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The DOC Digest
September 2004

This photo courtesy of Sandy and Steve Fatseas of Everett, WA
"If one is good, two is better"

Sandy's D is a 2003 Graphite SLT+ with a 4.7L and Steve's is a 2000 Flame Red SLT with a 5.9L

Want your truck showcased here? See the Editors Corner for details.

Would you like to write up a short article for inclusion in the DOC Digest? Do you have an interesting story about a trip in your truck? Have you done some mods you'd like to share with other members? If so, submit your piece to me no later than the 20th of the month. Submissions should be sent to [email protected] with the subject line "Newsletter." We're looking for any kind of article that'd be of interest to the members.

Don't forget to submit your photos for use on future Newsletter covers. The requirements are simple. Of course it's for active members only, but I'm looking for trucks that have some nice exterior mods as well as performance mods and the photo has to have some thought given to composition — I don't want photos with a lot of background clutter, etc. In addition to the photo, I need a brief description of the mods on the truck. Cover photos are for members that have any Dodge Truck; be it Durango, Dakota, or Ram. I think you know what we like. We all know what stock Dodge Trucks look like so let's showcase some real nice ones here.

DOC Secretary



The current DOC Board of directors consists of the following members:

President & SWDOC CL - Angela Morell
Vice President - Sally Johnson
Membership Chair - Vinnie Wycko
Treasurer - Joe Levy
Secretary - Steve Fatseas
National Events Coordinator - Steve Smits
Webmaster - Dave Benham
MADOC CL - Nico Wirtz
Military DOC CL - Patrick Kennedy
NEDOC CL - John Warnet
NorCal CL - Bill Thornton
PNWDOC CL - Brian Lindgren
SoCal CL - Mike Weed
WGLDOC CL - Steve Leinen​

The DOC only exists because of the work of our many volunteers for the different activities and tasks! We need volunteers for the following positions. If you're interested in helping us out with any of them, please contact Angie - [email protected]

The current openings are:

D-Zine Editor
FAQ Section Editor
Colorado CL
Gulf Coast CL
North Carolina CL
North Texas CL​

Welcome to the September issue of the DOC Digest!

September… kids back in school, leaves starting to turn, maybe even a bit of a chill in the air (hey, anything under 105 is "chill" in AZ! :LOL: ) Fall's probably my favorite time of the year. I think one of the reasons is there's so much to look forward to over the next few months. Before you know it, the holiday season will be upon us and we'll be busy 24-7 preparing for happy times with family and friends.

So, before we get too busy, this would be an ideal time for all of us to consider what we could do to make life a little happier, even if it's for just one person. If you have the interest and ability to do so, I'd like to suggest a donation to the UAW1183 Toy Drive. Once again, The Durango Owners Club will be collecting new, unwrapped toys and cash donations which will be presented to the UAW during the DOC Plant Tour scheduled for Thursday October 14th - Friday October 15th 2004 at the Durango Plant in Newark Delaware. Full details on how to make a contribution are provided elsewhere in this newsletter or on the Forum. I hope you'll consider this opportunity to bring happiness to a child this year.

Until next month, remember to tread lightly and drive friendly!

Angela Morell
DOC President


In late 1939, Dodge introduced their VC series Trucks and began a nearly 30 yr domination of the light-duty military market. These military, 1/2 ton, 4x4 vehicles were based upon their civilian, 1-ton, 4x2 designs. Command car, pickup & carry-all body styles were produced and all were called "Jeeps" by the GI's using them.​


This month's DOTM is Neil Franklin of Marlton, NJ. Neil was nominated for his frequent posts to the Forum which have been of valuable assistance to many members and non-members. He's quickly and accurately answered lots of folks questions. Congratulations Neil!!


