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Frame Swap using `72-`93 Truck IFS
One of the best options for an IFS swap, the `72-`93 Dodge Truck front frame stub is easily overlooked when customizers attempt to modify their Sweptline Era trucks. On this page you will find information from two generous enthusiasts; Randy from Minnesota sent along photos of the fabrication process (scroll down for his article or click here) while Doug Shepherd sent along a great deal of tips and drawings for this swap. Both swaps utilize a slightly different philosiphy so be sure to read through both if you're considering this sort of project.

Doug Shepherd's 1970 D-100
While most consider car subframes or front clips, Doug Shepherd of Raymond, Nebraska wouldn't settle for the lesser components and track width that these car frames had. He looked to Mopar to find the best possible choice in swap possibilites and after many measurements were taken of various other vehicles, he chose the `72-up frame to donate the IFS system he wanted to build into his 1970 Dodge D-100 Shortbox. Doug was kind enough to provide some hints for this swap and most of the information on this page is derived from what he has provided. Read on to find out more about this awesome swap possibility.

If you are considering this swap, I'd like to hear from you regarding measurements, photos and specifics. This page is just a general guide for the swap, but real photos, accurate measurements and sketches of the fabricated parts needed would be a real bonus for this page. I (site author) am also considering this swap, and will post all information plus *tons* of real-life photos of the job if no one else beats me to it.

In order to graft a more modern suspension system onto your `61-`71 Dodge Truck, you have a variety of choices for the modern unit you wish to install. Since the aftermarket is apprehensive about building custom parts for Sweptline Era trucks, we as enthusiasts have "limited" options in this area when compared with owners of other American trucks. Nonetheless, a swap of this nature is very possible and can be done with some planning, the right supplies and extra time.

The swap is actually quite simple; the Sweptline Era truck frame is cut away at a certain point and bent inward to accept the matching framerail angle of the later truck frame stub. This stub would come from a comparable `72-`93 Dodge Pickup. The swap should be viable for a 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton configuration, but further information is needed before this can be confirmed. The only major concern with both trucks is matching the suspension components to the usage of the truck. Either way, the carefully measured, cut and prepared set of frames are combined to yield a better handling, more advanced setup for your `61-`71 Dodge Truck.

To begin, you will certainly want to have a level floor surface to work with. This way, all of your measurements for the two frames will have an accurate surface to work from. You can even use the floor as a reference by marking it with centerlines or other measurements. A level floor will allow you to position the frames properly so you can secure them for welding. Below is a basic list of recommended tools for the swap process (this is by all means a partial list):
Recommended Frame Swap Tools
Permanent markerMeasuring Tape
Welder (MIG)Cut-off saw (pneumatic)
Socket wrench setDrill w/bits
Jack Stands (6-8)C-clamps and/or
Quick-Grip bar clamps
Engine HoistEngine Stand (Optional)

Be sure to take measurements of frame height from ground in the natural riding position of the truck before you start to dismantle. Then, take apart the front end of the Sweptline Era (`61-`71) truck, remove the motor and tranny, and take everything down to the bare frame stage. You will most likely want to remove all of the firewall components such as brake/clutch master cylinders fluid lines, and the fuel lines so that they are not a hazard when welding is underway.

Anchor the truck on jack stands at the natural height of the vehicle. If you choose to set this up so that the truck does not sit at its natural height, no problem, just measure where the wheels would be off of the ground. Either way will work, but choose the method that will work best for your situation. The engine is a consideration here, as when it is out it will cause the front of the truck to sit higher than normal. Its probably best to take measurements of frame height from ground in the natural position before you start to dismantle.

Next, take measurements of all pertinent aspects of both frames. This includes the track width, frame/truck centerline, axle centerline, location of crossmembers, engine mount positions, and anything else that will have an effect on the swap process. Write these figures down and keep them accessible for reference during the swap. If you are using the floor as a reference for certain measurements, mark the floor with the engine mount position, axle centerline, truck centerline, and anything else that may dictate the position of the new frame stub. Mark the truck centerline onto the firewall as well. You may also choose to trace out portions of the `61-`71 frame onto the floor so that you can see exactly how things are shaping up relative to the original frame. Once its gone, its gone!

`72-`93 FRAME PREP
The `72-`93 frame will be cut where the framerails make the wide turn and become straight again as they go toward the back of the vehicle. (See image below) You want to keep the portion of each framerail that angles out, but the bend to straight is the where you want to make the cut.

