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1993 W350 – The Ultimate 1st Gen

This is the story of my 1993 W350 crew cab. While sitting in an airport for several hours on April 12, 2012, I began typing the below story. It was published on Turbo Diesel Register (TDR) and “Cummins Forum” forums a few days later. As the build progressed, the story was updated and the build threads continued for years with over a combined 900,000 views. It has inspired many builds, and parts of this build have now been copied on many other 1st gen restorations.

I am placing a copy here on 1’st Gen Industries to help inspire more builds like this as the 1’st Gen world needs more cool builds. I also got tired of forums changing and my photos not showing. The search for quality parts for this build, is what inspired the creation of 1st Gen Industries. Having a place that sold all the quality parts I needed, is what was missing when I did this restoration.

Please grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the read.



Well, as I have a 5.5 hour wait here in St Louis for my next flight, I thought I would so something to prevent boredom from taking over and making my brain mush. Although there is no WIFI here in this huge airport of like 18 gates, I will at least be able to post this later as will type this in Word. I will also try to keep this in detailed yet simple terms and will try to explain it in detail in the event someone is not fully versed in diesel terminology. (Edit: I will also say having just finished uploading the pics now a few days later, if you pay attention you can see the progression of digital camera imagery as this article progresses. In some cases, I even have some photos that I can’t find anymore as it was 3-4 computers ago and so low resolution the file may have been discarded. Fortunately I had them uploaded on another site and was able to save and re-upload, hence the watermark on some of the early ones)

As many of you know, I have a thing for Dodge products, especially the first generation Cummins Rams. I have had many questions on the truck as well as its progress and I never seem to have time to actually get to uploading any info or pictures. I will see if I can provide a somewhat entertaining history of the truck, my obsessions, as well as an education on these older crew cabs. I will also add many pictures as they are worth 1000 words I am told so that should prevent this from getting too long (EDIT: Epic failure….Word says 59 pages….oops! :D). Where to start is really the question now.

Well let’s start at the beginning. I was a wee little boy of three years old when I finally comprehended how an internal combustion engine worked. That was not my first sign of interest in a car, but that was the time I finally understood it thanks to dad stopping his oil change and explaining to his very curious son on how it all works. Well, maybe that is a bit too far back for this one. Let’s skip ahead a couple decades.

My obsession with things Cummins started back in 2003 when my father suggested it was time to buy my first vehicle so I no longer needed to borrow his. Being a farm kid, my first thought was a pickup. This dad fully agreed on. After some bantering back and forth regarding various models of pickups (all Dodge ranging from Dakota R/Ts, SST Rams, Indy Edition Rams) dad suggested (read told me) I would buy a 1990 W250 Cummins Ram snow plow he knew of. It was a diesel, a 4×4, and it was simple to fix. (It was not until about 7 years later I found out the REAL reason he liked it….seems it was due to a engine redline at 2500 rpm and with the old three speed 727 auto that limited me to about 71 MPH wide open…but that is another story……back to this story).

The W250 when I got it in 2003:

First set of stacks that looked ugly…but they got me to like the truck.

And the truck today:

So I ended up with said truck although not impressed with it. Looking under the hood I could not find spark plugs and I could not fully understand why a 6,000 lbs truck could only have 160 HP and be considered good for towing. The freakin’ lawn mower almost had that much. Within a year I had my list of complains although I was very much starting to enjoy the truck as the stacks that were added had a nice sound. My three biggest issues were it was not a standard trans, it was not a dually, and the cab was too freakin’ short being a regular cab. But it was cheap, simple, and did the job for a year. Either way, these complaints were the formation of something bigger. During that year I did much research on the truck and found out that in the old Ram body style, full four door crew cabs were available. So were dually’s and 5-speeds.

So unofficially the search for a donor cab that I could install (with some modifications) onto the 1990 began. The search continued for a few months and I ended up finding more than I bargained for or could have imagined. Out in BC Canada, I found the truck my mind had come up with. Crew cab, Cummins, dually, 4×4 and what appeared to be decent shape. It was perfect and it should not exist!! Why should it not exist? See, the Cummins motor was first offered by Dodge in a Ram as of the 1989 model year. Issue is, the crew cab body stopped being offered by Dodge in 1985. What I was looking at literally should not exist as far as factory offers went. As I learn through research over the last few years, there was a shop doing these conversions in northern Alberta and did from what I can find, close to 20-25 of these trucks. Seems they would take a diesel truck as well as a V8 crew cab, swap the entire diesel driveline, cross members, interior, doors, box, as well as dash wiring and all other diesel specific items onto the crew cab frame. In the case of my truck, they took a 1993 W250 and mated it with a 1980 D350 360 cid dually. The extent that this company went to I would come to appreciate as I progressed with my trucks restoration. But I am getting ahead of myself as usual…

So on that Saturday morning, I made a call to the dealer in Campbell River BC and after many questions, some back and forth, and some funds being sent their way; I became the new owner of the truck. My plan was to use the truck as my daily driver and eventually part ways with the snow plow truck. The trucks history is a little unknown but from the receipts I found in the glove box, the truck had an eventful life traveling all over Alberta, and BC and even a trip up to Alaska. From my understandings, it was used as part of a fishing camp or something along those lines
So after a few weeks, the truck arrived by rail to me in Ontario. These pics were taken the first day I had the truck.

For the next year and a half, the truck served as my daily transportation but not without its own list of issues, the biggest being a fried Getrag G360 tranny. The thought as to keep the old truck until I fixed the issues with the new truck.



So on Dec 24, 2005; I made the first step in what would forever change the direction of my life: I pulled off the door panel to see why the window would not open. I had planned to work on it for the remainder of the winter working the little bugs out anyways, but little did I know that this would be a bit longer than a few weeks or months.

