I own a 1995 Dodge 3500 series 1-ton Ram wagon (Basically a Ram Van with windows), 5.9L V8, ABS brakes, in great mechanical condition all the way around, very low miles (65k). I’ve done a lot to keep it perfect mechanically (new 3 row copper radiator, new water pump, rebuild rear axle which was mis-assembled at the factory, refit with rebuilt front calipers that use steel pistons not plastic which deform at high temps, straighten & re-weight driveshaft, new u-joints, new brake lines, new rear brake drums that are not out of round, straight & true 8-lug wheels, class 3 tow hitch, Wired in a better, more standard switch for the overdrive lockout, etc etc).
I’ve had it for years but when I moved to Florida the roof started rusting out uncontrollably. I tried everything, nothing stops it. Rust is severe. I could possibly swap the engine & trans into another van with a better body but 95 is funny year for engine electrical - I’ve seen many van engine swaps which have failed because of this - plus this is not a typical engine swap - entire nose cone must be removed, intake manifold has to come off. etc. plus every other system on the donor body vehicle will need going through as these tend to have 200k-300k miles on them now (front end, steering, A/C etc in my van are still perfect).
I have seen a garage once lift off the entire body shell of a Ford full size van (insurance job) and that seems like it might be the ‘easiest’ solution if I can find a good rust-free donor van body and a (cough) CRANE. Has anyone ever done this?
Even replacing the roof with a fiberglass top (good luck finding one now plus they aren’t cheap) won’t work because rust is down into the pillars and front windshield all along the top.
If I had money I’d just buy a new van - but I don’t. I bought this for $4300 in 2002 with 36K on it in dry sunny California (shoulda stayed there). Anyone ever done this? I can’t weld but I am handy with a wrench.
P.S. - Me-thinks this would be an excellent opportunity to replace the bad fuel sending unit assembly in the fuel tank and maybe create / install an ‘access door’ in the van floor over that area to deal with that recurrent issue in future.