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Gunchsta Reader
1/20/17 8:16 a.m.

Hello from Minnesota!

I feel as though I've taken so much from this forum in my brief time lurking that I would like to try and add a contribution of my own. Most of this will pale in comparison to the amazing things I've seen done on here, but all the same I want to contribute my share so as to be a participant versus just a consumer.

Anyhow- I will start this thread with what I am currently working on in my modest little 1 car garage- this 1983 GMC High Sierra.

Bought May 12th 2016 for no reason other than "oooh piece of candy" and the fact that it was sub $2,000 and I apparently had that kind of money to burn. Found on craigslist at work, phone call was made and I was set to go look at it that evening. Drove about 45 minutes into rural MN and checked it out. The truck had been lowered in some unknown way (I suspected cut coils, I would later find out that I was wrong) and had a cat-back Flowmaster exhaust, but otherwise it was incredibly original. Rust existed in modest quantities everywhere, but nothing that looked too daunting. There was a hole in the driver’s floor, but having bought a welder the previous winter I thought this would be an excellent vehicle to do my first floor pan replacement on. After all it's a truck- the build quality wasn't exactly top notch to begin with. For Minnesota, this was a nice example of a pretty original old truck. I popped the hood and this greasy small block greeted me in grimy but complete condition.

I turned the key and it roared to life with as much gusto as any 35 year old 305 can, and proceeded to idle at what felt like 4500 rpm (no tachometer obviously, that would’ve cost extra!). This could be cause for alarm, but knowing this truck likely has a quadrajet (it does) and that they have a tendency to have a pretty aggressive high idle I wasn’t worried. The owner didn't seem concerned about thumping it into gear and barking the tires in his garage, so into reverse she went. No thump, just a smooth drop in RPM as it went into gear. Out the garage and onto the road we went. The truck drove OK, it wandered a bit, the tires were junk, the brakes pulled, and the valve cover gaskets were leaking like mad, but it did what it should and everything worked. My Dad and I pulled off to the side of the road for a closer inspection. The bed was really clean, the engine was 100% stock (which is like a unicorn on any old small block Chevy, they get chrome valve covers practically right off the lot), and overall it looked like the truck hadn't been monkeyed with much in its lifetime. I was sold. We drove it back to his house, pulled in the garage, and started talking numbers. I believe he had it listed at $1,900 and we finally settled on $1,800. I signed the title and we talked about the owner’s history with the truck. He had had it the last 8 or so years and had apparently towed a small camper up north with it pretty often, necessitating the trailer hitch and additional trans cooler. Because of the towing the water pump, fan clutch, and radiator had been replaced, so the cooling system was in good working order.

Lately it would seem it had been used mainly to "load up a 6-pack and drive down to the neighbor’s house"- this fine specimen of a truck had been relegated to Booze Cruiser duty! [If you look closely in the picture you can make out a red Folgers can glued to the dashboard- I had no idea what this was until I got home and started poking around in the thing and enjoying a beer, when I discovered that this can was the perfect size and shape to stash a 12 oz beverage can in and have it completely disappear].

The drive home wasn't too exciting, everything (including the factory radio) worked and once I got re-acquainted with the feather light 80's GM power steering, it took me home with no issues. One unexpected bonus I did discover driving the truck around was that it was the 700r4 overdrive auto, not the th350 3 speed like I had assumed it would be. That overdrive gear sure makes this thing purr down the highway. I tried to hash out what exactly my plan was with the truck, what purpose it would serve as my 3rd car in my one car garage equipped household. Luckily, this had the practicality of an 8' bed to haul things so it had an immediate functional purpose. Once I got it home I started to peel off the missing & damaged trim and went downtown to take some pictures

More to come!

RossD UltimaDork
1/20/17 8:28 a.m.

Welcome to the party, from your next door neighbor! Lovely truck!

RossD in Wisconsin.

mazdeuce UltimaDork
1/20/17 8:31 a.m.

Color me interested. These can still be found for cheap-ish here in Texas (with no rust obviously) but they all need love. I've always wondered what sort of money and effort it takes to get one back to the limited glory they came with from the factory.