A bit about myself, I grew up in Queens New York till I graduated college. I attended the State University of New York Maritime College. New York Maritime is a relatively small Military type school and one of only a few Maritime Academies across the country with an attendance of about 800 cadets. The school was founded 125 yrs ago to train merchant seamen. Graduates receive U.S. Coast Guard licenses in Deck or Engineering positions and the school currently offers various science and engineering degrees as well. During the summer we operate the 550 ft school training ship and sail it to various ports in Europe and the U.S. I graduated in 1988 and have a Bachelor of Engineering in Marine Engineering and a license as a Third Assistant Engineer, Steam of Motor vessels of any horsepower. The school is the best place to be from and I'm proud of it.
After school I worked as an engineer on a tugboat for Matitrans, a tug and barge company that moves large petroleum barges on the east coast and gulf. Maritrans transports more oil than any other US coastwise carrier. The last tug I worked on was pushing the largest oil barge in the world on the Delaware River lightening oil tankers. I decided to get married and get a shore job and currently work for the Navy at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Ship Systems Engineering Station in Philadelphia. I have worked developing Naval engineering plant operating procedures and currently work with engineering ship control systems. The ship control system is the computer automated system that runs and monitors the propulsion, auxiliary and various systems and machinery through out the ship.
Ok, on to the reason I'm here. Right after school, thanks to my friend John Brown, I became a gear head and purchased a 1989 Mustang GT. I still use it 220k later as my daily driver and it's heavily modified. As my son Neil Jr. got bigger, I decided to get a family vehicle and, when I saw the 1998 D, I just said WOW, I have to have one! I loved the way it looked, it offered a big engine with full time 4x4, it was just what I wanted. I discovered the DOC in late 1998, learned a good bit about the D, did my homework, and my wife Angela and me agreed on Flame Red which I ordered in December 98 and took possession of around the first of the year.

I became a Gold member and daily reader/poster. I knew a lot about mods from my Mustang but said to myself, "naw, I'm gonna leave the D alone."
Then people started posting about their mods so… "Humm, all the cool kids are doing it." (peer pressure is an ugly thing!) Within a few months, I got out my Summit catalog, the wrenches and put on JBA headers, Borla cat-back and a K&N intake. Chrome R/T wheels came next to go with the chrome tube side steps and stainless push bar.

A group buy was organized by the DOC for Hotchkis Sway Bars (see related story in the DOC TOOL BOX Section -Ed.) and Bilstein shocks. I wasn't planning on doing that, but that peer pressure thing hit again and it was a great price. The sway bars are the best mod I have done. No body roll!!

"What's this, Fastman's coming to town?!" (Thanks John) Well in that case I'll take a nice shiny ceramic chrome M1, 1.7 roller rockers and TB.

Fastman working on the D​
Dan was great. He came to my house and put in the time to get it right. A used Mopar PCM from a DOC member capped it off.

I had it dyno'ed at 246.7 HP and 319.0 FT-LBS (about +60 HP) which is pretty good for bolt-on mods.

Neil Jr. with the D on the dyno​
I'm still a daily poster/reader and will be for a long time, as I'll never get rid of this vehicle till the wheels fall off (that may happen as I'm still on the original ball joints.) I haven't had that many problems. A lot of oil leaks and an incompetent dealer cost Chrysler a new motor at 16k. The tranny pan and transfer case have also leaked multiple times. Oh well, the EPA hasn't fined me yet.

I'm on various D/Dodge/Dak forums daily but the DOC has the people I'm closest to. I have been to four NJ annual meets, two NEDOC birthday get togethers, one mini meet and going to my third plant tour.

Second Quarter 2004

INCOME ASSETS March 31, 2004
Dues IncomeCash & Bank Accounts
Basic Dues$80WAMU Checking$114.13
Corp Dues$0Key Checking$4048.91
Gold Dues$405.29Key Savings$2433
Gold Upgrade Dues$150PayPal$160.40
Total Dues Income$635.29Total Equity$6756.44
TOTAL INCOME$635.29Liabilities$0
WEB Hosting (AIT)$119.90
Bank Charge - WAMU $8
DOC PO Box$0ASSETS June 30, 2004
Member Kit Items$0Cash & Bank Accounts
Supplies$0Key Checking$4476.61
Postage$0Key Savings$2433
Total Equity$6939.90
NEDOC June Meet$323.93Liabilities$0
Beginning Balance 3/31/04 $6756.44Ending Balance 6/30/04: $6939.90Net Gain of $183.46

Joe Levy
DOC Treasurer


2004 Newark, Delaware Plant Tour

The date for this year's Plant Tour is Thursday October 14th 2004 - Friday October 15th at the Durango plant in Newark Delaware.

Thursday is set up as Registration Day, with D's to start arriving around 12 noon to check in at the hotel and pick up goody bags and plant tour details. Thursday afternoon is a Meet & Greet where we can all put faces to names and check out each others D's and Mods. Thursday around 6:30 pm is reserved for dinner at Matildas, an outback type place (only better from what I'm told.) Matildas is only a very short ride down the street from our hotel. We'll order from the menu. After dinner, we all usually return to the hotel parking lot to continue our schmooze.

