The overland beater: Dodge 1500


Hegelian Scum
Got the tire rack mounted on the bumper. Having a through bolt on the heims means I can pull it off when I'm just tooling around, and then add the rack when I be trippin.

Had to do a little grinding. And I tacked the set nuts for the heims to keep them in place, so now I can jut rotate the heims in and out without needing a wrench if they break or need adjustment. (Don't hack on me about the welds. I couldn't find my reading glasses and I'm new to having old eyes.)

Lights added, just to get more offroad illumination. Everyone gripes about the stock lights on these rams, but I don't have any issues with them. Maybe I should raise my standards? probably.

Now I'm looking out for a new head unit and some new speakers, since my tweeters are toast, my volume knob decided to work intermittently, and the rear speakers crackle like something crackly.


Autism Family Travellers!
kraven, if you can find late model sport headlights somewhere, they are a huge improvement over the stock ones you have now, they have 4 bulbs instead of two and have a better reflector design.


Hegelian Scum
Thanks for the tip, Kojack. I'll see if I can find some. I don't mind the light I have now, but I won't be mad if I can get more on the cheap. :)


Hegelian Scum
Took the beater to the Smoky Mountain Overland Rally (SMOR) yesterday.
This is a pretty great rally. The timing was really good with spring blooms and all that. Behold my crappy camera phone pics.

Rides happen rain or shine, and though the usual contingent of stubby SUV's on 33's were there, there were a lot of full size and x-cab trucks like mine. But the terrain isn't great for long wheel bases, since the trails wind along tightly and you have to elbow your way through the limbs that hang low. The rally was on someone's really nice stretch of private property, which was really great. See their gate pillars off to the side here as people were lining up for rides.

Didn't have any problems out of the truck at all.
I got there in time to take in some instruction on winching by Bold Overland, and realized that a lot of my recovery knowledge is from when I was a teenager. Learning a lot of new ideas from those guys is helping me cipher what kind of recovery gear I need to add to the truck and why. So, that was well worth the price of admission.

Can't wait to get more seat time this spring.


Hegelian Scum
Got some video with my new camera mount, but used my phone to see what the quality would be like.
Fun facts: Here in the Southern Appalachians a lot of the roads are made on either old railroad beds or on old wagon/horse trails. So, they are not super wide since most of the rail through here was narrow gauge and standard wagons were about the size of a pickup bed with two horses abreast. A lot of these older roads like this one are too narrow for two full size trucks to pass. But traffic is really slim so there's not much to worry about. You still have to watch your speed and not bomb every road WFO because you might meet someone else around a blind curve. With no cell or data reception, it could be tough to get emergency services you might need. It was about 20 miles to the beer store from here.


Just read through your entire thread (blown Sunday morning - sorry honey-do-list). These are my favourite kind of build. Thanks for sharing the blow by blow and doing it with real life considerations (aka budget-minded).

Looking forward to the next updates.


Hegelian Scum
This truck has turned into one of my favorite things to drive in my stable. I'm glad you liked the write up. I enjoy doing this stuff.

Think I'll order a new dash-skin for it off eBay to cover the unsightly mess from the broken dash. Everyone comments on it. haha. It's only like 120 bucks.

I gotta get a trans shop to look at the vibration it gets on the road in overdrive around 65mph (1700rpm). Never had anything do that. If it needs a trans I may convert it to manual or just buy a rebuilt one and swap it myself. The local trans shop quoted me 2500 bucks for a plain jane rebuild. Ouch.


Hegelian Scum
After my trip this last week to SMOR, I realized I was going to have trouble filming out of the windshield because of the reflection the dash guts have on the glass.
So, I bought a dashskin, made in USA by people who care, and installed it.
Snappy slogan they have there.

Here's the installed bit. I should have done this a year ago, but I was being a cheapskate. I ordered the black, instead of the gray or astor or whatever the stock color is because it was 10 bucks cheaper. So, I'm still cheap.

I had to reroute my wires for my driving lights. Still need to move the switch or make a real panel and toss that junky cheap thing that came with the lights.
After action report:
My big worry was that I wouldn't have anything to adhere this sheet o plastic to, once I stuck it in there. I was right. Sort of. There's plenty on the front/sides to adhere to, but the back kind of needs me to make some strapping or some kind of material for this to stick to. But it looks way better, which is really great. Now people don't get in and immediately say "my god, where's your dash, brotato chip?"
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Expedition Leader
Can you add a little more info on this fine little feature Kraven? How do you install it? What are the benefits? Everything you can post up with pics of before and after will be good. If it improves your video then its all good. We are all chaep Kraven so dont let it get at you. I am curious as to how it works. Cheers, Chilli..:)


Hegelian Scum
The dash skin is a product designed to cover the detereorating dash that comes from the factory. The plastic never got a proper blend of UV resistant stuff when it was engineered, so all the Rams from the 2nd gen have this problem. The replacement dash is somewhat expensive at about 450 bucks or so for a replacement. So, this dash skin adheres to what's left of the original dash and covers the unsightly broken mess for about $130 bucks.
Even David Freiburger of Roadkill and Hot Rod Mag and other titles has one on his 2nd gen megaViper (V10 2500).
Here's a shot of my dash when I was changing the heater core (note ratchet strap pulling dash back). You can see how little of the dash is left. This is important because the dash skin needs something to which it can adhere. If you don't have much, you pretty much just have a big sheet of vacuum formed plastic sitting on your dash and rattling.

Here's another shot of the dash so you can see how gone it is around the windshield base and defrost vents. I basically had maybe 7% of the dash left, with the bulk of that being on the rim of the airbags and gauge bezel and sides.

And here you can see that anything with a neutral or bright tone, like red and white wires, reflects against the windshield and messes with the autofocus, filming, and overall aesthetic. It even bugs me while I'm driving. So, I went with black to keep reflection to a minimum. As you can see, this would have been a pretty good shot were it not for the reflection in the windshield.

Anyway, the dashskin goes on with nothing more than a few beads of clear silicon adhesive. For me, most of this was concentrated on the sides near the front and bits above the airbag and bezel. Dashskin supplies a tube of this stuff, as well as instructions for where to put the silicon, how long to let it sit so it will skin over and be maximum tack when you install the piece. So, that's pretty nice.
What I found is that I had so little dash left that it developed some warpage issues that cause fitment. If the back is too low, or one side uneven, you wind up with the dash skin getting all wonky, like building a plywood boat when you're drunk.
So, I propped bits of it, bolstered it in places to help adhesion, and made sure to pre-fit it before I applied the silicon (as the destructions suggested- read them BEFORE you install).
Again, here is the final product adhered to the dash.

However, the finished product is okay and doesn't rattle, but it doesn't look great either. This is no fault of the product. I just didn't have enough dash for it to adhere to and to hold it properly. I expect I can remove it and install some hardwood slats by the windshield and bezel/airbag- sort of use the boat builder method to make a frame for it. But it is definitely less gnawing on me to drive it with the HVAC covered, even if it's not perfect. I thought it was no big deal. I was wrongety wrong wrong. Also, a lot of people in comments sections gripe about having to pull it off if they have to do a heater core. But it's just held on with silicon so it should be able to easily remove with a little care and time, then be easily reinstalled with another $5 tube of silicon.
Overall, it's a good product. But you can screw it up without trying hard, so attention to detail is important and you need to let it cure. I think it took about a week of having the windows up in 75F+ weather before I stopped smelling silicon curing.


Expedition Leader
Nice looking dash fix Kraven. Back in the day we used to cover an old dash with some plush fur. Kind of ghetto but it worked.... Cheers, Chilli....:)