Gunchsta New Reader
1/20/17 8:32 a.m.

In reply to RossD:

Thanks Ross- I have made a few trips over to your beautiful state in this very truck last summer.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
1/20/17 8:42 a.m.

I spent a month daily driving a shortbed version of one of these last year. Good trucks.

And thanks for deciding to become a contributing member!! Don't worry about the mad scientists that lurk in the build thread forum. Most of us are just guys with a rabbits foot and no fear of failure. The nohome and mazduces are the guys we aspire to be.

CLynn85 HalfDork
1/20/17 8:57 a.m.

I <3 Cheap trucks. Looks really solid and long beds are incredibly useful.

ssswitch Dork
1/20/17 9:13 a.m.

That's a really solid-looking truck. I don't think there are many left of that age up here where they salt, which is a shame.

How bad are the cab corners?

Lof8 HalfDork
1/20/17 9:17 a.m.

Cool lookin ride! Rough old trucks have infinite uses!

Gunchsta Reader
1/20/17 9:27 a.m.

As mentioned previously this thing has some rust. I figured the first order of business (that's right, even before the valve cover gaskets) was to address what I could with the rust.

side note, upon actually driving the truck some the cork valve cover gaskets softened up a bit and they were no longer actively leaking onto the exhaust manifolds, so they got put on the back burner

I purchased a new drivers floor pan as well as inner and outer rocker panels from a vendor at a swap meet. I believe in total for all this brand new sheet metal it was $76 dollars.

Start with some of this

And get out the death wheel and do some of this

Then realize that you need to further disassemble the truck to cut the rockers off where you want, so you do this

and this

Starting to get very friendly with the death wheel, and also have never had a vehicle missing this much of itself

And with the magic of the internet and time, presto you're putting pieces back onto the truck! Fresh shiny new not rusty pieces. I spent a bunch of time on Youtube watching others go through this process which was extremely helpful in finding out the order in which to put the panels on. I would've put the floor in, then the inner rocker, then the outer, but it turns out the inner rocker has to go in first (as shown in this picture) so that everything else can line up with that. Considering this is my first effort we're going to use the term 'line up' very loosely here, because this didn't turn out perfect.

Yet more internet timeline magic and the floor is going in. It's worth noting that I cut, fit, cut, fit, cut, massaged, fit, bent, and cut some more a bunch of times and as mentioned previously, it still isn't perfect. I'm happy with how everything lined up, but this is not going to win any awards. The goal was just to have the thing solid again and not be able to see the ground rushing past as I drive.

Here's a poor picture of the outer rocker on. At this point I wasn't really intending on a 'build thread' I was just taking some pictures. So I apologize for the less than detailed accounts of what all went into this portion of the project.

Gunchsta New Reader
1/20/17 9:31 a.m.

In reply to ssswitch:

Cab corners are a little swiss cheesy- I plan on replacing them in the spring although they're more presentable than some. I tried to make my own patch on the drivers side and there just wasn't enough there for my limited skills to work with so that will be re-done with new panels.

petegossett UltimaDork
1/20/17 9:40 a.m.

Cool truck. My first concert(Dio) involved about a 70-mile drive home on the interstate with the 85mph speedo buried on a white '83 Chevy with topper and running boards. I'd guess we were probably pushing 100, and still getting passed by everyone. Those were still the days of 55mph interstates too...

Gunchsta New Reader
1/20/17 9:46 a.m.
petegossett wrote: Cool truck. My first concert(Dio) involved about a 70-mile drive home on the interstate with the 85mph speedo buried on a white '83 Chevy with topper and running boards. I'd guess we were probably pushing 100, and still getting passed by everyone. Those were still the days of 55mph interstates too...

Awesome. Just awesome. Thanks for sharing. I can only imagine you guys all fired up from Dio (R.I.P Ronnie James) just flying home in that truck. Lovely.

Gunchsta Reader
1/20/17 10:17 a.m.

With the bed off I flipped the front spring hangers to get rid of some of the 'truck rake' which I don't particularly like, as well as decided to add a rear sway bar from an S10 blazer. Here's a bad picture of that swaybar install. also- pay no mind to those U bolts, specifically the washer stack. I am a bit of a hack at times.

