My Dodge Tradesman


I’ve been working on restoring this van for a few years. It’s been slow work since it’s my first project of this type and I’ve never really considered myself a mechanic. I’m hoping to make a lot of progress on it this summer so I’m going to start posting a bit about the process.

Here are a few pictures of the van in it’s state when I purchased it:


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This is what it looked like about an hour after I brought it home:


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I couldn’t handle the interior, so it had to go immediately. Eventually I’ll entirely redo the upholstery and paneling with a properly updated modern version. What the photos don’t show is all of the nasty pink fiberglass insulation that was under the paneling. It was absolutely gross and I’m glad I made the choice to trash it all right away. The van polished up very nicely though and every time I give it a wash I’m impressed at how nice it looks after 39 years.

So far I’ve replaced the fuel pump, fuel filter, master cylinder, rebuilt the fuel sending unit, replaced various hoses, and I’ve done some minor work on the interior.

I stopped driving it as much recently because of a large bang in the transmission that I’m trying to troubleshoot. When I start it cold and put it into gear the transmission makes a large bang, the whole van shakes and then it shifts into gear. Sometimes this stalls the van and other times it’s fine after that initial lurch. Generally after it drives for a bit the bang calms down and all but goes away until the next time I start it cold. It definitely doesn’t seem normal so if anyone has a heads up on what it could be I would definitely appreciate some information. I’ve reached a dead end on my repair manual and internet searches.

My new goal is to get this thing looking beautiful in time for it’s 40th birthday next year.