THE LOB­STER WAGON

CHRIS BE­G­LEY’S ONE-OFF RAM D250 CREW CAB

Diesel World - - Contents - BY DREW RI­LEY

Chris Be­g­ley of River­side, Cal­i­for­nia, has been build­ing cus­tom off-road machines for more than two decades. A welder by trade, his fab shop Lux­ury Pre­run­ners builds high-end of­froad rigs that bring to­gether form and func­tion. From roll cages and sus­pen­sions to full ve­hi­cle over­hauls, Be­g­ley and his team of fab­ri­ca­tors build long travel race trucks, tube chas­sis bug­gies, and even the oc­ca­sional VW Baja Bug.

THE LOB­STER WAGON

A few years back, Be­g­ley was in the mar­ket for a new daily com­muter to go to and from the shop and haul his fam­ily around. While most would ex­pect him to build a late-model pre­run­ner stuffed full of mod­ern crea­ture com­forts and the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, Be­g­ley went retro, over­haul­ing a 1990 Dodge Ram D250 Cum­mins 4x4 from the ground up. The truck had been passed down from his fa­ther and had nearly 350,000 miles on the motor. At that point in time it was col­lect­ing dust in his drive­way, so Be­g­ley de­cided to breathe new life into this fam­ily heir­loom.

First prob­lem: The truck was a sin­gle cab, so haul­ing his fam­ily of five around would be a tight squeeze on the fac­tory bench. Be­g­ley started out hunt­ing the lo­cal on­line trad­ing posts for a Ram­charger body in de­cent shape be­fore com­ing across a crew cab ’84 Dodge Ram du­ally 2wd pickup that was be­ing parted out. $500 later, he had the cab and chas­sis in tow back to his shop where they got to work turn­ing it into a cus­tom crew cab Cum­mins ca­pa­ble of all his day-to-day needs.

THE CON­VER­SION

Dodge never of­fered a 1st gen crew cab Cum­mins truck; the crew cabs were phased out in 1985 and the 5.9L Cum­mins wasn’t in­tro­duced un­til 1989. While there were a few ways to go about the con­ver­sion,

Be­ing a fab­ri­ca­tor, Be­g­ley wanted to use the best parts from both trucks. Af­ter strip­ping both down to rolling chas­sis, care­ful mea­sure­ments were taken and the frames were cut. The front chas­sis be­longed to his 1990 to uti­lize the 5.9L Cum­mins and 4wd. The rear came from the 1984, using the longer frame sec­tion to ac­com­mo­date the crew cab and long bed. The two frames were over­lapped and welded in­side and out be­fore be­ing boxed in for ex­tra rigid­ity. With the crew cab fit­ted and the bed re­in­stalled, the next step was clean­ing up the body pan­els that had been plagued with waves and rip­ples through­out the sheet metal. With the help of Shawn Heng­ste­beck, the body pan­els were straight­ened out and prepped for paint.

The front fend­ers were opened up for ex­tra tire clear­ance. One and a half inches were sec­tioned out of the front and back­side of the fend­ers and reat­tached to re­tain the fac­tory fender con­tour. The ex­tra 3 inches of clear­ance al­lows room for the 37inch meats to be fit­ted with the BDS lift kit. For primer and paint, Be­g­ley turned to Matt Hutch­e­son De­sign to lay down the Lob­ster Red color, a fac­tory Mopar op­tion on the late-model Jeeps. The chrome bumpers, grille, mir­rors and trim were re­fin­ished in gloss black. In­side, the in­te­rior was kept clean and sim­ple. With roll-up win­dows and a man­ual trans­mis­sion, this truck is full of old school cool fac­tor with­out all the late-model fluff. The front and rear benches were re­uphol­stered in black to match the fresh black paint on the dash and door pan­els. A layer of Dyno­mat coats the floor­boards un­der­neath of the new black car­pet­ing to fin­ish off the in­te­rior for a fac­tory show­room new look. In the bed, a DIY spray-on bed liner kit was laid down for ex­tra scuff pro­tec­tion when he’s haul­ing parts and gear around.

THE LOB­STER WAGON

The stock leaf springs served this truck well over the years, but with plans for 37s Be­g­ley needed ex­tra al­ti­tude. Front and rear BDS 5-inch leaf springs were in­stalled along with cus­tom built shack­les to net a to­tal of 6 inches of lift. Up front, a pair of shock hoops were built from 4130 tub­ing to mount a set of FOX 2.5 triple by­pass shocks. In the rear, a pair of FOX 2.0 IFP shocks were added to help con­trol the rear sus­pen­sion. For steer­ing, Be­g­ley up­graded to Off Road De­sign’s cross­over steer­ing kit to im­prove steer­ing an­gles and strength. With the sus­pen­sion com­plete, a set of 37x12.50 Nitto Terra Grap­pler G2 tires were fit­ted, mounted up on 20x10 KMC XD Rock­star III wheels. The setup is com­fort­able for Be­g­ley to drive around town and re­li­able for any on or off-road trips he takes with the fam­ily.

FIRST GEN FIVE NINE

Un­der the clas­sic sheet metal the orig­i­nal 5.9L Cum­mins diesel is alive and kick­ing. With roughly 350,000 miles on the odome­ter, this first gen 5.9L is just get­ting bro­ken in. Most of the miles on this truck were logged by the Be­g­ley fam­ily so it has seen its fair share of fam­ily mem­o­ries, back coun­try ad­ven­tures, and daily com­mutes. Be­g­ley kept the Cum­mins rel­a­tively stock. The 6BT has the stock Bosch VE44 ro­tary in­jec­tion pump and Holset turbo. Be­g­ley built his own killer dowel pin (KDP) kit to help keep from hav­ing any is­sues down the road with the 12V Cum­mins. Ex­haust comes from RBP with a mod­i­fied 4-inch side ex­it­ing sys­tem that dumps just in front of the pas­sen­ger rear tire. Power is sent back through the Ge­trag 5-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion to the NP205 trans­fer case. JE Reel drive­shafts trans­fer power to the front king­pin Dana 60 and rear Dana 70. Both axles were fit­ted with 4.11 gears and Nitro X-treme diff cov­ers.

Chris Be­g­ley has out­done him­self with this build. This su­per clean crew cab Cum­mins has tons of cool fac­tor and room for the whole fam­ily. We dig the Lob­ster Wagon.

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