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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I figured it was time to start a build thread for my project, though progress is going to be slow.

Victim #1 is a 1950 Fargo 1/2 Ton pickup. I picked it up a number of years ago on the cheap. It's had a hard life but the bodywork is in surprisingly good shape. Well, "good" is a relative term.
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Victim #2 is a 2018 Nissan Leaf SL, purchased at auction. The damage was on the front (as you can see) and the rear driver's side door. The car still ran and drove, nothing major outside of the front crumple zone and the airbags deploying.

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My plan is to jam as much of the Leaf as possible into the Fargo, which will require significant modification to the frame. The motor and driven wheels will be at the front. The current plan is to leave the Leaf pack whole, mounted on top of the frame behind the cab and to shape the box floor around the pack.

Progress so far: I've got the engine and transmission out of the Fargo, and the fenders and grille removed. The seat and most of interior is out. I left the Leaf "running" for quite a while to make it easier to move around. I've got the parking pawl disengaged and most of the interior low voltage stuff apart so it's a roller from here on out.

In other words, I've gotten through most of the easy stuff. Next up will be dropping the pack, removal of the wiring harness, and frame modification.

As you can see, the truck also needs bodywork and paint which it will get at the tail end of the build.
 

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Damned shame to get rid of that I-beam front axle...

Probably as much work to IFS the rear as it would be the front.
Auto part Machine Event Nonbuilding structure Metal

Doing this shouldn’t be all that much work, just some steel plates with the leaf wheel bearing bolt pattern, and beam between them. match the original leaf spring and shock mounts, keep the leaf brakes, wheel bearing, and axles.

Which makes a empty engine bay. you could have a frunk !😎
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
These old Dodge/Fargo trucks handle nicely for their age but the suspension and stopping is not suited to modern highways. So I'd be modifying the front regardless. I did go back and forth on this, though.

With the "butterfly" hood, I was thinking of a frunk, and might still put in a small compartment on one side of it.
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Daily driver, dump runner, furniture getter. It'll get spruced up but worked, not a show pony. The CHAdeMO connector will be transferred in case I find a two way EVSE that actually exists and isn't wildly overpriced.

Speaking of charging, the EVSE that came with the Leaf has a 14-50P connector with a 5-15 adapter. Other than being a bulky old boy, it sure beats a 120V only.
 

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These old Dodge/Fargo trucks handle nicely for their age but the suspension and stopping is not suited to modern highways. So I'd be modifying the front regardless. I did go back and forth on this, though.

With the "butterfly" hood, I was thinking of a frunk, and might still put in a small compartment on one side of it.
View attachment 128171
Is this your Fargo car that has changed its color? I am waiting for the new changes on your Nissan Leaf. I'm also working on a project for my 2015 Honda CRV, the rear end was also dented after an accident. I look forward to learning from your experiences here. I'll take a few pictures of it's condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Is this your Fargo car that has changed its color? I am waiting for the new changes on your Nissan Leaf. I'm also working on a project for my 2015 Honda CRV, the rear end was also dented after an accident. I look forward to learning from your experiences here. I'll take a few pictures of it's condition.
Not my picture, just taken from the internet to show the hood.
 

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Daily driver, dump runner, furniture getter. It'll get spruced up but worked, not a show pony. The CHAdeMO connector will be transferred in case I find a two way EVSE that actually exists and isn't wildly overpriced.
Looks like a worthwhile conversion that will makes good use of valuable and scarce resources! I'm on board with this one.

What motor HP and battery size did you get with the donor Leaf? How do the tracks and WBes compare?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Looks like a worthwhile conversion that will makes good use of valuable and scarce resources! I'm on board with this one.

What motor HP and battery size did you get with the donor Leaf? How do the tracks and WBes compare?
147 HP, 40 kWh.

Track width of the Leaf is very close to the stock 1/2 ton (Leaf 61", Fargo 60"), but I will be widening that out slightly with custom wheels. The 1/2 tons, 3/4's and 1 tons all shared cab and front fenders but the bigger trucks had a wider track and filled the fenders out better in my opinion.

Wheel base is also pretty close (106.3" for the Leaf vs 108" for the truck) but with the hacking up I'm doing a match there is less critical.
 

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I wonder if the cab and bed, with these two main dimensions(track and WB) being so close, could be dropped onto the cut-away and reinforced unibody. If so, most of the battery and suspension mounting points could be maintained for alignment and ease of assembly. This is a earlier model (your model is probably close to this) with the sheet metal and B and C pillars cut away(the second picture with the frame structure in red): A new platform developed exclusively for EVs.

The cross member/ fire wall between the A pillars would probably have to be removed for cab clearance and replaced by a lower mounted cross member. AIR the rocker panels/ sills on the Leaf have a large cross section(for battery protection?). There is a lot of room for rectangular tubing to be slid inside for reinforcement. The frame horns supporting the front and rear suspension could also be reinforced for your application. There may not be enough clearance around the back end of the battery for a leaf spring based rear suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I wonder if the cab and bed, with these two main dimensions(track and WB) being so close, could be dropped onto the cut-away and reinforced unibody. If so, most of the battery and suspension mounting points could be maintained for alignment and ease of assembly. This is a earlier model (your model is probably close to this) with the sheet metal and B and C pillars cut away(the second picture with the frame structure in red): A new platform developed exclusively for EVs.

