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Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UberDork
4/24/17 1:14 p.m.

Next time you see your grandparents, give them each a high five. That truck is awesome!

BrokenYugo MegaDork
4/24/17 2:48 p.m.

If you're replacing a bunch of rubber stuff in the brakes adding the 41 year old master cylinder to the list wouldn't be a bad idea.

grover New Reader
4/24/17 8:18 p.m.

holy crap. this truck is the holy grail. Don't ever sell it, but if you do- email me first.

ShawneeCreek Reader
5/15/17 5:04 a.m.

Got the truck safely home this weekend. It barely fits in the garage with the APV GTP. More story and pictures later. I've got a busy day today.

Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
5/15/17 6:32 a.m.

That is a winning picture right there.

ShawneeCreek Reader
5/16/17 9:21 p.m.

The Bicentennial camper truck name is set in stone. Here is the key ring:

And a sticker on the windshield:

Anyways, Friday evening Mrs. ShawneeCreek and I packed up the parts and a selection of my tools and headed to the truck. Saturday morning I opened up the barn to begin working on the truck.

We started with the easy stuff, replacing the air filter. We discovered a stash from some local wildlife. Thankfully it was all outside the air filter. Nothing got into the engine.

Over the course of the day I replaced spark plugs, wires, coolant, thermostat, coolant neck, radiator hoses, engine oil, and oil filter. I also replaced the front brake hoses, and had to replace the front hard lines because the fitting rounded out and I had to destroy the hard lines in the process. I also disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled the front brake calipers. After all that work it started right up and idled well. Mrs. ShawneeCreek and I took it for a quick test drive around the block. No issues came up. We packed up the tools and spare parts into the back of the truck. Grandma had to take pictures before we could hit the road:

Time for bed. I'll get you the drive home story later. Until next time.

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/7/18 4:07 p.m.

Time flies and life happened. New job, moved to a new state, new house. The good news is this truck is still around and running. Let's see if I can get this up to date.

I snapped a couple of pictures of the interior of the camper before we left it behind at my grandparents. Right now it's still being used as storage. Once the truck is running well we might circle back and get this going as well. Until then it will sit comfortably in the barn.

On the way home we stopped after about 20 miles to give the truck a thorough looking over and to visit a tourist destination. That's one very large candle.

Made it home without further issue. The speedometer reads a little slower than reality. I'll have to be careful with that. Parked it up in the garage and did a little more digging into the only significant rust on this truck; the battery tray.

It may not be the most structural of battery hold-downs, but it works. Underneath:

It's rusted in half and it took out part of the inner fender. The good news is that I found a brand new battery tray hanging out in the bed if the truck.

The truck came with a selection of wheels and tires. The aftermarket 16.5" aluminum alloys and the original, staggered width 16.5" steel wheels with center caps. 

I've already scrapped the tires which were very old, but I still have the wheels and lug nuts if anyone is interested.

I gave the truck a quick wash, which took longer than I thought, there's a lot of truck here. It shines up decently. But it could really use some polish and chip and dent repair.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
4/7/18 4:30 p.m.
ShawneeCreek said:


Time for bed. I'll get you the drive home story later. Until next time.

All off a sudden I say to myself "I know these two from the Challenge!" You two are awesome by the way and connecting you with this truck makes total sense. I can see you two having all sorts of adventures in this thing. 

And you 100% NEED to get it rolling this summer so you can come visit in the UP. 

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/7/18 4:40 p.m.

Thank you. We'd love to take you up on that offer this summer. We'll keep in touch.

FYI, we're also planning on using this to tow the race van back to the Challenge this fall. I've got a long to-do list for both to get them ready in time.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
4/7/18 6:24 p.m.

In reply to ShawneeCreek :

The interior of that camper is amazing!!

chandler PowerDork
4/7/18 8:56 p.m.

You moved? Hope that works out well for you guys, the truck is amazing!

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/7/18 9:29 p.m.

Yeah, the interior of the camper is full on 70's muted yellows, greens, and browns. It's so bad that it's almost good.

In reply to chandler :

My former employer and I were no longer on the same page. I decided to find a new job elsewhere. We ended up near Bay City, Michigan. Very nice area. Really high car insurance rates.

Cotton PowerDork
4/7/18 9:46 p.m.

I love the truck and camper....awesome.  

