Bobzilla UltimaDork
3/9/17 7:36 a.m.

So, I thought I'd put this all together. After being inspired by Roadkill and getting the support of the wife, I pulled the trigger on a 1978 C10 stepside 4-spd. I had the brother in law and his friend take a look to make sure the pictures weren't better than reality since I was 1700 miles away and then sent over the money.

FIL/MIL brought it home to their house in Saddlebrooke, AZ and kept it there while I picked up a flight on March 3rd. After a couple weeks they sent me a couple pics of it in their garage:

Finally, the day comes, I caught a flight to LAX from Indianapolis, then over to tucson. They had a doctors appointment at the same time as my arrival so they left their xA at the airport for me. I drove the hour back to their house to find this:

I was pleasantly surprised to find something that looked identical to the pictures. So I went to work installing my harnesses to get us home.Then took it for a trip around the block to pick up some fluids. Brake fluid to the rears was low, power steering fluid was low and while I was at it I grabbed a quart of oil even though it wasn't low. On the drive, I learned there are no turn signals. The turnsignal indicators come on with the brake lights. Well, at least I have brake lights and headlights. I knew we could get it home with hand signals if need be.

Next morning I head out to Harbor Freight to grab a jack and a couple little things I'd forgotten. Then to find a spare tire/wheel. All the places that likely would have had them were not open (oddly) so I headed down to the airport. 5 hours later, my co-driver made it. His plane had a ground radar failure, and hte part to replace was in tucson, he was in LAX... so 5 hours later they got into Tucson.

Dad was happy to come along and I'm grateful as well. No way I would have made it alone. I've gotten too spoiled by modern amenities and this was missing all of them!

But this was his first look at the truck:

After dinner with the whole family, we crawled into bed where I could not sleep. At this point, I'm a little apprehensive. No spare. The tires are dry rotted. Top speed appears to be 60mph, it's running stupid rich and hte choke isn't even hooked up. Brakes are soft then hard. That dump truck gearbox sounds like it's ready to explode at all speeds. I just knew we were going to be stranded in BFE somewhere.

So, bright eyed and bushy tailed, we head out the following morning. First stop was the gas station to fill up a second time to get an idea what kind of range we can expect. As always, I'm checking the oil and dad starts laughing. When I ask what, he points to this:

I got a free funnel! Not sure if this is a good sign or not. But it was really dirty so I'm guessing it hasn't been used in a while.

So off we go, up AZ 77 headed to Globe, AZ.

Beautiful road. great views. Great way to start letting the truck just run 55-60mph. It was running a little rough, but we were wondering how long it had been sitting. but over all was doing well.

Stopped at autozone in Globe to pick up some wipers that would work, some WD-40, glass cleaner and paper towels. Started spraying everything (hood hinges, door hinges, door latches, hood latch, wing windows etc) and things started moving so easily. a little lubrication went a long way!

Found a nice overlook in the twisty parts just south of Salt River Canyon.

Made it up to Show Low for lunch and our first fuel stop. This is where the trips starts to get interesting. As I'm pumping the gas and Dad is checking the oil, this kid about 10 comes up and asks "Hey mister, can I look at your engine?" I look up and see his dad looking at me as well and said "absolutely". This was the beginning of a lot more attention than I expected. This type of admiration was found all across the country, including a woman in Missouri who told me that on Tuesdays they only accept titles for the payment.

Couple hours later we made it out of Arizona, much to the disappoint of some friends who had bets on the first break downs.

So we head across 60, then slip down to 380 to cut across to 54. While we are at it we just happen to stop off here:

I know that the actual trinity site is only open twice a year, but this works for me. From there, we head on past these:

The VLA. Something every inner star gazing geek should get a chance to see. Their physical size is just amazing!

They adjust these on double train tracks. Literally two train tracks side by side. pretty awesome.

Rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Fuel economy started to rise from 13 to 15 and it was definitely running better. The only unscheduled stop was the side of the road sought of Santa Rosa, NM to adjust the headlights because we couldn't see 10' in front of us. Made it to the LaQuinta in Santa Rosa for hte night. All in 575 miles the first day and we averaged 14.2mpg on day 1.

Dusterbd13 PowerDork
3/9/17 7:48 a.m.

Im going to enjoy this

Bobzilla UltimaDork
3/9/17 8:00 a.m.

So Day two started fairly easily. Filled up, put in the first quart of oil. AFter a couple mis-starts trying to find a frontage road that didn't exist, we hopped onto I40 to get over to Tucumcari. Before we knew it, we were in Texas.

And then we hit the wind and dust.

This would be the beginning of almost 300 miles of dust and smoke. The dust was getting everywhere. We were feeling it in our noses, eyes, throats....just icky. Wind was blasting around 40-50mph. Then, we were in Oklahoma.

Since we were going through the panhandle it didn't take long for us to make it to Kansas, where the wind and dust were unbelievable.

Dad has more photos of the dust and the entry to Kansas. I'll get them up when he gets them posted.

We chugged along until catching the backside of a rain storm that stretched from Texas to Canada. Nasty lightning and thunderstorms led us into Missouri where we called it a night in Nevada, MO. This left us 480 miles to go for Tuesday to get home. By this point, we were able to run 65-68mph consistently, but she was starting to use oil a little faster.

Following morning, we added another quart of oil and headed out. Truck was running REALLY good by this point. Between the lower altitude and the colder air, the stupid rich carb tuning was now down to just really rich. We were finally feeling the secondaries opening up under hard throttle and she was running great. Gas mileage by this point was up in hte upper 15's, low 16's.

