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dagnabbitt 10-31-2019 09:52 AM

1968 C20 Build
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I have a friend who always names his projects, he has Gertie and Hippo Hips and Betty Boop, etc etc. I just can't bring myself to name my own projects - I can't explain why - but I can't deny it would be convenient when you have several of them like I do. So I call mine "The Blue Truck"; "The Orange Truck", and "The Green Truck", which is actually much more ridiculous than just giving them names.

This one I just call "The C20", since it is the only three quarter ton I own - or have ever owned for that matter. But I'll take suggestions on naming her if anyone has any ideas.

I found this for sale online about 2-3 hours from where I live, in an area of Alberta called Rocky Mountain House, on a farm literally in the middle of nowhere. A friend of mine egged me on to go look at it and came with me to get it: the owner either didn't know much about it or didn't feel like providing any information and we were curious and wanted to go on a road trip. I initially thought it might be a shortbed half ton, the pictures weren't great. When I arrived and found it was a long bed C20 I bought it anyway: he wanted $200 for it, I couldn't leave it there.

At the time I already had two 1967 GMCs that I bought for similar reasons: simply because I could. One was a rattle can black base model with a 250, 3 on the tree, and not much else, but it ran, drove, and stopped. It was an old farm truck from Saskatchewan that I would have difficulty registering, but I kind of thought I'd get it on the road someday. The other one was green, and was a very highly optioned truck with a 327, automatic, chrome package and panoramic window option. The problem was that the motor seemed to be seized. It had 40 year old plates on it so it was like this for a while. I bought it off of a guy who had plans to part it out but he couldn't bring himself to do it, it was too nice and too complete. In my addled brain I thought perhaps I would make one good truck out of these three: the two 67 GMCs and my new 68 C20. I figured that the black 67 GMC would be the "base" of this project.

The C20 had no box on it: but I loved the Chevy front end - I only had GMCs at this point. It was a supposed 292 with a four speed that I thought was pretty cool. It had no keys, didn't run as far as I knew, and the mice at some point moved out of it for something nicer. But I just liked it and knew that I couldn't go wrong for the price I paid for it.

cornerstone 10-31-2019 04:01 PM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
I am exactly the same way when it comes to naming my vehicles. I like when people do but for some reason I canít settle on a name. Itís one of the reasons I havenít started a build thread...:lol:

At 200 bucks it would have been mine too! Keep us posted on your progress!

dagnabbitt 11-01-2019 12:51 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
Thanks Cornerstone! Its funny, when someone names their own truck I don't blink, but I feel silly doing it myself. Its like giving yourself a nickname, it isn't earned until someone else gives it to you.

Incidentally, that's $200 CANADIAN DOLLARS! So probably like 75 bucks for you! Too good to pass up, and I am a complete degenerate addict when it comes to these trucks. As you will see when this thread progesses, I have zero regrets.

3757chevy 11-01-2019 01:13 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
That was a steal. I'm in to see what you have in store for it.

dagnabbitt 11-01-2019 01:27 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Attentive users of this site will have already noticed my posted questions about rims and tires (great discussion, hope to select and buy some soon) as well as the bizarre prop shaft park ebrake setup I have (crickets: no one has a clue about it despite 20 years of discussion and a million posts) on this truck.

Overall, it really is an odd combo for some Canadian farmer 50 years ago to select. I mean this place is still pretty rustic in terms of roads and such; and in 1968 it was prehistoric. First of all, 90% of the old trucks up here are GMCs. I understand - apocryphally - that is because leaf springs were standard on GMC but optional on Chevs. All the trucks up here had oil baths due to the gravel and grain, and none had any options worth mentioning.

But this one is a little different, which is why I fell for it, kinda. It has coil springs, which might not be a novelty to the rest of you: but I have never ever seen such a thing on a three quarter ton in my life. No leafs, just massive coils. I seldom see coils on a half ton let alone a three quarter ton. And someone at some point POR 15'd the frame and suspension so it looks nice and black and proper.