Stampie UltraDork
4/7/18 10:05 p.m.

How did in miss this the first go around?  Read from the beginning and when you mentioned 16.5 inch wheels I said man I wish I could get those. I run military tires on my K30 and they're 16.5. If you really want to sell them let me know. 

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/8/18 6:11 a.m.

In reply to Stampie :

They're yours if you want them. Shoot me an email. I can give you more details and we can work out price, shipping, etc.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/8/18 6:58 a.m.

I'll help if I can. 

If the 16.5ers can get to me or near me in Sandusky (Cedar Point), I can get them to Pat. 

I think Stampie might be coming to Pat's. 

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/8/18 7:35 a.m.

Not long after getting the truck home it was pressed into service prepping the house for sale. 35 bags of mulch for the flower beds, loads of clutter and personal items that we didn't want out for showings, and towing the race car and race van to my wife's grandmother's house. It did pretty well.

Later, I had some coolant escape from a loose hose clamp. I tightened it up and fixed it, but it got rusty coolant all over the engine bay.

Good news though, we had two offers within five days of listing the house for sale and ended up getting our list price for it. Naturally this meant moving time and the truck was called up for duty again to move whatever the movers wouldn't. It has dual fuel tanks which is nice for range, but annoying at gas stations, since the fillers are on opposite sides of the truck. Unless the pumps are close enough together. Then you can do a trick :P Two at a time.

Stampie UltraDork
4/8/18 8:38 a.m.
John Welsh said:

I'll help if I can. 

If the 16.5ers can get to me or near me in Sandusky (Cedar Point), I can get them to Pat. 

I think Stampie might be coming to Pat's. 

Thanks for the offer but turns out they're narrower than what I have now so they won't work for me.

AngryCorvair MegaDork
4/8/18 8:50 a.m.

Old trucks doing truck stuff = winning.

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/8/18 3:12 p.m.

While moving into the short term apartment I had to use the truck to commute to work. About the third day in I get an email from one of my new coworkers that said "is this your truck?" with this picture:

Well, crap. It sure looks like it. While there is a really high concentration of GM pickups in the area (we are only an hour north of the Flint, MI light truck plant) there are very few left from the 70's. So it's got to be mine. I get out there after work and find the grill looking like this:

It looked like the radiator popped a leak while heat soaking after the commute in. At this point I'm done dealing with the cooling system failing and decide to go nuclear. New radiator, water pump, and heater core hoses to go with the radiator hoses, thermostat, and thermostat neck that were already installed. Thankfully the leak was minor and I was able to limp it home by periodically topping up the system with water.

I ordered up the parts from Rock Auto and threw in a new set of shock absorbers because the ride felt a little bouncy. Now, most all of my tools were locked up and buried in a storage unit with most of my things. I wanted to get a tool kit for the truck. I settled on the larger, automotive set from Harbor Freight. Happily, it tucks nicely behind wheel well on the side of the bed.

I did all of the work in the driveway next to the stored race van. It's a good thing I threw in the shocks. The ones that came off of the truck were original. "Delco 1975". 

I had some supervision in the tree in the background. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep me from breaking the transmission cooler line because the nut was rusted to the line. 

I finished up the cooling system and shocks and cleaned up my mess. On the way back to the apartment in Michigan we went to the Frankenmuth Auto Fest. Highly recommended. Lots of beautiful cars and a great swap meet. I mention the swap meet because I found something that will soon find its way into the truck:

Original, NOS, light truck plates. I love the patriotism.

Stampie UltraDork
4/8/18 3:30 p.m.

Can you take more pictures of your battery tray/box?  Does it just bolt to the core support?  I assume bolts top and bottom. 

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/8/18 6:13 p.m.

Pictures below, but near as I can tell:

  • The inboard side of the battery box has two bolts and a stud connecting it to the core support
  • The bottom of the battery box bolts to this and the inner structure that supports the fender (not too be confused with the inner fender/wheel well)
  • To the bottom of the battery box bolts a foot that clamps the battery in place

Looking from above the passenger front wheel:

Battery removed:

From above engine:

Above fender looking forward and down:

Looking down. Top of picture is the core support.

Replacement battery box bottom:

ShawneeCreek Reader
4/10/18 5:44 p.m.

