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youtube.com/sideburns2009
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Well, we bought the pan kit for the Ram. It's all installed and it's doing great. I emailed Hughes Engines, thanking them for the kit and the information they provided me in an earlier email with them. The last reply I got was a thank you email and that they appreciate feedback from customers. He also added that my letter was posted to the pan kit page (for the magnum plenum reinforcement kit) as a testimonial. (wow, I'm a testimonial on a website for once. :lol:) Well in the letter I mentioned that a "fellow member of the Chrysler minivan fan club" talked me into getting the new pan. (Jason) and I posted the website link.

I thought it was kind of neat, anyway.

http://www.hughesengines.com/Index/products.php?browse=search&search=7714&searchmode=partnumber&partid=22220

I also wanted to say thank you for the plenum kit. I installed it and a 180* thermostat as suggested and it runs better than it has in 50,000 miles or more. No more pinging and no more oil consumption as of yet, it's only been a few days but it's been driven a lot. It was using about 1 quart every 2 weeks or so. The kit will pay for itself soon with the money I save not having to buy quart after quart of oil every oil change. At first I was just going to change the gasket and not buy the kit but I was talked into by a fellow member of the Chrysler minivan fan club at forum.chryslerminivan.net. I'm sure glad I did it!
Z.H. South Haven, MS

The funny think is, I expected the gasket to be sucked into the plenum, when it was actually blown out of the side, towards the valley. I have pics I took of the job. I might post them.
 

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.......... The funny think is, I expected the gasket to be sucked into the plenum, when it was actually blown out of the side, towards the valley. I have pics I took of the job. I might post them.
The "valley" is open to the main part of the engine. Your PCV valve provides a continual vacuum to the "inside" of the engine when it fails. The vacuum hose from the valve cover to the air intake has a small filter element that gets plugged up, so where does the "fresh air" come from that the now higher vacuum in the block is looking for (and where does the splashing oil under the plenum go) ? :eekkkk: :ask_wsign
 

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youtube.com/sideburns2009
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Discussion Starter #3
The "valley" is open to the main part of the engine. Your PCV valve provides a continual vacuum to the "inside" of the engine when it fails. The vacuum hose from the valve cover to the air intake has a small filter element that gets plugged up, so where does the "fresh air" come from that the now higher vacuum in the block is looking for (and where does the splashing oil under the plenum go) ? :eekkkk: :ask_wsign
The PCV valve wasn't the cause of the oil being used in the Ram. The pan on the bottom of the intake (which on the magnum engine is the upper and lower intake cast into one piece, hence the whole reason the pan is there. Too big of a cavity to cast it solid) is very thin, the gasket blows out and it sucks oil directly into the intake manifold from the valley, where the pushrods and camshaft are bathing in oil.

I was just saying, since the vacuum pulling into the intake ports is so strong, it just seemed that the gasket would have got sucked into the intake rather than blow out of the side into the valley. Anyhow, the new pan was probably 200x thicker and it's not going to happen again. All is well.
 

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It wouldn't be a problem if they didn't use that dumb intake design. They may have well just used a conventional looking 2 barrel manifold and still had long runners for torque.
 

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youtube.com/sideburns2009
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Discussion Starter #5
I don't think the design is dumb. Just one piece to remove instead of 2.
 

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I put that kit on my 5.2 a few years ago and it's a world better than the stock design. Anyone needing to replace a leaking belly pan gasket should strongly consider that upgrade on their Magnum. However, when I did mine, my feedback was not deemed worthy of a testimonial on the site! :bcyclop: (But I was in print with a testimonial in the DR Field and Brush Mower catalogue for a few years!)
 

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The Chevy Vortec 305 and 350 intake is far worse than the Magnum design.
On that one, the rubber cracks on the intake runners and it starts leaking coolant all over.
I won't get started on the horse crap Vortec 305/350 distributor cap design or fuel injector design.
 

