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Lof8 HalfDork
2/3/17 7:58 a.m.
Gunchsta wrote: It is the worst possible choice, but I would LOVE to be able to autocross this, even just recreationally.

That is a wonderful idea! Post pics!

SkinnyG Dork
2/3/17 10:02 a.m.

I approve of this project. My '77 Silverado tips its hat to you.

Gunchsta Reader
2/5/17 4:58 p.m.

Superbowl Sunday update!

Managed to take a little bit of time and go play in the garage this weekend, despite overall being a lazy piece of E36 M3.

Got some new hardware and installed my shocks

Then I started disassembling the hubs that were on the original spindles.

Dust shields were filthy, so I cleaned them

And painted them

Interestingly enough these are galvanized, which I didn't know. Seems to have worked too, as they were still solid and not all rusted and destroyed when I cleaned them.

Anyhow, that's what I was up to this weekend. Now I'm going to power through some beers and enjoy the commercials! Thanks for reading.

Cousin_Eddie Reader
2/5/17 5:50 p.m.

With your drop spindles and drop springs you could really benefit from raised sway bar brackets to get it up away from parking stops and road hazards.

Before I put them under my 74.

Installed. It mounts the sway bar a couple of inches higher and really tucks it up under there. The brackets are about 20 per pair.

If you're on the big Chevy truck forum board, I'm the guy that wrote the swaybar FAQ article about 15 years ago (screen name Tx Firefighter). I'm a GM truck geek.

Gunchsta New Reader
2/6/17 8:22 a.m.

In reply to Cousin_Eddie:

Nice, thanks! I always thought the stock sway bar brackets hung down really far, although I drove it all over last summer and had no issues. I'm guessing that the spindles/springs are going to put me about where I was before height wise so hopefully it's not a problem. Good to know that there's a solution though. If nothing else I may upgrade to those down the road for aesthetics alone.

SkinnyG Dork
2/7/17 6:54 p.m.


Where'd you go? Your build threads were freaking AWESOME! I miss you.

Gunchsta Reader
2/8/17 10:44 a.m.

So I went out one night before dinner with the intention of globbing some paint on my calipers so they could dry while I ate. As luck would have it I ran into something that took up my time instead. The 90 deg. hardline coming off of the caliper was fouling with the castle nut on the upper ball joint. This is due to the brake calipers technically being 2.5" higher than their original home. No worries, a little creative pry bar action and we have this result. Plenty of clearance for activities.

Once that was sorted I carefully brushed my BBQ black paint onto the calipers and let them dry. It is supposed to be high-temp paint so I am curious how it will hold up. It goes on super thick and covers really nice- even dries OK in below freezing weather. I also used it on the engine (where I could reach- lipstick on a pig remember?)

It dries less brown than it looks in the picture. It isn't jet black but for a cheap (hopefully durable) coating I think it looks fine. Plus it's far less messy than anything aerosol.

Once the calipers dried I went back out and assembled the whole party. I'll be honest I've never actually packed wheel bearings on a car (I've done many bicycle hub overhauls, similar concept) so that was kinda interesting. The bearings are stout, tapered rollers inner and outer. This truck is a blunt instrument compared to others but I still really have fun learning the HOW of things. The automotive equivalent of "putting a face to the name". Getting those packed took a while, and I found I wanted to run a tap through the threads for the dust shields, so between those two taking longer than anticipated I only got one side together. This is how it turned out. I am very happy and hopefully once everything is greased and properly aligned it will have much better manners than before.

Sure looks good compared to what I started with. It's so crappy even the camera didn't want to focus!

I'm feeling good about this project, and I'm excited to have some actual basic maintenance taken care of on this rig. It will open the door for more creativity down the road knowing I have a fresh, well put together base to start adding power to if I so choose. Maybe the 383 will find it's way in here after all. Maybe a turbo or two on the 305? I've always wanted to play around with turbo stuff.

Bill Mesker
Bill Mesker New Reader
2/8/17 10:59 a.m.

This is turning out really good. I can't wait to start my project... soon I hope. Just gotta find a decent Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/Town Car....

Gunchsta New Reader
2/8/17 11:10 a.m.

In reply to Bill Mesker:

Thanks! And good luck on your project- I have a Town Car for a daily. I like it and sometimes have daydreams about turbos, manual transmissions, all kinds of stuff. The Panther platform cars are under appreciated.

Bill Mesker
Bill Mesker New Reader
2/8/17 11:43 a.m.

