Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mini truckin'

    All right! I finally got a decent project, and I am so excited to get to work! The project? Don't laugh at me, it's not funny OK?! A 1985 GMC S15 regular cab, short box, two wheel drive. Why? Well why the heck not?! Here's how I got it
    So, over Christmas break, I offered to work full time at the boat shop. My boss came back from his holiday fun with a new ride, my pickup. He got it from his in-laws. It had a running problem, he thought either the head was cracked or the head gasket was toast. After doing a little diagnoses I found out the intake gasket was garbage, and needed replaced. It had allowed antifreeze to leak into the oil, the engine kept over heating, and it ran like crap. He asked me if I could work on it, he thought it would be useful around the shop or something, if it didn't get fixed or if it cost him too much he was just going to take off the box and use it as a trailer, junk the rest. I wasn't going to let that happen, I mean, it was one of the best looking first gen S series I'd ever seen. Rust? Hardly any. Dents? Nothing a little work can't fix. He started complaining about how the project was using up my time that I could be using working on other projects. At that very point I offered him $750 for it, and he took it right there and then.
     You see, my boss is pretty damn cool, and didn't have a problem with me working on it after hours and on the weekends. So, I jumped right in. I replaced the intake gasket, which was a pain in the ass. GM decided it would be a brilliant idea to run the pushrods THROUGH the gasket, meaning I had to take all of those out and re-seat them, along with re-torquing the rocker arms, all just to change the gasket. The distributor was also a fighter, and took a good hour of pulling and grunting to remove. Threw it all back together, reset the timing, and now it's running pretty well, just a wee bit rich.

    Now for my evil master plan. The goal, a V8 powered, 5 speed, street beast. I'm going to a swap meet Sunday with my dad, hopefully to pick up a rear end. What I need is a Ford 8.8, what they used in the fox body Mustangs, Rangers, and Explorers.  The 8.8 is basically a twin to the Chevy 12 bolt, but isn't as wide, which is why I'm using it. I'll need to upgrade it to a 31 spline axle though, which means upgrading the differential too, I'm planning a limited slip. This will all be around $900.
    The transmission will be a T-5 5 speed. The problem with the T-5 is finding a good used one, as most of them are just abused leftovers of some dumb teenage kid having too much fun in his V6 F body. The rebuild kits are pretty cheap, but those don't help out any with the gears, which will probably need replaced. Lord knows how much that would cost. The truck is an automatic, so I'll have to cut a hole in the floor, but that shouldn't be a big deal.
    Now for the engine. I'm planning for a 5.3 Chevy truck engine. They've kind of become the 350 of the modern world. I know what your thinking, why not just go with the LS1? Well, because a 5.3 is about $2000 cheaper, that's why. The 5.3 is also an iron block, making it a lot tougher than it's aluminum brother.  The swap is a pretty popular one for these trucks, there's a company that makes a kit which comes with mounts and new headers which allow the steering shaft to clear. They also make an oil pan that is 100% necessary, because the stock pan won't clear. I'll be carbing the engine. My instructor just finished a '78 Malibu project that he put a 6.0 in, carbureted with a turbo. He let me know that I'll probably make more power with a carb, so that's my plan, a Holley 650 cfm. The stock heads will get a CNC porting treatment, a mild cam should help me add a little more power, possibly along with forged pistons.
    I'd love to get this thing into the mid to low 12s. That might seem like a lofty goal, but you need to remember this thing weighs about 3 paper clips more than a wet chihuahua. My biggest problem will be hooking up, as there is almost no weight over the rear tires(obviously) I hope to have an update after this weekend. See you then.

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