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6x6 Power Wagon Project

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  • 6x6 Power Wagon Project

    I've always been drawn to the Dodge 6x6s. They are a simple combination of utilitarian design and necessity engineering. The open cab always seemed impractical for regular use and winter driving, and for a long time I believed that I couldn't justify owning one. Then I saw a picture of a closed cab 6x6 in the July 1991 issue of the Power Wagon Advertiser, and everything changed. A 6x6 was still not a terribly practical vehicle to own, but at least a closed cab one could be used year-round. 20 years later I found pictures of Dan Mininger's beautiful red closed cab 6x6, and I decided to take the plunge and start the project. Another reason for the project was to include my older sons who are now in their late teens. They like Power Wagons, and I figured this would be a good way to give them some hands-on mechanical experience, and have some fun together.

    So in the fall of 2011 I began searching for a decent chassis to start the project. I remembered that an old friend in the mountains had a WC 6x6 with a later model civilian cab on it. For years he plowed his long driveway with it, but other than that the truck didn't get much use. I tracked him down and called him out of the blue, asking if he still had the truck. He did, and had just retired it because of a rod knock in the engine. After looking at the truck we agreed on a price, and I flat-bedded the monster home.



    The truck is a 1944 Dodge WC63, but the only parts left of the 6x6 were the frame, drive train, and fuel tank. The cab was taken from a 1960 D500. The winch had been removed to make room for an enormous steel bumper and PTO pump for the home-made dump flatbed. The 230 engine was from a 1947 Plymouth truck, and the tires were 7.50-16s with 5.83 gears, The frame had been modified at least 2 times before I bought it. At one point the truck was used to haul steel and concrete to remote mine sites to close up the abandoned mine shafts. The frame showed some signs of damage from the work, but overall it was in relatively good condition.

    In 2013 I bought a complete cab and front clip from a 1957 WM300 (which was known as a W300 at the time). Even though the truck was from Arizona, it sat for years in the weather and has some rot in the back of the cab floor. It also has a couple areas which will need some extensive bodywork. But overall it's in decent shape and should look nice when it is finished.

    Fast forward to today. The old cab, flatbed, and engine have been removed, the chassis has been cleaned and straightened, the axles are rebuilt, everything is painted, and a rebuilt 318 engine and NP435 transmission are 95% installed. The original fuel tank and skid plate have been repaired and reinstalled. The WM300 radiator has been rebuilt and is waiting to be reinstalled. The brake system is just about done, and will be getting a vacuum-boosted dual master cylinder under the cab. I've also installed a rebuilt Braden MU2 from another WC Dodge and front bumpers from a WDX.



    Up to this point most of the work on the truck has been standard mechanical work that I'm very familiar with. But the new cab and front sheet metal have recently come back from the blasting shop and now it's time to start fixing the body panels. This is work that I have never done before, and I figure it's time for me to learn. Overall the sheet metal is in good condition, but there are a couple items that are borderline fixable, and will test my fledgling bodywork skills.



    I will be posting more as we work through the repairs of the sheet metal, and start to reassemble the rest of the truck.
    Greg Coffin
    Unrepentant Dodge Enthusiast

    1951 Dodge M37 - Bone Stock
    1958 Dodge M37 - Ex-Forest Service Brush Truck
    1962 M37-B1 - Work in Progress
    1962 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon - Factory 251, 4.89s
    1944/1957 Dodge WM500 6x6 Power Wagon - LA318-3, NP435, 5.83s, Power Steering, Undercab Power Brakes
    1974 Dodge W200 - 360/727, Factory Sno-Fighter Package

  • #2
    This is a very interesting project. Keep the updates coming. Looks like your doing a great job!

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    • #3
      Very Nice! Looking forward to more pics and updates.

      Clark

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      • #4
        Look awesome Greg, can't wait to see your progress. Are the boys still 'in' on the project?

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes, the boys are still at it with me. They go it spurts, just like their old man, but we are making headway. The bodywork has sparked new interest for all of us, and we are learning it together.

          Here's a shot of the reworked radiator cowl. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, especially since it is my first attempt at hammer and dolly work.