In reply to Gunchsta:

I totally agree.

Bill Mesker
Bill Mesker New Reader
2/10/17 7:30 p.m.

In reply to Gunchsta:

If you can believe it... this whole Panther project is going be built around having a ISB Common Rail 4BT Cummins turbo diesel and a 545RFE auto out of a Dodge Ram. That's until I save up some cash and get an Allison 1000 6 Speed auto with manual shift capabilities.

Gunchsta Reader
2/13/17 8:55 a.m.

Well, I got the front end all buttoned up this weekend which answered some questions about the 'scope creep' that was inevitable. Thankfully, I had anticipated this and had been planning my attack already. What happened is that with the new 2.5" drop spindles and 2" drop springs, it is sitting a little lower than before. Naturally I was so excited to dig in that I took no measurements but based on where the lower bump stops sat before to where they sit now, I'd say the truck gained 1" of suspension travel and got 1.5" lower. So win win in that department. However, the scope creep is that now the rear suspension sat too high for my liking and was already lowered as much as I could muster without doing something drastic. So, all new rear suspension is on order from LMC that should allow me to have the rear sit exactly how I want. This was one of those things I knew I wanted to do, I just wasn't sure when I would do it- it ended up being another $725 in parts so I was hoping to put it off, but given the condition of the rear suspension I'm glad to be doing it now. By the end of this I will have replaced virtually every component of the suspension, with a parts total of a little over $1,400. Add the $1,800 purchase price to that and we're into this project for $3,200. Adds up quick! And, there's still a 383 in pieces for the next batch of fun if I so choose.

One other question that got answered by finishing the suspension was what wheels to run- I had been missing the OEM goodness of the alloy wheels it came with, and given that the steelies were the wrong offset the outer tie rod now contacted the rim of the steel wheels. This is because the 2.5" spindles put the tie rod 2.5" lower in the wheel, making contact with the other tie rod. I could have easily run a 1/4" spacer but like I said, I have been looking for an excuse to run the alloys again. So here we are. Lowered, Alloy wheels on the front, steelies on the back still and more rake than I'd like.

And, with the help of some awesome friends, this is where I ended up Saturday afternoon. Back in the garage, no bed, ready for the rear suspension to be overhauled.

As you can see the axle is still below the springs- the common way to lower these is to 'flip' the axle and put it ontop of the springs. Well, I was being cheap this summer, and somebody had already been mucking around in there so I just flipped the front perches over. This gave me about a 2" drop, combined with the 2" drop rear hangers it had I was happy with where it sat. But, it wasn't good. The pinion angle was terrible and all of the components were super worn out. I wasn't happy with it but for the time it worked. Now it will be done properly, with a flip kit, which will allow me to run lowering blocks if necessary. It should also correct the pinion angle issue and allow me some further adjustability if needed. It will also allow me to run some kind of a traction device (slapper bars, cal tracs, etc) if the truck sees some horsepower down the road.

Here's the lowered rear spring hangers

And here's my redneck flip kit for the front spring hangers

This threw my pinion angle way off and basically sucked. You can also see this little guy which I really don't like- a bead of weld across one of the eyes of the spring. Seems like it's been there forever but I still really don't trust it. Especially if I plan on putting more power to it, this will become a weak point very very quickly (it already is).

So that's where I'm at after this weekend. LMC order is placed, I'm going to go home after work and start disassembly, clean up some of the scabby rust and put some black rustoleum lipstick on it and bolt it all back together. I'm excited to have a very solid suspension to build from!

Gunchsta Reader
2/13/17 9:11 a.m.

Oh, and Friday night I went and walked my mom's dog for her and pulled this little guy out of storage for a quick cruise. This one may get a thread of it's own when I finish the truck up and it comes home.

I also have another question for the group: How do you prioritize love affairs with multiple cars? I've always struggled to own multiple cars, let alone multiple 'toys'. I do pretty good with a daily driver and a toy, but now I'm at a daily driver and 2 toys and it's causing me some grief as I struggle with "which one I love more" - and the fact that I only have 1 garage stall and I feel guilty letting something sit outside. I realize I am extremely fortunate to even have this issue, but none the less I'm looking for some input on how everybody copes with multiple cars without specific transportation purposes.

Thanks for reading!

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
2/13/17 9:17 a.m.

Right there with you. I found that i naturally oscillate between the two. (3 in my case). One gets love and affection and driven more than the other, then it changes.