Out of the driveway for the first time in a month! There was a car show down the block from me on July 4th and I wanted to have the truck moving again for the show, as well as do some sweet no-bed burnouts. I accomplished both!

Redneck 4th of July shenanigans after my friends helped me lift the bed back on. I have awesome neighbors.

Driveway skids

Aftermath. Yes it's a peg leg for now.

failboat UberDork
1/20/17 11:30 a.m.

Hell yeah, longbed trucks rule!

SyntheticBlinkerFluid UltimaDork
1/20/17 11:39 a.m.

I always dig a squarebody build. You got the factory wheels I like too. Luckily there are many sources for parts for these trucks.

Gunchsta Reader
1/23/17 11:28 a.m.

After the rocker & floor project was completed I made some appearance changes by way of a smaller side view mirror, some white wall tires, and painted the roof white. I played with bondo a bit for the first time and did some chores around the house as well as went camping.

Here's my $100 craigslist chevy truck steel wheels painted gloss black

Here they are on the truck on a road trip into Wisconsin for my birthday. Big mirrors are still on at this point

a couple of snaps at a cool old train depot the fiance and I found exploring near Menomonie.

Then the Fiance and I re-did the patio. Which was awful. It isn't flat, it floods like crazy when it rains, it was a huge pain to do. I am not a fan of patios. Perhaps it will be easier next time, or maybe I'll just build a deck. Anyhow at least the truck worked well. Until I tried to load like 4500lbs of pavers & sand into the back of an already lowered half ton truck. That didn't go so well. The rental half ton truck did much better though Or I cared less. In this picture you can see the slim mirror I put on.

Gunchsta Reader
1/23/17 11:46 a.m.

Some more practice with bondo- Welded the old trim holes in the tailgate shut, ground them down and filled what was left with bondo. Any input into why the bondo spots show up through the primer is appreciated. I basically just bought a can and started slapping it on and sanding it smooth, so if there's something obvious missing here I'm all ears.

Then I went to a car show and looked like a nerd with my adventure hat on.

disclaimer- not my photo, taken from the car show website

This particular car show happened to have an autocross on site as well... so naturally I took the truck through the cones. Long and the short of it was that the course was very tight, and I waited legitimately 5 hours to get 2 runs. It was very busy and the officials did everything they could for it to run smooth, but there were a few people going off course, as well as the "professionals" that were participating in the street machine challenge getting constantly bumped in front of everyone. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had autocrossing, but in the minute and a half on course the truck didn't break nor did I scrape the door handles or rockers off on the ground, so I consider it a victory.

Also my buddy was way up in the grandstands and happened to film one of my runs. Man was it comical watching something so big and long navigate the tiny autocross course.

The Fiance and myself also took the truck to her families labor day camp out with this wicked truck tent we bought. That was a great time. With the air mattress in the tent we still had like 4' of storage/living area because the tent went all the way out onto the tailgate. We parked with the bed facing the lake and could wake up and look out the tent door to the lake. It was great. Super easy to set up and take down, no stakes going out for drunkards to trip on, the truck tent is awesome.

hemihauler20 New Reader
1/23/17 1:37 p.m.

In reply to Gunchsta:

I have to admit this is pretty damn nice! You did a really nice job on the rust repair. Any plans for the 305/700-R4 performance wise Gunch?

Gunchsta New Reader
1/23/17 2:01 p.m.

In reply to hemihauler20:

Thanks! I'm very pleased for my first time. It is by no means show worthy but it is solid.

As for the 305 nothing too major, but it will get some attention. Stay tuned!

novajhon New Reader
1/23/17 5:08 p.m.

L31 vortec heads and a performer intake... good stuff for the 305

Gunchsta Reader
1/25/17 10:36 a.m.

Update time!

As for "performance" I bought a crate 383 I was going to put in place of the 305... but once I pulled it apart and got the machine work done I lost interest. Given my last project car I am very familiar with the snowball effect putting a hotrod engine in can have. Sometimes that is a lot of fun, sometimes you don't feel like it. Currently I have no desire to make this truck 'fast' and the 305 runs great.

