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Old December 16th, 2012, 11:10 PM   #1 (Link to post)
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Default New build '89 C3500 crew cab

Well the time has come to retire the General (http://4x4mecca.com/forum/build-ups/753-general.html). We've owned it for 12 years but our needs have changed. Having 2 sons loading in and out of the 2 door K5 was a bit of a pain. We also want something that is more of a multi-purpose rig. This is going to replace the General and our Super Duty

My wife and I have been talking about doing something like this for some time now. It came to a head when I discovered a 4" tear in the floor of the General. It is metal fatigue tear near the b-pillar. The floorboards have been popping for a while now and I think that constant movement finally fatigued the metal enough to fail. In addition to that several years ago I had to put a ratchet strap across the back between rear quarter panels because they were spreading and the tailgate would pop unlatched on one side on the trail. Now the problem I have is that one side is touching the tail gate and the other is gapped about 1/2". We just wore that poor truck out.

A little over a month ago we found an '89 Chevy C3500 crew cab locally. The guy wanted $1500, but I talked him down to $1100. The motor runs good, but the transmission would barely go into gear - it's an SM465. The body is rough, but all of the rust will get cut out for sliders. It used to be some sort of public service vehicle; school district, county government, or something. The original color was school bus yellow. Someone along the line rattle-canned the body white and the interior black. Unfortunately when they painted the interior they just painted right over the door panels and dash. Now the paint is flaking off the door panels.

Here are the pics of the truck the day I drove it to the shop:

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As you'll notice, it is a 2wd. Basic TBI 350. Plain jane model, Scottsdale I suppose. 133K on the odometer. As mentioned, SM465 trans. It does have 2 saddle bag tanks but apparently only 1 works. The tank switch is completely missing I'm assuming because something in the dual tank setup quit working. The guy I bought it from said it was like that when he bought it 6 months ago.

Plans are to swap over parts from the General, principally the axles and 700r4/241 combo. The rear suspension will use the 2.5" Offroad Design (ORD) flip and 6" DIY4x shackles off the General plus a set of 64" springs. I'm ditching the 52" springs up front in favor of a custom 48.5" pack from ORD. The final step will be to loose the long bed in favor of a short bed.
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Old December 16th, 2012, 11:44 PM   #2 (Link to post)
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So like anyone, I started with installing new seats... Okay, I know that's an odd starting point, but to be honest the interior had a bit of a funk. I plan to try and drive the truck around for a while just to get a read on vehicle operation and discover any problems.

I stripped out the bench seats, rubber floor mats, and insulation. There was nothing really terrible except along the passenger side dirt had caked in along with sunflower seed shells to create a 1/2" crust of dirt I had to chip out with a screw driver.

I built a frame with 1" square tube welded to the factory bench seat mounts/brackets.

Now I must confess, I am obviously out of practice with fabricating and I made a few errors building the frame. The first mistake I made was to make the frame too narrow. You'll notice in the picture the little pieces of angle iron at the front; those were used to make up the difference. I also used them to put some recline on the seats.

I have sliders for the suspension seats that I mounted to the frame.

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The sliders have specific bolts for mounting to the frame. They aren't long enough to extend through the 1" tube. So I drilled larger holes on the bottom to allow access for a socket.

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I also feel it makes a cleaner look.

You can see the brackets to bolt the seats to the sliders are nice and tight to the frame:

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Here it is bolted in the cab:

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This is when I discovered my second fabrication error. I measured the width of the mounting tabs on the seat, but failed to realize the obvious, that the mounting bolts for the sliders are going to be narrower than the seat's tabs. The difference was 1". I added a second piece for each seat that was 1" closer to the outside of the frame. I left the original, incorrectly located, pieces because I may find use for them in mounting other things to the frame.

Once I bolted the seat to the slider it turned out the brackets are too tight to the frame. The problem is that the mounting tabs on the seats stick down past the brackets and hit the frame.

Click the image to open in full size.

The brackets can be flipped over to raise the seat up.

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The problem was this raised the seat too high and my legs were in the steering wheel. I ended up adding a 1/4" thick strap under the sliders to raise them up enough to clear.

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I like this best because I think the overall install is cleaner with the brackets flipped down to cover the sliders.

Here are both seats in the cab.

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I do feel a bit ridiculous climbing in out of the suspension seat in a stock 2wd truck. I do think I'm going to end up getting a daily driver seat for the driver like what we have for the passenger. It is much easier to get in and out of and still provides sufficient support.

Next I'm going to work on mounting the rear seats.
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Old December 17th, 2012, 12:02 AM   #3 (Link to post)
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At it's heart this is going to be a budget build. I was getting burned out on the General because most of the things left I could do were things in the 4-digit price range; more than I can spend on my truck. That hasn't changed with this project so I've gotta do things as inexpensive as possible.

The point is that I needed tires at budge price. The General had 38" TSL's I bought 5 years ago. They were pretty wore down and frankly I've grown to loath those bias ply tires. The beadlocks were great for trail security, but they leaked and I had to air up the tires every time I wanted to drive anywhere.

