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1973 Dodge Power Wagon Install tips

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Joined
Apr 21, 2016
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18
Location
Laramie, Wyoming
#1
First off I may or may not install a radio in my truck even if I get the money. But if I do the point is to make as easly reversed as possible. Minimum holes yet, be as professional and factory looking as possible.

My trucks am radio acts up. First it didn't work. Speaker was bad. Then it worked after I replaced a couple caps before stickin it back. Then it didn't work. No recieved signal but at full volume I could hear a light static telling me it wasn't my final transistor stages out. Then the other day it worked, on one station at much higher than usual volume to hear. So instead of repairing it again I though about installing a ham radio in place of it. Preferably a dual bander yet I can't find one that I believe would fit and look good and isn't out of my price range. Cutting the gauge display bezel is absolutly not allowed.

I'm needing to know how to run power to the radio through my firewall. I have a factory harness that has a few spots open to use push connectors but I'm unsure if i could add any into it. Another option is some kind of panel mount connector that will allow me to disconnect the wires on either side depending on how I did it. But I'm unsure of what connector exist for such an application and would look decent or factory. I don't want to drill a hole for wires to run through although it would be the fastest, easiest and cheapest.

Next is an antenna. I have a hole on either side of the roof right in the rain gutter as I'm calling it that runs into my B pillier. I redid the original seam filler in it so I know it's decent sized and might be able to fit some rg 58 coax through. And then some seam sealer to prevent water leaks. (Already have enough of that). That would be able to go in either side and the coax under a smal trim panel on the floor at the door. There's already wires there for the dome, cargo light and gas gauge. Then it could go up into the dash.

Next and most importantly is the radio. My current am radio's face is 2"x7 1/8". I believe the radio is about 6-8" deep. Under my gauge bezel are the gauges mounted into a metal frame. The am radio is I think 3" tall and had two bolts on the front and one on the rear into a support bracket for the dash. I could try and make a bracket to hold the radio in place using those holes but it won't be easy. And cooling may be a issue. Currently I have the original speaker removed and replaced with two 8ohm speaker in series mounted into the original location. It has opened that hole up a little but not much air will flow. I was lucky, the two smaller speakers mounted onto two studs each in place of the orginal without any modifications to any of them or the dash. I could try a fan mounted there but it will be hard and not pretty. It's tight to get in there. And I also have a lm317 mounted onto the gauge cluster in place of the junky orginal 5v "regulator". I'm not sure how warm it gets. It drives the gas gauge, oil and temperature. Which are a bi metallic thermo mechanical style gauge for strength. The radio will have to be able to withstand hard bumps and jarring in my rattling death machine. I mean truck. It has suspension is meant for hauling loads, not comfort. Every bump is directly felt and will prove if an item is strong enough. I have many electrical problems pop up every so often. The bumps sort them out after a few drives on our dirt road. Mostly dirty connections and such.

So I have a lot figured out but I'm unsure on some stuff. Or if I even should in this vehicle. Wind noise at only 55mph is horrendous. I will need to replace window seals to even have a chance of talking while driving. Or hearing any sort of speaker. But that brings to light another point. Speakers. I need a speaker which is loud, or able to mount elsewhere. Either in the face of a radio or hand speaker mic. In the original trucks location. Or behind my head on top of the gas tank. Lots of space there and should be able to hear super easily.

And one final point. Antennas. I don't want to drill a hole for a nmo or other antenna. I would probably do a magnet mount style with coax ran as said or maybe a mirror or fender style mounted antenna. But since they will change the radiation pattern the roof would be best. I could always try removing the stock antenna and mounting there. That would be the best factory look but maybe hardest. Only problem is getting an antenna to go there. I'm unsure how the orginal is mounted or how to remove. I do think a hole mounted nmo or so 239 would fit. Just don't know how to get one in there.

As you can see I want to put a ham radio in my truck but I have various problems and questions. Hasn't everyone at some point? But I manly want it to look professional/factory but be reversible should I want to remove it. When I searched google I didn't find others looking to mount in the dash of on older vehicle. Everyone mounted in consoles they made or other positions and almost none looked professional enough for me to want to copy. So let me know what you think and help me address these concerns. I'm new into the world of hams so please don't send a lynch party after me for mistakes.

I'll see what pictures of my truck I can post. I've had problems on my iPad and pictures with this style of forums. In this picture you can see the orginal radio and gauges. I can remove the gauge display bezel but it's not as easy as you think. And while I'm there may as well remove the factory radio. I can look at repairing it and see how much space is available for a radio inside the dash. If you want to remove it I will. But otherwise I won't bother for now.
 

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Nov 29, 2010
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102
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Raleigh, North Carolina
#2
First of all, congrats on owning a great truck!

An audio shop should be able to give you some recommendations regarding replacing the OEM radio with one that does bluetooth, etc. It's a cheap upgrade < $200.

The best performance on an antenna would be center mass of the highest point. With a truck that old, one more or less hole isn't going matter. As far as installing a UHF/VHF, maybe in between the visors above the windshield, or underneath, center console. There's some floor mount options at http://www.lidomounts.com/

Good luck and post some post op pics!
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Messages
18
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Laramie, Wyoming
#3
First of all, congrats on owning a great truck!