The cross member/ fire wall between the A pillars would probably have to be removed for cab clearance and replaced by a lower mounted cross member. AIR the rocker panels/ sills on the Leaf have a large cross section(for battery protection?). There is a lot of room for rectangular tubing to be slid inside for reinforcement. The frame horns supporting the front and rear suspension could also be reinforced for your application. There may not be enough clearance around the back end of the battery for a leaf spring based rear suspension.
I hadn't considered beefing up and using the Leaf frame. Keeping the battery pack more central to the vehicle and low to the ground certainly appeals to me. Rear suspension would indeed need some attention.
 

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I wonder if the cab and bed, with these two main dimensions(track and WB) being so close, could be dropped onto the cut-away and reinforced unibody.
I think that it would probably be easier to build a custom frame, designed to work with the Leaf front subframe and battery pack, and using some suitable suspension (possibly the Leaf, but hopefully something better).

There may not be enough clearance around the back end of the battery for a leaf spring based rear suspension.
I agree: the front mounts of leaf springs of a good length would need to be ahead of the rear of the battery case, and wouldn't be spaced widely enough to run up each side of the battery.
 

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I hadn't considered beefing up and using the Leaf frame. Keeping the battery pack more central to the vehicle and low to the ground certainly appeals to me. Rear suspension would indeed need some attention.
To be sure, the red "frame" in the picture is an integral part of the unibody structure attached to sheet metal and other structures along one, two, or more of its cross sectional corners. It would be a lot of plasma and/or cutoff wheel work to get to the red frame state. If you were careful with your cutting, maybe added some temporary bracing, you could keep it as a roller( a drive-able roller?) This would make it a lot easier to move around and store out of the way. It would probably be good to keep the floor and battery in place for extra stiffness as the cutting and reinforcing of the frame structure is sorted out.

If this type of conversion works out, think of all of the dozens of brackets and mounts all ready in place in the front end of the vehicle for the suspension, power train, cooling, heating, electronic, and other systems. This could save on a lot of work.

Is this a 1/2 or 3/4 ton truck? As brian alludes to, there may not be enough weight capacity in the Leaf stock front suspension for your needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
To be sure, the red "frame" in the picture is an integral part of the unibody structure attached to sheet metal and other structures along one, two, or more of its cross sectional corners. It would be a lot of plasma and/or cutoff wheel work to get to the red frame state. If you were careful with your cutting, maybe added some temporary bracing, you could keep it as a roller( a drive-able roller?) This would make it a lot easier to move around and store out of the way. It would probably be good to keep the floor and battery in place for extra stiffness as the cutting and reinforcing of the frame structure is sorted out.

If this type of conversion works out, think of all of the dozens of brackets and mounts all ready in place in the front end of the vehicle for the suspension, power train, cooling, heating, electronic, and other systems. This could save on a lot of work.

Is this a 1/2 or 3/4 ton truck? As brian alludes to, there may not be enough weight capacity in the Leaf stock front suspension for your needs.
It's a 1/2 ton. The curb weight on the Leaf is about the same as the Fargo (3500 lbs-ish), but I'm using the heavy parts of the Leaf so I expect the final weight to creep up a bit. I know the 62 kWh Leafs (Leaves?) have stiffer springs for the back but I'm not sure if they're any different up front.
 

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It's a truck. You said you wanted to use it as a truck.

It's complete nonsense to put the body and bed on a cut down Leaf unibody. Not that I ever have an opinion on anything here...
😂

Use "everything" except the Leaf gearbox. Get something like a Torquebox (your Leaf's gearbox plus its wheels and doors will pay for it) and stuff the Leaf motor and Torquebox into the tunnel, run the driveshaft to the stock rear end. Even better, use the original tranny.

Batteries & PDM under da hood.

Upgrade to 4 wheel disk brakes all around, but I wouldn't destroy the character of the truck, including its front beam axle.

If you want a Leaf, buy a Leaf. If you want a truck on a Leaf unibody, get a vinyl wrap with a truck photo on it for your Leaf. It has to have some of the crappy aspects of a 50's Dodge left in it to give it character. Leaf unibody? Ick. Sterile modern IFS suspension? 🤮
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
When I want to experience the character of a solid front axle, I can fire up the one on the right.

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As far as doing truck stuff, the baby Rampage handles most of what I need. Dodge rather optimistically rated them for 1,145 lbs of payload (a true half-ton, the flyer exclaims!).

I don't have a boat trailer or RV to haul, so having a bed and a suspension to hold up a moderate load will be enough.

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Another observation using a cut down and reinforced Leaf frame: The running boards of the Fargo would be close to, or just above where the Leaf rocker panels/sills/perimeter frame would be located. This would probably define the lowest location of the cab, because of the minimal clearance of the doors opening over the running boards.

Also, you need to think about the modern, refined suspension and braking systems of the Leaf compared the primitive, harsh rideing existing systems in the Fargo. This might make the difference in this vehicle being used as a fun daily and frequent driver over a rarely used one. A rarely used EV is a shame and a wasteful use of valuable and scarce resources.
 
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