2nd Gen Ram Tech1994-2001 Rams: This section is for TECHNICAL discussions only, that involve the 1994 through 2001 Rams. For any non-tech discussions, please direct your attention to the "General discussion/NON-tech" sub sections.
Finally got around to fixing the plenum gasket, and it needed it. Took me about 12 hours to get everything apart. This included finding tools, food and mountain dew breaks, and part runs. The only real problem I had was I broke the head off one of the manifold bolts. After cussing a blue streak and shooting a can of PB blaster at it, it came out no problem. The fuel rails were also kinda hard to remove. Taking the fan shroud off was the best decision I've ever made because it allowed me to stand in the engine bay instead of leaning over the fenders (which is a huge deal because I'm a short guy).
Here's a pic of what the vacuum gauge looked like after 30 seconds of idling
And the intake with the gasket still attached. You can see where it's bowing out on both sides. It was also starting to tare a little.
Here's a better picture to show the extent of the damage
The engine bay is a complete mess of wires and hoses. I need to thoroughly clean the lifter valley out since an avalanche of dirt, pine needles, and acorns fell into it when I took the manifold off (oops).
Tomorrow I get to install everything and see how she runs! I can't wait! Thanks to everyone who's helped me get this far.
Can anyone tell me a decent way to clean out the lifter valley? There is a LOT of crap down in there.
start with a vacuum cleaner
then pick out any visible pieces by hand.
then flush with kerosene or diesel fuel and let it drain into oil pan.
then change the oil.
be sure and get all the acorns, those could plug up an oil drain passage.
and i don't know whether this is possible or not, but you might try to locate the oil drains, and poke a straight wire down them to make sure they are clear all the way down.
That gasket damage supports the theory that the bolts on the belly pan did in fact bottom out and not hold the gasket tight. My guess is that if you just replace the gasket and not the pan, you're looking at the same problem all over again down the road.