Gunchsta New Reader
2/13/17 9:31 a.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13:

And that's exactly why I feel foolish "complaining" because it's a good problem to have- I get the choice of enjoying and adoring 2 very different vehicles (three including the daily which also gets love) but I sometimes find myself feeling guilty for ignoring one. Although luckily at this point I don't have a ton of money into any of them so it makes it easier to let them be for a while.

Gunchsta Reader
2/14/17 7:26 a.m.

Spent some time disassembling things last night. Got the leaf springs and mounting brackets off.

Cleaned the scale off the frame with a flapper wheel. Lipstick on a pig, remember? This will get a coat of rustoleum black in the next couple of days. Nothing extravagant just a little color.

Then I highlighted a few areas of "improvement" to address while the bed is off.

Hmm. Bubble gum, and I missed the mark. Welding drunk on your back in the dark doesn't always yield stellar results. This proves it.

The tailpipe situation. I think I'm going to change this for 2 reasons. One, I believe with the normal rear spring hangers it's going to be right in the way, and two, because I love welding practice and exhaust is fun to play with. I was never really happy with how these tips turned out so I think now is a good time for a change.

Gunchsta Reader
2/14/17 7:38 a.m.

My s10 blazer rear sway bar was attached rather hastily last summer. I'm going to be attempting to make this all a little stiffer and cleaner. These upper mount brackets are going to get boxed at the very least, if not redesigned completely. I'd like to have some pretty little laser cut tabs, but I'm also impatient. Either way, I want this to be more solid and less ugly

This also was a hack job. I plan on getting all new bushings and then some appropriate 3" exhaust clamps. I think I'll have to widen the stock tabs on the bushings a bit, but that shouldn't be an issue.

Keep in mind- this was an $11 junkyard swaybar, and I re used all the hardware. This was sort of an experiment for me, and it seemed to work. So now I'm going to go back and dot my I's and cross my T's and make the install more functional and cleaner. Not looking for Porsche level handling here, just a little improvement over stock.

More to come!

Gunchsta Reader
2/16/17 8:03 a.m.

Made it back out to the garage for another installment of truck fun. I scored this hunk of square tube at work that I thought could transform into pretty good swaybar mounts.

Then I took the paint off and made some cardboard templates of what I thought I wanted the brackets to look like

Then I sat and stared. I cut one of the brackets out and didn't like how it was fitting on the crossbar I had made for the swaybar. I also didn't like the amount of time it was going to take me with a 4 1/2" grinder to cut and drill and shape all of these silly brackets. Some further staring, followed by some cutting, and some drilling, landed me here.

The nut for the endlink bolt fits nicely into the tube that used to serve as the crossmember and gives me a rigid and very simple attachment point. No washers, no extra hardware to fiddle with. This is very similar to how this bar was attached in the junkyard on the truck it came off of.

in place ready to be welded

Welded! Showcasing your own ugly welds online for the world to see is... humbling. Anyway, they're in there solid and I think this is a much better system. I am curious about the potential for flex because the tube is just welded to the frame and not gusseted, but time will tell.

Overview. I think it looks cleaner without that bar going across the frame, and it certainly looks better not having those angle iron mounting brackets that were too wide and had to be filled with washers.

Then I slopped some paint on the ol girl to shine it up some and protect from further rust. This wasn't that enjoyable, and I'm not exceedingly happy with how it turned out, but that's ok it'll all be covered up.

jfryjfry Reader
2/16/17 9:08 a.m.

Going back a bit, you said first time packing bearings.... first time assembling front hubs/rotors? Did you adjust the nut properly?

And I can't say whether or not the new sway bar mount will last but single shear (whatbit now is) isn't as good as double shear or at least gussetted.

Gunchsta New Reader
2/16/17 9:15 a.m.

In reply to jfryjfry:

I adjusted the front hub nut so as to be as free spinning as possible without play. Is there a better way to do this?

As for the sway bar mount it's going to get a gusset it in some way or another. I'll see if I can get creative and make something that will cradle both sides of the end link.

Thanks for the input!

SkinnyG Dork
2/16/17 9:40 a.m.

I tighten the nut down VERY firmly while spinning the hub (seats the bearings and everything), then back it off and then tighten it as tight as I possibly can with just my fingers (zero play, zero pre-load). Then pin it and you're done.

Gunchsta New Reader
2/16/17 9:58 a.m.

