1996 dodge 3500: Swiss Army knife

DieselDaddy

Member
So I have been lurking here for years and honestly haven’t had much to contribute so I kept my mouth shut. I’m a builder and master diesel tech for about the last 25 years. Bought and sold dozens of these trucks but for some reason this one spoke to me. It was purchased as a rust free 96. 12v Cummins, nv4500 2wd truck. The fun part about these trucks is that they have a dead axle in the front. Just an open housing. No gears or shafts. It is however, exactly the same size as a live axle. This one has a fresh mild build in the engine and a recently rebuilt 5 speed. So with a price tag I couldn’t turn down she came home with me. Here’s where I started.
 

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DieselDaddy

Member
The first thing was to add tires and wheels. Now the 3500 dodge will single out very easily. I used HUMMWV 24 bolt wheels and mt Baja tires thst I sourced locally with 100 percent tread and current date codes. I also removed the run flat and installed a set of trailworthy fab pvc beadlock spacers. At about that time the affordable off-road front bumper came in. It it a modular unit and I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. The design makes a lot of sense once you see it in person, if the side is damaged, it can be replaced very easily. I had the Apex 12,000 pound winch sitting in my shop in the box from the last time Harbor freight had a big sale.
 

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DieselDaddy

Member
Now that we had some big tires on it, the 4:10 gears and the NV 4500 really started to shine. The truck will easily do 75 on the interstate, which It’s about as fast as I drive anything. I sold the very heavy steel tool bed that came on the truck and replaced it with a very unique service body that I had previously purchased for our farm. It has two large pull out drawers in the front door of the unit. These drawers are 4 feet long.
 

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DieselDaddy

Member
Somewhere along the way came my 2 m set up, which is an icon 706 Mark two with an Alamosa off-road 2 m antenna. I really dig the set up. I mounted it on the right hand side of my service body with a heavy steel backer. For any of my ham guys these antennas are just top shelf, the truck also has a bearcat night watch CB radio, dual dinhead unit with navigation,Bluetooth and the back up camera. This is where I went off the rails a little bit and found a set of PRP Enduro elite seats. These are leather and black tweed they were installed on brackets that I fed in the shop and are about 2 inches taller than the stock seats with these brackets. I didn’t like it at first, I felt like I was sitting too high in the truck, in retrospect I can see out the window and see the front tire where I couldn’t before with the stock Dodge seats. I also remove the stock center console and replaced it with a less expensive ref/feeezer unit made by stakol. It was fairly inexpensive and it’s the perfect size. All I had to do was cut the metal brackets the appropriate width, and install rubber bumpers on the end of the bracket and it holds the fridge in nicely
 

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DieselDaddy

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I’m still playing with the set up of the triple stick shifter from JB Fab. If you get a chance, this is top notch gear. This shifter came fully assembled and ready to install right out of the box used the version that is meant for a buggy simply because I knew it would be on the floor, and I felt like it was the least expensive option . This shifts my custom divorced 203205 set up behind the 2 Wheel Dr. transmission.
 

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DieselDaddy

Member
I’m sure I’m forgetting some things and I’ll update this as I get a chance, I also have several kits of raptor bedliner to shoot this truck. my daughter actually made the comment this week that I had dumped so much money into the drive and the interior of the truck. It would be nice if I would paint the darn thing lol
 

ITTOG

Well-known member
The first thing was to add tires and wheels. Now the 3500 dodge will single out very easily. I used HUMMWV 24 bolt wheels and mt Baja tires thst I sourced locally with 100 percent tread and current date codes. I also removed the run flat and installed a set of trailworthy fab pvc beadlock spacers. At about that time the affordable off-road front bumper came in. It it a modular unit and I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. The design makes a lot of sense once you see it in person, if the side is damaged, it can be replaced very easily. I had the Apex 12,000 pound winch sitting in my shop in the box from the last time Harbor freight had a big sale.
I love that bumper. I think it is one of the nicest ones I have seen.
 

DieselDaddy

Member
So I mentioned the new front axle, I didn’t mention the new thuren 3.75” soft ride springs, bilstein 5100 shocks and all the other little goodies! Ironically, I put all the stuff in there and one of the used brake calipers on the axle was locked up. So I guess I’m putting new calipers on it as well. It’s the shortest full spring I thought I could get and it clears the 37”
Bajas very nicely. The stance is really nice too. I ordered rear lift springs and they were back ordered. Now we wait I guess.
 

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DieselDaddy

Member
Great build. Looking forward to watching it evolve.
Thanks! I’m planning my To go on tour with it in a couple months so I’m on a modified schedule. That and I’ve been saving and buying parts for months. I’m at the part now of just bolting things on and working out the bugs.
 

DieselDaddy

Member
Well, for those interested the thuren coils and bilstein shocks are a magical combo. Softer than stock but still ride very well. The shocks bolster it I think. Retained the heavy duty crossover steering and used the factory trac bar for now. I only have 3.75” of lift. The rear BDS leaf packs should be here Friday. So thst it will sit level again without the rear blocks. I’m being careful to build back better and not settle for stock. Case in point, new rotors, calipers and semi metallic brake pads went on and man, whoa what a difference in stopping the 37’s over the factory dodge single piston caliper. These ford units will lock the front tires up!!!
 

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