our ’79 Dodge Power Wagon
It just doesn’t get any better than building a truck that everyone says is a waste of time and then wasting them with that same truck on the trails. We have been building this truck for some time and it was finally time to ring it out and see what worked and what didn’t. We headed to Big Bear, CA for a little summer fun and testing. Here’s what we learned.
We were having way too much fun for a full-size truck. This little gully was narrow and steep. In a Jeep it’s nothing but with the 115″ wheelbase of our Dodge it was a different story. Sometimes wheelbase helps but this wasn’t one of those times.
As you can see from this picture we didn’t have any mud to play with. Everything was pretty much dried out. You can also see the Superlift 5″ suspension and 35″ Goodyear MT/R’s on 15×8″ Mickey Thomson Classic II wheels. We had to cut the fenders to deal with the copious amounts of flex we are getting on this truck. We whacked 2″ off the rear of the fronts and about 4″ off the bottom of the front of the fenders (just below the marker lights). There’s also about 2″ chopped off the stock front bumper. I don’t know if that helps at all but it sure looks cool!
The passenger side was fine with this trimming but the drivers side hit, and hit hard! We are looking at why and how to fix that but it looks like another 1/2″ or so might do it.
The rear suspension doesn’t compress much but it sure does droop. We added 2″ drop shackles to the rear springs to help level the truck and bam! Its an amazing difference back there. The longer shackles make for a much better ride and better trail manners without hurting load capacity. This is the trick of all tricks on this truck and we are very happy with the way it’s performed so far. We’ll be taking it on some harder stuff soon so look for more updates when we get back.
Here’s why I love Big Bear. You can camp in one of the Yellow Post sites for free (you still need to get a permit and an Adventure Pass, go to the Discovery Center in Fawnskin) but you are alone out there. I’m not telling where this spot is because I still want to be able to use it too. It gets pretty crowded up there at times so plan ahead and come early. BTW, that big tree in the middle of camp is a Ponderosa Pine, long story.
As you can see it’s more a matter of determination rather than right. A full-size Dodge might not have the right to go the places this one goes, but with enough determination and disregard for sheet metal it does go where you point it. That seems to be the way most Dodge owners think anyways and I guess I’m no different. Look for these trucks to be on a trial near you soon, whether they should be or not!
Special thanks goes out to the following companies for all their help.
They support Dodge, we should all support them
Superlift (5″ Suspension and shocks), Rancho (Triple Shock Hoops), Goodyear Tires (35×12.50R15 MT/R Tires), Mickey Thompson (15×8 Classic II Wheels- 4″ backspacing), Tractech (Detroit Lockers!)