The issue list consisted of:

Fried tranny, door locks did not work (as I found, lock actuators were missing), power windows didn’t work (regulators seized), a few oil leaks, and rear end (rear had dually adapters bolted to a single rear wheel axle….issue was the axle to adapter lugs were never torque and the wobble damaged the adapters). Another item to look into was the fact the motor was gutless. It would take close to half a mile of wide open speed shifting to get it up to 90 MPH (as I learnt after, the speedo in the truck was out of a salvage yard and the 250,000 KM was actually closer to 600,000 miles….this was confirmed by what I found in other areas of the truck and therefore explained why the motor was so tired)

So work progressed and a rebuilt G360 was located for the truck. PW motors and PDL motors were also sourced. But this is where I got out of hand. See, when it comes to vehicles, I am picky. Add to that I am a perfectionist. Issue three is my love of horsepower (I can’t help that…I grew up around 60s Mopars, burnouts, and drag racing). Really, it all started with the tranny. See, after speaking with a family member who is a class 8 mechanic (as well as the original owner of a factory ordered 1989 W250 Cummins) he spent the time to explain why he had moved on from the G360 to a more robust tranny. After several hours of research after the conversation, it became apparent that if I wanted decent towing power and reliability for long distance hauling, the Getrag was not the right way to go. After a few weeks of research, it was determined that a NV5600 6 speed from a 99-05 truck was the way to go. So the search started, and a 4,000 mile tranny was found from a wrecked 2004. But then I had the next issue. The engine. The engine was a bit tired and also would be limited on top end power due to the Bosch VE injection pump. After looking into a Bosch P7100 injection pump swap, I determined it was better to go with a motor swap as it would give me a complete system that worked together, as well as the fact that it was not far off the same price as just swapping the pump and its related components needed for the install. So the search began for a late build mechanical 12V and a 1997 12V CPL 2174 Cummins motor was found in MA with 10K miles on it. Although it had the 180 HP pump (meaning was from an automatic) instead of the wanted 2175 CPL 215 pump (from a stick), the mileage was hard to pass up. That solved the engine question but then I had the next weak link of my system – the Dana 70 rear end. If I wanted power, the rear axle would need attention as the D70s did not hold up as well to higher tq numbers (not to mention the fact that the rear axle was a non dually axle). So a Dana 80 from the newer T-300 body (94+) second generation 3500 Ram was located and the 11,000 mile Sure Grip unit was located and shipped north from OK. Now that I had changed the rear axle, I had one more item that required attention: the front axle. See, with a DRW rim now being used on the rear but a single wheel rim on the front, I would have to carry two spares and would also still have a front end that did not look right. So the search started for a DRW hubbed Dana 60 front (as it was simpler and cheaper than just swapping hubs) and a 100,000 mile unit was located in OR. That was the basic components that I needed to get the truck reliable and get it into the 200 HP range I calculated as needed for what I wanted to do with the truck.

The truck with no door panels but with all the new driveline components having arrived:

So the prep of the truck began for the driveline swap. First was to remove the fenders and front end for the engine removal, followed by the tranny and rear.

Somewhere in this another issue came up. My father was assessing the truck and said if you are going to do the driveline, you should do a repaint. I said no way I was not going down that road. Conversation sounded like this:

Dad – Needs a repaint.
Me – No its just fine.
Dad – You have gone this far, should repaint it.
Me – No, its just fine.
Dad – There is a hold in the bed floor from a kingpin that missed the good neck hitch at some point, there is some rust on the body, there is scratches in a few places, the truck has stains on it; you should repaint it.
Me – Its just fine.
Dad – But you’ve gone so far…
Me – It’s just fine.
Dad – Well think about it.
Me – Sure. (In my head I was saying, it’s just fine. )

I stood strong with my thoughts and opinions as this was just a daily driver. Issue was the seed was planted. Every time I looked at the body, I could hear dads voice like a little critter on my shoulder. “You should repaint it” the little irritating voice said. I would tell it to buzz off but it would keep nagging and nagging like Fran Dresher. But back to the story….

So I continued to pull body panels and eventually decided it would be better to pull cab and box for ease of driveline removal. This way I could do it like they did on the assembly line and drop the components in from the top. So cab and box were pulled and then I got my next surprise.

The chassis was not in as solid shape as I though and although not known at this time, reflected the high mileage that was on this truck. The frame itself was good, but all the other components right down to two of the cab mounts being rotted off, scars from past repairs showing themselves, shocks being gone, springs being tired, bushings being fried, and more leaks than I could count, the body did have some issues. It was one of those moments of what have I done and what the heck was I sold! But being young and full of piss and vinegar, I jumped in with a modified plan. I would do a quick strip to the bare frame, repaint, and build it back up inspecting every component as I went. If deemed OK, I would install it. If it looked iffy, I would rebuild it. And so the restoration/modifications (rectification??) really began and the realization slowly set in that this was going to be a bit more than my future daily driver in salt and snow. I had always wanted to restore a vehicle, although this was not the 1970 Road Runner I had been envisioning.

So the frame was stripped and out came the sandblaster. I sandblasted in the driveway at -28 for several hours strait (yeah, won’t do that again! Bloody hook kept freezing over due to the condensation from my breath). Little did I know that come spring I would have a two day cleanup of the white sand beaches that had located themselves to our driveway thanks to a lot of sand from the blasting.

With the driveline being done, and now the chassis being done, logically the paint was going to have to be done. Wonder why no one thought of that earlier. 😉 So, a media (baking soda, not sand) blaster was located and the entire load of stripped body panels including box and cab were delivered to Master Blaster in Mississauga, Ontario and the body was blasted clean.