The '61-'71 Dodge Truck Website
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Drivetrain Resources
Date: 10/10/99
Helitool currently offers Disc Brake Kits for many of the civilian and military Power Wagons. Also, they are working on some kits for D-series pickups (`59-`71). Plans are in the works to get some power steering kits built for these trucks. This is an exciting company with some great products! More information:
P.O. Box 5674
Central Point, OR 97502
Ph: (541) 664-8325

Power Steering
If this isn't a popular subject, I don't know what is. In regards to Dodge Trucks, especially those manufactured in the Sweptline Era, power steering is the one option that everyone wished they had. Unfortunately, the power steering units simply aren't very easy to locate. If your truck came with the system from the factory consider yourself extremely lucky. The number of trucks produced with PS is unknown, but I believe that the numbers were quite low through 1971 (from what I am beginning to see on the '61-'71 DT Swap Forum). I have a couple of suggestions and thoughts on the matter. Since I don't have PS and have never really dealt with the item, I know very little about the actual setup on these trucks. Here's the info...

Many of us want power steering for our truck. I think that we all do. The only way to get a power setup if your truck didn't have it OEM is to:

  1. Search junkyards and steering component rebuilders for the parts
  2. Adapt a unit from another vehicle to your truck
  3. Completely revamp the suspension system (Swap to IFS if 2WD; otherwise fabricate new system, etc.)
If you own a 2WD vehicle and are willing to swap to IFS, you could go a number of routes, most of which are listed below in the Lowering Your Truck section.

Considering the fact that the OEM units seem to be rare, my opinion is to wait and search endlessly for the parts if you REALLY badly want the system. I choose to stick with what I have until I can afford to put an IFS unit under the front end of my truck. This only applies to 2WD truck owners, but if I owned a 4x4 I might try and find a way to fabricate a new setup. After reading the '65 service manual section on PS units for these trucks, it looks like the actual PS cylinder unit sat on the I-beam and the control valve unit was located between the steering knuckle arm and the steering arm. This seems very different than any other system I've seen, studied, or heard of. So, it may be difficult to try and reproduce this kind of setup with existing parts from other manufacturers.

I also discussed the Power Steering topic with Richard, the owner of Mid South Auto Sales. He believes that the units were somewhat unique and rare, and when found the cost of repair outweighs the service that the system will provide. He also said that he's seen some power steering boxes from other vehicles adapted and doesen't recommend this type of setup for a number of reasons (modifications necessary, OEM non-PS setup and box location, reliability, etc). There really isn't much you can do with these trucks in regards to power steering unless you drastically modify the trucks and/or their front suspensions. If you have engineered or know of a power steering setup that works in these trucks and is reliable please let the author know with an Online Response.

If you know of any businesses or individuals that offer a solution for the power steering dilemma on these trucks, please let the author know by sending in an Online Response. I will certainly post any other helpful info that I find, and remember that you are helping fellow enthusiasts when you submit something to this site. We can all be wiser from the valuable information you may have.

Raising Your '61-'71 Truck
Raising that Power Wagon shouldn't be a problem, especially if you look into some of the available resources. Lift kits are available from Skyjacker Suspensions, Trailmaster, and most likely a few others. Skyjacker offers a Softride kit in 2", 4", 6" and 8" forms for '61-up Dodge full size pickups. Check with National Tire and Wheel for more information on Skyjacker kits and systems.

Lowering Your Truck

On '61-'71 Dodge Trucks as well as the A-100's and earlier light duty Mopar vehicles, the front suspension consisted of a single I-beam and leaf springs. While this configuration is simple and of low maintainence, most owners long for that plush ride and better handling that comes with a more modern front end. Classic trucks of makes other than Dodge have a wide availability of kits that will update these vehicles to independent front suspension. Many of these kits can be bolted on quite simply, which lends to the common do-it-yourself truck builder.

Unfortunately, no known manufacturer has marketed a kit to adapt Mustang II or other front suspension setups to '61-'71 Dodge Trucks. Companies such as Michael Thomas Enterprises and Fat Man Fabrications have crossmember kits for Mustang II components for '39-'47 and '33-'59 Dodge Trucks respectively. Chisholm Enterprises is another source, and they offer a kit for '40-'55 Mopar Trucks. Some companies say they will custom fabricate a suspension system for any rig, but can you imagine how much that would cost? Plus, they might not even be located in your state, which would make it hard to give them an example truck!

One can also have a local shop perform a complete subframing operation, but there won't be any guarantees on quality or performance once the job is finished. This route can also cost an arm and a leg.

The other option, is to perform the job yourself. The only problem here is the amount of experience one has and the tools they have access to. This lies in line with the true spirit of building the truck on your own as an enthusiast, hot rodder, or restorer. With the proper research, a total subframe job on any truck can be highly successful.

Notes on these Vehicles:
Plymouth Volare\Dodge Aspen - These front ends are great for a cruiser, especially since they mount with only four bolts (fabrication is required, however). They have disc brakes and the availibility of parts in the future is almost sure-fire with the number of truck customizers using the subframes on a variety of vehicles. Alignment, steering and engine mounting is all built in.

NEWS 12-15-97
Some interesting news has arrived in regards to the Plymouth Volare\Dodge Aspen IFS swap. Steve Kepper of Tacoma, WA has completed two trucks with the Volare/Aspen swap. What is so interesting is his impression of the completed swap and the related information he has. First, he states that the swap works very well. Handling is greatly increased, ride is enhanced in leaps and bounds (over the single I-beam) and no modifications have to be made in regards to engine or transmission placement. Another bonus, the headers that you may have installed will also work, as there is plenty of clearance with the clip installed. Steve had a custom fabricator install the clip on both trucks and maintains that the whole swap is quite inexpensive overall.