Another thing it has is the Custom Chrome option, as well as some nice period correct cab lights. The seat was in surprisingly good shape due to an early-added cover. The lichen growing on the hood was patina x10. I reluctantly removed the sapling growing from the cowl as a precaution.

But the more I looked at this thing the more I thought maybe I could build it into something that could pull the trailer I hauled it out on. I just loved that beautiful Chevy front end - I love 67-68 grills - and despite that delicate design it had that beefy C20 suspension that meant business and it maybe had a 292 and a 4 speed and no one I know has one like this and I have to get it on the road and here we are.

dagnabbitt 11-01-2019 01:34 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build

Originally Posted by 3757chevy (Post 8619564)
That was a steal. I'm in to see what you have in store for it.

Thanks! I hope I don't disappoint.

dagnabbitt 11-08-2019 12:41 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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So I began the story by mentioning that I had a couple other trucks, both 67 GMCs. One - the black rattle can one - I had high hopes for, it was a runner and the truck I thought I would make a project out of. I put a new rad and fuel tank in it, as well as a bunch of little things under the hood like a distributor, plugs, wires, etc. I had it running really well, but it sat for a few years in the parking lot of the place I worked at. One day I took it for a cruise and found out that something happened to the brakes, because there were none. Foot to the floor, terrifying. Luckily it had a working emergency brake, which I had never tested before.

I decided that it was time to put some time into this one. It ran good, just needed brakes, right? I drove it to my buddies shop with no brakes, slowing down with the 3 on the tree and feathering the emergency brake as I went: the cables snapped as I pulled in. And when we got it on the hoist... it was simply too far gone. Frame was bent, rivets were popped out of the rear suspension, driveshaft was bent, leafs were broken, shocks were broken, and there was definitely something wrong with the steering. I think someone had jumped it Dukes of Hazzard style, this thing was trashed underneath. And that was basically the tip of the iceberg, I knew as I looked at it. It now had no brakes whatsoever and besides, it wasn't like it was well-optioned or even nice to look at.

THAT was when the C20 looked like it might be the "base" of this project I wanted to embark upon. Nothing wrong with the undercarriage of that truck. Big and solid and beautiful and it had that 292 and the chrome package. Maybe I could use a 3/4 ton, I thought. Lots of parts on the 67 GMC that the 68 C20 could use.

So I did something that I have never done before, I chopped up a truck. A couple buddies and I removed everything we could from the 67 GMC, one friend of mine even cut the floor out of it. Then we sent it to the crusher, which was not as bittersweet as I thought it would be, since we did use every part of the buffalo. The new fuel tank and rad went in the C20 immediately, as well as the box, which was nothing to write home about, but at least it had one now.

I had never heard the C20 run, but after jumping the starter it became clear that we needed a fuel pump. We stole one from the GMC's 250 and what do you know, it fit. The 292 fired right up. Once I installed the ignition and door locks from the other truck, it fired right up with a key. Sounds great, like a sewing machine.

dagnabbitt 11-08-2019 12:54 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Once I got the box on, the fact that the C20 had no bumpers really bugged me. Well, the rear had part of a bumper, I guess. But no problem, the black 67 GMC was the gift that just kept giving: I went to my parts pile that was created by the teardown. The bumpers weren't in great shape but they were free and I had decided that I was going to try to save my money on stuff I needed to make the truck roadworthy and safe.

The front bumper was badly bent due to the truck it was on being pulled behind a tractor most of its life, but some judicious bangs with a sledge straightened it out quite nicely.

Finally, I took them down to the metal and painted them white and installed them. The C20 is starting to look like a truck, now.

Then the grill was bothering me. Somehow this truck had managed to exist for 51 years without someone pulling the letters off the hood, but the red emblem was missing and the grill itself was kind of bent. I reluctantly - at first - pulled a piece of wall art out of my garage. It was a pretty nice 68 grill that I had got several years before, long before the C20. Initially I thought I was wasting the grill on this truck, but I didn't feel that way for long. It is definitely the nicest part of the truck, but why shouldn't it be?

dagnabbitt 11-21-2019 11:00 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Last weekend we replaced all four shocks, which was interesting. I think what we removed might be originals: Delco Pleasurizers. Seems to me that even in 1968 that would have been a funny name to hang on a product.