While unloading the van at our new house I noticed this:

The half inch thick steel plate that the hitch ball is bolted to was angled down. The weight of the trailer was bending the bumper. I decided to add repairing and reinforcing the bumper to the to-do list. 

This brings us mostly up to date. Mrs. ShawneeCreek and I started planning and budgeting to come to the $2018 Challenge with the van. I wasn't completely comfortable taking the 42 year old truck on a 2,500 mile road trip in its current state, so I looked into renting a truck and trailer. More than $1,000 surprise, for just the truck! Then add diesel for the truck and the trailer rental and things really looked expensive. 

I talked it over with the Mrs. and she agreed that I could take the $1,000 that we would have spent renting a truck and use it to get ours up to speed. At least that way we will have a nice useable truck to continue to use after the trip. I made up a to-do list with monthly goals for both the truck and van. Top of the list for the truck was installing 3-point seatbelts, bleeding the brakes, and replacing the ancient spare tire.

The three point seatbelts weren't too bad. I ordered a pair of them from LMC Truck. They're a little more "universal" than I'd like. But at least they are tan to match the interior. And they're also a huge step up from the stock lap belts. Thankfully my truck is new enough that the upper mounting point is already there, just covered with a plastic plug.

I had to build a couple of small brackets to mount the seatbelt reels. I was able to use the stock mounting bolts though.

I got the brakes bled successfully. And I ordered a new alloy wheel from Rock Auto to match the other 4 currently on the truck. And a new Cooper Discoverer A/T3 from the Tire Rack. I'm glad to see that my former employer was able to convince the Tire Rack to sell their tires. I actually worked on some of the testing related to that just before I moved on to my new job.

Both the wheel and tire came in quickly and I had it mounted and balanced. For now it's just going to ride in the bed of the truck. I need to come up with a way to mount it on the stock location. The stock method involves a steel crossbar riding directly on the wheel face. This would work fine for a steel wheel. Not so well for a new aluminum alloy wheel.

We took the truck on a medium length trip (~350 miles round-trip) to my parent's house for Easter. I needed to pick up the last of my things from home and the Focus hatchback just wasn't going to get the job done. We made it there and back and I had to add a couple more things to the to-do list:

  • Replace the musical turn signal relay. It's funny for the first couple of turns and gradually moves towards really, really annoying.
  • Remove the CB radio antennas. We were getting lots of wind noise from them. And I don't plan on keeping the CB radio.
  • 10 mpg hurts, hard. I'm used to 28-35 mpg from the small, 4-cylinder cars that I've owned. I'd really like to improve this before the Challenge. I'm thinking about junkyarding a TBI swap and a newer transmission with overdrive. I need to do some research on both first. I'm hoping for more like 15 mpg when the truck is mostly unloaded.
  • Cruise control would be a welcome addition
  • As would a working stereo that I can hook my phone up to

I've already knocked the CB antennas off of the list. I was able to unbolt them and the extensions for the mirrors pretty easily. I ran a tap and die through the threads before bolting up the mirrors in the narrower position. Hopefully this means that I can get through the garage door without folding the mirrors in and out.

Once I finished that I decided to remove those chrome things bolted to the top of the fenders. They were used for the lower mounts for the Elimipitch shock absorbers that helped to stabilize the camper. See bottom right of this vintage ad:

I don't have those shock absorbers and I don't plan on getting them. And I feel like it's just adding turbulence and wind noise. 

I'll leave the holes for now and probably dab some paint in them to hold back any potential rust.

That's all for now. I'll try and keep this more up to date while working on it this year.


Stampie UltraDork
4/10/18 6:23 p.m.

In reply to ShawneeCreek :

Cool thanks.  I need to replace mine and I like that style.

Dusterbd13 MegaDork
4/10/18 6:49 p.m.

If you find a 94-95 chevy truck or suv in the junkyard, the ecm and tbi/trans harness are fairly standalone. That allows you to run the far more robust and common 4l60e.

Additionally, the last year of your body style was factory equipped with tbi, so a baffled fuel tank and in tank pump should be plug and play. 

A factory tbi intake will need slight wallowing of the holes in the center two bolts due to a different angle on the tbi heads. Factory tbi ignition will be fine.

Depending on the gearing and driving style, you should be able to get 16-18 mpg unloaded for about 500 in parts. Only thing that would be problematic is the cable driven speedo. 4l60e doesn't have a way to hook up a cable that i know of.

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