`61-`71 FRAME PREP
Once everything has been removed, measured, recorded and marked, one can begin the removal of the primative frame stub. This involves cutting the Sweptline truck's frame approximately 8"-12" forward of the firewall. Then, notches are cut into each framerail at 8"-10" back from the primary cut that was made. Manual transmission trucks may have some trouble with this swap, due to the location of the bellhousing crossmember that is located in this region of the frame. If your truck has a standard transmission, you may have to remove this crossmember and have a custom unit fabricated. It is tough to say, as Doug performed the swap on a `68-`71 truck which had a slightly different crossmember setup than `61-`67 trucks do. If you're planning on swapping transmissions from a standard to an auto, you may need to get your hands on an automatic tranny crossmember which will allow you to mount the tranny in its stock location. See also the tranny section further down on this page.

These notches (shown in red) will allow you to bend the early truck frame at an angle inward that will match the angle of the `72-`93 frame stub you are adding. Consult your measurements or make more regarding the later truck frame and the angle that is needed. Use a torch to heat one side of the frame around the area where the bend will be made, then bend the frame to the angle matching the later frame stub. A jig or mock-up may be useful during this portion of the process. Muffler shops use welding rod to get the general shape they want before bending their tubing. You can use the same process here, but you may want to consider using a larger material such as angle iron to simulate the proper angle.

As you can see in the above image, the frame stubs have been bent inward so they can accept the matching angle of the more modern frame. Weld up the notches once you are certain that the angle is correct. It is suggested that you also use plates on top of the welded notches to further strengthen the modified area. Doug recommends plates that are 1.5" wide and 8" long.

At this point, you should be ready to mate the modern truck frame to the modified Sweptline truck frame. Move the `72-`93 truck frame stub over the bent portions of the older truck's modified frame. Measurement is crucial here, where the wheelbase and tracking of the vehicle is in your hands. You will certainly want to measure the front wheels relative to the rear wheels and check the centerlines for the wheels (both longitudinal and transversal). Once you have checked these measurements don't forget to check the side to side widths, the diagonal squareness of the two frames, and the height from ground.

The image above shows both frames, with the overlap highlighted in magenta. As you can see, the matching angle of both frames after being modified provides an excellent mating surface for welding and strength. Once you are sure that all measurements match up and everything has been double checked, tack weld the two frames at a couple of points. Then, recheck all of your measurements. Once the measurements have all been verified, you will want to drill the two frames (somewhere along where they mate) to accept 1/2" grade 8 flange-headed bolts. Two per side are enough to hold everything together for welding. Again, re-check your measurements as you perform these operations, you'll be glad you did.

Once you have the bolts tight and the measurements are correct, you can proceed with finish welding to achieve a solid frame.

Mating the two frames was the bulky part of the job. Now you have to deal with mounting the front sheetmetal and bumper, adapting the steering column to box rod and U-joints, preparing the brakes and fluid lines, as well as the engine and tranny stuff.

If you have a automatic transmission truck, you should have no problem by using the same brackets and crossmembers to mount the Sweptline engine back into its new home. The alignment should match up well, but your measurements of both trucks will have to verify this. If you are planning to go with a change of transmission or have a standard tranny, your job gets a little tougher.

These trucks have a crossmember that the bellhousing rests on and bolts to which is towards the front of the truck near the firewall. The standard tranny (usually the NP-435 or NP-420) then bolts to the beefy bellhousing which provides enough strength for the whole assembly. This crossmember can most likely stay in the frame even though it is very near the area that the more modern frame stub attaches to.

There are a great deal of possibilities that would pertain to this portion of the job; however, there is simply no way to address all possible combinations of engine and tranny that could be had in these trucks. Basically, if you're keeping the tranny, then don't worry about the crossmembers. If you're changing tranny, you'll need the crossmember that corresponds to the tranny you want to install unless it isn't a Chrysler tranny. For engines - slant six, small block and big block engine mounts can be purchased for the `72-`93 frame along with the rubber isolators. When in doubt, try to mimic the factory configuration as best as possible.

The tough part of adapting this frame, besides welding it into place properly, is probably the change of steering and how to adapt your column to the relocated box. This involves adding an adapter, steering U-joints and a long steering rod to go from the old column to the box located towards the front of the engine. If your `72-`93 truck frame stub came with power steering, you will also need to add a power steering pump which merely involves locating the proper brackets and hoses for the more modern truck application. You can get the brackets from a junkyard or order them from a reseller.

This steering rod will have trouble clearing the upper A-arm of the more modern suspension. To get the proper clearance simply grind away a small portion of the A-arm that is the obstruction, just enough to get the extra room you need. Removing too much will jeopardize the strength of the A-arm.

Some may choose to change the column while performing this swap. The column from the `72-`93 truck can be added to the Sweptline, or you can purchase a custom column from one of the many aftermarket companies that offer them.