Friday begins with early morning registration (for those who didn't stay over) from 6:00 am - 8:15 am. Once everyone's set, we'll begin lining up our beautiful D's around 7:30 am. Once lined up we'll be led to the plant for our 9:00 am start of the tour.

The tour will last till about 1 pm. A Special Event is being added to this years tour; the "First Annual Durango Owners Club Plant Tour Car Show" were all D's will be judged by some select Plant tour personal and other non-Club Members. Winners will receive prizes and awards. Also for this year's tour, we have arranged for special polished commemorative coins.

As in the past those staying Friday night may attend the optional dinner we have set up at Stewarts Brewing Company in Newark, Delaware. They have a very good menu and a Micro brewery in-house so it should provide a fun atmosphere.

Update: We're limited to 70 people on the tour so get your waivers in ASAP. This is first come, first serve.

We're also participating in the Annual Toys For Tots Drive and ask all attendees to bring 1 small unwrapped toy for a boy or girl.

Hotel info is as follows:

Howard Johnsons
1119 South College Avenue
Newark Delaware Double Room $59 per night
King Bed Room $ 55 per night
Suite $69 per night

800-688-2776 or 302-368-8521 and ask for Roxanne at ext. 305 or just tell them you're with the Durango Owners Club to secure these rates.​

The cost of this years Plant Tour will be as follows:

MEMBERS - $25 per couple
Non Members - $40 per couple (this includes 1 year membership to DOC)
No Children under the age of 18 may attend the Plant Tour
These fees help offset the cost of gifts for plant tour guides and personnel and also go towards the annual TOYS FOR TOTS DRIVE​

Please go to the Upcoming Events section and either print or download a waiver form and send it along with payment to:

Durango Owner Club Plant Tour
c/o Steve Smits
25 Hester Street
Bloomingdale NJ 07403​

You may also send waiver forms by Email to [email protected] -or- [email protected]

So get signed up — get your D shined up — and be a part of the premier DOC event!!

Great prizes and chances to win mods for your D!

Steve Smits
National Events Coordinator


To all Chapter Liaisons and Event Coordinators — This is your area of the newsletter, if you don't send it to me, it won't get printed here! Please send your chapter news to me no later than the 20th of the month for inclusion in the next newsletter. Submissions should be sent to [email protected] with the subject line "Newsletter."

These chapters are inactive at this time. If you'd like to volunteer as the new Chapter Liaison, please contact Angela or Vinny

Colorado, Gulf Coast, North Carolina and North Texas​

NEDOC Chapter:
The Newark, DE Plant Tour/Toys For Tots Drive is scheduled for October 15, 2004. It'll also feature the First Annual DOC Car Show were trophies and prizes will be given out. Steve Smits has arranged for special polished commemorative coins for this year's tour.

Any NEDOC member interested in having a "Mini-Meet" at their home should e-mail me at [email protected] or [email protected]. We'd like to have these once every quarter. A special thanks to Steve Smits and Dwayne Messerschmidt for hosting the first two!!

I know it's early, but mark your calendars for July 4th, 2005. Yup, that's right, July 4, 2005. The DOC has been registered to participate in a parade in Ridgewood, NJ. This is a HUGE parade and early signup is a must! It's a tremendous opportunity to gain exposure for the club! More details will follow. Contact me if you're intereted.

John Warnet - NEDOC Chapter Liaison

SWDOC Chapter:
The SWDOC is still in it's annual heat-induced hibernation, so no new trip reports this month. If you'd like to lead a trip later in the year, please contact me and I'll get it scheduled.

Note: I'm still planning a trip for the Saturday after Thanksgiving (November 27th.) If someone qualified would like to lead a trail such as Martinez Cabin, let me know. If I end up leading, it'll be something "easy" (maybe even 2WD-friendly) but scenic.

Until next time, stay cool!

Angela Morell - SWDOC Chapter Liaison

WGLDOC Chapter:
Wisconsin Dells Durango Rendezvous August 12-14th, 2004. Attendees: Terry & Sharon Mulawa, Elmo & Natalie Wilson, Steve Leinen and his folks Jeanne & Larry Leinen.

I want to thank Terry & Sharon from Michigan and Elmo & Natalie from Iowa for taking the time to trip to the heart of Wisconsin for a wonderful WGL event. I only wish more of us could have attended but these were some of the greatest Durango owners I have gotten to know and not just as a nickname on a computer monitor screen.

