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patgizz PowerDork
10/2/14 9:42 p.m.

always wanted a 454SS. a red one, because most of them are black. and a manual trans, but all of them were autos.

mostly i always wanted a 5 speed 88-98 chevy half ton short bed regular cab. i've had long beds, extended cabs, duallys, suburbans. every iteration of the gmt400 platform except the one i really wanted. and ohio sucks for finding vehicles that lack rust.

so a couple years ago i picked this up - a 5 speed 4.3 v6 stripper model from texas. PO owned it for a while down there, then moved up here and parked it inside. he added power steering fluid to the brakes, killed them, and just quit driving it and kept putting scrap garage door parts in the bed. he said the odometer broke 5+ years and at least 80k ago, and it was stopped at 218,000

patgizz UltimaDork
10/2/14 9:55 p.m.

phase one was rebuild the brake system. all new calipers, hoses, master, prop valve, and wheel cylinders plus flush the hard lines. no pics there, that is boring. as soon as the brakes were good i plated it and drove to the scrap yard, and got $75 for all the garage door springs and tracks that were in the bed.

phase 2 was deal with the smooshed front end, it was bent clear to the core support. frame straight though. picked up a k2500 suburban with bent valves for $600 and began to swap.

at some point i sold the 454/trans/t-case for more than i paid for the suburban along with scrapping the body for $, keeping the rear and wheels/tires for later use. the front end parts cost me -$500 or so.

the truck was immediately put to work hauling scrap on trash nights to pay for itself. that happened rather quickly.

one day i parked it at my parents' place to pick up the baby and left it running, no e-brake. came out of the house to this

back bumper and tailgate destroyed.

i picked up another red shortbed theft recovery on CL for $400. it was a silverado, so i pulled the entire tan interior. also donated the tailgate and the 15x7 chrome 454 SS wheels. honestly i bought the truck for the wheels, but pulled as much off it as i could before scrapping it for $398. it came with a new gas tank that i sold for $50.

from there i just drove the truck as needed until the 4.3 finally wore out. both HG were blown, coolant was black, and i could drive it if i fired it on starting fluid and didn't mind random stalling that required more starting fluid.

patgizz UltimaDork
10/2/14 10:05 p.m.

back in march i bought a 454 from a 1995 suburban to fit to my 49 plymouth. it was complete with accessories, TBI, etc...

finally i decided forget it, i yanked the engine out of the plymouth, washed and painted it, new valve cover gaskets, and ordered up new hoses, belt, mounts, clutch, flywheel, slave, clutch line, y pipe to install into the truck.

it all fell right together, except the anchor mounts were crap. they were ordered for a 454SS and bolted right to the frame, but the clamshells didn't line up. i modified the passenger side one a little instead of pulling my hair out to get things bolted in.

other than the mount issue, everything fell into place as if i were working on a factory big block truck. i swiped the radiator and shroud out of my 1990 454 dually that is a rolling parts donor/storage shed that will eventually donate it's power door guts, a/c lines, and tilt column to the red truck.

the 454/5 speed/3.42 combo is quite fun to drive. once i had a few miles on things i cleaned up the SS wheels and had the old tires from my mom's flood damaged blazer mounted.

and this is where i'm at today.

next big step is finish the interior swap, change out the broken rear sliding window, and start saving up for paint products.

Woody MegaDork
10/2/14 10:11 p.m.

I like this truck. Nice job.

ssswitch Reader
10/2/14 10:48 p.m.

I want to build a truck like this one day, except with the (increasingly rare) stepside bed that they had on some of the GMCs.

I'm almost afraid to ask: how did the PO end up putting power steering fluid in the brakes? It seems pretty obvious what reservoir is for what.

Cotton UltraDork
10/2/14 10:58 p.m.

Very cool truck!

patgizz PowerDork
10/2/14 11:08 p.m.
ssswitch wrote: I'm almost afraid to ask: how did the PO end up putting power steering fluid in the brakes? It seems pretty obvious what reservoir is for what.

no clue, but it looked like someone ejaculated into the reservoir and there were zero leaks but no brakes. i found power steering fluid behind the seat, open, and concluded that is what happened upon consulting the forum braintrust and trying to mix the two fluids in a cup yielding the same ejaculate looking result.

i just realized that most of my stuff has engine swaps. this, 350 in my belair where a straight 6 should be, the 5.3 impala ss, the v8 wrx...

gamby UltimaDork
10/2/14 11:55 p.m.
patgizz wrote: no clue, but it looked like someone ejaculated into the reservoir

a) thus your screenname b) "SAY WHAT?" c) LOL

I'm not remotely into trucks, but this is a very cool project. The low, low cash outlay is really impressive.

GCooper Reader
10/3/14 5:46 a.m.

Very cool project. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out

Dusterbd13 SuperDork
10/3/14 6:02 a.m.

I daily drove an 89 6cyl 5 speed ext cab longbed with 3.08 gears for a few years. I understand the desire for a big block. Probably got no change in gas mileage.

Now you need to go down about 4/6.