An audio shop should be able to give you some recommendations regarding replacing the OEM radio with one that does bluetooth, etc. It's a cheap upgrade < $200.

The best performance on an antenna would be center mass of the highest point. With a truck that old, one more or less hole isn't going matter. As far as installing a UHF/VHF, maybe in between the visors above the windshield, or underneath, center console. There's some floor mount options at http://www.lidomounts.com/

Good luck and post some post op pics!
I don't think a floor mount would work. It would be in the way of my shifter and transfer case lever. When I put it in reverse the shifter touches the seat.

I did find a yeasu ftm 3200dr. It is 1.7"x6.1" and will fit but I just need to find a way I could fill the gaps. It's only a monoband which sucks but is 2m. Most used in Wyoming I think. Don't quote me there. But I believe I found a way to make a bracket for it. Using the yaesu bracket mounted onto some angle iron then into the trucks original mounting locations. It might just work. I do need to look at my orginal antenna to see if I can remove and replace it. With a new one. I don't it should be too hard. Just removing the coax and installing new will be the hardest. It goes from the dash into the fender but I'm currently unsure how. But I should be able to reach up into the top of the fender by contorting inside the engine bay to install a new one.

It may not be the best mounting location be but for my want of it being a stock looking as possible I'll at least look at it otherwise I may do a magnet mount on the roof. Even though a 3/4" hole in the roof wouldn't be hard to patch with a little steel and good welder I don't feel like the day's work to do that and try to match paint to the rusted paint currently there.

But what I really like about that yaesu is it's cheap. $150 or less! And it has the c4fm mode for only $20 more then the 3100. It also has a front facing speaker with 3 watts output. I think I will do that one. After a number of hours searching online I have thought that I really want it. And it shouldn't be too hard to install. From a simple repeater book search I think there is one fusion repeater in Laramie. It's with the n7uw. But I'm unsure how much it's used. I will have to remember to ask at the next club meeting.

Here's my engine bay. The stock antenna's on the other side but the fender is a mirror image. See how I believe I can get up in there? And you can see my factory wiring harness. I may be able to install some new connectors into it. Or I may see if I can find a nice power connector for the firewall. Still some more research is needed.
 

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102
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#4
I would seriously consider leaving the radio as is, or replace it with one that works.

Maybe roof mount the radio? That Yeasu is a nice radio. 73 and G/L!!!

Still voting for the NMO mount, center mass of cab :)
 
Joined
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Messages
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Laramie, Wyoming
#5
I had a look at my truck with the original coax cable. It goes through a large hole in the a pillier which is used to access the door hinge bolts. Then it's about 6" to the antenna. I believe it's a 3/4" hole at least. I can remove the original antenna with a string attached to the end of a new nmo through hole mount design. And I will be able to reach it to hold from the engine bay. So it will be quite easy to replace that out. Hardest bit is making a bracket to hold the radio in the correct spot and filing the gaps. Now if only I could get some money for it. That's why I wanted a cheap radio. And this yeasu should be strong enough to withstand harsh bumps from my dirt roads around here.
 

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#6
I went to Ham radio outlet in Denver and priced some stuff up. It will come to $206 total with radio, antenna, and uhf through hole mount. I'm looking at a 5/8 antenna for the 2m band. It will just look like a CB radio to anyone who doesn't know any different. The other antenna was a dual band but had a coil right in the middle. I didn't think it would look as nice. And I can always change it out at some time anyways. Plus this antenna was cheaper. An other reason to choose it.
 
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3,242
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#7
Use a NMO mount on the roof. Looks professional, is period correct (Motorola began shipping the mount in 1968), and will not leak.

Probably a few older radio techs that have done many an install on the W series cab that would be a good reference.
 
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#8
Use a NMO mount on the roof. Looks professional, is period correct (Motorola began shipping the mount in 1968), and will not leak.

Probably a few older radio techs that have done many an install on the W series cab that would be a good reference.
I did some google searching for CB antennas on trucks as I would get more images then for ham antennas. But I didn't find any which really looked good. There was fender mounted, bed mounted, bumper and tool box. If I didn't want it to be as factory and reversible as possible I totally would do a nmo mount in the roof. But since that would need a good welder to patch it up and my dad has a welder but not a good clean one it would be hard to reverse. If I can get the money together I would love to do this. Would get much more use then the am radio, if it worked right first off.

Going to try and talk with some professional car stereo installers for tips on this such as power lead through the firewall and filling the gaps around the radio. Which I will need a gap at the bottom for cooling according to yaesu's advertising the radio and its heat sink and fan design. The gaps may not be bad if I can't see anything behind the radio. But I'll talk with them about that and of course see first hand if I can buy and install that radio.

So far this only make me want it more! It's gone from simple idea to want. Almost at need. We'll see. Eventually.
 
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#9
You don't need to do any welding to install a NMO mount. All you need to do is drop the headliner, drill a hole in the roof, install the mount, seal it, and reinstall the headliner. There's no welding necessary.
 
