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Restomod 4x4 Suburban Tow Rig

Discussion in '4wd Suburban, Blazer and Jimmy' started by TubeTruck, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    Engine Size:
    400ci, 350ci
    Fellow enthusiasts! I present to you my Suburban tow rig. I've only had it a few days now and making this my daily driver/tow rig for both my '75 K15 wheeler and my project pro touring vehicle (1970 El Camino). For starters I bought this sight unseen from a dealer in Oregon, who received it from someone in Washington. Looked good in the pics and looks decent in person as well but has a few minor details that need to be worked out.

    Upon receipt of the truck it started right up and ran like a champ. Needs a bath though. It's a 1978 Suburban K10 Scottsdale. Supposedly the previous owner bought it in 1985 and had the 350 rebuilt in 2000, then only used the truck to tow his boat back and forth to the lake. Like most half tons also has a TH350 and NP203, 12 bolt rear and 10 bolt front. Reupholstered seats, good-looking interior. Here are some pics.
    20190905_161403.jpg 20190909_083331.jpg
    20190909_083427.jpg

    Three days of driving I've found a few issues. The first I was hoping wouldn't be the case but the 31" tires are dry rotted on the sidewall right around the rim, too bad because they have a lot of tread left, so I swapped the 33" tires from the wheeler project. I also removed the side steps because they only had one attachment point to the frame and were zip screwed to the rocker lip. I think it looks better, it makes the truck look meaner. Not a big issue but I want to get the A/C running, the compressor and evap are both disconnected, but that's a project for before next summer. The truck also needs weatherstrip everywhere, the rear door leaks a little when it rains and none of the window felt is good. The claim was that this truck had a "new" black carpet. Nope. It had a tan carpet that was spray painted black...probably due to stains but it's not worn through anywhere so I'm not concerned. The radio doesn't work and thankfully neither the dash nor the trim plate was cut up so I can get a nice Bluetooth two post radio. My main concern is that the truck is stuck in 4wd, thankfully high, not low, so that will be my first project. I'm thinking twin stick np203 till I can get a 205. I'm not going doubler as this is just going to be a tow rig. The passenger exhaust is also loose at the manifold. I'm going to try and tighten it today, hopefully I don't snap a bolt because I don't have the money to drop on headers and a new exhaust right now. Hopefully that will happen by the end of the year. The gas gauge actually works, as well as the temp gauge and oil pressure. The volt gauge is bouncy and the speedo doesn't move. The hitch looks custom, probably built it to protect the gas tank when backing into the water. The main rear door opens but I can't get the other door to open. It was open in the dealer pics but it's stuck now. Last but not least, the gas tank leaks when full, not much but enough to smell it. 20190907_113649.jpg 20190907_124537.jpg



    Future plans:
    My first desire is to get the body good. The front doors and the cargo doors don't line up well. The rear doors are good. New weatherstripping all around. New carpet and put some insulation/sound deadener down. New door panels and dash pad. I want 1-ton axles and am thinking of an L29 multiport efi 454, with a 4L80E and a twin stick NP205. Other fun stuff like dual batteries, onboard air, a real hitch, and a rear bumper mounted tire carrier with gas cans.
     
    Derick C., Catbox, Snoots and 2 others like this.
  2. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    Engine Size:
    400ci, 350ci
    More pics
    20190909_083254.jpg

    20190909_083452.jpg

    20190907_113659.jpg
     
    Catbox, Snoots, Craig 85 and 2 others like this.
  3. Goldie Driver

    Goldie Driver Full Access Member

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    Truck Year:
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    Truck Model:
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    Engine Size:
    350
    Nice looking Burb!

    Curious about the "stuck in 4wd " comment- stupid question ,but you know it was originally, and presumably still is, a full time 4wd, right ?

    Best of luck to you!

    Britt
     
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  4. Old77

    Old77 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Engine Size:
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    Cool burb! I miss mine a lot. Looks like you got a solid base to start from!
     
  5. Charlie

    Charlie Mopar by Birth. Chevy by Choice.

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    Nice!

    poster,840x830,f8f8f8-pad,750x1000,f8f8f8.u2.jpg
     
    bucket likes this.
  6. molsonlabatt

    molsonlabatt Junior Member

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    Looks good with the new tires.
     
  7. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    Yes Goldie. I haven't driven one of these with auto hubs in forever. The 4wd lock light was on and it has the 4wd on pavement wobble when I turn corners so I thought it was stuck in 4wd, forgot about the auto hubs. However, the opposite was true. I pulled the np203 shifter today and it will go into 2hi and 4hi but won't go into neutral or low. I'm thinking of ordering a twin stick setup from ORD before the cold weather gets here and putting some manual hubs on it. I also tightened up the passenger side exhaust without breaking a bolt :)

    Forgot to mention the heater core was bad also. It was bypassed in the engine bay. When I pulled the carpet to remove the tranny tunnel the passenger side floor was still wet and rusting. I pulled what insulation was left and it had a plastic carpet under the carpet which was holding in the moisture. Should be good now and dry out soon. I think I'll pull the seats and carpet next spring and insulate everything and install a new carpet. There was also tons of wiring under the carpet and along the floor molding. I'm thinking he had installed speakers or something in the rear of the truck. Ripped all that out. Nice and quiet on the ride home from work today.