Contact Borgeson Universal Company for all your needs in steering U-joints, intermediate steering shafts, slip joints, and other related items. Information:

Borgeson Universal Company, Inc.
187 Commercial Blvd.
Torrington, CT 06790-3098
Fax: (860)-496-9320

Check with Ididit Incorporated for custom steering columns. They offer tilt columns with all the accessories to compliment your truck's interior. Columns from Ididit are available in various lengths to properly fit a wide range of applications. Information:
Ididit Inc.
11353 Tecumseh-Clinton Rd.
Clinton, MI 49236

Your exhaust system will definitely need to be revamped if not totally redone after this swap is performed. Your manifolds will work, but if you have Sweptline truck headers you'll need a set of `72-up headers from Mopar Performance, Hedman Hedders or some other company. Part numbers for these headers are as follows:

You will certainly want to bolt the core support solid to the frame once this modern frame stub has been added to your Sweptline Era Truck. These front panels will eventually become damaged along with the cab and possibly other parts if not secured. I've seen trucks that haven't had their core supports fixed solid to the frame; the result is severe cab damage (the front mounts collapse causing the cab to sink). Simply fabricate brackets that allow the core support bolts to fasten into the frame. You may even be able to drill into the frame for these bolts, but you will probably need a spacer of some sort to keep the front sheetmetal supported.

The front bumper from your Sweptline truck can be redrilled to match the newer mounts, or you can fabricate a set of brackets to adapt the older bumper to the frame.

Randy's `70 D-200 Subframe Swap
Special thanks to Randy of Minnesota for providing the information and photos in the following article.

Photos of Randy's truck, a `70 Dodge D-200 Longbed. This truck has a 383 and will be accepting the `82 IFS subframe shown in the following photos.

Click on either of the images above to see the larger version.
Shown here is the frame stub from the `82 1/2 ton truck. Note that the subject truck is a 3/4 ton while the donor subframe is a half ton. Realistically, the differences will be in the number of wheel lugs, the size of the brakes, coil spring capacity, and the fact that the 1/2 ton a-arms and suspension components probably aren't as beefy as the 3/4 ton units would be.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
Randy included this photo of the control valve and hoses for the OEM power steering setup on his previously I-beam equipped `70 D-200. He states that, "this power steering setup is rickety and I don't recomend it." Randy noted that the system is difficult to find parts for and the hoses must be custom fabricated, which is a pain. Randy finally disconnected the pump after blowing a third hose, having already custom built two of the existing hoses.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
Here, Randy used two jack stands under the frame at the cab and two more (not visible in photo) at the rear of the truck to support it during the swap.

Randy suggests that the "trick" is to not let the truck move once it's on the jack stands (prior to cutting off the old frame, of course). He also suggests using a square from floor to frame and make tons of marks on the floor relating to important measurements or component locations. Along with that, write down measurements of anything that is important to the swap. Randy took extra care to ensure that the core support bolt hole measurements of the original frame were accurately recorded once the truck was on jack stands. He did this to insure that the frame would be properly located to hang all of the sheetmetal once the job was finished.

One thing to consider in a swap such as this is the squareness of the front wheels relative to the rear wheels. Randy added that he, "also made marks on the floor towards rear of truck on each side the same distance from the front of the truck so he could use the marks to check the squareness of the subframe." This type of precision is CRUCIAL if you ever want the subframed truck to drive straight down the road once you're finished. You may even want to reference the center of the rear axles to the front spindles in taking measurements for this swap to ensure success.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
This image shows the truck (supported with the jack stands) with the old I-beam front suspension cut off.

Be sure to cut the original truck's frame and the subframe off at a point where will you will have more than enough material to make the connection between the two frames (i.e. leave a little excess, then trim later). Randy measured from the front cab mount bracket bolts and cut the `70 truck frame off about six inches in front of the bolts.

Here's an interesting note; Randy says that the `82 1/2 ton truck frame was only about 1/4" narrower than the `70 truck frame underneath the cab. He mentioned that if he had this swap to do over again, that is where he would connect the modern front subframe to the older truck frame. He suggests removing the cab if this is where you choose to mate the two frames since it would be a major obstruction and the cab mounts would have to be temporarily removed if the cab was not.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
This image shows the two frames welded together. The actual point where the two meet is behind the steering shaft stub in this photo. More visible here is the point where the subframe was notched to allow for it to be spread out to mate with the `70 truck frame.

Randy states, "Here you can see the frames together. What I did was trim the flange on the top and bottom of the subframe and left about 3 inches of it sticking out to bolt to the truck (`70 truck frame). I had to spread the subframe to get the proper width (so that the width at the connection point would be the same). I needed to spread each side of the subframe out one inch. What I did was weld a pipe to the subframe by the engine crossmember so I could tell how much I was bending each side, which I completed using a porta power to do the bending. After I notched the subframe about four inches behind the upper control arm brackets where they are riveted to the subframe, the pipe was tack welded to the frame in front of where i notched it... that way I could tell when I bent it out one inch. I did this for each side of the frame." see the drawing included below for a better description...