Staying on 54, we jetted across Missouri like it wasn't there. NExt thing you know, we're in IL!

So we stopped in Pittsfield for lunch, called the misseses to let them know where we were. next stop required one more quart of oil to get us home. Before we knew it... we were in Indiana. This meant we were under 50 miles from Dad's house. Help was super close and we were finally starting to relax.

When we left this spot, I learned it's a posi 12-bolt..... as she kicked out sideways rear 31x10.50's blazing. An hour later, and getting dark, we were at Dad's. Just 30 miles for me to get home. Which led to this... just skip to the 1:50 mark.


According to dad, he verified the posi-ness of the rear end.

Stopped for gas one more time and then I was home!

So there it is. Completely uneventful and boring. Except that it was far from boring. Got to take US 54 for almost all of it's length, share it with my Dad and have a helluva good time.

Also, thanks to Apple. Without the iPhone, We would have never known how fast we were going! The only gauge that worked was the Voltmeter and we learned the gas gauge was fairly accurate. The oil pressure and temp were hooked up to some aftermarket gauges that weren't very accurate either and the speedo... well at 63 it thought we were running 100.

Now, I don't know what rear end is in this thing, but 64mph was 3700 rpms with a 31" tall rear tire. My gut says 4.10, or at the very least 3.73.

But whatever, this was an epic adventure that turned out completely boring. During the 1885 miles I fell completely and utterly in love with this thing.

Bobzilla UltimaDork
3/9/17 8:03 a.m.

I know Dad had some other pictures that were good. I'll add them as he uploads them.

petegossett UltimaDork
3/9/17 8:14 a.m.

In reply to Bobzilla:

With the hats & shades, and if you shaved, you and your dad would look like twins.

trucke Dork
3/9/17 9:08 a.m.

That's for sharing your experience. Would have loved to do something like this with my Dad.

Great looking truck too!

Bobzilla UltimaDork
3/9/17 9:11 a.m.
petegossett wrote: In reply to Bobzilla: With the hats & shades, and if you shaved, you and your dad would look like twins.

That's how I know I'm not the mailman's son.

java230 SuperDork
3/9/17 9:34 a.m.

Awesome! Love these fly and drive reports, I dont know why looking at state line pictures is so much fun!

petegossett UltimaDork
3/9/17 12:24 p.m.

In reply to Bobzilla:

That Indiana state line pic looks familiar. Where did you end up crossing the border?

Bobzilla UltimaDork
3/9/17 12:51 p.m.

US36 just west of Dana

sleepyhead Reader
3/9/17 12:52 p.m.

That hat is the perfect hat for this adventure (as I sit here writing wearing the black version of it)! Thanks for the write-up, and glad the trip went well, I look forward to watching the build.

APEowner Reader
3/9/17 3:03 p.m.

Thanks for sharing. My first truck was a '78, long bed, Heavy Half. I put over 150K miles on it over a 10 year period. It hauled building materials, boats and race cars and served as my daily driver and road trip vehicle. I drove my new bride home from my wedding in that truck. Every time I hear a lightly muffled, mild small block Chevy I'm reminded of it. I hope that you enjoy yours as much as I did mine.

BrokenYugo MegaDork
3/9/17 4:01 p.m.

By my math and available 12 bolt ring and pinion sets, assuming the tach is correct, you have 5.14 or 5.38 gears. If you were getting mid teens on the highway with a SBC spun up that high I'm not sure you're running all that rich, might just be you not being used to uncatalyzed exhaust? Though it is pretty typical for an out of the box aftermarket carb to be jetted rich so they can claim it's "ready to run".

Cool truck regardless of the weird parts combo though, my dad had a poop brown 84 longbed with a mild 350 and a OD 4 speed when I was growing up. I think tires were cheaper back then because he liked to spin them a lot, to a point where he eventually got tired of beating up clutches and put a 700R4 in it for lower maintenance hoonage.

Bobzilla UltimaDork
3/9/17 4:16 p.m.

In reply to BrokenYugo:

I wondered on that tach being accurate as well. What I did notice that the longer we ran, the lower the rpms would be at any particular speed. For instance, on Monday we were running across Kansas at 65 would be 3700 and 68 would be 3800, but the next morning 65 was 3900. It's an old Suntach so it may not be 100% accurate either.

BrokenYugo MegaDork
3/9/17 5:41 p.m.

That could be, or its dying AND incorrectly configured for a 6 cylinder engine.

81cpcamaro Dork
3/9/17 8:04 p.m.

Cool truck, glad you made it back okay. I think the tach is wrong as well. The 79 Dually I had with the same transmission, 31" tires and 3.73 gears would run 2700 rpm at 65 mph, and 3100 rpm at 70 mph, give or take a little.

Datsun310Guy PowerDork
3/9/17 8:09 p.m.

Nice truck - one of my favorite colors - I like the factory blue.

My buddy bought this 1973 Chevrolet truck in 1979 and it was a total rust bucket. He fixed it up and when we graduated from high school in 1980 we took it on a full 3-week camping trip out west. This is me a few pounds lighter and we went off-road in the middle of nowhere Colorado and were glad to get back on the road that day.

He ended up lifting it higher with 40" Ground Hawg tires and to this day he has it although it's been sitting in a storage lot collecting dust.

dj06482 SuperDork
3/10/17 7:23 p.m.

Great trip, I love the truck! Would love to do a fly and drive with my Dad some day.

Thanks for sharing!

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