10 drivers out of ditches pulling out half tonnes, diesels, and mail trucks to boot. Never got any videos of it because I was always the only person in my vehicle. I think its fun seeing the doubtful look on peoples faces as I ask them if they want a tug, only to be replaced by sheer surprise once I pull them out. They always give me the "uh yeah I guess, if you think it can pull it out" then when I hit the gas and they hear the V8 they are always surprised by it. Its unassuming but honestly perfect for these large snowfalls we seem to get a few times a year.

In terms of additions to the truck this summer, it was very minimal. I added proper mudflaps, as I wanted to protect my rocker panels. LED bulbs and I spent some time and upgraded the floor I made in the rear. That floor still needs some work, I plan to weld up some feet to replace the doweling, and cover the floor in the same carpet as the rest of the cab rather than the cheap plastic thats on there now.

Finally what needs to be done as of now. That rear axle is screaming to be rebuilt - literally. That and all four shocks, I don't think the shocks have ever been replaced and to say they're worn out is an understatement. Other than that its all pretty basic, there is some rust that needs to be repaired (rockers, liftgate, drivers side fender and passengers side quarter panel) the rear wiper hasn't worked in years and I know its due to a short somewhere back there, but honestly that may be a bit of a pipedream. I need to fix the passenger window regulator as its gone out recently, and I've got this leak in my rear tool chest. Water keeps getting in and rusting all my tools, its very frustrating.

Anyways thats all for now.

Take Care!
 

Ianfd1

New member
Took apart the third row seat today spent a while attempting to find some carpet that matches the stock carpet with no luck. Instead I cut it out from the back of the old seat. looks like it will work great, I'll get some photos up when its done.
 
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