          The steel in the front fenders is much thicker than in the cab and radiator cowl. I started working on the fenders with the small body hammers and dollys and quickly realized they were pointless. I ended up using a 2lb sledge and a heavy block of steel as a dolly. They worked great.



          Here's a before and "during" shot of reworking the outside arc of the front fender. We had to heat the reinforcing rod with mapp gas to get it to move. Lots of work left to do.

          Greg Coffin
          Unrepentant Dodge Enthusiast

          1951 Dodge M37 - Bone Stock
          1958 Dodge M37 - Ex-Forest Service Brush Truck
          1962 M37-B1 - Work in Progress
          1962 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon - Factory 251, 4.89s
          1944/1957 Dodge WM500 6x6 Power Wagon - LA318-3, NP435, 5.83s, Power Steering, Undercab Power Brakes
          1974 Dodge W200 - 360/727, Factory Sno-Fighter Package

          Comment


          • #6
            Looks good. Glad to see your boys are still in. I am going into mine a little deeper this year and going to have my 7 and 21 year old boys learn the craft of restoration. Also a tip for you seeing you have the map gas handy. Hammer and dolly essentially stretch the metal back to form. But heat and a cold water soaked rag will shrink metal. So if you need to shrink a spot , heat it red and quickly put a wet rag on it, causes the area to shrink. Don't know if you were aware of that. But you did mention earlier you were new to body work. Thanks for posting stuff , I again look forward to the next pics. Also a big thank you for the frame extensions!!
            Last edited by bilfman; 01-29-2015, 06:48 PM. Reason: X

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            • #7
              Nice project, looking forward to watching your progress.

              Comment


              • #8
                I love that 6x6! Great job on the build!
                How much room does the 318 have in the engine compartment?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Greg, It looks amazing! Thank you so much for sharing.
                  1967 W200.aka.Hank
                  1946 WDX.aka.Shorty
                  2012 Ram 2500 PowerWagon.aka Ollie

                  Life is easier in a lower gear.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    CJ, I did a couple dry fits of the cab and radiator with the 318. I have 3/4" between the distributor and firewall, and about 3/4" from the fan to the radiator. This engine had the early style cast iron water pump, which is a lot shorter than the later aluminum body water pump.

                    I got some work done on the cab sheet metal. After a few hours hammering out some minor dents I decided to tackle the big nasty dent above the driver door. It fought me every step of the way, but it turned out pretty well. I'll have to skim it with some bondo, but considering the mess I started with I'm okay with that.

                    Overall progress has been slow, but steady. The brake system is just about done. I got the remote master cylinder and booster mounted, and it works very well. I have to make up a pair of short lines to connect the new master with the existing brake lines. You can read more about it here.

                    Here are some pictures of recent progress.
                    Attached Files
                    Greg Coffin
                    Unrepentant Dodge Enthusiast

                    1951 Dodge M37 - Bone Stock
                    1958 Dodge M37 - Ex-Forest Service Brush Truck
                    1962 M37-B1 - Work in Progress
                    1962 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon - Factory 251, 4.89s
                    1944/1957 Dodge WM500 6x6 Power Wagon - LA318-3, NP435, 5.83s, Power Steering, Undercab Power Brakes
                    1974 Dodge W200 - 360/727, Factory Sno-Fighter Package

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Awesome truck Greg. Hadn't gone through your thread until just now. Look forward to more... and I'm curious to see what you build for a bed.

                      I just picked up my front end from the painter here in fort collins. If not for the weather I might have tried to pay you a visit. I would love to see your project and maybe try to give you a few bucks for those tow hooks. Anyway, I think I'll be heading home over Cameron and through north park just to avoid traffic and anyone who might try to run their car into my trailer and its contents, so probably not this time. I'll be back in about a month to pick up my bed from paint, so maybe then.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The bed will be a 9' or 10' WDX style, with hydraulic dump mechanism underneath. I'll probably buy an aftermarket headboard and tailgate, and fab the rest myself. The WDX style is pretty easy because there is no embossing on the bed sides, just flat sheet metal. I have the dump mechanism all put together. I'll post pictures of it soon.

