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fidelity101 Reader
12/19/12 2:29 p.m.

Okay most of these build threads are about the cars but few are about the support rigs! So this is dedicated to all those hard working beaters. Also the race car works perfectly fine and is not needing any attention so I have been forced to look elsewhere for projects:

I purchased this truck back in June of this year but here is the skinny:

85 3/4 ton suburban 4x4 heavy duty diesel chassis. power plant is from a rusted out 87 or 89 3/4 ton gasser TBI v8 350 SBC with manual trans.

There is a lot of mystery from this truck, I purchased it off of my GF's family but I know the vehicle came from Texas sometime in the mid 2000's so it only had minor surface rust issues but a day of sanding followed by a day of bedliner took care of that.

Didn't have to to much to get it to run, gave it some fluids and a battery and it started right up!

I bought the truck to haul around my 86 rx7 rallycross car, I have a 20' car hauler (18' deck, 2' dovetail) and this is basically operation overkill but it fits plenty of equipment and I can sleep inside of it comfortably so I don't need to pay for a hotel.

here are the highlights:

all of this for only1200 dollars with working 4x4 (1350 if you include the battery and gas needed to run it):

14 bolt rear end, 8 lug all around

poly bushings for the leafsprings

NP208 T-case


hydraulic clutch master/slave

heavy duty diesel cooling system (radiator is waaaaay too big)

still retains the hydroboost system

parking brake works!

GM muncie SM465 (now with ZF-meritor tractor shift knob )

285/75/16 tires with healthy meat left, minimal wear and weathering

rear AC (functional)

4.10 gears

remote mounted differential breathers (F&R)

sealed 7 way/4 way combo w/ class 5 hitch

stock this had the 6.2L with the turbo 400 auto trans.

I acquired this 'mess' of a truck around May-June 2012 and I have begun getting it road worthy as a tow vehicle and random off-road adventure bus.

This truck had spent 90% of its life in Texas until my girlfriend’s family bought it. This is a 1985 ¾ ton suburban that originally came with the 6.2 diesel but it pooped out on it and her folks had another suburban either 87 or 89 350 gasser EFI that had a manual transmission/t-case but the body and suspension was bad.

So the 2 trucks became one, motor/trans set went into the ¾ ton with a good body.

Here are some of the before shots:

fidelity101 Reader
12/19/12 2:30 p.m.

After some power washing the frame came out even cleaner!

fidelity101 Reader
12/19/12 2:35 p.m.

The chassis is cleaaaaaannnn, aside from the rear passenger lower section where someone backed a horse trailer into it  I debadged it and filled the holes and began preppin for paint, and then painted it!

I used muriatic acid on the hood and roof to get the rust off, brushed it on then let it sit for 20 minutes then power wash and brush it off.

that bare metal is after 10 seconds of sanding, at the most...

works great but it is caustic as allllll hell, try not to breathe it, I used rubber gloves and a mask, You should do the same.

here is some general prep shots:

fidelity101 Reader
12/19/12 2:43 p.m.

and here is it in paint!

now I just have to finish cleaning up the interior, I have swapped in another steering column, no more scary tilt issue while driving.

GF helping out :)

and viola!

Yes it is bedliner and no it will never rust again, whats not in photos is the cleaning underneath then bedliner’d the underside as well. There is currently 2 gallons on this truck.

now some interior work: I had to replace the headlamp adjuster screws but those plastic ones still suck so they are aimed better but I would like it higher.

Had to re-wire license plate light

added drop hitch and ball

still needs a windshield

lubed locks/doors/windows

more bedliner for wheel wells and underside.

aaaaand I had this laying around so I mounted it up, fits perfectly on where the pin that held the auto trans shifter for this column was originally in.

Also the headliner was so saggy and nasty I ripped it out but then there still was some bits and glue left over so I sanded it down and used a quart of blue paint and it matched pretty close, no more grit in the hair or on the hand when touching the ceiling.

shift knob via work

fidelity101 Reader
12/19/12 2:53 p.m.

so everything is dandy for a while up until october-ish then well E36 M3 just got real, some metal in the oil slowly has been leaking and burning more oil, throw out bearing was making some noise. 30 psi on cyl 2 and 13 on cyl 4. oil smokes a bit from passenger side exhaust.

So I picked up an incomplete serp belt swap with an complete longblock tbi w/ engine stand for 100 dollars. Real compression #s are still unknown at this time, but I was able to get about 60psi out of it by turning it over by hand, made much friendlier compression noises than the other one I looked at during the day.

Ended up doing a compression test on it and got all cyl’s about 150-160psi

Updates! 12/04/2012 So the plan is going to serp belt swap with E-fan while im at it. Moar parts!

size comparison between rx7 clutch and suburban lol

I will be re-using the old clutch because it is less than 10% worn, luckily whoever did the swap last at least put a new clutch in it but I believe the throwout bearing is so-so but what I found out was that the fork was sooooooo caddiwhompus that the bearing was ridding against it causing my noise.

Flywheel all nicely re-finished!

Here is the progress block on the block had to swap valve covers and replace those gaskets Inside the block!

It was 100 dollars well spent! 4 bolt mains with a little windage tray and the cross hatch on the cylinder walls looks good as does underneath the valve covers.