Nonetheless, the above doesn't answer the eternal question of, "What about power steering?" Fear not, the Volare/Aspen clip with a power steering box requires nothing more than the added MOPAR pump and a steering rod extension from the column to the box with a couple of u-joints. The Volare column can also be swapped in easily, which would bring a more modern look and feel to the cab. In regards to availability, the Volare/Aspen cars can be found cheaply, even if one has to get the front end from a salvage yard. Please watch this section for more information on the Volare swap as more correspondence from Steve arrives on the subject. Planned are pictures, measurements, specifics, a technical writeup, cost chart, part numbers, sources, and possibly a few CAD drawings of the parts that need to be fabricated to accept the swap. I sent the letter out to him sometime around the middle of January `98 with no response as of nearly one year later. If ANYONE out there has seen or knows of this IFS swap being performed on a Sweptline Era Truck, Please contact me with the Online Response Page. Numerous truck fans out there would like to know how to add IFS to their own trucks (including the author)!

Dodge Mirada\Chrysler Cordoba - Truly large cars, these suspensions will match up well with '61-'71 Dodge Trucks due to the heft of all components. Big disc brakes, large diameter torsion bars, and thick A-Arms will be nearly as tough as if Dodge had built them that way at the factory. This setup is tougher to implement since it requires much more than four bolts for installation.

'72-'73 Dodge Dart, '70-'76 Plymouth Valiant Duster - Front ends under these vehicles are heavier duty than the Volare/Aspen, but again require more work to make a swap. Among the benefits are disc brakes, larger, thicker components and the availibility of polyurethane bushings.

Later Dodge Trucks ('72-`93) - Since the later trucks were engineered with an independent front suspension, and since they are direct decendants of Sweptline Era vehicles, later Dodge trucks can also "make the donation" of an IFS front end. The benefits include truck-duty components, parts availability, disc brakes, and lowering kit capabilities (from aftermarket companies). To learn more about this swap possibility, consult the Frame Swap using `72-`93 Truck IFS Page for a detailed description of how this swap is accomplished.

'70 1/2-'73 Camaro front ends - It was once noted by a fellow enthusiast that, after chopping a Sweptline Era Truck frame off near the firewall, a '70 1/2-'73 Camaro subframe will simply slide right in to the modified truck frame horns.

Here's the prototype truck, and after finding the truck I talked to Rich (the owner and fabricator) about it. We discussed the finer points and I realized that the swap is really quite simple. The framerails of the truck, when cut in the proper location, will accept the subframe flawlessly and easily. I am unsure of the ride qualities, but the suspension on the Camaro subframe needs no modification whatsoever to fit the truck. The ride height looks good, although on his truck he chose to lower the front end quite a bit by heating up the coil springs. In any case, the most difficult facets of this IFS setup would be:
This suspension is a coil over shock\A-arm design and has the benefits of disc brakes, easy to find parts, polyurethane bushing capability, and ease of installation (with proper tools and procedure). NOTE: After comparing my truck ('67 D-100 4-spd) to this truck I noticed that the crossmember for trucks with a standard tranny would increase the difficulty of the swap. I assume that the same style crossmember was installed in 3-spd trucks. If I rember correctly, the subject truck discussed here with the Camaro subframe had an OEM automatic transmission, so naturally it was built without the standard tranny crossmember. Nonetheless, it probably wouldn't be difficult to adapt a used crossmember or make a new one to fit the standard transmission. These are just a few extra items you may want to consider before attempting this kind of swap.
Here is another picture of Rich's Camaro subframed '65 D-100 Utiline.
Also here are the subframe swap pics taken from various angles. Each is approximately 20k in size, so be aware that they might take extra time to appear.

Mustang II - This design only applies in a sense that it is popular for pre-fab crosmember installations on other classic trucks, including earlier Mopars. It is a good all around performer, especailly with a solid, well engineered crossmember and matching components.

Chevrolet Corvair - These cars had front ends that were attached with six bolts, which seems perfect for an easy remove and reinstall. Consequently, all Corvairs came with drum brakes and aftermarket discs cost nearly $600 plus whatever labor and modifications are required. It sounds like a good option, but why go halfway with a good suspension and then have to pay more for adequate brakes?

Who will make a '61-'71 Dodge Truck IFS kit?

As with many other custom and specialty parts for '61-'71 Dodge Trucks, few companies will even touch a Dodge Truck from this vintage. Nonetheless, there are a couple of companies that would be more than happy to work with the "highly motivated enthusiast". All that really means is that they'll make something for your truck, but it'll cost you. Below is more info on the current aftermarket situation.

Jim Meyer Racing specializes in independent suspension systems for custom vehicles. He offers a free catalog that includes a spec sheet that you fill out with the measurements for your vehicle. After one call and sending him the form, you can have a crossmember kit made for your truck. The author called their company and many others recently, and they seemed the most interested. Watch this site for an upcoming printable version of the spec sheet described above. For more info, contact:

Jim Meyer Racing Products
1345 S.E. 23rd
Lincoln City, OR 97367
Tech Line: 1-541-994-7717

Chisholm Enterprises is a company that offers a variety of kits for custom cars and trucks. Although they do not offer a kit for any of the '61-'71 Dodge Trucks, they do have IFS suspension systems for '40-'55 Mopar Trucks. When asked if they would fabricate a '61-'71 Dodge Truck IFS setup, their main concern was to have the subject truck in their shop to work off of. If interested, contact:

Chisholm Enterprises
10051 Greenleaf Ave.
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Tech Line: 1-562-946-3183

Comments or ideas in this area? Let the author know by providing an Online Response.

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