                        I saw your pictures on the other post, the cab looks awesome! The weather has gone to h*ll in the last couple hours, I hope you made it over the pass without incident. The tow hooks are warm and dry in the shop, just give me a head's-up when you might be coming by. My cell is 3/530-4150. I'd be happy to give you the nickel tour.
                        Greg Coffin
                        Unrepentant Dodge Enthusiast

                        1951 Dodge M37 - Bone Stock
                        1958 Dodge M37 - Ex-Forest Service Brush Truck
                        1962 M37-B1 - Work in Progress
                        1962 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon - Factory 251, 4.89s
                        1944/1957 Dodge WM500 6x6 Power Wagon - LA318-3, NP435, 5.83s, Power Steering, Undercab Power Brakes
                        1974 Dodge W200 - 360/727, Factory Sno-Fighter Package

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Greg Coffin View Post
                          The bed will be a 9' or 10' WDX style, with hydraulic dump mechanism underneath. I'll probably buy an aftermarket headboard and tailgate, and fab the rest myself. The WDX style is pretty easy because there is no embossing on the bed sides, just flat sheet metal. I have the dump mechanism all put together. I'll post pictures of it soon.

                          I saw your pictures on the other post, the cab looks awesome! The weather has gone to h*ll in the last couple hours, I hope you made it over the pass without incident. The tow hooks are warm and dry in the shop, just give me a head's-up when you might be coming by. My cell is 3/530-4150. I'd be happy to give you the nickel tour.
                          Oh cool. I'm glad you're building a boxed bed for it. I had supposed you would put a flat bed on there. A 9-10' WDX is gonna look good... And dump-able too, that'll be cool. Was your original rear axle moved forward at all when the second axle was added, or was it all done rearward? By the way, thanks for the #, I'll definitely give a call and try to drop in sometime if it works out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My 6x6 chassis is from a 1944 Dodge WC 63 (1.5 ton), and is pretty much bone stock. The wheelbase is 125" measured from the center of front axle to the center of the rear spring pivot (bogie), so the rear axles kind of straddle where a WDX axle would be. The 6x6 is the father of the WDX-WM300 style Power Wagons that we have. Same front axle, engine, transmission, NP200 transfer case, and offset rear axle. The cab and front sheet metal from a WDX pretty much bolt onto the 6x6 frame, so that's what I'm going to do. I may lengthen the frame 12" to fit a 10' bed, but I'm hesitant. I'll get it running and see how it handles, then make the decision.
                            Greg Coffin
                            Unrepentant Dodge Enthusiast

                            1951 Dodge M37 - Bone Stock
                            1958 Dodge M37 - Ex-Forest Service Brush Truck
                            1962 M37-B1 - Work in Progress
                            1962 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon - Factory 251, 4.89s
                            1944/1957 Dodge WM500 6x6 Power Wagon - LA318-3, NP435, 5.83s, Power Steering, Undercab Power Brakes
                            1974 Dodge W200 - 360/727, Factory Sno-Fighter Package

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Brake System is Complete

                              This week I got the new brake system completed and working. The armored chassis lines were supplied by Midwest Military, and I made the lines that connect the master to the chassis lines. Fortunately I didn't have to modify any of the chassis to make the new layout work. There is usually a union where the new master cylinder ties in. I took the union and installed it where the T-block sits for the original master cylinder. It works great! I had a local shop make up the chassis-to-axle flex lines. The ones available from the regular suppliers for the rear axles are way too long, and the one for the front axle is a bit too short, especially when trying to work around the 318's large oil pan. We bled the system out yesterday, and the pedal feels really good. Next we'll bend and install the new fuel line, and the hydraulic clutch line.

                              Attached Files
                              Greg Coffin
                              Unrepentant Dodge Enthusiast

                              1951 Dodge M37 - Bone Stock
                              1958 Dodge M37 - Ex-Forest Service Brush Truck
                              1962 M37-B1 - Work in Progress
                              1962 Dodge WM300 Power Wagon - Factory 251, 4.89s
                              1944/1957 Dodge WM500 6x6 Power Wagon - LA318-3, NP435, 5.83s, Power Steering, Undercab Power Brakes
                              1974 Dodge W200 - 360/727, Factory Sno-Fighter Package

                              Comment

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