The Big 10 Revival

Disco

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Feb 13, 2022
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Location
Texarkana, TX
First Name
Mike
Truck Year
1978
Truck Model
C10 "Big 10"
Engine Size
350 4-bolt
Hey all! I thought, as I start working on this truck, I'd post something of a mini-blog about the project, take you all on the adventure. And an adventure this will be, as I have owned exactly five American cars, this is only my second Chevy, and its my first truck. I've worked on none of my previous domestics, and a 350 is a huge change from the aircooled VW engines I have the most experience with. Still, a gasoline engine is a gasoline engine, and they all work the same way -- unless their 2-stroke or a rotary... Anyhoo!...

Let me give you the background on the truck. I am the third-ish owner of this 78 Big 10 Silverado. I say "ish" because I bought it from the original owner.
Billy bought the truck new in 77 with some interesting options checked (Silverado package, but no A/C or other luxuries), but I suppose he knew what he wanted from the truck. He drove it until 85, which is when he bought a new truck and gave this to his mother. It was used only occasionally from 85-02, when she passed away and left the truck to Billy. Sometime between 02 and 08, Billy had the upholstery redone and did some big maintenance work before the clutch fork return spring broke. For some reason none of us can really explain, including Billy himself, rather than replacing the $6 spring and keeping it on the road, he parked it in his backyard and left it there. That was 2008. The half block trip from his house to mine is the most the truck has moved in 14 years.
Another reason I say I'm third-ish is because he sold it in 2016, but the older man he sold it to never took possession or even retitled the truck as he died shortly after making the deal, and his family gave the title back.

It's all original, aside from a few expected maintenance replacements like clutch, alternator, carrier bearing, etc. It is indeed a Silverado with all the trim and chrome and carpeting. He added a few mods too. He fabricated the bumper bar and added the rollbar, as well as converting to dual exhaust with glass packs (which I'm sure are no good anymore). The engine has about 90,000 miles on it, so that's fun.

The amazing thing is this truck has no right to be as good as it is. The body is solid, aside from minor rot in the usual places (battery tray, rocker panels), and the frame is perfect. I was a little nervous about the engine at first because when I rocked the fan, the engine barely moved. But then I took the plugs out and it turns freely. the oil looks like it has 500 miles on it, not 14 years, and the level is perfect. There are no signs of oil on the sides of the engine. All the fittings are still full of grease and the bushings are supple. The steering is tight. Nothing clunks or moves in a way it shouldn't. Even the shocks act like new.

Now that it's in my driveway, my first order of business is to hear it purr. Probably Sunday, I will be performing a Vice Grip Garage/ Junkyard Digs style revival on it and get it running.
My biggest hurdle right now is what to do with the gas in the tanks - about 24 gallons of late George W. Bush era gasoline, if the fuel gauge is to be believed... I can't find a disposal site within 30 miles of my hometown, and that's a lot of gas to burn on a burn pile.

Anyway, I'll keep y'all posted on the progress. Wish me luck!
 

Snoots

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Roger
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1973
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Jimmy Sierra
Engine Size
350
Pix pleeze!
 

RecklessWOT

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Kevin
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1987
Truck Model
V10 Suburban Silverado
Engine Size
350 TBI
Welcome aboard! Good luck, looking forward to seeing your progress.

Also,
My biggest hurdle right now is what to do with the gas in the tanks - about 24 gallons of late George W. Bush era gasoline, if the fuel gauge is to be believed... I can't find a disposal site within 30 miles of my hometown, and that's a lot of gas to burn on a burn pile.
If it's that old, it may not even be ethanol gas, which doesn't get as bad IME. It's still bad no doubt, but I bet still quite flamable. Unless it has just turned pure varnish like thick orange deck stain, I keep the old gas in jugs and slowly burn it off over time. A gallon or two of old gas mixed in with 30 gallons of fresh fuel gets burned up unnoticed even in newer vehicles with sophisticated computers. Especially with the price of gas these days, I'll burn anything. I have a few tanks I usually use for diesel/heating oil that I sometimes put gas in, and have even used jugs I normally keep used motor oil in that I've used as gas cans before. A little bit of contamination doesn't hurt much that's what fuel filters are for lol.

I once had a yard truck run out of gas and block my driveway, the only fuel I had on hand was 2 stroke mix. I threw about a half gallon in to get it out of the way (smoked a bit but still ran good), threw another few gallons of straight gas in as soon as I refilled the gas jugs and it was fine. I probably tossed some seafoam in afterwards just for good measure, that stuff works wonders.
 
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Disco

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Feb 13, 2022
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Location
Texarkana, TX
First Name
Mike
Truck Year
1978
Truck Model
C10 "Big 10"
Engine Size
350 4-bolt
In today's adventures, I pulled the truck into the driveway and began cleaning it. For the time being, I will be keeping the patina, but I don't want it rough and orange, so following the ways of the rat-rodders, I cleaned it with S.O.S. pads.
This, if you've never heard of the method, removes the rough texture of the bare rust and is great for removing rust stains and this nasty baked-on algae/pollen mixture we have to deal with in northeast Texas. You can be a bit aggressive with the soap pads on bare rust, but obviously you want to be gentle on paint you want to keep, and you'd never want to do this on decent paint. Mine is shot anyway, so I'm ok turning the finish satin. I've got half the truck done and the patina is already looking great. Next step is mixing 1 cup of mineral spirits with 3 cups of boiled linseed oil in a 32 oz mason jar, then using a rag to smear the concoction over the body to seal the rust.

I also cleaned out the cab and hiding under the seat I found a small manilla envelope with the original owner's manual, the glovebox RPO sticker, and the original order sheet!

Unfortunately, it wasn't all good news. I found a baseball sized rust hole in my bed under one of the feet of this stupid rollbar.

Here are pics of the truck as requested. These were taken prior to the scrubbing. I have clean pics maybe tomorrow. Also, here are pics of the paperwork.
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Disco

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Joined
Feb 13, 2022
Posts
54
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42
Location
Texarkana, TX
First Name
Mike
Truck Year
1978
Truck Model
C10 "Big 10"
Engine Size
350 4-bolt
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Disco

Full Access Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2022
Posts
54
Reaction score
42
Location
Texarkana, TX
First Name
Mike
Truck Year
1978
Truck Model
C10 "Big 10"
Engine Size
350 4-bolt
SHE LIVES!!!!!!
Y’all, I put in a new battery, new plugs, and ran a rubber fuel hose to a jerry can of fresh gas, and she fired right up on the first crank and idled! I will probably still need to rebuild the carb, as it seems the accelerator pump is bad (she chokes on too much juice too quick).
On the topic of fuel, it appears both sending units are bad because the tanks were both dry. At least the pump is good…

Now I’ve hit a hiccup and could use some help. The SM465 scratches and grinds 1st and reverse and won’t go into gear. I have tried adjusting the rod between the Z-bar and the fork to no avail. The shop manual suggests trimming the pedal bump stop under the dash to 3/8” if possible, then resetting the lash, but I can barely find the bump stop with probing fingers, so I’m not sure how I go about doing that.
 

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