In reply to SkinnyG:

Thanks- Thinking back I did snug it up using a big 1 1/4" wrench as I spun the hub, then backed it off some but I'll double check it when I get the rear end back together. Cheap insurance!

SkinnyG SuperDork
2/16/17 11:14 p.m.

Looking forward to seeing the flip completed. You will want the original leaf hangers with a flip kit, or you will be too low. A flip matches springs & spindles really well.

I don't think notching the frame is worth it - the pumpkin will hit the bed floor before the axle tubes will hit the frame. I notched the frame on my '77, and I'm not sure it was worth it.

If the stock shocks bottom out before the axle does (or are too soft at their new angle), run 4WD front shocks.

Gunchsta Reader
2/17/17 9:24 a.m.

In reply to SkinnyG:

Funny you should mention original spring hangers... These guys showed up yesterday along with new shackles, drop shocks, flip kit, new leaf springs, and new hardware.

Obviously the exhaust will need to be moved, much as I expected. Oh and don't worry about the 2 missing bolts- I misplaced them and will be getting new.

Thanks for the tip on the 4wd front shocks- I bought the bullet and ordered drop shocks, but I could have saved some money by ordering those. I don't really get how over priced drop shocks are for trucks. Also thanks for the heads up on notching the frame- I don't intend to cut anything until I have everything bolted together (aside from the box back on obviously) and get an idea where it will all sit. I'd prefer NOT to notch it, but I also do not want to be hammering the axle on the frame over every bump- MN roads are pretty rough, especially in early spring. Now I'm hopeful it won't need to be cut! I appreciate the input.

I also cleaned and painted the axle housing and put my springs/flip kit in place. I would have assembled everything but the paint on the axle was still wet. Maybe tonight, although it's Friday so it might be episodes of the office and beer on the couch.

Maybe back on the ground this weekend?! I'm anxious to see how the truck drives & handles with everything new and geometry being more correct than it was.

Gunchsta Reader
2/20/17 10:33 a.m.

Didn't work on the truck much this weekend because it was spectacular out... 60 and sunny. Not normal for February in Minnesota. I took the time to do some bicycling and drink some beer outdoors on Saturday. Sunday I worked a bit and did finally get the truck back on the ground, albeit briefly. Thankfully as SkinnyG suggested the notch is unnecessary. That saves me some money and work which is great.

Here's the truck on the ground. I like the way it sits and I think the stance will be spot on for what I want.

I would have liked to roll it outside and check it out from a distance, but alas the bed is infront of the garage and I wasn't going to move that myself.

Here's the frame to axle clearance. Plenty of room for activities.

I think it's worth noting that I paid the $140 or $150 for the McGaughy's flip kit- which I am totally satisfied with so far. I think this is something that could easily be home made, but not at my skills. The parts are super beefy, they set the axle back a bit on the spring to correct the pinion angle, and the plate mates up nice with the original leaf spring pad. Everything is super stout and works nicely. I am very glad I didn't try to engineer this up on my own. It would have been awful.

The only small issue I ran into was shock mounts- with the spring below the axle instead of above it the bolt for the lower shock mount was a bit of a fidget to get through. On one side I had to actually take the lower u-bolt plate off and put the shock on first. Something to keep in mind. I think they do make extensions for the factory shock mounting on the axle to solve this, I may have sprung for those had I known the shock bolts would be right next to the springs, but I was able to make it work as is.

At this point everything was pretty well buttoned up, and aside from finishing the exhaust the bed would have been ready to go back on. However, the rubber line from the frame to the axle was of unknown age and starting to show a few cracks. When I had the bed off last summer for bodywork I wanted to replace it then but chose not too as it was pretty crusty and looked like it was going to involve more than just that rubber hose. So, here I am with the bed off again and I'm trying to convince myself to ignore it. All things considered I suspect it would have been fine for the next few years, but seeing as I already didn't like how it looked once, I didn't want to let myself ignore it again. I was really getting excited with the nice weather and everything to have the truck back together, but I forced myself to start pulling the lines apart.

Ends up that I will be replacing all the hard lines from the cab back, as well as that rubber hose, and probably re-doing the brakes while I'm at it. Snowball. The brakes work fine and the shoes look like they have some life left in them, but again... "while I'm in there" it'll be easier now anyway. Plus, if I have to replace one wheel cylinder (broken bleeder screw... son of a bitch) I will have to disassemble the shoes and hardware on that wheel anyway, may as well not put old parts back on.

That's it for now, back to the credit card and LMC Trucks!

Thanks for reading.

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