Front row: Natalie, Sharon, Elmo, Terry
Back row: Jeanne, Larry, Steve
Friday, Terry & Sharon, my folks and myself took in the Dells downtown board walk area and scoped out the many tourist trap nick knack shops and the boat tour options for Saturday. Later, we hooked up with Elmo & Natalie for supper. Supper was out at the Ho-Chunk Casino and was very good!

Early Saturday morning Elmo & Terry hit a golf course; you'll have to ask them how they scored; and later we tripped downtown to take in the Wisconsin river on Dells Boat Tours. One hour on the lower Dells and then two hours on the upper Dells.

The group picture was taken at the lower Dells boat loading area. My opinion was the upper deck was better for snapping pics, as opposed to sitting on the lower deck.
After the boat ride, and figuring which time zone to observe, we pulled the trucks together for a photo-op. Terry & Elmo had a little side wager on the best polished black Durango. Hands down, Terry's R/T was the best shined up! Then it was off for dinner at Houlihan's Restaurant & Bar Many thanks to Natalie for picking it and making reservations for our group!
A fun photo of DTR packed to the gills with a 25 gallon Red Wing crock.

When leaving the Dells area Sunday morning and heading to Rockford IL, one of the stops took us to Mount Horeb, WI, just west of Madison. Mount Horeb has handfuls of antique shops on the main drag through town. I found a mint condition crock with both handles still attached and had to completely unload the Durango's back end and repack all the luggage.

Surprisingly, on the return trip from Illinois I averaged a little over 15 miles per gallon at an average speed of 71 mph.
I hope all had a good time and I'll take ideas for events for next year. First thought is something in Michigan that's closer for Terry & Sharon so they won't have to ferry their D across Lake Michigan!
Steve Leinen - WGLDOC Chapter Liaison


This is "your" section of the DOC Digest. If you have an article or story you'd like to see in print, submit it to me no later than the 20th of the month at [email protected] with the subject line "Newsletter" for consideration for the next issue. We're looking for any kind of article that'd be of interest to our members.​


To help members solve common problems and keep their trucks in tip-top condition, we have started a feature called the DOC Tool Box. We're counting on you to send us your tips, work arounds and other creative approaches to problems so we can share them with the whole DOC. We're also looking for articles about mods, routine maintenance, etc. Please mention your engine size, tranny, model year and other pertinent details. This issue we have a great article on installing sway bars.

Installing the Hotchkis Sway Bar Kit
by Jack and Susie Payfer of Virginia Beach, VA

The Hotchkis sport sway bars are a great after market modification for the D. They help control sway while on the road giving more stability and better handling. The difference between the factory and Hotchkis bars is the Hotchkis are larger in diameter. The kit comes with instructions if you decide on DIY. Below, you'll find how we did ours using the instructions, e-mails with techs at Hotchkis and e-mails with people who've installed their own sway bars prior to us. The install is safer, easier and things line up better with the D up on ramps. Don't use jack stands! They'ren't as safe and the suspension will still be under pressure.

Bolts aren't included with the kit because you're suppose to use the existing ones but there's a known problem with the stock front bolts pulling out of the A-arm from stress (especially if you go off roading.) Hotchkis recommends using longer bolts so we decided to "upgrade" ours to handle the load. The existing holes for the front end caps were only about 40mm deep so we drilled & tapped all the way through the A-arm, one side at the time, using the bottom of the end cap as a guide, to allow us to use some grade 8, steel, 8x60mm bolts. You can purchase such bolts from any fastener store that sells nuts, bolts and the such. Don't over torque! Ours started breaking at 30 ft-lbs. so we only torqued them to 25 ft-lbs.

For the rear, it's easier to install the new bar if you remove the shocks first as it's tight working quarters trying to do it with the shocks in your way. It's not really a hard job, but does take a little time and patience.

Although Hotchkis doesn't recommended their bars for "regular" off road use, some have done so occasionally without problems. They do hold your suspension much tighter than the factory bars and will limit the articulation of the suspension. Unhooking the rear bar before going off road gives more articulation in your suspension. For the front bar, you'd have to remove it, but there are only six or eight bolts holding it on so it's not too much of a problem. For "serious" off roaders, a quick disconnect kit would be a good idea. 4x4 shops and some auto parts stores carry them.

In our case, we do mostly street driving so these bars were a good investment. Safety's important and we wanted all the safety in a sway bar we could have. If you're interested in adding this mod to your D, check out the Hotchkis web site or Truck Performance.

© September 2004 The Durango Owners Club, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be used in any way without the express written consent of the DOC.
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