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1984 Dodge Rampage Turbo
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In spring of '21 I got a bug to search for a DTC (Dodge Turbo Car). There was nothing specific I had in mind, just to find a solid DTC for under 5K. At the time I was living in Kennewick, WA. The search began on CL, and I also would look on FM. Of course, there was not much for sale, and the results were dim. One day I came across a ad in FM for a 1984 Dodge Rampage Turbo. I looked at the pictures, grey, flames, SC body kit, Turbo 1, 5 speed, and ZERO rust. Listed for $3500. I thought the ad was bullshit, spam, so I ignored it. Couple weeks/month went by, and it was still popping up on FM. Ok, I had to verify if this was real, and had the wife PM the owner. (I stay away from social media). They responded back, older retired couple that live in Richland, 10 minutes away. Made an appointment to check it out.

As I pulled up, there was Reba, dirty, sad, and ignored. There was also another Rampage there, red, orange stripe, 2.2 auto, also rust free. An old man hobbled out to greet me, his name was Rod. We quickly got into conversation about our Mopars we have owned over the years, and he told me he has owned over 13 Rampages, they were his favorite car. Reba was special to him, the body kit, good paint, Turbo 1/5 speed. He had it since the late '80s', but could not drive stick anymore because of his health. It had sat under his car port for 5-7 years, and it had shown.

We bantered on price, but was unmoved on his $3500. I could see mechanically it was in dismal shape, but the body/frame/paint was solid. Just that was worth the $3500, I would work with the rest for getting her back in shape. Rod wanted it to go to a good home, and told me he had several different offers, but felt it was not a good fit. I must have done some good convincing, as he was willing to let me take her home.

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1984 Dodge Rampage Turbo
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The day of pickup, Rod was sad, but I assured him of my plans, and to keep her. Also was a stack of paperwork from over the years, and full service manual set for the Rampage. Upon startup there was billowing clouds of smoke, right along with my wife looking at me with the "What the **** did you just buy" eyes. I smiled, and says, you will love this car when it is done.

There are several small details that I did not notice until getting her home. This is a '84 Rampage, but '84 Charger / Rampage had the 4 headlights! At first I thought it was the SC nose, but the grill slots tell a different story. I am guessing this is a '83 nose, as it is red on the backside. I think it is far better than the 4 headlights, but not as pretty as the SC single slot grille. The conversion came from a '86 T1 car, Rod told me a SC, but was unsure of the year. It has the short, dual pickup distributor, so it is definitely a '86 motor/trans.

Looking closely at the drivetrain, it has the unequal length shafts found on original Rampages, but the intermediate shaft bracket was still on the block. :unsure:

Also the LM module was just laying on the passenger floor, Rod saying it has always been that way. Seems this conversion was thrown together pretty quickly, w/out alot of forethought.

Getting it in the garage I spent several hours inspecting over the car, and started a list.
  1. Tires
  2. Brakes, rotors, calipers, etc
  3. Struts / rear shocks
  4. Control arms / bushings / ball joints
  5. Tie rods
  6. Battery
  7. Belts / hoses
  8. Lights / bulbs
  9. Radio / speakers
  10. Engine gaskets / transmission seals
  11. Full fluids change
  12. Interior carpet
  13. Cap / Rotor / Wires
  14. Motor/trans mounts
  15. Wire harness repair
  16. Vacuum line damage
  17. All new a/c system as it had been loosened from compressor and condenser
Some of the items that were also INOP:
  1. Heater/Air control face was busted
  2. Tach / Temp / Voltage was inop
  3. LM module was laying on passenger floor
  4. A/C was unbolted from compressor and condenser
  5. Wire damage to Power Module
There was definitely alot of work just to make it road worthy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Started out first by starting to clean her up. Years of leaking gaskets, road grime, etc had piled up thick on everything under the hood, and it was baked on, hard. Hours and hours of power washing, couple gallons of Simple Green was starting to put a dent in the grime and dirt.

Also started tearing her down, removing front suspension, radiator, battery, etc; also continually cleaning along the way.

List of parts were ordered:
  • Front control arms / ball joints
  • Tie rods - inner and outer w/ boots
  • Koni struts / Koni rear shocks
  • Cap / rotor / wires / plugs
  • Engine sensors / temp / oil press
  • Tstat and hoses
  • Engine / transmission gaskets / seals
  • Brakes / rotors / pads
  • Interior carpet
As repairs are going on, I noticed the exhaust did not seem right. During the conversion, they did not bother replacing the exhaust, still using the original 2", and it hung down weird. I cut the pipe behind the cat and removed it from the turbo flange. Several issues I found, the flange for the NA cars are very different from the turbo, and it fit together like a saddle on sow. Another thing to replace - need new full exhaust. I decided to peer into the exhaust and check on the condition of the cat. I was floored - it was half melted shut!