Even buying on the budget, the tires and wheels are going to be the biggest single expense. I had some money left over since we bought the truck for less than our budget price. I also sold the TSL's. I started scouring craigslist for deals. I found it was hard to get one because they were sold before I could get in touch with the sellers.

Finally I found some wheels I liked. They were listed at $250 with some worn tires mounted on them. I really liked the looks of them so I moved on the deal. I was able to get them for $200. The seller didn't know what brand they were. Turns out the are Robby Gordon Wheels. 17"x8".

Click the image to open in full size.

They have "simulated" beadlocks. I like this because it makes the lip of the rim much more solid. In the past aluminum wheels I've had would get banged up on that lip. If the damage is bad enough, they will leak.

I also found a set of used tires. They are 37"x12.50" Nitto Trail Grapplers. Tread wear is about 50% and I paid $700 for them. New they cost $410ea. With the miles we'll put on this truck, they will give me a good 3 years of service.

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I went with 37" tires because I feel this will be a more practical size for this truck. Primarily because we plan to tow a light weight camper trailer with it. Also a lot of deals available for 37" tires.
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Old December 17th, 2012, 06:04 AM   #4 (Link to post)
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ever since i seen a lifted crew cab with a short box stepside bed on CK5 years ago i have wanted one.
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Old December 17th, 2012, 07:29 AM   #5 (Link to post)
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I tried to talk my wife into a step side, but she doesn't like them.
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Old December 17th, 2012, 08:10 AM   #6 (Link to post)
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Better tire and wheel pics.

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Old December 17th, 2012, 04:07 PM   #7 (Link to post)
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I didn't think the seats looked bad, pretty nice truck for the money. Least you didn't find any teeth or hair in the floor debris.

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Old December 17th, 2012, 06:54 PM   #8 (Link to post)
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Only about 50 business cards, plastic sword, unopened quart of 2 cycle oil, random license plate, floor jack, Taco Bell sauce, and a 4qt jug of Quaker State.
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Old December 17th, 2012, 10:19 PM   #9 (Link to post)
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Poor General... Was one of the first builds I ever read through entirely and enjoyed.

Next time your on pirate, look up Montanatrout's crew cab build. He took an old forest ranger truck and hit it with some pretty neat tube work.

Also, if I were to buy bead locks, or 37x 16.5 tires, it would be the gov. Surplus good years from trailworthyfab.com for $75 apiece. 406yj is a big vendor over on Pirate as well for trailworthyfab.

Just a couple thoughts and my .02. I will definitely be watching and if it has even half the thought you put into the general, it ought to be top notch.
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Old December 17th, 2012, 10:29 PM   #10 (Link to post)
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I spent much of the day cleaning up the messes left by the previous owner(s). It had an aftermarket tach that didn't work. The fact that it wasn't working had me concerned about how it was wired up.

But before I messed with that, I had notice a green wire running the length of the truck it was just looped up over various things and hanging down in others. So I tracked it up the engine bay and this is what I found at that end:

Click the image to open in full size.

It was just tied off to the speedo cable. That was easy enough so I traced it back to the other end and this is what I found there:

Click the image to open in full size.

Some one completely butchered the rear wiring harness to make a trailer connection. I'm guessing the green wire was some sort of manually operated trailer brake controller or basically an on/off switch for the trailer brakes.

After discovering that, I decided I definitely needed to check out that tach situation. Well this is how it was wired into the coil:

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That was covered up with a ball of electrical tape. Through this ordeal I found the washer fluid pump is wired to a push button in the dash. I found this because the 12v power for the tach was wired into one side of this switch and for some reason the light for the tach was wired into the other side of the switch. So when you pushed the button for the washer pump, the light in the tach came on.

I unplugged the wire from the coil and distributor so I could repair it. I used uninsulated butt connector and marine heat shrink tubing.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

I wasn't finished fixing previous owner problems. I mentioned way back in the beginning of this thread, when I test drove the truck I couldn't hardly get the truck to go into gear. The seller played it off like it was because of the cold, but he had recently redone the clutch. I also noticed when I started the truck, it tried to move like it was partially in gear. And finally the the friction point was right at the bottom; as soon as the clutch pedal came off the floor, the truck was moving. I figured the clutch just needed adjusting but it has a hydraulic clutch.

I checked the reservoir and it was empty. So I refilled the reservoir and bled the clutch. I followed a procedure I found posted in a forum. Basically just removed the slave cylinder from the bell housing. Orientated the cylinder so the feed line was held straight up at the 12 o'clock position. Then manually pushed the piston through it's full stroke several times. Bolted the slave cylinder back in place and now the transmission goes in to gear easily and the friction point is at the right spot.

The last thing I checked was the coolant level in the radiator when I noticed there was none in the overflow tank. I wound up adding nearly a gallon of coolant to top it off.

Apparently the previous owner was lousy at electrical work and didn't believe in adding fluids to anything.
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