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youtube.com/sideburns2009
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Discussion Starter #9
The Chevy Vortec 305 and 350 intake is far worse than the Magnum design.
On that one, the rubber cracks on the intake runners and it starts leaking coolant all over.
I won't get started on the horse crap Vortec 305/350 distributor cap design or fuel injector design.
As does the vortec 4.3. :lol:

Cool! I plan to use the Hughes kit myself when I eventually do mine.
It hasn't use a drop of oil yet. Its great.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
In two years and 20k+ miles the pan is in perfect shape, clean, no oil lost through it. Very happy with the choice to go that route vs. a stock re-gasketing.
:thumb: How many miles are on your 5.2?
 

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:thumb: How many miles are on your 5.2?
I know you weren't asking me but...

Mine has 175k on the original plenum gasket, still uses maybe half a quart per 3000 miles, no residue in the bottom of the intake. The engine is relatively unopened except for replacing the water pump once. It's only had a few tune ups and currently needs a downstream O2 (both are original).

One day, the intake needs to come off because I snapped one of the thermostat housing bolts off in it and couldn't extract the bolt so I just drilled a tiny hole and tapped it for a 1/4-20 bolt down the center of the original bolt. It has maybe 3 threads engages but holds, I don't know how or why lol. The reason for this ghetto repair was because when I did the water pump (over the summer) I must have not used enough antifreeze as the engine froze up on a 0* day in January. I had to flush out the slush mix by taking the radiator hoses and thermostat out. Then the darn bolt snapped and we needed the Durango NOW so I just made it work. Been that way 2 years lol.


Edit: Ours has the original trans as well. Fluid was darker than the far side of Pluto when I changed it last summer but with a band adjustment, works perfectly. Even tows our 7500lb boat along with no issue. The engine is getting a bit tired for the boat though, a mild hill can really keep it struggling to move that 12k lbs after tons of miles.
 

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Sideburns, mine has 178k, on what I assume is the original gasket. Mine doesn't use much oil, but I do have a moderate amount of spark knock at heavier throttle. Did yours as well? I understand that's a symptom of a blown intake gasket also. I can see visible residue at the bottom of my intake, though I don't see the gasket blown in.

If yours pinged at heavier throttle, too, did the Hughes kit knock that dead as well?
 

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Edit: Ours has the original trans as well. Fluid was darker than the far side of Pluto when I changed it last summer but with a band adjustment, works perfectly. Even tows our 7500lb boat along with no issue. The engine is getting a bit tired for the boat though, a mild hill can really keep it struggling to move that 12k lbs after tons of miles.
Did you adjust the bands on yours yourself? I'm sure mine need doing. The fluid on mine looked to be in good shape when I changed it a year or so ago, but it's got fresh ATF+4 in it anyway. But it doesn't shift all that crisp at heavy throttle (though is one of the smoothest automatics I've had at light throttle). I figure a band adjustment would help it a lot.
 

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Did you adjust the bands on yours yourself? I'm sure mine need doing. The fluid on mine looked to be in good shape when I changed it a year or so ago, but it's got fresh ATF+4 in it anyway. But it doesn't shift all that crisp at heavy throttle (though is one of the smoothest automatics I've had at light throttle). I figure a band adjustment would help it a lot.
I did do it myself. The specs on tightening them are out there somewhere on the web. I did not have an inch lb wrench so I just used common sense and snugged them up and backed them off. The reverse was easy as you just drop the pan and it is there. The intermediate band adjuster is located on the outside and was severely gunked up and hard to turn. Adjusting them fixed a slight issue with the 1->2 shift RPM's flaring a bit when it would initiate the shift at 2000rpms. Now it executes that shift perfectly at all throttle positions.

They are supposed to be done every 30k with the fluid. Mine had never been adjusted and the fluid had maybe been changed 2 times in its life. My parents must not know what preventative maintenance is.
 

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Adjusting them fixed a slight issue with the 1->2 shift RPM's flaring a bit when it would initiate the shift at 2000rpms. Now it executes that shift perfectly at all throttle positions.
Thanks for the info. I don't know if I'd say that mine would "flare" the engine on a 1-2 shift, but all shifts seem slower than they should. A moderate-to-heavy throttle upshift might take a full second. Light throttle shifts are very quick, but not harsh. Perfect, really.