So the headers that came with the 383 got put on the 305 and it got some lipstick in the form of degreasing/painting (all with the engine in the truck mind you, what do you think I am some kind of rockstar?) and some emissions delete action. Trying to make it a little more presentable and less necessary to have a full jumpsuit on just to check the oil.

Naturally, the stock y-pipe didn't mate up to the newly installed headers, so some modifications had to be made to get the headers breathing into the existing exhaust. Now this is where I made a mistake. I've made exhaust before on previous vehicles, from headers, with nary an issue. However, this time I was dumb and loosely bolted the headers to the engine. Mistake. I then built the y-pipe off of these loosely fitted headers, and thought all was well. Lo and behold when I got gaskets nothing lined up! So I cut the y in the middle, added a short section of pipe, and made everything mate up square again. I didn't take a ton of pictures of this process, so here's the finished product. It fits over the trans crossmember on one side and under it on another. And it has a v-band because my friends build cool stuff and sometimes nice parts trickle down. Oh and naturally this is all re-used or acquired tubing. A mandrel bend here, a crush bend there, and the actual Y of the original pipe was re-used. I didn't just modify that because it was built with the most disgusting crush crinkle straw tubing and I couldn't stand it. Weird hang up on a 165 horsepower 305 I know, but I couldn't do it.

Over complicated perhaps. But it's functional and it fits nicely.

Next up- I get all 'concerned' about 'quality' and take a look at just how the front end of the truck was lowered...



hemihauler20 New Reader
1/25/17 2:05 p.m.

In reply to Gunchsta:

Eeek.... that spring looks sprung.... and not in a good way.

Gunchsta Reader
1/25/17 7:37 p.m.

So I knew earlier this summer that the springs had been heated to lower the truck. It was literally sitting on the bump stops and I had my doubts about the springs actually holding the truck up at all. The truck rode like a lowered truck, but it honestly wasn't nearly as bad as it should've been.

I went back and forth on whether or not I was actually going to replace the springs with new springs and cut them, if I was just going to order 4" drop springs, or what exactly I was going to do. My quandary is that with the heated springs I don't know exactly how much the thing had been lowered, and I happen to really fancy the height it is. The most appropriate thing to do would be to get a set of drop spindles and lowering springs and gain some suspension travel back without raising the truck. This was also the most expensive option.

But- as my fiance decided that she would like to use this truck to gallivant around the Midwest for our honeymoon, the expensive & reliable option seemed all to justified. I decided to disassemble things and order what was necessary from there.

Here's what I started with

Greasy, rusty, original? I'm certain the upper ball joints were original to the truck as well as likely the shocks and lower ball joints. And frankly everything else. Surprisingly enough everything was pretty tight.

More Yuck.

Brakes, spindles, and rotors off. and a pan of gunk to try and minimize the disaster under the truck. Nothing worse than getting your work space all filthy and having no way to clean it well because the truck doesn't move.

upper control arm off. The bushings looked pretty brutal, the arm was scaly and nasty, and the ball joints were riveted in. Also a whole new upper arm was 52 dollars and change from Moog/Rock Auto and ball joints were like 30. I figured it was worth it to just get the new arms. Also- I wanted to deal with this.

Those are bent and distorted alignment shims. Much like the previously mentioned crinkle bend y pipe that I couldn't tolerate, these bothered the living E36 M3 out of me. Someone had slipped them in the wrong order- there are semi rounded ones that are suppose to mate up with the cross shaft on the upper arm, and these were in between the arm and the other shims causing them to get all bent and distorted. Obviously the truck drove straight and everything was fine, I just hated looking at it.

With everything that was going to be disassembled off, I did some cleaning.

This was my reward

add lightness right?

Next up- Ricky approves of my parts pile! Or doesn't give a E36 M3 because he's a cat.

hemihauler20 New Reader
1/25/17 7:42 p.m.

In reply to Gunchsta:

Cats never give a E36 M3 about anything.... but I have a feeling he was impressed by the boxes haha.

Gunchsta Reader
1/25/17 8:00 p.m.

In reply to hemihauler20:

He was.

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