Captainkirk's Duster project

Wow...just read through this thread...what a train wreck! Somewhere along the line during the change of servers, a whole bunch of punctuation and emojis got turned into gibberish and a lot of posts made absolutely no sense. So I went through all the posts and made corrections where I could. Hopefully it now reads like something you can understand rather than hieroglyphics from the pyramids in the Valley of the Kings...
No news from the engine shop. I will go with the saying "No news is good news" for the moment. On a less cheerful note, the temps have dropped significantly the last few days. Yesterday AM the temp was 18* F when I got in my car to leave for work. Not much warmer today. Ol' Man Winter has kinda just 'showed up' without warning, dragging that scruffy suitcase along with him...bastard! I wish he'd take the year off and go vacation in Antarctica or something. Well, at least he's left the snow and ice in the suitcase for the time being. We are only a week from the shortest day of the year, and after that, the days begin lengthening. Hell, before I know it, spring will be around the corner. I intend to have most (or all) of the stuff I unbolted before visiting the Land Down Under cleaned, painted, reconditioned and such and ready to bolt back up when the weather breaks. Yeah, I've heard it all before. I get tired of saying it, too. But I'm making 2020, which is turning out to be the worst year in most of our lifetimes, the 'jumping-off point' to a better future. I have a New Plan, and I think it's gonna work.
sounds like a good campaign slogan...consider running for office?
I would never lower myself to that level. Any pol in our late-great state can easily walk beneath a snake's white underbelly with head room to spare.
What is this "New Plan", you ask?
I'll tell you about it tomorrow..maybe. Remember; I'm still a card carrying member of the Procrastinator's Club.
So. "New Plan", not to be confused with Roosevelt's "New Deal" to work in sort of a 'modular' fashion; i.e. take the most important section of the build at the moment, and concentrate the effort there. Example; right now, it's way more important to begin prepping parts for re-installation, or procurement of new replacement parts in the Land Down Under than it is to worry about, say, carpeting or dash stuff. While it's really difficult to work in an unheated space for the next four months or so, nothing is stopping me from getting the parts ready to be installed once the weather breaks. This is what's sorta been taking the wind out of my sails the last decade or so, I'm thinking. The winter layoff in the midwest is absolutely a project-killer.
With this in mind, I was out in the garage last night picking through parts to start restoring. After much hemming and hawing, I chose one of the original brake drums off the Li'l Red Minx, seeing as how I intend to use the 3.91 out of the Minx for a rear least initially. First, I was amazed at the sheer weight and size. Next, I was blown away at how smooth and nice the drum braking surface ridge, no rust, no scratches or gouges. So I chucked it in the trunk of my car to bring it to work so I could begin media blasting the decades-old paint and rust off the outside. This done, I reached for the light switch to lock up for the night when I heard a loud cackle that made me nearly jump out of my skin...
"Haw!...YOU, pilgrim! Yes, you. Where the hell have you been? Are you gonna saddle me up, or open the gate and let me get back out on the open range?"
Duke...lordy, you scared me out of a year's growth! Don't do that ****!
"Well, Cappy...when someone makes me a promise, I expect they're gonna keep it. And that means you!"
Don't call me Cappy. I hate that. And we've had a virus and all. Things ain't been right this year. Money's been tight, and there are more priorities in life than a project car, so...
He didn't let me finish without interrupting.
"Excuses. Always excuses. Cappy, I'm beginning to think yer yellah. Excuses is fer...well, schoolmarms, and bankers and lawyers. I always figgered you had more guts than that. More morals, higher standards. I'm gonna put it to ya straight, Cappy. Either you get in the saddle and ride or I'm gonna cull you out of the herd. Savvy?"
I could feel the anger rising in me...and the shame as well. Damn it, he was right. He is always right, and it pisses me off, but well, there it is...I bit my tongue and choked back the urge to spew forth more excuses. He was right; the time for excuses was over.
Look, Duke, I...yeah. I'm saddling back up. No more excuses. I'm done with that. This is the year of The Duke; 2021. Can you ride with me a little longer?
His voice softened. "I've been waiting to hear that, pilgrim. A long time. You don't know how long. And besides, you'd look awful silly in one of them schoolmarm dresses. Now, grab your bedroll and get some shuteye. It's gonna be a long year, a tough year. Like when I drove the herd to Abilene. There'll be weather, dust, border gangs. There might be Indians. We'll be lucky, damn lucky, if we make it with a full herd, let alone make it at all. But we're going. And there won't be any quitters. If you're gonna quit, do it now. There won't be any hard feelings. But once you sign on, there won't be any quitting. Not by you, and not by me. Agreed?"
I didn't have to mull it over. I grabbed my bedroll and headed for the bunkhouse to get some shuteye, knowing that we were leaving at dawn...
'Night, Duke. See you in the morning, I mumbled, switched off the lights and pulled the door closed.