Eye Tire Automotive tire Liquid Fluid


I did not have the 💲 💲 for a full exhaust yet, so I cut that section out and filled it in with a pipe and better aligned the exhaust to the turbo.

Also there was alot of damaged wiring near the power module / battery. Upon removing the battery I found a mess under the support. At some time the battery either was damaged and leaked/ or there was a collision in the front corner.

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It was time to do some gaskets on the engine, and under the valvetrain will always tell you the rest of story with the engine. Taking the cover off, i was not surprised at what I found, but relieved to see the valvetrain in average condition. Yes, definitely some wear, but considering the mileage and age....

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Noticing all of the current issues with the car, I had a suspicion of the clutch/flywheel, that it needed a closer inspection. I did not have a engine hoist, nor did I have the engine support to go over the engine. To hold the engine in place I found a 2 x 6, spread it across the fenders, and used a strap hooked into the t/stat housing to hold the engine. Pulling the transmission out, what I found did not surprise me with all of the other things I found on the car...

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Along with everything else, an new flywheel/clutch was installed.

Getting everything back together, new parts, wiring repairs, Reba was almost becoming road worthy!

One big issue, she was still pretty smoky, and had an idle issue, some things to work out...

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Here is a list of some of the parts I have ordered as a updated reference:
  • ACDelco 18K98 Front Disc Brake Caliper Bolt
  • Standard Motor Products CH307T Distributor Rotor
  • Standard Motor Products CH-408T Cap
  • Standard Motor Products 27454 Spark Plug Wire
  • Dorman 521-197 and 521-198 Control Arms
  • Energy Suspension 37685FB Bushings
  • KYB 234001 Strut for Front
  • KYB KG5546 Shocks for Rear
  • Stant 10331 Cap
  • Gates TCK071Timing Belt Kit
  • Dorman 118-301 Windshield Wiper Linkage Bushings
  • Power Torque Clutch Kit - K0066-07
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Tires were another issue for Reba, weather checked, I think over 6 years old, she needed new shoes. Also the clear coat on the wheels was peeling, were stained. I had a 4" orbital sander, and went to work sanding down the wheels. Starting with a 40 grit, working my way down to 220, I ended up with a satin type finish, similar to when they came. Also I thought the 195 looked a bit short, and decided to go with a 225 tire. Yes, they do rub in tight situations.


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I've had my wife give me that same look. I bought a convertible LeBaron with shattered pistons and a top that wouldn't go down, a Shadow with swiss cheese for body panels, and a New Yorker that took me a month to get to start. In the end, she has fallen in love with all three, and all of these cars are older than she is! On the one hand, Carroll Shelby intended us to have FUN with these cars. On the other hand, when they're restored to run the way they were when they were new, they're continuously delightful to drive day after day after day. I'm looking forward to seeing how this project comes along and to hearing that your wife has come over to the TD side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've had my wife give me that same look. I bought a convertible LeBaron with shattered pistons and a top that wouldn't go down, a Shadow with swiss cheese for body panels, and a New Yorker that took me a month to get to start. In the end, she has fallen in love with all three, and all of these cars are older than she is! On the one hand, Carroll Shelby intended us to have FUN with these cars. On the other hand, when they're restored to run the way they were when they were new, they're continuously delightful to drive day after day after day. I'm looking forward to seeing how this project comes along and to hearing that your wife has come over to the TD side.
Read about your Shadow, :(. I had two in late '90's; a '92 convertible non turbo and a '93 w/ 3.0 - 5 speed. Buddy I sold the '93 to still has it, still in good condition. So far, the wife is coming around. Only way I could get her to ride in the car was a month ago I had to pick her up from the airport, which is an hour away. I never told her what I was driving, and when she came out....:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Another issue was the electric fan, there was not one when I got Reba. Luckily I had a electric fan from when I did my electric fan conversion on my Wrangler. It now has a LS in it, so the fan was gathering dust. Surprisingly, it was almost a perfect fit for the radiator.

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As with most of these TD's the vacuum lines were all crusty. I have seen many replace with vacuum rail, but I am too cheap. There was one piece I was able to salvage, the 4 way splitter. I reused that, went to auto parts store, and got hose that fit the nipples.

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I wanted to protect the bed, and have always liked using horse mat. I went to TSC, bought two 4' x 3' sheets, total cost $65. I cut to trim, and now I can toss stuff, and not worry about dents.

