What would you recommend?


Junior Member
I have a '79 Dodge pickup with a rebuilt engine being put in right now. The truck is a 1/2 ton Heavy-duty model with a single cab,long wheel base, and it's 2-wheel drive and in great condition. I will plan to pull a light duty 20' gooseneck full of lawn equipment. I am trying to fix it up to be a dependable work truck that looks great (for potential customers). I am getting the engine put in now, and just told the installer to put a heavy duty radiator in as well. I plan to paint it a fire-engine red color. Do ya'll have any suggestions as to what else I could do to fix it up? I hope to put an "add-a-leaf" kit on the rear axle. I was hoping to raise the front end slightly also, can you tighten the torsion bar on the frame to lift the chassis? I also hope to put some 16" wheels on it, but it came with 15". Will 16" work? Any tips will be appreciated!



PlowSite.com Addict
Hi Ryan - although I'm a Chevy person myself, I like all kinds of trucks!

20' is quite a bit of trailer, make sure your truck's trailering capacity is up to the task. (Off hand, I don't know what the capacity for that year/model Dodge would be)

You say the engine is rebuilt, how about the transmission? Make sure it's in top shape as well - either automatic or standard. If standard, ensure the clutch is a heavy-duty one and in good shape. If the engine is out anyway, it's a good time to change the clutch. If you have an automatic, a good heavy-duty transmission cooler is very important to have when pulling a trailer.

Adding a leaf or two in the rear springs is OK, just remember that the drive train (axle, driveshaft(s), U-joints etc) is still 1/2-ton equipment.

I think the Dodges of that vintage had similar front suspensions to the Chevy trucks - A-arms & coil springs - so raising the front end will involve either a heavier-duty spring or load boosters such as those made by Timbren. I don't see any real need to raise the front end up though - unless it's riding low because of worn/broken front springs, in which case you'd want to replace them anyway.

And finally, with regard to the wheels I believe that 16" wheels would be 8-bolt pattern, while the 15" ones are 5-bolt so they won't interchange. But I don't see anything wrong with the 15" wheels on a 1/2-ton anyway, as long as you get a set of LT (Light Truck) tires with a good load rating.

Nice to see some "older iron" being kept up - it's feasible to run an older truck as a work truck, just be prepared to accept the fact that it will require ongoing maintenance. The more of this sort of work you can do yourself the better off you will be - repair shop time = $$$!

Just some ideas - good luck to you with your truck!