They are supposed to be done every 30k with the fluid. Mine had never been adjusted and the fluid had maybe been changed 2 times in its life. My parents must not know what preventative maintenance is.
I'm sure that the bands on mine have never been done, but I don't know that for a fact. The fluid did look decent when I changed it. There was no real change to the transmission's shifting after the change, but then again, there was nothing really wrong with it before the change. These AN/DN vehicles really are durable machines.
 

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Thanks for the info. I don't know if I'd say that mine would "flare" the engine on a 1-2 shift, but all shifts seem slower than they should. A moderate-to-heavy throttle upshift might take a full second. Light throttle shifts are very quick, but not harsh. Perfect, really.



I'm sure that the bands on mine have never been done, but I don't know that for a fact. The fluid did look decent when I changed it. There was no real change to the transmission's shifting after the change, but then again, there was nothing really wrong with it before the change. These AN/DN vehicles really are durable machines.
I bet snugging up the bands would do it wonders. Letting the bands/clutches slip that much under a heavy throttle shift is not good for it.

Those transmissions are also very tolerant of fluid. They are still hydraulically controlled and thus are not as sensitive to fluid qualities like our vans are. The 1st gen Durango's/(2nd gen?) Dakotas are great vehicles. I'll probably be driving ours past 200k once the van finally craps out on me.

I would consider it worthy of fixing up is it weren't so rusty. The front bumper is practically gone and the doors are starting to bubble up badle around the windows. The whole underside is in good shape and the suspension will have all new energy suspension bushings once I get to finish the front end. The 5.2 could have been a bit more powerful from the factory IMO though.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Sideburns, mine has 178k, on what I assume is the original gasket. Mine doesn't use much oil, but I do have a moderate amount of spark knock at heavier throttle. Did yours as well? I understand that's a symptom of a blown intake gasket also. I can see visible residue at the bottom of my intake, though I don't see the gasket blown in.

If yours pinged at heavier throttle, too, did the Hughes kit knock that dead as well?
Yes. The spark knock was usually at a heavier throttle and under a load. Going 45-50MPH, when the torque converter locked up it would also knock. The residue at the bottom is probably oil.

The gasket doesn't actually blow in to the intake, it blows out the sides of the pan, towards the valley.The pan eliminated all pinging. None at all, at heavy throttle or WOT and none at torque converter lockup. I can't make it ping now.

Pics of the pan gasket blown out of the side:







New Hughes Pan:


The old pan was very thin, indeed:





Here is a link to the album of pictures for most of the job:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2024839&id=1181193131&l=2c2cfbe2f4

And on that note, I LOVE the way the transmission shifts in the Ram. Light throttle shifts are perfect as you described. Heavier acceleration shifts are my favorite though. I changed the fluid and filter not too long ago. The fluid wasn't all that bad, it's been changed regularly. I didn't adjust the bands, but I wanted to. I will be doing that next time it gets changed.

EDIT:
I forgot to mention, through this whole process only 1 vacuum line got broke, and it wasn't by me either, it was my dad.
 

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Thanks. I always thought that you could see the gasket getting sucked IN to the manifold's valley area (and you could diagnose it by looking down the throttle bores).

Yes, the sheetmetal pan is very thin, and it's rather obvious why this is such a predictable failure. The correct material choice/thickness here makes all the difference.
 

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Good pictures, and eerily familiar!

sideburns, I have 105k on my 98 5.2. The Hughes kit was installed at about 85k.

Jason, pinging is a symptom, definitely, and residue is a smoking gun. If you were to stop by right now and hit my open butterflies with a flashlight, you would see pretty, shiny metal inside my intake, whereas before I had the residue and oil loss. While the pinging is definitely a symptom of the belly pan gasket failure, if that doesn't clear it up try a 180 t-stat. I run that on mine with no issues. As said before, I can't make mine ping.

About the transmission band adjustment, just note that if you do it yourself, be very specific and cautious. The bands are thin and can easily be damaged. I've read of bad outcomes with DIY adjustment. Obviously there are very capable DIY folks here that can do it in their sleep, but nonetheless it's not something you can buffalo through. That said, I did do mine myself and it made a big difference in the shifting for me. Specifically, in cold weather the 2-3 shift was very slow for me. The band adjustment cleared it up. ATF +4 is a must, of course.
 
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