I know that this trip is gonna make it or break it. I'm getting too long in the tooth to keep sliding the pot to the back burner. I know this is gonna take all I've got to keep the ball in motion, but whether The Duke gets completed or not this year is irrelevant. It needs to get down on all fours with a running, functioning drive train in it, and I know that's one big order of fries to serve up. I can't say I'm ready, but I'm putting a boot in the stirrup and swingin' a leg over because, well...because we're leaving in the morning. For Abilene. And damn the torpedoes.
Just to be clear...
I can never remember stuff I had all figured out once-upon-a-time. Not like where the bathroom is, or where I put my car keys last (I got a system for that!) but essential stuff like gearing, cam lift, specs and such; stuff I had all figured out at some time or another. One of those things was differentials. I had it all clear in my mind what the rear end ratios were, and all that. Seems I've forgotten. So after re-hashing all this on another thread, I was given some valuable tips and tools; like this gear ratio calculator tool...

Gearing Calculator | RPM and Tire Diameter to km/h - mph with Shift Tracer

Using the data I can plug in, it gives me what tire sizes and differential ratios I can plug in and see things such as top speed, shift graphs, etc. So when I plug in things like a 4-speed trans and shifting at 6000 RPM with 6k being max (assuming a hydraulic cam), I can see (theoretically) that my top speed with a 3.55 rear axle would be roughly 140 mph. With a 3.91, we are looking at roughly 122 mph...assuming 26.77 tires. Change that, and the numbers change. But it gives you rough data to work with.
That being said, I couldn't recall whether the rear end that came out of The Duke was 3.55 or 3.23, and if it was a Sure Grip or not. Another kind member here gave me the info I needed to confirm this. So I crawled under The Duke this afternoon and checked a couple things, and I'll stick 'em right here in this thread where I can't lose them.
1) Both axles turn in the same direction. It's a Sure Grip
2) Roughly 3 and a half turns of the drive coupling gives me 1 revolution of the wheel flanges, so it's definitely a 3.55 and not a 3.23. There; now I can't forget again (unless I forget I put it here)
The 3.91; I've forgotten that info but almost certain it's a 3.91 Sure Grip. But it's buried in the corner under the workbench and I didn't feel like moving all that crap to get to it, so...I'll jot that info down here as soon as I get it. Given the above calculator, I'm wondering if 3.91 might be wrapping it it little tight? Not that I'm planning on going 140 any time soon, just wondering.

EDIT: I knew what was gonna happen if I didn't venture forth into the chilly House that Duke Built and check that rear end out of the minx. I was gonna get an earful next time I dared poke my nose in there. So I threw on the jacket, trundled out there, and began moving stuff around. Honestly, it didn't take long to determine that, Yes,'s a Sure Grip. And a 3.91 at that.
The Duke never uttered a word. But I'll bet he was smiling.
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We briefly touched base on the heads when I dropped off the crank at the machine shop. See, I have the two sets of heads, one set from the Minx motor...J heads with 1.88 intakes and a mild porting job, and the X-heads from the original Duke motor (that '69 340 that I grabbed the forged crank out of) with it's 2.02 intakes. Both Tony and Randy are of the opinion that the 1.88s aren't going to lose me much on the street with a hydraulic cam. But then, we haven't selected a cam yet...have we? I will be talking more with them about dropping off the heads when I pick up the bottom end stuff, so we will discuss it more in detail then. Either way, they both know we are still on board with a 400+ HP motor and a 12 second car. This should be fun.
OK, just got off the phone with the engine shop. The crank balancing is done, along with chamfering the oil holes as I had requested. Both rod and crank journals are 10 under (note to self). So the bearings I purchased for the cast 340 crank should work as it was ground 10 under as well.
Next up; heads and cam discussion. More to follow as it unfolds.