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Mike,
It does look amazing clean after countless hours of your cleaning. Considering all the sitting this thing did and looking at the clutch disk and PP, your smoke issue could be some stuck rings. It happens plenty and esp. when someone has a leaking headgasket. They park the car and let it sit. Not wise having a cylinder or two with plenty of moisture from a weeping headgasket. I would consider filling the cylinders up with some Marvel or Seafoam and letting them soak a while, and see if that fixes things. I'd leave the plugs out to insure not hydro-locking the engine. What do you have to lose, right? I've brought back several cars that had been sitting for 25+ years, with excellent results.
Have you taken a compression readings of cylinders or looked at condition of plugs yet? Leak down test would be very telling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
When I got it I immediately changed oil, used 10-30 added some Seafoam to oil. Run the car 600 to 700 miles. Was actually not smoking on startup and running and idling. Changed oil last week at 600 to 700 miles on first oil change with Seafoam. Went for a drive yesterday and started smoking like video yesterday. Drove around town, did several long 2, 3, 4th gear pulls at 12-14 boost, get everything hot, came back home and no smoke. Did not add seafoam at this oil change

Compression test did 3 weeks ago, engine normal temp, 110 to 115 on all cylinders. Plugs look pretty good, little black, maybe rich or bit of oil.

Have not done leakdown. Figured it needs a rebuild why bother.

Odometer when I got it said 05556, rolled over, twice. Previous never did anything with motor. I am sure valve seals are like everything else, hard, cracked, broken. I am sure there is a ton of carbon around rings, that is not coming out. When I got the LS for my Jeep, the rings were stuck in the pistons, stuck compressed. They were never going to loosen up, figure this is same way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Did a leakdown test, Cylinder 2 is dead. All of cylinders I can hear leaking by the rings. Readings are below.

Cylinder 1 - Set at 20 psi / Reading 15 psi
Cylinder 2 - Set at 20psi / Reading 0 psi
Cylinder 3 - Set at 20psi / Reading 15 psi
Cylinder 4 - Set at 20 psi / Reading 15 psi

Spark plugs were installed 600 miles ago:

Cylinder 1:




Cylinder 2:



Cylinder 3:



Cylinder 4:




In a feeble attempt to restore #2, I have put in a bit of ATF. Going to let it sit for 24 and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
When I got Reba, the Tacho was INOP. Pulled the cluster out and looked at the connections and the piggyback board. Everything looked normal. I then checked for signal at the round connector and I had 2.5 VAC, so issue had to be with the board. About a month ago I had the heat on, and it was pretty warm in the car, and momentarily the Tacho came to life. This indicated I had overlooked something on the board, so last week I took cluster out again, and inspected the Tacho board with a magnifying glass. To my surprise, all of the solder joints had cracked.





Got my solder gun out and reheated the connections, works like new!

 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Today I said, **** It! Pulled the head today to see what I really had. It did not surprise me with everything else mechanical I found. Surprised it ran on all 4, so here is a picture show of what I found, good times ahead......:confused:

Cylinder #2, something had a good time and left a mess......
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Turbo, lots of carbon, and was wet on the inside yet.

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Cylinder head overview...

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Just a couple of questions for any experts that read this thread:
  1. What could enter the cylinder, have a little party and leave? Anyone ever experience this?
  2. The carbon in the turbo, what does that indicate?
 

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Might be detonation then, but I don't know why it would be happening to just that one cylinder. Example detonation damage looks similar:


Source - Detonation vs Pre-Ignition

I know it's a PITA, but I suggest pushing that piston out and seeing if your ring lands have cracked off. You might need to swap that piston top and reassemble (and find out what caused just that one cylinder to ping).
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Might be detonation then, but I don't know why it would be happening to just that one cylinder. Example detonation damage looks similar:


Source - Detonation vs Pre-Ignition

I know it's a PITA, but I suggest pushing that piston out and seeing if your ring lands have cracked off. You might need to swap that piston top and reassemble (and find out what caused just that one cylinder to ping).
I think you are correct. This cylinder had a ton of carbon buildup, and that buildup can cause hot spots leading to detonation.

At this point with how head, turbo, pistons Reba is going to get major overhaul.
 

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Different intakes had different flow asymmetry. Do you think it was getting a bad flow to that cylinder? I don't know if that would cause it to detonate, though... Hopefully your piston is good, but it doesn't really look like there is any other show-stopping damage from what I can tell.
 

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My opinion is the car ran lean at some point and nuked a spark plug. The porcelain was bouncing around in the cylinder until it found the exhaust valve to exit. I've seen that damage before, many times. That was foreign material not detonation. Oh, it might have been detonating too, but that is definitely foreign material that got in that cylinder that caused that damage.
The oil film in the turbo elbow (at the PCV nipple vacuum source) is normal. However there is a lot of oil in the rest of the turbo. Probably the intake is saturated too. If you take off the compressor cover and look at the compressor wheel, you can look for radial oil spinning outward (like a spin-o-painting). If you see that, then the carbon seal is failed in the turbo. When that happens, you've got a smoker.
Piston might be okay, but if it were me, I'd be pullin that #2 to make sure rings lands are still okay. What I would do is clean the piston real good so you can visually check for hairline crack in the bottom of the crown and ring lands. The piston probably looks worse than it is. By pullin the piston you can also check on the rod bearing on that cylinder. Detonation can do a number on rod bearings. On the 2.2 piston, the top ring is actually pretty far down from the crown. Also check to make sure rings are free and not seized to the ring lands.
 
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