They look like they've been at the bottom of the ocean, all of them were broken, and and they did not want to be removed, either. We had to get the torch out for the two in the back.

Replaced with new Monroes, all way around.

dagnabbitt 11-21-2019 11:09 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Now on to tires and wheels.

Time to get rid of these old split rims - which are not even original, they are 17", not the 16.5" that is on the SPID - and the tube tires, of which there are not even two alike on the truck.

I have a set of the F*rd rims from a E250 van, plus one for a spare, that were given to me for free by a friend who expressed surprise that anyone would want them.

I test fitted them, then had another friend sandblast them for me. A little tremclad paint and they are ready for rubber.

Now I have to decide between 265 75 16, or 235 85 16, and since I like the look of both on these C20s, to be honest I will probably go with whichever is cheapest. New 10 ply tires are a big outlay for this project and I've been trying to keep it low cost, but good rubber will be a necessity.

Aus69c20 11-28-2019 07:21 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
Nice honest project. Had to laugh about naming the truck. Mines just called “the chev”.

dagnabbitt 12-18-2019 07:42 PM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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So I bought my new tires: I totally caved and bought these 10 ply 235 85 16 Firestones. I had planned to use some old 265 70 16s off this 99 Tahoe I am scrapping, but I since I think I will be using this C20 to haul and work as a truck, I just want the piece of mind that comes with new tires.

It sure would be nice to find some 68 3/4 ton hubcaps. Extremely unlikely at a decent price, so I will just have to cross my fingers. I've been checking the parts board every day here for a "driver" quality set.

Since hubcaps are not in my near future I also sprung for these Gorilla brand black lug nuts. Its a good brand and the reviews say the paint doesn't chip. I've never used these before but I think I will prefer them over the chrome ones that insta-rust when you put a wrench on them.

I'm excited to get these on, probably this weekend.

GerhardH 12-19-2019 05:20 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
Great information, I'm in and marry christmas for you.

dagnabbitt 12-25-2019 08:25 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Tires are on! Looks really, good, I have to recommend the 235 85 16s for this application, it just looks right, tall and skinny. I can't wait to drive it, but it is December in Canada so I think I will tackle the heater/defroster situation first.

I painted up the drums in black, and although I still want to find some correct hubcaps I think I might look at a modern cover of some kind, I have seen some interesting mods on the board.

dagnabbitt 01-10-2020 01:10 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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It's -30 Celcius here today, which I understand is about -22 F, so pretty cold.

Doing a few little things, painted up my oil bath air cleaner. At some point I'd like to take the front clip off and do some more engine bay detailing and painting, but I think I should have some new fenders before I get into that.

Also pictured is the "new" lower thermostat housing that I got off ebay, which are apparently rarer than hens teeth. Also have new water pump, new upper thermostat housing, new upper rad and bypass hoses, new fuel line, and new (rebuilt) carb. Thing runs pretty great now. Also stole the brand new spark plug wires off of the 67 GMC parts pile.

Given the temps up here in Canada I think the next step is to see if this heater works. Looks like most of the ductwork is missing. Also the windshield has a silver dollar-sized hole in it. I still have some work to do. I really can't wait to take this thing to the car wash, open the doors and spray every inch of it.

dagnabbitt 01-10-2020 01:19 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Aaaaand when in Canada, best to get the appropriate battery. It is supposed to drop to -40 with the wind chill tomorrow. -40 is where Celsius and Fahrenheit overlap, so its the same temp all over.

dagnabbitt 03-09-2020 09:39 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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The C20 has been parked outside more or less since my last post a 2-3 months ago. Our -35 degree cold snap lasted a few weeks during that time, and I wasn't sure if it would start. A few pumps on the gas pedal though, and it fired right up. Canada proof indeed. It also walked right out of the 18 inches of snow it was in.