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#10
You don't need to do any welding to install a NMO mount. All you need to do is drop the headliner, drill a hole in the roof, install the mount, seal it, and reinstall the headliner. There's no welding necessary.
The welding is to patch the hole should I ever want/need to remove it. There is no headliner which sucks because that would help to hide the coax. You'll see it all the way down.

I looked at the truck with a tape measure. 50" is basically twice as tall as the current am antenna. I looked at the garage door which is 85" lowest point and 96" tallest. It's a slightly arched doorway. It may just barely clear is the antenna is 50" tall total. I didn't look to see if that the total length or just the length of the radiator. Since it was really flexable I don't think that will be a problem since only q couple inches of the antenna will hit pulling into the garage. It may tear it up over time but it $30 and easy to replace. Since I don't go into drive throughs they are not a problem. A good reason for not taking it into drive throughs is fact it turns twice as wide as a modern car. Old Dana 40 axle with long range gear box(4 1/2 turns lock to lock).
 
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#11
My dad looked at it as a good spot for mounting my be near the floor near the passenger side. There's a little pocket around the air box which allows the radio to sit back with the face visible. It's also just barely out of the way of my transfer case shifter. I would be able to use the buttons while in 4L but I'm barely in 4L. And we could do a fender mounted antenna or magnet mounted on the bed or roof. Possibly is a remote head in the same location. We would creat a bracket for it to mount there without holes in the dash. Using the screws holding the support brackets in the dash. Let me know what you think about that.
 
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#14
There was I believe to be CB in there before. It was mounted between the fuel tank gauge switch and the cigarette lighter/ash try. It's 7" wide between the two. Another spot which already has holes drilled in the dash. It's right above my right knew but I don't think I will hit it while using any petal. It's also quite easy to access while driving vs on the right in next to the air box. I still would like in place of the stock radio as it's the easiest to use while driving. I don't want to reach around if I had to use it. I'll take some pictures and ask a couple professional stereo installers about what they think.
 
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Laramie, Wyoming
#15
I like the spot below the wheel between the fuel gauge switch and the cigarette lighter/ash try. It's 7" which is enough for the radio. I will know it anything there unless it sticks out a few inches. It will have plenty of ventilation. And I already have holes drilled for mounting. Won't feel bad about using what's already there. Plus it's easy to access the radios controls while driving should I need to. It's not safe to do so, so its only if I need to. Much better then over to the right by the air box.

And for an antenna I thought I would do a fender mount screwed into the fender parallel with the stock am antenna. The screws will be behind the left hood hinge which i will have have to remove but I need to align the hood anyways so no problem! And there is plenty of space between the hood and fender for coax to run through without any pinching at all. One hole in the firewall can run the coax and power leads.

I'm thinking I got myself a setup now! But I'm missing one thing. Money!

Anyone got some spare change?
 
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#16
There's plenty of options to patch the hole if you decide to remove the mount. Welding is not necessary.
But not difficult to do if that is how you want patch the hole. Just requires a slug (doesn't have to be perfect) to fill the hole of the same gauge as the roof and copper "spoon" and a little time with a wire welder to spot weld the slug up. Then grind it flush with a flap wheel…120 grit…and you are done (minus painting). I f you try and run a bead you will likely risk the chance of burning a hole in the roof and then just having to repair an ever widening hole.

NMO mount towards the rear of the cab (use a Larsen NMOHF mount as it'll dress out nicer than others) with either a 1/4 wave VHF or 5/8 wave and you'll be set. It'll look like a retired service truck that no one ever removed the two-way antenna from. Simple and easy. If it ever becomes time to remove the antenna permanently, you can either screw a rain cap on the mount and forget about it, pull the mount and install a NMO hole plug, or patch it. It's up to you.
 
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#17
Welding would need to be water-tight. You can't just spot-weld a slug in place. You'd have to run a bead around the entire perimeter of the hole, which as you said would risk burn-through and enlarging the hole, and would require significant repainting (good luck getting a color match on an older vehicle if the paint is somewhat faded). A NMO plug makes a lot more sense.
 
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#18
Welding would need to be water-tight. You can't just spot-weld a slug in place. You'd have to run a bead around the entire perimeter of the hole, which as you said would risk burn-through and enlarging the hole, and would require significant repainting (good luck getting a color match on an older vehicle if the paint is somewhat faded). A NMO plug makes a lot more sense.
Oh but you can. It's a little bit of work but it'll take roughly 20-40 spot welds to seal a slug with a wire welder for a 3/4 inch hole. There are guys out there who work on enough exhaust tubing or are familiar enough with a TIG welder that could lay down a bead...I'm not one of them. Work with sheet metal enough, you pick up little tricks like that. That's how I tend to cap tubing for non-structural caps. It's easy, doesn't require a ton of skill (but it does require a wire welder). But paint matching is the real work like you stated. Much easier to either plug it or use a rain cap.
 
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#20
Anybody know of a great 2m nmo antenna? What would be better? A 1/2 wave? 5/8 wave? A single band or dual band? Antennas are black magic to me so I have no idea what's better. I should see about getting the ARRL's antenna book sometime.
 
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