Introducing Kyle Irvin, Winner of the 4 Wheel Parts Facebook Dream Upgrade Contest – Part 3February 10th, 2011 by admin
After leaving the Marines Corps, I got married to my wife, Kelly, and moved to Tulsa in the spring of 2009. Since then, I have only done a few upgrades: a Hughes Plenum Plate Replacement, 180° thermostat, a rear Road Armor bumper, and just basic maintenance. I did, however, attempt to get my Jeep back. I bought a 1986 Jeep CJ7 I6 automatic D44 rear with a hardtop for $1000 in the fall of 2009. My plan was to strip it, restore it, and rebuild the Jeep I lost in my youth. Unfortunately, I was injured in a freak treadmill accident in November of 2009 and many of my plans were put on hold. I continued to work as a property adjuster until February of 2010, when I could no longer manage the pain and the fear of falling off a roof. I have since been told by 2 surgeons that I need fusion surgery, but that surgery bears the risk of me getting even worse, so as long as I can manage the pain and there are other options, I won’t get the surgery.
I found some consolation in slowly tearing apart the Jeep each day in lieu of work so as to feel as if I was doing something useful. Unfortunately, I found such a large amount of rust on the Jeep tub that it was unrealistic to repair or even make it trail worthy. I parted the entire Jeep out and used the money to purchase my current project, a V10 swap into my truck.
I found a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 V10 automatic 4×4 wrecked for $1,500. The motor didn’t run, the wiring was stripped in the dash, and the entire left side was damaged. My friend, Wayne, originally let me store it in his yard, but when Scott, who lives down the street, offered his shop, we started a great friendship. It took me awhile to get over the fear of leaving my stuff at someone’s shop, but he worked nights and we were able to help each other on our trucks every morning. He has become my best friend here in Tulsa.
I eventually rewired the dash and got the truck to run. Then I started cutting off sheet metal and removing parts to take to the recycling center for extra cash. I had considered building a truggy out of that truck, but my wife lost her job in July 2010 and I ended up selling most of the parts to keep us afloat until she was able to return to work in October. I now only have the motor, transmission, transfer case, wiring harness, and a section of the front frame and cab I kept as a jig for building some custom tube fenders. The plan is to rebuild the V10, 47RE and NP241 and swap it into my V8 truck, then sell the V8 drivetrain or, if I’m lucky, get myself another project for it.
Work has been very slow, but just having something to work on has helped with controlling my depression. Right now, the motor is removed and stripped down to the long block waiting for me to find someone willing to do a rebuild (very few engine builders are familiar with the 8.0L Iron block V10) and build up the funds to actually pay for it. I’m finally starting to make a dent in the debt from this summer, so hopefully I’ll be able to prep it this spring once I find a builder.
Currently, I have a DIY4X rear shackle flip, Energy Suspension body mounts, a PA 2″ body lift, a DT Profab trackbar, 2″ front lift pucks, a set of headers for the V10, and a set for my current V8 and a few other parts sitting in the garage looking for the right time to be installed. I buy nearly everything I can from 4 Wheel Parts, but some of the custom parts had to be purchased elsewhere. I recently removed the Air Lift rear leveling bags because they limited suspension and the lift pucks separated, giving a terrible ride quality. The 2″ body lift and mounts will go on just before the engine swap to give more cowl clearance. The shackle flip will be installed later when I can afford 38-40″ tires and the front lift pucks and track bar will be installed at that time to help compensate the front lift. Then, someday, I would love to be able to add hydraulic assist and coilovers in the front to move the axle forward a few inches for better approach angles. Alas, so many plans…so little money and time!
Since I live in an HOA neighborhood and have a 3 car garage with only a 7′ door, I can only work at home on short 1-2 day projects where people don’t complain about seeing me work. Since it takes me longer to do things nowadays, I’m forced to do even smaller projects or go over to Scott’s for help. One day, I’ll have my own shop and my dreams will come true! LOL