It's starting to actually look like a truck, which is nice. Things are at a point where I can picture myself driving it this summer.

dagnabbitt 03-09-2020 09:51 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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First new body panel! The tailgate on this thing was completely ratched: aside from being bowed and bent, it didn't want to open, and the bondo on it is quite visible. It also says "GMC", which this truck decidedly is not.

I found a no-name repop tailgate locally for about a third of the price that the guy selling it probably paid for it: I paid $140 Canadian. For American readers that's a hundred bucks US, and we have to pay exorbitant shipping to get something like a tailgate sent to us, so it was a steal. So cheap that I couldn't leave it there, really.

I'd still like a genuine Chevrolet tailgate but finding a good used one is next to impossible. This will certainly do for now.

During the installation process we broke a bolt for one of the trunions. Had to fix it with fire, which ignited 50 years of twigs and plant life living in the far corner stake bed. No harm done. It was also during this point that I noticed some godawful welds on the end of the bed itself, leading me to believe that the donor truck had a steel floor installed later on. This makes sense as the donor was a base model pickup and "pickup bed floor" was an option that was not on the SPID. At some point I will have to see if I can return it to its former wood bed glory.

dagnabbitt 04-04-2020 09:14 PM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Took of the diff cover, looks like this thing was sitting in some water or had some water in it. Gave it a good cleaning and changed the fluid. A bit disappointed/surprised that it was not a posi. But that's fine, it looks to be in good shape.

Then on to the rear brakes. I received some bad news here. I thought this truck had good brakes, they seemed firm and responsive, but it turns out that they were pretty trashed, they were just adjusted up all the way.

I ended up buying two new rear drums, and they weren't as cheap as I wished. Then the wheel cylinders turned out to be seized. Bought four of those. There are four on the parts board right now for what I paid for one. Bad luck and bad timing for me. Anyway, I never complain about paying for brakes, tires, and batteries, I like the peace of mind.

I still haven't looked at the front brakes yet, though...

dagnabbitt 04-04-2020 09:19 PM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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I wired up my fuel gauge so it works, now, which is nice. Then I started to look at the heater again. The dash controls were broken, and I thought aha I will go get one from the donor truck. But someone had got to it first, farmer-fix is below. Not a bad idea though. I plan to do a similar fix but using a different material so it isn't so obvious, the last guy didn't even scrape the red paint of the oil drum or whatever that he cut it from.

dagnabbitt 04-04-2020 09:31 PM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Speaking of the second donor truck, this is the other 1967 GMC that I said I had in the very first post of this thread. 327 automatic, nice options including the panoramic back window that ironically few people would be interested in now. The plates on it are 40 years old, so I think its been off the road for 40 of its 53 years.

I am going to see if I can get that 327 started. It moves a little bit. But even if I can get it running I will probably pull it and part this truck out, it needs a lot of work and I don't really have much room for all my stuff right now.

dagnabbitt 04-04-2020 09:33 PM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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I had one loose wheel so I ordered a tie rod for it, will install and take a look at front brakes next time I work on it maybe.

68bowtie 04-05-2020 10:17 PM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
The chevy is looking good.

Is the gmc too far gone to save? That’s a pretty cool truck with those options, and boy that dark aqua poly with fawn interior is such an awesome combo.

dagnabbitt 04-06-2020 01:34 AM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
You know, I had never checked to see what that aqua looks like, when I searched on this forum I now see that it IS a pretty cool color combo. Dark Aqua is not what I expected.

I'm going to see what happens with the engine, get it on the hoist, etc. Maybe it can be saved. If the engine is stuck I really don't know that it will be worth it, though.

dagnabbitt 04-10-2020 09:00 PM

Re: 1968 C20 Build
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Wow, what a surprise, the last guy drove the front brakes down to the rivets. Honestly I'm so shocked.

At least the drums don't look too bad. New pads, new wheel cylinders, new brake lines. This truck is going to stop really good, I guess.

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