THE LOB­STER WAGON

Chris Be­g­ley’s Fam­ily-friendly Crew Cab Dodge

Street Trucks - - CONTENTS - TEXT BY DREW RI­LEY AND KEVIN AGUILAR PHO­TOS BY KEVIN AGUILAR

CHRIS BE­G­LEY OF RIVER­SIDE, CAL­I­FOR­NIA, HAS BEEN BUILD­ING CUS­TOM OFF-ROAD MA­CHINES FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES, AND ONCE AGAIN, HE’S CRE­ATED A STUNNER. A welder by trade, his fab shop, Lux­ury Pre­run­ners, builds high-end off-road rigs that meld form with func­tion. From roll cages and sus­pen­sions to full ve­hi­cle over­hauls, Chris and his team of fab­ri­ca­tors build long-travel race trucks, tube-chas­sis bug­gies and even the oc­ca­sional VW Baja Bug.

A few years back, Chris 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, Chris went retro, over­haul­ing a ’90 Dodge Ram W250 Cum­mins-pow­ered 4x4 from the ground up. The truck was passed down from his fa­ther, and 350,000 miles had been tal­lied on the mo­tor. When Chris first got it, the truck was col­lect­ing dust in his drive­way, so he de­cided to breathe new life into the fam­ily heir­loom.

There were a few prob­lems, though. First, the truck was a sin­gle cab, so haul­ing his fam­ily of five around would be a tight squeeze on the fac­tory bench. Chris started hunt­ing 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. Five hun­dred dol­lars later, he was tow­ing the cab and chas­sis back to his shop where they got to work turn­ing it into a cus­tom crew cab with a Cum­mins that was ca­pa­ble of han­dling all of his day-to-day needs.

THE CON­VER­SION

Dodge never of­fered a first 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, as a fab­ri­ca­tor, Chris 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 use the 5.9L Cum­mins and 4WD. The rear came from the 1984 and used 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 were plagued with waves and rip­ples. With help from Shawn Hen­ste­beck and Matt Hutch­e­son De­signs, the body pan­els were straight­ened out and prepped for paint.

The front fend­ers were opened 3 inches for ex­tra tire clear­ance. To ac­com­plish this,

1 ½ inches were sec­tioned out of the front and back of the fend­ers and then reat­tached to re­tain the fac­tory fender con­tour.

For primer and paint, Matt Hutch­e­son De­signs laid down the Lob­ster Red color, a fac­tory Mopar op­tion on 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,

WITH ROLL-UP WIN­DOWS AND A MAN­UAL TRANS­MIS­SION, THIS TRUCK IS FULL OF OLD-SCHOOL COOL, WITH­OUT ALL OF THE LATEMODEL FLUFF.”

with­out all of 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 Dy­na­mat coats the floor­boards un­der­neath the new black car­pet­ing to fin­ish the in­te­rior for a fac­tory show­room look. In the bed, a DIY spray-on bed­liner kit was laid down for ex­tra scuff pro­tec­tion when he’s haul­ing parts and gear around.

RAIS­ING THE BAR

The stock leaf springs served this truck well through­out the years, but with plans for 37s, Chris 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 was 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 was added to con­trol the rear sus­pen­sion. For steer­ing, Chris up­graded to Off Road De­sign’s cross­over steer­ing kit to im­prove steer­ing an­gles and strength. With the sus­pen­sion com­plete, a set of 37x12.50x20 Nitto Ridge Grap­pler tires were fit­ted and mounted up on 20x10 KMC XD Rock­star III wheels. The setup is com­fort­able for Chris to drive around town and re­li­able for any on- or off-road trips he takes with his 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. The Be­g­ley fam­ily logged most of the miles, so the truck has seen its fair share of mem­o­ries, back­coun­try ad­ven­tures and daily com­mutes. Chris kept the Cum­mins rel­a­tively stock. The 6BT has the stock Bosch VE44 ro­tary-in­jec­tion pump and Holset turbo. Chris built

his own killer dowel pin (KDP) kit to pre­vent 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 five-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 Dodge has tons of cool fac­tor and room for the whole fam­ily. We dig the Lob­ster Wagon.

THE OPEN­INGS ON THE FRONT FEND­ERS WERE WIDENED 3 INCHES TO FIT TH­ESE HUGE 37-INCH TIRES.

LEFT. FOR BET­TER STYLING, THE BUMPERS WERE RE­PLACED BY A SET FROM A 1984 RAM­CHARGER. THE REAR BUMPER WAS RECESSED FOR A CLEANER LOOK.

CHRIS’ CREW CAB ’90 DODGE SITS ON TOP OF A SET OF 20X10 KMC XD ROCK­STAR III WHEELS WRAPPED IN NITTO RIDGE GRAP­PLER TIRES, WHICH ARE RUGGED, YET QUIET ON HIGH­WAYS.

THIS 1990 5.9L CUM­MINS HAS RACKED UP 350,000 MILES, BUT CHRIS SAYS IT RUNS LIKE A CHAMP. IT WAS FRESH­ENED WITH A TUNE-UP AND REPAINTED.

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