Also, stashing some drive train info here as well, so I can retain it when I need it:

Differential #1-3.55 Sure Grip
Differential #2-3.91 Sure Grip
A-Body A-833 Trans gear ratios:


Correct (factory) tire size for the 340 Duster is E70-14 or F70-14. OD is 26.64"

This is so much better than trying to search through old threads to find this info.
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Sounds like some serious things are going on! Stay in motion. Glad to hear the project motivation is kicking in. and moving forward. Yes old man winter has finally put it in 1st gear rain turn to snow 30-55 mile gusts and I am traveling tomorrow??? already 3-4 inch's of the white stuff. This is going to sux. But glad to have you alive and well Happy Holidays and may 2021 be smoking tires.
Sounds like some serious things are going on! Stay in motion. Glad to hear the project motivation is kicking in. and moving forward. Yes old man winter has finally put it in 1st gear rain turn to snow 30-55 mile gusts and I am traveling tomorrow??? already 3-4 inch's of the white stuff. This is going to sux. But glad to have you alive and well Happy Holidays and may 2021 be smoking tires.

Yes. But as part of my "New Plan", the cardinal rule is to keep forward motion...but not to allow myself to get sidetracked. That means, for now, anyway, to keep the major push on suspension and undercarriage. Wheels, brakes, suspension, fuel and brake lines...even though I'd rather be building engines. Without suspension there is no place to stuff a motor. So, that's where we concentrate even while we dabble with the fun stuff.
More Notes To Self:
Been doing some research on numbers. It seems there were very few, relatively speaking, 1972 340 Dusters with factory 4 speed. Fewer yet with factory 3.55 rear axle. I'm told by another FABO member that the number of produced for US cars was 2,871. No data I can find as to how many of those were Winchester Gray. And how many are still alive? I doubt more than a handful. Then, how many with all original body panels?
Kinda makes me appreciate Ol' Duke even more.
Oh boy...this is fun!
Using the VIN decoder from

MyMopar - Mopar Forums & Information - 1969-1974 Mopar Fender Tag Decoder

Using the info from my fender tag as follows:
N23 N42 R11 V68 V88
GA4 I B51 C56 J52
GA4 C6X9 TX9 616 E37558
E55 D21 VS29 H2B 5042(XX)

Typing in my fender tag info into the calculator, this is what I come up with for The Duke:
Plymouth Valiant,Duster
2 Door Sports Hardtop

H2B: 340 240HP(net) 1-4BBL 8 CYL
Dodge Main, Hamtramck, MI, USA

5042(XX): Sequence number

E55: 340 cid 4 barrel V8 275hp
D21: 4 Speed Manual Transmission
GA4: Light Gunmetal Poly Exterior Color
C6X9: Trim - Charger, Vinyl Bucket Seats, Black
TX9: Black Diamond Int. Door Frames
616: Build Date: June 16
E37558: Order number

GA4: Light Gunmetal Poly Top Color
I: International (export) Specifications
B51: Power Brakes
C56: Bucket Seats
J52: Inside Hood Release

N23: Electronic Ignition System
N42: Chrome Exhaust Tips
R11: Radio Solid State AM (2 Watts)
V68: Longitudinal Stripes, Deleted
V88: Transverse Stripes, Deleted

EN2: End of Sales Codes

I've never delved this deep into the Duke's...or any car's...history. I'm enjoying this immensely! :drama:
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Any guesses as to what I'll be doing tonight?:poke:[/QUOTE]

not actually working on The Duke????....... the wrenches are in the tool box, lets get the show on the road

just a little tuff love from HemiDenny....hey, somebody has to do it. :)
Ah, no.
Get out in that cold garage and get crackin’.
March will be here before you know it and you need to be in the left lane going 80 by then...
Ah, no.
Get out in that cold garage and get crackin’.
March will be here before you know it and you need to be in the left lane going 80 by then...

Leave it to you and Denny to bust me out...Yeah, it's cold, but not that cold. There is stuff I could be doing.:mob:
OK. I lied. I went out to The House That Duke Built tonight for about a half hour...moved some **** around...and then... Yeah. It's too cold and cramped to do anything tonight. Gonna curl up with the Classic Industries catalog tonight and start ordering parts, I am.
I sorta forgot that with the motorcycle lift and the bikes out there, there is no room to move parts, or myself, around. In the summer I just open the door and roll stuff outta the way. Not gonna do that with snow and ice on the ground. Time to start picking through the parts pile and sneaking parts off to work to play with on my lunch time.
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Time to start picking through the parts pile and sneaking parts off to work to play with on my lunch time.

That's work indeed...

BTW: Really liking the Winchester Grey, don't recall ever seeing one in person, just about every other color but not that. Should be stunning. Can almost picture the smile on Duke's face now
More Notes to Self:
Confirmed...100% that 8.75 rear end out of Duke is a 3.55. How? Because it still has the tag attached to the chunk. Found it last night while confirming that both rear axles have 10" drum brakes on them. This should help when ordering parts.