Drawing provided by Randy for this article.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
This image shows the outside of the original frame and subframe combo. Driver's side of truck is shown here.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
Here's a profile view of the 1982 D-100 subframe as attached to the 1970 D-200 Truck Frame from the driver's side.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
In this photo, you can better see the region where the two frame sections were trimmed and then welded. Randy plans to box the frame from the rear of the front cab mount to about six inches in front of where the subframe was notched.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
From Randy's e-mail with these photos: "Here you can see the power brake master cylinder and booster unit installed. They are directly out of the donor `82. When I took off the two bolt non-power master cylinder, I thought I was going to have to drill holes in the firewall to mount the power brake unit. Conversely, the holes were already there, I just had to punch them out. There's about four different sets of holes in the firewall. The holes work like conduit type outlet boxes--they are stamped into the sheetmetal but not punched out. You just have to knock out the partially punched holes. I put the power brake master unit in because the disc brakes require a different proportioning valve to work right. Also, the master has a larger bore to work the bigger pistons in the discs (that seems to make sense)."

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
Randy states, " I cut the steering tube off at the bottom (firewall exit location) of the original `70 truck column to make the first u- joint higher in the truck about 2 1/2 to 3 inches. (That's what the pic of me holding the peice of tube is; that's what I cut off.) The steering works smooth as silk and the joints are greaseable to boot--they should be around long after the truck is gone."
Randy also mentioned, "I went to the good `ole fleet farm and aquired some pto shaft universal joints. Got all of it and the shaft (which is just 3/4 inch diameter solid round stock) for about $45. The joints are really big for what I'm using them for, but I don't want my steering to come apart when I'm cruising. I had the tilt column from the donor truck, but we all know that Mopars have a terrible wiring system to begin with. As a result, I didn't want to be butchering the `70 harness to wire in the `82 tilt column. Also, I would have ended up with two ignition switches (one on the dash and one on the column). That would have been undesirable even if I had plugged the hole in dash.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
I used three joints for the steering shaft to clear the upper control arm because it looked really close to it and would have required alot of grinding to make enuff room. I had to use pillow block bearings to support the long shaft or it would have flopped around."

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
These photos show a close up view of the steering shaft completed. Randy noted, "Here's the front of the coulmn. The tack welds are pretty obvious here. It looks complicated, but with three u-joints, I don't have any control arm clearance problems."

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
Randy mentioned, "This is a photo of the front core support mounts where you see the bolt. The bolt in the photo is located where the `82 core support bolted on. I had to make a bracket because the older truck core support sat back about 4 inches, so I just bolted the strap in, then welded it on."

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
From Randy, "Here's the truck rolled out of garage. It sits about 2 1/2 inches lower now. I welded the frame with the good `ole Lincoln Stick Welder, since my wire feed isn't hot enuff for that thick truck frame steel. I used 6013 1/8 inch rods and it welded up really strong.
Doesn't appear to have any flex at all, so I'm not sure I'm going to box in the welded section of the frame. I might just use 2' by 1/4' flat bar stock to weld over the top and bottom flange right now. With a little grinding, you wouldn't even be able to tell it was welded (it fit that close, and boxing it would be a problem with proportioning valve body for brakes--it is bolted inside the driver's side framerail and would have to be moved for future service if needed). With the flat stock, I will just tack it to frame at one end or the other on top of the rail and heat and bend it to match the contour of that section, then stitch weld it every couple of inches. That should prove to be strong enough to add the strength back to rails. You cant make it too solid, because it does need to flex a little or it will crack and break (not good at all).

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
Quoting Randy again, "Here's the finished truck minus hood. It sits 3 1/2 inches lower. Frame feels rock solid. I (Randy) drove it and it handles like a dream. The power steering is great; it turns like it was meant to. I (Randy) can now let go of the wheel and it goes straight (even with a worn center link in the front end). It no longer changes lanes when I hit a bump although it leans a little more on corners than it did before (needs swaybar)." Randy had to change front rotors to get the 5 on 4.5 inch bolt pattern for the wheels that the older half tons had. Dodge changed the bolt pattern in `81 or `82 to 5 on 5.5 inch, but the hubs and rotors are apparently interchangeable with the older ones (even the bearings are the same according to Randy).

Last updated Thursday, January 16th, 2003.

Please Note: This page is intended as a guide for the project outlined, and is not guaranteed in any way. The information was supplied at the request of the author and is merely an extension of what was received. All the info is to the best knowledge of the author. Comments? Send in an Online Response.

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