Oil pump looked good, had to get a new shaft for the dizzy to oil pump, all metal this time around. Just ordered some long tube hooker headers (they were the thickest gauge pipe too for anti rust and "reduce" noise levels. I'm just going to be hooking them up to my monster mufflers that I have on here.

Right now I got the new engine back in now when i get some free time I need to swap over the TBI stuff and accessories and put core support back in. But until then, had my roommate weld a fix on the rear window crank...

fidelity101 Reader
12/19/12 3:03 p.m.

aaand here is happy family, I really don't have any good photos of just the truck itself. (trailer also not in picture)

or more like my fleet lol

Bobzilla UltraDork
12/19/12 3:58 p.m.

So jelly.... I LOVE box suburbans. Sadly, 99% of them here have no rockers, floors, doors or quarters left.

fidelity101 Reader
12/19/12 4:03 p.m.

In reply to Bobzilla:

Yup, hence I had to save this one.

Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Associate Editor
12/19/12 4:14 p.m.

I had a buddy who owned one of those in high school. It was super rusty, but he loved the silly thing. They're so huge it's almost hilarious.

Living in Florida, I would never have painted it black. That would be an oven in the summer down here.

DoctorBlade SuperDork
12/19/12 10:32 p.m.

What a beauty. Are the rims in for cleaning, or what?

SyntheticBlinkerFluid UltraDork
12/19/12 10:42 p.m.

I didn't even know the suburban could have a manual. That's pretty awesome

sethmeister4 Reader
12/19/12 11:01 p.m.

This truck is awesome...and I love the metal dash!

81cpcamaro HalfDork
12/20/12 8:18 a.m.
SyntheticBlinkerFluid wrote: I didn't even know the suburban could have a manual. That's pretty awesome

That is a great thing about the 73-87 trucks/SUVs, parts interchange is great. That and GM offering the manual in the Suburban.

Awesome ride there, love the black "paint". I would do black on my Dually, but the white works much better in the heat of the south.

RossD UberDork
12/20/12 8:30 a.m.

Looks great. My dad's got one he's fixing up too. Rust sucks.

fidelity101 Reader
12/20/12 10:05 a.m.
SyntheticBlinkerFluid wrote: I didn't even know the suburban could have a manual. That's pretty awesome

yup 3 speed with creeper gear.

its also manual T-case which with the gear and in L gear in 4 low it makes the gear reduction to something retarded like 16:1.

DoctorBlade wrote: What a beauty. Are the rims in for cleaning, or what?

yeah one of these days I will get them blasted and coated or just buy aluminum wheels.

sethmeister4 wrote: This truck is awesome...and I love the metal dash!

thats the dash frame/body structure the actual dashboard "bolts" ontop of it.

Also this chassis generation is from 73 to 91

GameboyRMH MegaDork
12/20/12 11:53 a.m.

Nice! Proper ZAV design philosophy, the best kind to use with trucks.

Smart move getting the GF to help with painting bedliner, women should do this job since they have no hootus to get it on

fidelity101 Reader
12/20/12 12:12 p.m.

learn me: ZAV?

GameboyRMH PowerDork
12/20/12 12:16 p.m.

Zombie Apocalypse Vehicle - priorities are survivability, low maintenance and obstacle clearing ability.

fidelity101 Reader
12/20/12 12:31 p.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH:

oh, well in that case I could just swap it to a quadrajet lol.

but that is the general rule of thumb for this vehicle.

I also need a radio in it soon, very soon.

Powar Dork
12/20/12 1:06 p.m.

I love it. I wish that my '87 6.2 truck had come with a manual, but at this point I've already replaced it with a slightly newer TD Suburban. The '87 honestly drives tighter than the '94. If it doesn't sell soon, I may end up listing the newer one and throwing some money at the box.

fidelity101 Reader
12/20/12 1:24 p.m.

I would love to have a diesel but with my gearing on this i would have a very low top speed. My co-worker has a military K5 with the 6.2 and with 3.08 rear gears he gets 20mpg highway.

ClemSparks PowerDork
12/20/12 1:46 p.m.


I have a couple pickups of this vintage ('83 Dually 2WD) and an '82 3/4 Ton 4x4 beater. I'm considering a Utility Hauler Build out of the 4x4 at some point in the distant future.

Powar...I could be interested in details on your 6.2 Suburban. Not really looking, but intrigued none the less.

fidelity101 Reader
12/20/12 2:59 p.m.


6.58:1 L gear (1st gear ratio)

2.6:1 L gear T-case ratio

4.10 FD ratio

= 70.1:1 gear reduction

Strike_Zero Dork
12/20/12 3:48 p.m.

This. . . is approved

I have noticed a lot old iron popping yup on CL lately. If I didn't already have a truck. . .

fidelity101 Reader
12/26/12 8:55 a.m.

Christmas! so I buy myself some hooker headers (2453HKR part#)

and just to my luck, they wont fit!!!!!!!!!

Anyone else have this issue? It just seems to be hitting the bump stop bracket for the leaf springs. I haven't tested the driver side but it looks like it will fit once I uninstall the slave cylinder. I figured I would try the side that has more stuff (front axle, starter)

Summit says this will fit, wtfsauce

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