Also i had the same shade of burgundy. Looked really good with black from the body line up. Great color to two tone.

Powar SuperDork
10/3/14 9:01 a.m.

Did you use the stock NV3500 behind the big block?

Awesome project. I'd love to do something similar. Or just swap an NV4500 into the TD Suburban.

patgizz PowerDork
10/3/14 9:20 a.m.

Yes on stock trans, pre nv3500 getrag, i'm being easy on it. Plus if i grenade it they're everywhere cheap.

On the cash outlay - i'm cheap. I probably have a grand into it after recouping stuff. The swap cost around $1100 including engine, and initial buy was $600 for the truck. I try to make money on any donor i buy to net my parts for free or less. Could have had the k2500 burb the motor came from for $200 more but didn't want to add to my mess, which has since been cleaned up.

4/6 is too low for me, it's still a truck. Going to start with shackles in rear and see if it levels. Have drop spindles and all the rear stuff already

Storz Dork
10/4/14 3:50 p.m.

Very cool! Needs huge rubber and to be lowered now. Post more pics!

ClemSparks PowerDork
10/4/14 4:00 p.m.

I really want a shortbed in this bodystyle. I just haven't come up with one yet. It'll happen eventually. I'm curious about the engine mount issue you experienced. (However, I'd probably be more apt to put a small block in one when I do.)

I'm also with you on the ride height. These trucks look pretty good at stock height (or gently lowered).

dj06482 Dork
10/4/14 10:18 p.m.

Love this build, I had an 89 RCSB 4.3L/5spd in red that I loved...

patgizz UltimaDork
2/7/16 2:20 p.m.

16 month bump. the wave of GMT400's reminds me that i'm working on mine.

just ordered new front fenders. driver's side is a crappy taiwanese replacement with damage from who knows what, and passenger side may or may not be reused but it was just as easy to order a pair. also, the only rust on the whole truck is a half dollar size hole in the driver's cab corner, so i ordered a new corner to cut the section out of. with those spots taken care of, i need to decide which grill i'm going with. i like the gmc one, but like the body colored chevy one too and i have a NOS black/red 454SS bowtie emblem for one.

also, kinda sad, i had my winch battery sitting on the front seat and it leaked a little acid out the top and ruined my seat. so i'm going to have to find a new one. kinda hoping to get my hands on some 93-94 suburban buckets with console but those are pretty hard to come by.

color ideas? i like the red, but i'm not in love with or tied to it. i'm doing bodywork and paint in my garage/driveway so black might not be the best idea. no white.

Chadeux New Reader
2/7/16 3:27 p.m.

Let me preface this by saying I've been accused of having poor taste in a lot of things. But my first thought was mystic teal.

Wall-e MegaDork
2/7/16 3:55 p.m.

In reply to Chadeux:

That is definitely a 90s color. I like red more though. My clone was black which seemed to be a requirement at the time.

patgizz UltimaDork
2/7/16 3:56 p.m.

already have a car that color

forgot to mention, did eventually sell the rear axle from the front clip donor suburban(just last month). that brings the net cost of the suburban to ($1200), zeroing out the original purchase price of the 90. the fenders and cab corner bring the total to approximately $1250, and i scored a disc brake 9" ford with 5x5 bolt circle from a 77 lincoln continental at an estate sale to replace the whining 10 bolt. for $35.

LonH New Reader
2/7/16 4:08 p.m.

Very cool truck. I've always wanted a 454SS, however, I want a 502.

On the drop, a 3/4 is a good drop. I've had them as low as 6/8, it's drivable, but stuff needs relocating.

Dusterbd13 UberDork
2/7/16 4:20 p.m.

The metal flakeish pearlish burgundy from 89-90 with a black Top half.

Wall-e MegaDork
2/7/16 4:48 p.m.

I like the GMC front end better. As soon as I came across one I swapped mine out and added a billet grill.

patgizz UltimaDork
2/7/16 6:51 p.m.

well, this grill is missing a bar, so i'll need a new one either way for me to be happy with it. i have an 88-93 gmc grill too that i put on my 90 chevy 3500 that's on the trailer going to scrap when i feel like it.


i used their single stage cheap as possible paint on the datsun and liked it. i have the candy apple red metallic in the basement for the chevelle, i'm thinking of using it on the truck and re-ordering it when i go to paint the car. i ordered all the supplies when i ordered the datsun paint to get a shipping break, but then the chevelle turned out to be way more body panel replacement than anticipated so the paint is just sitting here. any of the reds would look good with the tan interior. i'll probably order the factory decals, because they're 90's tastic and i like that.

i don't like "hey look at me" colors, i'm shopping new trucks right now for heavy hauling and i found a new ram that would otherwise be sweet, but it's lime freaking green. not cool.

G_Body_Man Dork
2/7/16 7:49 p.m.

A deep-ish red Metallic would look fantastic, and work really well with the tan. A chocolate brown would be just as good, and probably cooler.

mndsm MegaDork
2/7/16 8:30 p.m.

Im thinking work truck gray. I have no idea why.

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