    20190909_152244.jpg

    Also found out why the doors won't line up. Both the driver's door and passenger's door are brittle and breaking near the upper hinge, causing them to sag. Going to need new doors at some point.
    20190909_114925.jpg

    The rear cargo doors were rotted and patched with fiberglass along the lower hinge and bottom of the door. So the fiberglass is flexing causing the door to sag. I found a pair of rust free cargo doors in St. Louis but I can't get there for a couple weeks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
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  8. Craig 85

    Craig 85 Full Access Member

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    I saw that truck advertised. It looks like a good starting point. The front hubs are always locked with a 203. Those are not the later auto locking hubs, the stainless axle caps tip it off. You can put on manual hubs, but you will need to install the part time kit in the transfer case.
     
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  9. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    Didn't do much today except to remove the rock slider hitch.

    Also ordered Energy Suspension poly engine and transmission mounts and a part time kit for the np203.[​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
     
  10. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    I'm guessing I will need the spindle nut kit also? I haven't pulled the hubs apart yet to see.
     
  11. Craig 85

    Craig 85 Full Access Member

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    It's been so long since I've done the full conversion (1991) I don't recall. Back then Milemarker sold it as a complete kit with hubs and a new output shaft.
     
  12. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    Changed my motor and tranny mounts yesterday. Man, were they toast!

    20190912_172334.jpg

    Still getting a "thump" on and off the gas so I need to do more investigating. Maybe a loose u-joint or walking yoke.
     
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  13. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    Yup, front driveshaft to yoke u-joint was shot. Replaced that. Still getting clunks here and there. Truck is also leaning to the driver's side. Did some investigating and found the driver's side front leaf spring front bushing... well, I didn't find anything actually, it wasn't there. Just a bolt bouncing around in the eye. Was going to replace that this weekend till I did more investigating. Brakes have been squealing a bit so I thought I'd grease the back of the pads. Yup, pads look like the salt flats, need to replace those. Also found both front wheel bearings loose because someone didn't know how the locknuts worked. Greased those and tightened to comfortable freewheel. Also checked the brake fluid. Rear reservoir was fairly low, filled it up and noticed it was a funky color. Time for the finger dip test. It had brake fluid in it, but also a reddish fluid that thinned out the brake fluid. I'm guessing power steering fluid. It doesn't smell like tranny fluid. So I'll be flushing the brake system this weekend. Also got my heater core installed with a few mods to make it fit.

    20190918_150113.jpg

    This is how the heater core hoses were bypassed lol It worked, but no

    20190918_152213.jpg
     
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  14. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    So it's not even winter yet and I've got some snowballs! Installed the hydraboost this weekend. Everything went well, bolted right in, everything lined up, even the rod to the pedal and I didn't have to change the pedal. But, The pedal goes down but won't come back up. Hoping it's not a broken return spring. The fluid in the steering box was ugly looking but I didn't have enough power steering fluid to flush it so hoping that happens today. Could be sludge in the booster from the steering box making the pedal not come up. If a flush doesn't fix it I'll order a rebuild kit and tear into that soon, it's annoying having to pull the pedal up every time I hit the brakes. The other thing was the bracket for the power steering pump was a little different but at least it still bolted right in. (pics at bottom)
    20190921_143010.jpg
    I also changed the master cylinder. The one on the truck had 2 small reservoirs like it came from a drum/drum vehicle. The one that came with the hydraboost had the large and small reservoirs like commonly found on a disc/drum setup. It really needed cleaning though and after lots of brake cleaner and an air gun it bench bled like a champ. When I bled the brakes I got some funky looking chunks out of the bleeders. At least that is done for now.
    20190923_091540.jpg

    Then I decided to put new brake pads in and install new wheel bearings. The driver's side caliper was frozen and the inner wheel bearings were the wrong size. Apparently I have the 2in I.D. bearings not the 1.75in. So I have to return those today and get the right bearings. I ordered 2 new calipers, they won't be in till Tuesday because no one stocks parts for old trucks anymore, lol. My '75 has new calipers on it though so I'm going to rob them for now.

    Here's a pic of the original PS pump with a bracket mount on the left side which mounts to the water pump
    20190921_143100.jpg

    Here's the one of the K30 which didn't have the side mount but a lower mount which required a bracket to be bolted to the block
    20190921_143044.jpg
     
  15. TubeTruck

    TubeTruck I like anything fast enough to do something stupid

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    Engine Size:
    400ci, 350ci
    On another note I've got some good news. Was talking with a friend Friday night and he has a 1998 3/4ton Suburban. He was telling me the #8 cylinder has low or no compression and he wants to put an LSX 454 in it, which I know will never happen. This truck however, has the multiport efi 454 and 4L80e that I want to put in my 'burb. I told him I wanted the motor, tranny, and complete wiring harness. He told me to make him an offer... I know I'm the one that is going to be pulling the motor so I'm thinking of telling him $800 for everything. Thoughts?
     

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