Adding a Volarie type front-end to your B-series truck
This page has been put together because there are so many questions about replacing the front-end of a B-series truck. Pilothouse owners love their trucks, but they want brakes that can adequately stop when going 60 mph, they like power steering and would like to "smooth the ride" a bit from those heavy leaf springs in the front.
I had hoped to do a more complete writeup on this subject, but that takes more time than I have right now. So, here is some brief information to help get you going in the correct direction. Many of you have more experience at this subject than I do. Please contact me and share your pictures and information so that other Pilot owners can enjoy this knowledge.
If you need online more help visit the pilot-house.com forum. A great source of great pilothouse truck knowledge, or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is some of the existing information that is already available to help on this project:
1. Book: How to Build Hot Rod Trucks, by Jim Clark. Published by Tex Smith Publishing. ISBN 1-878772-19-8. Amazon.com carries it. (See the books advertised below). This book contains a whole article about replacing the front-end of a '53 Dodge truck with that from a 1980 Mirada. They completely cut off the front of the frame and replace it using rectangular steel framing before adding the Mirada front-end. Not really my idea of how to accomplish this task but it's still has other usable information.
2. Website: NOTES ON A VOLARE FRONT CLIP INSTALL ON A '53 F-100 This guy does a great job of showing us how to lay-out and install a Volare front clip in his truck. Yea, I know he's installing it in a Ford, but the information and the pictures are really helpful. Also he mentions using the video from no-limit engineering. A great video that walks you through installing a chrysler front clip on a Ford F-100. The information is very usable for a Dodge truck as well.(I still have a copy of this video tape. If you're a member of DPETCA I'll let you borrow it). Note that the author installs the K-member by cutting it into the truck frame. (see last two pictures below).This is method works well, but requires a far amount of cutting and welding. The alternative is to use parts of the frame from a Dodge Volarie type and weld them to the sides of the existing truck frame. This allows you to bolt the K-member into place as was originally done. (this site also has some good information on replacing floors, installing new steering columns and moving gas tanks)._ Also, here's a link to another site about installing a Volare front end to a Ford. Adapt the information as needed.
3. Website: DIPLOMAT COP CARS, actually this is part of a site about "Farley" a Dodge Diplomat (www.dippy.org). But this site has great information about Dodge "F, J, and M" series cars, i.e., Diplomates, Miradas and Volaries. He discusses which front end's (K-members) to avoid and which ones work well. (I was fortunate to find an '89 cop car to pull my K-member from). Also has a service manual showing all the parts layout of the K-member if your's needs servicing. This site has good info regarding 8 3/4 rear-ends which work well in our Dodge trucks and 318 - 360 engine modifications if you've gone to that extreme. So it's time well spent on this site. Also some good K-member information can be found on Jason's website.
4. Pictures of a K-member installation using a Volarie type car frame welded to the sides of the existing truck frame. The actual donor vehicle was an '82 Chrysler New Yorker for the K-member and engine. Thanks go to Michael Jenkins for these pictures. You can see more of his truck on his website.
5. Pictures of a K-member installation cut into truck frame as shown on John Niolon's website (#3 above). This is
6. What else? Well I understand fatman fabrications has some kits for Volarie front-end installs in Dodge trucks. Also, Mustage II type installs. I don't know how well they work and have heard differing views about Fatman's products. I'll leave it up to you to check them out here.
7. AJR on the pilot-house.com forum sent pictures and information from his installation. Thanks AJR for the help.
I started with an independent suspension borrowed from a 85 Chrysler. The same suspension is under Furys and Diplo's. Its would also be similar for Mirada.
Prior to the installation I took a lot of measurements to try to achieve a near stock height and location. Before removing the original suspension, mark the centerline on both sides of the frame. This can be done using a plumb bob to find the axle center or run a string from the top of each tire and use a square gently bumped up to the string.
The steering box must be notched into the frame about one inch. To reduce fatigue caused by torching I used a sawzall and a little patience.
The front mount is a weldment. Critical spacing is the 2.375" from the outside of the frame. This is the mounting location for the 1/2" bolt through the front of the k-member assembly. Second is the 1" from the bottom of the frame on the front mount. These two measurements locate the k-member from left to right and down enough to clear the torsion bars and the adjustment screws. After the installation, ride height was only 1 inch lower than original suspension.
On the control arms they will not clear the frame. It must be notched (frame) or you can do as I did. I cut 3/4" from the control arm mount on the frame side on both mounts. Then, with the help of Ebay, found two used tubular control arms with a 7-1/2" centerline from mounting location to ball joint centerline. These units were originally used on a Nascar chassis but other units with a similar center to center will work.
Note that the bottom control arm and tie rods are near horizontal. When adjusting for ride height, the closer to horizontal, the less bump steer that will be experienced.
The rear mount will be 1-1/2" below the frame. Because the bolt through the k-member is only a half hole on either side of the outside of the frame, make up an L-shaped block that can be bolted through from the outside of the frame. Again, this is a 1/2" bolt hole. Tap the block prior to installation, mount it to the k-member, and transfer holes to drill the frame.
An article on Rebuilding the Volare type K member is here is acrobat pdf format - Volare Survival Kit.pdf
Steering Column's can become an issue after installing a volarie front. Here's an article the might help if your's is too long.
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